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











May 31, 2010


Comic-Con By The Numbers: 135 Tips For Attending San Diego’s CCI 2010!

image
moved to the commentary section
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 43rd Birthday, Dean Haspiel!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, David Anthony Kraft!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
May 30, 2010


Dan Piraro Wins 2010 Reuben Award; Your 2010 NCS Division Award Winners

image

Dan Piraro, the cartoonist behind the long-time (24 years), well-regarded panel (that is also reformatted into a strip) Bizarro, won the 2010 Reuben Award last night during a ceremony in Jersey City.

Piraro's work is distinctive, funny and executed with great attention to craft. While I never expected enough of the National Cartoonist Society membership to vote for him because of the slightly out-there nature of that work when placed into contrast with other nominees, I think it speaks well to this group and to the future that they did. What is called The Reuben is the NCS award that goes to Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year, and its past winners include nearly every heavy hitter on the comics page for the last 64 years, including Charles Schulz, Bill Mauldin, Frank King and Hal Foster. Dave Coverly won last year.

The other nominees were Stephan Pastis and Richard Thompson, which made it to all eyes a really strong year.

Piraro operates a model blog in terms of its consistency and clarity in discussing and presenting his work, here.

Jim Borgman and Jerry Scott's Zits won the newspaper comic strip divisional award in a year where that award seemed 1/3 springboard for future Reuben consideration and 2/3 a resting place for powerhouse strips with massive client lists to lurk in anticipation of a second run at the top prize in future years. Paul Pope won the comic book award for his work on Strange Adventures, and David Mazzucchelli's formally ambitious Asterios Polyp won a newly-minted graphic novels category.

Winners in bold:

THE REUBEN AWARD

image

* Stephan Pastis
* Dan Piraro
* Richard Thompson

*****

image

TELEVISION ANIMATION

* Kevin Deters -- Walt Disney Prep and Landing
* Mike Gray -- The Infinite Goliath
* Seth McFarlane -- Family Guy

*****

image

FEATURE ANIMATION

* Ronnie del Carmen, Storyboard Artist -- Up
* Tomm Moore, Director -- The Secret of Kells
* Barry Reynolds, Character Designer -- The Secret of Kells

*****

image

NEWSPAPER ILLUSTRATION

* Bob Rich
* Tom Richmond
* Robert Sanchuk

*****

image

GAG CARTOONS

* Glenn McCoy
* VG Myers
* Dave Whamond

*****

image

GREETING CARDS

* Glenn McCoy
* Kieran Meehan
* Debbie Tomassi

*****

image

NEWSPAPER COMIC STRIPS

* John Hambrock -- The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee
* Wiley Miller -- Non Sequitur
* Jerry Scott & Jim Borgman -- Zits

*****

image

NEWSPAPER PANEL CARTOONS

* Dave Blazek -- Loose Parts
* Tony Carillo -- FMinus
* Hilary Price -- Rhymes with Orange

*****

image

MAGAZINE FEATURE/MAGAZINE ILLUSTRATION

* Ray Alma
* Anton Emdin
* Tom Richmond

*****

image

BOOK ILLUSTRATION

* Lou Brooks -- Twimericks
* Tom Richmond -- Bo Confidential
* Dave Whamond -- My Think-A-Ma-Jink

*****

image

EDITORIAL CARTOONS

* Nick Anderson
* Rob Rogers
* John Sherffius

*****

image

ADVERTISING ILLUSTRATION

* Steve Brodner
* Randall Enos
* Mort Gerberg

*****

image

COMIC BOOKS

* Terry Moore -- Echo
* Paul Pope -- Strange Adventures
* JH Williams -- Detective Comics

*****

image

GRAPHIC NOVELS

* David Mazzucchelli -- Asterios Polyp
* Seth -- George Sprott
* David Small -- Stitches

*****

some of this art is a best guess, I'm afraid; all rights to rights holders

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

 
Go, Look: Ka-Boobs

image
summers are apparently slow in White River Junction...
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Mike W. Barr!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 48th Birthday, Kevin Eastman!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 38th Birthday, Tom Galambos!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #212—Entitled

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Past Or Present Comics Titles You Think Should Always Be Published, Just Because It Would Please You To See Them On The Stands." This is how they responded.

image

Tom Spurgeon

1. Junior Woodchucks
2. Boy Loves Girl
3. Four Color
4. MAD
5. Fight Comics

*****

image

Jean-Paul Jennequin

1. Omega the Unknown
2. Young Heroes in Love
3. Incredible Hercules
4. Sugar and Spike
5. Howard the Duck

*****

image

Matthew Badham

1) 2000 AD
2) The Beano
3) Usagi Yojimbo
4) Jack Staff
5) Elephantmen

*****

image

Stefan Dinter

1- Gespenster Geschichten
2- Lustiges Taschenbuch
3- Hammerharte Horrorschocker
4- ZACK (the seventies version, though)
5- Deutsches MAD (also the seventies version)

*****

image

Ramon de Veyra

* Giant-Size Man-Thing
* My Monkey's Name Is Jennifer
* Kill Your Boyfriend
* Johnny the Homicidal Maniac
* Tales Designed to Thrizzle

*****

image

Ramon de Veyra

* King City
* Top Ten
* Eightball
* Marvel Team-Up
* BPRD

*****

image

Evan Dorkin

1. Mad
2. Animal Comics
3. Weirdo
4. Calling All Girls
5. Walt Disney's Comics and Stories

P.S. If anyone lists their own comic I hope their favorite body part turns black and falls off.

*****

image

J. Colussy-Estes

1. Hot Stuff
2. Sabrina
3. Viz Pulp
4. Dark Horse Presents
5. Warrior (British)

*****

image

Scott Dunbier

* Weird Science
* Two-Fisted Tales
* Boys Ranch
* Hellboy
* Kamandi

*****

image

Tom Cherry

1. Little Dot
2. Little Lotta
3. First Issue Special
4. The Defenders
5. 'Mazing Man

*****

image

James Langdell

1. Super Mouse
2. Mystery In Space
3. Laundry Land
4. Sick
5. More Fun

*****

image

Fred Hembeck

1. Fantastic Four
2. Little Lulu
3. Action Comics
4. Archie's Pals and Gals
5. Weird Science

*****

image

Buzz Dixon

1. Kona, Monarch of Monster Isle
2. Yotsuba&!
3. Weird Science-Fantasy
4. Scrooge McDuck
5. Witzend

*****

image

Aaron White

1. Monster Parade
2. Myth Adventures
3. Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham
4. Spelljammer
5. Manga Vizion

*****

image

Joe Schwind

* Classics Illustrated Junior
* Feelgood Funnies
* Eightball
* WEIRDO
* Whiz Comics

*****

image

Paul Stock

1) Brain Boy
2) Little Dot (or) The Magic of OCD
3) Herbie
4) Hot Rods & Racing Cars featuring Clint Curtis
5) Tomahawk

*****

image

Mark Coale

1. Archie
2. Justice League of America
3. Fantastic Four
4. Fables
5. Usagi Yojimbo

*****

image

John Platt

1. Super Goof
2. Richie Rich ____
3. Sad Sack
4. Little Lulu
5. Usagi Yojimbo

*****

image

Richard Barker

1. B.P.R.D.
2. Marvel Team-Up
3. Lone Wolf and Cub
4. Legion of Superheroes
5. Krazy Kat

*****

image

Justin J. Major

1. Adventure Comics
2. Groo
3. Hotstuff
4. Charlton Bullseye
5. Marvel Two-in-One

*****

image

Rod DiManna

1. Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham
2. Sugar & Spike
3. The Adventures of Jerry Lewis
4. Tarzan
5. Secret Origins

*****

image

Marc Sobel

1. Classics Illustrated
2. Love & Rockets
3. Creepy/Eerie
4. Walking Dead
5. Herbie the Fat Fury (LoTDK style, with a new creative team every month)

*****

image

Russell Lissau

1. Detective Comics
2. Scary Godmother
3. Tiny Titans
4. Gotham Central
5. Doonesbury

*****

image

Kiel Phegley

1. Batman
2. Jughead's Double Digest
3. Usagi Yojimbo
4. Hot Stuff
5. Moon Knight

*****

image

Jason Ragle

1) Bone by Jeff Smith
2) Starman by James Robinson and Tony Harris
3) Planetary by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday
4) Sandman by Neil Gaiman and whoever he wants to work with
5) 100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso

*****

image

Charles Brownstein

1. Blazing Combat
2. Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children
3. Weirdo
4. Rare Bit Fiends
5. Magog (mostly because it cracks me up every time you mention it)

*****

image

Sam Humphries

1. RAW
2. Automatic Kafka
3. 2001
4. Stray Bullets
5. The Mr. Monster books with EC reprints ("Mr. Monster's Hi-Octane Horror")

*****

image

Tom Mason

* Plop!
* Moby Duck
* Sad Sack
* Whiz Comics
* Powerhouse Pepper

*****

image

Stergios Botzakis

1. My Greatest Adventure
2. Betty and Me
3. Weird War Tales
4. Destroy!
5. Hate

*****

image

Grant Goggans

1. MAD
2. 2000 AD
3. Legion of Super-Heroes
4. Doctor Who Magazine
5. TV Century 21

*****

image

Dustin Harbin

1) Richie Rich
2) Little Archie
3) Yummy Fur
4) Longshot Comics (by Shane Simmons, remember these? Amazing!)
5) Lose (by Michael Deforge

*****
*****

 
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
May 29, 2010


Go, Look: Remote Control Traitor

image
 
posted 9:40 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Sketch Cards: Comics For Cures from Tony Moore on Vimeo.
via


via








 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week In Review

image

The top comics-related news stories from May 22 to May 28, 2010:

1. Zapiro's editor sort-of apologized and Zapiro sort-of didn't for his Everybody Draw Muhammed Day cartoon.

2. Gabriel Vargas dies at 95.

3. Florida-based writer Stephen Perry's disappearance termed a homicide investigation by local authorities.

Winner Of The Week
Dr. Captain America

Loser Of The Week
Speedy, the superhero with a child star narrative arc

Quote Of The Week
"I used to tell people that Seth drives a PT Cruiser, but it got to the point where I couldn't keep a straight face anymore." -- Tom Devlin, as reported by Gil Roth

*****

today's cover is from the 1940s-1950s mainstream comics publisher Avon

*****
*****
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In London, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Oslo, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Bellingham, I’d Go Eat Here

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 36th Birthday, Aaron McGruder!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 59th Birthday, Larry Marder!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 53rd Birthday, Jim Salicrup!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
May 28, 2010


Friday Distraction: Hayami Rasenjin

image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Bing Bang Buster

image
 
posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

image

* Zapiro responded to critics of the cartoon he drew on Everybody Draw Muhammed Day by talking about it in cartoon form, placing himself on the same psychiatrist's couch to talk about it. His most recent panel cartoon contains a more oblique reference to his past few days.

* here's another article about Zapiro; this one talks about his statements on the matter after meeting with a group of Muslim leaders.

* in a week that also saw artist Lars Vilks invited back to the campus where he was headbutted during a presentation on art about Muhammed, Kurt Westergaard's previously canceled German television appearance may come off after all.
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Witzend #7

image
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Police Confirm Writer Stephen Perry’s Case A Homicide Investigation

Various wire reports bring word that police in Zephyrhills, Florida have publicly confirmed that their investigation of Stephen Perry's disappearance is a homicide investigation. Word had slipped out through police interaction with the writer's former girlfriend and his child that the police believe the writer, who had benefited from aid provided by agencies within the comics industry, had been murdered. This makes the two roommates initially believed missing and subsequently arrested on unrelated charges persons of interest in the crime. This article indicates that those two roommates have not had their bail increased to reflect a potential capital crime and that the former girlfriend has stated she was thrown a photo of another party.
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Star Hawks Montage

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
NCS Cartoonists Gearing Up For National Meeting: Reuben Award Up In The Air

imageMembers of the National Cartoonists Society are assembling this weekend in Jersey City, New Jersey for the group's annual meeting. The highlight of the meeting is the Annual Reuben Awards, which is the only cartoonists soiree to require black tie and facilitates the awarding of one of the top three or four cartoonists prizes in the world.

This year Stephen Pastis, Dan Piraro and Richard Thompson are doing battle for the Reuben. As a well-regarded cartoonist with a hit strip (about 500 clients, I think) that's been around a while (nearly 10 years) that can't really be compared to any particular previous popular strip, Pastis would seem to me to be the front-runner. However, you can't count out Piraro, one of the stronger, more idiosyncratic cartoonists of the last quarter-century. I think the people voting for Piraro will do so passionately, I'm just not sure there are enough of them. Thompson could also win: I think people see Thompson as a cartoonist who will win the award at some point if he's able to continue with current workload for a while. While Cul De Sac is a classic strip and admired by its peers, and Thompson's versatility in a variety of cartooning forms has become more apparent as his strip has picked up more clients, it may a bit too early to see him holding the Reuben. (Since I'm always wrong about these things, I've picked and discounted all three. I can't lose.)

I'm not sure I see any particularly compelling contests in the division awards. For instance, your guess is as good as mine if Terry Moore, Paul Pope or JH Williams is going to take home the comic book award. Sometimes that depends on who is best known to the membership, and I have no way of measuring that.

I would imagine the state of newspaper cartooning and the rise of on-line platforms will make for a lot of fine conversation or a lot of drunk comics people or both, and I'm jealous of those in attendance. The classic advice to anyone going that wants to meet famous cartoonists is that the older male cartoonists seem for some reason to make time for younger, attractive female cartoonists or the attractive significant others of younger male cartoonists. But you didn't hear that from me.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Warlock #12

image
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Greg Cwiklik On Frazetta

imageI greatly enjoyed Greg Cwiklik's look back at Frank Frazetta's career, a piece currently posted at TCJ.com. Unlike most of the writers who focused on Frazetta immediately after his passing, Cwiklik can remember what it was like to experience Frazetta's great '60s run of book and magazine covers as they were coming out, in a day where there wasn't the immediate context of the Internet and really not much in the way of fertile ground for such efforts to find cultural purchase, period. Cwiklik is also an artist, and I think smartly encapsulates a certain way that many artists must have regarded the ice-cool, successful Frazetta, at least in part.

Greg Cwiklik was just about the last established, formidable writer regularly writing for The Comics Journal when I sat down in the basement of Fantagraphics for the first time in 1994, and we leaned on him a lot for major pieces on interview subjects like Frazetta. I thought he had a direct, not-fussy quality when it came to mixing personal observation and artistic appraisal that served him and the magazine very well, and it's always good to read a piece by him.
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Space Rovers

image
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Oslo, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: 1962 Blondie Sunday

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Witch Hunt For An Alien

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: More Crying Ladies

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Fox, Then And Now

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Stripper's Guide has their first video up in a planned series.

image* the great Bob Levin sent along the link to this post from Greg Hoffman about working with Charles Schulz on a Billie Jean King book with tons of Snoopy illustrations.

* the retailer Mike Sterling goes to Hell so you don't have to.

* Sean Collins found this post from Team Secret Acres about what to do and what not to do with submitting to the publisher. As Sean points out, it would be good general advice if you Mad Libbed the proper nouns. There is nothing worse than the insistent arrogance of creative people that think they're not get the plaudits they deserve. The one that really hits me is being given stuff at shows. With flying what it is right now, it's really hard to carry on a bunch of comics without being charged in some fashion.

* never prouder to be a comics fan.

* not comics: Tony Curtis had one odd Hollywood career, in a time when you could still rip up and down the box office earner charts like a piece on a child's board game. This interview with him is pretty good, although it also underscores why cartoonists are better interviews than actors: they tend to be more articulate and thoughtful and ready to speak at length.

* Johnny Bacardi presents another episode of Weird Solicitation Copy Tales.

* Xaviar Xerexes looks at great webcomics finales.

* finally, behold the majesty that is the Jack Kirby Wal-Mart shorts.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 63rd Birthday, Lynn Johnston!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Three Shades

Exhibits/Events
Go See Roger Langridge
Attention, LA Cartoonists
Reubens Stringer Wanted
Stan Sakai Report From MCCC 2010
OSU Festival Registration Opens Tuesday

History
Taking Notes At Bridge
This Is Just Awful-Looking

Industry
I Vote Generic

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Tony Harris
USA Today: Neil Gaiman

Not Comics
Awww...
More Kevin Church On The iPad
One Of Frank Young's Other Passions
Go, Look: Lloyd Dangle's Newest Video

Publishing
On That Dan Brereton Art Book

Reviews
Ed Sizemore: To Terra...
Sean T. Collins: Held Sinister
Kent Worcester: Prince Of Persia
Jason Aaron: Gangsta Rap Posse
Chad Nevett: Secret Avengers #1
Rob Clough: A Home For Mr. Easter
Lori Henderson: Broken Blade Vol. 1
Christopher Irving: Cousin Corinne's Reminder
Johanna Draper Carlson: Legion Of Super-Heroes #1
 

 
May 27, 2010


Last Day: Comics Comics Pledge Drive

image
if Dan and Tim don't raise enough money by midnight, they'll have to take Frank back to the orphanage
 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: News On Cons, Shows & Major Events

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* while there are a few small comic book conventions this weekend the obvious juggernaut on the schedule is BookExpo America, taking place in New York -- it's always in New York now -- right this very minute with lots of comics folk in attendance. While it doesn't have anywhere near the same "holy crap we're comics people at BEA!" feel of five, seven, nine years ago, and in fact you get the sense from some of the writing about BEA that some people believe that show is reeling because of changes in the book industry. I don't think that's true, but I imagine there have been some cutbacks. Also, I'm certain that a ton of useful work gets done by the comics folks over the weekend by simple virtue of being able to network with that many book-selling folk. And if you're into walking around picking up galleys, this week is still Christmas.

* and of course I've already forgotten the Phoenix Comicon, a show practically in my backyard. Luckily, James Owen did not. Thanks, James.

* Heidi MacDonald has a nice floor report up on the rapidly shrinking show, and notes that Fantagraphics has galleys for their long-rumored Joyce Farmer book, Special Exits.

* David Glanzer declares in this San Diego Union-Tribune article that the long-awaited Comic-Con International decision where to have their shows starting a couple of years from now is in the home stretch. They've asked for a commitment from local hotels that they'll discontinue the high rates that have been a huge sore point among detractors for years now.

* speaking of Glanzer, CCI sent out a press release this morning naming another round of guests for the convention's 2010 edition. They are: Ray Bradbury, Emile Bravo, Hunter Freberg, Stan Freberg, Moto Hagio, Dusty Higgins, Van Jensen, Phil Jimenez, Jenette Kahn, Ivan Reis, Rick Riordan, Jeannie Schulz, Ann VanderMeer, Jeff VanderMeer and Gerard Way.

* next weekend is HeroesCon, which means the news updates here will start hitting the Internet in fast and furious fashion. I'm doing a bunch of solo and paired interview panels with the idea the content will be used on CR to drive further attention to that show, and am looking forward to the weekend. One thing I'm doing is budgeting a few dollars to shop for comics, because they have a ton of $1 stuff of the kind I love purchasing at shows.

* and just after typing the above, they put up the HeroesCon programming schedule.
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Bookmark: Gay For Lois Lane

image
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Several Multiloquent, Very Late Notes On That Iron Man 2 Flick

image* first thing: did you have any friends that watched the first Iron Man movie that aren't a) naturally besotted with Robert Downey, Jr., or b) aren't the kind of people that habitually go to blockbuster movies? I have about a dozen pals that fit that description, and they all hated Iron Man.

* the reason I mention that is that I think there are things to remember about the first Iron Man movie in relation to this one. The first movie's strengths were a perfectly primed-to-hit Robert Downey, Jr., that it was first out of the gate in 2008 after 2007's summer of tired-ass third sequels, and that it's much easier to do respectable-looking CGI with armor rather than (green) skin. Most of the other positives in the film were secondary to one or more of those factors, or supported one of those strengths.

* Iron Man 2, in contrast, leans on the strengths of the first movie rather than plays to those strengths or builds on them. It does not give a still well-liked Downey enough material to work with or play against. By far Downey's best co-star in terms of the actor bouncing a performance off of him was John Slattery's newsreel image, which is sort of weird. Iron Man 2 does not add significantly or creatively to the sense of new that the first one brought audiences, right down to what I would term an ill-advised re-use of some of the same sets. The CGI material was still only okay, and you still lose the faces.

* more than anything else, Iron Man 2 is a movie with a discernible lack of dramatic tension. I didn't take the blood poisoning threat to Tony Stark's life seriously, and the way it's temporarily ameliorated with injections at the donut shop by Nurse Romanov indicates maybe I wasn't supposed to. We aren't given access to or insight into the stable, base behavior against which we can then measure the personal decline that alarms Tony Stark's friends. The producers finally found the actor -- Samuel L. Jackson -- with whom Robert Downey Jr. seems to have almost no chemistry whatsoever. One villain, Justin Hammer, we're told from scene one not to take seriously. A second, Whiplash, seems to offer as a significant part of his character a sense that he's a tragic figure who wants to spit in the eye of God. This is fine as far as character-building goes, but as a result Whiplash come across much less seriously as an ultimate threat. When Whiplash shows up to fight Iron Man and War Machine in the film's action climax, it's like he's keeping an appointment to get his ass kicked, not arriving at the worst possible time and making everybody crap their pants. He kills more Hammer employees in the course of the film than seriously threatens Stark ones -- in fact, by taking off for the Expo to receive his beating, Whiplash avoids an encounter with two Stark allies in which he would have been an overwhelming, terrifying threat and had a much better chance to cause deep hurt and pain to Stark. I never became scared for any of the people in danger at the Stark Expo, and besides, they felt like extras, not civilians. There isn't any reason to be scared for/of the robots, because they're robots, not something like army men stuck in armor that won't obey them. They're not even super-powerful robots.

* I thought the Nick Fury scenes were uniformly awful. I like Samuel Jackson generally. I'm a Marvel geek, too. I know what the helicarrier is and what LMDs are. I still found these scenes to be dull as dirt. There's a basic dramatic scene failure going on with Fury: there is no underlying drama to the way he enters Tony Stark's space. Fury just sort of walks in to talk to Tony Stark and then walks away. There's more fundamental drama to my family coming over for a holiday meal than there is with the Most Dangerous Man In The World strolling into Tony Stark's life at this time of horrific pain and vulnerability. It always felt like he sauntering in from off-camera than that he was ever approaching another human being, a formidable one, in real space. The one bit of possible drama between the characters -- Fury's directive that Stark must stay at home and work on the Howard Stark locker -- is side-stepped and has absolutely no consequences in terms of the relationship between the two men. Dullsville.

image* Nick Fury's general suckiness extends to the Black Widow. If there's a less interesting way to find out a close employee is a spy than to have her walk up and sit next to a guy in a diner booth on what felt like an empty set rather than anywhere in the real world, it's difficult to concoct that scenario.

* I thought the movie squandered a lot of easy opportunities to build action or craft meaning out of specific moments. For instance, Justin Hammer's final takedown is by Pepper Potts -- couldn't there be one tiny scene between Potts and Hammer early on that set up this comeuppance? Or did I miss it? There's another wasted trio of scenes later on, where Happy Hogan and The Black Widow go to the car, have a drive together and then arrive at a business facility and bicker about who is going into the building first. I couldn't possibly fathom who cares about these characters having time together, but even then, the scenes could have been used to more clearly build to the comic payoff of Happy Hogan taking out one guy while Black Widow takes out 50. (Also, to nerd-pick a bit, the fight between Hogan and the guard should have been boxing versus MMA-style fighting to call back to Hogan's distaste for the latter earlier in the movie. Maybe it was; it wasn't clear. It could have been clear.) Black Widow could have let Happy charge ahead and then calmly walked in behind him to devastate the other team -- that would have married that scene to how she plays Tony Stark and thus provided a nice spin on the Black Widow character: she lets guys be headstrong dumbasses and then calmly and confidently goes about her business. Instead we get Happy and Natasha banter. Nitpicking a movie like this is horrible, because it's back-seat driving and these people know way more about movies than I do, obviously. It's just that in scenes like that one and many others I never got put on the edge of my seat, not even close, and I do that really easily with popcorn movies. The whole enterprise felt slack.

image* that said, there are plenty of crowd-pleasing things. The leads and co-stars are all super-pleasant, all interesting on some level to watch do their business. That scene of Robert Downey Jr. by himself, reacting to these films of his father while at the same time trying to get some work done, that's some fun acting. Rhodey 2.0 is an upgrade. Fewer people are likely to be enraged by elements of Don Cheadle's performance the way they seemed to be at parts of Terrence Howard's. Cheadle's mirroring of Downey's verbal patter is a smart way of showing why he and Tony Stark are friends: they don't really compete, and Rhodey keeps up. The actors playing the two major bad guys know how to play off of Downey's performance in a way that generates friction that maybe wasn't there in the script. It's believable they hate Tony Stark on a fundamental level. The female co-stars are appealing and while I believe the movie fails the Bechdel test they're both at least formidable characters on some level. I liked the way the fight scenes unfold like video game problem-solving. The first fight between Whiplash and Iron Man had a crazy, something-weird-could-happen feel to it that is the great gift of the better superhero movies. There's stuff to see and enjoy.

* my favorite funny-only-to-me thing was how quickly Rhodey, when confronted with drunk, suited-up Tony, decides that he better put on a suit, too. I bet he did that a lot coming over to Tony Stark's house between movies and people like Pepper Potts had to spend a lot of time blocking the door and talking him down. Like I can see Rhodey volunteering to pick up the Chinese food they all ordered and two minutes later they find him suiting up so he can fly over and get it and they have to yell at him to take a car. Rhodey really wanted that suit.

* in the end, I don't think a ton of people are going to hate the movie, but I think the third one won't have the same guaranteed US box office this one did, the other Marvel films are going to be hard-pressed to find the same situational advantages the first film in this series had, and I think the evaluation of this film may trend downward when it begins to cycle on DVD and other secondary media. I liked the film okay. It passed the time on a late summer afternoon and I didn't look at my watch.

image
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: AMRA Artwork

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Joel Barbee, 1935-2010

image

Joel Barbee, an active freelance editorial cartoonist and artist based out of San Clemente, California, died on May 20th. He was 74 years old.

Barbee was born somewhere in the American Southwest and went to school at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He was trained at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. He worked for several years in his 20s and early 30s as an illustrator in Ford Motor Company's aerospace division. He then began an even longer vocational journey as a longtime, working freelance cartoonist.

Unlike cartoonists who settle into a specific niche or go to work for a single client at some point in their career, Barbee seemed to have kept a sprawling array of clients ranging from advertising agencies to magazine publishers to graphic design firms. Major clients included Hallmark and Disney. He had a energetic, loose style reminiscent of MAD's Jack Davis. He was enamored of the water and spent much of his time when not drawing on a boat. His work recently found purchase at some of the on-line repository for editorial cartoons worldwide, such as The National Free Press and Toonpool. He also maintained a personal web site positively festooned with examples of his cartoons and art.

A celebration of Barbee's life including a display of his artwork will be held this evening at Talega Life Church in San Clemente. Details in this post's initial link.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Original Li’l Abner

image
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* reversing an earlier decision, not to apologize, the Mail & Guardian's decision to publicly state that Zapiro's Muhammed cartoon on "Everybody Draw Muhammed Day" was not the news organization supporting the aims of that event is being taken as an apology.

* the Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who entered into the vortex of madness that is the Danish Cartoons Controversy by making a doodle of Muhammed with the body of a dog, has been invited back to the campus where he was recently attacked in order to finish his speech. Michael Cavna has analysis.

* Pakistan has decided to unblock the YouTube site they decided not to let people see during "Everybody Draw Muhammed Day" but will block specific videos.
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: One Man’s Con Haul

image
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were Phoenix, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In London, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Cartooning Basics

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: An Original Dondi

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Another Simon/Kirby Ad

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: An Array Of Pat Broderick Splash Pages Featuring Captain Marvel

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* oh, you poor man.

image* the cartoonist Nick Bertozzi is celebrating his 40th birthday and the ten years since his Xeric-aided Boswash was published to give us a webcomics version of that fold-out effort. I didn't get him anything.

* my blogging betters: The writer and comics historian Mark Evanier has unearthed an article on Al Capp by one of his former assistants. Blogger Prime Neilalien digs up a Mr. A parody by Dave Sim.

* "I'm the best there is at what I do and what I do is -- BWA-HA-HA-HA!"

* the writer and cultural historian Jeet Heer produces a preview of the historical material in the new Little Orphan Annie collection. Jeet's writing on Little Orphan Annie is the only comics scholarship my mom follows.

* manga Garfield. Sort of.

* as promised, Ben Morse has listed his five favorite Avengers. No one that was a member of the Fantastic Four before issue #200 is a second-stringer by any measure, Ben.

image* GeekDad is featuring a two-page comics story from the great Stan Sakai.

* the writer and sage advice-giver of the Internet Kurt Busiek talks up The Hero Initiative. Ironically, it may be their limitations in how much help they can provide that may have granted them a second look from a lot of people. Not Kurt, though -- he was there since the beginning.

* the eternal question: Meatloaf or Mama Cass?

* finally, Gary Tyrrell provides a preview of Ted Rall's latest journalistic journey.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 56th Birthday, Mark Wheatley!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Go See Scott Edelman
See Craig Fischer's Panel At Heroes Con

History
That's How You Know It's Lucy

Industry
Call For Papers
The Downside Of Freelancing
In The '80s Every Day Was X-Men Day

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Kurt Hassler
Newsarama: Ed Brubaker
Newsarama: Neil Edwards
Fictional Frontier: Jeff Smith
Oakland Tribune: Dan Clowes
CBR: Jake Myler, Leigh Dragoon

Not Comics
That Looks Oddly Pretty
Buy Books From Evan And Sarah
Comics Ruins Reading Regular News

Publishing
On Octopus Pie
Whoo, That's A Pretty Cover
Denis Kitchen Book Previewed
Market Day: Apparently Penis-Free

Reviews
Brian Hibbs: Arsenal #3
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Nina Stone: American Vampire #3
Todd Klein: Madame Xanadu #20-21
Johanna Draper Carlson: To Terra... Vol. 2
Johanna Draper Carlson: Mystery Society #1
Greg McElhatton: Pride And Prejudice And Zombies
 

 
May 26, 2010


The Worst Comic Book He’s Ever Read, And He’s Read A LOT Of Comic Books

image
there is an exchange of dialogue, a romantic progression, an off-hand comparison of superhero sex partners and a living weapon described in Brian's review that make this book a must-have
 
posted 11:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Sometimes You Jump On The Internet And Think You’ll Do A Full Afternoon Comics Industry News Update

And sometimes the first story you find puts you right into bed until dinner.

(just kidding; that this was the story I saw cracks me up, though)
 
posted 11:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

image

By Tom Spurgeon

* a couple more Strange Tales 2 previews have surfaced, from Farel Dalrymple, Rafael Grampa.

* Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett have signed a deal with Boilerplate publisher Abrams for a similarly-formatted companion work to be called Frank Reade: Adventures in the Age of Invention.

* the Dinette Set moves to United Features. As Alan Gardner points out in the linked-to post, Larson had left Creators recently, ostensibly to self-syndicate.

image* did I already post a link to this short article on various new works including the forthcoming second graphic novel by Olivier Schrauwen? Even if I did, I don't mind posting it again.

* what Jason Aaron is writing.

* more Josh Simmons forthcoming comics news to delight and make one nervous, maybe at the same time.

* in anthology line-up news: Solipsistic Pop Vol. 3; that Inkstuds book.

* catch one for me, Grant!

* in Kickstarter news, Shaenon Garrity and Jeffrey Wells are raising money for the next Skin Horse print volume. Wait... what? Okay, news just in: in just about the time it took me to write that first sentence, Garrity and Wells raised all the money they were looking for. Holy crud, indeed.

* in publishing juggernaut news, they've announced the Fall release date for the next Wimpy Kid book -- not exactly comics, but still.

* Paul Gilligan is going to try a one-year-long narrative at Pooch Café.

* finally, Richard Thompson posts a cover rough for the third Cul-De-Sac book, by which he and I both mean the original series of books as opposed to the new treasury-sized series of books (many strips run multiple series). What's interesting about Richard's post is he gets into where he got the idea and that kind of image-making.

image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: ERB-Dom Part Three

image
 
posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Gabriel Vargas, 1915-2010

image

The cartoonist Gabriel Vargas, a major figure in the Mexican arts and a cartoonist who delighted millions in work that managed high sales levels over five different decades, died on May 25 after a lengthy illness. He was 95 years old.

According to his entry at Lambiek, Vargas was born in the central Mexico city of Tulancingo, in the state Hidalgo. He had ten siblings. After the passing of Vargas' wealthy merchant father, the remaining family moved to Mexico City. Despite turning down educational opportunities that would separate him from his family. Vargas continued to press for work at a young age, eventually winning a 1930 contest that helped him get a foot in the door and taking a position as draftsman at the paper Excelsior.

imageVargas' first hit was Los Superlocos, which was a sturdy feature for the magazine Pepin, which ran Monday to Friday.

His signature strip was was La Familia Burron, which began in 1937 after Vargas was challenged to create a feature with a female lead. It was the story of a low-income family -- the patriarch was a barber -- struggling with the give and take of everyday life under the realities of economic hardship and surrounded by friends and neighbors in a quirky but generally recognizable barrio. Vargas would draw it from its inception until the early 1970s. He would later become the feature's publisher in addition to its creator.

He won Mexico's National Journalism Prize in 1983 and the National Science and Arts prize in 2003. In 2009 he received an honorary doctorate from the University Of Hidalgo.

He continued to cartoon, providing freelance work to the magazine Gentesur.

According to wire sources, Vargas had been ill for years preceding his death, although exactly from exactly what malady he suffered beyond cardiovascular complications is unclear.

Vargas' passing was announced by Mexico's National Council of the Arts and Culture. A memorial service was held yesterday.

thanks, Tat Bestand. I'd appreciate any correction to any of the above; there's some grind to the facts of what was being published where that I can't suss out with as much certainty as I'd prefer.

image
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Little Lambs

image
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Oh, Tom. Tom, Tom, Tom…

image
"And by kid, you mean 38-year-old, right?"
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Miscellaneous Steranko

image
that has to be the first Hulk art to focus on his abs
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Amanda Emmert Of Muse Comics On Female-Unfriendly Direct Market Stores

The well-regarded retailer and industry advocate Amanda Emmert of Muse Comics and ComicsPRO sent me the following letter in response to this editorial from last Sunday. I think I may disagree with every word she's written, but out of respect for Amanda and what was likely a considerable effort in making her objections known I wanted to give her words the widest possible audience without the usual, immediate, combative response, especially for the sake of those that might have read the piece to which it responds and in hope it will make for a better conversation over time. My thanks to Amanda for allowing me to publish the following.

*****

Hey Tom,

I wanted to take a moment to respond to just a few things in your post about the female un-friendly DM, and if you want to talk more about it I'd be happy to email more. But just a couple of quick things:

1. Saying direct market stores as a whole, or even as a majority, are un-friendly to females and then basing that on anecdotal experience is a tough way to start a conversation or debate. It's like me saying that most men are chauvinists because I have 200 anecdotal experiences with chauvinistic men; it's hard to talk someone out of a stereotype or a prejudice. I could come up with 200 anecdotal examples of female friendly stores but you'll probably have more anecdotes to counter that, and in my experience some women can be put off by a shop for many reasons including the product, not by the actions of the employees or the set-up of the store itself.

I have a small, female-owned shop. I've been complemented by female readers, moms, librarians and teachers for over a decade for how inviting my store can be for women. That said, I have had many women put off by my store. It can be anything or a combination of things--we carry card games and miniatures and those are male-dominated hobbies and sometimes a wife or girlfriend can happen to come in when there are more men in the store than women. We don't carry any porn comics but there are still plenty of highly regarded indy comics we carry that can put women off. (Do you know how popular in indy comics is the lonely-guy-masturbation scene, seriously?)

It's hard to even write about this without over-generalizing. We can talk about female-friendly products only as a generalization. Many of the women who come into my store would be put off by Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose but that book has female readers. So do the Zenescope titles. Books that you might think, inside of our industry, are female-friendly can be off-putting. Gail Simone writes wonderful, tough, smart female characters but have you seen what they wear? Gail doesn't have control over that when it comes to writing established characters, but very few female characters in comics are actually female-friendly in the general sense and that's not limited to superhero comics. How put off you are by that just depends on how much, as a reader, you're used to it, how much you care about it, or how much you like it.

When I talk to other retailers about setting up a female-friendly store, I have talked about not putting up posters or even fully-facing books that may put off the casual female reader. But even that is difficult; almost all of the characters we have (mainstream AND indy) can be off-putting if you aren't already into comics. And then as a retailer you're in the position of not advertising a book that could sell very well for you if it's promoted to customers you already have in order to appeal to casual readers who you don't have as customers yet. That's a tough place for a retailer to be.

That's not to say that balance isn't frequently achieved, because we do have many, many wonderful stores that are friendly to everybody. I just wanted to point out that stores can seem unfriendly to women just for carrying comics, not because the owner or the employees are behaving badly or haven't set up a nice store.

2. Okay, so in defense of the direct market: we have many, many wonderful stores. Most of the stores I visit are comfortable and trying to appeal to a wide customer base. Do we have stores that even I, having worked in comics retail since I was 16, wouldn't shop in? Yes, we do. The answer to that is not going to be to continue to talk about how unfriendly the direct market is to women.

Just like it doesn't make chauvinistic men less chauvinistic if I were to say "we need to keep debating about how chauvinistic all men are," it doesn't make poorly run comic book stores less poorly run by suggesting that we need to keep talking about how unfriendly direct market stores are. And, just like if I kept saying "all men are chauvinistic" it would offend the guys who are interested in the discussion, you just continue to offend the retailers who really do care about improving the direct market. They're the ones who take the time to read your blog, by the way, and it's tiring to keep hearing how unfriendly we all are when most of the retailers I know are working 60 hour weeks, at a minimum, to promote comics to everyone. They are the friend of the comic reader, not the enemy, and too often they are castigated by bloggers for any offense anywhere within our industry.

3. What's the answer to the unfriendly direct market stores, then? In my opinion, it's not to give up on the direct market as a whole and send customers to Amazon, it's not to continue to demoralize good retailers, and the answer is not to foster an anti-retailer sentiment in the blogosphere and inside of our industry.

In my opinion, the answer has several parts. We need to continue to promote great stores and spend time talking about what we like in good stores we visit--as a retailer, if I hear that something you found enjoyable in another store meant that you spent more money there, I am far more likely to try emulate what makes money than I am to change what I'm doing because you're down on the direct market. That education takes a while to reach progressive stores and may not reach the poorly run stores at all (since those owners aren't online looking for ways to improve their stores) but I can tell you that most retailers are interested in what actually makes more money and if you have examples that one can easily emulate then we have something to work with.

Another part of the answer is that we need more stores. In my experience, many of the poorly run stores that still exist have been in business a long time (because the newer poorly run stores usually don't last that long) and the owner has found what works and is going to stick with it. So you aren't going to talk him (or her) into changing much, even with all of the arguments and good examples in the world. I think starting on the ground floor with newer retailers is the way to encourage best practices. ComicsPRO has a crazy-cheap way for new or would-be store owners to connect with existing progressive retailers to learn about creating a widely appealing store. All of the retailers involved are volunteers who donate their time and expertise to others because they're interested in improving our market.

If you find a store that's doing a good job, give them your support (even if it's via mail order) and talk about them. The market is going to go where the money is, and right now the easiest money for a retailer to make has nothing to do with being female-friendly. The best discounted and easiest-to-sell comics aren't trying to be female friendly. This example is not universal but for the most part, many retailers know that their female-friendly products and displays cost them more in discount, time, and customer percentage in the short run than the biggest mainstream books that they can make more money on with less effort. Yes, I fully believe that in the long run you make more money by appealing to a wider customer base. But it's not as easy as it sounds from the outside and almost every comic book store is a small business with tight cash flow.

When your money goes to Amazon it does nothing to improve the direct market. If you're interested in improving the direct market, the answer is not to keep talking about how unfriendly many comic book stores are, the answer is to fund the ones who are doing a great job creating and maintaining stores which appeal to everyone.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Howie Post 02

image
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Favorite Comics Farewells

Yesterday, CR ran an article on ten of my favorite comics "finales." I invited CR readers to share a few of their own. This is how they responded.

*****

image

Andrew Mansell

The Last of the annual Sunday Fall strips featuring Lucy and Charlie Brown and the football. Schulz brilliantly features Rerun -- the very best character of the last decade of the strip -- and provides us with a genuine punchline as well as some closure (depending on how you look at it) Perfection!

The Final Steve Canyon strip. The drawing by Bill Mauldin is splendid on so many levels; combined with the signatures of the "survivors", it truly marks the passing of an era.

*****

image

Lane Milburn

Last year I reluctantly checked out the Deathnote series from a local library and read all 12(?) volumes. I wasn't into the goth-highschool-vengeance-thriller tale at first but was soon pulled along into the taut, forward-driving plotline. I enjoyed a lot of it and found it to be a wild ride with lots of clever and tense moments.

But wow, what an ending!!! One of the book's signature (and in my mind, most annoying) features is the accruing list of rules for the Deathnote book at the beginning of each chapter. There are so many rules added every few pages that they're impossible to keep up with. But something kinda beautiful happens at the beginning of the last chapter: the two new rules are: "Once dead, they (the book's victims) cannot be brought back" and "They all go to the same place and that is Mu (nothingness)."

The final chapter is a beautiful silent sequence of a procession of robed, candle-bearing figures in the mountains, looking like pious outcasts. This little coda suggests a continued following for the defeated godlike villain Kira.

*****

image

Chad Nevett

Dashed off my own top ten list for my weekly random thoughts post on Comics Should be Good (in no particular order):

1. The final Calvin and Hobbes strip 2. Animal Man #26 3. Preacher #66 4. Transmetropolitan #60 5. Automatic Kafka #9 6. The Authority #12 7. The Dark Knight Returns #4 8. Punisher: The End 9. The Invisibles vol. 3 #1 10. The end of the original Incal

*****

image

Douglas Wolk

In the category of "last Grant Morrison issue of a series that continues after he's gone," I love the double-whammy of Doom Patrol #62 (which was, as I recall, presented as his final issue, and ends things in a pretty standard way, with a triumphal everybody-hugs note) and #63 (which turns the previous ending inside-out and recasts it as a desperate attempt at an escape from crushing awfulness). I can't think of any other serial that's pulled off that kind of fake ending/real ending trick.

*****

image

Box Brown

"Passing Before Life's Very Eyes" by Kurt Wolfgang -- a short story I first read in Best American Comics 2006 about a man's death. Ends in a perfectly placed blank page.

*****

image

William Burns

I immediately thought of Tom Strong #36.

*****

image

Chris Mautner

I was just thinking of this yesterday, as I'm currently reading the new volume of Walt & Skeezix, but Frank King's farewell strip for "Gasoline Alley," is touching and brilliant, with a older and slightly forgetful Walt looking over photos of his children and grandchildren and wondering what the future holds.

*****

image

Michael Carens-Nedelsky

Thanks for that, Tom, quite nice. The final sunday strip of Calvin and Hobbes seems a grievous omission -- that strip really was its generation's Peanuts. "It's a magical world Hobbes Ol' Buddy -- Let's go exploring!" is a line that stays forever.

In comic books proper, I think the finale of Sandman is a towering achievement, not least of which for being the first commercially successful series to end of its volition because Gaiman thought the story was done. Whether you consider "the end" issue #75, or the end of The Kindly Ones where Morpheus story concludes, or view The Wake to be a single, cohesive conclusion, the power of that resolution is undeniable.

Y: The Last Man is some craziness. Not sure how I feel about it's ending certain threads, but emotional character moments are excellent. Coincidentally, Brian K. Vaughan ended up writing for Lost.

Otherwise, never heard of Far Arden -- how was it originally published? And I thought Pluto had a decent ending, but then again it's about the only long-form manga I have ever read.

*****

image

Mark Coale

The two that immediately come to mind are Starman #80 and the last Calvin and Hobbes. Also Alan Moore's last issue of Swamp Thing (64?).

*****

image

Shannon Smith

My favorite final issue is The Invisibles Vol. 3 #1. (It counted down backwards.) Just a fantastic Morrison & Quitely comic. Blew my mind. Still does. A great breaking the fourth wall ending that (much like the final Peanuts) feels like the writer and character are speaking directly to the individual reader. But it's much more than a good bye. It's like a grand send off for the reader to begin their own adventure. As if the reader is set free as the word balloons float off the page to infect reality. While, in the spirit of the series, it is full of double meanings and pokes fun at itself. "Our sentence is up." Which means freedom. Or, just it means that the literal sentence on the page is over. Period. Alan Moore's Promethea had a nearly identical ending but it took Moore a full comic to explain what the Jack Frost character explains in the last couple of pages of The Invisibles.

*****

image

Michael Grabowski

The final Calvin & Hobbes strip is a nice variation on them heading off into the sunset. The final Far Side is memorable, though a little too cute to be truly great. The final few pages of High Society may not qualify, but it's memorable for being very different in style from the way any other Cerebus book or serial ended. I also wonder if it's not the ending Sim would keep if he could go back and change it. The original Omega The Unknown #10 very much has that "suddenly canceled TV show" quality about it even if by itself it's not the greatest comic or ending.

*****

image

John Vest

I enjoyed reading the CR Best Goodbyes feature. Here are a few goodbyes in comics I enjoyed (although maybe the first two don't count exactly).

I liked Nick Fury #15 when it came out and was always kind of sorry Marvel revived the character. I asked Mr. Friedrich at a Heroes Con about the comic and he said the original intent had been to kill Nick fury, as the comic hadn't been selling well. I'm not sure if Nick Fury has ever really been used effectively in comics since that issue.

It wasn't the end of the series, but Doctor Strange was never the same after Steve Ditko's departure with Strange Tales #146. That issue had the fantastic splash pages with the Eternity/Dormammu fight.

A couple of other goodbyes I enjoyed in comics over the years were Tomb Of Dracula #70 and the end of Fritz the Cat in The People's Comics.

*****

image

Sullivan "Sully" Elliot

Since you mentioned manga, I thought I'd mention the splash at the end of 20th Century Boys, where the band finally gets back together and plays a tune together was awesome, while the end of the enigmatic Blame! was chilling and eerie, and just a little hopeful.

For comics, the ending of Transmetropolitan is the best finale of any story I've ever read, regardless of medium, and it brought tears to my eyes. Sandman and Preacher had phenomenal endings as well.

*****

Leandro Damasceno

Great list, but I think Bill Waterson's Calvin & Hobbits could find a spot among the top 10.

*****

image

Danny Ceballos

1. Chester Brown's Yummy Fur #32

A grand exit for a disheveled lady of a comic book. Chester's as yet unfinished telling of the Gospels of Matthew finally takes center stage and then that stage goes dark. With a laff-out-loud depiction of Salome's dance (rendered in a mere two panels) joltingly followed by that grotesque severed head of the baptist held aloft in mockery for eternity. The back cover ends it all with a super-Jewy Jesus laying down a guilt trip so powerful that it should last you at least two or three lifetimes. Worth the original $2.95 price for the cover alone.

2. Doom Patrol Vol. 2 #63

Another "it was all a crazy dream" like ending is gratefully averted by Grant Morrison who allows our herione to slouch off onto that confetti strewn street named Danny. I hope they never find the body...

*****

Thanks, everybody! Great endings. Two editor's notes. One is that on Chris Mautner's entry the 1959 Gasoline Alley art is as close as I could find to King's last strip. Two is that while it's up to you whether Calvin and Hobbes is an egregious omission from your list, it's omitted from my favorites because I thought it was kind of obvious and ordinary. I say that as a huge fan of Watterson's work. My list would be different in five or six places if it were a list of the best endings rather than my ten favorites. I apologize for my soft labeling.

*****
*****
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Howie Post 01

image
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In SF, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: The Best Comics Schools

image

my personal list is all the high schools from CHS like Destrade, above, plus Huerta High School in Hoppers
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Jungle Jim #22

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Captain Marvel Wannabes

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: More Cartoonist Autographs

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Happy 5th Year Blogiversary to Bully's Comics Oughta Be Fun! I like Bully so much that I sometimes feel guilty eating steak.

image* this is one of the better comics roads-not-taken suggestions I've ever heard.

* the writer and blogger Sean Collins asks if you need to like a protagonist for the work they're in to be a good book. Or if you need to like them for any reason at all. You know, the Wilson argument. I'd say no, and it's bizarre that this is even an issue. Only in comics.

* well, I laughed.

* I'm enjoying posts like these where Mike Sterling posts about toys. The X-Men character he's talking about is one of those characters that made me realize that there were people younger than me having an entirely different X-Men experience than the one I left behind and I should lighten up rather than make fun of it or whine or whatever.

* the D+Q Librairie placed on two Best of Montreal awards lists, winning the comic store one outright.

* personal note: it may be time for a vacation -- and counseling -- when you wake up from a long dream about going to the Schulz Museum for the launch of something called Vagino Comics.

* not comics: you always remember your first big-city, open 25 hours, takes every credit card including Diner's Club, nobody speaks English, sells you burritos the size of your head restaurant. All hail Arturo's.

* finally, is it just me, or does viewing the new CBLDF blog in Firefox result in a jumbled mess with the right-hand column material kind of looking like it was tossed on top of the left-hand column material?
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 42nd Birthday, Marc Arsenaul!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 33rd Birthday, Dave Roman!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 33rd Birthday, Raina Telgemeier!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 40th Birthday, Nick Bertozzi!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 43rd Birthday, James Kochalka!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 71st Birthday, Herb Trimpe!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Line
Nick Abadzis Sketches
Dave Lasky In The Stranger
Snoopy Is A Great-Looking Dog

Exhibits/Events
Go See Joe Wos
Photo Of Jim Lee At WonderCon

History
Nice Outfits
That's One Big-Ass Baby
Remembering Little Chauncey
Wonder Man Is Pro-Wonder Man
Sam Henderson's Strange Image Collection

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Mike Carey
ComixTALK: Steve Conley

Not Comics
On The Anime Machine
Another Day, Another Fundraiser

Publishing
Ax Is At The Printer

Reviews
Timothy Hodler: Wilson
Matthew Brady: Young Lions
Todd Klein: Flash Rebirth #6
Nick Smith: Neko Ramen Vol. 1
Christopher Allen: Hey Princess
Brian Hibbs Reviews Everything
Johnny Bacardi: Inhumans #1-12
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Superman #693-697
Nick Smith: My Girlfriend's A Geek Vol. 1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Twin Spica Vol. 1
Johanna Draper Carlson: To Terra... Vol. 1
Lori Henderson: Samurai Commando: Mission 1549 Vol. 1
 

 
May 25, 2010


CR Feature: The Best Goodbyes

So with the finale for the television show Lost rapidly receding into the background, the reaction to the show suggests the question: what are the best "final episodes" in comics history? Like television, some of the best ones weren't official finales, or didn't quite take. With that general caveat in mind, here are ten of my favorite comics good-byes.

image

1. Milton Caniff's last Terry and the Pirates Sunday: December 29, 1946
There was never a better comics kiss, and that's saying something, especially considering Caniff himself probably put onto paper five of the ten strongest challengers. Instead of mailing it in, and the way Caniff was leaving the feature might have led a lot of creators to wind things down more generally, Caniff provided another classy reminder of Terry's unbeatable combination of shameless soap opera rooted in an idealized sense of human decency and the cartoonist's skill with cinematic scene-setting on the comics page. Reading that strip could be like eating the richest, most perfectly prepared chocolate cake.

*****

image

2. The final Barnaby run: January-February, 1952
Barnaby was a gently rollicking and humane strip that didn't trade in sentimentalism but counted on a similar well of forgiveness in presenting the sometimes fussy idiocy fostered by its world of moderately out-sized characters. The final sequence (for which creator Crockett Johnson returned), where Barnaby becomes too old to have adventures with his slightly incompetent fairy godfather, stabs right in the heart and, further, underlines the temporary nature of newspaper comics art and art in general in a profound way.

*****

image

3. Love and Rockets Vol. 1 #50
Two great moments among many in the final issue of one of the greatest serial comics: Jaime's Maggie and Hopey are reunited after several issues of stories that were driven to great extent by their absence in each others' lives. Gilbert Hernandez slips one of the biggest mind-fucks in comics history into his otherwise graceful Palomar story, where a certain character's appearance suggests the two major worlds of each creator are intertwined and provides a potential answer to the mystery behind one of the cartoonist's best comics stories.

*****

image

4. The final Peanuts: February 12, 2000
Most hardcore Peanuts fans of my acquaintance were prepared for just about any character taking center stage in the final Sunday of this great strip except for the one who did: Schulz himself, with a letter of goodbye that felt in some way like the most unnecessary apology in the world.

*****

image

5. Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?
A goodbye to a certain Superman for whom multiple generations of children had feelings ranging from fondness to an imprint of certain daddy issues, and an equally heartfelt farewell to a school of comics storytelling. Plus: good dog.

*****

image

6. Animal Man #26
I think that the vast majority of this issue and the whole Pirandello-style intrusion of the writer into the storyline was inelegantly handled, then and now. And also this barely counts as an ending except as a cap to Morrison's admittedly distinctive run -- this iteration of the character's comic would run into at least the issues numbered in the 70s and the characters and concepts have been used by DC since then. Still, the idea of returning a group of supporting characters to life simply because it's the most human thing to do is a sweet, affecting and enduring idea, one that has more resonance today than it did back then.

*****

image

7. Zot! #36
I've always contended that Scott McCloud's YA-before-YA comic book series worked best when it dug into how a certain kind of lonely kid negotiated fantasy -- a progression of immersion, negotiation, assimilation -- so for me the series' final issue becomes a grace note about how sweet it can be to go Someplace Else just for the sake of that experience.

*****

image

8. Far Arden, Epilogue
There are a lot of great endings to a lot of stand-alone graphic novels, but very, very few of them have that "final episode" feel the same way the last 10 minutes of a satisfying film isn't quite the same thing as the last installment in a long-running TV show. Kevin Cannon's Far Arden was serialized, however, in the manner of a limited-episode BBC series. The nautical saga's final chapter gets its points by being as bleak as they come, both in its inversion of the energetic cartooning of the previous chapter and the sense that all there is to do after a certain point when things go wrong is to submit to the authorities and, when you get the chance, dwell on just what the hell went wrong. (The television equivalents would include the final Sapphire and Steel and the third Veronica Mars "we don't know if we're coming back or not" ruthlessly downbeat season finale.)

*****

image

9. The Last Several Days of Franklin Fibbs: September 25 to October 8, 2006
I enthused over Franklin Fibbs in the middle part of the last decade the way I all but politically endorsed Richard Thompson's Cul De Sac a few years later. Hollis Brown and Wes Hargis' strip was never better than it was after cancellation, where a lot of humor was wrung from the strip's impending extinction and some of the more drastic measures used to keep it alive (such as booting its elderly protagonist for a kid version of same called Little Fibbs). For the record, while I know they were joking I would have totally read Fetus Fibbs, too. (This is another one with an easy television equivalent: the little-watched Moonlighting self-assessment finale.)

*****

image

10. Tony Fitzpatrick's The Wonder, Vol. 3
The artist/poet doesn't consider these books comics, but I've gone and claimed them anyway for the way their thematic progressions match more typical narratives beat for beat and for the power of their blend of words and imagery. In the final chapter of a three-volume study of his father's Chicago, Fitzpatrick goes darker than any other of the city's great chroniclers dared into what seems at times like an endless series of monsters, freaks and out-sized characters. What keeps these final pages from becoming intolerable is that the artist turns around and gives us four or five instances of his most positive portraiture, such as this lovely tribute to the Sox's Joe Crede.

*****

That's what I can think of for now. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) The odd thing is that not a single manga series came to mind, not even when I sat and furiously thought about it. It may be that I don't follow the series with the biggest payoffs, I'm not sure.

*****
*****
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Peter Wheat #1

image
 
posted 9:30 am 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 no-doubt 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 spy on a few of the following.

*****

MAY090844 BEST AMERICAN COMICS CRITICISM SC $19.99
You can read all about it here.

MAR100181 BATMAN RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #2 OF (6) $3.99
Strangely, this is the only superhero comic book that popped out at me this week -- Grant Morrison on Batman in various time periods. I haven't seen it, but that sounds kind of fun.

DEC090221 WEDNESDAY COMICS HC $49.99
DC's broadsheet-sized hit and miss anthology, featuring a selection of solid creative teams working on a college preview course's group of superhero characters featuring various big hitters. I imagine better paper, discounted bookseller price points and the overall impressive size of the thing will do wonders for it's reconsidered.

MAR101053 COMPLETE LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE HC VOL 05 $49.99
I think these are some of the best comics of all time, and they're being done up right by IDW.

JAN101031 TORPEDO HC VOL 02 $24.99
You won't find any prettier comics this year.

SEP090281 COMPLETE INVINCIBLE LIBRARY HC VOL 02 LTD S/N ED $175.00
I read this series in comic book form, but it's a sign of its health that it sells in multiple iterations. This is obviously the fanciest.

MAR100479 DAZZLER #1 $3.99
The character of Dazzler has been around longer than Indiana Jones. Of course it isn't the age, it's the mileage. Not much mileage on this character.

MAR100661 THOR LATVERIAN PROMETHEUS TP $14.99
Okay, this just looks like they're stringing random words together.

APR100933 BIG QUESTIONS #14 (MR) $7.95
The latest Anders Nilsen and one of the last few alt-comics standing.

FEB101169 DAVE MCKEAN POSTCARD FROM BRUSSELS HC $18.00
A small McKean set of portraits from the city in question. I think there have been others; I've never seen one. Sure sounds pretty good, though, right?

FEB100918 DUNGEON QUEST SC BK 01 $12.99
Joe Daly's latest, an Angouleme Festival essential book this year in its French-language iteration, is so deeply weird it makes his oddball Hergé pastiche in his last work look like actual, straight-forward Hergé.

DEC090861 SEARCH FOR SMILIN ED GN $16.99
A major collection from an A-List comics talent. This time out the great Kim Deitch examines the nature of entertainment through the ways audiences encounter, process and recall it. The joyful image-making couldn't be more entertaining to drink in.

*****

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 here, that because this entire reality is a purgatory from which I learn by making mistakes.

*****

image
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Schulz In Family Circle

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* there will be no apology for Zapiro's Mohammad-related cartoon, so don't expect one.

* I'm not sure I agree with many of the sentiments expressed in this article, although he's right to point out that the lack of immediate violence doesn't mean all that much considering how the initial Danish Cartoons Controversy burbled to the surface after several months.

* Hugo Rifkind takes a frying pan and clubs last week's Everybody Draw Mohammad Day a few times right in the face.

* Ebrahim Rasool on why he objected to Zapiro's Mohammad-related cartoon.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Us In A Box

image

this is from Chester Brown and Dave Lapp, produced in an edition of 100 for TCAF
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Updates On Stephen Perry Case

* this television Monday evening news report from the local Fox affiliate provides a look at various places of interest in potential homicide victim and one-time Marvel Comics writer Stephen Perry. It also suggests that locals are getting frustrated by the way local police are running the investigation.

* a story providing some background and context on Perry's situation was up earlier and is now down. I'm including the link in the hopes that maybe it goes back up at some point.

* Johnny Bacardi and Nat Gertler are among those in comics that have posted on Perry.
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: An Original 1931 Blondie

image
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In London, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Raccoon Kids #52

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Star Trek #22

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Nobody Likes The Texas Twister

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Merlin’s Swank Pad

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Mark Evanier writes a timely post on a delicate subject: the fact that so many writers and artists become at risk because they are eternal optimists when it comes to their own talent.

image* Alan Gardner picked up on one gentleman's campaign to have Rollin Kirby honored with a stamp. Sounds good to me. Speaking of which, how great is it to have those Bill Mauldin stamps at the post office?

* go, look: Tom Neely's wild-looking Conan art looks like a straight-up graduate of the Kevin O'Neill School Of Berserk Superhero Comics.

* on-line voting has opened for the 2010 Eagle Awards.

* Comics Comics is still trying to raise money for future projects.

* not comics: Borders gets a cash infusion vis-a-vis the bringing on of a new majority stockholder.

* it's hard to put into words how cool it is that Ron Regé Jr. has put up for sale 200 pages from Skibber Bee Bye. We're living in wonderful times.

* a Seth notebook.

* not comics: I take it back: this sounds like a boring, obvious piece of shit.

* my friend Gil Roth kicks in with the first part of his two-part travelogue on TCAF 2010, including an on-the-ferry encounter with Tom Devlin and Dan Clowes. I love the fact that people can go to comics conventions now the same way they go to something like "Taste Of Chicago" -- as part and maybe not even the dominant part of a vacation weekend.

* finally, Sean Collins has another argument he'd like for comics people to have: why do we talk about superhero comics so much? More than the numbers would dictate, even.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 53rd Birthday, Terry Nantier!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 53rd Birthday, Marc Hempel!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 55th Birthday, Ken Avidor!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 57th Birthday, Stan Sakai!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 61st Birthday, Barry Windsor-Smith!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 54th Birthday, Sal Velluto!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Nick Abadzis Draws A Toy
Cliff Chiang Makes A Cover
D'Israeli Makes Several Covers
That Dialogue Work Is Exemplary

History
Dumbell Dan

Industry
Buy Art From Evan Dorkin
A Secret To Industry Success

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Scott Kolins
Newsarama: Stuart Moore
Daily Cross Hatch: Michel Fiffe
Talking Comics With Tim Colleen Coover

Not Comics
The Toys Lose Me

Publishing
On Scratch9

Reviews
Chris Allen: Various
Paul O'Brien: Various
Kate Dacey: To Terra
Richard Pachter: Various
Nick Smith: Ratman Vol. 1
Sean T. Collins: Snow Time
Todd Klein: Daytripper #3-4
Tim Callahan: Age Of Heroes #1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Kristin Fletcher-Spear: Koko Be Good
Greg McElhatton: Kingyo Used Books Vol. 1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Flower In A Storm Vol. 1
 

 
May 24, 2010


Go, Look: P. Craig Russell

image
 
posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* no surprise that the lingering fall-out from last week's Everybody Draw Mohammad Day is focused on Zapiro's cartoon and the efforts to block it from publication. Zapiro is a huge figure in the press down there, and a lightning rod for controversy, so his participation was bound to result in the most dramatics. Here's a decent general article on how that story has developed.

* here's another pretty good general write-up, focusing on the creation of a new group whose first action is to object to the cartoon.

* a not-as-new group has denounced the death threats against Zapiro.

* this article suggests that one reason that South Africans are touchy about this issue right now is that it's all happy faces forward as they prepare to host soccer's World Cup.

* here's a round-up of some bloggish reaction as it became focused on Zapiro's participation in the event.

* the Facebook page through which the event was organized was the locus point for some on-line shenanigans, as in the reveal of personal information for one of the event boosters. With death threats in the air, identification theft and subsequent public airing of that information put things into a potentially different and troubling light.

* finally, I had no idea that Over The Hedge participated.
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Big Wheels

image
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Howard Post, 1926-2010

image

The writer and comics historian Mark Evanier is reporting that the comics artist and animator Howard Post passed away last week from complications due to Alzheimer's. He was 83 years old.

Post was born in 1926 in a neighborhood near Coney Island in Manhattan. He spent the bulk of his childhood in the Bronx, which in an interview with Jon Cooke in 1999 he recalled as a still highly undeveloped area with plenty of park areas and even a zoo to capture a young man's interest. He drew as a child, and later enrolled himself in New York's Hastings School in order to learn animation. His father's illness sent him scrambling for paying work: first at Famous Studios as an in-between artist and then at the various comics packagers located around mid-town Manhattan. He eventually settled in at Bernard Baily's studio, receiving $15 a page.

imageThe remainder of the 1940s and into the 1950s saw Post settle into a pattern of multiple publishers and multiple assignments. He worked with Paramount on their efforts supporting war intelligence. He then received work from DC, almost moved to Dell (replacing Walt Kelly; the money didn't work), Timely/Marvel, Prize and Pioneer. The common thread was that he worked on non-superhero material, mostly humor interspersed with some straight-up adventure material. Although I can't find an exact date, most historians seem to agree that the 1950s is when Post began work for Harvey Comics, working on a variety of their features and given co-creator credit on some of the better known members of the various Harvey comics cast. He is sometimes given that credit for Hot Stuff because of his work on the early comics (lifelong Post friend Warren Kremer did the posters), although Alfred Harvey received official credit. His work on that character's stories is considered by many fans his best.

imageThe 1960s were stuffed with important comics assignments for Post. In addition to the ongoing Harvey gig, Post spent some time at Paramount as the head of their Cartoon Studios (1964-1965), worked briefly as an independent film producers, created the oddball Anthro comic for a DC in the throes of a post-Marvel identity crisis (it lasted six issues, the last with Wally Wood inking Post), and launched the comic strip Dropouts with United Feature Syndicate. The Dropouts ran from 1968 until 1981. With its archetypal cast, minimalist surroundings, dependency on verbal humor, Post's surprisingly facile magazine-illustration style line, and the general sarcasm on display, it was one of the emblematic strips of the post-1950s, pre-1980s newspaper strip "sarcasm" era: a strip that could be reduced to a tiny size on the shrinking comics page, and that could be remembered for one or two lines of a verbal jab.

"The writing was difficult but drawing funny stuff was the boon of the whole thing, because I had done them by rote for so long," he told Cooke. "After the first couple of months, you could draw it in your sleep. Writing the gags was tough and, if you're a harsh judge of your material, it was tougher. And I was a harsh judge."

Like many of the Harvey artists of the 1950s and 1960s, Post briefly caught on with Marvel's 1980s kids effort Star Comics. He also began to teach at the School of Visual Arts, a position he held for several years.

Howard Post was preceded in death by twenty years of a wife of some approximately 20 years. He is likely survived by two daughters.

image
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Ultimate SIFF Film

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Writer Steve Perry Believed Murdered

Steve Perry, briefly a writer at Marvel Comics and perhaps better known for his contributions to 1980s animation as a writer on the Thundercats show, garnered attention earlier this year as a success story in charitable efforts by the Hero Initiative in assisting creators in trouble. The contributions from the organization to Perry, in addition to independent fund-raising efforts from people like Perry's friend Steve Bissette, allowed the writer to move out of a homeless, destitute state and begin writing again. An appearance at a convention near the Florida town where he lived was a further, encouraging sign.

As effectively tracked by Kevin Melrose, that success story turned tragic as a missing persons case filed on behalf of Perry and his roommates has become a murder investigation in all but public admission. That includes the horrifying news of a severed arm found inside an abandoned van and a nearby dumpster, the subsequent revelation that Perry's roommates were arrested on charges unrelated to Perry but were being kept in custody, the admission at the end of this article featuring the mother of Perry's child that the child has been told that Daddy's in heaven, and Steve Bissette's tracking of local news stories and matter of fact discussion of his friend's personal and artistic legacy. Everything about this seem pointed toward a tragic end, with a sole positive note that the writer was better able to spend some time with his child before his passing.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Jingle Jangle Comics #7

image
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Interview With Jess Fink On Latest Round Of Content Appropriation

Gary Tyrrell at Fleen has a nice, short interview with Jess Fink on the newest use of her work without permission, including what that means when the original work in question has been licensed elsewhere and how discouraging -- and never flattering -- this kind of thing can be for artists who live and die professionally on the strength of imagery that gets ripped off.
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Four-Color #501

image
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Wulf #2

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Marvel Spotlight #25

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: When Batman Met Nancy

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Burp The Twerp

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* The Daily Cross Hatch has up a nice, short interview with Jonathan Rosenberg, following up on the Goats cartoonist's announcement he'd be re-thinking his comics career.

image* Frank Santoro remembers having Bill Watterson around on Sundays.

* we used to have a policy at The Comics Journal in the mid-1990s to be really careful with interviews, because it was a way-too-easy way to do things that should be hard. I'm reminded of that policy these days the more I read these roundtables that seem to be popping up everywhere. The positive is that if I distrust them, they're probably super-popular. And that I'll probably soon be doing my own.

* Kiel Phegley on the biggest revelation in Hope Larson's female readership survey.

* not comics: I watched some of the original three Star Wars movies over the weekend while cooking and cleaning house. I like that Princess Leia and Darth Vader are the only characters to kill people with their bare hands in those movies, although maybe I'm forgetting someone. Watching an enraged, 85-pound Leia choke out a 900-pound muppet makes me think that if Luke failed and the dead Jedis had turned their attention to the Princess as a last hope she would have flipped to the Dark Side in like 85 seconds.

* like Del Close giving notes to the latest improv class graduates at Second City, Kurt Busiek talks Wednesday Comics.

* finally, does any category of comics fundraiser work more effectively than the webcomics cartoonist needing new equipment?
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 62nd Birthday, Alan Zelenetz!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 50th Birthday, Wimbledon Green!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 85th Birthday, Carmine Infantino!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Egad
Egad Egad
Orange Revision
Kate Beaton Sketches Pirates
How He Approaches Cartooning

Exhibits/Events
Theo Ellsworth At PSU

History
It's Magic
1990s Jam Comic
Don't Piss Off The Lois Lane Fans

Industry
Mike Manley's Millionth

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: David Malki
CBR: Harlan Ellison
Flog!: Tony Millionaire
Comics Comics: Matt Fox

Not Comics
Buy A Becky Cloonan T-Shirt
Don't Suck Really Would Have Done It
The Internet Does Not Come From Walls
I Would Be Very Sad To Receive These As A Gift
Alternative DC Covers From TV Show I Don't Watch

Publishing
On That Inkstuds Book
Last Scott Pilgrim Progress Update

Reviews
Kate Dacey: AX Vol. 1
Carlton Hargro: Various
Johnny Bacardi: Various
David Brothers: Atlas #1
Christopher Allen: Various
Chad Nevett: Avengers #1
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Byron Kerman: The Ghoul #1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Superfuckers
Johanna Draper Carlson: Ratman Vol. 1
Ed Sizemore: I'll Give It My All... Tomorrow
Johanna Draper Carlson: Hikaru No Go Vol. 19
Johanna Draper Carlson: Gunnerkrigg Court Vol. 1
Sean T. Collins: The Mystic Hands Of Doctor Strange #1
KC Carlson: The Essential Wonder Woman Encyclopedia
 

 
May 23, 2010


Three Arguments We Could Be Having

Riffing off of a line or two in an interview with yours truly conducted by Noah Berlatsky, Sean Collins at Robot 6 made a list of comics arguments that could go away. The readers of that site suggested several more. I thought their suggestions at least reasonable in nearly every case. I will probably find a place for most of the old arguments for the rest of my life, as I personally learn and advance very little in the overall scheme of things. (I can do ten minutes on Beta vs. VHS, and don't get me started on baseball's Designated Hitter.) I recognize, however, that there is a place for new arguments in comics, discussions that should be going on around the Internet and in convention bars and on the train between Los Angeles and San Diego, debates that might better reflect the more pressing issues of the day or at least give voice to concerns that are squeezed out by another round of complaints about those downer hate-the-world crybabies making all the alternative comics.

Here are three more interesting questions for comics people, 2010, at least from my point of view. I'll add more as they come to me.

image1. Does Reprinting Archival Comics Material Have A Moral Component?
We live in a Golden Age of comic strip reprints, a market where we can read not just the current hits through multi-tiered programs at Andrews McMeel but where we find a variety of publishers -- including AM -- packaging together near- or complete runs of strips that have passed the way of the Dodo. If you were to stumble into a bookstore boasting an employee with a serious desire to sell comic strip reprints or a comic shop that can handle a number of these projects within it overall financial profile, you could find books ranging from Little Orphan Annie to Dick Tracy to Mary Perkins: On Stage to Bringing Up Father to Peanuts to Prince Valiant to Bloom County to Doonesbury to Betty and Billy and Their Love Through The Ages. And you wouldn't be 1/3 done looking.

There are also a range of comic book reprinting projects that range from the systemic (the DC comics archives), to the scatter-shot but still wide-ranging (the Marvel Essentials books), the legacy-driven (Vertical's devotion to Osamu Tezuka), to the specifically targeted (Chip Kidd's book of Jiro Kuwata manga starring Batman and Robin), to the eclectic (the Dan Nadel-edited collections like Art In Time; the Craig Yoe-edited books at IDW like the book collecting Krazy Kat's "Tiger Tea" storyline.

This is mostly wonderful material, all of it represents comics of some sort of interest on some level, and as is the case with most other art forms one could conceivably read nothing but amazing older material until the end of one's days.

What doesn't get explored is the moral dimension of such publishing. Dan Nadel identified the core issue in a recent panel in Toronto: the idea of such collections doing right by the authors involved. Nadel meant this mostly, I think, in an aesthetic sense. There is only a limited window for each artist's work: a book that collects sub-standard material visually or is otherwise poorly conceived, or is poorly executed, can be a crime against that artist's potential legacy and shapes not only the future debate on an artist or a feature's merit but provides financial barriers against future projects that could show the work in a different, better light. There are other concerns. Another potential moral consideration is revenue -- very few artists whose work has slipped into the public domain or remains cemented within a corporate structure receive payment for the use of their work, sometimes to the point of great and embarrassing imbalance (a modern cover artist getting a check for copying an old-timer's style while the family of that old-timer doesn't even get a complimentary copy). It is also worth considering the issue of credit, whether or not artists particularly in "hosted" presentations of their work receive the proper amount of the spotlight for having created certain works in the first place.

These are all difficult conversations to have: no one wants to talk about financial considerations on any level, it's hard to get at what exactly constitutes an aesthetic betrayal of an artist's work and there are easy defenses to be made on behalf of projects that make a lot of money ("But we made that guy a lot of money.") and those that don't ("Do you realize I'm doing this on their behalf for basically no money?") Sometimes both arguments can be made. That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep having the discussion. Even the notions that sting or that force us to justify ourselves have a purpose in the long run.

image2. Why Are So Many Direct Market Comics Shops Still Female Unfriendly?
One of the reasons I'm so hard on the Direct Market system of comic shops and hobby stores is that I have an inkling as to how awesome they can be. I love what the elite comics shops can mean to a specific customer base in their area; I love what they can do for certain market segments. I also have a long enough memory to appreciate the numbers on a lot of different kinds of comics that were moving through a system of mostly sell-everything stores 25 years ago, just before a new breed of scumbag poisoned that system for personal gain, younger publishers stomped over it without realizing or caring what they were doing, and the big companies roared into market share contests that stuffed so much material without corresponding attention to the infrastructure so as to give the collective a kind of cape and cowl diabetes that continues to casts a pall of sickness over the entire system. Combine that with a mostly under-capitalized publishing class and a distribution system that while enjoying obvious successes in some areas still acts in others like it's 1988 and their partners should bid on services, and you have some real problems.

Nothing irks me as a sign that comic shops have calcified to their detriment as much as the fact that so many still seem to be specifically resistant to female customers. Being repulsed by a comic book shop seems to me in a lot of cases a perfectly rational response. I'm an adult male, 6'2'', can as of my last birthday still bench press my body weight, fully nerd conversant, and in the last decade I've shopped in at least two comic books that sort of frightened me. One was down a stairwell in a church's basement with an entryway full of standing water, a Lovecraft story-like gateway that always seemed like it could be hiding someone with a tire iron. I used to bend over and stare into the shadows from the opposite side before going down the stairs. Another shop I used for a while was so filled with junk and dirt wall to ceiling and had a proprietor so scary that it actually felt at all times that I was buying illegal porno and the guy selling it to me might stab me in the neck. Seriously, that second one I had to sit on the floor to look at some of the older magazines and I always sat facing the counter. Not exactly Nordstrom's. And this doesn't even get into how retail staff might conduct themselves or the content of the material displayed might bring with it some rational objection. I have plenty of female friends that love comics and will shop at a DM store with me, but over all my years I have left more of my female friends sitting in the car than I've ever been able to convince to come into stores -- at least more than once -- and I bet that's true for a lot of people. I once took three girls 6-14 I was baby-sitting into a pretty average comic shop -- the girls all read comics -- and within five minutes each went to sit in the car. I quickly rang up and we sped away. Their parents and I joked with them at dinner about the Scary Comics Shop, and they laughed about it, but the more I think about, the more that wasn't all that funny an afternoon.

Comics is a secondary art form. It has undeniable appeal but relative to that wave of positive feeling a small audience of people willing to buy, buy deep, and buy wide. And yet one of the primary systems for selling comics to such an audience seems geared to limit what gets sold and to whom: an appalling lack of regional coverage, a single and restrictive retail model, a near-religious focus on a primary genre, neglecting entire product categories or expressions of the art form because it's not something they feel their store is interested in selling (the winnowing out of alt-comics pamphlets; the non-starter for most shops that was manga). All of these things are problems, but nothing should gall more than the idea that any customer feel less than welcome in a retail establishment on the front lines of commerce for an entire industry. This should be a base-line consideration, every single store that drives away customers in this fashion should be mocked and censured, the big companies should take a much more active interest in how they're represented community to community and I'd argue that this is important to discuss again now because it seems like very little came of such discussions 20 years ago. There is no other art form where I dispense everyday advice about how to enjoy it and make routine, casual qualifications based on someone's sex. I've never sent a prose reader to Amazon because Amazon doesn't leer; I'd like to stop doing it in comics. I think we should talk about this until it stops, and then maybe we can talk about the rest of it.

image3. What Are All These Superhero Comics Really Saying?
The prism for talking about most comics, but particularly mainstream comics, is their monetary success, either relative to the industry in which those comics come out or for their value within the wider entertainment world. I'd like to see more discussions on what these comics are actually saying about the concepts they engage. One reason is I think the conversation would be deeply disturbing and thus somewhat hilarious to have. Forcing people used to justifying creativity through marketing language to actually discuss the ideas they're putting out there can be a fun ride. It's not that comics don't exist as items that are marketed; they do. But they also exist as a vehicle for ideas, for stories, and that almost never gets discussed except under a strange construction that relies on the notion of fan entitlement. That's too bad.

The way comics work as a forum for ideas offers up a variety of things to discuss. One is identification, inclusion, the way that a comic can reflect a reality of gender and age and race that either has a place for you or doesn't. When you kill off a character, you're indeed making a shocking move that shows just how serious the storyline is, or whatever goofy way it gets phrased in the next day's CBR interview, but you're probably also offing some poor younger reader's favorite character, some fictional construct with whom some group of readers identify for some reason or another, a reason you probably provided them. Isn't that just as important to talk about as whether the numbers of who and what is killed breaks one way or another? Some characters also embody abstract principles that are frequently betrayed by the soap opera elements of twist, turn, shock and surprise. When characters that extol the virtues of great responsibility act in an irresponsible fashion and are rewarded in some way, that can confuse the effectiveness of an idea you're foisting on people as a core strength of said character. If you really think your characters have cultural power, or even iconic status, switching up what makes them that way for some sort of temporary oomph in this year's mega-crossover just weakens your ability to communicate those primary ideas over the long term. Santa always stays on message. Superman might consider following Santa's lead. This kind of thing is exacerbated with the editorial control these companies favor, as you don't even get the same kind of back and forth and correctives between creators you might of seen 20-30 years ago.

Mostly, though, I'd just like to see that kind of comic held to the basic standards to which all popular entertainments are held. What do these stories actually mean? I read all these Image comics about these apocalyptic confrontations and the nature of good and evil -- are they saying anything of value about these concepts, and if they're aren't, isn't that worth noting, too? I barely watch Lost, and I still know it has something to say about the spiraling costs of bad parenting; I read all of Final Crisis like three times and I couldn't tell you about one idea it extolled beyond looking up its own ass and giving a thumbs-up to the general, grand spectacle of imaginative superhero comics. If comics say something about the cultural zeitgeist, what exactly is it they're saying? The current cycle where the monies made justify every last act of goosing core concepts and telling increasingly cynical and unpleasant stories, and the criticism that mostly comes in response of pointing out outlandish aspects of this and saying "Holy crap, that's idiotic!" -- both of those things could make way for some real conversation, I'd say. I laugh whenever I see superheroes standing around at yet another funeral that probably won't take in their disrespectful-looking circus outfits, but I'm not sure I know why I have my reaction and why other fans join them in their Iron Eyes Cody impersonations. If nothing else, the generation of people for whom such characters seem to hold unquestioned, unimpeachable importance is going to start dying in droves in a quarter century. Getting back to the ideas behind such stories seems to me a better way to understand how the stories working with such ideas might continue, or if they're not destined to continue at all -- a World War II-era fan of Westerns time travels to 2010 and almost immediately starts shrieking -- help nail down an important aspect of their legacy.

*****

So that's three. I'll try to come up with more. It's depressing to me that we keep arguing the same things over and over again and rarely if ever move forward or at least move on. There's a lot out there to talk about.
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Bookmark: Kirby Dynamics

image
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
although no tickets left, apparently
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Mike Deodato!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 59th Birthday, John Bolton!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #211—Islands

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Memorable Islands From The Comics." This is how they responded.

image

Tom Spurgeon

1. Mordillo Island
2. The Black Island
3. Desert Island Comic Shop In Brooklyn
4. Tarmagant Island
5. Krakoa

*****

image

Chris Arrant

1. Oolong Island
2. Themyscria
3. Genosha
4. Cobra Island
5. Muir Island

*****

image

Stergios Botzakis

1. Hulligan's Wharf
2. Desert Island
3. Paradise Island
4. Dinosaur Island
5. Nacht Island

*****

image

Eric Knisley

1. Chepan Island (owned by Dr. Beaky, Love and Rockets)
2. Plunder Island (Popeye)
3. Paradise Island (Wonder Woman)
4. Blackhawk Island
5. Manhattan Island (DMZ)

*****

image

Ryan Sands

1. Panorama Island (from Maruo/Rampo's The Strange Tale of Panorama Island)
2. Terra Amata (post-explosion in Dungeon Twilight)
3. Tiphares (the floating island in the sky from Gunnm/Battle Angel Alita)
4. Shin-Takarajima (New Treasure Island by Tezuka)
5. Genosha (from xmen, no brainer)

*****

image

David Brothers

1. Drum Island
2. Thriller Bark
3. Long Ring Long Land
4. Island of Rare Animals
5. Skypiea

*****

image

Grant Goggans

1. Devil's Island (Mega-City One's open-air prison)
2. Kooey Kooey Kooey
3. Sealand (as depicted in The Losers)
4. American Samoa (as depicted in Doonesbury)
5. Plunder Island

*****

image

Michael DeForge

1) Islands Fold http://www.islandsfold.com/
2) Genosha
3) The Strange Tale of Panorama Island (upcoming)
4) The Island of the God Watchers (Kamandi)
5) Hellboy -- The Island

*****

image

James Vance

1. Blackhawk Island
2. Treasure Island (Classics Illustrated)
3. Dinosaur Island
4. Paradise Island
5. Manhattan

*****

image

Mark Coale

1. Magtaggart island
2. Manhattan (as pulled by hercules)
3. Marzal (where tyroc is from)
4. Hydra island
5. Paradise island

*****

image

John McCorkle

* The Last Island
* Smileless Island
* The Island of Doom
* Amazon Island
* The Terror Archipelago

*****

image

Buzz Dixon

1. Monster Island (as in Sam Glanzman's KONA, MONARCH OF...)
2. Monster Island (as in Stephen Bissette's KING OF...)
3. Monster Isle (as in Joey Weiser's)
4. NoMan (as in Wally Wood's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS) [think about it...]
5. Manhattan

*****

image

Tom Bondurant

1. Blackhawk Island
2. KooeyKooeyKooey (from the Giffen/DeMatteis/Adam Hughes Justice League America)
3. Dinosaur Island (from The War That Time Forgot, etc.)
4. Transformation Island (from the Marston/Peter Wonder Woman)
5. Monster Island (from Fantastic Four, etc.)

*****

image

Sean Kleefeld

1. Nova Venezia (Tozo, the Public Servant)
2. Maas Island (Fantastic Four #263-264)
3. Atlantis (raised up off the ocean floor in Fantastic Four: Atlantis Rising)
4. Manhattan (not the real one, but that one Hercules inexplicably pulled around by a chain in Marvel Team-Up #28)
5. Cerelia (Breakfast of the Gods)

*****

image

Michael May

1. Hydra Island
2. Paradise Island
3. Dinosaur Island
4. Madripoor
5. Oolong Island

*****

image

David King

1. The Black Island (Tintin)
2. Blackhawk Island
3. The island where Jimmy Corrigan was stranded by Superman
4. The island where Wash Tubbs and Capt Easy were shipwrecked (in issue #2 of the Dragon Lady Press Wash Tubbs reprints of 1930 dailies specifically. They were probably shipwrecked hundreds of times.)
5. Marzal

*****

image

K. Thor Jensen

1. Neo-Tokyo
2. Coldheart Island
3. Hulligan's Wharf
4. Hate Island

*****

image

Des Devlin

1. Charlie Brown's pitcher’s mound, after the game has been rained out.
2. That island with the exploding mushrooms, from Tintin.
3. Concrete, swimming.
4. That island that sank when the castaway plucked the flower, from Don Martin.
5. NoMan, from T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents (because NoMan is an island).

*****

image

Evan Dorkin

1. Blackhawk Island
2. Monster Isle (FF#1, etc)
3. Dice Island
4. Plunder Island
5. Goon Island

*****

image

John Kovaleski

1 Whatever island Conchy lived on
2 Manhattan (DMZ)
3 Muir Island (Xmen)
4 Attabar Teru (Tom Strong)
5 Any island in a "desert island" gag cartoon

*****

image

Don MacPherson

1) Dinosaur Island
2) Blackhawk Island
3) Marvel's Manhattan
4) Star Island (Green Arrow's "birthplace")
5) Paradise Island/Themyscira

*****

image

Johnny Bacardi

1. Oolong Island, home of the current incarnation of the Doom Patrol
2. KooeyKooeyKooey, of Justice League International fame
3. Mordillo Island
4. Paradise Island
5. Monster Island, home of the Mole Man and all those rooms with sashes

*****

image

Jamil Thomas

1. HYDRA Island
2. Vathlo
3. Marzal
4. Coldheart Island
5. Dinosaur Island

*****

image

Chris Duffy

1. The freaky island from Raggedy Ann+Andy #32
2. Island headquarters of Doom Patrol
3. Paradise Island
4. Plunder Island
5. Bourbon Island

*****

image

Scott Dunbier

1) Argo City
2) Attabar Teru
3) Gamorra
4) Unnamed Monster Island from New Frontier #1
5) Hydra Island

*****

image

Joe Schwind

* Easter
* Mysterious
* Skull
* Neverland
* Monster

*****

image

Justin Colussy-Estes

1. Paradise Island (Themiscyra? I always knew it as Paradise Island)
2. Dinosaur Island (the only war comics I ever read as a kid were The Land that Time Forgot. and Monster Commandos)
3. The Island from Battle Royale
4. Madripoor (clue to how big Wolverine was at the time: they had to invent a whole island-nation for his new series)
5. Monster Isle/Monster Island (were they different? They both were secret headquarters for Mole Man, and I always thought they were the same, but I've had stupid arguments where somebody argued they were separate)

*****

image

Uriel A. Duran

1. Dinosaur Island
2) Cobra Island
3) Madripoor
4) Blackhawk Island
5) That tiny island with a single palm tree featured in all those castaway cartoons

*****
*****
 
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
May 22, 2010


First Thought Of The Day

I'm certain people much smarter than I am have figured out this out and written endlessly on the subject, but the scary thing about social networking media is how it seems to engender a state of mind that mirrors what little I know about mental illness: you're constantly hearing voices in your head and you set about controlling them through the application of obsessive/compulsive maintenance tools. At best it feeds a narcissistic impulse to see your entire world of outside stimuli as some sort of ongoing vote on you and what you do.

Not that I'm stopping.
 
posted 11:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
The Comics Reporter Video Parade










via


via


via



via
 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week In Review

image

The top comics-related news stories from May 15 to May 21, 2010:

1. Thursday was Everybody Draw Mohammad day.

2. Slovakian PM joins list of powerful world politicians that have sued an editorial cartoon over a cartoon they didn't like.

3. Prominent Pittsburgh-region retailer and convention organizer Michael George has his bail reduced on way to second trial for the murder of his first wife in Michigan. He was convicted the first time around before it was set aside due to what the judge believed was misconduct by the prosecutor.

Winner Of The Week
Jay Potts

Loser Of The Week
Martin Sutovec

Quote Of The Week
"People talk about breaking into comics, but there is no breaking in. If you're not compelled to make comics by a deep visceral need that doesn't let you go, then you're not going to be able to make it. There's no breaking in, only doing it." -- Colleen Coover (I'm guessing it was "breaking in" and not "breaking it" as the text says, but I could be wrong and my apologies if I am.)

*****

today's cover is from the 1940s-1950s mainstream comics publisher Avon

*****
*****
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Police Potentially Investigating Case Of Missing Comics Writer And Charity Beneficiary As Murder

Kevin Melrose has a smart write-up of the details of a story that writer Steve Perry, a one-time animation and the beneficiary of largesse from the comics community in both unofficial and semi-official ways, has gone missing after having his home ransacked. The details are horrifying. Perry seemed to grateful for the help he received from all corners, particularly the Hero Initiative, and it would be a very sad thing is the details bear out in the direction most seem to think.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
although no tickets left, apparently
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Fort Wayne, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Herge Would Have Been 103 Today

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 41st Birthday, Mimi Rosenheim!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
May 21, 2010


Friday Distraction: Paccia Interviews

image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Atlas Splash Pages

image
 
posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* so yesterday was Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.

* most of the political coverage was about Pakistani reaction, including the blocking of networking media that might carry news of the offending day to the people of that country.

* original Danish Cartoons Controversy cartoonist Kurt Westergaard was apparently in favor.

* as many articles noted, perhaps most strongly this one in the Guardian, the cartoonist who did the original "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" cartoon wanted no part of yesterday's event.

* Reason had a contest.

* the Christian Science Monitor ran an editorial by Husna Haq that sought to explain exactly the nature and depth of the offense felt by many Muslims when these things are done. There are a number of such editorials around the Internet today. (I think the editorial in that last link is largely idiotic, but I'm sure it's well meaning.)

* finally, in a grand collision of two of this site's most frequently blogged subjects, controversial South African cartoonist Zapiro's panel on the event drew attempts at court blockage, death threats, and the newspaper's defense.
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: More Fritzi Ritz

image
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2010 Prix Mangawa Winners

image
image
image

The yearly Prix Mangawa Awards, organized by two bookstores to allow participating students to pick what they think is the best manga, have been announced. Over 160,000 students from 260 schools voted.

Shonen: Letter Bee, Hiroyuki Asada (Kana)
Shojo: Arakure Princesse Yakuza, Kiyo Fujiwara (12bis)
Seinen: Fool On The Rock, Chihiro Tamaki (Kaze)
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: More Schulz’s Youth

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico Sues Cartoonist Martin Sutovec

image

Darryl Cagle has the best write-up -- maybe the primary write-up -- on news that the Prime Minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico, has sued a cartoonist named Martin Sutovec for a cartoon making fun of the politician for having no spine. The original- and English-language versions are above and below. Cagle is one of Sutovec's distributors.

Cagle points out the three things that need to be pointed out here. First is that politicians like Fico tend to make a habit of suing media sources for compensation after critical coverage, and that they frequently win -- whether through a cultural tendency to discount the positives of satire, the influence of a powerful sitting politician on the courts or a little bit of both tends to be debated. Second is that the suing of cartoonists by major political figures is pretty common in places like Algeria and Turkey, and that this can be an obvious and understandably huge hassle for the cartoonists in getting their work out there and read. Third is that much has been made about Slovakia joining the EU and its general status vis-a-vis the west. Turkey's membership in various Western organizations was cast into doubt for its anti-press activities, and this could alter how people view the "new" Slovakia.

image
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Night Of The Ninja

image
in the '70s, even the ninjas were talkative
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Appeals Court Upholds Judge’s Call For Second Trial; Former Retailer Michael George Has Bond Reduced

According to coverage in the Detroit Free Press, Judge James Biernat reduced the bond for former retailer and convention organizer Michael George from $2.5 million to $500K. This comes roughly two weeks after the Michigan Court of Appeal decided that Biernat did not overstep his bounds in his shocking decision to give George a second trial on charges he murdered his then-wife in 1990 in their Michigan comic book store, a case that became a high-profile trial in 2008. Biernat made that decision after the defense accused the prosecution of not bringing all of their evidence to bear, evidence that may have indicated an alternate narrative.

George's attorney made the bond reduction request on Monday, following up on the May 5 ruling. His request was for a reduction to $100,000.

If released -- previous attempts to have George released planned to have the accused go to his mother's -- George would be unable to leave the location except for approved appointments and would be monitored.

Macomb County prosecutors plan to appeal this latest decision.
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Mummy! 02

image
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: CA Picks The Best Of Brave And The Bold: The Lost Issues

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: First Perri Sunday

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Bruce Timm EC Tribute

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Batman Annual #8

image

pages/analysis
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* retailer and industry blogger Chris Butcher writes an obituary for the CMX line from the point of view of a retailer. I found it compelling: Butcher claims they basically acted poorly towards retailers from the very beginning and that the whole line was poorly conceived.

image* looks like DC is putting together its own Covered-style project to celebrate its 75th anniversary. Why are we only getting to the 75th anniversary stuff now? It seems like they blew off five months of perfectly okay anniversary time.

* this isn't news, but there's nothing like spending three hours on various travel aggregate sites looking at hotel rooms in order to attend a con under a certain budget and then remembering the con itself offers discounted hotel rooms. You think I'd be much better at that kind of thing by now.

* Cromartie High School is indeed a useful tool for understanding life in context.

* okay, who had Cary Bates in the pool?

* the Comics Comics kids would like to sell you stuff for money. They need it for candy and to help run their site. It's like an elementary school's end-of-the-year Mardi Gras, except with Johnny Ryan rape art instead of an inflatable moonwalk ride.

* here's an editorial on the (mostly) superhero news blog run by Newsarama about DC offing its character that was playing the Atom role in their fictional universe. I wish I could kill the headache I get trying to figure out how to write sentences like that.

* I should have known that of all television shows, Heroes would find a way to annoy me even after it got canceled.

* speaking of annoying things that won't go away, Julie Taymor speaks on her Spider-Man musical.

* no way was Siege this entertaining.

* Graeme McMillan joins Douglas Wolk's gang of dudes that talk about comics I don't care about.

* finally, I always enjoy these close studies by Ken Parille.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 30th Birthday, Sammy Harkham!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 35th Birthday, Neil Kleid!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 44th Birthday, Mark Crilley!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 54th Birthday, Gary Reed!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 66th Birthday, Kim Deitch!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 50th Birthday, Buster!

image
thanks, Devlin
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Exhibits/Events
Len Wein At A Signing
The Books Sarah Got

History
This Is Slightly Terrifying

Industry
Zak Foster Visits TOON
Ron Rege Is Selling Skibber Bee Bye Pages

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Mike Mignola
CBR: Tony Millionaire
AV Club: Grant Morrison
Comics Alliance: Colleen Coover

Not Comics
We Live In An Age Of Wonders
Mike Sterling Talks Superhero TV
Portland Artists Looking For Studiomates

Publishing
On Eden
This Made Me Laugh
On Big Questions #14
One Damn Word And You Blew It

Reviews
Todd Klein: Turf #1
Miles Fielder: Wilson
Lori Henderson: Gon Vol. 1
Michael C. Lorah: Air Vol. 2
Marc-Oliver Frisch: I, Zombie #1
Richard Bruton: Paper Science #2
Andrew Wheeler: Solomon's Thieves
Andrew Wheeler: Britten and Brulightly
Snow Wildsmith: Classic Bible Stories Vol. 1
 

 
May 20, 2010


Go, Look: Boys Boys Boys

image
 
posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: News On Cons, Shows & Major Events

image

By Tom Spurgeon

* this weekend it's the Summit City Comic Con taking place in the stomping grounds of the late and great Grass Green, the Copenhagen International Comics Festival and Sunday's Maine Comics Arts Festival. Here's an article on the Copenhagen show and an article on the Maine show.

* .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you think I'm missing a sizable or important show -- I missed a show last week, and it was sort of embarrassing.

* see, I already missed the Bristol Comics Expo. That's the 22nd and 23rd as well. This column sucks balls.

* the big news of the week would seem to be Gareb Shamus' decision to move Wizard's Big Apple show away from direct competition with the New York Comic-Con and into a slot the week before. Makes sense to me. You still get to draft in the NYCC publicity wake, you may even be able to confuse potential attendees into believing the first of those comics shows is the only or better show that month, and you're not going head to head where reporters can make facile comparisons by looking at one crowd versus another. I would also assume there are some pros that might be convinced travel to do both shows and catch some east coast time between gigs. I'd be tempted to do so if there were anything about the first show that interested me in the slightest.

* via The Beat comes this message-board conversation about how Comic-Con landing in Anaheim might have an impact on Disneyland. It's hard for me to wrap my mind around anyone except the park owners caring about Disneyland as an entity this way, but some of the back-and-forth is intriguing.

* before I forget, the Copenhagen show commissioned one of their festival posters from Chris Ware. You can see a smaller version around the Internet and a bigger version in a couple of places, including right here.

* the director Morgan Spurlock talks a bit about his planned Comic-Con movie. I can't remembering being blown away by any of Spurlock's previous efforts, but exploring that show as a place of influence seems to me like it would be a pretty fruitful avenue for a documentary filmmaker.

* finally, I hadn't heard of The Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo before receiving a link to their web site, but that's a great city to visit and the price for a table and for a half-table could barely be any better. If they're coming out with this kind of solid information this early it's a pretty good sign they'll be on top of publicity all the way up to and including show time.
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Old Cover Originals

image
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* today is Everybody Draw Muhammad Day, a free-expression stunt and collective statement of support for beleaguered cartoon artists who have pissed off a subset of stridently political activists with their own portraits of the Prophet. It's a tricky thing from my vantage point. People have the right to draw whatever they want, and that's indeed something to celebrate, but one of the more noxious things about the original Danish Cartoons Controversy is that it was an unnecessary stunt by a business that enjoyed, like it or not, a role as a civic institution. That role might not supersede the requirements of journalism when it comes to informing one's readership -- a test nearly every journalistic entity in the world got an F-minus on in early 2006 -- but it can be argued that it trumps the paucity of wisdom required to engage in touchy political points outside of that journalistic role. I would argue that, anyway. So I think there's some nuance there.

* so in case there was any question, I won't be drawing Muhammad today, mostly because I suck balls at portraiture but also because I feel that CR's support for the free speech issues involved has been best displayed through our constant and consistent hosting and publication of the Danish images since Fall 2005, the contextual republication of one or more of those images every time our journalistic mission has called for it, and our constant attention to the issues swirling around this matter. So this site will pass. Still, I recognize everyone else's right to draw whatever the heck they want. I hope some of them are funny, and I hope any attempt to use them to rile people up into some paranoid, unfortunate political reaction dies in the early stages. While folks have a right to be pissed at this happening, they don't have a right to to cross the line into intimidation and violence.

* Michael Cavna explores the event from the perspective of working political cartoonists.

* at the time I'm writing this, there hasn't been a severe reaction to the event anywhere in the world. I hope that holds, but if you want an update before tomorrow the wire reports found through Google News or any similar service will be sensitive to these stories today. Many believe the event was a factor, if not the factor, in driving Pakistan to ban YouTube for sacrilegious content.
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Shintaro Kago Dailies

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Hope Larson’s Survey

The cartoonist Hope Larson has posted results from her not-scientific survey of 198 female readers of comics. She's careful to state that nothing about what she's doing makes for a representative sampling, but the results are so stuffed with matter-of-fact statements and solid ideas I can't imagine anyone caring. For instance, I'd love to see comics retailers come to grips with the basic fact that some people find a lot of funnybook stores deeply uncomfortable places to shop, and that this is exactly the kind of issue where improvements can be made without pointing fingers or shrieking in self-defense that it's not them but by even the stores with no real obvious problems in this area making whatever improvements they might be able to pull off.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: The Somnambulist

image
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Your 2010 Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship Winner

imageI'm glad Mike Lynch caught this because I sure didn't: the cartoonist Sandra Bell Lundy at her blog revealed that Mengxin Li was the winner of this year's Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship. Li is a Film and Animation major at the Rochester Institute Of Technology -- Gary Groth and Debbie Drechsler both went to school there, so it's not a totally unheard of comics-related school -- and is the author of Wind Chevalier, which was featured in Shoujo Jump.

The scholarship is named after the late, long-time editor of King Features comics' efforts and noted underground comix scholar Jay Kennedy and goes to a rising junior or senior in North America. It is named by a panel of professional cartoonist, of which I assume Sandra Bell Lundy was one this year, and the winner attends the NCS meeting and Reuben Awards over Memorial Day weekend.
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: A Best Of Covered

image
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: PT Bimbo

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Mary Jane And Sniffles

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Krazy Kat #5

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Superhero!

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* over at Robot 6 Kevin Melrose has more on the lawsuit against the now-canceled show Heroes and its last-season carnival storyline. I think it would be fitting if there were something to this and some money exchanged hands as the entire show felt like a third-generation Xerox of someone else's work, someone who wasn't profiting.

image* this Faith Erin Hicks Wolverine try-out comic is awfully, awfully cute. How is its existence not an overall positive? I think Marvel should open up the X-Men and encourage people to make stories like this and maybe even publish them concurrently while allowing the fans to do so with impunity; DC should do the same with the Legion of Super-Heroes. That would really open up a couple of moribund franchises with a lot of juice left to them, just not necessarily the kind of juice that gets squeezed into glasses solely at editorial meetings.

* this Cliff Chiang drawing of The Archies is adorable as well.

* not exactly comics: the writer Kevin Church has spent a week with an iPad, and he has enjoyed the experience.

* happy 10th anniversary, Narbonic!

* not comics: I'm trying to figure out the specific appeal of a film version of Tamara Drewe. Watching this film clip I think I have a pretty good idea, and then I have a really good idea at about the 41-second mark, and then it escapes me. I better watch it again a couple of times.

* finally, Sean T. Collins presents the comics-related arguments that one never wants to hear again.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Three By Richard Thompson

image
image
image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Time

Exhibits/Events
Photos From Herblock Awards Dinner

History
No Cash Value

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Chris Sprouse
CBR: Victor Gischler
CBR: Bryan Lee O'Malley
Comics Alliance: Jeff Parker
Washington City Paper: Dan Clowes

Publishing
On Cuba: My Revolution
Ant-Man Visits Crankshaft
On That DC Legacies Project
Please Jim Woodring, Never Quit Blogging
On Those Taschen Books Paul Levitz Is Writing

Reviews
Matthew Brady: Various
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Todd Klein: American Vampire #1
Snow Wildsmith: Twin Spica Vol. 1
Grant Goggans: Vampire Knight Vol. 2
Michael May: Gunnerkrigg Court Vol. 1
Shaenon Garrity: Garfield: His Nine Lives
Kate Dacey: The Times Of Botchan Vols. 1-4
Johanna Draper Carlson: Frenemy Of The State Vol. 1
Greg McElhatton: Stuff Of The Legends Volume One: The Dark
 

 
May 19, 2010


Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

image

By Tom Spurgeon

* Mari Ahokoivu has finished her 'zine about being stuck in the recent volcano-ash related travel difficulties, and is selling copies to defray further costs she incurred trying to complete her trip. My additional hope is that some of the New York comic shops might buy some copies from her to sell. (thanks, Johanna Rojola)

* the big news of the week -- well, there was a lot of pretty big news this week -- is DC shutting down its CMX imprint, their manga line. This is the latest step in a series of what collectively seem more and more like body blows for the American manga scene. Johanna Draper Carlson has the most succinct write-up, including Anime News Network's list of last titles to be released by the publisher and the observation that jibes with my own gut reaction that what is specifically troubling about this move is that this is essentially a vote of no-confidence for manga from a publisher that could have easily borne the pressures of a down market for the category. As far as I know, DC has no plans to release information such as what they'll do with licenses or the fate of those working on the line directly, although if I subsequently find that information I'll alter this sentence.

image* one thing that's interesting to me about the CMX thing is that despite six years' worth of publishing history it never felt like CMX was viewed within or without the company -- either WildStorm or DC -- as vital to any overall publishing strategy. It also never seemed to benefit the way that other lines did a couple of years back when DC saw a general boost in book distribution. That was the promise of the CMX line from my vantage point: that it would use the strength of DC's corporate backing to introduce another model for selling manga into the comics market, or at least supply the basic model with some interesting special features, a twist or two (increased comic shop penetration, or the kind of targeted marketing that's supposed to be part of DC's skill set now). Instead it just seemed like a general manga line that happened to share offices and convention space with DC. Another thing I wonder after is that CMX was the home for some classic manga series; I don't know if that's still the case, or what the end result is there -- boutique publishers are probably slightly more interested in that category than someone looking for general sales strength across the board, but it can't be a good sign in terms of diversifying that sub-market.

* I also think it's fair to look at the general bad news for manga -- from sales figure to firings to entire companies seeming to slip out of existence -- and wonder about the structural issues involved. Certainly there seems to be enough of an appetite for manga out there generally that the whole thing needn't show signs of collapse, but it's clear that the structure for profiting from said appetite isn't being served. Anyway, so much for Manga Triumphalism, even with a sustained comeback and continued strong category sales. Let's hope for Manga Rationalism from here on out.

* the cartoonist Josh Simmons announces two short pieces in two Robin Bougie publications, which given previous Josh Simmons comics for Bougie is both great and slightly terrifying news.

* Rich Tommaso has re-jiggered his web site so that his Sam Hill serial takes over as the solo feature. It seems to have become his most promising feature.

* Dark Horse has joined its mainstream publishing brothers in offering up a discount comic book line, in their case 12 Dark Horse comic books from their publishing library they'll make available at $1 each. The first six book in the initiative will arrive in August and come from the Aliens vs. Predator, Sin City: The Hard Goodbye, Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, Usagi Yojimbo, Conan and The Goon. I've never been the target of one of these initiative, although back in the 1980s and early 1990s the better retailers I used would occasionally gift me the first issue of a new series in order to try and hook me into buying it regularly from that point on. I'm not sure what the next step is with something like this, and I wonder if you're not whetting someone's appetite and then offering them a HUGE meal of trades. Is there any retailer out there that's had success with these kinds of books that would .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) as to how?

* the cartoonist Ellen Forney has sold a graphic novel to Gotham/Penguin through agent Holly Bemiss. It sounds like a 2012 release.

* the influential Atlanta-area training ground and artists' collective Gaijin Studios has closed down, what they're calling an indefinite hiatus. That's not really publishing news, I guess, but I don't know what else to do with it.

* the cartoonist Theo Ellsworth talks about a collaborative comics project on which he's working and a forthcoming print he's doing with Secret Acres.

* this week marked the debut of a Wallace & Gromit comic strip in the UK newspaper The Sun.

* a recent Chris Mautner interview with publisher Dan Nadel about his book Art In Time segued into a Picturebox, Inc. update: long-promised books from Brian Chippendale and CF, a 216-page graphic novel from Renee French (!!!), a limited edition Yuichi Yokoyama book and new Ben Jones.

* finally, I thought the cover images for the ICON iterations of the earlier Casanova work were awfully pretty when I stumbled across them a couple of days ago on the Moon/Ba cover Flickr area.

image
image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: The Facts In The Case Of Dr. Andrew Wakefield

image
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTB: The Magic Whistle: How To NOT Put Cats On Peoples’ Heads

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: TCJ’s Bullpen Bull

image
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Golden Books Art Gags

image
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Mummy!

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Valiant & TV21 #2

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: No Way Out

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Nobody Likes Hank Pym

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Ian Brill talks about the decision at Boom! to take his Darkwing Duck comic to ongoing status. I have nothing whatsoever to say about Darkwing Duck, although Brill is a nice young man.

image* here's a nice profile of Dan Clowes in the San Francisco Chronicle.

* here's a long piece at TOON's blog about a teacher using some of their educational tools.

* Rina Piccolo provides advice on how to get your cartoons in The New Yorker.

* I've had this Financial Times article on Moulinsart sitting in my bookmarks folder since forever. If you somehow missed it, you might give it a read. Ditto this CCI article on Timothy Leary.

* makes sense to me.

* finally, I'm always a bit hesitant to do this sort of thing, but Noah Berlatsky was nice enough to ask me to interview with him for his site Hooded Utilitarian. Learn my favorite playwrights!
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 43rd Birthday, Steve Lieber!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Sean Phillips Makes A Cover
Shaenon Garrity Fulfills A Commission

Exhibits/Events
Dan Clowes In New York
Best Event Hype Write-Up Ever

History
It Wasn't Hard To Understand

Industry
Colleen Doran Is A Badass

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Jeff Lemire
CBR: Dylan Horrocks
Newsarama: Len Wein
Newsarama: Paul Levitz
CBR: Brian Michael Bendis
CBR: Dan McDaid, Glen Brunswick
Newsarama: James Stokoe, Mark Andrew Smith

Not Comics
What Jason Aaron's Desk Looks Like

Publishing
Your Iron Man Comic Book Possibilities
It Doesn't All Depend On Those Old Guys
Why Is There A Stigma Surrounding Licensed Comics?

Reviews
John McMurtrie: Wilson
Alan David Doane: Wilson
Christopher Allen: Various
Johnny Bacardi: Thor #145
Nina Stone: The Sword #24
Lori Henderson: Twilight Vol. 1
 

 
May 18, 2010


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 no-doubt 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 be totally checking these out for later download to my iPad.

*****

MAR100302 AIR #21 (MR) $2.99
Another issue, another dollar I owe my friend Murray. I'm beginning to suspect that first issue was designed to trick us into thinking "immediate cancellation." But I kind of liked that first issue. Only three dollars to go, though, which is terrible news. I would have kept paying.

MAR100516 AVENGERS #1 HA $3.99
MAR100161 BRIGHTEST DAY #2 $2.99
Two potential #1 selling books of the month. The Avengers comics is the anchor book in Marvel's new "Heroic Age" foray. As for the Green Lantern-focused Brightest Day, I wonder if three years from now they will launch a bunch of mini-series out of Aquaman? At this point, it wouldn't surprise me. I still don't know what this one's about. Zombies?

JAN100330 EX MACHINA #49 (MR) $2.99
JAN100331 EX MACHINA DELUXE EDITION HC VOL 03 (MR) $29.99
This has been a sturdy performer and I believe it's nearing its final issue.

MAR100304 JOE THE BARBARIAN #5 (OF 8) (MR) $2.99
Did I stop paying attention to people talking about this, or did people stop taking about this? It's the eternal question.

MAR100210 LEGION OF SUPER HEROES #1 $3.99
If nothing else, Paul Levitz's return points out how much more fun the Legion and mainstream comics in general were back in the days when an issue of teen superheros cost $.40 rather than $4.00. You know what they should do? Just declare these characters open source.

MAR100234 ZATANNA #1 $2.99
!yrruH .gnitnaw enoyna enigami t'nac I koob rof deen tekram etaerC

MAR100214 SPIRIT #2 $3.99
JAN100456 ASTOUNDING WOLF-MAN #23 $2.99
FEB100403 WALKING DEAD #72 (MR) $2.99
Three comics I'd consider picking up if I were in a comics store and loaded with bucks. The first one has more art from Moritat, the latter two are Robert Kirkman comics including I think the second-to-last Wolfman comic. That one's kind of more entertaining for the fact it didn't work out.

SEP090280 COMPLETE INVINCIBLE LIBRARY HC VOL 02 $125.00
As much as I collect these comics I collect them in comic book form, so no thank you, but it's another sign of Robert Kirkman's matter-of-fact success he's been able to bust these comics out into all kinds of formats without anyone I know of complaining.

JUN090893 CAPTAIN EASY HC VOL 01 SOLDIER OF FORTUNE $39.99
The best adventure comic everywhere; Crane's clean, thought-out actions scenes are a tonic for all those confused superhero fight scenes out there today.

MAR100916 CATLAND EMPIRE GN $29.95
This is a longer work from former Petits Livres featured artist Keith Jones.

FEB100789 LEONARD STARRS MARY PERKINS ON STAGE TP VOL 07 $24.95
FEB100790 STAN DRAKE HEART JULIET JONES TP VOL 03 $24.95
How great is it that there are ten volumes of these books between the two series?

JAN100915 MASTERPIECE COMICS HC (O/A) (MR) $19.95
How great is it that demand for a Bob Sikoryak comic was such that it needs to be offered again?

MAR100951 WALLY GROPIUS HC $18.99
FEB100912 WEATHERCRAFT HC $19.99
Two generations of cartooning from Fantagraphics. The all-new Weathercraft is my book of the week and would be my book for most weeks, frankly.

*****

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 here, I'm sure there are many universes where I did.

*****

image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Dan DeCarlo’s Dames

image
 
posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* a pair of brothers aged 19 and 21 have been remanded into custody for trying to burn down the home of artist Lars Vilks. Vilks has been in the news for renewed interest in his 2007 cartoon doodle featuring Muhammed's head on a dog's body, an effort made in the context of controversy over the 2005 publication of the Danish Muhammed Cartoons. Wilks was also attacked during a college lecture last week and is currently in hiding.

* that makes it a good as time as any to point out that "Everybody Draw Muhammed Day" is only two days away.

* here's a pretty good thinkpiece on the Wilks situation, drawing on recent articles published and opinions made known.

* David Frum makes the case that last week's attacks on Vilks are an attack on us all.

* I thought this effort by Lloyd Dangle a funny cartoon on the matter of Muhammed cartoons generally.
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: BWS Conan Splash Pages

image
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Weyni Deysel, 1951-2010

image

Weyni Deysel, an award-winning South African cartoonist whose major newspaper client was The Citizen, died after shooting himself in his home in Alberton, a town southeast of Johannesburg. He had just turned 59 years old.

Deysel was born in the eastern cape town of Port Elilzabeth and was trained at Pretoria Art School. He briefly worked as a train driver before coming under the tutelage of Len Lindeque.

Deysel had worked for The Citizen since 2007, and was also known for his work in partnership with the comedian Leon Schuster, providing his CD covers and movie posters. His site indicates a cartoonist working a variety of gigs, from graphic design work for corporations to directly-commissioned cartoons. The article in The Citizen indicates that like many staff editorial cartoonists Deysel was part of the publication's general editorial meetings; he was described by his editor as "a vibrant presence."

Deysel won the 2009 Vodcaom Journalist of the Year Award in the cartoonist division for the Gauteng region. Most of the articles on his passing cite the general sense of humor displayed in his work as well as its generally light-hearted tone. He was a three-time winner of Standard Bank's Cartoonist of the Year honor in the mid-1980s, won the Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurverenegings Prize in 1989 and took the ABSA Dolphin Prize in 2001. Among his clients in the publishing world were Die Transvaler, Rapport, Sunday Times and Vaderland.

Weyni Deysel is survived by a mother, two sons and an ex-wife. A gallery of his work can be found here.
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Captain America #6 Page

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Billy Ireland Database Now Available

imageThis article published yesterday in the Ohio State University campus newspaper indicates that the searchable database for the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is up and ready to be used. Seeing as I can barely remember that the OSU library is called "the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum," it's nice to be reminded of this fact and to have a new tool when it comes to checking out potential research material. One of the more important stories of this relatively flush period in the comics medium's history is the establishment of resources at academic institutions, which is the kind of thing that can be of use moving forward into the next few decades, not just the next few book publishing seasons.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: New Funnies #126

image
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Fanboy’s Secret Origin

imageHarry McCracken at Technologizer does the cultural excavating that no one else thought to do: exploring where the term fanboy came from and exploring the pejorative's impact and effect on a generation of nerds, particularly the use of the term in computer circles. According to McCracken the key document is a 1973 comic where Jay Lynch and Glenn Bray rework the humorous put-down "funboy" into something that distinguishes one kind of fan from another. It's worth it for a better look at the comic art depicted at left, and the John Byrne fumetti. Is there any day that can not be made between three and four percent better through application of the phrase "John Byrne fumetti"?

thanks, Devlin and Jesse
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Dennis The Menace #13

image
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Merrie Melodies #125

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: More Fizzboomski

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Forgotten Creeper

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Pogo Advertising

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Evan Dorkin has a nice report from the commencement speech he gave at CCS over the weekend. I bet it was a lot funnier and more memorable than the one at my college graduation.

image* Dan Clowes is covering the May 24 New Yorker.

* Ben Morse talks in two parts about his five favorite Avengers and his history with Marvel's team title. That was one of the two books I collected when I was a kid -- I had issues #1-#200 -- so this is totally up my alley. My five favorite Avengers team members would be:
1) The Vision. It's hard for people who started reading superhero comics after 1980 to believe this, but the Vision was for several years the hardcore Marvel fans' favorite character. I liked that he had creepy powers, was totally red, was at one-time the re-animated and reprogrammed corpse of an earlier Marvel character, and with all of that working against him still managed to be one of the few Avengers we knew had sex.

2) 10-Foot Goliath. I think I liked him just because I was a big kid. He was also the most miserable character in the history of all comic books, to an almost comedic degree, which made me feel like I comported myself well as a prisoner in my 5'4'' body. Plus for some reason Roy Thomas seemed to think being 10 feet tall automatically put you in the Marvel heavy-hitters weight class instead of what that power would really give you: constantly sore feet and perpetual, targeted ass-beatings from smaller and stronger super-villains, by which I mean all of them.

3) Hawkeye. We all had someone in our core group of friends growing up who's just a little too into being a member of the group. That's Hawkeye. Hawkeye was also the emblematic character of the awesome Cap's Kooky Quartet era -- Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch -- where the uniting factor was that every Avenger had powers that were super-annoying to face in open combat. Can you imagine being tricked out in your finest Gear Of General Badassery, primed and ready for Go-Time, and some carny dickweed stands 200 feet away shooting paste arrows at you? Most of the stories back then ended when some heavy-hitting super-villain basically said, "God, fuck this" and took his invading army home as the various Avengers danced around in front of him, serpentine fashion, ready for round 17.

4) Captain America. Captain America in the Avengers was always sweating how to stay in the game with all the roster's heavy-hitters, something I found way more appealing than the bland, super-confident tough guy he always seemed to be in his solo comic. Also, I always liked how he was really good at fighting people in hallways. Like if there's a hallway with a bunch of dudes in it, he could totally beat up that entire hallway.

5) Swordsman. I liked the fact he just showed up out of the blue with his hooker girlfriend and decided he was going to be on the team. We all know someone like that, too. Plus he was great as Schneider on One Day At A Time.
Yeah, I could do that all day. My CPR training? Don't remember one bit of it.

* not comics: the problem with unimaginative superhero plot-lines is that they either sound like they've been done 50 times before and they probably really have been done at least a half-dozen times before. So then someone gets sued. It's like vampire stuff. If you say "vampire mobsters," I know without looking that someone has done vampire mobsters before.

* there is no greater joy perusing the comics Internet than an event-heavy update from Brett Warnock at his Top Shelf blog.

* not comics: will John Landis raise enough money to make a William Gaines biopic? Jonah Hill, your Oscar nomination is calling...

* finally, Johanna Draper Carlson addresses some perceived shortcomings in the Glyph Awards.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 38th Birthday, Gabrielle Gamboa!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 57th Birthday, Arthur Suydam!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Mike Mignola Variant Batman Cover

Exhibits/Events
Go See Houdini In LA
Dan Nadel Talking Up His Book At Fumetto
Brendan Wright On Dan Clowes At Powell's

History
Rick Veitch's Kid Comics
Inquiring Minds Want To Complain
Time Nominates Best Long-Running Comic Strips
Hank McCoy's Weak Legs Cost Jean Grey Her Life

Interviews/Profiles
Talking Comics With Tim: Kevin Colden

Not Comics
Remembering Ronnie James

Publishing
Shadoweyes Previewed

Reviews
Tucker Stone: Various
Todd Klein: RASL Vol. 2
Noah Berlatsky: Uzumaki
Christopher Allen: Wilson
Timothy Callahan: Godland
Greg McElhatton: Real Vol. 8
Charles Hatfield: Young Lions
Paul Gravett: The City Of Abacus
Johanna Draper Carlson: DAR Vol. 2
Kate Dacey: Saturn Apartments Vol. 1
Marc-Oliver Frisch: Invincible Iron Man #25
Johanna Draper Carlson: Neko Ramen Vol. 1
Grant Goggans: Batman Featuring Two-Face And The Riddler
 

 
May 17, 2010


Not Comics: Esquire Illustration Post At Sam Henderson’s Magic Whistle

image
 
posted 11:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

There's only one story today, but it's an awful-sounding one: the artist Lars Vilks is in hiding after arsonists attempted to burn down his home, according to a variety of international wire reports. Vilks was recently head-butted while giving a speech that included the showing of a film with adult content that depicted Muhammed, and has enjoyed worldwide media coverage after renewed attention was paid his 2007 cartoon-like doodle of a dog with Muhammad's head -- both by the press and the people who would wish to do harm to those who make such an image. Two men have been arrested.
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Missing Harvey Kurtzman

image
 
posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Philippe Bertrand, 1949-2010

image

The French-language comics news clearinghouse ActuaBD.com is reporting the passing of Philippe Bertrand.

Philippe Bertrand was born in Saint-Jean-de-la-Ruelle in north central France. His initial work upon leaving school came as a designer in the early '70s on such publications as Partisans and L'Idiot International. By mid-decade, he was providing a lengthy client list -- including Charlie Hebdo -- with illustrations and making personal comics such as 1979's A cet instant aux antipodes.

imageBertrand was perhaps best-known for his erotic work, which he began to work on in earnest in 1983. He employed an off-beat style that sabotaged a lot of the standard erotic signposts in comics art. He called his approach "nouvelle manière." The look of that art, the basic visual approach it embodied, became popular above and beyond the comics in which it was employed. Perhaps its biggest showcase in comics was in the Linda Aime L'Art series in Pilote, which was republished in three stand-alone albums between 1985 and 1992. The success of that work in comics form provided Bertrand with opportunities in areas as disparate as illustration and stage design. It also led to a memorable exhibition at Galerie Lambiek in the early 1990s. The Linda story was even animated.

Bertrand worked a writer for other artists at various points throughout his long career, coming to depend on that model more and more in his later years. Among his creative partners when working as a writer only were Jean-Marie de Busscher (Olympia, published in A Suivre in 1984), Elisabeth Brami (a children's book entitled Les Petits delices from Seuil Jeunesse in 1997), Frederic Beigbeder (two volumes of Rester normal with Dargaud in 2002 and 2004), and Jean Teule (Le Montespan, published by Delcourt in 2008). He also wrote and drew solo books for Futuropolis, a rock magazine called Best and Les Humanoides Associes. He made CD-ROM game called Bugmonsters and was a longtime illustrator for Le Monde in what has been described as a full and significant career.

Philippe Bertrand had just turned 61. His death came after a long period of illness.

image
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Sheldon Mayer Profile

image
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
A Final Note Or Two On Frazetta

Most of the first rush of Frank Frazetta obituaries have arrived on-line. I'll continue to update this site's Collective Memory for as long as I run across or am sent entries. Unlike some cartoonists or people with a comics past, Frazetta should see a slew of magazine obituaries that may have an on-line expression, just not for a few weeks yet. For instance, Steve Ringgenberg mentioned he's working on one for Heavy Metal.

imageIf you're late to the news or just want a quick way to check out some material on his passing, you could do worse than run a gauntlet that included our obituary, Jesse Hamm's analysis, William Stout's personal reminiscence, the Frazetta posts at Golden Age Comic Book Stories and then wash it all down with Gary Groth's 1994 interview with the late artist.

One interesting thing about that interview and one that might increase your admiration for Groth's interviewing skills is that the original Frazetta tapes were lost. Gary coaxed an entirely new interview from Frazetta when given some time for follow-up questions. So there's not a whole lot there in terms of tracking Frazetta's career to its specifics, but there's a career's worth of his thoughts on various phases of his life and things like film icons. It's one of my favorite interviews with a comics person ever.
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Random Frazetta Comics

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Lengthy Post On Trailblazing Comic Book Artist, Illustrator EC Stoner

imageThis link was just sort of sitting in my bookmarks, like some forgotten Christmas gift shunted behind a houseplant. I have no idea where it came from, but it turns out to be a lengthy investigation of a comics artist with whom I was completely unfamiliar, EC Stoner. Beyond its obvious interest because of Stoner's race and the time period in which he worked in comics as compared to other prominent black cartoonists, it's also just a pretty good story of an artist who used his time in comics to more firmly establish what sounds like a successful freelance illustration career. It's also copiously illustrated, although the author is quick to admit that Stoner was more a of working cartoonist than a forgotten star of the four-color world.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Frank Battle Sunday

image
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2010 Glyph Award Winners

The winners of the Glyph Comics Awards, designed to "recognize the best in comics made by, for, and about people of color from the preceding calendar year," were named during a ceremony held in Philadelphia this weekend as part of ECBACC. Jay Potts and his on-line World Of Hurt comic won three awards; the latest Aya the Marvel effort Luke Cage: Noir two apiece. Winners are as follows, in bold.

image

STORY OF THE YEAR
* Luke Cage Noir; Mike Benson & Adam Glass, writers; Shawn Martinbrough, artist
* The Original Johnson; Trevor von Eeden, writer and artist
* Unknown Soldier #13-14; Joshua Dysart, writer, Pat Masioni, artist
* War Machine: Iron Heart; Greg Pak, writer, Leonardo Manco, artist
* World of Hurt, Jay Potts, writer and artist

*****

image

BEST WRITER
* Joshua Dysart, Unknown Soldier
* Jeremy Love, Bayou
* Greg Pak, War Machine
* Jay Potts, World of Hurt
* Alex Simmons, Archie & Friends

*****

image

BEST ARTIST
* Chriscross, Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance
* Jeremy Love, Bayou
* Shawn Martinbrough, Luke Cage Noir
* Jay Potts, World of Hurt
* Trevor von Eeden, The Original Johnson

****

image

BEST MALE CHARACTER
* Black Lightning, Black Lightning Year One; Jen van Meter, writer, Cully Hamner, artist; created by Tony Isabella & Trevor von Eeden
* Isaiah "Pastor" Hurt, World of Hurt; created by Jay Potts, writer and artist
* Jack Johnson; The Original Johnson; Trevor von Eeden, writer and artist; inspired by the life of Jack Johnson
* Luke Cage, Luke Cage Noir; Mike Benson & Adam Glass, writers, Shawn Martinbrough, artist; created by Archie Goodwin & John Romita Sr.
* Moses Lwanga, Unknown Soldier #13-14; Joshua Dysart, writer, Pat Masioni, artist; inspired by the character created by Robert Kanigher & Joe Kubert

*****

image

BEST FEMALE CHARACTER
* Aya, Aya: The Secrets Come Out; created by Marguerite Abouet, writer, Clement Oubrerie, artist
* Lee Wagstaff, Bayou; created by Jeremy Love, writer and artist
* Michonne, The Walking Dead; created by Robert Kirkman, writer, Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn, artists
* Misty Knight, Immortal Iron Fist; Duane Swierczynski, writer, Travel Foreman & Tom Palmer, artists; created by Tony Isabella & Arvell Jones
* Nola Thomas, NOLA; created by Chris Gorak & Pierluigi Cothran, writers, Damian Couceiro, artist

*****

image

RISING STAR AWARD
* Jiba Molei Anderson, The Horsemen
* John Aston, Rachel Rage
* Kerry & Tawanda Johnson, Harambee Hills
* Julian Lytle, Ants
* Jay Potts, World of Hurt

*****

image

BEST REPRINT COLLECTION
* Aya: The Secrets Come Out; Drawn & Quarterly
* Bayou Vol. 1; DC/Zuda
* Icon: A Hero's Welcome; DC/Milestone
* The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the 21st Century; Dark Horse
* Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool; DC/Milestone

*****

image

BEST COVER
* Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink #1; Brian Stelfreeze, illustrator
* Luke Cage Noir #1; Tim Bradstreet, illustrator
* The Original Johnson; Trevor von Eeden, illustrator
* Unknown Soldier #8; Dave Johnson, illustrator
* Unknown Soldier #10; Dave Johnson, illustrator

*****

image

BEST COMIC STRIP
* Bayou; Jeremy Love, writer and artist
* Jump Start; Robb Armstrong, writer and artist
* The K Chronicles; Keith Knight, writer and artist
* The Knight Life; Keith Knight, writer and artist
* World of Hurt; Jay Potts, writer and artist

*****

image

FAN AWARD FOR BEST COMIC
* Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel; Kevin Grevioux, writer, Mat Broome, Sean Parson & Alvaro Lopez, artists
* Black Lightning Year One; Jen Van Meter, writer, Cully Hamner, artist
* Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink; Eric Wallace, writer, Fabrizio Fiorentino, artist
* Luke Cage Noir; Mike Benson & Adam Glass, writers, Shawn Martinbrough, artist
* War Machine: Iron Heart; Greg Pak, writer, Leonardo Manco, artist

The judges for the 2010 competition were David Brothers, Carol Burrell, Brian Cronin and Katie & Dan Merritt. That picture of the character Aya is from the first book in the D&Q series; I couldn't find a single decent interior shot from the third book, and never received one myself.

This story was also run Sunday morning, and is being re-run for maximum exposure.
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Ultimate Freedom

image
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Silver Streak Comics

image
warning: unfortunate visual stereotypes
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Burne Hogarth’s Tarzan

image
I can't be the only one whose primary memory of Hogarth's Tarzan is the strangely-colored vegetation.
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Bruce Gentry

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Spook #27

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Warner Brothers sues Marc Toberoff.

image* go, bookmark: Johnny Bacardi starts a look at what I think is the third-best book during Marvel's 1960s heyday: the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby Thor. If nothing else, he promises a lot of visuals. I don't know how I've avoided doing Volstagg for Halloween.

* not comics: Devlin Thompson sent this to me as if this is good news, and so I assume it is: Criterion will be releasing an edition of the documentary Crumb, along with another Terry Zwigoff documentary, Louie Bluie. Or has released. Or something. Man, I don't even own a DVD player. But those are good movies, especially the one about Crumb. I still think about that segment where we follow Charles' descent into creative madness.

* you're probably not in the mood to read another TCAF report, and I feel you, but this one from Sequential addresses some critical aspects regarding the show that others missed. It is an overall positive report, however.

* I can't recall every seeing any photo-driven reports about an event at the Toonseum in Pittsburgh. Here's one by Rina Ayuyang about her own recent trip to that frequently awesome city, including a stop by Copacetic Comics, one of the major ley-line hubs on the Magic of Comics Worldwide Grid.

* Steven Thompson remembers the Annie strip. Basically, he sort of remembers not reading it. I don't know; it cracked me up.

* that jerk James Sturm is still off-line where he won't be reading any insults lobbed his way. You know what's a poopy book? Down and Out Dawg Treasury Edition. I'm glad for a chance to finally say that out loud.

* Chris Butcher takes a look at a giant manga anthology from Japan. This thing looks like the NFL football season-by-season book I used to carry around as a child.

* I like the way Craig Thompson updates his blog with these information-stuffed pictures and notations.

* on the other hand, I was always 41.

* finally, I don't think I can ever recall reading an interview with Warren Miller before. Someone needs to be interviewing all of these Shawn-era New Yorker guys before they pass on.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 33rd Birthday, Jake Parker!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 54th Birthday, Dave Sim!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 50th Birthday, Brigid Alverson!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 31st Birthday, Michel Fiffe!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 33rd Birthday, Dan Zettwoch!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 31st Birthday, Brandon J. Carr!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Nick Abadzis Sketches

History
Order Proud
Self-Publisher Anxiety Dream

Interviews/Profiles
Blog@Newsrama: JM DeMatteis

Not Comics
Goodbye, You Tiresome Show
Scott Kurtz Has Moved To Seattle
Steve Brodner Added To PBS News Show

Publishing
Better Than The Recent Movie
On Comics That Don't Look Like Comics

Reviews
Matt Brady: Wilson
Paul O'Brien: Various
Carlton Hargro: Seige #4
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Alex Carr: King Of The Flies
Sarah Boslaugh: Faust Vol. 2
Sean Collins: Wiegle For Tarzan
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Erin Jameson: Was That Supposed To Be Funny?
Greg McElhatton: Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers Vol. 1
 

 
2010 DWA Ceremony Highlights Video


 
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
May 16, 2010


Am I The Customer They’re Seeking?

imageBrian Hibbs, recent CR interview subject and longtime Direct Market retailing advocate, posted a column last week about the ongoing digital comics revolution. His focus is on the still-in-development plans of the big mainstream comics market players. As befits his established set of interests, Hibbs paints a picture of an on-line strategy that supports worried comics retailers. In his conception, the availability of digital comic books plays the same role as the newsstand played in the early days of the direct market: as an on-every-corner outreach program for the casual fan interested in checking out some comics. Hibbs proposes that the most influential companies lead the way in progressive scheduling that protects the golden goose of comics retail as it currently stands, that business gets funneled towards comic shops in as many ways as is possible, and that the price points be established that facilitate attraction to customers across the board: on-line, initial print serialization, print trade collection. It is a rational, hopeful document, and I urge you to read it.

However, since we're talking comics, none of what Brian writes is likely to happen. In fact, there's a much greater chance we'll see something close to the opposite of what he painstakingly lays out. People in comics can't decide where to eat dinner at conventions; setting policy for maximum return over the long term is beyond most industries, but it's especially beyond comics. Our industry's past indicates that most influential comics companies would time travel into the future and literally hack away at the profits that might be enjoyed then -- including their own -- if it meant a temporary gain in market share or the arcane positioning of your choice in the present. The last time seismic shifts in approach gripped the comics industry, Marvel pursued a series of moves so goofy that their editors likely kept sending company memos back up the pipeline having written "not plausible" on them. Marvelution was not just an indictment of the then Marvel brain trust, the results were such I believe it actually challenged the general theories of Darwin after which it was named. The rest of the industry, of course, rushed to follow Marvel's lead. The period of change that came before the 1990s era version proceeded at such a glacial pace that only a Lucasfilm intervention in the form of Star Wars comics sales likely kept Marvel afloat. With the digital revolution's glacier period just about played out, I fully expect at least one of the companies (probably Marvel) to adopt a more-aggressive-than-some-hoped-for same-day publishing philosophy when it comes to on-line iterations of their comics, and I expect them to adopt it soon. And then I expect the rest of the companies to do something similar. Because that's what they do.

Why? Because I think the perception of something occurring that may be profitable, that may offer a company an advantage, that may play well in the press and may do wonders within a massive corporate structure for the person deemed responsible is more attractive to the decision-makers at comics companies than any bird in the hand. For one thing, past experience says that bird is going to hang onto that hand with a loyalty that makes hard men weep and lift their beers. Stroke it on the head and say pretty, pretty bird every once in a while -- look at it like you're listening -- and that bird may provide you with all the cover you need for a smooth transition to birdless or at least bird-light society. And that's not to say there isn't some credence to the thought that multiple ways of disseminating comics to the world can indeed coexist for a long, long time. There are very few extinction events in any arts business. Punditry in comics tends toward apocalyptic shrieking and the just as myopic "did the world just end? no? I told you so!" rejoinder. A culture of short-sighted business moves rarely decapitates an industry, but it makes much more likely unattended-to cuts around the body. A continual weakening of the fabric eventually produces tears: fewer hardships can be borne, fewer things can be done to move the needle in any direction, more and more effort is soon required to restore the market to rational behavior and reaction to the most positive business moves. And then, market segment by market segment, things begin to give out.

imageAnother thing about which I wonder more and more when I read various think-pieces on comics and the development of on-line strategies is whether or not it's wise to assume that everyone sees the onset of digital comic as a way to get more people reading comics, to increase the audience size. I mean, I hope that's the case. And I even think we've seen signs that's true in the broader sense. When I think of the audience for webcomics I don't see it as an audience where everyone involved would automatically be as passionately reading a different bunch of comics if things like Penny Arcade or Bad Machinery didn't exist in the form they exist. When I think of a newspaper strip like Cul-De-Sac, I think its chances for survival are improved ten-fold by having it on-line where opinion-leaders can see it and be impressed by it and perhaps advocate for it when the possibility of running it locally comes up. I know that CDS is the first comic strip where I bought the trades before reading it in the newspaper. But when you're talking specifically about companies like Marvel and DC, companies that have habitually ignored ways to improve their basic publishing habits in a way that would maximize their current audience avenues, is it really fair to assume they see new platforms the way we'd wish for them to? The last time Marvel sought out new readers it did so almost entirely by ramping up the drama and complexity of their comics to create "events" which would lure relapsed readers back into the fold. At least that was my reading of their press statements at the time. DC also seems to presume some level of pre-existing affection for their big cultural icons and to my ear talks about successful comic books as bringing their awesome characters the readers they deserve rather than as creative efforts that stand on their own.

My point is that after years of fighting little territory wars over the same group of readers with intermittent forays back into comics land by a slightly bigger group of less devoted fans, mainstream comics companies might be just as happy to see various digital platforms as a way to win those wars, too. When I think of my friends and my family for whom I can predict behavior (say 50-60 people), or even limit it to just thinking of all the occasional comics reading ones in that group (say 15-20), it seems to me most likely that I'm the one that they're going to target. I don't buy serial comics presently. I don't live in a town where I can buy them and the system as currently constituted relies on a single model mixing high capital investment and arcane knowledge in such a way it doesn't seem likely to ever hold hope in returning to me such an outlet. I have enough money I could buy a chunk of comics but not enough I'd be all that happy dropping a lot of money at $4 a unit. I don't desire enough comics that mail-order seems worth the trouble. I consider the experience of shopping for comics part of the fun, even if it's only a few clicks. The companies in question make the kind of comics I don't care if I ever have in paper form. I have serious clutter concerns for my home, besides. I find downloading comics illegally and for free distasteful. I'm conversant enough with the various universes that they don't have to aim creative efforts specifically towards me: I know what the Badoon are, I can name the Metal Men, I can tell the difference between Skartaris and the Savage Land. I've tried but not been wholly satisfied with on-line comics viewing services that focus on older comics. I'm up enough on the current comics scene that I hear about what's in the ones that are currently coming out and I'm thus more curious about them than I am in what happened to Batman in 1996.

See what I mean? It's kind of spooky. They could probably be getting $10-$20 out of me every week, with very little effort on their part, right this very minute. At the same time, I can't see that being a great thing. It's a baby step in really big shoes. New technologies tend to bring about change, but the last thing to evolve may be the ingrained commercial instincts of the corporations serving the existing model. The forthcoming war in terms of digital comics is going to be fought on a many different battlefields, including and maybe especially the ones the big companies seem to prefer fighting.

the first comic book that made me think "I'd buy one right now on-line if I could"/a panel from John Allison's Bad Machinery
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Seeing Gary Panter

image
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Official DWAs Photo Set

image
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 50th Birthday, Chester Brown!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 49th Birthday, Rick Altergott!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 56th Birthday, Daniel Goossens!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 58th Birthday, Chris Browne!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 63rd Birthday, Ray Zone!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #210—Dance Card

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Pairs Of Characters You Like To See Fighting." This is how they responded.

image

Tom Spurgeon

1. Hulk/Thing
2. The Spirit/Big Crowd Of Dudes
3. Uncle Scrooge/Beagle Boys
4. Captain Easy/Bull Dawson
5. Popeye/Alice The Goon

*****

image

Don MacPherson

1) Hellboy/Tentacled monsters
2) Batman/Superman
3) Justice League/Injustice Gang
4) Daredevil/Punisher
5) Flash/Rogues

*****

image

Brian Scot Johnson

1. Batman/Amanda Waller
2. Marshal Law/Public Spirit
3. Aliens/Captain Carrot
4. Red Bee/Baron Blitzkrieg
5. Aquaman/fish-that-ignore-him

*****

image

Sean T. Collins

1. Batman/Superman
2. The Hulk/The Abomination
3. Nameless Yuichi Yokoyama character/Another nameless Yuichi Yokoyama character
4. Daredevil/Bullseye
5. Savage Dragon/Powerhouse

*****

image

Michael May

1. Hercules/Thor
2. Batman/Catwoman
3. Fone Bone/Phoney Bone
4. Tarzan/Lion
5. Superman/Captain Marvel

*****

image

Stergios Botzakis

1. Thor/Hercules
2. Jakita Wagner/Batman
3. Captain Maximum/Red Basher
4. She Hulk/Titania
5. Adam West Batman/Various Goons

*****

image

Eric Knisley

1. Hulk/Thing
2. Maggie/Hopie
3. Pupshaw/Pushpaw
4. The Spirit/The Octopus
5. The Demon/The Howler

*****

image

Grant Goggans

1. Captain America/corridor full of Hydra agents
2. Lum/Ataru
3. Nikolai Dante/Konstantin Romanov
4. Ace Garp without a sword/Evil Blood with a sword
5. Superman/Captain Marvel

*****

image

Thomas Scioli

* Orion/Darkseid
* Dr. Strange/Dormammu
* Thing/Silver Surfer
* Captain Victory/Lightning Lady
* Ogami Itto/Retsudo

*****

image

Chris And/Or Katie Mostyn

* Silver Surfer vs Blackbolt
* Spiderman vs Scorpion
* Usagi yojimbo vs TMNT
* Bighead vs Incredible Changebots
* Manthing vs Swamp Thing


*****

image

Chad Nevett

1. Superman/Batman
2. Punisher/Mafia crew
3. Adam Warlock/Thanos
4. Marshal Law/random superheroes
5. JLA/Darkseid

*****

image

Ben Ostrander

1. Calvin/Hobbes
2. Tarzan/crocodile
3. Marshal Law/ Public Spirit
4. Superman/Bizzaro
5. Flash/ Grodd

*****

image

Sean Kleefeld

1. Thing/Human Torch
2. Phoney Bone/Granma Ben
3. Ignatz Mouse/Krazy Kat
4. Monkey in a Wagon/Lemur on a Big Wheel
5. Spider Jerusalem/anyone he doesn't like or respect

*****

image

Adrian Kinnaird

1. Batman/Guy Gardner
2. Daredevil/Bullseye
3. Orion/Darkseid
4. Fulliautomatix/Unhygienix
5. Sandman/Hydroman

*****

image

Mark Coale

1. Superman/Muhammed Ali
2. Miracleman/Kid Miracleman
3. Thor/Hercules
4. Batman/Ra's Al Ghul
5. Shang-Chi/Dr. Fu Manchu

*****

image

Andrew Mansell

1. Stupendous Man/Evil Mom Lady
2. Beetle Bailey/Sgt. Snorkel
3. Spirit/Octopus
4. Orion/Kalibak
5. Shang-Chi/Razor Fist

*****

image

James Langdell

1. Ron Post/Russ Post
2. Daredevil/Stilt-Man
3. Dormammu/Eternity
4. Snoopy/World War II (the Cat Next Door)
5. Albert Alligator/Cloud of Gnats Forming Fists and Taunting Word Balloons

*****

image

David Brothers

1. Batman/Superman
2. Remi Rome/Suited Goons
3. Calvin/Hobbes
4. Roronoa Zolo/Sanji
5. Gambit/Gladiator

*****

image

Joe Schwind

* Cat/Mouse
* Captain Pissgums/Captain Fatima
* Jesus/Satan
* Metal Men/Chemo
* Mr/Mrs Henry Tremblechin

*****

image

Chris Duffy

1. Thor/Hercules
2. Thing/Doctor Doom
3. Spider-Man/Green Goblin
4. Captain America/big crowd of flunkies
5. Captain Marvel/giant mythological dude of your choice

*****

image

Richard Barker

1. Doctor Strange/Dormammu (drawn by Gene Colan)
2. Doctor Strange/Baron Mordo (drawn by Steve Ditko)
3. Orion/Darkseid
4. Itto Ogami/any poor, doomed fool who challenges him
5. Lucy/Linus

*****

image

Mike Buntag

1. Gran'ma Ben/Stupid, Stupid Rat Creatures
2. Lucy van Pelt/Linus van Pelt
3. Hyakkimaru/48 Demons
4. Hulk/Avengers
5. Invincible/Any Vitrumite Warrior

*****

I dumped a few that went with fantasy match-ups, like "Underdog Vs. Lockjaw"; that wasn't the intention of the question and the examples given should have been enough to indicate that. That might make a good question in the future. I would have just included them anyway, but for obvious reasons I couldn't find art. Better luck next time.

*****
*****
 
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
May 15, 2010


The Comics Reporter Video Parade


via


via


via



via
 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week In Review

image

The top comics-related news stories from May 8 to May 14, 2010:

1. Frank Frazetta, RIP.

2. Viz fired up to 40 percent of its staff in a move so troubling people really wanted to believe its PR-driven explanation that there was nothing all that major about it, which will either eventually prove to be untrue or we will all remember Viz 2000-2010 as the most inefficiently-staffed company on planet earth.

3. Lars Wilks was assaulted while giving a lecture at a prestigious European university, based in part on resentment for his having made a cartoon doodle once of Muhammad with the body of a dog.

Winner Of The Week
The newspaper page. I hate to say this about any gig that employs comics people, but one of the reasons that the comics page is weaker than it should be right now is because of legacy strips.

Loser Of The Week
Alabama retailer Danny Wayne Barton

Quote Of The Week
"We are of course saddened by these departures, and sincerely appreciate the hard work, passion and dedication of those that have moved on, but we feel confident that with these changes Viz Media will be more streamlined and able to withstand the climate of the economy at this time." -- Viz Press Release

*****

today's cover is from the 1940s-1950s mainstream comics publisher Avon

*****
*****
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
This Comic Made Me Laugh

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Philly, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In VA, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 37th Birthday, Stephane Blanquet!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 72nd Birthday, John Fantucchio!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 74th Birthday, Ralph Steadman!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
May 14, 2010


Go, Look: New Comics Day, 1964

image
a friend e-mailed me a link to this gallery of Roger Nelson's first store, Rockford's Collector's Corner, which opened back in 1964. They're worth joining Facebook or whatever just to stare at them. My apologies to anyone that had the link first where my friend could read it.
 
posted 11:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Friday Distraction: Jody Macgregor’s 100 Comics To Read Before You Die

image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Frazetta & Williamson

image
that's not them; they made the comic
 
posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Too Hammered To Drive; Sober Enough To Read A Dylan Horrocks Comic

imageThis article about a Dylan Horrocks-drawn anti drunk-driving comic book, 3000 of which will be distributed to various drinking establishments, raises two intriguing questions. First, how do comics work that might be especially useful in providing a corrective to dangerous behavior? Second, are comics really something that appeals in a specific way to 18-30 year olds?

I also totally missed this interview from a few months back, which leads off with a great picture of Dylan and his boys.
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Bookmark: Toon’s Blog For Emerging Readers Featuring Geoffrey Hayes’ Benny And Penny

image
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Bernard Schoenbaum, 1920-2010

image

Bernard "Bernie" Schoenbaum, an artist, teacher, cartoonist and prolific contributor to the New Yorker for nearly three decades, passed away on May 7.

Schoenbaum was born and raised in New York City. His family bounced back and forth between Manhattan and the Bronx. He received his art education at Parsons School of design. He worked for decades as a freelance advertising illustrator. He sold his first cartoon to The New Yorker in 1974 at about the two-thirds point of the William Shawn era of the magazine, when the publication was still for readers coast to coast the print equivalent of what NPR would one day become: a ubiquitous window into culture and politics as seen through big-city eyes. He would continue to provide cartoons, which usually depended on some instance of visual whimsy upon which the text bounced in some odd direction, through its transformation into a more general prestige magazine.

Schoenbaum placed more than 400 cartoons in the magazine. He also pursued a variety of artistic interests in life drawing and painting, the results of which were sold to private collectors. His final cartoon for the New Yorker appeared in 2002.

In his later years, he split time between New York and Florida with his wife, Rhoda. A comment left at Mike Lynch's site indicates the cartoonist needed some level of outside care in later years. He is survived by a wife of 62 years, Rhoda, three daughters and a granddaughter, and was preceded in death by a brother, Samuel, one of the great Shakespearean scholars of his generation. the artistic Schoenbaum would only do one Shakespeare-related cartoon, in 1995, but it's one of the more memorable cartoons from that magazine in the 1990s.
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Tiny Kitten Teeth

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Collective Memory: Frank Frazetta, RIP

image

Commentary and reaction around the Internet to the passing of Frank Frazetta (1928-2010).

Institutional
* Frank Frazetta Museum
* Lambiek Page
* Wikipedia Entry

Audio

Blog Entries
* Bil Stout
* Blog@Newsarama
* Booksteve's Library

* Charles Yoakum
* ComicBook.com
* ComicsComics
* Comix411

* DJ David B

* Elijah J. Brubaker
* Erik Weems

* Fantasy Ink

* GeekDad
* Geeks Of Doom

* James Vance
* Jay Penn
* Jesse Hamm
* JH Williams

* Playing D&D With Porn Stars

* Realms Of Faerie
* Rich Dannys
* Robot 6

* Scotch Corner
* Spectrum Fantastic Art
* SuperITCH On Frazetta's Funny Animals

* The Beat 01
* The Beat 02
* The Escapist
* The Fies Files
* The Golden Age Of Comic Books
* The Horrors Of It All
* The Johnny Bacardi Show
* The Magic Whistle
* Thought Balloonists
* trusty plinko stick

* Viceland

* Wang-Dang-Doodles
* Westword

Message Boards
* Metafilter
* TCJ.com
* The Frazetta And Fantasy Art Forum

Miscellaneous
* Eight Memorable Album Covers
* Gary Groth's 1994 TCJ Interview With Frazetta
* Frank Frazetta Illustrations On Tarzan At The Earth's Core
* Frank Frazetta PSAs
* Frank Frazetta Western Art Gallery
* Illustrators Pay Tribute
* On-Line Publication Of Snowman Story
* On The Night At Minsky's Poster
* Two Blowhards On Frazetta, Colorist
* Who2 Listing

News Stories and Columns
* Animation Magazine

* California Chronicle
* CBC News
* Comic Book Movie Fan Sites
* ComicMix

* Daily News
* Dread Central

* Examiner.com

* FearNet.com

* ICv2.com

* LA Times
* LA Times 02
* LA Times 03
* LA Weekly
* Lehigh Valley Breaking News

* Mania
* Michael Wright
* MNDC Breaking News

* Newsarama
* New York News Today
* NY Times Arts Beat

* PoconoNews.net
* Pocono Record
* Pocono Record

* RTT News

* Seven-Sided Cube
* Splash Page

* Telegraph
* Thaindian News
* The American Culture
* The Gouverneur Times
* The Hollywood Reporter
* The Morning Call
* The Seminal
* TimesDaily.com
* True/Slant

* UK Today News

* Washington Post
* Washington Post 02
* What Is The Trend

* Zimbio

Twitter
* Frazetta As A Search Term

Video
* Fire And Ice Trailer 01
* Fire And Ice Trailer 02
* Frank Frazetta Art
* Frank Frazetta Museum Visit
* Frank Frazetta Robbery Commentary
* Frank Frazetta Robbery News Story 01
* Frank Frazetta Robbery News Story 02
* Frank Frazetta Robbery News Story 03
* Frank Frazetta With Music
* General Video Featuring Art
* Lothar And The Hand People And Frank Frazetta 01
* Lothar And The Hand People And Frank Frazetta 02
* Tribute Video
* Tribute Video 02
* Frank Frazetta Tribute Video 03
* Video Using Fire And Ice Animation

*****

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

*****
*****

image
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Amadeus Cho’s 7 Best

image
This isn't my kind of article, but Cho is a newer character for Marvel and as I point out in Random News today it's rare that the big companies find newer characters that pique anyone's interest before they murder them or goof with them for temporary, dramatic effect.
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Collective Memory: TCAF 2010

image

Links to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning the Toronto Comics Art Festival, held May 8 and May 9 at the Toronto Reference Library in Toronto, Ontario.

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

*****

Institutional
* Convention Site
* Physical Location
* Host City

Audio

Blog Entries
* AdHouse Books
* AAA Triple A

* Booklust
* Books.Torontoist.Com
* Brian Evinou
* Britt, A Wilson

* City Obscura
* Colleen Frakes
* Colleen Frakes 02
* Comic Book Junkies
* comics212 01
* comics212 02
* comics212 03
* Craig's Blog
* Crazy Ary's Doodles
* Cszega

* Daily XY
* Digital Kontent
* Dork Shelf
* Drawn and Quarterly
* Dustin Harbin 01
* Dustin Harbin 02

* Emily Mah
* Eric Orchard
* Evan Dorkin 01
* Evan Dorkin 02

* Faery Ink Press Blog
* Fantagraphics Blog
* Four Realities
* Frankly, Mr. Shankly
* Funrama

* gay league
* Generally About Books
* Geurilla Gardening Development Blog
* Gunkldunk

* Hardcore Nerdity

* Idiot's Box

* Jeff Lemire
* Joe Lambert

* Larry Marder
* Le Navet

* Mark Medley
* Mark Meyerson
* Martini Boys
* Mayerson On Animation
* Mia Herrera
* Michael DeForge
* Mr. Fuzzypants
* Multicoloured
* My Misiu

* National Post
* New Phenomena
* Not An Octagon

* On The Edge

* Pierre and Kendal's Journal
* Poseur Ink

* Raincoast Books
* RGB Filter
* RGB Filter 02
* riceboyart
* Rina Ayuyang
* Rina Piccolo

* Salgood Sam
* Scott VanderPloeg
* Sequential

* Talking With Tundra
* The Abominable Charles Christopher
* The Becka Comics
* The End And Aim Of Pleasure
* The Equivocator
* The Rant Guy Blog
* The Truth Is In The Details
* Tiny Kitten Teeth
* Tom Scioli
* Torontoist
* Torontoist 02
* Toronto On The Cheap
* TX Comics

* Wayne Santos

* Zubkavich

Miscellaneous
* 2010 DWA Winners
* Catwoman By Jillian Tamaki
* Jim Woodring's Going To Toronto Post
* John Martz's Cartoon
* The Dustin Harbin Army

News Stories and Columns
* CBC News
* ComicBookDaily.com
* Coverage In The National Post
* Eyeweekly.com
* The Star
* Toronto Star Dan Clowes Interview
* Torontoist Interview With James Sturm

Photos
* abakedcreation
* AdHouse Books
* allankcrain
* Brian Evinou
* Colleen Frakes
* comics212
* Dave Lapp
* DWAs
* Electric Feel
* embalser
* Jamie Cosley
* Jim Zubkavich
* Little Kids Accosting Roger Langridge
* m.rmai
* robinleblanc
* Stuart Immonen
* subsub

Twitter
* #tcaf
* Wright Awards

Video
* discussion on the Toronto Jay Show
* DWA Best Book Presentation

*****

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

*****

image
picture of Evan Dorkin and Emily by Mark Mayerson; used with permission

*****
*****
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Sensation Comics #82

image
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
For No Particular Reason…

image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
 
posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Funny Animals #24

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Evil Ones!

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Daredevil #140

image
the calm before the Millerstorm
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Charlton Bullseye #3

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* from the Comics Comics hive mind comes two interesting audio pieces to take with you to the gym or listen to at your desk: a panel from TCAF 2010 with Dan Nadel, Jeet Heer, Seth and Evan Dorkin about reprints; a radio interview with Paul Pope and Dash Shaw conducted by Robin McConnell.

image* how did I miss the awesomeness of Tony DeZuniga's Facebook profile icon?

* some days I'm glad I'm not up enough on current Marvel comics to get the joke.

* Mark Evanier talks about the cancellation of Little Orphan Annie and admits to not liking the strip much. I adore the Harold Gray Annie, particularly the first 10 years. In fact, Gray's are among the handful the comics about which I've been the most obsessive these last ten years. The twin keys for me is that Annie was comics' best Decency Fantasy, this notion that if you worked really hard and were kind to people to the point of your heart ripping in two things would work out in the end, and that Harold Gray was maybe the best artist ever when it came to depicting space in the comics page. I'm not sad to see it go. It should have ended when Gray passed away, despite the fact that I'm sure there were some pretty good Annie comics between then and now. Certainly Leonard Starr drew some good-looking ones.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco writes about a couple of the more recent Obama/Kagan-related editorial cartoons.

* I'm not for building racial diversification in the worlds depicted in superhero comics by providing various ethnic types the "mantles" of older, whiter, usually more testicular heroes. That just seems to miss the point on how culture works and is vaguely colonial besides. Still, one of the ways the mainstream companies shoot themselves in the foot is by killing/maiming/turning evil these newer characters in part because they're able to without major ramifications because the "real" Mucous-Man or whomever is still available for duty. What you end up with, though, is a creative culture where the younger characters don't get a chance to stick around gain traction -- and they need a LOT of time to do so with today's limited audiences. I also can't help but wonder if there aren't a few kids out there that latch onto these characters and how potentially weird and troubling it could be to have that character murdered in order to get over some goofball super-villain or super-villain team that will likely be forgotten four months from now.

* I can't imagine a more charming con preview than this one for this weekend's Motor City Con by guest Stan Sakai.

* finally, I can't recall seeing a lot of unfinished Peanuts art. Here's one.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 49th Birthday, Francois Avril!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 54th Birthday, Joe Field!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 27th Birthday, Sarah Morean!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 38th Birthday, Frank Santoro!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 51st Birthday, David Chelsea!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 56th Birthday, Bob Wayne!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 86th Birthday, Brad Anderson!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Sean Phillips' Original Art

Exhibits/Events
Go See Bob Greenberger At ComicCONN

History
Thanking Warren Ellis

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Axel Braun
CBR: Gail Simone
Newsarama: Paul Levitz
The Middle Township Gazette: Todd Klein

Not Comics
Ribbing
New Watercolor By T. Alixopulos

Publishing
Weathercraft Is Reality
Wally Gropius Now In Stock

Reviews
Todd Klein: Li'l Abner
Nina Stone: American Vampire #2
Christopher Allen: The Invincible Gene Colan
Johanna Draper Carlson: Odysseus The Rebel
Johanna Draper Carlson: Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love

please note: I have an essay in the Gene Colan book

 

 
May 13, 2010


Little Orphan Annie, RIP

image
the feature ends in mid-June after an 85 year run
 
posted 12:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Pogo Stepmother Goose

image
 
posted 11:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: News On Cons, Shows & Major Events

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* there's very little TCAF coverage that I can think of that hasn't been posted yet, or won't eventually be found through this site's collective memory gathering of links. As I wrote this morning, I was quite taken with Evan Dorkin's report, which I think sums up the value and some of the hassles of attending a show like that, whether you're a professional or not. Comics gatherings in the festival format tend not to be controversial in many ways as long as the trains run on time. By all accounts TCAF is a well-run show, with plenty of volunteers, at which a lot of hardcore con veterans with very little attendant drama exhibit. The only drama left is whether the originally bi-annual event will go every year now. The success of the show would seem to make that more likely than it was this time last week, but what do I know?

* one thing I think bears exploring generally is that TCAF is I believe a curated show. That means they decide who exhibits and who doesn't. I don't know what a not-curated TCAF would look like, but I'm supportive of festivals screening who exhibits. Maybe SPX can't do that because of how people view the show, but for everybody else I'd recommend it. It's really easy for a not-huge convention to all of the sudden one year become the Land Of Crafts or something more dire that's not-comics unless there's some sort of guiding hand behind things.

* missed it: Chris Butcher punches the level of aid and assistance from the city of San Diego and its municipal partners toward Comic-Con International right in the balls. I'm not sure there's enough detail provided for me to know whether I agree with Chris or not. I will say that as an attendee I want the best show, not necessarily the one where the partner acted in the most virtuous fashion.

* Joe Rybandt went to the International Comic Fair in Barcelona and wrote about the experience for Comics Waiting Room.

* if you haven't been following Dan Nadel's time at Fumetto, here's a link to all of his articles. Fumetto functions in a way that would be completely unfamiliar to traditional comic book conventions attendees. There's almost no commerce and the emphasis is on art exhibits and discussions in support of those art exhibits, which are placed all of the freakishly beautiful city. I hope one day to attend.

* here's an article I missed from early in the week about the whole CCI San Diego/LA thing, with tons of commentary. A lot of the LA folks that comment on these threads are pushing the "I will spend my hotel money on the exhibitors" line.

* the writer Steven Grant has an analysis up of the Los Angeles bid to host Comic-Con International. I don't agree with all of his analysis. think the past support for any con is a factor in whether or not a city is suited to host Comic-Con International. That's kind of like saying a host city for the Super Bowl needs to have stellar home team attendance; the Super Bowl is going to fill any stadium. Right now Comic-Con is going to fill the exhibit hall in any not-insane city choice (the Quad Cities, say), and probably in most of those. Grant's piece is very strong in hacking away some of the likely wishful thinking of the "downtown LA is awesome now" argument, and stellar in making the "junket" argument, that part of the appeal for Los Angeles exhibitors and the movie industry generally is that San Diego is at enough of a remove from Los Angeles to make an event of the weekend as opposed to it feeling like another set of work days.

* finally, this weekend is Motor City Comic Con and the MCBA SpringCon Comic Book Celebration. These are more generally pop-culture events than comics shows, and not really my cup of tea, although the great thing about modern comics conventions is that you can look at the guest list and make your own decisions. I always make note of MCCC because they've been having conventions in Detroit for like 3100 years now.
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Pre-Code Atlas War Comics

image
 
posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* I didn't follow the writer through to her conclusions, but the first several graphs in this piece are a great catch-up in terms of the head-butting of Lars Wilks Tuesday during an on-campus presentation where he showed pieces of a film about Islam and homosexuality. Wilks is the artist sometimes called a cartoonist whose 2007 doodle of Muhammed on the head of a dog built on/commented upon/existed in the same general realm as the 2005 Jyllands-Posten cartoons.

* the men leading the assault were subsequently released.

* the next day, Wilks' web site was hacked. And then he was asked not to return to the university where he was attacked.

* a lot of sympathy was generated for Wilks.
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: More Cowboy Henk!

image
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Massive Layoffs At Viz

imagePW reported Tuesday that Viz Media has laid off an unknown number of employees, perhaps up to 55 in its San Francisco office and all five believed to be working in a now-shuttered New York office. At the very least the editorial, design and public relations department felt the impact of this move, which may involve up to 40 percent of what was the company's overall workforce just this Monday.

The news has been spun by Viz as necessary adjustments in order to meet present financial realities and to most efficiently provide the infrastructure necessary to carry on with future plans. Here's their initial statement I believe in full, just to give you an idea of how they going forward with this.
Viz Media is in the process of refining its focus and is restructuring to adjust to changing industry and financial market realities.

As part of the restructuring the company had to refine its workforce by eliminating certain positions and making cuts in other areas.

We are of course saddened by these departures, and sincerely appreciate the hard work, passion and dedication of those that have moved on, but we feel confident that with these changes Viz Media will be more streamlined and able to withstand the climate of the economy at this time.

This restructuring was not insignificant; however, this was primarily an internal re-prioritization to build toward our future. We wish to apologize to our wonderful fans if this news has caused you concern. Be assured Viz Media remains committed in its obligations to you. We have no plans at this time for drastic measures such as product cancellations or business line closures. Your favorite series are not going away.
The only thing that comes to mind when I read this is Viz is aware just how invested their fans are, and just how much the worries and fears of the average fan can drive their behavior in the marketplace. The other is a kind of eye-rolling effect that just about any group of firings ever was an adjustment to "changing industry and financial market realities."

Without having any grasp of Viz's inner workings it's difficult to comment on if they were legitimately due this kind of restructuring; the wider perception of the number one publisher in terms of volume and arguably in terms of the number of excellent product lines has to be a troubling one. Viz fired about a third this many people in 2009. Yen Press' print magazine effort has recently scuttled back on-line. A couple of the other publishers have looked -- or look right now -- as either essentially MIA or kind of wobbly. Given that one of the appeals for a certain kind of manga fan was the huge success of it in the previous decade, and the perceived unstoppable future success that kind of comic would likely enjoy, I have to imagine a move like this is even more troubling in that realm than, say, the mid-1990s purges at Marvel were for that circle of folks. Maybe not, I don't know.

I agree with this person that no matter what they say right now it would be deeply shocking if there wasn't some effect on the product lines starting in 2011 or 2012. I think I agree with this person that this is a shrewd move that has at least a little bit to do with various big properties coming to an end or at least into their last act without obvious successors. I'm not sure things are settled enough in terms of how that market will develop here to suggest digital comics as a savior. They'll definitely play a role, though: if nothing else, a strong digital policy allows company to stabilize their print efforts.

Most of all, my initial thoughts are with all the employees left jobless in these tough times. If I or this site can help you in any small way, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: More Sparky Watts

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: An Original Terry

image
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: New Terrytoons #4

image
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In SF, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Supermouse #11

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Those Avengers Covers Where Big Brutes Run At Each Other

image
1960s Avengers was the comic I collected when I was a kid
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: On Louis Raemakers

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Little Lizzie

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the CBLDF talks about potential Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and the First Amendment.

image* Bhob Stewart provides three drawings he made for an early Castle Of Frankenstein, and talks about working on that seminal publication.

* I love this Mike Mignola Hellboy sketch.

* while we're enjoying -- or being enraged by -- the release of Dan Clowes' Wilson, it looks like Germany is getting a big dose of Death Ray.

* Evan Dorkin's long, disjointed ramble of a convention report on the just-passed TCAF is worth pulling out into its own mention here. Dorkin has been around for a much longer time than most people in comics his age, and it's interesting to watch him process the specific pleasures and frustrations one experiences with comics shows at a certain age and point in your professional life. Plus, as you might expect, it's frantic and funny. With perhaps a bit of a challenge from Dustin Harbin's ongoing opus -- part two here, and you can scramble around for the other parts -- it's my favorite piece on that show. Harbin's cartoons are pretty darn cute, though. D&Q's was pretty good, too. Oh, I give up.

* Steve Perry (the writer, not the singer) talks about how he was helped by The Hero Initiative.

* here are a couple of links submitted by Devlin Thompson: the mystery of a missing Superman painting, the letter that Bill Watterson sent out to newspaper editors when he decided to end Calvin and Hobbes. Thanks, Devlin.

* finally, I miss reading piles of single-issue comic books every week, because you get a very Ozymandias' wall of television sets view of the comics world that way. It's probably the best way to take the temperature of the big companies.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 41st Birthday, Andrew Pepoy!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 64th Birthday, Marv Wolfman!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
History
Talking Heads
Requiem For Damage

Industry
The Power Of Luann

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Jeff Parker
CBR: Brandon Graham
CBR: Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis
Word Balloon: Jeff Parker, Gabriel Hardman

Not Comics
Paint Swatches + Superheroes = Fandex

Reviews
Kate Dacey: Various
Sarah Morean: Rebel
Grant Goggans: YOW!
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Johnny Bacardi: Various
David Brothers: King City
Tucker Stone: Blue Spring
Todd Klein: Hellboy, The Wild Hunt
Michael May: Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess
Matt Brady: The Best American Comics 2009
Greg McElhatton: Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks
 

 
May 12, 2010


Go, Read: Jesse Hamm On Frazetta

image
I thought this post terribly interesting and beyond my skill set
 
posted 12:30 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 no-doubt 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 be carrying my bloody broadsword to rest at the top of a pile of the following.

*****

MAR100401 SWORD #24 (MR) $4.99
MAR100044 BPRD KING OF FEAR #5 (OF 5) $2.99
MAR101050 STARSTRUCK #9 $3.99
MAR100178 BATMAN RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #1 (OF 6) $3.99
These are the individual comics that jump out at me this week. The belle of the ball here is the concluding, 24th issue of The Sword by modern masters of deeply weird, non-ironic, junk-culture pulp adventure comics The Luna Brothers. That Batman comic is the latest Grant Morrison effort with the character.

MAR100220 MAGOG #9 $2.99
My favorite comics title ever. I hope it runs for years. Are there t-shirts?

JAN100136 LITTLE LULU TP VOL 23 BOGEY SNOWMAN $14.99
That's not a bad title, either. Maybe every volume 23 of everything should be "Bogey Snowman" the way that some guy makes the "Electric Boogaloo" joke for every volume 2.

FEB100269 NOBODY TP (MR) $14.99
Everybody sing along:

Nobody, Nobody
will ever love you
the way I could love you
cause nobody is that strong

love is bitter sweet
and life's treasures deep
but no one can keep
a love that's gone wrong

Nobody, Nobody
will ever love you
the way I could love you
cause nobody's that strong
cause nobody's that strong

Nobody, Nobody
will ever love you
the way I could love you
cause nobody is that strong

you've had many lovers
you'll have many others
but they'll only just break
your poor heart in two

Nobody, Nobody
will ever love you
the way I could love you
cause nobody's that strong
cause nobody's that strong

Thanks. I don't know about you, but I have an overwhelming urge to spend the rest of the day throwing glitter, getting drunk and mumbling things about Chuck E. Weiss.

I believe this is a new graphic novel by Jeff Lemire, who in a short career has already earned "I will always take a look at his stuff" status.

FEB100372 UNDERGROUND TP $14.99
I followed this in comics form. On some levels it had a real lack of sophistication, like it was a story in a 1970s black and white comics magazine. I kind of kept expecting Steve Austin to show up. I think the straight-forward quality was intentional, though. The comics' real strength for me was the occasional cave-related trauma it inflicted on its leads, including situations involving squeezing around in the belly of the earth that were I to ever find myself in a similar situation I would probably choose giving up and dying.

FEB101111 BIOMEGA GN VOL 02 (MR) $12.99
MAR101215 BLACK BUTLER TP VOL 02 $10.99
MAR101217 KOBATO GN VOL 01 $11.99
MAR101218 KOBATO GN VOL 02 $11.99
The notable manga volumes this week, in advancing order of girliness, all early enough in their respective runs if you want to get on board.

DEC090880 INVINCIBLE GENE COLAN HC $19.99
I'm in this according to press releases that look like they were edited by my parents, at least for where my name appears on the lists of august professionals contributing work to this Colan fundraiser. If your shop was good enough to buy one, check it out. If you're interested in helping Mr. Colan and don't have easy access to this book, I have to think that there will be premium or signed copies available from Colan himself at some point. My essay was about Colan being such a powerful stylist that nothing, not even the Jack Kirby Revolution, could knock him off point. I think. It's been a while. Anyway, good cause and I hope a good book. God bless Gene Colan.

JAN100835 MUPPET SHOW TP VOL 03 ON THE ROAD $9.99
I read these as individual comics just last week -- the muppet troupe has to go on the road while their theater is being prepared. Partial-cast hijinks ensue. I think these are super-class mainstream comics, and $9.99 would be a good price for comics packed as densely as Roger Langridge packs them.

MAR100948 SOLOMONS THIEVES GN $12.99
This is a Jordan Mechner-written, swashbuckling adventure series I'm looking forward to checking out. Mechner is the guy behind the Prince Of Persia franchise and is an author and screenwriter to boot. There's an age I would have killed for some straight-up adventure comics, and I like to think there's a fat little boy out there exactly like me that feels the same. Because, you know, one day I'll need his organs.

*****

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 here, all the cold, wet steel in Hyperborea will do you no good.

*****

image
 
posted 12:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Frazetta’s Western Art

image
 
posted 11:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

image

By Tom Spurgeon

* Frank Santoro shows off an image from the Silver Surfer story on which he's working for inclusion in Marvel's Strange Tales Vol. 2.

* the great Richard Thompson has a brand new, bells and whistles loaded web site. It's about time!

image* in similar news, the evocative young talent Josh Cotter also has a new web site up, and there's a lot of material posted at which one may go stare.

* two Kickstarter-related projects that caught my attention this week: Clifford Meth and David Miller are trying to bring back Dave Cockrum's Futurians property, I'm guessing without knowing for sure to reinvigorate its appeal to other media. I don't think I've ever read that stuff, but Cockrum was one of the top 10 character designers in 20th Century mainstream comics, and that's more of the battle than you'd think. Profile here; Kickstarter page here. The other one is Todd Bak now has a Kickstarter page up for the research trip he's trying to make. That seems like an interesting project to me. (If you're not familiar; Kickstarter is basically a self-publishing aid that allows people to secure funding through the offer of premiums; I'm not all that excited about it, but people are going to use the crap out of it.)

* Kevin Huizenga has apparently taken his incomplete Rumbling to the site What Things Do.

* I'm not one to post most incremental superhero comics reveals as actual publishing news, but I bookmarked this Frank Quitely cover to a forthcoming Batman comic so I could look at it later and I've noticed a couple of bloggers mention it as if slightly more noteworthy, so there you go. I like the ha-has in the background.

* finally, I'm not exactly 100 percent sure this is the cover to the next The Best American Comics, but it sort of looks that way. Wait, according to his blog it is! Handsome.

image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Buck Rogers Covers

image
 
posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: At The Earth’s Core

image
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Frazetta’s Tarzan

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Sam’s Frazetta Preference

image
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Conan Covers

image
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Hucky Duck

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: From Illustration #5

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Johnny Comet

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Dan Brand And Tipi

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Johanna Draper Carlson write on DC having key titles out of print. That makes sense that if you wanted to have this huge, interlocking story that you wouldn't want key volumes in that story unavailable to buyers. I mean, I'm not certain how smart the "huge, interlocking story" strategy is generally, but you should probably follow through on your basic strategic choices, whatever they are.

image* Roger Langridge has a new edition of his Doctor Sputnik comics ready for sale. It's his convention publication for this season, and he says he was making it all-ages, even. Why would you not want to own this?

* Pat Oliphant adds his name to those of 17 Pulitzer winners decrying the threats made towards the animation team of Parker and Stone for their South Park episodes featuring a depiction of Muhammed.

* Sarah Morean and Brian Heater talk about festival organizing. I'm never going to remember to post the second part, so you're on your own there.

* not comics: I try not to ever feel bad for super-successful, happy-seeming people, but I almost get there with Neil Gaiman, who's receiving unwanted and unnecessary bullshit for what he charges to go and speak somewhere. People forget that part of the pricing philosophy is to discourage people from hiring you any more than a few times a year and perhaps even unless they'll work hard to make the event worth the investment in you. At any rate, Gaiman works tirelessly for his charities of choice and speaks all the time for free, so people should just shut up and leave that guy alone.

* not comics: one thing that's weird about the notion that the actor Sean Hayes can't play straight is that he did just that on commercial campaigns before scoring that horrible TV show whose name I can't remember. He was the horny straight guy in at least two ad campaigns I can remember. If audiences could process him as a straight dude back then to the point that corporations were betting millions on it, then this is all about various morons' inability to suspend belief based on the fact they used to see someone do stuff on a television show. I feel sorry for people that can't make this leap. What a benighted way to process art.

* finally, I'm not sure I understand either Sean Collins' piece on superhero regression or the piece that inspired it, but it seems to me kind of dopey to pin racial diversification on swapping people out of costumes. The worlds that the superheroes live on have such a hopelessly retrograde and inadequate sense of anything other than their white people that I don't hold out for them ever getting better.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 34th Birthday, Andrew Farago!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 49th Birthday, Lloyd Dangle!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 60th Birthday, Tom Armstrong!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 63rd Birthday, Cat Yronwode!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Giffen Vs. Janson
Renee French Rules
Sean Phillips Makes Badges
That's A Great Tom Sutton Panel

Industry
Nick Abadzis Recommends Blogs

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Joe Pruett
CBR: Matt Fraction
Go Read Clowes Interviews
Newsarama: Fred Van Lente

Not Comics
Free Tattoo Design

Publishing
RASL #8 Cover
The Theological Implications Are Staggering

Reviews
Jog: Various
Christopher Allen: Area 10
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Brett Warnock: Papercutter
Dara Naraghi: The Ineffables
Grant Goggans: Rip Kirby Vol. 1
Chris Allen: Rip Kirby: 1946-1948
Sean T. Collins: Henry & Glenn Forever
Greg McElhatton: A Home For Mr. Easter
Sean T. Collins: All The Superhero Movies
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Solomon's Thieves Vol. 1
Greg McElhatton: Adventures Of Daniel Boom
 

 
May 11, 2010


Frank Frazetta, 1928-2010

image

By Tom Spurgeon

Frank Frazetta, an artist that enjoyed a decades-long career in comics before ascending to pop culture icon status as a painter of powerful fantasy imagery, died on Monday in Fort Myers, Florida from complications due to a stroke. He was 82 years old.

Frazetta was born in Brooklyn in 1928 as Frank Frazzetta. He would drop the extra z as a schoolboy due to aesthetic concerns (he didn't like the way the second z looked in the same name with two t's). Like many talented young artists, among his first memories of making pictures was a commercial consideration: selling artwork and roughly done comics to eager schoolmates. An early beneficiary of the many opportunities for art training that existed in New York's public schools in the first half of the 20th Century, Frazetta took courses at the Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts from the age of eight under the tutelage of an artist named Michael Falanga.

Frazetta described his training in a 1994 interview with Gary Groth at The Comics Journal. "He'd [Falanga] come and see where I was working and he might say, 'Very nice, very nice. But perhaps if you did this or that." That's about it. We never had any great conversations." Frazetta cited a number of his fellow students as equally important in learning how to make art, as well as studying the work of cartoonists like Milton Caniff.

imageFrazetta was one of a handful of precocious teen artists that found work in the first decade of mass comic book consumption before and then directly after World War II. According to his entry at the Lambiek site, Frazetta's first job in comics was assisting John Giunta, then a member of Bernard Baily's studio. His first published work was the Snowman story that appeared in December 1944's Tally-Ho. Frazetta worked for Fiction House during roughly this same period, doing assistant's work cleaning up the by-market-demand, furiously performed artwork of veterans like Bob Lubbers and George Evans. His final apprenticeship came at Standard/Nedor soon after Fiction House. There the young artist became a skilled maker of funny animal comics, placing work in such titles as Supermouse and Happy. According to a biography assembled by art and books dealer Bud Plant, Frazetta's work in those first few years was providing illustrations to text stories that were included in the various Nedor magazines.

image

Between 1946, when Frazetta did his first solo work for Prize Publications' Treasure Comics and 1948, when he began to take on a veteran's workload in terms of active art assignments, Frazetta began to flower as a comics artist. His pages during the 1948-1951 became much more his own, more idiosyncratically drawn and lovely to look at, much more effective comics in terms of flow and tone. His clients expanded to include DS Publishing, Eastern Color, DC Comics, Avon, American Comics Group and Magazine Enterprises. Most of his comics during this period were adventure-oriented, including a well regarded run of "Shining Knight" six-pagers that ran in Adventure Comics in 1950 and 1951. Other series on which Frazetta worked included "White Indian" in the Durango Kid title.

imageIn 1951, Magazine Enterprises reached out to Frazetta, hoping to secure a more structured and more profitable relationship with the young cartoonist who admitted later he was still as interested in playing baseball -- a naturally gifted athlete with acrobat's physique, he was once offered a tryout with the San Francisco Giants -- as he was in art. The result was Frazetta's first solo comic book series, the jungle adventure Thun'da, which ran for six issues in 1952 and 1953. Frazetta did not commit back to Magazine Enterprises. He added Toby Press, Prize and EC as clients to his already crowded list. Frazetta enjoyed a second run on a name character at DC, this time on the Tomahawk feature. He created a comic strip for the McNaught Syndicate called Johnny Comet (later Ace McCoy that ran for only a couple of years. It wasn't his first gig in strips, having ghosted for Dan Barry's Flash Gordon in a period just prior to launching his own feature. He even began a limited focus on covers-only work during the early '50s, suggesting an eventual direction and specific for the cartoonist's career in future years. His "Buck Rogers" covers for Famous Funnies are some of the most-lauded mainstream comics covers of all time.

Given the nature of his skill, his time at EC wasn't as fruitful for Frazetta as it would be for many of his peers. He created a handful of well-regarded stories, with "Squeeze Play" likely making the greatest impression. That story appeared in Shock SuspenStories #13 in Spring 1954.

imageIn 1953, Frazetta began work for Al Capp as an assistant on Li'l Abner in part to make some money in a more structured way than may have been available to him in the rapidly shrinking and always chaotic American comic book industry. Capp offered him $100 a day for five days' work in Boston. He would need it, marrying Eleanor Kelly in 1956 (on Sadie Hawkins Day) and starting a family with her soon after. He would continue to work for Capp until early 1961, moving the bulk of the work to his home studio. In exchange for the stability involved, the assignment involved infrequent trips Boston, working for the parsimonious and famously difficult Capp, and doing work not his own for an extended length of time. Frazetta's run on the strip is regarded by some comic strip fans as a highlight of that feature's middle years and by some Frazetta fans -- and perhaps Frazetta himself in the years right after -- as a frustrating side journey that took the artist away from many of the things he did best. He left the job when Capp demanded he relocate to Boston.

Upon his departure from Capp, Frazetta quickly discovered that the comics market had changed just enough to gently nudge him onto its sidelines. Unaccustomed to being on the outside looking in, it was during this period that Frazetta did work for various Men's Magazines, work later reprinted in books like The Sensuous Frazetta. He assisted Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder for a time on the solidly lucrative Little Annie Fanny feature they were doing for Playboy, although it's unclear if that ever felt like a long-time gig to the briefly struggling artist.

image

In 1964, Frazetta forged a relationship with Jim Warren and his fledgling empire of genre-driven magazines. He would do one major interior story but soon switch to covers and the kind of iconic single-image making that was increasingly dominating his professional life. Frazetta's art on the Warren Magazines Creepy, Eerie and eventually Vampirella combined some of the pulp tendencies for which he was soon to become very well known with a sense of classic horror. They remain some of the company's most iconic pieces of art, and many were re-used in the 1970s as the companies did more in the way of special issues and compilations. He also did the covers for Archie Goodwin's short-lived Blazing Combat, some of the most somber and fascinating pieces of art the painter would ever attempt on behalf of a comics company. Although much fewer in number than their reputation might have you believe, Frazetta's Warren covers provided that company with a visual standard that provided a boost to its general newsstand presence, and took Frazetta's name and visual impact to mom and pop store magazine racks coast to coast.

image

There was a second major component to Frazetta's creative and professional rebirth in the 1960s: paperback covers. Encouraged by Roy Krenkel to try providing art for paperback books, Frazetta began to take on gigs at Ace Books. Starting with Tarzan covers and an assist by Krenkel, this soon expanded into a full-time job providing painted covers and occasional interior illustrations to a number of Edgar Rice Burroughs paperback series and related genre works. The Frazetta paintings sold books all by themselves, and if any of the characters seemed slightly off-model in terms of what the books might describe -- Frazetta wasn't reading them, and wondered out loud how many people were -- nobody seemed to care. It was as if the artist had reached back to moments of high illustration craft that were common in visual media in the 1920s and 1930s and employed them solely in portrait after portrait of vigorous men, savage beasts, inclement weather, the occasional powerful, foreboding female figure and scores more soft-looking, bosomy maidens sporting fleshy buttocks that all by themselves were an effective argument for a type of beauty that ran in the opposite direction of that decade's more androgynous fashion icons. It was impossible not to feel grateful for the work in addition to slightly overwhelmed. His paperback cover-painting career is probably most firmly linked to a certain physical conception of Conan The Barbarian that envisioned him as a hard man but not an overly muscled one: a stone cold, stone-age killer.

imageIt was an older client that changed Frazetta's life. His portrait of Ringo Starr in a mock advertisement for "Blecch Shampoo" moved him out of making comics and more fully into making painted images, a place he would stay for the remainder of his professional life. It directly led Frazetta to his first gig doing a Hollywood movie poster, for the Peter Sellers film What's New Pussycat? He dove into this lucrative profession in typical Frazetta fashion, making poster art for a slew of films for the next seven or eight years, including The Secret Of My Success, The Busy Body, The Fearless Vampire Killers, The Night They Raided Minsky's and Mrs. Pollifax.

image

As the 1960s became 1970s, Frazetta the painter started to accumulate enough work in enough high-profile showcases that he started to become Frazetta the brand. Frazetta's career was firing on a number of cylinders, a combination of mainstream gigs like the Hollywood posters (his last before his own Fire and Ice was a much-publicized poster for the Clint Eastwood/Sondra Locke effort The Gauntlet); an almost grassroots effort that involved connecting with fans of his paintings through portfolios, prints and books; and using the accumulation of prestige in all corners as a way to facilitate the sale of original art to collectors of both the status-seeking and genuinely-touched variety. The rising heavy metal music world picked up on the boldness of Frazetta's fantasy imagery and his work ended up appearing on a number of album covers, perhaps most famously southern rock outfit Molly Hatchet's 1979 Flirtin' With Disaster album, that made use of the painting Dark Kingdom. It was that group's biggest hit, and the gothic excesses embodied in such covers were both a part of that aspect of the music scene and an element against which pushed later pop music scenes and movements.

The New York Times reported in 1977 that a single volume containing multiple reproductions of his work, The Fantastic Art Of Frank Frazetta, sold 300,000 copies for Bantam in its first two years on the market -- a hit by any standard and an almost unfathomable one for a book of pulp art paintings. That book would continue to be sold and reprinted well into the 1980s. Frazetta enjoyed other book successes over the years. The best single volume was likely 1994's Frank Frazetta: A Retrospective, published by the Alexander Gallery as a stand-alone but as a catalog for their showing of the painter's art. Its high-end production values have made the first edition a book worth multiples of its original low three-figure price.

image

The verve of and general success enjoyed by Frazetta's work hadn't gone unnoticed by younger artists, and he remains a popular touchstone for anyone that wishes to combine fantastic subject matter with western painting tradition. A slew of popular artists such as but certainly not limited to Jeff Jones, Gerald Brom and Boris Vallejo, inspired to varying degrees by Frazetta's work and professional example, began to find work of their own starting in the early 1970s, and the number of artists with at least some Frazetta influence has grown in every decade ahead moving ahead. While the level of fealty some displayed for Frazetta's work might bring accusations of their riding the artist's coattails or simply providing an inferior version of what Frazetta did well for an audience that frequently wishes for more of something somewhat related to an original if no more original is to be had, the sheer number of artists who found at least some inspiration from Frazetta has meant that his approach to fantasy imagery has retained currency above and beyond the direct impact of his own work. Long before his passing, Frazetta's spirit haunted the science fiction and fantasy sections of most mainstream bookstores. While not everyone knows Frazetta's name, there are very few literate adults that won't recognize him according to his general artistic approach and subject matter if described in a few words.

image

In the early 1980s, Frazetta collaborated with animator and director Ralph Bakshi to produce an animated film based on elements of his work. Fire and Ice opened in the US in August 1983 on approximately 90 screens and in various markets around the world for the next three years. Its domestic box office total was $760,883 according to Box Office Mojo. It has enjoyed a haphazard critical reputation over the years, although it seems to fare well for those looking to an alternative to Disney and anime styles that don't balk at the film's use of rotoscoping, or drawing over actors. The film is at its best capturing the physical action of its actors/characters, feats sometimes worked out on set by Frazetta himself according to the Groth interview some years later.

Beginning in 1986, Frazetta experienced the first symptoms of a debilitating thyroid condition that he spent the next eight years fighting, along with a related 50 pound weight loss (to 128 pounds) and massive amounts of anxiety. In the 1994 interview with Groth, Frazetta cited a massive workload and exposure to inexpensive chemicals in various work materials as a potential cause. He also indicted much of the art from this period as lacking the verve of work before and after.

imageThe Frazetta name also made several minor, sporadic comebacks into comic books over the last 25 years. Fantagraphics published two comic book-sized collections of Frank Frazetta comic book material in 1987 as Frank Frazetta's Thun'da Tales and Frank Frazetta's Untamed Love. Then-Fantagraphics rival Kitchen Sink Press published some of the artist's humor work as Small Wonders: The Funny Animal Work Of Frank Frazetta in 1991. A reasonably high-profile series featuring Frazetta's Death-Dealer character appeared from Verotik in 1995; those books featured Frazetta paintings as covers and involved both Vertotik's founder Glenn Danzig and two Frazetta-influenced artists, Simon Bisley and Liam Sharp, in various creative roles. That series ran five issues at a point at which the North American comics industry was beginning to fracture badly especially for anything not a recognizable superhero comic. That series informed or at least prefigured a more ambitious, interlocking series of comics from Image starting in 2007. Bearing Frazetta's name and based on a number of iconic paintings, series and one-shots released to date include Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer, Frank Frazetta's Dracula Meets The Wolfman, Frank Frazetta's Moon Maid and Frank Frazetta's Neanderthal. Those comics again featured Frazetta paintings as cover with the interior duties coming from younger writers and artists.

The Frazetta's opened a small museum on their East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania property in 2000, which quickly became the focus for the artist's ongoing projects and the starting point for establishing his artistic legacy. Lance Laspina's 2004 DVD release of his Painting With Fire documentary brought new attention to the Frazetta, and a glimpse into their life at the time of filming starting in 2000. It was generally well-reviewed.

image

Frazetta continued to paint throughout. He would expand the number of images enjoyed by certain Frazetta icons, such as the Death-Dealer, and work in a wider variety of fantasy settings, from the soldiers in Seven Romans to the almost science fiction-looking Sound. In the early 2000s, Frazetta suffered a series of small storkes that caused him to relearn to draw with his left hand. There were eventually rumblings late in his career that like many older artists Frazetta continued to work on older paintings that many thought could suffer due to the time passed, a drop in facility, and the potential lack of connection between the aims of the older artist and his younger self.

Ellie Frazetta passed away on July 17, 2009 after a year-long battle with cancer. She was rightly memorialized as not just Frazetta's life partner but as a savvy managerial presence who managed to raise both the artist's profile and the money he was paid for art gigs and original work. Following the loss of the family matriarch, the Frazetta children began to fight over custodial matters regarding their aging father and his impressive estate. This boiled over into public view in December 2009, when Frank Frazetta Jr. was arrested after trying to break into the East Stroudburg museum, maintaining that he had his father's permission to move some of the work to a safer location. Those 90 paintings had an insurance value of $20 million. Just last month a statement from the family said that the conflict over the work had ended due in part to the insistence of Frazetta. The criminal charges were subsequently dropped. It is no small note of encouragement that this arrangement was reached before the passing of the artist.

image

It's hard to grasp the overall impact of Frazetta's long life and prodigious career. He had enough credits and displayed enough skill early on that he might be considered a forgotten Golden Age Great if his career had stopped the moment he left Al Capp's studio. There are a couple of massive What If? moments that took place in the early '60s. If DC hadn't been so rigid in terms of its approach to house style and someone smart there had seen Frazetta's work as grounded in the same Dan Barry take on adventure comics that drove a lot of their books even then, he could have been an astonishing high-workload, high-craft freelancer and provided them with another Joe Kubert-type anchor for their line as Marvel surged. Or he could have become as the cartoonist Sam Henderson suggests a valuable contributor to MAD in its soon-to-be sales heyday, with all the attendant freelance illustration work that likely would have come his way.

As isn't the case for many people in comics, Frazetta's roads not taken aren't the happier story; he accomplished almost three careers worth of work in his busiest decade, and stayed as productive as possible after that. He kept the important rights to his work, profited for that resolve, and connected with fans like almost no other visual artist of the 20th Century. Frazetta's attention to fundamentals of craft, his dominant influence on a field of illustration that is likely to continue for decades yet and his relationship with iconic figures in an entire sub-school of popular literature, provide ample opportunity for children born at any time over the last 60 years to experience his work in a meaningful way.

Coming across his work in the 1960s and 1970s, amid those decades' absolute disconnect from the recent past and outright suspicion of junk culture, was a specific revelation for their being so very little out there like it. Frazetta's work was one of the few consistent, visually accomplished gateways to somewhere else, a way of escape available to a generation of kids that was psychologically preparing to die when someone set the skies on fire. Frazetta's were potent images, strange, of obvious skill and stuffed with conflicting messages. There were the soft women and the more dread, powerful ones. Men faced off against monsters but also nature, and in some cases their own savage impulses. There was light like the light we were used to but also strange colors, light like no one had seen but that Frazetta somehow understood. They weren't inviting fantasies, but formidable ones, foreboding, aspirational rather than something that coddled or flattered you. If you went through the wardrobe into Narnia, events would likely fall into place, and you were pretty sure you could've handled that ring, but if you went to one of the worlds Frazetta painted something was going to eat you or stab you or have your soul. These were fantasies you steeled yourself towards rather than fell into. And so it was with Frank Frazetta's art: it frequently impressed, it almost always inspired.

Mr. Frazetta is survived by three sisters, two sons, two daughters, and 11 grandchildren.

*****

image

*****
*****
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Missed It: Taddle Creek Magazine

image
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Readers Are Very Smart Readers

The esteemed Charles Hatfield sent the following commentary on yesterday's post about superhero movies.
Good commentary on the Seitz piece, Tom, and Seitz himself is pretty good too (though I'm flummoxed by his praise for Superman Returns as original and daring; I thought that movie had a damp fuse).

I'm teaching a superheroes course this fall for the first time, a cultural studies seminar in which we'll talk about superhero comic books and also movies, so this discussion holds a lot of interest for me.

It seems to me that the big-budget superhero movie is an even more sorely constrained genre than the superhero comic book, if only because superhero movie have to shoot the moon every damn time. There's a difference in narrative structure that stems from differences in the means of delivery. Whereas monthly comic books, even in this aim-for-the-TPB era, can exhibit some flexibility in their narrative structure and pacing -- a single issue can be just that, or it can be part of some anticipated multi-issue saga -- a big-budget, big-tent superhero movie must almost always do similar things and rev up to a similar sort of climax. So you can't build a mainstream superhero movie around a one-off character study or comical interlude, or a mundane heist story with ironic flavoring, or a soap-opera like resolution of long-simmering subplots. You can't focus the movie on a sidelong story that provides relief from the sturm und drang. Instead you have to go for broke all the time.

imageThis is not only because the narrative structuring of a (nominally) self-contained movie is supposed to be different from a serial that comes out at quick intervals. It's also because of the huge costs associated with the genre. The elements that tag superhero films as a genre are super-expensive: big, above-the-line costs for talent (name actors, mainly); big design challenges; lots of visual effects and elaborately choreographed action. The logic that governs the production of such films as Risk Big to Win Big; usually producers aim to slather on more and more stuff, rather than dial back the excess. There's a certain Barnumesque hubris involved (can you top this? etc.) but also a need to provide novelty in a film-making era saturated by digital excess. And, let's face it, if you're paying seven figures or more to line up your lead actors, you're not going to make a kitchen sink drama. Instead you're going to leverage a boatload of money and try to out-spectacle the next guy.

There’s a logical of massification here that results in sequels getting bigger and bigger. Another way to put this would be that the movies often suffer from a kind of narrative priapism.

Combine this with the actors' desire to do something "challenging" with the roles and the audience's desire to see the actors put through their paces, and you can see what a challenge the genre becomes: a spectacular circus of a movie that nonetheless must give its (obscenely well paid) actors something to do. Also important here is some sort of dyadic romance plot, because (a) romance, thank goodness, tends to leaven the brute qualities of the genre and widen its appeal; and (b) movies that draw in repeat business from girls and women and couples do better on the long term than movies that don't (as James Cameron seems to understand).

From this, we could probably put together a list of expected elements in blockbuster superhero movies, elements that are deemed essential for the multiplex but are not necessarily to be expected in superhero comics each time out:

1. There will be romance. A couple's story will be an important under-girding element of the plot. Nolan et al's Batman films get about as close to downplaying this element as blockbuster costume movies can, but of course it's still there.

2. There will be some "personal" stake in the plot for the hero. That is, the plot will foreground some psychological or moral dilemma for, or some mortal danger to, the title character. This is not always the case in superhero comics, where a hero can foil a villain's plot without having a vested personal interest. Witness how Spider-Man's origin story was "ret-conned" in Raimi et al's Spider-Man 3 so that Peter Parker could become more personally invested in taking down the Sandman. This gives the lead actor something to do and sharpens the stakes considerably.

3. The danger posed by the villain(s) will, in the end, be near-apocalyptic in scope. The entire city if not country or world will be threatened, so as to justify pulling out all the stops, action and effects-wise. This is true even of The Dark Knight, whose most frightening moments involve being up close and personal with Ledger's Joker. IMO the out-sized car chases and stuntwork in that movie have a tacked-on quality that vitiates the drama of the Joker story, which plays out most effectively in close-up. (The filmmakers, though, lean hard on the idea of the Joker as terrorist, in order to justify ratcheting up the damage and spectacle.)

4. The casting of villain(s) will usually be very important, and parallels between hero and villain (what once seemed fresh in the hands of Alan Moore or Frank Miller) will often be underlined. In many cases heroes and villains will have paired origins or at least shared roots, as in the first Nolan (or, for that matter, Burton) Batman. Villain roles will be plum roles and will provide much of the interest in sequels. Casting in general will be monitored by fans with a mixture of anxiety and enthusiasm.

The above elements sometimes but not always appear in serial superhero comics. They are typical of superhero movies. This is why, I think, the degree of variation in superhero films is sorely limited. What you have with this genre is a set of expectations that in its specificity and demands rivals that of the James Bond franchise. In other words, superhero movies in general, whichever the hero, are as hemmed in and constrained as Bond films. So there's very little leeway in terms of development.

This is not simply because they're about superheroes; it's because they're blockbuster films with huge budgets rather than chapters in a serial that comes out in regular installments like a comic book monthly (or a weekly TV show). The different narrative demands of feature films, and the logic of Risk Big to Win Big, force what was a serial genre into a new kind of straitjacket.
*****

Jim Ottaviani made the following objection to part of Friday's Brian Hibbs interview:
When talking about why it's easier for artists to support the CBLDF with a donation of their work than it is for retailers with a donation of money, Brian said: "I don't want to say this takes no effort or no money out of their pocket. But it takes less than money to a certain extent, because you're using your god-given talent rather than opening your wallet and taking money and putting it on the table."

imageI'm not sure what he didn't want to say, because what he did say sounds shortsighted and foolish, and surprising coming from someone who called other retailers shortsighted and foolish just two sentences prior to the one quoted above. Talent may be god-given, but the actual skill that makes an artist's work a salable commodity for the CBLDF -- or anyone else -- is paid for with time and effort. The time an artist spent getting to the point where the CBLDF would actually want a sketch, and the time spent on the sketch itself, is worth a great deal, and more than most artists charge.

Other than that, I thought this was a great interview, and I appreciated reading both your and Brian's thoughts.
Thank you, Charles and Jim.
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Help! Vol. 2 #1

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Black Widow Origin

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Nobody Likes The USAgent

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Super-Con Fan

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Goody Bumpkin

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* whoa, check out the festival poster that Copenhagen got from Chris Ware that they'll be selling on site. Actually, I'm just putting this up in the hope that someone .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

* Brandon Soderberg indicts some "insanely racist shit" he discovered in Spider-Man: Fever #1. Trouble With Comics has testimony here. Robot 6 has commentary here.

image* I'm not sure what the hell is going on with this comic -- I'm guessing it's an actual quote -- but it made me laugh.

* Newsarama interviews the Luna Brothers on the conclusion of their 24th and final issue of their Image series The Sword. They're right: that was an effective twist on the last page of issue #23. Although I certainly wasn't looking, I still didn't see it coming.

* here's a better than usual mainstream media article about the economics of webcomics.

* nice poster for Smiley Bone. This is like when you know a show is a hit because the supporting characters start to show up for the last segment on Letterman.

* not comics: it's amazing that someone can write something this trite and actually think they're getting at something that hasn't already been talked to death. The more interesting question is whether or not we're headed in that direction at some point. I know a lot of people who have scrambled off the grid, or who have really wrestled their connectiveness to the ground. I also know people who seem to spend 11 hours a day between Facebook and Twitter.

* about 18 people sent me this link. Eighteen smart people.

* finally, Devlin Thompson sends along a link to this encouraging letter from Al Capp to a young man who, like Capp, lost a leg.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 39th Birthday, Russell Lissau!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 55th Birthday, Matt Feazell!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 84th Birthday, Paul Gillon!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Judge Parker Process
Nick Abadzis Sketches
Cameron Stewart Draws
Great Late-Period Marie Severin Panel

Exhibits/Events
D&Q At The DWAs
Elite Comics Signing
More On Kirby And Fumetto

History
On Dazzler: The Movie
More Like 30 Years, Rick
Do Superhero Comics Do Well With Large Casts?

Interviews/Profiles
PW: Dan Nadel
CBR: Joe Casey
CBR: Antony Johnston
PaulGravett.com: John Broadley
Medill Magazine: Russell Lissau (PDF)
Talking Comics With Tim: Jim McCann
Washington City Paper: Jeffrey Thompson

Not Comics
Well, That's Adorable
Please Die Already, SNL
Be Still My Beating Heart
Marvel Stuff In Disney Retail
Buy Puzzle Agent If You Want

Publishing
Michael Cavna Is Up To Something

Reviews
Erin Jameson: Various
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Sarah Morean: Notable Duels
Byron Kerman: The Story Of O
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Batman #698
Sarah Boslaugh: Little Nothings Vol. 3
Grant Goggans: The Volgan War Vol. 2
Ed Sizemore: Natsumi's Book Of Friends Vol. 1
Sarah Boslaugh: Aladdin: Legacy Of The Lost #3
 

 
May 10, 2010


Frank Frazetta, RIP

image
 
posted 8:28 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
“I’m Kissing Your Quilts”—Behold The Critical Savagery Of The Wilson Roundtable

image
this was better than usual in that it's been a half-hour since I finished and I still want to punch multiple participants in the face

 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Al Capp’s Feuds

image

* Part One
* Part Two
* Part Three
 
posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Comics Retailer In Alabama Busted For Dealing Pot To Police Informants

According to a local media report, Danny Wayne Barton was arrested last Thursday in the parking lot of a Dollar General store in Carbon Hill, Alabama on charges of selling marijuana to police informants. Barton owns an area comics shop -- named in various reports as "Kryptonite Komix," "Good Karma" and "The Good Karma Store" -- and the series of sales for which he was arrested apparently includes sales in that retail location.

Barton has been charged with four counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance within a three-mile radius of a school. (The town has a total area of less than 6 square miles, which indicates to me everything is probably within a three-mile radius of any school.) The store was described in the articles about the arrest as a popular hang-out for kids, although one of the articles suggests that the store also sold head-shop implements. All those pipes made one local records shop growing up a no-go hangout-wise with my Mom, but maybe things are different now.

Additional details provided by a newspaper article include: the fact that the proprietor is being held at the county jail, the store is padlocked, Barton's bond was set at $120K, and that the pot dealing at the store was part of a police investigation even before it became an item on the docket of a City Council meeting in April.

If convicted on current charges, Barton faces a minimum sentence of five years in prison.

None of this is more remarkable to my mind than the fact that this guy was able to operate a comics shop in a town with 2000 people, no matter how the extra money was coming in. Also, there's probably a halfway decent joke to be made here about buying individual joints or waiting for the dime bag, but this poor dope is likely to go to jail so that automatically becomes much less funny.
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Canadian All-Star Cartoonists Superhero Set Finished, Auctions Going

image

Seth's Dr. Fate art, seen above, completes the pieces of art being auctioned off to benefit the Doug Wright Awards. Art here. Auction information here.
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* US Attorney General Eric Holder received a Jihad Jane question during one of the Sunday morning news shows, and I thought the spin was interesting -- the Jihad Jane ladies not as seething piles of resentment over such things as the Danish Cartoons Controversy, but as military assets prized for their lack of criminal records. I'm not sure which is spookier, really.

* 10 days until Draw Muhammad Day. I'm drawing Nazr Mohammed.

* there are still business relationships being repaired after 2006's Danish Cartoons Controversy, such as the business-oriented air travel service described in this article.
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Juan Bobillo Interview

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If Superhero Movies Suck, And I Suspect They Do, Why Can’t Folks Stop Seeing And Discussing Them?

image

The day before likely box-office juggernaut Iron Man 2 opened in the United States, film critic Matt Zoller Seitz dropped a column on Salon readers saying, in effect, that superhero movies stink, and that they stink as both movies and as embodiments of the comics on which they're based. It's an interesting essay, much more so than the hue and cry of fanboys -- temporarily distracted from secret revenge on Dan Clowes for the superhero movies gag in Wilson -- would have you believe. If nothing else, Seitz names names.

That essay deserves a sustained response. You won't get that here, but hopefully a few random thoughts will do until someone smart does provide such an effort.

1. Superhero Films Vs. Comics Films
I'm usually the first one to jump on critics for conflating superhero films with comics films as Seitz does a time or two in this essay. However, since the article is obviously focused on superhero movies and nothing in the substance of his arguments are fudged away from that commitment by the conflation, I'm going to believe it was hasty phrasing rather than a kind of rhetorical dodge on Seitz's part. I accept that Seitz is talking about superhero films, so I'll leave any and all analysis that includes the relative quality of films like Ghost World and American Splendor at home. I'd be the one taking unfair advantage.

2. There's Nothing Wrong With Having High Standards
The strongest part of Seitz's essay comes out of the simple fact that he pays superhero films the respect of holding them to a high standard. He thinks somewhere between the vast majority of them and, well, all of them fail to meet this standard. I do, too. Others may disagree, but I don't think his or mine is a manufactured or affected distaste. In fact, more than is usual we probably both want these movies to be a lot better, and it pains us to note that they're kind of a disappointing lot. It also proves his point about the rhetorical process that's built up around such films that that just not liking the films is seen as some sort of odd break.

3. Then Again, Many Superhero Films Also Fail To Meet Most Low Standards
I think the idea of these movies as a group of movies is worth talking about a bit, the general impressions of quality that are left by them as a group. Seitz's laundry list of complaints against the genre reads to me like a subset of descriptions of a more basic, overriding fact. That is: the vast majority of superhero films have been horribly executed films. As such, there's not really any secret there to be sussed out. They could all just be better films. I'd suggest that the average film fan watches most of the examples of the genre as it's developed over the last 10 years and the first impulse isn't to say "once again, they fail to understand the comics genre" but "that acting/action/dialogue was a letdown/disaster/big bowl of sucknoodle soup." As a group these films evince a very labored approach to modern blockbuster making, a process where films are brought to life by directors with what seems less like limited understanding of how to make a satisfying action film and more like enthusiasm for some character, shepherded by producers and writers that see the source material as a list of ingredients from which to cook up a big profit-maker. The two Fantastic Four movies are about as bad and forgettable and cynical an exercise as I can imagine: cherry-picked comics moments, dull plots, insipid characters, bad acting, inconsistent tone, unimaginative visuals. Chris Evans received a career boost from these films for coming across the least like a corpse. The two films' lingering image, Jessica Alba's dopey-looking expression of superpowers as arms akimbo + constipation face, isn't a failure of theme or a misinterpretation of the material: it's just dumb-looking acting in a generally cheap and unimaginative pair of movies. Wolverine exudes a similar shudder-and-collapse vibe, a surface-oriented adaptation of a messy pile of comics with confusing action scenes and characters whose greater reality ends at the right and left side of the screen. They're product.

imageI think it's pretty easy and largely apt to make summary cases like this for a lot of these movies. Watchmen focused on little of what made the comic book more than a series of "cool" scenes, and more on spinning, wire-fu Rorschach and juicing up action scenes in a way that capsized the moral case made by the funnybooks and was a lot duller besides. The Catwoman, Daredevil, Elektra, Spirit and Ghost Rider films are clumsily made, cheap-looking in various ways and border on the nonsensical. The Punisher featured a pipe-smoking John Travolta; Spider-Man 3 a jazz-dancing Peter Parker. (The biggest indictment of the Spider-Man films, whose bland effectiveness and crater-like disappointments deserve a separate essay, is they somehow made James Franco boring.) In the world of Unbreakable, it turns out that every single person in Philly's train station is a special guest star villain in a Law and Order episode. Superman Returns and Hulk offer challenging premises and evocative solutions to some narrative problems that nonetheless fail in much more basic ways: Superman Returns' horrific casting in secondary roles and glacial, smug pacing; Hulk's "okay, we aren't able to do this yet" CGI main character (or, as my brother put it when the movie was on heavy cable rotation: "Man, Jar Jar Binks looks pissed"). You might disagree on individual films, but it's hard to argue for the last ten years of superhero flicks as an exemplary wave of movies. Very few emerging film genres have made this kind of money while offering so very little in terms of quality construction, let alone art.

Despite what some of their makers would have you believe, most of the great superhero comic books achieve that status as great comics because of the way they come to life on the page, not because of their conceptual strengths. To return to our original example, Fantastic Four isn't an all-time great comic book because it's about family or exploring -- give me a break! -- it's a great comic book because Stan Lee is a funny and inventive writer and Jack Kirby had one of the great visual imaginations of the last 100 years and exercised it constantly. You can count on one hand the number of scenes in all the superhero films that would be effective, thrilling scenes generally, let alone those that bring it like the King brought it on a monthly basis. In fact, all the superhero movie fight scenes combined make a poor cousin to the hallway brawl in Oldboy or even the casino fight in Kung Fu Hustle.

4. All Films Are About Moments Now
The second strongest part of the essay is that Seitz points out -- correctly, I think -- how many of the better superhero films register when they do because of strong moments or memorable scenes within the fabric of a narrative rather than a strong, overall story. He cites the scene in Dark Knight where Heath Ledger hangs his head out the window and takes in the moment like a teenager drunk for the very first time. I think that and the moment where Ledger kind of shimmies in that nurse's outfit are the best moments in the film. I don't remember the scene in Superman Returns he cites as powerful, which makes me suspicious that it's worth remembering. But hey, I have my own list: Wolverine impaling a guy's foot in X-Men 2, that kid giggling as he scoots across the jungle floor in The Invincibles, Batman yelling at the upside-down guy in the first Nolan Batman, the sublime sound editing when Dr. Octopus and Spider-Man fight on the side of the building in Spider-Man 2. I think this is an important observation, because it may explain why such films have been popular without ever quite being good films from beginning to end. A scene that punches a hole in your thinking can be worth any number of skillfully executed plots, at least in terms of impression left. How much of Spider-Man's crossover success and appeal was due to a solidly constructed and evocative love story and how much of it was that hilarious wet kiss and prominently displayed pokies? I have my guess. One of the reasons that superhero comics are as popular as they are with the core fanbase is that they need fixing; you read the comic book in front of you and the version in your head that's so much better. I wonder if there isn't an equivalent with superhero movies.

5. I'd Say Iron Man Did Have A Great Scene
As an aside, I think Seitz is wrong that the first Iron Man film doesn't have that one memorable scene like the other movies did. It does -- it's the scene were Pepper Potts has to adjust Tony Stark's new heart, reaching into the body of the man she likely loves in a moment of forced intimacy that's disturbing and touching and funny all at once. Iron Man was welcomed by audiences in part because it and its lead performance felt new after a summer of disappointing movies with a "3" after the title, but I thought that scene worked very well even if I don't remember a single thing about the fight with Jeff Bridges' character.

6. For Many Folks, Great Or Lively Performances Can Make For A Satisfying Experience All Their Own
I think Seitz gets away with too much via his suggestion that the primary distinction of the first two Superman films was an element of Christopher Reeve's commitment to his role. I think that's okay with movies: certainly a same-era film like Kramer Vs. Kramer was distinguished almost solely by a quality of its lead performance. In addition, modern movies like The Wrestler or Crazy Heart or The Insider are dominated by one actor's performance. Why not a Superman movie? I think if all you remember about the first two Superman movies is Chris Reeve -- whom I thought a desperately boring actor for much of his career -- pulling off an unlikely charmer of a performance by playing the straight-arrow stuff with just a whisper of a wink that makes you aware this guy knows what he sounds like and his resulting cool self-possession makes him super just standing in a room with more typically neurotic dopes, you're doing just fine. Ditto the accomplished shifts in tone Hugh Jackman is able to communicate in the first X-Men movie as he's sending out those powerful waves of general handsomeness, and Heath Ledger's consistently interesting choices in Dark Knight. It's not so bad for a character to take over a movie in this day and age, and I don't understand how this could be a weakness of superhero flicks. If someone makes the lead character incrementally more interesting in a superhero comic book, it's a cause for celebration.

image7. There Are Different Ways To Do Superhero Movies, But Only One Of Those Ways Reliably Makes Their Studios Nine Figures
I don't think Seitz is convincing when he suggests that superhero movies are rigid in terms of theme and/or tone, or at least I think he stacks the argument in his favor. If you include superhero movies like the one where John Ritter dresses up in a promotional costume in order to seduce Anne Archer or Alan Arkin's daffy The Return Of Captain Invincible or the operatic and campy mayhem of Heroic Trio you get a wider range of approaches. That these aren't films as likely to be made right now suggests a rigidity in the business of Hollywood rather than in the genre's ability to make varying approaches work onscreen. I also think there's enough difference in, say, the general warmth with which New York City is portrayed in the Spider-Man movies, the chilly distancing that defines the people of Metropolis in Superman Returns, and the sweaty discombobulation of folks in Dark Knight's Gotham City for a fair round or two of comparisons and contrasts. In general, it's hard for me to indict a cookie-cutting mentality in modern superhero films the year we're getting two summer movies with stone cold killers partnered with daffy blonds.

8. So where does that leave us?
I think Iron Man 2's step back from record opening box office and the mediocre US box-office performance for Kick-Ass indicate the end of the genre's initial, immense grace period, a new act in their development that was probably instigated by the 1-2 punch of the first Iron Man movie and Dark Knight. Those two movies were immense pleasures for their respective, gigantic audiences; it's hard to imagine success for too many movies that don't provide at least a rough equivalent of their thrills -- or movies that don't seem to work that way not being viewed as something most people can see six months later at home. In other words, I can't see a bad Marvel movie made on the relative cheap hitting the $200 million mark opening in February. Not anymore. I also think you're going to see fewer movies deconstructing superheroes like Kick-Ass or even Mystery Men and even fewer like Hancock because there's so little there there. One of the reasons a lot of people grow tired of superheroes as comics readers is because it's a relatively narrow genre that's harder than many to connect to some sort of human experience. Can you think of a fresh take on the superhero formula that would lend itself to film elements of which haven't been seen yet? Not just: "she's actually a sitting judge!" or "he's a middle-aged fat guy" but more-than-surface differences? Really? You're a better man than I am if you can, and you deserve an agent. The future seems like it will favor even more greatly the iconic characters: the half-dozen that penetrate the popular imagination and the twenty or so that have some sort of easy-to-understand concept -- Billionaire In Robot Armor, Space Cop With Magic Ring, Master Magician With A Hole In His Heart -- that also lend themselves to some sort of general, easy expression of a broad theme. I would also bet they'll hit more frequently according to the quality of the pleasures they provide, even the fleeting ones. Especially the fleeting ones.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Hypo’s Opening

image
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Dave Lasky At The Neptune

image
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Chuck Jones’ Crawford

image
1, 2, 3
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: New Funnies #93 03

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Originals By Stan Link

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Keith Giffen Splash Pages

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* been cleaning out the mailbox this weekend, and found a number of letters on various comics issues of recent vintage. To kick things off, here's what Nat Gertler wrote in response to the fact that despite having more great comics stores, fewer serial alternative or art comic books are being sold.
"For one thing, there is now more competition for slots in that store... just not from pamphlets. The creator working in the traditional American comic book format is not only competing for space with Crumb's Genesis and whatever First Second is putting out this month, but with almost every worthwhile work ever. The availability of offbeat material like the classic King Aroo or the works of Fletcher Hanks, or the easy availability of the full outputs of the brothers Hernandez and Chris Ware (well, minus Floyd Farland), with new oldies being uncovered all the time, just floods the market, and those things have some degree of recognizability that a new book by a new creator does not enjoy.

image"For another thing, the start-up barrier is higher. No longer can you put out a black-and-white comic, cover your print costs with sales of a thousand copies, and hope to build your audience while re-offering your early issues. Sales like that won't meet the current Diamond minimums. So you go to color, for the added sales, but the expense of doing so means that the additional sales may not cover additional costs."

"But perhaps the toughest thing at the moment is the level of noise in the industry. There are so many projects trying to get attention, and the big two have gotten much better at maximizing the number of articles gotten out of a single issue (look, it's the unveiling of the cover! the unveiling of the variant edition cover! the issue-specific interview with the writer!). To use Phonogram as an example -- here's a series that was around for years, that I saw in local comic shops, yet I cannot recall seeing a single article about it. I'm sure such articles are out there, but they get lost in the sea of comics coverage. It used to be you'd see material about William Mesnner-Loebs's Journey in all the major outlets, back when the major outlets were all print. Now, it's harder for such a project to peek through."
Those are all good points. I disagree with most of it, although that's an article for another time. My strongest objection would come to the third part of Nat's analysis. I think there is more coverage of more projects than ever before. Google shows plenty of articles with Phonogram as their focus, and my memory is that it had a ton more coverage than what would have been available to Journey back in the day. Are there more comics? Maybe, although there were a heck of lot of comics back then, too. It's hard for me to imagine anyone great that started doing comics that wouldn't be discussed in a dozen places as soon as they were discovered. In fact, you could almost argue that the best '80s comics are better covered by today's framework than they were back then.

* here's Gabriel Roth on the same issue:
image"You wondered about this in your post on the Kieron Gillen interview, and it surprised me that you don't mention what seems to me the most economically straightforward answer. The number of boutique comic stores has increased, but the number of comics and related products appealing to alt-comics fans has increased more. In 1996, every single member of the alt-comics demo was buying Hate, Eightball, L&R, and Acme Novelty Library. It went pretty much without saying that those were the best and most important comics. Nowadays, my art-comics dollar could go to books from Ware or Clowes or Los Bros or any of a jillion other cartoonists making serious non-superhero work, or to full-size reproductions of Little Nemo or reprints of just about any other well-regarded strip in history, or to Kramer's Ergot 7, or ... You get my point. Demand is up some, but supply is up a lot."
Again, I think that's a good point, although I think there were a fair number of comics to buy back then, too. I would also imagine that for the generation of consumers buying comics in 1994 and in 2010 that the ability to buy more comics has improved as well. But it's only this one specific area of comics that seems to have shriveled up.

* here's a letter I totally missed the first time around from Sebastian Oehler of Reprodukt talking about how graphic novels are sold in the little talked-about German market:
Just wanted to add some information to selling Graphic Novels in Germany.

imageStarting in the '80s lots of regular bookshops started to shelve comics, mostly Franco-Belgian material. The Franco-Belgian market collapsed end of the '80s and the comic pamphlet hype end of the '90s and beginning '00s wasn't supported by most bookstores so comics were not that present in lots of bookstores in the last couple of years. This is about to change as the important newspapers started to write about comics and Graphic Novels and there are many books published right now that don't focus on the regular comic shop guy.

Last year we had a Graphic Novel presentation in a huge bookshop in Frankfurt and they presented more than 150 different titles.

We also created a Graphic Novel flyer to promote Graphic Novels. The first two editions were drawn by Sascha Hommer and the current edition is drawn by Kati Rickenbach, a young artist from Switzerland and with the third edition we have a combined print run of more than 100,000.

You can download the first version here.

And the current version here.
Yeah, I knew almost none of that.

* here's an Alan Grant interview I missed despite being e-mailed about it. Ditto one with Kevin Rechin. I still occasionally get e-mail about comics-related statues, like this note about a terrifying Steve Canyon.

* did I forget to congratulate Paul and Stacey Sloboda on the birth of Ian James? Probably.

* from David Brothers came a note about a snarky comment I made on how well comics bloggers claim to know their audiences. He wrote:
And this is almost exactly a week late, but in this post you wondered how online talking heads know their audience so well. My site backend lets me see stats on specific posts, so I can tell that (for example) Gavin's This Week In Panels ongoing feature always does X number on Sunday, then X-200 on Monday, and trending downward until it hits double digits on Wednesday. On the other hand, writing a thousand words about a rap album I like on my comic book blog tends to have a much shorter life, just a day usually.

I can also sort by performance over certain periods of time- a week, a month, 90 days, a year, and all-time. I pay more attention to it than is probably healthy, so I have something of an idea what the audience goes for (lists, image heavy posts, ongoing features, off-the-cuff snark, and mean disses about books/Greg Land), but somehow keep writing what I like (million word essays about books only I like) and things turn out okay somehow.
David is right in that I failed to give credence to being able to look and compare and work with back-end statistics, particularly considering I haven't looked at my own since February 2006. There are probably many ways you can process that information. I do remain a bit suspicious that such numbers crunching results in a conversational familiarity with one's audience in the way the panel report seemed to describe, but it's much closer to possible than I allowed. Thanks, David.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: 11 By Richard Thompson

image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
it's been a while
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Trouble With Comics Guest Reviews
Box Brown: Process
Jamie S. Rich: Time2
Rob Vollmar: Oishinbo
Jose Villarrubia: Deicide
Nina Stone: Troubled Souls
Jim Rugg: Footnotes In Gaza
Grant Goggans: Charley's War
Timothy Callahan: Nemesis #1
Eric San Juan: Cerebus, Vol. 16
Bob Temuka: Alice In Sunderland
Bob Levin: Sitting Shiva For Myself
Brigid Alverson: Bunny Drop Vol. 1
Matt Maxwell: DC: The New Frontier
Mike Sterling: The Comic Reader #212
Chad Nevett: Spider-Man: The Clone Saga
Tom Spurgeon: The Early Morning Milk Train
Johanna Draper-Carlson: Rapunzel's Revenge
Steve Hockensmith: I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets
Chris Mautner: Bringing Up Father: From Sea To Shining Sea
Roger Green: Marvel Masterworks: The Sub-Mariner, Vols. 1-2

I dropped a few I didn't think were actual reviews and probably missed a few others.
 

 
May 9, 2010


CR Sunday Interview: Ben Schwartz

image

*****

Ben Schwartz is a smart man and a good writer. It's a great thing that the industry has changed enough over the last two decades so as to be able to encourage working writers like him to participate through book projects like his forthcoming The Best American Comics Criticism, a compendium of written pieces about comics chosen for their excellence by the book's editor. It's the kind of volume that starts fights -- let me assure you that my critical questions below about what gets covered and who is included are not Devil's advocate points; I'm the fool with myself for a client, and those are my real criticisms -- but that's okay and it's part of the fun. There's a lot of good work in the book and one or two absolutely inspired choices. Anyone with an interest in comics should at least give it a flip-through, and anyone with an interest in writing about the medium should use it as a springboard to discover a host of excellent new favorites. Ben and I conducted the following interview survey-style via the medium of electronic mail. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

imageTOM SPURGEON: Was your own reading of comics influenced at all by writing on comics? When did you first become aware of writing on comics and what were some memorable early pieces of criticism you remember engaging? Were you an RC Harvey fan, a reader of Gary Groth's interviews, a "Funnybook Roulette" kid?

BEN SCHWARTZ: Well, not counting "Stan's Soapbox," the first writing about comics I saw would be TCJ or the Legion of Super-Heroes issue of The Amazing World Of DC Comics. The idea that you could write a whole magazine on the history of a series one killed me. And that it had information on people like Curt Swan or Otto Binder. I read it to pieces, literally, 'til the cover came off. I first read TCJ when I was 13 or so (1979) and met Gary at a Chicago Comic Book Convention -- which is how I first saw a copy, at the Fanta table. I can't say it influenced me much at the time because no matter what Gary wrote I still kept buying superhero books. The first comics-related journalism I ever wrote was an outraged Teen Titans v X-Men takedown in the 'zine of a comics club I joined, the Southeastern Wisconsin Comics Club (SWCC!). In Ka-Pow!, I point-by-point dissected the Titans as an X-Men rip-off. Has the franchise recovered? I don't know. I was so into nerdville that when I first saw work by Crumb and Jaime Hernandez I thought, "Wow, those guys are good enough to draw for Marvel."

What I liked most about TCJ was Gary's interviews. I barely had an idea that actual people wrote and drew comics beyond the names on the books -- I mean, any more than I knew there was a real Walt Disney at one point in time -- much less feature-length conversations with them. I grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin and had no contact with "fandom" until I joined the SWCC. Fiore is the critic I remember from that time -- I always loved the Faulkner quote over "Funnybook Roulette," which is probably the first time I read Wm Faulkner's name. Fiore's writing was fresh then and now. Fiore reviewed stuff I read along with stuff I didn't, so I no doubt picked up on stuff from him. Carter Scholz, Bob Harvey, and later Heidi MacDonald, too. I recall Gary so adamant about Marvel and DC that reading him was like getting ready for a fistfight. I couldn't understand why anyone disliked superheroes that much. He won, tho. I wasn't an adult looking for comics to read then, nor a publisher trying to open comics up to something new. I mean, forget putting Love & Rockets out, TCJ may go down as the most groundbreaking publication Fanta ever did. The world has seen a George Herriman, a Schulz, a Crumb. But a magazine devoted to comics commentary in the 1970s? An echo of that in writing about the 2000-2008 period came in realizing that with mainstream distribution of comics in bookstores, the need to bang your head against the brick wall (a metaphor Gary used, as I recall) isn't needed anymore. Gary and Kim won a major victory in comics going mainstream. They used to rail against Marvel and DC because they dominated the sales, distribution, and creative life of comics. Now, not so much -- comics are reaching a bigger audience that knows superheroes comics as merch from movies like t-shirts and action figures. They meet Ware and Clowes in The New Yorker, not a direct sales shop.

imageAs for memorable pieces -- Gary's Will Eisner takedown in 1988. Easily, because he touched on this third rail of comics -- attacking Will Eisner. Then, you had big names like cat yronwode, Denis Kitchen, and Jules Feiffer in support of him, and a legion of fans who never questioned Eisner as comics' last word. He verbalized, albeit in his pitbull way, a lot of what I felt about Eisner but assumed, because of his universal acclaim, that I must be retarded for thinking. The firestorm Gary got didn't surprise me, but it was a great moments in comics criticism -- like Andrew Sarris throwing down the auteur theory or the big personalized literary debates of the Vidal-Mailer days. Gary challenged the canon while creating one in Los Bros and so much else he published. He really drew a line that still causes argument. David Halberstam once said something along the lines of, "any reporter with more than two people at his funeral is a disgrace to the profession." Well, that's Gary's attitude, and it's been pretty decisive.

SPURGEON: I know this is a pretty standard question, but how did this book come into being in a practical sense? What made you decide there might be enough work of this type to make a pretty good book? Was there a specific piece that convinced you to give a lot of this work a second look? Is it in the book?

SCHWARTZ: Doug Wolk edited Da Capo's annual Best Music Writing series some years ago and I thought, why not do that with comics? I'm writing another book for Fanta and pitched it to them and they liked the idea. Gary was the most skeptical. Early on he asked me if I seriously thought I could fill a whole book with good writing on comics. He sent me his essay "The Death of Criticism." Nice to know that's on your publisher's mind!

SPURGEON: To follow up, once you decided that this book could be done, can you talk about the additional reading you did, where you looked for potential pieces to include and the process you underwent in setting the final roster?

image
SCHWARTZ: I covered the waterfront. As I mentioned in my BPRD interview with you, the biggest challenge was coming up with a roster that was unique to the book. That is, convincing a reader they had to own this book instead of looking at it on Amazon and thinking, "Why buy this when I can just Google it?" I e-mailed friends for thoughts on non-traditional sources for writing -- 'zines, panel discussions, on-line list threads, anything where the ideas were of value. That brought me to Pete Bagge's Ditko essay, Darell Epp's on-line interview with Chester Brown, the videotaped panel with Daniel Clowes and Jonathan Lethem, and the Pacho Clokey mini-comic I bought at Meltdown years ago. The Moore interview was up on Youtube for months and then they took it down. It's the only case of Internet copyright infringement waste-of-time bullying of which I heartily approve -- because now the BACC has it! I went to some obvious places -- The New York Times, Bookforum -- and the Updike piece was a barely on the radar intro he did for a Thurber reprint.

SPURGEON: Taking it from another direction: you wrote a very personal introduction to this book that I think a lot of people reading the book will enjoy -- I'm not sure that most introductions don't get skipped. Can you talk a bit about the development book as a way for you to satisfy a certain amount of intellectual curiosity? What did you learn in the course of doing this book? What surprised you?

SCHWARTZ: I learned there are a lot more question marks to this period in comics than I realized. The intro starts with a conversation I overheard about comics on the escalator at a Barnes and Noble here in LA between two teenage girls. My 14-yr-old self would not believe the 2010 me telling him that in the future teenage girls read comics passionately. Actually, these girls had better taste than I did back then. But, seeing the interest in comics from literary icons like Lethem and Moody and Franzen and Updike in this period ... and then to see Amazon readers and mallrats argue as passionately as the literati, that range of fans was new to me. Debating fans on TCJ's board, at cons -- yes. Those two groups -- new to me. Where else is that happening in publishing today? Kitty Kelley v Oprah?

imageAlso, there's so many new readers to comics and new talents coming in, the canon of who matters at this moment and what matters in comics at this moment is, as they say, a fluid situation. In the last ten years, Dan Nadel and Doug Wolk have written books specifically challenging the baby boomer canon and back to the Blackbeard and Marshall Smithsonian book. No one's done that in a long time. The revival of Frank King, Paul Karasik's Fletcher Hanks book -- it's all changing quickly. So, very serious people are asking us to wildly rethink the whole thing, and I had to rethink more than I thought I would going into it.

SPURGEON: If you haven't already talked about this, what made you decide to include a full array of critical inquiries -- interviews, introduction, historical pieces -- as opposed to focusing on direct appraisals of work? Do you think there's anything to say about comics that there is this strong variety in types of critical inquiry?

SCHWARTZ: I didn't want the reader to get bored, basically. Most "Best" anthologies offer a uniform set of essays/stories with various points of view. I wanted a lot of formats and points of view on the general topic of lit comics. A model I emulate is Strong Opinions, a collection of hilarious introductions, interviews, essays, letters to editors, and arch rebuttals to other writers by Nabakov. I love that book. My favorite collections of criticism mostly come from the music and film world, like The Nick Tosches Reader, Greil Marcus' Ranters, Ravers, and Crowd Pleasers, Lester Bangs' sketchy collections, or Manny Farber's collections. They're more accessible, less podding. They have that same mix of reviews, interviews, essays, etc. I just read (for research on a story) The Bruce Springsteen Reader. That book is a pretty dazzling example of what I hope the BACC will be -- and I'm not even that into Springsteen.

As to the last part of your question, it says two things. One, that a lot of smart people are thinking about comics in a lot of different ways and places. 2) There are very few regular forums, so I had to draw from a number of sources. Except for TCJ, Comic Art, Comics Comics , no publication could do a comics anthology the way the New Yorker can put out anthologies of its profiles, sports, or humor writing -- or Rolling Stone can do musical genres. Given a few more years like we've just had, the NY Times Bookforum could do it with comics criticism.

image

SPURGEON: One of the odder things about the book to me is that it's based in part in the flowering of literary comics but the "Appraisals" section is dominated by older works. First, why do you think that happened and was that intentional or a function of just what excellent writing was available to you? Second, do you think the rise of literary comics and the reclamation of the past through reprints and writing about those works are intertwined, and if so, what effect has that had on that kind of literary comic?

SCHWARTZ: Well, as to the older works, it's just easier to write a career, large-scale appraisal of an artist when you have decades of work. So there's that. I mean, George Herriman lends himself to overviews more than Kevin Huizenga right now. Also, this book is about lit comics, but not about giving the reader a list of what comics to read. BACC means to reflect great critical thinking, so, it meant more for me to have Bob Fiore in it than a great piece about any single cartoonist. The It's why we have pieces by Seth and Chris Ware but nothing on them -- both are great thinkers about comics as well as compelling artists.

You say "older works," but In "Appraisals" I wanted great essays that gave a snapshot of the changing canon, where King and Schulz and Gray have a determining influence on this lit era (Thurber, too, actually) more than they have in decades. So, yes, it's very intertwined, a point I wanted to make. The reclamation of a revised comics past rather than one dominated by Kirby, EC, Eisner, and the ZAP underground is what much of the "Appraisals" section is about. Gray set down the first truly dramatic narratives in comics. Sure Chester Brown admires his artwork, but Gray's pivotal impact -- no matter what one thinks of his politics or the schmaltzy musical Annie -- has as much to do with comics writing today as it ever has -- including Little Orphan Annie at its peak. Jeet Heer's "Drawn from Life" is a landmark piece on King, as important to King as Gilbert Seldes' 1922 piece on Herriman, "The Krazy Kat That Walks Like a Man." Jeet pointed out to me once that every generation reinvents its canon, a comment often in my mind when I thought about the Appraisals section. So, as you say, "older works," but I'd say, never more vital. Sarah Boxer's Herriman piece is the first great study I've read of Herriman dealing with the news that Herriman was Creole, not Caucasian. As to the youngstas of the bunch, Clowes, Lynda Barry, Phoebe Gloeckner -- the pieces about them speak for themselves.

image

SPURGEON: You touch on Europe's concurrent literary comics movement through a few piece, but the pieces that engage manga are limited to I think a single interview with Yoshihiro Tatsumi and I didn't see anything that dealt with an on-line comic. Do you think that's a weakness of the book? Was that about the kind of work or about the writing you encountered? How would you describe their omission to someone who really values those kinds of work and thinks they're as much a part of the modern comics movement as anything? Is there something qualitatively different about the writing done on those works?

SCHWARTZ: It's not an omission. It's just not the book they want to read. Tatsumi is not there to represent manga, but gekiga, the Japanese version of lit comics. His choice to break with manga is as big as Eisner's in splitting with the superheroes, so that's why he's in it. I'm going by his definition there. As for on-line comics, I never came across a piece or interview about them that stood out like that. Do you feel, between 2000-2008, that a great piece of writing was done on on-line lit comics that I missed? Lit comics and it's post 2000 arrival in the mainstream lit world is what the book covers. I just didn't find anything on them that relates to the book -- or 2000-2008 Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, etc. So, it's not a weakness of the book. It's the point of the book. I'm a huge BPRD fan, but that's not in here. Except for Pete Bagge on Ditko's Spider-Man and John Hodgman on Kirby or Gerard Jones on Siegel and Shuster and the first wave of fans -- not much.

imageAs for world comics, David B, Marjane Satrapi, those pieces appear because of their authors, Rick Moody and David Hajdu, wrote great pieces on them. They did a great job of relating them to modern lit comics. In the intro I point out that we cover a long list of writers -- a really good one in my opinion -- but because I emphasize critics more than artists, the book leaves out many worthy artists: Joe Sacco, for example. You can't make a list of essential comics in 2000-2008 and not include him. But, I can, if I can't find a great piece on. Hopefully, the Satrapi piece makes the point of great non-fiction lit comics, that it matters. Ivan Brunetti has done two great anthologies, and Houghton does one every year. So, if you're looking for comprehensive consumer guide, get those. I'd rather have a killer essay about something trivial than a trivial piece on a household name.

Also, the different sections have different demands: the History section is there to set up the lit era and how I see it through writers Brian Doherty, Paul Gravett, and Bob Fiore. It's functional to the book in that way. The Fans section focuses on the golden age of history and biography we're in for comics, and the focus both David Hajdu and Gerard Jones gave to the impact of fans on comics. The Reviews section, that's interesting because it sets aside the original topical and consumer guide purpose of reviewing and just shows off the writers. John Hodgman's piece on epic comics came out as a review of then current books. Now I hope people read it to read Hodgman and what he's saying about Kirby's contribution to lit-minded narrative up through today.

SPURGEON: Correct me if I'm wrong, but as creative as you are in finding different forms for critical inquiry, were all of these piece published in print except maybe the last one? Did you not find work worthy of inclusion from mostly on-line writers like Joe McCulloch or Abhay Khosla? Is there any worry that in leaving work like that out, you're not providing a full snapshot of what critical inquiry exists out there?

image
SCHWARTZ: Darrell Epp's epic interview with Chester Brown is represented (well half of it!) here as are the Amazon readers who went off on Joe Matt's Spent. I missed Khosla! I also came across Laurel Maury too late, and she's great. As for McCulloch, I mention him in the intro -- there's critics like him, Tim Hodler, who I first encountered on-line. It's a matter of fitting the critic to my editorial slant. You know, a bigger problem for me was realizing I have more women cartoonists discussed in the book than women critics. Sarah Boxer's Herriman piece is it. But, most women on-line or anywhere I encountered were into superheroes and stuff that didn't apply here. Linda Davis' Addams book had sections I liked, but it didn't apply in the way Thurber does today.

However, you asked about on-line critics. Here's what I think about on-line critics: by and large, they aren't as interesting as many print critics. I see a greater knowledge of comics in the on-line writers than MSM writing on comics. MSM critics often stumble to find something to say about comics specifics and have no history of it. But, MSM writers often have more insight. They may not know their Kirby inkers, but they generally read more literature and approach comics with a bigger frame of cultural reference. Often the better writers and bloggers are moving into print (and most print writers have no choice but to blog or review on-line in 2010). Print is a tougher area to break into -- the editors want more out of you. The Comics Comics guys show up in Bookforum.

You know what print venue has surprisingly weak on the subject of cartooning and comics? Of all places? The New Yorker. Given their history from Arno and Thurber to Chast and Booth and Bruce Eric Kaplan and all the talent that Bob Mankoff and Francoise Mouly bring them, they sure don't publish with much passion about comics. Anthony Lane fascinates me, because he was so tough on Alan Moore in his Watchmen review and then Jane Goldman's script of Kick-Ass. He takes the subculture vulgarity of comics to task -- unlike anyone since Gary, I guess. And I agree with him on Watchmen, btw (haven't seen Kick-Ass). That's what I'm talking about with that bigger frame of reference. All that dark gritty superhero sadism Watchmen inspired -- he was appalled by it. Updike loved comics, Gopnik wrote about Thurber and Kurtzman, and Spiegelman's Jack Cole piece is maybe the best thing they ever published on comics. They like to run on about their glory days, but that's the extent of it. They hire the best cartoonists, though. You know your side is winning the culture war when Ivan Brunetti draws New Yorker covers.

SPURGEON: You include two of the older statesmen in terms of writing about comics, Donald Phelps and RC Harvey. Both made their comics-writing reputation by writing extensively about newspaper strips, and yet you have them both writing about modern comics. Was that intentional? From an editor's standpoint, what do you think each writer brought to the works in the pieces you include?

SCHWARTZ: No, not intentional. I was looking at a Caniff section from Harvey's Meanwhile but he sent me the Bechdel piece, which is good as a review/analysis but also as a mini-manifesto of how he thinks comics should be reviewed.

imageAs for Phelps, yeah, I did like the generation/gender contrast of him covering Gloeckner and Barry. It wasn't intentional, though, in the sense that I was looking for that anymore than I was with Harvey and Bechdel. I really liked the Barry piece and then he connected it to Gloeckner and so I added that because it said as much about him as them. That someone who has been thinking about comics as long as he has takes such delight in those artists is what I was interested in, mostly. Nothing worse than a humbug pining away for the good old days. I'm just thinking about it now, but it's funny that the Appraisals section worked out that younger writers are covering Eisner, Gray, and King while Bechdel, Clowes, Gloeckner, and Barry get the "kids." By kids I mean artists hitting 50, with Gloeckner the tot of the bunch. By younger writers, I mean 40-yr-olds …

But, with Phelps, I guess it goes back to me on the escalator, eaves-dropping on the iCarlyites -- a motif I had not considered until this moment. It ties into the changing audience and creators of comics.

SPURGEON: Can I ask after cover choice of Drew Friedman? How did that come into being? Was the concept yours or Drew's? Do you think it's odd in any way you're bringing to some public recognition these writers about comics but then also kind of mocking them on this cover?

SCHWARTZ: I told Drew I wanted to do a send-up of Charles Burns' Believer magazine and anthology covers, something Burns has made as iconic as Eustace Tilley on The New Yorker. All I asked Drew to think about when he did the faces was to come up with a gallery like his Comic Book Store Clerks of America They'll Never Own A Yacht. He came back with those amazing faces, and then Fanta's Alexa Koening did all the precision design work that makes the parody so funny. I added the captions. None of the writers in the book appear on the cover -- Drew promises!

image

As for mocking the idea of comics critics ... oh, guilty! I love the way cartoonists portray critics. Clowes' Harry Naybors (whose bookshelf includes "The Buscemas of Brooklyn"), Seth's Art Stern (whom we include in the Wimbledon Green on the day a critic is born), and then C. Spinoza's Pacho Clokey a hilarious mini-comic I included in full that parodies overreaching critics by one "Nate Guinzburg." I love the fake comic the author (who prefers to remain anonymous) created and the equally fake critic to annotate it for us. It's like an eight-page Pale Fire. And with the caliber of writers in this book, I didn't think I had a lot to prove to the public as far as whether criticism of comics needs to be taken seriously. Maybe it goes back to my instant "Oh, yeah?" reaction to Gary when I was 13! Besides, comics critics can take a joke. We'll always have sports writers to make us look normal.

image

SPURGEON: I love the inclusion of the Amazon.com comments section on Joe Matt's Spent. Were there any hoops to jump through to run that material? What about the quality of that stuff made you decide to include it?

SCHWARTZ: Hoops? Not much. What made me want to include them was Rick Moody's thought, or as they say in the East, "notion," in his David B. piece. He said that cartoonists were the subject of debate as fierce as any on Vonnegut or Richard Brautigan. Of all the cartoonists he names only Joe still inspires fistfight-level debates. Joe gets the most wide-ranging reaction of anyone I've seen, from genius to hopeless. You can write that, as I just did, but you can't truly believe all that about an artist. Also, I come from a DIY-inspired writing background -- blogs, Suck.com, 'zines -- that says one's point of view matters more than the corporate imprimatur on the masthead. I could have done an Amazon thing like that on any cartoonist out there, but Joe is Joe -- only Joe Matt drives people to such distraction.

SPURGEON: You've written about comics and cartoonists before. In fact, you call on your number with the inclusion of a piece. With whom in the book do you find the greatest critical sympathy? Was there anyone that was an eye-opener for you? Is there anyone you think greatly under-appreciated even by the meager reward system due writers about comics?

image
SCHWARTZ: Well, inclusion in the book means I'm pretty sympathetic. As I've said, it's the writers this book is about, not always there subjects. Let's see, Doug's Eisner piece sums up perfectly what I think of the old boy. Gary's interviews, I pinpointed all three of those to say "here's what I love about this guy." Eye-opening: Phelps' close examination of formal innovation in Ditko is killer as is Peter Bagge's hilarious revisionist take on him.

Most under-appreciated? Well, I always feel that I am the most under-appreciated writer in America. Period. I mean, where's my Pulitzer? You might say, "for what?" And I would say, "See, Tom, you don't appreciate me."

The under-appreciated award goes to Fiore, one of the best critics anywhere. Since he only writes on comics (and related movies and TV once in a while), only now is there an opportunity for a wider audience, imo. Thirty-plus years of Funnybook Roulette is a giant body of work. It's always passionate, too. Only Gary and Bob Harvey can match that long record. Fiore's got a vast knowledge of the medium and the stylistic snap of a Pauline Kael or Lester Bangs. He's not burned out like some critics get. You ever see Dragnet with Jack Webb as Joe Friday? On Dragnet you'll see Joe Friday get really steamed and upset over a drug dealer or a killer. Then, next week, he's just as outraged over a guy bouncing checks at a hardware store. Bob's like that! He writes up every comic like it matters -- after all these years. George Harrison or Fabian Nicieza, he's on the job. So, I give it to him. After I get my Pulitzer, I want him to have one.

imageBut no one is well known as a comics critic yet. There's no Michiko Kakutani or Roger Ebert of comics. Any writer you've ever heard of in this book is generally known for something else they do first -- cartoonist, publisher, novelist, comedian, academic, movie or music critic, whatever. I'd say Doug Wolk is the closest to professional comics critic in public recognition.

SPURGEON: Do you read any writers about comics on an ongoing basis. How much of a role does engaging with this kind of writing have an effect on your comics-reading habits?

SCHWARTZ: Despite how I edited this book, my first instinct is usually to read about cartoonists I like. I read your site for news and reviews and stuff and TCJ. That covers a lot of my fan boy interests. I probably read Doug Wolk more than most because he's in The New York Times so much. I wish I read him less because I want some of that space! Then Jeet, because our tastes are so similar. On Saturday nights and Sunday mornings I look over the book sections of newspapers on-line and read whoever I come across. I also get Bookforum and The New Yorker in the mail, and then the Comics Comics guys, so whatever they run.

Has it changed my reading? Sure. In the time I started reading TCJ in '79-80, I wrote my first comics article on Marv Wolfman's Teen Titans. In college I did interviews with Drew Friedman and reviewed him and late '80s Bagge and Burns. By the end of college, I wrote a non-superhero piece -- a compositional study of Carl Barks' Back To The Yukon for Volume V of the Barks Library. That was a mix growing up, hanging around with Howard Chaykin who I also interviewed back then, Fiore, Groth, and my own film and music critical reading.

SPURGEON: Will there be a second volume? Can you describe in any way what that might be like?

SCHWARTZ: I don't know, it depends how many copies my family buys of the first one as holiday gifts. One thing that would change is a tightened time frame to an annual or two-year collection. An annual affair might be tough, because I still don't see enough coverage in the MSM, but it's getting better.

Also, as many of the lit guys drift into Sammy Harkham's Kramers Ergot and Nadel's Ganzfeld (I give them the last word in the book), I'd like to look at the art comics movement more. They're making serious comics and breaking into mainstream design, too. This BACC covers the long-form lit model, but literature ranges from fiction and non-fiction to haiku and epic theater -- no reason lit comics can't hit all that.

*****

* The Best American Comics Criticism, Edited By Ben Schwartz, Fantagraphics, softcover, 280 pages, June 2010, 9781606991480 (ISBN13), 1606991485 (ISBN10), $19.99.

*****

* cover to The Best American Comics Criticism
* that special issue of Amazing World Of DC Comics
* from Will Eisner's Contract With God
* that Pacho Clokey mini-comic
* from Fletcher Hanks
* from Frank King
* from Yoshihiro Tatsumi
* from David B.
* photo of Chester Brown by Gil Roth
* from the great Phoebe Gloeckner
* comics critic Harry Naybors from Ice Haven
* panel from Joe Matt's Spent
* art from Steve Ditko
* what a professional comics critic looks like: Mr. Douglas Wolk
* the Teen Titans (below), subject of young Mr. Schwartz's ire

*****

image

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

 
Not Comics: The Best Movie Ever














 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Spain, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NY, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image

 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 41st Birthday, Walt Holcombe!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Ty Templeton!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #209—Testimony

On Friday, April 30, CR readers werew asked to "Name Five Modern (active 1990-on) Comics Industry Figures Who Would Provide Vastly Entertaining Testimony Were There Another HUAC-Style Committee Hearing On Naughty Comic Books." This is how they responded.

*****

image

Tom Spurgeon

1. Alan Moore
2. Gary Groth
3. Dave Sim
4. Jim Blanchard
5. Nabile Hage

*****

image

Richard Pachter

1. Fred Hembeck
2. Neal Adams
3. Mike Gold
4. Howard Chaykin
5. Mark Waid

*****

image

Dave Knott

* Kevin Eastman
* Charles Brownstein
* Coop
* Bob Fingerman
* Robin Bougie

*****

image

Stergios Botzakis

1. Ivan Brunetti
2. Rick Veitch
3. Pete Bagge
4. Bill Willingham
5. Johnny Ryan

*****

image

Robert Martin

1. Ted Rall
2. Howard Chaykin
3. Buddy Saunders
4. Mike Diana
5. Eddie Campbell (isn't his always)

*****

image

Michael Carens-Nedelsky

1. Neil Gaiman -- if only because I can imagine him saying, in his calm English accent, about giant throbbing cocks have a long history within literature
2. Brian Michael Bendis -- the transcript would be unprintable.
3. Henry Jenkins -- a media scholar at USC who often writes on comics, he's actually made similar testimonies in wake of Columbine. Always always brilliant.
4. Garth Ennis -- "You think that's bad? I rammed a fucking gerbil up a characters ass -- and that was just to start!"
5. Christopher Butcher -- either an exceptionally reasoned but impassioned plea for sense, or an incoherent amount of screaming. Probably the former, but I would pay to see either.

*****

image

Josh Ryan

* Mike Diana
* Johnny Ryan
* Todd McFarlane
* Gareb Shamus
* Tori Amos

*****

image

Mark Coale

1. Evan Dorkin
2. Howard Chaykin
3. Steve Ditko
4. Kurt Busiek
5. Priest

*****



Sam Humphries

1. Benjamin Marra
2. Ross Richie
3. James Sime
4. Tucker Stone
5. Chip Zdarsky

*****

image

Bill Kartalopoulos

* Robert Williams
* Art Spiegelman
* Jules Feiffer
* Eddie Campbell
* Johnny Ryan (communicating only via napkin doodles)

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

 
CCI ‘09 Video Found On My Camera











these were just sort of lurking of my flip-thing, and had to be dumped somewhere so I could put new stuff on
 
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
May 8, 2010


Your 2010 Doug Wright Award Winners

image

A flurry of tweets from on-site and a post to the National Post blog indicate that Seth, Marc Bell and Michael DeForge were the winners in this evening's Doug Wright Awards, named during a ceremony hosted by actor Peter Outerbridge. Winners and work for which they won are in bold:

*****

image

BEST BOOK
* Back + Forth, Marta Chudolinska (The Porcupine's Quill)
* George Sprott: (1894-1975), Seth (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Hot Potatoe, Marc Bell (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Kaspar, Diane Obomsawin (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Red: A Haida Manga, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (Douglas and McIntyre)

*****

image

BEST EMERGING TALENT
* Adam Bourret, I'm Crazy
* Michael DeForge, Lose #1 (Koyama Press), Cold Heat Special #7 (Picturebox)
* Pascal Girard, Nicolas (Drawn and Quarterly)
* John Martz, It's Snowing Outside. We Should Go For a Walk.
* Sully, The Hipless Boy (Conundrum Press)

*****

image

PIGSKIN PETERS AWARD
* Bébête Simon Bossé (L'Oie de Cravan)
* Dirty Dishes, Amy Lockhart (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Hot Potatoe, Marc Bell (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Never Learn Anything From History, Kate Beaton
* The Collected Doug Wright Volume One, Doug Wright (Drawn and Quarterly)

*****

The Doug Wright Awards go to the best in English-language Canadian comics. Two of the awards are self-explanatory, and the Pigskin Peters award is for unconventional, "nominally-narrative" comics. This year's nominating panel was panel: Jeet Heer, Jerry Ciccoritti, Chester Brown, Sean Rogers and Bryan Munn. The winners-choosing jury was Geoff Pevere, Carl Wilson, Matt Forsythe and Fiona Smyth.

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

 
The Comics Reporter Video Parade


via


via


via


via


via


via


via
 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week In Review

image

The top comics-related news stories from May 1 to May 7, 2010:

1. A German TV show canceled an appearance by Kurt Westergaard out of fear of... well, out of fear.

2. CCI raises extra exhibitor badge prices in part to curtail abuse of that badge class.

3. North American BD specialist Fichtre closes shop, perhaps for good.

Winner Of The Week
The late Leo O'Mealia (1884-1960), cartoonist with actual superpowers.

Loser Of The Week
Herge. It's fairly typical for great artists to have a distressing element on their record somewhere, but having that thing be the focus of an ongoing news story is certainly atypical.

Quote Of The Week
"I can't wait to get back to earning money and getting to work." -- Gene Colan

*****

today's cover is from the 1940s-1950s mainstream comics publisher Avon

*****
*****
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Spain, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Alaska, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Sherman Oaks, I’d Go Here

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Robert Boyd!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 72nd Birthday, Moebius!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 37th Birthday, Hiromu Arakawa!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
May 7, 2010


Friday Distraction: Nick Derington

image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
A Conversation With Brian Hibbs

imageI could always do a much better job covering the Direct Market of comics and hobby shops. It's a fascinating and peculiar component of the overall comics industry, filled with idiosyncratic personalities, strange spaces and a slew of funny names. It's a place where people moving from shoeboxes to cash registers remains palpable history of somewhat recent vintage, but also where a collective and perhaps unique ability to move product into communities bonded by a shared experience dances along the cutting edge of what retail means in the 21st Century. They are many of the worst and some of the best shops of any kind in the whole, wide world.

I talk to Brian Hibbs occasionally to take the measure of what's going on in that part of comics. His Comix Experience isn't one of the giants in terms of units moved, but the San Francisco-based store has long been a leading light of one of comics' most potent communities. Hibbs is an activist on behalf of his peers and thinks through the issues of the day in a way that gives him influence in place far away from his San Francisco doorstep. He sued Marvel and won a settlement beneficial to his entire peer group. He is a prominent member of the ComicsPro organization and a staunch advocate of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Because he's been interviewed so many times over the years, I started out thinking I'd ask Brian a bunch of mean questions just to make this a real gauntlet. That grew tiresome, so after the first few question below I just asked what was on my mind, what I had scribbled in my notebook next to questions I crossed out. If this worked out the way it's supposed to, Hibbs took a look at the manuscript for basic proofreading purposes and I edited a few of my sentences for flow. I hope that you learn something about the state of comics retail, or at least the ideas that support it: I sure did. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: One complaint I've heard about you from hardcore arts- and alt-comics circles is that you don't sell very many of those comics, and at best you're a Vertigo/Indy store. What three comics from traditional arts comics or alt-comics publishers have been memorably successful for you in the last five years. As explicitly as you can, describe how successful each one was in terms of copies sold. If not actual figures, use ballpark figures.

BRIAN HIBBS: Now I wish I was at the store, because then I could look things up on the computer.

SPURGEON: You can add figures in later if you like. Everybody, if there are figures added in in parentheses, that was Brian doing it later on.

HIBBS: We may have to. I'm assuming Asterios Polyp doesn't count, because it's not from a traditional arts comic publisher.

SPURGEON: Pantheon's book line can be an arts comics publisher if you like. It's your answer.

image
HIBBS: Okay, Asterios Polyp was one of my best-selling books of last year. I believe it was in my top 20, but I would again have to have my computer in front of me to confirm that. (It was #6 in pieces for 2009) We've also done exceptionally well with Logicomix? Does that one count? It's hard to tell what counts and what doesn't. Logicomix did phenomenally well for me last year as well. Uhh... does Crumb's adaptation of Genesis count?

SPURGEON: Sure, if you want it to.

HIBBS: Genesis was a monster success for me. I can give you more detail as to where they are in terms of percentages and sales. I think all three of those would be in my top 20 fairly easily.*

SPURGEON: Is it easier for you to sell books from a book publisher's line than it is from a Drawn and Quarterly or a Top Shelf?

HIBBS: No, there really is no difference between Drawn and Quarterly and Pantheon, as far as I'm concerned. There's no difference between publishers except for the discount I get, and the difference between a Pantheon and Drawn and Quarterly is insignificant in terms of discount.

SPURGEON: Where would you put yourself on a percentile basis in terms of your alt-comics sales in comparison to your peers? Use the old Iowa Skills Test rankings, with the 99th percentile being the top, and I guess a "one" being the lowest -- where is Comix Experience in terms of sales of that kind of comic?

HIBBS: Ninety-nine being the top, I would put myself at a pure guess at 85. It's hard to say. There's a tremendous number of stores I've never seen. I've never physically been in, say, Quimby's. In San Francisco, I'm 99. It's hard to say what other stores are doing, but nobody in San Francisco has the breadth and depth of stock that I do for alternative comics. Not even close.

SPURGEON: Another criticism I've heard about you is that you seem willing to talk about retailer issues whether or not you're specifically qualified to speak to them. Can you name three retailer issues on which you would ideally defer? To whom you would defer on each of those questions?

HIBBS: Huh. That's an interesting question. That may be the stumper right there. Game over! There are things that I don't do. I don't sell variant covers on my shelf. We only do variant covers as special orders. So if the issue was how to maximize your sales of variant covers and how do you price them, I would not be the best person to talk to.

SPURGEON: Who would you send me to?

image
HIBBS: I would probably send you to Phil Boyle's Coliseum of Comics, Gary Dill's stores The Laughing Ogre. He's also on the board of ComicsPro. One of those guys, probably. But I don't even know that aspect of the business to necessarily be sending you to the best person. Along similar lines: CGC comics. I don't deal with them at all. I think they're the devil. I would send you to CGC, or to Lee Hester, whom I believe does business with them.

SPURGEON: The third issue?

HIBBS: I'm thinking of something relevant to modern comics retailing. My last thought was golden age and silver age comics, but that's kind of cheating. And you can wrap that up in CGCs as well. [long pause] Oh, running more than one store. I don't know anything about that whatsoever except what I've picked up through osmosis. I'd probably send you to Chris Powell at Lone Star or Jamie Graham at Graham Crackers.

SPURGEON: I've heard from you and read you, I believe, on how publishers and even creators contributed to the loss of serial alt-comics as a significant factor in comics shops. How do you think the shops contributed to that market segment decline? Or do you?

HIBBS: In the general market, I think retailers contributed by not supporting or stocking anything outside the boxes they understand. This isn't much different than the problems we have with Diamond, that they don't know what to do with comics that don't have a cape on them. I think it's an over-generalization, but I think it's a reasonable one. So when you have a distribution channel that doesn't understand the books, and a retail channel that doesn't understand the books, you're not going to sell as many as you could be.

Specifically, what I would really say is that it's a real lack of understanding in the retail base that alt-comics aren't just a sell-this-month or even a sell-this-week kind of a deal. That alt-comics for the most part tend to sell continually over the years. I still have every single issue of Optic Nerve sitting on my shelf, including number one that came out 15 years ago. I still stock it because I sell enough copies to justify that rack space. I have every issue that's in print and available from Diamond of Love and Rockets Vol. 2 on myself. I don't have Volume One because it's easier to sell the single book. If I could have the last ten issues of Eightball and the last ten issues of Hate on my wall, I would.

image

SPURGEON: Why don't other stores see that? These aren't new books. Is it just the general genre myopia coming into play?

HIBBS: I think that's part of it. I think it's also that lack of understanding that these are long-term sales prospects. The nature of the Marvel and DC superhero comics is that you basically have a no more than 30-day window to sell 95 percent of them. There are certainly things outside of that that you can continue to sell, but if you look at your mid-list books, you don't sell those by the first weekend, they never sell ever. I think that a lot of stores are looking at alt-books for their initial window and that's all they're stocking for. I think that it's we have memories like elephants going on. I'm sure there are retailers that would tell you about the black and white boom and how black and white books don't sell because of that. Even though that was 25 years ago, or whatever it was. I think that we far too often as a class let the past inform us more than it should.

SPURGEON: Correct me if I'm wrong or speaking out of turn, but you once ball-parked to me a figure in terms of opening a comic shop of around $100,000.

HIBBS: That would be a rough guess, yeah.

SPURGEON: The vast majority of that being in inventory.

HIBBS: Yeah.

SPURGEON: Now given that Entrepreneur Magazine tells me you can own a name sandwich franchise for $130K or a popular ice cream store for less than $200K, is it possible that an over-reliance on the traditional comic store model is a disincentive to get into comics retail?

HIBBS: Is it possible? Sure, it's possible. The thing that's different with comics as opposed to the franchise businesses you're talking about is that the product changes every single work. If you can go to the ice cream store that sells 31 flavors, you're getting 31 flavors of ice cream. There are variations of how you're getting it, but there's only a few permutations of possible objects that you're selling there. In a comic book store, if you're focusing primarily on periodical comics, and that's still a significant portion of everybody's business, every single week you're getting somewhere between 60 and 100 comics that aren't interchangeable the way chocolate ice cream is with another ice cream.

SPURGEON: Okay, I get the point, but I'm not sure where you're aiming that other than to make me want some ice cream.

HIBBS: It makes the initial business learning curve extremely different than that of a franchise. Both examples you came up with are a franchise, although I don't want to limit it to that. When you have a franchise situation, you have a limited bank of products you're selling, so you don't have to constantly be looking at how you're going to sell them, the components of selling them, what's different week to week. Chocolate ice cream is chocolate ice cream, but a Batman comic changes on an issue-to-issue basis.

SPURGEON: Okay, I'm letting you have that argument. Frankly, I'd have a hard time naming 31 different flavors of superhero comic. But let me grant you that argument. What you seem to be saying, though, is that it's worse than I think. There's high relative cost but also a barrier in terms of training and knowledge involved.

HIBBS: I think there is. I think you rapidly learn what it is. You don't stay in business past a year if you don't quickly figure out what the different flavors are. But I think if you were to speak to a store that's just opened up in the last year and a half or whatever, say a Bergen Street Comics. I was talking to them a couple of weeks ago, about the expectation they had for what they thought would sell did not match the reality of it. You quickly have to realize your preconceptions of the market are different than the reality that's different for the operator of a franchise situation.

SPURGEON: So given all these barriers to launching a potentially successful business, shouldn't there more thought given to alternative models, or is that out of the question?

HIBBS: How do you mean?

SPURGEON: A model for retail that doesn't involve $100K and this swirl of arcane, idiosyncratic knowledge.

HIBBS: I don't know if that's possible, but there are certainly stores that open up on different kinds of models. For example, there are stores that are focused differently. Out here, Mission: Comics & Art in San Francisco is much more of a gallery kind of model. The periodicals may or may not be as important a part of his business. So you can find different models. But I think you have a harder road to hoe there, because you're working against the expectation of what a comic store should be. Does that make sense?

SPURGEON: It does. Next question. Name three stores that have opened since 2000 that you admire and give us a reason for each why we should share your admiration.

HIBBS: Two that are in the same general time frame are Bergen Street in Brooklyn and Rocketship, for different reasons. With Rocketship it was clear that Alex was bringing a lot of passion to his work. It fit in with his neighborhood and is a really great-looking store. Bergen Street is a little more designy... in all cases I'm going to bring you somewhat of the same answer: the enthusiasm and the excitement. So those two in New York. Out here I would probably name Mission: Comics & Art. Leef [Smith]'s very enthusiastic, very passionate about what he's doing, and he's going for more of a gallery model. That seems to me worth pursuing.

SPURGEON: My hometown is Middletown, USA. Muncie, Indiana, has a population of about 65,000 people. Can you name three quality stores in towns smaller than that?

HIBBS: I can't because I don't travel very often, particularly outside of a handful of cities. Without seeing a store with my own eyes it's difficult to make any sort of judgment.

SPURGEON: Is there a danger that the comic store model only works in a certain size of community?

HIBBS: I think there's a danger of that, sure. I think you have to have a large enough customer base. That doesn't mean a population center of 500,000 or more, but it probably means you need a college. You need a young audience, fairly literate. I think you could open up a good comic shop near almost any college. Probably.

SPURGEON: If you were brought into the discussion of an on-line initiative for Marvel or DC that needed to launch full-bore in June 2011, can you name three things that you might suggest that would mitigate the damage or ameliorate losses to the traditional Direct Market?

HIBBS: Sure. The very first thing I would say is don't under-price your digital comics in relation to the print comics. You don't want people to think the print product is terrible value... more than they do naturally.

SPURGEON: [laughs]

image
HIBBS: If you were to go day and date on a brand-new book -- day and date is obviously releasing your product in the print channel and on-line at the same time -- if you price the print product at $3.99 and the digital product at $.99, you're not providing a compelling bargain there. Two, I would always keep at least a six month gap between print and digital. I think that digital for the most part is going to be a replacement for the newsstand rather than a channel all to itself. I think people buying stuff at a newsstand don't necessarily care as much if the comics are today's comics. If you look at a company like DC that has 75 years of things to be selling you, selling you this week's comics would be at the bottom of my list. You have 75 years of comics. For the guy that hasn't read a Batman comic in years it doesn't matter whether it's this week's Batman or not. In my opinion. I would keep the same kind of a gap between the print product and the digital comic that I would keep between the serial product and the collected product. I think that there are a number of things that serialization does that are incredibly helpful and incredibly unique to our business. I don't think we should be doing anything that will harm the serialization at all. As a point of hard-won faith in my heart, we should be doing whatever we can to preserver serialization. And to encourage more serialization.

I would try in all cases to try and lead the digital consumer to a physical store. I would work with retailers to work with the tools that are there to help them bring consumers into their stores. Whether it's having nice photos on a comic shop locator service, or encouraging them to produce videos, there's a whole suite of things you could be doing in there that I think a whole lot of brick and mortar stores either don't have the talent to do or the understanding of why they should want to do that. I would differentiate between the digital product and the print product. I would have more things you can only get in the print version, even more so in the serial version. An example might be the kind of things that Ed Brubaker puts into Criminal, these text pieces about pulp movies and things in the back. When the book gets collected, they're not including that material. I would also give things in the digital that you can only get in that fashion. For Marvel and DC, the assembly-line comics, you might look at presenting different stages of production in the digital comic. I would differentiate between them strongly, not only to give unique value, but also -- and God forbid me saying this -- you might have people double dipping.

SPURGEON: Of all things you just suggested, on what single item would the major mainstream companies provide the most resistance?

HIBBS: I don't think we've been seeing a ton of resistance on anything we've been saying, other than having compelling material in the periodical that's not in another version. I don't think they've grasped the value of that yet.

SPURGEON: Comic shops offer function as the extension of an owner's personality, to the point where one frequently calls into question the survival of a shop without its first owner. While the idiosyncratic strengths of individual comic shops is portrayed as a general positive, the notion of the "indispensable employee" is seen as a crippling factor for longevity and portability. What can you say to assure us 85 percent of the good comic shops aren't going away in the next 20 years as a bunch of you croak.

HIBBS: There's nothing I can say that would assure of that because I'm not sure it isn't true. If I were to die tomorrow and God forbid that I do, the store would have a very hard time functioning without me. I suspect that this is equally true of most stores. The hope is that we're generating new stores that will be doing the same thing for the next generation of readers. One of the happiest days I ever had was when Mike Drivas who used to work for me decided to open his own store in Minneapolis -- Big Brain Comics. To a certain extent that's really the only way that I can assuage that fear at all. Presumable the best stores are going to have good employees, and those employees are eventually going to decided they want to open their own business.

SPURGEON: You're kind of set on that as the model, no work to be done to make transitions easier. That's not a priority of ComicsPro.

HIBBS: I'm not sure what you can do to make transitions easier. It comes back to the idiosyncratic nature of the product itself, the fact that it's constantly changing and constantly morphing. You can't apply strict mathematical rules to the way you buy comics. You can to your backlist, that's a different matter. But when you're looking at your front list periodical comics, it's not really a science, it's an art. Science you can replicate; art is pretty hard to replicate. I could start today writing instructions on how you order comics for the day that I die and someone else takes over, and I'm not sure I'd finish by the time I died, even if I died ten years from now. There's just so many variables and strange, idiosyncratic things that are involved. If it were easier to do, we'd have a national chain of comics right now. Every attempt to form a national chain of comics has crashed and burned on the shores of you have to have a good manager at each and every one of those locations that is capable of acting as the owners. It is hard to find those people. It's really, really difficult to do that. It's difficult to do centralized ordering, even within the regional chains we have, if you talk to those owners they'll tell you that store to store many shops are completely different from one another. But I think that's a strength of our business, I really do. While it may limit the physical locations we may have, I don't know that that's necessarily a bad thing.

SPURGEON: That leads to the next question. There used to be two comic shop in the county where I live. Now there are zero. I live two hours from the nearest comic shop. And it's a comic shop that also sells paintball supplies. Is coverage an issue for ComicsPro? If it is, what do you do to work on that issue? What is being done to counter the drop in overall geographical coverage that I think was accelerated in the mid-1990s? Given that the only thing upon which the people who work with the numbers seems to agree is that more accounts means more sales, why isn't it an issue of greater priority?

HIBBS: I think it is an issue of great priority, but I think what a group of retailers banded into an association is able to do is limited to some extent. I think what ComicsPro can do and is doing is encourage best practices among its members. For example, ComicsPro has a mentoring program where pre-retailers, folks that have yet to open a store, can join for I think $99 and get access to a message board that will answer all the questions you need to wrap your head around. There's a new store opening up in Mississippi -- Southern Fried Comics, Barry and Jayme have been in the mentoring program for a while and came to our annual meeting this year. I got the sense from talking to them they were ten steps ahead for working with this group of people trying to show them what things might work for them and what things might not. I also think within our own membership, having meetings like this where we're focus on the running of the business as opposed to what a Diamond trade show does where they're there to sell your stuff, everybody's spit-balling ideas back and forth. I talked to people coming out of the meeting who said they got between one and ten new ideas to try out at their store. That's what we can do internally as retailers.

Externally, I think the thing that needs to happen in order to encourage more stores to open is a whole suite of infrastructure programs. We need to have a program that has either for free or at a highly subsidized price hardware for Point Of Sale systems. Same things for store racks. Same thing for starting inventory. There should be packages put together where if you're opening a comics shop there's a bundled group of books in appropriate number, the 500 graphic novels you need. That's not something that comic book retailers can do. That has to come from the publisher and distributor levels. That would have more of an impact than anything else we could talking about.

SPURGEON: I understand the general opening of stores thing you're going for there, but to refocus on coverage: how fired up are retailers about the emergence of other retailers.

HIBBS: I'll be honest: nobody wants another store to open up in their city.

SPURGEON: Now, when I go to stores in this region and say where I'm from, I'm sometimes referred to as one of their customers from my town. "You're one of our Silver City customers." So with the lack of coverage generally, you have retailers assuming a regional customer base. How you do get past retailers calling dibs on these vast swathes of area and get them behind the opening of new comics stores?

HIBBS: To be honest, I think you just have to let economic Darwinism work. If a store opens up in a region, it's your job as a retailer to have a more compelling store. There should not be any protectionism in the business, nothing you can count on to do that work for you. We had a shop open up eight blocks away from us. San Francisco being what it is, you don't get a ton business between neighborhoods, it's just kind of the way the city works, but they're eight blocks away. I certainly didn't call up Diamond and go, "How could you let them open there." That's not their responsibility. Their responsibility is to open up as many viable stores as there possibly can be. If that store takes business away from me, I must be doing something wrong. A year after that, another store opened up six blocks away from them. About 14 blocks away. Again, in another neighborhood, but did I lose some business because somebody no longer had to come halfway across town? Yeah, sure. But that's my lookout. That's not anybody else's lookout. If it means that stores that are less viable go out of business for stores that are more viable, then so be it?

Having said that, I think there are certain standards of professionalism, best business practices, reasonable business practices, that we can be educating people about, and perhaps enforcing. I think any store that opens up with the goal of "I'm going to put that guy out business" is probably not offering a viable business models. The guy who is discounting everything to put someone else out of business is also probably not a viable way of doing business. I'm not entirely sure what legally could or could not be done about it. I think that encouraging or enforcing the SRP, the suggested retail price, would not be an untoward thing. If people are competing on an equal playing ground, than economic Darwinism is a fair and wonderful thing. When people aren't competing on a fair playing ground, it's less so.

But more broadly, I think you're absolutely right. I think most existing retailers are very protectionist against what they perceive to be their market, and get frustrated when stores open up in their immediate area. I think a lot of this is because historically stores that open up in your immediate area are trying to discount you out of business rather than generate new business. I would almost point to Rocketship and Bergen Street -- it wasn't a hard walk between the two stores -- and they're both doing things in a similar kind of way, but the argument I would make is when you have two good stores that seem to be doing the best they can, it increases the overall business for comics.

Take The Best of Two Worlds, which is the store that both Rory [Root] and I worked for 25+ years ago, Bob Beerbohm's now-defunct place. He eventually went out of a business, and had some time left on his lease and Bob Borden of Fantasy Distribution is the one who cosigned this lease, and so he had to come in and take over the store so they wouldn't lose thousands and thousands off dollars on a lease that still had some years on it. Rory took over that Haight Street store. That period of time when Comic Relief and Comix Experience were effectively 8 to 12 blocks away from each other did nothing but increase the number of people coming to the neighborhood to buy comics, because there were two excellent stores effectively side by side. I know that in Montreal, Paul Stock's store (Libraire Astro) is literally across the street from a competitor (Captain Quebec). They've been like that for decades and they're both successful. People are coming to that area because there are two good stores there running different kids of models. So I don't think that it has to be a competitive thing. Even more so, I think this is one of the things particularly with ComicsPro is to not think of other retailers as competitors but allies.

image

SPURGEON: That was very positive, Brian. I'm all revved up to open a comics shop now.

HIBBS: You should. I think you'd run a great comic shop, Tom.

SPURGEON: It would be disastrous. All I'd sell is used Saul Steinberg books.

HIBBS: That's the thing. You'd find very fast that those things don't sell and you need to sell Batman.

SPURGEON: I might be able to hang in there for a long time. I'm at that point in life where I build a lot of failure into my big projects, Brian. You'd be surprised how long The Passport and Other Comic Books would last. [Hibbs laughs] Is it true that there were more people from publishers at this year's ComicsPro meeting than there were retailers in attendance?

HIBBS: More than, no. I think it was an almost equal number.

SPURGEON: Okay. Isn't that bad?

HIBBS: Given the economic climate [Spurgeon laughs] -- you can laugh at that, but it's expensive to travel to these things, and given that the Diamond summit was two weeks away from us, I don't think that was a bad thing. I'm going to see that for where the meeting is in its development it was a positive that we had so many people that wanted to come and speak to the retailers.

SPURGEON: I don't want to talk about membership numbers with ComicsPro, but are you getting a more active membership, are people more actively involved in what you're trying to do?

HIBBS: That would be my perception.

SPURGEON: Can you quantify that in any way?

HIBBS: I don't know that I can measure that except that we have a private message board and it's certainly seeing more traffic. A quantifiable number? I don't know that I ever counted. But I used to check it on a weekly basis and now I check it on a more than daily basis. There is more conversation and debate going on. It's not contentious debate. It's not, "Wait a minute, you're fucking wrong." It's "That's a good idea. What can we do to make the idea better?" I will say that the membership is not growing as much as I think it should be. My goal at this point was to have 250 members, but we have -- Amanda would know better than me -- between 125 and 150 members. I'm not sure what we can do about that except to convince people that the more participate the more power we'll have with the publishers. I do think we have some power with the publishers already -- not Marvel, because Marvel doesn't care what retailers says as far as I can tell -- but every other publisher listens to us and respects us. Part of that is the volume and quality that the ComicsPro store represents. We could add a 100 members that are all Billy Bob's Comics Hole, but I don't know that would necessarily make the organization better. Those stores aren't doing the kind of volume or are embedded in the community the way the current membership is.

SPURGEON: I think we're familiar with the criticism that while Diamond may not always get the credit they deserve for acting honorably, that due to their orientation or culture or history or whatever they simply don't support comics that aren't the easiest to support. I hear that from retailers every so often, that Diamond is almost hostile to books that aren't top of the line books. You can count on one hand that books that Diamond facilitated that became hits: Bone, Walking Dead...

image
HIBBS: I think if you use the world facilitated, I'd say that you can count the number of hit books on no hands. I think you can easily make the argument that books like Bone and Walking Dead have hit in spite of Diamond, not because of Diamond.

SPURGEON: I like that; it's darker than my version. Where I get confused is this assumed break between the shops and Diamond. Can you name a book that shops supported where Diamond has taken specific actions to screw that book?

HIBBS: It's not specific actions that Diamond's done, it's specific inaction that stops things from reaching their full potential. Bone is a great albeit old example at this point. For the first 12 issues there really wasn't backstock available on that book. Unless you back ordered it or went through exceptional steps. When a book isn't in stock on a distribution level, it's not getting into stores, and if it's not getting into stores we can't sell it to consumers. So there's a bottleneck at the distribution level. I want to stress that the bottleneck isn't unique to Diamond. There's a similar bottleneck at Baker & Taylor. One of the neat things Baker & Taylor does if you have a wholesale account with them is they can show you what their 30-day demand has been, what they have in stock and what they have in order. I can see on a whole lot of alternative, arty kinds of books, Baker & Taylor has virtually no copies in stock. They also virtually have no demand, which is why they don't have copies in stock. I want to stress here that this isn't solely Diamond. On a wholesale level you're theoretically taking a great deal of risk if the books don't sell. You're going to flow your dollars to the most successful books. But I also think you need to have a certain amount of money you're kicking back to the market trying to grow new books and find new bestsellers. How something sells in its first months is not necessarily how much something is going to sell over a length of time.

imageBone is a perfect example of that. Around issues three or four, they got around 800 orders, and it was in doubt they'd be able to continue the book if they didn't get more sales. And now it's sold multiple millions of copies as a color version from Scholastic. You can't say that selling 800 copies then means it's never going to sell any more of that. On a distribution level, if I were in charge of Diamond, I would take some reasonable percentage of profit and... the phrase I use in the store is mercy fuck. There are items in the catalog where I see them in the catalog where I don't know who I'm going to sell them to but I'm going to buy it and see what happens. I don't have it codified in my budget, but there are always books I'm going to mercy fuck.

Did I answer that question or did I go off on a complete tangent?

SPURGEON: Both! Let me ask you this: Why do retailers as a group have such a mixed record when it comes to supporting the CBLDF? There's still this significant strain of retailers that, it seems to me, will see the CBLDF supporting some poor retailer in trouble as a kind of retailer merit award that's gone to the wrong person rather than this person simply being an avenue to get at bad law.

HIBBS: Yeah.

SPURGEON: What is it about the CBLDF that some retailers just don't seem to get?

HIBBS: I think the inherent problem with the CBLDF that they're defending the worst of us rather than the best things. I think that an awful lot of stores will look at Mike Diana's comics -- I'm dating myself with that example -- but go, "That's not something I'd carry at all, anyway. That looks terrible. That doesn't look commercial. I don't think I can sell that. If they're spending the money they're collecting defending that, then why should I be giving them money? It's not something I would support anyway."

Me, I go to the Niemoller quote: that first they came for the blank blank blank... unless you defend things you personally don't care for, then when it's time to be defended you don't have anything. Here I am, I'm in San Francisco, I'm in a neighborhood particularly in San Francisco that is full of young hipsters, etcetera. Of any store in America, I am probably the least likely to ever be busted on a First Amendment issue. And yet I still support the CBLDF, because I know that if I don't that by the time they do come for me it will be way too late.

I don't think you can point this to retailer necessarily, I think this is just human nature in general. To only be thinking of your own bailiwick.

image

SPURGEON: You honestly don't think the retailers as a group are less supportive of the CBLDF than other groups in comics?

HIBBS: I don't know what the actual donor levels are to cogently say one way or another that that is in fact the case. If you tell me that that is the case, I have no reason to doubt you, but I don't have any personal knowledge about that. It's hard for me to answer the question the way you want me to answer the question. I have no problems believing that, because I think that a lot of retailers have parochial concerns and they only look at what's in their own garden, as it were. They go "I don't carry those books, therefore this is not a concern for me and something I don't need to support." I think this is a shortsighted and foolish approach, myself.

I also think if you're comparing retailers to artists, an artist can very easily support the CBLDF by doing a sketch for them. I don't want to say this takes no effort or no money out of their pocket. But it takes less than money to a certain extent, because you're using your god-given talent rather than opening your wallet and taking money and putting it on the table. So it would be naturally for me that artists would support the CBLDF from that point of view. I think also up until recently you had very few pushes among the retail community to join or support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund on a national basis. Last year I want to say though it might have been two years ago, Diamond started listing CBLDF membership as a once a year thing in Previews, the catalog. I would want to think that this would cause more retailers to join up because it was put in their face. But before that there wasn't a drive to get retailers to participate. It was very much an ad hoc business kind of thing.

SPURGEON: Earlier you mentioned standard business practices, minimal ethics in business practices. How widespread in your estimation are there stores that fail to operate according to acceptable business practices?

HIBBS: In a way this is a fucked-up question, because that's assuming that my belief in terms of ethics and business practices are the ones that people should follow. For example, I really, really, really think variant covers are a fucked-up thing ethically, where you take these variants and you charge $30 for them, where what you're charging for is a single piece of artwork. I think that is a fucked up way to do business. However, there are a lot of retailers out there that do very good business with that, and they strongly believe that they're fulfilling the customers' demands. There are customers, they are trying to take care of those customers, and they are trying to make those customers happy. So ethically, what's correct? Trying to make someone happy even if it costs them an arm and a leg, or not doing that kind of business at all?

SPURGEON: Okay, wait. Now, those kinds of issues are fun to talk about, and they certainly have an ethical component. But let's make a differentiation between those kinds of issues and more basic business issues, the kind of thing that people don't have spirited open debates about, where people would be reluctant to have a conversation about said practices in public. Comics retail is still a Wild West business -- or at least has that reputation. People dealing in stolen art. Inventory that may not reflect what's on the books. Selling things under the table. Taking money out of the cash register. Those kinds of issues. Do you think there's still an element of that in comics retail?

HIBBS: Sure I do. But I don't think it has anything to do with comics. It has to do with small business. You're always going to get people in small business that are willing to cut corners or do things they see as not so bad. When I go out to the corner store, the corner bodega and buy a pack of cigarettes, they don't always ring it up. Sometimes they don't put money in the register. Is that unethical? Yeah, it is unethical because they're not paying the proper taxes. But they're a small business trying to keep their head above water. Is that something I do? No, it's not something I do. I believe you should be reporting everything. It's how our society is set up. If you're not fully doing the things you're supposed to do, other people suffer indirectly from that. So it's not something I want to do, but I understand why a business would do that.

SPURGEON: Do you have a sense of whether these practices are more prevalent or less prevalent in the time you've been in comics?

HIBBS: I think they are less prevalent in the time I've been in comics. You have to remember, when I started my store it was still common for stores not to have cash registers. [laughs] When was the last time you were in a comics shop that didn't have a cash register? It's probably been a long time. There's probably someone out there that still runs everything out of a cigar box, but it used to be common back in the day. Back in the day it was expected that your average comic book shop was 60 percent back issues, and so there were things that I would call questionable in terms of people bringing in their collections to sell and people being low-balled beyond a reasonable amount so the stores could profit from that. But as the general professionalism among comics retailers has gone up -- and I think they've done nothing but gone up over the last 21 years -- I think they tend to be more the exception than the rule. Now, I know stores who as recently as two years ago in my local area were paying their staff in comic books rather than paying money and reporting it to the government and paying the appropriate taxes. I think that's a fucked-up thing. I really do. It's much harder for me to compete against someone that doesn't have to pay that 20 percent to the government. But is it a widespread thing that's happening everywhere and people are flaunting the law left and right? Not anymore. Not anymore, I don't think so.

SPURGEON: I'll let you leave on a hopeful note. When you and I talk, it always seems like we come back to a few core, basic issues. Things fundamentally screwed up about the comics market. The fact, for instance, that mainstream publishers refuse to schedule their books in a reliable manner by issue and category month to month so that there are weeks with 18 X-Men comics and other weeks with zero.

HIBBS: I'm surprised that's not come up as a question yet.

SPURGEON: The reason it hasn't is we agree on how fucked up that is.

HIBBS: It doesn't mean we can't talk about it. It doesn't hurt to bring it up! [Spurgeon laughs] But proceed, proceed.

SPURGEON: Is there any issue like that, these intractable issues with which we've been filling the phone lines since 1994, any at all that you think will be solved in the next five years?

HIBBS: I can think of one. I think we're on the cusp of having street dates in this business. If you had asked me that same question five years ago, I would say it was never going to happen. They'd never do it. I think we're on the cusp of it now. I think what that will give the professionalism of stores and their operations is going to be ginormous.

This has to do with how we receive product in this business. Almost everybody -- not everybody, but almost everybody -- is getting their books via UPS. They show up on Wednesday, the same day they're supposed to be out for sale. Now in some cases you've got people driving down to the UPS hub at six o'clock in the morning and getting back to their store by nine and just managing barely to get everything up on the rack by 11 or whenever they open. But you also have a large number of stores out there that are totally dependent upon their UPS driver to bring their books. When we used to have UPS delivery, sometimes the driver would show up at 9 AM. And sometimes the driver would show up at three o'clock in the afternoon. If the driver shows up at three in the afternoon and you have two hours of processing time, you've basically lost that entire day of sales.

So street dates, where we receive the books about 24 hours before they're to be put out for sale, is going to have an enormous impact on the merchandising of a store, how a store looks, the punchiness of the people that are ringing up your comics -- because if you've been on the road since 6 AM and being a crazy person getting this stuff up on the racks so it's there when your customers come in, you're probably not at your best anymore. You probably don't smell very good. You're probably kind of grumpy because you just dealt with all this bullshit -- this book is missing, you're shorted on that, these are damaged -- you're grumpy. If you have 24 hours to process that stuff, most of that grumpiness and most of that disarray and most of the personal hygiene issues go away. You have time to deal with that, you can be there in your store, and you can be perky and you can be excited and maybe you can even read five or six of the books. It's crazy, but people walk in and say, "Hey, what's good?" [laughs] Nine times out of ten, you can't tell them: you just put the books on the racks ten minutes ago. You haven't read anything. That's not the way to be educated about what's going on, your products.

So if you were to ask me to pick one thing, that's the thing I see coming. I think there's an overwhelming sense among the retailers that we need to have these street dates, that we need to have these books ahead of time. No one's going to break these street dates. Somebody will, but it will be such a small number they can be dealt with in a fair and equitable fashion.

image

SPURGEON: Why is this more likely now than it was five years ago?

HIBBS: Because of the skip week we had over Christmas. There were no books that last week of the year because of how the UPS holidays fell. What DC decided to do -- and I have to give them absolute props for it -- is release an issue of Blackest Night a week early so that we could hold it and then have at least one new comic book that next week. My understanding is that roughly a thousand retailers -- or a thousand accounts -- signed up for this process, and there was only one that broke street dates. That's astonishing. Nobody thought the number was going to be one. If you talked to people at DC, they were looking at a two percent failure rate. They would be happy if two percent of the retailers broke the street date. It was .1 percent. And you can be assured that one guy is not going to do it again, because this person can't participate in these programs anymore. It's a self-correcting problem at that point. DC was hoping for two percent and thought it would be more like five percent. It wasn't, because retailers as a whole are more professional and we understand the value of having something to draw people into our stores.

The big barrier in this has always been Diamond, who have always believed they can't trust retailers and didn't want to be the police. They didn't want to be the police, to be the person to enforce the penalty. Paul Stock was the one who had the idea of a fee to fund a secret shopper program. Diamond went, "We don't have to be the ones physically doing that? That makes a whole lot of sense." So I think we're close to having that one.

SPURGEON: Okay, I lied about this ending on a positive note. What intractable issue are you the furthest away from getting? Is it rational scheduling?

HIBBS: It's rational scheduling. Rational scheduling, but hand in hand with the overproduction of product lines.

imageI think that the Hulk is a great character. I think the Hulk can support one comic book. There were three monthly on-goings at one point, and a whole bunch of one-shots and specials. I don't think that's a sustainable model in any way, shape or form. I don't see that going away unless retailers cut their orders so low it wasn't profitable to do those kinds of additional series and comics in the first place. I don't know if it's greed or if it's an impulse to push the market as far as it can be pushed, but both Marvel and DC have a culture of maximizing as many titles as they can -- not the most individual comics, unfortunately, but titles. I wish they would focus on having a smaller line that sold better as a whole. One of the things you talk about a lot is the mid-list and where the numbers are. On the Internet people talk about that the DM is evil because such and such used to sell 500,000 copies but now it only sells 100,000 copies, and the Direct Market is fucked up. While that may be true in one sense, what they're not processing is that when titles sold half a million comics an issue, there was a total of 100 comic books published in a month. Now there are 500 or more comic books published in a month. Obviously the numbers are going to drop, because nobody can buy everything.

I think that makes it even harder for publishers to find their niches, and they're trying to grow anywhere a seed might take place. So they publish more and more and more and more books. The more books you publish the less likely you're going to have a rational schedule publishing them. At that point, it becomes a traffic management issue. The other aspect of it is that Marvel and DC -- primarily -- are fighting for talent. They're offering more and more money up front to work for one company over the other company. When you pay someone your top page rate, it seems like it becomes politically less easy to say, "Hey, hit your deadline pal." Those guys feels they can walk across the street to their competitors for the same amount of money at only 10 issues a year. I don't know how you defuse that. As long as there's somebody across the aisle willing to open up their wallets for somebody who may be a good artist but not a dependable artist in terms of the pages that need produced, I don't see how that's going to change. I really don't. I wish that it would. If I were running Marvel or DC I'd pare back my line by at least 50 percent. Rather than having nine different Batman books, I would have no more than one a week, and they would ship one per week, and they would have better talent for there being fewer of them.

image

SPURGEON: Let me ask you a Savage Critics question.

HIBBS: Please.

SPURGEON: Why?

HIBBS: Why? You mean why do I have that site?

SPURGEON: Yeah. [laughs] That was the obnoxious way to ask that question. Let me give you the full question. Why in this day and age when I can read all of these writers at their own sites, doing their own things, and I can pull in their feeds myself, why do we need an omnibus site?

HIBBS: I don't know that you do need it. [Spurgeon laughs] But that particular question I can almost turn on you. It's not like what you and Dirk and Heidi do --

SPURGEON: Careful!

HIBBS: -- I couldn't do on my own. I could set my google readers and all the little tricks you do. But why would I? I can go to your site and have you do all that work for me. And maybe I can pick up some particular insight. So is there a need for an aggregate site like Savage Critics? Probably not. But I like writing about comics, and I like the site, and I've been doing it a long time.

SPURGEON: So if someone is going to Savage Critics for the first time, where do they go to be able to pass judgment over whether or not it's worth adding to their daily routine? What is the heart of your site, its unique value? Is it a specific writer? A specific kind of writing? A specific mix of people?

HIBBS: If you're saying that when you go to the great gates and St. Peter and have to justify your existence, I would justify the Savage Critics experience by getting Abhay Khosla out there to a wider audience. Off of the Image boards. I like all of his stuff. I would tell someone to just click his name and start reading.

Now, I don't want anyone to think "He doesn't like me" because I didn't mention them --

SPURGEON: EVEN THOUGH IT'S TRUE.

HIBBS: -- but if I have to pick one to justify my existence, it would be Abhay. I love Jog's writing, I love Sean's writing, I love Douglas' writing. But you asked me to pick, so I picked.

SPURGEON: "Hibbsy's Choice."

HIBBS: [Laughs]

*****

* Comix Experience
* The Savage Critics
* Tilting At Windmills

*****

* photo swiped from Brian Hibbs' facebook album
* Logicomix
* a CGC-slabbed variant covered comic book
* that first issue of Optic Nerve
* an older but still modern issue of Batman
* from Saul Steinberg
* an issue of Walking Dead
* an early issue of Bone
* Mike Diana art
* the Blackest Night issue that went on sale during a UPS-caused skip week
* cover to a recent Hulk two-shot
* Savage Critics logo
* (below) Comix Experience logo

*****

* note: in the early section about Brian's alternative/arts comics track record, Brian opted for providing sales rankings rather than sales numbers. I included the individual notes where he made them. In going over the manuscript he provided a lengthier explanation of which alt-comics titles sold according to those rankings and some contextual analysis, but as I was more interested in the numbers and thought the added section dragged the interview to a halt, I decided not to run it and gave Brian the option of running that information or a longer piece elsewhere on the site. That offer remains open.

*****

image

*****
*****
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Spain, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Lee Remick Cartoons

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: 366 Frames

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Polar Bear Swim

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: JC Leyendecker

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* here's a random statement from Jess Nevins that, if true, is pretty damn fascinating to fans of superhero history. I have no idea if it's true, but I wouldn't bet against Jess Nevins. Nevins and John Lent are the two guys in comics who could be lying 95 percent of the time and I'd never be able to tell.

image* Tom Mason offers up a nice, lengthy write-up on Ed Dodd and Mark Trail.

* not comics: I liked and would recommend The Damned United, although I fear it would have been at best ordinary without its fine crew of super-reliable British performers (Broadbent! Sheen! Spall!), and outright intolerable given a US sports-movie narrative template. There's not a whole lot to the movie save for unpacking its lead character's hubris, but the acting and consistent albeit dry comedy moments did it for me. If you laugh more than three times without prompting at Colm Meaney's dead-on portrayal of a barrel-chested mediocrity so full of himself it shapes his haircut, you'll have had a good time.

* here are few links sent in by Devlin Thompson: letterhead used for Disney's take on Peter Pan, letterhead used for something called The Junior Justice Society Of America, a letter written by one of the Team Popeye members about a tree and a review of Joann Sfar's Gainsbourg film. Thanks, Devlin.

* finally, Tom Toles makes an appearance on The Real World (after the first commercial break). This was sent to me as "Dash Shaw interviews Tom Toles," which I think was a joke at Shaw's expense, comparing him to the kid on the show. Or maybe I misunderstood. If I did, I apologize. But generally: while I love and appreciate receiving your links, getting a link with a joke in it that confuses me just wastes my time. This is my job; I need to be able to do it efficiently, but I want to stay as open to outside input as I can. To that end, I usually just quietly block such senders. Anyway: Tom Toles! Current King of Editorial Cartooning! On a silly TV show!
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 30th Birthday, Box Brown!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 41st Birthday, Kevin Scalzo!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 57th Birthday, Roberta Gregory!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 59th Birthday, Rick Veitch!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 68th Birthday, Tony Auth!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Segmented TCJ.com Interviews
* Matt Thorn Interviews Moto Hagio 01
* Matt Thorn Interviews Moto Hagio 02
* Matt Thorn Interviews Moto Hagio 03
* Matt Thorn Interviews Moto Hagio 04
* Gary Groth Interviews David Levine 01
* Gary Groth Interviews David Levine 02
* Gary Groth Interviews David Levine 03
* Gary Groth Interviews David Levine 04
* Gary Groth Interviews David Levine 05
* Gary Groth Interviews David Levine 06
* Michel Fiffe Interviews Ty Templeton 01
* Michel Fiffe Interviews Ty Templeton 02
* Michel Fiffe Interviews Ty Templeton 03
* Michel Fiffe Interviews Ty Templeton 04
* Michel Fiffe Interviews Ty Templeton 05
* Douglas Wolk Interviews Kevin O'Neill 01
* Douglas Wolk Interviews Kevin O'Neill 02
* Douglas Wolk Interviews Kevin O'Neill 03
* Douglas Wolk Interviews Kevin O'Neill 04
* Douglas Wolk Interviews Kevin O'Neill 05
* Dirk Deppey Interviews Bill Willingham 01
* Dirk Deppey Interviews Bill Willingham 02
* Dirk Deppey Interviews Bill Willingham 03
* Dirk Deppey Interviews Bill Willingham 04
* Alex Deuben Interviews Ho Che Anderson 01
* Alex Deuben Interviews Ho Che Anderson 02
 

 
May 6, 2010


Peter O’Donnell, 1920-2010

imageThe London Evening Standard confirmed a swirl of rumors Tuesday that the writer Peter O'Donnell died on Monday after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease. He was 90 years old. He was best known for the creation of the female action hero Modesty Blaise and the internationally syndicated strip that was the ground zero for a long run in multiple forms of media.

O'Donnell was born in south-eastern London, in the Lewisham district. He served more than a half-decade in the British efforts during World War II as an non-commissioned officer assigned to mobile radio detachment. It was while stationed in what is now Iran that O'Donnell met a young female refugee who served as a partial inspiration for his most famous character. After the war he returned to pursuing opportunities in publishing and then writing full-time. He had written since a teen, seeing his first credit in 1936.

In the 1950s, O'Donnell began to find work in comic strip scripting, starting with a stint on Belinda in the Daily Mirror when its writer took ill. He was the writer on the Daily Express adaptation of the James Bond spy novel Dr. No. He also worked on the strips, Tug Transom, For Better Or Worse, Garth and Romeo Brown, the last a decade-plus gig with future Modesty Blaise collaborator Jim Holdaway.

The fulfillment of a request to create a new strip for the Daily Express, Modesty Blaise launched on May 13, 1963 with O'Donnell as the writer and Holdaway taking on art chores he would hold until his passing seven years later. Blaise was tough and beautiful young woman with a criminal past -- a past in general -- more extensive than her youth would seem to allow. The idea of a female action star, made rootless by the upheaval of World War II seemed to scratch an itch on the comics page and in the general post-Bond culture. Almost as popular was second lead Willie Garvin, not the first and certainly not the worst coolly effective supporting character with as much going on as the main protagonist.

Blaise enjoyed a successful licensing track, primarily through adaptations into other media. The first prose book featuring the character came out in 1964; there would be 13 novels in all. Three films were released featuring the character in 1966, 1982 (for TV) and 2004. Any number of publishers in numerous countries published Modesty Blaise collections, with Titan currently publishing a a well-received series of reprints. It was also an international syndication hit in its original strip form, enjoying clients in the US, India, Malaysia and South Africa despite its frequently adult themes. The comic strip maintained most of its popularity through a revolving cast of artists: including significant runs by Romero and Neville Colvin. The strip ended its original run on April 11, 2001, although there have since been limited runs featuring repeated material. O'Donnell had been the feature's sole writer.

O'Donnell also penned a number of historical romances under the pseudonym Madeline Brent, and wrote a successful stageplay.

O'Donnell was recently the beneficiary of a campaign to have fans e-mail the writer on the occasion of his 90th birthday, which was April 11, nine years after the publication of the last episode of his great life's work.

image
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Fabulas Panicas

image
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Tintin Au Congo Hearings Set

If I'm reading this news brief at the French-language comics news clearinghouse ActuaBD.com correctly, there were a few quick but important updates yesterday to the ongoing story whereby Congolese-born Mbutu Mondondo is pressing racism-based charges against Tintin Au Congo for its portrayal of Africans and Congolese society. First and most important, the hearing yesterday ended with an immediate trial date set: May 12. Second, the case may be made that Moulinsart rather than any of the book's actual publishers controls the content of the work. Third, a case may be taken to the European human rights commission.
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Pete Millar Print Array

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
The Most Brutally Honest Profile Of A Working Cartoonist Ever?

imageProbably not, but it's been a long while since I've seen a profile of a cartoonist as casually thorough in exploring the ups and downs of being a name cartoonist in Asia (or anywhere else) as this one in the Malay Mail of Ibrahim Anon, who came to fame in the late 1980s as a cartoonist under the pseudonym Ujang. Apparently the cartoonist wasn't able to build on his initial fame through a publication of his own -- it was beset with legal problems -- and experienced some hard times afterward. He's now making a comeback through animation opportunities based on some of his more successful work. What struck me is that there are tough stories like this in North American comics, but the article reads more like the version discussed in somber tones by industry people around breakfast at a convention rather than published in a newspaper -- up to, and including, the moment he seems to have bottomed out.

I think one reason the article turned out the way it did is that his early success was a big part of his story: note this post.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Jean Josef Jesus

image
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
“I’ve Made A Huge Mistake”

imageI'm putting this up a day in advance, so I apologize if there are new developments and urge you if you're super-interested to poke around a bit, but I couldn't help noticing that there have been not one but two self-recriminatory essays from cartoonists this week: this one by Goats' Jon Rosenberg, from whom I've taken the line that serves as this post's title, and the opening salvo to this interview with Driven By Lemons' Josh Cotter. They're both a bit heartbreaking and worth reading on their own and for the sake of their own merits as potential turning points in the lives of each creator. However, it did hit me just how much the tone of each piece hit a thread common to a lot of conversations I've had with folks since the beginning of the year, and it may be the reason why we may see a higher than usual rate of such pieces. I think a lot of folks are doing some reevaluation after a period of relative economic difficulty that hasn't slammed comics as in years past, but has certainly helped make clear the parameters of that last hopeful surge in mainstream publishing interest, the promise of Internet publication and honest-to-god solid bookstore sales. That's overly facile, I know, but I'd be surprised if most people haven't done at least some self-examination recently, dealing with issues that have intensified with the general state of the economy and been put to the side while working through the worst of it.
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Spain, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Judge Covers

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: David Lasky On The Bus

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Gags In Bunches

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Strange Bedfellows

image
can't remember why I bookmarked this or from whom I got it
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* who can disagree?

* in case you missed it: Marc Bell's Iron Man.

image* not comics: Mitch O'Connell paints one fine-looking Penelope Pitstop. You'll want to see the whole thing, and really big besides. This KISS by a young O'Connell is nearly as awesome.

* not comics: writers as smokers.

* a language-focused blog uses the old-timey strip The Troubles Of Dictionary Jaques as the basis for a post. (thanks, Devlin)

* here's a nice interview with Oliver East that I believe was part of the interviewer's research for a larger project. What's nice about that is that it can jump around a bit; there's no pressure on it to be a cohesive piece in and of itself. There are any number of topics touched on, like this statement that kicks of a mini-section on process.
"There's never any plan to what I do. I take every page as it comes and the book ends up how it ends up. The only things I work from are the notes, the written notes -- I don't make any sketches, I don't take any photographs -- the written notes I take while I'm out on the walk. I don't have even a vague plan of how a book's going to pan out, I just do a page a day, and it develops depending on how I feel on that day, depending on who I've read that day, depending on who I think is cool at the moment, depending on who I think I want to make art like, depending on if I think I'm successful or if I think I'm not."
A ton more through the link.

* here's an essay on East by Gavin McDonald that I don't remember whether or not it's related to the previously linked-to material.

* missed it: this is USA Today's preview article on last weekend's Free Comic Book Day.

* finally, I also missed this mash-up poster the first time around, but it's kind of amazing in its own way. I just realized that I have no idea what Star Wars means as a cultural signifier to anyone under 30. I bet it's kind of weird.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Craig Fischer!

image
well, he used this piece of art once
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 62nd Birthday, David Michelinie!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Random Review Round-Up
Jog: Various
Tom Ewing: Phonogram
Rich Kreiner: Various
Rob Clough: Various
Alan David Doane: My Life In Scribbles
Martyn Pedler: Hicksville
Michael C. Lorah: Hicksville
Bill Sherman: Ratman
El Santo: Bayou
Andrew Wheeler: Animal Crackers
Andrew Wheeler: Zeus
Andrew Wheeler: The Umbrella Academy: Dallas
Steve Duin: Wilson
Ng Suat Tong: The Unwritten #5
Sean T. Collins: Mister Wonderful
Sarah Boslaugh: Various
D. Emerson Eddy: Various
Sarah Morean: Body World
Ed Sizemore: Yotsuba&! Vol. 8
Michael C. Lorah: Map Of My Heart
Gabe Bullard: Weekly World News #1
Carlton Hargro: Superman: Secret Origin #5
Grant Goggans: Captain America And The Falcon: The Swine
Chris Allen: Years Of The Elephant
Rob Clough: Cragmore
Rob Clough: Cat
Rob Clough: Gin Palace
Rob Clough: The Rejection Section
Rob Clough: Prime Baby
Matthew Brady: World War Hulks: Hulked-Out Heroes #1
Rob Clough: Troop 142: #3
 

 
May 5, 2010


Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked

image

By Tom Spurgeon

* the DC-owned webcomics site Zuda has dropped the contest component of their original set-up. I think that's probably for the best.

* pal to the site Robert Boyd sent along this article, which talks about the English translation of a Francis Ayroles project. Does anyone know if that comic came out? .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

image* Rina Piccolo launched her webcomic Velia, Dear on Monday. A second installment should be up today. Piccolo is one of the Six Chix creators and also has her own syndicated strip Tina's Groove, and clearly this new work is designed to help counter her extreme lazy streak. Sheesh. Piccolo has re-launched her personal web site as well, which she'll update while sleeping.

* Tokyopop licenses one from the crazy pile.

* here's one for those of you that only like to collect rare and offbeat comics: a comics trade as graduate thesis.

* all of the non-Marvel, non-DC Simon and Kirby superhero work under one cover? I'll definitely be interested in taking a look at that when I see it.

* I haven't received a ton of e-mails about debuts at this weekend's TCAF, but that sort of makes sense with the shape of this year's schedule. Certainly the belle of the ball is the public launch of Dan Clowes' potential book of the year Wilson, but there are some smaller books of interest. Conundrum Press has two books out: Children Of The Atom by Dave Lapp; Ruts & Gullies: Nine Days In St. Petersburg from Philippe Girard will be the other CP work on hand. A bunch of smaller press debuts are covered in TCJ's write-up on the show.

* it should be a great summer. Is there a better kick-off book than this?

* the writer Mark Millar is apparently launching a monthly British comics mag. One of the features -- likely the lead feature -- will be a sequel to the comic just turned film Kick-Ass. I like the idea of people like Millar and Alan Moore looking at the magazine model just when everyone else declares it unprofitable. It's very Monocle of them.

* flush from the excitement of the launch of his Psychiatric Tales Darryl Cunningham announces that his next book for Blank Slate will be an all-ages book, Uncle Bob Adventures.

* here's more coverage of a book that this column noted a couple of weeks ago: The Rocketeer: Artist's Edition which sounds gorgeous but more importantly is only being offered through IDW, the kind of move that can sometimes backfire and as such is only done when a company feels that's the only way to profit from the project in question.

* Rob Tornoe is planning an arts and humor magazine to launch in July.

* finally, it's not coming out in time for TCAF, but the Conundrum Press cover for the Inkstuds book (image reprinted below) sure is pretty. I think I'm in the book, which is sort of terrifying in that I remember not being very good on the show either time.

image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
BD Specialist Fichtre Closes Shop

image

The BD specialist shop Fichtre, one of Canada's unique comics shops and an almost 100 percent reliable partner through which comics scholars, journalists, creators and fans facilitated their purchase of French-language comics, has closed its doors. The original web site has been closed down in favor of another site's devoted page carrying the store's stock, and the physical location has been closed since I believe the end of April. An article in Le Devoir seems to confirm the news, noting the store was open 14 years.

CR asked Bart Beaty, this site's longtime European comics columnist and someone who had an unsolicited endorsement for the store in the credit line to his article, what this means. He replied with a lengthy tribute to the store and its impact:
"This is a sad day, and a tremendous blow to fans of alternative French-language comics in Canada. Fichtre! was not only an important retail space, and one that I had been shopping at in person (when I lived in Montreal) and online (since moving to Calgary) for more than a decade, but it was a center of an entire comics community social scene in one of the most vibrant comics cities on the planet.

"Although it was an extremely small retail space, Fichtre! had a huge presence in Canada because of its work with Le Comptoir des Independants, the distributor for L'Association, Cornelius, Ego Comme X, Atrabile and dozens of other small publishers who otherwise might not have had distribution in Canada. Additionally, the store was really the hub of French-language zine comics and zine culture for many years, and that scene is likely to be really hurt by their departure. Fichtre's period of success came on the heels of the failure of La Mouette Rieuse, a famously well-appointed BD specialist that did not survive the 1990s. It will be interesting to see if now another new store rises in the area to take its place."
Rumors disseminated in this post at the Joe Shuster Awards site point to a possible second life for the store under different management or as an on-line bookseller.
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: More Sam Cobean

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CCI Raises Additional Exhibitor Badges From $75 to $200; Hopes To Curtail Abuses Of That Badge Class

As San Diego's Comic-Con International negotiates the future of the show through a tricky 2014 and beyond by engaging multiple suitors, an intermittent undercurrent of resentment towards the show's success continues to flash to the surface. This time it brings with it news of an actual policy change. This post at the popular blog Cartoon Brew blasts Comic-Con for what it deems an "obscene" exhibitor badge price increase from $75 to $200. With profits at such a show running on razor thin margins, Amid Amidi argues that this will price several longtime exhibitors right out of the show. He further criticizes the show for raising prices as a non-profit organization. He cites a series of posts by Kazu Kibuishi as evidence this may act a severe disincentive.

imageDavid Glanzer of Comic-Con told CR that their reasons for making the move involved a number of factors. First, the convention believes there are signs that the exhibitor badges are being used as an end-around on other forms of registration. "Because of space limitations we have not really experienced an increase of exhibitor companies from year to year. However, the number of additional exhibitor badge requests (that is to say the number of badges on top of what exhibitors are already allotted) have increased very, very dramatically and continue to do so," he said. "As a result we are seeing more and more individuals and groups on the exhibit floor prior to the floor opening who don't seem to be attached to a particular booth and are, instead, roaming or browsing the exhibits." Glanzer notes the convention staff has also noticed an increase in exhibitor badges being sold at online auction sites.

With that in mind, Glanzer indicated the con raised prices for additional badges to discourage these abuses. "The increase in price was done with an attempt to discourage exhibitors from purchasing additional badges that they may not actually need."

Glanzer also pointed to two factors involved with the prices going up. One is that attendee badges are being made available to exhibitors who want to purchase them for staff at a $100 price. The second is that if they curtail the abuse of exhibitor badges, they'll lose money in the short run due to fewer being purchased but hope to gain in the number of general attendee badges.

One thing for sure, the days where you could go bother Rory Root for a couple of extra badges to lend to your friends from college so they can come in and see you sit on a panel are over. In more ways than one.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Quiet Human Contact

image
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Group That Wants To Bring Comic-Con International To LA On Record

Jonah Weiland (I think it's Jonah that did what I'm going to say he did) over at CBR is a smart cat, and getting the little heard-from LA group bidding for Comic-Con post-2013 is a great move. So how can I put this: yow. Their representative comes on really strong. Really, really, really, really strong. I found it unpleasant, frankly, from the declaration that their group is not going to fight things out in the media made during a contentious media interview to the constant declarations of awesomeness that are so awesome they need not be unpacked. I'm sure he's a nice guy, and his skill at his job is self-evident, but the interview gave me a headache. A lot of people in comics find that approach refreshing and respond really well to that kind of forcefulness. I also think it will come down to various plans no matter what anyone says in any press article. Still, I was surprised how strongly he brought it. If CCI goes to LA, this kind of interview will help cement the view that Hollywood came, Hollywood saw, Hollywood decided they knew better, and Hollywood made it so.

I also suspect he's fudging a bit. One thing that popped for me: maybe I'm doing it wrong, but at one point he implies that LA has Disney's Concert Hall in an eight-block radius that San Diego doesn't, but the Disney Concert Hall is like 1.7 miles from the convention center, not eight blocks. A 1.7-mile walk from San Diego's Convention Center puts you well north of I-5, to give you an equivalent. I think there's some similar hedging with the number of hotels and the like; I haven't been to a convention in LA in a few years, but I don't remember quite as many hotels right there, and I'm not sure why the number of people living downtown is a boon here.

Don't get me wrong. Los Angeles likely has an impressive bid in; it could be what the delay's about. I think LA has a lot going for it, too. I wouldn't see it as flat-out crazy as I would trying to move the show to Vegas or as depressing as putting it in Anaheim. The advantages described are mostly advantages to the film side of things, though, and I'm not totally convinced that that much Hollywood is healthy for the show, short-term or long-term. But some things about LA would work really well. I like the convention center's facilities. There's a huge comics fanbase and shop infrastructure in town. Going to LA and even that part of LA is fun. The gentleman's also very right in that you can get to the Convention Center reasonably easily from different spots around town, and I think that's how the convention would unfold, kind of a multiple-satellite convention with a dominant Hollywood contingent. I guess we'll soon see.
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Joe Daly’s Dungeon Quest Book One Previewed At ICv2.com

image
this book is deeply, deeply odd
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NYC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Detective Comics #43

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Bubble Trouble

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Hanna Barbera STH #2

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Airboy Vol. 8 #5

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* on the road with Geoffrey Hayes.

image* the great Paul Gravett takes the opportunity provided by the Jack Kirby exhibit at Fumetto to write a longish post on the King Of Comics.

* as suspected on early Monday, it's been confirmed that the frequent industry site commentator Alan Coil has passed away. He's remembered in a number of places where he tended to hang out, such as The Beat and Comics Worth Reading. It's fascinating how virtual communities work, and I think that it's likely we'll all have experiences losing someone in this fashion over the next couple of decades. Our condolences to friends and family.

* David King saw yesterday's catalog of people reading comics and sent along a link to this lovely and slightly-heartbreaking one.

* this article about Dark Horse building a mailing list through a contest is somewhat compelling, but the exchange afterward is even more so. I don't see this is an evil at all, and I'm more buyer beware than I am shame on the seller with this stuff generally.

* all about the Bat Logo. (thanks, Jacob Covey)

* I thought this post kind of fascinating for the idea that editors try to basically fix things according to fan reaction. That just seems to me like shoveling water, but I could be working from a faulty set of assumptions.

* the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com reports that Micha Hershman has been promoted to Vice President of Marketing from her former position as senior director of marketing. The person currently in that position, Anita Nelson, is taking on the newly-created position of Vice President Of Business Affairs.

* Mark Evanier talks MAD.

* the writer and industry pundit Graeme McMillan takes a second to pontificate on the status of the "New Mainstream" concept that entered into our consciousness by lots of people screaming about it every third year or so.

* finally, JH Williams has a very nice post here about the intermediary stages on the way to a finished cover.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 78th Birthday, Stan Goldberg!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 43rd Birthday, Adam Hughes!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
That's An Adorable Sketch

Exhibits/Events
J. Caleb Mozzocco's FCBD
Go See Jeff Smith In Barcelona
Live Tweeting Best Of Comics '00s

History
Another Syndicate Gobbled

Industry
Buy From Periscope
Buy From Shaenon Garrity
Red And Rover From WPWG To Universal
Happy 4th Anniversary, Armagideon Time!

Interviews/Profiles
The Best Show: Michael Kupperman

Not Comics
Mitche O'Connell Gift-Wrapping
How To Get People To Watch The Tonys

Publishing
What Bob Greenberger is Working On

Reviews
Ed Sizemore: Musashi
The Believer: Dan Clowes
Chris Allen: The Shield #1-8
Washington City Paper: Dan Clowes
Grant Goggans: The Professor's Daughter
Mike Sterling Recommends Mocktopus Comics
 

 
May 4, 2010


Peter O’Donnell, RIP

image
full obituary on Thursday
 
posted 11:30 am 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 no-doubt 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 be fondling the following, in the hopes of following them fondly.

*****

FEB108488 INVINCIBLE RETURNS #1 2ND PTG (PP #916) $3.99
MAR100183 BATMAN AND ROBIN #12 $2.99
MAR100159 BRIGHTEST DAY #1 $2.99
FEB100233 ASTRO CITY THE DARK AGE BOOK FOUR #4 (OF 4) $4.99
Here's some superhero stuff that interested me on the list enough I'd be looking at them in a comics shop. Invincible Returns is one of those occasional efforts by Robert Kirkman to provide an easy jumping on point for his engaging series without breaking up the series' momentum. He's really good at those kind of touches. Batman and Robin is more Morrison but not the once-thought conclusion of Morrison. Brightest Day is the latest DC mini-series for which I'm detecting very little excitement relative to the one with all the super-powered corpses. I haven't even heard what the one-line pitch is on that one, which is alarming considering that's what mainstream comics events comics do now. That Astro City book is the last in a bunch of interconnected mini-series, which I've been picking up for a dollar here and a dollar there because the market is broken.

MAR100042 HELLBOY IN MEXICO OR DRUNKEN BLUR ONE SHOT CORBEN CVR $3.50
JAN100464 KING CITY #8 (MR) $2.99
JAN100465 ORC STAIN #3 (MR) $2.99
MAR100675 GLAMOURPUSS #13 $3.00
MAR100293 IZOMBIE #1 (MR) $1.00
FEB100775 MUPPET SHOW #5 $2.99
Here are the rest of the comics which aren't more traditional-looking superhero comics. Most of them are pretty self-explanatory. I thought that issue of King City was really good. I, Zombie is a Mike Allred-drawn comic that sounds like a cynical Showtime TV show pitch.

AUG090046 EERIE ARCHIVES HC VOL 03 $49.99
JAN100128 BARRY WINDSOR SMITH CONAN ARCHIVES HC VOL 02 $49.99
JAN100131 ERB JOHN CARTER OF MARS JESSE MARSH YEARS HC $29.99
On Friday, CR's putting up an interview with retailer Brian Hibbs. Among the many topics discussed is rational scheduling, a phenomenon where among other crimes against the funnybook shop publisher fail to spread out their releases and thus overwhelm the standard serial comics buyer. A kind of boil the frog slowly thing. I'd say dropping three massive collections of quality material that appeals to the art-in-comics crowd could be an example of this. Aside from that observation, I really want to see that John Carter Of Mars book and I want to eventually own all three of these books.

FEB101009 RIP KIRBY HC VOL 02 $49.99
We live in an age of infinite wonders that there can be multiple giant Rip Kirby collections.

FEB100355 ELEPHANTMEN HC VOL 03 DANGEROUS LIAISONS $34.99
FEB108471 ELEPHANTMEN TP VOL 03 DANGEROUS LIAISONS (PP #916) $24.99
We live in an age of infinite wonders that a handsome-looking series with animal-headed beings has run for so long I've totally run out of Sun Runners references.

FEB100367 MADMAN ATOMIC COMICS TP VOL 03 ELECTRIC ALLEGORIES $19.99
NOV090362 WALKING DEAD HC VOL 05 $34.99
These are two series that I followed as comic books that also are quite easy to follow as serial trades. I'm not sure I understand a damn thing that's going on in that Madman comic.

OCT090850 DREADSTAR THE BEGINNING HC (RES) $29.99
As a kid my view was the Dreadstar concept started out with some promise, a science-fiction examination/use of the "we had to destroy the village to save it" idea. My memory also tells me it seriously petered out in the comic book ongoing, with an eventual tone shift towards stand science fiction superheroes so abrupt it was like the Vin Diesel character in Pitch Black joining Will Smith as one of the Men In Black. I think I'd prefer to have these as comics rather than in a collected volume as much as I want to have them at all, but this might delight some old-school comics fan out there.

MAR100946 JAPAN AS VIEWED BY 17 CREATORS TP (O/A) (MR) $25.00
I don't know why this is being offered again now, and don't know of any length of time that this anthology of nouvelle manga wasn't available, but it's a killer line-up, a nice concept (manga creators doing places they live; french creators doing places they visit), it's consistently attractive, and has to be one of the seminal books of the last decade. Like if you wanted to portray 2006 in shorthand, this is one of the comics you put beside your character's bed.

JAN100309 DONG XOAI VIETNAM 1965 HC $24.99
This is hall of fame mainstream comics industry alpha male Joe Kubert's fictional treatment of the largest battle fought during the initial phases of the US involvement in the Vietnam War. Anything Kubert does should make you at least pay the respect of a flip-through.

JAN101113 SUPER FUCKERS TP (MR) $14.95
James Kochalka's treatment of teen superheroes as arrogant, self-absorbed, sex-obsessed dopes, which is notable for it being intentionally funny. You'll know after you read a page if this one is for you.

JAN100952 KRAZY AND IGNATZ TP 1916-1918 $24.99
Still the greatest comic. The design on this is like it's the ninja issue of the series.

FEB101118 HIKARU NO GO TP VOL 19 $9.99
It's not a great sports manga, but it's a solidly entertaining one and I'll take anything I can get in a category that hasn't quite hit all the way in the US. I always read it with Sai as a girl, because I can't scan it the other way.

FEB101150 TWIN SPICA GN VOL 01 $10.95
I liked but didn't love the first volume of this, a soap opera set amongst school-age astronauts-in-training in a not-too-distant future Japan. I always think these books get a little too much credit for being serious when they're mostly just not hyper.

*****

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 here, I blame the lousy USA/Canadian exchange rate.

*****

image
 
posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: In Praise Of Classic Comics

image
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Sigma Delta Chi Awards Go To Dwayne Booth, Jack Ohman, Terrence Nowicki

image
image
image

The Society Of Professional Journalists has announced its 2009 Sigma Delta Chi Awards, which go to a variety of journalistic efforts at a variety of outlets. They awarded three cartoonists out of a potential four categories:

Editorial Cartooning (Newspaper Circulation 1-50,000 or Regional Magazine)
No Award Given
Editorial Cartooning (Newspaper Circulation 50,001-100,000 or Online Independent)
Cartoons by Mr. Fish, Dwayne Booth, Truthdig
Editorial Cartooning (Newspaper Circulation 100,001+ or Affiliated Website/National Magazine)
Cartoons by Jack Ohman, Jack Ohman, The Oregonian
Editorial Cartooning (Non-Daily Publication)
Cartoons by Terrence L. Nowicki Jr., Terrence L. Nowicki Jr., Freelance

I think those are three pretty good choices, and the Jack Ohman cartoons in particular have been under-appreciated. The awards will be given to the winners in October.
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: On Bernard Baily

image
Gil Kane once told me Baily "was the most fastidious fat man" he ever met.
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* a German TV show has canceled its planned program with Danish Cartoons Controversy cartoonist Kurt Westergaard. Fears of terrorism were cited, although I guess that's really just "terrorism."

* the Jihad Jane trial may be pushed into late Fall. Colleen LaRose and Jamie Paulin-Ramirez are accused of supporting efforts to kill the artist Lars Vilks, who made sort of a sketchy cartoon with Muhammad's head on the body of a dog.

* the proximity of the failed Times Square fireball SUV to a Viacom building has led to many folks reaching for some sort of connection between that botched terrorism attempt and a South Park cartoon depicting Muhammad. This tangentially relates to the original Danish Cartoons Controversy in that the appearance of Muhammad as a character on the show goes back to the initial questions raised when the cartoons were published in Jyllands-Posten.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Too Cartoony

image
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Mbutu Mondondo To Have Day In Court Tomorrow Regarding Tintin Au Congo

imageAlthough a lot of people seem to have discovered the case being made against Tintin Au Congo last week, even this specific aspect of the story's been in development for months. According to what I'm guessing are statements made by the Congolese born Mbutu Mondondo (the articles are maddening unclear), not only will representatives from Moulinsart be on hand but also folks from the publisher Casterman. I'm not exactly sure of what the potential outcomes are, but hopefully there will be press on hand to unpack that a bit for us with tomorrow's hearing.
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Collection

image
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In NY, I’d Go To This

image
image

Artists in Conversation: Ken Jacobs and Art Spiegelman

Art Spiegelman is a cartoonist best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning comic book memoir, Maus, and as editor of the groundbreaking 1980s comics anthology, Raw. Ken Jacobs is an experimental filmmaker, who coined the term 'paracinema' in the early 1970s, referring to cinema experiences provided by means outside of standard cinema technology, such as found footage.

Spiegelman and Jacobs are old friends and will be discussing each other's creative oeuvres as well as influences, ideas, probably while smoking cigarettes indoors. Events begin at 7pm and are free 70 Franklin Street (between Church & Broadway) New York, NY 10013.
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In MA, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: A Gray Morrow Western

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: The Grim Ghost #2

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Nobody Liked Mr. Justice

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Apes Of Peril

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the first part of this interview with Josh Cotter is a must-read as the cartoonist talks about how his struggles with depression have had an impact on his comics career and, much more importantly, his life in general.

image* not comics: Nick Mullins presents "Homoerotic He-Man." Or, as two completely different people looking over my shoulder just now have put it, "Slightly More Homoerotic He-Man." A bunch of you have e-mailed this this morning. Hey, if Milo Manara can do some X-Men, why can't Tom of Finland do an original Defenders graphic novel?

* Johanna Draper Carlson talks about how to make superhero comics interesting again. I would just have really good creators do them.

* not comics: I find it odd and potentially interesting that this profile of the actor Idris Elba as an emerging star doesn't mention Thor.

* you can click on this single link here and be transported to the relentless onslaught that is the National Post scripted interview round-up of TCAF All-Stars.

* not comics: I've been enjoying episodes of this during dinner. I don't know how my life would have changed if I had enjoyed a British nerd's diet of grim-faced serious cheapo science fiction TV shows, but I think it would have been for the better. As always, if anybody out there wants to re-launch Sapphire & Steel in comics form, my e-mail can be found elsewhere on this site. I'm seriously tempted to start making Sapphire & Steel fan films.

* this cartoon by Lloyd Dangle made me laugh.

* finally, Matthias Wivel checks in from Fumetto, the gold standard of city-wide, European comics festivals.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 32nd Birthday, Shaenon Garrity!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Whoops
The Right Honorable Skoonch

Exhibits/Events
SVA Fresh Meat 2010
Stan Sakai In Calgary
Matt Madden On SVA Fresh Meat 2010

History
Not Romantic
Why X-Men 2099 Was Awesome

Industry
Books For Comics Courses
Happy 1st Anniversary, The Manga Critic

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Mike Mignola
New York: Dan Clowes
SFGate.com: Gene Yang
CBR: Shawn Martinbrough
Newsarama: Chris Sprouse

Not Comics
Prizes For Pledges
Skin Horse Desktop Wallpaper

Publishing
More Wait, What?
On Paul Levitz's Legion
On Ending Astro City's Dark Ages Cycle

Reviews
Tucker Stone: Various
Greg McElhatton: Various
Kate Dacey: Twin Spica Vol. 1
Dave Something-Or-Other: Wilson
Grant Goggans: Showcase Presents The Brave & The Bold
Johanna Draper Carlson: Pride And Prejudice And Zombies: The Graphic Novel
 

 
Go, Look: The Doug Wright Awards All-Star All-Canadian Art Auction

image
a lot of these are pretty great; spread the word
 
posted 12:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
May 3, 2010


Go, Read: How John Stanley’s Comedic Sense Remains Relevant Today

image
 
posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
“Smaller Measures”: Jimmy Margulies Defends The ADL-Criticized Hitler/AZ Cartoon

imageAnother great get for Michael Cavna at the Washington Post's Comic Riffs blog: the respected editorial cartoonist Jimmy Margulies responds to criticism of his recent Arizona-as-Hitler's-mustache cartoon that came from the Anti-Defamation League. Margulies doesn't back down even one tiny bit, defending not just the principle of using a big event to draw comparisons that one thinks applicable to a smaller event, but describing the new immigration laws in Arizona as the kind of smaller act that set Nazi Germany down the road to its atrocities.
 
posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Gil Kane Does Ka-Zar

image
 
posted 9:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* Ajmal Kasab was convicted for his role in the 2008 attacks on Mumbai. The group that organized the attacks is believed to have used one if not two Americans to assist with their advance scouting, bringing them in with promised help in seeking revenge on Danish Cartoons Controversy principals as an inducement.

* the controversy is weird enough that when you want a rational response to the entire matter you can find one on FOXNews.com. His view is roughly equivalent to my view in that it's informed by personal Christian belief, although I don't give a crap about Piss Christ other than to remember how silly it was and that at the time I remember thinking I wish I had thought of it first as a band name. I would also recommend a cleaner break between Stone/Parker and Rose/Westergaard. In the case of South Park I think those guys are satirists and making satirical statements is what they do -- it's not to my eye the stunt-work that was the original cartoons, nor does Comedy Central despite its unsupportive douchebaggery carry the same troubling implications as a cultural and political signpost within any Muslim's real-world community. It's troubling that people have forgotten that part of the initial cartoons reaction.

* Ayaan Hirsi Ali won a freedom of expression award from Jyllands-Posten, the Danish cartoons paper.

* Plantu has won a $1500 prize from the World Press Freedom Award people in their 10th annual editorial cartooning competition, this time on a topic of how cartoonists should enjoy freedom of speech while respecting world religions and traditions.

* the secretary-general of the Council of Europe remains concerned about the Danish Cartoons physical-threat fallout. I have no idea who that is.

* I feel bad for Molly Norris, but the way to avoid unwanted attention is to avoid all attention.

* the Shebab group in Somali praises the guy who broke into Kurt Westergaard's to have a knives-and-axe type discussion with him. I have no idea why they're doing this now and to what effect, but it's pretty loathsome to endorse something like this.

* the Telegraph informs its readers why the depiction of Muhammad is a big deal for certain believers. It's also disappointed in America for not rising up in defense of the South Park guys. I think that one's a bit misguided, but okay.

* really, this is the last straw.
 
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Dithers Is A Maniac

image
 
posted 8:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Gene Colan: “It Makes Me Feel Loved”

imageDaniel Best has a short interview up with the ailing industry veteran Gene Colan, currently in a rehabilitation center for injuries received to his shoulder. Although I imagine the story will do little to discourage any rumors that may swirl around the man with a personal drawing style so strong it was basically the exception that proved the rule for three generations of mainstream comics creation, it's nice to hear from that very nice man and as there is an ongoing effort to raise money on his behalf, it probably couldn't hurt you to check in.
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Peggy Loves Stumptown

image
 
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Greatest Cartoonist Death In History

imageAccording to this fond remembrance of the Kentucky Derby from 50 years ago, a sporting event that came at the beginning of Bill Gallo's longtime, full-time career at the New York Daily News, esteemed sport cartoonist and occasional strip (the Fu Manchu strip) and comic book (early Detective Comics) dabbler Leo O'Mealia passed away during the night before one of his favorite days on the sports calendar having drawn a cartoon that predicted the winner Venetian Day, in no way a favorite going in.

That is one of the most astounding things I've ever heard, combining the graceful confluence of Charles Schulz passing as Peanuts ended its mighty run with the outright expression of the mental superpowers of a Nostradamus, sans obfuscation via verse.
 
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Forthcoming Graham Annable Video Game Art Snapshots

image
 
posted 6:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
My Favorite FCBD-Related Article

I'm sure there are a ton of good ones out there, and I'll try to disseminate as many of interest that I see in the Quick Hits section over the next few days, but the only one thus far that stuck with me after an initial reading is this one in the Mail & Guardian. That article is not just about FCBD but about the South African comics market, which is about 10 stores strong with 5000 or so customers. The barrier to a bigger audience? Price, mostly.
 
posted 6:15 am PST | Permalink
 

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

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In DC, I’d Go To This

image
 
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Funny Animals #24

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Demons Of Walpurgis

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: 7 League Boots

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: What We Have Made Is Real

image
 
posted 4:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Peter David attempts to track down confirmation on some bad news for the on-line fan community.

* I shouldn't be up reading anything at 4 AM, but this article wrecked me for the rest of Saturday morning. I don't dare look at it again, either. Good on the people who sold that fictional scenario for that kid.

image* Chris Mautner pens a Lewis Trondheim 101-type article for Robot 6. Boy, The Nimrod was a really great comic book.

* Scott McCloud recommends Shintaro Kago.

* missed it: the writer Warren Ellis has a article up on serialization here. Ellis is a comics creator that thinks seriously about systems and innovation and even when I disagree with him he's always woth reading. I think that any attempt to revitalize serialization has to bring with it an infrastructure or improvements in existing infrastructure to make that attempt work. That sounds completely obvious, I know, but the usual way to do things in comics is start doing them and call attention to yourself doing them and wait on the industry to conform to your magnificence. I think the existing system is too old to do that now, and the potential replacements are too scattered to do without. There's also the problem that most people want to maximize reward from the publishing process rather than reinforce the mechanism for the long haul. This is usually when people at the dinner table beg me to change the subject.

* not comics: the Ash Cloud 'zine.

* Douglas Wolk has some sort of gang now.

* the Guardian continues its video series with Steve Bell on the current UK election.

* how to participate in Draw Muhammad Day.

* finally, the writer and comics historian Mark Evanier agrees with me that San Diego is the best place for Comic-Con International. I always agree with Evanier when he agrees with me. He also has some insight into the timetable for the decision.
 
posted 3:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 36th Birthday, Derek Kirk Kim!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 52nd Birthday, Bill Sienkiewicz!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 71st Birthday, Denny O’Neil!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 83rd Birthday, Mell Lazarus!

image
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Always Wonderful
Nick Abadzis Sketches
On Kez Wilson's DC Logos 03

Exhibits/Events
More From Lucerne
Bully's Free Comic Book Day
Mike Sterling's Free Comic Book Day
Jim Woodring's Free Comic Book Day
Johanna Draper Carlson's Free Comic Book Day

History
My Favorite Silver Age Superman Story

Interviews/Profiles
DCist: Dan Clowes
4thletter!: Sean McKeever
Boston Phoenix: Dan Clowes
Time Out New York: Dan Clowes

Not Comics
No, It Won't
Frank Santoro And Spider-Man Soundtracks (1967)

Publishing
Wait, What? 03
Artichoke Tales Previewed
Enthusiasm For New Smurf Material

Reviews
Sandy Bilus: Various
Paul O'Brien: Various
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Kate Dacey: Bokurano, Ours Vol. 1
Jason Green: Cyberforce: Hunter/Killer #1-5
Greg McElhatton: DV8: Gods And Monsters #1
Sean T. Collins: Tales Designed To Thrizzle #6
 

 
May 2, 2010


CR Sunday Interview: Glen Brunswick

image

*****

imageI don't get to interview creators that work Glen Brunswick's general comics neighborhood, although I wish I did. Brunswick is that still relative rarity of an established screenwriter continuing to work his way into comics even after being exposed to some of the field's more frustrating aspects. An agent before he began to work in film, Brunswick hasn't been afraid to pick daunting projects. He was the writer with whom John Romita Jr. worked on his first major independent project, The Gray Area. He then worked with Frank Espinosa on Killing Girl, a project that had a different artist by series' end.

Brunswick's current project is Jersey Gods, with the artist Dan McDaid. Jersey Gods is one of a handful of comics out there that use Jack Kirby's work less as an inspiration than as an outright template -- a style, or even a musical key. Brunswick's approach is to turn the whole thing into a romantic comedy with occasional cosmic fistfights. The latest offering in Jersey Gods is a second collected volume subtitled And This Is Home. It is the second of what will be three total books for the series, which is apparently drawing to an end. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Since the focus of this interview is your Jersey Gods series, I wanted to ask after any personal connection you might have with superhero comics and Jack Kirby comics specifically. Is that part of your comics DNA? Do you have the traditional comics-reading back story? Was it always easy for you to process what Jack Kirby did?

GLEN BRUNSWICK: Spider-Man was always my favorite comic as a boy -- the version drawn by John Romita, Sr. I was a Marvel junkie. I still haven't forgiven Romita Sr. for killing off Gwen Stacy. Those issues, where she dies, were some of the very first comics I bought with my own allowance money. I was so stunned I was tempted to demand a refund from Marvel. That combination of hard luck infused with an everyman quality really had me fully empathizing with Spider-Man. It had a profound affect in they way I think about character as I try to create touchstones that I hope my own audience can relate to.

imageKirby was harder for me to digest. Although I was a huge fan of all the Marvel concepts he had created, I had a hard time understanding the whole Fourth World thing. My first Kirby purchase was Mister Miracle #11. I bought a number of the back issues from New Gods, Mister Miracle and Forever People, wanting dearly to love them, in the way that I felt about Kirby's Marvel work. They just never felt accessible to me. I was missing the Stan Lee influence. As an adult, I went back to revisit Kirby's New Gods. I was blown away with the sheer magnitude of his concepts firing on all cylinders. Even the dialogue, which had been somewhat off putting to me as a child, now drew me in. I view Jack's Fourth World work as an absolute peak for him creatively. And although it's unfortunate that he never got to finish that story at least we got to see his vision relatively pure and unfiltered -- just the way he wanted it.

SPURGEON: You found yourself in comics by your Ex Machina script bringing John Romita's attention your way.

BRUNSWICK: I met John after I had co-written the story that became Frequency -- Ex Machina was later.

SPURGEON: My bad. Now, had you ever thought about doing comics before then?

BRUNSWICK: I wanted to write comics, I just didn't know how to go about it. I would go to Comic-Con to try to chat up some of the writers at the show. They were always impressed by the fact that I had written a film and couldn't understand why I wanted to waste my time writing comics. They tried to talk me out of it. The fact that I loved comics never seemed to move them much. I figured it must be some kind of secret society. I always want to be a member of the club that doesn't want me. Groucho Marx has been an excellent tutor in that regard.

imageSPURGEON: Now that you've had a couple of years of creative perspective on The Gray Area, is there anything you'd do differently if you were scripting that project now? My memory of that project is that it was skillfully executed but maybe a little thick on being a showcase project, perhaps a little self-conscious, although I wouldn't be surprised if you flat disagreed with me.

BRUNSWICK: The Gray Area was my first attempt in comics. I've learned a lot in the six years since I wrote that text. It's funny you should ask this question now because I've recently had to put plenty of thought into this. Marvel is going to reissue Gray Area under their Icon banner later this year. I've written an additional scene that John is drawing. I'm also doing a page one rewrite to the entire book. It's amazing to get a second opportunity to revisit the text with the skills I've managed to accumulate these past years.

In reading over the original version, I feel the basic plot holds up but the way in which I convey character info needs to be more organic. There is a lot of expositional info dump in the original that I thought I needed at the time and now feel differently. So I'm pulling out all the stuff that I really don't think works well and replacing it with stronger character moments. Hopefully the book will find a new audience when it comes out again. Those who enjoyed the book in the past will find many new surprises in store for them.

imageSPURGEON: There was a rumor about The Gray Area back when it was coming out that some of the folks close to the book were shocked that it didn't seem to have a chance to break out; that it was one of the first books that was proof the market was becoming more rigid than we'd ever seen before. Was the fact that it didn't break out sales-wise a disappointment to you or John?

BRUNSWICK: I think the book had its fans and detractors. From a sales perspective, the comic book version did very well. We sold 25,000 copies of the first issue at a price point of six dollars. This is when the average book was selling for three bucks. The graphic novel version did not do quite as well. I think we still have some books left in inventory. For those that would like to compare the two versions in future they are currently still available through Amazon. In retrospect, I guess we were disappointed that the book didn't find real legs or develop more long term traction. As a first book, though, I'm still really proud of it. Working with JRjr was a dream come true!

SPURGEON: Does the kind of success available to the sorts of books you might do factor into your plans for doing them?

BRUNSWICK: The marketplace always dictates what kind of book you plan on doing. You still have to sell your idea to the publisher. The publisher is looking to do books that the marketplace will readily embrace. Very few artists, in any field, can sell product on the basis of their name recognition alone. At the same time you need to find areas of compromise between stories that move you and what the marketplace dictates. It's tough writing something that you don't believe in even if you think the market really wants that kind of book. You need to be moved within the confines of what you think may sell -- because selling is what you're are going to wind up doing through the many stages of creation, production and marketing of your project. It really never ends. Even if you're only pitching the idea to an acquaintance at a dinner party -- you're still selling your initial idea -- so you better love it -- at least a little bit.

imageSPURGEON: Killing Girl was an interesting project with an even more compelling publishing history than Gray Area, as it turned out. This isn't the day to get into what happened on that project -- unless you're dying to, in which case go for it -- but did you learn from that experience? Does coming from working in Hollywood where you're constantly fighting for control on projects and I would imagine eventually almost in every case letting go at a certain point better prepare you for those occasions in comics when you're not able to shepherd through a comics project?

BRUNSWICK: The thing that I learned is if you get a distinctive artist to work with you, as I did on Killing Girl, you need to make sure that they are going to finish the story arc they started. It's really tough to find another artist to match a unique talent's work. I guess the other option would be to work with more generic artists -- they're more replaceable. But the trade off is the art becomes less exciting. That's a huge cost for me. The real excitement of making comics is when your artist first turns in those pages and you begin to see your story breathe and take flight. Those are the moments that really get my heart racing. It's why I do what I do.

I haven't worked on any projects that weren't creator owned. I haven't really had to deal with loosing control of any of my comic projects yet. But the Hollywood mindset has certainly put me in a position to deal with that situation should it come up in the future. I think that if you have the ability to bend to the marketplace then it isn't much more of a stretch to bend to the dictates of an editor or a producer or a director. It they're smarter than you that can help make the transition easier as well. Someone with bad ideas, that has control of your work, is not something I can wholeheartedly recommend.

SPURGEON: You've worked with a number of really powerful artists, artists adept at bringing to bear a specific style. At the same time, your work is also clearly high-concept focused, very much stuff that you could communicate in a verbal pitch, even if that's not your intent. How much, then, is your work influenced by the artist with whom you work, and how much of it is portable, do you think? For instance, in developing Jersey Gods, how much did Dan McDaid's ability specifically have an effect on the way the project was brought to life?

BRUNSWICK: It's absolutely portable! The high-concept nature of my work, and I agree with your assessment of it, allows for a number of equally relevant interpretations that the artist can bring to it. I think that's just my Hollywood training that forces me to encapsulate my ideas into these smaller marketable boxes. It saves a lot of time when pitching the project to an artist, publisher, retailer and eventually the public. I'm constantly looking for something that's engaging and easy to understand or convey. That's a huge part of the challenge. I'm open, however, to the idea that this may change as I continue to grow.

imageThat being said, Jersey Gods would not be Jersey Gods without Dan McDaid. Dan is an artist with an utterly unique style who places story ahead of his pictures. Not that his pictures aren't lovely -- they most certainly are! But he thinks about what will best serve the project. He thinks about the pieces of business that I may have left out of the script but probably shouldn't have. He considers the tone, adding visual humor or pathos -- whatever the scene requires. I rely on Dan completely. He offers me an additional set of invested eyes as we edit each and every book together upon its completion. Dan is my creative partner in Jersey Gods. I hope to do many more projects with him in the future. It's the kind of partnership, and friendship, you always hope to find when you set out to find a collaborator. He's irreplaceable! And I really hope that he never ever reads this -- we don't want to feed the man's already-expanding ego.

SPURGEON: Don't worry: no one reads this site. Hey, here's the one question I've been dying to ask you. When people write that they enjoy Jersey Gods, they usually cite the very Kirby mix of the Galactic with the Ordinary. My question to you is this: why do people find that mix enjoyable? Is it that having both elements makes for a more satisfying overall experience? Does the ordinary comment on the extraordinary and vice-versa? Is it just two things that blend together well, peanut butter cup style?

BRUNSWICK: I think people want to see something new and fantastic, but they want to process it in a way that's familiar to them. If a god-like culture is too alien it makes it hard to relate -- to take the journey. When the fantastic is mixed up with inter personal relationships that we all can recognize it helps make the material palatable. We all build God in our own image, don't we? If the Gods have human failings, perhaps... there's hope for us all.

imageSPURGEON: My focus for this interview was the second volume, And This Is Home. Second volumes of mainstream serial comics fascinate me, especially in today's brutal market where there's usually some sort of sales reality pressing in on a series. Did you have a firm idea of where you wanted to go if the series was successful enough for you to want to continue? How firm are your plans for the next set of five issues while working on this one? How do you balance that kind of planning and structure and ability to build things within a narrative to being open to what the story might suddenly suggest to you?

BRUNSWICK: I did -- my initial outline had an overall story arc that took me through 12 issues. Jersey Gods was always a bigger story. Given the realities of the marketplace, we've decided to end the current Jersey Gods series next month with the 12th issue. The final book will be double-sized, and it's the organic endpoint and climax of the series that I always intended. If we had gone longer I would have had additional story arcs: The wedding of Barock and Zoe, the return of Barock's father from his 10,000 year-old grave and possibly a potential crossover with Richard Starking's Image book Elephantmen. I had this fun idea with Barock's mom, who has the power to turn into an elephant-like creature, getting caught in a vortex that takes her to the Elephantmen universe. She loses her memory and is trapped in that world until Barock and Zoe arrive to retrieve her. Richard was keen on the idea as well. Maybe it's something we'll consider one day in the future.

I try to have a structured outline of where I want to go in a series, but I always give my characters room to move in unexpected ways. This happened more than I anticipated in Volume 2 -- the whole journey to Barock's home world, to have Zoe meet his mother, came out of listening to my characters and taking them where I thought they wanted to go -- as opposed to taking them where my outline had dictated. I think it's important to have that kind of flexibility. I like to leave myself open to capturing gems that may add to the story.

We will have a final third trade, Thunder Road, that will include the 70 pages that make up the final story from issues 11 and 12. It will also include Mark Waid's back-up story and the promotional story that was in the back of Invincible #55. I hope we can return to Jersey Gods one of these days. Obviously, if the trades do well or if the rights sell to film or TV it may open the door to us returning to the series. Dan and I are keeping are fingers crossed. You never know.

image

SPURGEON: It's funny in that I just read James Robinson's introduction to the second book, and he mentioned that he would like to come back and do the introduction when you get past issue 105. This would be the 21st or 22nd book, so you're stopping 18 short. Is it possible to have a series run that long these day? Is this series' stoppage particularly disappointing to you?

BRUNSWICK: God bless, James Robinson! It doesn't look like that will come to pass. The wonderful thing that happened with Jersey Gods was the critical support we got from so many of the comic professionals I've admired over the years. Artists like Mike Allred, Darwyn Cooke, Paul Pope, Erik Larsen and Whilce Portacio to name a few. In addition, writers like Mark Waid and Kurt Busiek have become good friends of mine through the work. So even though it doesn't look like we'll make it to issue 105, I'm really so very proud of the book we created -- it touched some of my heroes that have touched me with their own work over the years. You really can't ask for much more than that.

image

SPURGEON: One of the things I thought interesting about the second book is that your metaphor gets a workout in broader thematic areas. It seems to me there are parental issues throughout the book. Did you find this Kirby-esque set of tools useful in exploring those issues? Certainly there's a lot of humor to be mined from scale: the suburban dad trying to Alpha Dog this guy that can lift tanks, or the absurdity of how Barock's mother acts out her grief. What did you enjoy as a writer bringing those issues to bear in this volume?

BRUNSWICK: It's just plain fun! Parental issues have a resonance that sticks with you your whole life. Your parent's screwed you up! They made you who you are today. They stick with you long after they die. There's no escape! The Kirbyesque tools were useful in creating the architecture of the Jersey Gods universe, but the parental issues came straight out of my head -- from growing up inside a healthy broken Jewish East coast family household. Thank goodness I have an outlet!

SPURGEON: What's your Jersey background? Do you have one? The reason I ask is because your Jersey touchstones don't seem to be mobster or overtanned young people but more of Jersey as a place where mostly wealthy, mostly ordinary people live.

BRUNSWICK: I grew up in New York City. My father owned a lamp manufacturing company in Newark, New Jersey where I spent some time as a boy. He also had a girlfriend that had a lingerie shop in Millburn -- a Jersey suburb. I decided to use New Jersey as my setting due to the bad reputation that it suffers -- albeit undeserved. I thought I could mine some comedic moments by forcing Barock to reside there. I wanted to make New Jersey a part of the character of the book as well.

image

SPURGEON: Do you have an interest in class issues? I think your original pitch involved the girl of privilege more than maybe the first book really dug into that aspect of Zoe's past, but it starts to come up again in the issue in volume two, up to and including a parable from Barock's homeworld about a society splitting according to their desires for consumption. Is that a fair reading? Do you want to explore that a bit more as you move forward? What do you ultimately want to say about that, given through this entertainment vehicle?

BRUNSWICK: I really figured that the class issues in the book would be a major source of fun that I wanted to exploit between Barock and Zoe. The issues that I bring up, the pursuit of material things versus quality of life, is definitely something that I've thought about a lot in my own life. We all prioritize the things that we feel are important. The last thing I want to do is preach to anyone on the subject of what should be important in life. But I think that it's really difficult in our culture to get clear and decide what should really be our focus -- what will really make our lives fulfilling. Media surrounds us from the moment we get up telling us all the things that we need to be happy.

imageIn my own life, I discovered that I really love the process of creating comic books. I'm sure there are much more lucrative things that I could do with my time. But the quality of my life when I'm involved in their creation is sublime. I liked the idea of creating this God world and society that said, "Enough," split in two, and dedicated one faction to the recovery of that world. Barock comes from that green faction while Zoe is from the other side of that equation with a material upbringing. The interesting thing is that each of them has something to give to the other in order to promote their mutual happiness. Finding the right balance is the difficult project of life and I guess by extension... my book.

SPURGEON: Let me re-ask a question I asked earlier. When you're exploring an issue like class, as opposed to parental issues, what is useful about the superhero comic in doing so?

BRUNSWICK: It's a great way to examine issues that we sometimes take way too seriously -- if we don't allow someone into a fancy restaurant because he's not wearing a tie that seems acceptable. When we don't let Spider-Man into a restaurant to stop a criminal, because he's not wearing a tie, a large part of the fun is watching this larger than life hero caught in society's web just like the rest of us. It allows us to reexamine our value system, from a different angle, in another engaging way.

image

SPURGEON: Superhero stories have a lot of physical violence to them. Kirby certainly had an orientation towards violence that came from his own experiences in war and growing up in volatile urban neighborhoods. How conscious are you in terms of how the action and violence in your comics becomes presented? Do you feel it's important to grapple in some way with the overall effect of this kind of adventure material, or do you think that it's enough a part of the genre that readers are able to process it in terms of all the reading they've done?

BRUNSWICK: I've never honestly put a lot of thought into it. To me violence is a part of our culture and our entertainment. It feels like a necessary ingredient to any adventure story. I guess the only place that I would draw the line is with violence for the sake of violence. But in the service of a good story, anything goes.

SPURGEON: What are your broader ambitions in comics, Glen? I think it's rare for someone with an active writing career elsewhere to invest as much as you have in multiple projects. Would Glen Brunswick the agent be totally on board with the choices made by Glen Brunswick the writer?

BRUNSWICK: I want to keep writing comics for as long as I have stories to tell in this medium. Nothing has given me the same creative satisfaction that I get from working on them. I do hope that I'll be able to at least