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











August 31, 2015


Editor Brendan Wright Leaving Dark Horse; Announces He’s Open For Freelance Editing Opportunities

imageOne of the recently inside-promotion receiving editors at Dark Horse has decided to shift gears into a freelance career instead: Brendan Wright, Eisner-nominated this year for his work on Dark Horse's Hal Foster-era Tarzan series of collections. His last day was yesterday.

Like many recently departed comics publishing employees, Wright's freelance client list will included his former employer, with whom he remains on good terms. Wright edited a range of material there, so I have to imagine he'd have applicable skills for a wide variety of projects. HIs future projects list with Dark Horse includes the next Matt Kindt book; wrapping up MIND MGMT was a key to the timing of this move, he told CR.

Those looking for Wright's services are directed to this post. He's been helpful to this site, and I've enjoyed a lot of the books on which he's worked. I wish him the best with the next phase of his professional life.

from NEW MGMT #1
 
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Go, Look: Louise Rosenkrands Profiled

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Collective Memory: Jack Kirby Day 2015

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Links to articles, posts and other on-line entries regarding any and all celebration of the 98th anniversary of the comics-maker Jack Kirby's birth.

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Miscellaneous
* Interview With Charles Hatfield About Jack Kirby

Resources
* Comic Book Apocalypse Show
* Kyle Latino
* TCJ Interview
* The Jack Kirby Chronology
* The Kirby Museum

Tributes
* #JackKirby

* Brandon Graham

* Carol Tilley 01
* Carol Tilley 02
* Carol Tilley 03
* Carol Tilley 04
* Carol Tilley 05
* Carol Tilley 06
* Carol Tilley 07
* Carol Tilley 08
* Carol Tilley 09
* CBR 01
* CBR 02
* Chris Samnee
* Colleen Doran 01
* Colleen Doran 02
* Comics Alliance 01
* Comics Alliance 02

* Dan Slott

* Gerard Way
* Greg Araujo

* Inside The Cosmic Cube

* Jason Latour
* Jerry Ordway

* LiveAtNewChimeTrek

* Martin Hand
* Marvel.com 01
* Marvel.com 02
* Marvel.com 03
* Matt Wieringo

* Robot 6
* Ron Marz

* Sal Abbinanti
* Saladin Ahmed

* The Beat
* The Kirby Museum
* Thomas Scioli
* Todd Nauck
* Tom McAuliffe
* Tom Spurgeon
* Tony Moore

* Wil Wheaton

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Not Comics: Arnold Roth LP Covers

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Go, Look: Rejected X-Men Covers

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this is interesting: a reorganization at Disney cuts Kevin Feige and the films loose from Ike Perlmutter and his parsimonious ways. That Perlmutter is so flinty with the spending to have that reputation in money-hoovering Hollywood sure is remarkable, and one should always keep that in mind when figuring out Marvel's moves: it's a quarter to quarter game for most of the divisions, including publishing. If DC adopts the same practices, it's a very different industry two years from now.

image* Todd Klein on A Sailor's Story.

* for some reason I have a defunct Robert Valley blog in my bookmarks. You should enjoy it even if I don't understand how it got there.

* I'm not sure I have a take on news that Diane Nelson is taking over Warner Bros. Consumer Profucts, adding to a long line of Diane Nelson-related stories about which I'm not exactly sure how to think. She'll be naming a replacement for the running of the division, but at the same time parts of the announcement seems to be about 1) her taking on a third division as a sign of her status within the wider corporate umbrella and 2) a closer marriage between that division and the content-related ones of DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment which she already runs. I suspect that there may be a slight disconnect there between reality and PR -- there usually is -- but I'm not sure where or even if I'm correct in thinking so.

* an editor of Ted Rall's while he was doing a feature for Pasadena Weekly chimes in with support on Rall's situation regarding a terminated freelance agreement with the LA Times.

* the Wes Craven theory of saving comics.

* there is still a sale going on over at StudyGroup. I like a lot of their comics, and it's worth poking around if you have a few minutes. If you're already a fan, you probably know about the sale.

* here's what's new and available from Breakdown Press.

* finally, I love Johnny Craig.
 
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Go, Vote: Harvey Awards Voting Deadling Is Midnight Tonight!

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Go, Look: Joseph P Kelly

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Assembled Extra: comiXology Announces Weekly Shonen Jump Debut

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The digital comics service comiXology has a press release out right this minute announcing that the Weekly Shonen Jump publication will be made available on its site from now on. They also have a link to this latest issue. It looks like they're offering issues back to June.

With my limited background I can't gauge if this is a huge deal all by itself, but I think it's at least a solid one with the potential for being significant. In print form, Shonen Jump was a gateway publication for an entire generation of translated-manga fans. This generation's equivalent to that fanbase is almost certainly experiencing work on-line as its first step. Weekly Shonen Jump tends towards crowd-pleasing action hits that are a fine complement to the kind of comics that are already spotlighted with regularity on the site. It may also provide some jusice to on-line sales of collections of the material via the company's relationship with Amazon.

The PR says current features are: "Black Clover, Bleach, Blue Exorcist, Food Wars! Shokugeki No Soma, My Hero Academia, Nisekoi, One Piece, One-Punch Man, Seraph Of The End: Vampire Reign, Toriko, World Trigger and Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V." I'm not the most devoted reader of popular manga, but there are three titles even I'd like to check out without perhaps investing in a full volume.
 
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Go, Look: Bruno Dinelli

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Warehouse Closure On December 1 May Result In A Massive October Cerebus Backstock Giveaway

imageDave Sim has announced the closure and sale of a warehouse in Leamington, Ontario that is keeping the remainder of his Cerebus single-issue backstock. In some cases this can involved over a thousand copies the individual issue. He talks about making an event of giving those books away, and some other potential outcomes, in this installment of his video series. I hope he gets what he wants out of it, and that people benefit by getting to read those comics, some of which I greatly enjoyed when they came out.

One thing this underlines, and it's something that's come up quite a bit the last two years or so, is that comics material being available and being taken care of over the years isn't a slam dunk; this takes some effort and capital and attention. Some of the models we have for publishing companies means that the interested players in some cases are fare less resource-loaded than others when it comes to keeping their work alive, in print, in circulation and so on. I had not thought about physical copies being a part of this as much as contracts and art and negatives and digital format upgrades, but of course there's a direct impact involved with the actual comics, too.
 
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Not Comics: Rebecca Dautremer

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August 30, 2015


Collective Memory: Jack Kirby Day 2015

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Links to articles, posts and other on-line entries regarding any and all celebration of the 98th anniversary of the comics-maker Jack Kirby's birth.

*****

Miscellaneous
* Interview With Charles Hatfield About Jack Kirby

Resources
* Comic Book Apocalypse Show
* Kyle Latino
* TCJ Interview
* The Jack Kirby Chronology
* The Kirby Museum

Tributes
* #JackKirby

* Brandon Graham

* Carol Tilley 01
* Carol Tilley 02
* Carol Tilley 03
* Carol Tilley 04
* Carol Tilley 05
* Carol Tilley 06
* Carol Tilley 07
* Carol Tilley 08
* Carol Tilley 09
* CBR 01
* CBR 02
* Chris Samnee
* Colleen Doran 01
* Colleen Doran 02
* Comics Alliance 01
* Comics Alliance 02

* Dan Slott

* Gerard Way
* Greg Araujo

* Jason Latour
* Jerry Ordway

* LiveAtNewChimeTrek

* Marvel.com
* Matt Wieringo

* Robot 6
* Ron Marz

* Sal Abbinanti
* Saladin Ahmed

* The Beat
* The Kirby Museum
* Thomas Scioli
* Tom McAuliffe
* Tom Spurgeon

* Wil Wheaton

*****

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Go, Look: IMPulses

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By Request Extra: Frank Santoro Talks About His Quest For A Physical School Space As Columbo

imageHere.

I can practically guarantee you'll never again read something exactly like that post. That might be the most Frank Santoro post Frank Santoro has ever put on-line.

Gentle kidding aside, I would very much like to see Santoro succeed in having a physical space to do the teaching he does and run the workshops he runs; I think comics is better off for what people have learned from Santoro's approach to comics, and I don't see any reason this will change in the near future.
 
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Go, Look: DC Splash Pages From 1975

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* two big charitable efforts made their presence known in the comics world last week, both of which I hope were successful: the selling of Joe Kubert Artist's Editions with all-star drawings right on the covers to benefit a scholarship at the Kubert School; the yearly Hero Initiative push sponsored by the family of the late Jack Kirby to coincide with Kirby's birthdate of August 28. Comics has a generous heart. The idea of course, is to continue to give while doing everything we can on the front end to make sure as little giving as possible is necessary.

* there have been a number of big-time crowd-funders closing, too, I think because mid-July to mid-September is such a guaranteed empty space in a lot creative calendars because of the relative lack of shows. Congratulations to all of those that saw their projects move forward this summer. I've now set up a couple of accounts to be more actively involved in being able to donate to crowd-funders, so I'm looking forward to that this Fall.

* Mike Dawson's book of essays about home and family is already successful just a few days in. I've liked those the most of any comics Mike Dawson has done. Ditto Jon Adams' campagin for his funny Chief O'Brien comics.

* we're getting into the final 10 days or so for a reasonably well-publicized campaign by the publisher Last Gasp to get Barefoot Gen into the hands of students. It looks like it could use a few more solid patrons, although at around the halfway point with any significant time left there's a chance a crowd-funder will be smashingly successful. I can't imagine they'd object to have the suspense taken away from them, though. I know the wallop that one packed for me when I read it as a young person, and still think of it frequently. I'd still like to see this Jane Bowles-related one get a shot.

* Tony Millionaire seems to be selling stuff via his Facebook presence.

* finally, the queer superhero anthology Oath, recommended by a few people I trust here and there on the Internet, could still use some attention.
 
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If I Were In The LA Area, I’d Go To This

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Go, Look: Tarzan At Earth’s Core

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Todd Klein on Green Lantern #43.

* go, read: Boulet on Georges Brassens.

* I liked Graeme McMillan's choices for five Kirby works to read. He's also right in that there are other really good runs -- you could pick Boys Ranch, two or three other Thor runs, I think, and maybe an early Fantastic Four one and definitely the 2001 and also get some idea as to what has made Kirby a continuing solid read forty to fifty years after these comics were made. The Our Fighting Forces material is probably as little-read a run as Kirby has anymore. Michael Grabowski in my twitter feed made the case for the "return to Captain America" run -- the Mad Bomb stuff, plus some trippy issues afterward -- that so enraged my Cap-As-Super-Spy fellow readers when I was a kid. There's a Kirby for everyone.

* this 1969 Kim Deitch illustration is certainly something.

* you should listen to Alison Bechdel's interview with NPR because all of Bechdel's interviews are good, but also because as Teresa Jusino at The Mary Sue has pointed out, she's made a request.

* Neil Gaiman talks about free speech, including graphic novels. I'm not sure he makes the exact distinction about harassment that the subordinate headline says he does (although of course he's strongly against harassment and states why). Mostly he's forthright and knowledgeable and articulate on the subject. I was fascinated by the way he talks about the Mike Diana trial, and how truly freaking horrible that Diana's conviction was in a way that seems to become more clear over time.

* finally, JM Clark talks to Crystal O'Rourke.
 
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August 29, 2015


CR Sunday Interview: Robert Goodin

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imageI was super happy when Fantagraphics announced they were doing The Kurdles with cartoonist and animator Robert Goodin. Goodin is one of those talents that's been around for years and years, can clearly draw anything he wants in evocative fashion, has a unique voice as a writer, even, but has never put together that one book. I wish this were a list of one, although even one artist left behind as it were is too many. He has a number of excellent-looking mini-comics to his name: Après-Shampooing and Binibus Barnabus are the two I remember best, but his site mentions The Fish Keeper, Pig's Missing Poo and The Suicidal Dog. All of those titles are good enough to have out there just for the titles even if they aren't attached to a comic. A recent flourish of activity saw The Man Who Loved Breasts land at Top Shelf, and Goodin contributing to the anthology MOME. Along with Seth, he has kept the tradition of high production value physical holiday cards alive and well.

I'm happy to report that I quite enjoyed The Kurdles. It has the odd bounce and stumble that my favorite all-ages books have; this determination that kids have to explore an area at their own speed, consequences be damned. I had no idea where it was going on any page past maybe the second, and would have little to no idea where a sequel might take us. That uncertainty is a gift, particularly for a book as visually rewarding as this one is. Hopefully we'll get to find out what happens when a sequel book is announced. -- Tom Spurgeon

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TOM SPURGEON: Rob, I know it's a standard question, but I've known you for years and seen you at shows since I've been going to them but don't have a sense of how you became a cartoonist. Do you mind walking us through how you ended up drawing in a professional capacity, what your relationship to comics has been like/

ROBERT GOODIN: I decided I wanted to draw comics when I was about 12. Back then the dream was to pencil a superhero comic. I stuck to this plan through high school, drawing constantly in my free time. As I approached the end of high school, I started getting bored with superheroes. My interest probably peaked in '86 or '87 when so many exciting things were coming out, but I was becoming increasingly disappointed by what followed. As I entered college as an illustration major at Cal State Long Beach, I was reading very few comics. One of them was Cerebus, a bit of a gateway drug out of the superhero tunnel vision. I was also beginning to read The Comics Journal more often, which happened to be when you were editing it. What really changed me was when a teacher brought a photocopy of Dan Clowes's "Art School Confidential" to class. Evidently this was circulating around the Los Angeles art school scene at Otis, Parsons, Art Center, and now Long Beach. I hunted down some Eightballs and the floodgates opened. Soon I was picking up Maus, Raw, Jim, Rubber Blanket and anything by Charles Burns. Naturally the Journal was key for me at this time. It was very exciting.

Once I graduated from college, I needed a job. My dream was to draw comics, but I still had a lot to learn and I needed to pay rent. A high school buddy of mine, Joe Orrantia, was working on Ren and Stimpy while I was attending school. I saw that a steady income could be made while still learning a lot on the job. It was like a masters degree that could pay me instead of the other way around. I set my sights on the animation industry and after a year and a half of rejections, I became a background artist on Duckman in 1995.

After a few months at Duckman, a fellow background artist who used to be a colorist at Malibu Comics brought up the idea of doing a comic anthology with our fellow work artists. His name was Albert Calleros and the two of us, along with another ex-Malibu guy, Larry Reynosa, put out Hot Mexican Love Comics. The artists chipped in 60 bucks per page. We took it to some conventions and I started to think I'd like to do a more ambitious anthology that I would pay for myself. It would be inspired by Raw and the Drawn and Quarterly anthology with very nice production values and it would be under my own company name, The Robot Publishing Co. I named it Oden. Sadly, it flopped and I lost a ton of money.

I would go on to publish smaller books hoping that it was the expensive price tag that was the reason Oden didn't do well. Those books flopped as well. After losing quite a bit of money over two to three years, I threw in the towel on publishing. It was crazy anyway. I couldn't successfully have a career in animation, and be a cartoonist, as well as a publisher. I was insane. Since then I've focused only on animation and my own comics.

SPURGEON: The Robot Publishing stuff was beautiful and ahead of its time and in retrospect seems quite doomed from inception. What are your memories of that effort overall, and Binabus Barnabus specifically? Because it was amazing in that you were so right there with the fully-realized style right away. What do you think of that work now?

GOODIN: I'm really proud of what we did. here were primarily eight of us in this collective and I think for our experience level, we all did a great job. I'll always wonder what could have been if we had more time to hit our stride more and find an audience. At any rate, there was a lot of really talented folks in that group that have gone on to great things.

Binibus actually strikes me as a little bit of an outlier from my other stuff, at least in terms of drawing style. That book was really inspired by mid-century cartoons like the UPA animation studio, the cartoons of Ward Kimball and VIP. However, in terms of story, it does have a bit of a fable quality that has been a thread through most of what I've done. I still like the story, but I'd probably draw it differently now. I guess I'd draw most of early my work differently now.

imageSPURGEON: The other period in which I remember us seeing your work is maybe eight, maybe ten years ago, when you did both The Man Who Loves Breasts and the short piece that appeared in MOME. I assume that the non-comics part of your career was well established at this point, so what was that particular move at that time? Did you just have time to do work?

GOODIN: That was during a time when I was out of animation for a while. I had been working at Klasky Csupo for about eight years and I was a storyboard artist for about five of them on shows like The Wild Thornberrys and As Told by Ginger. At the turn of the millennium, I was also going through a lot of life changes. There were a few deaths in my family and I also met my wife, Georgene. Klasky was going through a major contraction and losing all of their shows. I think they only do commercials now. The writing was on the wall and I was not only burned out, but after these deaths I was really wondering if working so hard in animation was worth it. Georgene and I decided to get married and take a yearlong honeymoon in Paris where we would work on our dream projects.

Things didn't quite go as smoothly as we would have liked, but we did spend a year in Paris and I stayed out of animation when we came back. I was still very tired of it. I wanted to try to make it as an illustrator and cartoonist. It was during this time that many more of my comics were popping up. Thematically they're all over the place. I was still trying to figure a lot of things out (and still am). The downside was that I was making no money. Georgene was the main breadwinner at this time and we were constantly broke.



At one point I got a call from my old Hot Mexican Love Comics pal, Albert, and he needed some help on an episode on American Dad. I came in and ended up sticking around as a storyboard revisionist. A revisionist is typically an entry level job for storyboarding, but it isn't nearly the grind that being a regular board artist is, so I stayed and am still there eight years later. Naturally, my comic output dropped again, but I can pay the mortgage.

SPURGEON: What in general drives you to continue to do comics? What specifically about that form appeals to you in terms of personal expression?

GOODIN: It's an obsession that has never waned. I get depressed if I'm not doing it for very long. I think you nailed it in terms of personal expression because it is so personal. The work I do for my day job is completely impersonal. I draw in someone else's style, using shots that someone else decides, drawing out someone else's script. It's very machine-like, but in animation it's necessary and suppressing one's ego for the benefit of all isn't necessarily a bad thing.

However, for me, there's nothing like falling into a world created by one person, who has a distinct writing voice, a distinct ink line, and a vision that is unique. Pauline Kael wrote a critique about Jean-Luc Godard fairly early in his career that has always stayed with me. She comments on how he was distinct from the rest of cinema's history in that he was able to do what he wanted to do. He didn't have the political and economic obstacles that every other director that came before him had. He was free to succeed or fail purely on his terms, not because of producers changing his vision. One of the beauties of indie comics is that anybody can and does have this freedom. It doesn't mean what we produce is any good, but in a world that is even more dominated by corporate entertainment than it was in the '60s, you can't beat it. We are all auteurs.

SPURGEON: [laughs] You're a really skilled, facile artist. Is it frustrating at all to work in a milieu -- alternative comics -- where that sometimes isn't appreciated as it is in more commercially-driven forms and expression. It's not like it is never appreciated, but there is an intermittency to it.

GOODIN: This is an interesting question that I think I could answer in a 100 different ways depending on my mood. First of all, thanks for the compliment, I really do work hard to be a solid storyteller who is in control of the story that I'm telling. It's important to me to not have the reader struggle with what I'm communicating unless I want them to.

In terms of whether those skills are appreciated in indie comics, it's hard to say. I think there are a ton of alternative artists out there that are very, very skilled. There are also a percentage of books I see where I think these skills are either not seen as being important in indie comics or people simply don't have the chops. It probably depends on the artist. There are a lot of people experimenting with ways of telling a story in alternative comics, which is great. Sometimes I think it works better than others, but that's the nature of art. What can drive me crazy is when I can't tell people apart, actions become a mess, or I don't know what panel to read next. If this is the intention of the artist and it has a point, that's fine, but a lot of times it's just a failure or storytelling and I never want to do that myself.

At the same time, I can also feel like my comics are conservative in terms of how they are told, maybe even square. I'm not one to experiment too much formally, but I also am not a fan of the mechanics of the story becoming the focus and bringing attention to itself. In my mind, that's putting the cart before the horse. Of course it would depend on the story and if it's appropriate and works, then that's great. See what's happening to my brain here? I start spinning around. Ultimately I'm not the kind of personality that is likely to write a manifesto about the one way comics should be done. I'm a fan of both Hitchcock and Godard and they approached film in very different ways.

SPURGEON: So why an all-ages work? How did this one develop? In fact, how do most of your projects develop? Do you start with an idea, do you work in sketchbooks?

GOODIN: This came about largely out of necessity. During my time out of animation, I was desperate for some kind of paying work. While I was at SPX I met an editor at Disney Adventures who thought I should submit a pitch to them. Disney Adventures actually printed creator-owned work and I thought that this could be the perfect answer. I put together a pitch of short story ideas for the Kurdles and sent it over. It sat there for about a year and then the magazine folded. By this point I had become rather excited about this world I'd created. I thought that it could hit the sweet spot of doing something that might make a little money but not feeling like a sell-out. I realized that I could still bring in themes that I wanted to deal with within the framework of an all-ages comic. I then considered doing it as a longer form book and sent it to my MOME editor, Eric Reynolds, at Fantagraphics and he was up for doing it.

I do work in sketchbooks but it's sporadic. I do have a Kurdles-only sketchbook that is mostly filled with notes and bits of dialogue that has helped me understand these characters and gives me the building blocks for new stories.

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SPURGEON: I love the opening sequence in this, the way Sally moves from one world to another. Sally isn't wanted. Why made you go in that direction rather than create a character that might more enthusiastically wish to go home? What was important to you about showing that move from "our" world to the milieu in which most of the story takes place.

GOODIN: I think I worked backwards with this. I had these characters and the world, but I needed a way to bring the reader into it. Having Sally function as the stranger in a strange land helped meet that need. At the same time, once I got her there, I needed a reason for her to stay, so I made the option of returning really unappealing.

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SPURGEON: You use a variety of storytelling techniques on the page: big images, close sequential progressions, even standard narrative jumps: can you talk about designing the pags up front, how you did that, what makes one page three panels and another page ten? Even when you use more standard page grids you do them with a twist, like a contiguous background.

GOODIN: I guess I'm not much of a grid guy. Perhaps it's because my day job is spent drawing in the same sized box so I can't bring myself to do it at home. I think the only time I ever used it was for my George Olavatia: Amputee Fetishist story which was really about the rhythm of the dialogue so the grid helped.

With this comic, I wanted it to feel organic and flowing, not constrained by something rigid. I think it also depends on the pages and what I'm trying to do. For example, when Sally is chucked from a car in the rain and starts to move for the first time, I thought her movement was what this sequence was all about, so the panels are relatively small and the same size focusing only on her and nothing else. When the page turns, there is a larger panel to show how small and alone she is in this world. The panels get small again as she moves out to the road, but open up again when she is almost taken out by a truck that fills the page.

Another reason I vary things so much is I sometimes want you to focus on one part of the page more than another, so I might make a panel bigger, or I want the reader to slow down a bit. Other times, I can feel like I'm getting in a rut and want to mix it up, so in that case it's also a gut thing.

SPURGEON: How did you work with the color in the transitional stage? The first page where we see all of the protagonists at once is very striking in terms of the lightness of the colors, and I wondered how much of that was intentional... how comfortable are you with color, generally, is there an aspect you feel a need to catch up a bit?

GOODIN: That was a big source of anxiety as I started this. I hadn't used color too much in comics before this and when I had I wasn't entirely happy with the results. When the Kurdles are introduced, the colors are intentionally lighter. It was a mood change and I wanted that reflected in the color. For the most part, I'm very happy with how the color came out, because I really thought it could have been a disaster. I have strong opinions about coloring, but I wasn't sure how to do good coloring myself. Now that I have this book under my belt, I feel like I avoided a catastrophe. Going forward I'd like to use bright colors a little less and let the ink do a little more of the work. I tend to prefer muted colors with bits of brightness for accents.

SPURGEON: What if your appraisal of your own skills as a character designer? How much did you work on each character, and did you shift characteristics around a bit before you were satisfied with each one?

GOODIN: They popped out more or less fully formed. Maybe in the case of Phineas I should have worked him out a big more. It bothers me that he's a bit of a scarecrow, it's too close to Oz. I should have pushed that farther and I think I'm going to deal with that in future books.

I like that they're easily distinguishable and I go crazy when I can't tell characters apart in comics. It seems like a major failure on the part of the artist. Beyond that, I'm pretty happy with them. I like that Sally basically has two expressions, as does Pentapus. That may be another part of me rebelling against animation and its big expressive eyes.

SPURGEON: The central narrative of the second two-thirds of the books is basically having the characters interact and work together to remove a layer of fur from the house. This is an extremely fascinating choice, and I wonder how you landed on this one.

GOODIN: I really, really struggled with the plot of this book. I think my biggest weakness as a writer is plot. I like writing dialogue, but giving characters a story to hang it all on is very difficult for me. Up until this point all of my stories were short and just popped out of my head. This was different in that I had these characters that I wanted to do something with and I needed a story. It felt artificial, in a way. I started with what I didn't want to do because it had become too played out: no chosen one hero stories, no evil antagonist, no stated life lessons, etc. I remember writing down ideas and dismissing them as clichés. It wasn't until I came up with their house having a disease that grew hair that I finally felt like I had something I could work with. The solution to this problem would be the framework for the character interactions that I really enjoy. Something I was concerned about was that this was not exactly an exciting third act and most of the action happens in the first 10 pages. With the help of Georgene, I was able to throw some things involving Hank and a door that spiced it up a bit.

SPURGEON: How important was it to you that the various characters being distinctive even worked together towards the same goal? Did this plot provide any difficulties in doing that? Is there a character moment, a contrast between two of the characters, that you're particularly proud of?

GOODIN: It's funny because when I started thumbnailing the book, the characters were not that distinct from each other, especially the boys. In fact, I needed to switch some dialogue from Hank to Pentapus because I realized over time that it was not longer in character for Hank to say. The thought of some of them bickering but needing to join forces was never much of a conscious thought, it just began to emerge as the story developed.

I think of all the character interactions I'm most proud of it would be Sally saying one thing and meaning something else. She's in a vulnerable situation and she needs help, but it's hard to ask for help and she's not entirely sure she can trust these guys yet. She went through some real trauma the day before and it's going to take some time for her to talk about that if she ever does. I wanted things to be communicated without being said and that can be tricky with a bear that only has two facial expressions. Hopefully, I pulled it off.

SPURGEON: Can you talk about why you did the "we're stuck with you moment" out of panel-bordered panels?

GOODIN: I wish I could remember why exactly, but it's been a few years since I roughed out the story. I like that for that moment, it's just about those two characters, Hank and Sally, who have been getting on each other's nerves all day. There's no background or even a panel border. I also just like a page to breathe every now and then. Panel borders are a little constraining sometimes. I like to open things up.

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SPURGEON: That last sequence is about as charming as they come as Sally explores this space she has -- maybe the first time she's had space -- and then declares her satisfaction with it. At what point did you find this ending for the story? Had you tried another?

GOODIN: It's funny that you bring that up, because the last page actually was redrawn. I had the entire book roughed out and showed it to Georgene for her to read. The last page was similar, but it was of Sally looking over the lake at sunset saying, "I think I'm going to like it here." Georgene looked at it and thought we needed to see the house one last time, and for the first time fully removed of fur. I grumbled because it's a ton of work drawing that thing, but I knew she was right. [Spurgeon laughs]

I grew up as a military brat and moved around constantly. It's a very satisfying feeling being able to look around where you are, be happy with it, and know that you're home.

SPURGEON: Is this a kind of work in which you'd like to do more work?

GOODIN: Absolutely! I'm working on a follow up right now and have posted some short stories on my website: kurdles.com. As I worked on this, I found that I can still deal with a lot of the same themes within an all-ages comic as I do for MOME. I may need to bury things a bit deeper, but kids go through a lot. The world is a tough and confusing place to navigate and a stuffed bear being dropped into a world where fur grows on trees works as a pretty good metaphor for that. I also really fell for the characters while working on this and want to do more stories with them. I would like to do at least two more books -- I have them plotted -- give it some time to find an audience, and see how they do. In a lot of ways, a lot of things came together for me in The Kurdles. The characters become richer and the world more fully realized in the stories that I have planned. I wish I could do this full time.

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* The Kurdles, Robert Goodin, hardcover, 60 pages, 9781606998328, May 2015, $24.99.

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* the cover
* a photo of Rob from 2013; by me
* an image of Goodin's earlier work
* multiple full pages or substantial panels from The Kurdles, supplied by Fantagraphics Book. Includes the below piece.

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Not Comics: J. Allen St. John Draws Tarzan

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Not Comics: Alex Schomburg 1950s Illustration

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Yes, Virginia: There Are Morey Amsterdam Comics

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Not Comics: MW Kaluta Illustrates Metropolis

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Go, Bookmark: Godsend

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If I Were Near Solliès-Villie, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Helsinki, I’d Go To This

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FFF Results Post #428—Five By Kirby

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Your Five Favorite Classic-Format Comic Books Where Jack Kirby Is A Primary Creator. This is how they responded.

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Matt Emery

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey #9 (pictured)
2. Captain America #212
3. Captain America #210
4. Captain America #216
5. 2001: A Space Odyssey #8

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Sean Rogers

1. New Gods #6
2. Tales of Asgard #1 (1968) (pictured)
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey #5
4. 1st Issue Special #1
5. Chamber of Darkness #5

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Michael Buntag

1. The New Gods #6
2. Fantastic Four #51
3. Thor #126
4. The Forever People #1 (pictured)
5. The Avengers #4

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Justin Colussy-Estes

1. Strange Tales #114
2. Fantastic Four #49
3. The Demon #1 (pictured, I think)
4. Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134 (not because of Darkseid, I swear!)
5. Destroyer Duck #3 (believe it or not, this was the first time I ever "got" Kirby. I don't know why this book, or what it was about it...)

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Buzz Dixon

1. Destroyer Duck #5 [This requires explanation: Though I had never written for comics before, Steve Gerber asked me to contribute a two page fight scene for Destroyer Duck #5. Yeah, my first gig in comics was drawn by Jack Kirby. How could it not be my all time favorite?] (pictured)
2. Captain America #1
3. Fantastic Four #49
4. Devil Dinosaur #1
5. What If? #11

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James Moore

1. OMAC #1
2. Fantastic Four #50
3. Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #143
4. New Gods #6
5. Fantastic Four #5

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Johnny Bacardi

1. Fantastic Four #35
2. Mister Miracle #6 (pictured)
3. Journey Into Mystery #107
4. Fantasy Masterpieces #3 (Reprint of a story from Captain America Comics #3, Adventures of Robin Hood homage scene)
5. The Demon #14

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Kamandi #10
2. Fantastic Four #55
3. Mister Miracle #16
4. Marvel's Greatest Comics #40
5. Fantastic Four Annual #3 (pictured)

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Oliver Ristau

1. Fantastic Four #51
2. Captain America #193
3. Omac #1
4. Kamandi #1
5. Devil Dinosaur #1 (pictured)

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my thanks to everyone that participated

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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Jack Kirby Interview From 1987; Special Call-In By Stan Lee


Dan Perkins At The Press Club, March 2015


Ted Rall Story On Uprising With Sonali


Jack Kirby At War


Facing The Blank Page
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from August 22 to August 28, 2015:

1. Kirby Day moves more fully in the direction away of portraying the late Jack Kirby as Marvel's victim and more about making a case for him as a cultural force to be remembered and honored. 2017 should be very interesting.

2. Well-loved Brooklyn comics shop Bergen Street Comics announces a September closure.

3. Brian Grasso explains himself, on why he won't be reading Fun Home and why his university should help him identify similar potential situations.

Winners Of The Week
The people that picked up those beautiful Tarzan "Artist's Edition" book featuring Joe Kubert on the inside and one-of-a-kind solo artist covers on the outside, all for a scholarship at the Kubert School. Those were really something.

Loser Of The Week
Our educational establishment for failing students like Brian Grasso.

Quote Of The Week
"The things you enjoy are not for free -- taking things for free means that the small folk like me have to pay for your sense of entitlement to free entertainment. When you take something for free there is a human element to your theft, not to mention all the people who work behind the scenes to promote and edit the book. People who are essentially paying and losing money to create work for people to enjoy." -- Jay Gunn

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the comic image selected is from the brief but notable 1970s run of Seaboard/Atlas

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August 28, 2015


Go, Look: Charles Burns Does The Marvel Try-Out Book

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

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If I Were Near Cyprus, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Boise, I’d Go To This

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If I Were Near Solliès-Villie, I’d Go To This

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

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If I Were In Helsinki, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Auckland, I’d Go To This

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On Kirby Day Jack Kirby’s Family Would Like You To Consider Supporting The Hero Initiative



That is a very noble thing the family does, turning the attention coming the way of their late patriarch into concrete assistance for some of the industry's hard-pressed. It's keeping within the legacy of personal decency Jack and Roz Kirby established in their lifetimes, for sure.

I hope you'll consider a donation.
 
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Go, Look: CBR Picks 98 Of Its Own Favorite Jack Kirby Images, And Only One Appears On CR’s List

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August 27, 2015


Jack Kirby, The King Of Comics, Would Have Been 98 Today

Jack Kirby, the mighty heart of the American comic book industry, would have been 98 years old today. Below, for your ruminative and reflective pleasure, is a tiny, even insignificant sample of his awesome image-making power. Long live the King.

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

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Go, Look: Michelangelo Setola

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Go, Look: Book Of Silly Drawings

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Assembled Extra: Jay Gunn On His View Of Comics Piracy

imageIt's not something we talk about with as much frequency as we did five to ten years ago, but here's a piece from a creator named Jay Gunn on his frustrations confronting comics piracy regarding a book he does called Surface Tension. I think the strongest part of his piece is the reminder that the wildly different economic contexts in which comics exist obviate a lot of the easy, broad justifications for this kind of thing.

I remain convinced this is best seen as a creators rights issue rather than a rolling argument of dueling conjectural economic models. I think you should be allowed to sell your work any way you like and any way you're able, and I think you should be able to opt out of any system you don't care for. Other people should not have the right to make those decisions for you.
 
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If I Were Near Solliès-Villie, I’d Go To This

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

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If I Were Near Clifton Park, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Helsinki, I’d Go To This

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Gaffney on Assassination Classroom Vol. 5. Rob Clough on the latest from Jonathan Baylis. Nick Gazin on a bunch of different comics. Jim Dandeneau on a bunch of different comics. Aditya Mani Jha on Fante Bukowski.

* Graham Chaffee does indeed draw an excellent dog.

* Chris Pitzer is looking forward to SPX. Nice photos.

* this person would like you to know all about the Superman comics right now. At some point I'm going to write for TCR about mainstream comics of this general type, but I agree that Gene Luen Yang, John Romita JR, Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder are about as good of a pair of teams across two of those books as DC's had in years and years.

* Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about Secret Wars. That is one heavyweight of a culture writer weighing in. It's a short piece, but Coates makes good points about reading comics in the 1970s and 1980s in order to fight boredom and the way comics written by Jonathan Hickman (in this case drawn by Esad Ribic) can be confusing in a virtuous way.

* not comics: this should make any child of 1980s superhero comics smile.

* hey, it's Ink Panthers Mike and Alex.

* Carolina A. Miranda talks to Leah Hayes. Rocco Castoro talks to Johnny Ryan.

* I have never heard of a blog tour, probably because the way I schedule my part would happen six weeks after the tour ended.

* finally, look at all the stuff that D&Q is doing with their retail space.
 
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My Favorite Comics Fundraiser In Quite Some Time Is Two Days Away From Completion

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When I say I have a favorite comics fundraiser, I mean the way the money is being raised -- almost every fundraising project that comics widely endorses is worth loving. I also will admit I don't have a refined aesthetic for fundraisers. Still, I've been looking at these original-art-as-cover Tarzan and thinking of a way I could have lived my life totally differently to afford one. They're relatively cheap at this point, too.

Here's a drop-page for all of the auctions, over at Heritage.

This benefits a scholarship at Mr. Kubert's school, Mr. Kubert being the late, longtime Tarzan artist Joe Kubert (the interiors featuring his work in the AE treatment we've all come to love).
 
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August 26, 2015


Tim Corrigan, RIP

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Go, Look: This Only Happened Because People Organized

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Festivals Extra: OSU/CCAD Releases Full AAEC 2015 Schedule

imageThat's a lot of letters in the headline. Basically it's the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum and Columbus College Of Art & Design teaming up to host the Association Of American Editorial Cartoonists' yearly meeting in Columbus, Ohio. That's an interesting group with at least two major news stories among its membership: the Ted Rall/LA Times battle, and Matt Bors leaving Medium.com to strike out on his own with The Nib.

Another thing to note is how relatively loaded that line-up is, and it's not like the AAEC annual conventions are something to which a lot of people have paid attention over the years. Feiffer is being skyped in, but he had originally agreed to attend. Peter Kuper? Mike Peters? Liza Donnelly? That's a show right there, along with a bunch of attending membership talent. This should be fun to see. It breaks my heart a little bit how removed the editorial cartooning expression is from the vital mainstream of a resurgent comics medium, and I'm always hoping that will change.
 
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OTBP: Thunder In The Building #2

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Go, Look: The Scream Of Things

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I love the look of this early Barry Smith comic; it's very charming
 
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The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Shows And Events

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By Tom Spurgeon

* this was last night, but I'm super-intrigued by the idea of a Facebook posting about an event leading to con organizers presenting and contextualizing the event differently.

* the SPX tumblr is like 24/7 posts about debuts from young cartoonists. They do an excellent job with that audience.

* finally, here's a review of a small, charming-looking mini-con.
 
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If I Were In Cleveland, I’d Go To This

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Go, Look: Various Grant Snider Comics

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Go, Look: Tim Sale Black And White Images Mini-Gallery

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* holy crap, to be rich: the great Phoebe Gloeckner plans to start selling original art.

image* Sean Kleefeld on The Blacker The Ink. Eryn Carlson on The Hirschfeld Century.

* not comics: one-time comics industry art director Evan Sult now owns the St. Louis magazine on which he's been working the last few years.

* the writer Dan Slott notes that readers on both sides of the current American political spectrum will sometimes dog a creator for not writing according to their political outlook. I'm sure this happens, but that it doesn't happen to everyone all of the time suggests that there's perhaps a certain kind of book or a certain kind of dialogue that triggers that sort of attention.

* Kara Szamborski and Matt Kolowski talk to Skottie Young. David Brothers talks to Josh Williamson. Christian Hoffer talks to David Walker.

* go, look: Teenie Weenies. Here's another beautiful-looking early strip, courtesy of Peter Maresca.

* happy birthday to Molly Rose.

* a comic by Jiro Kuwata heavily influenced by Silver Age Superman comic books? Yes, I think I would like to see that. My apologies to the person that had it where I could see it.

* not comics: I'm not sure that I've ever looked at Miles Davis' visual art.

* finally, Gene Luen Yang offers this up for charity.
 
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OTBP: Limonchik

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Go, Look: Daan Jippes Disney Covers

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Go, Read: Fun Home Declining Duke Student Writes On Own Behalf

Here's a short essay by Brian Grasso, a Duke freshman who made news for refusing to read the suggested work Fun Home, as he believed some of its images will lead to immorality. It's worth reading.

I feel badly for this young man, and for people that think in terms of engaging with art on these really simplistic terms. I try not to do so simply by trumping the sanctimony already on display, although it's difficult. I know I sound like a dick here. I actually think there's something to be said for opting out of secular opportunities in service of faith. I have friends that have followed clergy and lay paths that involve significant withdrawal from society or elements thereof. No one's opting out of anything here except a suggested assignment. The perversity on display isn't the idea that reading some work is immoral, although one might note that the Bible passage cited is focused on how a work is processed rather than the work iself. What's concerning is a little bit that this particular work should be read that way, which seems capricious, and a whole lot that as a result of this person's stance the institution has to adjust ever so slightly to his conception of morality, including his feelings of entitlement in having these experiences anticipated by his school and being helped along with what he chooses to engage and with what he doesn't and how.

This is obviously untenable in the broader sense if applied over time; anyone can set these standards anywhere they like. That doesn't make anyone that does so a bad person, but it does make them a less than ideal student. The notion presented that he's having a real exchange of ideas via a trade of a few explanatory sentences about morality with another student whom he describes as some exotic other is so sad it makes my teeth ache. At best, that's 20 minutes of one pretty good night in a dormitory hallway -- in college you ideally grapple with all of history, all of art, all of culture, not to mention the entirety of messy humanity that your fellow students represent, and not in a way that adjusts itself to how you would like that presented to you. That's the best part about college, if you're a believer or if you're not. That and the opportunities to date.

I don't think this person is ready to be a student of much of anything except their own self-regard, and I say this as someone that comes from what sounds like a similar background. It hardly matters; these institutions are paid commercial enterprises and don't really take an idealized educational mission seriously enough to object, let alone take a stand. I'm sad in this case that Bechdel's work should be unfairly impugned by an offhand vision of it from someone that's not even engaged, sad that this student is indulged in a form of intellectual sloth by ultimately being supported in his views on how to proceed, and sad that the community misses out on his input to the broader conversation. I'd rather have a student that struggled to write the op-ed but struggled through the book.
 
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Go, Read: Oliver Ristau And Shawn Starr Interview Alex Degen

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August 25, 2015


Go, Look: Working In Geektown

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Bergen Street Comics Announces Closure For Next Month

imageThe excellent comic book shop Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn has announced its closure via a post on its web site from Tom Adams, speaking on behalf of himself and Amy Adams. They promise a proper launch for Bergen Street Comics Press and a closing date sometime next month. The post says that the store has been open six years.

I think this will be more and more common in the future as a lot of people do a variety of jobs over their professional lives -- not just by choice, although there's some of that with certain folks, but also because of economic choices at different stages of lives and, as always, the changing retail landscape. I am in awe of anyone who does that job for one year, let alone six or more. I wish all involved with that store the best of luck in the future. It has and will be -- for the next month -- one of the good ones.
 
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If I Were Near Manhattan Beach, I’d Go To This

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Go, Look: Joe Maneely Drawing Humor Pages

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Michael Buntag on Girl In Dior. Benito Cereno on Krazy Kat.

* here's an interesting piece by Rob Salkowitz on nostalgia as a way of discerning differences between two general ages of fandom. I think he's onto something with a lot of it. I might caution against characterizing knowledge of history as a purely an outcome of a nostalgic point of view. I think there have been plenty of scholars and general students of the medium that always distrusted nostalgia and are as equally likely as any group operating today to have wanted to indict nostalgia's blind adherents. I'm also not sure just personally I ever felt entitled for a turn at the spearpoint of comics culture. There are a lot of funs things to think about in there, though, agree with them or not.

* makes sense there would be a company like this, although I never thought a publisher would be that open about it.

* not sure how this cover ended up in my bookmarks, but I like all of the pink.

* Bully calls bad taste not once but twice on the use of the Vietnam names wall as a visual element on a comic book cover.

* Dave Richards talks to Rick Remender. Meagan Damore talks to James Robinson. Steve Foxe talks to Jon Goldwater.

* the business news and analysis site ICv2.com has an update on goings-on with ComicsPRO, including an initiative called Local Comic Shop Day.

* finally, a Doctor Strange hero history from the writer Ben McCool seems appropriate with the Marvel movie version starting to film soon.
 
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Go, Listen: Talking About Stan Sakai On Deconstructing Comics

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Roz Chast On This Year’s Thurber Prize Short List

imageThe cartoonist Roz Chast has made this year's finalist list for the Thurber Prize For American Humor, it was announced yesterday. The longtime New Yorker mainstay was cited for her awards-accruing juggernaut memoir Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? She is joined by Annabelle Gurwitch and Julie Schumacher on this year's short list, who were named for a book of essays and a book-length satirical work written in letter form, respectively.

The article makes the point that these are all women finalists, an achievement in itself with an obvious outcome ahead that the award this year has to go to a woman. The linked-to piece further points out all three women are over 50 years old. I guess there's been some discussion in wider pop culture circles about whether women can be funny and stay funny, which sounds so shit-stupid it's amazing that anyone that would think either one of those things could form words. But there you go.

Cartoonists haven't been super well-represented by the Thurber Prize, either, which is odd in that cartoonists are funny and Thurber was a funny cartoonist himself. Liza Donnelly was a finalist last year. Let's hope for progression on a number of fronts. For now, let's congratulate all three finalists including the remarkable Chast.
 
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Go, Look: Change

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By Request Extra: Mike Dawson Launches A Crowd-Funder

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Totally missed this yesterday: Mike Dawson has launched a crowd-funder on behalf of a collection of his recent, well-received cartoon essays. This includes the title-essay, "Rules For Dating My Daughter."

Dawson is meditative cartoonist in terms of his dealing with the publishing industries that surround comics, so if nothing else we can expect to hear his thoughts on crowd-funding sometime later, when the project is well in the rearview window. Until then, you have a chance to get on board with this specific project.
 
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Go, Bookmark: Carnet D’Aventures (Translated)

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August 24, 2015


By Request Extra: Dylan Horrocks And The Monster Manual 2

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The cartoonist Dylan Horrocks has revived one of my favorite commission stunts of the last several years. The artist, who has a long-professed interest in tabletop roleplaying games, will draw monsters from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons book Monster Manual. That's one of the more amusing offers out there, the price is reasonable, and Horrocks' visuals are a blast. I have no idea if this is tied into a specific need but it's certainly tied into a specific set of things that amuse me.
 
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OTBP: Continuing The Weaver Festival Phenomenon

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* over at Diversity In YA, Jen Wang and First Second announce 2016's The Prince And The Dressmaker, with a look at some art.

image* the small-press publishing house Sparkplug Comic Books will debut Ebin Lee's A Wretch Like Me: Sad/Black/Ugly/Queer at this year's Short Run in late October. It is described and images are shown through that link. I'm always happy to see people debut work at something other than the top five shows.

* the very talented Roman Muradov writes about future projects on the occasion of his most recent work becoming Ignatz-nominated.

* this looks like it could be a lot of fun: King Features Syndicate has announced it will celebrate its 75th anniversary by making a 16-page broadsheet stand-alone that can be inserted into newspapers. That should be fun to see.

* Sunday Press Books provides a look at some of the pages that will be assembled into glorious White Boy books by mid-Fall.

* Leah Hayes was in Columbus yesterday evening and told the audience at Kafe Kerouac that her Not Funny Ha Ha had sold out and would be back on the market with a second printing (and cover tweaks) this October. I would assume there will be another publicity push for the book then, too, to remind us of its return to market. If Hayes is appearing in your town in the next several days you should seek her out and buy one of her tour copies. Looks like the first issue of the comic-book serial version of Hip Hop Family Tree sold out as well. Which I guess means all Fantagraphics titles will be four words now.

* this is a pretty old-fashioned character profile of the "hot new character find of 2015" variety, but it is worth keeping tabs on Marvel and DC as they diversify their hero and primary villain roster to include more characters that young women (or fans in general whose tastes are broud enough) might be interested in reading.

* the legendary Paul Pope gives us an idea as to what's in his Batman: Year 100 hardover out in about eight weeks.

* finally, Peter Bagge will have another collection at Dark Horse starting in February 2016: Founding Fathers Funnies.

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OTBP: Structures 46-56

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Go, Look: Early George Tuska

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Gaffney on Black Bullet: Those Who Would Be Gods. James Whitbrook on Secret Love and Star Wars #8.

* Nicole LaPorte profiles Robert Kirkman. Seth Ferranti talks to Dave Crosland.

* Andrew Weiss writes about experiencing the Direct Market paradigm shift when things started to tip away from the newsstands and into the stores, and then takes us down memory lane with the crossover no one asked for -- well, the first one of those -- Total Eclipse.

* Shaenon Garrity writes on the Lalo Alcaraz to Pixar news. I'm glad for anyone to get work they want to do and don't bother myself with the backgrounds of things like that, but that seems like a pretty fun history to dig into a bit.

* speaking of Garrity, here she is on terrible superheroine names.

* here's an old-fashioned hero history of Monica Rambeau, a character that Marvel hasn't always treated well. She was around when I would buy superhero comics in the 1980s. Like for some reason, I'm pretty sure she's from New Orleans?

* finally, a Jack Kirby anecdote I'm not certain I'd heard before.
 
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Go, Look: PFC Journal

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Festivals Extra: SPACE Names 2016 Dates

imageThe third key show for next Spring's busy early-April convention fell into place this morning when SPACE 2016 announced for April 9 and April 10. This puts them up against Emerald City in Seattle rather than the previous weekend's MoCCA Festival in New York, and considering that there is probably a slight overlap between the two shows east of the Mississippi, this seems a fine choice on their part.

SPACE -- Small Press & Alternative Comics Expo -- is like SPX in that both shows owe their origin to the 1990s Spirits Of Independence tour coordinated by Dave Sim and other self-publishers. It has remained mostly local in focus, but the size and potency of its guest list have swelled in recent years. The show will return to the Northland Performing Arts Center that hosted this year's event and will utilize the same general model.

More information here.
 
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Not Comics: Sam Norkin Gallery

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By Request Extra: Frank Santoro’s Second Round Of Auctions For A Physical Teaching Space Are Up

Frank Santoro has posted a second round of auctions he's running to raise money for a physical teaching space. There's some very nice stuff being offered and I'd like to see what Frank would do with schoolbuilding.
 
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Not Comics: Frank Godwin Illustrations

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August 23, 2015


Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* it's nice to see Steve Hamaker's Plox get to its desired goal without having to go last-minute. There's still time to get on board with that one if you're interested.

* not comics: Kevin Cannon puts in a request you might look at a book he illustrated that's running a crowd-funder now.

* Ryan Sohmer seems to be fairly roaring thorugh his current crowd-funder, although I'm sure all help is appreciated. The Barefoot Gen in schools campaign is moving a bit more slowly, although most projects that shoot over 50 percent with significant time remaining stand a really good chance of being funded.

* two GoFundMe campaigns on which to check: the one in memory of Travis Fristoe aimed towards the family has done very well. The writer James Hudnall is over his initial goal, but there's been a ton of stuff added to his plate since then, including recent news that he'll be losing more of his leg.

* finally, Shaenon Garrity recommends Oath.
 
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Go, Look: Early Iron Fist Splash Pages

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Not Comics: Pair Arrested At Pokemon World Championships

Brigid Alverson has a thorough report over at Robot 6 and a pair of men arrested at the Pokemon World Championships in Boston with a shotgun, an assaul rifle, tons of ammo for both guns and a hunting knife. The two men were turned in by those who caught them blithely talking about being some sort of threat to the show.

While it's unknown what if anything the pair had planned for the weekend event, it certainly run a chill up the spine of frequent con-goers and festival attendees, for whom this kind of scenario taken to fruition has always lurked as a possibility at some point. Let's hope that gets pushed back all the way to never. This is also a fine time to remind that aberrant on-line behavior can have a real-world counterpart, so if you're made uncomfortable by something it's usually good to report it.
 
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Go, Look: Robert Crumb 1961 Sketchbook Comic

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Ms. Marvel Vol. 1 Wins Graphic Story Hugo

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I imagine there might be more authoritative columns up by now, but I first read the results from a strange year at the science-fiction oriented Hugo Awards yesterday here. I've since read this much longer background piece here.

The first volume collecting stories from Marvel's 2014-launching Ms. Marvel series won its category; that's a very nice win for that book.

Here are the results:

Best Novel
The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu (Tor)

Best Novella
No Award Given

Best Novelette
"The Day the World Turned Upside Down," Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Lightspeed 4/14)

Best Short Story
No Award Given

Best Dramatic Presentation -- Long
Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Dramatic Presentation -- Short
Orphan Black: "By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried"

Best Related Work
No Award Given

Best Graphic Story
Ms. Marvel Volume One: No Normal: G. Willow Wilson; art by Adrian Alphona & Jake Wyatt (Marvel Comics)

Best Professional Editor Long Form
No Award Given

Best Professional Editor Short Form
No Award Given

Best Professional Artist
Julie Dillon

Best Semi-pro zine
Lightspeed

Best Fanzine
Journey Planet

Best Fancast
Galactic Suburbia Podcast

Best Fan Writer
Laura J. Mixon

Best Fan Artist
Elizabeth Leggett

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Wesley Chu

*****

The no-awards given categories appear to be the final outcome -- at least this year -- for a push and subsequent pushback for voting along lines of political ideology. As far as I know, the awards hasn't announced a process by which their awards won't be messed with in that fashion at the nominations stage and into the final voting in subsequent years, and it seems to me to behoove them to come up with something structural if they can. They strike me as a creative bunch, too.

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

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

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Go, Look: This Magazine Is Haunted #12

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Todd Klein on Justice League #42. Henry Chamberlain on Locomotive/Ideolo.

* hey, cool, Superman exists.

* because he had some queries, Mike Lynch drives readers towards a petition on the Ted Rall/LA Times disgreement.

* Daniel Clowes draws the Archie gang.

* here's a preview of the big Jack Kirby show in southern California. Here is this site's conversation yesterday about that show with Charles Hatfield.

* this is lovely work.

* writers Van Jensen and Jeff Parker talk about making comics. I got a good dozen people suggesting I link to that one, which is a really high number in these days of self-contained social media-driven Internet activity.

* J. Caleb Mozzocco talks to Jillian Tamaki.

* look at all the happy Supermen. All about Superman today.

* here's a glimpse at some work from Jeff Zenick.

* finally, Mike Lynch presents some 2015 sketches.
 
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August 22, 2015


CR Sunday Interview: Charles Hatfield

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*****

imageI've known Charles Hatfield for a little over 20 years, starting when he as a prolific writer for The Comics Journal while still a student at the University of Connecticut. Hatfield was part of a new breed of academic that bridged the gap between academic writing about comics and popular for fan and paid sources. I always enjoy when I get to read new writing from Hatfield, now firmly ensconced at the California State University at Northridge, at roughly the midpoint of his professional career. He is also a significant driving force and first president of the newly-formed Comic Studies Society.

Hatfield won the first academically-oriented, book-about-comics Eisner Award for his 2011 work on Jack Kirby: Hand Of Fire. I greatly enjoyed many of the essays in that book. I was pleased to hear he was organizing an art show featuring Kirby's work, Comic Book Apocalypse. It opens this week. I stood outside his home holding a boom box over my head playing the Merry Marvel Marching Society song until he agreed to do this interview. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

TOM SPURGEON: Charles, let me ask you the basic question: where did this exhibit come from in practical terms, and how did you get involved?

CHARLES HATFIELD: The show came about when I wised up and stopped ignoring our splendid Art Galleries on campus!

To be precise, it came about when I met CSU Northridge's Gallery Director, Jim Sweeters, who's always on the lookout for interested faculty who might want to curate a show. As soon as I met Jim, about five years back, he started talking to me about doing a comics show. It wouldn't have happened without his interest and invitation. And patience!

CSUN has terrific resources that sadly get ignored much of the time. Everyone -- students, faculty, everybody -- is so busy rushing around, commuting to and from classes, trying to make the most out of their schedules -- to cram in as much official activity as they can, I mean. As a result, great campus stuff like concerts, recitals, plays, exhibits -- all that can get missed. I was guilty of that when it comes to our Galleries. I was hived off in my own little world, even though my English classes often pulled in Art students and even though years ago I had vaguely pitched the idea of team-teaching a comics class with a studio instructor in the Art Department (an idea I'd still like to pursue).

What happened to change that was a big Robert Williams exhibition at our Main Gallery, along with Williams himself giving a lecture. That got me to the north end of campus (what, a five-minute walk from my office?). The Williams show was incredible, and that's where and how I met Jim. March 10, 2010. Then, five days later, I ran into Jim again at Pasadena City College, where Gary Panter was doing a weeklong residency and a gallery show (the PCC Gallery is curated by my colleague Brian Tucker1). Serendipity! From that time on we were talking seriously about doing a comic art show.

I waffled for a while about what theme to do -- young California artists? Fantasy comics? Something on Los Angeles's place in comic book history? None of these notions took root, and in the wake of Hand of Fire coming out at the end of 2011, I allowed myself to realize, "What the hell, what I really want to do is a pure Kirby show."

For about three years, we've been working in earnest to pull this off. Again, the germ of it came simply from Jim Sweeters saying to me, "Hey, how about a comics show?"

SPURGEON: Can you walk me through one or two vital decisions you made along your curatorial path?

HATFIELD: There are decisions, and then there are decisions. What I mean is, some decisions that stick, and guide you from concept to finished show, and some decisions get lost or sacrificed to practical realities along the way.

One decision, made very early, was to delimit the show to late Kirby, starting around 1965 (a great time for Kirby at Marvel, and coincidentally my birth year). That would give us a chunk of Kirby's career that was well represented among collectors -- there's a lot of existing art -- plus familiar to me and to many fans, and tied to Hand of Fire. And that's something we could just about represent in our 3000 square-foot gallery. We knew we could not do justice to the whole half-century-plus span of Jack's career in one show; we had to define it more strictly.

In the end we did include some Kirby originals from the '40s and '50s, and a number of published comics from those days, so as to give everyone an overview of Kirby's career -- because it was important to me that newcomers understand what a comic book legend Jack was. Even if he had never touched a board again after 1960, he'd be one of the legendary comic book pioneers, and I wanted to get that across. But we're still focusing on the 60s to mid-80s, with the bulk of the show representing the 70s -- something I settled on early.

Another decision was to get published comic books into the show alongside the originals. I always wanted the history and public life of the work, so to speak, to be represented bu pulpy comic books, as originally published, even if they had to be under glass.

SPURGEON: Why published comics and original art? I'm seeing more published works in gallery exhibits, and I wonder how you use them in your show.

HATFIELD: I've seen gallery shows of comic art where the final, published artifacts played little or no part. Huh? That doesn't make sense to me. I think that comic book and comic strip exhibits should take a cue from the kinds of varied display you see in, say, rare books libraries or even history museums. Displays that deal with process, material history, the life of the works. As ravishing as seeing the original art boards is, I sympathize with the view that, in comics, what matters most is their printed form.

What we've done with the published comics is simple: we've put them in display cases near relevant original boards. In most instances we just let the covers show. In a few instances we've opened the books up, delicately. We've also placed a few original boards in the cases, to juxtapose different looks. I approached this aspect of the show as a teacher. One purpose is to remind viewers of the many genres and titles Jack worked in -- to convey the variety and abundance of his work, beyond what we can hang on the walls. Another purpose is to summon up that whiff of comic books as Americana, as bits of American history. They are such evocative objects.

imageWe have several display cases of comic books in the show. Two are big. One of the big ones takes in a lot of early to mid Kirby, including the Simon & Kirby era: stuff from the '40s and '50s, and then on into early '60s Marvel. We have some great loaners there, from the first issue of Young Romance (1947) to stuff from Mainline, Simon and Kirby's self-publishing venture circa 1954. The other big case covers the period that the exhibition is really devoted to, '60s to '80s work.

On a practical level, comic books add color, and adding color to a show that consists mostly of black-and-white boards is a good thing. It enlivens the space. Jim has helped me think through this issue of color, and how to add variety and spice to a show necessarily built around boards that, from a distance, if you squint, all look similar. You have to get close to the boards to appreciate their differences, their nuances. But splashes of color and some large, mural-size images can act as eye magnets, drawing people to the boards.

SPURGEON: Given that Kirby lost control of much of his original work, is there a concern putting together a show like this one about the provenance of the art with which you're dealing?

HATFIELD: Yes. This is always a concern. There's a basic ethical ambiguity when it comes to dealing with the work of an artist who, in essence, was robbed again and again. This ambiguity is constitutive -- you can't get away from it. What you can do, and what I've tried to do, is deal with reputable collectors and people who had personal dealings with the Kirby family. Or artwork where the ownership history is not a mystery. Cases that have been exposed to daylight. I confess, I'm not an expert in the provenance of the physical works, but I've tried to work with people who are. Fortunately I've had guides -- my Virgils in the world of original comic art collecting, people who have helped me find my way around. My colleague Ben Saunders, who is co-editing the exhibition catalog and is an experienced curator, helped me a lot. Collectors like Glen David Gold and Tom Kraft have shared images with me, and "process" stories, and pointed me to collectors they knew and trusted.

Since much of the work in our show hails from later, post-60s Kirby comics, the provenance issue is not as difficult as it might be. But I've always tried to work with people who are known for what they do and who know where the works came from.

SPURGEON: Talk to me about the choice to feature two complete stories. How did that come about, and what are you hoping people take away from that part of your presentation as opposed to comics art more generally?

HATFIELD: Two complete stories! Such madness. One of these stories, a Thor, represents late-60s Marvel. The other, a Kamandi, represents early-70s DC. The idea was to give people a sustained dose of Kirby in the Marvel era, with Stan Lee's dialogue versus Jack's handwritten margin notes, then another in the 70s era where the books were "edited, written, and drawn" by Kirby. I wanted to create a deep, readable experience, for those viewers -- probably a minority -- who would care to focus on one story for a good while.

One thing I've wanted from the start -- and it proved a challenge to do, frankly -- is emphasize the readability of these works. Originally we'd hoped to put some of the sequential originals under plexi, on slanted boards at a comfortable sitting height, a move inspired by Modern Cartoonist, the Dan Clowes exhibition that started at the Oakland Museum in 2013. There would have been stools, to invite people to sit and absorb the stories at leisure. But this proved impossible for us, given our scope, space, and time frame. (That's one of the decisions that get lost along the way that I alluded to.) But I still wanted to do a couple of complete stories, just to underline that what Kirby was doing was narrative drawing.

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SPURGEON: You mention the collage work… I know many people love the collages, but do you find them central to what Kirby was doing or a sideshow aspect to the main thrust of his work during that period?

HATFIELD: Central! We have five original collages in the show, including the classic "Negative Zone" splash of Fantastic Four #51, the big spread from the climax of The Hunger Dogs -- the last new collage published in Kirby's lifetime, I think -- and a never-before published one. I've learned (and this is incredible to me) that Kirby kept up collage as an artistic pastime or avocation apart from his already insane workload for comic books. He did collages for relaxation, or for the simple pleasure of making new images out of fragments of old. He had a morgue file of photos and clippings at home that he pillaged in order to make collages. He made a number of them as gifts for family.

I think this tells us something about Kirby's restless creativity, and about the recombinant nature of that creativity. (What is Kamandi if not a collage of borrowed ideas, fragments, cultural clippings?) His ability and drive to recombine old things into new things -- you could say that collages are a metaphor for his whole storytelling practice. Plus, the collages are just plain visually cool: Kirby's own brand of Surrealist appopriation, of détournement and trouble-making.

The collages may really turn people's heads. A CSUN painting teacher came through the Gallery yesterday and I showed him around the show (which is almost but not quite done). He teaches abstract painting, and was wild for the abstract qualities in, for example, some Devil Dinosaur spreads we have. Interestingly, the collages wowed him -- and he remarked that Kirby's visual language for both drawing and collage is the same. Kirby "must have lived inside this world in his head all the time," he said. I think that's exactly right.

Our catalog includes a wonderful essay by Scott Bukatman on the collages, and our in-gallery panel discussion on Sept. 26 is sure to touch on them, because it will include both Scott and the great L.A. artist Steve Roden, who loves them. I think they're going to be a very special part of the show.

SPURGEON: What older material did you feel was important to get into this show? What material from later on? ls there anything that you most regret not getting?

HATFIELD: While searching out Kirby work from the mid-60s on -- the focus of the show -- I lucked into contact with, or was referred to, collectors who had earlier pages. Choosing that older work was a matter of jumping at opportunities; certain collectors were very willing to lend. We tried to tap what we could tap locally, from here in L.A. (though some of the earliest material ended up coming from farther away). The main thing was to get a variety of Jack's work without asking for many early pieces. I wanted several genres to be represented, and we were lucky to get that. Given the show's focus on later Kirby, with so much superhero, SF, and myth fantasy work, I wanted to make sure that romance and other genres at least had a toehold in the show, something to introduce viewers to that larger history.

As for later work, of course there are splendid examples of late Kirby -- for me, iconic, essential Kirby -- that we were not able to borrow (insert self-pitying Charlie Brown-like sigh here). Personally, I'd like to have more Eternals, more Black Panther. More of Kirby's color work. More unpublished drawings. Those things would help me tell stories about Kirby that I'm eager to tell. But there are always questions of scope and budget that hem in what you can do, and what you can get. Some collectors who have key images and issues were not able to lend. This time. I hope and believe that a major museum retrospective of Kirby will come, and soon, and will be able to draw in those collectors and those works. Us, we're just putting on what I believe to be the largest Kirby exhibition yet seen in this country -- and the first at a university. That's alright.

imageSPURGEON: What kind of work are your students doing based on the exhibit, and does that become part of the exhibit?

HATFIELD: I'm shaping up my Fall semester syllabi even now -- yow, I haven't much time -- so I have to be a bit tentative here. The jello is still setting. But I know that I'll be teaching three classes this semester, two on comics strictly, and the third on cultural studies methods and debates, a course that we call "Studies in Popular Culture." The exhibition is relevant to both courses.

I plan to bring my classes into the Gallery itself on several occasions, and to use Kirby's art to prompt visual analyses, historical research, and critical discussions. Some of the projects I've done in past semesters I plan to rejigger for Kirby: for example, the comics class usually does a tracing project, which requires the students to literally trace, then comment on, pages from a comic (an idea taken from Prof. Mark Sample, now at Davidson College, formerly of George Mason). I also plan to have students research particular pieces from the show, dig up as much info about them as possible (using tools like the Grand Comics Database), and place them in historical and genre contexts. And we'll use Kirby as the basis of the formal exercises that we usually do early in the term. Finally, their research project will have to work with Kirby and his influence and/or questions surrounding the exhibition of original comic art in galleries and museums. Along the way, I'll give students a range of Kirby comics for critical analysis, from the '40s to the '80s (from Young Romance to '60s Marvel to The New Gods to "Street Code").

What this means for the comics course is a drastically different design from recent iterations. We'll work through the Kirby, and through comic book history and the superhero tradition, toward newer stuff near the end: recent superhero tales like Hellboy, Ms. Marvel, and The Shadow Hero, and other kinds of fantasy comics, by creators like Jesse Jacobs or Edie Fake. Not my usual overview of the comics field, which tends to have Spiegelman, Nakazawa, Lynda Barry, Schulz, etc., but a new angle instead. As for the Studies in Popular Culture class, I'm planning to have them doing Gallery visits and visual analyses as well, but we'll also look at superhero culture spinning out from comics, including movies (and questions of adaptation), fandom, cosplay, etc. I'm planning to talk about the Marvel movie phenomenon, using Liam Burke's new study, The Comic Book Film Adaptation and so forth.

I've invited many of my CSUN colleagues to consider how to use the exhibition in their own teaching, particularly those faculty in the General Education Path called "Arts, Media, and Culture." And a group of colleagues and I are planning both a series of comics-related film screenings this fall and a student conference on comics next spring that will build on this work. This is all part of a larger, ongoing initiative I'm leading called Comics@CSUN.

SPURGEON: Have you heard from the family at all on this project? Do you expect to? Have you heard from peers or friends of the late artist?

HATFIELD: Yes. I've been in touch with the Kirby Estate from early on, and I've kept them informed of the project. They've been supportive and encouraging, and we expect that many members of Jack's family will be able to see the show. We are sure that some of them will. All along, I've wanted the family to feel included in this project to the extent that they would like to be. Family was the driver for Jack's work, and everything he did was about that, so I've always wanted to honor his family as best I could. That's always been important to me.

Also, we've heard from a number of friends and coworkers of Jack's, some of whom have been able to lend things to the show, and some of whom have just expressed enthusiastic support or asked if we need anything! That's been nice. I wish I'd known some of these folks earlier!

SPURGEON: Talk to me about the catalog. Who's in there, and what was your aim in putting it together. There are certainly plenty of people out there that love talking about Kirby -- probably enough to put together a second catalog -- but what does this set of essays collectively indicate about the art form's relationship with that great artist?

HATFIELD: The catalog is a monster: 20 essays on Kirby, most of them short and punchy, interleaved with more than a hundred images, most shot from original art. It's a joint publishing venture between the CSUN Art Galleries and IDW, under Scott Dunbier's eye and with design by Randall Dahlk, who designed IDW's incredible Kirby Artist's Editions. It's in production even now.

The contributors: Mark Badger, Scott Bukatman, Howard Chaykin, Brian Cremins, Ramzi Fawaz, Craig Fischer, Glen David Gold, Doug Harvey, Adam McGovern, Carla Speed McNeil, Andrei Molotiu, Dan Nadel, Adilifu Nama, Ann Nocenti, Tony Puryear, James Romberger, Diana Schutz, and co-editor Ben Saunders and myself. We've worked for diversity in outlook, voice, and interest; for a mix of scholars', fans', and creators' voices. From academic analyses -- for example Bukatman on collage, or Molotiu on the composition of a signature image -- to appreciations by fellow artists like Chaykin and Puryear, we've got a good and crazy range. That right there tells you something the field's relationship with Kirby -- so many people have bright and passionate things to say about him.

imageTo have Doug Harvey and Dan Nadel in this one book, to have Diana Schutz writing on Kirby and romance, to have Mark Badger writing about his "Daily Kirby" devotional practice, wow, that's so much good fortune for us. Glen Gold's essay on Kirby's wartime experience will be essential reading for Kirby scholars, I think. And Ramzi Fawaz has given us an unexpected queer reading of The Fantastic Four. In other words, the book will be diverse.

I put the book together with my colleague and friend Ben Saunders. Of course one of our goals was to commemorate and deepen the exhibition experience, for those who get to see the show firsthand, but we also wanted to create something more: what we call a "catalog-plus" or companion book of lasting value. The idea is to do deep analysis of Kirby that allows lively voices and personal quirks to come through -- to model a kind of scholarship that preserves individuality and acknowledges how deeply Kirby hits us, as fans, readers, thinkers, makers. We wanted this book to be personal and at the same time solid, documented, smart stuff.

SPURGEON: Tell me something you learned or at least had reinforced working with Kirby's material this way. How much of your relationship to Kirby is still being defined.

HATFIELD: To be around so much Kirby work, and to handle it, is like a dream. It's dizzying, really. Coming back to the collages for a moment, seeing the fragility of those pieces in person, and seeing the marks of history on them -- the fact that some elements are so small and frail, or that glue leaves its traces decades after, that to me was poignant. Also, seeing up close the difference in scale between pre-1968 and later comic book originals was a revelation: it enabled me to think about the physical process of drawing, and how Kirby and his peers had to adjust to production demands that they often had no control over. To see just how much the work I love was shaped by practical and contingent factors -- that's so revealing that it's almost disconcerting. More than anything, though, the sheer physical encounter between Kirby and the boards, and of course the physical handiwork of his inkers and letterers, too, that's hit me powerfully with this show.

There are telltale differences among the boards -- for example, the difference between a pristine Ayers-inked Rawhide Kid page from 1963 and the more, er, manhandled, Colletta-inked, note-covered Thor pages of 1968. There are stories in the boards, like the curious chopping-down of the opening splash in New Gods #1 for publication, as opposed to the version you'll see in the show.

Mostly, I'm left with a sense of awe and gratitude that Kirby's work managed to make it through difficult production processes and reach readers like me. Also, with a sense of the physical continuity between, say, a Kirby war or romance page of the mid-50s and what he was doing on the Fourth World books or Kamandi nearly 20 years later.

I also learned something about keeping my own ideas in check. I had elaborate notions and theses that I wanted to present through the show, but, really, for the most part my ideas have had to yield to the reality of moving artworks around in a space and making an inviting experience for others. That makes curating very different from the sort of monastic effort that Hand of Fire required. To choose works based on certain thematic ideas, but then let the works speak more loudly that the ideas when you finally hang it -- that's the trick.

SPURGEON: What do you think the average pop-culture consumer should take away in terms of knowing about Kirby and his legacy?

HATFIELD: That Kirby was one of 20th century America's gutsiest, strangest, and yet most influential graphic artists and visual storytellers. That the familiar things of pop culture today -- the Marvel movies, and all that -- came from a drawing board, and from a man working his damnedest to earn a living for himself and his family. That Marvel was just part of Kirby's amazing career story. That Kirby not only designed Marvel but took comic books a step further, toward a quirky and wonderful way of representing mythology through superhero conventions and SF. That he was a nonstop idea generator. That he dreamed of past and future, of new worlds and new gods, and did so in an ecstatic graphic style that distilled everything wild, unrepentant, and delightfully crazy about American comic books. And I'd like them to know a bit more about how comic books got made, how Kirby's handiwork got translated into finished books, and some of the other artists who worked with Kirby and helped finish his pages.

imageSPURGEON: Let me switch gears a bit and slip into my newsmans's hat. You and Susan Kirtley and some others are organizing some of the comics scholars into a new group. Can I ask after that group? How are things going?

HATFIELD: Thanks for asking! The Comics Studies Society will be the US's first professional association for comics scholars that runs on members' dues and does the things that a learned society traditionally does: support teaching and scholarship, advocate, build institutional resources, help scholars with career development and networking, recognize outstanding research, and so on. You'll remember that we founded CSS in 2014 at the ICAF, the International Comic Arts Forum, at the Ohio State, where a roomful of people voted in our bylaws and our first executive board. I'm the interim President of that board, serving these first few years to help get CSS from provisional to permanent, working status. Susan is serving on the board, too, and nine other scholars: José Alaniz, Corey Creekmur, Brian Cremins, Jared Gardner, Dave (A. David) Lewis, Ben Owen, Nhora Serrano, Rebecca Wanzo, and Qianna Whitted. Also, the CSS Graduate Student Caucus, which is vitally important, has established its own bylaws and currently has five officers, including Ben, who is GSC President, and Colin Beineke, Elizabeth Nijdam, Theresa Rojas, and Alison Sagara.

For at least our first couple of years, CSS is partnering with ICAF for our conference activity. ICAF has been around for 20 years and has a strong academic reputation, so it makes sense to start there. We're exploring the possibility of continuing with ICAF over the long term. We're exploring quite a few other things too, including the proper format and publisher for the Society's journal -- and the other benefits that we can offer our members.

At the moment, we are incorporating, and soon we'll be seeking 501© tax-exempt status. The organizational and paper work required is taking some time. We expect to launch our first membership drive very soon, and then to hold our second round of elections. (We haven't accepted any dues from any members yet, so you could say we're still at a formative stage.)

CSS recently sponsored a panel at the Illustration, Comics, and Animation Conference at Dartmouth College, and we're on the lookout for other opportunities to sponsor events and spread the word. So things are moving. By the end of this coming school year, CSS will have a much more active public presence.

SPURGEON: There is a big Jack Kirby anniversary coming up soon, and he always seems relevant considering the state of Marvel Comics as a blackbuster-movie factor and licensing hub… What's left for us to discover with Jack Kirby?

HATFIELD: By rights the Kirby Centennial, 2017, should be a big deal. I'm in conversation with a number of folks who are determined to see that it is. Public awareness is starting to tilt toward Kirby -- teaching, exhibitions, art books, scholarship are all parts of making that happen -- and of course the brave, grassroots Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center deserves thunderous applause for continuing to encourage the study of Kirby (they were enormously helpful with Comic Book Apocalypse). I believe that by 2017 there will be a rather different public conversation happening about Jack.

As for what's left to discover, the sheer density and texture of Kirby's work, and life, continue to surprise me, and I've been at this for a good while. The depth of the record Kirby left us, the relevance of his work on so many fronts, and, best of all, the continuing power of the art itself -- these things call for further and deeper study. Deeper digging, and thinking. I'm waiting for Mark Evanier's promised epic biography, years in the making -- and I expect that even then we won't stop being interested in Kirby's mind, his work life, his times, and the pressures he endured. For instance, a study across the decades of Kirby's depictions of war, or of gender, or of race, or of children, could yield great insights. Study of Kirby's work process and how it shifted, from the Simon & Kirby Studio, through the Marvel Method, to his later solo work -- we need more of that. Study of the tug-of-war between narrative and pure graphiation in Kirby's work -- study that does more with Jack's private drawings, paintings, and collages -- I'd like to see that too. Fuller study of the romance genre, where Kirby was so prolific for so long. Study of how Kirby's SF, born of the pulp era, responds to the dystopian 70s and beyond. I took away a lot of unexpected insights from the experience of working with the original art and co-editing the exhibition catalog -- and I know I want to spend the rest of my working life trying to get more of those. This well has no bottom.

*****

* Comic Book Apocalypse
* Comic Studies Society
* PR PDF For New Exhibit: CBA_exhibition_press_release,_5_June_2015.pdf

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* poster image for the exhibit
* photo provided by Hatfield
* Young Romance #1
* collage piece
* from "Street Code"
* from Mark Badger's "Daily Kirby" devotional
* Comic Studies Society logo
* collage from Hunger Dogs (below)

*****

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Go, Look: A Crusaders Adventure

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If I Were In Chicago, I’d Go To This

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FFF Results Post #427—Half And Half

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Superheroes Where You Like Either The Superhero Persona Or The Secret Identity But Not Both." This is how they responded.

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Love puny Bruce Banner; hate The Hulk
2. Love Ma Hunkel; hate The Red Tornado
3. Love Captain Marvel; hate Billy Batson
4. Love Orion; hate O'Ryan
5. Love Bizarro Superman #1; hate Bizarro Clark Kent (or do I? The mind reels)

PS -- Fannee Doolee hates the Reverse Flash, but Loves Professor Zoom (perhaps you are too young for this crucial '70's cultural reference)

*****

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Philippe Leblanc

1. Love Moira MacTaggert; Hate Hypernova
2. Love Reed Richards; Hate Mr. Fantastic
3. Love Moon Knight; Hate Marc Spector
4. Love Scarlet Witch; Hate Wanda Maximoff
5. Love Johnny 23; Hate Doug

*****

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Jamie Coville

1. Love Herbie Popnecker; Hate Fat Fury
2. Love Thor; Hate Donald Blake
3. Love Havok; Hate Alex Summers
4. Love Clint Barton; Hate Goliath
5. Love Robert Baldwin; Hate Penance

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Thorn; don't like Rhosyn Lynne Forrest that much.
2. Supergirl; more love for Kara than for her alter ego.
3. Elastic Lad; not a friend of Jimmy Olsen.
4. Human Torch; deeply annoyed by Johnny Storm.
5. The Spectre; but never Hal Jordan.

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Love Green Arrow; Hate Oliver Queen
2. Love Tommy Troy; Hate The Fly
3. Love Captain Marvel; Hate Billy Batson
4. Love Carrie Kelly; Hate Robin
5. Love Thor; Hate Dr Donald Blake

*****

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John Platt

1. Love The Phantom; Hate Kit Walker, Jr.
2. Love The Question; Hate Vic Stone
3. Love Black Canary; Hate Dinah Lance
4. Love Nova Kane; Hate Nova
5. Love Martian Manhunter; Hate John Jones

*****

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Chris Arrant

1. Love Janet Van Dyne; Hate the Wasp
2. Love Grover; Hate Super Grover
3. Love Spider-Gwen; Hate Gwen Stacy
4. Love Iron Fist; Hate Danny Rand
5. Love Ben Grimm; Hate the Thing

****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Love Wildcat; Hate Ted Grant
2. Love Flash Thompson; Hate Agent Venom
3. Love Green Lantern; Hate Hal Jordan
4. Love Hank Pym; Hate Yellowjacket
5. Love Archie Andrews; Hate Pureheart The Powerful

*****
*****
 
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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Space Dumplins Trailer


Cartoonist Is The New Movie Job


1990s Local News Report On Carolina Comics-Makers


Stan Lee On Shared Credits In 2007


Jordan Shiveley Profiled As Sous Chef
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from August 15 to August 21, 2015:

1. Some incoming Duke students opt out of reading suggested book Fun Home, thinking the refusal to engage is a moral stand.

2. The LA Times responds at length to public accusations asserted in their direction by former Times freelancer Ted Rall.

3. MoCCA names its 2016 dates, sort of setting up the rest of the Spring con schedule to do so.

Winners Of The Week
MoCCA, able to find a new space in line with a choice they made last year that was immediately off the table because of living-space development.

Losers Of The Week
Fort Wayne comics fans.

Quote Of The Week
"Even though he had earned the devotion of groups as disparate as academics, disaffected youths, theologians, and middle-aged suburbanites, [Charles] Schulz shied away from lofty pronouncements about his work. He claimed not to know what was meant by 'existentialism' -- a term frequently affixed to Peanuts -- and he played down Lucy's psychiatric booth as a mere parody of a child's lemonade stand. His Midwestern sensibility carried with it an innate aversion to anything pretentious or elitist." -- Luke Epplin

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the comic image selected is from the brief but notable 1970s run of Seaboard/Atlas

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August 21, 2015


Go, Look: You Say Latino

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Go, Look: A Hero A Day

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If I Were In Columbus, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Seattle, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In London, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Chicago, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Chicago, I’d Go To This

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Go, Look: Jean-Claude Gal

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August 20, 2015


Incoming Duke Students Object To And Decline Reading Fun Home

Here. I'm all for people making moral choices, but the idea that engaging with art that has depictions or ideas with which you might not agree is some sort of endorsement that necessitates a moral stand is such a sad sign of full indoctrination into consumerist ideology I don't even know what to say. These kids aren't standing by their convictions vis-a-vis the material; they're standing down.

I hope that the students that are declining to do that which a college education best provides -- exposure in a variety of ways to material, people and ideas that don't align with your specific worldview -- find a way to do so at some point; it's the most valuable experience I had as a young thinker and the most crucial I had as a young believer. I don't understand a school that lets students avoid the core of what a school does, and I say that without malice towards those that make this kind of blinkered choice. You can go not be challenged or engaged in all sorts of wonderful communities; just maybe not an academic one.
 
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Go, Look: Audry Comix

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I think we all know this is probably the worst column on the site, but I'm keeping it going because at some point I want to have a firmer sense of how I read and process webcomics. Like it's a wonderful thing to have 107 pages of Drew Weing up where I can read them during a bored day at work, and it's nice to know with comiXology that if a comic ever blows up on the retail level -- like Captain America getting shot -- I can get my hands on that comic in some form. But I'm not sure those things and the other reasons I read webcomics have found their proper place in the context of my wider comics reading and I'm not sure why. So this continues.

* Ivan Salazar sent out a piece of comiXology PR that states that they've renewed and expanded their distribution arrangement with Fantagraphics. Here's the PW story. This include the venerable alt-publisher's debut with the Kindle Store at about the size of 300 books making their debut. It makes sense to me that everyone be on as many platforms as will flatter the work and take them on, so I see this as a good thing without being able to give you any real analysis on number like 300 books. I guess it's better than 200 books.

* Mey talks to Sarah Graley. Maddie Myers talks to Jackie Gusto.

* finally, I liked these backyard panels in The Last Saturday's most recent installment.

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If I Were In London, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Chicago, I’d Go To This

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Go, Look: Various Red Sonja Covers

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* this is freaking adorable.

image* Sean Gaffney on JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood Vol. 3.

* this is super-nerdy but cool, and I totally missed it: Joann Sfar and Christophe Blain proposed a Corto Maltese story that go to the point they made a couple of pages.

* Sean T. Collins talks to Phoebe Gloeckner. There are a couple of off-hand descriptions in there that are stunning and unforgettable. Also, the idea that focusing on autobiographical elements in a work can be a slight to the craft on display isn't something that occurred to me before.

* not comics: Hip Hop Family Tree in development as an animation series.

* Graeme MacKay chases down a twitter account that was repurposing editorial cartoon work as if it were their own -- in other words, not for satiric effect, but as free, malleable content.

* Ben Marra pays tribute to Yvonne Craig. Gail Simone pays tribune to Yvonne Craig.

* finally, I love how non-buff Jaime Hernandez's Archie Andrews is.
 
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Go, Look: Leslie Stein On Diary Of A Teenage Girl

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Totally Missed It: MoCCA Arts Festival Names 2016 Dates And Place

The MoCCA Arts Festival announced its 2016 dates and venue about ten days ago, it looks like. The dates are April 2-3. The expo will be at Metropolitan West. The panels/presentations will be at Ink48.

imageYou may recall that MoCCA had shifted from an reasonably unpopular old-school armory space and into the hip Center 548 for 2015, only to find that property was going to be developed for residential. This seems in the same vein, and I think it's a smart one for that particular show -- it provides a strong break from the more idiosyncratic Brooklyn spaces and convention centers that host the other NYC shows.

There's a bunch of information in that first link about exhibitor applications, too.

As a great fan of New York City, and the kind of energy that city provides comics, I want as many worthy shows there as possible and hope to attend the 2016 version of MoCCA. Hopefully there will be no conflict with SPACE; Emerald City is the next weekend, but there's very little overlap with art comics east of the Mississippi on that one. In an ideal world, I could do all three, yet I understand all three shows' desire to make use of prime calendar real estate like that.
 
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Go, Look: Nemesis Enforcer: Bad City

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August 19, 2015


LA Times Responds At Length To Ted Rall’s Various Charges Of Unfair Dismissal From Freelance Gig

It's here. The lengthy response gives us our first hint at a timeline. If you're following this story as an Internet back-and-forth -- and God help you -- some issues raised by the Times include but are not limited to a denial that Rall's interpretation of the dialogue means what he says it does, an assertion that his changing story over the years represents a liar's through-line designed to punch up and dramatize a story as opposed to a truth-teller's version complete with different reasons to limit or withhold or modify the truth at various stages, a presentation of their own analysis experts and what they say which in turn is a dig at the credibility of the mostly unnamed Rall group of experts, and a challenge to the assertion that the tape was spliced and/or altered in a direct way. There's other stuff to be sure, including general derision at things like Rall's claim of an immediate and severe case of Stockholm Syndrome to explain the apparent joviality of a final exchange with the officer.

I can't imagine most of that matters. My hunch is that in cases like this one, the Internet doesn't really help people argue towards a truth but nudges them towards a confused state that allows both sides to claim a victory, usually according to predisposed loyalties or strongly-held belief systems.

What's interesting to me about this specific mess as rhetoric is that very little has actually happened. The Times ended its relationship with a freelancer. The freelancer objected publicly and made accusations as to what happened and why. The Times responded but confirmed they were sticking by their initial action. In just three steps we're so far away from direct analysis and/or refutation it makes your teeth hurt.

I'll regain interest to see if there's a lawsuit or some sort of actual progression in the story beyond people exercising predispositions and trumpeting the certainty of what x, y and z really mean. The endorsements have been sort of interesting in that many of them have been strongly solicited without any mention of that fact. Does that matter? I think it might. I'm sure individual people are being honest in what they say, but I bet many are more conflicted than they feel they can risk appearing. The appearance of people leaping to Rall's defense might be another part of the work, which is why it gets mentioned. The AAEC statement is also intriguing because depending on how you view the world you can see that as an endorsement or as a brutally generic statement and one without specific, direct support for a former association officer. Heck, let's start over. I'm intrigued by the notion that the LA Times gave a freelancer such a thorough review before deciding not to use them. I wish that'd been in place at a couple of gigs I lost.

I wonder if we're becoming a world where if you can't win the story you try and win the Internet version of the story and if you can't win that you try to win enough of it to save face and keep going. I also wonder if we're already a world where people parse that last sentence as an indictment of diminishing returns rather than a criticism of "winning." It's both.
 
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Go, Look: The Sheets Were All Be-Bled With The Blood

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The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Shows And Events

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By Tom Spurgeon

* SPX provides a peek at one of its badges for this year's big show. They're going with the multiple-artist strategy again. I don't think I've ever given any thought to the badges except that one weird year the press badges were insulting (and then really only because it was weird), but they usually look nice and my memory is that putting together the images gives SPX one of its gifts for special guests.

* most of my friends in the indie/alt worlds are fixated on SPX right now, although that's still four weeks off. My mainstream comics friends if conversation of anything burbles up on Twitter or wherever it's mostly NYCC. I'm grateful for this down period -- I think it makes that last run of Fall shows more special than they would be with a super-loaded industry-focused late summer and early Fall. That doesn't mean there aren't big shows. Dragon Con is a big show. But a show like that fairly stands alone as opposed to driving the attention of established industry players in the same way a NYCC does.

* SPX has its exhibitor list up.

* I can't tell, but I think this may be the final special guest announcement for SPX. I love it whenever Jessica is around the comics scene as a creator, and I admire the Expo's commitment to editorial cartooning, which is hard-won and well-earned on their part. That's not why Derf and Rall are there this time out in a traditional sense -- they both have big, formidable books out this Fall -- but my hunch is that their alt-weekly past is part of what makes them specifically appealing to that show. I could be wrong!

* finally, the Edinburgh Comic Art Festival has been pushed back to Fall 2016, a big enough push that I wouldn't blame for wondering if it will come off. Then again, they could have just canceled it so the intent to have the show is there. They cite administrative issues with the size of the show and pledge new-year hires will take care of this. These are the same folks that run Glasgow Comic Con, which is schedule for early July in 2016.
 
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If I Were In Sydney, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Chicago, I’d Go To This

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Not Comics: Flash Gordon And Buck Rogers Big-Little Books

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Zainab Akhtar on Fragments Of Horror.

* Elizabeth Harper talks to Steve Hamaker. Lydia Brown talks to Roz Chast.

* ComicsAlliance has a look at the cover for the first in a hoped-for middle-school series by Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock, Compass South. I enjoy Larson's writing; she regularly surprises me in terms of her narrative choices, which can be additionally difficult in all-ages work. The book is due next summer from FSG.

* here's a rare discussion of choices on the page in a mainstream comic, in this case a Star Wars-related one.

* god bless this, which I think is from Andrew Wheeler.

* finally, countryside terror.
 
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Go, Look: Emily M. Hughes

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Go, Look: Modern World Funnies

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Go, Look: Superworld Comics

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August 18, 2015


Go, Look: Fire Water

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This Isn’t A Library: Notable Releases Into Comics’ Direct Market

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*****

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. You never know. I'd sure look at the following, though.

*****

JUN151308 JASON IF YOU STEAL HC $29.99
This strikes me as a fairly standard week, but one very much offering up what weeks at the comic shop look like now in contrast to what they looked like five years ago. That doesn't include our lead-off book, though, because five years ago it seemed like we were getting two book from Jason a year. This is the cartoonist working with his interests in pop culture, although at a slightly more distant and complex remove than usual. I'm glad to have a new book; it seems like it's been a while.

imageJUN150546 ISLAND #2 (MR) $7.99)
JUN150898 YANKEE #1 (MR) $7.95
JUN150897 FEDOR ONE SHOT (MR) $8.00
Something very much right now is the tweener comic book, something sold at about twice the price for a lot more content or, in some cases, a fancier treatment. Island is the Brandon Graham anthology. It seems like the first issue was very well-liked but other than Graham's own contribution, a repeat, I was left kind of cold by the results. Still, I'll give Graham as many chances as he needs because the results are interesting even when they're not for you.

JUN150560 TREES #12 (MR) $2.99
JUN150544 INVINCIBLE #122 $2.99
JUN150540 WOLF #2 (MR) $3.50
JUN150069 BPRD HELL ON EARTH #134 $3.50
JUN150052 GROO FRIENDS AND FOES #8 $3.99
Here are a few standard-sized -- and thus standard-priced -- comic books. Warren Ellis has a twelfth book of Trees done; it seems like the last half dozen have fairely roared to life and into print. Invinicble is playing out a plot line that convention discussions make me think is going to go away soon. I kind of like where that comic is plotline-wise, too. Wolf is one people keep telling me is the new series to watch that doesn't star giant robots. There's your Mignola-verse offering. And we always, always, always buy Aragones.

MAR150785 MS MARVEL HC VOL 01 $34.99
FEB150837 POWERS OMNIBUS HC VOL 01 (MR) $125.00
APR150306 WONDER WOMAN BY GEORGE PEREZ OMNIBUS HC $75.00
Those are three different superhero comics with three different audiences, or at least three potential different tracks through which to find an audience. I'm glad that Perez work is being gathereed together in that particular format; those were some very pretty comics, and that characters doesn't have a significant number of periods in which it has seemed to work.

APR151729 DEFINITIVE BETTY BOOP TP VOL 01 $39.95
I've seen Betty Boop comics here and there, usually in a book of some sort. I'd love to do a more focused reading at some point and it looks like I'll have that chance with this series if I can find it at a price point I like or level up career-wise where that is a level I can consume on a semi-regular basis. I would think a Betty Boop comic might be interesting for how innovations in comics storytelling might have achieved a wide purchase very quickly.

JUN151666 DOROHEDORO GN VOL 16 (MR) $12.99
JUN151671 EMMA HC GN VOL 02 $35.00
Two different kinds of collection -- the Emma is a second go-around, I think, but the two manga volumes that jumped out at me this week. I want them both.

APR151222 GUNNERKRIGG COURT HC VOL 05 REFINE $26.99
I read the first three of these. I was initially put off by the approach to art -- so many dropped backgrounds! -- but it quickly grew on me and made for an accelerated reading experience of a kind that's all too rare in fantasy prose. I don't think it always finds the right pacing as a longer book.

JUN151310 HIP HOP FAMILY TREE #1 $3.99
Ed Piskor is the Great Lord Of Comic Books, and I think this existing at this price point could extend the life of the book.

APR151496 DISNEY ROSA DUCK LIBRARY HC VOL 03 TREASURE UNDER GLASS $29.99
I loved the first two in this series. There's something humble about Don Rosa working with the ducks that you only very rarely get with legacy book starring costumed crusaders. It gives the adventures a kind of genial energy that's hard to beat.

APR150033 NANJING THE BURNING CITY HC $24.99
I'm not familiar with the cartoonist -- whose bio suggests a well-traveled old soul at a young age -- but I know I've seen the work, and there's no better World War II story in terms of the horror and lingering history than that of Nanjing.

*****

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 failed to list your comic, that's because I hate you.

*****

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Go, Look: Michel Fiffe Head Sketches

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Go, Look: Adventures Into Weird Worlds #27

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Gaffney on One Piece Vol. 75.

* always love these hand-painted color guides from the classic Marvel period. It may be even more powerful to see handpainted early strips.

* Dave Lasky would like you to support this small gallery and let him teach you about comics.

* here's a guest comic at Oh Joy Sex Toy from Sicklyhypnos on the subject of water sports.

* hey, I'm on the John Siuntres Word Balloon podcast. I'll do a bigger link when I get some room with the art-driven link posts, but don't let that stop you from mildly enjoying/tolerating me now. I have no idea what we talked about, but I think it was the patreon and the comics festival because that's all I got going on right now. I like John, and I like the seriousness with which he engages what he does, so it's a honor for me to be on his show. Plus: his voice is great.

* finally, Gene Colan draws the image from the cover of Captain America Comics #1.
 
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Happy 70th Birthday, Denny Eichhorn!

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Go, Look: Ten Years After

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Your 2015 Ignatz Award Nominees!

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The Small Press Expo released the names of the people and works nominated in various categories for the 2015 Ignatz Awards. The nominating judges this year were Lamar Abrams, Cara Bean, Robyn Chapman, Sophie Goldstein and Corrine Mucha.

*****

Outstanding Artist

* Emily Carroll - Through The Woods
* Ed Luce - Wuvable Oaf
* Roman Muradov - (In a Sense) Lost and Found
* Jillian Tamaki - SuperMutant Magic Academy
* Noah Van Sciver - Saint Cole

*****

Outstanding Anthology or Collection

* Drawn and Quarterly, 25 Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novel, Tom Devlin, Chris Oliveros, Peggy Burns, Tracy Hurren, and Julia Pohl-Miranda (producers)
* An Entity Observes All Things, Box Brown
* How To Be Happy, Eleanor Davis
* Pope Hats, #4, Ethan Rilly
* SuperMutant Magic Academy, Jillian Tamaki

*****

Outstanding Graphic Novel

* Beauty, Kerascoët and Hubert
* The Oven, Sophie Goldstein
* Rav, Mickey Zacchilli
* Saint Cole, Noah Van Sciver
* Wendy, Walter Scott

*****

Outstanding Story

* Doctors, Dash Shaw
* Me As a Baby from Lose #6, Michael DeForge
* Nature Lessons from The Late Child And Other Animals, Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger
* Sex Coven from Frontier #7 by Jillian Tamaki
* Weeping Flower, Grows in Darkness, by Kris Mukai

*****

Promising New Talent

* M. Dean - K.M. & R.P. & MCMLXXI (1971)
* Sophia Foster-Dimino - Sphincter; Sex Fantasy
* Dakota McFadzean - Don't Get Eaten by Anything
* Jane Mai - Soft
* Gina Wynbrandt - Big Pussy

*****

Outstanding Series

* Dumb, Georgia Webber
* Frontier, Ryan Sands (editor)
* March, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
* Pope Hats, Ethan Rilly
* Sex Fantasy, Sophia Foster-Dimino

*****

Outstanding Comic

* Borb, Jason Little
* The Nature of Nature, Disa Wallander
* The Oven, Sophie Goldstein
* Pope Hats #4, Ethan Rilly
* Weeping Flower, Grows in Darkness, Kris Mukai

*****

Outstanding Minicomic

* Devil's Slice of Life, Patrick Crotty
* Epoxy 5, John Pham
* King Cat #75, John Porcellino
* Sex Fantasy #4, Sophia Foster-Dimino
* Whalen: A Reckoning, Audry

*****

Outstanding Online Comic

* The Bloody Footprint, Lilli Carré
* Carriers, Lauren Weinstein
* Mom Body, Rebecca Roher
* O Human Star, Blue Delliquanti
* Witchy, Ariel Ries

*****

The Ignatz Awards ceremony will be held on Saturday evening, September 19 during the course of Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MR. The voting will be made on the convention floor. Congratulations to all nominees.

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Sonia Liao

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Go, Look: Plop! #1-19

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August 17, 2015


Go, Look: L’Ordre De La Mouche

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* one thing I did a horrible job of presenting to audiences in recent weeks is that next summer we get at least the first of two giant Queen Emeraldas books, which is from the very prolific 1970s period enjoyed by Leiji Matsumoto -- and, in turn, by millions of fans. Those will both come out from Kodansha USA. I'm not sure what that choice might represent in the context of licensing choices overall, but I know I've heard that this kind of comic being brought to Western audiences is much more likely now than maybe a few years ago. For that I'm grateful.

image* I am 87 percent certain this is a real book, and if I'm correct it will be worth reading because the very funny Jessica Campbell made it. If it's not, well, the cover made me laugh.

* this article by Shaenon Garrity puts into perspective how important this Fall's big series of Vertigo launches might be for the future of that imprint. With Fables gone there's not really a line-defining series hit the way there used to be, although I suppose American Vampire fills that role. Still, it's a reasonably bare slate compared to some of the stronger years the line has seen. I think there's still room in the market for long-running serial genre comics, Image has proven that. It's just whether or not that Vertigo provides an attractive enough deal to keep the best of those kinds of comics under their umbrella rather than somewhere else. I think they're pretty confident in the forthcoming book, though.

* this is about a month old, but I keep forgetting to post it: Marvel's going to take another shot at its Black Knight character. When I was a young comics addict, my drugs of choice were old X-Men and old Avengers issues, so I have a fondness for any character created by Roy Thomas and/or John Buscema, let alone both of them working together. I like the Stan Lee/Don Heck Swordsman character more, but I like this character, too. I basically like anyone that brings a sword to a fistfight.

* here's your next Best American Comics guest editor (Jonathan Lethem) and cover artist (Raymond Pettibon).

* DC is apparently going to give us the long-delayed Batman: Europa.

* I can't tell what this is that Matthew Southworth is working on, but I'm glad to hear that the talented illustrator will have new work out at some point.

* it only has a few comics in it -- I'm excited to see new Scott Gilbert -- but even if there no comics at all it would be nice to have alt-comics regular Robert Boyd back in publishing any way he wants to return: this time it's a magazine called Exu.

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Go, Look: R. Kikuo Johnson Piece From New York Times

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Go, Look: Frank Johnson Comics

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* totally missed this interview with Chaitanya Modak. W. Harris Keith talks to Glenn Head. Some nice person named Kristin talks to Stacy King. Katharine Trendacosta talks to Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover.

* a color version of a very, very, very strong and harrowing comic done by Jess Johnson for the first Dirty Stories almost 20 years ago can be found here. Not safe for life. I know that kind of work is not to everyone's taste even for a simple share like that, but I remember being blown away by how idiosyncratic and disturbing that comic was in that anthology, as my memory is a lot of cartoonists played the sex parts for underground-style yuks or cinematic-style allure.

* not comics: congratulations to the Young/McCauley family.

* Kelly Sue DeConnick presents.

* the Trouble With Comics crew try to figure out the perfect comics shop. These are always interesting to read, but more from a cultural perspective than hoping there will be any sort of serious discussion of retail. You tend to get this nice blend of nostalgia plus a wish that the ideal retailer be a place where the issues of the day are more fairly adjudicated than they are on average.

* foundational comics blogger Mike Sterling writes about the difficulty with guesstimating Iron Man comics sales in recent years and howevent comics and interruptions can make that even more difficult.

* and then there was that time that Ed Piskor noticed that Chris Ware once drew Marv Wolfman dressed as Aquaman.

* I keep forgetting to congratulate this year's British Book Design & Production Award comics nominees. So congratulations to all the creators and designers behind Super Crash (Myriad Editions), The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage (Penguin) and Woody Guthrie And The Dust Bowl Ballads (Penguin/Random House).

* love for Stroppy.

* finally, I'm not sure if I forgot this one or not, but Rob Rogers on Ted Rall.
 
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Go, Look: GG

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Zack Kruse Announces Appleseed Con Is On Hiatus

In a lengthy post, Zack Kruse has announced that Appleseed Comic Con will go on hiatus. This was the Fort Wayne, Indiana show that's been running for a few years (2013), with a same-ethos predecessor running before that (Summit City Comic Con) back to 2010. Kruse's desire to enter into a new chapter of his life and still maintain balance with all of his responsibilities is the cited reason.

Appleseed was developing a good reputation for having a dependable group of regional and national talent to the show and attracting attendees from throughout the Midwest. The professionals I know that have attended told me they were treated very well.

Another angle may be to point out how some shows depend on one or two individual while others have a committee and board structure of some sort that are there to help ensure the show goes on despite core members leaving. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and both models have been involved with shows that have ended or gone dark. Let's hope Kruse returns to show organizaing at some future date.
 
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Go, Look: Say No To Spec Work

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* we are in the last hours of a Hunt Emerson kickstarter. It would be nice if that one got over, if Emerson is one of the all time under-appreciated cartoonists. That's the bookstore cover to the left, not the kickstarter cover.

* 8th Hour Press would like you to consder this Thomax Green fundraiser. They were nice enough to write in. Others that caught my eye this week were this already-successful translation project, Steve Hamaker's PLOX, a book about Jane Bowles and the latest Steve Ditko work. I missed this Jamie Tanner book entirely.

* I don't know that Melissa Mendes is in the same situation as the moment she posted this plea -- she may better off, or worse off -- but I can't imagine any young cartoonist being less than grateful for customers. Her originals are really nice-looking, too.

* again, much the same: I don't know that Zack Soto is feeling any real financial distress, but I imagine extra work is always helpful.

* the writer Rob Clough's summer fundraiser is still ongoing.

* finally, the writer James Hudnall could still use some help. He's recently been diagnosed with an infection of the bone that will mean more of his leg removed. I hope if you're inclined at all to help someone in that situation you'll send a few dollars to James.
 
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Go, Look: Kirby Without Words

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August 16, 2015


Go, Read: Snoopy Killed Peanuts; Watterson Vs. Schulz

imageI don't agree with a lot of what Kevin Wong wrote in this well-argued piece on Snoopy forcing Peanuts from its time as a great strip into a time when it was less of a great strip, but I had a lot of fun reading it. What I like about it best is that it's pretty much the view I used to have before reading the strip in its entirety with the publication of the Fantagraphics hardcovers. Reading the strip over the last several years has made me think that we've underestimated Schulz's "golden afternoon," as so many of the 1970s into the 1980s strips are still very funny and uniquely engaging. I also like a lot of the the strips over the last five years of Peanuts' life.

I also don't see a shift driven by the Snoopy character as much as different elements of what Schulz wanted to do started to come to the forefront more frequently, as happens with almost ever cartoonist that works on something over a period of years. I agree that much of Peanuts' greatness is in the unyielding psychological portraits that form around key characters. However, I'm okay with the fact that the appeal of the strip for a lot of people is the contrast between Charlie Brown and Snoopy, with many preferring Snoopy. I think the "Spike killed Peanuts" argument a bit more successful when I hear it, as Spike's existence makes Snoopy's less unique. Mostly, though, I think the strip's general accomplishment is so high that it's hard for me to pick over when and where it might have shifted a bit away from those things I prefer.

Luke Epplin's LARB piece on the same subject gets at this basic argument in a different way: contrasting the experience Schulz had with Bill Watterson's, and making the 1989 address Watterson gave to the Cartoon Arts Festival on licensing a kind of key point around which those two great careers pivot in relation to one another. I also like this piece, particularly its thoroughness in noting ambiguities and nuance, like in acknowledging Schulz's 1970s agreement with his syndicate the granted him licensing control. I think overall that piece represents a stronger argument against my basic view on the matter, and makes me wonder if one problem might be that we simply don't engage with primary sources as we should. I'm also not quite as confident as Epplin seems to be that Calvin & Hobbes has solely escaped transformative use, it's just come in less acknowledged ways, like a thousand re-drawings and re-imagining of the characters on-line.

Two fun articles, though, totally worth a coffee-break read.

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Go, Look: Gabriel Zacuto

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Go, Read: NYT Peers Into Amazon.com As A Physical Workplace And Describes Its Workplace Culture

There are two big reasons you might want to read the much-lauded, much passed-around New York Times article on Amazon.com's workplace culture. The first is that Amazon is a major, major seller of comics. A direct examination is pertinent. Second, the techniques used to make exhausted people redouble their efforts might be familliar to those that have worked at a comics company where the work itself takes on an "our glorious mission" type resonance.

I might caution against accepting without reservations claims made in any article that count on young folks' self-appraisal of how much they work and to what effectiveness, but I'm sure the broad strokes here are true.
 
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Not Comics: A 19th Century Illustrated Book Of Falconry

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Go, Look: Startling Comics #45

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Leroy Douresseaux on Blue Exorcist Vol. 13.

* the Chicago Tribune profiles Jessica Campbell, Aaron Renier and their library.

* until reading this I was not aware of a Kodansha Comics Manga Gallery and really should have been. That sounds like something to see.

* Ben Katchor's Cheap Novelties made this list of best book related to food.

* I am not tired in the least of Phoebe Gloeckner interviews related to the fact a quality adaptation of her mighty hybrid work Diary Of A Teenage Girl is this summer's smart movie with controversial elements. Here's a good one right here.

* not comics: here's a reminiscence of the post-war era for magazine illustration.

* not comics: the Massive clothing line may already be my favorite comics-related merchandising endeavor ever. That stuff looks really great.

* keep forgetting to link to this article on an increasing appetite for censorship among the American populace. I think that element is always there and goes up and down. The interesting thing about right now from my perspective seems to be there are criticisms of free speech absolutism that have weight with audiences on the right and other that have fans on the left.

* this Becky Cloonan cartoon made me laugh.

* finally, Zac Gorman draws Ginny Weasley.
 
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August 15, 2015


Go, Read: Jillian Capewell Profiles Swim Through Fire

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Go, Look: Wheel Of Misfortune

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If I Were In Toronto, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Dublin, I’d Go To This

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

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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Herblock Interviewed


Not Comics: Entire Man In A Hurry Episode Of Andy Griffith


Our Future Boss, Sasha Matthews


Coyote, RIP


Ted Rall On Local CBS Station Protesting Mistreatment By The Times


Adorable Close To Autoptic Festival
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from August 8 to August 14, 2015:

1. The Nib's crowd-funder was successful: that's the second stage in the campaign by key editorial cartooning figure Matt Bors to set up his own enterprise.

2. The fall graphic novel season begins with Chicago and while I wonder if SPX would disagree and characterize it as a summer show I think it's hard not to see August's Autoptic as the first show of the second half of the season.

3. AAEC calls for independent review of claims made by LA Times in terminating its relationship with cartoonist Ted Rall. Whether that is strong advocacy for its sole focus on the Times' responsibilities or a weaker response than hoped for due to lack of endorsement, I'm certain that is something being debated somewhere out there.

Winner Of The Week
The forthcoming AAEC weekend in September, which just became more interesting.

Loser Of The Week
Comics, generally, for the number of informal fundraising campaigns launched this week.

Quote Of The Week
"Should an independent investigation determine that Mr. Rall’s version of the events is accurate, we call upon the Los Angeles Times to publicly apologize, and make restitution. If it is also determined that the Los Angeles Police Department or a member of the police union manipulated the tape, as Mr. Rall alleges, they also owe Mr. Rall an apology and restitution." -- AAEC

*****

the comic image selected is from the brief but notable 1970s run of Seaboard/Atlas

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August 14, 2015


Go, Look: Ingo Römling

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

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If I Were In Brooklyn, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Dublin, I’d Go This

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

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Go, Look: Michael Dooley’s 21 Best Comic Book Artists From Comic-Con: A Designer’s Guide

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August 13, 2015


Collective Memory: Autoptic 2015

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this article has been archived
 
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OTBP: Butter And Blood

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital
* Fantagraphics has ended its run of Joe Daly comics as digital comics. Daly is one of the funniest cartoonists, period.

* I thought Katie Skelly's decision to sell a digital version of her Nurse Nurse for $5 an interesting one. That's a lot of content at that price point, and I believe the on paper version from Sparkplug is still very much in print. The cartoonist told CR in an e-mail that sales so far have been steady.

* Ivan Salazar sent out a piece of comiXology PR that states that they've renewed and expanded their distribution arrangement with Fantagraphics. Here's the PW story. This include the venerable alt-publisher's debut with the Kindle Store at about the size of 300 books making their debut. It makes sense to me that everyone be on as many platforms as will flatter the work and take them on, so I see this as a good thing without being able to give you any real analysis on number like 300 books. I guess it's better than 200 books.

* finally, one of the best things that Gary Tyrrell does in his coverage of webcomics is drive attention to that sub-culture's use of traditional comics shows. The latest has him pointing out just how many webcomics folk are due at this year's SPX.
 
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If I Were In Chicago, I’d Go To This

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no idea if this is on friday the 14th or saturday the 15th; you might call
 
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If I Were In Connecticut, I’d Go To This

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OTBP: Seinen Crap

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* please help Caitlin McGurk identify artists from some romance comics published by Toby Press.

image* Rob Clough on Let Me Be Frank. Mark Dickson on Zodiac Starforce #1.

* coming soon: a girl and her dinosaur.

* I strongly dislike the entire exercise of repurposing characters and styles in a way that rubs up against the original intent and doesn't even seemingly try to say something new with all of those elements at their service. I'm pretty sure they should have unfettered access to the marketplace, but I don't want any of it in my house.

* this isn't the kind of thing I usually get from foundational blogger Mike Sterling, but I do like his look at a couple of music fanzines with underground cartoonist covers, presented here.

* the man at the crossroads Paul Gravett presents a comics award of prestige and standing, the FNAC-Salamandra International Graphic Novel Prize.

* Chris Eckert points out that the traditional metaphors used to explain the emotional resonance people project onto the X-Men are all very problematic. I always though the X-Men represented nerd self-conception.

* Michael Cavna picks out a few Hillary Clinton hidden e-mail (or whatever the hell that story is) cartoons that he likes. I'm fascinated by these editorial that don't seem aggressively written like a lot of the newer or alternative-type comics, but at the same time they don't have the craft elements, no matter how rigidly imposed, one comes to expect from traditional editorial cartooning.

* in a lengthy, well-illustrated piece, Christian Ward writes about moving from traditional page-making and into digital.

* not comics: the writer Mark Evanier compares Uber and using taxis from a consumer's perspective. That is some old-fashioned blogging going on right there, but it's an issue that does come up a lot at cons and other major comics events.

* James Whitbrook writes in appreciation of the most recent major presentational shift that Marvel did with their Daredevil, moving him from grim and unbelievably dour to happy as an escape from all that darkness. I thought that version of the character was appealing, too.

* finally, Shaenon Garrity writes in brief fashion about Peter Bagge's work with Marvel superhero comics.
 
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Not Comics: EW Kemble Draws Huck Finn

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August 12, 2015


The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Shows And Events

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By Tom Spurgeon

* SPX will have their Tumblr meet-up once again this year. That's good work they've done where that's become its own thing for that community they serve.

* speaking of that premier event, they've once again pounded out a stellar line-up, adding Raina Telgemeier, Bill Griffith, Scott McCloud and Kathryn Immonen to an already strong group. Always nice to see the Immonens in a setting that recognizes that element of their work.

* photos from the PFC process / classes / workshops are always welcome. I've only talked to two participants of that last one but they both had a great time.

* finally, Paul Gravett looks back at Pulp Festival.
 
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Go, Look: Ja Ja Ja

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Alex Hoffman on Mother #1. Matt Little on Secret Wars #5. Tom Murphy on a bunch of different comics. RC Harvey on the comics of Otto Soglow. Nate Patrin on Island #1. Katherine Dacey on a bunch of different works of manga. Zainab Akhtar on two from Inio Asano. Garrett Gottschalk on Harvey Kurtzman's Jungle Book. Jessica Lamarre on Bee And Puppycat Vol. 1. Beth Rogers on The Borgias.

* totally forgot that Fantagraphics has put together a Snoopy Vs. Red Baron volume that will come out at roughly the same time as Peanuts movie. I'm not looking forward to the Peanuts, but it'd be fun to read all those comics together under one cover.

* I know that my high school years didn't involve killing my teachers, but one reason that was the case is that I had unfettered license to imagine killing my teachers.

* Dave Richards talks to Brian Bendis. Tobias Carroll talks to Evan Dorkin. Heidi MacDonald talks to David Petersen. Ryan Holmberg profiles Sasaki Maki. Ale Dueben talks to JM DeMatteis and Zeina Abirached.

* I can't tell if this article matches up to its description, but it's fun looking at that Jack Kirby/Chic Stone art.

* not comics: Jog discusses the latest Dragon Ball Z movie.

* finally, I really liked this summer post from Conundrum. I would like for comics to have more dead spots in the calendar.
 
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Go, Look: Wally Wood-Drawn Comedy Covers

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August 11, 2015


Go, Look: How Things Work Out

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This Isn’t A Library: Notable Releases Into Comics’ Direct Market

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*****

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. You never know. I'd sure look at the following, though.

*****

JUN151311 HIP HOP FAMILY TREE GN VOL 03 $27.99
This is a surprisingly solid week once you get past a lack of knock-you-out hits up top. The headliner is the third volume of Ed Piskor's Hip-Hop Family Tree history, which depending on your age and interest in hip-hop is at very least a humbling exercise on how you sort memories in a linear fashion once you get older: very, very poorly. I asked Piskor where he's going to end the volumes, and I liked his answer enough it's made me keep up on the volumes as they come out rather than huge gulps of it later on.

imageJUN150051 ELTINGVILLE CLUB #2 $3.99
JUN150068 ABE SAPIEN #25 $3.50
JUN150531 ODYC #6 (MR) $3.99
JUN150532 PHONOGRAM THE IMMATERIAL GIRL #1 (MR) $3.99
JAN150718 VELVET #11 (MR) $3.50
JUN150539 WALKING DEAD #145 (MR) $2.99
JUN151447 KAIJUMAX #5 $3.99
JUN150167 DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS #1 $3.99
There's a lot here that's interesting. Eltingville Club is Evan Dorkin's last show at those characters, once about the funniest satire of that milieu going. There's your Mignola-verse comic right after, and Matt Fraction's admirable take on the Odyssey after that. Phonogram was the first place that creative pair found a voice so I'm interested to see if new material sounds settled or stange. I'm not sure Ed Brubaker's found the right pacing on his Velvet as of yet, but Steve Epting's art is as good on this kind super-spy material as I imagine anyone's might be. Walking Dead is curiously paced right now, like there should be more story between now and whatever horrble outcome writer Robert Kirman and artist Charlie Adlard have cooked up for #150. Love the fact that Zander Cannon's monster comic is already at a fifth issue. And then there's the Bombshells comic, which I'd love to see a print copy.

APR150064 HELLBOY AND THE BPRD 1952 TP $19.99
JUN150535 SATELLITE SAM TP VOL 03 LIMESTONE CAVES OF FIRE (MR) $14.99
I can't imagine that's the first time that a 1952 Mignola-verse book has been collected, but I don't follow the series that closely and I favor the comic books to the trades. The Satellite Sam is the last in this cycle; it moves to the west coast and a different genre of show last night out. I'm glad that's collected because I want to read a bunch of it at once. Finding the individual issues when I've had the impulse has been difficult, so messy is my collection.

JUN150841 SHIELD 50TH ANNIVERSARY BY KIRBY AND STERANKO POSTER $8.99
Hardly a word in the above I don't favor.

JUN150934 CALVIN & HOBBES AUTHORITATIVE HC $29.99
JUN150935 CALVIN & HOBBES ESSENTIAL HC $29.99
JUN150936 CALVIN & HOBBES INDISPENSABLE HC $29.99
These are three Calvin & Hobbes book under the old way of collecting them -- I think these were the names for the double-beck connections they startted about seven or eight0

JUN151061 INK FOR BEGINNERS GUIDE TO GETTING TATTOOED $4.00
This is Kate Leth's range of basic advice on getting tattoos. I can't imagine this hasn't done well already, and seems like in comics shops would be an easy sale all summer long.

JUN151496 JUDGE DREDD AMERICA TP $18.99
You had me at "Dredd."

MAY158382 JEFFREY JONES IDYL IM AGE HC $39.99
MAY158383 JEFFREY JONES IDYL IM AGE SC $24.99
MAY151087 ART OF MOUSE GUARD 2005 - 2015 HC $59.99
JUN151349 MARK SCHULTZ STORMS AT SEA ILLUS NOVELLA HC $24.95
Thesre are all fun artists, particuarly Jones, but also Schultz and even Petersen. Mouse Guard always seems like a perenially under-rewarded series given its general high quality and the number of fans it has. I assume that the Idyl release is the same book from 1975. Forty years ago. That was actually a really dark time for comics, which is what makes me think gives comics that survived that era a distinct sheen no matter what we think of them now.

JUN151569 LITTLE NEMO BIG NEW DREAMS HC $16.95
JUN151570 WINDWILL DRAGONS LEAH & ALAN ADV HC $18.95
MAY151489 SMURFS GN VOL 19 JEWEL SMURFER $5.99
MAY151490 SMURFS HC VOL 19 JEWEL SMURFER $10.99
This is a bunch of kids' stuff, of a high quality. The Little Nemo is a smaller-sized sampler of the anthology with "dreams" in the title. It both smaller in terms of strips selected and smaller physically. I would have been the target audience for this book a terrifying 41 years ago. The Dragons is a sequel to the Secret Of The Stone Frog that was a risk for TOON because of its size, as I recall. I assume everything worked out. I'm listing the latest Smurfs because I like the Smurfs book but mostly to note that I remember a couple of kids needing to get a couple of years older to read this series and now they're pretty much too old. Time flies.

MAY150887 IT WILL ALL HURT #3 (MR) $8.00
It's light enough on big books that I like that I'll pick a book with big pictures: Farel Dalrymple is in a very good place drawing-wise right now. I hope this Alternative Comics consortium approach is working in terms of driving shop attention to some of these very intriguing books available in that section of the catalog.

*****

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 failed to list your comic, that's because I hate you.

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Go, Look: Buckskin

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Go, Bookmark: Icecream & Beast

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* congratulations to Ellen Forney on being named Seattle's best cartoonist and good on Max Clotfelter for shooting some cannon shot across the bow of Generation Seattle 1990s by being named the runner-up.

image* Sean Gaffney on Maid-sama! Vols. 1-2. Chris Mautner on Stroppy. Quincy Rhoads on Dörfler.

* portrait of Tony Millionaire as a young man.

* not comics: I'm glad that people are donating to the Travis Fristoe fund, as sad as its existence makes me.

* I don't know what this is, but I'm a sucker for the line "I regret everything."

* Andy Oliver recommends a bunch of small-press works.

* the Columbus Dispatch talks to Hilliard's Packrat Comics after their recent Eisner Spirit Of Retailing win. Exploring the topic around here I haven't found out much new information about Columbus-area retailing, but I have noticed that no one I know in Columbus wants to go Hilliard with me.

* Jesus, you jerk.

* the Norman Rockwell museum would like to tell you about Derf.

* Tereixa Constenla talks to David Aja. Joseph Phillip Illidge talks to Gene Yang. Neon Pajamas talks to Jon Vermilyea. Whitney Joiner talks to Phoebe Gloeckner. Nancy Updike talks to Phoebe Gloeckner. Jessica Zack talks to Phoebe Gloeckner about her SF memories.

* go, look: Joe Orlando + Al Feldstein in a kind of Underrated Cartoonist Team-Up.

* finally, career wisdom from Billy DeBeck.
 
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Go, Look: Kelly L. Swann

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August 10, 2015


Go, Look: Electric Candyland

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Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

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By Tom Spurgeon

* the cover and directions to a preview for the next Last Man book from First Second. I hope those are doing okay.

image* I quite like the cover for the Reprodukt printing of the final Donjon album.

* here's a preview of Bright-Eyed At Midnight.

* PW has a rundown of significant Fall releases. Good to see the Sattouf coming soon.

* we're at a time of the year that Amazon.com listings are even more notoriously untrustworthy than usual, and this is compounded by the fact that I wouldn't know a re-release from a first releases here, but: I like the idea of a limited edition Takeshi Obata art book.

* finally, I don't think I ever formally recognized the news that came out SDCC week that Fantagraphics going to publish Josh Cotter's Nod Away. I'm a big fan of Cotter's work but I haven't dived into this one and at this point; I'll wait for the printed edition.

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Not Comics: Series Of Franklin Booth Illustrations

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posted 5:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: The Hunter Who Became The Hunted

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posted 5:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Zack Smith starts a long, multi-part interview with Christopher Priest about his Black Panther run.

image* Todd Klein on Doctor Fate #1. Terry Gilliam on Harvey Kurtzman. Benn Ray on a bunch of different comics. Mey on Not Funny Ha-Ha. Dan Kois on Wuvable Oaf. Pete Redrup on a bunch of different comics. Nick Nafpliotis on Fante Bukowski. Gregg Reese on Inner City Romance.

* here's a bit of information on a Joost Swarte New Yorker cover.

* not comics: there are too many TV shows, and we are about to reach peak TV. I think there's a lesson for comics in there but comics is different in that it's really difficult to establish a low fee threshold below which the production of comics is impossible. In fact, many individual proprietors are willing to go into debt in order to provide work to the marketplace.

* the Trouble With Comics crew looks at the future of floppies.

* Kate Beaton will be on tour.

* Brian Heater talks to Leah Hayes. Alex Dueben talks to Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger. Terry Flores profiles Johnny Ryan and Dave Cooper. Chris Moukarbel profiles Team Massive.

* here's a review round-up on SuperMutant Magic Academy, a book I'm greatly looking forward to seeing.

* finally, Derf wonders out loud what doing cartoons would be like on college campuses today.
 
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Go, Look: Not A Crime

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Go, Look: Ovadia Benishu

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Go, Look: Junichi Nakahara On Tumblr

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August 9, 2015


Go, Look: Ten Ways To Kill Your Husband

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Comics By Request: People, Projects In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* my peer Rob Clough, known to many of you as a key criticial voice particularly for his attention to younger cartoonists and early efforts, has asked for attention to some fundraising on his behalf. I know how much Rob enjoys that trip to SPX, so I'm guessing this is an urgent request. Most requests are.

* the kickstarter for a Best Of The Nib was successful sometime between last Friday and Saturday, I think, but that doesn't mean you won't want to put in for something they're offering.

* the current ongoing project of most interest to I'm guessing the most people is like this one to place Barefoot Gen into libraries and schools. That is an extremely unsettling but bracing work to read when you're a kid, as a lot of us can attest. You can see an excerpt up at Fusion.com.

* Steve Hamaker's modestly-budgeted crowd-funder on behalf of his wecomic PLOX is more than halfway home.

* finally, another successful crowd-funder is in its last hours: Baggywrinkles.
 
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If I Were In London, I’d Go To This

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Go, Look: A Bunch Of Jack Sparling Art

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Not Comics: Three Fantasy Posters By MW Kaluta

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posted 11:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* it sure is fun to look at this super-handsome piece of primetime X-Men art from John Byrne and Terry Austin, soon to be purchased for a price that will indicate excesses of capitalism to which even my late father might admit. Still, look at that cool spread! I love the act of stacking these four characters with different body orientations that allow them to exist in a vertical column. That much visual information a mere 1/3 across the page is incredibly pleasurable, and the strong vertical stop helps slow down the eye and thus makes the whole page that much stronger a moment.

* Michael Cavna runs through any and all cartoon-related fall-out from the bonkers Republican Party debate from last week.

* Chris Butcher writes about hosting a Queer Comix panel at SDCC this year. I had a meeting during that one but my brother Whit went and said it was the best panel he had ever seen; a lot of people spoke very highly of it to me. Butcher suggests Brigid Alverson's write-up.

* it's not comics, but it made me laugh.

* Rob McMonigal looks at one of Keith Knight's album-tribute strips.

* a peek into a current Batman storyline. I haven't caught up with that material, although that title has been the best and most consistent of DC's superhero series for closing in on four years now. I do wonder if DC's books that use death and new characters taking up whatever mantle aren't pulling from 70 years of the character more than they are four years of this newer conception of the character, in a way it feels like a lot of stories are left untold. Or un-retold. You get me.

* finally, that's a nice-looking cover by Darwyn Cooke.
 
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August 8, 2015


CR Sunday Interview: Glenn Head

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*****

Glenn Head is one of the strongest artists I relate to later-period underground comix, an artist who has thrived on the styles and approaches common to underground publications even as the most famous publication of that era's heyday for the most part stopped existing before he began to ply his trade. I remember seeing his work for the first time in Weirdo and Bad News and then as a reliable contributor to a variety of anthologies over the last quarter century, such as the great Snake Eyes, which he co-edited. He has style to burn, and his comics are always a highlight wherever they appear.

In Chicago, Head moves in a totally different direction with a long-form comic that's strongly and thoroughly autobiographically informed. It's the story of his young life as an artist. Again, the art is a joy and the voice appealing, but Head gets at some ideas and states of mind that aren't the common fodder of issue- or event-oriented memoir writing. I was most impressed with how he wrote about the growing realization you have as a young man that life is mostly arbitrary and the result of an accumulation of decisions from those you can't remember to the most recent. I was happy to sit down with Head and talk over this new work and some of his past gigs. My thanks to David Hyde for arranging it. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

imageTOM SPURGEON: Glenn, I know it's a question you're going to be asked over and over, but it's fairly astonishing to get a long autobiographical work out of you given the bulk of your career in kind of out there short pieces. Can you break down how you ended up doing this project at this time? At what point -- maybe even while doing it -- did you realize you were committed?

GLENN HEAD: Chicago is a story I'd always wanted to tell, I think, going back to when I first began doing some autobiographical comics in my twenties. It percolated for a long time. I also considered the material in Chicago to be very rich, but also frightening because it puts me in a very vulnerable position... hungry, homeless, starving. Being totally alone and on the streets... as well as depicting some moments of emotional disturbance. These aren't easy things to face, but I knew I wanted to. And I wanted to do something completely serious about my life, my history, not something I could, you know... joke around with.

Getting Chicago started was really hard, I work slowly -- and because I was having trouble with a beginning for it, I jumped into the middle to draw the Chicago chapter first. That really got the ball rolling on the whole thing... There's nothing I love more than drawing urban squalor, that's really a treat for me, drawing garbage, broken windows, cracked sidewalks... the desperation that's right on the surface. Once I got going with that, I had the momentum going to do the book -- things were up and running. Of course then I had to go back and write the first chapters of the book, too!

Another part of getting it all going was my friend and fellow artist Tim Lane... I told him about the whole project, and he wouldn't stop bugging me if I wasn't gonna do it! Tim was also an inspiration for me because his own work is kind of "social realism" comics, and it has a dramatic aspect that brought me back to some of my own earlier work... sort of a reconnection. So yeah the idea of emotional content being a factor in storytelling, I thought about that more. And he'd call me up, say "what's going on with Chicago?" He even called up Fantagraphics for me -- I couldn't believe that! So I was like "Okay, I'll do it!"

SPURGEON: There's a vignette element to what you're doing, so it does break down into smaller units, but how did you take more generally to making a longer piece, finding elements and ideas that you could develop along the way. Were there things just in terms of the length of the work that you found particularly and maybe even practically challenging?

HEAD: Well on a practical level it was just really challenging just because I work slowly. I think I just accepted that though, because I can't work any differently -- this is the only way I can draw. And I think those details are worth it... they help to convey the tone of what these different locations are like. I did photo-research too. I flew out to Chicago and Cleveland to photograph the different places the story takes place in. That always helps me.

imageIn working on the book I was very consciously attempting to work with certain themes: innocence vs. experience, the search for authenticity, the need for individual beliefs, issues of class, race, wealth, poverty, sex, and the high price paid for outsider status. Death sets the book in motion. My character is laughing, sprawled out in a graveyard, laughing -- he laughs at everything -- it sets the tone: "What am I gonna do with all this before I die?"

SPURGEON: One thing I think that's really interesting about how your work as a cartoonist is presented is that we sometimes classify underground comix (R. Crumb, Shelton, Wilson) and alt comix (Hernandezes, Clowes, Ware) as these completely separate generations when in actuality they overlapped and there's a whole group of you that were too late to be in Arcade -- as gets pointed out in Chicago -- but certainly contributed to Weirdo and other publications of that type and style. Who do you see as your direct peers? Who are cartoonists that you feel a kinship with, particularly those your age?

HEAD: I really feel a kinship with Phoebe Gloeckner... There's a kind of devastated psychic landscape I see in her work that I feel a connection to and a sympathy for... Her book Diary of a Teenage Girl made me think, well, maybe doing this is possible. If you can just have the guts to draw it! Also she used Crumb in her book as a character, something I did, too... I thought that might be a no-no. And it's not like I did that flattering a portrait of him. Fortunately for me he wasn't pissed off about it!

You know meeting Crumb as I depicted it in Chicago... was kind of an eye-opener... I was 19, and really wet behind the ears, but it was still obvious to see that Crumb was "the man." It was also like seeing that comics wasn't this free-wheeling, good-time romance of laughs and camaraderie that I had expected. The book shows me for the naive creature I was, getting my face rubbed in it.

That said, I don't really read comics that much anymore... A lot of what really inspired me as I worked on Chicago was film. You know these 1970s crime noir films, especially Martin Scorcese's... there's such a grit in those movies from when New York was "Fun-city." In fact, it's weird to say, but I can really relate my character's behavior to Taxi Driver and Mean Streets... that kind of alienation, I guess. That kind of crazy.

SPURGEON: You published in two of the great series, period, of the 1980s, Weirdo and Bad News. Weirdo is probably at the low ebb of its influence before being reconsidered, while Bad News has always been a much loved but obscure publication for a lot of people, and not heard of at all by others. How do you look at each experience now, what comes to mind? Why don't we remember Bad News as much as we should given the talent involved? Was it the timing?

HEAD: Weirdo always had this kind of "doggie's dinner" aspect to it that I liked, but a lot of people were saying "what a piece of shit!" [Spurgeon laughs] Weirdo was a great anthology because the aesthetic wasn't that work had to be perfectly realized but fundamentally its own. Plus it had a homemade vibe to it that I have to love -- not that it was ever unprofessional -- that felt loose enough for the book itself to grow and change. I think it will be reconsidered -- it should -- the fact that it had three different editors with three distinct sensibilities... it allowed for a lot of great voices to be heard. Unlike any other anthology of that era, it was organic.

Bad News came about as an art school project at S.V.A., same as RAW Magazine. Like RAW, it was self-published... we went about selling ad space to help finance it. S.V.A. may have kicked in a few bucks, too, but I'm not sure. By the second issue it had really gotten good, had a lot of top-notch work in it, it really wasn't student-y at all... Then whatever happened happened between Art Spiegelman and Mark Newgarden. Some row. That sort of ended it as a going concern, although years later a third issue came out of lesser quality. The point is though, it was you know, strangled in its infancy so it didn't develop. That's that. Life in the big city. Too bad though.

What it led to for me was editing the same crowd plus a few others in Snake Eyes, a book that Kaz and I put out. This kind of shows you, I guess, that if the energy and talent are there, they'll rise up. They have to.

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SPURGEON: Phoebe Gloeckner points out that you have one of the all time great styles. And it's true, I think most people familiar with your work can see a panel from across a room and recognize it as one of yours. Can you talk a bit about how you've developed a style over the years, because the work you show as older work in the new book seems of a type with what you do now, but definitely a more rudimentary version of what you do now.

HEAD: I grew up reading underground comics, and I think they really had an impact, because that work was really all style... It was kind of the opposite of E.C. Comics, where everyone was a solid draftsman but not always that powerfully idiosyncratic. By comparison the underground work was totally individual, almost abstract in its look. I think I immediately absorbed that as a kid looking at it.

What changed for me was going to S.V.A. There I had Art Spiegelman push Dick Tracy on me. That was a constant, and it really made its way into my drawing to the point where the blacks come into my work instinctively. I'm always thinking in terms of clarity. And graphic effect.

But at the same time I'm kind of an A.D.D. case. I really need to draw the details... it's just how my eyes focus on things -- very intently.

I think I draw kind of weirdly. There is this primitive side to my work, but I sure don't play it up. And in terms of style, I actually try to avoid having a style! The way I draw, I'm really just trying to capture reality. And I love that aspect of autobiography in comics. The question to always come back to: "Is this what it looked like to me when it happened? Is this what it felt like?" These are my main concerns with the drawing.

SPURGEON: Did you have trouble adjusting your style to the demands of a story like this one?

HEAD: Well realism -- there's less wiggle-room for goofy drawing, so in that respect it's a little more demanding than the more cartoony, surrealist stuff, but... I got used to it. Photo research helps if I'm stuck.

It's actually the psychological adjustment of doing this kind of story that was the hardest, exposing that vulnerability I felt at the age of 19, or for that matter now. That's hard.

SPURGEON: Why Glen and not Glenn? It's being presented as memoir, so I wondered after that potential degree of separation?

HEAD: I'm constantly aware of autobiographical comics as a form of performance art. This may be true in the prose memoir, too, but with comix even if you're attempting to show a wide emotional range... everything there is within very tight characterizations, x-number of facial expressions. You're trying to show one emotional state in a panel, not several. Comics is by definition a very controlled medium. The artist is always saying "All that stuff happening between the panels? Not important -- here's what is!" Giving you his worldview. His own very limited narrow worldview. Glen is lacking in the dimensionality of Glenn. He moves through the panels in a fractionalized world compared to the one I know. His experiences are only the ones I'm allowing him to have, or the viewer to see. The point is this is not the whole story. It's just the version I'm giving you. By definition it's shortened. Just as Glenn is shortened to Glen.

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SPURGEON: Can you talk to me about the process of writing the book? Was it scripted, did you do a sketched version? Was there any research or even just personal inventory involved? Did you consult anyone else for a different perspective on shared events?

HEAD: No I didn't consult anybody about shared events. I talked to the real-life Sarah character. Got her permission to use her story. There was a lot of photo research as I mentioned before...

I guess I'd say it was heavily scripted. I do a lot of written drafts with rudimentary breakdowns, just enough that I can understand them visually. Often they're just barely sketches. But I do a lot of them before I've boiled it down to where I want it, so that it flows. What I try for is a completely fluid narrative that the viewer cannot be confused by.

I try not to do tight page breakdown beforehand though. It makes doing the final page too boring. I need the option of being able to change the page layouts around if I should need to. Let's face it, this stuff is really just heavy labor. It's the counterweight, perhaps to the fact that comics are one of the most fun mediums ever when they're done well... I almost can't imagine an art form tougher than comics. Because it's on you buddy! It's all on you.

SPURGEON: Artists returning to bad habits or bad periods in their lives always yields interesting results. In Chicago, it seems like you're very measured about how you depict Glen's drug use, or the more self-destructive qualities, and some of the stuff where he's not really engaged with what's going on around him. At the same time, you don't spare on the tails. Did you intend at all for any of this to be prescriptive for a reader, a cautionary tale in any way?

HEAD: Well my own drug use wasn't much of a thing then, during the period this book takes place, and I'm glad of it. See, my character was, if anything, edging into "madness", maybe out of conscious intent -- but his being crazy wasn't chemically induced. Being from a wealthy middle-class background, he's looking for something like "reality"... or at least a different one than he knows. Drugs aren't really part of Glen's story. Escape from the world he knows is.

I wasn't looking for this to be a cautionary tale in any way because I don't believe in them. It would be presumptuous for me to think I could tell anyone how to be. I'm really just trying to tell my story... but I also want to reveal the price paid for going your own way. I always wanted to tell this particular story, because as a young person I was just completely unaware of the world and what I was in for by doing all this. I would never tell anyone not to do this, to leave everything, drop out and see what happens in a strange town. Maybe you'll get stuffed in a trunk and thrown in a river. Or not. Your choice.

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SPURGEON: One thing I think you capture really well is the idea of how arbitrary and made-up life can seem when you strike out to do something that doesn't have a structure or ways to improve your lot just by doing stead work. I'm not sure people know how odd it was years ago, even in the post-hippie world, to fashion a life where a lot of the structure of a steady job or marriage right out of high school wasn't available to you. Was it important to you to convey Glen's feelings of driftlessness and occasional flights of concern about what he was doing? Are these feelings you've had a times, making comics, the overall point of it?

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HEAD: Well one thing I was attempting to capture was just how arbitrary and open-ended life becomes when you become rootless. With no home, or fixed address, no idea how you're going to get through, you just get shuffled around with life around you. It robs you of a lot of whatever your normal identity is, but it also kind of reduces you to the essence of yourself, which is this organic creature that has to be fed, clothed, bathed, kept warm, given rest, and some occupation just to feel alive. A lot of the Chicago chapter is like that. Maybe today I'll panhandle enough to eat, or I'll starve to death... on the other hand maybe I'll meet Muhammad Ali -- anything could happen! Or nothing... I don't know if I'd say that's the point of the book or if it even has one point. But one thing it shows is that there really is just one point when you're hungry: food!

SPURGEON: I love your ease as a cartoonist with how your pages flow, particularly your use of almost diorama-style scenes or establishing shots, and suddenly blowing up a panel for effect. What do you hope to accomplish there, with one of the Chicago scenes, or Ali? Is it just slowing us down to look at this larger than life thing? Is it about the power of a certain dramatic moment? What kind of moments do you choose to dominate a page like that?

HEAD: One of the things that's most important to me is tone. In some ways it's even more important to me than story, especially in autobiography. Tone, when it's successful, means authenticity. It means that world I'm drawing, that space, that environment... you believe in it. You know it's real and you know I've been there. When I blow things up, do a large-scale drawing it's usually done so as to make it a purely visual experience... to see things as my character does. Often it'll be a scene that's intended to be seen as overwhelming as I experienced it. Certain moments in Chicago, for example. With a larger panel, too, I can allow myself to go wild... I don't have to worry about the details clogging up... Comics is such a utilitarian art form. So much is about control, about not letting go, so as to serve the story or the idea you attempt to put across. So it's good to be able to slow things down on occasion and just do it for the art.

imageSPURGEON: I really like the character of Glen's father, the parameters of his support and what drives him to talk at some times and what might keep him quiet. It seems like there's a great deal of sympathy for that character, the kind that sometimes ends up being blamed for all of life's woes. Were you happy with the way that character came across?

HEAD: Yeah I've been really very happy with how that character came across... this was a case of making something right in art that wasn't in life. We never really got along well, I think I saw the world as this crazy, multifarious place and he saw things kind of simply... or seemed to. I wasn't capable of that. Mostly we talked past each other.

Drawing him was hard because he was kind of quiet, restrained, low-keyed... and he talked in platitudes. But his warmth and kindness somehow came through here. I'm glad of this because I have no interest in settling scores or getting even. Not here. Even though, as I say, we weren't very close. Just two very different people.

SPURGEON: There are two scenes right in the heart of the latter stages that I thought were interesting just for the control you showed it letting them play out fully: the vignette with the loaded gun and the whole Sarah sequences. Can you talk about why you took your time with both scenes? Was it simply a matter of letting each scene speak for itself?

HEAD: I thought it was important to really focus on those scenes because they bring up two of the book's main themes: Sex and Death. The scene with my father's handgun, me being naked in the attic and blasting away -- that was intended as a kind of "dance of death" and I think it has an erotic component to it. The way my character holds the gun, loads it, and looks at it before shooting... when he's done everything he has, really symbolically shot up his own family and then shoots out the light, it's meant to be kind of an annihilating orgasm. And death isn't far off -- he puts the gun to his head, too... spins the chamber.

What follows is him sprawled out in bed, somewhat post-coitally, thinking "I wonder what it's like to get laid?"

So this kind of symbolic "getting laid" is counter-weighted by actually getting laid and therefore needed to be equally as intense... The woman Sarah, who Glen pines for, who he loved and wanted to lose his innocence to, finds him. Quite simply I wanted to show the weight of importance that these two episodes of sex and death have in his life.

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SPURGEON: Sarah plays a key role for your character, but was giving her agency important to you? l would imagine there might have been some compulsion to focus solely on how her life intersected with your own as opposed to being respectful to her story, too. Did you see any potential hazards in portraying that character in your book?

HEAD: I guess the main hazard was depicting her in a way she might not like, or even having full access to her story in the first place... I couldn't have used it if she wanted final say on how I wrote her character. I couldn't work that way. Fortunately she let me do what I wanted. But I tried to be very respectful of her story. You know, some of what Chicago tries to touch on is how in many ways, we don't really have agency, even when we think we do. Sarah's life has been pre-programmed for her -- her parents are Holocaust survivors... a lot of damage was inflicted on her at a young age -- likewise, the character of Glen sprawled out laughing in the graveyard... he's headed for some dark places in life. He just doesn't know it yet.

You know, when you're 18, 19, the choices you make, they may not be your own, or they may be crazy... and the price for those choices is often higher than you realize.

SPURGEON: I don't want to give it away, but can you talk about using a common setting for the first and last chapters of the book. How did that develop? Did you find the ending or was that known from the first?

HEAD: No, I found that ending very late in the game, which I think was fortunate... I hadn't planned it out at all, but then I wasn't really planning on my daughter being in the book either -- it just happened.

The "common setting" you refer to is a graveyard. Chicago begins with my character alone, laughing at death, smoking a cigarette... both wide-eyed and cynical about the world. He's 19, hasn't lived yet, but he sees the endgame.

Without going any further or giving away the ending, what we're looking at here is death and rebirth. Glen, at 19, sees life and death only through his own limited experience. He's innocent. When he goes in again, he brings innocence with him, too. Only this time it isn't his. And he isn't alone.

*****

* Chicago, Glenn Head, Fantagraphics, 168 pages, 9781606998786, August 2015, $24.99.

*****

* cover to the new book
* photo of Head supplied by Head
* laughing Glen
* Head's wonderfully expressive style on full display (not in Chicago)
* multiple images from Chicago
* two photos Head as a younger man, supplied by Head (bottom)

*****

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*****
*****
 
posted 5:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Let’s Hear It For Captain Battle

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Go, Look: James Stokoe Drawing Silver Surfer

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If I Were In Kansas City, I’d Go To This

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

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If I Were In San Antonio, I’d Go To This

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FFF Results Post #426—Sales Time

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Describe Five Memorable, Specific Ads For Comics." This is how they responded.

*****

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Sterg Botzakis

1. Those two Bill Sienkiewicz Power Man and Iron Fist ads where they spoke directly to the readers
2. "Buy This Book!" for the Roger Stern/Frank Miller Dr. Strange run that never happened
3. The one with the creepy eyeballs for the Shadow War of Hawkman
4. "The Hero Too Tough to Die!" Mr. Monster from Eclipse
5. The house ad for the 1986 Aquaman limited series

*****

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Des Devlin

1. “Beware of Imitations!” (1954 ad for MAD Comics)
2. Bill Gaines dressed as Santa Claus, holding up two 1-dollar bills and a penny (the negligible amount you would save by getting a MAD Magazine subscription)
3. “Why Kill Yourself? Just because you missed the last issue?” (series of Paul Coker-drawn suicide attempts, which could have been avoided with a MAD subscription)
4. “We at E.C. proudly present our latest baby... a COMIC comic book!” (original house ad for MAD #1)
5. Series of ads for 25-cent Alfred E. Neuman portraits (e.g. “ONLY ONE LEFT! That’s right, since our last ad, only one of these things left our office.”)


*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. "Just Imagine! The Mightiest Heroes Of Our Time Have Banded Together As The Justice League Of America..." (Justice League Of America #1)
2. The Ozymandias ad for Watchmen with him and Bubastis watching all the TV screens
3. A very Star Wars-ish ad for Micronauts (drawn by Michael Golden) with Baron Karza in the Darth Vader position
4. A Moore-era ad for Swamp Thing which spoils "The Anatomy Lesson" and ends with "Everyone's talking about it - make sure you are too!"
5. The early Kingdom Come ad with the eagle fighting the bat, which (not unreasonably) seemed to be yet another Superman vs. Batman fight

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. "Teachers hate..." Air Pirates Funnies ad
2. "Scare you out of your pants" Crypt of Terror ad
3. "Hallowe'en handout" Humbug ad
4. "Tarzan with a Confederate flag" Mad ad
5. "Donald Trump(-ish guy) Wants You to Buy..." Hup ad

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. The Thing sends Dr. Doom a vaguely threatening letter
2. The Acts of Vengeance ad where you just see a bunch of villains' feet around some shattered heroes' weapons
3. Taskmaster's business card (promoting Acts of Vengeance)
4. Kree Star Force identity badge (promoting Operation: Galactic Storm)
5. "Wow, I could've read V #8!"

*****

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Evan Harrison Cass

1. Sienkiewicz Starriors
2. New Universe lightning
3. Melting Pot female asylum warrior
4. Bratpack garbage can
5. Alien Nation Spartans wine

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. American Flagg!
2. That house ad for Suicide Squad which read "Betrayal & Murder, Suicide Squad Style, Campaign 1984 (?)". I can't find anything about it.
3. Justice Inc.
4. Action Comics Weekly (series of ads)
5. Love Stories

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Wally Wood's first Witzend ad
2. Richard Corben's first Neverwhere ads
3. "... it's a good day to be the Green Arrow" mini-series poster
4. Phil Foglio's Mucha style Girl Genius ad
5. Who Is Mr. X? (me, too; tho the ads were better than the series, alas...)

*****

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Tim Hayes

1. Frank Miller ad for never-happened Dr Strange run.
2. Superman logo dripping blood for Death of Superman.
3. "You'd have to be crazy" Elektra: Assassin ad by Bill Sienkiewicz.
4. "Not if I can help it" Micronauts ad by Michael Golden.
5. DC photo ad for The Ray with the guy modelling the jacket.

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Rorschach Watchmen ad
2. The Great One is coming. Look Sharp! Look up! Look out! The Boom Tube
3. Captain America stalked by Deathlock!
4. Plastic Man: He's not as strong as Superman... He's not as wet as Aquaman...
5. Master of Kung Fu 100... "after 100 issues, we must be doing something right"

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Who Is Mr. X?
2. The "Seven Seconds To Save The World" Thriller Ad
3. The Cerebus Standing On A Guy's Chest Bud Plant Ad
4. Dr. Doom Laughing At Crazy Ad
5. The Up Against A Wall Ad For Love & Rockets

*****

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John Parkin

1. The Power Man yelling/Iron Fist whispering ads drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz
2. "If you're guilty, you're dead" Punisher ad where he blends into the black background
3. Suicide Squad wanted posters
4. Elektra: Assassin ad... "To fight the killer elite, you'd have to be crazy"
5. Dazzler + her super hero friends

*****

I'm old now so I can have complicated opinions about advertising

*****
*****
 
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The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Ilya Visits The Comix Experience Graphic Novel Club


Noah Van Sciver Says Goodbye To Denver For Now


News Story About Cartoonist Needing Transplant


Posting Of The Cartoonist Documentary



Dick Wolfsie Talks To Gary Varvel
 
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CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from August 1 to August 7, 2015:

1. An unassailably good-news story: Tom Tommorow scores multiple times what was originally requested in a crowd-funder for a forthcoming book.

2. Something that happens behind the scenes at small press shows -- media company recruitment -- steps into the foreground as SPX announces Nickelodeon will be taking animation-short pitches at this year's show.

3. Autoptic fires up after week of the PFC program; the Minneapolis-based show could change the shape of the alt-/art comics show calendar if they can make this early August date work.

Winner Of The Week
Tomorrow

Loser Of The Week
Marvel. We'll see if the publisher being increasingly painted as less responsive to fan demand for inclusive character breakdowns and representative creator line-ups has an effect on sales, but these companies do take PR seriously and that's a PR hit no matter how you spin it.

Quote Of The Week
"There's an all-too-cozy relationship between the corporate press and the authorities and it's been this way since Reagan took office." -- Derf


*****

the comic image selected is from the brief but notable 1970s run of Seaboard/Atlas

*****
*****
 
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August 7, 2015


Go, Look: Nancy And Sluggo Of To Summer Camp Again

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Go, Look: Star Wars Pin-Ups

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If I Were In Kansas City, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Seattle, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Dover, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In San Antonio, I’d Go To This

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

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Everyone Within Driving Distance Should Attend Autoptic

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I hope that anyone with a chance to attend will be spending some time with the Autoptic Festival over the weekend. That is a great region for comics people right now, and a very interesting show with a unique perspective and the ability to pull off with some flair everything they've decided to embrace. One hopes for five, six, a dozen shows that highlight scenes and cover comics from an independent and medium-focused standpoint while having things unique to each city, and I think we're on our way to getting there. Minneapolis is key.

I also think that the arts- and alt-comics community could use a bridge event between spring and Fall, particularly if MoCCA continues to stay out of its former home in late June.

Here's a pretty good article that mixes basic information with some statements on focus and intent. It sounds like they have an excellent mix of talent, too. Here is a podcast if like me you are making beef jerky and boiled eggs today and need both hands.
 
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Go, Look: Free Judge Dredd PDF

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August 6, 2015


Go, Look: Victor Hussenot

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Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* totally missed this: Juliet Kahn talks to Michelle Czajkowski.

* Chris Sims talks to Christopher Hastings about ending Dr. McNinja. One of the things I enjoy about webcomics is that as an outsider they seem to me in constant flux, and that means features ending as well as those beginning. That's still a significant publishing event, though.

* speaking of losses that will be felt, I had not realize that Meredith Gran's Octopus Pie had already begun its descent into the airport of the now-completed projects, no matter how many more minutes it has in the air, and it could be a lot.

* I also missed this R. Orion Martin profile of some Chinese webcomics, which sounds like the kind of cool article grown in a test tube to be a cool article.

* finally, Noah Van Sciver ends his run on a music strip for the Denver alt-weekly Westword, which most of us only ever read on-line so I'm putting it here.
 
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If I Were In Kansas City, I’d Go To This

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

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If I Were In San Antonio, I’d Go To This

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Go, Look: Weird Tales Of The Future

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Rob Clough on See You Next Tuesday and Displacement. Todd Klein on Jupiter's Legacy Vol. 1. Sean Gaffney on A Silent Voice Vol. 2. Henry Chamberlain on The Bozz Chronicles. Jerry Smith on Monster Mash. Zed Alexandra on Three Shadows.

* not comics: here's David Sims on why making a Fantastic Four movie is hard. It's hard to make any movie, really. The specific problem with Fantastic Four is that the genius of the comics is in how they were executed, not in the series' conception. At its best, FF was a breathless romp with appealing, imaginative characters. It's not really "about" family, although if you're Stan Lee trying to get Hollywood work in the '60s and '70s you're going to want every concept boiled down in a way that suggests you should be given idea-man work. In life as in pop-culture-reverse-engineering, it's easy to miss the story for the themes. The best run of FF, that glorious #44-#67 stretch, is soaked in story: monsters and beautiful designs and killer pacing and space adventures and forgotten civilizations and worlds within worlds and the greatest comic book creator of the 20th Century at the height of his powers pointing and going, "Look, look, look!"

If it was about anything thematically, I'd suggest Fantastic Four explored a certain kind of American self-conception commnon to the years between 1958 and 1968, the way Wash Tubbs & Captain Easy was about America's last bloom of youth more than it was about adult male friendships or the fluidity of economic status. In the Fantastic Four comics, great power comes with great deformity, if not for you than for someone close. The answer to managing both is to look without and within, into outer and inner space, propelled by dynamic intensity undercut by wisecracking everyman glamour. (The Fantastic Four are the Kennedys, if you squint.) Guest stars encouraged.

If anyone ever again insists on making a Fantastic Four movie, maybe start it in the middle of one action scene and end it in the middle of another one. Make it big. Make it crazy. Make it fun.

* finally, here's a list of submissions guidelines from publishers still willing to take submissions guidelines.
 
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Go, Look: Kim Clements

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Go, Read: Derf Backderf Comes Out Very Strongly For Ted Rall

It's here.

Other than people posting things and making strong claims, I'm not aware of there being any additional news on this story, such as a filing or a lawsuit or a review. Derf's piece lets you know what happened to get us here if you haven't heard, at least as well I could here. The cartoonist Rall was let go from his current relationship with the LA Times based on information provided by the LAPD about an anecdote shared in a Rall editorial. Rall pushed back very hard with his own version of the events and his own explanaton of any evidence provided. He continues to do so.
 
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August 5, 2015


OTBP: Kaboom

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The Never-Ending, Four-Color Festival: Shows And Events

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By Tom Spurgeon

* I don't know that I'd seen a date for Genghis Con until this week. They're doing exhibitor applications here.

* here's some immediate commentary from right after the SPX/Nickelodeon pitch thing was announced, from various community members of good standing: KC Green, Meredith Gran, Zack Soto. I'm certain all of those reactions have developed in the several hours since, with additional tweeting or commentary elsewhere. There are certainly a number of other people commenting. I'm pretty much in the camp that this is done unofficially, that it's good to find new ways to serve your exhibitors, there are definitely potential problematic elements with execution and perception, and we'll see how it goes. It's fun to see people try new things, and I do think it'll be an area of concern for show over the next few years.

* I'm told this Kansas show will celebrate its tenth year this year.

* finally, here's a reminiscence of the SPX anthologies that ran for a period of time into the '00s. I still have all of mine. I don't think they're time capsules as much as they're just pretty entertaining, quality comics, kind of even a dry run at what later become the Kramers Ergot era of anthologies. I think convention-related publishing will hit big again over the next 36 months.
 
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If I Were In Tampa, I’d Go To This

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Go, Look: A Few Nice Brian Bolland Dredd Images

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Todd Klein on Astro City #24. Jim Johnson on This Damned Band #1.

* Sammy Harkham talks to Mike Dawson about Murder At High Tide. I hope somewhere Kim Thompson is listening.

* not comics: I have no idea what any of this means, but I've heard of those companies.

* Brian Cronin presents a couple of Fantastic Four scenes were her invisibility powers were seen as somewhat problematic.

* that mainstream comics has a lack of sympathy for people wanting to see themselves in characters in prominent roles may interest older fans that remember at ime when comics fans really wanted to see themselves and the works they loved in mainstream media, to the point where they picked up on clues and brief moments as well.

* finally, Alex Dueben talks to Eddie Campbell.
 
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Go, Look: Sophie Franz

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there is a lot of beautiful skeetchbook art here
 
posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Nickelodeon Coming To SPX To Hear Animation Pitches

The Beat has a succinct write up of today's announcement that Nickelodeon is coming to the show to hear pitches. I have not gotten back on Twitter as I'm writing this, but I assume there will be a lot of arguments over whether or not this is in the spirit of the show.

SPX used to have more of a professional development track built into its DNA. Scoring an animated show in 2015 isn't the same as getting your book listed with Diamond in 1997, but it's close in terms of it being something aspirational for a lot of comics folk of that time period. SPX being able to lend a hand seems in line with its current self-conception of serving cartoonists less far along on their career paths, including most of the genuinely young ones. Someone is bound to mention as the article at The Beat has that informal talent scouting has gone at these shows for a while. I think most shows will start to do this kind of thing in a more formal fashion. Professional development is a big part of the show that I'm running here in Columbus, and it seems like something on a lot of folks' minds.

A lot of how well this goes will turn on how it's presented. There are a lot of potential pitfalls in execution. Make too big a deal of it on the floor -- by which I mean any deal -- and you're like to get a lot of sneers and rolled eyes. Better to copy programs at shows where books are quietly bought on the floor from retailers and other buyers at the end of a show. You're also like to get some backlash that this is like having an army recruiter at a teenage crafts fair, that you're saying, basically, "if you want to make it, you have to make it somewhere else." Hopefully we can see some more career-building opportunities that are solely comics-oriented, too.
 
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Go, Look: Ariela Kristantina

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Bundled Extra: Final Tally On Tom Tomorrow Book Kickstarter Roars Past $300,000 Mark

I'm not there's a negative anywhere in the story about Tom Tomorrow launching a kickstarter and then having so many people jump on board in support. I'm a fan, and I would not have guessed that level of support, but even in saying that I feel awful because of course he's widely respected and widely read. Maybe I just don't see what I perceive as Tomorrow's audience as being to support crowd-funding campaigns. No matter how I was wrong, I'm glad to be wrong. Congratulations to Mr. Perkins; the launch party should sure be something.
 
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Go, Look: Fun Captain America Action Sequence

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you might have to scroll up
 
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August 4, 2015


Go, Read: Words From A Mexican Political Cartoonist In Self-Exile Over Fears Of Extreme Violence

It's only a small part of a much bigger article, but it's difficult not to read the cartoonist portion of this piece on Mexican journalists fleeing the potential of violent reprisal, some returning to Mexico to live a kind of off the grid, ghostly existence, and not have you breath slip from out of your lungs a bit.

I know if I received a simple declarative note on my car about anything, I'd be so chilled to my soul I might never stop driving except for gas, a Snowpiercer of me not being murdered. It's also nice to see an article where a cartoonist's contributions to a serious story aren't worth noting.
 
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Go, Look: Summer Holidays…

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This Isn’t A Library: Notable Releases Into Comics’ Direct Market

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*****

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. You never know. I'd sure look at the following, though.

*****

APR150469 AMERICAN BARBARIAN COMP SERIES HC $29.99
FEB150458 BERKELEY BREATHEDS ACADEMIA WALTZ & OTHER TRANSGRES HC $39.99
MAR150343 FRANK MILLERS DAREDEVIL ARTIFACT ED HC PI
MAY150450 X-9 SECRET AGENT CORRIGAN HC VOL 06 $49.99
It's a really good week for IDW, their second concentration of prime material in the last couple of months. I don't know if this is a new or a reprint or what of Tom Scioli's American Barbarian material, but that is wonderfully dense and ruthlessly idiosyncratic work, maybe even the Scioliest of them all. A collection of the Berke Breathed student work I believe caps off the IDW reprinting of his library; of course, now there's going to be new material which I can imagine one day making up its own volume. That's been a good relationship for both author and publisher. I can't keep track of the various editions, but I think this is the mostly original one that bounces around a bit; I like all those Frank Miller Daredevil comics as genuine industry-shifting game-changers, so I'd be open to look at a new presentations of them. Finally, the Secret Agent Corrigan material remains as generally strong as anything in the Library Of American Comics portion of IDW, perhaps the consistenly strongest publishing area for the entire company. I'd like to own all of these.

imageJUN150499 DARK CORRIDOR #1 (MR) $3.99
JUN150492 AIRBOY #3 (MR) $2.99
MAY150534 DEADLY CLASS #15 (MR) $3.50
JUN150502 HUMANS #7 (MR) $2.99
JUN150506 MINIMUM WAGE SO MANY BAD DECISIONS #4 (MR) $3.99
MAY150564 SEX #23 (MR) $2.99
APR150983 DEATH IN OAXACA #2 (MR) $4.99
JUN151260 WILL EISNER SPIRIT #2 CVR A POWELL $3.99
JUN150080 BALTIMORE CULT OF THE RED KING #4 $3.99
Rich Tommaso's new series leads off a straong and varied comic book format week. It'd be nice to see Tommaso have a commercial act if only that it might push him towards concentrating on one story or series of stories for a while. Airboy now has an issue between itself and its criticized #2. I'd love to see if that controversy had an effect on sales in either direction. Deadly Class and Humans are two fun books that haven't quite become huge hits yet for the company (perhaps Deadly Class has performed that well; I'm not sure). Both are enjoyable to look at. Bob Fingerman's latedt Minimum Wage seires explores the psychological damage wrought all the way back in the very first. Sex hums along. Death In Oaxaca is the latest from Alternatives; Steve Lafler's visual are as refined as ever. Finally, a lot of people suggested the new Spirit to me. I didn't quite get it; everyone working on it is a pro, but I never figured out why it had to exist. Enough people I know liked it, however, in a way I'm happy to point out to some of them that #2 is out. And then there's our Mignola-verse offering.

APR150073 ART OF SATOSHI KON HC $29.99
APR150032 BOWERY BOYS OUR FATHERS HC $19.99
Two offerings from areas for which Dark Horse doesn't get a ton of credit. Its pipleline into anime and manga, and also art book related to same; its tendency to pick several projects a year for book form from webcomics. I'd definitely take a look at both. There's been no more pleasurable artist to watch over the last three decades than the late Kon. The Bowery Boys work has a nice crispness to it as well. I'd certainly pull each out and give it a look.

JUN151648 NARUTO GN VOL 71 $9.99
One day we'll look back and I bet we start with the well-planned, thematically precise fight scenes. Or the lead character's design. Or something else entirely. But we will come back to this one.

JAN151446 STEVE DITKO ARCHIVES HC VOL 05 DRIPPING FEAR $39.99
Always, always, always look at Steve Ditko.

JUN151727 COMICS OF JOE SACCO JOURNALISM IN VISUAL WORLD HC $60.00
There are textbooks about Joe Sacco now, a cartoonist whose career in comics was guaranteed to continue until about 1999 or so. I haven't come to any significant conclusions about Sacco's work on my own, so it'd be fun to read an academic's take on what he's doing.

APR151502 BRIGHT EYED AT MIDNIGHT HC $22.99
Leslie Stein is one of the brightest lights of current day comics-making; her comics are very personal, both in her motivation to do them and the iconography she chooses to realize those stories. I like this color week, read every single strip as it was posted, and look forward to reading them again. If you had to buy one, this would be that one.

*****

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 failed to list your comic, that's because I hate you.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Amazingly Crude, Oddball Later Underground Cover

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Go, Look: Tales Of Suspense #33

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I missed Andrew Wheeler's long take on the Hercules character specifically and the idea of representation at Marvel comics more generally. I start from a position of not having a ton of interest in those characters to begin with, and identifying in ways that means I don't feel the sharp pang of not being represented in a fantasy world that meant a lot to me at a much young point in my life. Just as a casual consumer I can tell you a rigidly depicted world is a much more boring world, just as a rigidity in voices contributing to that world is almost always a more boring world. Again, I don't understand how such hard choices make sense.

image* Sean Gaffney on Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto Vol. 1. Rob McMonigal on the comics of Kendra Josie Kirkpatrick.

* not comics: early evening yesterday someone sent me to this article from Alyssa Rosenberg on really crappy pay for personal memoir essay writing relative to the enormous place the written-about incidents might have in someone's life. There's some interesting over how to place a value on that kind of thing. I do know it's a different world than a generation ago in that we used to say that everyone had a book in them and now everyone has a Buzzfeed essay. I think a lot of art functions like that and that this process does have a say on what are willing to pay for comics.

* Sarah Mirk profiles Not Funny Ha-Ha and runs some preview pages. I think that's a book that can do a great deal of social good, and I'm grateful Leah Hayes made it.

* the Trouble With Comics contributors write about creators that had the most influence in how they perceive the comics form. Mine is Saul Steinberg, which sounds made up, but it was the biggest break I made between comics as I generally understood them and what was possible with comics.

* I both strongly agree with this and the wider scheme of things care not at all.

* James Whitbrook and Gordon Jackson pick ten comics with no words or next to no words. There are hundreds, I bet, and this is in no way a reporesentative list. No woodcuts, only one manga, no Trondheim, no Jason.

* finally, I hope there are more than this many drawings with the #draw4atena hashtag?
 
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August 3, 2015


Go, Look: Simon Gane Sketches Syros

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Go, Read: A Lengthy Interview With Zapiro

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This is the best interview I've read with the South African political cartoonist Zapiro, and I've read about two dozen. If you get a chance, fire it up. This goes pretty deep into his past, including his time at SVA and his decision to become a cartoonist when that was a choice that not a lot of people knew how to make in a forceful, real way. It also gets into some of the politics of his cartoons, such as the pressure to spare a public figure if they were perceived as finding some weight as a serious political candidate.
 
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Go, Look: Big Daddy Roth #2

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Go, Read: Why I’m Boycotting Marvel Comics

There's an intriguing article here by a J.A. Micheline about the writer's personal boycott of Marvel Comics based on a combination of creative line-ups, character directions and social response to criticism of those first two things. I'm never quite sure if these kinds of actions are actually boycotts: the problem seems to be at the Marvel Comics level, so boycotting Marvel's comics doesn't seem like the kind of broader action that a boycott usually entails. The protest part of it is wholly real, though, and that's where our attention should be. Some of the elements of such a dispute may eventally get worked out. For instance, whether someone is in a group representing a small number of readers or a large number of readers no one really knows until sales figures start hitting, and maybe not even then. It's a time-honored tradition to disrespect any protest made in just that way, and also part of what we've come to expect to respond with umbrage and an argument that the disrespect is part of the problem.

Mostly, disputes raised like this continue to get worked on. I think most people I know that read these kinds of comics on a regular basis are surprised that there hasn't been greater diversity in some of these newer Marvel books in one way or the other or that Marvel's pushback against criticism has seemed unsympathetic to the point of being foolhardy. I get that's what comics people do, but still: everyone saw it coming. Comics are counted in such small numbers that one has a hard time imagining a boycott becoming a viral thing without a big triggering incident. In fact, this is the kind of protest that can be all over one person's social media consumption and not at all in another's. Still, you never know what's going to build momentum and how. It's also because of those relatively small numbers that any group of unhappy fans would seem worth a conciliatory gesture or several steps in their direction. Why would Marvel want DC to win any battle, even one of perception, if you want to define it that way? The wider point is I'm not sure there's a numbers threshold for doing good, and it's hard to find Marvel's positive formulation here. I'm not sure why some of these moves aren't made solely because many of these characters seem like they could use a new approach, and there's a readership for such approaches. There's immense cultural good that can be done here, and some narrative good, too. As I wrote earlier today about Hercules, making him sweep-of-dictator's-hand hetero just seems like stamping one's foot down for the most boring option on a character, a character that is in no way a guaranteed sales success in a way you wouldn't want to leaving one's options open. I'd be upset if I were Hercules' agent.

To take a couple of steps back, I continue to be amazed by folks treating these characters with such ownership, right down to professional assignments. I think it comes from a different place than just wanting a company one supports to act ethically. Remember, though, it's this kind of participation right down to character details that companies like Marvel have always wanted. They should want 400,000 more boycotting fans like this one. Me, it's hard for me to get my mind wrapped around anything being done by a giant corporation to a bunch of properties with legacies that are often very spotty creatively when they exist at all. That's my biggest break; I wasn't even one of those kids that ever thought characters acted "wrong." It's hard for me to boycott something I lost interest in in 1979 that's still not interesting to me for the same reasons. It's a lot more fun run to writer letters about anger than it is ennui, though. I wish them luck in shaping the companies after their more generous, inclusive spirit.
 
posted 5:37 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Leonard Kirk Superheroes Mini-Gallery

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posted 5:36 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: Publishing News

By Tom Spurgeon

image* Marvel's going to try again with their Hercules character. There's some speculation as to whether or not the character will have same-sex relationships. As I think he's depicted having relationships with men and women, it would be weird if he were suddenly fully hetero again.

* speaking of Marvel, they'll still have their policy of making more than 12 issues of their series in a year. They run a multi-million dollar publishing company and I don't, and I'm not even a prime consumer of that kind of material, but this strategy makes it difficult for me to read any issues at all. Almost no artist or art team can keep up, which means breaks in continuity. While an attentive can deal with different creative teams, given the fluidity of title it totally throws me off and I give up trying to buy the title I was previously buying. I also found that the cost of keeping up with one or series when I was expected to buy, say, 31 issues in a year as opposed to 24, made a difference in whether or not I desired to continue with series that made enough of an impression that the art teams hadn't confused me. That really seems like one of those slow beed for series of short-term gain kind strategies. Then again, if the numbers weren't working out in some way, they wouldn't be doing it. At that point moving away from that strategy becomes a "greater good" deal, and Marvel's publishing division is judged, many professionals tell me, by short-term numbers.

* congratulations to Yeti Press on four years of publication.

* Amazon.com listings can be fool's gold so much changes for most of the publisher, particularly those Fantagraphics-sized and smaller, between when a listing might be submitted and when it might actually find its way onto shelves. But it's a fine place to go for general reminders and some additional information if you don't take it as gospel. For instance, a May release for the Lucy Knisley wedding planning book makes perfect sense, and 304 pages sounds like a lot for Knisley and not so many for the general subject matter. Also, every March or so for the last several I've had a friend ask me what Dave Sim's Last Girlfriend is, and then when I tell them almost all make the same comment of "summer reading for me for sure. Looks like we'll get at least one more round of comments there.

* finally, Tom Hart alerted us through e-mail a couple of weeks ago that his Rosalie Lightning is going to be released by St. Martin's in January. It always seems like there's one book that comes out at that point of the year that dominates discussion through May or so, or at least contributes heavily to what we talk about when we talk about comics. I think there's an impulse from a very now-looking hardcore readership base that wants to jump into the new year. That could be the one for 2016, although every month is loaded now.
 
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Not Comics: Beautiful Big Little Book Cover Gallery

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Go, Look: Rare Jack Kirby Comedy Gig In Mid-1950s

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warning: festooned with racist imagery
 
posted 5:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

image* Sean Kleefeld writes about missing out on Mike Parobeck. Comics is a lot bigger than we think it is. I thought I knew everything in 1994. I realize in 2015 that I know very little. It's one of the things that's most exciting about making room in your life for comics.

* Bob Temuka remembers the era of handbooks and guides.

* Todd Klein on Superman #41. John Kane on a bunch of comics and a bunch of other comics. Henry Chamberlain on Steve McQueen: Full Throttle Cool. Johanna Draper Carlson on The Baby-Sitters Club: The Truth About Stacey. Michael Buntag on Archie Vs. Predator #3-4. J. Caleb Mozzocco on a bunch of different comics. James Baon on A Sailor's Story. Misti Cooper on Knight. Andy Oliver on Like A Shark In A Swimming Pool.

* Sean T. Collins talks to Matt Furie. RJ Casey profiles Dan Zettwoch.

* finally, Katie Skelly draws Valentina.
 
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Go, Look: Beautiful Jack Davis Splash Pages

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Festivals Extra: APE Puts Call Out For Panel Proposals

Here. APE is going through a big transitional year, so if you're attending or thinking about attending, they would likely love to work with you. I think that show will be very well-attended back out in San Jose.
 
posted 12:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Strength Of Man Portfolio Images

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August 2, 2015


Ted Rall Has Police Tape Enhanced, Makes Counter-Charges Against LAPD And LA Times

Ted Rall and the media site aNewDomain have continued to press Rall's case against justifications used by the LA Times in deciding to no longer use him as a freelancer. The latest is an enhanced version of a tape provided by the LAPD to the Times, which reveals some dialogue between the cop and an on-looker. I want to make sure that this gets linked to, considering I wrote an article about the back and forth up to the moment at a previous moment, here.

I am going to assume that a lot of articles of similar length and focus will appear at aNewDomain, the majority by Rall. If you want to keep up on the back and forth as it happens, that's probably the place where the most content is going to be generated. I will continue to track and look in on how the story gets reported both there and outside of these very specific channels.

This has already reached a staggering level of directed language and loaded description. A significant chunk of what we have to think thorugh is in the form of an Internet Argument. It might be a full time job for someone to pull everything out and examine it. Did this person really say that, can we trace this claim back to an actual statement, and so on.

When you apply vastly different concepts to the same things, it's hard to have an argument at all, let alone suss out the truth from one side or the other. I don't think losing a freelance gig is the same as losing a position, I think vastly different standards apply. so it would be nice if one set of descriptives were used. I'm not sure why the LA Times didn't punish, criticize or suspend Rall's editors (the primary Times front line here) if they feel a disservice to the truth was done. If the Times is to be damned for seeming to back a version of events that can be picked at, Rall can be held to that same standard. I'm not sure who comes off better were that the case. I'm also not certain why the Times' perceived potential conflict of interest due to its relationship with the LAPD is a more effectively dismissive accusation of bias than a guy arguing directly on his own behalf. The Times may feel the influence of the LAPD, but not more than Ted Rall is pro Ted Rall.

In the end I think the Times looks like less than a major player for using a guy until they're criticized and then showing him the door. They look like boobs if they didn't enhance the tape. It could be they decided it didn't matter. I also think that some of Rall's claims look more like a chat room jeremiad than a rational refutation of the broader facts in question. Freelance relationships are tough, they count on the editor trusting the freelancer, and I don't think that was happening here and thus both sides are better off walking away from one another. Ironically, the furious way in which Rall has gone after his former client may say more about his desirability as a freelancer than anything the police department has claimed.
 
posted 11:55 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Terror House

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posted 5:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Another Comeback For National Lampoon

Hollywood Reporter has a piece up on the latest comeback for National Lampoon, which looks in theory like the last few times I've read feature articles on the company: leveraging their brand names and finding some sort of approximation of the process that got them properties in the first place, only favoring 21st century delivery systems. A magazine is way, way, off the table. I always thought they could do well with a magazine, just because it'd take almost no money to run one and I'm not sure that on-line content and YouTube videos provide the same kind of fully realized ideas that gave the Lampoon concepts like Animal House.
 
posted 5:25 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Mary Blair’s Peter Pan Concept Art

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posted 5:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Cave-Man Curly

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posted 5:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Liz Anna Kozik

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August 1, 2015


If I Were In Tampa, I’d Go To This

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If I Were In Boston, I’d Go To This

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posted 5:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

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

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posted 5:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #425—Less Than Five

On Friday, CR readers were asked to "Name Five Comics-Related Things That Never -- Or Haven't Yet -- Made It To Five." This is how they responded.

*****

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Oliver Ristau

1. Times Daniel Clowes has been ripped off by Shia LaBeouf.
2. Transformers vs. G.I. Joe issues released for Free Comic Book Day which featured exclusive material by Tom Scioli.
3. Editors of Heavy Metal Magazine
4. Black writers involved in those all new, all different Marvel comics.
5. Contributions to Five For Friday being rejected.

*****

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Michael Dooley

1. Terror Illustrated (1 issue)
2. Air Pirates Funnies (2 issues)
3. Raw, volume 2 (3 issues)
4. Big Numbers (? issues)
5. Art d’Ecco (4 issues

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Months since DC did something stupid
2. Days that Watchmen has been out of print
3. IDW Artist's Editions featuring Jack Kirby artwork
4. Fingers per hand on Pogo
5. Number of times any given creator has felt like they were doing as well as they could... in the past five minutes

*****

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Des Devlin

1. Fingers on Donald Duck’s Hand (But Not Darnold Duck’s)
2. Issues of Instant Piano
3. The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and Their Pets
4. Cerebus Marriages
5. The Emotional Age of Too Many Online Comic Book Fans

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1. Issues Of Blazing Combat
2. Chapters of Vaughn Bode's Sunpot
3. Good Fantastic Four films
4. Volumes of The Cartoon History Of The Universe
5. Trots & Bonnie collections

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Issues Of D'Arc Tangent
2. Years Of Marvel Self-Distributing Through Heroes World
3. Times The Comics Reporter Will Ever Win An Eisner
4. Guest Appearances By Stan Lee On Thicke Of The Night
5. Peanuts Dailies Starring Ethan

*****

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Steve Replogle

1. Stephen Bissette's Tyrant (only four issues)
2. The Original Big Bang mini-series from Cailber Press that never resolved the cliff-hanger from Issue #4 ( with the modern "Round Table of America" ).
3. Dark Horse seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (they are now on Season 10, their third).
4. Barry Windsor-Smith hardcovers from Fantagraphics related to the magnificent BWS: Storyteller project. So far, Fantagraphics has published three: Young Gods and Friends, The Freebooters, and Adastra in Africa. The fourth and (probably last), centered around Paradoxman, has not yet been released - it's been ten years. I'm still hoping, though!
5. DenSaga by Richard Corben - four amazing issues in the early NIneties, and the story left so far uncompleted. Corben is still making masterpieces, though, as with his recent Rat God form Dark Horse.

*****
*****
 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
The Comics Reporter Video Parade


Tom Toles On Cartooning And Free Expression


Profile Of Celeste Wamiru


Chester Gould On To Tell The Truth (Panelist Tom Poston Was Apparently Born 50 Years Old)


Aseem Trivedi, Drawing A Crowd


Do Cartoonists Have Power?


Dave Sim Talks About A Future Estate Gift To The Cerebus Trust
 
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week In Review

imageThe top comics-related news stories from July 25 to July 31, 2015:

1. Ted Rall blasts the LA Times for how they severed their relationship with him as a freelancer.

2. An anonymous Cerebus fan pledges $500,000 to the Cerebus Trust by making it the primary beneficiary of his estate.

3. Another major alt-show announced, this time for Denver.

Winner Of The Week
The Cerebus Trust

Losers Of The Week
General media coverers of comics, like this site, that don't do the job of covering manga that they should.

Quote Of The Week
"One of the emotional controls a writer requires is to be able to write something, spends days or even weeks on it and then to review it and say, 'This isn't good enough' and toss it out and immediately start on a rewrite or something else." -- Mark Evanier

*****

the comic image selected is from the brief but notable 1970s run of Seaboard/Atlas

*****
*****
 
posted 2:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
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