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

April 11, 2009

Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* if you didn't notice, I couldn't get on the site from Tuesday evening until late yesterday. We apologize for the delay in bringing you up to date material, and will endeavor to use the experience to help make any delays in the future much shorter ones. As a bonus, those of you paying attention this week now know what the site will look like the first few days after I die in my sleep.

* Mark Evanier had a pair of updates from Len Wein, whose family was burned out of their home on Monday morning. It looks like one nice thing that the larger comics community will be able to do for Wein is to help restore his massive library, particularly of works created by Len Wein.

image* influenced by forces including but not limited to a nascent Team Comics impulse and an unwillingness to believe something I liked that much could be that bad in movie form, seventeen-year-old me wrote one of the only two or three positive reviews in the American press of the 1986 Howard The Duck movie, finally available in all the popular home formats. Keith Phipps at Slate takes a second look at the film, which quickly turns into an extended meditation on Steve Gerber's comic book. You sort of have to have been reading and paying attention to comics before 1986 to know just how much that movie eviscerated the comic book's reputation.

* the writer and prominent comics blogger Kevin Church looks up what pops up as popular searches for the name "Kitty Pryde" and then makes a Mr. Yuck face.

* the talented cartoonist Adrian Tomine in his World Without Borders interview gives a couple of interesting pieces of advice: start small, and say no to as many interviews as possible. Tomine seems to think it would benefit many comics authors not to sign that big contract until they're ready, and joins a growing number of cartoonists and comics makers who are making less and less time for interviews. I'm not sure I can blame them: they don't seem to move books and may indeed hold within them the perils of speaking in an off-the-cuff fashion. Except mine.

* I agree with most of this. Alfred and Bat-Mite are definitely additional advantages for Batman, though.

* not comics: Dungeons and Dragons co-creator Dave Arneson has passed away from complications arising from cancer. Arneson had to sue the Dungeons and Dragons people for some of the proper co-creator status he always deserved in spirit and probably deserved via much more money. When I paid attention to the American comics industry and American gaming industries at the same time for a brief amount of time, Arneson always seemed to me to be a lot like similarly, justifiably disgruntled creators in the mainstream comics realm from over the years. I don't know if that's a comparison that would hold up to severe scrutiny, but it felt the same.

* I can't wait for Percy Carey's list of comics-related businesses that seem determined to stay small-time. That would be interesting to read, as I can't think of a one.

* speaking of interesting reads, Eric Reynolds digs up a great quote from a 1996 interview with Chris Oliveros in Jeff Levine's Destroy All Comics, one of two magazines trying to outflank The Comics Journal in the mid-1990s. (Destroy All Comics focused on a lot of new artists they felt weren't being covered and was more unabashedly enthusiastic about supporting them; Crash seemed to think the Journal didn't browbeat its interview subjects enough). The nut of the quote is that Oliveros couldn't even conceive of a time that when comics authors did works for the book market without serializing them in comic book form first; now that's basically all he publishes. I always say this, but a relative success scale really favors a lot of smaller concerns. If in 1996 you had asked Chris Oliveros and Kim Thompson to describe a wished-for market for 2010 and Marvel and DC executives to do the same, I bet Oliveros and Thompson's description would be a lot closer to the market they have than the mainstream executives' would be to the market they have.

* not comics: Fantagraphics reports that Unlovable has been picked up by Urban Outfitters for display in a suite of stores. That could be interesting or a footnote; I have no idea.

* finally, I'm not much of Bomb Queen fan, but let's make one thing clear: no child needs Silas Marner.
posted 7:30 am PST | Permalink

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