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















March 31, 2009


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

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Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's largely accurate list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America.

I might not buy all of the works listed here. I might not buy any. But were I in a comic book shop tomorrow I would more than likely pick up the following and look them over, causing chaos.

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FEB090103 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #24 JEANTY CVR $2.99
24 already. Well.

JAN098012 PREACHER # 1 SPECIAL EDITION $1.00
Are we at the point where comics readers of a certain age are going to just dig into things like Preacher as a formative pop-culture experience? Because watch out when that happens.

JAN094230 HO HC $19.99
Well, I had to know what this was, and it turns out it's a collection of Ivan Brunetti's sometimes-repulsive cartoon gags of a relentlessly naughty kind. I like these quite a bit.

FEB090263 SEAGUY THE SLAVES OF MICKEY EYE #1 (OF 3) (MR) $3.99
I very much liked the first series by Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart, and I expect I'll like this one, too. Some folks really, really, really like this material.

FEB092546 WOLVERINE MAGAZINE #1 $6.99
I'd like to imagine this is a 'zine written by Wolverine himself, including several pages of spilled ink where he goes into a Berserker's Rage while reviewing the first several episodes of Gossip Girl.

NOV084060 BOODY BIZARE COMICS OF BOODY ROGERS GN $19.99
Some of the greatest, oddest comics of all time.

DEC084175 DUNGEON ZENITH TP VOL 03 BACK IN STYLE $12.95
I never quite understand the details of the Trondheim/Sfar fantasy mini-epics, but I always enjoy them.

JAN093923 GLAMOURPUSS #6 $3.00
This is Dave Sim's magazine, and it's good to see it up to #6.

NOV084059 SUPERMEN FIRST WAVE OF HEROES (1939-41) GN $24.99
I liked this book quite a bit: a high-end reproduction of several comic book from the era before Superman started to lock the genre into place. The result is a bunch of frequently weird, hallucinatory adventure fantasies.

FEB094256 GOOD BYE HC (O/A) (MR) $19.95
This book of fiction from Yoshihiro Tatsumi was I believe slightly undervalued last year. It's very strong.

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The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations and a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite this official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few. Also, stores choose what they carry and don't carry so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, albeit a while back, try this.

The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you they don't have in-stock. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I didn't list your comic, I blame my teachers.

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posted 7:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Sun-Times Media Group Inc. Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

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I think the owner of the Sun-Times declaring bankruptcy counts as major news given its big-name status and what this portends for the general decline of newspapers, although it's worth being reminded that Chapter 11 is the reorganization kind of bankruptcy not the pull it and let fly down the drain kind.

I'm working from memory here, but I believe the Sun-Times has four tabloid-sized pages of comic strips including Garfield and Cul De Sac, and has been the home of some great editorial cartoonists including Bill Mauldin (1962-1995) and their current heavy-hitter, Pulitzer Prize-winner Jack Higgins. I can't recall if STMG still owns some suburban papers or not.
 
posted 4:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Operation Comix Relief Told They Cannot Ship Comic Books Via Media Rate

An e-mail sent out by Chris Tarbassian to supporters of the effort Operation Comix Relief this morning detailed that group's efforts to retain media rate postage for the comic book it sends to military personnel. They were told on March 20 that they would no longer have this right according to an August 2008 decision by the postal service to disallow that material that specific rate. This will, as anyone that's been to the post office will testify, double or more than double what they'll routinely pay for the service they provide. The group says they have made extensive use of media rate postage until this recent notification.

Tarbassian reprinted the text of a letter he's sent to President Obama and the offices of Senators Kerry and Kennedy hoping for some sort of ruling or interpretation in his group's favor:
My name is Chris Tarbassian and I am the Founder/President of Operation Comix Relief, a non profit in Massachusetts that ships comics to our soldiers stationed outside the United States, free of charge since 2003.

Thought I am doubtful you will even see this letter I write to you as a concerned citizen who believes it is every citizen's job to care for our soldiers while they are deployed. However please note that this is NOT another letter about the Gulf war.

For years now my organization and its volunteers have raised funds to ship comics to our soldiers, following all the guidelines and rates set forth by the United States Postal Service. Never once have we tried to bypass anything, working tirelessly to raise the funds so we can ship to our soldiers.

However on 3/20 we were told that we could no longer ship using the Media Mail rate, and that our shipping rate will double. The story unfolds below as I told a supporter tonight.

In 2003 we began shipping packages to soldiers world wide using the bound printed matter rate. A few years later that rate was dissolved and no longer exists... which is why when the postal service mentioned it to me on Friday (3/27), I had to remind them it no longer exists.

Therefore the next level provided to use (that was the least expensive) was the media mail rate.

Since that time which I believe was 2004 or 2005 we have used this rate until 3/20/09.

In an e-mail provided to me by the USPS (see attachment) the reason we can't use media mail is because it is a serial publication AND has ads.

In a conversation I had on 3/23 with Ms. Rupp-Ruggeri (who seemed very disinterested) I confirmed this and was told it is however alright for me to send books like James Bond and Tom Clancy novels. Even Encyclopedia Britannica (which I have a copy of).

As I reminded her not only are all those serial publications but HAVE ads in them. Most books in book stores have ads in them. Even cook BOOKS which ironically I can send using the media mail rate.

So my next question is why are comic BOOKS being singled out (please note the attached e-mail). Indeed very odd!

Comic books come in a wide variety of ways; from the ones we are all familiar with all the way to hard bound volumes. Well interestingly enough when the Post Master of Framingham, MA (Mr. LaValle) was shown several of these on 3/20 he told me very clearly they are excluded as well and CAN NOT go media mail. The ad he said that excluded one of them...was the one to help you find a comic book store near you! It wasn't selling anything.

Also please note...we had been shipping graphic novels as wells as other types of comics prior to 3/20.

We were then offered flat rate boxes as an option. However the USPS needs to remember not every soldier I ship to may be able to receive a box, because they may not be at a base. Boxes don't fit well into backpacks and are not easy to carry!

Also, the same sized box mailed at the media mail rate is still less expensive.

Recently someone mentioned to me, that the USPS is a government agency and should be able to interoffice these packages free of charge to another government agency. Not a bad idea but that's not likely to happen.

Operation Comix Relief has always paid to ship to soldiers and has never tried to find a way around shipping, we have just tried to find be best rate to do the best for the most people. To date we have shipped over 100,000 to our soldiers world wide. All free of charge.

Comic books are used by people differently and in different way. As a matter of fact, many illiterate soldiers in WWII used them to educate themselves. To some they are another form of art. These folks find them of educational value.

This sudden (Aug 14, 08), arbitrary and biased decision that is only documented in an email needs to be seriously questioned. If real, it needs to be changed.

Please note that the email only refers to comic books. Yet I can send any other type of book including cook BOOKS.

Regardless of how the soldiers use them, it is up to us to support them not to profit off of them!

Now I understand that one of the three of you gentlemen is a comic book fan. However can any of the three of you please help correct this problem so we can continue to ship and support our soldiers.
Tarbassian urges supporters of his group to contact any and all relevant parties on the matter and provide the following contact information for the person with whom he primarily dealt.

Cher Rupp-Ruggeri
Marketing Specialist
Business Mail Entry and
Payment Technologies
USPS Headquarters
475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Room 2P846
Washington, DC 20260-0846

I hadn't heard of the new ruling. It used to be that comic book periodicals were called into question in terms of using Media Rate postage because of the number of ads they usually carried, although that likely wouldn't be a problem right now.
 
posted 4:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Another Cartoonist Leaves Staff Position?

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This time it's Tom Meyer, according to a report in the Sacramento Business Journal based on partial publication of a list on a local blog, that's accepting a buyout from the San Francisco Chronicle. If true, and I have yet to see word directly from Meyer, he'd be leaving along with some of that paper's bigger names reputation-wise. His feature is/was called "Meyer's Take."

The New York Times gets into the Chronicle's unique situation a bit: it's not a typical newspaper in terms of content, approach or market share, and never has been. It also offer what's going to become a very important issue over the next 24 months: a working, popular web site that generates very little morning, giving another example for the rising number of voices that believe that the key issue isn't the loss of print but the specific advertising engine that print had come to represent.
 
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Several Suggestions From You For Webcomics We Should Be Reading

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* Kurt Busiek recommends you take a peek at Bearskinrug.

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* Jeff Kocan suggests Diary Of A Catering Whore.

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* John Burgess proposes Tom Gauld's Flickr Stream.

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* Abhay Khosla nominates Zip and Lil Bit Funnies.

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* Dave Knott proffers PHD Comics, Penny Arcade, Hitmen For Destiny

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* Wesley Osam wants you to look at a whole bunch of stuff: A Softer World, Cat and Girl, Double Fine Action Comics, Dresden Codak, Dicebox, Finder, Nobody Scores, Pictures For Sad Children, Scary Go Round, The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, The Non-Adventures of Wonderella and We the Robots.

*****

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* Sandy Bilus asks that you consider Weird Fishes and Comic Critics.

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* Zachary Noble can't believe I didn't have Forming on my initial list, and isn't happy about it.

*****

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* Dan Boyd seconds We The Robots and firsts Misery Loves Sherman, cow & buffalo and The Everyday

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* Jamie S. Rich enjoys The Everyday, Moving Pictures and We The Robots, already recommended, and Ellerbisms and Dar, which haven't been.

*****

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* Evan Harrison Cass is a booster for Things Change, Silly Daddy Comics and My Life As A Bunny

*****

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* Sean Kleefeld wants you to know about Clockwork Game, Girl Genius, My Cardboard Life, Odysseus: The Rebel, The Sergeant & Prof. Skeary Winslow, The System, The Ten Doctors, Tozo, the Public Servant and Weapon Brown.

*****

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* Cyrus Marriner seconds Pictures For Sad Children and offers up MS Paint Adventures.

*****

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* Chris Arrant can't pick just one: Techno Tuesday, Truck Bearing Kibble, President Awesome, Johnny Crossbones, Joe Loves Crappy Movies, Derf!, Multiplex and Red Kelso.

*****
*****
 
posted 4:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Gemstone Maybe Still In Bed With Disney; Diamond Not Giving Xeric Pass?

Jeff Vaughn at Gemstone Comics has denied a leaked rumor that they've cut ties with Disney over their licensing of the classic comic books, although he confirms recent firings. This is one of those stories that's frustrating because it consists almost entirely of non-confirmable assurances. I will say that from second-hand sources the story is all over the freaking place: one of the artists involved believes that Gemstone severed ties with Disney, some folks are saying that a severance took place but went the other way with Disney making the decision, some folks are saying that other publishers are already pursuing the license. All I'd feel safe saying today is that the license and the long-time relationship between licensing company and licensee seems to be in some question.

Here's another one that seems to have been confused in the telling: the creator that I believe said Diamond was going to guarantee the distribution of Xeric -winning book may now be saying that such books will be given consideration on a case by case basis with the fact that the book received the Xeric having some influence.

I know these are the kinds of stories why one links to whatever statement is driving it directly and why one uses words like "apparently" and makes liberal use of question marks and leaves phone message whether or not they're returned, but I'm going back to bed. Ugh.
 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Luzern, I'd Go To This

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If I Were Near EMU, I'd Go To This

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OTBP: Mind-Mapping

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Go, Look: A Classic Al Wiseman And Fred Toole Dennis The Menace Story

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Go, Look: Early Steve Bissette

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Go, Look: Alison Bechdel Reviews A Pocket History Of Sex In The Twentieth Century

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and talks about doing so here
 
posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* my new hero, Dwayne McDuffie

image* Eric Reynolds has a nice little essay up about buying the new Muppet Show comic book at his local comic book store. I agree with him that it's hard for an adult with his background and inclinations to find comics to buy on a regular basis, and Eric's tastes aren't really wacky or out there or anything. I also share his discouragement at the practice of variant covers, which I believe people defend on the basis that it works and it's just one of those things like the favor given number one issues no matter what that indicates dysfunction at the heart of certain ways of making comics available. I think it would take someone with deep pockets and a specific mandate to even try to resuscitate the quality non-adventure periodical. While that's not impossible -- there are theaters and publishing houses out there that remain viable while mining an even more limited audience with works much more obtuse than a Roger Langridge comic -- I'm not expecting a non-profit, serial comics-only, single line-wide format publisher to pop up any time soon. I think that way of doing comics has through multiple cuts bled out past the point of being able to lift its head up and recognize the Eric Reynolds kind of customer, and soon may have its temperature drop past the "superhero-plus" customer as well.

* not comics: I knew I should have allowed comments.

* oh, so that's what that means.

* finally, everyone except IDW please stop now.
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 44th Birthday, Steven T. Seagle!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Timo Makela!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Thomas Labourot!

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Happy 41st Birthday, David Boller!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, F'murr!

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Happy 72nd Birthday, Pablo Marcos!

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Quick hits
Reviews
Paul O'Brien: Various
Tucker Stone: Various
Andy Frisk: Elektra #1
Douglas Wolk: Various
Snow Wildsmith: Various
Koppy McFad: Trinity #43
John Mitchell: The Savage
Zak Edwards: Runaways #8
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Proof #18
Hervé St-Louis: The Gwaii #1
Rob Clough: The Eternal Smile
J. Caleb Mozzocco: I Saw You...
Andy Frisk: Madame Xanadu #9
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Greg McElhatton: Glamourpuss #5
Shannon Smith: The Herbivores #2
Leroy Douresseaux: Pure Heart Vol. 1
Chris Allen: Batman: Private Casebook
Leroy Douresseaux: St. Dragon Girl Vol. 2
Leroy Douresseaux: Mixed Vegetables Vol. 3
Ben Morse: The Muppet Show Comic Book #1
Grant Goggans: The Muppet Show Comic Book: #1
J. Caleb Mozzocco: The Incredibles: Family Matters #1
Johanna Draper Carlson: The Name Of The Flower Vol. 1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Courtney Crumrin and The Prince Of Nowhere
 

 
March 30, 2009


Not Comics: Time Of Death, Please

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posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #33

* Amazon.com is shuttering a few of its distribution centers. I have no idea what that means, and don't know enough about Amazon.com to know how that might be emblematic of corporate culture one way or the other, but there it is.

* it looks like Gemstone and Disney have come to a parting of the ways -- I'm unclear at this hour who pulled the plug on whom or how it developed in any way. I'm hearing about more firings in the Erie office, too. This might make a nice fit for someone like IDW that has a kids' line but no real identity for it, but it would come without the long-time infrastructure for making those comics and I wonder if that whole expression of comics hasn't been exhausted for North America, for whatever reason.

* the Associated Press has a handy list of papers that have dropped editions, one way that newspapers are dealing with immediate financial concerns and re-focusing what they do in a manner I can see going long-term. Much like if you ask anyone under 40 if they would accept delivery of mail three days a week and they'd say yes even as the US Postal Service wrings it hand over dropping Saturdays, dropping days of the paper makes perfect sense to a lot of newer newspaper folks, many of which already utilize partial-week subscription plans.

* I would think the answer here is just sell them at a modest price. I'd like one, and I haven't lived in Seattle for years now.

* after reading Ted Rall's call to come drink beer with him in Seattle this summer and figure out what the hell to do about editorial cartooning, I wanted to sign up and I don't make editorial cartoons.

* as someone who thinks newspapers may have died when they switched from paperboys on foot with bags of papers to grown men in trucks driving past at 30 MPH, I'm not going to discount any of the people named in this essay as the cause of newspapers' decline. Also, new media star Bill Simmons follows up the discussion of newspapers' decline he had with Chuck Klosterman with some of the same with longtime media player John A. Walsh. Those start right up if you click them.
 
posted 4:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Bookmark: Darryl Cunningham Joins Act-I-Vate With Streets Of San Diablo

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I can almost hear Dean Haspiel muttering, "Oh, now he posts something when we launch a comic." Hey, I'll admit it: I like Darryl Cunningham enough to get past my aversion to new webcomic launch news items.
 
posted 4:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Three Articles On Three Gatherings

* the retailer and pundit Brian Hibbs writes on the meeting held by DM retailer organization ComicsPro in Memphis recently. He extols the virtues of the show and why people should want to attend more than any concrete thing that came out of the meetings. I could wish for more of the latter, but it's my responsibility to get there and cover these things, so I should probably shut up. I would say that the one thing that probably kept me from attending more than any other is that the air travel from my mid-sized airport has for a while been prohibitively expensive for places not a top 10 city or Las Vegas, which I mention not for my benefit but for people to perhaps consider when putting shows in non-major cities, even great ones like Memphis.

* although he's not really talking about the recent New England Webcomics Weekend as much as general models and the overall implication of being able to publish on the Internet, Gary Tyrrell sure sounds like he's working off of the energy worked up at that recent, potentially landmark show.

* the Swiss comics show Fumetto is going on this week, and a chunk of the Comics Comics/Picturebox crew will be among the small but hearty North American contingent in attendance. Fumetto is a show that a lot of people I know want to attend because it's kind of the antithesis of the typical American show in that there's almost no commerce (I think there's one tiny set-up somewhere in town with a few books) and any industry feel seems to extend as far as the people who are there want to discuss it, which isn't much. Plus it's in Luzern, which looks like this.
 
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In Luzern, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Anonymous Adventures In The People Business Illustrations

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Go, Look: Two ASIFA Rerun Posts

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Go, Look: Alex Toth's Eclipso

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Go, Look: Charles Hatfield On Use Of Diagrams In Bottomless Belly Button

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posted 3:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* there's an excellent, short interview with Daniel Clowes here.

image* one thing I hadn't noticed about the launch of the Image Comics title Viking is that it makes use of a slightly unorthodox format employed by Image Comics on its recent Golden Age-related concepts: slightly bigger size, different paper.

* today's reason to wish I had a real job. I don't have any idea what they're talking about, and I've read that post three times.

* one of the reasons I like the Cul De Sac blog is that Richard Thompson is one of the more insightful cartoonists working in terms of self-appraisal, like this post on a Sunday that didn't quite work in some ways. It's not uncommon for something to happen to an existing Sunday where a daily suddenly gets drafted into Sunday service.

* this NYT article about comic book price hikes is the usual NYT present a story idea reinforced by PR rather than present a story about the comics industry, an industry defined as two companies wide. I'm not sure I believe a word of what's put out there as explanations in this piece, let alone think much of the posturing about price increases as opposed to finding a next package up or however it's phrased. I wish someone would just say it's the big companies betting that they believe the devoted fan will pay the increased price point, and that the notable thing is that they're hedging by making it an effort limited to top books or value-added ones. It does underline my fear that what we're getting is a very short-term reaction to the market rather than the beginnings of a long-term strategy about that still-successful format. My guess is that Marvel is looking for ways to boost the bottom line during a fallow movie period and while things are fairly strong line-wide and that DC is following Marvel because that's what DC tends to do on a lot of these things. That's no better than a guess, though.

* egad, it's Cowboy Rorschach!

* not comics: I hope that part of the advice being doled out at this taped seminar to help book people deal with on-line publicity is "don't be a giant, patronizing asshole," but I'm not holding out a lot of hope.

* finally, I would disagree with Tim O'Neil that Alan Moore's "Burn" was the beginning of "momentism" (emphasis on instances of encapsulation) in super-hero comics. I'd go with this panel instead, although you might be able to argue that it's not the same thing. I think Moore was really good at it because he's good at most everything comics-wise and that Flash-era Mark Waid was probably its most important practitioner because he built stories around those moments rather than the other way around. You probably have to figure it as a story-reaction to Image's splash page approach, too. Mark Millar as its ultimate disciple is funny and probably very true. O'Neil's essays on Kingdom Come have been fun, although my own preference would be for more liberal use of the words "obvious," "awful" and "stupid."
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 44th Birthday, Forg!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Greg Capullo!

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Quick hits
Craft
Benjamin Birdie Draws Swamp Thing

Exhibits/Events
Who Will Be In Maine
Tatsumi Is Coming! Tatsumi Is Coming!

History
Another Kelley Jones Contraption

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Marc Guggenheim
Graphic NYC: Joe Kubert
Heroes Online: Guy Davis
Digital Strips: Zach Weiner
Baker's Dozen: Ron Garney
Baker's Dozen: Manuel Auad
Marvel.com: Kathryn Immonen

Not Comics
Goodbye To Blender
Watchmen, Hot And Cool
Ethan Persoff Moves In Strange Circles

Publishing
What He's Buying
What Reviewers Are Reading
Rumbling Chapter Two Preview
What Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer Are Up To

Reviews
Jog: Various
Abhay Khosla: Various
Johny Bacardi: Various
Koppy McFad: Trinity #43
Sandy Bilus: The Eternal Smile
Don MacPherson: Frankie Pickle
Hervé St-Louis: Daredevil #117
Erika Szabo: Madame Xanadu #8
Professor Fury: Invincible Iron Man
Hervé St-Louis: The New Avengers #51
Hervé St-Louis: The Mighty Avengers #23
Leroy Douresseaux: La Corda d'Oro Vol. 10
Hervé St-Louis: Justice League Of America #31
Hervé St-Louis: Transformers: All Hail Megatron #9
 

 
March 29, 2009


CR Sunday Magazine: Everything That's In My Webcomics Folder Right Now

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By Tom Spurgeon

I wanted to write a short note about comics available on-line because I think that's a part of the comics-reading experience that will only grow in the years ahead and is likely a significant part of many folks' comics consumption right now. I put it off, worried that my tastes might be way too ordinary as a focus for such a conversation. There are huge, mostly selfish blind spots in my on-line comics consumption. Although I have read all of these things at one time or another, I don't read the Zuda comics (I haven't thought enough of the comics to get past my distaste for their reader), scanlations generally (just not enough material that interests me to the point to make that a recurring thing) or those helpful downloads of all the weekly comic books people scan and put up to be seized and placed on my hard drive. I'm pretty vanilla.

Upon reconsideration, I think the fact there are so many different kinds of readers of comics on-line is a positive thing about this work and this way of reading it right at this moment. There's nothing inherently wrong with the guy who only reads Doonesbury on-line or inherently right about the person whose RSS reader is stuffed with 50 or more efforts by cartoonists print comics fans have never heard of and into the whole new scene aspect of certain groupings of those comics. Or vice-versa. It's all out there to be read and discovered and to become a part of our comics-reading lives, or for us to pass on doing so. Just like all the other comics.

So what follows is a short list of the comics that I look in on regularly with my computer as opposed to cracking the spine of a book or folding past the staples of a traditional comic book. There are thousands and thousands more out there, to be sure. If anyone wants to suggest ones I might consider reading with the same regularity, I'm likely forgetting a dozen so where the bookmark is in my brain -- "hey, I should go look at ______" -- rather than my computer. I'll publish any and all of your suggestions for everyone to see, and hopefully learn something myself. (Chicago Theater Rules, please.)

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* Mugwhump The Great, Roger Langridge
All Roger Langridge comics deserve your attention.

*****

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* Cul-De-Sac, Richard Thompson
This is the only majorly-distributed daily comic that I read every day, and because it's not in my local newspaper this is how I read it.

*****

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* Cul-De-Sac Blog, Richard Thompson
While I also read the daily on the syndicate site, Richard Thompson's presentation is a great way to access his work generally including the best and most notable examples of the strip. I like it because I otherwise wouldn't see Richard's Poor Almanac from various time periods and for one-off oddities like the above.

*****

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* Sin Tutulo, Cameron Stewart
Cameron Stewart's straight-ahead mystery narrative -- straight-ahead in the telling, if not within the narrative itself -- has grown on me quite a bit, and I look forward to new installments.

*****

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* Fart Party, Julia Wertz
I think you either find Julia Wertz funny or not -- her approach is so simple and straightforward I can't think of another way to easily access her work, although I guess you could see the site as more of a diary. Anyway, I think she's funny, so I enjoy the site on that level.

*****

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* Tom Toles at the Washington Post, Tom Toles
I think they've done a nice job with Toles' on-line presence, but mostly I just like Tom Toles.

*****

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* Pat Oliphant at Gocomics.com
I don't look in on Pat Oliphant as frequently as I check out what Tom Toles is up to, but he's still a very considerable presence on the editorial page.

*****

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* Kate Beaton's Comics, Kate Beaton
Really funny. If she gets even better, watch out. If she stays just like this, she'll be just fine.

*****

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* Laura Park's Various Flickr Sets, Laura Park
I like how not really relatively accessible this work is, which I think adds a layer of effort and kind of digging around that adds to the reading experience. Plus I just think a lot of it is very good.

*****

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* Hicksville Comics, Dylan Horrocks
It's like having Pickle back, although I guess you could also see this as a collection of different strips of varying interest rather than a cohesive whole. I can't stop you.

*****

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* Achewood, Chris Onstad
One of the handful of great comics to come out of the on-line comics movement and one of the signature comics of the decade.

*****

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* The Fantagraphics On-Line Comics, Various
I also see this as an anthology where some people might see individual strips to be read or ignored.

*****

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* Jesse Reklaw's Diary Comics, Jesse Reklaw
I'm kind of addicted to these right now, for all the reasons you get addicted to diary comics -- tracking how certain things recur, enjoying the leisurely pace of the thing, grooving on little life insights.

*****

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* Slow Wave, Jesse Reklaw
I got back into these though the diary comics. One of the "grand old men" of on-line comics, and maybe the only one of those comics I'm naturally inclined to like.

*****

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* Rick Veitch's Dream Comics Postings, Rick Veitch
I check in on Rick Veitch's site every now and then for postings and re-postings of his dream-focused work.

*****

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* Motel Art Improvement Service, Jason Little
Jason Little is one of the cartoonists you'd describe as perfectly suited for the Internet if you sat down and thought about it for several minutes. This particular piece is still going strong.

*****

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* Wondermark, David Malki
A fully-realized work that doesn't always hit with me, but one that I enjoy seeing even when it doesn't make me laugh. I hope that doesn't sound obnoxious, it's just that I appreciate it maybe more than it's for me.

*****

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* Dinosaur Comics, Ryan North
This one used to drive me nuts, but I never stopped reading it. Now I like it.

*****

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* Traffic & Weather, Rob Ullman
Ullman has a very pleasing line, and Traffic & Weather, his feature for Richmond Magazine, should allow him to show that off in favor of getting some local Richmond color out there on the Internet.

*****

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* Thingpart, Joe Sayers
I have more of a curiosity about this strip than I do a passion for it. I know that sounds horrible.

*****

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* Laugh Out Loud Cats, Adam Koford
It's more like I've kept an eye on this one, although the skill present is formidable.

*****

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* xkcd, Randall Munroe
I want to understand you, xkcd, and I won't stop until I do.

*****

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* Diesel Sweeties, R Stevens
I started reading this after interviewing him and occasionally stop back by to catch up. I like how idiosyncratic it is in terms of its look and the generally detached humor, and I also suspect that it's a model strip in terms of the merchandising revenue stream available to many of these efforts.

*****

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* Daryl Cagle's Editorial Cartoon Round-Ups Arranged By Subject Matter, Various
This is a wonderful service and I learn something every time when I look at editorial cartoons this way.

*****

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* Guy Delisle On Wordpress, Guy Delisle
Wouldn't it be awesome if one of the best cartoonists to ever describe life in far-away locations had a sketchblog based on his recent surroundings? Yes, it would be awesome.

*****

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* Funny Pages, Various
I know that there's been a lot of grousing about the work that's appeared in the New York Times, but I think the section's been consistently strong, three or four really quality works have come out of it and I don't mind the way they present it on-line. Jason did an on-line western! How was that not a great little five minutes in every comics fan's work week?

*****

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* Top Shelf 2.0, Various
There aren't a whole lot of individual comics here over which I'd flip out, but I like the general approach and how relentless it is so I keep an eye on it. It's a model I wouldn't mind seeing from all the major alt-comics publishers.

*****

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* Moving Pictures, Kathryn Immonen and Stuart Immonen
I nearly forgot Moving Pictures because I access it through my creators folder rather than my webcomics folder, but Andy Kuhn reminded me that it's one of the good ones.

*****

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* Freakangels, Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield
This science fiction story of super-powered teenagers holding a community together after an apocalypse isn't really for me. However, Warren Ellis shows up in my inbox every Friday and yells at me to go look at it, which since he scares the shit out of me guarantees my ass in the audience every single week. Also, I like how straight-forward it is. Like the Barkis selection described below I think it's a model more people could use.

*****

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* Barnacle Press, Various
There are a lot of great historical comics destinations out there, but for something comprehensive and well-selected and that works as a site to which one can return just as well as it does a blog that you can keep in your reader I suggest Barnacle Press. There's a staggering amount of little-known material here, and I quite like the interface.

*****

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* Comics On Dan Zettwoch's Site, Dan Zettwoch
Dan doesn't put everything that he does on-line, but I have a hard time tracking him and so I keep this link around to look at every six months or so to see if I missed anything new he might have put up. Between that and the blog I feel pretty good.

*****

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* American Elf, James Kochalka
One of the foundational comics of the on-line comics movement, and one that's likely to be among the most influential comics of this decade.

*****

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* Leon and Beyond, Dan Zettwoch, Ted May and Kevin Huizenga
I enjoy this work without reservations: it's like a strange television show that comes on your local NBC affiliate at 2 PM Sunday afternoon.

*****

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* Comics On Kevin Huizenga's Site, Kevin Huizenga
There's a surprising amount of work up on Kevin Huizenga's site, considering he's never had any significant problems finding a partner to bring his work to readers via print. I quite like this one.

*****

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* Comics On Lucy Knisley's Site, Lucy Knisley
I enjoy these comics the way they are right now to the point where I don't even consider what they might become, although what they might become could be awfully, awfully impressive.

*****

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* Danny Dutch, David King
I look at these comics frequently, and while I enjoy them and respect the level of craft involved I have this strange feeling that I'm going to like some future work by King so much that it will force me to go back and re-examine these and I'll like them that much more.

*****

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* Ernie Pook's Comeek, Lynda Barry
Michael Grabowski reminded me I forgot to put a link up to Ernie Pook's Comeek, but it was definitely in my folder the whole time. I don't always enjoy the way the front page is arranged, but it's a still-great comic.


*****

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* Comics On Eleanor Davis' Site, Eleanor Davis
I'm not sure she keeps a lot of work on here, but I check back every six months just in case.

*****

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* Les Petits Riens, Lewis Trondheim
I really like the English-language versions NBM is doing in print, but I still look at the original French-language comics site. I like the way the comic looks so much that it's almost an entirely different experience to access them that way.

*****

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* The Abominable Charles Christopher, Karl Kerschl
I haven't figured this comic out yet, but I keep watching.

*****

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* comics by Vanessa Davis in Nextbook, Vanessa Davis
I have no idea how to provide a link to these funny cartoons as a group, so I'm just going to link to a specific one and ask you to dig around with the search mechanism. In other words, I give up. But you shouldn't.

*****

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* Copper, Kazu Kibuishi
I like how self-contained these comics are, the way the best newspaper strips have always been. I don't know anything about these characters but I don't have to, not really.

*****

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* A Mess Of Everything, Miss Lasko-Gross
I don't know if this means they're putting up the whole book or not, but I look forward to comparing the two experiences.

*****

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Bonus: Subscription Sites I've Received As Gifts
I'm a past subscriber to both King Features' DailyInk.com and to Marvel's Digital Comics Unlimited, two prominent pay-for-access sites. I had problems with both of them as comics-reading experiences, but I did enjoy the classic features on DailyInk.com when they were actually available, and it was fun to familarize myself with tons of Marvel Comics that I wouldn't have touched otherwise. That's weird, though, isn't it? Liking something because you found it a perfect place to consume comics you don't really like... what does that say about comics right now? Actually, don't tell me.

*****

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Bonus: Comics That Are Either Obviously Done Or Just Seem Done To Me That I Return To A Lot Anyway, Various
There are a lot of comics that are either done or seem done that I keep in my webcomics folder because I haven't finished with them yet. So in the spirit of "every comic you haven't read yet is a new comic" I thought I'd slot them in down here. This includes early webcomic Leisuretown, Dash Shaw's mighty BodyWorld, post-alternative mainstay Hutch Owen, classic cartoon book Barkis, the RSS feed for Peter Bagge's underrated run of comics for Reason, Ben Katchor's Picture Stories and Greg Stump's hysterical Dwarf Attack. I'm sure there are a billion more.

*****
*****
 
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If I Were In Melbourne, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Italy, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Luzern, I'd Go To This

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Five Link A Go Go

* go, look: Colleen Doran on the true nature of squirrels

* go, look: Colleen Doran answers the mail

* go, look: Colleen Doran on ill-considered Wonder Woman merchandising

* go, look: Colleen Doran on that crazy-ass Twilight fan-fiction copyright idiocy

* go, look: Colleen Doran on money matters
 
posted 3:40 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #157 -- I'll Show You, I'll Show You ALL

On Friday, CR asked its readers to "Name five characters fired, kicked out of school, or otherwise asked to leave the premises." This is how they responded.

*****

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Ben Schwartz

* Victor Von Doom, kicked out of his college dorm
* Jor-El, laughed out of the science council
* The Legion of Substitute Heroes, refusing to take "no" for an answer, and never bitter that Matter Eater Lad got in
* The Mole Man, laughed out of a dept store and now look!
* Baron Mordo, expelled from magic school and so what?

*****

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David King

* Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad: Kicked out of the Legion of Super-Heroes for marrying each other
* Star Boy: Kicked out of the Legion of Super-Heroes for killing a guy
* Nemesis Kid: Kicked out of the Legion of Super-Heroes for being a traitor
* Unnamed Legionnaire aka "False-Pretenses Lad": Kicked out of the Legion of Super-Heroes for joining under false pretenses
* Superboy: Kicked out of the Legion of Super-Heroes so they could change the name of his comic book from Superboy to The Legion of Super-Heroes

*****

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Michael Dooley

* "Asked to leave the premises" -- Joe Friday, kicked out of a dime-a-dance hall with Ed Saturday. Mad #3.
* "Kicked out of school" -- Starchie, after being framed by Bottleneck. Mad #12.
* "Asked to leave the premises" -- Howland Owl, told by Li'L Melvin to go back to his own strip. Panic #3.
* "Fired" -- Smiddy Smidd, when Melvin Bully decides to replace him with Hoiby. Panic #4
* "Asked to leave the premises" -- Charlie Chinless, evicted from a circus tent with his number one son when he rips a hunk of hair off the head of Mona, the snake charmer. Panic #12.

*****

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Chris Duffy

1. Tubby -- kicked out of that NO GIRLS ALLOWED club so many times.
2. Loki -- kicked out of Asgard for being evil and half-giant or something.
3. Deadman -- kicked out the afterlife.
4. Hank Pym -- kicked out of the Avengers for beating Janet Van Dyne.
5. Wimpy -- kicked out (or at least refused service) at Rough House's restaurant.

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1 - Fat Freddy Freak, kicked out of the 6th grade while trying to pose as a hyperactive twelve year old in order to score some Ritalin
2 - Fat Freddy Freak, thrown out of a library where he was attempting to liberate the pornography
3 - Fat Freddy Freak, thrown out of a rock concert after electrocuting himself on a barb wire fence
4 - Fat Freddy Freak, thrown off a jury because he looked too straight
5 - Dread Dormammu, asked to leave the Universe

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. Duke the Ambassador to China is replaced by Leonard Woodcock
2. Yellowjacket kicked out of the Avengers for "Sal-1" fiasco
3. Jane Foster washes out of Divinity School- fortunately she has her nursing degree to fall back on.
4. Peppermint Patty suspended for dress-code violations!!!!
5. Dick Tracy demoted to walk a beat in uniform, then re-instated, then retired repeatedly due to repeated blindness

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Sinestro, banished from the Green Lantern Corps only to found his own franchise
2. Ted Forth, whose firing led to a rewarding career at the local big-box toy store
3. Diana of Themyscira, who lost her "Wonder Woman" title and was reduced to wearing that weird biker-shorts outfit
4. Steve Rogers, fired as Captain America but who continued as The Captain
5. Rick Redfern, retired by the Washington Post and now living the fulfilling life of a blogger

*****

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Russell Lissau

1 Stephanie Brown as Robin, fired by Batman
2 Kitty Pryde, by the X-Men
3 President Lex Luthor
4 Tony Stark, from SHIELD
5 Dr. Leslie Thompkins, by Batman

*****

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Grant Goggans

1. Johnny "Red" Reburn, kicked out of RAF Granton flight training school.
2. Indigo Prime agents Fervent and Lobe, fired from the agency for unspecified offenses against Major Arcana.
3. Hamed Ali, was kicked out of DC continuity by the two yellow aliens in Animal Man.
4. Slaine, exiled from his tribe as a teenager.
5. The Huntress, fired from the Justice League after Batman caught her about to murder Prometheus.

*****

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Don MacPherson

* Freddie Femur -- ejected from the boudoirs of both Francine and Casey (Strangers in Paradise)
* Star Boy, drummed out of the Legion of Super-Heroes for killing an enemy (even though it was in self-defence)
* Phoney Bone, exiled from Boneville for one of his many scams (and he dragged his cousins down with him)
* All men, who weren’t welcome on Paradise Island for centuries
* Hank Pym -- how many times has he left the Avengers in disgrace?

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Barry Allen, kicked out of the JLA for killing Professor Zoom
2. Peter Parker, fired numerous times by J. Jonah Jameson
3. Star Boy, kicked out of the Legion for killing someone
4. Phantom Stranger, kicked out of Heaven AND Hell
5. Loki, expelled on countless occasions from Asgard

*****
*****
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Marc Silvestri!

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there are two dates out there for Silvestri, March 3 and March 29
 
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Happy 51st Birthday, Claudio Piccioli!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Kevin Huizenga!

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Happy 80th Birthday, Mort Drucker!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Val Mayerik!

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Happy 85th Birthday, Jack Elrod!

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First Thought Of The Day

Is it better to wake up laughing and not recall why, or just wake up without laughing at all?
 
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March 28, 2009


Next Week In Comics-Related Events

March 29
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April 1
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April 2
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April 3
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April 4
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CR Week In Review

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

1. Chris Powell and Larry Marder in as CBLDF Board president and member; Chris Staros out as both.

2. Anime Insider closed by Wizard Entertainment. While no explanation is offered officially, loss of ad revenue is rumored.

3. Word arrives that Anne Cleveland, one of the last survivors of a generation of cartoonists that split work between illustration and cartoon books, died in February.

Winner Of The Week
Bill Gallo

Losers Of The Week
Fans of The DFC

Quote Of The Week
"... absolutely stank... " -- the late Anne Cleveland and occasional cartoon publishing partner Jean Anderson on their early work together, in some funny publicity for one of their later collaborations.

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

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If I Were In Luzern, I'd Go To This

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

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If I Were In London, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Melbourne, I'd Go To this

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Happy 38th Birthday, Calle Claus!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Jean-Louis Marco!

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Happy 68th Birthday, Bernadette Despres!

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Happy 85th Birthday, Shigeru Mizuki!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Joakim Lindengren!

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Happy 75th Birthday, Sixto Valencia Burgos!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Toru Terada!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Guy Colwell!

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Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* Dylan Williams On My Inappropriate Interpretation Of His Robot 6 Interview And My Agenda (3/24/09)
 
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March 27, 2009


Friday Distraction: Steve Brodner

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Missed It: Your 2009 Nickleodeon Magazine Comics Awards Winners

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Comics-Friendly Nickelodeon Magazine has released the result of its poll-generated Comics Awards. I'm not sure I have a single thing to add.

Favorite Graphic Novel
* Diary Of A Wimpy Kid Series, Jeff Kinney
Favorite Comic Book Series
* Simpsons
Cutest Comic Character
* Snoopy, Peanuts
Favorite Comic Strip
* Garfield, Jim Davis
Best Hair In Comics
* Calvin, Calvin and Hobbes
Favorite Manga Series
* Best Of Pokemon Adventures, Hidenori Kusaka and Mato
Grossest Thing In Comics
* Cheese, Diary of A Wimpy Kid Series
Favorite Fantasy Graphic Novel
* Bone, Jeff Smith
 
posted 4:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #32

* the Christian Science Monitor ends daily print production and moves into a new sort-of weekly + web stuff status quo.

* although there are certainly a ton of similar moves generating news one could link to just about every day, I think it's probably worth making note of articles about a few significant newspapers, massive cuts at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, cuts at the Charlotte Observer and worries at the Washington Post. I think the moves in Atlanta are worth noting because the AJ-C is one of the last papers to make changes and a lot of southern papers were waiting to see what they would be. I think the Charlotte paper is worth nothing because Charlotte's financial difficulties have to my understanding mirrored the national one, as opposed to places like central Michigan where problems have been settling in for two or three years. I think the Post's worries worth noting because it's the freakin' Post.

* I still think that going non-profit will be of benefit to a few newspapers, particularly any that seek to move on-line and/or transfer ownership to its operators. Some of the stronger journalism sites on-line are supported by non-profit means. I don't know why it requires a bill, let alone a bill stuffed with goofy-sounding provisions, but maybe I just don't get it.

* I guess there are a bunch of posts out there speculating on whether or not Borders will roll over and stick all four paws in the year sooner rather than later, and if sooner could mean next week. I think everyone knows Borders is deeply sick, and most people expect it could go away any time, so I'm not sure what being first on when gets you other than a few blog hits. A world without Borders wouldn't be all that different for most people, I don't think. Still, I'm sure there are a lot of young people and not so young people between the coasts for whom their local Borders is a haven, and many people working for the bookstore chain for whom it's a good job. As far as its impact on comics publishing, it should be interesting to see how much pressure that puts on a system, because the system has been warned well in advance that Borders is in trouble.

* this article suggests that any newspaper that seeks to go on-line will struggle to find its exact niche for a while after doing so, and may be better for it.

* this letter says that Craigslist isn't killing classifieds, but then goes on to suggest something else is when the evidence suggests nothing is, so God knows what's going on there. I think the eyeball test that something is strangling life from the classifieds indicates holds true for most people. If anyone knows of a more sophisticated article on this,
 
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Your 2009 NCS Division Nominees, Updated And With The Reuben Award Included

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The National Cartoonists Society's awards program has at this point announced all the 2009 nominees in its various divisions. Of particular interest to CR readers might be the comic book category nominees, which come from D&Q and First Second. The winners will be announced Memorial Day weekend during the traditional black-tie Reubens dinner held in conjunction with the group's yearly meeting, this year in Hollywood, California.

Reuben Award
* Dave Coverly
* Stephan Pastis
* Dan Piraro

Television Animation
* Bryan Arnett, Character Design, "The Mighty B!" (Nickelodeon)
* Ben Balistreri, Character Design, "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends" (Cartoon Network)
* Sandra Equihua and Jorge Gutierrez, Creators, "El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera" (Nickelodeon)

Feature Animation
* James Baxter, 2D Character Animator, Kung Fu Panda
* Clay Katis, Supervising Animator -- Rhino, Bolt
* Nicolas Marlet, Character Designer, Kung Fu Panda

Newspaper Illustration
* Lars Leetaru
* Mark Marturello
* Sean Kelly

Gag Cartoons
* Pat Byrnes
* Mort Gerberg
* Werner Wejp-Olsen

Greeting Cards
* Kevin Ahern
* Jem Sullivan
* Debbie Tomassi

Newspaper Comic Strips
* Stephan Pastis, Pearls Before Swine (United Feature Syndicate)
* Mark Tatulli, Lio (Universal Press Syndicate)
* Richard Thompson, Cul de Sac (Universal Press Syndicate)

Newspaper Panel Cartoons
* Vic Lee, Pardon My Planet (King Features Syndicate)
* Mark Parisi, Off the Mark (United Feature Syndicate)
* Jeff Stahler, Moderately Confused (United Feature Syndicate)

Magazine Feature/Magazine Illustration
* Daryl Collins
* Bob Staake
* Sam Viviano

Book Illustration
* Jim Benton, Cherise the Niece
* Stacy Curtis, Raymond and Graham Rule the School
* Mike Lester, Cool Daddy Rat

Editorial Cartoons
* Mike Luckovich
* Jeff Parker
* Michael Ramirez

Advertising Illustration
* Roy Doty
* Craig McKay
* Jack Pittman

Comic Books
* Chris Blain, Gus & His Gang (First Second Books)
* Matthew Forsythe, Ojingogo, (Drawn & Quarterly)
* Cyril Pedrosa, Three Shadows (First Second Books)
 
posted 3:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
More On Anime Insider Closing Down

* the comics news site Newsarama has the official word from Wizard about the closure of its Anime Insider magazine. The last issues will be #67. No reason for the closure is given. When the initial word was released, what was cited by those unnamed sources was a sudden drop in advertising revenue, which may or may not suggest that the company's ability to absorb such blows right now may have been a factor as well.

* there's a good point made here that part of what has people a little upset about this move is how it was done. Specifically, there's a perception that Wizard bled the magazine of staff promising to utilize a growing freelance pool and then cut it when it was easiest to do so. Further, given that the other magazines have been cut to the bone, the exact same thing could potentially happen to them. As far as the staff being let go, what I heard and what I guess they're not releasing is that this meant Summer Mullins, Angela Hanson, a newer male employee and perhaps a member of the general advertising staff that worked with the magazine.
 
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If I Were In Dublin, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Italy, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Melbourne, I'd Go To This

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I've Had This Exact Hangover

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Go, Look: More Jack Cole Horror

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Go, Look: Marian Churchland

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the magazine Comics Now! will end with issue #3. Or has ended. Hell, I'm taking it on faith that such a magazine existed.

image* as I can always be convinced with less than 30 seconds of directed conversation that portents of the collapse of western civilization can be seen Andy Rooney-style in the combination of 1) adult paperboys tossing the paper at my door from the window of a truck and 2) people not returning grocery carts even when the return place is like four feet away, I liked this Richard Thompson post. Actually, that has nothing to do with adult paperboys. I just wanted to throw that in.

* does anyone still call it OEL manga any more?

* seriously, I have no idea.

* not comics: sometimes I think that as a film-goer I don't have any interest in any more films based on comic books. Eventually this mask cracks and I'm forced to admit that if they ever did a Badger movie with Seann William Scott and Bob Hoskins, I'd be there first day, front row. Anyway, Marvel's going to pay real money for writers to develop some of the back catalog in a writers program. I'm guessing without reading any of the articles that 1) the contracts probably suck, 2) there's a temporary money freeze in Hollywood so a lot of people are going to kill their moms in order to get into the program, 3) some people will see this rush of attention and suggest that Marvel is paying too much for the talent rather than too little, 4) only some of them will be kidding and 5) more than enough talent would line up for this to work even if the economy was such we were all wearing solid gold shoes.

* the Watchmen film almost certainly went over $100 million domestic yesterday. Just sayin'.

* finally, some more not comics: this speculative list of potential actors for the role Dr. Strange doesn't include the actor I was thinking of when I wrote neilalien his blogiversary post on a Dr. Strange movie. I was thinking of Leonardo DiCaprio. You may laugh, you may scoff, but deep down you know I'm right.
 
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Happy 82nd Birthday, Hy Eisman!

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Happy 88th Birthday, Joop Lobler!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Dio!

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I didn't even know we had our own Dio
 
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Happy 37th Birthday, Dominique Bertail!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Mike Friedrich!

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Quick hits
Craft
Cute
Best New Font
Sean Phillips Designs
I Like These Blutch Covers
Alan Moore Writes Big Number #3
Darryl Cunningham Draws Daleks

Exhibits/Events
Go Swap And Socialize

History
On Gifts
Neil At 15
On Big Numbers #3
Jeff Parker And The Ladies

Industry
From The Aussie Small Press Scene

Interviews/Profiles
Marvel.com: Andy Diggle

Publishing
TCAF FCBD Line-Up
Love For The Muppet Show
Jeff Parker Writes The Hood
Amulet Vol. 2 in Proofs Stage
Gene Weingarten Working On New Strip

Reviews
Ed Sizemore: Various
Tucker Stone: Various
Michael C. Lorah: Solanin
Andrew Wheeler: Various
Sean T. Collins: First Time
Andy Frisk: Superman #686
Jillian Steinhaeur: Good-Bye
Mark Evanier: Blazing Combat
Greg McElhatton: Eternal Smile
William Jones: Abandoned Cars
Sarah Morean: Manny + Bigfoot
Leroy Douresseaux: Samurai 7 Vol. 1
 

 
March 26, 2009


Go, Look: Big Numbers #3 Xeroxes

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posted 5:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Pat Oliphant Cartoon Called Hideously Anti-Semitic By Current ADL Director

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It's the cartoon from March 25 and... um... yikes. Well, this should be interesting.
 
posted 3:35 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
I'm Hearing Anime Insider Is Shuttered

imageI don't have confirmation, and I don't expect to get it, but I'm hearing rumors from the Wizard sources that have batted 1.000 thus far that Wizard Entertainment has canceled its Anime Insider magazine and let go its staff including Editor Summer Mullins. Anime Insider -- or what became Anime Insider -- has been around since I believe 2001 as one of Wizard's recurring specials, and became a regular magazine after that. That would be unfortunate as it means more people out of work and I'd be happy if I need to retract but somehow I suspect I won't have to. The magazine carried previews of manga in addition to its more focused coverage.

Update: Confirmed.
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* as expected, Turkish officials are now saying out loud that they Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay to Denmark's Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen for the leadership position at NATO because of that country's dealings with issues of alleged defamation harmful to the Muslim community, most famously the Danish Cartoons Controversy.

* you'll have to stop the TV thing that runs like it or not, and this may be a real stretch for a lot of folks interested in the comics aspects of this story, but I find fascinating how the DCC was used -- or people accuse of it having been used -- as a way to funnel internationally-directed money in specific ways.

* here's a similarly wonky and opinionated article on controversy as self-promotion, using the DCC as a secondary example.
 
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Bill Gallo Honored By Marine Detachment

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Longtime New York Daily News fixture Bill Gallo was honored by the E. T. Brisson Detachment of the Marine Corps League of Naples at their annual Honor the Free Press Day. The fifth honoree, Gallo served as an active marine -- I was going to say "was a marine" but I think marines hold that a marine stays a marine -- before resuming what would eventually steamroll into his very distinguished newspaper career. He had nice things to say at the banquet held March 18. In fact, this is just a nice news story.
 
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Two Interesting Publishing Deals That Probably Shouldn't Wait Until Next Wednesday's Bundled Column

* ComicMix has signed some kind of development deal with IDW. I only have a press release right now -- here it is -- but it's basically a deal to publish "graphic novels, books and comics" for the various ComicMix prperties. Initial titles of interest are GrimJack: The Manx Cat Jon Sable Freelance: Ashes of Eden and Hammer of the Gods. I think that's worth noting as a sign of IDW's relative robust state as much as anything else.

* Boom! comics has put all of its nice looking kids-oriented comics under one banner to be called Boom! Kids and will be taking those to newsstands via an arrangement with longtime Archie distribution partner Kable. These are such coldly rational moves that it's hard to drum up any meaningful comment about them, beyond "Look! This happened!" I hope this means Roger Langridge sells more copies of that spiffy-looking The Muppet Show Comic Book. The other major licenses so far are Pixar's Cars and Incredibles properties.
 
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If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Valley Of Horror

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posted 2:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Legend Of Bill To GoComics.com

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Go, Read: Geoffrey Hayes Interview

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CCS Announces Summer Workshops

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posted 2:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* is it my imagination, or is Marvel advertising on yahoo's main page right now? Does Marvel have more money for advertising than many have speculated, or is Yahoo front page placement cheaper than most of us would believe?

* time is running out on the UK kids' comic The DFC.

image* this piece from Sean T. Collins is the first review I've seen for David Mazzucchelli's long-anticipated Asterios Polyp, although maybe I haven't been looking closely enough.

* more than a few pretty good interviews today: the cartoonist and Yoshihiro Tatsumi editor Adrian Tomine talks about A Drifting Life. That's a super-interesting book, and one I'm just now beginning to digest. Matt Groening talks a lot about animation and a little about being an alt-weekly cartoonist in this piece at the AV Club. Emmanuel Guibert discusses his collaboration with Didier Lefevre, The Photographer. Koren Shadmi talks about Koren Shadmi.

* this may have just escaped me when it happened earlier, but I don't think I'd heard details of Ian Rankin's Vertigo comics effort, details of the first effort in DC crime imprint, or that they may be one and the same.

* while I'm stuffing today's random news with all of these self-referential "I's," I really loved the art choices in this article about how the Hall of Justice on Super Friends was based on a public building in Cincinnati. In one of the photos, Superman is making some sort of horrific goo, while the bottom photo begs for the standard "the Super Friends aren't as impressive as they used to be" crack. Anyone who participated in high school debate from Detroit Central Catholic to Montgomery Bell Academy will recognize in the background of that third photo one of those weird, four-step nexus areas scattered around Princeton High School.

* hey, it's Friendly Frank.

* you can still buy Aline Crumb's panties. Or Steve Bell's. I'm going to assume that the artists drew on their charity-auction underwear, although maybe not. Also, please let no one from the CBLDF or Hero Initiative be reading this.

image* I totally missed that there was a complete collection of Ronald Searle's St. Trinian's cartoons released in 2007.

* a series of sweet convention memories, although I'm pretty sure they drink beer at conventions outside of the UK.

* I would have given the top third of a non-pinkie finger for there to have been a cartoon ad war in American newspapers during our last elections.

* speaking of which, at least one paper points out that Zapiro was right.

* surely a path to showbiz riches.

* not comics: they're forgetting Sean Penn's finest comedic role. Wasn't Sweet and Lowdown a comedy, too?

* finally, I've always wondered what makes some original art auctions worth covering to some folks, and what doesn't. I mean, in this case you're basically publishing a press release designed to inflate the price of some guy's sale. Why is that news until after it happens?
 
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Happy 39th Birthday, Yang Kyoung-il!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Andrea Cascioli!

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Happy 58th Birthday, Brian Bolland!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Mitch O'Connell!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Moyoco Anno!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Mark Verheiden!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 61st Birthday, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 36th Birthday, Greg McElhatton!

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swiped from a facebook photo
 
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Happy 34th Birthday, Bill Kartalopoulos!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Make Font For Free (For A While)

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Greg Rucka
Newsarama: Andy Diggle
File Under Other: Josh Latta
Shouldn't It Say Somewhere Who They're Interviewing?

Not Comics
People Are Dumb
Comic Strip Mystery Cheapie
Eve Tushnet Reviews Watchmen
Richard Thompson Reads Like A Nerd

Publishing
Blazing Combat Previewed

Reviews
Don MacPherson: Various
John Mitchell: The Bun Field
Leroy Douresseaux: Love/Knot
Paul O'Brien: Young X-Men #11-12
Paul O'Brien: Ultimate X-Men #98-100
Paul O'Brien: Uncanny X-Men: #504-507
Johanna Draper Carlson: Oishinbo A La Carte Vol. 2
Richard Bruton: Zot 1987-1991: The Complete Black And White Stories
 

 
March 25, 2009


Bundled, Tossed, Untied and Stacked

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* here's some nice mainstream comics news to start things off: Marvel.com reports that Kathryn Immonen will be writing their Runaways title, teaming with an artist named Sara Pichelli. Pichelli I wouldn't know if we went to the same gym, but I liked Immonen's work on the recent Hellcat mini-series a great deal and have always enjoyed her contributions to efforts she and husband Stuart Immonen have serialized on-line. Marvel's Nick Lowe sent word that they had announced it on one of those TV shows I avoid because I'm certain they'll make me feel old, and put a ps on the e-mail that said "And Kathryn's scripts are PHENOMENAL!"

* a post on the TCJ messageboard reveals plans for the long-running magazine's 300th issue: inter-generational interviews, like Dash Shaw talking to Art Spiegelman and Keith Knight talking to Jim Borgman. That sounds really good.

image* the Wednesday Comics project from DC sounds really good, too. This is a broadsheet-sized weekly featuring rotating talent -- kind of a Sunday comics page if King Features and DC Comics had switched jobs in the late 1930s and DC was still making such comics today. That's where that super cool-looking Kyle Baker Hawkman is going to go, for instance. I like the idea of a book unique to comics shop and the comics buying experience and were I anywhere near one I would look forward to trying this series.

* the great Robert Crumb has finished his work on the Genesis project, to be called Robert Crumb's Book of Genesis and to be published this Fall. That's just astoundingly great news. I know that Xeroxes/ARCs of Asterios Polyp are making the pre-publication rounds right now, so I think we can already call this one of those years.

* mediabistro.com collected some links earlier this week on Marvel's long-planned indie-talent project.

* since I seem to be all about mainstream comics announcements this week, please note that Andy Diggle is getting the Daredevil assignment after Ed Brubaker leaves the superhero book. I'm wondering if Ed even passed along my "sexier, slightly more violent Mr. Magoo" pitch.

* "Yes, Dust is biting the dust."

* I know that everyone on planet earth has published the well-disseminated image below of Frank Quitely pin-up art related to the new Batman & Robin series that he and writer Grant Morrison are doing. This is the only blog about comics my brother reads, and he'll be excited, so I hope you'll forgive me.

* finally, the cartoonist and occasional writer about comics Frank Santoro sent along this hand-colored Roy Crane saying that it will likely be included as part of the introductory material for the forthcoming first volume of Fantagraphics' Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune: The Complete Sunday Newspaper Strips. This is a nice reminder that we're going to get new volumes of Roy Crane starting this summer, which is the kind of thing that hits me now and then and puts a big smile on my face. I love that demented action-packed buddy movie comic strip.

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posted 6:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Anne Cleveland, 1916-2009

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Anne Thorburn Cleveland, a mid-century gag cartoonist who authored the stand-out book It's Better With Your Shoes Off and who with and without frequent collaborator Jean Anderson published a number of books including several about life at women's schools in general, and her alma mater Vassar in particular, died last month in Oregon. She was 92 years old.

Cleveland was born in 1916 to a clergyman's family that included her twin brother and eventually two younger siblings. Her father died in the late 1920s from a blood infection contracted during World War I. Her mother supported the family by working what granddaughter Ursula wrote in a comment to The Beat sound like jobs related to educational institutions, eventually becoming a dean at Rollins College in Florida.

Anne started at Vassar in the mid-1930s. She was a member of the class of 1937. Her granddaughter writes that she started as a classics major and then switched to art history. She would become editor of her senior yearbook, and contribute a number of cartoons to student publication and various decorations around campus. Fellow Vassar graduate Shaenon Garrity took several photos of public art on campus by Cleveland for a short essay here, which includes both student work and later artwork that was likely created during a freelance period in 1944-45. In 1937-1938 she stayed on at the school's art department where she met 1933 graduate Jean Anderson, a prolific campus cartoonist right before Cleveland's time that had spent the intervening years practicing her craft at the Art Students League In New York.

Cleveland published a trio of books with the Vassar Cooperative Bookshop directly related to her alma mater, in partnership with Anderson: Vassar (1938), Vassar: An Informal Study (1940) (with text by Agnes Rogers; also called Vassar Women) and Vassar: A Second Glance (1942). The first one was a surprise hit. It sold several thousand copies and led to several Anderson and Cleveland cartoons being published in Life, kickstarting each cartoonist's career. Vassar Women was reviewed in a giant article by Harriet Anderson in the New York Herald Tribune, where it was suggested that the book was as valuable a sociological treatise as the Lynds' work on Middletown. A cartoon each from Anderson and Cleveland decorated that article. The cartoonists had a different view of their work, cheekily proclaiming later that Vassar "absolutely stank." By the time the third book rolled around Anderson and Cleveland were able to work through long-distance collaboration, rare in those days. That book sold over 20,000 copies in four years.

The books with Anderson are interesting in one sense because rather than being a writer and an artist they were both cartoonists, each with a distinct but not clashing style. Anderson's work was perhaps a bit less stylized than Cleveland's but was equally lively. At times it seems that Cleveland would sign a work that appeared to be in Anderson's style, suggesting a closer collaboration than one might typically find between two cartoonists working on the same project. (Anderson would later enter medical illustration and then medical school.)

Says Garrity, "I first discovered her cartoons -- and Jean Anderson's -- when I picked up Vassar: A Second Glance and Everything Correlates at the campus bookstore, and for many years they felt like a private thing, these little snippets of college-girl life unknown to the rest of the world. Her Vassar cartoons are, well, very Vassar; as an alumna myself, I can attest that they capture all the peculiarities of the college -- well, all that are fit for print in The Ladies' Home Journal."

Perhaps buoyed by the success of her work on Vassar, Cleveland began to do work outside of the shadow of her school. She provided illustrations for A Home Of Your Own And How To Ruin It, with Henrietta Ripperger; Weeds Are More Fun, with Priscilla Hovey Wright (1941); and How To Do Practically Anything, with Jack Goodman and Alan Green (1942). She taught at Rollins College during 1941-1942. Entering the Women's Army Corps in 1943, Cleveland performed work in hospitals, did some mapmaking, created posters for training aids and worked on military film strips. She left the WAC in December 1944, returning to a freelancer's life.

imageAfter the war, she worked on another book with Jean Anderson, 1946's Everything Correlates before an almost ten-year book publishing hiatus. It's possible that she was concentrating on family and home. Her marriage to Augustus R. White led to the time in Japan that yielded what was likely Cleveland's best-known book, It's Better With Your Shoes Off. This books of cartoons about westerners living in post-War Japan came out in 1955. It put on display a significant leap in Cleveland's artistic talent: while she may not have been published in book form since right after the War, it was clear from the linework reminiscent of Gluyas Williams that she had never stopped drawing.

The cartoonist Seth would later write of what he termed "a beautifully designed little book" in his Forty Cartoon Books Of Interest:
The book is unusual is several ways. For one, it appears to have been designed as an original book and not a collection of previous material. Also, it never panders -- it's sweet bu it's also a serious attempt to find humour in a subject that may be unfamiliar to a general audience (the culture shock of going to Japan). And best of all -- it is almost undated. It never sinks to cheap racial humor. It has class."
Seth told CR earlier today that this one of Cleveland's works was still being published in new editions years later.
I first came across Anne Cleveland's work back in the 1980s when I stumbled across a new edition of It's better with your shoes off in a local bookstore. In retrospect, it amazes me that her book was still being reprinted at that point -- decades after it came out. It was just a little paperback but I immediately fell in love with her brilliant drawings and her smart, innovative layouts. The book was funny and gentle as well. I knew nothing about her and, truthfully, I have found out only a little more in the decades that followed that discovery. But it wasn't because I wasn't interested. I put her on my "must find" list and spent those decades looking for more of her work. It was few and far between, but I found another three or four books of her work including a couple of books of cartoons she did for Vasser and a beautiful children's book, The Life Savers. However, it was that first book that stuck with me the most. I was so happy (in those pre-internet days) to chance about an original hardcover of it in the early '90s and it really has stayed a prized possession. It's a beautiful object -- lovingly designed and printed."
It's Better With Your Shoes Off was the first in a final flurry of Cleveland works that included the solo outings The Parent From Zero to Ten (1957) -- which included cartoon anecdotes taken from her own family, her son Toby later confirmed -- and the Seth-mentioned The Life-Savers (1962). There were also three more collaborative works, But I Wouldn't Want To Live There, with Heather Jimenez (1958); The Educated Woman in Cartoon and Caption again with Jean Anderson and I believe either in the vein of their earlier work or reprinting some of it (1960); and Straw In My Camel's Hair, with Naida Buckingham and Ingrid Etter (1961).

According to a 1946 biography by the Vassar Cooperative Bookshop in support of Everything Correlates, Cleveland did a series of cartoons for the Ladies' Home Journal during the first part of her career. She and Jean Anderson did another set for Haper's Bazaar. Her family believes her clients may have included The New Yorker, although no record of her cartoons having appeared in the latter is available through their cartoonbank database. That publication's illustrations are not indexed in the same way, and Cleveland's style could certainly have found purchase there.

The Life-Savers seems to have been Cleveland's last published book, when she was only in her mid-forties. She and her husband divorced in 1965. According to the information supplied by Ursula at The Beat, Cleveland spent time in New York, then moved to Ashland, Oregon where she stayed until the 1980s when she moved back east to be near her daughter. She moved to Portland, Oregon in 1992, again to be near family.

Seth recalls Cleveland as a talented artist of a specific mid-20th Century tradition and as a cartoonist he wishes had been able to publish more work.
"Cleveland has always seemed artistically linked in my mind with the Canadian Doug Wright. They had a similar approach to cartooning the figure: strongly grounded in a deep observational understanding of the human body but brought to life on the page with a gorgeous clear-line drawing style. And they both applied a masterful design sense when stylizing the figure -- abstracting it but never losing or covering up the reality of direct observational knowledge. That's really the secret to her work. It is stylized and it has a sensual veneer but when you look at it you know that you are looking at an artist who has the magic touch to genuine cartoon the real world -- capturing the subtlety of detail and nuance to actually get a "feel" of experience onto the page. It's a virtuoso act. Which makes it a shame that so little of her work seems to have been done. I wish there were 20 Anne Cleveland books out there. She was great and I can only fantasize some dream projects for her."
Although she declined interview requests in recent years, members of her family including grandchildren became aware of discussion about and appreciation of her work on-line. "I will be seeing her in a few days," wrote one family member early this year, "and will let her know that she seems to have become better known that she would ever have believed. It will be a considerable comfort to her, I suspect."

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Go, Look: Nicholas Mahler Blog Of Spam Posts In Support Of His New Book

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Go, Look: The Wolf Of Stone Canyon

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Mortimer Snerd terrified me as a child
 
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Go, Look: Place A Loverman

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Go, Look: Talking Jack Kirby

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Harvey Awards nomination ballots are due this week; ditto the Hall of Fame portion of the Eisner Awards.

image* not comics: Tony Millionaire provides the cover art to an Elvis Costello album/CD/loose confederation of downloadable songs.

* Joe Field writes down in pairs his thoughts from the ComicsPRO annual meeting held last weekend in Memphis.

* finally, Mark Evanier goes a second round with the Lionel Ziprin mystery, trying to place with appropriate and/or likely comics an offhand comment made in the course of interviews over the year that found expression in a NYT obituary.
 
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Happy 48th Birthday, Toni Masdiono!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Angel Medina!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Guillaume Sorel!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Giulio Camagni!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Laurent Vicomte!

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Happy 74th Birthday, Peter van Straaten!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Theo van den Boogaard!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Rob Clough!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Inkstuds Archives
* 2007 review
* Abby Denson
* Adrian Tomine
* Al Columbia
* Al Feldstein Retrospective
* Alex Robinson
* Alex Toth Tribute
* Anders Nilsen 06
* Anders Nilsen 08
* Austin English
* Barron Storey
* Billy Mavreas
* Blake Bell on Steve Ditko
* Bob Fingerman
* Brandon Graham
* Brian Fukushima
* Brian K Vaughan and Pia Guerra
* Brian Ralph
* Bruce Grenville
* Bryan Talbot Part 1
* Bryan Talbot Part 2
* Bryan Talbot Part 3
* Camilla D'Errico
* CF
* Chester Brown
* Chris Staros and Brett Warnock
* Chris Von Szombathy
* Chris Ware and Jeet Heer
* Chris Wright
* Colin Upton
* Colleen Coover
* Comics and Music
* Comix Causing Calamity
* Comix Rock
* Corey McDaniel
* Craig Yoe 08
* Dan Nadel
* Danny Hellman
* Dash Shaw
* Dave Kiersh
* Dave McCaig
* Dave Sim
* David Collier
* David Heatley
* Dennis P Eichhorn
* Derf
* Diamanda Galas
* Diana Schutz
* Drippy Town
* Dylan Williams
* Ed Piskor
* Eddie Campbell 07
* Eddie Campbell 08
* Ellen Forney
* Evan Dorkin
* Fall 2007 reviews
* Farel Dalrymple
* Filth Hole
* First Show
* Francoise Mouly
* Frank Santoro 07
* Frank Santoro 08
* Gabrielle Bell
* Gareth Gaudin
* Gary Groth and Kim Thompson
* Gary Panter Part 1
* Gary Panter Part 2
* Gary Panter Part 3
* Genesis P. Orridge
* George Metzger Part 1
* George Metzger Part 2
* Greg Irons
* Ivan Brunetti 06
* Ivan Brunetti 08
* Jacob Covey
* Jacob Covey and Justin B Williams
* Jaime Hernandez
* James Jean
* James Kochalka
* James Sturm
* Jason Lutes
* Jason Mclean, Marc Bell, Owen Plummer and Mark Delonge
* Jason Turner and Maneen Bothma
* Jeet Heer, Dan Nadel and Tom Spurgeon
* Jeff Ellis, Jonathan Dalton and Colin Upton for Cloudscape Comics
* Jeff Smith
* Jeffrey Brown
* Jenny Gonzalez
* Jesse Reklaw
* Jessica Abel and Matt Madden
* Jim Blanchard
* Joe Chiapetta
* Joe Matt Part 1
* Joe Matt Part 2
* Joe Ollman
* Joe Sacco
* John Bell
* John Kerschbaum
* John Pham
* John Porcellino
* Johnny Ryan
* Jonathan Bennett
* Jonathan Dalton
* Josh Simmons 07
* Josh Simmons 08
* Julian Lawrence
* K Thor Jensen
* Kate Beaton
* Kid Koala
* Kim Deitch Part 1
* Kim Deitch Part 2
* Kim Deitch Part 3
* Krazy Kat
* Linda Medley
* Liz Baillie
* Liz Prince
* Lucas Soi
* Lucy Knisley, Phil McAndrew, Ed Brisson and Jason Turner - You Aint No Dancer 3
* Luke Ramsey and Jim Stoten
* Marc Bell
* Mariko Tamaki
* Mari Naomi
* Mark Atomos Pilon
* Mark Evanier
* Mark Kalesniko
* Mark Siegel
* Marv Newland
* Mary Fleener
* Matt Forsythe
* Matt Kindt
* Matt Loux
* Matthew Thurber
* Megan Kelso
* Melinda Gebbie
* Mia Kirshner
* Mike Myhre
* Miriam Libicki 06
* Miriam Libicki 08
* Nathan Fox
* Neal Adams
* Nick Abadzis
* Paul Gravett
* Paul Hornschemeier
* Peter Bagge
* Peter Bagge and Eric Reynolds 08
* Peter Thompson
* Pohadky - Marek Colek and Pat Shewchuk
* Radar Friends
* Ralph Steadman
* Ray Fenwick
* Rebecca Dart
* Renee French
* Rick Geary
* Rick Veitch
* Robert Goodin
* Roberta Gregory
* Robin Bougie
* Robin Bougie and Philip Barrett
* Robin Enrico
* Robin Thompson
* Rod Filbrandt
* Ron Rege Jr.
* Rutu Modan
* Sammy Harkham
* Sarah Oleksyk
* Scott Chantler
* Scott McCloud
* Sean Esty and Joseph Bergin III
* Sean Ford
* Seth
* Shannon O'Leary
* Shaun Tan
* Spain
* Spiegelman and Bruce Grenville Q and A
* Spiegelman on Chris Ware
* Spiegelman on George Herriman
* Spiegelman on Harvey Kurtzman
* Spiegelman on Jerry Moriarty
* Spiegelman on Kim Deitch and Justin Green
* Spiegelman on Philip Guston
* Spiegelman on Seth
* Spiegelman on Spiegelman
* Steve Lecouilliard, Ken Boesem, Stephanie Blakey, Carrie McKay and Philip Barrett
* Steve Rolston
* Tara McPherson, Dave Roman and Larry Marder
* Tatiana Gill
* Tim Hodler
* Tim Lane
* Tim Sale
* Tom Neely
* Tom Spurgeon, Douglas Wolk and Paul Gravett
* Tony Millionaire
* Trevor Alixopulos
* Trina Robbins
* Verne Andru and Steve Rolston
* Victor Cayro
* You Aint No Dancer 2
 

 
March 24, 2009


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

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*****

Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's largely accurate list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America.

I might not buy all of the works listed here. I might not buy any. But were I in a comic book shop tomorrow I would more than likely pick up the following and look them over, causing private investors to risk very little in supporting the buying up of my bad comics choices.

*****

JAN090109 UMBRELLA ACADEMY DALLAS #5 (OF 6) $2.99
JAN090103 USAGI YOJIMBO #119 $3.50
JAN098011 PLANETARY #1 SPECIAL EDITION $1.00
JAN090271 TOP 10 SPECIAL #1 $2.99
JAN092503 DAREDEVIL #117 $2.99
JAN092483 INCREDIBLE HERCULES #127 DKR $2.99
Your well-regarded, action-adventure comic book battery of the week.

JAN092512 IMMORTAL IRON FIST #24 $2.99
Is this the last one? Something makes me think this is the last one, and I can't remember what that something is.

FEB094254 A DRIFTING LIFE TP (MR) $29.95
I like the muppets and everything, but this is the release of the week: Yoshihiro Tatsumi's intimate memoir of his relationship to comics art. I love we're at a point right now in comics publishing history where something like this gets published. Since I was unable to find a flat image of the cover, you should go take a look of it on your own.

OCT084116 CECIL & JORDAN IN NEW YORK HC $19.95
A collection of Gabrielle Bell's interesting short-story work, including the story adapted by Michel Gondry as his contribution to the anthology film Tokyo!.

JAN094069 MUPPET SHOW #1 (OF 4) $2.99
Roger Langridge deserves a hit book like Richard Jenkins deserved that Academy Award nomination. I know without seeing it that it will be lovely.

JAN094534 TEZUKAS BLACK JACK TP VOL 04 $16.95
Hey, here's another one of these if you like these. Me, I'm not so sure anymore.

FEB094601 SECRET IDENTITY FETISH ART OF JOE SHUSTER HC (MR) $24.95
Craig Yoe's journey into the cash-strapped work offerings of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster sells itself -- or doesn't -- on concept alone.

*****

The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations and a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite this official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few. Also, stores choose what they carry and don't carry so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, albeit a while back, try this.

The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you they don't have in-stock. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I didn't list your comic, I blame my lack of MVP consideration.

*****

Update: Adrian Tomine sent me a cover for A Drifting Life. Isn't it nice?

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*****
*****
 
posted 6:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Jose Casanovas Sr., 1934-2009

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Prolific Spanish comics illustrator Jose Casanovas died on March 14 near his hometown on Barcelona.

Casanovas began working in Spanish comics following a short stint in his country's armed forces, entering the field in the late 1950s. He worked for Ferma and Buguera on both penciling and inking assignments. He made his name on a series of classic comics adaptations including The Child of the Cavern (Verne) and The Hound Of The Baskervilles (Conan Doyle) that put on full display his lush, highly detailed art style. He worked for several markets at once.

Starting in the late 1970s, he began to make a number of comics for UK publications such as 2000 AD, collaborating with writers such as Alan Moore, Peter Milligan and Mark Millar. Of the better-known UK characters, he may have been most frequently affiliated with Robo-Hunter.

He was buried on Monday the 16th in Barcelona.

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OTBP: Windy Corner Magazine #3

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Your 2009 Bedeis Causa Nominees

The Festival de la BD Francophone du Quebec has announced its official dates of April 15-19, parallel to the Quebec City International Book Fair. This will include the Bedeis Causa awards, which focus on French-language efforts within and without Quebec. The nominees are:

*****

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Prix Real-Fillion (First-Time Creator)
* Maryse Chouinard, for Soeur mon ame (Monet editeur)
* Francis Desharnais, for Burquette (Editions les 400 coups)
* Yvon Roy, for Agaguk (Editions Adonis)

*****

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Grand Prix la Ville Quebec (Best French-Language Book Published In Quebec)
* Burquette, Francis Desharnais (Editions les 400 coups)
* Les Ravins, Philippe Girard (Mecanique generale)
* Voyage en zone d'exploitation, Louis Remillard (Editions les 400 coups)

*****

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Prix Alberic-Bourgeois (Best Book Published Outside Quebec by a Quebec-Based Cartoonist)
* Les Nombrils Vol. 3: Les liens l'amitie, Delaf and Dubuc (Dupuis)
* Les Druides Vol. 4: La ron des geants, Jacques Lamontagne (Soleil Productions)
* L'ordre des dragons Vol. 1: La lance, Denis Rodier (Soleil Productions)

*****

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Prix Maurice-Petitdidier (Best French-Language Book Not Covered Above)
* Spirou, Journal d'un ingenu, Emile Bravo (Dupuis)
* Tout seul, Chaboute (Vents d'Ouest)
* Le Combat Ordinaire, Vol. 4: Planter des clous, Manu Larcenet

*****

The award ceremony will also see the The Albert-Chartier Prize awarded to an individual or agency of outstanding merit.

*****
*****
 
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Go, Look: Spring and Spring Again

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Go, Look: The Secret Sketchbook

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I have no idea how I ended up with this bookmark, so I probably owe someone an apology
 
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Go, Buy: JEM Eaton Art Sale

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there isn't any mention of the sale nor is any news of it in Eaton's blog, but that's what the e-mail in front of me says. I guess even if there's no sale this gives me an excuse to post this cool-looking Mr. Magoo art
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Argyle Sweater hits the 200-client mark. That's quite the achievement whenever it happens and in this market doubly so.

image* Chris Mautner interviews Dylan Williams about Sparkplug, focusing a bit on the Diamond minimums. Williams admits that even his best-selling books won't make the minimum sales points and then just kind of shrugs and vows to keep on going about his business.

* the comics historian Mark Evanier engages the question of whether or not the late Lionel Ziprin worked on some Dell comic books so I don't have to. I think it would be awesome in one sense if we found out about more and more secret comics creators over the next couple of decades, and it would be equally awesome in a sense if people exaggerated their past so that it included comics rather than denied them.

* not comics: you know, just the other day I was thinking about Apocalypse Meow/Cat Shit One and how weird that series was. Then Heidi MacDonald posts this, which looks like a proposed movie updating the concept into modern desert warfare (or maybe I just forgot that part).

* finally, the writer Jim Kingman walks through The Complete Peanuts: 1971-1972 in a way that may be familiar to many folks that are re-reading this material after experiencing it the first time through the various original book series.
 
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Happy 43rd Birthday, Kei Kusunoki!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Ludo Borecki!

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Happy 91st Birthday, Gabriel Vargas!

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Happy 85th Birthday, Helmut Nickel!

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Happy 52nd Birthday, Mohamed Aouamri!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Pascual Ferry!

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Happy 65th Birthday, Louis-Michel Carpentier!

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Happy 55th Birthday, Burkhard Ihme!

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Happy 77th Birthday, Christian Godard!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Gabrielle Bell!

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Quick hits
Craft
Leinil Yu Covers
Phil Hands Draws
Sean Phillips Sketches
John Cassaday Designs

Exhibits/Events
Brian Hibbs Is Tired
Manga At The Royal Academy
Chazen Undergrounds Exhibit Report

History
Mr. Murray, 1983
A Wally Wood Question
On Jules Feiffer's Awesomeness
Alan Moore And Female Characters

Industry
How Not To Get Screwed

Interviews/Profiles
Gear Live: JC Vaughn
Digital Strips: Steven Cloud
Comixtalk: Brian Babendererde
Comixtalk: Monty Kane, Kelli Stevens

Not Comics
Befriend Dill
Unbeige Is 40
Name That Beast
Why Comics Are Frequently Better Than Movies

Publishing
Indoorsy
Tales Designed To Thrizzle Previewed

Reviews
Paul O'Brien: Various
Re-Examining Papillon
Alex Carr: Be A Nose!
Andy Frisk: Eternals #9
John Pistelli: The Lagoon
Nina Stone: Mysterius #3
Sean T. Collins: Ojingogo
Timothy Callahan: The Losers
Rachel McAdams: David Boring
Hervé St-Louis: Daredevil #116
Robert Stanley Martin: Joe's Bar
Sandy Bilus: The Museum Vaults
Kailyn Kent: Flight Explorer Vol. 1
Hervé St-Louis: Dark Avengers #3
Kevin Church: Disappearance Diary
Bill Sherman: Schoolgirl Milky Crisis
Lissa Pattillo: 20th Century Boys Vol. 1
Don MacPherson: The Muppet Show #1
Richard Burton: The Rule Of Death #1-4
Russ Burlingame: Joe Loves Crappy Movies
Gerald Nicosia: The Beats: A Graphic History
 

 
March 23, 2009


Ben Schwartz On Alan Moore And The Comics Industry As A Lost Cause

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editor's note: the astute writer about comics and fine writer generally Ben Schwartz wrote in after my short piece on Friday where I stated I found some common ground with Alan Moore (via Eddie Campbell) on the issue of the industry's general hopelessness. he was nice enough to provide this counterpoint

Is The Comics Industry A Lost Cause?
By Ben Schwartz

I agree with your point that the "industry," whatever that is now, is no longer a cause.

Alan Moore's objections to the comics business he knows are understandable, mainly because they are the same ones voiced by creators since Jerry Siegel first endorsed his Action #1 check.

However, this isn't 1937, and Moore has opportunities in front of him that other people have made possible: Kurtzman, the '60s underground, Pekar, Spiegelman, Clowes, Ware, D&Q, Fantagraphics, and other examples of creative ownership like Dave Sim. Moore just doesn't want to work in comics, which he has stated many times. Like anyone who chooses not to be convinced of something, he never will be convinced there are other ways to go. I'm quite certain, even in these down times, Alan Moore could swing a deal he likes with Pantheon or a number of major publishers -- should he want that. We all know the work-for-hire past of the comics business. We all know the bullying tactics of large corporations. It's over -- unless you want to work for them.

In an interview with Moore in THE WORD last year, he expressed nothing but disdain for comics not in the creative genres he likes, and only disappointment that Frank Miller isn't living up to a potential Moore saw in him a long time ago.

Moore told THE WORD's Andrew Harrison:
"Ah yes, the new era of grown-up comics! That worked out, didn't it? There really should have been more to comics than 20 years of grim, nasty remakes of Watchmen. The comics world was very optimistic in the late '80s and maybe what we thought was the beginning was actually the high point. Frank Miller I haven't been able to read him for some time. Have you seen his latest idea? It is -- and I can hardly believe this -- Batman vs Al Qaeda. What can you say to an idea as absurd and juvenile as that? This is our response to the Iraq War? Miller's trapped in a teenage world of macho violence. Look at Sin City. Every woman is a bloodthirsty, semi-naked whore; every man is an indestructible killing machine. It's nasty, misogynist, Neanderthal Teenage, but it sells. And the other side of the comics industry, the achingly trendy, avant-garde books, they're mired in a teenage worldview too. All they provide are comfort-eating comics about neuroses and the emptiness of modern life and fear of dying alone. It's underdeveloped college-student stuff. So yes, I'd hoped for more."*
That's the comics world he sees. Whatever. It's apparent from a comment that ignorant he doesn't read comics, which is why his interviews all seem like they're from 1992. It's not the "industry," whatever that is, that's stopping him. He's done some very entertaining stuff. I hope he writes more comics after his new books come out, but let's not live in the past with him.

* THE WORD has since changed altered this interview on-line. You can still find this chunk quoted on blogs like CBR.
 
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Brief Glimpses Into Webcomics Weekend

The New England Webcomics Weekend was the weekend just past. The show was previewed here and that's still the best article for the raw information. The best post to read this morning for an initial reaction was this one from Gary Tyrrell, who is practically rising from his chair on happiness fumes while typing. I'm currently tracking blog posts like this one in the hope that there will be enough to justify a Collective Memory. My personal opinion is that webcomics and New England both need a meet-and-greet, shmooze-and-booze style comics show.
 
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And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #31

* here's a nice article from Editor & Publisher drawing attention to claims by the Buffalo News that they're doing okay in the recession, given everything that's going on. What's nice about this is that in extolling some of the paper's positives, it makes you take into greater consideration some of the little-discussed causes of the current problem, like the idiotic amounts of debt with which many papers were saddled from 2004-2007.

* an article at the Tennessean suggests that paper is doing okay, too.

* I haven't read this yet, but I have to imagine the answer is "no," with a few caveats, and a lengthy explanation isn't necessary.

* here's a mostly unfortunate article in E&P by Randy Siegel that casts aspersions on the motivations of print newspaper critics. Although it's bizarre to castigate something that draws attention to the self-interest of many media pundits, which I'd imagine is a potentially super-juicy topic of discussion, Siegel totally punts on providing instances of mis-analysis in favor of vaguely asserting them. This makes his accusations the kind of general "you're biased" finger-pointing that dogs many sub-cretinous message boards. And, since he has a clear interest in the health of print newspapers, he's just as biased and untrustworthy -- by the standard he advances. Articles like these make me want to see newspapers die.

* the Books-A-Million chain, which I believe serves a lot of communities the bigger bookstore chains don't, share with those companies a less-than-stellar fourth quarter 2008.
 
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Missed It: Fun Craig Thompson Post On Proceeding Towards Page Composition

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Your 2009 Hugo Awards Best Graphic Story Special Category Nominees

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The Hugo Awards has announced special category to honor works under a "Best Graphic Story" designation. It may become a regular category. This year's nominees are:

* The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle, Jim Butcher, Ardian Syaf (Del Rey/Dabel Brothers Publishing)
* Girl Genius Vol. 8, Kaja Foglio, Phil Foglio, Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
* Fables: War and Pieces Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha Andrew Pepoy, Lee Loughridge, Todd Klein (DC/Vertigo Comics)
* Schlock Mercenary: The Body Politic, Howard Tayler (The Tayler Corporation)
* Serenity: Better Days, Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews, Will Conrad, Michelle Madsen, Jo Chen (Dark Horse Comics)
* Y: The Last Man, Vol. 10, Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, Jose Marzan Jr. (DC/Vertigo Comics)

The winners of all the Hugo categories, special or not, are to be announced at the 67th World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal in August.
 
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Your 2009 Prix de la Meilleure Bande Dessinee Adaptable Winner

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One of my favorites because of its open and honest nature, the Prix de la Meilleure Bande Dessinee Adaptable is the comics award given out at Le Forum International Cinema et Litterature de Monaco to a comic that would make for a good adaptation. This year it went to Esthetique et Filatures (translated directly as "Aesthetics and Spinning"?) by Lisa Mandel and Tanxxx. Mandel was on hand to receive the award and have her picture taken.

One thing I didn't know before reading that piece is that an Aya film is apparently in the works. That could be really, really pretty.
 
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ComicsPro Memphis Meeting Coverage

The retailer group ComicsPro had their annual meeting in Memphis over the weekend. Headlining the show was some administrative business: namely elections. Joe Field, Brian Hibbs and Chris Powell were named to three open director positions. The organization's officers were then named: Field as President, Powell as President Pro-Tempore title; Amanda Emmert as Corporate Secretary/Treasurer; and Carr D'Angelo as Recording Secretary.

As far as I can tell, Matt Price was the only comics news person in attendance, or at least the only one with whom I'm familiar. His line-up of stories can be best accessed through this link. Some of the highlights seem to be a tour of the Diamond Memphis facility and presentations by publishers and other DM-interested businesspeople.

Sean Kleefeld asks where the rest of the coverage was. I can confess that for me, the ability to take off a few days to fly from a mostly regional airport to another mostly regional airport isn't what it used to be. I've promised to make attending those meetings a greater priority in the future and hope they continue having them.
 
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Go, Look: Dustin Harbin At Partyka

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bookmark it, too -- March isn't done
 
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Go, Look: When Worlds Meet

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Go, Look: Crimebuster's Secret Origin

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I've long been terrified of Iron Jaw
 
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Go, Look: Jean-Claude Claeys

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a sample; you can click through to the artist's site from that post
 
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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* in major Comic Book Legal Defense Fund news, Chris Staros is leaving the CBLDF board and presidency. Chris Powell assumes that position and Larry Marder takes the open Board slot. I'll have an editorial up on this tomorrow. Marder comments here. Image Comics will publish an institutionally-supported magazine designed to raise money for the Fund.

image* this profile of Studio Foglio's success with taking their material on-line and pursuing a free serialization strategy is better than most similar profiles because it gets into the numbers more than I'm used to seeing.

* google profiles Dan Shahin of Hijinx Comics.

* not comics: you can discover a lot about a writer by what they write like when they're tired. I really liked this Neil Gaiman blog post at the end of an exhausting personal turned professional trip taken by the author.

* not comics: this review of the Watchmen movie's financial track calls into question the entire superhero sub-genre, which is a pretty alarming place to go given it's a mediocre to bad performance by a single film following two smash performances by movies in the same genre. I think it's important, though, because it's the first review I've read that castigated the reputation of the book based on the movie, something I thought might happen, and because I never understood why anyone took screenwriter David Hayter seriously when he asserted the movie had to do well for this kind of transgressive, wild superhero movie to be made again. We may not see Earth-X or Squadron Supreme or Kingdom Come, which might have conceivably been green-lighted if Watchmen were now closing in on $600 million instead of just now making back production costs, and thank goodness for small favors, but they're already making Kick-Ass, and that should be plenty over-the-top and rapealicious or whatever.

* here's a longer-than-usual piece on comics on the Internet as a reaction to inadequacies in the print model and its distribution. Although I think it may be useful to see on-line scanning as a reaction to something that certain fans feel is missing from the way those books are brought to market, in general the comic book is neither a candy bar nor a pop song. I don't think there's anything wrong with selling comic books as a niche item -- that approach is why we still have comic book companies now; without it they might have disappeared and certainly wouldn't have thrived. It also I think best represents the appeal of that certain package. There's not much use in chasing 1947. I'm totally bullish on on-line distribution -- I think all new comics should be available in some kind of on-line format at $1 a pop right this very moment -- but I'd also like to see the existing markets treated as something other than a system to abuse and manipulate for short-term gain, market-share shenanigans and the support of these massive and perhaps unnecessary frameworks for their creation that suck so much of the profit away from the people doing the making and the selling. I would also like a pony.

* it's hard to have a rooting interest in who gets to make live-action Dick Tracy stuff when it's likely either end result is going to be really, really depressing, although it strikes me as I read it that I assume that Beatty's interest is either tangential to making anything or involves making it for someone else. I can't imagine any process by which he could be filmed at his age in that role. Also, to reference an earlier item, if people are still fighting over Dick Tracy after Frank Miller's The Spirit, I don't see how Watchmen mediocre totally screws things for similarly ambitious superhero movies.

* finally, I now believe I was destined to spend part of my professional life in comics just so I could write a link to this headline.
 
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Happy 36th Birthday, Jakob Boeskov!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Doug Potter!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Daniela Kantor!

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Quick hits
Craft
On Ditko
Sean Phillips Inks
Mike Manley Colors
Matthew Clark Sketches
Kevin Cannon Makes A Comic

Exhibits/Events
Zippy In Pittsburgh
CCI Celebrating 40th
Jason Miles At CCI 2008 05
Humbug, Dame Darcy Report
On The Possibility Of CCI In Las Vegas

History
Who Is This Guy?
Stan Lee Is New Sorcerer Supreme
What Jiggs and Maggie Did For George

Industry
Book Publishing Is Gross
Comic Book Bin Recognizes DWAs
Russ Manning Award Call For Submissions

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Grant Morrison
Comics Career: Dan Vado
Newsarama: Mark Chiarello
Cleveland.com: Terri Libenson
Newsarama: Marc Guggenheim

Not Comics
Paul Pope Asks You To Smile
These Really Give Me The Creeps

Publishing
He Likes Tiny Titans
Comics On The Kindle

Reviews
CBR Rene Engstrom
Sarah Jaffe: Blankets
Zak Edwards: Ultimatum #3
Richard Bruton: Strip For Me
Doug Sawisza: Invincible #60
Leroy Douresseaux: ZE Vol. 1
Leroy Douresseaux: Honey Hunt Vol. 1
Mark Evanier: The Best Of Simon And Kirby
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Turok, Son of Stone Vol. 1
Leroy Douresseaux: Yonen Buzz: Plastic Chew
Greg McElhatton: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century #1
 

 
March 22, 2009


Chris Staros To Leave CBLDF Post

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Since this is the kind of thing I always forget to do, and because I'll be writing about the CBLDF's new Board of Directors in my news and editorial voice on Monday, I wanted to take a tiny bit of time this weekend to congratulate and thank departing board member (seven years) and president (five years) Chris Staros. If you have his e-mail or a platform of your own and are similarly inclined, I urge you to do the same.
 
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Five Kinds Of Serial Comic Books I Prefer To Buy Right Now Over New Ones

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The great thing about breaking the serial comics habit -- if you have one -- is that it frees up money for all sorts of different ways to access the comics art form. The obvious alternative that many pursue is to purchase collections and book-length comics instead of those same works in a serialized form. That's become such a popular model that it's slowly shifting the fundamental comics publishing paradigm, if it's not already all the way shifted. But there are others: pursuing comics on the Internet, buying comics and cartoons as used books, even borrowing from one's local library. One of my favorites is the purchase and consumption of older serial comic books. Not for collecting, necessarily: I have no problems with comics collecting and God bless everyone who ever buys a comic with that in mind. I'm talking about buying older serial comics in order to read them.

There have been enough comic books published in North America over enough years to enough different audiences of enough different attention spans that wide swathes of them are available for very cheap. The proliferation of trades and collections have in many cases reduced the demand for titles based on people simply wanting to read them, and eBay has been in many cases a valuable check on the illogical if not outright corrupt inflation of prices for books that not enough people want. The end result is that you can frequently purchase comics as fun, as interesting and as compelling a read as anything on which DC and Marvel have recently raised their prices. It's also a chance to read many comics with their original (sometimes superior) production , formatted in the way originally intended, in styles and modes of presentation that might stand out against the backdrop of today's comics in that much more of a pleasurable way.

Here's a few of the strategies I'm employing right now for buying some older comic books to read. Some may interest you and some may not, but I hope that in the very least they get you thinking. Comics is as amazing an art form in its corners and blind spots as it is in terms of its award-winners and best-sellers. There's always a wealth of material out there to be explored.

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1. Steve Gerber's Superhero Comics
It's been more than a year since the writer Steve Gerber died, and as a fan of his work I've been grateful for the renewed interest in his best-known series such as Howard The Duck and Omega The Unknown. Gerber was a working pro for years in and around that work. While DC was his home for a bunch of later comics that I have yet to dive into, I'm just now picking up for very cheap a few runs of his 1970s Marvel Comics books where Gerber did solid if less spectacular work. Gerber did a short run of Guardians of the Galaxy comics that I remember reading as a kid that I'll be seeing again soon; ditto some Son of Satan short stories for the Marvel anthology Marvel Spotlight. Of two more celebrated Gerber runs with the Man-Thing character and the Defenders concept, the Defenders material can routinely be unearthed for less than $2 a pop. I just snapped the bulk of them up for $1.50 an issue, free shipping.

I don't hold out hope that any of these will be a revelation. I suspect they'll entertain, which is the primary value I get from comic books like this, and additionally provide me some extra insight into an interesting writer's career. It's easy to do this kind of thing for any creator that interests you by googling blog posts like this one or by using the tailored search engine at comics.org.

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2. 1980s Indy Comics Cribbed From A List By Frank Santoro
The cartoonist, painter and occasional writer about comics Frank Santoro is a devotee of many of the comics he was reading before the mid-1990s. I asked him for a short list of comics he sees out there in Direct Market bargain bins that he finds worth picking up and this is how he responded:
5. Coyote
4. Nexus (First issues)
3. Mai the Psychic Girl
2. Doctor Fate (Giffen)
1. Slash Maraud
He later added:
The other thing is, that you might want to discuss, is how one can find "runs" of a particular series that will be awesome. Like late Byrne FF's when he's just doing Kirby Monster stories and barely having a storyline that continues from issue to issue.

Or Nexus. I see Nexus 18-30 ALL THE TIME. There are some amazing 2-3 issue runs in that series.
I don't want to speak for Frank, and I'm not sure I endorse all of his choices -- I love Steve Rude (Nexus) and Ryoichi Ikegami (Mai); I'm less sold on Chas Troug (Coyote) and Paul Gulacy (Slash Maraud). Still, listening to Frank hold forth on comics in this manner is a great thing for how it promote a restless, unapologetic way of exploring this tidal wave of decaying paper that's out there. I believe Frank appreciates both specific artists that may not have worked on top-selling comics and also aspects of the kinds of art they were doing at the time that maybe not as many people do now, whether by fashion or for lack of skill. Your reasons may be different than Frank's, but I can't imagine a better person to emulate when it comes to seizing on whatever books do that do it for you, wherever they can be found, whenever they were published.

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3. DC Reinventions of the Superhero Genre That Never Quite Took
One small subset of comic books where DC may have an advantage over Marvel is that their focus on icons over approach means they've spawned a number of weird, unsuccessful re-working of the superhero comic over the year, many of which are available at bargain-bin prices. There are limited runs within titles that work like this, such as the 1984 Legion of Super-Heroes re-launch and its first five issues of near-demented Keith Giffen-led narrative inscrutability. There are also series that manged to deviate from form to the point where the plug was pulled sometimes in a mercy-killing way and sometimes in a "world is unjust" manner.

Two of the better-known DC dead ends that I own are the 1980s Robert Loren Fleming and Trevor Von Eeden Thriller series, which for its first eight issues plays exactly like the best weekend-syndicated action-adventure television show that never existed, and the 1998 series Chase, which is like all the good parts from all the dopey over-serious superhero comic book you've ever read given a much classier than they deserve treatment and put under one cover: James Robinson's Starman crossed with Brian Bendis' Alias. One great thing about buying discounted comics series in their entirety is that you know going in exactly how long you'll have those stories with you, and can appreciate them without the disappointment that comes with cancellation.

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4. Jack Kirby At Marvel In the 1970s
It's amazing to me that with as many great re-publications of Jack Kirby's work as we've seen in the last decade there's still so much to be enjoyed about the original comics. A lot of Kirby's 1970s Marvel works, some collected and some not, are available at prices of less than $2 a pop. This includes the second half of a wild run on Captain America with panels that all by themselves are worth a stop and stare: it's like reading comics brought home by a father who is taking sales trips to an alternate dimension full of crazy people. I know that a lot of people flat-out didn't like Kirby's return to that comic, and a lot still don't. I enjoy Ed Brubaker's rootless super-spy take as much as anyone, but there's something about the fact that a veteran of World War II chose to do those comics with that character that I think has to be taken into account. Also, as the years pass it's clear that Kirby had a much different idea of what constituted a superhero's level of mastery of the situation than you find now -- his patriotic superhero scrambled to survive as much as dominated the action.

I know that a recommendation of these comics as comics may be old hat to many of you, but way too many greeted that Losers collection like they were a bunch of new books that had been found in a crate in Kirby's garage for me to think that everyone has taken advantage of all the cheaper Kirby works out there. If nothing else, you should make sure you bolster your Eternals and Devil Dinosaur collections with a few books like Captain America Annual #4, where we get to see Kirby's take on a second generation of evil mutants that have over the years managed to be less popular than the season three roster adds on The White Shadow. In other words, some artists make it worth your while to act like a completist, and none more so than Jack Kirby. Buying the individual comic books as you need them or even as you don't is a great way to do that.

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5. Alt-Comics, 1980-1995
It's hard to remember a time when alt-comics publishing meant making lots and lots of comic book series. Now that we're near 2010 and in the midst of what seems like the prime days of a sustained journey into books-oriented art comics publishing, it's fun to look back on that decade-plus period where series and lots of them were what dominated the snootier funnybook neighborhoods. You might have to steel yourself towards not being able to finish everything you start, but there's a wealth of almost-forgotten material out there well worth your time.

A number of alt-comics anchor publisher Fantagraphics' more interesting roads not taken are still out there to be had in comic book form for less than $2 a pop, including the science fiction romp Dalgoda (it also had a sequel), Mike Kazaleh's always elegant-looking work and Doug Gray's comedic adventure Eye of Mongambo. You can also find talent that will remind you of cartoonists publishing through Fantagraphics today, like foul-mouthed cultural critics/comedians Dennis Worden and Scott Russo. Fanta's main rival at the time, Kitchen Sink, offered up a smaller number of alt-comics now available at discount prices, several of which a worth a look: the science fiction series Alien Fire and Paul Pope favorite Border Worlds and the historical drama Kings In Disguise spring to mind.

In the end buying old alt-comics is just like buying old comics, period. The art form that looks so assured in the twice-yearly catalogs of its boutique publishers and in the boardroom presentations of its largest companies has a past that's fractured and for the most part can be found stuffed away in any number of boxes and closets, waiting to be discovered.
 
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Five Link A Go Go

* go, read: John Mitchell interviews David Malki

* go, read: John Mitchell reviews Supermen! and Ivan Brunetti's Anthology

* go, read: John Mitchell reviews Miss Don't Touch Me

* go, read: John Mitchell reviews Nicolas

* go, bookmark: new John Mitchell blog
 
posted 2:40 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #156 -- Sentenced

On Friday, CR asked its readers to Pick Up A Comic, Write Out Four Random and Complete Sentences From Four Different Pages, Then Name The Comic." This is how they responded.

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. "Everyone's excited about our new guest."
2. "You can't ignore us forever!"
3. "William accepted the Saint's gift of her solid gold shoe... although I doubt he had any idea what to do with it."
4. "So I'm not really the Devil, so what?"
5. Castle Waiting

*****

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Mike Baehr

1. "Do you like my new panties?"
2. "Oh! I thought you were from the 'A.A.'"
3. "I can't get this dress off so I will have to perform a Cesarean!!"
4. "The male's aggression stems from his instinct to hunt."
5. Drinky Crow's Maakies Treasury

*****

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Dave Knott

* What make you think I'm interested in African dance?!
* You found some old ViewMaster reels!
* Don't degrade yourself for my cheap fantasies!
* She's actually reading my strips and not even cracking a smile.
* Peepshow #1

*****

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Brian Lauver

1. I don't like the way that woman is looking at me!
2. You haven't lived till you've tried it!
3. We haven't done anything illegal for hours!
4. Don't lick it off!
5. Sugar & Spike #60

*****

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Douglas Wolk

1. "I've never had my hand inside another human being's mouth in my life!"
2. "As for believing that this Mega-City One Judge simply 'chanced' upon the scene -- pah!"
3. "Wilbur Yess was a, uh, good citizen and, uh, a first rate trouser designer."
4. "Very reluctantly I grabbed him by the ankles and dangled him over the vat, just like he insisted."
5. Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 12

*****

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Gary Usher

1. "What a 'profit' and another sucker to take the blame!"
2. "I'm compromising on kicking..."
3. "I know the middle of all extremes, disputes, selfish evils."
4. "Can't the *@#* stop being himself...be...anybody but #@*# Ditko?
5. Ditko Continued (2009)

*****

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Josue Menjivar

1. "You're overloaded with grudges and resentments!"
2. "I've missed you."
3. "I'm angry enough to FLIP OUT!"
4. "We are like Brothers..."
5. Omac #1 Jack Kirby

*****

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Grant Goggans

1. What do we really know about accelerated intelligence?
2. I foolishly thought a few minutes earlier, when the last of the invaders faded into the black, that our fight was over.
3. You're just a kid, you're entitled to slack off.
4. Maneuver above cushioned objects if possible.
5. Grease Monkey by Tim Eldred

*****

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Eric Knisley

1. "Hang on, sailor! We'll have you ashore in a jiffy--!"
2. "How will I ever explain this insanity to Jed?"
3. "You said 'observing'."
4. "The General's head is pricelss!"
5. The Sandman #1 (1974 Simon and Kirby version)

*****

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Russ Maheras

1.) "One of the young men you are in charge of has a bullet in his spine."
2.) "After a lifetime of mistakes, you finally did something right."
3.) "Let me get this straight... You're trying to sneak back INTO Iraq?!?"
4.) "A cartoon version of the American warrior emerged: One in which he was either a willing dupe of the establishment or a walking target, wasting time in the desert until he was blown up by an I.E.D. or taken down by a sniper's bullet."
5.) No Enemy, But Peace

*****

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Jason Michelitch

1. "Oh RUBBISH and I will thank you to leave my magnificent beard out of this."
2. "HERE is what I THINK of your TAXES"
3. "Is it a social commentary about hunky dreamboats?"
4. "Oh France France France you don't know what's best for you."
5. Kate Beaton's HISTORY COMICS mini.

*****

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Russell Lissau

1. "Hold on. I'm getting some sot of involuntary nerve response from his left hand."
2. "Let me out and I'll show you."
3. "Aren't you at all curious?"
4. "I'm needed elsewhere."
5. Batman: Hush (Vol.1)

*****

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Jamie S. Rich

1. "You hear that, Joe? He's just taking what he's wearing."
2. "All captivated by her strong manila arms, her lovely gumminess, the heady allure of her zip code..."
3. "Fixing it up. Decorating it so I can get rid of the place. There haven't been any more hauntings since the exorcists came."
4. "Mind slowly reaching out, a smooth finger touching the world. You are born."
5. Enigma by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo

*****

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Scott O. Brown

1. "I think I may scream like a grandmother."
2. "I made him eat all the corndogs, and then I padlocked him into the rock-o-plane."
3. "Sounds delicious, but where's Superfly?"
4. "Make a bunch and use them to put on twisted puppet shows for the nieghborhood kids which will affect them later in life."
5. Sam & Max: Surfin' the Highway.

*****

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Douglas Mullins

1. "Descendant of a line of ancient sorcerer-surgeons, the baron and his servant, Igor, flee in the chaos of his last experiment!"
2. "But also a poor creature of flesh---formed by an evil hand!"
3. "Jumping catfish!"
4. "Mortals are brave but foolhardy!"
5. The Demon #13

*****

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Mike Sterling

1. "If he catches me in his private chambers, he'll kill me... like dead!"
2. "Now, go keep those ridiculous rebel scum off the walls for another few minutes -- then I will handle the rest!"
3. "Stop sweating in your ale -- it makes it taste funny."
4. "It's a little late for apologies, asparagus-face...."
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #8 (1986)

*****

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Randall Kirby

1. Bank credit cards now give immediate credit for amounts that a few years ago took days to approve.
2. Congress decided that, since national banks were chartered by the federal government, they would have to join the system.
3. "We want our money!"
4. "I wonder if they need someone to paint this fence?"
5. The Story of Banks and Thrifts

*****

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Scott Cederlund

1. Just tell me why you did it and then let us go.
2. You're fucking daft, you are.
3. It's too late now.
4. "Saint Guillotine deliver us from our enemies."
5. The Invisibles Volume One: Say You Want a Revolution

*****

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Kian Ross

1. "Nobody's band practices here till you invite those three black boys you threw out of my party over for Decaf-Cappuccino, Rex"
2. "Igor, why can't you just admit what your uncle did to you were little fucked you up?!"
3. "Stranski, my fren y'all better get yo butt outta dis 'hood quick befo'e sum basehead nigguh decide y'all look like target pratice, y'know?
4. "MOM, JEROME PEE'D ON MY HAT!!"
5. Love and Rockets X


*****

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Johnny Bacardi

1. "Only I am deserving of your loyalty... and perhaps, one day, even of your LOVE!"
2. "I dare not fail her! She must be found... and saved!"
3. "Honestly! You'd think a man his age would have outgrown such nonsense!"
4. "Don't give up, darling! It's not over yet!"
5. Tales to Astonish #69

*****

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Christopher Duffy

1. Shut up, Leif! You're insulting the gods!
2. Vampire snakes!
3. I have to leave you here. This iced river will lead you straight into the land of the dwarves.
4. That's exactly what I think, bastard!
5. Thorgal

*****

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Adam Casey

1. "Oh yeah... ... no-one understands me!!"
2. "Oh sensitive guy from Uganda... thank God you're home... I had to talk to someone!!"
3. "You know that dude's stealing our gold!"
4. "Jesus, kid, who lays out your suit in the morning? Helen Keller?"
5. Hickee Vol. 2

*****

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Frank Santoro

5. "I can't believe that in a week you'll be in basic training..."
4, "You know?"
3. "I'm telling you, there's no moose south of Duluth."
2. 'We made it..."
1. Thunderhead Underground Falls, Joel Orff

*****

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Nat Gertler

1. "Have some tea, Mr. Bunny."
2. "Ooh, yeah, that sounds like fun!"
3. "Well, I think there are two more guests we should invite to our tea part!"
4. "Dad, may I go to the Titans treehouse today?"
5. Tiny Titans #10

*****

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Andrew Horton

1. Silence! My E.S.P. faculties have suddenly sharpened! Something's HAPPENED in this apartment!
2. AH! Your PROBING mind has found the lair of the thief!
3. DEATH to the enemies of MERLIN!
4. It's our OWN private little joke, isn't it!? Your SORCERY did this to me--and by SORCERY you shall pay for it-!
5. The Demon 8, April 1973

*****

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Tony Collett

1. Skedaddle, 'fore I put the three of ya across my knee and wake the snakes.
2. The bounty on the three of them alone will be more than we make in a year.
3. Well, Betsy, yore one healthy woman, if ya don't mind me saying so.
4. Ah got no problem with ya gettin' yerselves killed, but get in muh way again, an' shallow graves await.
5. Jonah Hex #37

*****

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Chris Randle

1. "And that's how I ended up tied to the muzzle of the world's biggest gun."
2. "They don't know about my diamond manicure..."
3. "It is Fastnir, infidel!"
4. "Soon the West will regret the humiliations it has heaped upon us."
5. The Punisher #48

*****

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Mauricio Matamoros

1. "By the ether!! Boobooloo, the king of the olfs!!"
2. "Time out! No one plays till I get back."
3. "We'll do both of you that favor."
4. "Then my master chopped off my head."
5. Dungeon, Vol. 1: Duck Heart

*****

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Jamie Coville

1. Marget and Maran didn't make it, but I've miraculously survived.
2. Hasn't the time come to ask our Government why this conflict still hasn't been resolved?
3. Behind those hills, at the end of the Highway, is the liquid sea, where our people are waiting for us!
4. It will be very difficult now to prove its existence.
5. The Fourth Power (Humanoids/DC)

*****

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Matthew Craig

1. Wear your BIG red hooters!!
2. Better practise my heading.
3. My Bunny!
4. A few hundred smacks in the face with a door will do that.
5. Beano Max #1, DC Thomson & Co., March 2007.

*****

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John Vest

1. "B-But... what about... my brain...?"
2. "If I hadn't got you out of there, you'd have gambled away our ticket back to Muskogee."
3. "I am... puzzled by this casual use of weaponry for amusement."
4. "A calm resignation seizes his spirit."
5. The Defenders

*****

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Tucker Stone

1. "You're planning to save the Nebraska with a geology lesson?"
2. "In the state it's in, the batteries could bust any minute, grilled meat at 700 volts guaranteed!"
3. "No, but you'll die for it!"
4. "You want to help Hamish by giving him a history lesson... I expected MORE."
5. Sanctum

*****

Danny Ceballos

1. "Nobody can accuse you of being a complete spaz!"
2. "Did I tell you that sometimes I see through time as though through a clear window?"
3. "Statues of glass?"
4. "Follow us into the golden country, into the empire of the senseless!"
5. Doom Patrol #27

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. As resident authority on over water, under water and related sujects, I find that tunnels ain't got ends!
2. This man has withstood the power!!
3. Stay back, you matted masterwork of murderous malignancy!
4. The photograph enlarges to his gaze until the very grains of its composition become large dots -- which display an ominous message!!
5. Jimmy Olsen #142

*****

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Jeffrey Meyer

1. Swaddling clothes are diapers and booties -- stuff like that.
2. Grandma's toilet is real pretty! The water is BLUE!
3. This car is a wimp. Let's buy a muscle car, Daddy!
4. Buy these books at your local bookstore or use this handy coupon for ordering:
5. "Oops! We're Out of Juice!" by Bil Keane

*****

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Marc Sobel

1) "She should not be breast-feeding if she's on meth!"
2) "Car battery theft is the fastest growing crime among youths, ages 16-19 but studies show that 75% of the thefts aren't perpetrated by ordinary delinquents but by the Underground Car Battery Punks of St. Louis."
3) "Present Day: Dozens of sports fans are injured every year by over-pressurized CO2 powered hot dog cannons."
4) "In Tibet, a small sect known as the Ch'a Khan only allows copies of their scriptures to be written on rice paper!"
5) The Factoids of Life

*****

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James Langdell

1. "God, talk about small world."
2. "Befo' him, nothin' hexisted in manifestation."
3. "'They want the cake, the ha'penny and the bloody toffee,' he'd say."
4. "My specialty is household furnishings and fitments."
5. Cages

*****

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David Roel

1. You mule-headed nitwit!!
2. I'll empty my pockets... get rid of every last trace of Bob Banner!
3. I'm afraid I might clobber you too hard and spoil those handsome features!
4. Ben can't hold out much longer against the Hulk!
5. Fantastic Four #25.

*****

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Aaron White

1. Look at that dark moon, Charon... guiding souls to the underworld!
2. How come it sounds like they don't have a future?
3. No more tears... never, never again!
4. Do you think... I'll ever make it back?
5. Galaxy Express 999

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. "Pug, are you making breakfast?"
2. "It's bad enough you know what happened to me -- now you're telling random aliens my life story?"
3. "I'd rather die than kill Pug Davis."
4. "Is this because of what I said on the ship?"
5. Pug Davis (#2)

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. "Only one way to reverse the damage I've done -- and that's by running through backwards to set up a counter-sonic-boom!"
2. "Yes, indeed -- the vault is immune to every possible weapon except one -- the fantastic energy of Flash's super-speed vibrations!"
3. "Now no one will expect the same gang to hit the same bank twice the same day!"
4. "The surprise was supposed to be on you, carrot-head!"
5. The Flash vol. 1 #221, April-May 1973 (written by J. David Warner and Cary Bates).

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. That has to be the worst landing I've ever seen
2. That's the only trouble with tennis, you can't play it alone
3. Back to Herman Hesse and the best...
4. I'll be interested in seeing how this looks in the box score
5. The Complete Peanuts Volume 11 1971-1972

*****

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Jeff Kocan

1. "I don't remember Needles being a ghost town."
2. "I guess it's just you and me, Mr. Roboto."
3. "Here comes the river, folks!"
4. "He never reminded me that it was my fault."
5. Daisy Kutter

*****

thank to all that participated

*****
*****
 
posted 2:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 38th Birthday, Mariano Grynberg!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 42nd Birthday, Gianmauro Cozzi!

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Happy 83rd Birthday, Brian Walker!

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Happy 69th Birthday, Spain Rodriguez!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Olivier Josso!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Patrizia Mandanici

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First Thought Of The Day

Note to self as after-dinner conversationalist: "Money Shot" may not have a non-porn meaning.
 
posted 2:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
March 21, 2009


Next Week In Comics-Related Events

March 27
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March 28
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posted 6:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from March 14 to March 20, 2009:

1. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer releases its final print edition and moves into on-line only publication.

2. Your 2009 Reuben Award Finalists: Dave Coverly, Dan Piraro, Stephan Pastis.

3. An issue of Amazing Spider-Man featuring President Obama on the cover tops the Direct Market charts for two months in a row.

Winner Of The Week
Grant Snider

Losers Of The Week
Fans of editorial cartooning that received their primary exposure to the form through Bill Day or Robert Ariail, two rock-solid veterans that will no longer have staff positions.

Quote Of The Week
"Sgt. Carter gets his wires crossed, erroneously believing Gomer Pyle USMC is on his deathbed, not merely suffering from the flu, and takes instructions meant for a dying horse, feeding the private lumps of sugar in his bunk and (funniest scene ever!) brushing his hair while the rest of the platoon watches in stunned silence, drawn by Jack Davis." -- Fred Hembeck

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

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

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posted 2:50 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 56th Birthday, Philippe Petit-Roulet!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 46th Birthday, Yuzo Takada!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 75th Birthday, Yves Duval!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Mark Waid!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 78th Birthday, Al Williamson!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 47th Birthday, Narumi Kakinouchi!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 41st Birthday, Frank Victoria!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 80th Birthday, Gallieno Ferri!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 38th Birthday, Jose Luis Agreda!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 34th Birthday, Marek Bennett!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 62nd Birthday, Don Markstein!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* Tucker Stone On GQ Is Doing Awesome And My Being A Disrespectful Smart-Ass (3/18/09)
* Danny Fingeroth On Danny Fingeroth's Eisner Presentation (PR) (3/17/09)
* I Get The Best E-Mail: This One Was Slugged "Penisher" (3/17/09)
* Robert Boyd On The Best Of 2008 (3/16/09)
* I Know Joe Kimpel On Trivial Anthology Debut Event April 3, 2009 (PR) (3/16/09)
* Alex Cox On Sunday's Five For Friday Results (3/15/09)
 
posted 2:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
March 20, 2009


Is The Comics Industry A Lost Cause?

Alan Moore seems to think so and Eddie Campbell seems to agree.

imageAre they right? This morning at least I think they're right more than they're wrong. The fundamental tragedy of the American comics industry is that it's built on core acts of exploitation and as long as there remains money to be made it will never get free of that original sin in a meaningful way. There are business executives with tangential relationships to the making of comics that may profit more in a quarter-year from certain creations than the creators will in their entire lives. This is seen as a good thing. Not only is this not a good thing right on the face of it, but the insistence that it at least arguably serves an overall good drives a great deal of the self-loathing, defensiveness and poisonous overcompensation that creators and company employees are forced to negotiate in some fashion or another every single day.

Can anything be done? Reform from the creator class seemed possible when one remarkable generation fought for greater recognition of artists and fairer contracts, but that movement now seems exhausted and its progress limited to how reforms already achieved might better allow for the possibility of significant profit and return. Reform from the industry's patrons is impossible when the bulk of that audience values the uninterrupted continuation of their entertainment consumables over anything that might threaten same. I'd argue that today it's less a matter of whether or not the comics industry is a lost cause than if anyone still considers the industry a cause at all.

The two great hopes for future reform don't exactly encourage. That an entire generation of creators just now moving into their 60s may as a group be so spectacularly ill-prepared for the financial realities of old age that it somehow shames a movie- and licensing-wealthy industry into offering, say, greater health care options, that seems like the sort of thing that the bulk of younger working creators can be convinced doesn't really apply to them and will be depressing as hell besides. That the industry itself will somehow have its spine shattered over the collective knee of a thousand website-riding barbarians and their hordes of fans that simply won't respect the rules, that counts on an opportunistic creative class resisting efforts to co-opt long-term opportunities and a reliable profit structure that at least comes close to matching the one in place somehow taking hold. I'm not hopeful.
 
posted 3:25 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2009 Reuben Award Finalists

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Michael Cavna of Comic Riffs has published the names of the finalists for the big NCS award: Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), Dave Coverly (Speed Bump) and Dan Piraro (Bizarro). My gut "if I had to bet a finger" reaction is that of this group it will be Pastis, but I wouldn't be surprised by any of them taking home the outstanding cartoonist award. Along with the dedicated Pulitzer and the festival prize at Angouleme, the Reuben is comics' best honor. I suppose there might be something to the fact that two of these cartoonists are basically single-panel cartoonists (I think Piraro offers his feature as a strip or panel), or even something to the fact that this escaped me until preparing the art above. The winner will be announced on Memorial Day weekend.

Coverly, Pastis, Piraro
 
posted 3:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
OTBP: Torture Hospital 1

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a very limited edition Dash Shaw comic
 
posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #30

* the retailer Brian Hibbs notes that sales to the Direct Market of comics and hobby shops in February 2009 likely felt the impact of Diamond's recent warehouse move.

* the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com has some key bookstore retailer news presented in succinct form: Barnes & Noble had a profitable 2008 despite sales declines for the final quarter and the year overall. Their forecast is for another tough year in 2009. One of the things they've done recently to best weather the storm is reduce inventory, which is something that a lot of publishers have felt in terms of reduced orders for backlist.

* the Tucson-Citizen may have found a buyer and will be given a reprieve while closing that deal is explored.

* the San Diego Union-Tribune was purchased by an investment group that targets assets operating in struggling business sectors; the purchase marks the Copley Family's exit from the field.
 
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OTBP: Stop Smiling

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No One Tell Sean Delonas About This

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I noted yesterday how President Obama's appearance on the cover made an issue of Amazing Spider-Man the #1 comic book for two months in a row. Jason Green of Playback says I've only got the half of it.
Your joke that "Obama is the new Wolverine but even better at what he does and what he does is move books" made me chuckle, but it's definitely true if you look not only at Spidey, but at what affect his appearance has had in sales of Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon. SD usually hovers around the #200 spot on the monthly sales chart.

The latest issue, #145 (which featured not only an Obama alternate cover and appearance but also the character's return to the police force, a status most people identify with the character) sold over 22,000 copies and hit #86 on the chart. The previous issue, #144, was at #206 on the chart and 5646 copies sold. The Obama appearance virtually quadrupled sales... that's unreal.
I've typed ten different snappy comments here before writing this sentence, but none of those jokes really communicated the real but very slight discomfort I feel with this story. Ten years of increasingly prolific, high-quality graphic novels being made and all it takes is two comic books and we're collectible plates again. At the same time, it sold a lot of copies for a lot of retailers that move the comics for which I have a higher regard. It's impossible to begrudge them any sales success, even what seems like a cynical one.

Update: The official CR over/under on Wizard running consecutive Obama covers is currently at five, that low only in that they may have missed the opportunity to do with #212 because of the time lapse between noticing a trend and trying to capitalize on one.
 
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If I Were In B.C., I'd Go To This

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Not Comics: Robin Bougie's All-Time Best Comics To Movies Adaptations

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a good list that actually recognizes films made in countries other than the USA
 
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Go, Look: Saul Steinberg Flickr Set

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Go, Look: Goofey Movies

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Go, Look: Daria Tessler

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posted 2:45 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* IDW has hired a new in-house marketing director, AnnaMaria White.

* the writer and editor Jason Green corrects me by noting that Marvel's new Spider-Girl effort isn't going digital-only. Those comics are just appearing via Marvel's digital efforts on-line initially before see light as part of a print comic. I apologize for the error.

* save the DFC!

image* apparently I am quoted in this magazine's profile of Stan Lee, which renders me unable to read it without the risk of passing out. I hope it's good.

* so yesterday was the day that hotel rooms at San Diego's Comic-Con International became available through the convention itself. This is nearly always an interesting day because of the ill will it engenders in longtime con-goers that remember being able to reserve rooms in June for a July show. Having secured a room through alternate means I didn't think I'd be participating in what one reporter referred to as "Hotel Day" and had mostly forgotten about it. Then I was drafted to make rezzos for a friend that couldn't take the time to wait on hold or for a page to load on-line, and... hoo boy. I have to admit, while I know businesses can't fundamentally change their staffing and computer systems just to make sure a bunch of comics fans have a more productive and satisfying half-morning once a year, that was a discouraging experience. I failed to get the room asked of me. And, as my brother woke up, jumped on-line, had his page load and got a room for his friend all during the time I was sitting on a queue page that should have had me taken care of long before he was, I know that there were arbitrary aspects to that experience.

* it may or may not be worth noting that instead of the con leaving up the original hotel rooms and having them listed as unavailable, the way they used to, the core downtown hotels are not even listed on the site after yesterday's scramble. This might be discouraging for people wanting those specific hotels to release a few more rooms. I can't tell.

* so what now? If you still don't have a room for CCI, won't have a car and need to be within walking distance of the convention center, you should immediately e-mail everyone you know that might be going to the con to see if they have a line on a room, such as, for example, a reservation they're dropping at the Westgate in favor of one at the Hyatt. Informal networking may be the only way to secure a room where the more people you know is an advantage. You should then bookmark the convention hotel reservations page and check it frequently to see if any hotel rooms will eventually become freed up. Beyond that, wow. You might check Google to see if there's still a bed and breakfast in Little Italy and if they have anything. Little Italy used to feel like a long way away, but it's close enough for a long walk or a short cab ride or a stroll to another hotel's shuttle stop. Other things to do: bookmark San Diego Craigslist for condo rentals. Google "vacation rentals" and follow those links. Pray.

* if you still don't have a room for CCI, have a car and don't mind commuting, I always liked this one of the Hotel Circle hotels. Seriously, though, maybe don't try to do the show without a car if you're staying more than 10 blocks away. If you have a car, staying far away is fine, but if you don't, it's tough. Even reasonable car commuting has an unnecessarily bad reputation at CCI, for a lot of reasons. It's partly because it's a pain and added cost to park, partly because a number of people just want to bounce between the three or four key places in a half-mile radius where all of their friends are waiting to tell them they're awesome and therefore they don't really value the less comics-immersive experience of being able to run out to (for example) Kono's Cafe, partly because proximity via hotel is a status symbol in and of itself, partly because having the option of running back to your room can indeed be awesome and partly because for years unless you waited the week before the show to decide you'd like to show up you never had to stay so far away you needed a vehicle. I used to be that week-before-the-show guy, so I've stayed as far away as 40 minutes from San Diego proper. Let me assure you: if you're heartbroken by having a hard time finding something downtown, my years sleeping well outside of SD proper were just as fun as the years I've spent right up on the convention center at the Hilton or Marriott.

* finally, John Freeman has launched a blog devoted to mobile and similarly digital comics.
 
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Happy 64th Birthday, Arno van Dijk!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Giancarlo Alessandrini!

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Happy 84th Birthday, Bill Lignante!

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Happy 62nd Birthday, Christian Binet!

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Happy 82nd Birthday, Julio Ribera!

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Quick hits
Craft
Cover Appreciation

Exhibits/Events
The Unlovable Party
Jason Miles In San Diego 03
Jason Miles In San Diego 04

History
Early Kyle Baker
Remembering The Shadow

Industry
On The After Watchmen Initiative

Interviews/Profiles
Wired: Grant Morrison
Citizen Badham: Andy Diggle

James Vance
1
2
3

Not Comics
Peter Bagge T-Shirts
Ben Franklin Knows The Score

Publishing
Webcomics Survey
That's One Big-Ass Comic
Aben Maler and Fantagraphics To Team Up

Reviews
Jog: King Smurf
Andy Frisk: Azrael #1
Wim Lockefeer: Antisol
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Various
Richard Bruton: Blueberry Girl
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Ultimatum #3
Grant Goggans: Yotsuba&! Vol. 1
Chris Allen: Omega The Unknown
Leroy Douresseaux: Nana Vol. 15
Leroy Douresseaux: Live For Love
Anonymous: Silver Surfer: Requiem
Johanna Draper Carlson: Radiator Days
Johanna Draper Carlson: Gankutsuou Vol. 1
Greg McElhatton: Complete Peanuts 1961-1962
Bart Croonenborghs: My Mommy Is In America And She Met Buffalo Bill
 

 
Go, Read: Kitty & N'Garai

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it's Tom Neely's contribution to the Floating World Kitty Pryde event and far too adorable to wait until tomorrow
 
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March 19, 2009


What Effect Will The New Diamond Minimums Have On Publisher Jeff Mason's Alternative Comics?

According to Alternative Comics Publisher Jeff Mason, a decade-plus veteran of the alt-comics small press, the new Diamond minimums policy will have no effect on the material that he publishes. "I think Diamond's policy itself will not affect Alternative in any way," he told Comics Reporter on Wednesday. Mason cites specifics in his contractual relationship with the distributor. "We have a very specific supply agreement with Diamond that describes the terms of how our books are handled."

imageMason noted that while his company still publishes a few comic book format works, the majority of what Alternative does these days is in larger publication formats such as trade paperbacks. "Many of the cartoonists I work with have chosen larger format publications because we have realized a better track record of profitability with them," he explained. He further noted that the kind of publisher Alternative Comics has become over the years may be more effectively facilitated through an emphasis on these non-traditional comics formats. "Books are also much easier for me as an understaffed operation to publish, promote, advertise, market, edit, etc."

Even if the emphasis lies elsewhere company- and industry-wide, Mason firmly believes that the comic book format will remain a part of the alternative publishing landscape. He has a personal reason: a few of Alternative's cartoonists may be interested in the format. "[Magic Whistle cartoonist] Sam Henderson has indicated his desire for us to look at going back to comic book format, he misses getting books out in front of the public on a regular basis," Mason said. "He does work faster than I've been publishing him." He also pointed to future work from the Hickee collective as a likely candidate for that format. Others will work in formats close to if not exactly the traditional comic book "Rich Tommaso really loves the comic book format, but I have insisted on doing his stuff in over-sized format because his art is just so gorgeous to look at. We will be launching his Pulp one-man anthology soon."

classic comic book format Magic Whistle
 
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Another Cartoonist Loses Staff Position

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This time it's Bill Day of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. According to that article, the firing came at a bad time -- I can't imagine there's a good time to lose a position like that, but Day's alarm is palpable. It looks like this group of C-A employees may have until March 27 to fully leave their positions.

Day has been at the Commercial Appeal since 1998. It's his second stint with the newspaper. He won the SPJ's Green Eyeshade award in 2000-2001, 2005 and 2006. He has won five Robert F. Kennedy Awards, the NCS division award for Editorial cartoons, and was a Fischetti Award winner. Moving into cartoons from newspaper illustration, Day has also done long stints at the Philadelphia Bulletin and Detroit Free Press. Like many others in his profession to recently lose their positions, Day is a well-regarded, vital member of his professional fraternity for whom any interruption in vocational service would have been unthinkable even five years ago.
 
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DC Comics, Inc. No Longer Exists

It became a general partnership called DC Comics under shared ownership of two Time Warner subsidiary companies in 1992.
 
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Analysts: February '09 DM Estimates

The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com offers their usual array of lists, estimates and analysis regarding the performance of comic books and graphic novels in the Direct Market of comic and hobby shops, this time for February 2009.

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

John Jackson Miller at The Comics Chronicles is in the process of getting up his his own set of numbers up for February 2009, which you can find on his page devoted to that month.

The big news story of the month -- we're out of major crossover events right now -- would have to be the dominating performance of the Amazing Spider-Man issue with President Obama in it: Amazing Spider-Man #583. Outlets who cover that kind of thing more closely than I do have already done a lot of freaking out about the fact that it has led the comic book portion of Direct Market sales, and they probably should. I wrote elsewhere that if nothing else, that many comics moved over a two-month period should give us an idea of what the market could bear if it were functioning at full blast on a number of titles. Ironically, that seems further away than usual: one thing that occurs to me is that the sales level on individual comic book titles slip under 50,000 far sooner than they did even a year ago. The #25 comic is selling approximately 10,000 copies less than the comic book in that position last year. Also, that's a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic books -- I'd love to know where it ranks in non-mainstream comic book sales in the DM era.

*****
*****
 
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I Wish More People Would Do Johnny Craig-Style Far Away Covers

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Missed It: January '09 DM Estimates

The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com offers their usual array of lists, estimates and analysis regarding the performance of comic books and graphic novels in the Direct Market of comic and hobby shops, this time for January 2009.

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

John Jackson Miller at The Comics Chronicles has his own set of numbers up for January 2009, which you can find on the page devoted to that month.

The main story here would almost certainly be the post-holiday double-pump of the DC event series for 2008 Final Crisis barreling into the room with its final two issues, except for the fact that "Obama Is" as in "Obama is the new Wolverine but even better at what he does and what he does is move books." The new president's cover appearance and Marvel's uncanny knack to stir up this kind of publicity pushed the issue of Amazing Spider-Man in which the new comics-fan-in-chief appears to modern record-setting or at least recent-history record-setting levels. Hey, it came out the month of an historic inauguration. I'm sure if Superman were becoming president this month his comic would have sold twice as many copies. Kidding aside, there was an Obama appearance in the Final Crisis issue #2, just not a hyped one, not an overt one, and not a cover-featured one. You could probably spin this into some sort of statement on this traffic all being gimmick-based and how that's depressing, but no one on earth's going to begrudge DM retailers a hit book right now no matter how we get there.

I'm also impressed with how well the DM is doing with Walking Dead trades, doing about half again the business of juiced-up perennial Watchmen for the month.

*****
*****
 
posted 3:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Charles Luchsinger, 1914-2009

Charles Luchsinger, a prolific magazine cartoonist who went into early television animation and later became a toy maker, died on Friday, March 6 in Glen Cove, New York. The cause was congestive heart failure. He was 94 years old.

Born in Moline, Illinois, Luchsinger was trained at the Art Institute of Chicago. He made murals and other kinds of art during a four-year stint in the Army. The death notice included The New Yorker, Collier's and The Saturday Evening Post among his cartooning clients, but confirmation of same was unavailable.

Moving into television with his brother Jack, Luchsinger provided the comics content of an ABC how-to television show from 1948-1953. The Luchsinger Brothers spent another year providing a similar segment to the Jolly Gene And His Fun Machine television show. He was featured in a 1956 issue of Life for creating the toy Fiddle Straws.

Luchsinger was preceded in death by two wives. He is survived by three sons, two brothers, a daughter, a sister and several grandchildren, nephews and nieces. The funeral was Monday, March 8.
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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I never noticed it before, but Captain Metropolis looks exactly like Mark Valley in this drawing
 
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Go, Look: Matt Jones

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Go, Look: Lesson Correction Portfolio

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Go, Look: Abbie an' Slats

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Go, Look: Calle Claus

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* Spider-Girl goes digital-only. Is that a big deal? I can't tell. Also, that character sure is resilient.

image* I missed and shouldn't have this story about the Washington Post futzing with the Post-critical set of re-runs provided them during a recent Doonesbury mini-hiatus. It's worth noting that the Post has a bizarre history when it comes to leaving their strips alone on the page, so seeing them admit an error is both more worthy of note than it might be at the Muncie Star-Press and more laudable than usual given their past.

* speaking of stories I totally whiffed on, my e-mail -- which is like a pneumatic tube system overrun with gerbils and sporting occasional side trips to the moon -- just spit up a note with a link to what seems like a story whereby someone was plagiarizing site content for cartoons? Can anyone out there on this?

* the writers Sean T. Collins and Chris Allen were nice enough to engage with this site's Best Of 2008 article. This person, too. Thank you.

* "I was the beard that could bring in all these grotesque whores into the parlor." -- from a fine Art Spiegelman interview conducted by Kiel Phegley.

* if they ever start adapting his cookbook, I'll start reading this series.

* Ororo's O-Face. Warning: naughty. I just don't think I've seen that kind of art from that artist from that era.

* I didn't realize until seeing this piece that 2009 is the 25th anniversary for Usagi Yojimbo. I really like reading those comics. The cartooning is visually appealing, the pacing is pleasurable and beyond the plot similarities to the adventure movies I used to watch when I was a kid, the Usagi comics share their sedate sense of consequence. Usagi's world may be as adult as they come in that events may seem arbitrary and cruel, but it always feel like a parent's hand is guiding it or at least someone like that is nearby watching things over. It's not like it lacks drama, but it's not jerking a set of consequences around to squeeze some sort of false emotional response out of its readers. Anyway, hooray for Stan Sakai and his lifetime achievement a thousand times over. I'm glad I've been able to read those comics.

* a post on the Michael Kaluta mailing list from Jeffrey Jones' daughter says the artist is back in the hospital and has been for about three or four weeks now.

* finally, here's a long discussion at Comics Worth Reading I nearly missed on where the local comics shop fits into the buying habits of a number of comics fans. I'd share, but my local comics shop is three and a half hours away.
 
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Happy 34th Birthday, Sergio Ponchione!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Willie Schubert!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Michael Jantze!

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Happy 38th Birthday, OG Boiscommun!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Pablo Paez!

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Quick hits
Craft
Sean Phillips Makes A Logo

Exhibits/Events
Fumetto Looms

History
This Looks Dangerous
Comics Used To Be Weird
Charles Addams As A Baby
Remembering Fort Thunder
Funny Gerald Scarfe Anecdote
On the Nakedness of Dr. Manhattan

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Ted May
Wizard: Jeff Lemire
CBR: Anders Nilsen
Newsarama: Brian Wood
Newsarama: Geoff Johns
CBR: Craig Kyle, Chris Yost
Newsarama: Fred Van Lente
Comic Foundry: Grant Morrison

Not Comics
Funny
Marvel Tries Another MMO Deal

Publishing
I Really Like This Cover
I Also Really Like This Cover
Jim Brozman Works On Dick Tracy
And Here's Yet Another Cover That I Like

Reviews
Ed Sizemore: Various
Rob Clough: Beasts Vol. 2
Kailyn Kent: Salt Water Taffy
Noah Berlatsky: Nana Vol. 15
Cory Doctorow: Get Your War On
Nina Stone: Green Lantern Corps #34
Brian Heater: George Sprott: 1894-1975
Leroy Douresseaux: Tantric Stripfighter Trina Vol. 1
 

 
March 18, 2009


Bundled, Tossed, Untied and Stacked

* a bunch of you sent me this note about a new Hayao Miyazaki manga called Kaze Tachinu being serialized in a publication called Model Graphix. That seems like astounding news to me.

image* in things I wasn't asking after but am glad to hear about anyway news, there will be a collection of Pat Mills' Flesh this summer.

* the cartoonist Kate Beaton is finishing up a book that could be published as early as May.

* it isn't comics, but a lot of comics and illustration fans will be pleased to read this short article on a newly-published William Stout murals book.

* I still can't get anyone to spill the beans on what they're doing with The Comics Journal #300. I hope it's Trudeau, but I don't know why he'd decide to do an interview now so I'm thinking it's something else.

* so I guess Sequart.com has been down since November? I'd only been visiting to read Marc Sobel's stuff, which has moved here for the time being. Apparently, it's just a re-coding problem and the site really will return.

* based on the picture it's hard not to want this boxed set of Adrian Tomine's early work, even if you already have the component works.

* do a lot of manga titles go exclusive with one chain or another? I'm not sure what that would say about the state of the market, but unless it were absolutely flush -- and it's not -- my guess is that it would say it's competitive more than it is accessible.

* finally, this Michael Hudson interview with The Pulse provides a detail or two on a specialty imprint at Dark Horse Comics called Sequential Pulp Comics, which is a total mouthful. If you're like me, you were aware that Dark Horse was doing this kind of title and enjoying some success with them, but you didn't know they were all being gathered into a formal imprint.
 
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Looking In On David Horsey As Seattle P-I Makes Its On-Line Switch

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Although yesterday's final print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and today's ready-or-not launch of the longtime publication as an on-line only news source are national news, it's worth it from a comics perspective to look in on the part of the site that focuses on longtime P-I and current Hearst employee David Horsey. I don't know if this is how they'll move forward short-term or long, but I like the clarity of this design. In fact, I like it much more than the existing front page.

I'm fairly interested in the, well I'll call it "portal issues" with the on-line P-I because I would imagine there are some conflicting ideas whether or not something like Horsey's offerings should be tethered to the front page in a way that drives traffic there or if you set pages up so that they're strong enough to draw traffic on their own. I don't know anyone that gets to Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish through The Atlantic Monthly front page, for instance, although I know that I access Heather Havrilesky at Salon that way. I'm not even sure how my own reading patterns are indicative of anything. Still, it interests me. I would imagine that building mini-brands under the P-I brand would be even more imperative given that the P-I brand's right now is "we closed."

One great piece of news -- and again I don't know that this has been settled -- is that the P-I's impressive battery of on-line comic strips is still running today. That's been a real go-to resource for a lot of people looking to check out certain strips.

Here's a PDF of the final print edition's front page.
 
posted 3:10 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* passages related to defamation of religion added after the Danish Cartoons Controversy have been dropped from a draft declaration made by a UN conference on racism.

* Anjem Choudary, the main organizer of the London anti-Danish Cartoons rally that led to the eventual arrest and conviction of three of its secondary organizers/instigators, is now being investigated on charges related to fund raising for certain organizations. I find it fascinating that the protest story is recalled in terms of providing context for this one, because they don't link up for me and this suggests they made a greater impression over there than I maybe realized.

* a writer looks at the use of the Danish Cartoons as an example of talking about crazy foreign people in a bit of American humor that, while I wouldn't agree is propaganda, seems to me close to easy, rattle-the-cages pandering and a depressing legacy given the vacuum for discussing that material and those events earlier and in more sober fashion.
 
posted 3:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Watch: SuperF*ckers Music Video



For singing along:

We're always in our clubhouse getting high
SuperF*ckers!
Everybody wishes we would die
SuperF*ckers!

Here we come
like a bomb
everybody run and hide!

Our dicks are stuck in the Playstation 3
SuperF*ckers!
Everybody wishes they could be
SuperF*ckers!

Here we come
like a bomb
Everybody f*ckin' run and hide!
 
posted 3:03 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Jose Gonzalez, 1939-2009

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Jose "Pepe" Gonzalez, the Spanish artist whose stunning depictions of the Vampirella character during a short but highly influential stint working with that character burned her into the comics consciousness perhaps above and beyond its strength as a concept, died recently after falling into a coma.

imageA facile illustrator at an early age, the publishing specifics of Gonzalez's early career are unclear. He was definitely recruited into comics work by Selecciones Ilustradas manager Josep Toutain, although whether that preceded followed a few projects as a teenager is unclear. At any rate, Toutain was apparently wowed by Gonzalez's precociousness in realizing popular art styles. He worked at first for SI on a western series but quickly moved into romances that showed off his skill depicting the female form. This included a productive stint at Fleetway, where he worked for the magazines Blue Jeans and an adaptation of the television show The Avengers

Gonzalez came to Vampirella soon after that character's creation. He became the primary artist with issue #12. Thus began a short but impressive run with Gonzalez employing a variety of styles including a popular, romanticized style slightly reminiscent of photo-realism that in many ways outlived the comics in which it appeared. He would contribute a story per issue until #34, intermittent stories through issue #82, and one-page pin-ups starting in 1975. According to one count of Gonzalez's output, he drew 53 comics starring the character.

In contrast to the approach brought to the character by other artists, Gonzalez's Vampirella looked like a stunning model but wasn't exaggerated or idealized beyond that lofty standard. His version was grounded in a way that allowed Gonzalez to depict her in multiple styles and, I think, so firmly established the character visually so that subsequent artists could make departures from that basic approach without losing their audience. There are very few achievements in comics exactly like that one, a definitive seizure of a specific, memorable character.

Gonzalez won something called the Best Art Of The Year Comicon Award in 1971 for his first regular issue on the character, and a subsequent award in 1974 for work on issue #33.

He would after his short run return to Spain, where he worked on a few comics stories and established a successful although decidedly non-lucrative career as a visual artist near Barcelona. Two comics series from the publisher Norma to which he contributed were Chantal and Mamba. He returned briefly to Warren in the early 1980s, contributing to six issues of Vampirella before the publisher's bankruptcy. According to various profiles, he also established a successful but non-lucrative career as a visual artist near Barcelona.

A lovely appreciation of his Vampirella comics may be found here.

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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Gabriela Rubio

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Go, Look: A Bunch Of Spirit

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Go, Look: Sam Cobean

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Go, Look: The Gourmet

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posted 2:44 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* what's with all the funny stuff concerning Watchmen coming out so many days after the film's release? Zak Sally even breaks his typical silence to review the thing.

image* the writer Don MacPherson talks about the DC plan to add back-ups to the comics on which they're raising prices, and provides historical context.

* here's GQ's take on the 20 graphic novels you should read after Watchmen. Hey! They still publish GQ!

* I thought this the most cogent and concise of all the responses I read to Clay Shirky's essay about the modern newspaper being steamrolled by an incomprehensible revolution. I thought this one was a bit too unnecessarily defensive but had the best single point: that it's questionable to see some of the on-line models that are replacing newspapers as successful simply because they're giving away something for free and unsurprisingly doing better than people that want to charge for something -- at least not until they make some sort of self-sustaining profit.

* the longtime comics columnist Augie De Blieck follows up last week's column on comics buying strategies with a much less focused rant on the opportunities for buying stuff he has available to him now and in the future.

* finally, the retailer, writer and festival organizer Chris Butcher has a short update up about the forthcoming Toronto Comic Arts Festival. It sounds like a really good show.
 
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Happy 41st Birthday, Shea Anton Pensa!

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Happy 54th Birthday, Bill Reinhold!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Hugues Micol!

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Quick hits
Craft
I Always Liked That Name

Exhibits/Events
Enki Bilal In Istanbul
Charles Burns In Italy
Jason Miles at CCI '08 02
Report On Reynolds Speech at MCAD

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Ted May
Pop: Alan Grant
Newsarama: Craig Yoe
Globe and Mail: Craig Yoe
Newsarama: Nancy Butler
Egypt Today: G. Willow Wilson

Not Comics
Gary Panter Sort Of Animated
Team Webcomics At Kiva Going Well

Reviews
Dick Hyacinth: KE7
Paul O'Brien: Various
Johnny Bacardi: Various
Paul O'Brien: X-Men: Noir
Bill Randall: Cold Heat #5/6
Jeff VanderMeer: I Saw You...
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Grumpy Cat
Henry Chamberlain: Slow Storm
Derik A Badman: Phoenix Vol. 1
Derik A Badman: Cold Heat #5/6
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Don MacPherson: Ex Machina Special #4
Sean T. Collins: The Last Lonely Saturday
 

 
March 17, 2009


Go, Play: St. Patrick's Fun Page

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

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*****

Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's largely accurate list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America.

I might not buy all of the works listed here. I might not buy any. But were I in a comic book shop tomorrow I would more than likely pick up the following and look them over, causing my retailer to take legal action to block my contractual bonus.

*****

DEC080032 ADVENTURES OF BLANCHE HC $15.95
I had no idea this was being planned. This is a collection of Rick Geary's intermittent series about one woman's adventures in Paris, New York and Hollywood during the early 20th Century. I'd like to see this.

DEC080208 AIR TP VOL 01 LETTERS FROM LOST COUNTRIES (MR) $9.99
I remember this being interesting although not all that great -- a comic you want to see succeed for its work in minor keys as opposed to one that actually seemed to work. That's good price point, though; I'd pick it up and take another look at it.

NOV080186 TOR A PREHISTORIC ODYSSEY HC $24.99
Friedman or Kubert -- who doesn't love them some Tor? This would be the Kubert one.

JAN092388 AGE OF BRONZE #28 $3.50
Although at times I suspect that I'm one of 12 people that collects the title this way, I'm greatly appreciative that Eric Shanower's book continues to come out in comic book form.

JAN092371 AMERICAN FLAGG DEFINITIVE COLL TP VOL 02 (RES) $19.99
More of the formidable early indy comic.

JAN092362 INVINCIBLE #60 $3.99
FEB071894 INVINCIBLE TP VOL 03 PERFECT STRANGERS $12.99
Two from Robert Kirkman, this time from his "shouldn't work and I still can't tell how it does" superhero series as opposed to his "should work all the time and I have no idea why his is the only one" zombie series.

NOV083804 ALAN MOORE LIGHT OF THY COUNTENANCE GN (MR) $7.99
I might buy this for the title alone.

DEC084307 PLUTO URASAWA X TEZUKA GN VOL 02 $12.99
Your high-interest manga volume of the week.

JAN094222 MY MOMMY IS IN AMERICA & SHE MET BUFFALO BILL HC $25.00
A Fanfare/Ponent Mon production, this time from the European comics album end of things. This features art by Emile Bravo, who is all over European comics right now, at least as how they get reported over here. Great title, too. It's a good week for titles. Bart liked it when it was in its native tongue.

*****

The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations and a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite this official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few. Also, stores choose what they carry and don't carry so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, albeit a while back, try this.

The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you they don't have in-stock. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I didn't list your comic, I blame my lack of a quality assist man.

*****
*****
 
posted 6:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2009 Doug Wright Finalists

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The Doug Wright Awards has announced their slate of finalists for the 2009 prizes. They are:

Best Book:
* Burma Chronicles, Guy Delisle (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Drop-in, Dave Lapp (Conundrum Press)
* Paul Goes Fishing, Michel Rabagliati (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Skim, Jillian & Mariko Tamaki (Groundwood Books)

Best Emerging Talent:
* Kate Beaton (History Comics)
* Caitlin Black (Maids of the Mist)
* Jesse Jacobs (Blue Winter, Shapes in the Snow)
* Jason Kieffer (Kieffer #2)
* Nick Maandag (Jack & Mandy)

Pigskin Peters Award (non-traditional works):
* Hall of Best Knowledge, Ray Fenwick (Fantagraphics)
* Ojingogo Matthew Forsythe (Drawn and Quarterly)
* All We Ever Do is Talk About Wood, Tom Horacek (Drawn and Quarterly)
* Small Victories, Jesse Jacobs (Self-Published)

Jimmy Frise of Birdseye Center will be inducted into the Giants of the North Hall of Fame. That's a tiny sample of his art up top.

The actor and director Don McKellar will host this year's ceremony, set for the weekend of the TCAF on May 9 at 7 PM.
 
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And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #29

* as noted yesterday, the last print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer comes out today. Here's E&P's list of publication highlights, which notes David Horsey's success with the Pulitzer folks. Here's the E&P article on the Internet iteration of the longtime Seattle institution.

* there may be an on-line venture involving former Rocky Mountain News staffers. It will include a cartoonist. I'm glad people are trying things and I'm happy to hear about journalists being employed, although I have to say one of the reasons I'm doubtful that on-line ventures rising from the ashes of print ones are going to work is because the two models are so, so different. In this case, I can't envision any regional on-line effort that would require as many people as they're apparently putting together. Wait, here it is -- there's a long list of people involved, and the cartoonist is Ed Stein. They're looking for subscribers to launch a dedicated site in May.

* by the way, does anyone else want to barf a little bit the way that newspaper closures are qualified almost solely in terms of the editorial and writing staffs losing jobs? I'm an editor/writer myself, but even in these times of consolidation and off-site printing there are tons of support and production folk feeling the impact of these groundbreaking shifts in media consumption habits the same way cartoonists and sportswriters feel them. I wish they got more coverage, especially as I don't see a lot of them migrating to web sites or teaching.

* it's the little cuts that are going to add up: the Washington Post has cut five more comics from its print edition. There's a steamroll effect, too, as papers closing also have a huge potential effect on comics-buying strategies -- there's nothing stopping the Seattle Times in a competitive sense from dropping half their comics next week.

* not comics: things may be worse for pundits and columnists right now than they are for comics.

* finally, the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com reminds us that one reason print is struggling is because ad revenue is declining. This has hit comics, too, I think: it seems to me there is a preponderance of house ads rather than the usual array of junk and movies that filled comics ad pages even five years ago, although admittedly that's the least scientific polling ever.
 
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Your 2009 Schulz Award Winner

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Grant Snider of the University of Missouri -- Kansas City has won this year's Charles M. Schulz Award for best college cartoonist. Snider will take home $10,000. I believe this is the same award where Frank Cho was once a winner, although any award that gives out $10,000 to a cartoonist doesn't need to establish its pedigree. There's a site here with a metric ton of Snider cartoons where I got the above Darwin illustration. I don't know which cartoons were being run in the student publications and which ones are being done just to do them or for other venues, but there's some lively work there. Snider beat out cartoonists from Kent State and traditional campus cartoon powerhouse University of Texas.
 
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Another Cartoonist Leaves Staff Position

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This time it's Robert Ariail, who is resigning from his position at The State -- South Carolina's largest newspaper and a McClatchy publication -- rather than take the part-time job offered him under a cost-cutting initiative. A Pulitzer finalist in 1995 and 2000, the 53-year-old cartoonist has been at his current position since 1984. He plans on looking for another full-time gig and in the meanwhile will continue to syndicate through United Media.
 
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Go, Look: Beautiful Toth Cover

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Fred Hembeck Liked Last Week's Five For Friday So Much He Did 15 More

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I didn't ask Fred to do this, and I'd like to discourage this sort of thing in general. Still, I figure this is the only time in my life I'll ever get to feel like a Shooter-era Marvel editor, so I thought I'd publish it. He's referencing last Friday's "Five For Friday," which asked people to name five TV show episodes and the cartoonist(s) and/or comics people they'd get to adapt it into funnybook form.

15 More Television Show Episodes And The Artists I'd Like To See Adapt Them
By Fred Hembeck

Here's my numbers 6 through 20...

6. The episode of 24 where Edgar Stiles meets his untimely demise thanks to some poison gas, drawn by Steve Ditko (mainly for the Mysterio-like clouds of killer fog that'd climax the scenario).

7. The time a monkey was mistakenly inducted into the army -- Pvt. Harry Speakup -- on Sgt. Bilko, pencilled and inked by Carmine Infantino.

8. Sgt. Carter gets his wires crossed, erroneously believing Gomer Pyle USMC is on his deathbed, not merely suffering from the flu, and takes instructions meant for a dying horse, feeding the private lumps of sugar in his bunk and (funniest scene ever!) brushing his hair while the rest of the platoon watches in stunned silence, drawn by Jack Davis.

9. The pilot for Happy Days (originally broadcast on Love American Style) illustrated by the quintessential fifties teen artist, Dan DeCarlo.

10. The infamous episode of Happy Days where Fonzie jumps the shark, drawn by Bill Vigoda (Why? Because he was the guy who always drew my least favorite Archie stories as well -- though maybe I shoulda assigned him to brother Abe's Fish instead...)

11. The Christmas episode of Dragnet about the kid who is accidentally shot dead with the gun he was supposed to get as a gift, drawn by Johnny Craig.

12. The time when there was a buck naked stripper gyrating on the other side of the door when an unsuspecting Soupy Sales answered it, drawn by Bill Ward.

13. The final episode of Dick Van Dyke, an elaborate western parody, drawn by Nick Cardy ala Bat Lash?.

14. The first episode of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In drawn by Sergio Aragones, with Tiny Tim done by Basil Wolverton.

15. The episode of Bob (Newhart) that featured Jack Kirby, drawn by Jack Kirby.

16. The Freaks and Geeks Halloween episode (with Count Floyd!) drawn by Al Wiseman.

17. The debut Batman two-parter, illoed by Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin.

18. Crispin Glover almost kicking the host in the face on an '80s-era entry of Late Night With David Letterman, drawn by Spain Rodriquez.

19. The Seinfeld Bizarro episode, drawn by John Forte.

20. The Beatles Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane videos, as seen on an episode of The Ed Sullivan Show, drawn by Jim Steranko (the rest of that variety hour illoed by Mort Drucker).

...and that should do it for now!!
 
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Go, Look: Will Sweeney

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Go, Look: Those Flying Machines

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Go, Look: Milt Gross Book Reviews

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Go, Look: The Space Suitors

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* if one is to believe this person speaking to that person about something another person said -- and that's always good enough for me -- Diamond won't hold Xeric winners to their minimum sales standard. That's good; in fact, I wish they would apply those kinds of standards instead of numbers in the first place.

* the latest content-driven comics page controversy: Mark Trail. I had Crock in the pool.

* not comics: Wim Lockefeer takes a look at Francois Schuiten's installation work in light of the artist being hired to design the Brussels railway museum. In doing so he digs up this video about the artist's Schuiten's Paris Arts et Metiers subway station project.

* hey, Chris Allen has a new review up, of various Captain America books. We hadn't even elected President Obama the last time Allen posted a review, let alone had the President on the cover of a best-selling Spider-Man comic. I'm glad Allen doesn't totally trash Frank Robbins in his review of Englehart-era Cap. Most people totally trash Robbins' work on that title, but I love his sweaty, spasmodic Captain America and his volcanically hot Deadly Nightshade.

* speaking of which, the fact that they can move 500,000 Obama/Spidey comics in the space of two months should give us an idea of how many comics they could move given the chance -- it's not like I heard of comic shops being shut down by this, although I'm sure some had a tough afternoon or two. One of the great ironies of the modern comics market is that comics by people like Chris Ware and Marjane Satrapi sell as many as you'd think if you were to sit down a decade ago and make a super-optimistic prediction over how you'd like to see things for those kinds of comics develop, while the comics starring internationally recognized franchises like Spider-Man seem to sell about a third or a quarter of what you'd optimistically but reasonably guess they could. I may be the only person that thinks this, though.

* not comics: this is the greatest comics tie-in product I've ever heard about.

* not comics: I suppose their wearing bowlers is preferable to either one attempting Tintin's hairdo.

* really not comics: I didn't know that there was a Law & Order: UK starring one of the Battlestar Galactica people. Do UK versions of American shows get better the same way recent American versions of UK television shows seem to get worse? Speaking of which, poor Ben Affleck looks like a contest-winner dropped into the State of Play trailer. State of Play was a perfectly enjoyable UK television series a lot of my beleaguered journalist friends have been snagging through Netflix for its positive although largely ridiculous portrayal of news reporting. Not only does it portray the job as thrilling and important, you get to imagine that your editor is Bill Nighy and that you might have an affair with Polly Walker. I can't imagine it will work as a movie, although Russell Crowe's hair is very impressive.

* happy St. Patrick's Day from the Eceletic Micks. (via Joe Gordon)

* I think the writer Matt Maxwell is onto something when he talks about the experience of coming to like comics because they were something you found on your own and consumed on your own. I know that while all my friends in high school and roommates in college liked reading my comics just fine, I never had a friend who bought comics on their own until I moved to Seattle in 1994. A lot of the pleasure I got from comics when I was a kid is that it was my own thing. I could go on about this for a long time and be very boring while doing so, but for now you should just read Maxwell's piece.

* this I assume will allow you to watch Neil Gaiman on The Colbert Report.

* finally, there's this: "This pinnacle of human ingenuity is called a Diaper Genie, and it left a nastier mark on my psyche than the adult baby sites." Comics people give really great interviews.
 
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Happy 53rd Birthday, Patrick McDonnell!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Richard Pachter!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Pasquale Del Vecchio!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Tim Dinter!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Brosel!

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Quick hits
History
On Mr. A
Charles Addams Is Always Famous
Remembering The Billy Hon School
Joan Didion On Comics (Not Really)

Industry
Scott Pilgrim Contest Winners
Going To Bergin Street Comics

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Victor Gischler
McLeans: Kate Beaton
Newsarama: JM DeMatteis
Newsarama: Aaron Campbell
TangognaT: Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn

Not Comics
J. Caleb Mozzocco Talks To His TV Set
Funny Review of Watchmen by Eric Reynolds
Funny Review of Watchmen by Hayley Campbell

Publishing
On Runners
KE7 Table Of Contents
Immonens In An Image Western Anthology?

Reviews
Jog: A Drifting Life
Tucker Stone: Various
Greg McElhatton: DMZ Vol. 6
Timothy Hodler: The Bun Field
Nicole Rudick: Beasts! Vols. 1-2
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Leroy Douresseaux: Case Closed Vol. 28
Craig Fischer: All The Art That's Fit To Print
 

 
March 16, 2009


Seattle P-I Publishes Last Print Edition Tomorrow; Tucson Citizen Saturday

Two major metropolitan-area newspapers will release their final print editions this week. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer will have its final print edition come out tomorrow, although Hearst has confirmed plans to continue to run the newspaper's web site. Saturday will see the last edition of the Tucson Citizen in anticipation of a full shut down. Each newspaper carries full comics sections and made their respective communities multiple newspaper towns with all the advantages provided comics in that situation. David Horsey of the P-I, a high-profile and award-winning cartoonist, has been employed by Hearst rather than his homebase Seattle newspaper for a few years now and will continue to provide cartoons for use by that company.
 
posted 5:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Ben Sargent Left His Paper On Friday

imageThe longtime Austin American-Statesman cartoonist exited the daily newspaper staff-position stage Friday surrounded by a number of laudatory pieces. There was this one at E&P, a seven-president and a more general walk through the years pair of slide shows at the newspaper and the expected laudatory article wishing him well. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Sargent had been at the newspaper since 1974. One of the reasons I've thought that the recent decline in staffed editorial cartoonist positions is more alarming than what might be ascribed to a series of poor strategic choices by the publications involved is that this year's departures seem to involve a high number of first-rate cartoonists that one suspects might not be making a change in their careers if things were going swimmingly.
 
posted 3:20 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Maisie Kukoc Award for Comics Inspiration Announces 2009 Edition

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The 2009 Maisie Kukoc Award for Comics Inspiration will go to a lucky mini-comics maker on April 17th in conjunction with the Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland, Oregon. The award includes a cash prize of $450, which makes it my favorite comics award. More information here.
 
posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
CR News: Comi-Con International To End On-Site Press/Pro Registration

By Tom Spurgeon

San Diego's Comic-Con International announced over the weekend they're not only likely to have all of this summer's expected attendees sign up in advance via the just sold-out four-day pass and all of the rapidly selling one-day passes, but the professionals and press to do the same.

imageThe difference between the press and professionals and attendees is that the convention plans to make this happen for the press and pros by policy rather than through the market. They will eliminate on-site registration from Comic-Con for a pre-registration policy. "The primary reason is to prevent overcrowding," the convention's David Glanzer told CR. Glanzer presented the change in strategy as a sharpening of emphasis rather than a radical departure. "As you know, pre-registration for pros and guests has always been a policy of ours. The same is true for just about any department in Comic-Con. We've encouraged pre-registration for attendees, and press as well, which helps alleviate long lines for on-site registration. Of course things have changed a bit these days. So crowding and safety is always a concern." Glanzer also notes that in recent years on-site registration has been limited by those crowds. "In the past we've had to close on-site registration for some departments. The obvious problem with this, of course, is that you don't want someone hoping to buy a pass and being turned away at the door so pre-registration only seems a great way to alleviate crowding and potentially having to turn people away at the door."

Glanzer noted that with press in particular, this new policy has been building gradually for years. "In the past press really did come last minute. We've made great strides in trying to prevent that from happening," he said. "The truth is now most of our press registers in advance. Last year we actually warned press that on site registration may have to close and, in fact, we did have to close on site at one point."

Reminded that it was only a few years ago at the show when passes were dispensed in loose enough fashion you could walk up to certain well-connected folks and ask for extra badges they had in their pockets with generic names on them, Glanzer was further asked if tighter control was really all that necessary, and if so, why? Glanzer re-emphasized the crowding issue. Asked if there would be any flexibility if the con were to add a very popular guest at the last minute leading to a flood of additional media requests, Glanzer noted that major media has generally been amenable to pre-registration, and that if need be, they could explore alternative strategies such as creating a pool coverage situation among existing media.

Comic-Con International 2009 is scheduled for July 23-26 at San Diego's Convention Center.
 
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Bonk Bonk, On The Head

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Wait... They're Doing What Again?

You know what story makes little to no sense to me now that I've had a chance to think it over? Wizard moving its offices into New York City to merge with a sales office they maintain there. While on the surface this makes sense in terms of what one would assume is a natural desire to have a magazine near the people they cover, and it seems possible because of how many folks in the various creative departments that have been dismissed from or left the company over the last two years or so, there seems like there should be a bit more to it than an "everyone stand over here now" declaration.

The basic problem for me is that magazines that cover industries that make physical goods don't just use cubicle space -- not that the cubicle space needs are insignificant -- they have libraries and in some cases do some minor warehousing. I asked a former Wizard Entertainment employee to describe how some of the current space in Congers was used in terms of housing material, or at least how it was done back when they were employed by the company. This was how they responded:
"The comics library is the size of a reasonably-sized kitchen, lined floor to ceiling with longbox and TPB shelves. and the floors are always probably covered two or three unsorted longboxes deep from one end to the other. It's a lot of material. It's surprisingly comprehensive, too.

"The toy library strikes me as being about roughly the same size, and they've got everything in there.

"The photo pit's pretty big, filled with props, and of course the space and equipment to shoot them. It's in the warehouse area.

"The manga library is basically a series of maybe eight bookshelves stacked with manga. There's a DVD/anime library too that's I think six locked cabinets' worth of stuff."
That seems like a lot of material to me. Wizard may have cut down on staff to the point where a move of this sort makes sense, but moving a magazine isn't just about telling people to show up at a new address. I suspect there may be more to come here.
 
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Go, Look: Tubby's Clubhouse #1

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Go, Look: ASIFA-Hollywood Reruns

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Go, Bookmark: Quotes On Comics

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Go, Look: Evil Doll Comics

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I'm all for odd, perfunctory profiles of comics people connected to whatever movie is out at the time if it means we get to see great photos like this one.

image* a bunch of you were nice enough to e-mail in and say that the Disney site D23 is carrying a suite of older comic strips on this page right here.

* not comics: card and sticker giant Panini gains a foothold and office in America through its acquisition of a Texas-based cards company.

* not comics: I found this press release-driven story kind of nutty. The Sci Fi channel becomes the SyFy channel, because branding is really important or something. I have no idea why spelling something different will attract significant numbers of people of a certain gender that wouldn't watch that channel's shows otherwise, although I wish I could convince people to pay me for that kind of advice. Also, I love the example of a warehouse where mysterious items are being held as an example of non-traditional science fiction programming. I'm going to hold out hope that show's more about warehousing in general than it might have been on the old Sci Fi, with a lot of talk about palettes and operating forklifts and people taking stuff out of boxes. Total date night anchor.

* not comics: the movie version of Watchmen falls to second place in its second week of release. If you stop by any number of comics fan sites you can read a bunch of folks shrieking at each other about whether the performance is a bad one, an okay one, a secretly good one or a horrible one and what it all means and who's to blame. I'm not much of a film guy, but I have to imagine they don't make $150 million films and spend another $50 million on advertising in the hopes of $86 million at the box office in ten days, not in a market with this attention span. I also imagine there are worse fates than $112 million worldwide accrued in the first ten days of anything -- 111,999,999 worse fates, as a matter of fact. My guess is that after a few more weeks of domestic box office, after all foreign box office is in (the second week barely slipped from the first), after a few insurance payouts involving entities that set up any actionable aspects of the original deals, and after DVD and whatever ancillary sales including gobs of books are added up that everyone involved will be just fine without a whole lot of people receiving gob-smacking boosts from the film. As a highly-publicized movie with a built-in hardcore audience and a natural supplemental audience attracted to the film's lurid qualities, the DVD should kill. As the darkest and oddest superhero film, the movie should generally stick around in terms of people taking time to watch it, or at least for as long as that genre's being used to launch summer tent-pole franchises. I suppose the box-office performance might hinder a forthcoming, lavish treatment of a similar project, but I don't recall hearing about anything close to Watchmen in serious development.

* it says here that the Bazooka Joe brand will take over a bunch of businesses that used to be organized under a Topps brand.

* finally, here are two fun meditations on the state of journalism during the collapse of the industries that currently support it: Clay Shirky writes on the unthinkable coming to pass; Bill Simmons and Chuck Klosterman talk about systemic cultural problems at newspapers as a contributing cause. As to the latter, both of those writers have newspaper backgrounds and Simmons in particular has become a New Media star. The former should be linked to everywhere today. It's good, and I think takes an appropriately tough stance regarding certain elements of the collapse. I share his suspicion over whether anything could have been done in terms of figuring out the Internet. At the same time, I think a lot more could have been done to adjust to the Internet -- there should have been staffing changes as early as 1999, and productivity benchmarks should have increased even earlier than that -- and I don't share Shirky's view that these are things no one could have seen. Additionally, I'm not sure Shirky's piece takes into proper account the remaining profitability of many papers and how some were saddled with unsustainable debt due to the way they were acquired as business entities above and beyond their immediate commercial operation.
 
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Happy 52nd Birthday, Steve Lafler!

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Happy 69th Birthday, Kaak!

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Happy 48th Birthday, Todd McFarlane!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Gary Shipman!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Harold Sakuishi!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Karel Jerie!

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Quick hits
Craft
Sean Phillips Inks
On Animal Cartoons
Jesse Hamm Sketches
Adrian Tomine Illustrates
Darryl Cunningham Draws

Exhibits/Events
Jason Miles On CCI 2008
CCI Advice From Mark Evanier
Go See Mark Evanier In Calgary
Another Second Life Comics Con

History
Neil Gaiman's Watchdogs
Reading Graphic Story Magazine
Old Comic Auctioned For New Money

Industry
On Comics-Buying Strategies
Hero Initiative Outreach Commercial
Response to Editorial On Pay-For Awards

Interviews/Profiles
FPI: Paul Levitz
CBR: Ivan Brandon
Comixtalk: Leroy Brown
CBR: Jeff Parker, Gabriel Hardman

Not Comics
Fox Going Bare Bones On Added Features

Publishing
Manwha 101
Low Moon Previewed
Paul Pope Covers Marvel
Andy Diggle To Daredevil
Please Translate Hi-Heel Cop
Self-Syndication Seminar Registration Open

Reviews
Paul O'Brien: Cable #11-12
Sandy Bilus: Black Jack Vol. 3
Leroy Douresseaux: Necratoholic
Koppy McFad: Strange Adventures #1
Paul O'Brien: X-Men and Spider-Man #1-4
Koppy McFad: Vigilante: City Lights, Prairie Justice
 

 
March 15, 2009


CR Sunday Feature: Best Of 2008

Archival Editions

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10. Zot! The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991, Scott McCloud (HarperCollins)

*****

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9. An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories Vol. 2, Edited by Ivan Brunetti (Yale University Press)

*****

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8. Little Orphan Annie Vol. 1, Harold Gray (IDW)

*****

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7. Where Demented Wented, Rory Hayes (Fantagraphics)

*****

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6. Popeye Vol. 3, EC Segar (Fantagraphics)

*****

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5. Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles, Edited by Dean Mullaney (IDW)

*****

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4. Moomin Vol. 3, Tove Jansson (Drawn & Quarterly)

*****

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3. Complete Peanuts Vols. 9-10, Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics)

*****

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2. Explainers, Jules Feiffer (Fantagraphics)

*****

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1. Willie & Joe: The WWII Years, Bill Mauldin (Fantagraphics)

*****
*****

Notes On Archival Editions, 2008

I didn't give this list as much thought as it probably deserved, and I'm certain there's one or two books I've completely forgotten. The rankings are particularly difficult here, and I'm not sure how seriously you should take them. That understood, there are a few things I hope people take away from the list:

1) Just how strong archival collections are right now. You could read nothing but and have a strongly satisfying relationship with the art form.

2) That the Scorchy Smith book was wonderfully presented. The only reason it doesn't rate higher on my list is because I don't feel the comics work itself is as strong as some of the other comics listed. In fact, I think some of the work ranked behind it on the list is stronger, too, but Scorchy Smith vaults ahead of them because of the aforementioned presentation.

3) That Scott McCloud's Zot! is one of the dozen or so best superhero works. It's also one of the few ones on that list that can be defined in part as covering different thematic territory than most comics within that genre. I continue to like it more than I suspect its author might.

4) A greater appreciation of that Mauldin book. I like Bill Mauldin's cartoons better than most people I know like them. While I'm not always sure why, I trust my instincts that they're great comics in addition to being fun, trenchant cultural history. Taking a bunch of the cartoons in at once communicates something to me sad and grand and specific to the American participation in World War II, a sense of standing up on the world stage and all the ridiculousness that comes with processing the costs. That said, the greatest joy of the Mauldin book is how complete it is, including material I didn't think anyone would ever see again. If this book had come out in 1980 when more of its target audience was alive and acquiring books it might have sold as many copies as the Blackbeard Smithsonian comic strip collection, generating as many fond memories.

*****
*****
*****

A Few Books More People Should Have Talked About (In No Particular Order)

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7. Che: A Graphic Biography, Spain Rodriguez (Verso Books)

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6. Swallow Me Whole, Nate Powell (Top Shelf)

*****

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5. Kate Beaton's On-Line Comics (Self-Published)

*****

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4. Dororo Vols 1-3, Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)

*****

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3. Thoreau at Walden, John Porcellino (Hyperion)

*****

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2. Punk Rock and Trailer Parks, Derf (SLG)

*****

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1. Low Moon, Jason (New York Times Sunday Magazine)

*****
*****

Notes On Books That Deserved More Attention, 2008

I thought Swallow Me Whole was Top Shelf's best book of 2008 -- just with the Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell they have planned their 2009 should be that company's best year ever -- and a fine longer narrative debut in a year that saw about a half dozen solid comics-with-a-spine debuts from younger cartoonists (Cotter, Shaw, Tamaki/Tamaki, Ellsworth all spring to mind. I'm certain I'm forgetting at least one other.). Osamu Tezuka's Dororo I preferred to the same comics legend's Black Jack by about a factor of a billion, and I'd prefer a world where the attention paid to each project were flipped. The Derf I didn't like as much as some people did, but there's some lovely cartooning there and the book is enough of a crowd-pleaser I wonder why there wasn't a bigger crowd. Kate Beaton is very funny; I haven't read a lot of her work yet, but I think it may be very good. It's not like people haven't noticed her work but I'm not sure that it's been given its specific due beyond genial thumbs-up. The Thoreau at Walden book I put there not because I think it's John Porcellino's best work but because it's almost like the book didn't come out for the widespread silence in comics circles that greeted its publication. Che I didn't like enough for it to get within shouting distance of the top 25, but there aren't a lot of cartoonists from Spain's generation still creating original work and I wish we'd heard more about this book on that basis alone. I heard even less about Jason's New York Times comic, which I thought was highly amusing and flattered that particular, sometimes dour platform with its deadpan silliness.

*****
*****
*****

Best Books On The Subject Of Comics

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Most Outrageous: The Trials and Trespasses of Dwaine Tinsley and Chester the Molester, Bob Levin (Fantagraphics)

This is the easiest category of the year, because Bob Levin's book on "Chester the Molester" cartoonist Dwaine Tinsley and the harrowing legal troubles he faced was by itself worth every other word written about comics last year, on-line and in print, combined. It is the best book ever written about a cartoonist. It kills me that he can't break into four figures in terms of books sold on this one. If you can handle adult subject matter -- and this book involves some deeply adult subject matter without the comfort of Levin taking an easy to parse position on what any of it means -- please give his book a try.

*****
*****
*****

Best Comics (First Run, First Translated, Definitively Collected) Of 2008

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25. All-Star Superman #10, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC Comics)

*****

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24. Capacity, Theo Ellsworth (Secret Acres)

*****

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23. Skyscrapers of the Midwest, Josh Cotter (AdHouse)

*****

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22. Little Nothings, Lewis Trondheim (NBM)

*****

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21. RASL Volume One: The Drift, Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books)

*****

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20. Omega: The Unknown, Jonathan Lethem and Karl Rusnak and Farel Dalrymple and Paul Hornschemeier and Gary Panter (Marvel)

*****

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19. Fuzz & Pluck: Splitsville, Ted Stearn (Fantagraphics)

*****

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18. Cryptic Wit #2, Gerald Jablonski (Self-Published)

*****

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17. Alan's War, Emmanuel Guibert (First Second)

*****

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16. Burma Chronicles, Guy Deslisle (Drawn & Quarterly)

*****

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15. Bottomless Belly Button, Dash Shaw (Fantagraphics)

*****

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14. Kramer's Ergot Vol. 7, Various (Buenaventura Press)

*****

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13. Powr Mastrs Vol. 2, C.F. (PictureBox)

*****

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12. Sammy the Mouse #2, Zak Sally (Fantagraphics)

*****

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11. Good-Bye, Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn and Quarterly)

*****

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10. Mister Wonderful, Daniel Clowes (New York Times Sunday Magazine)

*****

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9. Achewood Volume One: The Great Outdoor Fight, Chris Onstad (Dark Horse)

*****

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8. Travel, Yuichi Yokohoma (PictureBox)

*****

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7. Speak Of The Devil, Gilbert Hernandez (Dark Horse)

*****

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6. Chechen War, Chechen Women, I Live Here, Joe Sacco (Pantheon)

*****

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5. Cul-De-Sac: This Exit, Richard Thompson (Andrews McMeel)

*****

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4. Ganges #2, Kevin Huizenga (Fantagraphics/Coconino)

*****

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3. What It Is, Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly)

*****

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2. The Wonder: Portraits of a Remembered City Volumes 1-3 Collected, Tony Fitzpatrick (Last Gasp)

*****

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1. Acme Novelty Library #19, Chris Ware (Self-Published)

*****
*****

Notes On Best Comics of 2008

I had a difficult time compiling this list. It is much more fluid than I would have thought possible. I can imagine just about all of the top 10 taking turns at #1 were I to spend any more time thinking of the year just past, and I can see everything from 10-20 raiding the top 10 or dropping out altogether. My fear is that I've just become a lazy critic, unable and perhaps unwilling to make the tougher distinctions required by the art form right now.

There wasn't a lot of memorable writing about comics in 2008, and I thought a number of this year's best-of lists in particular seemed to be exercises in looking good making best-of lists more than they seemed the end result of direct, honest engagement with the art form. As a group, writers about comics in 2008 expended more energy giving writers like Grant Morrison the most flattering read possible and then castigating those who don't agree on a scale of how much they "get it" or "don't get it" than they spent, say, diving into the particulars of Lynda Barry's collage-influenced style or making the case by reading his work across various publications how Kevin Huizenga's 2008 was even stronger than it first appears (he's the cartoonist of the year, clearly). One thing that sticks out is I can't remember reading a single review of Kramers Ergot Vol. 7 that explored with enthusiasm and clarity the work itself. What's frustrating about that is that KE7 was, I thought, a great book that managed to hit its mark while offering remarkable and one-of-a-kind work and, at the same time, some completely not-good offerings. But you know what? I didn't write any of those reviews, either.

Among the things I'd like you to consider taking away from this year's Best-Of list are:

1) An appreciation for Chris Ware's latest single issue of ACME, which was so precise and perfectly constructed yet also compelling as raw narrative as to shame a lot of the other work out there. It's the first comic in a while where I felt its impact as much as I read what it had to say and took meaning from it. It was so great to read a comic that demanded things from you.

2) How good Kevin Huizenga's become how relatively quickly. He's the real deal.

3) A potential acknowledgment or at least exploration of painter Tony Fitzpatrick's work as comics narrative. The Wonder is Fitzpatrick's three-volume walk through the Chicago of his dead father, collected and slip-cased this year. Fitzpatrick doesn't consider his work comics in any way. I think he's wrong. What some people including Fitzpatrick see as a series of paintings that incorporates text, I see as that and as a series of verbal-visual blend artistic moments organized into sequential form by their attention to a larger theme. The novelty of viewing this kind of work as comics wouldn't bring it to this list, but Fitzpatrick's particular exploration is frequently beautiful and haunting, a desperate scramble after a world that's disappeared in the last quarter century without mourners.

4) A renewed interest in Richard Thompson's comic strips. It should come as no surprise to any regular reader of this site that I adore Richard Thompson's comics, and to watch Cul De Sac trying to scale the heights of a system that's in the midst of an outright collapse troubles me, perhaps more than I'd care to admit during day-in, day-out coverage of its journey.

5) Greater regular attention to Joe Sacco's very good short stories year to year. I thought this latest one a gem, deliberate and painstakingly observed.

6) Respect for future greatest living cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez. The Speak of the Devil entry here indicates the serial that concluded in 2008 rather than the collection published subsequently. Gilbert Hernandez's hypnotic, grisly story used the time between issues as a giant panel filled with darkness between installments of its twisted narrative. That comic made my stomach hurt, and I have a sense that it may be one of the last of its kind.

7) Recognition that Marvel's unlikely marriage of author, alt-comics artists and the work of Steve Gerber and Mary Skrenes worked out fairly well. I thought the Omega The Unknown series unfairly dismissed, or just little discussed or maybe just not engaged in the way that a lot of duller works even within that same genre were routinely appreciated this year. I thought there was a lot of value in its careful meditation on the original '70s comics and themes like coming to grips with commercial forces as both potentially devastating and a key to forming a self-identity. I thought it was really attractive, too, in a way that had nothing to do with comics of that era but also encapsulated those comics' blend of immediate physical presence and over-ripe atmosphere.

8) A greater appreciation for comics' visual qualities. I know how strange this sounds given how many people see comics solely as vehicles for a certain kind of art, but that's been a long time coming for me. One of the few things I do more effectively than I used to is process the visual appeal of a comic I'm reading, to the point that there are at least two works on this list that likely wouldn't be on it at all if I were reading all of this year's books five years ago.

All in all, I thought it was a very good year.

*****
*****
*****

A Final Few Notes On Inclusion

1) Gary Panter I enjoyed quite a bit, but I see that as an art book.
2) I failed to secure copies of a number of books, including Breakdowns, Love & Rockets: New Stories #1, Criminal, the latest Canicola and Mat Brinkman's effort with Le Dernier Cri. If I read those and like them better I'll change the list. Robert Boyd has since reminded me I also haven't seen the Terry and the Pirates books.
3) Tamara Drewe I presently consider a 2007 work.
4) Bodyworld I presently consider a 2009 work.
5) I have a sneaking suspicion that I might like one of the Cold Heat supplementary offerings as much as some of the work in my top 25, but I'm waiting to read them. If one of them does make that impression on me I'll add them and delete this note
6) I'm allowed to take one mulligan, and this year that's The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard.
7) Looking at this list at 6 AM, I realize I forgot the Blank Slate books. I didn't care for the Mawil enough it would merit consideration, but I should have re-read the Oliver East book and will. At that point I'll delete this note and make any changes I need to above.

*****
*****
*****
*****
 
posted 3:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Five Link A Go Go

* go, look: Batton Lash makes a poster for The New Hopeville Comics

* go, look: Joel Meadows appreciates Ian Rankin

* go, read: UMBC profiles KAL

* go, read: Don MacPherson looks at pay-for-consideration award

* go, look: lost Colleen Doran Big Book pages
 
posted 2:40 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #155 -- TV Party

On Friday, CR Name Five Specific Favorite Live Action TV Show Episodes And What Cartoonist(s), In The Best Of All Possible Worlds, You'd Like To See Adapt Them." This Is How They Responded.

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Chris Duffy

* The insane asylum episode of Rockford Files -- Gene Colan
* The Brooke Shields/Alice in Wonderland episode of the The Muppet Show -- Roger Langridge
* Trilogy of Terror (the tiki doll chapter) -- Bissette and Totleban
* The episode of Dick Van Dyke where he's on candid camera and everyone keeps disappearing -- Jaime Hernandez
* The "shoe-booty" episode of All in the Family, where Mike and Archie get locked in the basement -- Miss Lasko-Gross

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

* Bigfoot episode of Six Million Dollar Man -- Mat Brinkman
* Second season finale, White Shadow -- Peter Bagge
* First season finale, Mad Men -- Rick Altergott
* Sammy Davis Jr. Episode of All In The Family -- Eric Reynolds
* "A Coffin For Starsky," Starsky and Hutch -- Jim Rugg

*****

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Doug Childs

* The X-Files "Home" Bill Sienkiewicz
* WKRP in Cincinnati "Turkeys Away" Steve Dillon
* Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Hush" Kelly Jones
* The Twilight Zone "Time Enough at Last" Bernie Wrightson or Richard Corben
* Deadwood "Pilot" Moebius

*****

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Cole Moore Odell

* the pilot episode of Michael Mann's Crime Story by Sean Philips
* the "Panic in the Sky" episode of The Adventures of Superman by Lynda Barry
* the "Edge of Forever" episode of Carl Sagan's Cosmos by Kevin Huizenga
* the "Paris is Burning" episode of Gilmore Girls by James Kochalka
* the episode "33" of the new Battlestar Galactica by Wally Wood

*****



Gary Usher

1. LSD episode of "Dragnet" by Steve Ditko
2. Sipowicz deals with death of son episode of "NYPD Blue" by Gilbert Hernandez
3. Jack vs. the Hammock episode of "Three's Company" by Harvey Kurtzman/Will Elder
4. series finale of "The Shield" by Spain
5. Laura's doppelganger cousin (or somesuch) is murdered by the father episode of "Twin Peaks" by Dash Shaw

*****

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Adam Casey

1. The episode of Star Trek where Kirk fights the Gorn -- Jack Kirby.
2. Twilight Zone's "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street" -- Curt Swan.
3. The pilot episode of Mad Men -- Mike Allred.
4. The Saved By The Bell episode where Jessie gets hooked on caffeine pills -- Dan Clowes.
5. The episode of The Andy Griffith Show where the out of town floozies keep ruining Andy and Barney's dates -- Darwyn Cooke

*****



Fred Hembeck

1. The famous "I Love Lucy" episode with Lucy and Ethel wrapping candy, layouts by John Stanley, finishes by Irving Tripp.
2. "Leave It To Beaver" where Gilbert cons the Beav into climbing up into a display coffee cup on the front of an outdoor billboard, where he naturally gets stuck, drawn by Bob Bolling.
3. "Mary Tyler Moore Show" where Ted Baxter's modified contract allows him to do all sort of outside commercials, including one as "Farmer Ted", drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger.
4. The Christmas episode of "The Jack Benny Program" where Jack's constant indecision and repeated requests to wrap and unwrap a present bought for Don Wilson slowly but surely drives store clerk Mel Blanc to the point of suicide (albeit via an off-camera gunshot), drawn by Frank Miller, "Sin City" style.
5. The two hour "Twin Peaks" pilot, drawn by Dan Clowes (heck, he should probably just do the entire series!...).

*****

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Joe Schwind

* Seinfeld: The Opposite - George Evans
* Frontline: Who was Lee Harvey Oswald? - Dan Clowes
* I, Claudius: Reign of Terror - Jack Davis
* World's Wildest Police Videos: Garbage Truck Rampage - Jack Kirby
* The Sopranos: Funhouse - Eric Powell

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Seinfeld, "The Contest" -- Evan Dorkin
2. Arrested Development, "Motherboy" -- Ty Templeton
3. The X Files, "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" -- Joe Kubert
4. Firefly, "Trash" -- Walt Simonson
5. Star Trek, "Errand of Mercy" -- Steve Rude

*****



Uriel A. Duran

1) The K.I.T.T. vs. K.A.R.R. episode of Knight Rider -- Frank Miller
2) The final episode of The X-Files -- Mike Allred
3) The Merlin the Magician episode of The Time Tunnel -- Darwyn Cooke
4) The Howling Man episode of The Twilight Zone -- Jerry Ordway
5) The pilot episode of Automan -- Jim Rugg

*****



Matthew Craig

* CSI: Grave Danger (Tarantino) - JH Williams III
* EastEnders: Nana Moon visits her husband's grave in Normandy (Armistice Day 2005) - Eddie Campbell
* Life On Mars: Series 2, Episode 8 (Finale) - Steve Dilllon
* Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks - Steve Ditko
* The Young Ones: Bambi - Darick Robertson

*****

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Douglas Mullins

* Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Hush - Ben Jones / Frank Santoro
* Twin Peaks - Agent Cooper's session in the woods with the chalkboard - Dash Shaw
* Lost - Smoke monster kills Mr. Eko - CF
* Doctor Who - That one were they go back in time and fight zombies with Charles Dickens - Lauren Weinstein
* Deadwood - The one where the horse kills the kid - Eddie Campbell

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1 - "Spock's Brain" STAR TREK -- Wally Wood
2 - "Thanksgiving Giveaway" WKRP IN CINNCINNATI -- Walt Kelly (but he would need to tell it from the turkeys' POV)
3 - Any episode of THE ADDAMS FAMILY -- Go Nagai
4 - "The Alcatraz Express" THE UNTOUCHABLES -- Frank Miller
5 - "Demon With A Glass Hand" THE OUTER LIMITS -- Alex Toth

*****

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Kiel Phegley

* The "Jesse gets hooked on diet pills and then sings 'I'm So Excited'" episode of "Saved By the Bell - Johnny Ryan
* The episode of "Seinfeld" where Susan dies from the envelopes - Sergio Aragonés
* Any episode of "Deep Space 9" that took place during the Dominion War and had all sorts of rocking space battles - Joe Madureira
* The Adam West "Batman" episode with the "Green Hornet" crossover - Mike Allred
* There used to be this radical Bruce Greenwood conspiracy show on UPN called "Nowhere Man" where Greenwood was a photographer whose whole life was erased in one fell swoop because of a photo he took and then he's on the run, and I'd kill to see Sean Phillips draw the pilot

*****

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Mike Lynch

* FREAKS & GEEKS -- "Beers and Weirs" the one where Lindsay has the keg party -- Jeffrey Brown
* HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER -- "Sweet Taste of Liberty" where they fly to Philly -- Chari Pere
* THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY -- "The Modfather" with Ray Bolger as grandpa -- Ai Yazawa
* STAR TREK -- "Spock's Brain" -- Steve Rude
* TIME TUNNEL - the Pearl Harbor episode -- Kate Beaton

*****

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Will Pfeifer

1. The Paul Lynde Halloween Special -- Drew Friedman
2. The Love Boat where Marion Ross played an ex-Warhol actress, with an appearance by Andy Warhol -- Dan Clowes
3. The Diff'rent Strokes two-parter with Gordon Jump as the child molesting bike shop owner -- Ivan Brunetti
4. "The Contest" episode of Seinfeld -- Wayne Boring
5. The punk rock episode of Quincy -- either Jaime Hernandez or John Holstrum

*****

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Rick Lowell

1) The Charlie's Angels women's prison episode adapted by Frank Cho
2) Muppets Alice Cooper episode adapted by Bernie Wrightson
3) Six Million Dollar Man "Secret of Bigfoot" adapted by John Byrne
4) "My Name is Earl" pilot adapted by Evan Dorkin
5) Carol Burnett Show "Gone with the Wind" adapted by Sergio Aragones

*****

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Doug Gray

* I would accept any episode of Hawaii Five-O as drawn by Eduardo Risso. But for the sake of FFF, I will choose the first season episode "Samurai". (Ricardo Montalban stars as a Japanese crime boss in need of police protection).
* "So Sorry, My Island Now" by Evan Dorkin. (first season Gilligan's Island episode, where a Japanese soldier in a mini-submarine thinks that WWII is still in progress)
* Any western show interpreted by Jordi Bernet. I would suggest the episode of The Rifleman where a gunfighter (Sammy Davis Jr) comes to town to kill the Sheriff.
* The "Lurch Learns to Dance" episode of The Addams Family by Craig Thompson.
* Any episode of Hogan's Heroes by Joe Kubert.

*****

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Russell Lissau

1. HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET, "Three Men and Adena," adapted by Rucka, Brubaker and Lark
2. HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET, "Gone for Goode," by Rucka, Brubaker and Lark
3. HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET, "Nearer My God to Thee," by Rucka, Brubaker and Lark
4. HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET, "Crosetti," by Rucka, Brubaker and Lark
5. HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET, "The Subway," by Rucka, Brubaker and Lark

*****

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Don MacPherson

* M*A*S*H finale -- Joe Kubert
* Moonlighting's Taming of the Shrew -- Kevin Maguire
* Seinfeld's threesome episode -- Colleen Coover
* Any really good episode of Law & Order -- Michael Lark
* Any episode of Big Bang Theory -- Evan Dorkin

*****

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Evan Dorkin

1. The Spanish Moss Murders episode of Kolchak, The Night Stalker -- Mike Mignola
2. The punk rock episode of Quincy -- Michael Kupperman
3. The Hellfire Club episode of The Avengers -- Brian Bolland
4. Whatever episode of The Land Of The Lost was the most Sleestak-centric and creepy -- Charles Burns
5. The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast of Don Rickles - Drew Friedman

*****

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James Langdell

1. The John Larroquette Show episode where a baby is found at the bus depot -- Ralph Reese.
2. The X-Files "Goodnight, Dr. Frankenstein" episode -- Charles Burns
3. The Daily Show episode with Jon Stewart interviewing Jim Cramer -- Stephen DeStefano inked by Karl Kesel
4. The Twin Peaks save-the-pine-weasel episode -- Eddie Campbell (with an assist on Audrey from Pete Mullins)
5. Ernie Kovacs' silent 30-minute special with his Eugene character -- Jim Woodring

*****

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Andrew Mansell

1. The Walnuts from Twylo Episode of Dick Van Dyke -- Johnny Craig or Al Feldstein
2. The Pine Barren Episode of the Sopranos -- Alex Toth
3. The City on the Edge of Forever Star Trek -- Steve Rude
4. Mad Men Season Two Finale (The Cuban Missile Crisis) -- Milton Caniff
5. The hilarious John Cleese episode of The Muppet Show -- Walt Kelly

*****

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Aaron White

* The Munsters where they make a race car out of a coffin -- Jack Davis
* Last Episode of The L Word -- Rebecca
* Doctor Who, Horror of Fang Rock (a.k.a. the Victorian Lighthouse episode) -- Marc Bell
* A-Team where Murdoch pretends to be a superhero with a sock puppet sidekick -- Rumiko Takahashi
* That same episode of A-Team -- Frank Miller

*****

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Sean Kleefeld

1. Dr. Who, "The Daleks" (1963) by Alan Davis
2. The Prisoner, "Free For All" (1967) by Dean Motter
3. The Adventures of Long John Silver, "Pieces of Eight" (1959) by John Severin
4. The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, "Pirate Island" (1968) by Jack Kirby
5. Otherworld, "The Zone Troopers Build Men" (1985) by John Byrne

*****

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Matthew Badham

* The Muppet Show that featured Luke Skywalker, R2 D2, C3PO and Chewbacca - Matt Groening.
* Columbo: Identity Crisis, in which Patrick McGoohan plays a secret agent who commits murder; effectively reprising his role from the Prisoner - Jack Kirby.
* Blakes 7, the very last episode with its Wild Bunch ending - Carlos Ezquerra.
* The Twilight Zone, the episode on the plane where Shatner is menaced by a gremlin - Steve Ditko.
* The Starsky and Hutch pilot - Paul Grist.

*****

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Kristy Valenti

1. The Adventures of Pete and Pete: "Halloweenies" -- Chynna Clugston
2. Twin Peaks: Miss Twin Peaks -- Gilbert Hernandez
3. Freaks and Geeks: Noshing and Moshing -- Jaime Hernandez
4. I'm Alan Partridge Series 1: Towering Alan -- Dan Clowes
5. Punky Brewster: Cherie Lifesaver (aka the refrigerator episode) -- Hank Ketcham

*****

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Mauricio Matamoros

*The crazy hillbillies episode from The X-Files -- by Frank Miller
*Twin Peak's pilot episode -- by Dan Clowes
*That great Malcolm in the Middle episode where we see different possibilities of one same story -- by Chris Ware
*Any Chapulin Colorado episode -- by Gilbert Hernandez
*The first season 4 episodes of Lars von Trier's The Kingdom (the roiginal one) -- by Junji Ito

*****

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Danny Ceballos

* Happy Days: Fonzie (Fearless Fonzarelli) tears ligaments in his leg while attempting a motorcycle stunt for the TV show "You Wanted to See It" Adapted by Chester Brown
* Ugly Betty: pilot episode. Adapted by Alexa Kitchen
* Star Trek (Original Series): The U.S.S. Enterprise landing party finds a girl named Miri and several other children who have prolonged lives (they look and act 12 but they're 300 years old). Unfortunately, when they reach puberty, they develop skin lesions and they mutate before going insane and dying. Adapted by Mark Beyer
* BBC's Pride and Prejudice: The one starring Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehle. Episode 3, where Darcy unexpectedly proposes to Elizabeth and she flatly rejects him. Adapted by Fletcher Hanks
* Rich Man Poor Man: The ultimate 1970's min-series. The entire thing adapted by Lynda Barry

*****

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Michael J. Grabowski

1. An original series Star Trek episode -- probably a Romulan one -- that takes place mostly onboard the ships. One where Yeoman Rand has a supporting role. (Possibly no such episode exists, but you said "best of all possible worlds") -- Wally Wood
2. An episode of M*A*S*H from one of the early seasons -- Joe Sacco
3. The X-Files episode where the monstersoftheweek are the inbred brothers and the town sheriff is Andy Taylor -- Jason (silent approach preferred)
4. One of the Saturday Night Live best-of episodes from the first five seasons -- Evan Dorkin
5. The new Battlestar: Galactica epsiode where Starbuck is captured on Caprica and imprisoned in a hospital where the Cylons want to harvest her eggs and she has to bust her way out and get back to the resistance group -- David Lapham

*****

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Mark Coale

1. The "It is Balloon" episode of F-Troop -- Russ Heath
2. The "gas chamber" episode of Mission: Impossible -- Jim Steranko
3. The election episode of The Prisoner -- Brian Bolland
4. The episode "Potato" of Blackadder -- Ty Templeton
5. The "Kinch masquerades as an African Prince" episode of Hogan's Heroes -- Joe Kubert

*****

all tv publicity photos copyright their original owners

*****
*****
 
posted 2:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 72nd Birthday, Dan Adkins!

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Happy 78th Birthday, Henk Tol!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Jens Harder!

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Happy 41st Birthday, Laurent Cagniat!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Gerhard Seyfried!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 53rd Birthday, Ronald Sinoo!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Alex Barbier!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
March 14, 2009


Next Week In Comics-Related Events

March 20
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March 21
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posted 6:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
CR Week In Review

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

1. Deadline for sale of Seattle Post-Intelligencer comes and goes in eerie quiet; move to shutter magazine or move to on-line only iteration kicked into next week.

2. Danish Cartoons Controversy becomes potential sticking point for election of new Secretary-General for NATO.

3. Watchmen the book flying high; Watchmen the movie we still don't know yet.

Winners Of The Week
Tardi fans.

Loser Of The Week
Anyone that still wants a 4-day CCI pass.

Quote Of The Week
"Mrs. Landingham needs more pooping yogurt." -- MattFraction.com

this week's imagery comes from one of the great underground comix
 
posted 3:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

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

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If I Were In Seattle, I'd Go To This

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posted 2:50 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This

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posted 2:50 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 40th Birthday, Simon Fraser!

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my apologies for the initial art selection; Mr. Fraser has a terrifying number of fans
 
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Happy 67th Birthday, Bob Levin!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 54th Birthday, Steve Bissette!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 43rd Birthday, JP Stassen!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 62nd Birthday, Tom Batiuk!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 57th Birthday, Brian Walker!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* Jason Michelitch On Whether A Comic's Quality Has An Effect On Wanting To Read It On-line Or Not (3/13/09)
* Jason Michelitch On Adam Casey's Critique Of My Watchmen Piece (3/13/09)
* Tim O'Shea On Sin Citification (3/12/09)
* Ted Rall On AAEC Still Having Their Seattle Convention This Summer (PR) (3/9/09)
* Adam Casey On Taking Issue With Part Of The Watchmen Film Review (3/8/09)
* Alan Choate On My Self-Consciousness (3/8/09)
* Danny Fingeroth On A Will Eisner Panel He's Doing (PR) (3/7/09)
* Kumar Sivasubramanian On Frank Santoro's Criticism Of The Birthday Wishes (3/7/09)
* Michael Grabowski On The Gene Day Award At The Shusters (3/7/09)
* Tim O'Shea On Frank Santoro's Criticism Of The Birthday Wishes (3/7/09)
* Sean Howe On Watchmen's Secret Origin (3/7/09)
 
posted 2:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
March 13, 2009


Friday Distraction: Monogatari

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posted 6:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Even Skort-Wearing Unicorn Robot Can Score A CCI 4-Day Pass Now

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In a shot in the arm for the comics convention business and the potential source for night terrors between now and next Thursday for those hoping to score a hotel room, four-day passes have sold out; I assume various one-day passes will increase in sales frequency now. I attend every year as "Calvin Reid," so I'm covered.
 
posted 5:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
The Most Important Comics Person In Canada Groans Audibly Upon Reading This Post's Headline

It's our own Bart Beaty, in a nice article about the teaching of comics in Canada, so we can kid.
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Mike van Audenhove, 1957-2009

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Mike van Audenhove, the North Carolina-born cartoonist who enjoyed a career as a chronicler of life in Zurich, died on Sunday in the southeastern Swiss town of Cavigliano. The cause of death was a stroke. He was 52 years old.

Audenhove was born in Raleigh and moved to Switzerland in 1966. He briefly returned to the United States to attend Hamilton College in the late 1970s before heading to Europe for good in 1980. He worked various jobs before his comics started appearing in Swiss newspapers in 1988. His first client was a paper called Tagblatt der Stadt Zurich, where his work ran until 1990. In 1996 he began Zurich By Mike, which ran for more than a decade in Tages-Anzeiger.

Audenhove used the outsider status granted him by his US birth to help shape a view of the city that might not be shared by natives, even suggesting in a 2006 interview that at times he pretended to be a tourist in order to see how this changed the reaction of those around him. I believe conceived in part to portray a side of the city that is often caricatured for the dominance of its famous banks, but Audenhove that the similarities between residents of different Swiss cities outweighed their differences.

The Zurich By Mike comics have been collected in several albums, and were published in magazines including Strapazin.
 
posted 3:25 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #28

The New York Times provides a halfway decent summary of/primer on a newspaper industry in crisis. The best thing about it is its up-front admission that asinine deals bringing unreasonable amounts of debt are screwing a lot of these publications. The worst thing about it is that it eschews any discussion of newspapers' many self-inflicted wounds, for instance, the decision many papers made to chase a service-based publication model that I think nudged papers away from their core mission and had them doing things that would eventually be done better elsewhere.

I'm also not convinced by the self-flattery in which articles like this indulge that if the current newspaper model goes, so does the bulk of serious reporting. That's a danger, but it's not a structural one as these articles imply. On-line publication models may not encourage their users to devote the same resources to original reportage but there's nothing keeping them from doing so. In that way they're no different than print publications; they just don't have a history and tradition of original news gathering that serves as a hedge against drifting towards a more content-free model. I also think newspapers vastly overrate their aggregate journalistic return, especially compared to the man hours and resources expended. I don't think it's coincidence that a lot of these papers are threatened the year after an historic election year where the contribution from newspapers was pretty much negligible. I wish more newspapers were self-critical instead of restricting their blame to history, exploitative owners and a callow readership.
 
posted 3:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
What I Recommend When People Ask Me What To Read After Watchmen

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I encourage everyone to join me in recommending Joe Sacco's Palestine to people looking for a comic to read after Watchmen. It's really good.
 
posted 3:05 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Daryl Cagle Publishes A Lost Jobs List

The cartoonist and prominent web site operator/blogger Daryl Cagle has posted a list of jobs lost over the last two years. Unlike another list I remember reading, he includes things like David Horsey potentially moving on-line with the Post-Intelligencer and Ann Telnaes making the move full-time into animation.
 
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If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Medical Economics

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Go, Read: Frank Beard Interview

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Go, Look: Jury Of The Undead

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"I'm going to strangle you to death so I can jack up your ghost" is one macho threat
 
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Go, Look: Froggy Went A Courtin'

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the retailer and blogger Chris Butcher reminds us that publishers are still struggling to come to terms with the implications of Diamond's new minimums policy.

image* so instead of issuing headphones at the MOMEntum comics art show, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design supplies attendees with a delightful talking baby soaked in recent comics history. Eric Reynolds provides a photo-stuffed travelogue of his recent trip to one of America's best comics cities.

* the publisher and webcomics advocate Joey Manley suggests that sometimes webcomics folks find themselves a poor match with a mainstream publisher.

* not comics: Marvel retooled its movie schedule and made a couple of cast announcements for Iron Man 2 yesterday, which is funny in a "screw you" kind of way in that it fairly knocked any chatter about Watchmen right off the nerd radar for a news cycle. I thought the Watchmen movie folks did a great job of spinning box office and review news early in the week, so we'll see if the film performs solidly in its second week or if the percentage revenue loss is in the 50 to 75 percent range (I'm guessing that's the uh-oh range). I'm sort of surprised there hasn't been more made of this kind of thing in order to make the film more alluring to teens, but I know as much about getting people to watch movies as I know about winning the Dakar Rally.

* speaking of movies, every time the first thing I see is the word "loading" I get nervous, but apparently this is a bunch of comics depicting "lost scenes" from various film classics. I always thought something like that would make a good Eros comic.

* finally, some con news: four-day memberships are nearly sold out of this year's comics and pop culture event Comic-Con International. I've long thought that show may be just as enjoyable experienced in part rather than in its entirety, so I don't find this news alarming, but most people obviously still see it as a big ol' summer camp experience and may be hitting that site today to slip in under the wire and god bless you if you're one of those folks. Following a solid New York Comic-Con and an even more solid WonderCon months after economic fears settled in, I think it's safe to say that conventions for now have not been harmed by the current economic weaknesses. I'm not sure of the exact reason. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say a combination of cons being peak experiences worth saving up to do and the fact that their big-tent nature provides entertainment value, especially for locals. But it could be any number of things. Steven Grant makes a nice point here that the state of the Direct Market of hobby and comics shops may be as such that conventions have become, once again, the best way to buy comics because you get to look at them first.
 
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Happy 88th Birthday, Al Jaffee!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Regis Van Winsen!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Enrique Carlos Martin!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Christophe Quet!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 61st Birthday, Waki Yamato!

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Happy 39th Birthday, Jeff LeVine!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Mike Sterling!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Farley Undied
Speaking of Undied
Screw Your Ads, I'm Out Of Here

Exhibits/Events
Diamond Becomes LA Times Festival Of Books Sponsor

History
Ugh
Was It Really That Long Ago?

Industry
E&P Gets The Scoop
Crappy-Looking Rip-Off Comic Goes Into 2nd Printing

Interviews/Profiles
CBR: Zander Cannon
Pulse: Michael Hudson
Newsarama: Ivan Brandon
Panels and Pixels: Ed Brubaker
Percy Carey Meets Jerry Robinson

Not Comics
This Made Me Laugh
This Headline Made Me Laugh

Publishing
Meet Nubby
Unlovable Previewed
Universal To Launch Golf Strip
That Is One Good-Looking Cover
J. Caleb Mozzocco Goes Full Nerd

Reviews
Jog: Cold Heat #5/6
Brian Heater: The Eternal Smile
Andy Frisk: Action Comics #875
Leroy Douresseaux: A Capable Man
Andy Frisk: Invincible Iron Man #11
Johanna Draper Carlson: Otomen Vol. 1
Greg McElhatton: Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei Vol. 1
 

 
March 12, 2009


Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

* so Anders Fogh Rasmussen is apparently a favorite to become Secretary General of NATO. Part of what might scotch his bid is heavily-Muslim Turkey's reluctance to back him based on his actions as Denmark's leader during the Danish Cartoons Controversy. Longtime CR readers will note the oddity of the cartoons controversy coming into play in terms of criticism from Turkey, a country where government figures including their three-name bearing Prime Minister seem to routinely sue cartoonists and the magazines that publish them. Maybe that's what Rasmussen should have done: just started suing people.

* you can hear Rasmussen talk about the foreign relations aspect of the Cartoons Controversy in this interview with ultra-slick Monocle magazine.

* here's a pretty good article on how the Cartoons Controversy has changed the tenor of dialogue around religious defamation as a human rights issue. Not much new there, but it's a pretty good wrap-up.

* just so you can see how the lessons of the cartoons can be used in just about any way you desire, here they are being used as justification for criticizing the HBO show Big Love.

* finally, the magnificently-named Hisham Hellyer recalls one of the little-publicized efforts by some moderate Muslims in the wake of the cartoon protests.
 
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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: The Ice Dragon

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Go, Look: Cartoonist Photo Gallery

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before anyone thinks I've lost my mind, I'm totally aware that Christopher Wheeler's cartoonist photos page is one of the foundational places on the comics Internet; it's just been a while since I visited
 
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Go, Look: Jan van der Veken

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Go, Look: Who Shall Judge?

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* owner Hearst Corp's decision regarding the fate of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has been put off until next week. It is widely expected although in no way confirmed that the publication will move into an on-line only iteration.

image* I greatly enjoyed this piece by Ben Schwartz on Harvey Kurtzman, by way of two new books.

* the concluding anecdote is this short interview is pretty great. I can't even imagine what it would be like to stumble across the Fantagraphics bookstore at nine years old. I stumbled across a pawn shop with four stacks of old comics at that age and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

* cartoonist Riyoko Ikeda received the Ordre national de la Legion d'honneur on Wednesday at the Tokyo home of the French ambassador to Japan.

* Calvin Reid discusses the Beacon Press line of comics adaptations. Am I taking it from that article that two years have passed and they haven't released a book yet? I'm having a poor reading comprehension day.

* it made me a bit sad to realize that standard product announcements is about the best we can hope for from Editor & Publisher these days. Well, that, and this kind of news. You know, one of the things that bugs the shit out of me as we watch the newspaper and news magazine industries collapse is this idea that because we're moving from this period of history in which intricately structured and expensive as all hell infrastructures can be formed to support the act of information-gathering, that means we somehow lose information-gathering. I think the reason we're going to lose a lot of information-gathering is because of the rush towards profitability for those enterprises, which has gutted the value system for those enterprises and also hastened their collapse. I think that's an important distinction.

* finally, sometimes I wonder if there's something to the fact that I don't seem to mind reading shitty to pretty good comics on-line but when I come across a really good one on-line I occasionally regret that I didn't get to encounter it in print. By "something" I mostly mean "something funny" like "this practically ensures the on-line success of the two North American mainstream companies." Okay, perhaps that's more "something sort of amusing if you're already having a good day." But isn't there something to that? Like I know I'd be happy to read a bunch of Gold Key Star Trek comics on-line, but I can't imagine ever wanting to read ACME Novelty Library that way. I wonder why this is. Is it like the difference between movies you want to see on a giganto screen versus a much smaller TV, or is there something more to it?
 
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Happy 42nd Birthday, Massimiliano Frezzato!

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Happy 56th Birthday, R.A. Jones!

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Happy 63rd Birthday, Ernesto Grassani!

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Happy 81st Birthday, Sy Barry!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Atsushi Kamijo!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Graham Nolan!

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Quick hits
Daily Cross Hatch Interviews
Peter Laird
Rob Liefeld
Tim Kreider
Keith Knight
Liz Baillie 01
Liz Baillie 02
Liz Baillie 03
Lilli Carre 01
Lilli Carre 02
Lilli Carre 03
Jesse Reklaw
Eric Powell 01
Eric Powell 02
Some Idiot 01
Some Idiot 02
Theo Ellsworth
Sarah Oleksyk
Farel Dalrymple
Larry Marder 01
Larry Marder 02
Larry Marder 03
Mike Dawson 01
Mike Dawson 02
Charles Burns 01
Charles Burns 02
Charles Burns 03
Bob Fingerman 01
Bob Fingerman 02
Bob Fingerman 03
Kevin Huizenga 01
Kevin Huizenga 02
Art Spiegelman 01
Art Spiegelman 02
Art Spiegelman 03
Art Spiegelman 04
Art Spiegelman 05
 

 
March 11, 2009


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

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*****

Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's largely accurate list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America.

I might not buy all of the works listed here. I might not buy any. But were I in a comic book shop tomorrow I would more than likely pick up the following and look them over, causing my retailer to withdraw his support for my nomination.

*****

NOV080178 LOSERS BY JACK KIRBY HC $39.99
This I assume is Kirby's mid-'70s Our Fighting Forces run, which should make a nice hardcover as the original comics are a) little-read, b) a pain in the ass to find for a reasonable price and c) quite entertaining.

OCT072020 SPECIAL FORCES #4 (OF 6) (MR) $2.99
This is Kyle Baker's pretty much entirely satirical modern war book; people are just now waking up to the fact that it's really good.

JAN092406 WALKING DEAD #59 (MR) $2.99
NOV080209 TOP 10 SEASON TWO #4 (OF 4) $2.99
Two standard adventure-style comics of the well-reviewed kind that you might pick up if you're a serial comics buyer.

NOV084453 BE A NOSE ART SPIEGELMAN SKETCHBOOK SET $29.00
This is McSweeney's package of multiple Art Spiegelman sketchbooks from different years and holy crap it's like they're making comics now according to things I suggested should happen while drunk back in 1996.

DEC084122 TILTING AT WINDMILLS SC VOL 02 $19.99
Now I can fume at Brian Hibbs' business and advocacy columns anywhere I can carry a book.

MAY080063 PERRY BIBLE FELLOWSHIP ALMANACK HC $24.95
The even quieter follow-up to DHC's quiet hit from early last year.

JAN094555 ALTER EGO #84 $6.95
Eighty-four? Good gravy.

*****

The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations and a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite this official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few. Also, stores choose what they carry and don't carry so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, albeit a while back, try this.

The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you they don't have in-stock. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I didn't list your comic, I blame my too-obvious musical cues.

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

 
I Love All Of You Like Family But Please Stop Sending Me The Following Link

Frank Miller's Charlie Brown.
 
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I Guess That Really Was The Last One

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I just re-checked my LA Weekly clippings to see if I should have caught the fact that Matt Groening's mighty Life In Hell was being dropped by the paper. Whoops.
 
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More On Seattle P-I Print Closure

* the exact date of closure and final print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is still uncertain this morning, which makes me think that today's print edition may not be the last. One thing that's odd is that the P-I itself is reporting on the incident. First, this is strange in that they don't have the best information, as it looks like Hearst is refusing to answer questions. Second, while the description of a sequel web site already had me thinking there were way too many editors and not enough content producers, the fact that the story isn't at the top of the web site despite it being the most requested makes me wonder after what kind of editorial judgment will be utilized in the new edition.

* here's the wider Hearst newspaper state of the union.

* a few of you sent me this blog posting of recommendations for the new P-I site, which a lot of people are going to be checking out. I agree with some of it, don't agree with some of it, but mostly I remain really skeptical of the whole idea. What keeps me interested is that despite all of my doubts and the potential horror of the new P-I site turning into a glib, opinion-driven link-dump that is buoyed in part by original content from other news sources that may themselves disappear soon, I also think there's a chance this could be super locally news-driven. I'm not confident, though.

* I don't have any confidence that this kind of thing will help anything but some rich guy's bottom line.

* finally, here's a much-discussed list of papers in severe trouble likely to close or move into an all-digital phase. If nothing else, imagine the number of comics and cartoonists hosted by these papers and how they may or may make a trip on-line and it begins to hit home.
 
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Comics Company Takes Outlandish Step Of Recommending Some Of Its Books

imageAlthough you may have already been "blasted" with the news via an e-mail or social networking site announcement, today is the day that DC formally launches its "After Watchmen" initiative, whereby they recommend a bunch of books they publish to people that liked Watchmen in the hopes that they might be purchased by these people. I'm not sure what the hell it means that this is actually considered news -- companies are supposed to promote books and this seems like an obvious opportunity to do so. I like Inside Baseball articles as much as the next feckless nerd, but I always get the sneaking suspicion coverage of stuff like this is basically just giving whatever initiative a platform to say exactly what it might say in an advertisement and then hiding that fact by adding a few words of summary analysis like "it's an impressive idea" or "good for DC in trying to capitalize on this Watchmen thing and bring some business to the shops" or even "I don't agree with all of the choices" or whatever. It's also slightly frightening that there exists no mechanism by which a multiple-company effort along these same lines could have been attempted. But yeah, if you liked Watchmen, you might want to try some of the books that are like whatever the heck you liked about Watchmen, and DC has certainly published some of those books.
 
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Eisner Awards Submissions Due Friday

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picture stolen from Nick Abadzis; I hope he doesn't mind
 
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Changing Consumption Habits As A Way To Maximize Your Funnybook Dollar

The CBR columnist Augie De Blieck Jr. has a new piece up on "waiting for the trade." For those of you not up on your catchphrases used as descriptions of comics consumption strategies, what this means in the post and generally is eschewing the buying of serial comics for the relative discount getting collected versions or the obvious savings represented by buying one version of whatever comic over buying both a serial and collected version. De Blieck also extols the virtue of buying a lot of this material from on-line booksellers that offer discounts.

imageI've been preaching sort of the the same thing since the early 1990s, using a strategy that I put into place during grad school when I was really, really poor (or, in comics industry terms, "middle class"). I stopped buying comics for a stretch, put the money I would have spent into a free checking account, and then started buying comics again putting only half my former weekly purchase amount into the checking account every week. That was all it took for me to get out of the habit of seeing comics as something with which I interacted solely on the basis of new arrivals the day they arrived and more into seeing the entire medium as something I could access and from which I could make purchases. I still went to the comics shop, but what I bought there became stuff specific to the comics shop. Over the years as the options became available to me I added purchases at conventions, from book dealers, from back-issue dealers and even on-line booksellers. Now those habits include reading comics for free at the library and on-line.

The typical argument in terms of a downside to that strategy is that the Direct Market has become fragile because of years of taking money out of the system as it's made rather than reinvesting in it, and it simply can't handle too many of its core customers opting out of how that system works at its most profitable. You tend to see negative reactions from people based on the fact that this kind of consumption is somehow either a) non-supportive or b) working against your best interests because it endangers comics stores and even if your habits is changed you probably still value such stores. I don't have any answers, but I think it's worth presenting this basic argument every time someone brings it up.

you can have this great Virgil Partch book for about the price of two consecutive issues of DC's Simon Dark
 
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Go, Look: Eclectic Micks

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via
 
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Go, Look: 400 Quick Answers

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Missed It: Alison Bechdel On Process



as seen everywhere, but here first
 
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Go, Bookmark: Secret Identity

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* that is one handsome Lex Luthor.

image* the critics Sean T. Collins and Dick Hyacinth discuss Black Hole.

* burgeoning entertainment giant Marvel names a global advisory board. I guess that's good news for them, although I'm always a little suspicious of Marvel moves above the publishing and production levels because it always seems to end up with these businessmen making tons and tons of direct cash that one can't help but think might in some ways better serve the company were it going to the talent and, of course, provide greater service to the moral balance of the universe if it were going to things like health care and/or an overture or appreciation to various creators and their families. I know that makes me sound like "the guy you don't want to sit next to at the Eisners," though.

* an explosion of posts on the Drawn & Quarterly blog yesterday debated the relative stylishness/attractiveness of various cartoonists: Doug Wright, John Stanley, Peter Arno, Don Freeman and Crockett Johnson. The winner was declared to be the lovely Lily Renee Philips. Does this guy qualify?

* not comics: the retailer Brian Hibbs has stopped watching the television show Heroes because of its comic book shop scenes. I'm not a fan of the show or a viewer, but it seems like there's always been a tension with that program between appealing to hardcore comics readers and exhibiting a slight degree of contempt for them, no matter where their intentions lie.

* finally, the blogger and writer Kevin Church has posted another of his odd panels-out-of-context offerings, this one featuring a shirtless and impressively buff Mr. Fantastic. One of the odder things about Marvel Comics when I was a kid was how they kept insisting this largely unpleasant scientist guy with rubber superpowers was one of the most impressive and flat-out wonderful people on the planet. This just didn't scan for eight-year-old me. If you go back and read the Lee/Kirby issues he's pushed with almost Greg Gagne intensity, to the point that the other teammates at times invoke his name simply for the awesomeness of being reminded of the guy.
 
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Happy 45th Birthday, Lea Hernandez!

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Happy 91st Birthday, Joaquin Cervantes Bassoco!

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Happy 44th Birthday, Gerolf Van ce Perre!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Simon Pierre Mbumbo!

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Happy 42nd Birthday, Marc Bourgne!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Eric Stalner!

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Happy 64th Birthday, Jean-Yves Mitton!

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Quick hits
Craft
I'd Never Noticed This But It's Cool

Exhibits/Events
Breccia Honored In Paris
This Tom Neely Drawing Made Me Laugh

History
On Rorschach's Appeal
Remembering Bill and Ted
Walt Simonson in Marvel Age

Industry
When We'll Know Comics Are Mainstream

Interviews/Profiles
On Dave McKean
Neatorama: Adam Koford
Newsarama: Frank Quitely

Not Comics
Anonymous Review Of Tales Of The Black Freighter

Reviews
Wim Lockefeer: Marzi
Graeme McMillan: Various
Noah Berlatsky: Future Shocks
Leroy Douresseaux: Sulk Vol. 1
Katherine Dacey: The Adventures of Araknid
Leroy Douresseaux: Oshinbo A La Carte: Sake
Sean T. Collins: Snake 'n' Bacon's Cartoon Cabaret
Greg McElhatton: Doctor Who: The Whispering Gallery
 

 
March 10, 2009


CR Newsmaker: Kim Thompson On Fantagraphics Publishing Jacques Tardi

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I learned recently that Fantagraphics has entered into a long-range publishing arrangement to bring Jacques Tardi to English-language readers through a series of books, the first of which will come out this summer. This is interesting to me for a few reasons. One, Tardi is one of the great cartoonists. Two, I don't think any of his work is currently available in English, or what is is older work kind of playing out the publishing string. Three, he has a reputation of being sort of been sales death or at least sales long and debilitating nap in previous incarnations over here, and I can think of at least four publishers who have given him a shot. Fourth, this move would be made more in the spirit of arts comics publishing as we've come to understand it the last few years -- in other words, no serialization, and whatever comes out, well, we'll get whatever comes out.

Since one of my New Year's resolutions is to make a bigger deal of publishing announcements that I think will lead to people getting access to great comics, and because I have Kim Thompson's e-mail, here's their letter and then a short follow-up interview with the publisher, editor, translator and big Tardi fan.

Announcement:
This summer, Fantagraphics will launch an ongoing series of hardcover books presenting the works of the legendary French cartoonist Jacques Tardi.

The first two books will be West Coast Blues (Le Petit bleu de la Cote Ouest), a hard-boiled crime thriller adapted by Tardi from the novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette, and You Are Here (Ici Meme), a satirical, surreal story written for Tardi by Barbarella creator Jean-Claude Forest that many consider one of the first true French graphic novels. Both will be released simultaneously, in what series editor Kim Thompson calls a "double-pronged shock-and-awe assault on the American readership, to immediately show off Tardi's range."

Planned for Spring 2010 is the graphic album World War I-theme It Was the War of the Trenches, chapters of which had previously appeared in RAW and Drawn and Quarterly magazines during the 1980s and 1990s.

"Tardi has always been one of my top favorite European cartoonists," said Thompson, who will also be translating the books. "I've wanted to do this for many years -- pretty much as long as we've been publishing -- and I think the time is ripe. In today's graphic-novel world, the audience is finally ready for Tardi."

Tardi's best known creation is the saturnine early-20th Century heroine Adele Blanc-Sec, the first two of whose nine (to date) adventures were released by Dark Horse and NBM in the early 1980s. (A series of Adele Blanc-Sec movies is currently being prepared by French filmmaker and comics buff Luc Besson.) American readers may also remember Tardi's "Nestor Burma" stories (based upon stories by French crime writer Leo Malet), the first of which was serialized in the Fantagraphics anthology Graphic Story Monthly in the 1980s, and the second of which was released as a graphic album by iBooks two decades later -- or Tardi's multiple appearances in RAW magazine. All of these, as well as NBM's Cockroach Killer and the hardboiled detective story Griffu (written by Manchette for Tardi) which appeared in the Fantagraphics anthology Pictopia, have been out of print for years.

Tardi has won every French cartooning award in existence including the Grand Prize of Angouleme, and has created over 30 graphic novels in a wide variety of genres. He continues to produce work to this day at a pace that puts his contemporaries to shame, including last year's World War I story Putain de guerre, 2006's satirical thriller Le Secret de l'etrangleur, and the epic 300-page Le Cri du people, set in 1871's Paris Commune. He is currently working on two new projects, including another World War I volume and an adaptation of a third Manchette-written crime thriller. He lives in Paris with his wife and his cats.
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Short Interview With Kim Thompson:

TOM SPURGEON: A real nuts and bolts question to start: can you describe the parameters of the project -- what we'll get and when? Is there someone with whom you're working on the project, or is it being done in-house? If in-house, who is the point person and who is the designer? Is Tardi involved?

KIM THOMPSON: We will launch the project with the simultaneous release of West Coast Blues (Le Petit bleu de la cote ouest) and You Are Here (Ici Meme); they're scheduled for release in August/September, and I hope to be able to premiere them at this year's San Diego Comic-Con. Then we'll follow up with It Was The War Of The Trenches next summer.

I'm the editor and translator of the project, and Adam Grano will be designing. I'm in direct contact with Tardi, and he'll be involved as little or as much as he wants to be. I like to get foreign cartoonists as involved as possible, including vetting the translations if they speak English, but generally they seem quite happy with what I do and their role is reduced to, basically, saying "looks good to me."

I do hope to lure him to the U.S. for a convention in 2010. I know San Diego Comic-Con is very keen on it.

SPURGEON: How easy or difficult has it been when putting stuff together from production standpoint? Were there any projects that were outsized or difficult to process? Didn't Tardi recently do a project on fake newspaper broadsheets?

THOMPSON: Almost all of Tardi's books are standard European format, actually, and the few that aren't are not on my immediate "to do" list anyway. He and his publisher used the newspaper broadsheets format to serialize his two most recent books, but both were designed to later fit into the standard format -- the broadsheets were totally a pre-publication device that didn't affect the format of the final work at all.

SPURGEON: Can you describe Tardi's place in his own culture's comics firmament? I have a better sense of how several artists are seen over how Tardi is seen. What is admired about his work in Europe? How is he viewed by the subsequent generations of talented cartoonists?

THOMPSON: I think it's safe to say that Tardi is considered one of the grandmasters of his generation, someone of such commanding skill and breadth of achievement that he's sui generis. I'd almost have to go outside the world of comics and say he's maybe like the Martin Scorsese of European comics. He not only draws beautifully but draws with tremendous effectiveness as a cartoonist, which is a rare combination -- his work is beautiful but not necessarily pretty. Many cartoonists who draw what I'll call "realistically" as opposed to "cartoony" lose the punch and efficacy of the best "funny" cartooning, but he manages to combine the best of both.

I'm pretty sure Tardi is as revered by later generations of European cartoonists in the same way that Crumb is revered by American cartoonists.

What's interesting is that a lot of Tardi's work is genre fiction -- certainly far more than in the U.S. where "adult" cartoonists tend to look down their nose at genre fiction. I once had an American cartoonist I was trying to urge to read a Tardi book sniff, "I don't read detective stories." I think it's part and parcel of the French understanding that high and low art aren't separated by any particularly huge gulf, so Tardi can draw a surreal satire like You Are There or a World War I "reportage" like War of the Trenches on one hand, and a series of kick-ass crime stories on the other, and it's all on the same level. But, you know, Truffaut's first movie was The 400 Blows and his second movie was Shoot the Piano Player. Is there any cinephile who would rank The 400 Blows better purely because serious, low-key autobiographical material is inherently superior to a crime movie?

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SPURGEON: I couldn't possibly say. Hey, why have previous efforts to publish Tardi in North America failed? What makes you think this one will succeed?

THOMPSON: I think there were a variety of reasons. Part of it is just timing, I think that between the continuing, aggressive efforts of Drawn and Quarterly, First Second, and NBM, readers are getting more comfortable with the European style of storytelling. And this is going to sound arrogant, but I think we may succeed because we'll do a better job, both in the execution of the books (thanks to, uh, well, me and Adam Grano) and the promotion of the books (thanks to Eric Reynolds) and second because Fantagraphics has a sort of built-in "hey, I should check this out" factor.

But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I worry that there's something so inherently European about Tardi that American audiences might find him hard to digest. I've found some American fans seem to like his work better in principle and theory than actually having to read it.

SPURGEON: How complete a picture do we American comics fan have of Tardi? What do you think might surprise us? Has anything surprised you, now that you've had your hands on this material?

THOMPSON: I've read pretty much every single Tardi book as it has come out ever since the 1980s, so there are no surprises for me. I think You Are Here will surprise Tardi fans at least in terms of content.

An American Tardi fan who doggedly tracked down all his work starting in RAW and the Fantagraphics anthologies and going through the Adele Blanc-Sec books from NBM all the way to the recent iBooks release The Bloody Streets of Paris probably has a pretty good idea of his range.

SPURGEON: Why aren't you doing the Adele material? Isn't there going to be a movie adaptation of that soon? It seems that would be a great tie-in.

THOMPSON: First, I wanted to start out with something fresh and previously unseen in the U.S. (which is why I put War of the Trenches third instead of first), and the first couple of Adele books have been published here. You can still find them on Amazon. Second, there is what I call the popularity paradox, which is that sometimes the most popular French work is the hardest to sell as compared to the "art" comics because the more mainstream work loses some of its "alternative" audience without replacing it with a "mainstream" audience. So Adele, with its playful Euro adventure tropes, is in some ways less accessible to American readers than, say, Trenches. It's why we can publish a successful Epileptic in the U.S. but not a successful Lucky Luke. (Granted that some books straddle all categories, like Persepolis, a classic "art" book and mainstream success all at once.)

That said, Adele is on my long-term list, but I've got at least three or four more books beyond the first three I'd like to do first.

SPURGEON: One of the things that struck me looking at the scans you sent over is how confident Tardi is in using a variety of panel and page structure to communicate his stories. The work grips. Is there a distinct Tardi approach to pacing and page design, do you think? Would there be a tradition to which he belongs?

THOMPSON: "Confident" is a really good word for Tardi. You look at his work and it just exudes this "I know exactly what I want to do and how to do it" authority. I think he's actually a hybrid of traditional European cartooning (including a strong "clear line" sensibility, especially in his early work) and the dynamics of American cartooning. This may come as a huge surprise to Americans, but one of his idols is Joe Kubert (when I talked to him one of the first things he asked was where he could get a copy of our Kubert biography Man of Rock), and if you think Enemy Ace and look at Tardi, especially the World War I stuff, you can see the kinship -- a bit like the way Frank Robbins influenced Hugo Pratt. Or McManus influenced Herge.

SPURGEON: Another thing that struck me in your samples is the lettering -- it seems like it would be really important to the overall visual feel of the piece. How was the lettering done?

THOMPSON: Ninety-eight percent of the lettering will be done using a Tardi font we're creating -- actually, two Tardi fonts, one for his earlier work and one for his later, looser work. The other two percent, "effects" lettering, people yelling, longhand correspondence (a chunk of You Are Here's narration is done that way) which can't be done convincingly using fonts, will be hand lettered by Rich Tommaso.

SPURGEON: I have to ask this of anyone starting a new project: are there concerns specific to this project about the economy -- perhaps in terms of extra production costs or forces that might hit an audience you perceive to be an effective one for the work?

THOMPSON: No. European comics used to be horrifically expensive to do because you had to start by paying a normal royalty and then add in the translation costs, the hand-lettering costs, and lots of film stripping. Translation isn't costing us anything except the sweat of my brow, lettering using a font is far cheaper than hand lettering, and everything is digital. As far as the economy goes, I think it'll adversely affect everything across the board -- possibly a few superstar cartoonists will be immune, but I think most will suffer and most will suffer about equally.

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Marvel Pursuing More LJ Image Usage?

I don't know what to make of this article about Marvel moving past the Scan_Daily site's use of Marvel material to target other livejournal users. I wasn't even able to confirm it this morning. So there it is, but be careful. I also have no idea what this would mean. I would imagine the bulk of Internet personal site image usage falls under Fair Use, but I'm not 100 percent sure that's an accurate description of how people use Marvel stuff or just something I'm fashioning in my head.
 
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Countdown Is On For Print Seattle P-I

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Editor & Publisher picked up on a mention in a David Horsey interview that the final print edition of Seattle's Post-Intelligencer should be out in the next week or so. In fact, today is the final day for the paper to find a buyer, which never seemed likely. Horsey has apparently been employed by Hearst rather than the P-I in recent years, so his work will continue although now he'll supply all of the Hearst papers including whatever on-line form the P-Inow takes.

While I'm glad for the Pultizer Prize-winning Horsey and Seattle-based fans of his work, the actual news depresses me. The P-I ran my strip on-line and in its Sunday paper, for which I'll always be grateful. Dozens of cartoonist are going to lose a solid, high-paying client, and now that the Times (itself in trouble) no longer has to compete for the best strips no one will have their strip purchased just to keep it out of the other paper's hands and the survivor is free to cut their strips without the P-I using it as a competitive leverage point. In addition, the P-I had a really easy to access on-line archive of comics that I can't imagine will survive intact into the on-line only iteration.

Another thing that strikes me about the P-I closing is that unlike problems at some newspapers where some idiot or band of idiots bought the publication at hugely leveraged prices and cuts are about the balance sheet rather than keeping the institution solvent, Seattle seems more a lesson in the newspaper being historically outmoded. When I got to Seattle in the 1990s I really liked the way the papers were set up. The P-I came out in the morning and was a decent enough rag to consume over breakfast. Then the Times came out in the evening and you got basically a full report on what happened out East during the business day and what seemed like a lot more heavy hitters columnist- and feature writer-wise to have a nice afternoon coffee sit down. With The Stranger being a pretty good free weekly and the Seattle Weekly acting as the bloated and pleased-with-itself free weekly (this has changed over the years and is undoubtedly not an accurate description now), I thought Seattle had it all. But with shifting readership habits, changes in the way everyone advertises, the failure of newspapers to change their staffing model or up productivity on the content side in the Internet age, the decision in general by newspapers to chase the broadest readership no matter what, and the decision in general by newspapers to regard themselves as service providers rather than the providers of a particular service, and none of what's happening now surprises. It sure depresses, though.

Update: A few Seattle readers have written in to say that word on the street is that the last print edition will come out tomorrow.
 
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Because Everyone Should Have An Imaginary Friend Who Deep Down Would Rather Be Elsewhere

People may like this; I found it icky.
 
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Go, Look: Three By Richard Thompson

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Magazine Distribution War Ends Like Many Modern Wars: With Lawsuits

There's a fine article up at the comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com that sums up a recent magazine distribution war which was more like a street fight with a lot of people looking on. Anderson News, which sought to raise the fee on monies per publication and went to the mattresses to do so, has been shut down and its primary clients are now looking to force it into a more formal bankruptcy so as to better recover money they're owed. Source Interlink has also settled a recent lawsuit. The article reports slight delays in some comics that move through those channels, but nothing major. I would imagine that the bigger concerns are slow industry decline that is slowly crushing companies and any strain put on an industry that may be historical obsolete in many ways.
 
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Go, Look: John Stanley's Bridget

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Go, Look: More Tom Gauld Sketches

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Go, Look: Max Estes Is Crafty

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Go, Look: Horror-Era Plastic Man

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* our condolences to Neil Gaiman on his personal loss and our thoughts and prayers are with the ailing Al Feldstein and his affected loved ones.

image* the writer Jeffrey Klaehn re-presents some of his retailer panel discussion from I think Fall 2008. There seems to be a ton of good stuff in there, including a brief history of the Direct Market. I can't get this link to load, but it was there yesterday so maybe it comes back. Its explanation of the essential problems facing prose book publishing seemed to be a lot like the roundtable's explanation of basic Direct Market issues.

* not comics: if I'm reading this correctly, Marjane Satrapi will be providing art for the cover of Iggy Pop's next album.

* the Penny Arcade guys were recognized by the Washington state legislature by a proclamation celebrating their fine charity work.

* finally, the writer Valerie D'Orazio and her readers have begun tallying the number of women working in comics by listing those with work coming out in a two-month window. I did something similar years ago -- I might have gone a bit wider than these folks will go -- and I had a similar reaction to many of the folks participating this time: not as many as I'd hoped but definitely more than I'd thought.
 
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Happy 44th Birthday, Faruken Bayraktare!

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Quick hits
Craft
Darryl Cunningham Draws Vern and Lettuce

History
Great Site
Hulk Vs. Freddie Prinze Jr.
Remembering Archie Goodwin

Interviews/Profiles
Seanazz: Oli Smith
The Star: Helen McCarthy
Newsarama: Dan Jurgens
2000 AD Review: Dan Abnett

Not Comics
This Is Entertainingly Insane
What Shakespeare Looked Like

Publishing
What Makes A Success?

Reviews
Paul O'Brien: Various
Andrew Wheeler: Various
Ed Sizemore: Arkham Woods
Greg McElhatton: R.E.B.E.L.S. #1
Johanna Draper Carlson: Various
Philip Schweier: Plaid Avenger #1
Koppy McFad: Solomon Grundy #1
Leroy Douresseaux: Hellblazer #251
Leroy Douresseaux: Hellblazer #252
Leroy Douresseaux: Clear Skies! Vol. 2
Sean Kleefeld: Too Cool To Be Forgotten
Leroy Douresseaux: Rosario + Vampire Vol. 6
 

 
March 9, 2009


Go, Read: Romancing The Stones

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posted 10:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
John Carbonaro, 1950-2009

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Bob Sodaro reports that the comics publisher and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents comic book rights hold John Carbonaro passed away late last month. Mark Evanier broke the story more widely here.

Carbonaro was a long-time comics fans who purchased The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents characters during the first, prolonged surge of the Direct Market for comic books. Those characters were created in 1965 by Wally Wood for Tower Publishing in an effort to capitalize on renewed interest in the superhero comic book. While some of the creative efforts grew to be fondly remember, the line was gone by the end of the decade. Carbonaro purchased publishing and ownership rights through his JC Productions.

Carbonaro published a black-and-white, magazine-sized comic featuring his new characters and then I believe two regular-sized, black and white comics. He then licensed the characters to Archie, who would publish a few issues themselves. The late publisher's 1980s heyday may be remembered more for his protracted legal and business struggle with one-time business acquaintance David Singer. This included proving that the characters belonged to him rather than existing in the public domain, due to a lack of copyright notice in the original publications. Carbonaro sued Singer in 1984, winning in 1987 via a decision that allowed him not only that which he claimed to already own but Singer's publications feature those creators. The late '80s were a different time than the early '80s, and after a brief deal with Apple that never came to fruition was partnered with the late George Caragonne and his company and then later the comics carrying the Penthouse imprint. That partnership ended with Caragonne's suicide. The most recent expression of those characters was in archived editions of the original material published by DC Comics.

Carbonaro lived in Texas and California. He was 58 years old.
 
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Go, Look: Scott Campbell's Home Slice

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And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #27

* the book chain Borders, one of the big ones of its type in the US and a key player in the explosive growth of manga this decade, cut a number of jobs late last week. I think what may surprise some people is what this tells us about how many folks Borders is employing overall -- that might have been lost with the chain being sick for a while now. A lot of people to whom I've spoken about Borders recently say that they were the drivers of a massive amount of returned material in January, which if true could be another dangers sign for the beleaguered retailer.

* I meant to get to this one earlier, and I may have in a way I'm just not able to find right. The point is important enough it bears repeating. As much as the failure of newspapers like Rocky Mountain News and (potentially) the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has an impact on the comics page by being big clients and competitors for other papers in their respective markets, you are likely to see as many comics dropped in the next year or so from newspapers adjusting their orders.

* here's a provisional breakdown of an online-only Post-Intelligencer and the various projects that may be competing with same for staffed positions. On the one hand, this is as brutal a cutback as I can imagine, which is actually a good thing in that a big worry about companies trying an Internet version of a print publication is their ability to pare staff. On the other hand, do editors at an on-line publication really need to outnumber the reporters by 50 percent. That seems kind of crazy to me.

* finally, the other Seattle standard newspaper isn't doing so well either.
 
posted 3:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: 327-Year-Old Illustrations

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Your 2009 Nominees For That Comic Most Adaptable Into A Film Version Award

imageMaybe my favorite award in all of comics for providing a structure and a name to a comics-industry obsession that has little to do with the nature of the art itself, the Forum International Cinema et Litterature has announced the nominees for this year's Prix de la Meilleure BD adaptable au cinema.

* Quelques jours ensemble, Alcante/Montgermont (Dupuis)
* Tamara Drewe, Posy Simmonds (Denoel Graphic)
* Esthetique et filatures, Lisa Mandel (Casterman)
* Le Roi des mouches, Mezzo / Pirus (Drugstore/Glenat)
* Undercurrent, Tetsuya Toyoda (Kana)

The committee includes heavy hitters Philippe Druillet, Charles Berberian and Clement Oubrerie. The prize winner will be announced in Monaco the weekend after next.
 
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OTBP: Swipe File

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Nat Hentoff On NAACP Delonas Umbrage

E&P notes an article by Nat Hentoff on the NAACP's call for a boycott of the New York Post based on their publication of a Sean Delonas cartoon that mixed a recent story about a chimp and the stimulus bill. Hentoff, a noted First Amendment advocate, criticizes the group for not fostering a healthier internal debate including the censure of those in attendance who felt that a call for boycott was completely unnecessary.
 
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Drew Friedman Draws Joplin And Crumb

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Watching The Watchmen Watchers 10: I Imagine This Could Be The Last One

* the box office expectations game is one of the most depressing things in the entertainment industry and American mainstream culture generally, as it puts a huge emphasis on initial performance, financial performance in general, and a film "disappoints" according to standards that might not have been fair to begin and the wisdom of which are almost never questioned. To use two comics examples, as I recall the Garfield movie made more money than Sin City by just about any measure you'd care to name, but the latter film had a better industry-success storyline based in part on the expectations game and a strong opening weekend. Anyhow, ICv2.com has the expectations-soaked report card for the Watchmen film: big opening, still not up to what some industry people thought it might do and not a film that shows classic signs of momentum that would make for a strong week two or overall hit status. Foreign markets seem positive thus far; those tend to be a significant factor in propelling these films over the line into profitability no matter where conventional wisdom settles on how an individual movie did in the US.

* in case you missed it, I reviewed the film here. I received two letters on that review yesterday morning, here and here.

* this time next week someone will likely address the issue of extended "director's cut" releases of the film. I suppose if it tanks in week two, with a loss of box office over 75 percent, this might be called into question to the point someone will write about it. That's a huge, amateurish guess on my part and my personal hunch is that these extras will happen as long as the company believes there's a hardcore audience that will embrace it.

* I also imagine it's entirely possible you see a mini-rush on articles the next couple of days where papers are burning off pieces that might have been held in anticipation that the film was going to do so well that it would be a big, big story for film going into next weekend as opposed to a story of interest.

* the writer John Horn, who's done probably the best work on the film in terms of its coverage path up to its release, turns in the third of his three articles on the movie: a interview/profile of David Hayter. One thing worth noting is Hayter's description as to what the movie is about, which seems to me fairly convincing given what's on screen.
 
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Go, Look: Cold Heat Returns

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Go, Look: Short Frazetta Appreciation

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Go, Look: Holly's Hobby

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Go, Look: Tomi Ungerer Posters

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posted 2:43 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the best of this last Sunday's feature articles on comics and comics-related discussions was the Chicago Tribune's profile of the great Lynda Barry. I even like the photo of Barry they used, which is worth the click-through all on its own.

image* the critic Ken Parille has a nice, short essay up on an Alex Nino comic book where Nino changes the way he draws certain faces, not something you tend to see in a mainstream comic book field that values staying on model.

* the writer and critic Jeet Heer draws attention to a recording of that recent Chris Ware/Marjane Satrapi discussion. I haven't listened to it yet, but it'd basically have to be composed of nothing but shrieks, gun shots and drum solos for it not to be of interest.

* the writer Johanna Draper Carlson notes the opening of the Comic Art Indigene show over the weekend, and expresses a potential best outcome for such a exhibition.

* finally, American Profiles has a feature up on Jim Davis. AP is one of those inside-the-Sunday-paper supplements, focusing on what I'd describe as Americana. I liked this piece because it's fact-driven, and although I can't speak to the veracity of all those facts, it's a basic profile of Davis as I've come to understand him. It even includes Gnorm Gnat.
 
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Happy 33rd Birthday, Ivan Grubanov!

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Happy 57th Birthday, Rick Burchett!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Mike Kazaleh!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Kevin Herault!

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Happy 49th Birthday, Jose Grandmont!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Alain Maury!

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posted 2:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Quick hits
Craft
Matthew Clark Sketches

Exhibits/Events
On Speaking With Jerry Robinson

History
White Field Covers
The '90s Were Clearly Insane
Old School Letter-Hacks Were Clearly Insane

Industry
2008 Archie Sales Figure

Interviews/Profiles
Seven Impossible Things: Dave McKean

Not Comics
Book Publishing Is Gross
Charles Yoakum on Watchmen
The Use Of Wipes In Star Wars
The Boutique Toy Industry Is Weird

Publishing
Evan Dorkin Ruminates
The Klondike Previewed
National Lampoon Staggering
Jeff Smith Covers Indie Spinner Rack Volume

Reviews
Rod Lott: Supermen!
Tucker Stone: Various
Mark Evanier: Humbug
Richard Bruton: Various
Chris Butcher: A Drifting Life
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Noah's Ark
John Mitchell: Wet Moon Vol. 4
Sandy Bilus: Johnny Boo Vol. 2
Greg McElhatton: R.E.B.E.L.S. #1
Don MacPherson: Smuggling Spirits
Johanna Draper Carlson: Aria Vol. 4
Johanna Draper Carlson: Luuna Vol. 1
Sean T. Collins: The Exterminators Vol. 1
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Tales of the TMNT #56
Johanna Draper Carlson: Showcase Presents Strange Adventures
John Mitchell: The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation
 

 
March 8, 2009


How I Spent Will Eisner Week

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I guess last week was Will Eisner Week. I didn't know how to post about it -- the whole thing confused me. I was sort of hanging back to see how some of my peers dealt with it, but since none of them really did either I ended up not having anything of substance posted. I feel bad about that, but it's not like I'm any less confused as to what that event was all about. I liked Mr. Eisner and he's an industry giant, but I'm not sure why we needed a week to celebrate his life, works and interests. I'm not averse to someone making that case, but I don't feel anyone did, and I was waiting for it. My bad.

I did think about Will Eisner some last week while waiting for the heads-up that never came. I looked at his Expressive Anatomy for Comics and Narrative, which has to be one of the most overlooked comics-related works of the recent past. In general I like what Norton's done with his books. I don't get the sense that anyone I know is even reading them. I'm sure they sell because they're Norton. Still, it's odd how Eisner's presence has kind of shrunk from comics' core culture at the same time all these lovely editions of his later works are coming out.

The primary way Eisner danced across my mind the last seven days is that I recalled an impression of the man arising from my own brief encounters over the years. It's a purely selfish way of looking at things, one that comics people indulge in a lot -- "this is how my personal path crossed this person's path" becomes the primary mode for parsing a cartoonist's death, supplanting "this is what this person did" -- but I have to admit that's where my head went. One of the things I liked about Mr. Eisner is that he seemed to enjoy being around comics and comics folk more than most people, certainly more than the few of his peers you'd see at similar functions. He was always picking through stuff and talking to artists. He was good at greeting people. I guess there's a cynical way of looking at that, that it's hard not to enjoy an atmosphere where people are constantly reminding you how awesome you are, but I thought there was something instructive about how he took those things as they came to him and seemed pleased to be wherever he was. I remember some dopey panel I saw him on in one of those rooms at San Diego the size of a Tokyo apartment. He was up there with three academics I couldn't name to stop an alien invasion, all the time fighting to get to speak his piece with as much enthusiasm as any of them. We should all have such fun with our respective third acts, and a week where we take time to appreciate just where we are and the opportunity we have to interact with this great, emerging art form, that doesn't sound like such a bad thing.
 
posted 3:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
FFF Results Post #154 -- Go, Team!

On Friday, CR Readers Were Asked To "Identify Five Fictional Sports Teams From The Comics In A Way That Doesn't Include The Name Of The Comic." This Is How They Responded.

*****

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Tom Spurgeon

1. Milford High Mudlarks
2. Gotham Goliaths
3. The Shohoku High School Basketball Team
4. Charlie Brown's Baseball Team
5. The Stars of David

*****

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Buzz Dixon

1 - Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu aka School of Indiscriminate Grappling aka Anything Goes Martial Arts
2 - The Estes Kefauver Fighting Kangaroos
3 - The Dingsburg Professional Bowling League
4 - The Mystery Cow
5 - Team Rocket

*****

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Mark Coale

1. Skokie Skullcrushers
2. Smallville High School football team
3. Metropolis Meteors
4. Opal City Corsairs
5. Braalian Magno-Ball team

*****

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Tom Bondurant

1. Walden College Fighting Swooshes
2. Metropolis Monarchs
3. Rokk Krinn's magno-ball team
4. Skokie Skullcrushers
5. Keystone City Combines

*****

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Dave Knott

* Walden College football squad
* Westview Scapegoats
* Woodstock's bird bath ice hockey team
* Metropolis Meteors
* Toronto Grizzlies

*****

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Grant Goggans

1. Melchester Rovers
2. Harlem Heroes
3. Harlem Hellcats
4. Burmington City FC
5. The Walden College football team

*****

someday I'll pitch that shutout

*****
*****
 
posted 2:30 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
First Thought Of The Day

The Wire is an all-time TV drama. It might be the all-time drama for sure if it didn't telegraph future plot points so heavily. It might be anyway.
 
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March 7, 2009


CR Week In Review

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The top comics-related news stories from February 28 to March 6, 2009:

1. Ted May suspends Injury, his comic book effort aimed at the Direct Market, because they don't want his kind of low-selling comic book anymore.
2. Two more editorial cartoonists lose/leave gigs.
3. Watchmen movie opening brings flood of attention to graphic novel.

Winner Of The Week
Creators Syndicate: I don't even know if it's a good deal, but new models are a rare enough thing I'd note it for that alone.

Loser Of The Week
LA Weekly

Quote Of The Week
"But the more comic book movies I see, the more I value the imaginative space created by books." -- Ta-Nehisi Coates

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

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If I Were Near Wherever The Heck This Thing Is, I'd Go To It

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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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Happy 50th Birthday, Maester!

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Next Week In Comics-Related Events

March 14
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Happy 42nd Birthday, Ai Yazawa!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Cully Hamner!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Michel Blanc-Dumont!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Peter Gross!

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Happy 26th Birthday, Jan-Roman Pikula!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Andy Park!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Florence Magnin!

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Happy 31st Birthday, Ben Templesmith!

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Your Say, Our Platform: LOC Highlights

* Frank Santoro On Too Many Birthdays
 
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Sometimes I Post Stuff For My Brothers



as seen lots of places they don't go
 
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March 6, 2009


Friday Distraction: Joao Ruas

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at least I think that's what this is
 
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Creators Scores Five-Paper Exclusive

This story about Creators Syndicate scoring a five-paper exclusive comics-supplying deal with Canada's Sun papers strikes me as a bigger deal on a second glance. First, this is a model that while I'm not sure is new, is not something I could tell you about happening in any other paper or group of papers. Second, it seems like a strongly appealing model given the potential savings in production and what I assume is something worked out between syndicate and newspaper. Third, although I'm sure Creators would disagree, theirs is not the strongest overall syndicated line-up. It's like if your cable provider decided that one network is going to supply all the programming, and it ended up being one of the smaller groups of stations that got the deal. This makes it an even more impressive deal.
 
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Go, Look: Fancy-Ass Presentation Of Spring 2009 Abrams ComicArts Catalog

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Watching The Watchmen Watchers 09: Grady Hendrix And Frank Santoro

* the writer and critic Jeet Heer pulls out Frank Santoro's concise appraisal of Watchmen's importance because it deserves to be pulled out and examined.

* this quote from Peter Travers' review makes me think we might have some sort of Jeffy Draws The Strip situation going on: "You have to go back to the comic to learn that the freaks in Watchmen are not only for geeks, maybe that's not so bad. Just sayin'." In general I enjoy film review quotes that sound like they were made by a middle-aged man holding a bong in his lap. Here's a no-nonsense negative review by AO Scott.

image* as far as general coverage, it seems to be all over but the comedic youtube videos. And Rick Purdin's sketchbook, from which the image at left, Alan Moore by Brian Ralph, is taken.

* as far as the movie reviews have gone, at least in aggregate measure, continuing yesterday's trends the overall reviews have settled in positive/negative fashion in the 60s and the top critics (critics you stand a greater chance to have heard of) has stayed in the 40s, both respectable numbers for a movie like this one and a general reaction I can't imagine will have any effect on box office.

* and...?

* the Grady Hendrix article at Slate has a halfway decent chance of causing howls around the superhero-centric Internet. I do think there's a pair of decent arguments in there. The first is how the mainstream companies and creators only reacted to the surface qualities of the work and how with Dark Knight this led to years and years of generally constipated, ridiculous, death-obsessed funnybooks. The second is how the fantastic, even hopeful elements of the superhero concept have outstripped this best attempt at laying them bare to the point that movie itself may be a celebration of things which the book criticized. I have sympathy for both of those points of view. In fact, as to the second, you could argue that Watchmen got away from Alan Moore almost immediately if you compare his take on Rorschach (a stunted human turned near-serial killer with a mask) to the how readers embraced the guy (an uncompromising ass-kicker that always has your back and is able to scare people in bars which would be awesome).

The great weakness of the piece is that it inelegantly defines Watchmen strictly as a superhero work, and comic books as superhero books. This is a general problem that yields specific difficulties when analyzing Watchmen because the attention paid to that work was as both a/the great superhero work and one of the superhero genre's main contributions to a growing body of comics works that adults could read without feeling dumber after the experience. My memory is that the book was as frequently paired with Maus as it was with Dark Knight. Although Big Numbers gets a mention, I think more attention could have been paid to the wider story where the medium simply wasn't ready to handle sustained attention based on the merits of the quality new work being released. We got a couple of great Michael Dougan books out of that time, but comics was still at the point where a group of good books would cycle through every three or four years rather than every other week. In other words, it wasn't Watchmen's failure, it was everyone's.
 
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If I Were In Minnesota, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In DC, I'd Go To This

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If I Were In Virginia, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Cool Process Animation On The Rick Veitch Commissions Page

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Go, Look: Who Am I?

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Go, Look: '50s Playboy Cartoons

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Go, Look: Cinderola & The 3 Bears

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Two Kochalka Videogame Reviews

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I guess the cynical way to read this press release is that Wizard Entertainment has finally fired enough people they can fit everyone that is left into their New York City sales office, but that would be mean. I think it's good for a magazine to be in New York City proper, and wish them luck.

image* the writer Douglas Wolk scans the shelves at the Hicksville lighthouse for books that were announced in an Amazing Heroes Preview Special but then never existed. For those of you too young to remember the Amazing Heroes Preview Special it was sort of like having the bulk of your comics Internet activity show up in print form at your comic shop a few times a year.

* not comics: Dave Astor, who provided so much solid coverage of comics for years at Editor & Publisher will have his humor column appear under the Huffington Post umbrella, or whatever string of English words applies to that sort of relationship.

* apparently Kurt Busiek sporting a Green Lantern ring scares very few people, while Warren Ellis with that same ring scares many people. It must be Friday.

* finally, everyone interested in the ins and outs of the comics business should read this short interview with Fantagraphics' Eric Reynolds, where he expounds on some of the points concerning the Diamond minimums he originally made back in January when they were announced. It's true as Reynolds claims that most folks other than the big companies were moving away from the cheaper comics significantly affected by the new minimum order levels. I think it's good for people to realize that. My objections -- which aren't in opposition to anything Reynolds says, but maybe come from a different vantage point and thus sport a different emphasis -- are in the nature of the standard applied (the "fairness" of establishing levels as opposed to the "burden" of working supplier to supplier) and in the irrevocable nature of the move. While the trend has been a move away from alternative and independent comic books, I'm not convinced the market for comics has settled in a way that options should be eliminated. I'm totally confident Fantagraphics has a vision for its publishing future that may or may not include pamphlet-style comics. I get no sense of any picture of the future at all coming from Diamond.
 
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Happy 45th Birthday, Lee Eun-hye!

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Happy 34th Birthday, Gerald Parel!

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Happy 37th Birthday, Cristiano Spadavecchia!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Jorge Santamaria!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Giovanni Crivello!

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Happy 59th Birthday, Belom!

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Happy 51st Birthday, Marianne Duvivier!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Juan Ortiz!

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Quick hits
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Not Comics
Other Jobs For Neil Gaiman
Comic Book Movies He'd Like To See
Charles Yoakum Reviews Watchmen Movie
No Word On Marmacock, Dog With Giant Cock

Publishing
List Of Best Webcomics
Clockwork Comics Ends
Netcomics Announces New Titles
Wolverton Bible Project Spotlighted

Reviews
KC Carlson: Sam's Strip
Valerie D'Orazio: Youngblood #8
Patrick Berube: Atomic Robo Vol. 2
Greg McElhatton: Why I Killed Peter
Sean T. Collins: Ultimate Spider-Man #131
Leroy Douresseaux: Vampire Knight Vol. 6
Don MacPherson: Ultimate Hulk Vs. Wolverine #3
Richard Bruton: There's No Time Like The Present
 

 
March 5, 2009


Missed It: Short Film On The Closure Of The Rocky Mountain News


Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.
 
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Go, Look: Jeffrey Brown's Blog

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New York Times Starts Helpful Bestseller List Despite Saddling It With Stupid Name, Vague Process

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Given the overall state of their industry and the specific money traumas it has right now, it's almost encouraging to see the Grand Old Paper make the very, very New York Times semi-subtle implication that they've just made comics mainstream. Still: lists!

That clicking sound you hear on the Internet is comics people reading this list trying to find out what the hell The Courtyard is.
 
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Ted Rall Responds To My Charge That Better Arguments Are Needed On Behalf Of Editorial Cartoonists

Current AAEC President Ted Rall sent this in this morning, in response to the top item here.

Ted Rall: I couldn't agree more with you: the AAEC and other cartoonists organizations need hard data that demonstrate the value of editorial cartoons, comics and graphic arts to newspapers, online publications, etc. I have been working toward that goal for several years within the AAEC. What is lacking is money.

Yes, money. Among other things, we need to hire a professional polling organization to conduct a scientifically sound reader survey to study readers' attitudes towards cartooning. Such surveys cost $20,000 or more -- not that much money objectively, but we're a small organization and haven't been able to budget the funds. In short, it's not that we don't know what needs to be done. The trouble is figuring out how to come up with the cash to do it.

You challenged me to come up with five examples of newspaper-cartoonist relationships that work. I could point to scores! The problem is that no cartoonist and no newspaper wants to discuss the details of their businesses, including the well-known fact within the business that editorial cartoons routinely top out reader surveys conducted by papers, in a public forum. Why that is varies -- maybe it would make cartoonists uppity, or perhaps it's proprietary information and that's reason enough to keep it secret. But it surely says something that, even in the current regime of ferocious cost-cutting, the vast majority of big-city major newspapers still employ a staff editorial cartoonists. It's not just because so many AAECers are so darned cute.

Anyway, we need to do some polls to prove what we already know to be true: cartoonists add a lot of value to their papers.

Tom Spurgeon Responds: Ted, thanks for responding. I appreciate your position, but I still have a hard time believing that the only options here are very general exhortation or specific, funded research results. There has to be some middle ground in there somewhere. I hope that you'll consider a qualitative approach even if you can't do a quantitative one. I know that there are dozens of papers with editorial cartoonists, and it's probably not because they're cute. On that level I guess they all work. But the trend is going the other way, and I'd love to hear you get at more specific reasons why even if you don't have hard numbers. For you to say that you could point to dozens of relationships that work is no doubt true; I could, too, for as far as that goes. But 18 months ago that list would have included, say, Chip Bok and Jim Borgman and their newspapers. It's my hope that we could hear from your organization in slightly less broad strokes than implying everyone who disagrees with you is kind of a moron why, say, Tom Toles is an asset worth keeping.
 
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Injury Latest Victim Of DCD Minimums

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Ted May notes that he's delaying plans to release the third issue of his Injury comic book until he can figure out how to work around the new Diamond minimums, which will deny it a place in that catalog. It also looks like this will be the last issue of the comic book, as it was a project designed for that market.

I'm sure Injury sells poorly, if not really, really poorly. What's distressing about the Diamond minimums isn't that you can't make an argument these books sell crappy, but that it shuts a lot of doors forever in terms of a certain kind of comic and a certain kind of material. I reject the notion floated that alternative comics cartoonists abandoned serial publication -- if you sit down and make a list, there were until recently a fair number of solid comic books of this type done in this format out there, just nothing other than Adrian's that succeeds along the lines of a Hate. So it was clearly a broken part of the market. My regret stems from the fact that when Diamond finally addressed it they seemed to view this market as a hassle rather than an opportunity.

I think low entry-point comics are desirable generally because that's something the DM store can do better than any other venue, and I think low entry alternative comics are specifically valuable to the wider comics world because they buttress an interest in a lot of adult patrons that can lead to a good, dependable source of income for many shops. No Injury, no Crickets, no Or Else means three fewer trips to the comic shop for me, and up to $50 less money spent on other comics at the same time I'd be buying these. Again, I'm not a representative buyer, and my $50 isn't a big deal to anyone. And like I said, this was a part of the market that didn't function well. Still, the DM chose amputation over doing anything to support or even try to fix things, and I think that says a great deal more about where that market is heading than the success or failure of any specific project.
 
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Go, Look: Sam Hiti For Coke Zero

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Comic Book Alliance Calls For Clarification Concerning Recent UK Law

This article seems fairly self-explanatory. Good luck and godspeed and all that. The laws in question sound quite alarming to me, and not just in the "these could be potentially misused by people with different standards" way these things usually frighten.
 
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Go, Look: Dan Zettwoch Pee Comics

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Bill Schorr Quits Editorial Cartooning?

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From a post on Dary Cagle's popular site comes the curious news that widely respected editorial and strip cartoonist Bill Schorr will no longer be drawing editorial cartoons. Schorr is probably best known for two stints at the Kansas City Star, and also worked as a staff cartoonist at the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the New York Daily News. Schorr won an NCS Division Award for his editorial cartooning as recently as last year, I think, and another in 1993. He first joined the Star in 1973, giving him 35 years in editorial cartoons.
 
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Watching The Watchmen Watchers 08: Random Pre-Release Links Of Interest

* reviews continue to accrue for the motion picture. The general review profile positives seem to be holding in the early 60s; a few more of the critics you've heard of have provided positive reviews. Roger Ebert's is probably the most positive of the few I've read, and it's safe to say that he's not a comics guy.

* Tom Mason posts a basic Watchmen-related link dump. The comics business news and analysis site provides a summary of basic movie-related news, and notes that the book is still selling at holy crap levels.

* Steven Grant reviews the book and wonders out loud about its legacy.

* Salon provides a nice interview with Alan Moore, mostly by steering clear of the Watchmen movie. They also have an appreciation of Moore's groundbreaking work on the Swamp Thing series.

* Matthew Badham sent in a massive series of links to youtube postings he says is a local interview with writer Alan Moore.
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d66SIe75RG0
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5T9Fr7mWseY
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPdxeLebwZo
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8OLSH7O06Y
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a72aqEwjYOg
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tsXK5Z29jk
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-ha-PtyRlU
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGq-9X3ho7U
Two parts have been removed for rejiggering and eventual re-posting, but those links should get you started. I haven't listened to them myself yet; they could have nothing to do with Watchmen, come to think of it.

* the writer Jeet Heer's confession that he could never really get into Watchmen would be worth it for the Carter Scholz review quotes alone. Why hasn't TCJ re-published this great essay on their site?

* Heer also has a short post up on the frequently discussed giant squid/Reagan link.

* I never understand Bob Andelman's links when they come to me because they're always surrounded by a bunch of code, and I don't follow them myself because of the risk of running into some weird software, but this one might have something to do with Dave Gibbons.

* promoting movies is way different now than it was when Watchmen first came out in comics form.

* two more from numbers guru John Jackson Miller: sales figures for the Charlton heroes from which the Watchmen characters are derived; his best guess as to the original series on-sale dates.

* finally, here's Miller's report on the original series' sales figures, in case you missed it.
 
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Missed It: Scott McCloud On Comics 2005


 
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Collective Memory: WonderCon 2009

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Links to stories, eyewitness accounts and resources concerning WonderCon 2009, held February 27 to March 1 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California.

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If I Were In NYC, I'd Go To This

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Go, Look: Tom Tirabosco

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Go, Look: The Brain!

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Go, Look: The Silent Stranger

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Go, Look: More Peter Arno

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* missed it: retailer Ryan Higgins lost his apartment to a fire. There's information on how to make a small donation if you're so inclined, and I ask that you consider doing so.

image* hey, a color Kate Beaton comic. That's nice.

* longtime industry observer Don MacPherson suggests that while it's nice that DC is adjusting the content of its Final Crisis hardcover to contain the comics that ensure it makes some sort of basic narrative sense, they could have gone about it in a more solicitous fashion.

* I thought this a solid, straight-forward piece on Tamara Drewe.

* the great Bob Levin writes about how the back-issues market for the EC Comics he loved as a youth confused him as an adult because of what they suggested about the way artistic value was assigned to certain projects and not to others. That's a connection you don't see very frequently, although I have no idea why you wouldn't. Does a comics creator ever look at a comic book worth $100 and think that means their story was really worth something? I imagine there are people for whom this is true.

* speaking of Levin, here's a great profile of the author by Steve Duin. Duin looks at Levin's wonderful Most Outrageous and see its low sales figures as something distressing but also encouraging in that Fantagraphics continues to support Levin's work. I agree, but it's hard for me to wrap my mind around the 700 books sold part when the book is that good. Seriously, if you're an adult and can handle the occasional severity of the material, Most Outrageous is the best thing you'll read about comics written in 2008, maybe by a wide margin.

* finally, I found Dan Nadel's review of the new Boody book odd in that it's a publisher reviewing another publisher's work, an editor and curator of this kind of material reviewing another such person's work, and the fact that I can't tell why the analysis in Boody is insufficient in the light that I can't remember him saying the same thing about the Fletcher Hanks book I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets, which contained almost no analysis at all and in fact kind of overtly avoided it.
 
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Happy 39th Birthday, Yuu Watase!

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Happy 47th Birthday, Olivier TaDuc!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Thierry Coppee!

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Happy 36th Birthday, Andrea Mutti!

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Happy 35th Birthday, Stedho!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Tsukasa Hojo!

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Happy 32nd Birthday, Maarten Gerritsen!

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Happy 78th Birthday, Fred!

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Quick hits
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Go See Jerry Robinson
Dave Lasky Will Still Draw For You

History
On Superman

Industry
Vote For The Harveys
Hey Kids, On-Line Comics!
James Vance Vs. Sean Collins
A Twitter Group For Webcomics
Manga Vs. American Comics = Stupid

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Kevin Huizenga's Five
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Tucker Stone: Daredevil #116
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Brian Heater: The Laugh-Out-Loud Cats Sell Out
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Quiet Please, It's Fred Guardineer

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March 4, 2009


Bundled, Tossed, Untied and Stacked

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* did I somehow miss the colossally symbolic news whereby the LA Weekly dropped Life In Hell? That's like... I'm not sure what that's like. Maybe ABC dropping Monday Night Football a couple of years ago, but if Monday Night Football had the reputation of Hill Street Blues or The Sopranos? I want Matt Groening to do Life In Hell for as long as he wants in whatever paper he wants, and if there's some underground army I can join to help ensure this happens, someone please e-mail me. Finally, a reason newspapers should be saved.

image* back in the world of comic books and trade collections of same, IDW may have had the most announcement-lade WonderCon with news of a complete Rocketeer book, word that they'll be doing a Family Circus book, and details released on a forthcoming new comic book about President Barack Obama. I'm sick of Obama books, but I thought IDW's was straightforward and classy and actually had value beyond the "Look, Obama!" part of it. I wouldn't mind seeing more. Plus, you know, holy crap, a complete Rocketeer.

* there will be a Pat Mills-centric issue of the 2000 AD small press publication Zarjaz.

* here's some good news: the Final Crisis hardcover will include material from a couple of the spin-off magazines that will make that recent crossover a bit easier to understand in that form.

* the ghost that collects.

* does anyone know if this forthcoming Glenn Dakin trilogy is comics?

image* the USS Catastrophe shop is back. Please note the very reasonable and plainly-stated guidelines as to when you can expect stuff to be shipped. Of huge interest to readers of this blog is the relase of the next chapter of Kevin Huizenga's Rumbling story that started in the now-canceled solo anthology title Or Else.

* here's an announcement that Digger will be spinning off of the Graphic Smash site into its own dedicated one. I think that's the webcomics equivalent of straight-up publishing news. If it isn't, it should be.

* finally, Fox Atomic will now apparently work with Boom! on releasing comics-related material, I guess many more than the intermittent graphic novel offerings they've spooned up thus far on their own.
 
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And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #26

* the cartoonist and current AAEC president Ted Rall releases another editorial about the stupidity of newspapers in dumping their editorial cartoonists. I'll repeat what I said after the last one of these jeremiads: it isn't good enough. The decline of staffed editorial cartooning positions is beyond the point where a bunch of strong assertions cleverly made and presented with passion will convince newspapers that what they're doing isn't necessary. I don't see anything here that would convince me as a newspaper editor I wouldn't be better off simply picking up a syndicated Ted Rall cartoon or taking my staff cartoonist investment and hiring a video blogger. Once again, I challenge Ted Rall and the AAEC to come up with five models of newspaper-cartoonist relationships that work for those newspapers, specific examples and detailed reasons why they work, and how newspapers can develop that within their own publications. Having not one but two skilled cartoonists sure didn't save the Rocky Mountain News. Fair or not, that's the tenor of the conversation right now.

* community newspapers are apparently doing better than other models when it comes to weathering the economic downturn sales-wise.

* here's a Mike Luckovich cartoon being used by The Newspaper Project. Nice.

image* the weekly UK-based kids' comics The DFC is apparently up for sale after Random House decided to end its support of the comics publication. The effort had received mostly positive notions from the comics-reading community in that country. Barring a buyer, which no one thinks likely, the publication will cease to exist on March 27th. If that ends up being the date of closure, it will have lasted 10 months. Matthew Badham e-mailed with some creator reactions.

* Alan Gardner suggests you subscribe to your local paper as something you do to support your community.

* the remaining Virgin megastores will close.

* although this post was part of the links provided to WonderCon coverage, the SLG panel should also be included in one of these posts just to show how hard it's been for a sturdy industry survivor like Dan Vado's company.

* here's a nice blog post on alternative revenue strategies for newspapers that I'm sure I got from another, more attentive blogger that I can't remember at this point. One of the things that's truly alarming about the debate over future revenue models is that none of them seem specific to existing publications, and in fact I'd argue that many seem more likely to me at least to work better for some start-up somewhere. Another distressing thing about the revenue models is they all sound sort of sucky.

* okay, I must have nicked these last couple of posts from Dirk Deppey, because there's more than one in a row. Sorry, Dirk. This post talks in very positive fashion about the ability of newspapers to sell authoritative, aggressive and unique coverage to existing and even future subscribers. There's a lot of odd thinking in this essay, in that what the writer feels is evidence that you can't, for instance, sell deficient coverage, might also be read as the potential that any pay site may find a free competitor in their area that outperforms them. "Be awesome" isn't a strategic move for a newspaper; it's a wish for a newspaper that you make before blowing some candles out.

* here's mention of a model that I haven't seen discussed a whole lot: community coverage through supported blogging.

* finally, to shift gears a bit, the distribution fee struggle for Anderson News looks like it may have an ugly ending, as companies owed money by the business seek to force it into bankruptcy. Some newsstands apparently went completely unserviced during this conflict over additional fees, which can't be a good thing in this economy.
 
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Watching The Watchmen Watchers 07: Fact-Checking, Comics Industry Reviews

* Jeet Heer blasts Anthony Lane wearing his ignorance of the graphic novel like a badge of honor in his Watchmen review. It's probably time for editors to nudge their writers away from these kinds of bizarre summary statements, but I was a bit more worried by the math that put Nixon in 1985 as serving a third term rather than a fifth. Maybe I don't remember the book all that well and the movie reflects the book on that count. The best thing about Lane's review is that you get to see Istvan Banyai draw a couple of the characters.

* one thing that Lane's review notes that I found interesting is how absurd Rorschach's dialogue sounds spoken out loud. Lane portrays that as a failing of Moore's, but isn't the ridiculousness of the character's prose part of the point of that material in the book? It's been a while for me. Rorschach's not exactly a skilled writer: he's a distressing lunatic with the worldview of someone who beats people up a lot. That seems to me sort of like complaining the character is small and ugly and stoop-shouldered. Part of the dismay I felt while reading the book comes from the arrested adolescence of Rorschach's mind; he's like an angry teenager sitting in the back of study hall drawing liquor bottles, converting the purple prose of yesterday's love letter into a violent, scary rant.

image* Tom Mason is interviewing various comics professionals to find out what they were doing in the summer of 1986 when Watchmen #1 came out. Frankly, these bored the holy shit out of me, and I was going to skip them, but Tom asked nice. Here's the first; here's the second. For what it's worth, in June 1986 I was getting drunk, lifting weights and looking forward to the Howard the Duck movie. I was also apparently quite burly.

* people seem to like this parody.

* not comics: the movie review count still comes in pretty high if you included everyone, and a pretty miserable 14 percent of Rotten Tomatoes' top critics group. I think I remember 300 doing slightly worse overall and a lot better (40 percent or so) with that same list of top critics. The one "positive" top critic review is some pretty weak sauce, too.

* all this wang talk depresses Paul Pope.

* a couple of well-known comics reviewers have begun that avalanche of people weighing in: Brian Hibbs, Sean T. Collins. Hibbs disliked it, Collins liked it. If like me you're used to interpreting the tastes of comics reviewers more than movie reviewers, those reviews might be a welcome development.

* not comics: AV Club uses the fact that Watchmen was once considered unfilmable to suggest a whole bunch of comics-related works that they'd like to see adapted into film. Some of these are no-brainers, and either have or had movie deals, but a few are interesting. I always thought Reid Fleming was a natural comedy vehicle, and Hollywood certainly doesn't lack for slightly heavy comedic actors right now. There was a script at one point which Jon Lovitz wanted to do; I remember it being pretty funny, but not funny enough to make with Lovitz as lead. I'd settle for a non-dumbassed Superman movie. Watching stuff like Persepolis made me realize I almost always prefer the comics anyway.
 
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Go, Look: Scott Chantler's Blog

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Go, Look: Behind Locked Doors

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Go, Look: Story H

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Go, Look: Lawson Wood

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* I swear this had been announced already, but this post says the Shuster Awards is going to honor the late, great Gene Day with an award devoted to self-publishing. Since that's a good thing, I don't mind mentioning it twice. To be honest, I always think of Gene Day's astonishing and vastly under-appreciated work on mainstream comics as opposed to any self-published material.

image* here's a lovely feature on Carol Tyler's forthcoming book You'll Never Know Volume One: A Good And Decent Man and where that fits into her overall efforts to serve veterans via the comics medium.

* the prominent comics blogger Daryl Cagle points out another Mike Lester cartoon that uses super-severe iconography to make its point.

* not comics: I enjoyed this story about a big Hollywood agency picking up a literary agent and the implications for literary agencies in terms of taking deals to that agency. That all makes perfect sense to me.

* finally, I think this essay is onto something that there's a decided lack of looking at superhero comics for what they're saying as opposed to how well they're apparently say it, but I'm not sure this particular piece gets there. There's definitely an undercurrent of "Ewww!" in mainstream comic books, and has been since the early '90s. I could have lived the rest of my life quite happily without seeing the Incredible Hulk (well, the red one) talk about getting serviced by one of Marvel's female superhero characters.
 
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Happy 36th Birthday, Chip Mosher!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Bruno Madaule!

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Happy 68th Birthday, Patrick M. Reynolds!

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Happy 45th Birthday, Stephane Boutel!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Glenn Hauman!

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Happy 53rd Birthday, Randy Stradley!

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Quick hits
Craft
Mike Manley Draws
That's A Cute Panel
That's A Cute Image
Jamie Hewlett Colors
The Making Of Look Out!! Monsters

History
Bad Babysitters Of The Marvel Universe

Industry
List Of Anime- and Manga-Related Twitter Feeds

Interviews/Profiles
PWCW: James Jean
CBR: Duane Swierczynski
Dave Lasky On Dylan Horrocks
Blog@Newsarama: Paul Maybury
Did I Link To This Brunetti Profile Yet?
Did I Link To This Dash Shaw Profile Yet?

Not Comics
The Beer Queers
Calvin And Hobbes Bento
Eddie Campbell On Bob Fosse

Publishing
New Stay Tooned Out
New Hogan's Alley Out Today
Happy Blogiversary, Bill Sherman!

Reviews
Chris Mautner: Various
Richard Pachter: Various
Jesse Reese: Flex Mentallo
Sandy Bilus: Billy Hazelnuts
Matthew Brady: Monster Vol. 11
Sean Kleefeld: American Widow
Greg McElhatton: Tsubasa Vol. 20
Leroy Douresseaux: Papillon Vol. 2
Robin Brenner: Crogan's Vengeance
Leroy Douresseaux: Stop Bullying Me
Rob Clough: Jamilti and Other Stories
Richard Bruton: Thomas Wogan Is Dead
Johanna Draper Carlson: Global Frequency
Koppy McFad: The War That Time Forgot #10
Sean T. Collins: Dirtbags, Mallchicks and Motorbikes
 

 
March 3, 2009


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

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*****

Here are the books that make an impression on me staring at this week's largely accurate list of books shipping from Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. to comic book and hobby shops across North America.

I might not buy all of the works listed here. I might not buy any. But were I in a comic book shop tomorrow I would more than likely pick up the following and look them over, causing my retailer to look over at me for a period of time during which he could have wold another 1.8 copies of Watchmen.

*****

JAN090136 GOON #32 10TH ANNIVERSARY ISSUE $3.99
We're all just hurtling towards our graves, aren't we?

SEP080029 NEXUS ARCHIVES HC VOL 08 $49.95
The question isn't whether the economy is so bad that it calls into question if you can afford eight volumes of deluxe Nexus comics. The question is whether the economy is so bad that it puts on the table the possibility you would stop buying these even after spending the money on the previous seven.

NOV080143 BATMAN CACOPHONY #3 (OF 3) $3.99
See, I don't understand why this can't have a regular price and be part of a standing Batman series. And if it's somehow beneficial to the bottom-line to have comics like this kind of clogging up the aisles, I don't understand why it isn't a priority to get that fixed.

OCT080166 DC LIBRARY LOSH LIFE AND DEATH OF FERRO LAD HC $39.99
I had a joke when I started this post about the even shorter life and much less heroic death of Sbarro Lad, but I can't remember it now.

DEC080160 SHAZAM MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL TP $19.99
This is Jeff Smith's very fine take on the Captain Marvel mythos, featuring his killer monster-design skills and one cute-looking Mary Marvel, whom I think according to the science of comic book hairdos is some sort of crazy slutty lady in the regular DC Comics right now. Anyway, a nice purchase for kids that are fans of Bone.

JAN090213 SOLOMON GRUNDY #1 (OF 7) $2.99
If a Solomon Grundy mini-series has to exist, I suppose it only makes sense for it to be seven issues.

JAN090112 HELLBOY WILD HUNT #4 (OF 8) $2.99
DEC083706 TERRY MOORES ECHO #10 $3.50
JAN092488 AGENTS OF ATLAS #2 DKR $2.99
DEC082364 DAREDEVIL #116 $2.99
These strike me as the sturdy, well-liked genre comics of the week. I'm not at all familiar with Moore's newest effort, but it's already over issue #10 and I like the fact that he's serializing it.

JAN092528 SUB-MARINER DEPTHS #5 (OF 5) $3.99
So was this any good? I have a brother that collects Sub-Mariner comics. That last one was quarter boxalicious, but if I were to spend $20 on a bunch of Sub-Mariner comics, the same brother just might kill me.

JAN092452 ULTIMATE WOLVERINE VS HULK #3 (OF 6) $2.99
You know a comic has been delayed for a long time when they've completely rebooted that universe (I think) from issue #1 and you're only at the half-way point. When I was a kid, Wolverine fighting the Hulk only took two issues, and Wendigo even rode shotgun.

JAN092591 WOLVERINE BY CLAREMONT & MILLER TP $16.99
This was out of print?

NOV084212 LITTLE NOTHINGS GN VOL 02 PRISONER SYNDROME $14.95
Hey, this was really good. I find this comic series to be greatly pleasurable. Like one of those movies you watch where the movie was good but you would have watched it anyway just to look at the scenery.

DEC084332 NANA TP VOL 15 (MR) $8.99
I didn't catch any other new editions in solid series like this one, but I tend to mess these things up.

SEP084031 SAMS STRIP COMIC ABOUT COMICS GN $22.99
God bless comics' recent run of success that we get stand-alone oddities like this collection

*****

The full list of this week's releases, including some titles with multiple cover variations and a long, impressive list of toys and other stuff that isn't comics, can be found here. Despite this official list there's no guarantee a comic will show up in the stores as promised, or in all of the stores as opposed to just a few. Also, stores choose what they carry and don't carry so your shop may not carry a specific publication. There are a lot of comics out there.

To find your local comic book store, check this list; and for one I can personally recommend because I've shopped there, albeit a while back, try this.

The above titles are listed with their Diamond order code in the first field, which may assist you in finding comics at your shop or having them order something for you they don't have in-stock. Ordering through a direct market shop can be a frustrating experience, so if you have a direct line to something -- you know another shop has it, you know a bookstore has it -- I'd urge you to consider all of your options.

If I didn't list your comic, I blame eczema. Not mine, necessarily.

*****
*****
 
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No One's Talking About Prime Baby...

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... but Gene Yang's NY Times offering has entered into the final third of its run.
 
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AAEC Criticizes NAACP Call For Action In Case Of Delonas Chimp Cartoon

They Association of American Editorial Cartoonists has criticized the NAACP's call for action against the New York Post over the publication of a Sean Delonas cartoon blending a story about a chimp and a story about the passage of a stimulus bill that many suggest was racist. They do so through a pretty straight-forward press release issued by that group's president Ted Rall. Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'm pretty much a free speech absolutist and I agree with the letter this wasn't a serious call for assassination. Still, I don't know that one group saying "that sucked, please fire these people now" and the editors saying yes or no in response shouldn't be part of the exchange of ideas that follows any editorial expression.
 
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Alex Robinson's NYC Comics Highlights

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Swallow Me Whole: LA Times Book Prize Nominee In Young Adult Fiction

imageThe good folks at Top Shelf Comix are rightfully fired up by the announcement that Nate Powell's Swallow Me Whole was named one of the five finalists in the Young Adult Fiction category for the LA Times Book Prize. That awards program is I think approaching three decades old by now and is one of the few that tends to make it into the first graph of an individual work's publicity presentation.

There are at least three surprising things about the nomination. First, I don't think Top Shelf ever pushed Swallow Me Whole as a young persons' book, although it certainly works that way. Second, Powell isn't exactly a pedigreed author of the kind that you think of when it comes to securing cross-media nominations -- someone like a Satrapi, say. Third, it's the first comics-only book to be nominated in any category since 1992's second Maus book, which won its category that year. While I believe The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian may have received a nomination a couple of years back, at best that was a hybrid work by Sherman Alexie (prose) and Ellen Forney (comics), as opposed to straight-up comics. No matter how you add things up, the nomination is a pleasantly surprising achievement for a fine first major book. I hope it wins.
 
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I Really Like The Title Of This One

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And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #25

* here's some follow-up on the Rocky Mountain News closure. Interviews at Alan Gardner's place with Drew Litton and Ed Stein; Litton's last cartoon for the publication.

* things are so bad right now I sort of expected this article to end halfway through with the cartoonist being fired.

* here's a bit more on the pricing of e-books. This issue amuses me because I think the $9.95 figure is a pretty amazing price point for the publishing side of things, about twice what I'd expect. It looks like most book publishing people disagree with me, but it's hard not to see the push for charging more money as a function of trying to protect the expensive infrastructure that's grown up around making and distributing books.

* this can't be good news, although I don't know how you could be surprised by the move if you'd visited the increasingly lethargic-seeming store at any point in the last year or so. Given moves like this and their massive return-athon in January, does anyone see a vision for Borders' future emerging anywhere? It really seems like they're playing out the string.

* I just can't imagine newspapers charging for on-line content is going to work. On the other hand, this seems even weirder to me.

* finally, this is a bit broad, but you're likely to hear a lot more about switching newspapers from profit to non-profit status over the next few months. The down side is that the reason you may hear more about this is that it's such an impossible thing to imagine you can infuse the model with success that will likely never be tested. Personally, I can see non-profit newspapers more than I can see, say, micro-payments springing back from the dead and driving a revitalized on-line newspaper program. It's just hard for me to see existing publications making the move from profit to non-profit. That's difficult under any circumstance and seems to me almost impossible under conditions like these.
 
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Fontaine Fox Was Born 125 Years Ago

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Go, Look: Four By Richard Thompson

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Go, Look: Two With Sparky Watts

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Go, Look: The Ghost Patrol

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Go, Look: The Vampire

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Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* the writer Peter David wants you to know he admits his mistakes, and 'fesses up that his initial take on unit sales figures in the Internet-heavy 21st Century was off. The good thing about this is that we get to look at a handy summary of unit sales figures.

image* this may have just escaped my attention, but the great Eddie Campbell has returned to blogging. One of his posts links to an enjoyable mini-essay and art dump about an unknown tabloid illustrator of the early 20th Century.

* speaking of people that don't blog frequently, Zak Sally jumps on-line with some words about John Porcellino taking art commissions, which is great news for fans of comics art. Cool picture, too.

* here's a fun list of French comics blogs.

* the writer Ed Power would like you to know that if you make his Zuda offering the winner of the current competition, he and creative partner Melissa DeJesus would be the first syndicated comics people to win. He thinks.

* not comics: Rick Klaw runs down a list of the films made from comics by Alan Moore.

* finally, I missed this, and I'll further admit to having no idea what Marvel ending its open submissions policy means beyond that it's likely to end up with less work being done by some poor intern stuck with the slush pile and a pile of pre-printed rejection letters. I suspect this is less some seismic shift at Marvel than a small step that confirms a new reality whereby the Internet and a more aggressive con appearance schedule allows them to see all the new work they want to see.
 
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Happy 40th Birthday, Stefano Biglia!

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Happy 67th Birthday, Esteban Maroto!

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Happy 61st Birthday, Max Allan Collins!

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Happy 89th Birthday, Ronald Searle!

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Augie De Blieck Jr.!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Mario Atzori!

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Happy 38th Birthday, Sando Masin!

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Happy 43rd Birthday, Claudio Castellini!

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Happy 82nd Birthday, Ib Steinaa!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Bira Dantas!

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Happy 46th Birthday, Christoph Harringer!

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Happy 56th Birthday, Dan Mishkin!

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Happy 50th Birthday, Marc Silvestri!

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Quick hits
Craft
Post-Post Superheroes
Mike Lynch's Urban Cartoons

History
The Answer Is Hawkeye
What Is Alan Moore's Best Work?
Here, Have A Space Cabbie Page

Industry
Media Jobs Daily Launches
On Finding A Critic You Trust
Online Manga As Pyramid Scheme

Interviews/Profiles
Comics Waiting Room: Jeff Mariotte
Talk About Comics: Aaron Neathery
Dick Hates Your Blog: Paul Maybury

Not Comics
Cute Dr. Who Illustration
Sports Jerk Of Year Named
Simpsons To Eclipse Gunsmoke

Publishing
Webcomics Long-Runners

Reviews
Newsarama: Andy Diggle
Douglas Wolk: Supermen!
Erik Weems: The Spirit #26
Paul O'Brien: New Exiles #18
Sean T. Collins: MOME Vol. 13
Don MacPherson: The Last One
J. Caleb Mozzocco: Scaredy Squirrel
Sacha Arnold: Fuzz & Pluck: Splitsville
William Jones: Fuzz & Pluck: Splitsville
Leroy Douresseaux: Kurohime Vol. 10
Nina Stone: Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #5
Richard Bruton: Tripwire Superhero Special 2009
Sandy Bilus: The Black Diamond Detective Agency
 

 
March 2, 2009


That New Horrocks Site Is Now Up

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Not Comics: Angel Of Death Launches

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Go, Look: Tom Gauld's Guardian Letter Cartoons As A Flickr Set

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thanks, Matthew Badham
 
posted 7:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2009 Japan Expo Selections

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Late last week the Japan Expo announced its various official selections, including those for four manga catagories. I'm a little confused as to what these are for: I'm pretty certain the Japan Expo takes place in the summer, but the site takes me to I think maybe a related site for an expo just past. At any rate, these are fun to look at to see what's hitting with French-language audiences.

Best Shonen
* Angel Heart (Panini Manga)
* Claymore (Glenat)
* Fairy Tail (Pika Edition)
* Full Ahead! Coco (Doki-Doki)
* Nekoten (Asuka)
* Saint Seiya, the lost canvas (Kurokawa)
* Samurai Deeper Kyo (Kana)
* Shin Chan -- Saison 2 (Sakka)
* Suikoden III (Soleil Manga)

Best Shojo
* At Laz Meridian (Doki-Doki)
* Crown (Asuka)
* Koko Debut (Panini Manga)
* Hana Yori Dango (Glenat)
* Le Sablier (Kana)
* Lovely Complex (Delcourt/Akata)
* Paradise Kiss (Kana)
* Parmi Eux (Editions Tonkam)
* Vampire Knight (Panini Manga)

Best Seinen
* Blessures nocturnes (Sakka)
* Detroit Metal City (12 bis)
* La Force des humbles (Delcourt/Akata)
* Les Gouttes de Dieu (Glenat)
* L'Histoire des 3 Adolf (Editions Tonkam)
* Lord (Pika Edition)
* Me and the Devil Blues (Kana)
* Team Medical Dragon (Glenat)

Best Edition
* BlackJack -- Edition Deluxe (Asuka)
* Le Champs de l'Arc en Ciel (Panini Manga)
* Eye Shield 21 -- Tome 21 (Glenat)
* Les Gouttes de Dieu -- Tome 1 (Glenat)
* Le voleur de visages (Editions Tonkam)
* L'Histoire des 3 Adolf -- Edition Deluxe (Editions Tonkam)
* Tokko -- Tome 3 (Pika Edition)
* Vampires (Asuka)
 
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Watching The Watchmen Watchers 06: The Original Numbers, Reviews Hitting

* numbers guru John Jackson Miller looks at the original DM figures for the Watchmen comic book series.

* the retailer, reviewer and industry advocate Brian Hibbs reviews the movie. I can't think of anyone seeing an advance screening who won't have seen their advance screening by the end of today.

* so I guess Lee Iacocca's people are dismayed to hear that the former Chrysler head gets aced in the movie.

* the cartoonist Evan Dorkin has no interest in seeing the movie. I sympathize in that I have problems wanting to go see any movie, for the simple fact that I'm afraid I'm going to flip out with rage and murder all the people talking during the film. I cut teenagers and kids slack, because I was a teenager and kid once (not at the same time), but no one old enough to be interested in seeing Frost/Nixon should be talking all the way through the damn movie unless they want me to set them on fire. Filmgoers of America, I hate you for talking and I hate you for turning me into Andy Rooney.

* finally, here's the Rotten Tomatoes page by which you can track the positivity or negativity of emerging reviews in aggregate. It seems strongly positive so far, but I don't know enough about the way reviewers break down to know any possible caveats. I mean, I know I don't recognize many of the names of reviewers involved, but I don't know if that means anything. Update: Tucker Stone just wrote in to suggest that not knowing many of the names of reviewers involved may indeed have an effect. If you click the top critics button on the page linked to above, you find critics and publications you've actually probably heard of, and the movie has gone 0 for 4 with them so far.
 
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Another Cartoonist Loses Staff Position

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This time it's John Branch, among 135 employees pink-slipped by the San Antonio Express-News. According to Branch's letter to Daryl Cagle on the matter, his last day will be March 20, he hasn't given much thought about what to do next, he'd been concentrating on local and regional issues over the last few years and he'd been with the publication for 28 years.
 
posted 4:15 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
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