Thursday, February 19, 2004

Notable Links for 20/02

Man, I sincerely hope nothing of interest happened today in the comics world and that everyone is still just talking about the freakin' Green Hornet... I gotta get up at the crack of dawn and drive up to New Hampshire 'cause Anne's got a doctor's appointment. I'd really like to not linger on this one...

* The biggest news of the week appears to be a major shake up at Image: Erik Larsen has replaced Jim Valentino as Image's publisher. Although looks could be deceiving, this appears to have been a bloodless coup instigated by Marc Silvestri. Larsen's stated aim is to steer the Image brand back to more mainstream projects without leaving behind any of the indie luster they've garnered in recent years. This would be in addition to perhaps smoothing over some of the more contentious issues of the past few years (ie, the fact that Image refuses to accept advertising from toy companies that aren't McFarlane Toys - the main reason for Image losing the Masters of the Universe titles and certainly a source of stress with their GI Joe licensees). Perhaps this signifies that the lucrative Masters will soon be returning to the Image banner after an unsuccessful stay at Crossgen? Food for thought. If this is the case, best of luck to Larsen in negotiating that, since obviously the main obstacle would be Mr. Toybox himself.

In any event, there's little doubt what precipitated this shake-up: Image just isn't the player that it was and wants to be, and everyone knows it. They were looking at a decidedly dim future just a short while ago - publishing a torpid selection of stale crap from Top Cow and the Spawn brand, in addition to a diverse and critically-acclaimed but increasingly small-potatoes list of independent titles. They're going to have to make some hard choices to get that new-car shine back on the Image "I", because by now there's a whole generation of comics readers who can't remember a time when Spawn wasn't the worst title on the racks and who probably don't even know that Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld co-founded the company. Its going to be hard - and if Larsen has any intention of making good on these goals he's going to have to confront McFarlane and Silvestri on their own turf. I don't envy him this challenge.

But, it must be said that in this crazy world of comics Erik Larsen is about as close to The Real Deal as you're likely to get - if there's anyone who can turn the Good Ship Image back into a Big Three player instead of just the also-ran its become, its him. And here's hoping Jim Valentino gets to spend some more time at his drawing board... he's more than earned it, I'd think.

Link courtesy of Comic Book Resources.

* There's some big industry news in Malaysia, as the Pelangi Publishing Group looks to expand their business abroad and into China and Indonesia as early as this year. Why does this matter? Pelangi is the licensee for both DC comics and Disney publishing in that neck of the woods. An influx of DC and Disney books into mainland China could potentially be a huge boost to comics in the region considering just how monstrously big the Chinese market is, at least in potential. However - two caveats - the article does not specifiy whether or not Pelangi will be the sole licensee for these properties in China and Indonesia, and also, no mention is made of whether or not Pelangi's Disney license includes comics publishing. Does Disney already have a comics licensee in China? Good question. Anyway, this might turn out to be a boon to DC, or it might not effect them at all, depending on whether or not they have a prior licensee in China. Link courtesy of The Edge.

* More Asian news: as I reported the other day, the long-standing cultural rifts between Korea and Japan are fast becoming a thing of the past. However, it turns out that Korean President Roh Moo-hyun is actually specifically targeting every cultural forum he can in order to rebuild and strengthen Korea's economy and media in anticipation of a greater participation in globalization. This includes, surreally enough, a five-year government plan to support their comics industry. Read more here, courtesy of the Korea Times.

* "NCsoft(tm) Corporation (KSE: 036570.KS), the world's leading developer and publisher of online computer games and Blue King Studios announced plans today to publish a monthly comic book based on NCsoft's highly anticipated online computer game, City of Heroes(tm)." Read more here, courtesy of

* Hmmm. Could DC actually be sincere this time in their attempt to get mainstream media attention for their books? Either this article is a slow news day aberration or DC is seriously interested in playing the publicity game - a game that Marvel had all to itself until very recently. (Pretty much the only DC story in the news the past year other than the Sandman book was Wonder Woman getting a haircut... I repeat, Wonder Woman getting a haircut). And, smartly enough, its a news story that featrues a comic currently on sale instead of comics scheduled to ship in 2-3 months. Whotta concept. Courtesy of Canada's National Post.

* The Los Angeles Jewish Journal has a short feature on Joe Kubert, just in time for the release of his holcaust graphic novel "Yossel — April 19, 1943".

* Thought comic book adaptions were just hot in the US? Well, Jiu De Yong’s popular comic book, Si Nu Lang (Four Women), published in Taiwan and a minor sensation in the region, has also undergone a recent - and apperantly somewhat successful - translation to TV. Read more here, courtesy of The Star.

* More Malaytsian news - Malaysian newspaper The Star presents the results of their "best comics of 2003" poll. Be warned - Malaysia apperantly likes mainstream comics. A lot.

* Live in the New England area and want to support a good cause? Pop in to your local Newbury Comics and help support local families impacted by the horrendous tragedy of the Station fire, which one year ago today took the lives of 100 rock fans at a Great White show in West Warwick, Rhode Island. Go here for more details, courtesy of the Milford Daily News.

* Planning on being in LA next Wednesday? Stop by UCLA and hear Art Spiegelman deliver his famous "Comix 101" lecture, in addition to discussing his ongoing 9-11-themed "In The Shadow of No Towers" strip. For more information, go here and scan down to the Wednesday entry. Again, courtesy of The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles.

* Today's obligatory movie link: here's a long article on the upcoming "Constantine" film, based on DC/Vertigo's long-running and popular Hellblazer property. Read more here, courtesy of Superhero Hype.

* Jules Feiffer is set to recieve the presitgious Writers Guild of America East award, alongside Arizona Senator John McCain and Broadway/TV writer Ellen "Pucky" Violett. Go here for more info (its' at the bottom of the column), link courtesy of gossip maven Liz Smith, of all people, and the good folks at New York Newsday.

* A journalism scholarship has been established at Penn State University in the name of the late Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter and cartoonist Tom Bigg. Read more here, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

* Are you a Canadian citizen involved in using high-priced collectibles - such as comic books - as some form of tax shelter? You better watch your ass. Courtesy of The Toronto Star.

* This isn't much of a link, but I just thought that this was perhaps the most tortured and obscure comics reference I've ever seen in a mainstream news item - a sports item, no less. Courtesy of the New York Mets' fan page,

* Gonna be in Kalamazoo next Tuesday? Check out a recital featuring the Western Wind Quintet's interpretation of numerous American compositions - including Jan Bach's "Skizzen", a suite for quintet inspired by the line drawings by Heinrich Kley, a German cartoonist of the early 1900s. Go here for more info, courtesy ofthe Western Michigan University News.

* And you thought your paper was bad - apperantly the Gillette News-Record has been publishing the same comics for thirty years. Sadly, that probably means that the vanguard of modern comic strips in Wyoming is 'Garfield'.

* Finally, I would like to take a moment to talk about this. As a freelancer for the Journal, I received this very same e-mail about two days ago. It says basically everything you could hope to know about le Affaire George to date - and at that, a far sight more than any of us were ever "entitled" to know about what are, at the end of the day, the private workings of a private company. In most industries, stuff like this would be absolutely nothing even remotely resembling news, but in this ass-backwards world we call comics there are people who still believe there is some sort of scandal at work here. This just points to how insulated, petty and totally removed from reality many in our community actually are.

I will admit to some bias on the issue - but come on. This isn't just silly, its getting into some really nasty legal and moral gray areas. As soon as I got the e-mail, I was secretly gritting my teeth in anticipation of the inevitable leak. Not because there was anything damning or pertinant that would necessarily hurt Groth, the Journal, George or Fantagraphics, but simply because it was private correspondence. Violating the privacy and trust of personal business correspondence for no better reason than to spread gossip is just a foolish, unprofessional and downright wrong thing to do. If there was anything damning in the letter, that would be a different story - but there wasn't, not in any way shape or form, and not unless you're wearing a tinfoil hat and receiving your mental broadcasts from Dave Sim/Harlan Ellison/the Secret Society of the Illuminati. These weren't the Pentagon Papers, these weren't subpoened documents, and this is hardly a matter of pressing national security.

Please, people, let it rest. Let's give Dirk the opportunity for a clean slate without any of this nonesense.


Jeezum Crow this took a lot longer than I wanted... damn. Looks like no reviews or anything like that either. Maybe on the weekend? Stay tuned, folks!

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