Notable Links for 03/09
* There are happy endings in Hollywood, sometimes. Stalwart indie Godfather Harvey Pekar has just signed a four book deal with Ballantine Books. The deal includes a "best of" anthology, as well as a forthcoming volume detailing the Pekar family's experience with the "American Splendor" movie. No word yet on any prospective artists, although I'd bet dollars to donuts its called "Our Movie Year". The Pulse has the press release here.
* According to this post on the Comics Journal message board, the offices of Slave Labor Graphics were the victim of a DUI collision on Friday evening. No-one was injured, according to SLG cartoonist Evan Dorkin, but the building apperantly suffered significant damage. Here's hoping a speedy recovery for everyone at SLG, and here's hoping that the driver was insured! UPDATE! Before this blog went to press the story was broken by Comic book Resources here.
* Never let it be said that the comics world isn't home to its own fair share of nasty gossip and rumors. Turns out that dearly departed DC editor Julie Schwartz wasn't quite a saint when it came to his dealings with young and nubile female creators. This isn't really much of a surpise... but apperantly Ms. Colleen Doran was recently contacted by the Journal about an interview on industry sexism that was conducted over ten years ago, featuring Mr. Schwartz as a topic. (Read this thread on Ms. Doran's board.)
Mr. Tom Spurgeon, professional Fantagraphics gadfly, came onto the board with some background on the subject. Seems the interview was originally conducted as part of a proposed larger expose article on sexism throughout the industry (as of the early 90's) but it was eventually shelved - despite the protestations of the intern who had worked on the piece - because they had only succeeded in getting one freelancer, Ms. Doran, to speak on the record. (Which makes sense, as unfortunate as it sounds - I can easily imagine why any number of female creators wouldn't want to lose their jobs just for talking to the Journal [it happens.])
So, fast forward to now. The Journal, specifically Michael Dean, is probably very busy constructing a lengthy obituary for Mr. Schwartz for an upcoming issue. Having come across the decades-old scrap of info regarding Ms. Doran, it makes sense that they would attempt to follow up on it, ten years after the fact. Whether or not the info will even figure into their obituary/retrospective (I'm pretty sure someone as important as Schwartz is going to get a pretty big retrospective) remains to be seen.
But I'd like to argue on the side of history that, while we should not allow these allegations to distort his accomplishments, its absolutely essential to the historical record that they be preserved in some form besides mere rumors. Part and parcel with studying history is the awknowledgement that there is no such thing as a purely good or a purely evil person, and if a person's contributions to history are great enough (as I believe Mr. Schwartz's contributions within our field were) then the knowledge of his personal failings (and I consider chronic sexual harrassment to be a deep personal failing) will not obscure his achievements but will merely temper his remembrance.
Henry Ford was an absolutely pathological ant-Semite, by all accounts a horrid racist - and yet that does not subtract from his primary importance in world history of the past hundred years. He literally remade the world - or a great portion of it - as a direct result of his industrial innovations. Was he a good man? That's not a judgement for history to make. Was he a great man? Undeniably. And while I don't think Schwartz's harrassment is quite on the level with providing financial backing for the "Protocals of the Elders of Zion", I do believe the principle remains the same.
Contrary to what Steve Ditko may have told you, people don't come in black or white - they all come in gray. That's history, and if the history of our little corner of the world is going to be recorded in a responsible and deliberate fashion, we need to confront and understand these shades of gray, because only then will we be able to come to a mature and nuanced understanding of why we are where we are today.
So, I trust the Journal to be responsible. If they're not, history will be the judge.
* ZDNet's Declan McCullagh takesa look at Attorney General JohnAshcroft's antiporn crusade here.
* The BBC reports that there is a growing desire for a National Cartooning Museam to be established in the UK here.
* Want to see how "South Park" wunderkinds Trey Parker and Matt Stone almost single-handedly bankrupted Shockwave.com? Read this (courtesy of The Miami Herald).
* " It was an emotional homecoming for The Times of India ’s resident genius. Six months after a paralytic stroke put R K Laxman partially out of action, the cartoonist returned to the Times building for a function in his honour—a conferring of the honorary D.Litt that he had received from the University of Mysore in January but had been too unwell to accept in person." Read more here, courtesy of The Times of India.
* "HandyBitway, Toppan' mobile digital content division has announced the launch of its 4th digital comic channel for users of CDMA 1X WIN, au's new 3G packet communications service capable of offering high-speed Internet access at 2.4Mbps. The push-type comic channel, offered in cooperation with Tezuka Productions, features Tezuka Osamu's popular comic titles such as "Black Jack" and "The Phoenix: Dawn." The content service costs 315 yen ($2.86) per month." Read more here, courtesy of the Japanese Corporate News Network.
* Alan David Doane has five questions with up-and-coming cartoonist Damon Hurd, on the subjects of his breakthrough graphic novella "My Uncle Jeff" as well as the recent controversy in New Paltz, New York. Read all about it here.
* Jennifer Contino at the Pulse talks with Slave Labor cartoonist Jim Rugg about his new indie superhero series "Street Angel" here. I'll be damned but this actaully looks like it might be pretty fun.
* Pulitzer prize-winning fanboy Michael Chabon takes a look at Philip Pullman's dark fantasy series "His Dark Materials" here (courtesy of the New York Review of Books). Yes, this is only tangentially related to comics, but its interesting nonetheless.
* "Internationally renowned cartoonist Mort Walker, creator of Beetle Bailey; Tom Toles, Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist for The Washington Post; Clay Bennett, Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist for the Christian Science Monitor; and Rich Tennant, cartoonist for the For Dummies books, will convene at FOSE 2004 to celebrate Franklin Delano Roosevelt's famed Four Freedoms and to support The Fisher House Foundation, which builds homes next to military hospitals where family members stay free of charge when visiting a sick or injured military relative." Read more here, courtesy of Yahoo! Finance.
* Time.comix columnist Andrew Arnold takes a look at the autobiographical comics of Dennis Eichhorn and David Chelsea here (courtesy of Time).
* Paul Buhle places the 60's comix movement in its context alongside other similar radical movements of the era here (link courtesy of Counter-Punch).
* The Straits Times takes a vrief look at the recent work of Malaysian political cartoonist Datuk Mohamad Nor Khalid, better known as "Lat", here.
* Thom Smith for the Palm Beach Post has a talk with uber-successful mystery writer turned part-time comics scribe Brad Meltzer here.
* If you're planning on being in New York on April 16th, you just might want to check out a history-making zine/mini-comics conference. Austin English, over at the Comics Journal board, has this to say about it:
"It's a full day event, which is gonna include the following:
-panels on how to make mini-comics, and the history of zines
-a presentation by special guest phoebe gloeckner (!!!)
- a marketplace where you can sell your mini-comics."
Sounds like a ton of fun, wish I could make it myself. Read more about it here (link courtesy of the Comics Journal board), or contact Mr. English at austinenglish337 at hotmail.com (I'm sorry, no direct e-mail links because I don't want to invite spiders and bots).
* Max Gross of Jewsweek takes a look at J. T. Waldman's biblically-inspired graphic novel "Megillat Esther" here. Wasn't I just saying there was an inordinate amount of Jewish comics lately? Anyway, the article makes the claim that "Megillat Esther" "might very well be the first comic book that has 20 pages of rabbinic citations and commentary". Hate to point it out, but Dave Sim beat them to it by about a year...
* The Madison Wisconsin Capital Times explains their decision to add '6 Chix' to their comics page here, alongside a history of the strip and its concept.
* "The trouble with pop art is that the "pop" part keeps changing. Popular culture doesn't stand still. But in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's just-opened pop art show, some of the pop targets may be slipping back into the sights." Read about the show here, courtesy of the Marin Independent Journal.
* Rashid Jelani, who draws The Capital Zoo comic strip and editorial cartoons for The Washington, DC Common Denominator, was awarded first place in the cartoons category of the Maryland-Delaware-District of Columbia Press Association competition for editorial work published during 2003. Read more here, courtesy of The Common Denominator.
* Courtesy of Underground Online: Rich Watson takes a look at APE 2004 here.
* The Connecticut Hour takes a look at Arlen Schumer and his recently released book "The Silver Age of Comic Book Art" here.
* The Seattle Times takes a look at DC/Vertigo's "Human Target" series here.
* Finally... I know I shouldn't poke my fingers through the bars, I realize the monkeys get mad. But, man, seems to me that this guy here just doesn't quite understand the concept of a marketing ploy. There's no value judgement being made as to which character is and is not a "legend", because basically any character this side of "Omega the Unknown" could be considered a "legend" if Avi Arad thought they could squeeze some money from it.
That said, I do love my Marvel Legends: Captain America.
Thanks to the lovely Miss Kittin for her gracious assistance.