Sunday, March 28, 2004

Notable Links for 03/29

Selling out is fun.

OK, cats and kittens, in case you haven't noticed, there have been some changes around these parts lately. I have sold out to The Man. Hopefully, for the measly price of My Soul, I will be able to retire in luxury to the French Riviera, and all I had to do was put up a couple of banner ads.

That might be a slight exaggeration. Long story short, this blog is full of 100% Free Content, put up for your amusement, edification, entertainment and occasional arousal. But I am not independently wealthy - not yet, by any means - so if I can make a few bucks on the side I'm going to. There's a "Paypal" button to the left if you want to make a straight donation. Also, I've joined forces with to try and separate you from your money. I was really surprised with how user-friendly and adaptable the Amazon partner system is - as a result of this you will never see a product in one of those Amazon boxes to the left that I do not 100% approve for your purchase. Consider it a commercial endorsement from yours truly. I have no shame.

All things said, I'm happy with how the site looks now. I have a tracker installed so that I can actually see how many people are coming every day - and that number is a lot bigger than I would have guessed. If people care about what I have to say, I am humbled and will try to use such meager power as responsibly as I can manage. In the meantime, you can show your appreciation for me by making your next Amazon purchase through the portal I provide over to the left.

* Diamond owner and most powerful man in the direct market Steve Geppi has bee hospitalized following injuries sustained while >cough< kissing his daughter. Read about it here, courtesy of the Maryland Daily Record.

* "A Virginia law limiting the online display of sexually explicit material to minors violates the U.S. Constitution, a federal appeals court ruled in a split decision. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court that the law, while seeking to restrict juveniles' access to indecent material on the Internet, imposes an unconstitutional burden on protected adult speech." Thanks to for pointing this out. The full story is here, courtesy of BizReport. Now, I'm as thrilled with this as anyone, but every time I see a story like this a part of me cringes because just the fact that a law like this had to be combated means that there's someone out there on the lunatic fringe who thinks left-leaning civil-liberties advocates want small children to have access to hardcore porn. I hate stupid people.

* "[Maryland] Diamondback cartoonist and junior general business major Silvio Olivieri died Wednesday after a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis. The 19-year-old, whose comic strip Open Forum was popular among university students, had been battling the fatal lung disease since birth. It ultimately caused him to leave the university a few weeks before his death, although he still penned the comic strip from the hospital and his Adelphi home." Read more here, courtesy of The Diamondback.

* Former Red Sox pitcher and one-time newspaper cartoonist Robert Cremins has died at the age of 98. Read more here, courtesy of the Journal News.

* Broken Frontier continues to chronicle the ongoing disintegration of Crossgen comics. Seems like former Crossgen freelancer Andy Smith has taken the overdue step of suing the company for unpaid wages. Here's hoping that the case succeeds - from the sounds of it, it seems as if Smith's case is seen by some as a "litmus test" for the success of possible future lawsuits. However, its unlikely to happen in most cases, for the simple fact that most freelancers affected by the shortfall are probably scrambling for money and employment, and possess neither the time nor the funds to pursue a potentially costly court battle. Also, Smith points out that any amount over $5,000 can't be pursued in Florida small-claims courts, and must pass into conventional court proceedings, which probably cost a lot more. This sucks, because that means the people who are most in need of legal remuneration are going to be least inclined to seek it. Sigh. I would highly recommend reading the full article, because there are just too many weird and scandalous rumors coming out of Crossgen for anyone to dismiss it all as mere hearsay. Crossgen's representative Bill Rosemann partially refutes the charges here (link courtesy of Fanboy Rampage).

* AZ Central takes a look at the rising population of unemployed animators here, many having been fired by Disney in recent years as the "Toon Titan" has scrambled away from traditional animation and into the realms of CGI. On a similar note, the Longview, Washington Daily News takes a look at how the phenomenon of outsourcing has impacted American anmiators here.

* Adelaide Advertiser's editorial cartoonist Michael Atchison, was inducted into the South Australian Media Awards hall of fame. Read more here, courtesy of ABC News Online.

* Editor & Publisher reports on the announcement of this year's Rueben Award nominations here. It should be noted that E&P are only running a partial list - I can't seem to find a more comprehensive report, though.

* "Pantheon Press will publish Rodolphe Töpffer's 'Essay on Physiognomy' and 'Essay on Autography' in English-translation as part of a planned volume of Töpffer's work, Chris Ware reveals in an e-mail forwarded by Bob Beerbohm to the Platinum Age Comics mailing list." Courtesy of Egon (sorry, they don't seem to link to individual articles.)

* Harvey Pekar made a recent appearance at the University of Minnesota - The Minnesota Daily has the story here.

* "Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose has named award winning cartoonist, Bil Keane, its 2004 recipient of the Legacy for Children Award. The award is presented annually to an outstanding individual or organization whose efforts have considerably benefited the learning and lives of children." Read more here, courtesy of Yahoo! Finance.

* "When George Bush Sr made that remark about how the American family should be more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons, one presumes that Matt Groening instantly realized that his ship had come in at last, and that it was, moreover, a superliner strewn with bunting and with the massed bands of several continents all playing a glorious fanfare. Bush had obviously not seen the cartoon, but had he been basing his judgment on Groening's pre-Simpsons cartoons, which is, admittedly, hardly likely, then you can understand his pre-emptive hostility. For pre- and post-Simpsons Groening are two quite different beasts, to the point that anyone coming to these strips fully Simpsons - conscious may feel slightly puzzled: how could something so rudimentary provide the basis for something so monumental? For these drawings are famously rudimentary." The UK's Guardian reviews "Work is Hell," a new book of "Life in Hell" cartoons by Matt Groening, here.

* Courtesy of The Pulse we have news that Peter Bagge is going to be a busy boy this coming week - with personal appearances in Columbus, OH and New York, NY. Read all about it here.

* "Chunky Monkey fans have reason to celebrate! The popular flavor is marking its 15th birthday! It also happens to be the 30th birthday of the fun-loving cartoon character, Chunky Monkey, created by cartoonist Pauline Comanor!" Read more here, courtesy of Business Wire.

* "The Scripps Howard Foundation recently awarded Lipscomb University student Nate Creekmore a national award for 'Maintaining'. He won first place in the 'college cartooning' category of the foundation's National Journalism Awards, beating students from The University of Washington, the California Institute for the Arts and other schools. He will receive $5,000 and a trophy named for the late Peanuts creator, Charles Schulz." Read more here, courtesy of The Tennessean.

* "Can editorial cartoonists do a good job living hundreds of miles from a newspaper? That's a question that's been asked for years ... and a question that has come up again with North Carolina-based Doug Marlette freelancing for the Chicago Tribune." Editor & Publisher has the story here.

* Marc Singer writes about Rick Moody's "The Ice Storm" in both its original incarnation as a movie and its second life as a major motion picture, and both versions' references to 1970's Marvel super-hero comics - particularly "The Fantastic Four" - here. Moody also links to two essays by "Fortress of Solitude" author Jonathan Lethem related to comics. The first, and more serious essay, talks about the familiar Marvel heroes in more general terms, but the second takes a humorous look at the "Top Five Most Depressed Superheroes." I skimmed the first, but really dug the second. (This whole bunch of links was recommended by Ms. Johanna Draper Carlson - thanks, Johanna!) And speak of the devil - Jonathan Lethem also has a superhero oriented story in this coming week's "New Yorker," entitled "Super Goat Man" and available here. I'd comment but I want to wait until my issue arrives in the mail to read it.

* I usually try to avoid linking to comic-book movie hype articles, but this recent article by the Toronto Star is very interesting, because it points out some of the root causes for the current craze. There's a quote, courtesy of Comics2Film's Rob Worley, that puts its finger right on the nose of the phenomenon: "One thing comics bring is a certain level of market or audience testing. A property like Spider-Man has consistently been attracting an audience for decades, so from a Hollywood perspective, it's a lower-risk proposition. Even a lesser-known character like Daredevil has remained a viable comic character while many others fell by the wayside. There's something that makes that character appealing. So comics can be this sort of idea factory, where high-concept stories can be told very cheaply ... Hollywood can jump on the bandwagon."

* Phil Shannon of the Green Left Weekly takes a look at Marc Elliot's recent biography of Walt Disney, "Hollywood’s Dark Prince," here.

* Bulent Yusef of Ninth Art takes a look at comics piracy here.

* Also courtesy of Ninth Art, Antony Johnson takes a look at the myths and realities of writing comics here.

* Once again from Ninth Art - Marcos Castrillon takes a look at the career of Eurocomics legend Andre Franquin here. Sorry, folks, but if you think I'm going to try doing those accent marks in blog code, you've got another thing comics. Ain't gonna even try.

* Australian newspaper The Age profiles Art Spiegelman here.

* "Jayashree Rajagopalan is an artist, not by choice. Life forced her to take to art. Physically challenged - with just one hand and one leg - time hung heavy at first when she took to drawing cartoons. Now she is able to draw not only Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck but also other characters." Read more here, courtesy of New

* Courtesy of Mr. Neil "Spangles" Gaiman, we have this story from Mr. Dwayne McDuffie concerning Mr. McDuffie's surprising influence on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. It's a great story, one that further reinforces what I and many other people have always suspected: Clarence Thomas is, to say the least, quite removed from the mainstream of American thought in many subtle yet telling ways. I haven't read the entirety of "Icon," but I know enough to understand that Milestone Media's portrayal of a black conservative was, while not specious, certainly designed to pinpoint the fallacy of such a viewpoint through subtle satire. Reading comprehension: it's not just the law, it's a good idea.

* Also courtesy of Mr. Gaiman, here's a fun comic strip detailing Vertigo's "Secret Origins."

* "FROM royalty to political figures, celebrities and Bollywood stars, caricaturist and cartoonist Saadon Ishak has met, charmed and captured them all on paper. Saadon, or Don as he is popularly known, made a name for himself in the early 1980s as one of the pioneer cartoonists for the popular local comic series Gila Gila (Malaysia’s version of the famous Mad comics)." Read more here, courtesy of the Malaysian Star.

* Broken Frontier takes a look at the recent MAX relaunch of "The Punisher" from writer Garth Ennis here, comparing it favorably with Ennis' "Preacher." I'll have to reserve judgement - seeing as how the first issue of the MAX series sold out before I could even see it, I'm kinda forced into "waiting for the trade" on this one.

* Also courtesy of Broken Frontier, Steve Higgins discusses the thought processes that went into choosing three speakers for his "graphic narrative" lecture series here. Matt Kindt, Jeffrey Brown and Paul Hornschemeier all agreed - if I lived in the Chicago area, I'd be there, as the lectures are open to the public. If you're planning on being in Chicago next week, I'd e-mail Higgins and see if you could learn the details.

* "Kerry James Marshall always knew he would go after the big picture. But there came a day when his super-sized, story-telling painting wasn't enough. He decided to go for the big idea when plans for the 20-year career survey of this MacArthur fellowship-winning painter jelled into Kerry James Marshall: One True Thing, Meditations on Black Aesthetics, now at the Miami Art Museum. Rather than look back at his critically acclaimed canvases, many of which recount the legacy of the civil rights movement, the show is an exploration of Marshall's forays in the last few years into photography, video, installation art. There's also an intricately drawn series of comic strips called RYTHM MASTR about black superheroes inspired by Yoruba carvings and deities." Read more here, courtesy of The Miami Herald.

* "Ahmed Hoke found success as a graffiti artist. He's made it as a hip-hop producer. But as a comic-book artist, the L.A. hipster never got off the ground. So after years of drawing superhero stories, Hoke tossed the tights, forgot Superman and looked overseas -- toward Asia, to be exact, to a style known as 'manga.'" The Orlando Sentinel takes a look at the connections between manga and hip-hop here.

* Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin has posted an absolutely brilliant Grant Morrison promo poster from "back in tha day" - man, I actually remember seeing this crazy thing on the walls of more than one shop. Who could have thunk this man would one day be responsible for two of the most popular runs on "JLA" and "X-Men"? Not I...

* The Pittsburg Morning Sun talks with David Beach, a local comic book collector who put a small part of his collection up for display at Labette Community College, here. Link courtesy of Thought Balloons.

* Courtesy of Markisan Naso over at All The Rage - the recent Dave Sim Yahoo! conversations have been transcribed into a more-readable Q&A format and posted by The first page (of three) can be found here. There's fun stuff for "Cerebus" fans peppered throughout the conversation - and some real juicy nuggets, such that he and Gary Groth are apparently on speaking terms again and that a two-part interview in the Journal is not out of the question if Sim so desires.

* GF Willmetts, writing for the Computer Crow's Nest, takes a look at DC's "Adam Strange" Archives here.

* Jim Henley actually - gasp - reviews some comics. (I keed, I keed - but it has been a while, hasn’t it?) Among them are "Tell Me Something" by Jason, and "Mother Come Home" by Paul Hornschemeier - a book that almost totally flew under my radar when it first appeared. Damn it, I'm just not used to Dark Horse publishing worthwhile OGNs - it makes me dizzy.

* JW Hastings - AKA The Forager - takes a look at the original Neoconservative superfolk - Kirby's "New Gods" - here. It's quite frankly a very persuasive argument. That might be one of the reasons, as I pointed out in my recent review of Walt Simonson's "Orion," that the New Gods family of characters have always "felt" palpably out of place in the regular DC superhero universe, and why their motivations and adventures have never really synched well - or at least convincingly - with those of their four-color cousins in the "Justice League." Interesting.

* Finally, Sean T. Collins weighs in on the recent Blogosphere brouhaha that erupted over the disputed status of superhero books in the direct market as elucidated by Franklin Harris, here. I agree with most of what he says, so I won't add to it - save to once again thank Mr. Tom Spurgeon for being gracious enough to add his significant opinion to this rather-lopsided debate.

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