Sunday, February 29, 2004

Notable Links for 03/01

Before we get started today, I'd like to take a moment to correct a mistake a made in Friday's "Notable Links". The Igor Kordey interview was mistakenly attributed to Silver Bullet Comics and not Newsarama, the folks who actually did the interview. Don't really know how that happened, but I'm glad the matter was brought to my attention. I'd like to thank the folks at Silver Bullet Comics, especially Mr. Tim O'Shea, for being such good sports about this.

Mea culpa, mea culpa.

Anyway, on with the show.

* "Quebec cartoonist and illustrator Albert Chartier was buried yesterday in St. Jean de Matha, the small town near Joliette that was his home and the setting for his beloved comic strip Onésime for more than half a century." More accolades for late Canadian cartoonist Albert Chartier (who I think I mistakenly referred to as Arthur last week) here, courtesy of The Montreal Gazette.

* In what has to be a first for the American comics industry, a calm and civil complaint over perceived censorious behavior by newbie Manga publisher Del Rey has resulted in, gasp, the reversal of said censorious behavior. Seems they were planning on inserting some innocuous towels to protect American audiences from the scourge of bared breasts in Ken Akamatsu's "Negima". Well, somehow the uproar succeeded and "Negima" is now going to be published as-is - albeit shrink-wrapped with a parental advisory label. Read more here, courtesy of The Pulse.

* takes a look at Korean comics outreach organization Dugoboza on the release of its first anthology, "Manhwa Sekye Jungbok (Comics World Conquest)" here.

* The South Africa Sunday Times takes a look at South African cartoonist Joe Daly and talks with him about his debut graphic novel "The Red Monkey: The Leaking Cello Case" here.

* Marc-Oliver Frisch takes a look at Diamond's circulation numbers for DC comics and a few selected independent titles over at The Pulse. As per usual, their figures come courtesy of ICV2.

* Here's your Academy Awards link for the year: "Triplets of Belleville" director Sylvain Chomet takes a look at why there are so many bad animated films here, courtesy of The New York Times. (Link courtesy of Steve Lieber at the Comics Journal Message Board)

* "Comic Times", the first Chinese comics magazine aimed at an adult readership is apperantly off to a slow start. Read more here, courtesy of China's own People's Daily has the story here.

* The gradual transformation of the comics industry continues apace, and the story is even catching on in mainstream news outlets as well, such as this Indiana Star article (reprinted from the Denver Post).

* "Two Sunday and Daily Telegraph cartoonists have been nominated as finalists in the British Press Awards 2004. Wally Fawkes, who draws under the pseudonym of Trog, and Matthew Pritchett, alias Matt, have been shortlisted in the Cartoonist Of The Year category." Read more here, link courtesy of The Telegraph.

* Dr. Suess, AKA Theodor Geisel is no longer with us but tomorrow - Tuesday the 2nd - is the centennial of his birth. This article attempts to articulate some of the many ways that Geisel's affectionate surrealism have infiltrated the length and breadth of our culture - and no, their not talking about that stupidMike Myers movie. Courtesy of Canada's National Post.

* Still no successful claimant yet in Garry Trudeau's attempt to pinpoint an eyewitness to President Bush's National Guard service - but 1,300 people have applied so far. Read more here, courtesy of the Free Internet Press.

* The grand tradition of the Rube Goldberg machine continues apace, even though by now there are probably fewer people who know who Goldberg actually was than have ever been to Antarctica... maybe that's a slight exaggeration but not by much. Read about this year's annual Golderg contest here, courtesy of the Indianapolous Star.

* The South Florida Sun-Sentinel takes a look and discovers that, oh my goodness, kids like reading comic books!

* Kids also like playing the video-games - but hey, looks like maybe history could be repeating itself... courtesy of the CBC.

* Indian-based Yashraj Films have come up with a one-of-a-kind promotional strategy for their upcoming venture “Hum Tum” - they're going to be utilizing the films comic-strip tie-in to get interactive with movie fans across the internet. Read more here, courtesy of IndiaFM.

* Comicdom's own Peter Bagge takes a look at the work of political cartoonist David Horsey here, courtesy of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

* And David Horsey himself takes a look at how childrens' cartoons can illuminate international oponion on the United States here, courtesy again of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

* Our own Alan David Doane has five questions with Mr. Johnny Ryan of "Angry Youth Comics" fame. Its a good interview - "AYC" is one of my personal faves - but take it from me Mr. Doane has some real treats coming down the pipeline in the weeks to come.

* Mr. Sean T. Collins takes a look at Mat Brinkman's "Teratoid" heights here. I'll say it again: I really want this book.

* Art Spiegelman and his "Comix 101" show are still on the road - and this Friday they're gonna be at Duke University. Check it out here, courtesy of the Comics Journal Message board.

* Sarrah Young takes a look at Dave Sim's "Cerebus" and Jeff Smith's "Bone" here, courtesy of Canadian music site Exclaim.

* takes a look at the recent stampede of Hollywood names to Marvel comics here.

* What the does underground comix movement have to do with Huey Lewis and Nancy's Yogurt? Find out here, courtesy of Sara Perry and The Oregonian.

* Take a look at the comics industry's presence at the recent Public Library Association conference at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center here, courtesy of the Seattle PI.

* Is Fantagraphics planning on moving to Portland, Oregon? I wouldn't bet on it but The Stranger's Mike Whybark takes a look at the decline of Seattle's cartooning scene here.

* SciScoop has a conversation with cartoonist/scientist Jay Hosler here.

* If you're like me, you've probably been wondering how the hell Dark Horse managed to get all those wonderful "Flash Gordon" strips by Mac Raboy into print. Well, wonder no more because The Pulse has an interview with Dark Horse editor Philip Simon about just that very thing.

* Here's another story about the fact that Superman is apperantly a leap year baby, courtesy of the Edmonton Journal. However, as cute as that may be, nobody points out that it couldn't be true - Action Comics #1 came out in 1938, which wasn't a leap year. Oh well.

* "The Honolulu Star-Bulletin finished in the Top 10 for Special Sections in The Associated Press Sports Editor contest, it was announced last week. The winning entry for the national award was the Star-Bulletin comic book previewing the University of Hawaii football team's 2003 season." Read more here, courtesy of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

* What's the connection between comic strip artist Leslie Turner and the infamous Gerber baby? Find out here, courtesy of the Los Angeles Daily News.

* Spaeaking of Dark Horse, have you ever wondered what Mike Richardson is planning on doing with his courtside season passes for the Portland Trailblazers this year? Me neither but just in case you were wondering, he's not very happy with the 'Blazers. Link courtesy of KGW.

* Fighting The Good Fight Dept: You should really check out Its still kinda raw but there's no doubt that their hearts are in the right place. If you want up-to-the-minute updates on Mr. Cockrum's condition, as well as all the latest information on the various benefit auctions and, of course, Aardwulf's Cockrum Benefit Book, this is the place to be. Its as close to a no-brianer as you can get.

. . .

OK, that's that for today - man, that was a huge entry. I know I promised some sort of essay this week - its coming along but it seems ot have grown in stature the longer i work on it. It's coming. It'll be good, trust me.

Oh, got a quick plea: if anyone has a copy of The Comics Journal #255 they would care to part with, please drop me a line. I missed it and there's not a store in my immediate vicinity that has a copy, and Fantagraphics is sold out to boot.

Thanks and all that...

Friday, February 27, 2004

Notable Links for 02/27

* The monthly debate over Diamond's direct-sales figures continues apace. Check out Paul O'Brien's analysis of ICV2's figures here. Links courtesy of The Pulse and ICV2.

* "For nearly 40 years, between 1959 and 1998, the political cartoons of Stanley Franklin, who has died aged 73, appeared, first in the Daily Mirror, and then in the Sun. With the huge readership these tabloids attracted, his work had more influence than that of many cartoonists who more frequently collected awards." For an appreciation of Stanley Franklin, go here. Link courtesy of The Guardian.

* More details on the Gaiman/McFarlane decision: this time we've got a copy of the actual decision right here. Comic Book Resources takes a closer look at the issues still surrounding the rigths to Miracleman here.

* "[Japan's] Cultural Affairs Agency will hold a digital art festival in Tokyo Feb. 27-March 7 showcasing comics, animation, graphics, computer games and Web page designs from around the world." The Grand Prize winner of the festival's comics catagory is "Kajimunugatai - Kaze-ga Kataru Okinawa-sen (Wind Tales - The Battle of Okinawa Told by Winds)." Read more here, courtesy of The Japan Times.

* "Marvel Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE: MVL) ... today announced that its Vice Chairman Peter Cuneo will be presenting at the Raymond James & Associates Institutional Investors Conference in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday, March 2, 2004 at 3:25 p.m. EST. Marvel will also release 2003 financial results and host a webcast earlier the same day." Read more here, courtesy of Business Wire.

* USA Today has apperantly gotten itself in hot water with the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting In America over a controversial cartoon published as an advertisment in the newspaper's Feb 13th edition . Read more here.

* Late cartoonist and childrens-book illustrator Tom Feelings is remembered here, courtesy of

* Silver Bullet Comics has an interesting interview with up-and-coming talent LeSean Thomas. Although not very long, it does offer an interesting and succinct look at Dreamwave's brief and shaky history.

* Silver Bullet Comics also has a timely talk with Igor Kordey here. He's got a lot to say about evrything that's wrong with the corporate comics mentality today - both on the part of the fans and the publishers. Reading Kordey's words I became convinced of the fact that his working on the X-Men books to begin with was really quite odd.

* "The atmosphere is unmistakable. The scratchy scrivening of a dozen people hunched over drawing boards. The acrid fumes of Staedtler nibs rubbed raw, of wet ink, sweat and concentration. A comic jam is in progress." Guy Leshinski takes a look at Toronto's monthly Comic Jams, and the retrospective art show/public jam they have spawned here. Link courtesy of The Eye.

* I can't believe I forgot to mention Steven Grant's Permanent Damage yesterday - oh well, its mostly a repeat anyway (albeit a very nice repeat that I hadn't read before - oddly focusing on some of the same issues regarding the superhero genre that this here blogosphere has been debating for the last little while). He also talks about "The Passion of Christ" for a bit, if you're interested in these things.

* The Metro Pulse profiles cartoonist and musician Travix Gray on the eve of the release of "Mito XIII", a comics collection that also features accompanying music. Read all about it here.

* Art Spiegelman gets around: here's an article from the University of California, Berkeley's Daily Californian on the subject of a recent performance of his famous "Comix 101" lecture. In addition, he discusses his upcoming 9/11 graphic novel "In The Shadow of No Towers". OK, when is someone going to get the idea to record and release a version of "Comix 101" on DVD? That's a damn good question.

* Lehigh University's student paper The Brown and White features an article on a recent guest lecture by Oren Baruch Stier on the subject of Holocaust iconography in Art Spiegelman's "Maus".

* Silver Bullet Comics has a talk with the man behind Checker Book's recent Windsor McCay collections.

* Former Marvel president Jerry Calabrese is back in the news, after brokering a deal between NBC, Telemundo and Main Event Promotions to bring professional boxing back to network television. Read more here, courtesy of TV Barn.

* Movie Poop Shoot presents Scott Tipton's Comics 101: this week, in something of a departure, Prof. Tipton takes a more humorous look at DC's perennial third-stringer the Atom. His assessment of the Golden Age Atom is side-splittingly dead-on hilarious.

* "Toymaker Bandai is about to introduce a talking toy robot based on its internationally well known cartoon cat Doraemon, a robotic feline from the future." Yeah, its a toy, but it also looks pretty cool. Check it out here, courtesy of Japan Today.

* How is this not cool? Again, link courtesy of ICV2.

* Not even a super-hero can defeat the horror that is a slow news day. Courtesy of the Miami Herald.

* Somehow I'm thinking that this is not the best possible publicty for "Spider-Man 2". Link courtesy of Tampa Bay Online.

* And finally, Dave G has produced an indespensible tool for those of us who follow the comings and goings of this here blogosphere with nigh-religious fealty: a page that tells you when all your favorite weblogs have most recently updated. One stop shopping right here, folks - now you don't need me anymore! Wheee!

I don't have a clue how it works but it apperantly has something to do with "pinging".

Ping. Ping. Ping.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Notable Links for 02/25

* OK, first the big news that everyone probably already knows: the Good Guys Won.

Legal matters are never cut and dried under the best of circumstances and this litigation was no exception. As much as we all wanted to believe that Neil Gaiman was going to win, it never really seemed like it was a shoe-in - because sometimes these things don't work out that way. That's life. But - this time, at least, they did.

And in case you're wondering in what status this leaves the Miracleman rights, Mr. Gaiman has an answer for you here.

* I promised a more in-depth look at the life and work of the late Arthur Chartier if I could find one, and sure enough I did. Link courtesy of Canada's National Post.

* Renowned Indian cartoonist Clarence Rozario has passed away. Read more here (scan down a bit on the page), courtesy of the Chandigarh Newsline.

* The controversy over a recent racially-insensitive cartoon published in Columbia University's parady paper "The Fed" continues to cause controversy. Interestingly, the Fed's recent 'toon was apperantly only one of many recent incidents to escalate racial tensions on the Columbia campus. Read more here, courtesy of the Columbia Spectator.

* Online alternative media zine The Top Hat has a few comics-related items that might interest you. Chris Lanier has an engrossing study of Mat Brinkman's seminal debut "Teratoid Heights" here. Mr. Lanier also does a great job explicating Craig Thompson's "Blankets" here. Finally, Phil Nugent takes a wry look at both the "American Splendor" movie adaption and Terry Zwigoff's recent skewed holday picture "Bad Santa" here.

* "Josh Ferrin of the University of Utah has won this year's John Locher Award as best student editorial cartoonist, according to Tribune Media Services (TMS) editorial cartoonist Dick Locher." Read more here, courtesy of Editor & Publisher.

* OK, the enduring popularity of Roy Lichtenstein is not only a mystery to me but damn near an affront to my intelligence, but I would be disingenuous if I didn't link to this article on his work here, published in anticipation of the opening of a new retrospective of his work in London. Courtesy of The Daily Telegraph.

* Comics continue to take baby-steps into the nascent world of handheld computing - read more about BugMe! Comics Edition here, courtesy of eMediaWire.

* Wired takes a look at the recent Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco as part of an attempt to understand the still-changing nature of printed work vs. web-based work in the comics world. Man, that was more complicated sentence than necessary, no? Read all about it here.

* Silver Bullet Comics takes a look at the burning question of whether bad comics really exist here. Do I need to answer this?

* Douglas Wolk of the Minneapolis-based City Pages reviews Alan Moore's novel "Voice of the Fire" here.

* I never knew famed sci-fi author Harry Harrison drew comics in the 50's - I guess you learn something new every day. Link courtesy of the University of South Florida Oracle.

* Twelve year-old Jose Torres of Philadelphia wants to draw comics when he grows up. Good luck, kid, you're gonna need it! Read all about it here, courtesy of

* I had no idea Superman was a leap-year baby. I guess you learn something new and totally fucking useless every day. Read more here, courtesy of the London Times-Mirror.

* Thought that "interview" with Dave Sim I posted the link to yesterday was funny? Zach S. of Silver Bullet Comics interviews Neil Gaiman here, to similar effect.

* Want to help Fantagraphics and stick it to industry gnome Ted Rall at the same time? Here's how you can help... courtesy of The New York Press.

* The International Olympic Committee has published a new comic book called "The Truce Story", for distribution to schoolchildren across the globe in commemoration of this year's Olympic games in Athens. This will most likely be the most widely read comic of the year, folks, so I would suggest you read more here. Link courtesy of

* Who says comics creators can't branch into film? Well... at least, Scott Phillips and John Howard, the collaborators behind "Horny Biker Sluts" are going Hollywood. Their going to be directing an as-yet-untitled feature-length porn movie for Evil Angel studios. Read more here, but I wouldn't click on that link if you were under eighteen or reading in a public place. Link courtesy of - gulp - Adult Video News. Don't tell your parents.

* The purists may wail, but the march of manga-ka continues apace: M. Alice "Marty" LeGrow has won this year's Tokyopop Rising Stars of Manga competition, and has been rewarded with a multi-volume book deal for her troubles. Read more here, courtesy of the Anime News Network.

* OK, maybe its just a press release, but the fact that Titan Books is releasing a NEW Marshal Law graphic novel is really just super hella cool. Why isn't this bigger news? Link courtesy of The Pulse.

* Evan Dorkin has a number of interesting comments on a number of interesting things here. Thanks to Neilaien for the link.

* "Stagestruck Kids will present a cartooning and comic book art workshop Feb. 29 for kids in grades 2-12. The workshop will be taught by Dave Devries of Marvel Comics at the Stagestruck Performing Arts Studio, 1790 Springfield Ave., New Providence, New Jersey." Read more here (scan down the page a bit), courtesy of

* Sean T. Collins has written a very long response to the Journal's very long response to his very long letter of criticism printed in issue #258 of that selfsame magazine. In all honesty I can't say I even have the time to consider reading it right now, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't. Although there were some logical errors in Collins' initial letter, his main point was sound, and I am interested in (eventually) seeing if he can bolster his arguments further.

* Happy birthday to Neilalien. Maybe he'll be able to spend his birthday money to get something new besides all those Dr. Strange comics he must have worn to tatters by now... (Oooh, I know you didn't! I know I did!)

* It's almost too self indulgent, but what the hell, I'm only in this for the money anyway: the Pulse takes a look at the current crop of comics bloggers in today's installment of The Beat.


Anyway, that's that for today. Those of you interested in these things might like to know I'm planning (cross fingers) on possibly dropping another extended essay this weekend. If it gets anything near the response my last essay did, I might just make Alan David Doane's head explode. Which is the idea, after all.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Notable LInks for 02/25

Hopefully this is going to be a slow news day? I'm hoping? Pretty please?

* SPX (the Small Press Expo) and ICAF (the International Comics Arts Festival) are reunited. Like peanut butter and jelly, they just didn't make much sense apart. Read the press release here, courtesy of Comic Book Resources.

* For once a major newspaper is taking the unusual step of enlarging their comics section. The only catch is that in order to make the strips bigger, some of the strips have to go. Read about the Miami Herald's decision here, courtesy of Editor & Publisher.

* Igor Kordey has been fired as the artist of Marvel's 'Excalibur' relaunch. Condolences to Kordy - it seems like Marvel has been treating him particularly shoddy over this. Unfortunately, the chances of a fan boycott are slim to nil, seeing as how Kordy is not a fan favorite among the fanboys. I can't begin to describe just how soul-deadeningly evil it seems to me to see folks rejoice over someone - with a family, no less - being fired (someone who, from all appearances, did not commit any malfeasance or do his job badly, that is). Sigh. Bad ethical decisions get rewarded . . . again. Read about it here, courtesy of Newsarama.

* The debate over what to do with the former home of Mort Walker's International Museum of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, Florida, continues. Read more here, courtesy of the Palm Beach Post.

* The San Francisco Chronicle profiles Adrian Tomine of "Optic Nerve" fame here.

* Silver Bullet Comics talks with controversial Top Shelf creator Scott Mills here. Meanwhile, the Comics Journal message board reacts here, and somewhere Sweet Lady Comics is weeping.

* Alan David Doane has five questions with Chester Brown here.

* The Onion AV Club wants to talk to Dave Sim. Dave Sim is less than enthused. As with most things Sim-related, it doesn't stop there... go here for details. Link courtesy of Augie de Blieck.

* Beloved Spanish comic characters Mortadelo & Filemon have apperantly made the leap to the big screen, and helped revitalize Spain's domestic film industry in the bargain. Read more here, courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter.

* Proof that not only do cartoons still possess the ability to piss people off, but that cartoonists are apperantly still able to make ham-fisted and badly-articulated "satirical" points as well: A recent cartoon puiblished in Columbia's parody paper "The Fed" on the subject of Black History Month has apperantly caused quite the ruckus. Read all about it here, courtesy of the Columbia Spectator.

* "Carlton Stoiber, a government lawyer for 30 years, retired recently and turned to what he didn't have time to do before. He continues to consult in his field of nuclear law. But he's also climbing peaks over 14,000 feet and venturing into a new career as a cartoonist." Read more here, courtesy of the Washington Post.

* The Portland Tribune profiles a business that apperantly (?) serves as a comics wholesaler to the Portland area, the Buzz Bee Cafe... I'm a bit confused, though, because in all honesty this little blurb is barely enough to indicate anything at all.

* Further proof that comic books are corrupting the youth of the world: I don't really understand this whole "drifting" thing, but one of the reasons for its popularity is apperantly the racing manga "Initial D". Read more about how your sons and daughters are going to all die in fiery wrecks here, courtesy of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

* Pokemon hits India! The! World! May! Never! Be! The! Same! Read more here, courtesy of the Asia Times.

* "The Jews are one thing, but comicbook fans are a whole 'nother level." Not quite sure how to take that... but its still funny. You decide. Link courtesy of The New News.

* Yesterday I said I was mulling over the possibility of compiling all the links to all the counter-arguments my recent essay on super-heroes inspired - but it turns out that I don't need to because Sean T. Collins has already done a wonderful job of doing just that here. My thanks.

Oddly enough, the whole thing seems to have evolved into a rather bizarre debate on whether or not the blogosphere practices "groupthink" or not - in all honesty, I'm really not quite sure I have the interest in grokking all the different sides in this debate. It all just sort of seems silly, an opinion which Neilaien more or less shares with me. No offense, guys, but all things considered I can think of a great many better things to do than argue about the deep philosophical questions of blogging. In fact, I daresay that if I ever really felt the need to debate these things on any meaningful level, I'd pull the plug on my computer and take up macrame.

So, that's me for today. How's about you?

Monday, February 23, 2004

Notable Links for 02/23

* Québécoise cartoonist Albert Chartier has died. The only story I was able to find on this passing was this one. If I see another obituary in the coming week I will link to that as well.

* "Reporters Without Borders strongly protested after [Algerian] imams attacked journalists on the independent French-language press as 'apostates' and 'enemies of Islam', singling out cartoonist Ali Dilem of the daily Liberté.

"Several imams called for a boycott of these newspapers during Friday prayers on 20 February. They accused them of sowing discord (fitna) within the community of believers. Algerian television and radio broadcast the sermons, the theme of which is set by the religious affairs ministry." Read more here, courtesy of Reporters Without Borders.

* Former Marvel Comics CFO David Fremed has resigned from his position as CFO of Atari. Fremed served as Marvel's Chief Financial Officer for much of the 1990's, overseeing the company's growth from a $40 million privately held company into a $250 million NYSE traded company. Read more about his departure here, courtesy of Gamespot.

* Heidi MacDonald and The Pulse have scored something of a coup in managing to actually sit down and talk with DC's notoriously private President & Publisher Paul Levitz. Its an interesting interview, and a surprisingly candid one as well - although, it must be noted, Levitz is infinitely more nuanced in what he chooses to say and how to say it than any of his counterparts at Marvel - he manages to give the illusion of candor in some places where he's really not saying much at all. Still, kudos to the Pulse for getting as much out of him as they did. You can read it here.

* So Rich Johnston weighs in on the Image coup de'tat in this week's Lying in the Gutters, but doesn't have much more to add to what Newsarama already said. However, he does spend a little bit more time talking about possible reasons for Image's decision, in particularly the possibly ruinous possibility of Image losing their status as one of Diamond's premiere publishers, with all the perks that entails. At least he only gave it a red light - as I said, only time will tell on this one. Link courtesy of Comic Book Resources.

* Comixpedia takes a comprehensive look at the comics blogosphere here. Link courtesy of Alan David Doane.

* Will Eisner contonues to make just about everyone else in the comics industry look like the lazy slackers they are: he's in his late 80's and he's just now finishing up a new graphic novel exposing the historical fraud behind the infamous "Protocols of the Elders of Zion". Read more here, courtesy of the New York Times.

* Ninth Art has a career overview of Mike Mignola here.

* Since you're already there, take a look at Ninth Art's review of Dupuy and Berberian's JOURNAL D'UN ALBUM, a look at the French duo's unique and often taxing creative process.

* Alan David Doane has Five Quick Questions with Paul Hormscheimer, the cartoonist behind Forlorn Funnies and Mother, Come Home.

* Clobbering Time Cards & Comics of Irvington, NJ are fighting the good fight - they've donated a huge collection of signed comics, first issues and rarities to Aardwolf Comics, to be sold for the benefit of Dave Cockrum. Cockrum, the co-creator of Marvel's "All-New All-Different" X-Men, was recently hospitalized for a variety of conditions, including pnuemonia and various bacterial infections stemming from diabetes. Read more about the donation here, link courtesy of Silver Bullet Comics.

* Ever wonder just how historically accurate the adventures of Asterix & Obelix were in describing the journeys of the ancient Phoenecians? Wonder no more, thanks to the Lebanese Daily Star.

* Comics are being used as one of many tools to combat teen pregnancy and the spread of HIV/AIDS in Uganda. Population Services International (PSI) has launched ”Kikosi”, "a comic book with a teenage character living a positive life". Read more here, courtesy of the International Press Service.

* FunMail has taken the initiative of selling popular comic strips to cell-phone users and providers - and business has unsurpisingly been brisk. Read more here, courtesy of the San Mateo County Times.

* "Marvel Comic's 'X-Men Unlimited' [is] among the 21 eclectic recipients of the Eighteenth Annual Genesis Awards, presented by The Hollywood Office of The Humane Society of The United States (HSUS), celebrating 50 years of protecting animals." Read more here courtesy of

* Rocky Mountain News sports cartoonist Drew Litton won first place in a special category for editorial cartooning at the Colorado Press Association's annual journalism competition. Read more here.

* Time's Andrew D. Arnold takes a look at Henrik Rehr's "Tuesday" here.

* "At first glance, the 20-by-30 foot room could pass for a dorm room. Its walls and desks are covered in Marvel Comics actions figures. Superhero figurines rest atop computers.

"But the people who occupy the room are not teenagers, they are investigators with the Wayne County Sheriff's Internet Crime Unit. Posing as teenagers, they surf the Internet from their office in the county jail, accessing chat rooms in search of people trying to arrange dates with minors." Seems like an odd way to get into the minds of modern teenagers, but that's just me. Read more here, courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

* Finally, everyone and their mothers seems to have taken issue with my recent editorial on superheroes (scroll down to Sunday the 22nd for the original article). I'm not ignoring all the people who have taken the time and energy to reply to my thoughts - really, I'm not - but for right now I'm just not seeing the time to make any sort of lengthy replies on my schedule. Maybe later on in the week I'll get around to doing an omnibus of links for anyone interested in following this debate, but for now, I'll just say I'm flattered to have gotten everyone's panties in a bunch. Really, I am.
Notable Links for 02/23

* "Last week, the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association and the PEN American Center kicked off the Campaign for Reader Privacy, supporting efforts to amend Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act.

"The section allows the government to seize -- with a search warrant from a secret court, but without probable cause to suspect criminal action -- the library and bookstore records of individuals. It also puts the librarians and booksellers under a gag order, preventing them from challenging the order or notifying the people involved." The CBLDF is also involved in this campaign. Read more here, courtesy of

* "'American Splendor,' which revolves around the travails of comics connoisseur Harvey Pekar, won the Writers Guild of America Award for best adapted screenplay..." Go here for more, courtesy of Reuters.

* I discussed the Image turnover on Friday - Erik Larsen in as publisher, Jim Valentino out. Of course, it was to be expected that the negative rumors began spreading immediately - as we saw in this Newsarama article. Of course, these "further sources" were immediately debunked by Image officials, and the slippery nature of these rumors makes me inclined to disbelieve them myself - but that's hardly a scientific judgement. Quite frankly, excepting a bombshell announcement from one of the four remaining Image founders, there's no way to confirm any of this as of now. I'm going to be interested to see if Valentino makes a comment in the next few days. If you want to read the official Image press release, go here, courtesy of Comic Book Resources.

* Spaekin of Image, I mentioned the Masters of the Universe licensed titles as perhaps being a thorny issue in recent history, but it seems as if the books are not the prize I originally assumed. This is merely a press release, but it's worth reading as it points to a great deal of troubles the licensors, MVC, have had on both sides of the issue. Both their publisher, Crossgen, and the property's licensee, Mattel. It will be interesting to see how this story pays out - whether or not Image will have any interest in becoming a participant again, and whether or not Crossgen's continuing problems will effect MVC's ability to continue making comics. Link courtesy of Comic Book Resources.

* The San Jose Mercury News sat down with Art Spiegelman to discuss his forthcoming "In The Shadow of No Towers" book. Go here to read all about it.

* Former and current comics scribe Ann Nocenti (now going by "Annie") has stepped into the position of editor for the marijuana-advocacy magazine High Times - read more here. As an aside - do you think a position at a magazine like High Society will effect her possible emloyment at either of the Big Two? She's just recently begun to work for mainstream comics in the past year or so after a long absence, it will be interesting to see if the somewhat controversial nature of her current day-job will make her an unnattractive prospect for certain publishers...

* Ever wonder why newspaper strips are such an ossifed genre? Take a look at this sampling of reaction when the Montreal Gazette sent out a comics ballot.

* Joseph Szadkowski of the Washington Times takes a look at Marvel MAX's recent Thor: Vikings limited series, as well as other assorted odds and ends here.

* "Remember when comics cost a dime? Well, those days are about as far gone as hoop skirts and sugar rationing." The Nebraska Daily Nonpareil is just now catching up to the 1980's here, with their look at the recent Greater Omaha Comic Book Convention.

* The Western Missouri Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is using comics to help in their crusade against capital punishment - read more here courtesy of the Kansas City Star.

* "The first ever NBA Licensed comic book series is available at the NBA Store, Wal-Marts and at All the stories are family oriented. The series features Jason Kidd, Allan Houston, Stephon Marbury, Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson . . ." Courtesy of Stebe Serby and Kevin Kenan ("The Insiders") of the New York Post.

* "Webcomics can range from epic graphic novels that are several volumes long, to weekly updated three-panel strips. But webcomics do have a couple things in common. First of all, they are all online, and second, a great number of them are free." The Lompoc Record takes a look at the burgeoning world of internet comics here.

* The Johns-Hopkins Newsletter took a look at a recent gallery exhibit of comic art at the Maryland Institute of College Art, called "Comics On The Verge", and they definitely liked what they saw. Read about it here.

* Garry Trudeau wants to help our President clear himself of recent slanderous accusations on the part of the vast Left-wing conspiracy - don't you believe his intentions are noble? Read about it here.

* "Size doesn't matter when it comes to superheroes. Or so says Louisville artist Mario Gully. The 30-year-old's new comic book, 'ANT,' published by Arcana Studios, was released Feb. 11." Read more here, courtesy of the Louisville Courier-Journal.

* Here's a look into a new vanguard of Christian-themed adventure comics, courtesy of The Miami Herald.

* As if Dave Sim weren't controversial enough, he's joining forces with the CGC and Paradise Comics of Ontario to produce a special limited & signed "slabbed" edition of Cerebus #300. Go here for the details & press release, courtesy again of Comic Book Resources.

* Finally - just in case you were confused, this ain't Journalista!, so I can link to stuff like this when I want to. So there. Hawkgirl Roolz!

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Letters, We Get Letters, We Get Sacks and Sacks of Letters

In case some of you weren’t aware, I do some writing for The Comics Journal occasionally. The recently released issue #258 features a review I wrote for Grant Morrison’s recent Vertigo series “The Filth”. I was quite pleased with how that review came out. It was originally a lot shorter, but when Milo George saw just how impressed I was with the book he offered me the chance to expand on some of my ideas. I did, and I think that of all the pieces I’ve had in the Journal to date it’s the one I’m most happy with. Credit where credit is due – it wouldn’t have been half of what it is without Mr. George’s help.

Anyway, I recently received an e-mail from a fellow named David Fiore in response to this review. In case you’ve never heard of the fellow, he runs his own blog, Motime Like The Present, which has to be one of the more intelligent and literate blogs you’re likely to find. But, he had some issues with my review, and I thought it best to answer some of his critiques in this forum.

”I wrote about your piece on Motime Like The Present yesterday--and then it occurred to me: you probably have never read my blog, because when I write about comics, I always write about the s-h's...

“Fair's fair and I wanted to give you a chance to respond, if you are so inclined:

“The "Firing Line" section features a review of Morrison's The Filth, by Tim O’Neil. Now, I'm in no position to debate the merits of that series (I'm "waiting for the trade"), but that's not particularly important, in this case, because O'Neil spends about 50% of the article whining ADD-style about the perils and temptations that comics-writers must face (awww!) and the baleful influence of superheroes in general.

“What are we to do with this statement?

“’The problem with mainstream comics is not that superheroes are somehow inherently bad, but that they are inherently uninteresting.’

“Send for a doctor? Or just laugh?

“Rose @ Pieratikos has noted that:

[Super-heroes] are perfect metaphors for a lot of things, which I find so fascinating. I think it’s that lack of specificity, lack of groundedness that lets people make whatever identifications they want. It really has to do with any kind of devotion or single-mindedness or dedication, I think. Or leaders or people working in groups or corporate drones, even…

“That sounds kinda ‘interesting’ to me, Tim! Almost inherently so... I'm not too into the movies that have been wrung out of Marvel & DC material, and I know next to nothing about the quality of the current superhero books, but don't you think that the popularity of the former and the persistence of the latter go a long way toward disproving your statement? (ah, but you are above the herd of fools who go in for that sort of nonsense, aren't you? fine--although that makes you a kind of superman yourself...)

“And it only gets worse, 'cause after delivering this impassioned plea on the behalf of ‘talented’ writers reduced to the indignity of producing "hackwork" in order to feed themselves, he proceeds to damn Animal Man with faint praise! Tim, could you please tell me, precisely, what is ‘jejune’ and ‘cloying’ in Morrison's ‘exploration of the nature of morality and love’? We can fight about this if you wanna!”

Well, I don’t really want to fight, no, because I think there’s a lot of room here for reasonable people to disagree. I’m not offended by your viewpoint – even if I don’t agree with a lot of it.

I would like to first disabuse you of the notion that I dislike superheroes. Although I am very harsh on the genre in my critical capacity, I do still get a lot of enjoyment out of them. I grew up living, breathing and sleeping the damn things. I never really stopped loving them – I’m just not about to let my admitted affection for the genre overwhelm what I consider to be my reasonable critical faculty.

Is this disingenuous on my part? I don’t think so. Honestly, everyone has their own particular “guilty pleasures” – something they consume even know they know its not really that good for them. The only difference is, I don’t feel particularly guilty about buying and reading some superhero books. I’m not going to lie to myself about the genre’s limitations, however, just because I get a kick out of reading them.

I’ll agree with you that superheroes are metaphors, at least at their roots. Sometimes these metaphors can even be harnessed to the service of a good story – but most of the time these metaphors go unobserved. And I also think that because of the simplistic nature of morality in most superhero books, these metaphors just don’t stand up to a rigorous scrutiny.

Or, to put it another way: it sounds as if you’re saying that the ideas behind superheroes are more interesting than the superheroes themselves. I can understand this. Captain America is, to use an easy and fairly uncontroversial example - a metaphor for American political mores in turbulent times, and Captain America’s attitudes have changed to reflect similar dynamic changes in our country and our world in the forty or so years since he’s been resurrected. (I think his first run during WWII can be dismissed, in this context, as propaganda.) But when you have Captain America fighting Batroc, its just not a metaphor for anything so much as, um, just two guys wailing on each other. I think when all is said and done the metaphorical underpinnings for these characters are basically superfluous to the main reason they exist – to fight each other, to look cool, and to, nowadays, hopefully graduate to a major motion picture and Underoos. But mostly to fight each other.

Because the thing that gets to me about superheroes is that, ultimately, they're just inherently stupid. You can hem and haw all day about their metaphorical underpinnings but at the end of the day they’re too detached from reality to really say anything significant. People don’t dress in funny costumes and run around on rooftops beating each other up – they don’t gain superpowers and devote themselves to the common good – they don’t form clubs and societies to combat evil scientists and giant purple starfish. None of these things (especially the damn purple starfishes) have any bearing or relation to reality as we know it.

The best science-fiction and fantasy stories can approach the most bizarre and unbelievable situations and imbue them with plausibility through psychological depth. Failing that (as is the case with Tolkien) writers can suspend disbelief by creating a plausible alternative to conventional psychological and societal mechanisms. Superheroes just don’t work when you look at them too closely because they supposedly inhabit a world very similar to our own. The only reason the stories work at all at this point is through the virtue of a Byzantine series of genre conventions, ossified and hardened by generations of recycling, and increasingly incoherent to the uninitiated.

Like I say, If I want to sit down and read the latest issue of the Fantastic Four (which I just did, actually) I can put on my reader’s hat and enjoy the hell out of it. But I can’t sit here in a serious discussion of aesthetics and tell you that the books holds up at anything above the level of a soap opera or action movie - because it doesn’t.

So, yes, from a critical and aesthetic standpoint, I do believe superheroes are inherently uninteresting. Do my opinions count for much? Not really, and especially not when you look at how popular superheroes are right now (ironically, in just about every medium except comics). But there you go. You may find them fascinating on many deep and meaningful levels, but I do not. I’m going to read them and enjoy them but I’m not going to spend any longer than I have to analyzing them because I just don’t believe they can hold up to that kind of scrutiny.

(I should note that there are obvious exceptions, there are a few superhero books that I do believe hold up to this kind of critical scrutiny. I just discussed the Milligan/Allred ‘X-Force’ a few days back, for example, which I absolutely adored and think will come to be regarded as one of the highlights of best comics in years. But . . . how many ‘Dark Knight Returns’ are published every year? I think Morrison does some interesting things with the genre, and Alan Moore’s ABC books are very good, but in terms of real critical meat that’s, what, 1 or 2% of the mainstream industries output? Most of it is stupid people in tights hitting each other... you can see why my expectations are low.)

I think anyone who sits down to write a superhero story should take a long and hard look at just what it is that makes the genre so hidebound, so calcified and almost decrepit in its mannerisms and its conventions. After so much water has been under the bridge, it seems that it almost takes a genius to find some new life in the genre, to find stories tell that need telling as superhero stories, that take advantage of those things the genre can do that no other genre can. Take the unreality, take the genre conventions and use them to tell a story that is uniquely suited to exploit these limited restrictions. It’s not impossible – but as I said in the Journal the amount of effort almost makes you think it isn’t worth the while. That’s what makes superheroes uninteresting.

If you want to write a story about saving the whales, why not just write a story about whales and not about Superman saving the whales? If you want to write a story about the inefficiencies of the criminal justice system, write a courtroom drama without men in red tights beating up ninjas. By injecting the spandex into these situations you also inject too many distracting and disorienting elements to keep your original message intact.

So many superheroes are uninteresting because they exist only to propagate trademarks. For the most part the most interesting and essential work on any given character is done by the people who create him – because the understand what he’s all about, they understand the metaphors they drive the conflict and fuel the drama. In a perfect world, Spider-Man would have ceased publishing when Ditko left – because while there’s been some nice work done in the intervening years none of it has held a candle to Lee & Ditko’s in terms of the sheer simplicity and unadorned efficiency of their model. Spider-Man is basically uninteresting to me now because I’ve read Lee & Ditko’s – everything else might as well be fanfic because they’ll never be able to capture that spark again.

Man, where was I?

Oh yeah. I recognize that a great many people can wax poetic about superheroes, can write some pretty interesting stuff on the genre when they want to – but most of it just seems kinda silly to me. I mean, if you want to talk about how great Mozart sounds on the kazoo, you’re perfectly entitled to so, but I’m also entitled to think you’re rather missing the point. Mozart on kazoos might be fun for a lark, but its just kinda silly on the face of it. Even if 90% of all the records in the store became kazoo music, it wouldn’t change the fact that the kazoo is an instrument with an extremely limited range. There are a few things that the kazoo can do, true, but the kazoo just looks silly trying to play Mozart or Back or the Beatles or even Slipknot. And just because everyone is playing the kazoo doesn’t mean that I’m going to change my own standards to reflect this – I’m no Objectivist but I’ll stand by my own perceptions in the face of popular scorn for as long as you care to scorn me.

And as for “Animal Man”, well, I quite liked the series. But again, I find myself wondering what someone as talented as Morrison could have done if he hadn’t had to channel what was, at its core, a very sweet and honest story about personal loss through the filter of a third-tier DC superhero book. I’m not going to say that he should have written a straight autobiographical story or anything like that – but it seems odd that he should have used that particular platform for that particular message. But, then again, Morrison’s work has always managed to use the unique aspects of the genre to tell interesting stories – as I said – so I can’t really complain about that part of it.

No, the parts of “Animal Man” that didn’t quite ring true were, from a craft standpoint, the parts where Morrison’s reach clearly exceeded his grasp. Its all in the eye of the beholder – one man’s jejune is another man’s profound – but, for instance, the part in the last issue with the flashlights on the hills just seemed forced and manipulative. Purely from a mechanical standpoint, it was an obvious and derivative mechanism that made me cringe when I read it the first time. By now, though, Morrison has mostly outgrown these types of gaffes, but it still reads like the work of a young man – a talented, passionate and worldly young man – but still a young man.

. . .

And that, as they say, is that – I really had no desire to write this much but that’s pretty much the story of my life. Maybe I’ll post a review or something tomorrow – maybe not – but at least you can expect the linkblogging to resume on Monday.

Hi yo silver and away . . .

Friday, February 20, 2004

New Review For All The Kiddies

Thanks to the good folks at the Poopsheet I've got a new review up here - this time I take a stab at the new Dani Siciliano CD, "Likes..." from !K7 Records. (Scroll down past the first review, its the second down).

I have decided that the linkblogging will be a weekday thing, and the weekends will be time to catch up on other stuff - including, just maybe, some more reviews. Also got a couple letters to answer but I don't want to rush it so I might not get to them immediately. We'll see.
Hey, Kids! Reviews!

New review up thanks to the good folks at Poopsheet - this time I take a look at the brand-new Dani Siciliano album, "Likes..." released on !K7 records. Go here for a looksie (second review down).

I'm thinking this weekend will see some actual commentary... I'm taking the weekend off from linkblogging and news commentary. If that's all you're in for, check back in on Sunday night. Seeya.

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!
Notable Links for 02/19

I was wrong. Yesterday I predicted that everyone would be talking about the stupid X-Men revamp... and, while its true that some were, the big was Kevin Smith signing on to a Green Hornet movie. Eh - who cares about the Green Hornet? That's what I want to know.

* Ray Charles Senate, a cartoonist who worked under the name "Ping", has died. Although he experienced a successful second career in broadcasting, "Ping" was published in Colliers, The New Yorker and the Saturday Evening Post during the waning days of the 'Golden Age' of magazine publishing (the late 40's and early 50's). Read more here, courtesy of WIBW.

* Here's a pretty accurate essay on the torpid and uncontroversial state of editorial cartooning. What's unusual is the fact that its being reprinted by al Jazeerah.

* Speaking of editorial cartooning, are you going to be in the Lexington area on April 22-24? If so, you might be able to swing by the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists convention, which is even rumored to have a public event or two this year. Read more here (scroll down a bit), courtesy of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

* This is probably old hat to some (most?), but if you need a refresher on where the donkey/elephant political imagery comes from, and its connection to the history of editorial cartooning, Lisa Fleming of the Naples Daily News has an informative and fairly in-depth essay on the subject here.

* Someone is obviously unclear on the concept. Courtesy of the NWI Times.

* Here's your movie link of the day, a lengthy (very lengthy) interview with Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro, courtesy of the movie site I debated whether or not I should post it, but I know there are a lot of folks who dig the Hellboy action (never quite saw the charm myself, but there's no denying Mignola's talented).

* Mark Rahner of the Seattle Times has a review of Fantagraphics' recent Will Elder coffeetable book - 'Will Elder - The Mad Playboy of Art'.

* Douglas Wolk has a go at Chester Brown's 'Louis Riel', courtesy of

* "'Superheroes, science fiction and Jerry Lewis -- I'm the emperor of the nerds, the god of geeks,' Stanford associate professor of art and art history Scott Bukatman writes candidly in an essay on mutant superheroes, one of eight in his brightly illustrated new book, Matters of Gravity: Special Effects and Supermen in the 20th Century (Duke University Press, 2003)." Read more here, courtesy of the Stanford Report.

* Opus the Penguin has apperantly weighed in on the subject of gay weddings. Didn't Burke Breathed say he was going to stay away from overt politicizing a la Bloom County? I guess the harsh criticism and tepid response to 'Opus' has sent him running for familiar ground... Link courtesy of the Windy City Media Group.

* Sean T. Collins weighs in on a number of interesting things here. The topics include Stuart Moore's latest chicken-scratchings, as well as a particularly harsh albeit well-deserved thrashing of this inept defense of super-heroes. Could that sentence have possibly been more awkward?

* Steven Grant delivers a particularly cogent appreciation for Julie Shwartz here, in addition to opining on the particularly sorry state of modern comic book covers. Yeah, most modern covers suck, they really do. Link courtesy of Comic Book Resources.

* Also courtesy of Comic Book Resources, here's an interesting look at how Boneyard Press is trying to use ancillary DVD's to drum-interest in their latest horro anthology. At least they're trying, right?

* "Cartoonist Duane Barnhart spent the week of Feb. 9-13 in the Phillips School District as an artist-in- residence. The week began with special assembly programs at Phillips Elementary and Catawba schools which were attended by all students." Read more here, courtesy of The Bee of Phillips, WI.

* "Morrie Turner, best known for his comic strip Wee Pals, will be one of the featured speakers at the Gold Country Book and Authors Forum on March 6." For a short appreciation of Turner, go here. Link courtesy of the Amador Ledger-Dispatch.

* Wondering what AK was thinking about the X-Men relaunch? Of course you were. Still the best comics columnist around, for my money. Here's a little note to AK: people are going to stalk you all across the internet for the rest of your natural born days until you get a new regular gig. Man, just talk to Chris, I'm sure he'd love to have you back on board. Do it for the children. Why doesn't anyone think of the children?

* Finally, here's a bit of non-news. I came this close to actually buying a bleedin' Indigo Girls CD today. Why? Simple reason: beautiful cover art by none other than Jaime Hernandez. Go see it. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Notable Links for 02/18

There's a lot to talk about today in the news, so why do I get the sinking feeling that most everybody is just going to be talking about that new X-Men revamp that finally got leaked? Sigh.

I was thinking about possibly doing a reveiw write-up of something or other today, but this ended up taking more time tonight than I had planned. So, maybe tomorrow...

* "Late in the day on 15 February 2004, journalist Saïda Azzouz, of the daily Le Matin, and cartoonist Ali Dilem, of the daily Liberté, were taken in for questioning at the Algiers police station. No official reason was given for their detention. Police were searching for copies of a new book by Mohamed Benchicou entitled, "Bouteflika : an Algerian imposture". Azzouz and Dilem were released a few hours later." Courtesy of Reporters Without Borders, read more here.

* In an action similar to Monday's holding action against Michigan's recent censorship statute, Arkansas judges have enacted a similar stopgap pending a similar court challenge to that state's similar Act 858, designed to prohibit the expsure of sexually-explicit material to children. Read all about it here, and if you want to read the original article about the statute, go here. The last two links are courtesy the good folks at Newsarama.

* "The artist and cartoonist Norman Thelwell has died at the age of 80. The artist, famous for his drawings of a little girl on a fat pony, died in a nursing home on Saturday after a period of prolonged illness, his agent Ann Mansbridge said. He had also been suffering from Alzheimer's disease." Read about it here, courtesy of icWales.

* Letterer Bill Oakley has died. Although details are still being confirmed, The Pulse has posted an appreciation by Chris Eliopolous.

* Cartoonist Robert Jack Ellenberger has passed. I can't seem to find any links to any of his work, however... if anyone knows what this man did, please pass along word. Read about his passing here, courtesy of the Boulder News.

* "Marvel Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE:MVL), a leading global character-based entertainment licensing company, today announced that the Chairman and CEO of the Company's Marvel Studios division, Avi Arad, will participate in an audio webcast in conjunction with the 2004 Smith Barney Citigroup New York Leisure Conference..." Read more here, courtesy of Business Wire.

* Bitpass, a proponent of the oft-heralded micropayments technology, has instituted a new community based music retailing software called Mperia. Although this seems to be primarily music oriented for the time being, its not hard at all to imagine how this exact same model could be utilized for comics on the internet. Read more here, courtesy of the Silicon Valley Biz Ink.

* In a move that should surprise absolutely no one, the last vestige of Marvel's Epic imprint, the Epic Anthology, has been ignominiously canceled after only one issue. No word on whether or not the participating creators will be paid for their unpublished work. Read more here, courtesy of Comic Book Resources.

* The long-standing cultural impasse between Korea and Japan seems to be shifting ever so slightly. Go here to read about how sumo wrestling is bridging this particular cultural gap, and how the divisions between manga and manhwa could also be changing. Link courtesy of Stars & Stripes.

* Speaking of bridging cultural gaps, Spider-Man is apperantly very popular in India as well. Read more here, courtesy of AgencyFaqs.

* "[Michael] Williams, a Republican running for the 5th Congressional District seat [in Alabama], [has proposed] a 'NASA tax' of 1% on all science fiction books, comic books, space sciences books and any other space-related literature." Read more here, courtesy of

* Scots cartoonist Stanley McMurtry, AKA "Mac", has recieved the prestigious honor of the MBE - he is now a Member of the Order of the British Empire. Read more here, courtesy of News.Scotsman.Com.

* Someone in DC's public relations department is doing a good job - here's another review of Vertigo's upcoming "Lovecraft" hardcover, this time courtesy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

* Finally, here's a profile of Ruben DeLuna, Texas A&M student and cartoonist behind The Battalion's long-running "Fish" strip. Courtesy of The Battalion.