Thursday, January 01, 2004

 
News of the Year -- Here's the best comics news of 2004 so far -- and it's unlikely better news will come along any time soon. Dan Clowes is expanding his story Ice Haven into a graphic novel. Details in a Dan Clowes interview at Readers Voice. Also worth noting is LA Weekly's Joe Sacco interview.

 
New to the Blogroll -- I just added Shawn Hoke's excellent column The Wall to the blogroll in the right-side column of goodness.

Oh, and happy 2004, everyone.

 
Fantagraphics News -- Here's the latest newsletter from America's finest comics publisher, Fantagraphics Books:

The F.B.I. Informant
Vol. IV, #7
December 31, 2003


Welcome to our final newsletter of 2003! Thanks to everyone who has helped us get through the year and we look forward to bringing you some amazing projects in 2004. In the meantime, here's a quick rundown of what's come out since the last newsletter, and then ON WITH THE NEWS!


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NEW RELEASES [SCROLL TO BOTTOM FOR INFO]:
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* A.B. FROST'S STUFF & NONSENSE
* WILL ELDER: THE MAD PLAYBOY OF ART
* YOUNG GODS & FRIENDS by Barry Windsor-Smith
* ZIPPY ANNUAL 2003 by Bill Griffith
* MANIAC KILLER STRIKES AGAIN by Richard Sala
* BLAB! Vol. 14 by various artists
* BELLYBUTTON COMIX #1 by Sophie Crumb
* APE by Ted Jouflas
* LOVE & ROCKETS #9 by Los Bros Hernandez
* HATE ANNUAL #4 by Peter Bagge
* EVIL EYE #11 by Richard Sala
* BLACK HOLE #11 by Charles Burns
* THE COMICS JOURNAL #257 with Rick Griffin
* ANGRY YOUTH COMIX #6 by Johnny Ryan
* MABEL NORMAND & FRIENDS by various
* THE POGOSTICK #2 by Columbia & Persoff
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BACK IN PRINT:
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* MALICIOUS RESPLENDENCE by Robert Williams
* PALESTINE by Joe Sacco
* SAFE AREA GORAZDE by Joe Sacco
* USAGI YOJIMBO Vols. 5 & 7 by Stan Sakai
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DEITCH NABS WINSOR McCAY AWARD, TRIBUTE IN L.A.
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Congratulations are due to GENE DEITCH for receiving ASIFA-HOLLYWOOD's prestigious WINSOR McCAY AWARD. Deitch is of course the renowned animator and author of Fantagraphics CAT ON A HOT THIN GROOVE.


Each year a Winsor McCay Award is awarded to a maximum of three individuals in recognition of lifetime or career contributions to the art of animation in producing, directing, animating, designing, writing, voice acting, sound and sound effects, technical work, music, professional teaching, or for other endeavors which exhibit outstanding contributions to excellence in animation.


The presentation of the award will be made on Saturday, Feb. 7th at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, CA. For you Los Angeleans, there will also be a special tribute screening devoted to Deitch at the historic, restored Grauman's EGYPTIAN THEATRE on Hollywood Blvd. (home of the L.A. based AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE) on Tuesday, Feb. 10th. The theatre features state of the art projection - 35mm, 16mm, and all forms of video and digital projection.


Full details of the film program still being decided, but the plan is to include one of Deitch's earliest cartoons, BUILDING FRIENDS FOR BUSINESS, as well as 35mm prints of SCOPE TERRYTOONS, TOM TERRIFIC, MUNRO and other Rembrandt and Weston Woods productions. Plans are also underway for a Q & A/book signing with Deitch at the screening.


CONGRATULATIONS to one of the all-time swell guys we've met in this crazy cartoon racket.


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READ ABEL'S LA PERDIDA #1 -- FOR FREE!
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WHAT A DEAL! JESSICA ABEL's LA PERDIDA five-issue miniseries has been widely hailed as Abel's most fully-realized and ambitious work to date, but we sold out of the first issue earlier this year and have been unable to reprint it due to our ongoing financial struggles (issues #2 and #3 are both available; #4 and #5 have yet to be published). As a result, Abel has posted the entire contents of LA PERDIDA #1 on her site (you'll find links on the Fanta site as well). We think it will pay off, because once you read the entire, 48-page issue you'll be hooked and buy #2 and #3 so fast that we'll be able to afford that reprint of #1 in no time:


http://www.artbabe.com/comicsandart/perdida/perdida1/perdidapt1.html


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CHRIS WARE & IRA GLASS TO GIVE UCLA LECTURE
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More details as the event approaches, but CHRIS WARE and THIS AMERICAN LIFE's IRA GLASS will take part in a public conversation at UCLA's ROYCE HALL in Los Angeles, CA on April 10. Titled "Visible and Invisible Drawings," tickets start at $17 for UCLA students and $28 for non-students.


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FRANK THORNE DOES JERSEY & PLAYBOY
----------------------------------
Author FRANK THORNE will be doing a signing for his new book, THE CRYSTAL BALLROOM, at the new Barnes & Noble in Clark, NJ on February 24 at 7:30 PM. Meanwhile, any of you Thorne fans who receive THE PLAYBOY CHANNEL in your cable television lineup should keep your eyes peeled for PLAYBOY'S WORLD OF CARTOONS AND FUNNIES. The show features a lead interview with the longtime cartoon contributor, who also performs with a model costumed as Thorne's characters MOONSHINE MCJUGS and GHITA.


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RARE SPIEGELMAN ON eBAY
-----------------------
Speaking of our ongoing effort to, well, make money, we're auctioning off rare items on eBay. Right now we're offering an extremely rare copy of BREAKDOWNS by Art Spiegelman. The auction lasts another week, get the full details here:


http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2214055702


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LOVE & ROCKETS: EMPHASIS ON THE LOVE
------------------------------------
Don't miss the special, DOUBLE-sized TENTH issue of LOVE AND ROCKETS, coming in March. JAIME closes a chapter in Maggie's life with a special 20-page centerpiece story. On the 'BETO side of the fence, his "Julio's Day" serial returns with the first of several longer chapters, each of which will establish the serial as Gilbert's possible MAGNUM OPUS (if that's possible from the author of POISON RIVER and PALOMAR).


This issue also features a number of fun shorts, including Gilbert's ultimate "Roy" epic, as Roy is joined by Madame X, her psychiatrist Dr. Fausto, the Little Stunt Boy, and sister Mary Joseph and the monster she covets in a SUPERFRIENDS-type super-team mission to combat Roy's nemesis, the Froat. There's also a "Whatever Happened to...?" one-pager for many of the older LR characters (Castle Radium, Inez and Bang Bang, Errata Stigmata, Emico from Twitch City, and more) -- and the rousing CONCLUSION to the Beto/Mario psychothriller "Me for the Unknown"! With a few other surprises, this issue is a virtual graphic novel unto itself with 50 pages of all-new work from Los Bros., but it's all for the price of a regulah ol' comic book! ($5.95, that is.)


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PW, AMAZON BOOKS OF THE YEAR:
-----------------------------
As briefly mentioned last time (we got word just as we were going to press), Fantagraphics placed two books - GILBERT HERNANDEZ's PALOMAR and SPAIN RODRIGUEZ's NIGHTMARE ALLEY -- on PUBLISHERS WEEKLY's "Best of 2003" graphic novels list. But, we completely neglected to mention that PATRICK ROSENKRANZ's fantastic history book, REBEL VISIONS: THE UNDERGROUND COMIX REVOLUTION 1963-1975, was named to PW's "Best of 2003" illustrated books list, and also showed up on AMAZON.COM's "Best Of 2003" illustrated books list as well. Congratulations, Patrick!


The special PW "YEAR IN BOOKS" coverage appears in the Nov. 17 issue and can be read in full online at:


http://publishersweekly.reviewsnews.com/ index.asp?layout=article&articleid=CA336200


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CARTOONISTS SPEAK
-----------------
A new PETER BAGGE interview is available online at:


http://www.comicbookbin.com/charlie02.html


A new DANIEL CLOWES interview is available online at:


http://www.readersvoice.com


----------------------------
WHO DOESN'T LOVE CHRIS WARE?
----------------------------
The Nov. 17th issue of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY gave Chris Ware's QUIMBY THE MOUSE a starred review and had this to say: "This large-format collection of Ware's early work... still feels amazingly fresh... All of the work is packaged impeccably - Ware's beautiful gold foil stamped cover alone is worth the book's price, while his running joke that the book is, in fact, a discarded library book is funny and touching, underscoring comics' ephemeral quality."


Now, it's funny that they should mention it, because we here at FBI HQ would like to specifically address the "discarded" nature of the QUIMBY book. Due to the volume of calls and letters we have received, FANTAGRAPHICS has had to hire its own HOMELAND DEFENSE TEAM to combat the onslaught of demands that we send book buyers "correct" copies of QUIMBY THE MOUSE. So, many thanks to PUBLISHERS WEEKLY for clearing up this confusion. If any Defense Team field agents are reading, you are hereby dismissed and being replaced with a Xerox from PW.


Mr. Ware's QUIMBY garnered more praise from FOREWORD MAGAZINE: "The hard cover is utterly spectacular, combining cartooning with ornate baroque flourishes and gold trim, and the artwork inside (a mix of color and black and white) is diverse, well executed, and beguiling..."


Flanking a review of MADONNA'S new book, QUIMBY was also featured in the Sunday edition of the PENNSYLVANIA PATRIOT-NEWS (Nov. 9th): "... Ware manages to smoothly juggle such morose themes as loneliness, the death of a loved one, failed romance, despair and the pains of childhood. Such topics may not be what the average reader turns to a comic book for, but Ware's excellent sense of design and restless experimentation make the journey worthwhile. Few artists today are able to handle such intense and painful emotions with such grace and stunning inventiveness (not to mention black humor)."


Bathe in the well-deserved adjectives, Mr. Ware!


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WISH IT TO THE CORNFIELDS, JIMMY
--------------------------------
Do you like comics about big-eyed cuties taking their shirts off (momentarily) and flaunting their catholic plaid dresses in your face? Yes, us too, but thankfully the folks at FOREWARD have exhibited better taste, paying tribute to JIM WOODRING's glorious THE FRANK BOOK. "The nearly wordless THE FRANK BOOK by Jim Woodring draws the eye like a bejeweled train wreck," it is written.


Meanwhile, if you haven't purchased THE FRANK BOOK YET, you'd better: the first printing is almost gone and available only via mail order. If you don't, you'll regret it.


But don't take our word for it: DAZED & CONFUSED'S Sylvia Fargo wrote a glowing review of JIM WOODRING'S THE FRANK BOOK last month. "Jim Woodring's deeply hallucinogenic Frank comics have been transporting fans far from this mundane world through its acid ink-splashed pages since back in the early '90s. Based in Seattle, Woodring is widely considered once of the most important cartoonists living today and Frank is an endearing guide into the mind of an artist who it seems has consumed just enough conscious-expanding substances to twist his imagination, but not so many as to dull its edges." Whoa, don't eat the brown Pushpaw, folks.


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I HATE COMICS BUT I LOVE GRAPHIC NOVELS
---------------------------------------
This past November, TIME.COM'S ANDREW D. ARNOLD braved the potentially weary discussion of, "What exactly is a comic book?" Thanks to Scott McCloud, this is of course a game that has become almost as ubiquitous as Trivial Pursuit, though Arnold holds his own much better than most and directs his discussion towards an audience less beleaguered by the topic than we are.


The way we see it, no matter how hard you try to dress it up, a comic is a comic is a comic. You can give it a top hat and cane and call it a graphic novel, or not. Chip Kidd tells Arnold that he thinks there isn't much difference between "Novels" and "Graphic Novels." The "Graphic Novels" buyer for BORDERS BOOKS, however, makes the somewhat horrifying (though no doubt true) claim that Mr. Art Spiegelman's MAUS sells better when it is placed next to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN merchandise than when it's placed next to other books about the Holocaust. Which begs the question of whether SCHINDLER'S LIST might get rented more often if racked next to JURASSIC PARK 3. Maybe it would, but should it be?


Arnold follows his discussion up with a list of his top 25 "Graphic Novels" from the past 25 graphically novelish years. Within this list he offers favorable mentions of a number of choice comics from within the FANTAGRAPHICS sphere of influence: BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS by KIM DEITCH, DAVID BORING by DAN CLOWES, EPILEPTIC VOL. 1 by DAVID B., JIMMY CORRIGAN by CHRIS WARE, NIGHTMARE ALLEY by SPAIN, PALOMAR by GILBERT HERNANDEZ, and SAFE AREA GORAZDE by JOE SACCO. In fact, looking over the list, it would appear that FANTAGRAPHICS has the high score of "GRAPHIC NOVELS" on the list. We think we like these "GRAPHIC NOVELS," after all!


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R.I.P WALTER DISNEY
-------------------
This past November the NATIONAL POST printed a fantastic article by JEET HEER praising BOB LEVIN'S fascinating book, THE PIRATES AND THE MOUSE: DISNEY'S WAR AGAINST THE COUNTERCULTURE. "Although small in size, Mickey was always fighting back against big bullies. In recent decades, Mickey lost his fighting spirit, and is usually seen as an anodyne corporate symbol for Disney's global entertainment empire."


"ANODYNE"!?! Be still our heart! This is a really great article; search it out.


Oh yeah, national wet blanket TRINA ROBBINS elbows her way into the piece with her usually-fitful and annoyed aplomb: "There are still those, even in the freewheeling world of underground cartoonists, who believe that by trampling on copyright the Air Pirates simply went too far. I own my work and I don't want to be ripped off," says the author of A CENTURY OF WOMEN CARTOONISTS. "Dan O'Neill owns ODD BODKINS just like Disney owns Mickey Mouse. It doesn't matter that Disney is a big corporation and Dan O'Neill is one guy. Copyright laws apply to everyone." Tell it to A.A. Milne, Trina.


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ARE YOU NOT CONVINCED YET...
----------------------------
That George Herriman's KRAZY KAT is the best thing ever? Long after our pinky fingers feed the trees, robots will still be reading KRAZY. A starred review in PUBLISHERS WEEKLY will go a long way towards ensuring this future. To wit: "KRAZY KAT remains as good a comic as there ever was, and this beautifully produced book is a must for any reader interested in great art."


By the way, our second KRAZY & IGNATZ book (1927-1928) is almost sold out and available only through mail order, so get it while you can.


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RIZZIPLE MY SNIZZLE DIZZLE!
---------------------------
Our favorite review of the month, from clinical psychologist Christian Perring, Ph.D., on DAVE COOPER's book, RIPPLE: A PREDILECTION FOR TINA: "He is soon dressing her up in bondage gear and becoming sexually fixated on her, despite being revolted by her body. The texture of the art here is a little cleaner than in Cooper's other books; you don't feel as if simply walking into a scene would give you a contagious disease. However... The artwork is crudely pornographic and is bound to offend people with delicate sensibilities."


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WIPEOUT!
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No, not that annoying "surf" song with all the "ha-ha-has"... WISCONSIN BOOKWATCH gave us a beautiful blurb for FRANCESCA GHERMANDI's graphic novel, THE WIPEOUT: "... a bizarrely surreal allegorical graphic novel about bitter cross-purposes, manipulations, selfish desires, and overwhelmingly guilt-ridden nightmares. An ordinary worker becomes the victim of omens and nightmares in which he dreams of murder, and paranoia wracks him beyond the limits of sanity, yet he is being manipulated by a far more ruthless presence in this twisted parable."


Now, Granddad always refers to FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS as "fantasy-land books," so I don't know where you sit, but after reading that review, I feel proud. Why haven't you bought this book yet?


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JOE SACCO GETS NAKED
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In a conversation earlier this month about the release of the de-Spectorized version of THE BEATLES' LET IT BE, fellow Beatlemaniac JOE SACCO told us, "I will no longer look at LET IT BE as a sort of subpar effort with a smattering of great songs. Now it is about as exciting as anything they did. That's my fucking verdict, and you can quote me in the Fantagraphics Newsletter for all I care." Sir Paul, are you reading?


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A LITTLE LITTLE
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Congratulations are due to proud parents JASON LITTLE & MYLA GOLDBERG on the birth of their daughter, MIZELLE ANEEK GOLDBERG LITTLE! The healthy baby girl entered our world on December 6th, 2003; we look forward to her first work of fiction, sometime around the end of the decade.


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NEW RELEASES:
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The following books and comics have shipped since our last newsletter. Visit www.fantagraphics.com for full new release details and ordering info.


* YOUNG GODS & FRIENDS by Barry Windsor-Smith. Collecting the acclaimed BWS: STORYTELLER serial with tons of added material! Available in hardcover and signed hardcover formats. $29.95/$49.95


* ZIPPY ANNUAL 2003 by Bill Griffith. Another year of the pinhead in one classy softcover volume, fully annotated by Griffy himself! $19.95


* A.B. FROST'S STUFF & NONSENSE. Collecting three albums of sequential graphic stories (comics) originally published during the celebrated 19th Century American illustrator's lifetime! Hardcover. $24.95


* WILL ELDER: THE MAD PLAYBOY OF ART. The legendary MAD and PLAYBOY cartoonist (in collaboration with HARVEY KURTZMAN) finally gets the coffee-table book he deserves! Intro by Daniel Clowes, available in soft, hard, and signed hardcover formats. $49.95/$69.95/$79.95


* PRINCE VALIANT VOL. 49 by Hal Foster & John Cullen Murphy. The penultimate volume in the softcover series. $18.95


* MANIAC KILLER STRIKES AGAIN by Richard Sala. Ten previously out-of-print Sala classics, re-worked exclusively for this new softcover collection! $16.95


* BLAB! VOL. 14 by various artists. Featuring: Camille Rose Garcia (who did the covers), Sue Coe, David Sandlin, Jonathon Rosen, Marc Rosenthal, Gary Baseman, Peter Kuper, Blanquet, the Clayton Brothers and many more! Softcover. $19.95


* BELLYBUTTON #1 by Sophie Crumb. Forget the pedigree, this is the real deal: a funny and engaging, stand-alone debut from a powerful new voice in comics, told in a lovely two-color format. $4.95


* APE by Ted Jouflas. If you hate George W. as much as we do, then Ted Jouflas is about to become your new favorite cartoonist thanks to this brutal and imaginative satire of the current administration. $4.95


* MABEL NORMAND & FRIENDS by various artists. Kim Deitch delivered the cover for this one-shot collection of vintage comic strips devoted to silent film comedy stars like Normand and Fatty Arbuckle. $4.95


* HATE ANNUAL #4 by Peter Bagge. Buddy Bradley is back and he's BROWN! Hell, he's ever brought Bugles and Jimmy Foley with him! Plus: Lovey! Al Gore! The A-Teens! Ross Perot! $4.95


* EVIL EYE #11 by Richard Sala. It's the penultimate chapter of "Reflections In a Glass Scorpion," which has anchored the series since issue 1! The mystery is almost revealed! $3.95


* BLACK HOLE #11 by Charles Burns. Not only the penultimate chapter, but the penultimate ISSUE! Buy it NOW (and bear in mind that any collection is still at least three years away). $4.95


* THE COMICS JOURNAL #256 featuring Fort Thunder. An appreciation of the Fort, by Tom Spurgeon, plus interviews with Mat Brinkman, Brian Chippendale, and Brian Ralph. Plus: Barefoot Gen's KEIJI NAKAZAWA!


* THE COMICS JOURNAL #257 featuring Rick Griffin. Featuring three - count 'em, THREE never-before-published interviews with the late ZAP and psychedelic poster artist, Rick Griffin. Plus: Spurgeon takes on Joe Casey. $6.95


* ANGRY YOUTH COMIX #6 by Johnny Ryan. In this ish: Martians make culinary demands on Loady and Sinus! Boobs Pooter humps dinner! Sherlock McRape asks, "Who Hit Nellie In the Belly With Jelly?" The President's urine is kidnapped! Two nancy-boys duke it out for the title of "World's #1 Undisputed OId-Timey Egomaniac"! Plus much more! $3.50


* LOVE & ROCKETS #9 by Gilbert, Jaime & Mario Hernandez. The final chapter of 'Beto's "High Soft Lisp"! Maggie goes to Izzy's for Halloween! Plus "Me For the Unknown" and "Julio's Day!" $3.95


* POGOSTICK #2 by Ethan Persoff & Al Columbia. Things get real horrorshow in the second chapter of this black comedy, The Pogostick. Unless, that is, you were expecting Haitian zombies, voodoo warlords, a cancer patient, a butcher knife, sudden unemployment, the disadvantages of caller I.D., a horrible death, a cuckoo's nest revisited, cops with guns and flashlights, an ambulance, fat garbage bags, a clean apartment, and the gentle flow of blood on a carpet... $4.95

For more information or to order, visit Fantagraphics.com.


Tuesday, December 30, 2003

 
Raging Feedback -- Here's a selection of responses in the wake of my guest-stint this past weekend on All the Rage:

Probably the most detailed response was a negative one, spurred on by this quote from me:

"Now's the time when retailers will go two ways -- the visionary, forward-thinking comics shops will continue to welcome in new readers, genres and formats, while backward superhero fetishists (who essentially maintain their shops in order to get "free comics" featuring their favourite zombies like the Alan Scott Green Lantern and the shambling, undead Paul Jenkins Spectacular Spider-Man) will seriously begin to suffer the pains of their willful ignorance and defiance of logic. As a result, it's likely many comics readers will have to start looking elsewhere for their comics, as the superhero-oriented shops begin to die off, and yes, it will be a painful time for the industry, but it's a cull that has been needed for over a decade, and in the end, the artform will be vastly better off for it."

That prompted this response:


  • I've never seen a more succinct, concise, or declaritive example of what is so mind numbingly wrong-headed with the 20-30 year-old (and older) comic "fan." This is the mentality of someone who arrives at the biggest party of the year, only to find that it's winding down, and most of the cooler people have gone home. Rather than enjoy the leftovers, and last drops of liquor, this fool wants to crank up the music and trash the house.

    How was I spared this type of group-think? These are people of my generation, yet I'm able to appreciate the fact that the medium that I loved as a kid should stay accessible to kids. I walk into a comic shop today, and this is the foul acid spewing forth from most of the "fans" in my age group. "Manga is the answer!" they all cry. "Ultimize the entire Marvel line!" they declare. They claim these ideas are necessary for the future of the medium, but the truth behind that lie is that these changes are only necessary for the continuation of their medium. The Superman that was idolized by an 8 year-old must now be the Superman that can be analyzed and dissected by the 28 year-old. And yet, I'm the one said to be suffering from "willful ignorance" and "defiance of logic".

    This thinking is anathema to the superhero comic book. The reason Superman is an icon is because he represents the very best that people can acheive. The reason Batman is an icon is because he shows you can overcome even the worst adversity in life, and succeed. These are simple ideas, simple notions that work precisely because of the age group they are intended for. You don't try to deconstruct these themes. You don't try to adapt these notions to your narrow-minded viewpoint. You accept that these were the ideas and stories that shaped your world as a pre-adolescent, and you take that development with you.

    There's nothing wrong with an adult reading a comic book. Just realize that you are using that entertainment as a window back to your childhood. We look back to examine our own selves at a fundamental level. We don't insist that our past changes to better suit our future.

    The kind of thinking that ADD suggests (and I can't think of a more apt set of intials for someone like this) will most certainly end superhero comics if more of the powers that be agree with him.

    But, that looks to be exactly what he wants.


There's obviously a bit of an over-reaction there. I don't want to see the death of superhero comics, necessarily, I just want to see (and believe it's inevitable that) graphic novels created by adults and focusing on adult themes continue to grow into new markets, necessarily marginalizing the superhero genre and market, but opening up vast new vistas of adults who aren't ashamed to admit they read graphic novels, because there's nothing shameful about them. Unfortunately, while we still have many regressive retailers eschewing the best adult works from publishers like D&Q and Fantagraphics, and even more to their peril acting with outright hostility to the best-selling and most popular comics in the world, we still have a long way to go. So, no, I don't want to end superhero comics. I just want them to take their proper, proportional role in a world filled with full-service comics shops that cater to readers of all interests. Anything else is, indeed, "mindnumbingly wrong-headed."

My thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to the column. Doing it really fired me up with some ideas of what I would do with a regular, weekly comics column apart from the ADD Blog...perhaps something will develop in the year to come.

 
The Nail in Sangiacomo's Coffin -- As if to really rub how stupid he is in Mike Sangiacomo's face, DC Comics has posted a nine-page PDF preview of Darwyn Cooke's upcoming New Frontier series.

Cooke is probably the most vital of the current Pop Noir stylists, combining elements of, try to follow me here, Pop and Noir into a unified whole that suggests a lush, dangerous environment that is just about perfect for depiction in comics.

Re-reading Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's original Wolverine limited series, there were definitely elements of Pop Noir in there, and I'd argue that you get much the same vibe off of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips's Sleeper, as well. And of course, Steranko did a lot of Pop Noir stylings in his 60s/70s Nick Fury and Captain America as well.

I point this all out mostly in response to some dumbass who claimed in the wake of the Sangiacomo stupidity that "Pop Noir," was meaningless as a term. Far from it, I think it perfectly defines a lot of some of the most appealing comics art ever published, and definitely applies to Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier, which I can't wait to see.

Monday, December 29, 2003

 
The Monday Briefing -- Hello, good morning and welcome to The Monday Briefing. I used to do this regularly as a column at Comic Book Galaxy and on the former incarnation of this weblog. Let's see if we can justify the title today, despite having been sick all weekend and maybe catching a total of four hours of sleep since Friday.

All My Rage

Firstly, if you missed it over the weekend, stop by my fill-in All the Rage column at Silver Bullet Comics. I had a blast writing this last week, and hopefully you'll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I especially loved the front-page description on the Silver Bullet home page:

In the most unexpected return to SBC ever, Alan David Doane, fresh off his blogsite, fills in for the last Rage of 2003. And if you've been shocked and awed by past fill-in installments, you ain't seen nothin' yet. This is gonzo-style, fear-and-loathing, chaos-in-the-streets rumoring-mongering. But please, please, don't forget the Rumor Barrier, and to shield the eyes of the young or faint of heart.

The first lengthy reaction I received was this one:

You magnificent bastard. Nice job.

I have no idea whether or not Whedon writing NXM will boost sales
all that much. On one hand it seems like a sure thing--maybe in the
bookstore market--but I don't see the sales going above 150k just because
comics are so damn hard to find.


That reminded me of something that I neglected to include in the column, which is my theory of why Marvel thinks it could sell over a quarter of a million copies monthly of a Whedon-scripted New X-Men.

My best guess is that they're combining Batman: Hush numbers with whatever percentage of Buffy fans they think are out there that are willing to buy comic books. In no way do I believe that 300,000 people would buy Joss Whedon's New X-Men. Maybe if it was manga. And not about the X-Men. And not by Joss Whedon. And not published by Marvel.

The other interesting Whedon/New X-Men-related item of some interest is the introduction to the Fray trade paperback. In it, Whedon expounds at length on his love of X-Men. One wonders if it was written at a time when Whedon either already knew he was going to agree to a deal with Marvel or was at least giving it serious consideration. Clearly, though, the guy loves X-Men, and if he commits to the book for a long run (and can keep a schedule), the series might possibly sustain the Morrison-era numbers and probably improve on them, as long as we segued directly from Morrison to Whedon. Any Chuck Austen arcs would stain the franchise Morrison created beyond repair, and you might as well do a new #1 at that point. Of course, I am of the opinion that if Frank Quitely had been able to sustain on the book, Morrison's would have been selling twice as many copies as it did. Just saying.

Thanks to all for the positive reaction to the column.

Linkin' Park

A few days ago, I asked folks to link to the ADD Blog if they enjoy it. I'm very, very grateful for the positive reception the blog has gotten, but I would love it if it had as many readers as the late, lamented Comic Book Galaxy did. I'd say I'm about halfway there, and I'd love to spread the word. I just want to thank a few people that have picked up the ball and run with it:

Clay Harrison
Dave Barnes
Álvaro Pons

If you link to the ADD Blog, preferably using the ADD Blog graphic, let me know and I'll give you a plug right here.

2003: The Best in X -- Paul O'Brien is much more patient and understanding than I could ever be. His ongoing dedication to reading and reviewing virtually every X-Men comic is impressive, certainly moreso than most of the comics he has to read as a result. Over the weekend he posted his year-end assessment of the X-Books, and it should give the wise comics reader insight into just how awful most of the franchise is.

Bill Sherman has also posted his thoughts on some of his favourite superhero miniseries of 2003.

Stalking AK -- The guy who used to write Title Bout for Movie Poop Shoot digs up an old issue of Comics Interview and finds some relevant quotes that apply to the industry today.

Your Moment of Snark -- Johanna Draper Carlson's January Previews comments are up, and of particular note are the Snarky Comments along the right side of the page, where she makes some points that are funny 'cuz they're true.

More Best of 2003 -- The Ninth Art crew has issued their Lighthouse Awards, with notable winners including Sleeper by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, and Paul Hornschemeier, whose work deserves all the recognition it can get.

Shipping Nooz

It's a mystery to me why new comics won't appear in stores this week until Friday, December 2nd, but here's a list of titles you should be on the lookout for:

DC COMICS

EMPIRE #6 (Of 6) (MR) $2.50 -- Well, last issue's surprise revelations were actually surprising, and even more surprising was that the impact of the reveal was not diminished by the years-long hiatus this series experienced. There's every reason to think #6 will be as tense and dramatic as the rest of the series, and if you've not been reading this, I would definitely recommend ordering the inevitible trade collection. Good stuff, and a fairly unique and downbeat take on superpowered goings-on.

PLANETARY #18 $2.95 -- My e-mail tells me not everyone feels this title has picked up where it left off a couple of years ago, but I think it's as good as it ever was, and very probably one of Warren Ellis's greatest achievements.

AMERICA'S BEST COMICS

SMAX #4 (Of 5) $2.95 -- Speaking of great achievements, Smax was one of the best Alan Moore efforts in years, a worthy successor to the excellent Top Ten, and not at all what you'd expect it to be if you're judging it by its covers.

ALTERNATIVE COMICS

PEANUTBUTTER & JEREMY BEST BOOK EVER TP $14.95 -- A near-tragic printing error prevented pristine, goft-worthy copies of this from being ready in time for the holidays. But now that it's done right and in stores this week, I hope you'll pick this up, and get an extra for a child in your life. Great, all-ages appropriate stuff about a cat who believes it works in an office and the mean crow who makes its life just a little bit more difficult. A surreal, joyous celebration of comics and creativity.

That's it, have a great Monday.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

 
ADD is All the Rage Today -- As hinted at yesterday, I've written this week's installment of All the Rage at Silver Bullet Comics. Stop by and fill up on this week's delicious selection of rumours. Thanks to Jason Brice and Markisan Naso for asking me to fill in.

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