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Saturday, January 31, 2004

Weekend Update -- Much to my surprise, I actually did make it over to Modern Myths in Northampton, Massachusetts yesterday. My friend Marshall came along, and we had a great time talking to owner Jim Crocker about comics, life in New England, and more. I also spent way more than I should have on comics, and impressed myself with how I dodged the question when I got home. Wife: "How much did you spend on books?" Me: "The ones I got for the kids? The book I bought Kira was six dollars." Wife: "No, altogether, how much did you spend?" Me: "Who can say with any degree of certainty?"

On the bright side, I found a Junji Ito title I haven't read yet (absolutely loved his Uzumaki), GYO, and discovered Jim Woodring's The Book of Jim among the seeming thousands of graphic novels in stock at Modern Myths. I also got the second Uncanny X-Men Masterworks volume, because I am nostalgic for the Claremont/Byrne era, and the second volume contains the beginning of their run. I look forward to re-reading those stories for the first time in decades, in some cases, and reminiscing about a time when Claremont and Byrne were both viable comics creators.

Check out Steven Grant's essay about his new title My Flesh is Cool, by the way -- it's good reading, along the lines of his Permanent Damage column. I reviewed My Flesh is Cool earlier this week, in case you missed it.

In the works for next week: Another installment of Short, Sharp Shocks and another comics creator agrees to answer Five Questions.

Friday, January 30, 2004


James Kochalka -- James Kochalka is one of the most unique and entertaining cartoonists I've encountered in three decades of comics reading. He's also a hell of a singer, in his frequently-hilarious rock band James Kochalka Superstar. He consented to be subjected to Five Questions.

You've been doing your daily diary strips for a few years now, what have you learned from doing it?

"A few years..." Five years and 3 months to be precise.

I've learned that the patterns of events in life are connected in very complicated ways. Even things that don't seem connected at all, often are. Life is kind of like a complicated African poly-rhythm that coheres into a unified whole.

I've also learned that drawing is just as natural as breathing, or walking or talking. It's just a part of life for me. It's just as easy (and as difficult!) as making your way through the days and years of your life.

You're about to release a large collection of your Sketchbook Diaries and there's talk of a major label record deal for your band James Kochalka Superstar. My kids have grown up with your stuff on our stereo (some of it, anyway!) and believe you're one of the biggest stars alive, but it looks like you're about to hit even bigger. How do you feel about the possibility of this increased exposure?

Scared? Really, my life is perfect the way it is right now. My wife and I make enough money to pay our bills, we have a cute little house with a beautiful view, and an amazing and dynamic little baby. More money might be nice, but I don't need it. What I am excited about is the possibility of more people discovering my comics and my music. I really can't imagine that the world at large could ever appreciate my work. I just can't imagine that my comics and music will ever actually be popular... but there's probably a few people in every town that could really love it. I'm just trying to reach those people.

The Sketchbook Diaries might be my work with the most universal appeal, even though it's also my most idiosyncratic work. The big book collecting the first five years of the diary strip will come out this summer. I don't think I'll ever draw a better book, so if this one doesn't put me on the map as a cartoonist, then nothing will.

On the musical front, yes it looks like I'm going to sign a record deal. We've been working out the details of the contract for almost a year now, I think! It's not actually signed yet though, and I don't like to count my chickens before they're hatched. I've never gone looking for a record deal. I've been pretty satisfied with self-releasing my CDs. But Jeff Rougvie from Ryko records has been a big fan of my music for a long time, and he talked me into it.

Your wife Amy and baby Eli figure prominently in your strips, as do many of your friends and acquaintences. Tell me a funny story about someone unhappy with their depiction in your strips.

Well, I don't think there's necessarily anything that funny about the people who are unhappy with their depiction in my strips. I have one friend who's really, really against being in the comic. He made me drop one strip that would've gone in Volume 3 because I drew him in it. So, the world will never see that one. You'll have to come over one day and I'll show it to you in the original sketchbook.

A lot of people beg to be drawn into the strip. I'll tell you right now, begging doesn't help you get in.

What inspired your song "Wash Your Ass?"

I have no idea! I can't remember anything about writing that one. I think that was one of the easy ones that just popped out of my mouth fully formed. Since then I've learned that there was a Redd Fox comedy album titled Wash Your Ass, but I didn't know about that before I wrote it. There's also a heavy metal influence. It's like an instructional love song, I guess. You know, if you want to get the girl, you've got to wash your ass.

You, Dan Clowes and Jeffrey Brown are all planning superhero-oriented works...What do you think is the most compelling reason people will enjoy your upcoming superhero project?

Mine is dense, colorful, wild, crazy and funny. That's why people will enjoy mine. I imagine Dan's will be very erudite and deep. I imagine Jeffrey Brown's will be loose and free flowing. I think they're all going to be great.

Visit James Kochalka's American Elf website, and while you're there be sure to order his new mini-comics Reinventing Everything (which I review here) and The Cute Manifesto.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

From the House of Snark -- Here's some comments (in bold) on Marvel Comics product shipping April, 2004.


Written, illustrated & CARDSTOCK cover by JOE QUESADA
Inks by Danny Miki, color by Richard Isanove

In celebration of Daredevil's 40th Anniversary! Marvel Editor-in-Chief and acclaimed writer of NYX Joe Quesada makes his long-awaited return to the drawing board after nearly four years for a very special and very personal DD tale. For the first time writing AND illustrating, DD legend Quesada crafts a mystery set during the deadliest heat wave in NYC history. A serial killer is on the loose pushing a city already past its breaking point over the edge, and Daredevil must battle the heat and fear to keep a crumbling Hell's Kitchen together… by any means necessary!

32 PGS./MARVEL PSR…$3.50

So fifty cents gets you some cardstock, huh? I wonder why Jimmy Palmiotti isn't inking this. That seems like it would be a natural.


Written by MARK MILLAR
Covers & pencils by TERRY DODSON

Superstars Mark Millar & Terry Dodson team for SPIDER-MAN's debut in an ongoing MARVEL KNIGHTS series. This action-packed, hyper-realistic tale finds Peter Parker forced to face the cruel realities that wearing the Spider-Man mask and web-shooters brings to his personal life. Featuring a brutal confrontation between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin!

32 PGS./MARVEL PSR…$2.99

When I think "hyper-realistic" and "brutal," why do I not think of Terry Dodson?


Written by MARK MILLAR
Cover & pencils by BRYAN HITCH

One year has passed since the Chitauri invasion and much has changed inside the corridors of the Triskelion, leading to questions about Iron Man's health, Thor's "godhood" and the relationship between Cap and the Wasp(?)! ULTIMATES Volume 2 focuses on the global reaction to the team, and the burgeoning new super heroes and super-teams like the Ultimate Defenders and Ultimate Captain Britain popping up all over the world!

32 PGS./MARVEL PSR+…$2.99

If they can keep to a monthly schedule, I'd be willing to bet people would care again.

NEW X-MEN #155 & 156
Covers & pencils by SALVADOR LARROCA

"BRIGHT NEW MOURNING" pts. 1 & 2 (of 2)
In the aftermath of Magneto's rampage upon NYC and the Xavier Institute, Cyclops & Emma find themselves at a crossroads. Should the school be rebuilt? Should they continue on as X-Men? And how will it affect their blossoming relationship?

32 PGS. (each)/MARVEL PSR…$2.25 (each)

Will there be a more dramatic drop in orders than the one from Grant Morrison's last issue to the first Chuck Austen issue? I can tell you right now that comics would be better off if every single person who orders this finds something else to do and gets the fuck out of comics. Because they're only hurting the industry.


Cover & pencils by GARY FRANK

The world is still shaking from the titanic battle of Hyperion and Dr. Spectrum. Is Earth big enough for two such powerful beings? And who is Power Princess? Find out here!


"The world is still shaking from the titanic battle of Hyperion and Dr. Spectrum." Uh, no, the world is still sleeping from the utterly torpid first six issues of this snooze-fest.

Trapped Like A Rat in A Cage -- I'm stuck at home today, as my Weeklong Birthday Spectacular winds toward its second and final weekend.

With snow in the forecast today, I'm having to put off a hoped-for trip to Modern Myths, a Northampton, Massachusetts comics shop that is a couple of hours from my house and one of the finest and most diverse comics stores I've ever been in. If the forecast improves for tomorrow I may make the attempt, as I really want to get over there and see what owner Jim Crocker has stocked his shelves with since the last time I was there.

Yesterday was a pretty good day as Weeklong Birthday Spectacular days go; I finally tracked down a copy of Baby Monkey, the new CD by Voodoo Child -- which is really Moby. My local Coconuts record/CD/DVD store didn't have it, but I finally tracked a copy down at Wal-Mart. I hate giving them money, but I really wanted this CD. It's all dance/techno/instrumental stuff. Moby is one of my favourite musicians, and I've listened to the CD about 10 times now. While some tracks are better than others (almost always true with Moby), almost all of them are good, and I think it holds up well in comparison to his recently released 18 B-Sides CD, which I also liked quite a bit.

My family went out to dinner last night at one of our favourite restaurants, accompanied by my friend and original Comic Book Galaxy partner Marshall O'Keefe, who my kids absolutely adore. Marshall's one of my oldest friends, going back to high school. I think we met in 1980 or '81, and have enjoyed a strong friendship cemented by compatible (although not always identical) views on life, the universe and everything. It's one of the joys of my life that my children are so fascinated by him and enjoy his company as much as I do. Normally I'm in bed by the time we got home last night, but I'm on vacation, so what the hell.

Arriving home after dinner, I occupied some time re-reading Ed Brubaker and Colin Wilson's five-issue Point Blank mini-series, which led into Sleeper, which you may remember is my favourite monthly comic right now. I'd had a brief discussion with some friends in the industry about Point Blank and its necessity or lack thereof to enjoying Sleeper, and I've come to the conclusion that you really have a greater understanding and enjoyment of Sleeper if you've carefully read Point Blank (which, like Sleeper, has been collected in trade paperback). Point Blank is a complex but rewarding mystery involving Grifter from Wildcats trying to navigate the dark and dangerous underworld of the Wildstorm Universe. Throwing in a SPOILER WARNING here, I'll just point out that in Point Blank you get to see:

The art, by Colin Wilson, is different from what Sean Phillips turns in on Sleeper, but it has a Walt Simonson kind of looseness to it that I find appealing, and it is definitely complementary to the art in Sleeper.

So that's my comics recommendation for the day -- if you haven't checked out Point Blank yet, give it a look.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Weeklong Birthday Spectacular Update -- Yesterday was the Boxing Day of my Weeklong Birthday Spectacular, and since the events of the week have to be parsed out very carefully, the big event of the day was a haircut.

Yeah, well, I enjoyed it.

Today's main event is a trip to what we used to call the "record store," to pipck up the new CD by Voodoo Child, which is Moby's instrumental/ambient side project. This is the second full album he's released, and I love the one track I've already heard off it -- and the previous release is one of the CDs that spends the most time in my CD player. So it's a must-buy for me.

Hopefully you read and enjoyed today's debut of Five Questions For... (scroll down to the previous post if you don't know what I'm talking about), and if you have any suggestions for creators you'd like to see answer Five Questions, shoot me off an e-mail and any contact information, if you have it, and I'll do my best.

I should note that Augie De Blieck has posted some reviews in his new column today, notably DC: The New Frontier Augie says:

This is a beautiful book, and a high watermark for everyone else to aim for throughout the rest of this year. Cooke's art is well stage-managed. The issue reads like a storyboard to a feature film, and not just a comic book.

I recommended New Frontier in my Short, Sharp Shocks yesterday, and want to encourage you to give it a look, even if you're put off by the $6.95 price tag. At 64-ad free pages of glorious story and art, New Frontier is one of the most entertaining bargains around. Like Augie, I crave a hardcover collection, but I don't want to wait a year or more to read the rest of this terrific story.


Ed Brubaker -- Ed Brubaker writes some of the most involving and entertaining comics available today, including my favourite monthly title Sleeper, Gotham Central, and Catwoman. He's rumoured to be in line to write The Authority, a move which can only improve what was once the best superhero comic being published. He took the time to be the first subject of another new feature on the ADD Blog, answering Five Questions.

Your career began largely with independent, often autobiographical comics far removed from the harrowing, superpowered paranoia of Sleeper. Track the evolution of your career from then to now.

It's not that easy to do, really. I started out wanting to be a cartoonist,
and spent most of my twenties doing that, working on Lowlife, which was very
personal. During that time, though, I started writing comics for friends to
draw, as well, because I'd always been more comfortable as a writer than an
artist. I'm a very slow artist, and rarely pleased with my own work. So
being a cartoonist was sort of about finding stories I felt were worth the
time it would take me to draw them. I rarely if ever told anecdotes, like a
lot of autobio comics did, because it seemed pointless to spend six months
drawing an anecdote.

The more I wrote stories for other artists, the more ideas for stories I got
that I would never want or even be able to draw on my own. Then Eric
Shanower got me into Vertigo in the mid-90s, which was my first real paying
gig, and I had fun doing it. This led to more offers of writing work from
DC, and as I was getting into my early 30s, and getting sick of being dirt
poor, it was nice to be able to earn money doing something I was good at and
enjoyed. And this, of course, has led to some screenwriting and opened other
doors for me as a writer in other fields that I'm just beginning to explore.

Part of being able to have a career as a writer for comics and the biggest
departure from the early part of my comics career, of course, is that I no
longer dismiss genre work as automatically bad. I like a lot of crime
fiction and some sci-fi, and I think in my 20s, when I was at the height of
my art-fagginess, I felt guilty for liking stuff like that. As I got older,
I just stopped feeling that way. I love Philip K. Dick and Ross Macdonald's
writing just as much as Milan Kundera or Raymond Carver's, and sometimes
more, because they're less pretentious.

Reading some older Wildcats issues recently, I was struck by how
much the art of Sean Phillips has changed. He was an incredible artist
then but his work with you on Sleeper far transcends the high standard
he set back then. What do you feel he brings to the creative

Sean brings a depth of understanding and subtlety to what we do. He knows
how to draw facial expressions that make you sympathize with the characters
on the page, and he knows how to establish mood. One of the hardest parts of
working in comics as a writer is finding an artist who understands what
you're trying to get across. Sean does, as do several other artists I've
worked with. And he's fast as hell, which is rare, too.

What's the best thing, for you, about your current working
relationship with DC/Wildstorm?

I guess the stability. Knowing there's paying work available to me, usually
work I enjoy. It's allowed me to buy a house and support a family. That's
pretty nice.

What's the worst?

That's a hard one. I suppose I'd like a bit more marketing support for my
work. I seem to write some of their best reviewed and most award-nominated
work, but they don't seem to push it very much sometimes. A lot of this is
changing, of course, with the success of the Sleeper TPB and how much more
mainstream mags like Wizard are writing about my work lately. Of course, as
I've said before, they will never push any of our work as much as we'd like
them to.

If you could do one thing to improve the comics industry, what would
it be?

That's easy, I'd cancel three quarters of the mainstream superhero books and
publish a lot of different genres like the publishers did in the 50s when
superhero comics stopped selling. I think we're just slicing the pie into
more pieces every year, and while there are some good superhero books out
there, there's simply too many to fit on the average comic store's shelves,
so is it any wonder a lot of good ones don't get stocked? I don't know if
this would work, because the Direct Market is such a disaster anyway, but I
think it would be nice to see a more diverse offering in stores.

Or maybe we should just make the whole market returnable. That would be
great, because then retailers wouldn't have to rely on subscriptions from
their customers and could afford to stock a wider variety of material in
their stores. I know there are economic reasons this doesn't happen, but I
think it's criminal that this is the only entertainment industry that puts
all the risk on the retailer, not the publisher.

Thanks to Ed for taking part in the first Five Questions, and remember to visit EdBrubaker.com

Monday, January 26, 2004

The Week in Comics -- Here's a look at some notable titles arriving in stores this Wednesday. While it's not a banner week like last week, there's still some good, solid comics being released.



DEMO #3 (Of 12) $2.95 -- I've enjoyed the two standalone stories told in the previous issues, and Becky Cloonan's art is a genuine revelation. Whether this will continue to build into a symphony of interesting and appealing comics over the course of its 12 issues or creatively crash and burn like the similarly-formatted Global Frequency remains to be seen. One thing is certain, and that is that Cloonan is going places.


WILDCATS VERSION 3.0 #18 $2.95 -- Recently caught up on Volume Two of this title, which was mostly drawn by the exquisite-even-then Sean Phillips and written by 3.0's Joe Casey. Wildcats is proof-positive that Casey can write compelling and entertaining comics over the long haul with very few stumbles. If only much of the rest of his work had this sort of hold over me.


WALKING DEAD #4 $2.95 -- Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore's zombiefied apocalypse story's down-to-earth focus ont he humanity of its characters made it one of the most impressive titles to debut last year. A trade is in the works, so if you think it might be up your alley, you should give the monthly or the collection a look. Good stuff.

WANTED #2 (Of 6) $2.99 -- It's Watchmen for bad guys! It's Three's Company with head wounds! It's -- it's -- it's one of the best efforts Mark Millar's put forth, with great action artwork by JG Jones. If you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you'll like.


Short, Sharp Shocks -- Beginning today, my hope is to bring you reviews of noteworthy comics and graphic novels every Monday. This is the first of a pair of new features to debut this week at the ADD Blog.

Mother, Come Home -- Thomas Tennant is the young boy at the heart of this story, and its greatest triumph is the way cartoonist Paul Hornschemeier uses the smallest of things -- such as a cast-off, half-finished peanut butter and jelly sandwich -- to immerse the reader fully in the world-filling pain of a seven-year-old boy whose family is disintegrating around him despite his mightiest efforts. Hornschemeier delights by comparing and contrasting visually and thematically; he has a natural gift for storytelling that justifies not only the by now worn-out Chris Ware comparisons, but seen longform here like this suggests a mind that traverses ideaspace with the same sort of curiousity and passion for expressing his personal truth through creative exploration as the master, Alan Moore. Mother, Come Home is the first essential graphic novel of the year, and an essential addition to the canon of great comics works. That it's by a cartoonist really just getting started and with enormous potential for growth makes it all the more impressive and worthy of your attention. Grade: 5/5

The Unfunnies #1 -- Artist Anthony Williams is note-perfect as he evokes the Hanna Barbara animation style to tell what writer Mark Millar says is a gothic horror story. Horrible, perverse things happen here -- don't leave this anywhere a child might find it -- but there's a solid sense (largely from the disturbing final moment) that there's a point to this that isn't apparent yet. Astonishingly perverse, astonishingly well-realized -- Millar will be crucified if there isn't an artistically valid payoff at the end of this mini-series (and maybe even if there is). I'm reserving final judgment on the series until I've read it all, because there's just not enough here to know if the story will justify itself. But The Unfunnies gets points from me for making sure the Keith Giffen cover (there's an "Offensive" variant to watch out for -- take that in whatever sense you like) isn't visually appealing to children (as the insides most certainly would be), and for advertising the fact that it isn't supposed to be funny right in the title. Grade: 4/5

My Flesh is Cool #1 -- Steven Grant's long-awaited mini-series about an assassin who can get to any target because he can place his consciousness into anyone's mind. Artist Sebastian Fiumara is new to me, but he gives as good he gets from Grant, delivering tense and dramatic images that are an improvement over the art on Grant's previous Avatar effort Mortal Souls. Fiumara's style reminded me most of Tom Raney, with maybe a little Bernie Wrightson thrown into the mix -- a good combination for a crime drama with overtones of suspense and paranoia. Grant's story is compelling and unusual, and his assassin hero gains sympathy by being surrounded by bigger scumbags then himself (readers of Sleeper will especially find the series enjoyable, although they work in different ways). Grant specializes in quality action/crime stories (as you know if you read the recent Damned trade paperback), and this looks to be another success for one of my favourite writers. You can preview the series here. Grade: 4/5

New Frontier #1 -- Let's get one thing straight -- $6.95 (USD) for each issue of this sprawling saga of the DC Universe as it never was is a bargain. This first issue blazes along with a mature, dynamic tale that takes at least a half-hour to read because it's so full of story. In 64 ad-free pages, writer/artist Darwyn Cooke proves to be a creative double-threat in the spirit of 1980s Frank Miller, John Byrne or Walt Simonson -- both writing and drawing a story so good that the wait between issues is going to be exquisitely painful. Cooke's sublimely beautiful cartooning perfectly evokes "the lost innocence of the Silver Age," (to coin a phrase), here featuring loving and respectful (but never boring) tributes to Harvey Kurtzman, Alex Toth, Jack Kirby and other true gods of comics art. When I finished this first issue, I felt as if I had just experienced a full-length graphic novel, and as another comics blogger has noted, I wouldn't blink if the pricetag on this series were ten bucks an issue. New Frontier looks to be the best superhero series of 2004, and is guaranteed to provide thrills and drama whether you care for the genre or not. Grade: 5/5

Sleeper #12 -- The "first season" of my favourite monthly series draws to a close with exactly the scene I've been waiting for since the first issue. The brilliant and scheming Tao -- virtually an alien consciousness grown in a vat here on Earth -- confronts Holden Carver with everything he knows and twists the dial way past 10 as the stakes get more desperate and the outlook ever more bleak. My only concern on this title has been whether Ed Brubaker would be able to handle the intelligence of Tao as well as the character's original creator, Alan Moore. Thankfully, this issue we see that Brubaker has fully thought out his take on Tao, giving him added motivations and layers of complexity that seem natural in retrospect. Every issue of this series has seen Holden digging himself a little deeper into the hole he fell in to, and by the time we get to the end, the entire status quo of the series has changed. Season Two can't start soon enough as far as I am concerned. (You can read Big Sunny D's take on the first trade paperback collection here). Grade: 5/5

Human Target #6 -- Peter Milligan and new artist Cliff Chiang deliver a nuanced, standalone story involving Christopher Chance protecting a beloved priest whose life is endangered. Milligan's story is sharp and focused, with more than one point to make about some important contemporary political and social questions. To say more would be to spoil what was one of the best comics of the week -- but whether you're a regular reader of Human Target or just want to sample one of the better Vertigo titles, this issue stands out as a great example of why this series works so well. Former artist Javier Pulido will be missed mightily, but Chiang maintains the deceptively simple style that suits this book so well. Grade: 4.5/5

The Rise of the Graphic Novel -- This compact, visually attractive hardcover aims to inform someone -- librarians? -- about the phenomenon of the graphic novel. Writer Stephen Weiner's text is superficial and occasionally factually dubious, and of little use to anyone interested in a comprehensive understanding of the graphic novel and its place in 21st century culture. That manga, the fastest-growing area of the industry for the past few years now, is dismissed with an empty, uninformed acknowledgement in literally the book's last couple of pages is all anyone with an understanding of industry trends really needs to know. Useless. Grade: 1/5

Fray TPB -- Joss Whedon Fray was the first noteworthy comics work by the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with Whedon and artists Karl Moline and Andy Owens working together to create a compelling character and a believable milieu for her to live in. Melaka Fray is no angel, but she's good Slayer material, and sufficiently different in character from Buffy as to not seem like a bland rehash. From the dramatic introduction to Melaka as she is tossed out of a flying car, to the tragic revelation of the true nature of her opponent, to the organic way Whedon connects Fray to Buffy, everything works here. Whedon told this story with as much style, drama and action as he put into the best of his TV scripts, and the art keeps pace. Welcome supplementary material fills out the back pages of the collection nicely. More Fray by this team would be most welcome, and a wise use of Whedon's comics-creating skills. Grade: 4.5/5

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Sunday Reading -- Longtime comics artist Gene Colan is the subject of an enlightening interview at Ugo.com. Link courtesy of Kevin Melrose.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

The Weeklong Birthday Spectacular -- The first full day is in full swing, and it's been well spent so far. In addition to watching a few hours of the Howard Stern E! Show, I designed logos and did some writing for the two new regular features that will debut in a few days.

One of the features is completely done, and there's a part of me that would love to just upload it now, but the fact is that on weekends internet usage plunges as people go home and don't feel the need to distract themselves from work by surfing the web. I imagine they have great fun on the weekend, but my fun level doesn't seem to vary much no matter the day, time, or time of year. Bah.

Uber-Blogger NeilAlien sent me a link to the new Time.comix review of Mother, Come Home. Thanks, Neil! Also, Jeff Mason has relaunched Indy Magazine, which I have linked in the blogroll at right. In other Blogroll News, I added Street Angel and DC: The New Frontier to the list of recommended titles. 2004 has started out as a great year for comics.

Friday, January 23, 2004

The Second Annual Weeklong ADD Birthday Spectacular -- I'm turning 38 on Sunday, and so will be observing my Second Annual Weeklong ADD Birthday Spectacular. Among the planned events is setting aside some time to plan out the course of the ADD blog for the next year, and implementing some new features to make this blog an even more essential part of your daily existence. If you have any ideas on what you'd like to see here, feel free to e-mail me, and look for the debut of at least two new features hopefully within the next week. The Second Annual Weeklong ADD Birthday Spectacular begins at one o'clock this afternoon and continues through five o'clock on the afternoon of Sunday, February 1st, so you can see why I am so thrilled, as I stand right on the brink of my Second Annual Weeklong ADD Birthday Spectacular. Thrilling, in'nt?

Great Radio Stories -- My friend and co-worker Susan Arbetter has a new blog related to her radio show The Roundtable, and today has shared one of the funniest stories of my radio career. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

D&Q News -- Drawn and Quarterly's Peggy Burns has sent along the D&Q Newsletter for January, 2004. It has some terrific nuggets of news in it, so I thought I'd share some highlights.

An Angelic Interview -- Shawn Hoke has interviewed Street Angel's Jim Rugg over at Broken Frontier. And remember to tell your retailer to pre-order Street Angel for you from the January Previews. It's published by Slave Labor and so far is the most impressive debut I've seen this year. More in my review.

Publisher Report Card -- Chris Allen has posted his annual Publisher Report Card, part one of two, in his Breakdowns column this week. If you're a creator or publisher, you should listen to what he says, especially about promotion of the product. It boggles the mind why anyone would go to all the effort to create, produce and print comics that they then go on to do nothing to get into the hands of the potential audience. But Allen nails it. Go read.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004


Street Angel #1
By Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca
Published by Slave Labor Graphics

The first new title to grab my attention in 2004 is a scrappy and sardonic action comic about an eighth-grade girl who fights crime on the streets. Jesse Sanchez is a refreshingly blunt protagonist, imbued by Rugg and Maruca with a dry wit and a resigned dedication to battling whatever evil gets in her way. While Street Angel has a sharp sense of its own identity, fans of The Goon, Hellboy, the Brubaker/Cooke/Stewart Catwoman and Brubaker's earlier Deadenders will be extremely comfortable here.

There's a hint of the post-ironic surrounding Street Angel. While Ninjas and a mad scientist play into the plot, the book never takes them seriously -- in fact, two key action sequences are disposed of off-screen, with tongue-in-cheek captions describing the action and quickly allowing the plot to move on. It's an unusual and flashy technique that works better than you might think. If nothing else, it serves notice that the core concerns of the creators are the characters, not the cool ninjas. In fact, the ninjas are anything but cool, with one of them getting his pants stolen by Jesse and being forced to confront his fellow ninjas in his tighty-whities. Funny stuff, and about as far from 1980s Frank Miller as you can get and still have ninjas in the book.

The center of the book is also its greatest asset: Jesse Sanchez is thoroughly engaging and an utter delight. Bright, inventive and a master strategist, she's essentially Mike Baron and Steve Rude's Nexus in the body of an eighth-grade girl. Her self-confidence and uber-competence should serve as a terrific role model for girls and an eye-opening revelation to guys. And in case you think she's being exploited for any possible sex appeal, she repeatedly calls a middle-aged ogler "PERVERT!" with a bullhorn in one of the funniest sequences I've seen in a comic in years.

The story and art in Street Angel share equal responsibility for the delight I took in reading this first issue -- there's a generous use of black ink to define space that echoes artists like Adrian Tomine and even Charles Burns, but the basics of solid cartooning are there as well, with unusual angles, fully-drawn backgrounds and a wonderful sense of movement combining to create a complete world for Jesse to skateboard through.

There's a preview of Street Angel #1 available online and the first issue is listed in January's Previews catalog. #1 ships to comics shops in March. Make sure you tell your retailer you want in on this great new series. It's bound to be one of the most talked-about books of the year, and I hope it finds the wide audience it deserves. Grade: 4.5/5

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Buy This Now! [UPDATED] -- Finally, this is the week Paul Hornschemeier's first full-length graphic novel ships to comic book shops. It looks like this:

I hope you'll pick this up. It's one of the best graphic novels you'll buy all year.

This week's Previews Review spotlights Mother, Come Home. Here's an excerpt:

"This is the book I’m really looking forward to this week. Hornschemeier along with Farel Dalrymple, Jeffery Brown and others all have sincerity in their work that I really admire. None of it feels forced or arty-for-arty’s sake, and you can tell that these are the stories that these guys want to tell. I just really hope that they continue to produce this kind of work, hopefully inspiring the next generation of creators."

Much more at Previews Review, including why you should pick up the also highly recommended Sleeper and New Frontier this week.

Less Blogging, More Taste -- With Dirk Deppey and Jason Marcy noting my lack of blogging over the past week or so, I should mention that the ADD Blog will probably be sporadically updated over the next few weeks. I have a number of things distracting me from the blog, one of which may interest you and which I'll be able to tell you about next month.

If you want to be certain you keep up with whatever it is that we do here, click the Yahoo Groups link over on the right to join the mailing list. Whenever I update here I send out a note to the list, so that's the best way to stay on top of things.

My apologies for the lack of content over the next couple of weeks -- my hope is that I can get back into a groove with some tweaking here to make the ADD Blog a better and more entertaining experience for all involved.

Monday, January 19, 2004

The Week in Comics -- Here's a rundown of worthwhile titles to keep an eye out for this week at your local comics shop:



MOTHER, COME HOME TPB $14.95 -- Cartoonist Paul Hornschemeier's first longform graphic novel, as originally serialized in the pages of Forlorn Funnies #2-4. An unusual and inventive story of a disastrous loss that devastates a young boy and his family, with echoes of the creator's real life blended in. The most impressive part of this novel is how Hornschemeier depicts the real-life events alongside the boy's version of events, which serve as a filter to both explain the events and protect him from them. This book has my highest recommendation.


NEW FRONTIER #1 (Of 6) $6.95 -- Normally, in a week with Mother, Come Home shipping, I wouldn't even bother recommending anything else. But DC ships two extremely exciting books this week. This first one is Darwyn Cooke's look at the DC Universe. Cooke got his start as an animator who contributed to the excellent Batman Animated series (including Batman Beyond, for which he designed the stunning title sequence). He also established the Pop Noir style that made DC's Catwoman so visually impressive when it relaunched a couple of years ago, and created two vastly entertaining and beautiful graphic novels, Batman: Ego and Catwoman: Selina's Big Score. He's an action/adventure cartoonist with influences including Alex Toth and Jack Kirby and Bruce Timm, but with a unique visual signature that absolutely knocks me out. What I am saying is that New Frontier is without question the superhero project I am most looking forward to in 2004, and you really ought to pick this (and everything else Cooke has ever created) up. You won't regret it.

SLEEPER #12 $2.95 -- This title was the very best monthly book in 2003, and this is the final issue of its "first season," wrapping up the first story-arc before an impending relaunch. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have created a nearly sui generis action/espionage work that is better than anything either of them has ever done (in two already impressive careers) and much greater than the sum of its parts. At its heart, Sleeper is about desperation and the will to go on despite an overwhelmingly bleak set of circumstances. Sleeper is one of the most involving and compelling comic books ever created, and like Mother, Come Home and New Frontier, it has my highest recommendation.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

A Cornerstone! -- My thanks to Rob Worley for naming ADD Blog one of the "cornerstones of the Comics Blogosphere."

Welcome to ADD -- My sincere thanks to Augie De Blieck for linking here in his column today. If you're a first-time visitor, I'd recommend checking out these recent entries:

Thanks again to Augie for linking here, and again, if it's your first time, welcome. If you like what you see, consider signing up for the new ADD Blog mailing list to stay on top of what's happening here.

New ADD Blog Mailing List -- I've created a new mailing list to keep interested readers up to date about the ADD Blog. Go here or click the link at the top right side of this page to sign up.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Comic Book Reader's Bill of Rights Version 1.0

As a comic book reader, you have the right to expect that the people who create the comics you read will be treated ethically and compensated properly for their effort by their publishers, in a manner that enriches both the creators and the company that publishes their work.

As a comic book reader, you have the right to expect that creators want to create stories with a higher goal than the mere sustaining of the economic viability of trademarks owned by corporations.

As a comic book reader, you have the right to buy work that entertains and enlightens you, and the right to spread the word to others who might enjoy such work if you choose to do so.

As a comic book reader, you have the right to express your opinion on work that you have invested your time and money on, and the responsibility to do so in an intellegent manner that encourages civil and responsible debate on the themes, purpose and merits of the work.

As a comic book reader, you have the right to quality merchandise that delivers what it promises. If the merchandise is flawed in some way or misrepresents its contents in either advertising or cover copy, you have the right to expect -- and retailers have the responsibility to issue you -- a full refund.

As a comic book reader, you have the right to expect professionalism from the retailer or retailers selling you their merchandise. This includes, but is not limited to, competent customer service, a clean and safe retail environment, and modern retail policies including sales receipts and posted refund and return policies.

As a comic book reader, you have the right to expect that your retailer understands and is capable of professionally implementing the current pre-ordering system. While progressive, forward-thinking people will recognize the system as ineffective at best and disastrous at worst, until Diamond and Previews are supplanted by a real ordering system that works for both retailers and readers, you have the right to expect that your retailer understands how the system works, and will make sure that you receive 100 percent of the merchandise you choose to order through them.

As a comic book reader, you have the right and responsibility to spend your money on the works that you want to purchase. You have no responsibility to buy products in formats you don't care for in order to artificially prop up a failing industry unable to see its way to its own future.

As a comic book reader, you have the right to expect that your tastes will be respected, and that all genres and formats of comics will be properly displayed and offered for sale by the retailer you choose to give your money to. You have the responsibility to avoid any comics store that makes you uncomfortable or dissatisfied, for whatever reason, and the right to notify the owner in private of any reasons why you choose not to support their store.

Similarly, you have the right and responsibility to support the comics retailer of your choice, for whatever reasons make that retailer the most responsive to your personal, individual needs as a comics buyer.

The Comic Book Reader's Bill of Rights is Ideological Freeware. The author grants permission for its reproduction and redistribution by private individuals on condition that the author and source of the article are clearly shown, no charge is made, and the whole article is reproduced intact, including this notice.

Friday, January 09, 2004

A Piece of Me -- This morning was quite unusual for me. I saw my children off to school.

I'm going to be 38 years old later this month, I've had kids for over a decade now, and although I used to pick them up at daycare and drop them off at school a few years ago in an extremely awkward arrangement made necessary by my schedule, for the past few years they've been taken to school either by their mother or by our more recent daycare provider. My wife and I both work, and it will come as no surprise to anyone who works and has kids that daycare is an extremely difficult proposition these days. Should the United States ever start caring about its people enough to provide health care for everyone, quality universal daycare would be a noble secondary goal that would probably send productivity through the roof. But I digress.

I took today off because we had no other daycare options, and I have marginally more time off coming to me at the moment than my wife -- and someone needed to get the kids to school. As I say, this is the first time in a few years now that I have done the entire rigamorole, from waking 'em up to getting 'em to the school door and everything in between. In between, of course, is breakfast.

Dad made scrambled eggs and toast, and although he was tempted to make the turkey bacon sitting in the fridge, that seemed like too much work protein for this early in the day.

Dad did dress up the eggs with a little bit of real cheddar cheese that we were gifted with by someone who considers Swiss Colony a viable holiday offering. Well, whatever, the cheese was good and made the eggs a little above-average. Who the hell eats orange marmalade, though? Gack.

After breakfast the kids played videogames on their X-Mas Gamecube and Dad took the latest shower he's had in years. I usually have to be out the door and on the way to work well before dawn, but waiting until quarter of eight seemed positively decadent. In a way, it was, because before I knew it, we were actually running a bit late.

We started the car -- which didn't want to start, since the temperature is somewhere around zero right now -- and while we waited for it to warm up my daughter drank a juice-box thing of some sort and my son made explosion sound effects. He's eight. It's amazing how little it takes to entertain yourself at that age.

Eventually the heat started working and the window began defrosting and since I now had three minutes to get the kids to the door, we were on our way, hardly breaking any traffic laws at all. Almost none!

Right at the time my wife told me to have them at the curb, we were there. The street in front of the school seemed less busy than I remembered it being when I used to bring them to school every day (wow, that was nearly five years ago now) -- but with temps in the single digits, loitering is really not a viable entertainment option for me or my fellow parents.

Hugs and kisses were doled out -- they're at the nice age where they not only don't mind, but actually want affection from their parents -- and off they went to a day full of spelling tests and other assorted learning, and hopefully a recess or two. They work hard, they deserve it.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

My Review Archive is Back -- My thanks to the great folks at Simply Comics for providing web space to host my reviews from the Comic Book Galaxy days.

Kochalka Alert -- James Kochalka has produced a new mini-comic called The Cute Manifesto. His last self-produced mini, Reinventing Everything (my review is here) was one of the best things he's ever done, and by the way is still available as well. Ordering details are here.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Ch-ch-changes -- 2004 will be a year of change for the comics blogosphere, I believe, and the first big blow has been announced: Derek Martinez is going on hiatus.

Derek's been a sporadic but extremely high-quality blogger, and I do hope he gets past the factors that led him to this decision. The internet's a poorer place without his input.

Derek, just a personal note: You've been a loyal friend and working with you on Comic Book Galaxy was one of my great joys. Thanks for your continued friendship, and good luck with everything.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Here's To Theft! -- Go check out AK's hilarious take on DK2.

Tally Me Banana -- Christopher Butcher's thanks to me and Dirk Deppey in his column this week spurred me to take a look at my own site statistics and see who I have to thank for the ever-increasing number of visitors to the ADD Blog.

No surprise at all that I get most of my hits from Dirk Deppey. His Journalista! is the best source of comics news and information anywhere on the planet. Honestly, if you've got Journalista! bookmarked, you're set. Everything important about comics (and the funny unimportant stuff, to boot) will get to your attention thanks to Dirk's diligent observance. He's been very kind to link to this blog (and its predecessor) many times over the course of its history. Thanks, Dirk.

Also worth noting are the links I get from John Jakala, Kevin Melrose and Sean Collins. They're just below Dirk not only in terms of the hits they send my way, but in terms of the amount of information and entertainment they provide on a daily basis. Anyone who disparages the comics blogosphere either isn't reading these blogs or is a goddamn idiot. Possibly both.

And speaking of Collins, check out his interview with cartoonist Phoebe Gloeckner. She's one of the most vital and significant comics creators of our time, and big kudos to Sean for making sure this interview made it into the public's hands despite the best effort of backwater imbeciles who put its original planned venue out of business.

Essential Reading -- Although it's mainly about comics that shipped over the past two weeks, Christopher Butcher's new Previews Review column also serves as a devastatingly insightful perspective on the past year in comics. His comments on The Comics Journal, Geoff Johns, Alan Moore, Astro City, and much more, are absolutely dead-on accurate. Please take the time to read this lengthy installment, and really seriously consider what he says. Butcher is one of the few people worth listening to on a regular basis, and this week he manages to turn that knob up to 11.

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!

* YOUNG GODS & FRIENDS by Barry Windsor-Smith
* ZIPPY ANNUAL 2003 by Bill Griffith
* 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
* THE POGOSTICK #2 by Columbia & Persoff
* PALESTINE by Joe Sacco
* USAGI YOJIMBO Vols. 5 & 7 by Stan Sakai

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.

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:


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.

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.

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:


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.)

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

A new PETER BAGGE interview is available online at:


A new DANIEL CLOWES interview is available online at:


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!

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.

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!

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.

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.

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."

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?

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?

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.


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.





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