Thursday, September 30, 2004

Sign of the End Times? Bucking Marvel's trend of dragging out storylines to fit the trade, Peter David has announced his "Tempest Fugit" miniseries-turned-Hulk-arc will be five issues instead of six.

"The way the story's developing, its natural length is five issues. I mean, yeah, I could (pardon the expression) pad it out to six, but what's the point of that? So TF will be issues 77 through 81. Issue 82 will be a one-off, possibly with a guest artist depending on how deadlines are running. What I'm planning to do is a story that will be self-contained, but at the same time lay groundwork for an ongoing story arc if I continue past #82."

City planning: looks at Dark Horse's preparations for the April 1 opening of the Sin City movie:

"Dark Horse has been busy reprinting the original editions of the Sin City saga and all of the familiar version of the Sin City trade paperbacks should be available from Dark Horse (via Diamond) within the next two weeks, with the exception of The Big Fat Kill, which is currently only available in hardcover.

"But starting in January 2005, Dark Horse will issue new versions of its Sin City trades. The books will be re-designed by master designer Chip Kidd and will be reformatted to a six-inch by nine-inch size. The new editions will all have volume numbers on their spines, and the first volume (originally entitled simply Sin City) will have an added subtitle, The Hard Goodbye. The cover prices will be the same as on the original volumes."

Also look for coasters, Zippo lighters, prints and, yes, a shot glass.

Anime appraisal: A writer for Eastern Michigan University's Echo rattles off some anime history, then ponders one of the troubles of the "genre":

"The problem with the anime genre has become overexposure. I remember being in high school and thinking that Dragon Ball Z was the greatest thing in the world. I’m sure others can relate where shows like Pokémon and Voltron are concerned. After a while, I realized that the show was not that great and I have since become horribly choosy about the kind of anime I watch, attempting to find something more than cuddly cockfighting seizure monsters and schoolgirls beating up giant fighting robots, tentacle monsters and very large eyes."

Bump in the night: Writing for the Decatur (Ala.) Daily, Franklin Harris takes a look at the darker side of children's books and films, namely Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate Events and Neil Gaiman's Coraline.

Daily Satrapi sighting hearing? Boston's WBUR interviews Marjane Satrapi. You can listen to the audio file at the website.

Growth industry: Japan Today reports that the international success of anime is inspiring many young people to become cartoonists. But Ikuo Shimizu, general manager of the Tokyo-based cartoonist school Nihon Mangajuku, says, "what counts most is the comic book stories on which animation movies are based."

They're so important that his school requires second-year student to write four comics stories:

"It's a preliminary to becoming professional cartoonists. Professionals often have to write a comic under deadline. In order to produce a good story, one has to take interest in many things from one's earlier years."

The article also notes that the "Japanese contents industry" -- basically, video games, manga and anime -- is expected to rocket from a 200 billion yen a year to 17 trillion by 2010.

(Graphic) novel approach: Los Angeles City Beat talks with Aaron McGruder and Reginald Hudlin about Birth of a Nation, and why they chose the graphic-novel format:

"The first was just having the space to tell the story. The second was that the story is meant for the vast majority of people, most of whom are scared to go into a comic-book store. It’s very much a story about average people and politics and things the majority of people in this country are talking about nowadays, so it needs to be placed in stores where those people go to buy books, and graphic novels get into the Borders and the Barnes & Nobles."

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Get with the program: The program schedule has been posted for this weekend's SPX. It's a solid lineup, with panels devoted to Kyle Baker, Jeff Smith, Mike Mignola and Eric Powell, Baton Lash, and Scott Morse. I hope to attend the Mignola and Powell session, "Writing for Young Readers" and "Self-Publishing: From Planning to Publishing."

"Horror" stories: In this week's "Permanent Damage," Steven Grant uses Patrick Neighly's latest column as a springboard for an interesting examination of what qualifies as a "horror" comic:

"EC's horror stories are rarely more than extended, gruesome jokes. The stories that really approached horror at EC were in their crime and war comics, outlining man's callous inhumanity to man. Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan's influential TOMB OF DRACULA – its influence can be seen in almost every horror comic since – is generally acknowledged as Marvel's greatest horror comic ever, but it's only vaguely a horror comic. It's really an adventure comic whose heroes hunt a monster, who himself is sporadically heroic. Neighly correctly cites the current king of the horror hill, Robert Kirkman's Image title, THE WALKING DEAD, isn't really a horror story but 'essentially a survivalist soap opera cloaked in largely superfluous horror elements.' WALKING DEAD's Romeroesque zombies, which even George Romero was playing for laughs and social commentary by his second zombie movie DAWN OF THE DEAD, could just as easily be Martians, cannibalistic hillbillies or postnuclear mutants, and the story would play the same. Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, in 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, has an irresistibly creepy concept that works on our imaginations, but there's little there genuinely scary to anyone who grew up watching vampire movies. In the two 30 DAYS ...-involved series out so far, the only truly horrific, scary moment comes in the very last scene of DARK DAYS, undermining our expectations with the irresistible logic of the situation."

Just for kicks, here's Barb Lien-Cooper's latest column, in which she criticizes Neighly's statements about horror, accuses him of not reading enough comics and, of course, slips in the requisite mentions of Mark Millar and her webcomic.

Rick Smith, unmasked: At Comic World News, Ed Cunard talks with Rick Smith about Baraka and Black Magic in Morocco, Shuck, Temporary, and some surprising things about Morocco:

"Our taxi cab drivers filling the gasoline tank with a lit cigarette -- the ashes dangling over the open gas spicket. Danger is the middle name of a lot of Moroccans. A lot of countries we visited had men who had a death wish (which typically involved tobacco or vehicles) but Morocco seemed to shine in this regard. There's a scene in the end of the book where I catch a glimpse (while riding a bus) of a child lying on the highway dead. The family and townsfolk are about to beat the shit out of the taxi cab driver who killed the kid. It was chilling -- a joy ride gone wrong."

Brave, bold and collected: DC Comics has announced it will collect some of the classic team-ups from the '60s in The Brave and the Bold Team-Up Archives Vol. 1, scheduled for April 2005 release. The first volume collects Issues 50-56 and 59, from 1963 to 1965, featuring work by writers Bob Haney and Robert Kanigher, and artists such as Joe Kubert, Alex Toth and Ramona Fradon.

Spider-Man and Jewish identity: The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post looks at "Spider-Man: Jewish Hero," one of the classes offered at the CHAI School, a program of the Jewish Education Commission of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County. The course examines the parallels between Spider-Man comics and films and Jewish values:

"We thought it was best to draw from things that would interest teens and give them a forum to explore their Jewish identity... who they are and how they fit in the local community, the global community."

"Retail war horse": The Canton (Ohio) Repository spotlights Comics Cards and Collectables, which has outlasted many downtown businesses in the past 24 years. But now, amid downtown "revitalization," owner Tom Mattevi is moving his store, partly because he wouldn't be able to afford rent in the renovated building.

Meredith and Marvel sign book deal: The Des Moines (Iowa) Register reports that locally based Meredith Corp. has signed a multi-year deal with Marvel Enterprises to produce books based on Captain America, the X-Men and other characters. Meredith, which produced a couple of Spider-Man children's books last year, is a media and marketing company that publishes home, gardening and children's books, as well as magazines like Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies' Home Journal.

Here's Tim Rothwell, president of Marvel's Worldwide Consumer Products Group:

"Their creativity, coupled with their retailer clout, make them perfect to help expand the presence of the Marvel Universe among young kids."

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Four play: Jamie S. Rich points out that Eric Stephenson has posted the beautifully designed cover to the upcoming Four-Letter Worlds anthology, which features takes on "love," "hate," "fear" and "fate" from the likes of Amber Benson, Joe Casey, Chynna Clugston-Major, Jay Faerber, Matt Fraction, Steven Griffin, Mike Hawthorne, Mike Huddleston, Phil Hester, Antony Johnston, Robert Kirkman, Steve Lieber, Jim Mahfood, Jamie, McKelvie, B. Clay Moore, Scott Morse, Mike Norton, Jeff Parker, Mark Ricketts, Matt Roberts, Steve Rolston, J. Torres, Andi Watson, Rich and Stephenson. The 144-page trade paperback is due out in January.

Fighting crime ... with manga: Via Mainichi Daily News comes word that law-enforcement officials are turning to manga to battle Japan's rapidly escalating crime rate. Earlier this month, Isawa Police Station in Yamanashi Prefecture printed and distributed 500 "manga wanted posters" to help catch a convenience-store robber. The man was caught, thanks to information gleaned from a security camera, but still:

"Isawa's cartoon wanted poster told the story of the thief from the moment he entered the store he robbed until he ran away. It also gave a description of his physical appearance and dress. It also provided information that simply releasing the security camera footage would have been unable to do.

"'For instance, the thief had a big "X" on the back of his shirt. On the camera footage, the letter looked like it was all black, but it was actually marked in a leopard skin pattern,' the deputy chief says. 'Thanks to the manga, we were able to include little details like that.'"

(Thanks to Buzz Dixon for the link.)

Cartoon rebirth: China Daily reports on the start of the first China International Cartoon and Digital Arts Week in Changzhou City, which hopes to make the festival the most popular one of its kind in Asia -- and bolster the local cartoon industry:

"The purpose of the festival is to make our city a platform for international exchanges in the cartoon industry and promote its development."

Prime movers: The Philippine Daily Inquirer profiles comics artist Gerry Alanguilan, and looks at the contributions of Filipino creators like Whilce Portacio, Leinil Francis Yu, Arthur de la Cruz, J. Torres and others.

Happy 100th, Milo: Who could've guessed when, amid the bomb bursts and cymbal crashes of our nation's Bicentennial, a fresh-faced Milo George announced he'd undertake The Last Road Home, that we'd be here some 28 years later celebrating the 100th installment of his groundbreaking opus? Certainly not me. But Milo had a vision -- and a yellowing Polaroid of a toothless chimpanzee from the Columbus Zoo (replaced in 1986 by the typing troglodyte we see today). Happy anniversary, Milo. Here's to 100 more.

The return of Dracula: Newsarama chats with Dick Giordano and Marvel editor Mark Beazley about the release of Stoker’s Dracula, the adaptation Giordano and Roy Thomas began 30 years ago but never completed:

“When I look at the original 76 pages I find that the storytelling is not too shabby and when I look at the last chapter in book 2, which I've just finished, the technique looks real close to the chapters that preceded it. So maybe we're talking about degrees here. Will it look different to the readers? Well thirty years, a change in format and art size, as well as an artist who is thirty years older has to lead to some differences in the art. But I am working extra hard to keep the differences as minimal as possible. The readers will have to determine how successful I am at keeping the ‘look’ seamless.”

Mezco to make The Goon toys: I usually couldn't care less about comics-based toys, but this could be really fun. reports Mezco Toyz announced on its message board that it has acquired the rights to make toys based on Eric Powell's The Goon.

Incentive switcharoo: Newarama and summarize the big to-do that led Marvel to change the ratios on its incentive program for The Ultimates 2 #1. Here's Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley, who, in a refreshing move, doesn't try to spin events:

"It was obvious to us right from the start that we miscalculated the 50/50 variant. For the first time that I can remember, we heard from multiple retailers expressing their concern for how this type of incentive would hurt the sales of the books in their stores."

Daily Spiegelman sighting: The University of Southern California Daily Trojan reviews Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers.

Fear and Loathsome: The Advocate talks with How Loathsome creators Ted Naifeh and Tristan Crane about sexual ambiguity, sexual identity, and how the miniseries came about:
Naifeh: Well, it started as what I wanted to be my Goth book. I was talking about it with Tristan, and the direction I was going, Tristan was like, “No, no, you’ve got to go here.” What we ultimately found ourselves doing was cocreating the book together.

Crane: Ted had done some sketches of this androgynous, lanky character, and I went and wrote some prose pieces exploring this person’s point of view.

Naifeh: I had the bare bones of the first story in mind—this character falling in love with a tranny girl—and then when I read what Tristan was writing I was like, “No, this is the voice this character should have.” So we ended up writing it together.
If you haven't read this series, the hardcover edition and trade paperback are available.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Then and Now: Publishers Weekly (subscription required) reports on the return of Tony Caputo's Now Comics as a publisher of graphic novels. The Plainfield, Ill.-based company already has released five trade paperbacks and one hardcover this year, and plans to publish seven to 10 paperbacks annually beginning in 2005:

"Manga has really helped create a new comics market in bookstores. Books offer comics readers more depth and a richer expression. It's a perfect time for us to come back as a book publisher."

Newtype adds first-run manga: also notes that Yukiri Sugisaki's Lagoon Engine Einsatz will be published in installments in Newtype USA, beginning with the October issue:

"The installments, in both black and white in color, will be run in Newtype throughout the next year, before being published in Japan, a first for a manga by a Japanese creator."

Tokyopop takes the lead: reports Tokyopop now has about 800 trade paperbacks in print, making it the leading publisher of comic trades, as measured by product line. DC Comics now holds the No. 2 spot, with about 700 titles, while Dark Horse probably is third, with around 575.

Something wicked this way comes: Also at Ninth Art, Greg McElhatton highlights some of the books shipping in December, and throws in a little twist:

"... [I]n order to help everyone fully comprehend what's scheduled for publication this December (because I don't know about you, but this is certainly the time that I find myself planning my entire holiday shopping list ... well, maybe not ...), I'll try and relate as many of these books as I can to what sort of show they'd be on the fall schedule. The fact that this is the most underwhelming set of solicitations I've seen in a long time and I'm trying to keep my interest up has nothing to do with this decision, honest."

Old-fashioned revivals: At Ninth Art, Paul O'Brien looks at Marvel and DC's fondness for revamping old, failed concepts:

"It's a sign of the ambivalent relationship Marvel and DC have with their back catalogues. Both publishers, although particularly Marvel, seem convinced that they have a back catalogue of cancelled properties of tremendous value. This, after all, is Marvel's standard pitch to investors -- look how many characters we have. Since the characters have been deemed to be so very valuable, it follows that there must be ways of exploiting them. Cue bizarre relaunches that try to retool old ideas in a new fashion and, as a general rule, end up as a crumpled heap on the floor.

"The problem is that most of the original concepts aren't really all that great to start with. Chances are that's why they got cancelled in the first place. In order to try and turn them into something a little more exciting, the concept ends up being retooled to such an extent that its remaining fans -- the only people who gave a toss about the revived brand name in the first place -- don't recognise it and reject it."

Passion for anime: Australia's The Age profiles Madman Entertainment's Tim Anderson, who turned a childhood love of anime into a $50-million business, distributing the films on DVD and video throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Review revue: The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reviews Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris' Ex Machina.

The art of superheroes: spotlights an exhibit of artwork at Denmark's Overgaden by Andrea Jespersen and Ben Woodeson examining the "widespread phenomenon" of superheroes.

(Thanks to Johanna for the link.)

Daily Spiegelman sighting: The Philadelphia Inquirer talks with Art Spiegelman about In the Shadow of No Towers, and takes a look at "noteworthy works" from "the comics-as-literature movement," namely -- you guessed it -- Persepolis 2: the Story of a Return, The Fixer, Eightball #23 and the like.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Infantino lawsuit dismissed: This is yesterday's news, but I quit blogging early. So, there you have it. Newsarama reports that Carmine Infantino has withdrawn his $4 million lawsuit against DC Comics. The dismissal is made without prejudice, meaning Infantino can revise his complaint and refile at a later time.

Infantino had claimed he retained some, if not all, of the rights to most of the characters he created for DC Comics, including The Silver Age Flash and his Rogues Gallery, Batgirl, Ralph and Sue Dibny, Animal Man, Deadman, the Phantom Stranger, the Human Target and Poison Ivy.

"Money is the driving force in my life": chats with Harvey Pekar about, well, money -- and his relative lack of it:

"Pekar made $100,000 for his involvement in the film American Splendor — he acted a bit, did voice-over narration and consulted on the script. Shrewdly, he took payment in two installments, the first in December 2003 and second in January of this year, to ease the tax hit. He'll devote most of the proceeds to his 16-year-old daughter Danielle's education. Right now, she's home-schooled by Joyce, and is already taking art classes at Cuyahoga Community College.

"As for steady income, there isn't much. Pekar retired from the VA hospital in 2001, and earns $20,000 a year from his government pension. He receives an additional $10,000 a year (and will for the next five years or so, he says) from an annuity bought almost 20 years ago. When he becomes eligible for Social Security, he expects to collect only a few thousand dollars a year. 'That doesn't support me and my wife and my kid: $30,000 a year is not a lot of money, even here [in Cleveland],' he says. 'I mean, you can barely make it on that.'"

Review revue: The Orlando Sentinel casts a "skeptical eye" on Vertigo, focusing on 100 Bullets and Fables, while The Jersey Journal looks at Superman/Batman.

State of the (comics) union: Christopher Butcher brought up some interesting questions about the homogeny of online comics newsmagazines, and Ed Cunard and Johanna Draper Carlson have joined in the discussion. It's definitely worth a read.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Street Angel, can you hear me? At Comic World News, Ed Cunard chats with Jim Rugg about Street Angel:

"It’s a book that stands in opposition to the books I hate. Perhaps a lot of readers hate many of the things I hate in mainstream comics too, and they either can’t articulate what they don’t like or Marvel/Image/DC ignores them. Some readers remain because they love the language or medium of comics and Street Angel may appeal to those folks. I can’t say for sure. My goal with the book is make a comic I enjoy, I don’t think we’ve done an issue yet that I’m satisfied with, but each issue has had a few elements that I thought worked well. I guess I’m not alone in what I want to see in a comic, and the people who have responded to it share some similarities in taste with me.

"Part of its appeal may come from the contraction of the industry. I think by and large there are fewer books that skew the mainstream now than there were ten to twenty years ago. With the ‘80s black and white boom and the rise of alternative publishers like First and Eclipse there were books like TMNT, The Tick, Flaming Carrot, even things like Miracleman, American Flagg, that were intelligent, thoughtful alternatives to the mainstream but were still genre work. There isn’t a lot of material available like that today. And I think the standalone aspect of the book makes it rather unique at the moment. Almost everything out there now is written for the collection. Despite the rise in book trade sales, comics are still sold in the 'pamphlet' format but practically no books are created to maximize this format. So that may appeal to some readers."

Ode to a graphic novel: Writing for Australia's The Age, Juliette Hughes expresses her love for the graphic novel, particularly the works of Neil Gaiman:

"Graphic novels, or comics, or whatever you want to call them, give ultimate power to the reader. You are in cahoots with the preoccupations of the artist as your gaze travels the obsessive line. You start to examine the meaning, the iconography, you become your own Sister Wendy, slavering over beauty or eye-locked to horror. With graphic novels (or comics, or whatever you want to call them) you can take it all slowly, or pass over it quickly; whatever you do, the eye is swift and takes in more than you know.

"Pictures have always enhanced experience: stained-glass windows were supposedly put in medieval churches in order to edify the illiterate multitudes - but that was only the pretext that allowed artisans to create joyful mayhem within a tight authoritarian system. In England many of them were later smashed by Puritans, forerunners of Miss Burns, distrusters of delight."

BBC scraps pope cartoon: The Associated Press reports that protests from Roman Catholics have led the BBC to abandon plans for a cartoon featuring Pope John Paul II on a pogo stick. Popetown starred Ruby Wax as the voice of the pontiff and Jerry Hall as a fame-hungry nun. More than 6,000 Catholics signed a petition opposing the cartoon, which featured corrupt cardinals and an infantile pope.

Desperate Dan's glamor shot: UK's icStaines reports that Desperate Dan, star of The Dandy comic, will undergo a makeover in an attempt to win back a dwindling readership. The cowboy will cover his gun, ditch the cigarettes and spurs, and lose some weight. Other changes include the addition of new characters, such as Dreadlock Holmes and a troublesome school kid named Jak.

The Dandy, which first hit the streets on Dec. 3, 1937, has been dubbed by The Guinness Book of Records as the world's longest-running comic.

Review revue: The Hartford Advocate reviews Seth's Bannock, Beans and Black Tea: Memories of a Prince Edward Island Childhood in the Great Depression and Clyde Fans: Book One:

"Seth makes his living as a commercial artist, his work appearing regularly in the New York Times, Spin, Forbes, and The New Yorker, but when he draws comics he seems to enter a timeless world where the artistic vision is incorruptible, almost preserved in amber. At an event in New Haven, he once told a startled audience, 'I am not a gag artist. I don't have a sense of humor.' He was telling the truth. The cumulative effect of his work is powerfully melancholic. The colors he uses only reinforce the melancholic glow of his drawings: olive greens, greys, browns. Seth has perfected one color in particular, a light bluish tinge, mixed with brown and grey that instantly connects with a viewer."

The darker side of Star Wars: Just in time for the release of the original Star Wars trilogy DVD, The Oklahoman focuses on Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars Infinities series.

Bitten by the anime bug: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer looks at anime's moves into American theaters:

"... The anime bug has a way of biting suddenly, deeply and with ensuing infection that can last a lifetime.

"Before the current release of the eye-melting movie sequel Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, the most recent (and well-publicized) bite by this tenacious bug is surely Hayao Miyazaki's mainstream-yet-monumental Spirited Away, the first Japanese film to win an Academy Award for best animated feature.

"Many American parents who only wanted to take the young'uns to the local googleplex for a bubble-gummy 124 minutes of mindless 'toons instead got quite the unexpected poke in the eyes and brain -- a decidedly offbeat, often surreal (and in some instances genuinely disturbing and frightening) tale of one plucky little girl's glimpse into a spiritual otherworld."

Screen time: USA Today chats with comics scribe/screenwriter David Goyer about Blade: Trinity, Batman Begins, and what went wrong with the Batman movie franchise:

"I think the movies started getting too much like the TV show. It got campy. Back when the movies were coming out, the comic books were in a very good place. (Comic book illustrator) Frank Miller was doing some amazing work. They were really dark. The Joker had killed Robin, and the books had a very grim tone. They weren't messing around. But the movies ignored all that, and the fans turned against it."

Toy story: The Arizona Republic (scroll down) notes Todd McFarlane has opened a McFarlane Toys Store in Tempe. The Oct. 16 grand opening will feature appearances by McFarlane, Greg Capullo and McFarlane Toys chief toy designer Ed Frank.

What are these "blogs" the kids are crazy about? The Associated Press discovers that many authors, such as Neil Gaiman, are blogging:

"Author blogs are also the latest reminder of how times have changed since writers simply wrote their books and let the publishers -- and the work itself -- speak for them. Now, many authors arrange their own tours, maintain Web sites, send e-mail newsletters and, in the case of [Jennifer] Weiner and others, offer ongoing personal commentary."

Thursday, September 23, 2004

CrossGen sale set for Sept. 28: Newsarama reports the Middle District Bankruptcy Court has approved CrossGen's request to proceed with the sale of its assets, with John Taddeo as the lead bidder. The court's approval allows CrossGen to solicit competing offers for a Sept. 28 sale hearing.

Wait. The sky isn't falling? At, there's been gnashing of teeth this week over a perceived impending graphic novel/manga apocalypse. Today, three retailers respond with some advice -- essentially, "breathe."

Christopher Butcher of Toronto's The Beguiling (and Comics 212): "With the coming months seeing a greater and greater number of titles solicited, we are well aware of the challenges that will create, and are continuing to work with our staff, publishers, and even our customers to ensure the category stays profitable for us, and continues its steady rate of growth. Whether that's finding new sales avenues, new promotional methods, or just buying another bookcase, these are challenges we are willing to meet. We would very much appreciate it if publishers would think twice about releasing some of the truly dreadful titles we've been seeing, but at the same time we recognize that in a capitalist society asking someone to stop trying to make as much money as they think they can probably won't go over terribly well. If it's on us to pick and choose and keep on top of the product then so be it, companies that go out of their way to educate us about their products and promote their works outside of our existing clientele, to create demand for their books, will see a concrete benefit in our orders (and reorders, and reorders, and reorders). Companies who don't will have to enjoy our single-copy orders on books they've printed 10,000 copies of."

Torsten Adair of Barnes & Noble: "There is some fear that the Industry will see a recurrence of the graphic novel bust of the 1980s, when numerous mainstream publishers rushed to publish titles. I feel that with the younger customer base that exists now, the cross marketing of various media outlets, and computerized modeling of inventory, the Industry will most likely plateau and stabilize. I believe that manga and graphic novels can be just as successful (and just as variable) as mysteries, romance, and science fiction."

Robert Scott of Comickaze in San Diego: "Where manga is contributing the most to my store is in helping me capture hundreds of new customers, especially females, who never felt there was a reason to visit comic shops. Manga is a format, not a genre and within the format there are as many or more genres represented as there are in Western comics, but unlike most Western comic publishers (excluding DC Comics), manga publishers offer an incredible range of product from beginning readers all the way to adult. Manga offers us a chance to sell books to an entire family, at increasingly consumer friendly price points and on far a more regular basis than most Western comics. Where customers are complaining about $7/issue for 'fan favorite' JLA/Avengers, I have customers flocking in monthly to spend $10 a pop for not just one manga GN but two, three, four+ every week. And it's kids, young girls, and moms!!"

DC overcomes Kryptonite: CNN/Money reports a federal judge has refused to throw out a breach-of-contract claim DC Comics filed against Kryptonite Corp., a bicycle-lock company. DC filed the lawsuit in 2000 to prevent Kryptonite from expanding the use of the word on tote bags, helmets, jerseys and other products.

According to the New York Daily News, the publisher argued a 1983 agreement limited the bike-lock company to using the word on locks, bike accessories and handle bar grips. Federal Judge Richard Owen apparently agreed, writing in his 19-page decision that, "I find that Kryptonite is an element associated with Superman entertainment products and it is thus entitled to protection."

Owen's order, entered Sept. 16 and modified Sept. 21, allows DC to proceed to trial.

Book smarts: The New York is Book Country literary festival has released the schedule for the Oct. 2-3 festival, which features a Graphic Novel Pavilion with 10 exhibitors, including DC Comics, Drawn and Quarterly, and Marvel. For a complete rundown of panels and signings, visit the festival's website.

The art of the graphic novel: Miami's New Times previews the opening of "The Graphic Novel," an exhibit featuring original artwork by 40 creators, including Art Spiegelman, Alex Ross, Dan Clowes, Chris Ware and Marjane Satrapi.

Local boy does good: The Dallas Observer (scroll down) spotlights Warlock writer Greg Pak:

"These Marvel Comics characters are bigger than all of us who work on them. They've been reinvented countless times in the past and will continue to be reimagined as long as the medium survives. It's a thrill to be part of that process and history."

(Purple) Earth day: The Huntington, W.Va., Herald-Dispatch profiles retailer John Horst, who's celebrating the 10th anniversary of Purple Earth Comics (just down the street from one of my college apartments):

"Horst said collecting comics is a male-dominated hobby and most women tend to think comic books are for little kids. Horst said women need to be introduced to the hobby to overcome that stereotype.

"'I don’t understand why there aren’t more women taking up this hobby. Women appreciate art, and I’ve never known a woman not to like stories,' he said."

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Marvel in December: Marvel has officially released its solicitations for December with cover images (as always, the text was leaked earlier at Millarworld). Man, that cover to Mystique #22 is just disturbing; it's like her face has errupted with anthropomorphic zits. Other than that, the only remarkable covers are Jo Chen's piece for Thor: Son of Asgard #11 and Alex Maleev's art for Daredevil #68.

Hell of a wait: And now, a rare movie tidbit ... Sci Fi Wire reports the sequel to Hellboy likely will be delayed while director Guillermo del Toro works on another project. Co-star Selma Blair told the website: "I don't start that for probably a year and a half. Guillermo is working on something else, so I'll probably have to wait. I talked to Guillermo last week when I was in Europe with him. He's sworn me to secrecy, but it's so good, and I'm so excited."

FCBD survey results: has the results from Diamond Comic Distributors' Free Comic Book Day 2004 retailer survey:

"54.8% of the storeowners promoted FCBD more aggressively than in 2003, with almost 90% of the respondents using signage to promote the event, while 72% used bag stuffers, 54% emails, and nearly 50% managed to get newspaper coverage. Actual purchased promotion in the form of newspaper ads (28%), radio spots (14.2%) and TV commercials (7.4%) were utilized at lower rates. At least one third of the respondents highlighted the event in store newsletters."

This part is of particular interest, considering the date chosen for next year's event:

"A large percentage of retailers (37.7%) cross-promoted FCBD with other retailers in their vicinity, while an equal number cross-promoted the event with movie theaters showing Spider-Man 2. The theatrical cross-promotions appeared to have been more effective, with 47% of respondents singling it out as the most effective promotional tool they used, while 40% of those who cross-promoted with other local businesses cited it as their most effective or second most effective tool. If the survey results had been available before retailers voted on the date for FCBD, would the effectiveness of the theatrical cross-promotions swayed more voters toward linking FCBD 2005 to the release of Batman Begins?"

Vintage haul: The Arkansas City Traveler reports on Saturday's auction of vintage comics from the collection of the late Robert Ford. Held in Wichita, Kan., the auction drew about 100 people, and garnered about $250,000 for 185 comics.

Nerve center: Canada's National Post spotlights the work of cartoonist Adrian Tomine:

"The young have beautiful bodies but turbulent and troubled souls. The same dichotomy between outward allure and inward agony can be seen in Tomine's work. His drawings are always a pleasure to look at: With his taut line-work he takes fleeting moments of beauty and freezes them into a still perfection. Yet his stories are about pain, not pleasure. He is so good at evoking the social awkwardness of a first date and the ebbing of a faltering relationship that you squirm with queasiness as you read him."

Meanwhile, The Toronto Star chats with Tomine, who will be the first comic book artist to appear as part of the Harbourfront Reading Series:

"It's such a strange situation right now, because I'm very grateful for all the attention and acceptance from the literary world, but at the same time, I don't think that I, or most of my cartoonist friends, have ever aspired to that. It's a really helpful, flattering by-product, but we don't want to be thought of as the poor cousin who's just now being allowed into the family."

Not to be outdone, The Globe and Mail also previews Tomine's Harbourfront appearance:

"When I started working for Drawn & Quarterly and started getting distributed and getting reviewed, I became very self-conscious of the level of slickness and professionalism in my work. I really, perhaps wrong-headedly, went down a path to refine my style, learned how to make things look as professional and slick and inadvertently, kind of constricted. I think what's happened recently has been an intentional regression, trying to find some middle ground between the two extremes."

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

More bang for your buck: At Comic World News, Shawn Hoke looks at the high cost of DC and Marvel comics -- $42 for a year of Iron Man, $60 for the "War Games" crossover -- and offers some more cost-effective alternatives.

Daily Satrapi sighting: The Portland Oregonian profiles Persepolis creator Marjane Satrapi.

From page to screen: Writing for the Edinburgh Student Newspaper, Alistair Kennedy -- usually of Ninth Art fame -- rattles off a list of comics that should be adapted to film: Bone, Madrox (already?), Cloak & Dagger and The Losers.

Bendis' True Believer: The New York Times' Small Business special section features a comic strip by Brian Michael Bendis that chronicles his rise through the world of comic books. In the strip, titled "True Believer," Bendis describes his relationship with Marvel Comics:

"A few years ago, when Marvel signed me to an exclusive writing contract ... they were, in a sense, hiring Jinxworld Inc. A large publicly traded company like Marvel hiring the service of a small corporation for a creative service. That service? Me."

Bendis tells Newsarama how the Times gig came about.

Age of discovery: In this week's installment of "The Basement Tapes," Joe Casey and Matt Fraction dig up some Back Issue Discoveries, including one of my childhood favorites, the Claremont/Sienkiewicz run on New Mutants. And Fraction's description of Claremont's writing is hilarious:

"I mean, it's ... purple, to say the least … it was, after all, mid-eighties Claremont, a Claremont at the height of his terrible, haiku-like, and logo-speaking powers. While there's something to be said for a writer having an immediately recognizable voice (even if it is through narration, and even if Tom Orzechowski's lettering is a lot of that recognize-ability), in my head now I think Chris Claremont's writing voice sounds exactly like Dr. Smith from the old LOST IN SPACE. Whenever I read any of his old stuff -- or, shit, even the new stuff he's got coming out with Alan Davis -- that's all I hear. The jolly nattering of a velveteen fop in space."

Too many choices? At, vocal retailer Ilan Strasser seconds Joe Krolik's concerns about a coming manga glut:

"Comic retailers who have been around long enough have seen previous product gluts (Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, comics) lead quite quickly to declining sales. Sometimes, product over saturation leads to total fallout and near total loss of sales as well. The reason? Purchasers are overwhelmed both by choice and the amount of dollars they need to spend to keep up.

"Of course, customers can and should choose to buy only those products that interest them and that they can afford, but we have all seen repeated instances, at least in the comics market, where this kind of common sense doesn't always prevail. Faced with the choice of getting everything or nothing, many comics customers over the last 15 years have opted to get nothing. While this is not going to affect the manga market in exactly the same way, I can still see the repercussions of a glut being quite significant for independent retailers without return privileges."

GNR launches: I forgot to point this out yesterday (although other bloggers, thankfully, did mention it): Graphic Novel Review is off to a good start, with Milo George's interview with Eddie Campbell, and reviews of Bone: One Volume Edition, Silly Daddy, Birth of a Nation and other titles. The only thing it's lacking is an introduction/mission statement.

Anime aficionados: The Indianapolis Star takes note of local anime clubs for adults and teens, and reprints The Boston Globe article about the popularity of manga among girls and young women.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Keen on Keenspot: Publishers Weekly (subscription required) spotlights, which is expanding into print with graphic-novel compilations of the site's webcomics, and a separate imprint for original works:

"Keenspot's 2003 revenues were up 81%, to $188,467, and recently Crosby moved the business into a 40,000-sq.-ft. former school building in Cresband, S.Dak., and in the process added a shipping department. [CEO Chris] Crosby said while the majority of Keenspot's sales come from online advertising, 'book and merchandising revenue are quickly rivaling it.' Net profits are split 50/50 with the Keenspot cartoonists, who are signed exclusively to the site."

The sky is falling: At, retailer Joe Krolik thinks the slow growth of the graphic novel market is a sure sign of a coming apocalypse:

"Uh oh, I feel the vibration of the ground as that first crack has appeared in the solid underpinning of the Manga boom. It's a small crack now, perhaps a hairline, but it will surely spread. Slowly, slowly, it will eke it's way towards the edge of the first bookshelf, picking up a bit of speed, building on itself, until like a full-scale earthquake it will shake and tremble across myriad bookstore shelves, leaving in its wake desolation and ruin in chains and independent stores alike as the boom becomes a bust. A very fast bust. A very big bust."

While Krolik plays Cassandra, ICv2 marches on, posting its estimated sales figures for comics and graphic novels shipping in August. The site notes that graphic novel sales were up 22 percent over August 2003, while single-issue sales increasing by 8 percent.

Review revue: The Miami Herald glances at In the Shadow of No Towers, Carnet de Voyage and Princess Ai.

Blogger interrupted: The real world beckons, so there will be a delay in blogging. Entries will resume this afternoon.

Oh, Canada: The Winnipeg Sun takes note of the return of Captain Canuck, whose new series premieres some 24 years after the original comic ended:

"That was one of the first comic books that I was given when I was a kid. I guess being in Canada you always want there to be a Canadian superhero."

A sidebar looks at the changes made to the character.

A positive image: The Boston Globe takes a look at a new pantheon of Middle Eastern superheroes created by by Cairo-based AK Comics:

"They are not meant to be Arab per se; they are supposed to be Middle Eastern -- it's a little bit of a sensitive issue."

Daily Spiegelman sightings: The Chicago Sun-Times and Florida's Sun-Sentinel review Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers.

Money matters: Bangkok's The Nation reports the Bank of Thailand is distributing 50,000 free comic books, titled Come to Know the BOT, to educate high school and university students about personal and government finance.

"We'd rather stay anonymous": The Glasgow Herald profiles Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers, the husband-and-wife comics team better known as Metaphrog, creators of the Louis graphic novels:

"You spoil the characters with a toy. Garfield is diluted as a character if he's looking out at you from every car. There are tacky toys everywhere, and it's a risk to make one, unless the character is iconic, because it's taking the character out of context. People want Louis on t-shirts and that's nice. I'd rather Louis be known than us. He's quite an iconic character and represents something which we are behind and believe in. We'd rather stay anonymous."

"India's favorite uncle" turns 75: Mid-Day Mumbai marks the 75th birthday of Anant Pai, creator of the Amar Chitra Katha comic books:

"Once at a Ramayan Mela, where delegates from all over the world had assembled at a seminar, it was asked who was the mother of Ravana. One delegate stood up and said ‘it’s Kehkasi because I have read it in the Amar Chitra Katha's.’ No one questioned his reply. I realized then how authentic people thought it was and that I would have to be very careful in my research."

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Will the last columnist at Broken Frontier please turn out the lights? First, Shawn Hoke picked up stakes. Then Matt Maxwell shuttered the windows. Now it's Graeme McMillan's turn, as he posts his final "Grim Tidings." (Luckily, Fanboy Rampage lives on.) What's driving all the columnists away from Broken Frontier?

Friday, September 17, 2004

Some more peddling: While we're at it, I might as well promote some more of my work. I've begun receiving the first of the color "proofs" for "Sack-'em-Up Gentlemen," an eight-page supernatural/horror (-ish) period piece that will appear sometime this winter in Digital Webbing Presents. I already knew Brian Churilla's artwork was terrific, but Eric Erbes' colors make me even more eager to see this story in print. Let's hope the writing lives up to the visuals.

Image in December: In case you missed it, Image Comics has released its solicitations for December, including The Amazing Joy Buzzards #1, which looks fun, the return of Flaming Carrot, and the debut of B. Clay Moore's latest miniseries, Battle Hymn.

Review revue: The Jersey Journal takes a look at fantasy comics Warlands and Arrowsmith.

Selling my wares: A 10-page preview has been posted for Digital Webbing Presents #19, the anthology's first full-color issue. Along with a cover story by Steve Niles and Kody Chamberlain (30 Days of Night: Bloodsucker Tales), there's a little "Bad Elements"/"Slight of Hand" crossover written by Ian Ascher and me, with art by Scott LeMien. Other contributors are Troy Wall, Nick Postic and Nick Marinkovich (IDW's Underworld), and Chris Kirby and Byran Heyboer. DWP #19 goes on sale Oct. 27.

News hounds: In this week's "Loose Cannon," Larry Young asks a handful of comics bloggers, "What sort of priority do you give to 'news' in comics, however you define it?"

Pfeifer's B-L-O-G: Comics scribe Will Pfeifer (H-E-R-O, Aquaman) enters the blogging fray with X-Ray Spex. Welcome to the blogosphere, Will. Here's your pitchfork.

Bloggy mountain breakdown: Blogger has been conspiring against me all morning, not allowing me to post since 8:40 a.m. If it relents -- I'll know when this message appears, I guess -- I just may resume link-blogging sometime this afternoon.

Titles growing faster than GN market:, promoting the release of its third Retailers Guide to Graphic Novels, notes "that both retailers and distributors interviewed for the issue are reporting that the graphic novel market continues to grow, but not as fast as the number of new graphic novel releases":

"For example, in the direct market channel, stores that used to be manga completists are reporting that they now have to be more selective and carry less than a full line of every new manga release.

"At the publishing level, not only are manga publishers competing with mainstream houses entering the manga business, smaller comic publishers are also competing with big book houses for literary graphic novel properties."

All-ages appeal: The Somerville (Mass.) Journal profiles cartoonist Jef Czekaj, creator of Grampa and Julie: Shark Hunters -- as well as the underground magazine Hypertruck (née R2D2 Is an Indie Rocker):

"I'm writing for myself, but I do keep in mind that it's for kids. I think a lot of children's art and culture is really dumbed down. When you're a kid, there's lots of stuff you don't understand, and it's not that big a deal. So I think when I put in words a kid might not know, either they'll ask their parents and they'll get something out of it, or they'll not know what that word is. I try to make it good and not cloying for grownups as well."

Testing the limits: Writing for The Christian Science Monitor, Abe Novick considers the line between tragedy and satire, focusing on Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers:

"Well, not every reviewer has approved. Newsweek liked it, but Time didn't. The magazine's reviewer said that, 'When Spiegelman compares Osama bin Laden to Ignatz, the cheeky brick-throwing mouse from [cartoonist] George Herriman's Krazy Kat, the mind recoils in dismay.' How come? Does the analogous satire go too far?

"Admittedly, the narrative is not as strong as in Maus. But 'too far' would seem to imply 'off-limits.' So Auschwitz is not off-limits for Spiegelman, but the World Trade Center is?

"At a time when networks constantly unveil new 'reality shows' that invariably end up looking more like Fantasy Island, looking through the lens of what is clearly unreality is refreshing. Maybe even closer to reality."

On the auction block: The Wichita Eagle reports the second and last auction of vintage comics from the collection of the late Robert Ford will be held on Saturday. The first auction in April totaled more than $130,000 -- more than four times the initial estimate. Saturday's sale could bring as much as $250,000.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Fully bled: Last week, columnist Shawn Hoke bade farewell to Broken Frontier. Today, it's Matt Maxwell's turn:

"If you take nothing else away from your reading of 'Full Bleed,' then remember this. You have a right to demand quality storytelling in your comics. You don’t necessarily have a right to demand of creators how to give that to you, though. If you don’t like the comics you’re reading, feel free to let the creators know, but don’t expect them to turn everything around on a dime because you’re not happy with it. Look elsewhere if you have to. Expect great stories from your reading. Don’t buy something halfhearted just because it has a great cover or eye-catching art. Does that cover or the art serve a greater purpose? No, I’m not suggesting that you restrict yourself to a diet of black and white art comics (or even the color ones.) It’s often the case that they’re just as restrictive in their genre trappings as the most offensive of the spandex books are."

Luckily, we still can read Matt's blog, Highway 62.

American hero: At Comic Book Galaxy, Alan David Doane talks with Howard Chaykin about his early days in comics, American Flagg!, and what's missing from sequential storytelling:

"When I became a professional comics artist, there were still a number of anthology books, where a newcomer could develop in relative obscurity. These days, a guy has to be ready to kick ass from right out of the starting gate.

"Another difference is simply societal. There’s a loss of interest in narrative on the part of the artist -- which, since I believe that much of the writing in comics should be done by the artist, is a crying shame. ...

"... It’s impossible to answer with specifics, because the details are themselves case-specific -- but it just seems to me that most comics artists who’ve come into the business in the last twenty years or so -- with some very conspicuous exceptions -- have no interest in the storytelling aspects of comics.

"The kind of talent I’m talking about is more interested in endless splash pages, or trading cards -- mostly posed imagery that brings to mind professional wrestlers glowering at each other or bodybuilding competitions -- as opposed to narrative based forms like fiction, the drama, opera or musical comedy -- all of which can share in the heightened reality of story telling with visual imagery."

Legion, from the top: At The Pulse, Johanna Draper Carlson files a report from the Legion of Super-Heroes panel at last weekend's Baltimore Comic-Con, where Mark Waid and Paul Levitz discussed the series relaunch:

"Waid stated that he's not starting with an origin. He's starting with a team of roughly 18 people that will act like a police force, with lots of characters running around. Every issue, he wants to build a sense of soap opera and leave the reader wondering what happens next.

"The team is like the Society for Creative Anachronism of the 31st century, with kids that idolize the heroes of our century. In a world that's so bland and sterile and polite, they want to raise hell and liven up the place. They believe in the heroic ideal, where initiative and action are important, in contrast with regimented and organized adults. Waid wants to talk more about society than technology in this go-round.

"One of their rules is that everyone has to have a name that ends with Boy, Girl, Lad, Lass, or Kid. Brainiac 5 is the science advisor. There will be a broader range of ages, and Waid will play around with cliques. Members that join around the same time will likely wind up hanging out together. We can only take for granted that the three founders are the same."

New publisher to launch manga, manhwa: reports that Infinity Studios, a new California-based manga and manhwa publisher, will release for trade paperbacks beginning in December: Witch Class, a two-volume romantic comedy by Lee Ru; Animal Paradise, a three-volume romantic adventure by Yu Sue Mi; Bambi, a one-shot retelling of an Asian fairy tale by Park Young Ha; and The Missing White Dragon, a one-shot compilation of Asian folk tales by Park Young Ha.

Adapting Spider-Man: India's chats with Jeevan Kang, artist on the new Indian version of Spider-Man:

"I am living my dream now. This is the first time an Indian artist has worked on a major American comic character. It was fun reinventing Spiderman. ... I had to keep the integrity of the character of Spiderman intact. Also, his easily identifiable characteristics. Then, I had to weave Indian symbols into all this."

Spiegelman sighting: The University of Arizona's Daily Wildcat reviews Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers, giving it a score of 10 out of 10.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Changing of the guard (again): Marvel has confirmed that Alan Fine, president and CEO of the company's Toy Biz division, has been named president and CEO of the publishing division, while David Cho will be the new chief information officer. The two will assume the duties previously handled by Gui Karyo, who left Marvel last week.

Marvel's December solicitations: The monthly ritual continues as Graeme finds the "leaked" Marvel solicitations for December at Millarworld. Black Widow and Madrox are the only books that might appeal to me (and that could change once I get my September shipment and read the first issues). Nothing else looks remotely interesting.

Man with the plan: In his third-anniversary "Permanent Damage," Steven Grant loves companies with game plans, and offers a list of "stupid publisher tricks":

"Most companies' game plans seem to come down to this: we'll put out a lot of comics, everyone will buy them, producers will want to make movies from them, and we'll own all the rights. A friend of mine calls this the FIELD OF DREAMS philosophy, after the Philip Kaufman film about a sports fan who erects a baseball field in an Iowa cornfield: 'Build it and they will come,' the voice of God tells him. 'Build it and they will come' is the operative philosophy of many would-be companies.

"It's a philosophy for idiots, a business plan that practically guarantees failure. Yet, time and time again, you get new publishers out to make a 'killing' in comics, which in 1993 was theoretically possible, but these are different times. It's certainly possible to get your comics turned into movies, and it's still theoretically possible for your characters to even become icons. But it takes promotion, it takes money, it takes time, it takes work. It takes good work. And luck. Spider-Man isn't an icon today because everyone woke up one morning and 'Wow! We want Spidey underroos!' He's an icon because AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, in the early years, was good enough, striking enough, original enough and enough of the time, with enough consistency that, over time, he caught on, and caught on enough that the piles and piles of later crap might've occasionally threatened continued publication, but never threatened his iconhood.

"If having movies made on your properties automatically made stars and publishers, Max Allan Collins (ROAD TO PERDITION) and Dan Clowes (GHOST WORLD) would be stars, and Fantagraphics would be raking in the dough."

Kinetic, Mary Jane, Weapon X (officially) canned: Everybody knew Weapon X had been axed, and Mary Jane had been, somewhat euphemistically, "on hiatus." Now Marvel makes the cancellations official with their latest mailer to retailers. Weapon X ends with Issue 28, while Mary Jane closes with Issue 4.

Meanwhile, DC has announced the end of Kinetic with Issue 8. That leaves Hard Time as the last holdout of the ill-fated Focus line.

Rurouni Kenshin goes monthly: reports that Viz will begin releasing Rurouni Kenshin on a monthly basis, beginning with October's Vol. 7. The samurai saga has been the top-selling manga in bookstores this year:

"While Rurouni Kenshin is going monthly, it will not forsake its trade paperback (tankoubon) format. Each month a new 180-200+ page volume will appear, though fans will still have to wait nearly two more years for the 28-volume series to reach its conclusion."

Gary Groth, Eric Reynolds and Kim Thompson

Focus on Fantagraphics: Seattle Weekly traces the ups and downs of Fantagraphics' 28-year history, noting how The Complete Peanuts collection helped to save the financially troubled publisher from bankruptcy:
It's a blockbuster deal that guarantees Fantagraphics will actually be around for another 12 years. Until this spring, no one at the company was certain if it would be around another 12 weeks.
In a sidebar, the paper runs down "Fantagraphics' Top 10," from Love and Rockets to Blood Orange.

Artist spotlight: Canada's National Post profiles Marvel Age: Spider-Man artist Valentine De Landro.

Clix appeal: The Seattle Times delves into the world of HeroClix, which it describes as "a cross between chess and comic books." Almost 50 million HeroClix figures have been sold worldwide:

"The characters are easily recognizable. Superman, Batman, Captain America, Spider-Man. The game is attractive, well-paced and the rules are simple. It's not a game where a high budget will help you that much. Having all the figures won't help you if your opponent plays well and gets good dice rolls."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Another day, another Spiegelman sighting: The Onion A.V. Club reviews Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers.

A touch of Frost: I don't typically post comics-related movie news, but I thought this tidbit was interesting: The Canadian Press, via CJAD, talks with X-Men 2 screenwriter Dan Harris, who reveals there were plans to cast Sigourney Weaver as Emma Frost in the third installment of the franchise:
"We were going to ask Sigourney to be it. She was an empath in our version of the movie which means she could control people's emotions."

Looking surprised at the thought of herself as a superhero, Weaver replied: "I try to do that."

"You could look at someone and make them cry on cue or hate you or be lonely," answered Harris, who looks like he's barely out of college.

"Write it into Superman," quipped a smiling Weaver.
Instead, Harris cast Weaver in Imaginary Heroes, an entry in the Toronto International Film Festival.

The final nail in Stan Lee Media: Reuters reports the Securities and Exchange Commission has revoked the stock registration of bankrupt Stan Lee Media, barring public trading of its shares on the over-the-counter market listing known as the pink sheets.

The company was delisted from the Nasdaq in December 2000, when it suspended operations and laid off most of its staff, only to file for bankruptcy a month later. Stan Lee Media co-founder Peter Paul was indicted in June 2001 with several other company executives in an elleged $25 million scheme to manipulate the value of company stock. In September 2003, he pleaded not guilty to securities fraud charges. Lee hasn't been accused of any wrongdoing.

David back on Hulk -- for now: On his blog, Peter David has confirmed he's returning to the Hulk monthly -- at least for now -- beginning with the six-issue "Tempest Fugit" arc that originally was planned for a miniseries:

"Bottom line is this: The combination of the positive fan response to the Hulk limited series by Lee Weeks and me, and the fact that Bruce Jones is now exclusive with DC, prompted Marvel to say, 'Why the heck are we doing this as a limited series instead of as part of the ongoing?' So rather than it being issues 1-6 of Tempest Fugit, the Hulk series will simply start up again in January after a four month hiatus and my storyline will be issues 77 through 82 of the regular book. Which means that, to all intents and purposes, I'm back writing the Hulk.

"Whether I'll stay beyond that hinges on a few things. First, I want to make sure that I'm comfortable back writing the Hulk. So I've really only committed to six issues Then again, I initially only committed to six issues of Young Justice, so it's not unprecedented for me to stay around.

"Second, of course, is fan and retailer response, and third is whether Marvel wants to keep me around on the series. But naturally those two aspects are inextricably bound. If the retailer and fan support is there, that will send Marvel one message. If it's not, that sends them another. And they will act accordingly, and I wouldn't blame them.

"So ultimately what it comes down to is, I'm back on Hulk. Whether I stay or not is up to a variety of factors, not the least of which is you guys."

(Link via Newsarama.)

Sometimes they come back: went live yesterday, complete with a message from the former Marvel publisher:

"Right now, all I can say about the new business is that a great group of friends from the comic book industry, Marvel Enterprises, Madison Square Garden, Marvel Entertainment, the National Basketball Association, Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett, Harvard Law School and Rutgers College are all teaming up, and that our business plans and prospects look pretty good."

There's also a promise of "hijinx to follow."

(Link via

On the Go: The Boulder, Colo., Daily Camera looks at the rising popularity in the United States of the ancient game of Go, spurred largely by the manga, Hikaru no Go:

"Like Yu-Gi-Oh! or the video game Dance, Dance Revolution, American children are embracing the Japanese phenomenon, which requires only a square Go board and simple black and white stone playing pieces."

December solicitations: DC Comics and Dark Horse have released their solicitations for December.

The guest from hell: SPX has announced the addition of Mike Mignola to the guest list, joining the likes of Eric Powell, Jeff Smith and James Kochalka for the Oct. 1-3 convention.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Dream a little Dream: Neil Gaiman calls attention to the poster for this year's New York is Book Country, held Oct. 2-3 in New York City (the same weekend as SPX). The poster, by The Witching cover artist Tara McPherson, can be yours for $10 plus shipping and handling. Purchasing information can be found here.

Girl talk: The Alameda (Calif.) Times-Star chats with Laurenn McCubbin about Rent Girl, her upcoming project with Michelle Tea, and her top three obsessions:

"One of them, unfortunately, is zombies. I really, really hate zombies and I used to be terrified of them when I was a kid. Now I can't stop looking them up. The second is finding the perfect notebook. I have about six of varying sizes and paper quality on my desk right now. ... My third obsession is finding the perfect red lipstick."

Free Comic Book Day date set: Newsarama reports that Free Comic Book Day 2005 will be May 7, moved back to the first weekend in May after an overwhelming vote by retailers (73.5 percent to 26.5 percent for June 18, the opening of Batman Begins).

That's 245 in dog years: The Fort Meyers, Fla., News-Press, via the Springfield, Mo., News-Leader, marks the 35th anniversary of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, which debuted on Sept. 13, 1969, on CBS.

Web slingers: The Webcomics Examiner puts Derek Kirk Kim under the microscope, and takes a look at Amy Kim Ganter's Reman Mythology.

(Link via Alexander Danner.)

The shipping news: Ninth Art looks at the comics shipping this week, dubbing Madrox #1 as "Book of the Week."

On the road: The Washington Post's travel section spotlights Craig Thompson's Carnet de Voyage as a "Road Read":

"Thompson's record of his trip this year through Europe and Morocco is illustrated not with photos ('they steal an image') but with his own drawings. They can be rich in detail, as when he sketches Parisian cityscapes or Moroccan souks, or penetrating and revealing, as in his character studies. There's also a good bit of fun in his mix, particularly when his little bloblike alter ego teases him out of his nearly perpetual self-pity."

Book fair focuses on graphic novels: The Miami Herald reports the 2004 Miami Book Fair International will break with tradition this year by focusing on graphic novels. Graphic designer, author and comic fan Chip Kidd was selected to design this year's poster, while Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return was chosen as the One Book, One Community pick.

Today's Spiegelman sighting: The Portland, Ore., Oregonian also reviews Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers:

"On a first read-through, No Towers plays like a fever dream of formal experiments. In every strip, Spiegelman settles on a theme (family, politics, paranoia, pollution) and then riffs on it using three or four different art styles -- jamming together influences ranging from R. Crumb to turn-of-the-century newspaper comics. He's spent the past several years separating words and pictures -- writing essays and doing covers for The New Yorker -- and seeing him bring them back together with this much assurance is exhilarating.

"Unfortunately, Spiegelman is trying to vacuum-pack the entire scope of the 9/11 malaise into 10 comic strips, and his success varies, depending on which facet of the tragedy he's exploring. When he sticks to personal experiences, No Towers is sublimely moving."

Today's Satrapi sightings: The Portland, Ore., Oregonian reviews Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return, and previews her local appearance:

"Like many of the best comics, the first Persepolis resonated because it used simple pictograms to make complex points. In it, every time young Satrapi embraced faith, martyrdom or revolutionary fervor (which the artist rendered in literal terms, up to and including visits from God), a real-life death, hypocrisy or injustice would shatter her worldview. Meanwhile, her Marxist parents, who'd raised their daughter to be willful and opinionated, put a human face on dissent in the war-torn region.

"Persepolis 2 tackles the troubled years that followed the end of the first book, when Satrapi's parents sent her to Vienna to escape the Iranian regime. It's a more complex and mature work, both narratively and artistically, but it lacks the clear focus that defined Vol. 1."

Meanwhile, the University of San Bernadino County Sun profiles Satrapi.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Anime's darker side: The San Francisco Chronicle profiles filmmaker Mamoru Oshii, who discusses Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence and the genesis of darker, more mature anime:

"Ten or 15 years ago, Japanese society sort of changed in that people no longer had to grow up. They can always stay as children and watch anime, play games and read manga just like they used to as children. I think this rise in filmmakers creating animation with a heavy theme, more for adults, has a lot to do with (that)."

Review revue: UK's The Alien Online reviews Planetary: Crossing Worlds, describing it as fun, "but not truly essential to your Planetary collection."

Good-bye, Karyo: Newsarama reports that Gui Karyo, Marvel's president of publishing, voluntarily left the company late this week to pursue other opportunities. Karyo joined Marvel in 2000 as senior vice president and chief information officer before being promoted to president of publishing last year during the shakeup that shifted Bill Jemas out of the division.

Review revue: The Jersey Journal's William Kulesa reviews Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's We 3.

Spiegelman and Satrapi sightings: Another day, another review (or three) of Art Spiegelman's In the Shadow of No Towers and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis 2:

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on both books
The New York Times, The Boston Herald and the Cleveland Plain Dealer on In the Shadow of No Towers

The Herald also has a brief sidebar on the new "classic" graphic novels, such as Blankets and Ghost World.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Changing channels: At Broken Frontier, Shawn Hoke announces an end to "The Wall" and a move to Comic World News, where he'll write a weekly column called "Past the Front Racks."

Popeye turns 75: The Associated Press reports on festivities in Chester, Ill., celebrating the 75th birthday of Popeye. Creator Elzie Segar was born in Chester in 1894; Popeye made his cartoon debut in 1929.

Legends of the fall: USA Today highlights some of this fall's graphic novels, including The Complete Peanuts: 1953-1954, Elfquest: Searcher and the Sword and the ubiquitous In the Shadow of No Towers and Persepolis 2.

Takin' it to the Street: At Comic Book Resources, Jim Rugg talks about Street Angel:

"I definitely didn't expect the positive response we've gotten. It's been really great and flattering. Besides some nice reviews, a number of readers have taken time to email us with feedback. It's great to receive a note from someone with encouragement or even criticism. It shows us that people are interested, and it helps us understand what works and what we need to improve."

From page to stage: The Philadelphia Inquirer (registration required) chats with cartoonist Ben Katchor, whose "rock opera-in-progress," The Rosenbach Company: A Tragicomedy, premieres tonight as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Katchor, who counts Steve Ditko, Dick Tracy and Tintin among his influences, says the leap from drawing to theater makes sense:

"The early, early comic strips from the 16th century were an attempt to graphically record what happened in the theater. Theater is pictures of people talking. How do you represent that graphically? You write it, you don't get the picture. You draw it, you don't get the words. So that's how comics started. They were called picture stories."

Reinterpreting a cult novel: Australia's ABC Online talks with artist Ryan Vella, who has adapted John Birmingham's He Died With a Felafel in His Hand as a graphic novel:

"It's fantastic. It updates the whole story by the way Ryan's used more contemporary language. It's hard to believe it was written ten years ago now -- when I tell people that, the colour just drains out of their face."

Your daily dose of Spiegelman: Salon (click-through ad required) and UK's Guardian review In the Shadow of No Towers, while the New York Daily News interviews Art Spiegelman.

Cry havoc, and let slip the blogs of war: Las Vegas City Life takes a look at political blogs, focusing on comics and sci-fi writer James Hudnall, who is "one of many local bloggers who have made it their mission to use their blogs as mouthpieces against John Kerry and other 'liberals' opposed to the war":

"I really resent ideological labeling. I don't consider myself a war blogger."

Con games: The Johns Hopkins News-Letter previews this weekend's Baltimore Comic-Con, and offers some words of advice:

"Make sure to have a budget in mind before you step through those illustrious doors because it is very easy to get carried away and buy every memorabilia item in sight. Also, bring an empty backpack (or two!) to hold all your acquired bootie and may the force be with you!"

Revisiting the Golden Age: South Florida's Sun-Sentinel profiles 80-year-old Allen Bellman, the Timely Comics artist whose work has inspired people like Batman Begins executive producer Michael Uslan.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

And then there were 263: Rick Geerling, he of the increasingly infrequent Eat More People, calls it quits -- at least as far as comics blogging goes:

".. I've come to realize that I just don't care about comics enough to blog about them everyday. This isn't a slight on comics at all -- I've also come to realize that there isn't anything I care about enough to blog about everyday. Except my writing. Even that's a stretch sometimes, but it's a stretch I have to make if I ever want it to go anywhere. So, that's the decision."

Instead, Rick will shift to writing about music, fiction and most anything else that tickles his fancy. He just won't be writing about comics.

Bid placed for CrossGen: The Pulse reports that John Taddeo has placed a $500,000 bid for CrossGen Entertainment. Bidding for the company's assets remains open.

Update: Newsarama has more on the story.

All Spiegelman, all the time: Not enough Art Spiegelman, you say? hears your cries, and responds with an interview with the publicity-shy cartoonist about In the Shadow of No Towers.

New hotbed for digital animation? Middle East North Africa Financial Network (say that five times fast) passes along word that BKN International, famous for cartoon series like Legend of the Dragon, plans to set up shop in Singapore as a springboard into Asia. Just a month ago, George Lucas announced he'll start a digital animation studio in Singapore.