Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Ho-hum, Day 2

It's not you, it's me. Really.

I need to work on some other things, so I doubt I'll be blogging today.

I will, however, link to the new Isotope Virtual Lounge, and recommend you pop by to read columns by the likes of Ed Brubaker, Jock, Maureen McTigue, Tony Moore, Larry Young and others, and to interact with all kinds of comics types.

Monday, March 28, 2005


There doesn't seem to be much going on today, which is just as well, because I'm not really in a blogging mood. I'll update this afternoon if either the news or my mood improves.

A return to the universe-shattering basics

Also at Ninth Art, Paul O'Brien considers why Marvel and DC have come crawling back to the Big Event Comic:
... Marvel and DC have always had a firm motto of, 'Never waste time coming up with a new idea when you can recycle an old one'. Both companies have a little cupboard of concepts and strategies that never really work, but that keep getting wheeled out every few years on the grounds that they've had a rest, and it might work this time. It's been a while since we've had major crossovers. If you work from the assumption that they were never a bad idea in the first place, merely overexposed and badly done, then you might take the view that we've had a rest from them, the audience has detoxified, and the time is ripe to give this excellent device another shot.

Something wicked this way comes

At Ninth Art, Greg McElhatton sifts through April Previews to highlight some of the best comics shipping in June. Among the highlights: Skyscrapers of the Midwest #2, Sandman Mystery Theatre Vol. 3, Antique Bakery Vol. 1, Gravity #1, and Northwest Passage #1.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Meme Madness! (or, Never Again!)

I rarely succumb to the call of the meme, but I've been lulled by a day spent listening to the dulcet tones of Avery Books as he ponders the life of Jesus. Plus, that rat-bastard Ed sent one in my direction.

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

If this means which book I'd be responsible for memorizing, then The Wind in the Willows.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

The characters from Donna Tartt's The Secret History. All of them.

The last book you bought is:

Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect That Shaped the American Frontier, by Jeffrey A. Lockwood

The last book you read:

Probably The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud

What are you currently reading?

I'm jumping around a lot for research, but otherwise it's The Years of Rice and Salt, by Kim Stanley Robinson, and Lincoln's Spymaster: Thomas Haines and the Liverpool Network, by David Hepburn Milton

Five books you would take to a deserted island.

The Thousand and One Nights, translated by Sir Richard Burton
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
An Encyclopedia of Fairies, Hogoblins, Brownies, Bogies and Other Supernatural Creatures, by Katharine Briggs
The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
The Annotated Brothers Grimm, edited by Maria Tatar

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

Rick Geerling, Chris Butcher and Scott Robins, because misery loves company.

The second meme is one I'd started to do earlier, but abandoned for some reason. So, here's the "Book Meme to End All Book Memes":

- Bold those you have read
- Italicize those you started, but didn't finish
- Add three books after the last one

001. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien

002. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
003. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
004. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
005. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
006. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

007. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne

008. 1984, George Orwell

009. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis

010. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

011. Catch-22, Joseph Heller

012. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
013. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
014. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
015. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
016. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

017. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

018. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
019. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
020. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
021. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
022. Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone, JK Rowling
023. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
024. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
025. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
026. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
027. Middlemarch, George Eliot
028. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
029. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
030. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
031. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
032. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
033. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
034. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
035. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
036. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson

037. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
038. Persuasion, Jane Austen
039. Dune, Frank Herbert
040. Emma, Jane Austen
041. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
042. Watership Down, Richard Adams
043. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald

044. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
045. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
046. Animal Farm, George Orwell
047. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

048. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
049. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
050. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
051. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
052. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
053. The Stand, Stephen King

054. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
055. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
056. The BFG, Roald Dahl
057. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
058. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
059. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
060. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
061. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
062. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
063. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
064. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
065. Mort, Terry Pratchett
066. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
067. The Magus, John Fowles
068. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
069. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
070. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
071. Perfume, Patrick Susskind
072. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
073. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
074. Matilda, Roald Dahl
075. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
076. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
077. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
078. Ulysses, James Joyce
079. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
080. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
081. The Twits, Roald Dahl
082. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
083. Holes, Louis Sachar
084. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
085. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
086. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
087. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
088. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
089. Magician, Raymond E Feist
090. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
091. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
092. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
093. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
094. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
095. Katherine, Anya Seton
096. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
097. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
098. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
099. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
101. Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
102. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
103. The Beach, Alex Garland
104. Dracula, Bram Stoker
105. Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz
106. The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
107. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
108. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
109. The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
110. The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson
111. Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy
112. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 1/2, Sue Townsend
113. The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat
114. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
115. The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
116. The Dare Game, Jacqueline Wilson
117. Bad Girls, Jacqueline Wilson
118. The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
119. Shogun, James Clavell
120. The Day Of The Triffids, John Wyndham
121. Lola Rose, Jacqueline Wilson
122. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
123. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
124. House Of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski
125. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
126. Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
127. Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
128. The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
129. Possession, A. S. Byatt
130. The Master And Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
131. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
132. Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl
133. East Of Eden, John Steinbeck
134. George's Marvellous Medicine, Roald Dahl
135. Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
136. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
137. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
138. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan
139. Girls In Tears, Jacqueline Wilson
140. Sleepovers, Jacqueline Wilson
141. All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
142. Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson
143. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
144. It, Stephen King
145. James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
146. The Green Mile, Stephen King
147. Papillon, Henri Charriere
148. Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett
149. Master And Commander, Patrick O'Brian
150. Skeleton Key, Anthony Horowitz
151. Soul Music, Terry Pratchett
152. Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett
153. The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
154. Atonement, Ian McEwan
155. Secrets, Jacqueline Wilson
156. The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier
157. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
158. Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
159. Kim, Rudyard Kipling
160. Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
161. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
162. River God, Wilbur Smith
163. Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon
164. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
165. The World According To Garp, John Irving
166. Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore
167. Girls Out Late, Jacqueline Wilson
168. The Far Pavilions, M. M. Kaye
169. The Witches, Roald Dahl
170. Charlotte's Web, E. B. White
171. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

172. They Used To Play On Grass, Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
173. The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
174. The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco
175. Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder
176. Dustbin Baby, Jacqueline Wilson
177. Fantastic Mr. Fox, Roald Dahl
178. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
179. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Richard Bach
180. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
181. The Suitcase Kid, Jacqueline Wilson
182. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
183. The Power Of One, Bryce Courtenay
184. Silas Marner, George Eliot
185. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
186. The Diary Of A Nobody, George and Weedon Gross-mith
187. Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
188. Goosebumps, R. L. Stine
189. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
190. Sons And Lovers, D. H. Lawrence
191. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
192. Man And Boy, Tony Parsons
193. The Truth, Terry Pratchett
194. The War Of The Worlds, H. G. Wells
195. The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans
196. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
197. Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
198. The Once And Future King, T. H. White
199. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
200. Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrews
201. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
202. The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan
203. The Great Hunt, Robert Jordan
204. The Dragon Reborn, Robert Jordan
205. Fires of Heaven, Robert Jordan
206. Lord of Chaos, Robert Jordan
207. Winter's Heart, Robert Jordan
208. A Crown of Swords, Robert Jordan
209. Crossroads of Twilight, Robert Jordan
210. A Path of Daggers, Robert Jordan
211. As Nature Made Him, John Colapinto
212. Microserfs, Douglas Coupland
213. The Married Man, Edmund White
214. Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin
215. The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault
216. Cry to Heaven, Anne Rice
217. Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, John Boswell
218. Equus, Peter Shaffer
219. The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten
220. Letters To A Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
221. Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn
222. The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice
223. Anthem, Ayn Rand
224. The Bridge To Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
225. Tartuffe, Moliere
226. The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
227. The Crucible, Arthur Miller
228. The Trial, Franz Kafka
229. Oedipus Rex, Sophocles
230. Oedipus at Colonus, Sophocles
231. Death Be Not Proud, John Gunther
232. A Doll's House, Henrik Ibsen
233. Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen
234. Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
235. A Raisin In The Sun, Lorraine Hansberry
236. ALIVE!, Piers Paul Read
237. Grapefruit, Yoko Ono
238. Trickster Makes This World, Lewis Hyde
240. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
241. Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, Unbeliever, Stephen Donaldson
242. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
242. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
243. Summerland, Michael Chabon
244. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
245. Candide, Voltaire
246. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, Roald Dahl
247. Ringworld, Larry Niven
248. The King Must Die, Mary Renault
249. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein
250. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L'Engle
251. The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde
252. The House Of The Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
253. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

254. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
255. The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson
256. Chocolate Fever, Robert Kimmel Smith
257. Xanth: The Quest for Magic, Piers Anthony
258. The Lost Princess of Oz, L. Frank Baum
259. Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon
260. Lost In A Good Book, Jasper Fforde
261. Well Of Lost Plots, Jasper Fforde
261. Life Of Pi, Yann Martel
263. The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver
264. A Yellow Rraft In Blue Water, Michael Dorris
265. Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder
267. Where The Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls

268. Griffin & Sabine, Nick Bantock
269. Witch of Black Bird Pond, Joyce Friedland
270. Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH, Robert C. O'Brien
271. Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt Bleh.
272. The Cay, Theodore Taylor
273. From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg
274. The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Jester
275. The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
276. The Kitchen God's Wife, Amy Tan
277. The Bone Setter's Daughter, Amy Tan
278. Relic, Duglas Preston & Lincolon Child
279. Wicked, Gregory Maguire
280. American Gods, Neil Gaiman

281. Misty of Chincoteague, Marguerite Henry
282. The Girl Next Door, Jack Ketchum
283. Haunted, Judith St. George
284. Singularity, William Sleator
285. A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
286. Different Seasons, Stephen King
287. Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
288. About a Boy, Nick Hornby
289. The Bookman's Wake, John Dunning
290. The Church of Dead Girls, Stephen Dobyns
291. Illusions, Richard Bach
292. Magic's Pawn, Mercedes Lackey
293. Magic's Promise, Mercedes Lackey
294. Magic's Price, Mercedes Lackey
295. The Dancing Wu Li Masters, Gary Zukav
296. Spirits of Flux and Anchor, Jack L. Chalker
297. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
298. The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, Brenda Love
299. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace.
300. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison.
301. The Cider House Rules, John Irving.
302. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
303. Girlfriend in a Coma, Douglas Coupland
304. The Lion's Game, Nelson Demille
305. The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars, Stephen Brust
306. Cyteen, C. J. Cherryh
307. Foucault's Pendulum, Umberto Eco
308. Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson
309. Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk
310. Camber of Culdi, Kathryn Kurtz
311. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
312. War and Rememberance, Herman Wouk
313. The Art of War, Sun Tzu
314. The Giver, Lois Lowry
315. The Telling, Ursula Le Guin
316. Xenogenesis (or Lilith's Brood), Octavia Butler (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago)
317. A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold
318. The Curse of Chalion, Lois McMaster Bujold
319. The Aeneid, Publius Vergilius Maro (Vergil)
320. Hanta Yo, Ruth Beebe Hill
321. The Princess Bride, S. Morganstern (or William Goldman)
322. Beowulf, Anonymous
323. The Sparrow, Maria Doria Russell
324. Deerskin, Robin McKinley
325. Dragonsong, Anne McCaffrey
326. Passage, Connie Willis
327. Otherland, Tad Williams
328. Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay
329. Number the Stars, Lois Lowry
330. Beloved, Toni Morrison
331. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, Christopher Moore
332. The mysterious disappearance of Leon, I mean Noel, Ellen Raskin
333. Summer Sisters, Judy Blume
334. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo
335. The Island on Bird Street, Uri Orlev
336. Midnight in the Dollhouse, Marjorie Filley Stover
337. The Miracle Worker, William Gibson
338. The Genesis Code, John Case
339. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevensen
340. Paradise Lost, John Milton

341. Phantom, Susan Kay
342. The Mummy or Ramses the Damned, Anne Rice
343. Anno Dracula, Kim Newman
344: The Dresden Files: Grave Peril, Jim Butcher
345: Tokyo Suckerpunch, Issac Adamson
346: The Winter of Magic's Return, Pamela Service
347: The Oddkins, Dean R. Koontz
348. My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok
349. The Last Goodbye, Raymond Chandler
350. At Swim, Two Boys, Jaime O'Neill
351. Othello, by William Shakespeare
352. The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas
353. The Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats
354. Sati, Christopher Pike
355. The Divine Comedy, Dante
356. The Apology, Plato
357. The Small Rain, Madeline L'Engle
358. The Man Who Tasted Shapes, Richard E Cytowick
359. 5 Novels, Daniel Pinkwater
360. The Sevenwaters Trilogy, Juliet Marillier
361. Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
362. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
363. Our Town, Thorton Wilder
364. Green Grass Running Water, Thomas King
335. The Interpreter, Suzanne Glass
336. The Moor's Last Sigh, Salman Rushdie
337. The Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson
338. A Passage to India, E.M. Forster
339. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
340. The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
341. Pages for You, Sylvia Brownrigg
342. The Changeover, Margaret Mahy
343. Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
344. Angels and Demons, Dan Brown
345. Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo
346. Shosha, Isaac Bashevis Singer
347. Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck
348. The Diving-bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
349. The Lunatic at Large by J. Storer Clouston
350. Time for bed by David Baddiel
351. Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
352. Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre
353. The Bloody Sun by Marion Zimmer Bradley
354. Sewer, Gas, and Eletric by Matt Ruff
355. Jhereg by Steven Brust
356. So You Want To Be A Wizard by Diane Duane
357. Perdido Street Station, China Mieville
358. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte
359. Road-side Dog, Czeslaw Milosz
360. The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
361. Neuromancer, William Gibson
362. The Epistemology of the Closet, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
363. A Canticle for Liebowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr
364. The Mask of Apollo, Mary Renault
365. The Gunslinger, Stephen King
366. Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
367. Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
368. A Season of Mists, Neil Gaiman
369. Ivanhoe, Walter Scott

370. The God Boy, Ian Cross
371. The Beekeeper's Apprentice, Laurie R. King
372. Finn Family Moomintroll, Tove Jansson
373. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
374. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Philip K. Dick
375. Assassin's Apprentice, Robin Hobb
376. number9dream, David Mitchell
377. A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin
378. Five Quarters of the Orange, Joanne Harris
379. Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler
380. Einstein's Dreams, Alan Lightman
381. Dance On My Grave, Aidan Chambers
382. Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula Leguin
383. Hyperion, Dan Simmons
384. Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury
385. Checkmate, Dorothy Dunnett
386. To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis
387. A Clash of Kings, George RR Martin
388. The Egyptian, Mika Waltari
389. Moab Is My Washpot, Stephen Fry
390. Contact, Carl Sagan
391. Mythago Wood, Robert Holdstock
392. Feersum Endjinn, Iain M. Banks
393. The Golden, Lucius Shepard
394. Decamerone, Boccaccio
395. Birdy, William Wharton
396. The Red Tent, Anita Diaman
397. The Foundation, Isaac Asimov
398. Il Principe, Machiavelli
399. Post Office, Charles Bukowski
400. Macht und Rebel, Abu Rasul
401. Grass, Sheri S. Tepper
402. The Long Walk, Richard Bachman
403. Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
404. The Joy Of Work, Scott Adams
405. Romeo, Elise Title
406. The Ninth Gate, Arturo Perez-Reverte
407. Memnoch the Devil, Anne Rice
408. Dead Famous, Ben Elton
409. Scarlett, Alexandra Ripley
410. Dead Souls, Nikolai Gogol
411. Look to Windward, Iain M. Banks
412. The Colossus of Maroussi, Henry Miller
413. Branded, Alissa Quart
414. The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
415. Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac
416. White teeth, Zadie Smith
417. Under the bell jar, Sylvia Plath
418. The little prince of Belleville, Calixthe Beyala
419. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
420. A King Lear of the Steppes, Ivan Turgenev
421. The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
422. Memoirs of a Revolutionist, Peter Kropotkin
423. Hija de la Fortuna, Isabel Allende
424. Retrato en Sepia, Isabel Allende
425. Villette, Charlotte Brontë
426. Steppenwolf, Herman Hesse
427. Ubik, Philip K. Dick
428. Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler
429. Solaris, Stanislaw Lem
430. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
431. Nausea, Jean Paul Sartre
432. The Island of the Day Before, Umberto Eco
433. The Elementary Particles, Michel Houellebecq
434. The Angel Of The West Window, Gustav Meyrink
435. A Farewell To Arms, Ernest Hemingway
436. Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs
437. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut

438. In the Eyes of Mr. Fury, Philip Ridley
439. Consider Phlebas, Iain M. Banks
440. Into the Forest, Jean Hegland
441. Middlesex -Jeffrey Eugenides
442. The Giving Tree -Shel Silverstein
443. Go Ask Alice -Anonymous
444. Waiting For Godot, Samuel Becket
445. Blankets, Craig Thompson
446. The Girls' Guide To Hunting And Fishing, Melissa Banks
447. Voice of the Fire, Alan Moore
448. The Geography of Nowhere, James Howard Kunstler
449. Coraline, Neil Gaiman
450. Hip Hop America, Nelson George
451. A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
452. Basquiat, Phoebe Hoban
453. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
454. The Amulet of Samarkand, Jonathan Stroud

455. The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson

There. I should have immunity from memes for a while.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

They're not bad; they're just drawn that way

New York Newsday gives a fair amount of ink to Sin City, talking to Frank Miller about the $40 million film -- "Nobody's ever come this close to being this faithful," he says -- highlighting some of the better comics-inspired movies, and even charting the history of comics, from The Yellow Kid to the manga boom, in three paragraphs.

The newspaper even offers its own "essential Frank Miller" list: Sin City (all seven volumes), Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil/Elektra: Love & War, Ronin, Hard Boiled and 300.

Spotlight on Marvel's 'Next' wave

UGO.com devotes a special section to the Marvel Next initiative, talking with editor in chief Joe Quesada and the writers of eight of the books about "the next wave of new Marvel characters and ideas that are going to set the comic book world on its ear."

Quesada, on why readers should give the titles a try: "... Look, has your ol' pal Joey Q ever steered you wrong? We're on one of the greatest creative rolls at Marvel since the early sixties. We've got new projects and characters coming out of the halls of "The House" that you just don't want to miss. Ten years from now, folks will be looking back and kicking themselves because they can't afford to buy these issues from back issue bins, so don't miss out!"

Brian K. Vaughan, on Runaways: "Our original series was a critical success and it has a lot of rabid fans, but individual issues never quite lit up the sales charts -- though it did sell about as well as Y: The Last Man, which is considered a 'hit,' so I guess everything's relative. But the reason we're making a triumphant return is definitely the success of the digests. Obviously, Marvel isn't running a vanity press, and they never would have let me bring back these characters if the digest collections hadn't done so astoundingly well for them. Runaways has an incredibly loyal fanbase of young people -- especially young women, many of whom discovered these collections in bookstores."

Allan Heinberg, on Young Avengers: "Avengers fans are hardcore and that continuity is so complicated. It just came off a long period of Kurt Busiek writing the book and doing an incredible job cleaning up continuity, which was important to everyone involved and reading the book. I want to respect that, but I also want people who have never picked up an Avengers book before to follow the book."

Marc Sumerak, on Machine Teen: "I don't think comics have necessarily neglected teen drama over the years -- there are plenty of great books, even in mainstream comics, that have very skillfully approached important teen issues and relationships. But even so, those themes have always tended to be the B-story running alongside the superhero stuff. Seeing how prevalent teen drama is in today's mainstream media, it's about time that those B-stories started coming to the forefront in comics as well. Drama is drama, whether you're wearing wear a cape or a pair of khakis. As Marvel has proven over the years, a character's personal life can be far more interesting than their superhero one."

Mike Carey, on Spellbinders: "Only once in my career to date have I been told 'there's a promotional budget for this project,' and it wasn't on a comic book.

"... Ironically, promotion tends to flow in the direction where it's least needed - towards high profile projects with top flight creators where word of mouth alone would seem to guarantee success. Sometimes -- just occasionally -- you get the big push behind a small project, making a difference. It doesn't seem to be anything you can influence yourself, though: it's a mysterious and little understood phenomenon, like spontaneous combustion."

(Carey also mentions that he's working on another book with Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel, his collaborators on My Faith in Frankie.)

Adam Warren, on Livewires: "... The problem is, even if Livewires or any other Marvel Next book were to possibly appeal to some minor element of the vast manga readership, it would presumably do so as a trade paperback compilation of a miniseries or story arc, appearing on the bookshelves somewhere near the scads of manga. I just can't see the typical manga reader suddenly bailing over to the comics store to pick up individual issues of any comic ... or 'pamphlets,' as some publishers have begun to refer to individual issues.

"... But even if a Marvel Next (or any other) book were to have success as a TPB compilation, it's all too likely that the title would've been already been choked off by low direct-market sales for its individual issues. So, a book first has to survive with decent issue sales in the direct market before it can have any hope to thrive elsewhere ... which is what I hope Livewires will do. Hey, it ain't like this is a particularly abstruse or hyperspecialized title, chock full o', say, effeminate pretty boy-on-pretty boy action ... not that there's anything wrong with that, shoujo and YAOI fans. It's a high-speed story about high-tech mecha indulging in high-test mayhem and adventure, leavened with heaping helpings o' humor, characterization and spectacle. Not like all that's necessarily out of line with the general preferences of the direct market, though, as I mentioned before, maybe the lack of capes and masks may prove fatal. Oh frickin' well."

Fiona Avery, on Arana: The Heart of the Spider
Fred Van Lente, on Amazing Fantasy
Craig Kyle, on X-23

Friday, March 25, 2005

How White River Junction became Toon Town

The Vermont Guardian looks at how James Sturm's Center for Cartoon Studies ended up in a former department store in downtown White River Junction:
The center is currently in the midst of a $600,000 capital fundraising campaign. Approximately half of that amount has been raised, sometimes with some very surprising donations. For example, [Center managing director Michelle] Ollie was in White River Junction one night in January when a fire leveled a building in the downtown area. When firefighters blocked off some of the streets, Ollie offered a ride home to a stranded couple. A few days later, they sent a check to the center’s fundraising campaign. There have been lots of in-kind donations such as accounting, permitting, legal and architectural services as well as books from publishers that will fill the center’s library. Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons televison show, donated an autographed cell from the show that was auctioned on eBay. Peter Laird, one of the co-creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, donated $150,000.

The Comics Reporter, unplugged (Day 5)

Today, Tom Spurgeon has an interesting interview with writer Matt Fraction:
Spurgeon: Can you describe the extent of your professional interest in comics? I mean, do you want to do a lot of them? Is there someone's career in comics that would serve as a rough model for what you'd like to do?

Fraction: There are definitely stories that I want to tell that only work on the page; as long as I can't get them out of my system, I suppose I'll try writing them. I wouldn't mind doing a lot of comics but, at the same time, I tend to not play well with others so... so I don't know. There's definitely a degree of creative autonomy my day job affords me that I look for in comics to keep from going nuts.

And I'd be Frank Miller, circa 1985. Blank check, no oversight, full control, final cut, and a gajillion readers.

Q&A: Kim Deitch

The Montreal Mirror talks with cartoonist Kim Deitch about his father's influence, Waldo, and the "graphic novel":
Isn't that a starchy term? I just found out that that was a gift from Will Eisner. He was a great man, but I think he was defensively stuffy about the whole thing. Comics are like a junk literature medium. In a way I think we should just relax and let it be a junk literature medium. Most of the great literature classics turn out to be the best of the junk. If you look at the work of Charles Dickens, they didn't come out in finely bound volumes, they were first published in parts, with splash panel and a jazzy logo and a few pictures inside. They looked a lot like comics. They were for the masses. My old man says most of everything is lousy, and I agree with him. We always look through the lousy to get to the good stuff. But you know what? They used to call me a hippie when I was younger, and I thought, "Well, if a black man is a nigger, then I'm a hippie." They'll call you whatever they want to call you. The name isn't that important.

Japanese tourism gets a boost from anime

Asahi Shimbun reports that an increasing number of die-hard anime fans are flocking to Japan for behind-the-scenes tours of animation studios and shopping sprees at speciality shops.

Local governments are responding by spotlighting anime in their tourism promotions, while more and more package tours, such as "Pop Japan Travels," are offering visitors trips to anime "hot spots."
According to an official at Studio Pierrot, an anime production company in Mitaka, Tokyo, anime otaku in the United States and Europe are well-versed in titles that are not even broadcast in their countries. They get their information from anime magazines, the Internet and pirated DVDs, the official said.

Another factor has been the talent of Hayao Miyazaki, the nation's most acclaimed animated film director. Miyazaki has gained international recognition with such feature films as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away.

Miller's tales: 10 books every comics fan should read

IGN.com's new comics section, which has been cranking out a lot of content, offers up "The Essential Frank Miller" -- "ten books every comic-book fan needs to read before they go blind":

, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, Big Guy & Rusty the Boy Robot, The Comics Journal: Frank Miller, Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Vol. 1, Martha Washington: Give Me Liberty, Ronin, Sin City Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye, and his Wolverine miniseries with Chris Claremont.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Comics' dollar sales up 15% in February

ICv2 has the breakdown of North American direct-market figures for February, noting that dollar sales of comics and graphic novels were up 15 percent over those in February 2004 -- the best month since the retailer website began tracking year-over-year numbers last March.

Single issues increased 10 percent, while graphic novels jumped 49 percent over the same period in 2004. Six titles were over the 100,000 mark last month, compared to just three in February 2004.

Marvel's New Avengers #3 held the top spot, with an estimated 148,973 copies. DC's top seller was Superman/Batman #17, which came in at No. 3 with an estimated 116,637 copies. Top Cow's Hunter-Killer #1 was the first non-Big Two book to crack the charts, coming in at No. 37 with an estimated 40,084 copies.

Top 300 comics for February
Top 100 graphic novels for February

Profile: Paul Hornschemeier

Rolling Stone briefly spotlights "existential cartoonist" Paul Hornschemeier (Mother, Come Home, and the upcoming The Three Paradoxes):
The Three Paradoxes, Hornschemeier's new graphic novel, to be published in June by Fantagraphics, employs multiple narratives and continues his "fascination with the subjective world," he says. "I'm interested in the deterioration of memory and the nature of first-person accounts." Is there a unifying element to the variety of artwork and color schemes in his work? "My style has a kind of Midwestern openness," he says.

Q&A: Tim Bradstreet

IGN.com (or is it FilmForce?) has 10 questions for artist Tim Bradstreet, who talks about his influences, what project didn't live up to expectations, and what he'd change about the industry:
Royalties for creators across the board. Some companies are good with this but most are not. I'm not asking for the world here, I'm just saying when a company does a poster with my artwork on it, I should see a small percentage from that. Or if my covers are reprinted in a collection I should be compensated just like the interior artists are. If my work is used on a toy package, I need to be compensated a second rights fee, and if not a royalty situation, at the very least higher rates for the original work that ends up being merchandised to death. I'm just talking fair treatment here.

There is no good reason that companies should be able to use someone else's vision to sell their products and not cut them into it in some small way. If this was the case you'd find more top creators would be less inclined to work on some creator owned book and more interested in doing established characters. Just my two cents.

Giving the shojo market what it wants

A Los Angeles Times story looks at the increasing popularity of shojo in the United States, and what publishers, and even TV networks, are doing to meet the demand.

The article notes that of the 400 manga Tokyopop will publish this year, more than half will be aimed at girls. Viz, meanwhile, is releasing 140, plus launching the Shojo Beat anthology and graphic-novel line.

On the television front, Fox will be adding Tokyo Mew Mew to its Saturday-morning lineup this fall. (That's Kikaider pictured at right.)
Until recently, there just hadn't been much for girls. Sure, stories of bulked-up superheroes saving busty women appeal to boys, but there's typically little an 11-year-old girl can relate to. Ditto for the indies, which have more varied story lines but are for older readers.

Even if there were a slew of tween girl comics, what awkward junior high schooler would risk wandering into a comic book store and rubbing elbows with its stereotypical man-child clientele? Shojo, like all manga, is where girls actually want to go -- in malls, at well-lighted bookstores. And the relationship-oriented stories follow subjects to which they can relate -- love, family, identity, responsibility -- in soap-opera serials spread over multiple volumes.
The article also points out the rise in American-drawn "manga, with Tokyopop set to release eight to 10 shojo books by U.S. creators.

7-Eleven will carry Marvel's $3.99 flipbooks

The Knight Ridder/Tribune wire service carries an article that provides a little more information on Marvel Comics' return to 7-Eleven stores beginning in June.

Titles from the publisher's all-ages Marvel Adventures will lead the charge, followed by some of its most popular books, such as Amazing Spider-Man and Astonishing X-Men. As had been hinted in earlier reports, the comics apparently will be in flipbook format -- 64-page books featuring two stories, with a $3.99 price tag.

According to the 7-Eleven corporate website, "5,800 7-Eleven and other convenience stores are operated and franchised in the United States and Canada," accounting for some 6 million customers each day.

"It's a very large jump in retail presence for us," Marvel publisher Dan Buckley said in the article.

Meanwhile, at Comic Book Resources, retailer James Sime considers what the 7-Eleven deal may mean to the direct market.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

New York may not be Book Country for much longer

Publishers Weekly (subscription required) reports that New York Is Book Country probably will disband itself as a nonprofit, and likely will not hold an event this year.

The festival had seen a growing presence by comics publishers, with last year's Graphic Novel Pavillion showcasing 10 exhibitors, including DC Comics, Drawn and Quarterly and Marvel. Comics artist Tara McPherson provided a Sandman poster for the 2004 event. Previous years had featured work by Jim Lee and Art Spiegelman.

Sources tell PW there's practically no money in the festival's coffers, and no current director. The most recent director, Anne Binkley, left the organization several months ago and now directs the Quills awards. The magazine reports that the group's board soon will vote on consulting lawyers about disbanding; insiders say the answer likely will be yes.

PW notes there's a chance The New York Times could take over the festival, but that's certainly not guaranteed. The newspaper already presents an annual Arts & Leisure Weekend.

A more in-depth report on the festival's demise is scheduled for next week's Publishers Weekly.

Great moments in comic-strip history

No, you haven't clicked on The Comics Curmudgeon by mistake (though that would never really be a mistake).

It's a slow news day, so I figured I'd take this opportunity to mark the first time since roughly 1968 that Family Circus has triggered a reaction of any kind -- beyond, "What, 'Not Me' again?"

In today's Kennebec, Maine, Journal, an upset reader lashes out at the March 8 installment (at left), in which the obviously hawkish Billy declares, "We'll be the good guys and you're the insurgents."

It's not the poorly constructed sentence that troubles Sophia Starrett, but the political view expressed by the strip's oldest child:
I am writing about the Family Circus comic in your March 8 edition.

The comics should not be a place for politics, but a source of entertainment for children. Bill Keane's Hitleresque view on society is not only an insult to all intelligent humans, but also to your journalism.

The Family Circus
is a disappointment to society at large. We kindly ask that you remove this offensive comic from your paper.

Sophia Starrett
Students Against Offensive Literature

Horror, from 'the ridge along the abyss of chaos'

The Chicago Tribune considers The Ring, a cultural phenomenon that's spawned three films, two additional novels, eight manga, a television miniseries, a radio drama, video games, merchandise and an entire wave of Japanese horror ("J-horror").
The roots of the Ring phenomenon twist back through the history of Japanese culture and traditions. Despite being rooted in contemporary media technology, the Ring re-scans an ancient archetype -- the vengeful female spirit or demon ("hannya") that has haunted Japanese culture for thousands of years.

"In Japanese folklore, Kabuki theater and Noh drama, female ghosts are motivated by anger and resentment," says Susan J. Napier of the Asian Studies Department at the University of Texas. "There's lots of ghost-women who have been raped and murdered and who return to wreak horrible vengeance." Like these wronged women, Sadako/Samara elicits our sympathy and our fear because her murderous motive springs from human brutality.

While this social dimension suggests how an intrinsically Japanese figure captured the world's imagination, the surprisingly un-horrific catalyst for the Ring craze looks at his creation logically, biologically and philosophically.

"I'm not really interested in the occult," says author [Koji] Suzuki, who has also published child-rearing books. Looking at the Ring's global popularity, Suzuki suggests that his horror books are frighteningly compelling because they evoke humanity's precarious nature. "Humans march along between order and chance, the ridge along the abyss of chaos," he says.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Checking in on Tokyopop's 'Manga After Hours'

In an interview earlier this month with Publishers Weekly, Tokyopop publicity director Susan Hale revealed the publisher's plans to target women readers through a campaign called "Manga After Hours."

Although the first series in the marketing initiative were announced -- Happy Mania, Tramps Like Us, and the Erica Sakurazawa collection -- few other details were provided.

So, I contacted Hale today to learn more about Tokyopop's efforts to reach the "chick-lit" crowd.

"Basically, 'Manga After Hours' is a formula right now -- it is 'chick-lit' in manga format," she said. "We've got a selection of books that appeals to that under-serviced demographic -- the modern woman. The audience is older than the typical shojo manga reader, and the stories are more developed and grounded in reality. These are stories that are not fantastical; these are stories a woman can relate to. They can understand and identify with these stories. Being in manga format is a benefit -- most stories can be read in an hour or so, making them the perfect companion literature for an evening bubblebath, an afternoon at the beach, the train or bus ride to work, or a lazy moment on the couch."

Hale said there are no immediate plans to officially brand or imprint the three series.

"We are focusing on three series to begin with, and should they prove popular with this demographic, it is a very real possibility that we develop a line for it," she said.

Instead, Tokyopop will market the books as summer reading material, promoting them on its main website, its e-shop, and through banner advertising.

"We are also investigating retailer-level positioning and promotions (coupons or discounts), but do not have confirmed plans yet," Hale said.

So, who owns the rights to 'Hulk Hogan'?

In professional wrestling, the only thing more difficult than keeping track of who the good guys are is figuring out who has the rights to the name "Hulk Hogan": Marvel Enterprises, World Wrestling Entertainment or Terry Bollea.

A three-paragraph brief in today's New York Post reports that Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea will have to change his stage moniker to "Hollywood Hogan" on Friday, when the licensing agreement for the use of the name expires between Marvel and the WWE.

As you may recall, the WWE sued Marvel last July in an attempt to maintain the rights to the name "Hulk Hogan," which the WWE originally licensed in 1985 after the publisher claimed Bollea's pseudonym infringed on the Incredible Hulk. Marvel contended the agreement expired in August 2004, but the WWE claimed it held the rights until March 2005.

So, that date is here, and the Post says the deal is over. Right?

Well, Pro Wrestling Insider adds a wrinkle to the story, reporting that, according to court documents filed on March 7, Marvel has assigned "all right, title and interest and associated goodwill" related with the name "Hulk Hogan" to Bollea:
This may have been as part of a settlement from a trademark infringement suit Marvel had filed against Hogan back last year, which was dismissed in September 2004. Marvel had been seeking $100,000 in damages according to court documents.

WWE learned of Marvel and Hogan's agreement on 2/25 (they announced he was joining their Hall of Fame just three days later) and petitioned Judge Victor Marrero to dismiss the lawsuit without prejudice, since the matter was no longer a valid issue as Marvel had no claim to the "Hulk Hogan" name.

WWE also requested that Marvel's countersuit against them, which claimed there was a contract breach over their agreement on how the Hulk Hogan name would be used, be dismissed as well. Attorneys for Marvel requested the court continue to oversee that situation and make a ruling. A conference was scheduled for 3/18 to handle the matter before the Judge, but the actual case of who owns the trademark and rights at this point appears to be settled - Hogan himself now owns it.
Expect more coverage when and if details become less confusing.

Gaiman: McFarlane doesn't hold Miracleman trademark

At his blog, Neil Gaiman responds to Todd McFarlane's comments about ownership of Miracleman. He also mentions that he's in "the concluding stages of talks to bring the Alan Moore Miracleman stories and the stories I wrote and Mark Buckingham drew back into print."
Good old Todd. This was the same kind of thing he was doing in the fan press before the legal case. Charitably, I think it's fair to say that he's telling huge and easily disprovable fibs. No, he doesn't (whatever he says in the interview) have a trademark on Miracleman. The shared trademark that Eclipse had was found to have expired in the mid 90s, before Todd bought the remains of Eclipse. (Todd put in a new Miracleman trademark application back in 2001, before the legal case, which we opposed as soon as we found out about it, and which hasn't been granted.)

Beyond that, he's also distancing himself from the reality-based community in his description of the result of the legal case. (I'm not sure what to say about that, other than it's all been pretty extensively recorded.) If Todd actually owned a share of Miracleman (something that became more and more unlikely as we finally saw the actual documentation he had on it, which consisted only of: a contract that said that Eclipse's rights to the character automatically reverted if someone other than Dean Mullaney owned Eclipse, and an expired Trademark notice for a Trademark shared with me, Mark Buckingham and Eclipse) then, yes, he kept that share at the end of the trial. Meanwhile, Mark Buckingham and my share of Miracleman isn't in any doubt at all. I didn't walk away from what Todd had; Todd simply couldn't demonstrate that he owned anything that I was walking away from.

We're in the concluding stages of talks to bring the Alan Moore Miracleman stories and the stories I wrote and Mark Buckingham drew back into print. (The stories are copyright Alan and me, the art is copyright by the artists who did it.)

Currently, I'm also one of the largest creditors of Todd's comic company.

I used to get hate mail from Image Fans accusing me of delaying the Image 10th anniversary book (which was due out in 2002) because, following the trial, I now co-owned the Cogliostro character, and people from Image were at one point, apparently, telling people that I was stopping the comic coming out, which came as rather a surprise to me, because it was the first I'd heard of it (and was also nonsense). Cynically, I can't help wondering if Todd claiming he's now putting Miracleman into the just-a-little-bit-late comic is just a way to put off actually publishing the comic for a few more years.

Robert Louis Stevenson's magical mystery tour

Okay, this is sort of about comics ...

Researchers have found that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde while he was under the influence of a derivative of ergot, a potentially deadly fungus hallucinogenic fungus.

London's Sunday Times reports that new research shows Stevenson, who suffered from tuberculosis, was given injections of ergotine to stop bleeding in his lungs.
The information was found in a recently uncovered letter, dated “end of August, early September 1885," from Stevenson's wife to the author's friend and literary agent, William Henley.

“Louis’s mad behaviour . . . I think it must be the ergotine that affects his brain at such time," she wrote. “He is quite rational now, I am thankful to say, but he has just giving up insisting that he should be lifted into bed in a kneeling position, his face to the pillow.”

Two weeks later, Stevenson began writing the famous novel.

Prof. Robert Winston, chair of the House of Lords select committee on science and technology, and Dr. George Addis, a former consultant in medicine and therapeutics at Glasgow University, believe the injections triggered a "Mr. Hyde-like" transformation in the author.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is about drug taking and the power of drugs which overtake his body completely and drive Dr Jekyll in a way that really is completely alien to him,” Winston said in a BBC1 documentary that aired Sunday. “Maybe that’s what Stevenson is feeling with the use of the drugs that he’s taking, particularly ergotine. Perhaps he becomes a Mr. Hyde himself.”

The Comics Reporter, unplugged: Day 2

At The Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon continues his week of showcases with new interviews with Scott Mills and James Kimball, a limited preview of new works by Dylan Horrocks, and a 2002 Q&A with John Romita.

Tokyopop expands in Wal-Mart and Target

ICv2 reports that Tokyopop is smartly using Clip-Strips to market its Cine-Manga line in Wal-Mart stores, displaying the books alongside the corresponding DVDs, or hanging them at the end of toy aisles or near cash registers.

Wal-Mart's largest competitor, Target, will begin stocking an eight-book offering of Tokyopop manga this spring, which is described as "the largest and most extensive Tokyopop program yet in Target stores." No details were provided on which manga are included.

Q&A: Todd McFarlane

UGO.com has a lengthy interview with Todd McFarlane, in which he discusses a new Spawn cartoon, Joe Quesada's challenge, the Neil Gaiman lawsuit, the Todd McFarlane Productions bankruptcy, and more.

Most interesting, and certainly most newsworthy, is McFarlane's assertion that he now holds the rights to Miracleman -- Gaiman has said differently -- and that the character will appear in the fabled Image 10th Anniversary book.

On Gaiman's lawsuit, and the status of Miracleman: "With the lawsuit, Gaiman walked away from Miracleman. I have the trademark for Miracleman. No one wants to say it out loud, but that's what happened with the lawsuit. Everyone was like "Hah hah, he killed Todd," but unfortunately -- or fortunately, depending on where you are standing -- he had to pick some copyrights to some Spawn characters or pick Miracleman. He didn't pick Miracleman. ... For whatever reason he walked away from Miracleman, so now Miracleman will be in the Image 10th Anniversary book."

On bankruptcy: "... it's one of those things where people have to understand that I own multiple companies. In the case of the comic company, that had to go bankrupt because of the [NHL player Tony Twist] jury award, which we continue to fight. Companies are limited in what they can do at some points; it was either hand him the company and then hope the appeal comes through so he has to give it back, or you have to put up a wall. Unfortunately, the inconsistencies of some of the law are that your appeal takes seven months, but someone can start collecting in two months. You have to figure out how to stave off to get to your appeal. Someone forgot to double-check some of those categories. If it was a reasonable number, like $100,000, then you just post a bond and none of this happens. But when you get a $15 million verdict, they want that money plus interest, in cash. I can't say that I have $17 million lying around to give to somebody."

On Quesada's challenge: "Yeah, what is it? Whatever, I don't know what that is. He talks a good fight. I know he bugged me for Spidey and Spawn so maybe someday I will do it. I told Joe that the concept was short term stuff. A one hit wonder. So we do Spidey and Spawn, it comes out, it sells a lot of copies and everyone makes some money. But what about next month? Now what? Whatever. If I'm going to come back and draw, it would be for two reasons. One because I want to sustain something and two because I just want to draw and I don't care if anyone buys it. I have lots of those options to make money so there has to be a bigger reason than that."

Monday, March 21, 2005

James Jean art show to open during APE

San Francisco's Super 7 store will present an exhibit of the original drawings, paintings and prints of James Jean from April 8 to May 11. Jean will be on hand for the April 8 opening, which coincides with the April 9-10 Alternative Press Expo:
In the current wasteland of contemporary art, filled with the tired repetition of iconic characters, styles and motifs, James Jean is one of the few inspirational artists out there. Just one look at any of his works will immediately win you over. And he's definitely already wowed the comics industry, receiving the Eisner Award (the comics industry's equivalent to an Oscar) for his groundbreaking cover artwork on both Fables and Batgirl; breaking all the rules in terms of perspective, composition and color palettes.

You've probably even already seen his work without knowing, the great illustration used on the Donna's recent Gold Medal album or San Francisco's own Stratford 4's forthcoming major label debut cover art, and spot illustrations in a variety of high profile publications. We're also proud to help spread the word on his new book, published by AdHouse Books, Process Recess, which collects much of his work, including his amazing sketchbooks.
Super 7 is located at 1630 Post St. in San Francisco. For more information, visit the store's website.

The Comics Reporter, unplugged

At The Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon turns a week of limited Interent access into an opportunity to showcase a few new features and some archived pieces. Today, he offers up a fresh Q&A with Peter Bagge, archived chats with Alex Robinson and Jeff Smith, and an excerpt from an interview with Frank Frazetta, conducted by Gary Groth, which is set to appear in The Classic Comics Illustrators: The Comics Journal Library Volume 5.

Wizard World LA: 22,000 nerds can't be wrong

The Long Beach, Calif., Press-Telegram notices thousands of geeks shuffling around its city this weekend, and heads to the convention center to investigate.

There, the newspaper finds Kabuki creator David Mack, who explains the allure of comics: "I've always seen comics as a hybrid medium. It's the closest to rock 'n' roll, which is itself a blend of different music styles. In comics, one person, a creator, can take a singular vision to a mass audience … That's why I always see Hollywood looking at comics to pull material from."

Then, Stan Lee -- shown above with Lou Ferrigno -- offers the reporter a vision of the future of comics: "I think, eventually, the publishers are going to transform them into graphic stories format so that bookstores will take them."

Exhibit focuses on contributions of Jewish creators

The Columbus, Ga., Ledger-Enquirer spotlights an exhibit at Atlanta's William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum dedicated to Golden Age comics, and their creators, many of whom were Jewish. Called "ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938—1950," the exhibit boasts original comic book art, memorabilia and Hollywood serials featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America and other World War II-era heroes.

"A host of these comic books were created by Jewish artists who couldn't get 'respectable' jobs," the museum's marketing director, Haven Hawley, told the newspaper.

Artist Jerry Robinson, one of three men who claims credit for creating the Joker, remembers the era:
"At that time there was a lot of prejudice and Jews were excluded from other professions, so they turned to art where it was not discriminatory. And where they couldn't get published in some more conventional magazines, they could get published in the comics."

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Only tangentially about comics

I'd written a lengthy Jonah Hex entry that meandered toward a point, but I deleted it for some reason. Maybe I'll reconstruct it in a more succinct form once more information is released about the new series. Now on to other things:

The New York Times Magazine (registration required, I think) has a great feature about the history of the Degrassi TV franchise and the international cult status of the current incarnation, Degrassi: The Next Generation.

Written by Ben Neihart, author of the wonderful novel Hey, Joe -- and I'm not saying that only because I was quoted on the jacket of the paperback -- the article notes the guest-starring role of Kevin Smith, who's been a longtime fan of the series. The filmmaker and sometimes comics writer marvels at the creative freedom enjoyed by show creator Linda Schuyler: ''How awesome would it be to have your own universe, where you're telling ongoing stories, and everything is within the confines of this piece of property?''

The piece also mentions the ubiquitous "alpha teen" cartoon characters created by Adrian Tomine for The N, the Viacom-owned cable network that airs Degrassi.
To give the channel a fresh, un-Manhattan look, its designers scouted teenagers' dressers and bedroom walls, finding inspiration in regional T-shirt logos and posters. They filmed empty schools and suburban houses in Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and populated them with the Tomine cartoon kids who comment, sometimes in oblique near haiku, about the evening's programming, creating a sort of Degrassi halo effect. ''I like him,'' a cartoon girl says. ''Like a crush?'' her friend asks. ''As much as I like Degrassi!'' the first responds, almost sincerely.
In the Sunday Arts section, The Times looks at the obstacle cartoonist Brad Neely is encountering with screenings of Wizard People, Dear Reader, his "re-envisioning" of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone using a satirical soundtrack.

That obstacle comes in the form of Warner Bros., which has called theaters in New York and Boston to object to the screenings. Those theaters, in turn, have canceled the showings.

"To my knowledge, he has not approached us to ask permission," a studio spokeswoman told The Times.

Neely is upset that Warner Bros. contacted the theaters instead of him: "I give my e-mail address in the recording. And I'm in the phone book. If they ever sent me a cease and desist, I would have. I have no plans now of continuing any wizardly activity."

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Book chain's manga buyer becomes manga writer

Publishers Weekly (subscription required) takes note of Kurt Hassler's transformation from graphic novel buyer for Borders and Waldenbooks to manga writer for Tokyopop. His first title, Sokora Refugees, will be released in April.

While Hassler says Borders will give the book "a lot of support," he insists, "There's no favoritism, and everybody here at Borders was brought into the loop right from the beginning."

Still, reaction is a little mixed among industry insiders who spoke with PW:
But other manga publishers pointed to a conflict of interest—gatekeeper for a hot category with limited shelf space gets a book deal from a shrewd publisher. Although one publisher told PW, "Anything that helps manga in the marketplace is great," another said, "Give me a break. I'd give him a book contract, too, if it would help get me extra shelf space." Yet another publisher suggested, "Maybe we should give the manga buyer at B&N a book contract?" And a bookseller for a regional bookstore chain noted, "Well, that's kind of a conflict, but I guess it's okay as long as his bosses know what's going on."
Tokyopop's Mike Kiley said the decision was based on the quality of the book, not on who wrote it.

From Long Beach, some actual 'news'

Reports from Wizard World Los Angeles Long Beach have begun trickling in at the comics sites, but Heidi MacDonald has the most noteworthy items so far, filed under "soundbytes":
• C.B. Cebulski is leaving Marvel. No immediate plans, he just wants to take a break.

• Toykopop has joined the manga restructuring ranks, with some high level execs being let go in the past few weeks.

Comic Book Resources, Newsarama and The Pulse have coverage of yesterday's Joe Quesada panel.

Institute: Kids are key to reviving Japan's comic market

Asahi Shimbun warns that if last year's declining sales figures are any indication, Japan's days as a "comics powerhouse" may be numbered.

The newspaper cites figures from the All Japan Magazine and Book Publisher's and Editor's Association that indicate the sales value of "comics in book form" fell to 249.9 billion yen in 2004, a 2-percent drop from the previous year. It was the first decline in five years. Sales volume dropped 1 percent, to 523 million copies, the second consecutive annual decline. The return rate was 27.3 percent, an increase of 0.6 percent.

Weekly or monthly comics magazines continued their nine-year decline, with their estimated sales value dropping 5.1 percent from the previous year, to 254.9 billion yen. The estimated sales volume fell 5.1 percent, to 861 million copies. The estimated sales value of monthly comics magazines climbed 1.3 percent to 136.3 billion yen, while that of weekly comics magazines fell 6.2 percent to 118.6 billion yen. The return rate was 25.8 percent, an increase of 0.6 percent.

The Research Institute for Publications, the research branch of the publishers association, blames the sluggish market on the poor performance last year of many comics-inspired animated TV shows, which have played a key role in promoting comics sales since the late '90s.

But in a refrain that will sound familiar to American publishers, retailers and readers, the institute suggests the greater problem may lie with the structure of the market itself:
The market has been sustained by people in their late 20s and those in their 30s. Members of that age group have been a driving force for the comics market, and publishers target them with revised versions of comics they read when they were young.

The problem is that not many items cater to children. Thus, not that many teenagers read comics.

In the past, there was a saying among industry experts that once children find something interesting, adults also decide it is interesting.

A real recovery for the market, says the institute, means finding talented comic writers whose works appeal to children.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Taking a closer look at ADV's cutbacks

Two articles follow up on Wednesday's item about cutbacks at ADV, the Houston-based anime distributor and manga publisher:

Writing for The Pulse, Tom Spurgeon takes a look at ADV's entry into the manga market, and examines what the restructuring will mean to the company and the marketplace:
... For ADV, their future in manga depends on overall success in the business on which the company was built starting in 1992, perhaps more so than any competing publisher. It may also hinge on the success or at least mitigation of any setbacks when it comes to concurrent efforts with a television network. Yet it also allows for certain synergistic endeavors. As reported, the company's manga division will emphasize titles with a connection to properties for which they also produce related anime DVDs, such as Eijie Nonaka's Cromartie High School. In that case, the anime series and the manga trades have been packaged together and even used as cross-promotional tools. ADV hopes to pursue projects with the ability to stand out in some way in a crowded marketplace, related anime or no.
Meanwhile, retailer website ICv2 dismisses Internet doomsayers who point to the cutbacks as a sign of the "end of the manga boom," noting the prediction "is not borne out by sales results from either bookstores or the direct market."

In anime, a dispute simmers between giants

Here's a piece I forgot to link to when it originally appeared: The Seattle Times carries a Los Angeles Times article about the philosophical and stylistic gulf between anime giants Hayao Miyazaki and Mamoru Oshii, which may represent a great struggle within the artform.

"Animation studios are surviving, animators are getting better paid, but the quality of new works is not improving," Oshii, director of Ghost in the Shell, told the newspaper. "On the surface, it's thriving. But in reality, there's very little new happening."

Here's Oshii on Miyazaki: "From a directors' viewpoint, we cannot expect anything new from Miyazaki. He is like a very old man, almost retired now. ... I think inside his head Miyazaki wants to destroy Japan. But even though he knows his generation has created a nasty society, he has this hope that children will make a better world. So he makes movies that families and the children can enjoy."

And Miyazaki collaborator Toshio Suzuki on Steamboy director Katsuhiro Otomo: "There is only one theme in all his films: the conflict between adults and children. It's an old Japanese theme: The child fights against society, fights against evil. Otomo's thinking is rather old."

Review revue

The April 7 issue of The New York Review of Books devotes a sizeable chunk of space to reviewing Jonathan Lethem's comics-influenced Men and Cartoons, The Disappointment Artist and The Fortress of Solitude -- under the wonderful headline, "Welcome to New Dork" -- and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return.

Meanwhile, Nashville City Paper sticks with the monthlies, tackling Ultimate Iron Man #1, Seven Soldiers #0, Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight #1, Battle Hymn #1, Livewires #1, Runaways #1, Queen & Country: Declassified Vol. 2 #1, and Solo #3 (Paul Pope).

Peering through the steam at a past that wasn't

Using the U.S. release of Katsuhiro Otomo's Steamboy as its springboard, the San Diego Union-Tribune launches into a surprisingly thorough examination of steampunk, the sci-fi subgenre that imagines a world -- often, a decidedly Victorian one -- in which modern technology developed much sooner than it really did.

"Steampunk is where my being a Goth, a silent-movie fan and a sci-fi geek meet," said Cory Gross, who operates a great steampunk website that, unfortunately, will quickly exceed its Geocities bandwidth.
If nothing seems punk about English fops in top hats, that's part of the point of the name. It was coined as a play on cyberpunk, the literary movement that took root in the ***'80s as a reaction to conventional sci-fi.

Cyberpunk writers like William Gibson peopled their dystopias with world-weary, nihilist heroes and brought hackers and computer networking into the sci-fi realm.

Steampunk is a kind of reaction to the reaction – embracing retro notions of character and style while retaining cyberpunk's renegade, anything-goes spirit. It might be likened to how the angry, austere punk rock of the ***'70s led to the New Wave of the ***'80s, with its flamboyant fashions and self-conscious romanticism.
In accompanying sidebars, the newspaper points out "cultural artifacts," such as Disney's Tomorrowland, that have steam roots, and offers a list of steam-powered films, including 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Wild, Wild West and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Tokyopop: 'Blame!' won't be 'censored'

Tokyopop's Luis Reyes assures Newsarama that Tsutomu Nihei's Blame! will be released in September* -- free of the "censorship" drama associated with DC/CMX's Tenjho Tenge:

"None of the pages will be censored like DC did with Ten Ten. Tokyopop does not have a reputation for censoring at all. There were two instances on the Initial D series (volumes 1 and 9) in which we partially covered something on approval from the Japanese publisher. However, since then, we have never been in the practice of censoring books with the possible exception of Tokyo Tribes, which was actually censored by the artist himself boldly as a kind of statement against the fact that otherwise we'd have to sell his book shrink-wrapped."

*Tokyopop's website lists the release date for Vol. 1 as Aug. 9; I'm not sure which is correct.

Comics crime watch: Annapolis, Md., revisited

Remember Gerry Roberts, the distraught collector who wouldn't rest until the person who stole 1,000 of his vintage comics was brought to justice? Well, he was accused of turning vigilante in his quest to recover his books.

The Annapolis Capital reports that Roberts spent Monday afternoon in court, defending himself against a man who claimed the collector left threatening messages on his answering machine last week in an attempt to recover the stolen goods. T.J. Erickson had received a temporary peace order on Friday, stipulating that Roberts stay away from his home and workplace.

On Tuesday, Roberts was triumphant as a District Court judge rejected a request for a permanent peace order, saying Roberts' behavior was troubling but didn't constitute harassment.

"I was really angry and yelled at T.J. that if he had anything to do with it, he would be in trouble too," Roberts told the newspaper afterward. "It's really sad, because he was my friend."

A Jeff Smith bonanza (Get it? Bone-anza?)

Minnesota Public Radio's website has the audio files of an interview with Bone creator Jeff Smith. Go listen.

While we're on the subject, Scott Robins at All Ages has a link to a lengthy Q&A with Smith, who discusses early artistic influences, the evolution of Bone and his deal with Scholastic Books.

Toy industry banking on Batman, FF and Star Wars

Last month, we learned that movie-based video games are no longer a sure thing. Now we're told that traditional toys tied to films are hit or miss.

Recent films, such as Spider-Man, have given a boost to toy sales, while others, like 1998's Godzilla, have been "toy-aisle catastrophes."

According to a Wall Street Journal article, licensed toy sales, which includes toys based on movies, grew just 1.8 percent in 2004 to $5.7 billion. The industry hopes that Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Batman Begins and Fantastic Four will spur faster growth:
Fantastic Four might be the most kid-friendly of the bunch: The plot concerns four friends who gain superpowers after their space shuttle gets doused with radiation. The two other films, in comparison, are expected to explore darker themes: Star Wars: Episode III, for example, details the transformation of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader, a good-goes-bad theme that might put off some parents and confuse some kids. On the other hand, it could delight young kids who clamor for stuff that was once reserved for their older siblings. Batman Begins chronicles the violent events that impelled Bruce Wayne to turn into Batman.
A longer version of the article can be found

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Cutbacks hit ADV's manga division

Publishers Weekly (subscription required) reports that ADV, the Houston-based manga publisher and anime distributor, has laid off as many as 40 employees, with possibly about 25 from its manga division.

ADV's Chris Oarr confirmed the layoffs, but wouldn't give specific numbers. Company president John Ledford pointed to a saturated market and discerning customers as contributing factors. "Anyone can see that there's only so much shelf space available to manga and to anime," he told PW. "We've adjusted our schedule to keep pace with the opportunities for shelf space."

The restructured manga unit will focus on publishing "winners," according to Oarr, who said the company will release about 50 titles this year, down from about 80 in 2004.

Q&A: Brian K. Vaughan

At IGN, writer Brian K. Vaughan talks about Runaways as a "subversive kids book," Y: The Last Man's 60-issue lifespan, and how reader reaction influences his writing (it doesn't):
... I have a big enough ego that I just don't care. In Y, a couple of issues ago, there was a two-part arc with a theatre troupe and Yorick wasn't in it too much. I think about 90% of readers really hated it. They were like, "What's the point?" and "Let's get back to the main story." And, uh, I don't care. This is something that I wanted to tell and these are characters we'll revisit and will have a larger importance to the story. So, no, for good or bad, I write stories that I want to read. And you know, it's great when people like it. Bad reviews make me eat Oreos and feel miserable, but no, it doesn't change my desire to tell the story exactly the way I set out to do it.
He also addresses his desire to create his own characters, instead of simply maintaining old properties:
We'd all be f----- if Stan Lee had come into comics and said, "Oh boy, I've got this Superman story I'm aching to tell." He didn't do that. He really came in and wanted to create new things and built this House of Ideas. I think we do need great creators like Bendis to nurture those characters and be the caretakers and keep them alive and vibrant for a new generation. I think companies also need guys who want to come in and keep stirring new stuff into the pot and that's certainly more my wheelhouse.