Wednesday, February 28, 2007

An Interview with Berni Wrightson part 1

Well, I got slightly over a page of this typed in, and it was at a good stopping point, so here's the start of the interview courtesy of Joel.

An Interview with Berni Wrightson
Originally published in CFA-APA #5 (June 30, 1986)

BERNI WRIGHTSON INTERVIEW conducted by Joel Pollack on May 15, 1986.

JP: Do you have a distaste for barbarian subject matter?

BW: No, the real early stuff I did before ever being published was exclusively barbarian and horror. I did a lot of drawings of these big powerful guys with scars all over them. I did some samples for Conan when Marvel was going to do it, but they already had Barry Smith.

JP: They wanted a more gentlemanly Conan?

BW: I guess. Or someone they could push around more. Barry’ll love that. I might take another swing at it sometime.

JP: After Frazetta did the Conan covers, there’s not a lot left to say about it.

BW: There doesn’t seem to be any need for it. He was at his peak. I don’t think he ever got much better than that.


JP: What was the print run on A Look Back?

BW: I couldn’t really tell you. It turned into such a headache. Poor Chris (Zavisa) went through sheer hell. I just tuned it all out when it was happening. All I know is – it’s out of print; you can’t get it; there won’t be another printing.

JP: Any possibility of an abridged version?

BW: I have absolutely no plans. I really couldn’t be less interested. Please tell the fans I’m sorry, but I’d rather get on with the next project. If somebody came to me and wanted to take the project on and do all the legwork and worry about the reproduction and all of that, and just give me a pot of money, that would be fine. I’m not going to strain myself over that.

JP: What of your work showed up in Ghostbusters?

BW: I worked on the Wardogs and it’s hard to tell anymore. It looks like they kept my proportions for the dogs, and not much else. They originally came to me with drawings that other people had done and the dogs looked very much the way they looked in the movie. They said, “We don’t want this reptilian look, we want something that looks a little more like a dog. Put some fur on it and make it more wolf-like.” So, I worked on that, did a lot of drawings, and when the movie comes out they just changed it back to what they told me they didn’t want in the first place. Something of mind did come through: the faces, the facial expressions, mostly the proportions; high in the shoulders, low in the back. I also worked on the librarian sequence; I did a long sequence of her changing. She went through this long change; the way I saw it, it was to have lasted four seconds. They didn’t do it mostly because they didn’t have the budget for it. Ghostbusters was not really a big budget movie in the effects line. They were trying to save money in this. The only thing that survived is when she hushes the guide. That was in my storyboards.

JP: How many finished Frankenstein drawings did you do?

BW: The original idea was to do a hundred. I did somewhere between forty and a hundred; I’d put it about sixty. There are quite a few out there that are unfinished; a lot of those are versions of ones that did get finished. I really made myself crazy on that stuff.

...to be continued

Coming soon! Berni Wrightson interview from 1986


Joel Pollack of Big Planet Comics loaned me his copy of the fanzine/APA CFA-APA #5 (June 30, 1986) which contained his "An Interview with Berni Wrightson." CFA-APA was limited to 50 copies per issue so not many people have seen this interview. Today he gave me permission ... NAY! encouraged me to transcribe it and post it here. So check back in a few days and hopefully I'll have it up.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Yesterday's Spider-Man comic was the last


Bill Radford of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports
that the Spider-Man comic that we were getting in the Examiner has finished:

"...a lack of advertising dollars has caused the company to cut Spider-Man adventures short. The last issue appears today... “We received untold numbers of e-mails from enthusiastic readers and were thrilled by the great response from the papers that carried it,” Laura Richards, a spokeswoman for News America Marketing, said via e-mail.

“Unfortunately, despite our most conscientious efforts to get advertisers as excited as we were, in the end we were simply unable to bring in the revenue needed to offset the cost.”

So no more wandering the neighborhood and raiding the neighbor's lawns on Saturday for me.

Former Library of Congress curator Harry Katz interviewed

The San Diego Union-Tribune ran an interview with Harry Katz who worked on the Cartoon America companion book to the Library's exhibit.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Oscar-nominated animated shorts showing in DC

My friend Doug called this morning to let me know that this year's 2006 Oscar-Nominated Shorts are showing in DC this weekend at the E Street Landmark Theatre. Christian Toto reviewed them for the Times. Also in the Times, Zadzooks visits the NY Toy Fair.

Last free Spider-Man comic?

After a long search, I found today's Examiner to get what appears to be the last Spider-Man Collectible Series #24. There's a new, unsigned cover, and you can buy the complete set by downloading a mail-in form at http://www.smartsource.com.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Today's papers - Ghost Rider, Superman Returns videogame and Clifford Berryman



"Riding Solo"
in the Washington City Paper (February 23, 2007) by Tricia Olszewski is a positive review of Ghost Rider by a woman, which surprises me somewhat for no good reason at all.

John Gaudiosi reviews the videogame for Superman Returns in "Superman's Kryptonite," Washington Post (February 23, 2007); WE44 and doesn't like it very much.

And the above drawing of Roosevelt as Shakespeare by Clifford Berryman will be in the "Shakespeare in American Life" exhibit opening March 8th at the Folger Shakespeare Library, which is one of the great places in Washington.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

See a slice of my collection

Al Rio will send you a postcard of his art for free, but asks you to send back a picture of you with the postcard. Since a.) I love comics ephemera, b.) collect cartoon philately and c.) don't consider myself particularly photogenic, I took this shot of the card with a slice of my collection that they've put up on their website.

I've got 2 postcards from ASIFA-Hollywood Animation's Archive project for the person who can name the most items in the picture. Both are caricatures of animators - Grim Natwick and Ub Iwerks.

China? Shojo manga? Shazam!


China Mieville at Politics & Prose bookstore, February 20, 2007


Scott Rosenberg, following up an interesting but off-topic interview with SF/fantasy writer China Mieville.... well he did put a comic he wrote and Liam Sharp illustrated in his last collection so we'll let him in... interviewed Jeff Smith for an article in today's Express. I haven't read the first issue of the comic yet - I'm waiting for the trade as the kids today say.

And in tomorrow's Post (you'll just have to wonder), Michael O'Sullivan has a review of the shojo manga exhibit. I met him at a New Year's Party (namedropping!), introducing myself because he was talking about the excellent Hiroshi Sugimoto exhibit that was at the Hirschhorn Museum last year with another one across the street at the Sackler following close behind it. In tomorrow's review, I think he has this exactly right: Still, one of artist Masako Watanabe's drawings on view, from a comic created for readers (if that's the right word) in their 20s and 30s, features a graphic sex scene more reminiscent of shunga, the erotic variety of ukiyo-e, or traditional woodblock prints. Another image, from "Chumoncho," a comic by the same artist, depicts a murder-suicide by a lovesick courtesan. With its delicate spray of bright red blood frozen in midair, it's among the exhibition's most striking pictures.

These are by far the most striking images, and even though the both sex scene and the violence are quite explicit, they are mounted in the building's lobby where anyone can see them at any time. Go see the show before it closes to see what he meant.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Shojo Manga exhibit reviewed on web

Johanna Carlson's site Comics Worth Reading just ran a guest review by Ed Sizemore of the exhibit which is still here in DC for a few more weeks.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Today's Express, too late for usefulness

Today's Express had a wire article from the LA Times on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, and a interview of China Mieville by comics fan (and ex-Examiner columnist) Scott Rosenburg. Mieville appeared tonight at Politics & Prose, and gave a fun talk about his new young adult novel Un Lun Dun. Tying him to comics, he did a strip with Liam Sharp in a collection of short stories.

The two newspaper bits should be available on their website.

Also, Flushed Away, last year's best animated film (Cars? get real - it was completely predictable) from Aardman Animation came out on DVD today. Best Buy is giving away plush singing slugs with their dvd. Can life get any better?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Herblock award to Jim Morin

Dave Astor reports that Miami Herald cartoonist Jim Morin has been awarded this year's Herblock award - named after the Washington Post cartoonist Herbert Block and funded with his capital. Since he owned a lot of Post stock, that's apparently a lot of capital. The award will be given on April 4th, and oddly enough, they always have a non-cartoonist speaker who takes up the lion share of the time. It was Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor the last time I went - she was very interesting, but had no interest at all in cartoons. This year it's Tom Brokaw.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Michael Cavna editorial cartoon in Post

Infrequently, the Post runs editorial cartoons by Michael Cavna. Today's is on p. N7 and is "Oscar: The Year of the (Subliminal) Subtitle" in which Borat shows how foreign language films are actually subliminal Oscar propaganda.

Obligatory Richard Thompson mention

Richard's Cul de Sac in today's Washington Post Magazine is one of those self-referential strips that always amuses me. Petey is attempting to read the comics to his little sister who doesn't understand that each panel segues into the next. Petey prefaces reading the strips by saying, "They're 'comic strips' examples of a mighty yet dying art form." Et tu, Richard?

He also does the weekly illustration for Joel Achenbach's column a few pages later. I don't think either the strip or the illo is online.

Bernie Wrightson interviewed in Times


Joseph Szadkowski ran a short interview with horror and superhero comic book artist Bernie Wrightson in yesterday's Washington Times. Wrightson may be best known for co-creating Swamp Thing and illustrating Stephen King, but he's done a lot of comic work over the years.

Editorial cartoonist Matt Wuerker

Alan Gardner picked up a story on editorial cartoonist Matt Wuerker at his Daily Cartoonist blog. Harry Jaffee's written a good profile of Wuerker's gig at the new tabloid the Politico for the Washingtonian's website. Did this appear in print as well?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

For whom the Toles bells

Ouch. Ok, I'll go back to normal headlines. Anyway, someone compiling the Saturday 'Free for All' letters page of the Post must either a.) have it in for editorial cartoonist Tom Toles or b.) think that carping letters about his cartoons make good reading.

I think they ran about the 3rd in a month today - a letter from Mr. Wayne Smith of Greenbelt, MD pointing out that the Jamestown settlers were not illegal immigrants, and that even if they were colonists, that was ok because they declared themselves to the "Indian authorities." Toles' cartoon was of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown - Celebrating the state's first illegal immigrants.

Right above it, they ran a letter by Ms. Pam Kincheloe in favor of Toles' cartoon about murderous diaper-wearing astronauts. So b. must be the right choice above.

Flugennock returns!


DC poster artist Mike Fluggenock has announced a new series of caricatures under the banner New Editorial Cartoon Series: "Your Jackass Slate For 2008!" As you can imagine, the pictures aren't pretty - so click on the link and look at them. It's up to you whether you poster the town with broadsheets though.



Boy, I just love his stuff and more of it's here.
Don't miss the New Day with the New Democrat Majority series either!

Post reviews Ghost


I could get into writing these headlines. The Post reviewed Ghost Rider today, which was not screened for critics - apparently that's always a bad sign.

See the Post headline writer enjoys writing them too - 'Ghost Rider': Hells, um, Devils By Stephen Hunter, Saturday, February 17, 2007; Page C01.

Hunter's main point is: "Ghost Rider" is a compelling image in search of a movie.
And he wraps up: Mainly the movie's about riding a bike at the speed of sound while your head is burning. They can do anything these days, which isn't quite the same as saying they should do anything these days.












The Washington Times ran their review yesterday -
'Ghost Rider' cheese: Too thin, too stale
by Christian Toto, February 16, 2007.

Toto concludes:

Writer/director Mark Steven Johnson drapes the entire project with a layer of cheese, but it's never gooey enough to make "Ghost Rider" a guilty snack. And making Johnny groove to Carpenters' music to psych himself up for a stunt is as creepy as his flamed-out skull. "Ghost Rider" is no "Spider-Man." Heck, it's less interesting than either "Daredevil" or "Elektra," leaving the audience cursed for nearly two hours.

Big Planet of development

I stopped by Big Planet Comics in Bethesda as usual last week, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but this evil sign (click on the photos to read it).

Woodmont Triangle was rezoned last year to permit more development and Joel's building was sold around the same time. So now, we see the sign for the proposed development - 118 condos.

Joel's still got a bit of time on his lease and is approaching this sanguinely. Me? I'm not ready for him to make another move - that'll be two in 20 years and I can't take that pace of change.

Ted Rall and Spider-Man both missing

This week's City Paper didn't have Ted Rall's comic in it. Instead the comic that had been appearing on page 3 moved back and a new amateurish comic appeared on page 3. Rall, in spite of his... abstract drawing style... is one of the hardest-hitting editorial cartoonists out there, and it would be a shame if he's not appearing in DC anymore.

In today's Washington Examiner, the weekly Spider-Man comic book was nowhere to be seen. My guess is that they were stopped by the winter storm. I hope we get a two-fer next weekend as this should have been the week with the new cover art.

Friday, February 16, 2007

2/17: Tobacco editorial cartoon exhibit presentation

The British medical journal, The Lancet reviewed the exhibit briefly, concluding "Although heavy handed at times, the exhibition powerfully illustrates the devil's bargain the US struck with the deadly weed and how difficult it has been to break the deal despite the devastating toll on public health."

I hear editorial cartoonist Bill Garner of the Washington Times will be stopping in as well.

“WHEN MORE DOCTORS SMOKED CAMELS: A CENTURY OF HEALTH CLAIMS IN CIGARETTE ADVERTISING”

The National Museum of Health and Medicine will host “When More Doctors Smoked Camels: A Century of Health Claims in Cigarette Advertising,” a free illustrated lecture and gallery talk presented by Alan Blum, M.D., on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 1 p.m., highlighting the exhibit “Cartoonists Take Up Smoking,” on display through April 1, 2007.
Week in and week out from the 1920s through the 1950s, tobacco companies used images of physicians and their implied endorsements to help sell cigarettes. Such advertisements appeared not only in most issues of Life, Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report, but also in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine.
“Through the years, cigarette advertising depicted doctors almost as often as movie stars and sports heroes,” said Blum, curator of the exhibit, and whose lecture will feature many such ads and vintage television commercials.
Although cigarette advertisements were banned from TV in 1971, their print counterparts did not completely disappear from medical journals until the 1980s.
“Cartoonists Take Up Smoking,” is an exhibition of original newspaper editorial cartoons retracing the 40-year battle over the use and promotion of cigarettes since the publication of the landmark Surgeon General's report on smoking and health in 1964. It also addresses complacency on the part of organized medicine, politicians, and the mass media in ending the tobacco pandemic.
The exhibit features 55 original cartoons by more than 50 nationally known American editorial cartoonists and is supplemented by smoking-related items, from the original newspaper headlines that inspired the cartoons to advertisements promoting the health benefits of lighting up.
In addition to the cartoons, several mini-exhibitions are on view, including the airline flight attendants’ battle to get Congress to pass the ban on smoking on commercial aircraft; a history of the Kent Micronite Filter, made from asbestos; the advertising of cigarettes in medical journals from the 1920s to the 1980s; and the selection of cigarette commercials and smoking scenes from TV and the movies. Two preserved lungs from the museum’s anatomical collection—one showing the ill effects of smoking and the other a healthy lung—highlight the exhibit.
The exhibit will be on display at the museum, which is open every day except Dec. 25 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The museum is located at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Avenue and Elder Street, NW, Washington, D.C. For more information call (202) 782-2200 or visit www.nmhm.washingtondc.museum. Admission and parking are free.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The System of Comics - new book, and still off-topic

Another post with nothing to do with DC except that one of the translators has stayed in my basement. My friends Bart and Nick, although Canadians (that's a joke, son), undoubtedly did an excellent job on translating Groensteen's book, which apparently will be one of the major books on comics theory. Nick, being an archivist* like me, should have brought a lot to this partnership.
Click on the title to buy a copy now, or order it from Amazon for the free shipping.


The System of Comics

Thierry Groensteen
Translated by Bart Beaty and Nick Nguyen

An authoritative exploration of how the comics achieve meaning, form, and function

This edition of Thierry Groensteen's The System of Comics makes available in English a groundbreaking work on comics by one of the medium's foremost scholars. In this book, originally published in France in 1999, Groensteen explains clearly the subtle, complex workings of the medium and its unique way of combining visual, verbal, spatial, and chronological expressions. The author explores the nineteenth-century pioneer Rodolphe Töpffer, contemporary Japanese creators, George Herriman's Krazy Kat, and modern American autobiographical comics.

The System of Comics uses examples from a wide variety of countries including the United States, England, Japan, France, and Argentina. It describes and analyzes the properties and functions of speech and thought balloons, panels, strips, and pages to examine methodically and insightfully the medium's fundamental processes.

From this, Groensteen develops his own coherent, overarching theory of comics, a "system" that both builds on existing studies of the "word and image" paradigm and adds innovative approaches of his own. Examining both meaning and appreciation, the book provides a wealth of ideas that will challenge the way scholars approach the study of comics. By emphasizing not simply "storytelling techniques" but also the qualities of the printed page and the reader's engagement, the book's approach is broadly applicable to all forms of interpreting this evolving art.

Thierry Groensteen is a comics scholar and translator in Brussels, Belgium. He is the author of La bande dessinée: Une littérature graphique and La construction de la cage, among other books. Bart Beaty is associate professor of communication and culture at the University of Calgary. Nick Nguyen is an archivist at Library and Archives Canada, in Ottawa, Ontario.

FEBRUARY, 192 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, introduction, index
Cloth, 1-57806-925-4
(978-1-57806-925-5)
For sale in the U.S. and its territories only

*Archivists are your jack-of-all-trades of the cultural world. ;^)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A couple of oddities from Tuesday's papers

In the Post, Starbucks has an ad on page A12 to "Draw Salty." Salty's a cartoon pirate head, like the old "if you can draw this" ads that ran in comics. There's 7 blank boxes to draw Salty in various art styles - minimalism, cubism, dada, abstract expressionism, post-impressionism, surrealism and baroque - but this doesn't appear to be a contest.

In the Examiner, a letter to the editor takes them to task for a Darryl Cagle editorial cartoon. The letter writer appears to completely miss the conceit of 'putting lipstick on a pig':


The Washington Examiner
Feb 13, 2007
http://www.examiner.com/a-562401~Letters__February_13__2007.html

WASHINGTON -
Cartoonist got it exactly backwards on Department of Defense budget

Re: “Whoa, I’m gonna need more lipstick” cartoon, Feb. 12

Daryl Cagle’s cartoon gave a factually false image of the defense budget as an ugly pig that is much larger than the “domestic budget.”

According to OMB figures, defense spending will be $439 billion in a total 2007 budget of $2.9 trillion, or 15 percent. Even if one adds the State Department and other international programs, and possible supplemental requests for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the total still comes to less than 20 percent of federal spending. That leaves 80 percent for “domestic” programs.

As a share of the economy, defense spending is at the lowest level since the 1930s. The massive cuts in the 1990s explain why our military is so overextended in what are actually very small wars by historical standards. A country as rich as ours should never be contemplating retreat in the face of insurgent thugs, but we are.

What is driving the increase in federal spending are “mandatory” entitlement programs which are about to consume half the budget. In Senate testimony last month, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned that higher entitlement spending could cripple the economy.

Cagle should get his facts straight, assuming facts matter to his expression of “opinion.”

William R. Hawkins
Senior Fellow for National Security Studies
U.S. Business and Industry Council
Washington, D.C.

And now for something completely different- Pocket Cartoon Course!

I bought this a few years ago to add to my collection of stamps and comics - it fits if you squish it. And this has nothing to do with comics and DC, except for being located somewhere in my house.








Monday, February 12, 2007

Mark Zingarelli in today's Post

The business section had a nice 5 panel strip by Mark Zingarelli. "They Dare to Predict! The 2007 Local Economy Challenge" which had caricatures of local businesspeople. It's not online, of course.

Baltimore Comic-Con PR

I've gone for the past two years - this is a fun show. Of course, I also liked Disney's Atlantis...

Mike Mignola Named Guest of Honor for Baltimore Comic-Con
Show Runs September 8-9, 2007, at the Baltimore Convention Center

BALTIMORE, MD (February 12, 2007) -- Hellboy creator and designer of Disney's Atlantis Mike Mignola will be the Guest of Honor at this year's Baltimore Comic-Con. The convention will be held Saturday and Sunday, September 8-9, 2007, at the Baltimore Convention Center.

"We're extremely happy to make this first of many announcements concerning this year's Baltimore Comic-Con," said show promoter Marc Nathan. "Mike Mignola has been one of the most requested guests since we started the show, and it's great to finally have him on board. It's also exciting to have so many popular guests returning as well as the wonderful new ones we're adding."

More headliners include Mark Waid (Brave and the Bold), John Romita, Sr. (Amazing Spider-Man), Frank Cho (Mighty Avengers), Adam Hughes (Wonder Woman), Barry Kitson (Legion of Super-Heroes), Michael Golden (Micronauts), and EC Comics editor Al Feldstein (MAD). The creators range from Golden Age visionaries to modern-day superstars, contributing to a show with something for every comic reader and fan.

Additional guests in the initial line-up include Kyle Baker (Why I Hate Saturn), Howard Chaykin (American Flagg), Steve Conley (The Escapist), Todd DeZago (Telos), Brendon and Brian Fraim (Knights of the Dinner Table), John Gallagher (Buzzboy), Dean Haspiel (Opposable Thumbs), Michael Avon Oeming (Powers), Brandon Peterson (X-Men), Eric Powell (The Goon), Mark Sparacio (Heroes for Hire), Jim Starlin (Dreadstar), Herb Trimpe (G.I. Joe), Billy Tucci (Shi), and J.C. Vaughn (24).

Nathan said the show intends to build on its reputation as the friendliest show on the convention circuit. "Last year we had the highest number of people who traveled a long distance that we've ever had," he said. "I think a lot of that is due to the word of mouth from the creators we invite. They always seem to come back and bring a friend. It's also due to our location. Baltimore is a day's drive from anywhere on the eastern seaboard, and it's convenient from much of the Midwest. But even if you're not from those areas, you'll find yourself more than welcome in our town and at our show."

The Harvey Awards will again be held at the Baltimore Comic-Con, continuing the tradition begun with last year's successful dinner and ceremony. Named after the highly influential writer-artist Harvey Kurtzman, the Harvey Awards are the only comic book awards voted on by industry professionals.

DC Comics, Top Cow, Top Shelf, and AdHouse are among the publishers already lined up to display at the show. Also, Diamond Comic Distributors has announced that they will again hold their Retailer Summit in Baltimore on the two days following the show.

Additional guests and event programming will be announced in the coming weeks and months. For those who wish to receive additional updates, the show has created a MySpace page, www.myspace.com/baltimorecomics. The show's regular site, www.comicon.com/baltimore, will also carry guest lists and other pertinent details.

For additional information about the Baltimore Comic-Con, call (410) 526-7410 or email cardscomicscollectibles@yahoo.com. For additional information about the Harvey Awards, visit www.harveyawards.org.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Shojo Manga exhibit pictures, finally

Here's some random views of the exhibit, which is well-worth seeing. To recap, it's at the Japanese Information & Cultural Center on 21st NW, at M St, and is open from 9-5 although some of the artwork is in a hallway which appears to be open later.
90% of this show is original artwork, with the exceptions being photocopies of Tezuka's original art, and a large print from CLAMP. Also, as you can see, the published version is shown with the original for some of the art.




















March 19 - An Animated Evening with Bill Plympton


An Animated Evening with Bill Plympton
at National Geographic at 7:30 pm on March 19th. Plympton will show eight of his short animated films - oddly enough this might not be appropriate for children. $14 for members, $17 for non-members. I'm planning on going; Plympton's work is sickly amusing.

On March 24th at 11 am, an Animated Environmental Film Festival has six films for $8 for adults and $6 for kids. It's not online yet, but the films are Gopher Broke, The Girl Who Hated Books, Tree Officer, Badgered, Turtle World and First Flight.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Rough Magic is great UPDATED

I saw Rough Magic, a reworking of The Tempest, written by Marvel Comics writer, and former area resident (and Big Planet Comics customer) Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa tonight. It was an excellent production, funny and moving. Reasonably priced at $20, I strongly recommend it - it's on for a few more shows. Bring a coat because it's chilly in the church theater, but it's worth it. Aguirre-Sacasa's comic book sensibilities, weighted with a healthy dose of Neil Gaiman, carry the show along, and two hours pass quickly. There's a really clever use of basic special effects, excellent costuming, a clever story and an enthusiastic cast.

Comics Greeks by Trey Graham reviewed the play and said, "If you see only one play during the six-month-long Shakespeare in Washington festival, see Rough Magic."

I can't recommend this one highly enough.

“Ziggy” to be Displayed in U.S. Copyright Office

Not much to say to this press release except that I'm positive that Sara and Martha were not consulted.

“Ziggy” to be Displayed in U.S. Copyright Office
http://www.amuniversal.com/ups/newsrelease/?view=505

Washington D.C. (02/07/2007) The United States Copyright Office, a department of the Library of Congress, has announced that a “Ziggy” comic panel will be included in a special graphics display for the newly renovated Copyright Office in Washington, D.C.

The Aug. 3, 1993 “Ziggy” features the “Yellow Kid” holding out his hat while wearing an outfit that says “COPYRIGHT RAN OUT – PLEASE HELP!” Ziggy has his head turned to the Yellow Kid, who is shoeless, and begging, but wearing a smile. This “Ziggy” comic panel will hang side-by-side the original "Yellow Kid" comic strip from 1896. Together, they illustrate the copyright registration system and its importance, says a Copyright Office spokesman. The “Ziggy” panel will be displayed alongside other American icons such as the “Statue of Liberty,” the “Oscar,” and “Coca-Cola.”

“It is an honor to have “Ziggy” chosen for display in the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution,” says Tom Wilson, Ziggy’s creator. The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world and home to more than 130 million items sitting on 530 miles of bookshelves. Included in the collections are over 29 million books and other printed materials, 2.7 million recordings, 12 million photographs, 4.8 million maps, and 58 million manuscripts. Ziggy is syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate.

Creator(s):

Contact(s): Kathie Kerr

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Feb 11 - Capital Associates comic book convention

A local convention will be out at 2148 Gallows Road in Tyson's Corner, at the Dunn Loring Volunteer Fire Dept from 10 - 3, with a $3 admission.

Regards from Serbia

In the tooting my own horn department, Regards from Serbia by Aleksandar Zograf is out this week from Top Shelf. One might wonder why I'm mentioning a book about the Yugoslavian Civil War here. Zograf posted daily emails reporting on the war to an email group on alternative comics, Comix@ that I belonged to. Zograf lost his electronic copies of his letters, but fortunately I had saved the emails and was able to provide them to Top Shelf so they could put the book together more easily. That archivist instinct to save material occasionally pays off, and I'm glad to have been able to help out with this project.

Top Shelf's website says:

"The Serbian cartoonist Aleksandar Zograf has created some of the most compelling comics of the last 15 years. His war stories about the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia, heartbreaking dissections of the cartoonist's inner and outer life as his world fell to pieces all around him, are as fine a group of testimonials as exists concerning the emotional and physical disruptions caused by proximity to death and destruction." -- Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter

As the NATO bombs fell on his hometown of Pančevo in 1999, Serbian cartoonist Aleksandar Zograf used his diary comics and e-mail to reach out to the world and offer a glimpse at the effects of the attacks. Over the weeks and months of the war, Zograf documented not only how the bombings shattered the lives of his friends and neighbors, but also how the routine of daily life remained unchanged. The most recent attacks on Pancevo's oil refinery are contrasted with the latest local soccer matches -- and American propaganda flyers are as likely to fall from the sky as American comics are to arrive in the mail.

In today’s ratings-driven era of globetrotting correspondents and embedded reportage, Regards From Serbia rings with the truth of a man who had the headlines come to him, and offers a comprehensive account of the conflict as only a local could tell it. -- 288 pages, Graphic Novel, Diamond: NOV063909, ISBN 978-1-891830-42-6, $19.95 (US)

Howard Pyle and Illustrators of the Brandywine School

A small exhibit, Howard Pyle and Illustrators of the Brandywine School, is at the Federal Reserve Board's headquarters, on 20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. I saw it earlier this week. The art is mostly from the Free Library of Philadelphia and includes some Pyle pirates and other illustration work, some original Maxfield Parrish paintings, and a lovely book cover painting - The Cobra's Head by Frank Schoonover.

There's only 24 pieces in the show and you have to telephone for a reservation at least a day in advance and then go through a metal detector and be accompanied by a guard, but the artwork is good. The number is 202-452-3778 and the show will be up through March 30. Admission is free, and they give you a nice full color booklet.

Stephen King midnight madness at Big Planet Comics followup

When I picked up my comics today, I asked about the midnight Stephen King event. Joel had 4 people waiting in line when he opened the store at 11:45, and got a total of twelve people, all of whom got free copies of Dark Tower. The crowd apparently was held down by the cold weather and snow, as Joel says other retailers from across the country reported it was a success. On the positive side, all of the people were new to his store, and mostly were directed by Stephen King's website, not the City Paper ad. Some even drove in from Manassas - although at that time of night, even the Beltway probably wasn't too bad.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Tuesday Night - Dark Tower at Big Planet

Here's the press release they sent out today (which looks wordsmithed by Marvel to me):

BIG PLANET COMICS AND MARVEL OFFER FIRST-EVER MIDNIGHT RELEASE TO CELEBRATE LAUNCH OF HIGHLY ANTICIPATED NEW COMIC SERIES BASED ON STEPHEN KING’S EPIC

THE DARK TOWER

Special Midnight Opening to Take Place on February 6, 2007

Phenomenal Excitement Surrounds New Comic Series that Explores the Origin of the Notorious Gunslinger Character

To celebrate the launch of the ground-breaking new comic book series adapted from Stephen King’s magnum opus, The Dark Tower, Big Planet Comics and Marvel Comics will offer a first-ever midnight release of The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born #1 the night of Tuesday, February 6, 2007. Big Planet Comics located at 4908 Fairmont Ave., Bethesda, MD, will open at midnight on Tuesday (effectively 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, February 7, 2007) so Stephen King fans can get their hands on the debut issue of this historic comic.

Under the direction and guidance of Stephen King, the creative team of Robin Furth (Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: A Concordance), The New York Times-bestselling author Peter David, Eisner Award-winning artist Jae Lee and fan-favorite Richard Isanove, the seven issue series will expand the saga of King’s epic hero, Roland Deschain, whose quest to save the Dark Tower is captured in seven best-selling novels published over the course of twenty-five years. King’s unparalleled storytelling power will inform new stories that delve into the life and times of the young Roland, revealing the trials and conflicts that lead to the burden of destiny he must assume as a man, the last Gunslinger from a world that has moved on. The comics will work in conjunction with the novels, further supplementing and defining the saga’s mythology under the direction of the acclaimed author himself.

Marvel's Senior Vice President of Sales David Gabriel said, "As the first visualization of The Dark Tower characters and stories in the sequential arts medium, these midnight openings provides fans with the same first chance, gotta-be there-the-second-it-comes-out opportunities that Harry Potter fans have enjoyed at mass market book stores."

To learn more about The Dark Tower: Gunslinger Born comic book series please visit www.marvel.com/darktower.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Drew Friedman - another suprise in the Post


Drew Friedman illustrated an article in the magazine today - the first time he's worked for the Post? He's got a new book out - Old Jewish Comedians from Fantagraphics.

Wiley on editorial cartooning

Wiley Miller's Non Sequiter today is on the dwindling ranks of editorial cartooning.

Sunday's Post - Edwin Fotheringham


The New Yorker illustrator Edwin Fotheringham did all of the illustrations for today's Post travel section. Thumbnails, but not the nice full page illustration he did, can be seen here.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Express Shojo manga exhibit review

The Express put its review of the local Shojo manga exhibit on the web (it was published on 2/1). The exhibit is open weekdays, 9-5 at Japan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan, Lafayette Center III, 1155 21st St. NW; through March 16; 202-238-6949.

I'll put the pictures I took of the show up soon.

Today's Spider-Man comic book

The Examiner has another part of the original Amazing Spider-Man issue 10 as Spider-Man Collectible Series vol. 22. This is worth noting for another new cover, but I liked the Enforcers as Ditko drew them better.

Post follows up on cartoon Panic in Detroit, rather Boston

Lisa de Moraes' column follows up on the marketing television side of things "Cartoon Show Marketers Send Their Regrets" Saturday, February 3, 2007; Page C07.

Meanwhile, Richard Thompson (there's that name again) takes a whack at Superbowl commercials, and smacks Disney and this year's cartoon controversy in one panel. Unfortunately it's not online yet.

Post on Zimbabwe newspaper editor threatened over cartoon

"Zimbabwe Paper Hits 'Big Nerve': Criticism of Military Pay Brings a Threat to Editor" by Craig Timberg, Washington Post Foreign Service, Friday, February 2, 2007; Page A10. I'm glad the Post picked this up - I have seen a couple of wire stories, but nothing else by a major newspaper. This is a good article about the dwindling press freedom in the country. The important points, quoting Timberg, are:

A single bullet and a threatening note arrived in a package delivered to one of Zimbabwe's last independent newspapers in what journalists said Thursday was the latest sign of the dangers to press freedoms in that country. ... The package, addressed simply to "editor," contained a cartoon from Sunday's paper mocking low pay in the military. According to Saidi, the handwritten note said: "Whats this editor? Watch your step."

And we can turn to Wikipedia for information on Zimbawe.

Feb 3 & 4 - Little Polar Bear cartoon at NGA


The National Gallery of Art is showing the German film, The Little Polar Bear: The Mysterious Island Saturday at 10:30 and Sunday at 11:30.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Cartoonists Take Up Smoking exhibit photos


Here's some shots of the editorial cartoon exhibit in the National Museum of Health & Medicine. Curated by Alan Blum, this layout is by Steve Hill and Bill Discher. Bill did the big cutouts in particular. The exhibit's up for two more months.