Wednesday, December 31, 2008
A small exhibit was at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American Art in 2006, in conjunction with the donation of some artifacts from the theme park. I'm ambivalent about these exhibits (or postage stamps) that help advertise an ongoing concern, but there's no denying that Disney(land) is part of American popular culture.
NEW COMICS ARE IN!
In our last post, we told you we weren't expecting our books until Friday 01/02/09. BUT IN FACT, we did get them today, through the blessings of the postal gods. So new comics will be available for you ON WEDNESDAY 12/31/08!.
This is a big no-no in the comics retailing world since it would let retailers steal customers based on how soon they were able to get their comics from Diamond (which is a monopoly so there's no one else to get new comics from), and I'm sure they got called on the carpet for it as the notice later disappeared.
Am I the only one who actually misses comics arriving on Friday? I much preferred that - you could pick them up after work or school and read them as late as you liked.
This book came over the transom a few months ago, and I'm just catching up to reviewing it. This review should also appear in print in the International Journal of Comic Art's 11:1 issue in the late Spring.
Owen King and John McNally, editors. Who Can Save Us Now?: Brand-New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories. Free Press, 2008. 432 pages. $16.00. ISBN-10: 1416566449; ISBN-13: 978-1416566441.
Superhero novels have been published off and on since George Lowther’s 1942 novel The Adventures of Superman. Most times these books are based directly on existing comic book superheroes, frequently due to a media tie-in, as in the novel and the radio show in which Lowther wrote for both. The 1960s saw Batman novels due to the television show, and Marvel Comics had a series of novels based on their superheroes in the 1970s. In recent years, many of these types of books, frequently labeled ‘media tie-in’ have been produced, but this book hearkens back to a different trend. In the 1970s, some superhero novels such as Robert Mayers’ 1977 Superfolks attempted to be ‘serious fiction.’ This trend continued with infrequent novels such as 1994’s What They Did to Princess Paragon by Robert Rodi until the recent success of Michael Chabon and Jonathan Lethem inspired new attempts.
Of the twenty-two stories in the book, six have previously appeared, and of that six, three of them were in the Virginia Quarterly Review. Although the author notes at the end list each one’s favorite superhero, judging from their answers, it appears that few of them are serious superhero comic book readers and none are comic book writers. This lack of familiarity with the genre can lead to some awkward or uninteresting writing at times.
The book starts off strongly with Stephanie Harrell’s “Girl Reporter,” a strong take on an alternative Superman – Lois Lane type of relationship, told from the reporter’s point of view. “The Quick Stop 5®” by Sam Weller is a good example of a story that would not work well in a comic book, but partly because Weller mocks the genre. The characters gain their powers in a typical freak accident, but the powers are not necessarily ones that would be desired. Prophylactic Girl, with rubber powers, also has a condom tip on her head while Dip is a walking wad of chewing tobacco in the mold of Swamp Thing or Man-Thing. The story is a satire, and is amusing though. John McNally’s “Remains of the Night” is another satire in which the narrator appears to work for a hero named the Silverfish – one can only go in one direction with a premise like that although McNally’s writing is competent. “The Pentecostal Home for Flying Children” by Will Clarke takes the premise of the X-Men, mutant children in a special school, and turns it on its side. Clarke wrote, “Unfortunately, the Redbird didn’t possess the necessary might to be a major-league superhero. In the world of superpowers, flight was pretty much table stakes. … So the Redbird was relegated to working in the superhero farm leagues. … However as the years passed, it became apparent that the Redbird had moved to Shreveport for less-than-savory reasons. Turns out the Redbird came to our town not just for the easy work, but for our chronically bored housewives, our prodigal daughters, and our all-too-easily seduced Baptist Ladies Prayer Circle.” (p. 110) The children of his liaisons end up becoming a problem for the whole town.
Another story that alters a typical superhero tale is “Mr. Big Deal” by Sean Doolittle, in which a police officer’s superpower is that he can disable other peoples powers permanently. His father, a superhero called The Hard Bargain, never felt comfortable around him because his son could take away his powers at any time, but now the father lies in a coma in a hospital bed because “For Four decades, in the service of the common good, he absorbed gunshots, stabbings, conflagrations, falls from great heights, and the kind of damage that would spread a natural over a country mile like so much fertilizer. And then, finally, little by little, my father’s jungle of internal scar tissue began to strangle his won organs, shutting him down one function at a time.” (p. 298) The story ends with a twist that O. Henry might have tried.
Some of the stories, especially the shortest ones do not work quite as well, but the collection as a whole is worth reading especially if you have an interest in the superhero genre. I am not sure if this type of fiction is sustainable in the long run, but one might as well enjoy it while it appears. The book is capably illustrated throughout by Chris Burnham who has worked for Image Comics. The cover photograph and design is well done too.
Tom Corbett, Space Cadet - a tv show, but soon a Dell comic book too.
How many Peanuts lunchboxes have there been?
It looks like late-period Caniff, but Steve Canyon is still cool.
Walter Lantz's Woody Woodpecker is essentially forgotten now, but was big in its day.
More pics at the flickr link above...
CR Holiday Interview #9: Batton Lash, Comics Reporter (December 31 2008).
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Hulk, Spider-Man and Superman balloons at the Arlington County Fair, August 2006. I think there's a Jimmy Neutron poking up too. I ran across this photo so I thought I'd put it up. Look for Smithsonian shots of lunch boxes and Disneyland stuff soon.
By David Lozell Martin
201 pages. Simon & Schuster. $24.
David's a better writer than the Times reviewer credits him as, but I can't imagine this book was easy to write. I've only read his fiction, and I'm both looking forward to, and dreading this autobiography. I'd recommend David's books, especially Crazy Love and Pelikan, and be sure to search by his middle name as you'll get relevant results.
Politics & Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse
5015 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 364-1919 or (800) 722-0790
Fax: (202) 966-7532
Monday-Saturday: 9 a.m.-10 p.m
Sunday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Monday, December 29, 2008
The latest issue of BASH! Magazine comes complete with a full-color cover (plus some color on the interior as well), with a great looking caricature of Obama by Greg Halbert -- just in time for the inauguration! I expect this'll grab quite a few visitors' eyes when they're in for the event and looking for affordable pieces of collectible history...
Sunday, December 28, 2008
I broke out the Credit Crunch game from the Economist today and got destroyed by my 10-year old daughter. My ex-high school teacher of economics father-in-law didn't do much better than me though.
Kal asked for comments. The using coins to figure out moves is a bit clunky, but I don't have any better ideas. Also when one reaches the end, are you supposed to continue through Start and go around again? If so, do you collect $500 mil again? (We did). We also sold our Financial Risk Cards, or at least bribed each other to influence the results. We only made it around the track once - two of us were bankrupt while Claire made it past the Start line with a few hundred million left. Overall the game was fun. I'd play it again. It's like Life and Monopoly mashed together.
Originally uploaded by mgrhode1
A entomologist contacted Richard Thompson about making a t-shirt from his Richard's Poor Almanack panel featuring the camel cricket. Richard, being a thoroughly nice guy, said yes and got some of the shirts in return. Modeled by Claire because they're all small.Good luck in finding one of these collectibles!
By John Judy
(Why kiss a loved one at midnight when you could be reading comics?!)
30 DAYS OF NIGHT: TIL DEATH #2 written and drawn by David Lapham. The creator of STRAY BULLETS is delivering his strongest work (and best 30 DAYS series) in a long time. Definitely worth a look if you think the world post-Barrow has been a bit of a let-down.
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #20 by Dan Slott, Christos Gage and Steve Kurth. Lots of post- Secret Invasion doings as the real Hank Pym returns and Mutant Zero stands revealed.
BATMAN: CACOPHONY #2 of 3 by Kevin Smith and Walt J. Flanagan. The Good News: Kevin Smith managed to hit a deadline on a monthly book. The Bad News: Did you see issue one?
CAPTAIN AMERICA #45 by Ed Brubaker and Luke Ross. Bucky America has to beat the French fiend Batroc the Leaper and find whoever’s left of the Invaders. I recommend shouting in German and checking Facebook.
FANTASTIC FOUR #562 by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. The funeral of the Invisible Woman. They say it’s empty casket but how can you tell?
FINAL CRISIS: SECRET FILES #1 by Various Creators. Perhaps this will reveal the secret of why FINAL CRISIS is taking so long to wrap up already.
GOON #31 written and drawn by Eric Powell. “That’s the man who killed Kizzie! And it’s long past time that I dealt with him!” Highly recommended.
GREEN LANTERN #36 by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke. Hal and the gang rush to duke it out with the wrathful Red Lanterns while the Controllers seek out the greed-powered Orange Lanterns. So “Orange = Greed.” A subtle swipe at a certain California county? Why not?
INCOGNITO #1 by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. This new series is why CRIMINAL is going on hiatus so it must, must, must be awesome! Thankfully it looks like it is. The premise: What if you were a super-villain in Federal Witness Protection and you just couldn’t stand it anymore? Highly Recommended.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #28 by Dwayne McDuffie and Ed Benes. The JLA versus the Shadow Cabinet. Watch for flying splinters.
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #22 by Geoff Johns, Alex Ross and Dale Eaglesham. Gog’s big, fat other shoe has dropped and now it’s time to throw it at him. Big Fight!
KICK-ASS #5 by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. Remember this series? Issue four came out in August. Look for the trade collection of the first six issues in December of 2008. Oh, wait….
MARVELS: EYE OF THE CAMERA #2 of 6 by Kurt Busiek and Jay Anacieto. Photojournalist Phil Sheldon is still tracking the super goings-on in the Marvel Universe but he’s got troubles of his own. Cancer. An engaging follow-up to the classic MARVELS series.
NORTHLANDERS #13 by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly. The Irish guerilla and the Viking enforcer finally come face to face and it ain’t gonna be resolved with a drinking contest. Great stuff. Recommended.
PUNISHER WAR ZONE #4 of 6 by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. Wow, so it looks like this comic has already outlasted its namesake’s run in theatres. Deservedly so. Anyway, it looks like Frank’s gonna have to take out an army of Ma Gnucci zombie-clones. Seriously. Recommended, but not for kids or people with a low tolerance for the Ennis-style dark, silly humor.
SCALPED #24 by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera. My favorite comic continues to come out despite the best efforts of the buying public to keep it down on The Rez. Too intense for kids and those with a low tolerance for Total Awesomeness. Highly recommended.
THE STAND: CAPTAIN TRIPS #4 of 5 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Mike Perkins. It’s the end of the world as we know it and it looks fine! The best adaptation yet of Stephen King’s epic novel. Recommended!
SUPERMAN #683 by James Robinson, Geoff Johns and Renato Guedes. Imagine if you tried passing discriminatory laws like California’s Prop 8 against 100,000 people, each with the all powers of Superman. An intriguing issue.
ULTIMATE HULK ANNUAL #1 by Jeph Loeb and Marko Djurdjevic. This is quite an accomplishment since Ultimate Hulk never actually had his own series. Anyway, for some reason the mass-murdering Hulk of the Ultimates Universe is teaming up with the mass-murdering Power Princess from the Squadron Supreme Universe. Makes you wonder what these crazy kids will get up to, doesn’t it?
WOLVERINE #70 by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. The twisted alternate future road-trip continues with blind Hawkeye doing the violence and Old Man Logan not. Impressive they’ve maintained such a status quo all the way through part five of eight of this entertaining story.
WOLVERINE: MANIFEST DESTINY #3 of 4 by Jason Aaron and Stephen Segovia. Wolverine must unite all the kung-fu schools in Chinatown to defeat the Black Dragon Tong. And that, my friends, is a movie! If you enjoy these Jason Aaron Wolverine stories as much as I, do yourself a favor and pick up his other title, SCALPED. You’ll have the rest of your life to thank me.
X-MEN: MAGNETO TESTAMENT #4 of 5 by Greg Pak and Carmine Di Giandomenico. Young Magneto finds himself in Auschwitz. It bears repeating that this is a genuinely powerful series, focusing less on super-heroics and super-villainy than on the horrors of a Jewish boy’s coming of age during the holocaust. Both Pak and Di Giandomenico deserve credit for taking what could have been a hideous trivialization of the 20th century’s darkest moment and making it into something both restrained and moving. Highly recommended.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff is quoted in this article about financial humor - "I’m Penniless, but the Laugh’s on Them," By LIZ ALDERMAN, New York Times December 28, 2008.
Baltimore's Greg LaRocque has an interview on Newsarama. LaRocque was one of my favorite DC artists in the late 80s, and I got to meet him and buy some art at one of the Baltimore Comic-Cons. Here's links to his website and Myspace pages.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
If you're a Comicsvore* like I am, you didn't get everything comics-related for the holidays that you really, really needed. Big Planet Comics is ready to help. For their January 1 sale, take 20% off everything in the stores. How can you go wrong?
BIG PLANET COMICS
4908 Fairmont Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20814
BIG PLANET COMICS
3145 Dumbarton St. NW
Washington, DC 20007
BIG PLANET COMICS
426 Maple Ave. East
Vienna, VA 22180
BIG PLANET COMICS
7315 Baltimore Ave.
College Park, MD 20740
*coined to describe me by cartoonist and comics writer Darko Macan
'The Spirit': Enough Ham To Lay a Great Big Egg
By Carina Chocano
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, December 25, 2008; C05
Returned From the Dead, Ducking Villains and Vixens
By A. O. SCOTT
New York Times December 25, 2008
Movie review: Don't waste money on 'The Spirit'
Peter Hartlaub, Chronicle Pop Culture Critic
Thursday, December 25, 2008
This article appeared on page E - 8 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Except for the Kansas City Star.
‘The Spirit’ review: A dazzling visual style | 3 stars
By JASON HECK
Special to The Kansas City Star December 24 2008
And the Times reported this morning that Watchmen's legal woes continue.
Judge Says Fox Owns Rights to a Warner Movie
By MICHAEL CIEPLY
New York Times December 25, 2008
While the latest Batman movie isn't coming to China.
WB shrouds 'Dark Knight' from Chinese audiences
Associated Press Thu Dec 25, 2008
Can you tell I'm working on the 2008 edition of Film & TV Adaptations of Comics? It should be available in mid-January. Would anyone like to see an expanded bibliography section in the next edition for 2009, one that gives you a lot of citations per film, rather than just one or two key ones? Work on the published edition of the Comics Research Bibliography website should be advanced enough to let me do that, but it'll add dozens of pages and cost more.
I need the St. Trinian's and the Guy Delisle books.
Drawn! is a good blog that I don't look at often enough - time to add them to the Google Reader feed.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
So, any more details, Matt?
On December 15 The Baltimore based Stoop Storytelling series came to the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall for a Holiday extravaganza. The crowd of 1600 enjoyed an evening of entertaining and compelling stories and music. I was honored to be one of the guest storytellers. I recounted my "Strange and wonderful" relationship with Maryland Governor/Comptroller William Donald Schaefer. You can listen in on the 7 minute story online here: http://www.stoopstorytelling.com/shows/35/storytellers/248
The story is really funny - go listen to it.
Porter, Christopher. 2008.
Noisy, brutal genius: The second season of 'Metalocalypse' is a hilarious headbanger.
[Washington Post] Express (December 23): 17
Greenberg, Rudi. 2008.
Just keeps getting quirkier: The sixth volume of 'Aqua Teen' is as whacked as ever.
[Washington Post] Express (December 23): 15
Associated Press. 2008.
Batman and Japan: In a new book, perfect together.
Washington Examiner (December 23); 18
Monday, December 22, 2008
Dan Reynolds wrote in a few minutes ago to complement me on the site and ask why he's not mentioned here. I think it's because he has nothing to do with DC. But I own at least one of his books, Christmas Meltdown, and think I have his Belt Height book too, so heck that's close enough for now given this economy. Go check out his site at Go Comics for his Reynolds Unwrapped panel. As you can see from this cartoon I grabbed from the site, he's topical (and funny, but we're all about topicality here).
Dan wrote in, "I'm in the snowbound regions of Upstate NY. I'm located in what's called a snowbelt area north of Syracuse, NY. I'm published in almost every issue of the Reader's Digest and have been for years... My main gig is in the greeting card business. You may not realize it, but my cards are everywhere...they've appeared on American Greetings cards, but most prominently on Recycled Paper greetings (for18 years) and Papyrus Greetings (with whom I have my own line.
My work is basically in every city in the country. Next time you go into the store to get a card, one that sells RPG or Papyrus, look and you will find.
Also, EVERY year I can almost guarantee you you receive my work in forwarded email during the Thanksgiving and Xmas season. You know those cartoon emails with 5 or 6 cartoons...at least one of them is mine every time. (True! I have) I even receive these from people who don't know they're my work!
Dan's working it hard with a daily email of current comic panels, "For sign up of 365 REYNOLDS UNWRAPPED cartoons for one year, please send $10 cash, check or money order (or if you REALLY want to support keeping me in black ink instead of red, you can throw in a cartoonist tip) to Dan Reynolds, PO BOX 444, Brewerton, NY 13029
or send at least $11 via pay pal using this info: email@example.com Your daily REYNOLDS UNWRAPPED will commence as soon as received. My web site is: www.reynoldsunwrapped.com"
So there you have it, information about the sadly underexposed world of greeting card cartoonists, and a look at a new business model for cartoons.
I think we might start calling this "Support Your Local Cartoonist." I imagine at least as many people will get that, as get the "Reynolds Unwrapped" title.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Washington Post Saturday, December 20, 2008; A15
Dec. 13 Free for All writer Jim Welch proposed that The Post use a conservative cartoonist a couple of times a week.
No need to worry; there are already two alternatives: George F. Will and Charles Krauthammer, both of them harsh in their agenda, sufficiently extremist and frequently sketchy enough to provide more than a balance for Toles.
-- James Oglethorpe
I'd like to offer an alternative to Jim Welch's suggestion.
I have no problem with Toles's politics, although I don't share them. What I object to is that he, like Herblock before him, is seldom funny.
I'd prefer a cartoonist who shares your editorial page's political views but presents them in an amusing, sophisticated and light-handed way.
-- Myron Ebell
Pay no attention to the letter asking that you not run Tom Toles. He is the best part of the editorial page.
-- Gloria Berg
Steve Brodner illustrates 2009 predictions in the last Sunday Source section, which also presumably means that we won't see Danny Hellman's illustrations in the paper anymore either.
A wire story on Broadway's Shrek musical (sigh) was interesting - "The Star of 'Shrek' Basks in the Green Light," By Kristen A. Lee / Associated Press, Washington Post Sunday, December 21, 2008; M10.
Dave Betancourt's review of "The DC Comics Encyclopedia," Washington Post Sunday, December 21, 2008; Page BW14
By John “Krampus” Judy
(Wishing you and yours a Super Saturnalia and a Sizzlin’ Solstice!)
AMERICAN FLAGG DEFINITIVE COLLECTION, VOL. 1 TP written and drawn by Howard Chaykin. The first seven issues of the Eagle Award-winning sci-fi cop adventure series that put Chaykin on the map!
ASTOUNDING WOLF-MAN #11 by Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard. Guest-starring Invincible, who had better hope he can live up to his name.
BATMAN #683 by Grant Morrison and Lee Garbett. More musings and strung together vignettes from Morrison’s batcave opium dream.
BILLY BATSON AND THE MAGIC OF SHAZAM #3 written and drawn by Mike Kunkel. The continuing saga of Captain Marvel versus Black Adam, told in an all-ages appropriate style. Fun, out of continuity stuff!
DAREDEVIL #114 by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark. High-kickin’, ninja-killin’, blind as a bat, kung-fu action! Recommended!
HULK #9 by Jeph Loeb, Art Adams and Frank Cho. If you liked last issue you’ll like this one too!
IMMORTAL IRON FIST #21 by Duane Swierczynski and Travel Foreman. The Iron Fist of the future fights a kung-fu robot! Honest!
NEW AVENGERS #48 by Brian Michael Bendis and Billy Tan. There have been a few changes in the line-up since Norman Osborn took over the show from Tony Stark. Hence the “New” in the title.
PREVIEWS by Marvel and Diamond Comics. The Magic Eightball of the comics biz!
PUNISHER WAR ZONE #3 of 6 by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. Spare yourself the pain. Skip the movie and buy the comic. Recommended.
THOR #12 by J. Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel. Sure, Loki’s schemes are bound to put Asgard in a tizzy right quick, but what’s it all mean to Broxton, Oklahoma? Will the wavin’ wheat still smell sweet? The wheat-watch starts here!
TOP TEN SEASON TWO #3 of 4 by Zander Canon and Gene Ha. More quality time with the good peace officers of Neopolis. Amazingly good stuff even without Alan Moore. Recommended.
ULTIMATUM #2 of 5 by Jeph Loeb and David Finch. Glug, glug, glug, Magneto, glug, glug, glug…
UNKNOWN SOLDIER #3 by Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli. The Doctor becomes The Soldier in this latest iteration of the classic DC war hero. Recommended.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Well, here in America, judges in Richmond (90 miles from DC) just did the same thing - "Child porn cartoon conviction upheld in Va." by LARRY O'DELL, The Associated Press, Friday, December 19, 2008. O'Dell wrote, "Child pornography is illegal even if the pictures are drawn, a federal appeals panel said in affirming the nation's first conviction under a 2003 federal law against such cartoons. ... Judge Paul V. Niemeyer noted in the majority opinion that the statute under which Whorley was convicted, the PROTECT Act of 2003, clearly states that "it is not a required element of any offense under this section that the minor depicted actually exists.""
There's a similar case going on now in now in Iowa that the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is helping with.
I have a child, and have no interest in this type of thing, but one wonders why the First Amendment only applies once in a while. I don't recall any add-ons that say "except for photographs or artwork that we really don't like."
Friday, December 19, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008; C01.
"Killer Soup, and a Mouse to the Rescue," By MANOHLA DARGIS, New York Times December 19, 2008.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
The subject line "Kal designs new board game" sucked me right into the email:
If your financial indicators are looking down, there is one way to pick your spirits up. Play "Credit Crunch", the new board game launched in this week's Christmas double edition of The Economist. The game (designed and created by Kal ) is also available to all online. Go to
to download the board, currency, playing cards, rules, and player icons.
Let me know if you play the game and how it works out. We can tweak the rules with feedback from readers.
Oh, man, I just love this stuff. I'll be assembling one of these babies. There's a hard copy in the December 20th issue, as well as a Tintin article.