Saturday, April 12, 2008

OT: Underground comics mag find part two - A Secret History of Comics Special

As you can see in the comments for part one, Steve Rowe notes that these were an attempt to sponge off National Lampoon's readership and were definitely ground-level, available in newsstands. However, due to the cartoonists involved, I'll keep calling them underground. Here's the 2nd issue with cartoonists I have, Apple Pie July 1975. The two issues from 1976 didn't have cartoonists in them. All four are going to Michigan State University's Comic Art Collection this spring, should one need to see them for research. Or a laugh.

Another Terry Austin editorial cartoon.

An ad for the mag by Howard Chaykin using some of his usual tropes of the time.

Two one-pages by Justin Green.

Michael Kaluta draws Buster Brown!

Two pages of pirate violence from S. Clay Wilson.

Four pages of vegetarian activism from Kim Deitch.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Charlottesville's Jen Sorenson interviewed about new book

See "SORENSEN'S SLOWPOKE A QUICK HIT," by Jennifer M. Contino, Comicon's The Pulse 04-10-2008 and then order the book, or plan to buy it at the Small Press Expo.

April 12: Howard Zinn and Mike Konopacki

Saturday, April 12, 1 p.m at Politics and Prose - HOWARD ZINN & MIKE KONOPACKI's A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF AMERICAN EMPIRE: A GRAPHIC ADAPTATION (Metropolitan, $17).

The people’s historian has teamed up with labor cartoonist Mike Konopacki for a graphic presentation of American imperialism. Zinn’s primary-source accounts are illuminated by the artist’s pen, making for a dramatic and bracing retelling of the darker side of our national story.

I'm going to try to attend in spite of this less-than-stellar review from Dave Carter.

Kelts on anime showing at the Smithsonian

See "SOFT POWER, HARD TRUTHS / Anime enthrall from sea to shining sea," by Roland Kelts, The Daily Yomiuri (Apr. 11, 2008) for his thoughts on the recent anime fest at the Sackler Gallery of Art.

OT: Underground comics mag find part one - A Secret History of Comics Special

I picked up a couple of underground magazines - well they were probably ground-level for the time - that are going to be passed along to MSU's Comic Art Collection soon. Before I do that, here's some of the more famous underground cartoonists from Apple Pie May 1975.

Neal Adams art on this.

Terry Austin, the great inker, apparently did editorial cartoons too.

A couple of one-pagers by Justin Green.

Paul Kirchner did the surrealist strip The Bus for alternative weekly newspapers, until I seem to remember that he came into money - Ninja Turtle money maybe?

And a three-page strip by Kirchner:



Panel 1
We’re at the Bethesda Writer’s Center (, America ’s premier independent literary center. It’s 7:30PM on Tuesday, April 15th. Four panelists are sitting in front of a crowded auditorium. This is a promotional event for the Writer’s Center’s upcoming Writing for Comics 12-week course.

Panel 2
Tight on Matt Dembicki. He’s the artist and writer behind the Day Prize-nominated Mr. Big. He’s talking a bit about self-publishing your comic.

MATT: When you self-publish, you find you have the freedom to do your comic the way you want to do it. You’re your own editor.

Panel 3
Cut to political cartoonist Carlton Stoiber. He’s talking about balancing a day job while making comics.
CARLTON : I maintain a consulting practice on nuclear security and safety issues by day and create comics by night.

Panel 4
Chris Piers is standing up now. He’s talking about the challenges writers face when collaborating with artists.
CHRIS: If you’re trying to find an artist with a full script in hand, you’re probably too late.

Panel 5
It’s comic editor Jason Rodriguez’s turn to talk. He’s discussing the business of comics and how someone publishes their work in the current market.
JASON: There’re a lot of publishers out there looking for comics. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of people looking for publishers.

Panel 6
Writer’s Center Executive Director and panel moderator Greg Robison’s giving his closing remarks.
GREG: We’d like to thank the generous grant from the Jim and Carol Trawick Foundation. It’s paying for this panel and will also sponsor three high-school students looking to take this course. Contact the Writer’s Center for more information (, 301-654-8664).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Willie and Joe: The War Years by Mauldin out

This is the project that I went down to the Library of Congress a couple of times to try to make scans for. I don't think anything I got was ever used as the volumes were bound and a hand-scanner didn't work. K Stocker came with me and took photographs of some pages too, and we're both thanked in the acknowledgments as is Martha Kennedy of the Library who found the final image Fantagraphics needed. See Tom Spurgeon's review for more details and my buddy Charles Hatfield blogged about Mauldin and DePastino's biography of him today as well.

Apparently Mike Luckovich was in DC this week getting an award

This says he was at the Four Season's a couple of days ago - "THE WEEK Magazine Announces Winners for Fifth Annual Opinion Awards: The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mike Luckovich, and Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall Honored in Washington, DC," April 9 2008. My invitation must have gotten lost.

Carla Speed McNeil hooked by X-Men

Maryland cartoonist Carla Speed McNeil, who does Finder, was interviewed by Entertainment Weekly's website about her first comic book, along with 15 other cartoonists. Her choice makes me feel old...

I don't have a clue about what my first comic was anymore, but Joel Pollack, founder of Big Planet Comics, wrote "My first comic was Adventure Comics #237, featuring "The Robot War of Smallville.""

Jason Rodriguez mentioned in NY Times

In the New York Times April 10, 2008, "Names That Match Forge a Bond on the Internet," by STEPHANIE ROSENBLOOM we find this mention of Jason:

Jason Rodriguez, 30, an editor of comic and graphic novels in Arlington, Va., feels connected to another Jason Rodriguez, a stuntman who has worked on films (some inspired by graphic novels) including sequels to “Spider-Man” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

“He’s a really good stuntman,” Mr. Rodriguez said with a hint of pride. He likens himself and the stuntman — whom he has never met — to the physically incongruous brothers in the comedy “Twins” played by Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“We both sort of have this connection,” said Mr. Rodriguez, who casts himself in the Danny DeVito role. “We both support this nerd world.”

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Scott Rosenberg reviews That Salty Air

See "Young Man & the Sea: 'That Salty Air'," by Scott Rosenberg, April 9, 2008. That's two articles in two weeks for Scott; maybe he's not completely left us for the big city.

OT: New webcomic edited by Dean Haspiel

My buddy Dean's joined his old friend Josh Neufeld at Smith magazine to edit a webcomic. The first appears to be by Nick Bertozzi and features, yes, you guessed it - nudity.*

See "NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBOR - True Life Webcomix Anthology, edited by Dean Haspiel, Launches on SMITH Magazine 04.08.08,"

*Bertozzi's depiction of a naked Picasso in Salon has rubbed a bluenose prosecutor the wrong way. He indicted a comic book store owner and this has run up bills for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Another Jeff Kinney profile

Didn't succeed; tried again: Jeff Kinney was a failure as a cartoonist, but his million-selling "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books are being compared to "Harry Potter." By David Hiltbrand, Philadelphia Inquirer April 9 2008. There's a bit more about his University of Maryland strip in here.

Oliphant exhibit in April mentioned in E&P

Dave Astor had a brief story today - "Oliphant Exhibit Comes to D.C. Starting Next Week." The Stanford gallery mentioned is actually in Woodley Park on Connecticut Ave.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

2008 QUARTERLY COMICS REPORT guest column by John Judy of Quick Reviews

John sent this in a couple of days ago, but it slid down my email list. Fortunately, it's still current! Enjoy.

(What’s good so far this year)
By John Judy

Everything below is recommended as among the best stuff I’ve found on the stands so far this year. Some of it may have appeared earlier, but I only lucked onto it in 2008.

Where some material is better suited to specific age groups I mention it. Other times I don’t.

My object is to identify material that could be handed to an average reader with reasonable assurance it would be enjoyed.

ALL-STAR SUPERMAN by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. This comic won the 2007 Eisner Award for “Best Continuing Series.” It comes out slowly, but one can still enjoy each issue by itself. You really have no choice at least until the whole thing’s collected in trade. There is a larger story being told but it’s not essential to getting a good read whenever the next issue hits the stands. Good for all ages.

ALL WE EVER DO IS TALK ABOUT WOOD GN written and illustrated by Tom Horacek. A collection of Horacek’s morbidly funny single panel cartoons. Definitely for fans of Charles Addams, Edward Gorey, and Ivan Brunetti. Recommended for teens and up.

AMERICAN SPLENDOR SEASON TWO. A four-issue mini-series by Harvey Pekar and Assorted Talents. The J. Alfred Prufrock of comics returns with his autobiographical shorts illustrated by Chris Weston, David Lapham, and other gifted collaborators. Recommended for teens and up.

ANGEL: AFTER THE FALL by Joss Whedon, Brian Lynch, and Franco Urru. The art here honestly isn’t great, but the story is essential for us fans of the show who always wondered what happened after the suits decided network TV might be getting too good.

ASTOUNDING WOLF-MAN by Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard. The further adventures of the most conflicted lycanthrope hero on the stands today. Good stuff, somewhat graphic violence, appropriate for teens and up.

AVENGERS: INITIATIVE by Dan Slott and Stefano Caselli. A series about young heroes in boot camp. Pretty heavily tied in with Marvel Universe continuity but with mostly original characters making it easy to enjoy without being an uber-fan.

THE BAKERS: BABIES AND KITTENS HC written and illustrated by Kyle Baker, the Greatest Cartoonist of All Time. Two cats are adopted into Kyle’s home against his wishes. Hijinks ensue. Beautifully drawn hijinks. Recommended by me, my wife, and four year-old kid.

BAT LASH by Sergio Aragones, Peter Brandvold, and John Severin. Mostly for western fans but a great example of a classic cowboy story. Beautiful art by industry legend John Severin.

BLACK SUMMER by Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp. An ultra-violent, post-Iraq, anti-hero adventure featuring the assassination of an un-named U.S. President and his cabinet. Chaos ensues. Teens and up.

BONE COLOR EDITION VOL.7: GHOST CIRCLES HC & SC written and illustrated by Jeff Smith. Great stuff for all ages, hugely popular among kids according to my school librarian aunt. Seriously.

BOOSTER GOLD by Geoff Johns and Dan Jurgens. Time travel stories that don’t suck from Johns and great super-hero art from Jurgens.

THE BOYS by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. The continuing adventures of a black-ops squad charged with keeping super-heroes in line. So extreme that DC Comics actually cut the title loose to a new publisher. Older teens and adults only. You’ve been warned.

BRAVE AND BOLD by Mark Waid and George Perez. Classic Silver-Age style fun from an author who lives and breathes it. Best enjoyed by long-time fans but accessible for all ages.

CAPTAIN AMERICA by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. The continuing story of Captain America’s old side-kick Bucky filling in for Cap while he’s “dead.” Probably not for the non-initiated but if you know the characters it’s great stuff.

CRIME BIBLE: FIVE LESSONS OF BLOOD by Greg Rucka and Diego Olmos. Recently collected in trade, this is the first solo series of the new Question, relentlessly seeking out a mysterious Holy Book for criminals.

DAN DARE by Garth Ennis and Gary Erskine. Space opera, zap-gun fights, a war comic in sci-fi clothing. All done up Ennis style. Good for young teens and up.

DAREDEVIL by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark. Like Captain America it helps to know the back-story here, but basically it’s Marvel’s most “realistic” super-hero trying to cope with the kinds of crises that would come up when too many people know your secret identity.

DMZ by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli. A dystopian fantasy about a reporter navigating New York City after the U.S. has been torn apart by civil war. There are now four paperback collections available for anyone wishing to get up to speed. It’s worth doing.

DOKTOR SLEEPLESS by Warren Ellis and Ivan Rodriguez. A weird sci-fi misadventure about a politically subversive scientist in corruption-riddled city.

DOOM PATROL VOL. 6: PLANET LOVE SC by Grant Morrison, Richard Case, and Friends. The final volume of Morrison’s legendary run on the junkyard dogs of DC’s super-teams. Collecting DP #58-63 and DOOM FORCE SPECIAL #1. Mid-eighties weirdness from the beginnings of Morrison’s career.

EC ARCHIVES: CRIME SUSPENSTORIES, VOL. 1 HC by Feldstein, Wood, Craig, Ingels, Kurtzman, Kamen, David, and Roussos. The EC Gods of 1950-51 have willed us these 24 twisted masterpieces. The first six issues of this series are all here. Hold onto your wallets because you’ll end up wanting a complete run of these beautiful hardcover editions.

EX MACHINA by Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris. The continuing story of a super-hero turned New York City Mayor who can talk to machines. Teens and up. Lots of trade collections available for starting at the beginning.

FELL by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith. The stand-alone stories of Detective Richard Fell, a cop banished from his home city for some yet-unknown breach of conduct. Teens and up.

GHOST RIDER by Jason Aaron and Roland Boschi. Pure, out of control motorcycle madness from the author/creator of SCALPED. Highly recommended, even though you hated the movie.

GREEN LANTERN by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis. Simply the best version of this character yet done. An epic police procedural drama set across the universe. Helps if you know your GL history but not essential. The future’s more interesting anyway.

GRENDEL: BEHOLD THE DEVIL written and illustrated by Matt Wagner. The return of Wagner’s masterpiece character, a novelist by day and super-crimelord by night, the baddest of the bad. Except now he’s got a stalker who may be even worse. Older teens and up.

GRAVEL by Warren Ellis Mike Wolfer, and Raulo Caceres. The adventures of a “Combat Magician” out to reclaim his territory after being written off for dead. It’s John Constantine on steroids without any delusions of higher morality. Older teens and up.

HARVEY COMICS CLASSICS VOL. 3: HOT STUFF SC by Various Creators. Collecting over 100 tales of comics’ original Little Devil, the Demon in a Diaper: HOT STUFF! A perfect gateway for all age groups into hardcore Satanism! A great follow-up to the earlier Harvey collections of CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST and RICHIE RICH. All ages.

HELLBLAZER by Andy Diggle and Leonardo Manco. Speaking of John Constantine, the Diggle/Manco run is universally acclaimed for bringing coherence and edge back to the original punk magician. Older teens, etc.

HOLMES GN written and illustrated by Omaha Perez. Author Perez explains it best: “What if Sherlock Holmes is constantly out of his head and Watson’s not much better off, the Dr. Gonzo to Holmes’s Raoul Duke?” This was great fun. Older teens, etc.

I SHALL DESTROY ALL CIVILIZED PLANETS: THE COMICS OF FLETCHER HANKS by Fletcher Hanks and Paul Karasik. A collection of the weirdly brilliant Golden-Age comics of Hanks, followed by the sad epilogue in which Karasik tracks down the artist’s only surviving relative to learn of his ultimate fate. Disturbing but moving stuff.

IMMORTAL IRON FIST by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and David Aja. A martial arts epic set in the Marvel Universe. The story wanders all over the place but if you can keep track of all the flash-backs and intrigue it’s a good ride. Helps to be familiar with the characters.

INCOGNEGRO HC by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece. Part-Mystery, Part-History describes this story of a light-skinned Northern black man passing for white (“going incognegro”) to investigate his brother’s arrest in the virulently racist Mississippi of early 20th century America. Powerful stuff, deserving wider notice.

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA by Geoff Johns, Alex Ross, and Dale Eaglesham. Best enjoyed by long-time fans, probably confusing to newbies. Still a great series of stories building on the legends of the original super-team of the Golden-Age.

KICK-ASS by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. A new series exploring the hideous results of a normal person trying to be a super-hero. Graphic violence, older teens and up.

KIRBY: KING OF COMICS HC by Mark Evanier. Years in the making, this is Evanier’s tribute to his former boss and long-time friend, Jack Kirby, the guy who co-created the foundations of the Marvel Universe and a lot more. Already going back to press, this book is a must for all subjects of The King. Highly Recommended.

LOGAN by Brian K. Vaughan and Eduardo Risso. A thrilling three-parter about Wolverine’s early adventures in a little city called Hiroshima.

NORTHLANDERS by Brian Wood and Davide Gianfelice. A new Vertigo series set a thousand years ago in the bleak world of a Viking village. Prince Sven, a prodigal son, returns from the Holy Land to claim his inheritance. That’s where the story begins. This is a bloody, fascinating adventure that draws the reader in with its depictions of how desolate and empty the Vikings’ world was back then and how one determined outsider could change the entire order of such a place. Not for kids.

PUNISHER by Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov. The final series of Ennis stories in which the Punisher is stripped down to the grim core of his character. Perfectly complimented by Gorlav’s outlandish style. Easily the best run ever of a guy who started out as an occasional foil to Spider-Man.

RUNAWAYS by Joss Whedon and Michael Ryan. My admiration of the creative team notwithstanding this book was last seen in October of 2007 so it’s kind of hard to recall who’s doing what to whom. Fun stuff if you like “Back to the Future Meets Gangs of New York Meets X-Men.” And I kinda do…. Still, I’d like my own time machine so I could travel into the future to see how this all wraps up.

SATCHEL PAIGE: STRIKING OUT JIM CROW HC and SC by James Sturm and Rich Tommaso. A fictionalized account of the legendary ball-player’s life, from his early days to the peak of his career in the Negro Leagues. Highly recommended, as are all of Mr. Sturm’s other works. A preview is available online at

SCALPED by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera. The story of F.B.I. Special Agent Dash Bad Horse’s return to the Indian reservation he thought he’d escaped forever. This is a dark crime series that quickly becomes addictive as Bad Horse stares deeper and deeper into his personal abyss. Grown-ups only. Two trades out for those needing to catch up.

SERENITY: BETTER DAYS by Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews, and Will Conrad. A story from the pre-Big Screen days of Captain Mal Reynolds and his crew. Y’know, back when everyone was still alive. Previews available at Dark Horse’s website.

THE SPIRIT by Mark Evanier, Sergio Aragones, and Mike Ploog. Following Darwyn Cooke’s run on Will Eisner’s most famous masked gumshoe, this is a series most enjoyable to fans of Eisner and pulp-era detectives. Pure fun, good for older kids on up.

STREETS OF GLORY by Garth Ennis and Mike Wolfer. A mini-series told in flashback about the closing days of the Wild West. Extreme graphic violence, but good for fans of Garth Ennis and Clint Eastwood. Not for kids.

STUDENTS FOR A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY GN by Harvey Pekar, Gary Dumm, and historian Paul Buhle. A non-fiction account of the rise and fall of one of the most ambitious and controversial activist groups of the 1960s. For grown-ups and interested parties. Very well-timed publication.

THOR by J. Michael Straczynski and Marko Djurdjevic. An impressive revamping of the classic Marvel thunder god, exploring the meanings in myth and the question of what happens after ragnorok.

THUNDERBOLTS by Warren Ellis, Mike Deodato, and Others. Ellis’ take on a team of government sanctioned super-villains, wrapping up this year. Dark stuff, teens and up.

TRANSHUMAN by Jonathan Hickman and Jm Ringuet. A four-issue mockumentary-style comic about the creation and marketing of the world’s first superhumans by the creator of NIGHTLY NEWS, PAX ROMANA, and RED MASS FOR MARS. “Spinal Tap” Meets Supers! Very promising debut issue.

THE TWELVE by J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston. A 12-issue series about golden-age super-heroes awaking in the 21st century and all the culture shock it would entail. Gorgeously rendered by Weston. Great for older kids and up. Already a contender for Best Book of the Year.

ULTIMATE HUMAN by Warren Ellis and Cary Nord. A four-issue mini-series where Ultimate Hulk fights Ultimate Iron Man. Hey, sometimes you just need an easy read amidst the heavy stuff.

WALKING DEAD by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard. The ongoing stories of the last humans alive after a zombie plague wipes out civilization. Imagine if the Romero movies never ended. Incredible suspense and continuous surprises derived from the systematic breaking of formula. You never know who might die (or worse) next. A guaranteed gut-punch per issue. Too intense for kids, but engrossing for older readers.

WAR IS HELL: THE FIRST FLIGHT OF THE PHANTOM EAGLE by Garth Ennis and Howard Chaykin. A foppish allied aviator meets World War I in “graphic” style. Not for kids.

WOLVERINE by Jason Aaron and Ron Garney. Aaron and Garney open their run on this title with a wild chase across the globe after Wolverine is tasked with the assassination of a long-time X-Men foe. Between this and LOGAN, Wolverine may be having his best creative year in a long while.

Y THE LAST MAN by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. The series ended recently but is now available in trade paperback form. The saga of the last man on an Earth excelled past its cheesy sci-fi premise with issue one and never looked back. A real masterpiece worthy of sitting beside WATCHMEN and SANDMAN on bookshelves everywhere.

Great stuff so far and it’s only April. J

Whoops - Jeff Kinney went to the U of Maryland and did a comic strip for them

Boy, have I missed linking to a lot of Diary of a Wimpy Kid articles as I didn't realize that Jeff Kinney did a comic strip for the University of Maryland's Diamondback (as did Frank "Liberty Meadows" Cho and Corey "Watch Your Head" Thomas). If there's any interest, let me know in the comments and I'll cull my Comics Research Bibliography holding file for links. In the meantime, see "Story of the weak: Jeff Kinney's 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' draws on relatable school experiences," by David Mehegan, Boston Globe Staff, April 7, 2008.

Owen, not Stephen, King on comics

In "The Kings of Fiction: Stephen, Tabitha and Owen Offer A Family-Style Look at the Literary Life," by Bob Thompson (who's lately been at a few comics events including the Folger), Washington Post Staff Writer, Monday, April 7, 2008; C01, we find the following quotes about Owen King's interest in comic books.

At some point in his childhood, the 31-year-old King explains to his young listeners -- gathered this day as part of the PEN/Faulkner Writers in Schools program -- he was reading a Fantastic Four comic and the question of superhero sex occurred to him. "I was looking at Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman and I was thinking, well, how does this, you know, how do they do it?"

This draws a bit of nervous laughter.

"Dirty-minded as I am," he says the question never left him. And when the Fantastic Four movie came out, with Jessica Alba, "it was even more on my mind."

He goes on a bit after that to talk about how that idea became a short story about a superhero meerkat.

Monday, April 07, 2008

David Hajdu photographs UPDATED

Quick post of photos from the talk at Politics and Prose, which you should be able to order on cd from them. It was interesting, especially when he talked about interviewing cartoonists affected at the time. Bruce Guthrie, the professional amateur photographer, put his pictures online too and they're much better than mine so you should check them out. Anybody looking for more information on the book, reviews, or interviews, should check out Gene Kannenberg's Comics Research page.





Shakespeare + Manga, Folger Shakespeare Library review

Shakespeare + Manga. Adam Sexton, Yali Lin and Marc Singer (moderator). Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, March 31, 2008, $12.

As part of their Words on Will lecture series, the Folger tilted towards the mini-movement of adapting Shakespeare into comics by having two adaptors speak. The publisher John Wiley hired Adam Sexton to adapt four of Shakespeare’s plays to comics form, theoretically in a manga style, a point to which I will return.

Writer Adam Sexton and artist Yali Lin, adaptors of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: The Manga Edition. Booksigning after lecture at Folger Shakespeare Library.

Sexton opened by reading his introduction to the Romeo and Juliet volume in which he noted that he sees a graphic novel as more visual than a theater play. His example is that the fairy Queen Mab or Ophelia’s death can be clearly depicted and not just described as one would find in the written play or most theater versions. Another point in favor of a graphic adaptation is that one can move at one’s own pace and linger over the reading.

Sexton noted that he had a fairly detailed plan to adapt Shakespeare. First he cut extraneous material. Then he shaped the words to resemble speech rather than poetry, closing line breaks when necessary. He punctuated and italicized for clarity, and highlighted puns and themes. His example, which he showed on a screen, came from the balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet, where he noted that Juliet consistently referred to death, while Romeo spoke of love. Juliet is the younger, but more mature character, so he needed to make sure the reader could see that. In the end, he had a script like a film script.


The artist Yali Lin took up the narrative at this point, explaining how she converted this script to a comic. She was born in China, but has been in America since the mid-1990s and attended the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York. She spoke briefly of her influences – Romiko Takahashi’s Ranma ½ (and showed a Romeo and Juliet scene from it) and especially Yukari Kawachi. She read the story and pictured it in her mind, then read it again and then began to draw it. She started with character designs which she showed to Sexton (and to the audience onscreen), who suggested that she make Juliet look a bit older, although as Lin noted, she was only fourteen in the play. Then she did what she called mini-thumbnails – sketches on the script next to the text for initial panel breakdowns. After this she does thumbnails which are still rough, but have the start of the dialogue and are the size of the finished paperback. Of the layout she noted, “Almost every page should have an establishing shot” so the reader knows where to focus. Her pencils are 11x14 inches on Bristol board. She then inks with both a pen nib and brushes, and said, “I really enjoy inking because it’s the easiest stage…”

After erasing her pencil marks, she scans in the artwork and then starts toning it digitally using Manga Studio for its tones, creating layers of them in Photoshop. The lettering is done last, using Illustrator. Long speech balloons were broken up in multiple bubbles to give a reader some relief. She worked act by act in the adaptation, finishing one and then moving onto the next one. As such, she thought her work on the first act, which took the longest, was the weakest.


At this point, moderator Marc Singer joined them on stage. He asked the two why they chose a manga style and Sexton replied, “We were told by the publisher.” Lin followed that by stating that, “Manga is expressionistic…” which let her use bleeds and irregular panels. It seems to this reviewer that the choice of ‘manga’ is a marketing one – of most forms of comic art, manga seems to be the highest selling at the moment. Even though a true manga adaptation of Shakespeare would probably run thousands of pages and for years, a pseudo-manga style could be created for an American audience.

Other points of interest emerged as the two continued to speak. Sexton said that the publisher asked him to maintain soliloquies. Lin said that as English is her second language at times she had problems understanding Shakespeare’s point, although Sexton disagreed with her and said she did usually have it right. Each book took about a year. Sexton’s biggest challenge was in the cutting – he thought Julius Caesar in particular would be a disaster as it’s a play about rhetoric in which characters try to persuade each other to do things. The two joined the project in different ways. Sexton got a call from a Wiley editor whom he had worked with before and who knew that he was a Shakespeare fan. A conversation with Matt Madden and Jessica Abel of SVA led to the five artists being selected.


Sexton noted that the publisher doesn’t quite know what to expect … “It’s hoped that these will be taken seriously enough to be used in the classroom, not replacing the original text, but perhaps in conjunction.” He said it was easier not to use the Classics Illustrated model of traditional Western comic books with added material and text boxes explaining what was happening, but to just use only Shakespeare’s actual words. “I think it’s more valuable consisting exclusively of Shakespeare’s language.”

The evening ended with an eight-year old girl’s observation that her teacher said she couldn’t read Julius Caesar at school because it was too violent. Sexton agreed with her that it was a violent play, but thought that her reading of it should be up to her parents. The little girl replied that she just decided to read it at home. The future of America looks brighter again, doesn't it?

Hajdu at Politics and Prose, in the Express and on the Express's website

David Hajdu is speaking on censorship and comic books tonight at 7 pm, but there's also an article about him in the Express and a different one with a longer interview online at "Not So Funny: David Hajdu on Comic Book Controversies," by Express contributor Stephen M. Deusner, Express April 7, 2008

Guggenheim interview on Express website

See "Cursed to Write: TV & Comics Scribe Marc Guggenheim," by Scott Rosenberg, April 7, 2008.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Oglethorpe strip? Gibson Girl sketch? Wrightson Batman?

These and other questions were raised by some of my new acquisitions at the flea market. Here's some crummy pictures to illustrate the questions.

This is labelled "Oglethorpe" in pencil at the top of the strip. It's not one I've heard of, nor have I heard of the artist Jorge Mercer. A Google search didn't turn up anything for the strip or the artist, but I haven't checked my reference books yet. The gag is lame, but the art is interesting.

"The Story of His Life" looks like a Gibson Girl. It's signed G.F.T./08. Who? It's definitely a 1908 piece - the artwork is acid-burned by the mat, the cardboard backing is disintegrating...

Obviously a bit newer item than the others, I was ignoring this radio-controlled Batman motorcycle until Claire asked for it (that's my girl!). What's of interest about this is that a better look reveals that the Batman is completely modeled after Berni Wrightson's version as seen in The Cult below(picture from the GCD). That's got to be off the model sheet - why choose this version?

Comments, questions and especially answers are welcome!

Two bookish things by me still available.

Film & TV Adaptations of Comics - 2007 edition by Rhode and Vogel is still available for order.

149 pages long, it's a listing of the thousands of adaptations to film and television of hundreds of comic strips and books. Worldwide, it includes the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, the Netherlands, Senegal, India, Turkey, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and Australia among others. Cross-referenced by cartoonist and translated titles, it includes a bibliography and index.

You can buy it via for $12.99 (plus shipping) or $3.00 for a pdf download at

Also, the
INTERPLANETARY JOURNAL OF COMIC ART: A Festschrift in Honor of John Lent is still available.

Editor's note - The first issue of the new InterPlanetary Journal of Comic Art (or IPJOCA as we call it around the virtual office) is now available. We are proud to invite you to the 43rd indispensable academic organ published by JOHN LENT MULTIMEDIA ENTERPRISES. All are personally hand-edited by our founder and publisher JOHN LENT, and we remind you that any suggestions of forced labor or involuntary servitude were completely dismissed in Temple University grad students v. JOHN LENT FAMILY CONGLOMERATE. This issue is slightly late, and we apologize for that. Editor JOHN LENT was traveling widely with stops on Pluto, Venus, Charon, Deimos and Phobos, Antarctica, Cyprus, Monte Carlo and the French Riviera, interviewing aging cartoonists and presenting learned discourses on the history of comic art. LENT's presentation on Pluto, "Which came first? The planet or the dog?" was particularly well-received and will appear in a future issue of IPJOCA. IPJOCA is a proud successor to the Colonial Journal of Comic Art, the Union Journal of Comic Art, the Confederate Journal of Comic Art, and the Imperial Journal of Comic Art, as well as the continuing flagship International Journal of Comic Art.

Actually, IPJOCA is a work of satire and parody, published on the occasion of John's seventieth birthday in 2006, give or take a few months. Since 1960, John has published, taught, and lectured widely on comic art, and since 1999 has been the publisher and editor-in-chief of the academic International Journal of Comic Art. In March of this year, John served on the Pulitzer Prize Nominating Juries in Journalism. John has published over 70 books and 800 articles on comic art, mass communication and Asian studies.

John's colleagues in the comic world have come together to create a tribute book, and presented it to him at the Popular Culture Association meeting in Boston. The fully-illustrated book features a front cover by cartoonist Nick Thorkelson, and a back cover by Ralph Steadman as well as 100 pages of witty articles.

To order your copy for $10, go to; to subscribe to the International Journal of Comic Art, go to
and follow the instructions.

Post covers Garfield minus Garfield

See Amy Orndorff's "When the Cat's Away, Neurosis Is on Display," Washington Post Sunday, April 6, 2008; N02. This one's been making the rounds for a couple of weeks on the internet, but I must confess that it doesn't do much for me.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Another slice out of my 15 minutes

While at the Civitan flea market today, scooping up comics and cartoon related material including an original Oglethorpe strip (never heard of it), a Gibson girl knockoff drawing from 1908 signed G.F.T./08, Mr. Punch's History of the Great War, Bendini's Philadelphia, Madman Bubblegum Cards, William Hamilton's Anti-Social Register Cartoons, etc, etc (pictures and information to follow), I was accosted by a camera crew. Actually they were really polite so accosted isn't the right word, but they noticed me buying some Star*Reach and Heavy Metal comics. They asked if I was happy and if so if I'd explain why I was buying them. Of course, I was happy even though my wife wasn't so I talked for a few minutes and put in a plug for Michigan State U's Comic Art Collection which gets material that I decide I actually can part with. It's supposed to air on this coming Friday.

Cue Bowie's Fame, please.

April 16: Oliphant exhibit opens... Stanford in Washington at 2661 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20008.

new International Journal of Comic Art is out!

602 pages! US$15.00! There's lots of manga, manwha and Rusty Witek's call to academic arms from the 2007 ICAF, "American Comics Criticism and the Problem of Dual Address." The website is out of date but the ordering information is still current.

Speaking of Thompson...'s Richard's Poor Almanack is a slashing, biting attack on the comics page, or at least the people who put them together. Theoretically you'll be able to see it on the Post site eventually, but right now that link goes to last week's. This link might work in a few days.

Where in the world is Richard Thompson?

According to his blog, he's foolishly venturing out to the Cherry Blossom festival today, so he may never been seen again and we'll just have to read rerun after rerun of Cul de Sac for the next forty years. He's been posting cherry blossom cartoons all week at his blog by the way. But the real reason we're mentioning him today is so that stalkers can track him down at the festival and have Petey drawn on their chests.

Ha, ha! as they say. No, the real reason is that he was interviewed by a Texas paper, a state which also has an Arlington in it. Coincidence? You decide.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Geppi's Entertainment Museum reviewed

See "Travel Through Time — One Exhibit at a Time," by William Gatevackes, Broken Frontier April 02, 2008.

City Paper recommends seeing Hajdu on Monday

Again, I'll be there. And it's pronounced Hay-du.

Here's the article - "David Hajdu, Monday, April 7, at Politics and Prose," by Mark Athitakis, Washington City Paper April 4, 2008.

Kliban on pot, not cats, or A Secret History of Comics post

This is from the well-known Cat cartoonist, the late B. Kliban.

Kliban - 1976-01

It appeared in Apple Pie, January 1976.

Comics action in Cosmo 1957

Day ad Cosmo1957-04
Robert Day ad for Bell Telephone from Cosmopolitan, April 1957, in which they kindly define 'ubiquitous' for the reader.

Boy, public telephones certainly aren't 'ubiquitous' now, are they? In fact, this ad is incomprehensible to anyone under 20, isn't it?

Florida cartoonists1 - Cosmo1957-04
Florida Cartoonists Poke Fun at Their State, p. 1, Cosmopolitan, April 1957. Featuring Lowell Hoppes and Charles E. Sharman.

Florida cartoonists2 - Cosmo1957-04
Florida Cartoonists Poke Fun at Their State, p. 2, Cosmopolitan, April 1957. Featuring Martin Filchock and Bandell Linn.

OT: April 4: Illuminations exhibit opens

A friend at work is part of an art gallery co-op in Baltimore and the following card is from the latest show of works on paper. The opening is tonight.

April 13: Capital Associates comic book show

April 13: Capital Associates comic book show at the Dunn Loring, VA fire dept as usual, 10-3, $3.00. Pop Mhan guest stars again.


By John Judy

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #556 by Zeb Wells and Chris Bachalo. Creepy Mayan blood cults, snowstorms, and Spidey finds a new use for the Daily Bugle. Nuthin’ dirty but your mind, Mister Man.

BATMAN: DEATH MASK #1 of 4 written and illustrated by Yoshinori Natsume. A Prestige Format manga mini from the creator of “Toguri.” Ask your kid.

BOOSTER GOLD #8 by Geoff Johns, Jeff Katz, and Dan Jurgens. Still a really good title but the recurring presence of those stupid OMAC things is cause for concern. OMACs are the evil future clones of the DCU.

CRIMINAL 2 #2 by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Another done-in-one story featuring Teeg Lawless, patriarch of the low-rent Lawless crime family. This issue has an expanded number of main story and back-up pages and is pure Blue Magic heroin for lovers of the crime noir genre. Too rough for kids. Highly recommended for clever teens and up.

DOKTOR SLEEPLESS #6 by Warren Ellis and Ivan Rodriguez. Injury to the eye motif! Comics Code Authority turning in its grave! Avatar website still horrible. Somebody call me a Doktor!

FANTASTIC FOUR #556 by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. Big fights with Robo-Cap in the snow. It's a ride.

GOON #23 written and illustrated by Eric Powell. Overheard outside Madame Elsa’s Burlesque: “Back off, youse mugs! I swiped this here salmon and I’m gettin’ the squeezin’s!” Recommended!

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #14 by Geoff Johns, Alex Ross, and Dale Eaglesham. Why, God, why? Why are the clouds laughing at our heroes? And why do the clouds have fangs and crows feet? It’s an Alex Ross cover and thus filled with hidden meaning. Really. Look for the word “Nina.”

MARVEL ZOMBIES: DEAD DAYS HC by Lotsa People. Featuring all those Marvel Zombie stories that didn’t appear in the two mini-series. Twisted kicks. NOT for kids.

NUMBER OF THE BEAST #1 of 8 by Scott Beatty and Chris Sprouse. It’s the Apocalypse done up Wildstorm style! Featuring the return of a hero we all thought Warren Ellis had killed off! (Okay, that doesn’t narrow it down much, I know…)

PUNISHER #56 by Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov. The final Garth Ennis story-arc in which eight Special Forces soldiers are ordered to take out the Punisher, knowing that he won’t fire back on U.S. military and The Law. Not for kids, no-how, but highly recommended for all others.

SERENITY: BETTER DAYS #2 of 3 by Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews, and Will Conrad. The crew goes on vacation in the good ol’ days before fan favorites died horribly on the big screen.

TITANS #1 by Judd Winick and Ian Churchill. Looks like a return of the original Marv Wolfman/George Perez line-up so that’s a nice nod to us geezers. Gotta look.

WHATEVER GN written and drawn by Karl Stevens. A collection of short stories about life in the college town of Allston, Massachusetts. No capes, no tights, no kidding. Neat stuff.

WOLVERINE #64 by Jason Aaron and Ron Garney. Crazy, bloody chase caper continues! Great fun from Aaron and Garney. Ron Garney's tears cure athlete's foot.* Recommended!

WONDER WOMAN #19 by Gail Simone and Bernard Chang. WW’s having trouble with a nasty bunch of Khunds. They’re an alien race, so help me.

YOUNG LIARS #2 written and drawn by David Lapham. If you’re missing your fix of Lapham’s “Stray Bullets” you should certainly be reading this. Nihilistic fun, but not for younger kids.

*disclaimer from the blog owner. Probably not, but Mr. Garney did write in and ask that he be acknowledged as one of the creators of the comic in response to one of Mr. Judy's recent posts.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Piskor covers City Paper

The new issue of the Washington City Paper has a really nice cover of books as buildings by Pekar-collaborator Ed Piskor. He did interior illos for the story too. I'm willing to entertain requests for tear sheets if they come in soon.

April 21: Jef Thompson painting exhibit

Big Planet Comics' Jef Thompson has a show of Icelandic and English Landscapes in Baltimore from April 21-May 16. Viola!

Oliphant exhibit in April

There's one opening around April 14th - the exhibit that had been in Georgia - somewhere on Connecticut Ave in a Stanford gallery or something. More and better details will follow and clear up this post.

9 Chickweed Lane

Neither the Post nor the Times run 9 Chickweed Lane which I can't understand and I really don't get Gene Weingarten's professed dislike especially when it has strips like this.

Al Hirschfeld and Flash Gordon

Now how often do you see a duo in a title like that? Here's a couple of pieces I picked up recently, which is the only thing they have in common.

Hirschfeld - LaMancha
Al Hirschfeld cover for Man of La Mancha - note there's one Nina in there (click on the picture to open a larger one in Flickr). Record albums frequently used to have covers by cartoonists. I pick up a few, but there's some hard-core collectors out there with big collections.

FlashGordon5 - Playboy9801
Ming the Merciless paper toy from Playboy, January 1981. Print and make it now!

FlashGordon6 - Playboy9801
...and the instructions.

I love paper...

April 5: 6th Cherry Blossom Anime Marathon.

The Freer-Sackler's showing anime this weekend for their 6th Cherry Blossom Anime Marathon and details are in Rachel Kaufman's "Animated Imports: What's as Japanese as cherry blossoms? An Anime Marathon," [Washington Post] Express (April 3): E5.

Here's the film info from their website:

Sixth Annual Cherry Blossom Anime Marathon
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Meyer Auditorium
In celebration of this year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival, the Freer Gallery of Art, in conjunction with the Japan Information and Cultural Center and Otakorp, Inc., presents a day-long festival of four Japanese Anime films. This year’s event includes a costume show courtesy of the DC Anime Club as well as surprise special guests.

Free tickets for all films (limit 2 per person per film) will be distributed beginning at 10:30 AM, and will be available throughout the day.

All films are in Japanese with English subtitles, unless otherwise indicated.

11:30 AM
Jungle Emperor Leo
Adapted from a manga comic by the legendary Osamu Tezuka, this charming fable directed by Yoshio Takeuchi is a treat for animal lovers of all ages. Leo, a majestic white lion, rules the jungle at the foot of mysterious Moon Mountain, living in harmony with the other beasts – until humans show up and threaten to shatter their peaceful existence. 1997 / 100 min., Rated PG, Dubbed in English.

2:30 PM
Atagoal: Cat's Magical Forest
Hideyoshi is, literally, a fat cat who loves nothing more than gorging himself on tuna and rocking out at the annual town festival in the magical land of Atagoal. He gets into trouble, however, when he accidentally releases the imprisoned Botanical Queen Pileah, who has sinister plans for Hideyoshi and his feline friends. Mizuho Nishikubo’s film is fun for the whole family. 2006 / 81 min., suitable for all ages.

5:00 PM
5 Centimeters Per Second
The title of Makoto Shinkai’s wistful coming-of-age film describes the velocity at which cherry blossom petals fall – a metaphor for the impermanence of human relationships that is the theme of its three connected stories. Each story takes place at a different point in the lives of the film’s three main characters, from puppy love thwarted by a family move, to an unrequited teenage crush, to melancholy reminiscences in adulthood. 2007 / 62 min., unrated, appropriate for all ages.

7:00 PM
Appleseed: Ex Machina
The year is 2138. Society is divided between humans and peaceful cyborgs developed to prevent the wars that killed half of the world’s population. But what happens when nefarious forces find a way to make them violent? Inspired by a popular manga comic, Shinji Aramaki’s sci-fi braintwister offers state-of-the-art animation, thrilling action scenes, and a provocative meditation on what our world might become. 2007 / 105 min., PG-13.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Positive review of Cul de Sac

"'Cul de Sac,' the Comic Strip You Need to Read: Richard Thompson mixes childish innocence and adult neuroses to perfection," by Van Jensen, ComicMix Tue Apr 1, 2008.

Manga Shakespeare photos

I've got notes about the presentation that I'll try to write up soon, but here's some pictures at least. It was very interesting.

Writer Adam Sexton and artist Yali Lin, adaptors of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: The Manga Edition. Booksigning after lecture at Folger Shakespeare Library.




Georgetown University professor op-ed on Danish Islam cartoon controversy

See "The Controversy Over the Cartoons," by Noureddine Jebnoun, Middle East Online pril 2, 2008. Jebnoun is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.

April 7: David Hajdu at Politics and Prose

Monday, April 7th at 7 pm: David Hajdu turns from the folk pop era of the ’60s (Positively Fourth Street) to the comic book era of the ‘30s and ‘40s with THE TEN-CENT PLAGUE at Politics and Prose in DC.

I'm going; anyone else?

April 12: Howard Zinn and Mike Konopacki

Saturday, April 12, 1 p.m at Politics and Prose - HOWARD ZINN & MIKE KONOPACKI's A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF AMERICAN EMPIRE: A GRAPHIC ADAPTATION (Metropolitan, $17).

The people’s historian has teamed up with labor cartoonist Mike Konopacki for a graphic presentation of American imperialism. Zinn’s primary-source accounts are illuminated by the artist’s pen, making for a dramatic and bracing retelling of the darker side of our national story.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Singer on Morrison on Superman

Go read Marc on All-Star Superman #10, and briefly return with us to the thrilling days of yesteryear when titans like Eliot S! Maggin wrote about a godlike superhero.