Sunday, July 20, 2008

New York Times columnist on Blitt's Obama

The Times has run an op-ed piece which finally puts the Blitt caricature in the context of Daumier and George Grosz - see "We’re Not Laughing at You, or With You," By LEE SIEGEL, New York Times July 20, 2008.

Amusingly enough, Blitt regularly illustrates Frank Rich's column and today about two pages later, he had a nice caricature of McCain for an article about his economic ineptness.

Finally, the Business section has a good article on Conde Nast, the New Yorker's corporate parent.

Back to the future in Disney's Tomorrowland

I've seen a couple of articles before this on Disney's reworking of Tomorrowland, but this is the first I've thought worth pointing out - "The Future Is So Yesterday: In the World of Tomorrow, There's a Very Familiar Feeling," by Joel Garreau, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, July 20, 2008; M01. Garreau's got some interesting points to make and has thought about these issues before as he was an early writer (and coined the term I believe) about 'edge cities' -- the conglomerations of places like Tysons Corner or Bethesda -- not classic suburbs, but not cities either.

Complete K Chronicles gets A- from Post

The Source section had a little bit on Keith Knight's Complete K Chronicles book in which Evan Narcisse gave it an A- grade.

Kung Fu Panda's reception in China, part 2

The NY Times follows the wires and the Post and runs a story about China's conflicted views on Kung Fu Panda - "The Panda That Roared," By RICHARD BERNSTEIN, New York Times July 20, 2008. Click the label under this post to see the earlier bits I've put up on it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Space Chimps and Airbenders

The Post didn't like Space Chimps - "'Space Chimps': Your Inner Child Won't Go Ape for This One," By John Anderson, Washington Post Friday, July 18, 2008; C06.

But the NY Times did saying, " This movie has been designated a Critic's Pick by the film reviewers of The Times." See "Plucky Apes Help to Save the Planet of the Humans," By NEIL GENZLINGER, New York Times July 18, 2008.

And the Times also liked the new Avatar movie - "Television Review | 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' - Though Raised by Pacifists, Destined to Battle for Peace," By SUSAN STEWART, New York Times July 19, 2008.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Batman reviews and what-have-youse in the DC papers

Couldn't get into the 8 pm showing, so we went to a bar instead. The NY Times's extremely favorable review is added to the bottom of this post.

Nate Beeler had a funny Batman editorial cartoon in Friday's Examiner.

Now showing: Batmania as 'The Dark Knight' opens

"The Dark Knight Owns Midnight,", by JULIE BLOOM, New York Times July 19, 2008.

"Gotham City's war on terror: Christopher Nolan takes Batman in a darker direction," by Sonny Bunch, Washington Times Friday, July 18, 2008

"This Joker Holds All the Cards; Heath Ledger's Clown Gives 'The Dark Knight' Its Power," By Stephen Hunter, Washington Post Staff Writer, Thursday, July 17, 2008; C01.

And, like Space Chimp, "This movie has been designated a Critic's Pick by the film reviewers of The Times." "Showdown in Gotham Town," By MANOHLA DARGIS, New York Times July 18, 2008.

Zadzooks on Batman movie toys

"ZADZOOKS: Batman goes after the Joker," Joseph Szadkowski, Washington Times Thursday, July 17, 2008.

Links to reviews from the DC papers to follow soon.

Blitt's Obama caricature - more Post commentators

I guess the Obama caricature by Blitt is a Washington story by virtue of Obama's position, so the Post covered it pretty hard at least in their blogs. Here's more:

An article in the Post:

It's Funny How Humor Is So Ticklish
By Philip Kennicott
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 15, 2008; C01

and the following chat:

The New Yorker Cover and the Challenge of Satire
Philip Kennicott
Washington Post Culture Critic
Tuesday, July 15, 2008; 2:00 PM

A blog post by one of their 'futurist' type writers:

Achenbach, Joel. 2008.
New Yorker Cover Not So Funny
Washington Post's Achenblog (July 14):

- note Our Man Thompson's drawing for the blog header.

and their Media correspondent's chat (there are three relevant posts here):

Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Columnist
Media Backtalk blog Monday, July 14, 2008;

and Dave Horsey did a really funny cartoon that someone linked to in Weingarten's chat.

Weingarten opines on Blitt's Obama

Gene Weingarten, in his Tuesday chat, addressed the breaking 'story' of Barry Blitt's caricature of Obama for the New Yorker:

New Yorker: Isn't it disingenuous (at best) for the editor to say his mag is NOT written for the upper-west side? I love the mag and still feel at least that that socio-economic group is its target. Sure, WE don't need an explanation; plenty of others might.

Thoughts, o' arbiter o' humor?

Gene Weingarten: Yeah, I don't want to speak at enormous length about this, because you've already heard from Kurtz and Achenbach and today, a very thoughtful piece from Kennicott.

To be brief: Of course it was a mistake. A minor mistake, but a mistake nontheless. The New Yorker has no words on its cover, meaning the cover art alone must carry its message. Obviously, the devoted reader of this particular magazine is going to understand this is satire; but this is a magazine sold on newsstands, and a lot of eyes might look at it without the benefit of background.

I disagree with Achenbach on one point: I think the image is pretty funny, particularly the depiction of Michelle Obama as though she were Angela Davis. It actually took me a second to get that joke, and then I laughed.

Those who are trying to make this out as a big deal, a gigantic blunder, are political zealots trying to make a point. Once explained, The New Yorker's intent was clear, and benign.

and the new Comic Riffs blog was noticed:

Springfield, Va.: Have you "had your way" with the Comics Riff blog meister yet? Comic Riffs

Gene Weingarten: I am watching with interest. He has my support. I thought his first post, expressing exhaustion with meta-gats in strips, was a smart idea.

And Cavna's new Comics Riff blog got some notice:


McLean, Va.: Gene, Did you have any role in the creation of the Comic Riffs blog?

Gene Weingarten: Nope. Not even a heads up. So I can't answer for it, but I'm happy it's there. Can't overcover the comics.

July 18 at 1: DC Comics publisher Paul Levitz on Post chat

DC Comic's Paul Levitz Talks 'Dark Knight'
Paul Levitz
President and Publisher, DC Comics
Friday, July 18, 2008; 1:00 PM

Paul Levitz, president and publisher of DC Comics, will be online Friday, July 18 at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the latest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight," the cultural role and impact of the hero and his archenemy, the Joker, and the current boom in movies based around superheroes.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hero Initiative Presents Steve Dillon at the Baltimore Comic-Con!

The whole of their latest press release...

Hero Initiative Presents Steve Dillon at the Baltimore Comic-Con!

BALTIMORE, MD - July 17, 2008 - Steve Dillon, the British star artist of Marvel's Punisher and Wolverine: Origins titles, as well as DC's Hellblazer and Preacher comics under their Vertigo imprint is making his way to the Baltimore Convention Center on September 27-28, 2008, courtesy of the Hero Initiative.

"Steve Dillon has created such a significant body of work," said show promoter Marc Nathan, "especially his work on Preacher for Vertigo at DC. He's left such a high watermark on everything he does, and we are excited to have him at the show for the Hero Initiative!"

The Hero Initiative is the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation, dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need. Hero creates a financial safety net for yesterdays' creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. It's a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment. For more information, call 310-909-7809 or visit

The Baltimore Comic-Con is also pleased to announce the return of past guests Michael Bair (Identity Crisis, 52), Ivan Brandon (NYC Mech, Marvel Comics Presents), Buzz (JSA), Tommy Castillo (Grimm Fairy Tales, Kong: King of Skull Island), Dennis Calero (X-Factor, Countdown), Bryan J.L. Glass (Mice Templar), Rich Koslowski (Marvel Comics Presents, Sonic the Hedgehog), Norman Lee (Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane), Mark McKenna (Banana-Tail, Annihilation: Conquest), Bob McLeod (New Mutants, Spider-Man), Pop Mhan (Blank, Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man), Carla Speed McNeil (Finder), Mark Morales (Civil War, Secret Invasion), David Petersen (Mouse Guard), Andy Runton (Owly), John K. Snyder III (Grendel), Mark Sparacio (Heroes for Hire, Captain Action), Billy Tucci (Shi, Sgt. Rock - The Lost Battalion), and Thom Zahler (Love and Capes).

Swamp Thing co-creator and Frankenstein artist Bernie Wrightson will be the show's Guest of Honor.

He headlines a guest list that includes, in alphabetical order, Kyle Baker (Nat Turner, The Bakers), Brian Michael Bendis (Ultimate Spider-Man, Secret Invasion), Jim Calafiore (Exiles, Countdown), Howard Chaykin (Wolverine, American Flagg), Cliff Chiang (Green Arrow & Black Canary), Darwyn Cooke (New Frontier, The Spirit), Frank Cho (Liberty Meadows, Mighty Avengers), Steve Conley (Star Trek, The Escapist), Amanda Conner (Green Arrow/Black Canary, JSA Classified), Todd Dezago (Perhapanauts, Tellos), David Finch (World War Hulk, New Avengers), Ramona Fradon (Aquaman, Mermaidman and Barnacleboy), John Gallagher (Buzzboy, Roboy Red), Ron Garney (Wolverine, Skaar: Son of Hulk), Michael Golden (Micronauts, The 'Nam), Mike Grell (John Sable, Iron Man), Cully Hamner (Blue Beetle, Black Lightning), Dean Haspiel (American Splendor, Brawl), Adam Hughes (Catwoman), Stuart Immonen (Ultimate Spider-Man), Geoff Johns (Green Lantern, Action Comics), J.G. Jones (52, Wonder Woman), Robert Kirkman (Invincible, Ultimate X-Men), Barry Kitson (Amazing Spider-Man, Empire), Scott Kurtz (PvP), Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon, Image EIC), Jim Lee (All Star Batman & Robin, Wildcats), the Luna Brothers (The Sword, Girls), David Mack (Kabuki, Daredevil), Mike Mignola (Hellboy, Disney's Atlantis), Phil Noto (Danger Girl, Jonah Hex), Michael Avon Oeming (Mice Templar, Powers), Mike Okamoto (Hellraiser, Chaos! Quarterly), Jimmy Palmiotti (Painkiller Jane, Jonah Hex), Brandon Peterson (Ultimate X-Men, Strange), Eric Powell (The Goon), Tom Raney (Annihilation: Conquest, Ultimate Secrets), James Robinson (Superman, JSA), John Romita Sr. (Amazing Spider-Man), Don Rosa (Uncle Scrooge), Craig Rousseau (Perhapanauts, X-Men: First Class), Tim Sale (Batman: The Long Halloween, Heroes), Alex Saviuk (Web of Spider-Man, Feast of the Seven Fishes), Jim Shooter (Legion of Super-Heroes), Robert Tinnell (EZ Street), Peter Tomasi (Nightwing, Green Lantern Corps), Herb Trimpe (Incredible Hulk), Timothy Truman (Conan, Grimjack), Neil Vokes (The Black Forest, The Wicked West), Matt Wagner (Zorro, Grendel), Mark Waid (Flash, Boom! Studios), Mark Wheatley (Frankenstein Mobster, Mighty Motor Sapiens), and Ron Wilson (The Thing).

The Harvey Awards will return to the Baltimore Comic-Con for the third consecutive year. The awards dinner and ceremony will be held Saturday night, September 27, 2008, following the convention's normal hours. As in 2007, the first 300 paid attendees and honorees at the 2008 Harvey Awards Ceremonies will receive a Hollywood-style bag of swag. Last year's bag included The EC Archives: Two-Fisted Tales - Volume 1 from Gemstone Publishing, a complete base set of the soon-to-be-released Jericho Season One trading cards from Inkworks, an exclusive pin from AdHouse Books, a Comic-Con exclusive edition of 30 Days of Night: Red Snow 1 from IDW Publishing, a Toon Tumbler from Popfun Merchandising, and an exclusive Harvey Awards keychain from LaserMach. Nominating ballots are presently online at Kyle Baker will return as Master of Ceremonies for the evening's events.

For more information about the Baltimore Comic-Con, e-mail or call (410) 526-7410. The guest list and other information can be found on the convention's website or on its MySpace page.

For more information about the Harvey Awards, including sponsorship opportunities, e-mail

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cavna's Wednesday blog, quickly

Celebrates Batman: The Killing Joke, one of my least favorite Alan Moore stories. I left a snarky comment.

Takes a shot at Sally Forth's artwork.

And asks "The E-Mailbag: When to Hold a Feature's Funeral?" Or should a comic strip die with its creator?, which has 43 comments as of this writing.

Olsson's bankruptcy press release

They sent this along to their newsletter subscribers today. I spent $55 in the Clarendon one last night! Unfortunately, it's much diminished with a bakery taking 2/3 of the space and the shelves looked a bit picked over too. Not much comics stuff, although they had plenty of copies of Wolk's book.

Olsson Enterprises Inc. T/A Olsson's Books & Records files for Chapter 11 Protection.

Olsson Enterprises Inc., trading as Olsson's Books & Records, Record & Tape Limited and Olsson's Books, announced it has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in order to reorganize the company and return to profitability. Olsson's filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of Maryland.

The reasons given for filing were a combination of the continuing weak retail economy, rising rents and property taxes, competition from large box stores and the Internet, and an accelerated drop in the music CD business.

Olsson's was established in 1972 and grew to as many as nine retail stores in the Washington DC metro area with sales over $16 million a year and as many as 200 employees. Currently there are five retail stores: Reagan National Airport, Alexandria, two in Arlington, and one in Northwest Washington DC. Olsson's earned a reputation as a locally-owned community-oriented retailer with a knowledgeable staff selling a good selection of books, music, video and gifts.

John Olsson, the principal owner, a Washington native and graduate of Catholic University, stated, "Olsson's could not have made it past 35 years without the great work of many employees, the loyalty of wonderful customers and the many friends of Olsson's who saw a value in the business and helped it along the way. Although the company has attempted to manage the situation to remain solvent, regrettably after considering all available alternatives, the company determined Chapter 11 was the best way to maintain operations while implementing a plan for successful restructuring."

Terence McCann, Controller since 1989 and a graduate of the University of Maryland, stated, "There is a plan for Olsson's to continue. It involves raising working capital, seeking investors, reducing overhead costs, adding new merchandise, refurbishing stores, retaining leases where achievable or relocating to communities that will support the concept of an independent bookstore. We still think that Olsson's has something to offer and can do business in this market."

Steal This Job: Premier Careers

Today's Express has a profile of Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

July 20: Steve Niles and Gary Panter at Big Planet Comics

This press release just rolled in. Note the book is FREE, FREE, FREE.


Select City National Tour To Promote Graphic Novel Produced By Zune Arts

In anticipation of the upcoming Zune Arts graphic novel, author Steve Niles and illustrator Gary Panter will be making an appearance and signing of their latest collaboration, The Lost Ones at Big Planet Comics (Bethesda, MD) July 20th from 2PM – 4PM.

WHO: Steve Niles and Gary Panter

WHAT: Appearance and signing of Zune Art’s graphic novel The Lost Ones

WHEN: Sunday July 20, 2008, 2pm – 4pm

WHERE: Big Planet Comics, 4908 Fairmont Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814

Steve Niles teams up with four visual artists to bring you a graphic novel that will challenge what you think about time and space travel. DR. REVOLT, an original member of the historic New York City graffiti crew The Rolling Thunder Writers, Gary Panter, an illustrator known for his surreal and raw style, Morning Breath, Brooklyn-based art and design duo, and emerging painter/fashion designer Kime Buzzelli - each bring a remarkable and unique drawing style to the project.

“The Lost Ones” tells the story of Duncan, Roxy, Rasheed and Cynthia, who leave their Earth and get swept up in an epic intergalactic adventure. What starts out as a harmless day of extreme planet jumping turns into a mind-blowing, white-knuckle race for their lives to get back home.

The Zune Arts program brings the best creative minds together to collaborate on inspiring works of art. With “The Lost Ones,” Zune Arts expands beyond videos and posters and makes it first foray into this art medium featuring a writer as the lead artist. Collector’s and paperback editions of “The Lost Ones” will be available for free in early July 2008 at select comic book stores nationwide.

About Zune Arts:

Zune Arts is a program that offers emerging and established artists a unique collaboration opportunity and platform to share their work with a broader audience. At the heart of Zune Arts are ideas about friendship, sharing, connecting and discovery that serve as both a guide for artists’ work and an ethic for the art that’s produced through this program.

4908 Fairmont Ave.
Bethesda, MD 20814

Also affiliated with:

3145 Dumbarton St. NW
Washington, DC 20007

426 Maple Ave. East
Vienna, VA 22180

7315 Baltimore Ave.
College Park, MD 20740

Cavna blogs Trudeau, Joker, rise-and-shine comic strips

That new Comic Riffs blog at the Post is busy, might busy today, July 15 2008.

Today's stories:

Garry Trudeau: The Interview, by Michael Cavna.

The Countdown: The Joker Gets The Last Laugh - about Frank Miller's bringing an aging Joker back and having him kill David Letterman's entire audience. Boy, was that refreshing in its day (1986) and tiresome now.

The Morning Line: The Cat Also Rises compares storylines from Zits to Garfield.

Blitt-zing Obama

Hah! Nice headline, heh?

I'm bored with this non-story about Barry Blitt's caricature of Obama and his wife, but here's the Post and NY Times on it.

"It's Funny How Humor Is So Ticklish," By Philip Kennicott, Washington Post Staff Writer, Tuesday, July 15, 2008; C01.

"Want Obama in a Punch Line? First, Find a Joke," By BILL CARTER, New York Times July 15, 2008.

I will say that I would think a lot more of Obama if he had looked at it and said, "hey, that's funny!"

Echos of comics past

Another ad from the bottom of the Examiner brings to mind... Anyone? You in the back?

How about John Held, Jr's cartoons?

Poet Laureate on Looney Tunes in the Wall Street Journal

For some reason, the Washington Times' Culture page keeps going back to quoting bits of a Wall Street Journal (of all places) article by the former Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, on his interest in Warner Bros' Looney Tunes cartoons. They've done it at least twice on July 9th and 14th. A quick look at the Journal's website revealed the original - "Inspired by a Bunny Wabbit: The freedom in cartoons to transcend the laws of basic physics, to hop around in time and space, and to skip from one dimension to another has long been a crucial aspect of imaginative poetry," By BILLY COLLINS, Wall Street Journal June 28, 2008; Page W1.

Wertham records at Library of Congress followup

A discussion on the comix-scholars list generated a note from Bart Beaty, author of Fredric Wertham And The Critique Of Mass Culture.

Just for the record, [no access to medical records] is exactly the arrangement that I made in 2002 when I was granted access.

However, do bear in mind that the LoC does not have the power to implement any policy with regard to these papers and that all decisions are made by the executors of the Wertham estate. I can assure you, having worked very closely with the LoC's extraordinary staff over a period of several years, that the librarians at the LoC would like nothing better than to make these papers available. But the decision is ultimately that of the executors, who have their own reasons for making their decisions.

Also, the way that the papers are organized, medical records are not all in one place, so they're not so easily redacted.

Ah, those extraordinary manuscript librarians - hear, hear!

Results of Express comics poll

The question was "Do you think Hollywood is making too many movies based on comic books?"

The answer in Monday's paper was No: 52%, Yes: 48%. Whew! We dodged a bullet. Or let it bounce of our chests.

Batman on the History Channel this week

Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight

History Channel
Wednesday, July 16 09:00 PM
Thursday, July 17 01:00 AM
Monday, July 21 10:00 PM
Tuesday, July 22 02:00 AM

Monday, July 14, 2008

R.C. Harvey's Rabbit Habit still available for trial read

Earlier today Bob Harvey sent this out to his email list:

After a brief solstician interlude, we hop right back, bringing you a continuation of our Open Access Month. In our hare-brained installment this week, we report, at great length, on the recently concluded annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, which brought its struggle against overwhelming odds to the Alamo, whereupon we unearth a rare artifact, Texas History Movies, and explain its name. We also review Betsy and Me, a book reprinting Jack Cole's last work of genius, and we ponder the inexplicable Nancy on a billboard and Samuel Beckett's fascination with the Bushmiller strip. All that and the usual round-up of some news and minor reviews. Beam up by clicking below. And when you get there, to gain access to all these intellectual riches, use Hogan as your ID; Alley as your password. The device is case sensitive, so be sure to capitalize Hogan and Alley. The ID and Password come to us courtesy Hogan's Alley magazine, an annual visitation to comic strips and cartooning that's worth your attention at . Try it, you'll like it.

Stay Tooned,
R.C. Harvey

Wait! Read on!! We're featuring a special Open Access month at Rants & Raves until July 31. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the Happy Harv's nefarious bolt hole and read the current issue of "Rancid Raves," plus any (or all) archived R&Rs since May 1999, when it began, and all of Harv's Hindsights, articles of cartooning history and lore---all without paying the usual admittance pittance, a mere $3.95/quarter subscription. To open the Sesame, when you are asked for your ID and Password, use Hogan as your ID; Alley as your Password at . (And if you don't know that the ID/Password refers to a dandy annual magazine about comics and cartooning, then visit Hogan's Alley online at .) Hogan and Alley are case sensitive, so capitalize the first letter of each.

Wertham papers at Library of Congress still inaccessible

Michael Barrier, the animation historian, tells of stopping into the Library of Congress to see Frederic Wertham's archive in "Wertham's Locked Vault."

Tom Toles, superhero cartoonist?

Tom Spurgeon dug this blog post from Scott Edelman up - "Tom Toles, Superhero." What's that it says on the National Archives? "The Past is Present?"

Post blogs on Blitt's Obama, the Joker and strip navel gazing

On the Trail - "'Tasteless and Offensive' New Yorker Cover Riles Obama Camp," By Perry Bacon Jr. One should read this for the comments as the blog post adds nothing to the story.

On the new Comics Riffs blog, even before the day's over - "Let the Countdown to "Dark Knight" Begin..." by guest blogger David Betancourt.

And, as noted here last Saturday, comic strips are getting more self-referential. Cavna's take - "The Morning Line: Meta? Meh." See today's Family Circus as I mentioned earlier, and also Tom Inge did a book on this - Anything Can Happen in a Comic Strip - which is still available from Ohio State U's Cartoon Art Collection

Jason Rodriguez's insane roadtrip to San Diego Comic-Con

Jason just wrote in:

Tomorrow I hit the road. I'm driving 2,700 miles from Washington DC to San Diego ComicCon. I'm taking 9 days to do the trip and stopping in 17 cities to visit 25 comic shops and chat with a little over 20 comic creators, bloggers, and fans. I'm looking into the impact of rising comic sales and mainstream acceptance in the cities and towns situated between the coasts. My progress will be tracked at DCist ( in a series of dispatches entitled Coast-to-Coast Comicdom. I will be checking in several times a week and supplying some coverage from the convention.

DCist has freed up my own tag in case you're interested in following my progress but not as interested in the daily happenings around and about the DC area. Just go here:

My first article, Coast-to-Coast Comicdom: A Briffit in DC, is already up here: It features some original artwork from the talented Scott White.

That's all - I hope to see most of you in San Diego; I pull into town on the 23rd.

Jason Rodriguez

Well, that's nuts, but good luck!

Smurfs don't destroy DC marriage in the end

"After 'I Do,' a Time for Separation From Too Much Stuff," By Jenny Rough, Special to The Washington Post Monday, July 14, 2008; C08. Although 'honoring' Smurfs sounds like a reason for a divorce to me.

Bil Keane's goodbye to his wife

Today's Family Circus is Bil Keane's goodbye to his wife, who died earlier this year. It ran in the physical Post and not their website, but you can see it online here.


“Why so serious?”
By John Judy

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #566 by Marc Gugenheim and Phil Jimenez. Spidey needs a little help from Daredevil to rescue his roommate from Kraven’s daughter or whoever she is. Not sure why exactly but Phil Jimenez draws everything pretty so who cares?

ASTRO CITY: THE DARK AGE BOOK 1 HC by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson. Collecting the first eight issues of “The Dark Age”, the story of Astro City in the seventies when the Silver Agent got whacked. Great stuff, too infrequently seen on the racks. Recommended.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #40 by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. Crazy 1950s Cap vs. Tortured Cyborg Bucky-Cap! For da title! And the Red Skull’s daughter does A Bad Thing.

CONAN THE CIMMERIAN #1 by Tim Truman, Tomas Giorello and Richard Corben. Conan learns you can’t go home again unless you’re willing to kill dozens of people with swords, axes, your bare hands and some ornate, twisty thing I don’t really know the name of. Great fun.

EC ARCHIVES: WEIRD SCIENCE VOL. 3 HC by The Geniuses of Their Age. Yeah, you know you want this!

FINAL CRISIS: ROGUES REVENGE #1 of 3 by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins. The Flash rogues must answer for the murder of Bart Allen. So should the guys who wrote his FLASH series but we can’t have everything. It’s Geoff Johns and he writes good Flash comics. Recommended.

GHOST RIDER #25 by Jason Aaron and Tan Eng Huat. Ghost Rider in Prison by the guy who writes SCALPED! As good as this title can get! Recommended!

HELLBLAZER #246 by Jason Aaron and Sean Murphy. It’s “Constantine Meets Blair Witch” as a bunch of hapless documentary film-makers blunder into Newcastle. A very bad place to look for Constantinalia… Highly recommended.

HOUDINI THE HANDCUFF KING SC by Jason Lutes and Nick Bertozzi. An informative episode from the life of the world’s most famous magician/escape artist. Recommended.

HOW TO DRAW STUPID SC by Kyle Baker. Sadly there is nothing in here about how to get the next issue of SPECIAL FORCES on the rack. Still recommended because Baker is a gol-darn genius!

HOWARD THE DUCK OMNIBUS HC by Steve Gerber and Many Worthy Collaborators. Great. Like Marvel couldn’t have done this while Gerber was still alive… Recommended anyway because this is really great stuff. As close to the subversion of the underground comix as mainstream super companies ever got. Very worth having.

MARVEL 1985 #3 of 6 by Mark Millar and Tommy Lee Edwards. On the basis of how badly the movie “Wanted” sucked I could justify never reading another Mark Millar book again. But everyone’s entitled to a mistake now and then and this book is actually sort of fun. Worth a look.

MIGHTY AVENGERS #16 by Brian Michael Bendis and Khoi Pham. The secret origin of “Skrullectra.” At this point you’re either into it or you’re not. Gotta look.

PUNISHER #59 by Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov. They should kill Frank or cancel the title when Ennis leaves but they won’t. Amazing run. Bravo. Highly recommended.

SCALPED #19 by Jason Aaron and David Furno. Lots of The Sexy in this issue but being SCALPED it’s gonna have a dark twist. Why is everyone in the world not buying this title? Does it not suck enough to be popular? Highly recommended.

SPIKE: AFTER THE FALL #1 of 4 by Brian Lynch and Franco Urru. Hey, I’ll bet this is as good as ANGEL: AFTER THE FALL! What?

TOO COOL TO BE FORGOTTEN HC written and drawn by Alex Robinson. A really fun fantasy about a grown man sent back in time via hypnosis to the 1980s to relive high school. Hey, it worked for Batman in the fifties! Recommended.

UNIVERSAL WAR #1 of 3 written and drawn by Denis Bajram. Some f’reign sci-fi space opera done up in proper American, the way the Lord intended. Yee-haw!

WAR IS HELL: FIRST FLIGHT OF HE PHANTOM EAGLE #5 of 5 by Garth Ennis and Howard Chaykin. The final issue in which we learn whether the PE has gone nuts. Or if he always was… If you like Ennis war comics you’ll like this.

X-FACTOR #33 by Peter David and Larry Stroman. Lotta cross-over stuff in this issue which Peter David handles better than most.

Enjoy “Dark Knight” everybody! - JJ

Cavna's Post comics blog starts

Michael Cavna's new blog started today - "Calling All Comics Fans...," July 14 2008 - with a Mark Trail story and a promise of a Garry Trudeau interview tomorrow.

Disney's magic mirrors are going to look back at you

See "Disney Taps Into Blu-ray's Interactive Technology," By BROOKS BARNES and ERIC A. TAUB, New York Times July 14, 2008.

There's Barnes on animation again!

More messages in Wall-E

Besides environmental and consumer messages, some are finding second thoughts about music - "WALL E, 'Dolly!' And the Universe Of Musicals," By Jonathan Padget, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, July 13, 2008; M03.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Blitt cartoon of Obama on New Yorker becomes controversial

Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker sent along this article about Barry Blitt's cover of the New Yorker showing the Obamas as radicals and the controversy it's generating, at least in the hermetic media world - "'Scare tactic' — Obama slams Muslim portrayal," By MIKE ALLEN, 7/13/08.

Personally, I can't believe editor David Remnick had to tell anyone it was satire. Or that anyone had to ask.

Matt was responding to a discussion we had with Warren Bernard about Dutch cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot. See "Why Islam Is Unfunny for a Cartoonist: The arrest of a controversial Dutch cartoonist has set off a wave of protests. The case is raising questions for a changing Europe about free speech, religion and art," By ANDREW HIGGINS, Wall Street Journal July 12, 2008; Page W1.

Post censoring of Opus attracts cartoonist's comments

I put the story up last week, and so did Alan Gardener at his Daily Cartoonist site. The difference between his site and mine is that he gets comments from cartoonists, including Mat Bors, Milt Priggee, Ted Rall, Wiley Miller and Rick Stromoski. They're a tough audience apparently.

Post starts comics blog; also makes Spider-Man shower curtain purses

Michael Cavna, who's done some nice editorial cartoons for the Post, under the guise of illustrating stories, has got a new comics blog, ComicsRiffs. So far the only thing posted there is an intro which reads in part, "...we celebrate, contemplate, eviscerate and pontificate on cartoons -- focusing on daily comics but also addressing other art forms. Each and every day, we'll critique something from that morning's funny pages. We'll also offer regular interviews with cartoonists, conduct reader polls, swap news about the industry and discuss trends and buzz within the comics field." That sounds promising - I'll try to remember to check in with it regularly (and I appreciate the link to this blog under Michael's Fave Sites) .

Also, in the Source section, Courtney Ruff shows how to make that Spider-Man purse you've always wanted!

"Look Out! Here Comes the Spider-Bag,"
By Kris Coronado, Washington Post Sunday, July 13, 2008; N02.

Shoff Promotions Comic Book Show & Non Sports Cards, 7/27/08

This is the "other" regular comic show in the DC area (besides the Capital Associates one in Tyson's Corner). Sez the flyer:

Shoff Promotions Comic Book Show & Non Sports Cards
Sunday July 27 10AM-3:30PM
Tysons Corner VA. Crowne Plaza

Full Selection of Golden, Silver & Modern Age Comics, Supplies, & Nonsports Cards + Separate Sportscards area too

Admission $3; Show tables -$65 /6ft

I-495 to Exit 46A Rt. 123 Vienna/Tysons Corner. Right at second light-iinternational Dr. Left
at first light Greensboro Dr. and left to hotel 301-990-4929
Next show: Sat. Sept. 6 Tysons Corner Va.
Crown Plaza

(And, of course, the obligatory "$1 off 1 admission with this notice" -- find them at your local comics shop if you want the discount -- I got this one at Phoenix/Laughing Ogre in Fairfax across from GMU)

I haven't actually been to this show since it was at the Doubletree, which was a long time ago now, come to think of it, but you had mostly familiar faces from the Capital Associates show at this one as well, with a little variation.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Post runs on about the Joker

"The Joker's Onto Us: What Does It All Mean When Batman's Enemy Is More Interesting Than the Dark Knight Himself?"
By Hank Stuever, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, July 13, 2008; M01. I think it means the problems in creating fiction that Milton raised in print haven't been solved in four centuries, but that's just me.

Voting Begins For 2008 Science Idol Editorial Cartoon Contest

Voting Begins For 2008 Science Idol Editorial Cartoon Contest
July 10 2008
Artists draw attention to political interference in science

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) today announced the 12 finalists in its third annual Science Idol: Scientific Integrity Editorial Cartoon Contest.

About Science Day 2008 Science Idol Finalists

Now, it's the public's turn to vote.

UCS received hundreds of cartoon entries from artists of all ages across the country who used humor to shed light on a serious issue: the distortion, suppression and manipulation of federal science. A panel of award-winning cartoonists helped UCS narrow down the entries to the 12 that will appear in the 2009 UCS scientific integrity calendar. The celebrity judges were: Dave Coverly, the creator of "Speed Bump;" Wiley Miller, the creator of "Non Sequitur;" Kevin Kallaugher (Kal), editorial cartoonist at the Economist; Mike Keefe, editorial cartoonist at the Denver Post; Signe Wilkinson, the Pulitzer prize-winning editorial cartoonist at the Philadelphia Daily News; and Jesse Springer, winner of last year's Science Idol contest.

People can vote for their favorite cartoon today through August 8 at All participants have the chance to win copies of the 2009 calendar.

Besides having the winning cartoon featured on the cover of the 2009 Scientific Integrity Calendar, the top cartoonist will receive a $500 prize, an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., and a signed copy of Kevin Kallaugher's book, "Kal Draws Criticism."

Beeler's caricatures

I saw Nate Beeler today, and he says that he's doing caricatures for the Examiner chain. Three caricatures a week, one each for the Washington, Baltimore and San Francisco editions, published on the new Sunday paper. You can see the first ones on his blog now - the one I've lifted is DC Mayor Fenty.

Franco Appearance at Laughing Ogre Comics

Laughing Ogre Comics is proud to welcome Franco, writer of Tiny Titans. He will be signing at their Lansdowne, VA location (19340 Promenade Drive, Lansdowne, VA 20176) on Sunday, July 13th from 2pm-5pm.

Laughing Ogre used to be known as Phoenix Comics. They acquired the Laughing Ogre store in Columbus, OH, and recently moved to adopt its name (which I think is attrocious, but apparently, it had to do with getting a trademark on "Phoenix" being a non-starter!).

Franco is also the writer of Patrick the Wolf-Boy, also an amusing read.

Wall-E continues to draw in editorial writers CORRECTED

The Washington Times goes first because I only saw theirs online - "'WALL-E's critics miss point: Pixar films have traditional values," Scott Galupo, Washington Times Friday, July 11, 2008.

The Post also ran one on Friday - "A Robot Who Offers Renewal" by Michael Gerson. Gerson writes, "'Wall-E' is partly an environmental parable, but its primary point is moral. The movie argues that human beings, aided by technology, can become imprisoned by their consumption. ... The pursuit of our rhinestone desires manages to obscure our view of the stars." A valid point, but one I feel a bit conflicted about, given that I am sitting alone retyping this, but also that I'm reaching a larger audience, some of whom have become my friends. (Thanks to alert reader Aziz Gökdemir who pointed out I had my newspapers mixed up!)

Cartoons at National Gallery of Art

There's some animated shorts at the National Gallery of Art this weekend and next and then in early August:

Artistic Journeys
July 12, 16, 23 at 10:30AM, 11:30AM
July 13 at 11:30AM
East Building Concourse, Large Auditorium

(ages 4 and up) Join us for a screening of creative journeys. See what happens when a sculpture by Alberto Giacometti walks out of the museum in search of its soul mate in Walking Man (Michael Lindbough and Mads Tobias, Denmark, 1999, 4 minutes); watch a group of mice explore the unfamiliar in Seven Blind Mice (Weston Woods Studios, USA, 2007, 8 minutes); meet a dog who collects some wonderful treasures in Aston's Stones (Lotta and Uzi Geffenblad, Sweden, 2007, 9 minutes); and learn about the life and work of artist Mary Cassatt in the animated biography Mary Cassatt (Mike Venezia, USA, 2008, 24 minutes).

Reel Fun
August 2, 6, 13 at 10:30AM, 11:30AM
August 3 at 11:30AM
East Building Concourse, Large Auditorium

(ages 4 and up) This series of animated shorts will put a smile on your face. Films include My Happy End (Milen Vitanov, Germany, 2007, 5 minutes); A Sunny Day (Gil Alkabetz, Germany, 2007, 6 minutes); Giraffes Can't Dance (Weston Woods Studios, USA, 2007, 10 minutes); Puss and the Moon (Suzanne Tuynman, Netherlands, 2005, 5 minutes); Charlie and Lola: Welcome to Lolaland

Self-referentialism in today's Post comic strips

Three comic strips today benefited from some inside knowledge of reading them regularly perhaps.

Today's Pearls Before Swine builds on a week of Pastis referring to deaths in comic strips - after taking a passing swipe at Family Circus, Pastis killed himself in the strip - today he meets his syndicate rep as a giant floating head in heaven who tells him he can't kill the strip because of the ancillary products making money.

Candorville's been doing a tribute to the late comedian George Carlin all week, but today he got into criticizing obituary editorial cartoons which frequently feature a character at heaven's pearly gates. This almost certainly comes off a discussion at the Associations of American Editorial Cartoonists that Dave Astor covered.

Finally, Agnes (pick the July 12th one) is on the fact that Peanuts is still appearing in reruns years after Schulz's death.

Kung Fu Panda's reception in China

The Post picked up a story idea that's been making the rounds of the newswires and did some more reporting to provide an interesting take on China's feeling that Kung Fu Panda mines their heritage. Off course, Disney already did this for all of Europe (and in fact there's a book and an exhibit on those borrowings), a bit of South America (The Three Caballeros), and North America so they shouldn't feel special. "'Kung Fu Panda' Hits A Sore Spot in China: Why a Quintessentially Chinese Movie Was Made in Hollywood," By Maureen Fan, Washington Post Foreign Service, Saturday, July 12, 2008; C01.

Express poll on comic book movies

Do you think Hollywood is making too many movies based on comic books?

I voted no, and as of 11 am Saturday, the results were:

46% Yes
54% No

Like anything else, the source material shouldn't control the quality of the adaptation, at least in my opinion. If I forget to check on Monday, hopefully someone will post the final results in the comments.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Off to Hellboy2

The neighborhood geeks are rolling at 9:15...

...and the followup review - it was goofy, but I enjoyed it. Large plant elemental, royal elves, sentient ectoplasm and two love stories. What more does a movie need?

Times Post Times on Hellboy 2

'Hellboy' chaos: Del Toro's otherworldly beasts, sets no substitute for a story
Christian Toto
Washington Times Friday, July 11, 2008

Monsters Brawl; 'Hellboy II': Things Get a Little Punchy In Guillermo del Toro's Richly Imagined World
By Ann Hornaday
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 11, 2008; C01

Like Bogey, but With a Really Big Fist
New York Times July 11, 2008

Zadzooks on Hulk games

The movie spinoffs just keep coming. See "ZADZOOKS: Hulk is game for smashing," Joseph Szadkowski, Washington Times Thursday, July 10, 2008 for a review of some of them.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New online comic story by Harvey Pekar and Rick Veitch

My book collecting interviews from twenty years of Harvey's career should be out in a couple of months. In the meantime, here's a new story - Exclusive: A New Comic by Harvey Pekar and Rick Veitch. At some point, I heard that Veitch's family was from around here, and there's a Veitch street that intersects Columbia Pike in Arlington.

Washington Post Writers Group has success with Pickles.

Dave Astor's got the story and the quotes at "'Pickles' Comic Strip Signs Its 500th Newspaper," E&P July 10, 208.

Baltimore Sun blogger gets comics recommendations

See "Check It Out: Comics galore," by Nancy Johnston on July 9, 2008 for the Comics Kingdom store's recommendations. I've read about 1/3rd of them since I don't read too many superhero series any more ... can't take the long, drawn-out storylines or the multi-book crossovers.

July 20: Lost Ones booksigning with Panter and Niles

Steve Niles and Gary Panter will be signing their new graphic novel, The Lost Ones, at Big Planet Comics in Bethesda on July 20th at 2-4 pm. The book, from Microsoft's Zune Arts, will be given away for free!

I'll be there as well. Anybody else? (Date corrected per Our Man Thompson)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Robots exhibit in Baltimore

This little ad at the bottom of an edition of the Examiner led me to Port Discovery, Baltimore's children's museum and the traveling exhibit based on the cartoon Robots which is there from May 24-September 8. Here's their description:

Robots: The Interactive Exhibition is a one-of-a-kind exhibit that features characters from the blockbuster movie "ROBOTS." Each of the characters introduces children to the exciting and wondrous world of robotics through more than 15 interactive and hands-on experiences.

Embodying the spirit of technology and imagination, this exhibit is designed to engage, entertain, and enlighten visitors to the ever-changing field of science.

I enjoyed the cartoon, which I don't think did great at the box office. It had design work by William Joyce whom I always like.

Post censors comics again; punning headline writers despair

Gene Weingarten's July 8th chat reveals that the Post once again censored the comics section, this time Breathed's Opus. Weingarten wrote:

And lastly, HERE is Sunday's Opus. No, that's not the one you saw in The Post, which ran a sub. I believe the editors perceived a racial-ethnic insensitivity.

Bad decision. Nothing wrong with that comic. I really liked the real-world "available now" labeling.

A click on the 'censorship' label below will pull up the other examples for you.

Minor comics articles in the NY Times

For the new Batman movie, "Many Movie Theaters Decide to Leave the Bat Signal on Till Dawn," By MICHAEL CIEPLY, New York Times July 9, 2008.

In Internet avatar animation, "Google Introduces a Cartoonlike Method for Talking in Chat Rooms," By BRAD STONE, New York Times July 9, 2008.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Will more become less?

I noticed the above ad in a recent issue of the New Yorker and wondered about it since the two titles weren't familiar. Following the link to this page and doublechecking against Amazon shows that at least 4 of these books are self-published - The Book of Moms, The Book of Dads, The Graduation Collection and Will You Be Mine? I'd rather see more in print of course, but this does highlight a problem with both collecting and bibliography that's accelerating rapidly. It's very unlikely that any of these four books will end up in a library collection for example, unless they're actively sought out. I probably won't buy them as the price is a bit steep - $25 for 100 pages? Or$100 for four slim books?

Andrews McMeel's publishing through leads to the same problems. I can see a return to the earliest days of print when small publishers brought out items and now copies may not exist of their publications...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Big Planet TV commercials on YouTube

Joel sent a link to these a couple of weeks ago. Who knew? There's three of them on YouTube from this May. The note says, "Commercial for Big Planet Comics. Produced & Directed by Paul Nadjmabadi & Angela Ottinger." I don't recognize anyone in #1 at least. Here's #2 and #3. Anybody seen these on tv yet?

Heroescon hangover or holdover or something

Our host at Heroes Con (really Our Man Thompson's as I was the driver and go-fer) Dustin Harbin's just posted a cool blog post and drawing about cartoonists he's met and liked recently. Our Man Thompson is not actual size.

Neat, isn't it?

Washington realtors have a new hero

The real estate multiple listing service, Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc., of Washington launched its own DC-based web superhero.

For details, see "Introducing 'Mr. Is,' an MLS superhero; Comic strip promotes Web site relaunch," Inman News, Thursday, June 26, 2008.

To read the strip Mr. Is, click here. He's even got a backstory!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Rory Root memorial photographs

Miron Murcury sent in these three pictures and encouraged me to post them. Please note that these are Miron's titles and the pictures are copyrighted by him.

Mark Bode at Rory Root memorial. June 21, 2008

Ron, Last Gasp, Turner

Why's everybody looking at me?

DC (Comics, that is) fan films

Chris Cowan must have noted my "Films and TV Adaptations" book and sent in the following note the other day. I've got to say that I'm a big proponent of the idea of fan films. I've seen some really good ones. In Japan, this type of fan participation with fans writing comic books and having whole conventions devoted to them has been popular for years. And I really loved What If (Marvel) and Elseworlds (DC) before both companies went for that extra dollar and published too many to keep track of. Anyway, here's the note:

I'm a filmmaker who loves making films dealing with SciFi and Comicbook Universes. Lex Randleman (a long time friend of mine and aspiring comicbook writer) and I are creating a new webseries for DC Fans called "Elseworlds". Its based upon the DC Comics Elseworlds series where heroes are taken from their usual settings and put into alternate realities. (All done just for fun out of the love for the DC universe - No Budget). They will be a series of five 2-8 minute original story webisodes dealing with some of the famous characters in the DC Universe (Different groups of characters but following one linear story arc overall). Part 4 should be up in the next week and a half. Please take a look for yourself. We're trying to do something really different. Its not your average fanfilm.

A little bit of info:

Chris Cowan (24 yrs old - The Ohio State University Graduate: Film Production Focus) - Director/Editor/Camera/Cyborg
Lex Randleman (24 yrs old - The Ohio State University Graduate: Creative Writing Focus) - Writer/Concept/Costume/Mister Terrific

DC Elseworlds Part One - "Fair Play" :

DC Elseworlds Part Two - "Titans" :

DC Elseworlds Part Three - "What's in a name?" :


By John Judy

BOOSTER GOLD #1,000,000 by Geoff Johns, Jeff Katz and Dan Jurgens. Booster meets Peter Platinum, who is a superhero, NOT a star of a certain type of movie! So don’t even go there, pal!

BPRD: THE WARNING #1 of 5 by Matt Wagner, John Arcudi and Guy Davis. Armageddon threatens. Time for the team to punch in.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: WHITE #0 by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. Look what happens when “Heroes” gets shut down by a writers strike! (Not saying this should happen more often…)

CRIMINAL VOL. 3: DEAD AND DYING SC by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Collecting the done-in-one masterpieces we all must have in our glass-covered, climate-controlled bookcases. Highly Recommended.

DEAD SHE SAID #2 by Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson. Posthumous noir by horror’s master illustrator. IDW Publishing is doing its best to keep all knowledge of this series to itself. Don’t let them!

FINAL CRISIS: REQUIEM #1 by Peter J. Tomasi and Doug Mahnke. DC says this is “a very special FINAL CRISIS one-shot” which, given that it’s a tie-in to this year’s huge Summer cross-over series, may be code for “this one doesn’t suck.”

GOON #26 by Eric Powell. “Bill, ya can’t eat a whole bag of cookies and follow it up with a whole chocolate-covered cat! You’ll ruin yer dinner!” Also featuring machine guns and axes. Recommended!

I KILL GIANTS #1 of 7 by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura. The story of a 5th grade girl and her Norse giant-killing war hammer. “Hello kitty!” Gotta look.

JOKER’S ASYLUM: PENGUIN by Jason Aaron and Jason Pearson. This is written by Jason Aaron, therefore all must read it.

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #17 by Geoff Johns, Alex Ross and Dale Eaglesham. This and ASTRO CITY are the last two projects with which Alex Ross is even tangentally associated that don’t make me want to break things and give up comics.

KYLE BAKER’S NAT TURNER HC & SC by KB. For all of us who wondered whatever happened to this title. Still recommended because Baker’s a friggin’ genius.

NEIL GAIMAN’S CORALINE GN by NG and P. Craig Russell. It was text with illustrations. Now it’s the opposite. P. Craig and Neil: ALWAYS a winning combination. Recommended.

SECRET INVASION #4 by Brian Michael Bendis and Leinil Francis Yu. Skrulls! They kick puppies! They green-lit “The Love Guru!” They rigged the last two elections! Miley Cyrus is a dirty !@#$* Skrull!

ULTIMATE ORIGINS #2 of 5 by Brian Michael Bendis and Butch Guice. It’s Ultimate Project Pegasus! No lie! And the origin of Ultimate Captain America. No Skrulls. Yet.

WOLFSKIN ANNUAL #1 by Warren Ellis Mike Wolfer and Gianluca Pagliarani. Wolfskin. He’s Conan without the sensitivity. Plot credit to Ellis so it probably contains the requisite Depraved Indifference to Human Life we demand of such things.

These Times demand the Times

5 comics-related pieces this Sunday:

"Michael Turner, 37, Creator of Superheroines, Is Dead," By GEORGE GENE GUSTINES, New York Times July 6, 2008

Rob Esmay, a local artist whose cartoons have appeared in The New Yorker curates an exhibit in a hardware store - "In Williamsburg Store, Customers Find Art Among the Wrenches," By JUSTIN PORTER, New York Times July 6, 2008

Hellboy II's director del Toro's character-design artwork is featured in "Elves and Killer Beanstalks From Director’s Personal ‘Hell’," By DAVE ITZKOFF, New York Times July 6, 2008 with audio commentary at "Dear Diary," New York Times July 6, 2008.

An editorial calls for a bold new direction - "Wall-E for President," By FRANK RICH, New York Times July 6, 2008.

Finally, Rutu Modan is doing the comic strip in the Magazine.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Ed Stein's cartoon journalism

I got an email from Ed Stein's newspaper, which I reproduce below. I was a big fan of Stein's Denver Square strip, and cartoon journalism's been an interest of mine as well. This should be good - it's great to see people experimenting with the artform.

Ed Stein
101 W. Colfax Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80218


Ed Stein, veteran editorial cartoonist for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, debuts "Long Time Passing," a new graphic blog series to run every Friday from July 4 through the 2008 Democratic National Convention on August 25-28. Told in a unique and engaging first-person narrative, the special series will cover the build-up to the convention and the current political climate in light of Ed's personal experiences at the Chicago convention 1968 and as a seasoned journalist 40 years later.

The first installment, to be pulished tomorrow, July 4, focuses on what democracy, freedom and independence truly means to a cartoonist who has covered national politics and elections since Jimmy Carter was in office.

Ed Stein has served as the editorial cartoonist for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado, since 1978. He graduated from the University of Denver with a degree in fine arts in 1969. Stein recently retired his popular local comic strip, "Denver Square," after 11 years to focus on his editorial cartoons. "Long Time Passing" will run every Friday from Friday, July 4 until August 24 and daily during the convention from August 25 to 28.

This week's installment is attached to this email and can be re-posted with a link to Stein's blog at the Rocky Mountain News website, . Subsequent editions can be read every Friday on his blog or via RSS here: feed:// .

For more information, contact Ed Stein directly.

Book review: Marvel Graphic Novels and Related Publications

This will appear in the fall's International Journal of Comic Art, but I'll give Rob a plug here as well.

Robert G. Weiner. Marvel Graphic Novels and Related Publications: An Annotated Guide to Comics, Prose Novels, Children's Books, Articles, Criticism and Reference Works, 1965-2005. McFarland, 2008. $49.95. ISBN-13: 978-0786425006. or 800-253-2187.

Rob Weiner, a librarian at Texas Tech University, has attempted a Herculean task in this amazingly ambitious annotated bibliography. Marvel’s publishing history runs for over sixty years and, through licensing, covers dozens of publishers. In his preface, he notes, “This volume is intended to be a handbook, not only for the Marvel Comics fan and collector, but also for academic, public, and school librarians, who want to include Marvel graphic novels in their collections. While many of the publications in this work are known to most Marvel collectors, it is my hope that even the most knowledgeable collectors will find something new in it. There are some entries in this volume, which, to my knowledge, describe material not documented anywhere else.”
Weiner lists citations with annotations for all kinds of publications from Marvel. He has attempted to bring some order to the citations by breaking them up into seventeen categories, three of which are appendices, along with two introductory “Background Highlights” sections on the history of both graphic novels and Marvel Comics.

A typical citation, chosen at random (p. 73), reads:

DeFalco, Tom, Pat Olliffe, Al Williamson, et al. Spider-Girl: A Fresh Start. New York: Marvel, 1999. ISBN: 0785107207. Reprints Spider-Girl 1-2.
Peter Parker’s teen-age daughter, May Day, inherits amazing powers from her father. She becomes Spider-Girl, much to her father’s dismay. She defeats Crazy Eight and encounters Dark Devil.

One can see both the strengths and limitations of bibliography here. One is given the basic information about the book, along with a plot summary of the story and who Spider-Girl actually is, except that in standard Marvel continuity, Spider-Man does not have any children. In fact, since 2008, he is not even married – a deal with the devil erased his marriage to save his Aunt May’s life. So one must come to a project like this with a good bit of existing knowledge, namely that Marvel published a series of comic books set in their character’s ‘future’ in which the normal aging not usually permitted fictional characters had taken place.

As mentioned above, Weiner broke up the book into sections. The major category “Marvel’s Superheroes” is divided into sections like “Major Characters, Teams, and Team-Ups” which is then further reduced into subsections like “Conan / Kull” and “Fantastic Four / Dr. Doom and Inhumans.” A sampling of other subsections include “Epic Comics Graphic Novels,” “Marvel/DC Crossovers,” “Movies and Television,” “Prose Novels” and “Scholarly Publications,” the last of which cites several articles from this Journal. The three appendices include single line citations for 2005 publications, game books, and possibly unpublished books for which an ISBN exists.

As with any project of this size and complexity, one can quibble. Weiner’s introduction is too concerned with rationalizing the importance of the study of comic books. Anyone willing to even glance at his bibliography does not need to read an argument which sums up “Epic Stories like Earth X, Kree/Skrull War and Marvels exhibit as much character development, and thought, as any work by Shakespeare, Stephen King, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, Margaret Mitchell, or Jack London.” (p. 7) By engaging theoretical critics, Weiner gives them both too much credibility and ammunition. His work is a bibliography of an aspect of popular culture, and as such, does not need defense or apology, let alone attempting to reach an intellectual high ground. Any library or scholar interested in studying Marvel Comics, and especially their publishing history, should add this bibliography to their collection.

In today's Times...

Disney on Ice lets the company slide into new markets - "A Solid Surface for Disney Success," By BROOKS BARNES, New York Times July 5, 2008.

On the editorial page, James Stevenson's got another one of his great Lost and Found New York pages - Best Rocks of the Bronx.

Nate Beeler featured in American University's magazine

I found this magazine in the library's sale section today:

Which led to finding this link to American University's alumni magazine for you gentle readers - "Drawn to Washington: Editorial cartoonist for the Washington Examiner, Nate Beeler '02 has a ringside seat for D.C.'s political circus," by Adrienne Frank, American (Spring 2008): 26-27. I don't know why he doesn't tell me about these things - maybe it's the new baby. By the way, the Examiner started running his work in color this past week.

Bought at the same library - three Story magazines, just for R.O. Blechman's covers:

If you haven't read Blechman's graphic novels, such as The Juggler of Our Lady, step away from this website and hunt them up through a used bookseller NOW.

Comics-related obituaries from the Post

Today the print paper had Michael Turner's obit from the LA Times. Here's a link to it from the Times - "Comic-book artist Michael Turner dies at 37: Turner became known for the highly stylized covers he created for major titles and his depictions of curvaceous female characters," By Valerie J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, July 4, 2008.

Yesterday we had a Bozo obit which touched on an animated version - "Larry Harmon, 83; Actor Made Bozo the Clown a Household Name," By John Rogers, Associated Press, Friday, July 4, 2008; B07.

And a local obituary for a former NY Herald Tribune cartoonist - "Charles E. Kavenagh, Graphic Artist," - Adam Bernstein, Washington Post Friday, July 4, 2008; Page B08.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Washington writer on superheroes for

See "Holy Bookworms! Superheroes Take To The Page," by Glen Weldon,, July 3, 2008 for a look at fiction and non-fiction prose about superheroes.

Secret History of Comics includes Crumb, courtesy of Warren Bernard

Warren writes in with a modern piece:

I went last month to Stripdagen, the biennial comics show in Haarlem, The Netherlands. Found myself at the booth which does the printing for lithos and prints by Chris Ware and Joost Swarte. While poking around their amazing collection of prints, I struck up a conversation with one of the people running the booth. In the middle of the conversation the guy stops and asks, "Are you a Robert Crumb fan?". After saying yes, he handed me the flyer you now see.

It's for a concert in Paris and I was real lucky to get this. I am sure thousands were printed, but how many will actually make it to America?

So, regardless if it's Crumb or Gluyas Williams for Texaco or Charles Schulz for Metropolitan Life, there is a ton of commercial art by great and famous cartoonists that needs to be revealed by SHOC.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

In today's papers

Zadzooks reviews Frank Miller's Batman - "Batman becomes too brutal," by Joseph Szadkowski, Washington Times Thursday, July 3, 2008.

Online only, the Express rails against animated bears selling toilet paper - "Tissue Issue: The Charmin Bears Have Got to Go," by Greg Barber, July 2, 2008.

Also online only is an interview with Robert Grossman - "Grossman Land," By Steven Heller, New York Times' Campaign Stops blog July 2, 2008.

July 27: Babymouse at ALADDIN’S LAMP

MEET AUTHOR JENNIFER HOLM: Sunday, July 27 at 1:30 p.m. Author Jennifer Holm will discuss her graphic novel series about a sassy mouse with attitude to spare ... BABYMOUSE! In addition to the eight Babymouse books, Ms. Holm is the author of the Newbery Honor novels A Penny From Heaven and Our Only May Amelia. The ninth Babymouse book, Monster Mash, will be coming out in August. Grades 2-6. Please call to register.

Children’s Books & Other Treasures
In the Lee Harrison Shopping Center
Lower Level Shops

2499 N. Harrison St, Suite 10, Arlington, VA 22207
STORE HOURS: Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 10 am to 6 pm, Tuesday & Thursday 10 am to 8 pm, Sunday 11 am to 5 pm

Payne, Bat-Senator and Wall-E complaint today in the Post

Caricaturist CF Payne has a large drawing of Tiger Woods on the front of a special AT&T National Section in today's paper. It's not online.

To read about the Bat-Senator, see "Leahy's Hat Trick as a Batman Cameo," By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane, Washington Post Thursday, July 3, 2008; Page A15...

...and a Letter writer to the Editor missed an e-bay opportunity:

Why a Movie Has Disney in the Dumps
Washington Post Thursday, July 3, 2008; Page A16

In his review of Pixar's new movie "Wall-E" ["From Pixar, a Droid Piece of Filmmaking," Style, June 27], John Anderson pointed out that the movie's dark messages are making co-producer and distributor Disney nervous.

Should I therefore assume that it was the Walt Disney Co.'s marketing machine that had the great idea to hand out useless, trashy plastic watches (complete with excessive packaging) to every child attending the movie? This movie is about the impact of trashing our planet -- literally.

My family came home from the movie with four of these watches. They are all in the garbage today, heading out to the dump to meet the tons of other silly, free plastic "toys" generated by Disney and distributed every day through McDonald's and Burger King.

If Disney is nervous about the movie, it is because the movie challenges the core of Disney's moneymaking strategy: insatiable consumerism.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Reviews for three local exhibits

Here are reviews for the fall issue of the International Journal of Comic Art that I just turned in tonight. I'm posting them here first because I usually say that I'll be doing a more complete review, but don't get around to it until the last minute. 2 of these shows are gone, but the Herblock exhibit is still up and well worth seeing.

Scrooged! Arnold Blumberg, Andy Herschberger, and John K. Snyder Jr. Baltimore, MD: Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, February 29-May 31, 2008.

Thanks to the generosity of curator Arnold Blumberg, I saw this exhibit almost a month before it officially opened. All the artwork had been hung, but its final form was different with more labeling and information. Carl Barks was the focus of the exhibit – the title derives from Uncle Scrooge, Barks’ most enduring creation for Disney. The exhibit was rather diffuse, not focusing on any particular aspect of either Scrooge or Barks. It included the complete original artwork for the Scrooge story “North of the Yukon,” oil paintings of the Disney Ducks, oil paintings of landscapes from the 1960s, prints of “Famous Characters In Fictions As Waterfowl,” i.e. Robin Hood as a anthropometric duck, from when Disney was not permitting Barks to paint their ducks, pencil sketches of Disney work, and Another Rainbow objects such as a Faberge egg with Scrooge inside. All the items exhibited are apparently owned by museum founder and Diamond Distributors owner Steve Geppi.

Certainly displaying the entire original “North of the Yukon” artwork is justification enough for a small exhibit on Barks, and I enjoyed this show even though it did not really hold together. See Barks’ small landscapes which were obviously done for his own pleasure, scenes as so many cartoonists do in their retirement, was satisfying. Seeing him draw rather sexy dancing female ducks was odd, but interesting. Blumberg said to me, “I found it most fascinating looking at the paintings. There’s something really luminescent in the way the characters leap off the painting. It’s so much more than a casual viewer expects from a cartoonist.” Blumberg may be selling many cartoonists a bit short, but there is a peculiar fascination in seeing Donald Duck rendered using Old Master techniques, and the exhibit was worth visiting to see examples of Barks’ art beyond the pages of the comic book.

The museum’s current exhibit is “Out of the Box” – a playroom for the type of toys that will eventually make it into the Museum.

Heroes of the Negro League. Mark Chiarello, Michael Barry and Leslie Combemale. Reston, VA: ArtInsights, March 29-May 30, 2008.

This exhibit is reviewed by virtue of Chiarello’s position as art editor for DC Comics. In 1990, Chiarello, in collaboration with his best friend Jack Morelli, created baseball cards for forgotten baseball players from the Negro Leagues, who had never had cards in America before. These paintings were watercolors over pencil that were based on photographs. The exhibit came about as the paintings were collected in a book, Heroes of the Negro Leagues (Abrams, 2007; $19.95, ISBN-10: 0810994348). Chiarello and Morelli did research at Cooperstown and the Schomburg Center in Harlem, and Chiarello painted the images from photographs and, surprisingly baseball cards – which had been issued in Cuba and Venezuela for some of the players.

Gallery co-owner Leslie Combemale interviewed Chiarello for a March 10th press release that is no longer on the gallery’s website. An exchange on Chiarello’s techniques is worthy of reprinting here:

LC- The Negro Leagues players portraits have a depth that goes beyond just (an image) How do you find the perfect picture to use?
MM- I can look through 200 or more pictures and only one is just right. With my portraits, I try to let the viewer know who that person is, just by looking in their eyes. I think the Cool Papa Bell is the most successful at's why I chose it for the cover. I know the moment I find the right picture for reference, and I'll keep looking as long as it takes...
LC- Once you find that picture, how do you proceed from there?
MC- I pencil it out as tightly as I can. It’s my roadmap, so there's not much guesswork. After that I just try to get out of the way.
LC- I see your two styles of painting as so different from each other. One being the watercolor you used for the Negro League illustrations and the other the style you paint in oil, used for the Star Wars Celebration "Enlist Now" propaganda limited edition. I think of watercolors as unforgiving, hard to do, and hard to control.
MC- A lot of people say that and I disagree. Maybe it can't be controlled, but that's what's so great about it. After I pencil the image in, painting in watercolor is all about feel, control is beside the point. Your brain has to stay out of it and you have to stay out of the way of the paint. It becomes itself.
LC- What do you mean by that?
MC- For me it becomes about the emotional connection between the artist, the subject, and the wetness of the paint. The watercolor helps you-
LC- If you know what you're doing...
MC- Watercolor is in the moment. It flows into weird shapes and if you corral these shapes, they form the person's face. But you'll never see it if you have expectations or try to control the outcome too much from the beginning. With watercolor, once you have the roadmap a drawing creates, you've done most the work. After that you just have to enjoy the ride...Really my two styles are diametrically opposed. When I paint in oil it's very cerebral, I have to map the entire piece out from start to finish. It’s very precise work. Watercolor is all about flow.

Chiarello was also featured in the April issue of Juxtapose magazine for anyone who would like more details on this project; the paintings were technically excellent and appealing and the exhibit was worth seeing.

The gallery, which sells artwork (including the Negro League paintings) had other items of interest to IJOCA readers. There was an original story book artwork page from Snow White as well as an original movie cel with a background. Other cels from Lady and the Tramp, The Fox and the Hound, Aristocats, Fantasia and Peanuts lined the walls. Combemale told me that for fourteen years the focus of the gallery had been on animation, but recently they were widening their scope. "Tim Rogerson's World of Disney Color," their next exhibit, opens on July 12th.

Herblock’s Presidents: ‘Puncturing Pomposity’. Sidney Hart. Washington, DC: National Portrait Gallery, May 2-November 30, 2008.

Herbert ‘Herblock’ Block died in 2001, but his images linger on in Washington, at least partly because his estate donated over 10,000 of his cartoons to the Library of Congress with the proviso that they be displayed regularly. Curator Sidney Hart, a historian by trade, undertook the current exhibition and did a very credible job. Hart made two key decisions to define the show – it would be on presidents and the cartoon had to be negative. Hoover was not included because he “didn’t fit the theme of our show.” The two decisions had three points backing them up – 1.) Herblock’s presidential cartoons were among his most powerful, 2.) a negative cartoon was a more constructive force and, 3.) the exhibit went into the Presidential Gallery space.

The show was arranged by president beginning with Roosevelt. Herblock’s line was visibly smoother and he used the texture of the paper for shading. On the gallery tour, Hart pointed out some of his favorite cartoons. In one on McArthur and Truman, Truman is on a treadmill that McArthur is pulling in a different direction. For Eisenhower, Herblock drew him in a boat, blowing on a paper sale, while not running the motor on the boat. Another Eisenhower cartoon featured Herblock’s hated foe, Senator McCarthy, who is shown mugging the State Department and the Army, while Eisenhower is told, “Relax – he hasn’t gotten to you yet.” Hart noted the curious omission of no Kennedy cartoon for the Bay of Pigs; the JFK cartoons were usually positive so it was harder to find ones for the exhibit. Herblock’s best cartoon of Lyndon Johnson, from January 6, 1967 read “That’s a little better, but couldn’t you do it in luminous paint.” It showed Johnson looking at a painting of himself and referred to his official White House portrait -- which showed a heroic Johnson, but since LBJ did not like it, it rests in the next gallery over in the Portrait Gallery. Herblock’s Nixon cartoons were among his most famous – the exhibit included ones of Vice President Spiro Agnew in a sewer and the Saturday Night Massacre when Justice Department investigators of the Watergate break-in were fired on Nixon’s orders.

The Ford cartoon that Hart focused on showed both the President and the economy going to hell in a hand basket. Reflecting Block’s fondness for Alice in Wonderland, Jimmy Carter was depicted as the Cheshire Cat. One of the Carter cartoons showed an amazing detail from Block’s working methods – the paste-up corrections were done on mailing labels! Reagan and Nixon got the most cartoons with five each. Reagan was the president that Block disliked the most and his cartoons showed it. Clinton disappointed Herblock and his cartoons frequently showed Clinton with mud from scandals on him.

There was one major flaw in this exhibit for viewers. Some cartoons were matted badly and had their titles covered, or had no titles on them. The June 28, 1990 cartoon of George H.W. Bush crossing a bridge labeled “no new taxes” makes little sense without its caption “Anyhow, it got us across.” Frequently the individual cartoon labels, while full of historical information, were no where near the piece they were describing.

Also on display were Block’s Pulitzer Prize from 1941, a Reuben Award from 1956 and his Presidential Medal of Freedom from 1994 as well as some of his art supplies. A kiosk in the corner had hundreds more cartoons on it. The exhibit had only forty cartoons in it, but they were well selected. The exhibit was of the artwork, not necessarily the content, and seeing the cartoons on a screen detracted from the ideal of the museum in this reviewer’s opinion. As a museum curator myself, I would have stuck the kiosk in the exhibit as well since one always feels that more information is better, but it was not really needed in the show. I believe it became technically possible this year as the Herblock Foundation is planning on issuing a book with an accompanying DVD of 16,000 cartoons for Block’s 100th birthday next year.

Herblock: Drawn from Memory was an accompanying program by Hart who moderated with Pulitzer prize-winning Washington Post reporter Haynes Johnson, Washington Post editorial writer Roger Wilkins and Pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist Tony Auth. The three men mainly talked about Herblock’s mid-career at the Post, especially the Nixon and Johnson years. Block’s internationalist, and thus interventionalist, approach to foreign policy and the display of this in his cartoons was a particularly interesting part of the evening. Auth also made an extremely interesting observation. While Block was a good enough caricaturist to avoid labeling everyone, he still used labels on characters regularly. Auth said, “I was struck going through the exhibit here today – I always thought of cartoons as having kind of a half-life. They being to lose their power – and sometimes it’s a very long half-life and sometimes it’s eternal because it’s beyond the moment – but many cartoons have a relatively short half-life. I realized his use of labels extends that so that coming to a cartoon of his that was done forty years ago, you really can figure out what it’s about whereas a lot of cartoonists expend a lot of energy trying to get away from labels and they end up with cartoons that maybe a week, or two weeks later, you can’t figure out because you don’t know exactly what stimulated this drawing.” For those interested in the program, a recording of it can be found at

Overall Hart did an excellent job boiling down a massive amount of material to a coherent exhibit which, while not large, was well-done and informative.

July 12: "Tim Rogerson's World of Disney Color" at ArtInsights gallery in Reston

Co-owner Leslie Combemale posted on their website:

Also, we have Disney interpretive and 2006 official olympic poster artist Tim Rogerson coming to the opening weekend of his show "Tim Rogerson's World of Disney Color". Not sure honestly how many originals we'll be getting for the show as he just had a baby, but what we are getting is wonderful, and there'll be color concepts for his newest works which my clients get first dibs on, and the originals they are sending are really cool! He has a website of his Disney and non-Disney art, Let us know if you are interested in some of the art you see, and remember you can commission him when he's here!

The show starts on July 12th, and he'll be here 2-6 pm, along with Merrie Lasky, who has worked for Disney for many years and is now with Collectors Editions, who represents all Disney interpretive art. She will not only be helping out with orders for Tim, but will be onhand to explain the new Disney Fine Art Glass we just started carrying, that is gorgeous and very intricately designed and created.

Hancock reviews in today's papers

Both the Post and the NY Times gave so-so reviews to it.

"Man of Bent Steel: 'Hancock' Runs Into a Kryptonite Plot Twist and Loses Its Superpowers," By Stephen Hunter, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, July 2, 2008; C01.

"Able to Leap Tall Buildings, Even if Hung Over," By MANOHLA DARGIS, New York Times July 2, 2008.

I'm going out on a limb here and guess the twist that's referred to in both reviews:

Hunter: ...and then the movie takes the strangest turn in quite possibly movie history, which I will not disclose. It's as if the screenwriters were working in their bungalow one day, stuck on a plot point, and one said to the other, "What if --" and the other said, "No way," and the first said, "Okay, genius, you come up with something better!" and genius never did.

Dargis: The extent of that complexity doesn’t emerge until the big reveal, which involves Ms. Theron’s character and is so surprising that I heard several grown men loudly gasp. (“No way!”)

My guess, without anything beyond those two sentences, is that Theron's character is actually a superhero, just one who does things right and keeps a secret identity secret. Feel free to write in and let me know if I got it.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Kal is back, back, back in the USA

He reports on his trip on his blog at "Kal talks Cartoons in Azerbaijan" from June 29 2008.

Post likes local Lion King

See "The Circle Is Unbroken: 'Lion King' Still Roars," By Peter Marks, Washington Post Staff Writer, Tuesday, July 1, 2008; C01. Unfortunately for anyone who was waiting for a review, the story says it's sold out.