On the site today: Good news: Frank Santoro is back with a new installment of his column. This week Frank remembers 2009 and has some thoughts on the lifespan of a comic. Stay tuned for more.


Sean T. Collins on Gabrielle Bell.

It's SDCC-time and The Beat has some announcements and here's a LGBT guide to the con.

Here's a local profile of Jim Rugg.

A review of Ulli Lust's Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life.

A remembrance of cartoonist Jackie Ormes.

Brandon Graham has been reading some Terminator comics.


Cui Bono

After the success of the most recent Superman film (and made hundreds of millions of dollars), Michael Dean has written "Who Owns the Man of Steel?", a history of the rights battle over the character to show who exactly is getting paid, and why, and a good primer for those who haven't followed the situation closely:

You may be forgiven if you’ve lost track of who owns the rights to the protagonist of Man of Steel. On the other hand, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that the legal seesaw between the heirs of Superman’s creators and Warner/DC landed solidly in favor of the corporation earlier this year, just before the release of its big-budget tent-pole movie.

An appeal of a ruling against the heirs of Joe Shuster is pending, but it is before the same appeals court that ruled against the Siegel heirs in January. Warner Senior Vice-President of Corporate Communications Paul McGuire told the Journal a ruling on that appeal is expected soon.

Marc Toberoff, attorney for the heirs, vowed to continue the fight. Warner, however, considered itself the winner of not just the battle but the war. “This is a great day for Superman, for his fans, for DC Entertainment and for Warner Bros,” the company announced, following the court’s latest ruling against Siegel’s heirs. If this is the end of what has been an epic struggle over control of one of the world’s most valuable properties, how happy an end is it? Is it really a great day for Superman, his corporate owners, and his fans? And what kind of day is it for comics creators?


—The Harvey Award nominations have been announced.

Journal columnist Jared Gardner has launched a series of articles exploring Franco-Belgian comics translated into English.

—Matt Madden, fresh off his entry into the French Order of Arts & Letters, files another long report from his and wife Jessica Abel's life in Angoulême.

—Michael Dooley previews the "Wonder Women: On and Off Paper" exhibition being held at the Women's Museum in San Diego concurrently with the upcoming Comic-Con.

Michael DeForge was interviewed for the Your Dreams My Nightmares podcast, and Maris Wicks was interviewed by Tom Spurgeon.

—The Comics Internet®'s "favorite" French cartoonist, Boulet, goes to Vermont and CCS.

—Brian Michael Bendis answers a reader's question about Orson Scott Card.



Well ok, it's Tuesday so Joe McCulloch has things to tell you about this week's comics. And we have added a tribute to Kim Thompson by Steve Brodner to the post.


Domingos Isabelinho wonders "Did Comics Criticism Ever Exist?"

MORE Joe McCulloch, this time on late (recent) Steve Ditko.

Wired has some Comic-Con etiquette tips for you.

And the A.V. Club has a list of 17 superhero stories by alternative cartoonists.


Building Day

Good morning, folks. Today we have another review from the indefatigable Rob Clough, this time his take on Thomas Herpich's White Clay. Here's a sample:

"Mensch" and "The Wedding Cauldron" are examples of just how comfortable Herpich is working in a fantasy milieu, even if both go way beyond the scope of a typical fantasy story. "Mensch" is about a soldier in some ancient war who falls and is replaced by a different version of himself, a better version who had been the better nature of himself that he had long ignored. Once again, the idea that there's a better version of one's self that's lurking out there, waiting to take over comes to the fore in this comic. The real kicker is that Herpich convinces the reader that this other self deserves to take over. "The Wedding Cauldron" is about a man discovering these impish little shape-changing creatures who perform mischief at a wedding he doesn't really want to be attending. The melancholy fellow feels his spirits lifted by following them into the forest, even as the imps are terrified that he will kill them, especially since one of their disguises works so poorly. Once again, Herpich is interested in people hiding and literally changing their identities, only it's from an outside perspective this time around.


—Interviews Dept.Journal writer Chris Mautner interviews Journal writer Marc Sobel about Sobel's new book, The Love and Rockets Companion. ICv2 interviews the indescribable Jack Katz on the republication of his First Kingdom.

—History Dept.
No one's going to beat this series of posts by Todd Klein on the history of DC Comics for a while. Start here and keep going. And Ladies Making Comics does a short profile of the under-appreciated Dori Seda.

—Miscellaneous. The Lambda Literary Review gathers comics recommendations from LGBT cartoonists, including Harold Cruse, Ellen Forney, Roberta Gregory, and Justin Hall, among others. The Projects festival has announced their upcoming lineup. Jacob Canfield compares Steve Ditko to Jack T. Chick.



Hi, it's Friday, but no Tucker today. We have Robert Kirby on Theo Ellsworth's latest.

And now I direct you to these fine places on the internet:

I'm always proud to make an appearance.

SDCC: The academic side.

Jared Gardner on Franco-Belgian comics.

PW on the state of comic book retailing.

Alex Dueben interviews Joe Sinnott.

And Joe McCulloch gives us, and the world, a Steve Ditko checklist.



Social Jiu-Jitsu

Tributes to Kim Thompson are continuing to come in, most recently from Paul Baresh, Bob Burden, Drew Friedman, Francesca Ghermandhi, and Jim Woodring. Here's a bit of Woodring's:

Kim was a master of social jiu-jitsu. When a well-known sci-fi writer gratuitously insulted him, publicly and in terms that would have driven most people into a vengeful rage, Kim absorbed it with his well-known chuckle, effectively neutralizing the venom and making the writer look like even more of a jerk. But his unruffled exterior masked a passionate nature and a gift for lethal invective. Like Mark Twain, when he had a grievance he would sometimes express his true feelings in a self-gratifyingly unrestrained letter that would never be sent, followed by the calm, rational, and eminently professional response that was his official reply. In my archives is a copy of a magnificently unpublishable screed he wrote but never sent to a business acquaintance, a letter which still makes my head spin with its relentless onslaught of caustic virtuosity. He could have been a polemicist as good (and as savage) as Philip Wylie or Christopher Hitchens if he had chosen to.


—Columbia University's Rare Books and Manuscripts Library has acquired the archives of Al Jaffee. This is excellent news. I once had the opportunity to look at some of that work in person, and it was among the most impressive original comic art I've ever seen.

—Sky is Falling Dept. At Editor & Publisher, Rob Tornoe writes about the current difficulties facing aspiring syndicated newspaper cartoonists, and ICv2, Rob Salkowitz worries about the Amazon comics announcement.

—Philip Nel has conveniently gathered many of the best video interviews and other links related to Maurice Sendak.

Clowes does Dragnet.

Salon interviews Alan Moore, but not about comics. Mostly he just talks about why Dan is wrong about crowd-funding.

—Burgin Streetman has posted the rest of her Tomi Ungerer interview.

—Sean Howe, the author of Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, talks with Dan Patterson about Marvel.

—Not Comics: That Dustin Hoffman video going around is very moving and all, but I prefer the one Martin Short made thirty years ago.


Lying Down

In his latest "Grid", Ken Parille closely examines Acme Novelty Library 19:

Ware, who has often compared comics to music, uses the red circle as a visual leitmotif, a “short, repeated musical theme” that he associates with Brown and threads throughout the comic’s two narratives. It first appears as the razor’s cap and then as a pushpin holding up photos of the astronaut and his “first and only true love.”


Amazon is jumping into the comics publishing game. So far, so shitty.

On the bright side, here's a Gary Panter curriculum in pictures.

Paul Karasik draws the story of his local ferry.

Lists are more fun to make than to read, but here's one from a whole web site devoted to lists, and it's about comics, too. Go to it.

Al Jaffee roughs are better than most finishes.

Sort of comics -- or at least cartoon characters: Wrigley's Spearmen.


Fashionable Contrasts

It's Tuesday, which means Joe McCulloch is here with his regular guide to the Week in Comics.

Also, if it's been a while since you checked in with our collection of tributes to Kim Thompson, you'll want to take another look at it soon. New additions have continued to roll in, most recently from Kim's Fantagraphics colleagues Jason T. Miles and Kristy Valenti, as well as an essay-length remembrance from Gary Groth.

I’ve sketched the highlights of Kim’s “career” (he would understand and appreciate the quotation marks — neither of us thought of this as a “career”), but it barely scratches the surface — it’s impossible to adequately convey his devotion to specific projects and to the goals of the company generally, the all-nighters we pulled to get books to the printer, the tens of thousands of hours hunched over typewriters and computer keyboards and manuscripts, his above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty proofreading. What I’d like to do, though, is to offer a few words about something I’m uniquely qualified to talk about: the intersection between our personal and professional lives.

As a publisher of cartooning, Fantagraphics Books was an outgrowth of The Comics Journal, so a polemical chip-on-the-shoulder was built into its DNA. As recently as the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, the whole notion that comics was a bona fide art form was still alien not just to the culture at large, but even to the fan sub-culture, most of which inhabited this bland, gray area between a connoisseurial love of great cartooning and the worship of pure drek (often both at the same time). The only way to break this critical complacency, I thought —and it may not have been the most effective strategy (because it was less a strategy than a compulsion)— was to confront the artistic status quo head-on with the best criticism we could muster — and Kim was right there with me in this Quixotic endeavor, as his reviews of Ronin, Detectives, Inc., The Death of Captain Marvel, and other books attest. Without this zeal, I don’t think we could’ve made a difference.

Elsewhere, lots of catching up to do:

—The long nightmare surrounding Dragon Con and Edward Kramer is apparently over. (Context here.)

—If you read the two-part Peter Bagge/Zak Sally discussion we ran a few months back, you recall how much of it had to do with the difficult economics of comics publishing today. Sally is now releasing the second volume of his Sammy the Mouse series, and talks a lot more about all of that in his announcement, in which he suggests ordering the book direct.

—Longish Reviews. Occasional Journal contributor Sean Rogers has a typically excellent piece on Michael DeForge at the Globe & Mail, and Michael Kammen writes about Victor Navasky's The Art of Controversy for LARB. (I think I have to read this book.)

—Frequent Journal contributor Chris Mautner has a roundup of recent books from Hic & Hoc. So does Rob Clough. Sarrah Horrock writes about Jiro Matsumoto. Impossible Mike writes about Gengoroh Tagame.

—Whenever I link to Bleeding Cool, I seem to get at least one irritated e-mail from readers, but they've got a couple fun recent posts up, including one on the time S. Clay Wilson worked for Marvel, and another on Jim Steranko's colorful Twitter account. (Gary's eventual essay-length tribute to Steranko will be a sight to see.)

—As with most (all?) art forms, the history of comics is perhaps most efficiently grasped as the history of the technologies involved with its production. Pioneering underground artist Justin Green is figuring out how the current technological changes affect his work in a brief blog post here.

—Robert Boyd has an excellent piece on the sad end of Domy Books in Houston.

—British sf author Alastair Reynolds remembers growing up on Eagle.

—And finally, Gary Larson on 20/20 in 1986 (via):