It’s been a bad couple of weeks for comic books. As I’m sure most readers of this site know by now, Joe Simon has died. Steve Ringgenberg has written an extensive obituary of the man for us:
If Joe Simon had only created Captain America back in 1940, he would still be a comic book legend. However, Simon’s career lasted for decades and encompassed the creation of dozens of memorable characters and thousands of pages of stories and art. Simon, both with and without his partner, Jack Kirby, was an innovative writer, editor and artist, responsible for some of the most influential characters and trends in comic book history. He was nothing if not versatile. Indeed, it’s impossible to consider Joe Simon’s career without looking at the entire history of the comics business, since he was there almost from the industry’s inception.
Also, Gary Groth interviewed Simon for the Journal in 1990:
GROTH: How did you see yourself? Did you see yourself as an artist, or was it more of a job that you were just lucky enough to get?
SIMON: Oh, no. We saw ourselves as artists. That’s all. Just artists.
GROTH: But even though you saw yourselves as artists, you didn’t think the work would really have any lasting value.
SIMON: No. We thought that the comic books were at the bottom of the heap. On the totem pole we were the lowest rung. Matter of fact, a friend of mine at an advertising agency once told me that. And the truth of the matter is that nobody remembers this guy any more, but everybody remembers someone like Kirby.
And elsewhere, Bill Kartalopolous writes about The Death-Ray in the context of comic book-based publishing and film. Also on the Bill K. front, he alerted us to this Dutch documentary on comics which features a rare look into Jerry Moriarty’s studio. Speaking of legendary cartoonists, here’s a typically fun post from Drew Friedman on his time with Jack Davis at The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. We’ll have a recording of Gary Groth and Drew’s conversation with Davis very soon. And more legends … Mike Lynch posted a bunch of Jerry Robinson-centric articles from the National Cartoonists Society newsletter.
This morning we have a real treat for those of you who may have missed it in the print edition of the Journal a few years back (and also for those of you who haven’t reread it for a while, for that matter): Gary Groth’s 2006 evisceration of Eisner/Miller, a classic of the form.
Kevin Huizenga goes Santoro on us, and lets everyone in on the process he’s developed over the years to help him lay out his comics. Very nice.
Over at Nerve, Grace Bello wrangles sex advice out of cartoonists Emily Flake, Rick Altergott, and Anders Nilsen. Very strange.
The A.V. Club has a nice if short interview with Mad legend Jack Davis.
The gang at Mindless Ones have thrown together a long, conversational group review of ten million comics, ostensibly focusing on DC’s New 52 titles, but in effect covering just about everything.
Eddie Campbell continues his exploration of romance comics, this time including a look at EC’s attempts at the genre. I have to object to his description of Al Feldstein’s art though. “Wooden” I’ll grant, but “charmless”? There’s something very comfortable and calming about Feldstein’s work, as if it was drawn by an old friend who makes up with energy what he lacks in craft. (I can’t believe I’m defending Al Feldstein.)
And so let’s go for a stroll: Evan Dorkin posted some awfully nice looking “sketch cards” he did for the CBLDF. Over at D&Q there’s another preview of Guy Delisle’s upcoming book, Jerusalem.
Somehow I missed this incredible post about a 1944 nurse story by Jack Cole… or is it? I couldn’t begin to tell you why I like this photo so much — three guys, one photo, an anonymous office. It’s a good set up. And on the same nerdy tip, here’s an article over at the venerable Mindless Ones about The Daleks. Just the right dose for me.
I’ve enjoyed Brian K. Vaughn’s comics quite a bit in the past, so the news of a new series is intriguing. All the more so since he’s taking it to Image, which seems a good choice for someone who wants to own something. Not comics, but same business model: David Berman, of Silver Jews, has begun posting the internal files of Gulas/Welch Wrestling Enterprises. Amazing.
Patrick Rosenkranz takes stock of the lot of today’s comics business, by looking and talking to people at four prominent retailers: Meltdown in Hollywood, Desert Island in Brooklyn, Quimby’s in Chicago, and CounterMedia in Portland, Oregon.
Frank Santoro recruits Gabby Gamboa for this week’s “scene report,” this time covering the San Francisco bay area.
And Comics Journal co-founder Mike Catron passes along word that he’s just uploaded a four-part video featuring Jerry Robinson from San Diego in 2009:
Tucker Stone begins a series of tournaments between comics old and new. His first entry puts a Michael DeForge story up against Tim Vigil’s Faust. And based on his final judgment, I think Tucker’s refereeing skills need work. This should be fun to follow.
Just so you know, a big internet-style king of the mountain-sized molehill fight is brewing in the part of the comics world that we tend to ignore here when we can: J. Michael Straczynski vs. Marvel editor Steve Wacker (with help on the sidelines from Mark Waid and Dan Slott). They are arguing about Spider-Man sales figures, in case you don’t care to look into it further.
And in the comics world the big, sad news is that Jerry Robinson, longtime cartoonist, Batman artist, and tremendous advocate for creator’s rights and free speech has passed away at the age of 89. We will have a full obituary shortly. In the meantime, we’re pleased to re-present Gary Groth’s definitive interview with artist from 2004. Chris Mautner conducted a more recent interview in 2010 for TCJ. And here is Tom De Haven’s recent review of the reissue of Robinson’s The Comics.
For more on Robinson I recommend Christopher Irving’s profile at Graphic NYC, Alex Dueben’s 2010 interview at CBR, which covers the recent Jet Scott and The Comics reissues, and the NY Daily News obituary, which covers the highlights of the artist’s life.
In old-time-comic-book-companies-that-were-once-very-bad-still-are-and-we-shouldn’t-be-surprised news:
-Laura Hudson scores an interview with Marvel editors on the lack of female titles/creators at the company.
-And there’s a battle on at Archie over who gets to run that wholesome company. Somewhere Dan DeCarlo is smiling.
Today we have the fourth day of Shannon Wheeler’s entry into the Cartoonist’s Diary game, in which he tries to escape from New York, as well as Sean T. Collins’s review of Levon Jihanian’s Danger Country.
I don’t know how I missed this before, but legendary animator and cartoonist Gene Deitch has been posting a long series of memoirs, organized by different people he has known throughout his life. Like his son Kim, Gene Deitch has had a pretty amazing life, and knows how to tell a story. (The semi-recent “Deitch family” Journal issue is one of the best magazines you will ever read.)
Peter Blegvad, creator of the amazing comic strip Leviathan (another must read), created and appeared on a BBC radio play about memory loss last weekend, and there are only two more days in which you can listen to it for free online.
In that same post, Lynch mentions that Percy Crosby’s Skippy is one of the archival reprinting projects he’d most like to see published, and coincidentally, yesterday IDW announced they were going to do just that.
I haven’t listened to this yet, but Tucker Stone recruited two other Journal writers, Joe McCulloch and Matt Seneca, for a podcast in which, I guess, they talk about comics?
And finally, something else I haven’t been able to fully absorb yet — the Mindless Ones’ Doubtful Guest turns in a ginormous take on the current state of the direct market, and it looks to be the kind of lengthy link-heavy MO essay I like best from them.