Everybody’s Talkin’ at Me

Today on the site we bring you the great R.C. Harvey with his latest column, a look at Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie. Here's an excerpt:

Oddly enough perhaps, Little Orphan Annie reached the zenith of its popularity during the thirties. "Odd" because it was the decade of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the man who gave government a social conscience. FDR's mission ran in directions diametrically opposed to Gray's ideas of self-sufficiency. Under Roosevelt's tutelage, the down-trodden and the poor, the halt and the lame were encouraged to look to government for help rather than exhorted to help themselves by toiling determinedly and exercising tenaciously the principles of free enterprise. Gray's message was precisely the opposite—although it was as much an accident of his story as it was a matter of political conviction.

The best way for a little orphan girl to make her way in the world without being simply a weepy milksop is for her to be self-reliant. As a good story-teller, Gray knew that. Warbucks and the rest of Annie's entourage were natural outgrowths of this central notion. As Gray's exemplar, Warbucks could scarcely espouse self-reliance and free enterprise during the Roosevelt years without, at the same time, seeming to attack FDR's policies. And so Little Orphan Annie became the first nationally syndicated comic strip to be unabashedly, unrelievedly, "political."

Last Friday afternoon, as most of you probably are probably already aware, we posted a special report on the end of the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, checking in with the three founding partners, who told conflicting stories of the reasons for its ending.


—Lots of Interviews to Read and Watch.
Art Spiegelman & Françoise Mouly talk to the National Post. Mouly also talks to Hazlitt. Rutu Modan talks to the Jewish Journal. William Stout talks to Comic Book Resources. Lisa Hanawalt also talks to Hazlitt. Garry Trudeau talks to CNN. Ryan Sands talks to the Chemical Box.

—An Interview-Related Anecodote. From Anne Ishii, translating for Gengorah Tagame, talking to Butt magazine.

—So Many TCAF Reports. The official report from Brad Mackay. A report with a thousand photos from Robin "Inkstuds" McConnell. A short one from Brigid Alverson. A collection of TCAF-related videos at Forbidden Planet. And finally, an almost-as-long-as-War & Peace report from Tom Spurgeon, most of which is very positive, but part of which delves into the controversy this year over reportedly messy programming. TCAF Director Christopher Butcher responds to that part of Tom's report here.

—Awards. Steve Gerber and Don Rosa win the Bill Finger Award.

—Comics History.
The Billy Ireland museum finds early Jack T. Chick work, a Flinstones-esque gag strip. Paul Gravett writes about Crime Does Not Pay, which he considers America's greatest crime comic. Michael May at Robot 6 highlights a Mark Evanier blog post I meant (but forgot) to highlight myself, on Chaykin, Infantino, and the historical treatment of comic-book artists. Jerry Beck, Scott Shaw, & Chad Frye talk Carl Barks (via):

—And Finally, a Lot of Video. The Society of Illustrators has posted video from several of the panels held at this year's MoCCA festival. Here's the one with guest of honor Bill Griffith:



Tucker is here to blow those blues away.


You may have heard that the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival is no more. Tim will have a story shortly.

Let's see...

Looks like Oily Comics is going to publish a Josh Simmons book. That's a coup. An interview with Cecil Castellucci and one-time TCJ Diarist Sara Varon. A Groo review.

And I thought the news from Scott Eder Gallery of "Will Eisner's 'A Contract with God' and Other Images, an exhibition featuring original art, sketches and drawings from the title story" of the book was interesting. For one thing, I can't think of another show devoted to just a single comic book story. And also, I'm curious to see the process work. That is one of Eisner's better visual efforts.

Finally, enjoy your weekend with Stan and Jan Berenstain.


Mouse Breath

Today, Faith Erin Hicks continues her week on A Cartoonist's Diary, today depicting her post-Stumptown reverie.


—Ng Suat Tong released his annual survey of the "Best Online Comics Criticism" of the past year, including several mentions of works printed on this site. This is the first time I can remember being previously familiar with everything chosen (besides the year I helped judge, naturally), and also the first year that I largely agree that most of the picks deserve recognition. I remember past years featuring more adventurous, and just plain more choices, but I also remember past years featuring more clunkers, so maybe the two go hand in hand. Matthias Wivel weighs in on the selection here.

—The Beat has gathered audio from a selection of panels held at last weekend's TCAF Festival.

—The only reason I don't link to Rob Clough's blog more often is that he's so prolific that doing so would quickly become a full-time job. But maybe today's a good day to remind readers of his other gig. Recent entries include a review of Abel & Madden's Mastering Comics and Robyn Chapman's Drawing Comics, and a roundup of recent minicomics.

Jonathan Winters was also a cartoonist?!

—And finally, Jon Longhi talks to Robert Crumb (via):



Today we have Day 3 of Faith Erin Hicks' Diary. And Robert Kirby reviews Lilli Carré’s Heads or Tails.

Even better is “The Carnival,” a gorgeously colored 32-page story that unfolds with mesmeric dream logic. Like Madeline, the hero of the piece, Henry, is a salesperson (his line is cars). He plods through life listlessly until one night when he impulsively skips town for a few days. On a whim, he stops at a carnival and meets a nameless woman with a young boy in tow (who upon closer look resembles Henry). Though Carré leaves the woman’s role ambiguous—she may be aligned with some elemental or supernatural forces, especially considering the memorable manner in which she exits the story—it is clear that she sparks something in Henry: sexual desire, to be sure, but perhaps also the ability to dream of a life less prosaic – or even the ability to dream at all. Subtle and ambiguous but not opaque, Carré leaves the story particulars and ultimate meanings for the reader to suss out, inviting a re-read or two.


It's a slow news day.... Tardi and Luc Besson fans will be happy to know that The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec is getting a proper DVD/Blu-Ray release. This is a good relic. And I sure like that Emil Gershwin (yes, the same Gershwin).

And here's the Doug Wright Awards video:




It's Tuesday, which means it's Joe McCulloch day, and today he's got not only highlighting the Week in Comics' most interesting releases, but also writing in depth about the creator of some of the most uncomfortable manga ever made, Suehiro Maruo.

It's also the second day of the Cartoonist's Diary of Faith Erin Hicks. Today, she's on the way to Stumptown.

Elsewhere: Not so much.

—Devlin Thompson at Bizarro Wuxtry has some great photos of Peter Bagge and Daniel Clowes's Hateball tour, which took place twenty years ago.

—Chris Mautner isn't that big a fan of Bazooka Joe comics. Go figure.

—Graeme McMillan notes that despite Marvel's recent claims, Avengers: Endless Wartime is hard to justify as “Marvel’s First Original Graphic Novel." Does the phrase "graphic novel" really have such fetishistic power that it's worth making bald-faced lies like that?

—And finally, Jeet Heer takes to the Globe & Mail to review Gilbert Hernandez's latest two books.


Loonies and Toonies

On the the occasion of their seventy-fifth release, I talked to the two of the editors behind The Library of American Comics series of books.

Mullaney: Those rights are what we, as individuals, make them. The issue is totally separate from legal rights. From a publisher’s perspective, if I want to reprint Alex’s Zorro comics, I need to pay a licensing fee/royalty to John Gertz/Zorro Productions, who owns the trademark to the character and the copyrights to those stories. If, on the other hand, I want to reprint Alex’s comics for Standard or Lev Gleason, the work is apparently in the public domain, so no licensing fee or royalties are due. If the original publisher failled to register or renew the copyright or that publishing entity no longer exists, anyone is legally free to reprint the stories. In the course of my long career in comics, I have made the personal decision that — in the case of public domain comics in which there is no rights holder requiring a fee or royalties — I would pay the artist or the artist’s direct heirs. I still have letters of appreciation from Jerry Siegel, Jack Katz, Reed Crandall’s sister, Ellie Frazetta, and other creators whose work I reprinted in the 1980s and 1990s and for which I paid them.

These “moral” rights run parallel to a previously obscure part the 1976 Copyright Act, which allows artists, under specific circumstances, to reclaim the rights to their work after 35 years. The intent of the law is to allow creative people a second chance to own material they sold to a publisher earlier in their careers when they may not have had fair leverage. I think we can all agree that very few comics artists in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s understood what they were signing away – or even IF they signed anything away. It seems to me that if we are in favor of Siegel, Shuster, and Kirby trying to reclaim their rights, then we should similarly should pay them for reprinting that earlier work. In my book, it’s all the same thing.


I've been at TCAF all weekend selling books. So while two days in the midst of comic-dom would have you think I'd have plenty to say... it doesn't. TCAF was an excellent show for me. The Hernandez Bros were a big focus, which was great. There's a new edition of Chester Brown's The Playboy, with additional notes, new lettering and a whole format reconfiguration. Brown's reworking of his text is so rigorous that each edition is a new work, which is exciting. What else... here are your Doug Wright Award winners, from the PR:

Best Book: The Song of Roland, by Michel Rabagliati

The Spotlight Award (aka "The Nipper"): Nina Bunjevac for Heartless

Pigskin Peters Award: Hamilton Illustrated, by Michael Collier

Held as a feature event of the 2013 Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF), the evening also saw Albert Chartier inducted into The Giants of the North, the Canadian Cartoonists Hall of Fame.

The winners were decided by a jury that included: Joe Ollmann, Pascal Girard, Jonathan Goldstein, Natalia Yanchak and Julie Delporte.

And Tom Spurgeon interviews Ryan Sands, who had two much talked about debuts at the show.




Long Con

Tucker Stone and Abhay Khosla are here with their Comics of the Weak column. Tucker got a fan letter with advice, and duly turned over a new leaf; Abhay's serving up the same stale negative attitude as always. Maybe they need to get together and talk about this.

And today is the final day of Joe Ollmann's week running A Cartoonist's Diary. There was a whole complicated schedule around this last entry, based on what Joe promised was going to be an incredibly exciting trip to New York City. As you'll see, things didn't go that way exactly. Anyway, this has been a great week for the feature, so thanks, Joe!


—Interviews. James Romberger talks to Michael DeForge. Rugg, Lex, & Piskor talk to Jeff Smith. SCPR talks to Gilbert Hernandez, and so does KNPR. In advance of TCAF, Forbidden Planet talks to reps from three companies, SelfMadeHero, Fantagraphics, and Blank Slate.

—Criticism. Ng Suat Tong reviews Fraction & Aja's Hawkeye. Charles-Adam Foster-Simard reviews the Art Spiegelman "Co-Mix" exhibition in Vancouver. Chris Randle reviews Gilbert Hernandez's Marble Season.

—News. Sports Illustrated writes about the influence of the manga Slam Dunk on the popularity of basketball in Japan. P. Craig Russell remembers Dan Adkins. (via) Tom Tomorrow delivered his Herblock acceptance speech:

—Misc. Miriam Katin went to Canada and drew comics. I learned that ulta-hard-boiled crime novelist Peter Rabe also wrote and drew an illustrated humor book about motherhood! Apparently the Man of Steel soundtrack is a little downbeat and a writer at The Guardian is complaining about it. I continue to be amused at the way the complaints of comics nerddom from a decade or more ago become the complaints of everybody else as the entire world of popular culture slowly devolves. I also continue to be amused at pictures of old celebrities clearly not enjoying comic books.



Today Joe Ollman continues his diary with Day 4.

The longtime cartoonist Dan Adkins has passed away. Adkins was known for his sleek drawing for comic books including T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and Dr. Strange and genre mags like Argosy and Amazing Stories. He was also perhaps Wally Wood's finest assistant, working for the older artist in the 1960s. We'll have a full obituary soon.


I'm not sure what this is, but it's delightful.

Inkstuds host Robin McConnell has a lengthy report on his visits to recent comic book conventions.

PW looks at our publisher Fantagraphics' digital moves.

A Neal Adams oddity throughout the years.