Today we have Michael Dean's look at last week's Kirby ruling. It's the most incisive piece yet on the subject. A taste:
Clearly very conscious of recent editorials and letters in The New York Times expressing outrage at the way that Kirby had been shut out of the massive profits being reaped by Marvel/Disney, McMahon tried to distance herself from that controversy. At the outset of her ruling, she noted, “This case is not about whether Kirby (and other freelance artists who created culturally iconic comic book characters for Marvel and other publishers) were treated ‘fairly’ by companies that grew rich off the fruit of their labor. It is about whether Kirby’s work qualifies as work-for-hire … If it does, then Marvel owns the copyright in the Kirby works, whether that is ‘fair’ or not. If it does not, then the Kirby Heirs have a statutory right to take back those copyrights, no matter the impact on a recent corporate acquisition or on earnings from blockbuster movies made and yet to be made.”
This is going to be a great week here at the Journal, so stay tuned.
First up, we have video from the recent San Diego Comic-Con panel featuring Mario, Gilbert, and Jaime Hernandez, and moderated by our own Kristy Valenti. Watch it!
Also, Brian Ralph has agreed to provide our latest Cartoonist's Diary, and begins relating his experiences at Comic-Con on the airplane.
Frank Santoro uses his recent experience working with Dash Shaw on an animation project to compare comics with film. (Speaking of which, Tom Spurgeon has unearthed the website for Frank's hitherto secret day job.)
Our own article on the recent Jack Kirby legal decision will be published soon. In the meantime, Steve Bissette is worth reading on the subject. He's calling for a boycott of Marvel.
One of the nice things about Tom Spurgeon's return from hiatus is knowing that Sundays are cartoonist-interview-reading time again. This week, he talked to Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai.
Matthias Wivel attended the Eisner show at MoCCA in New York, and has photos.
Not comics: Joe McCulloch and Tucker Stone discuss a book without pictures, David Foster Wallace's posthumous The Pale King. (I still haven't been able to bring myself to read that novel. It's felt too ghoulish. I will get over that, I'm sure, as it's no strongly held principle.) It is also apparently the fifth anniversary of Tucker's site.
Alex Pappademas's recent article in the New York Times Magazine bemoaning the corporatized nature of superhero stories, with their unimaginative rehashings, obligatory (and meaningless) winks to fans, and exploitation of the collector mentality, could have come straight from any comic-book blog of the last ten years. Except it's about superhero movies instead of superhero comics. And it's in the Times. Mo' money, mo' problems, as the redoubtable P. Diddy once so unconvincingly put it.
Speaking of cynical Hollywood cash grabs, Abhay Khosla takes great pleasure in the box office failure of Cowboys & Aliens, which property it is easy to forget began as a transparently movie-minded "comic book." Khosla is glad that the movie based on a real comic, The Smurfs, has come out on top. I'd be more inclined to share his happiness if I hadn't seen the trailer...
Top new of the day: As you may know by now, the Kirby estate suffered quite a defeat yesterday, according to Deadline's Nikki Finke:
The federal judge not only granted the studio motions for summary judgment but also denied the Toberoff/Kirby's cross-motion for summary judgment. The ruling revolved around the fact that Kirby was a freelance writer and did work-for-hire and so didn't retain the copyright. "This is just the beginning," Toberoff just told me, noting that, after the Kirby Estate exercised their termination rights under the Copyright Act, Marvel (backed by Disney) was in the middle of settlement negotiations in December 2009 and sued the Kirbys on January 8, 2010 in NY to benefit from that state's more favorable work-for-hire case law.
Essentially, this means the judge decided the law was so clear that the case doesn't even need to go to trial.
R.C. Harvey outdoes himself with a new article about Archie, John Goldwater, and the end of the Comics Code:
It is serenely fitting that Archie should be the last publisher to leave the dismal Code room, turning on the light as it left. John Goldwater, one of the trio of founders of MLJ Comics out of which Archie emerged, was, as he himself claimed, “the prime founder” of the CMAA, which invented the Code and enforced it with the Comics Code Authority. Hence, this seems an appropriate moment to consider the dubious record of John Goldwater, the man who claimed to have invented Archie Andrews as well as the CMAA. About the latter there is less dispute than about the former. Let’s see whether his claims can withstand close scrutiny and the conflicting testimony of contradictory witnesses.
Maurice Sendak has a new book coming out in September (the first he's both drawn and written in 30 years), and talks with Dave Eggers about it in Vanity Fair.
Matt Seneca reads a tribute to the late Gene Colan in an issue of Daredevil, and is moved to recite a timeline of his professional life.
In a not unrelated story, Clifford Meth draws attention to a small fundraiser for comics creators via the Hero Initiative.
Nick Gazin at Viceinterviews the mysterious Jonny Negron, everyone's favorite new porn cartoonist.
The Center for Cartoon Studies has been awarded a $255,000 grant, which it plans to use building the Inky Solomon Center, a "state-of-the-art industry center designed to help CCS alumni launch projects, incubate start-up companies and create jobs."
Kevin Czap looks at comic-book sound effects in the work of Jordan Crane, Brandon Graham, and various manga artists.
Finally, that Grant Morrison documentary from a while back is apparently available for free online viewing now.
But lets be honest: coloring inside the lines of the post-apocalyptic genre isn’t a field anybody needs help finding average-to-great examples of; you could fake an epileptic seizure in a decently stocked Barnes & Noble and end up with a decent chunk of the stuff just by picking up whatever your flailing hands knocked to the floor.
Can I mention again how outrageous and sad it is that Bill Blackbeard didn't make it into the Hall of Fame? Thank you. Seriously. I know, I know, it's just an honorific, but... c'mon.
Thanks to Rob Stolzer, we have a little more information about Slim Jim cartoonist Raymond Crawford Ewer, whose spectacular work was featured in Art Out of Time. These postcards to a friend from the 20 year-old artist are pretty wonderful.
Young Sammy Harkham sent over this link to work by someone I'd never heard of, Tiger Tateishi. Exceptionally surreal manga and paintings.
I'm not sure how I missed this before: A link (NSFW) to the Wrightson-Bode porn classics from Swank magazine. I remember seeing this work in a Wrightson compilation when I was a kid and being deeply confused. The combination of those two art styles becomes this gnarly bubble thing... and I like it. Dig those colors, too. Minor but impressive porn comics itching for a reprint. Now there's a business idea for parent company: "Eros Classics", in which the highest standards are applied to archiving the horniest porn. Wally Wood's complete Gang Bang on sumptuous acid free heavyweight paper. That one's free, boss! A money-loser from me to you.
Our own Jeet Heer writes about the historical and ongoing political meanings of Captain America in the Globe and Mail. (Hey, where's Dapper Dan on this movie?)
A rare, short interview with Glamourpuss creator Dave Sim, who is now apparently peeved at Neil Gaiman for not being interested in reading Glamourpuss.
Supergods, Grant Morrison's very strange (at least in the parts that aren't just hastily joined-together filler) history of superhero comics, has come out. We will have more coverage of the book here at the site soon, but Paul Gravett has a take worth reading here. The best response I've read so far to one of the book's more troubling aspects comes from Abhay Khosla.
Rob Clough rounds up his thoughts on the recent Jacques Tardi reprints.
And should we keep linking to great Eddie Campbell blogposts, are all of you smart enough to be following him on your own by now?
Morning! I guess the big thing in San Diego is over now. Tom Spurgeon has the best round-up of the news from the halls. As far as I can tell, the only interesting announcements made were about reprinting old comics: Zap, the EC line from our benefactors at FB and more Artist's Editions from IDW (Wally Wood, John Romita, Will Eisner). I love old comics, but... any new comics? Anyone? My favorite news out of San Diego: Spidey-villian Rhys Ifans was drunk and hating America at the movie panel. Y'know, having been to Comic-Con only twice, I have to say, getting drunk and hating America is a not unreasonable reaction. Luckily, upcoming Cartoonist Diary entrant Brian Ralph will be bringing us all the dirt from his magical weekend at Comic-Con.
Annnnyhhoooow, what's new on the site today? Let's see... A brand new Frank Santoro travel-brand column.
And, as promised herewith my comics-oriented Tokyo picture-fest! OMG! Spent a week in Tokyo the other week, which was awesomely hot. Anyone who knows me knows that my first stop in Tokyo must always be to pay homage to King Terry. My liege. We had a productive few hours, taped a good interview and discussed things. When I last saw him he was getting a haircut at his favorite barbershop, just up the street from his studio. A barbershop, I might add, that he has colonized and decorated like a gangsta-rap loving visual virus.
And then off to see Yoshikazu Ebisu, who was kind enough to make time just before his museum exhibition.
He was kind enough to bring along some original art to show. I remain shocked at how clean the art is. Ebisu's lines are sure and clean. Virtually no mistakes evident. Heta-uma, sure, but with a 19th century line.
Accompanying me was our own Ryan Holmberg, who lives in Tokyo right now. Ryan and I later went to see Kosei Ono, translator and manga gadfly since the 1960s. Kosei both wrote Incredible Hulk stories for manga and translated Maus. That's a career.
Ryan turned me on to my new favorite manga series:
Another day I went to see Keiichi Tanaami, Japanese psychedelic graphics master and, apparently, occasional experimental manga maker, as with this unsanctioned "Wonder Woman" strip rom 1969.
And rounding out the trip was a four-day stint at the Tokyo Art Book Fair, where I got to spend some quality time with Yuichi Yokoyama. This is how Yokoyama likes to have his picture taken with fans. Yes, that shirt is one-of-a-kind.
We did a live a conversation together, during which Yokoyama drew on sheets of paper. At the end he put the stack of some 60-70 drawings on the floor as a gift. Minor pandemonium ensued.
And that pretty much sums up my trip! Thank you, Tokyo!
I have promised much, and delivered little. But I swear (sort of) that Monday will bring some good pix and fun facts on this here blog. In the meantime, here's the best I can do.
Today on the site: Rob Clough reviews the latest Harvey Pekar book.
And if you haven't already read Sean Rogers’ epic Walt Simonson interview, you should. On that note, IDW has just announced its next "Artist's Edition": Wally Wood. It'll present the best of Wood's EC stories at their original size, in full color. That's good news, and those originals are truly spectacular. Which reminds me, if you haven't already, head over to Heritage Auctions to get a gander at the stunning original art for one of my favorite Wood stories, the vicious, scathing and sad "My Word", published in 1975. And on my final IDW tip, I greatly enjoyed Howard Chaykin's review of Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth over at the Los Angeles Review of Books. Chaykin draws a solid parallel to Phil Spector in his review:
To convey the irony and contradiction of the place that Alex Toth commands in popular culture in general and comics in particular, we might step away from the Orson Welles-Citizen Kane metaphor, and go instead to Phil Spector and the three-minute miracles of early rock ‘n’ roll that are his artistic and creative legacy. No one — at least no one I know — would ever mistake the lyrics of Spector’s best known material for anything but teenaged pap and drivel, while his orchestration, presentation, and arrangement of this junky doggerel never fails to elevate it to the level of unequivocal genius. I still get a goose pimpling shudder of delight at the first notes of the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” and The Crystals’s “Da Doo Ron Ron,” and it’s that same reflexive joy I experience at the sight of Alex Toth’s execution of the primitive, barely pulpy scripts that make up so huge a percentage of the work every cartoonist is asked to delineate.
The whole piece is worth reading, in the ever-worthwhile interest of reading one cartoonist on another.
And finally, I'd be remiss not to mention this, the latest from Frank Miller, now complete with an animated trailer. Should be interesting.
In this in-depth interview, Mort Walker talks about growing up during the Great Depression, serving in the military, developing risque versions of his characters for overseas publishers, founding a comics art museum housed in a concrete castle, raising 10 kids, and much more. Continue reading →