BLOG

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.

Elsewhere:

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!

Elsewhere:

—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.

 

Whoah

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.

Elsewhere:

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.

 

By Correspondence

Today we bring you Nicole Rudick’s interview with the artists James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook, two of the creators (with the late David Wojnarowicz) of one of this year’s most impressive books, even if it is a reprint, 7 Miles a Second. Here’s an excerpt:


The third part wasn’t completed until after his death. How did you manage it?

Romberger: When it came to the third part, I had a lot less to work with. David had given me the gist of what he wanted, which was “I want to show myself at the current time, mourning the deaths of my friends, but then in the end it’s a beautiful day and I’m happy to be alive.” But by the time I actually got to sit and draw this thing and edit it—after David’s death—there wasn’t anything like that in his texts. There was no beautiful day, so the book ends with him dying.

He had done this really magnificent bit of writing that was in part of the Artist’s Space book that had gotten him in so much trouble with the NEA, and he had told me, Draw me huge on Fifth Avenue. By that time, what I remembered being on Fifth Avenue was St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and David had once gone with Act Up to protest the church’s stand against public health and homosexuality, while mass was going on, so it made it sense to make Fifth Avenue St. Patrick’s and to draw him smashing it. These were decisions I had to make, but they are true to what his intent would have been, as close as I could approximate.

Did he think there would really be a happy ending to the third part? Or that there would be something good to end it with?

Romberger: In a way it’s a vulnerability we all feel—no one really sees themselves dying and if David had been able to hold on another year or two, perhaps the combination therapy that was developed within a couple years after he died might have saved him. A lot of people were brought back from the brink of death, and it is incredibly tragic that due to actions of people like David and others in Act Up—actions that got the medical establishment to loosen up on the approval of drugs trials—a lot of the work on AIDS and cancer was accelerated. And yet so many people died because things were being held off.

Van Cook: People were starting to be diagnosed and become ill, but that was something David wrote to us about in a letter—I’m rejecting that particular view of life and I’m going on to this brighter path. He didn’t want to be celebrating death and darkness anymore, as an artistic trope. He didn’t want to go down that artistic road, he wanted to go somewhere else. So even when things happened to him later on, he had embraced that more hopeful aspect.

Joe Ollmann is still in the middle of his excellent Cartoonist’s Diary this week. In today’s entry, he talks about his father’s recent death.

Elsewhere:

—It’s not strictly speaking comics-related, but it would be strange not to take note of film and special-effects pioneer Ray Harryahausen’s passing. Journal columnist Charles Hatfield has posted a tribute.

—Chris Ware drew the Mother’s Day cover for The New Yorker, and wrote a mini-essay for the site about the holiday.

—The New Yorker’s site also has a short video interview with Dash Shaw.

—Sean Howe tags a Deadline story about the “absurdity” of some of the actors who appeared in The Avengers getting only $500,000 bonuses after the movie’s success. I wonder if there is anyone else being overlooked in these arrangements?

—Boing Boing has begun publishing stories from Dennis Eichhorn’s old Real Stuff comics, which is great news for me.

—The Dylan Williams Reporter site has reposted Williams’ 1995 interview with Seth. It’s a lot of fun to read the early interviews with major artists over there.

—The Beat talks to L Nichols.

—Finally, Curt Swan’s letter to a young Jim Shooter.

 

Botched

It’s Tuesday so it’s Jog’sDay. And Joe Ollman’s diary rolls into day 2.

Elsewhere:

Here’s a lengthy exquisite corpse comic.

The comics symposium MIX is coming up, and there’s a call for papers.

Abhay Khosla writes the Iron Man 3 review for you.

A trip through Seymour Chwast’s rejection pile.

Writer about comics Gene Kannenberg, Jr on typography.

Here’s the beginning of multi-author a celebration of Matt Wagner’s 1980s alt-superhero, Grendel.

Matt Wagner: “The Hunter Rose version of Grendel was the first comic book character and narrative I ever developed. I wanted to feature the villain/anti-hero as my title character, a motif that just wasn’t done in the commercial comics of those days.

“After I moved my attentions to developing my first color series, Mage, I began to hear back from readers, asking me whatever happened to the story I’d abandoned in Grendel. So, I adapted that narrative to fit into 4-page segments as a backup feature in Mage.

“The result was that I had to really stretch my storytelling sensibilities and find a new and innovative way to tell that tale, little realizing that motif would become a hallmark of Grendel throughout its long history.”

And a bit of news on my end, the cartoonist Blutch has canceled his appearances in North America.

 

 

Mental Communication

Another installment of Ryan Holmberg’s perpetually rewarding column, What Was Alternative Manga?, is here, and this time around Ryan is writing about manga in India, by way of Bharath Murthy’s Comix India:

What hooked the manga scholar in me was Bharath’s “A form of writing: an essay on the comic,” a McCloudian intro to the medium and his own interests, published in Comix India no. 1. There’s a hefty segment on manga, and it wasn’t the usual. He had apparently been to Tokyo and met a few artists. I was curious. I arranged to meet him. He was giving a talk about manga in Delhi and asked me to piggyback with a lecture of my own. I interviewed him too, stupidly without a sound recorder. Now I am back in India, living in Mumbai – for “personal reasons” that do not include gurus or NGOs. I had to redo the interview.

Bharath presently lives in Pune, where he teaches at the venerable Film and Television Institute of India. On a recent weekend, I yanked myself away from writing and translation work, put myself on a train southbound, and holed up in Bharath’s pad until 2 AM with a litre of one of India’s finer scotches.

Oh, and I’m really excited about this week’s Cartoon Diarist, Joe Ollmann. Today he introduces himself and makes a few promises.

Elsewhere:

—The Harvey Award nominations are open.

—Criticism Department. Derik Badman comments on every comic he’s read in April, and includes information on what the mysterious Blaise Larmee has been up to for those who’ve been wondering. Domingos Isabelinho writes about Geneviève Castrée’s Pamplemoussi. Bill Morris writes about the new Herblock documentary. Glen Weldon writes about Superman’s dog Krypto.

—Interviews Department. Haaretz talks to Art Spiegelman. Tom Spurgeon talks to the writer and translator Anne Ishii. Forbidden Planet visits Karrie Fransman:

—Not Comics: A recent flap sparked by a Publishers Weekly interview with Claire Messud (see two perspectives here and here) has provoked a lot of discussion about the necessity (or not) of likeable characters in fiction. This can’t help but remind me of the critical response to Daniel Clowes’s Wilson a few years ago, and Clowes’s claim: “Likeable characters are for weak-minded narcissists.”

 

Daze

It’s been a long week. Gary Groth’s classic 1992 interview with Todd McFarlane will carry us into the weekend.

Elsewhere:

Tom Spurgeon carries on his convention travels at Stumptown.

Bill Kartalopolous on Eric Lambé’s Le Fils du Roi (Frémok, 2012),

Here’s an unusual recent Popeye story that never saw print.

Domingos Isabelinho on Pamplemoussi by Geneviève Castrée.

Finally, one of those lotsa covers, lotsa editions posts, this time for William S. Burroughs.

 

Ancient Sorceries

Today, Rob Clough reviews an anthology of comics from female Polish cartoonists, imaginatively titled Polish Female Comics: Double Portrait.

Elsewhere:

—Howard Chaykin wrote a candid remembrance of Carmine Infantino (“There was no greater animosity in that generation than the one that existed between Gil [Kane] and Carmine”) for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

—The Doug Wright Awards has started a series of posts introducing readers to their nine nominated artists. First up is Ethan Rilly.

—Brigid Alverson at Robot 6 talks to Darryl Cunningham.

—Paul Pope draws a short comic about his favorite books.

—Michel Fiffe picks out some of his favorite comic-book fight scenes.

—The satirical website and Twitter account That Comics Blogger has apparently decided to close up shop after the end of Comics Alliance, and offers up reasons why here.