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Ram On

Joe McCulloch offers his usual take on the week in comics, with a bonus mini-essay on Phoebe Gloeckner.

Rob Clough reviewed the latest Jason (& Fabien Vehlmann) book, Isle of 100,000 Graves. This is a really fun story, and personally, I liked it as much as any other Jason I’ve read.

Department of historical oddities: An Alan Moore/Fantagraphics comic book that never happened.

Jordan Crane’s Last Lonely Saturday has been made into a short film.

Department of profiles of important figures:
Dave Moriarty of Rip Off Press in the Austin American-Statesman (via)

And Mickey Mouse maestro Floyd Gottfredson, in The Australian. (also via CR)

The second part of the Walt Disney essay by Jonathan Rosenbaum I linked to last week. In this section, he moves on to evaluating the films (as of the essay’s publication in 1975).

Paul Gravett writes about war comics, British and Canadian.

Some of you may remember the Australian tabloid story linked to here last week, in which a controversy was manufactured regarding an upcoming visit by Robert Crumb. Because of that story, the cartoonist has cancelled his appearance. [UPDATE: Tom Spurgeon has additional information here. This is a Spurgeon-heavy post today! It is good to have him back.]

Luc Sante once wanted to be a cartoonist? Who knew?

The A.V. Club tours the house where Siegel and Shuster created Superman.

Christopher Allen reviews the new issue of the Comics Journal.

 

Twang

It’s Monday here, and we begin the week lightly, even with a touch of mellow.

-Yesterday Frank’s latest column, complete with bonus cartoon and boycott notice, hit the internet!

-Today R. Fiore brings us a typically brilliant and discursive review of Luc Besson’s version of Jacques Tardi’s The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec.

-And from the archives, Gary Groth’s 1993 interview with Jim Woodring.

And now… a few links!

-Tom Spurgeon has an excellent interview with Brannon Costello, the editor of Howard Chaykin: Conversations. I also thoroughly enjoyed this book, and recommend it as a fascinating document not just of Chaykin’s evolving ideas, but also of the comics “scene” itself, and the various levels within it. Chaykin’s takes on the underground, Maus, and other topics show a man grappling with the fast-changing medium he loves. The book also gets into his return to comics in recent years, as well as his years in television. In all the hubbub around the canonical figures of comics, it’s too easy to forget about the important, more pulp-oriented artists like Chaykin.

-Also, via Comics Reporter, a profile of Mr. Paul Karasik.

-The Beat asks who is selling off all the great Barks work on Heritage.

Ok, see you soon.

 

 

 

No Reason to Quit

Ah, how bittersweet: the final entry of Brian Ralph’s week-long cartoon diary, in which he says goodbye to his friends at Comic-Con and returns triumphantly home. Also: photos. Read it and weep.

Also, yesterday we rolled out a major interview with Brandon Graham, creator of the cult favorites King City and Multiple Warheads (and former Cartoon Diarist himself), conducted by Ian Burns and covering a lot of territory, including but not limited to: childhood, manga, graffiti, porn, Meathaus, Vertigo, New York city bars, Tokyopop, and surviving cancer.

We also neglected to highlight Joe McCulloch’s weekly column this Tuesday, and even if you’ve already been to your local comic shop this week, it’s still worth checking out, including as it does his thoughts on Peyo’s Smurfs and Captain America (the movie).

Of course, you may be planning to join the boycott of Kirby-derived Marvel product called for by Stephen Bissette, in which case McCulloch’s review will let you know what you’re missing. That boycott gained traction with several online comics reviewers and commentators this week, including Bryan Munn, Christopher Allen, Matthias Wivel, and Matt Seneca.

Douglas Wolk has just released a 99-cent “Kindle Single” about his experiences at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s undoubtedly worth a look.

I think the reviewer may be taking R. Crumb’s self-deprecating comments a bit too much at face value, but there is a pretty funny review of the new Comics Journal at the SF Weekly.

Cartoon Brew has dug up an old video featuring Terry Gilliam, instructing viewers on his own idiosyncratic methods of animation.

I’m pretty sure neither Dan nor I ever posted a link to Rich Tommaso’s autobio comic about moving to Seattle and working for Fantagraphics.

And the legal battle between Archie Comics and its co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit gained a new dimension this week, as Silberkleit has filed a motion to dismiss.

Finally, the Hooded Utilitarian has posted the results of its poll regarding the greatest international comics of all time. No real surprises in the top ten, other than the fairly high rankings of Calvin & Hobbes and Watchmen. It’s a very North American (and very male) list, but that’s no surprise either. In the larger 115 comics list, superhero and sci-fi adventure stories generally score higher than you might expect, and newspaper strips from before the time of the voters’ births (aside from a few gimmes by people like Herriman and McCay) score very low. Some of the appended short essays are pretty good (others are pedestrian but not actively painful), and the comments thread under Watchmen is actually fairly nuanced and interesting, as these things go.

 

Keep Reading…

I’ve gone to live in the country. To “woodshed”, as Frank might say. Well, it’s just upstate New York through Labor Day, but still… life outdoors, free of cares… except for comics, of course. There’s always comics.

So, today we have a ginormous interview with Brandon Graham, late of King City not to mention a TCJ Cartoonist’s Diary alumnus.

And Brian Ralph’s fourth installment of his journey into the heart of cardboard boxes.

And part five of Kim Deitch’s ongoing memoir-through-music.

And elsewhere, in the mode of relaxation:

-I second Tom Spurgeon’s recommendation of Bill Mauldin’s Willie and Joe Back Home. I was amazed by how brutally frank the comics are, and how affecting. I actually prefer it to his WWII work — it’s even more impassioned, and the cartooning loosens enough to show off a really expressive, cutting line.

-The Mindscape of Alan Moore, a feature-length documentary on the writer, is now available for online viewing.

-Pappy’s features stories by Lou Cameron, whose bulky, stilted style I’ve always enjoyed.

-Mickey Spillane wrote quite a few comic books before focusing only on prose. Here’s Sergeant Spook, from 1942.

 

Show and Tell

Brian Ralph is back with another round of tips on how to survive at Comic-Con. I love this feature. (Speaking of Brian Ralph, did we forget to link to this recent Giant Robot interview with him?)

We also have video from another one of the SDCC panels this morning, the Andrew Farago-moderated “Art of the Graphic Novel”, featuring Chester Brown, Seymour Chwast, Eric Drooker, Joyce Farmer, Joëlle Jones, Jason Shiga, and Craig Thompson.

And Mike Dawson’s TCJ Talkies podcast returns, this time featuring guest Nick Abadzis, creator of LAIKA. (Speaking of Mike Dawson, his other podcast, Ink Panthers, just celebrated its 100th episode this week.)

An exhibition of work by Robert Crumb, a “self-confessed sex pervert” according to this newspaper report, is the cause of some controversy in Australia.

Spurgeon vs the Marvel zombies. I haven’t read an old-fashioned comments battle like the one in this thread from a Robot 6 article on Stephen Bissette’s recent boycott call in awhile. It’s a funny thing — we’ve got a few dim bulbs commenting here time and again, but for the most part our site is relatively sedate. Especially since the early days, when Dan and I fielded many reader requests to get rid of comments altogether. Then I read one of these things and I kind of miss the spectacle of clashing dum-dums… I guess it’s best just to observe from a short distance, like watching a nature video.

Ernest Priego has resurrected the transcript from a 2002 interview with Joe Sacco.

From the department of jokes too lazy even to call them easy: I prefer Lennon’s earlier work.

Finally, not comics: Jonathan Rosenbaum has posted the first of two parts of an essay on Walt Disney, examining the ideological underpinnings of his films, and comparing him to Leni Riefenstahl.

 

Seeing the Light

Hi there,

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.”

After that, I urge you to read Tom Spurgeon’s commentary (and the corresponding piece by Steve Bissette. I  strongly agree with both, particularly Tom’s outrage and Steve’s call for action.

Also on the site:

In sunnier news, Brian Ralph brings us his first full day on the con floor.

And finally, another in our continuing presentation of SDCC panels, the Page One panel moderated by Douglas Wolk.

 

The Adventure Continues

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.)

Elsewhere:

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.

Jeet Heer has posted the preferred & corrected version of his recent essay on Captain America.

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…

 

No Trial

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.

The Beat has commentary from Jeff Trexler, the ruling itself, and Trexler has posted a number of links to depositions.

We’ll have coverage on Monday from Michael Dean.

On the site today:

-Thanks to our Seattle ace Kristy Valenti, we begin a series of posts featuring videos of panels from this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, starting with 50 Years of Fandom featuring

Bill Schelly, Dick and Pat Lupoff, Jean Bails, Maggie Thompson, Mark Evanier, Paul Levitz, Richard Kyle and Roy Thomas.

- Hayley Campbell reviews an Anders Nilsen mini-comic/object.

And elsewhere:

-Kim Thompson takes an incisive and witty leap into the gender/greatness-in-comics minefield.

-And from The Daily Cartoonist comes news that the Jay Stephens-drawn syndicated strip Oh Brother! is ending.