Happier Times

Good morning. Tucker and Abhay and Joe McCulloch are here to discuss Marvel, old comics, at least one web comic, and something about Daredevil. Here's a bit on Tezuka:

Do people who make contemporary comics read this guy? (This has nothing to do with that “make Morrison read Powr Mastrs” meme from a few irritating interviews back.) Or is Tezuka like Fugazi sort of became, an example that people are more comfortable envying than imitating. It’s not that Message to Adolf is some mind-blistering perfect thing–although it is very, very good in parts–but that it, like so many other Tezukian examples, does so much. There are so many different sorts of things covered within, not just the long string of genre mash-ups and contemporary movie references that predate today’s culture, but visual weirdness, moments where the guy fills the page with intricate, breath-caught-in-chest cartooning, drunken pages full of detail and line, pages where you start to wonder if he had something to prove or just plenty of extra time or maybe, and this is my preference, he just got lost in the build phase and woke up hours into going too far.

Mark Siegel closes out his diary. Thank you, Mark.

And, well, we closed down the Dave Sim/Fantagraphics thread, but Dave was still writing, so here's his latest response.

Elsewhere online:

-H.M. Bateman was really a wonderfully genteel and skilled cartoonist. Funny, too.

-Hey, Gabrielle Bell is on tour.

-Sean Howe has a Dave Sim response of his own.

-Brecht Evens designed a mural-comic in Antwerp.

Have a good weekend.


24 Responses to Happier Times

  1. mateor says:

    I know the thread was closed, but in all fairness, you should prepend or append that Dave Sim comment to the original thread.

    I was as exasperated as anyone by the end, but this is exactly the sort of stuff that thread needed- detailed, intelligent and germane in every way.

  2. Tim Hodler says:

    A link to Dave’s comment was added to the end of that thread earlier this morning.

  3. Don Druid says:

    Is it really an “oft-repeated line” that people who don’t like New Yorker cartoons don’t “get” them? It was at least fun to skim through that article and look at all the cartoons and compare them.

  4. Leon Sadler says:

    Oi that’s my painting up there!!!

  5. Anthony Thorne says:

    It was also announced that the book deal Dave was preparing to announce (which pissed some people off, as they felt it short-changed Kim’s efforts) was an IDW volume of all 300 Cerebus covers. This sort of detail and discussion is where the thread should have begun, not finished after everyone’s patience was sapped by the awful Michael and Sim’s digressions (which probably would have gone down easier if the thread didn’t feel like a warzone). That noted if Sim is bringing out a book of covers through IDW and he and Kim have made first contact I’ll have to assume that a full run of Cerebus will come out from someone, somewhere, sometime.

  6. Kim Thompson says:

    Evidently Dave’s thirst for public, transparent negotiations blows hot and cold, and his apocalyptic “I’m gonna cancel GLAMOURPUSS, quit comics and go eat worms” editorial that set all of this in motion was a little over the top. Anyway, our offer is on the table, and the fact that Dave spent the entire negotiations period wandering around the room idly looking at the drapery and examining the carpeting while studiously ignoring the table pretty much told me what I needed to know. I compared Dave to a squirrel-chasing Labrador Retriever at one point, but an even more apt comparison might be a Labrador Retriever who, when you try to point out to him where the ball went, instead becomes unshakably focused on your finger.

  7. Knut Robert Knutsen says:

    What strikes me about the Post-closing-the-thread information about Sim’s various Cerebus projects is that he seems to have a curious idea of what a full-scale hardcover+softcover reprint project of the series entails (and that Hc/sc option is what Kim Thompson was negotiating for).

    Now all the covers and some odds and ends are collected, that’s a major bulk of any “added value” for hardcovers right there.

    And the first books are off the table because those are his biggest sellers and he’s just in the process of reprinting them now.

    So what he’s offering are books from the last 3rd that don’t sell as well and which he for some reason thinks can be “repackaged” as Hemingway and Fitzgerald books. But they’re too meshed up in the main story to make sense outside of them. Both Hemingway and Fitzgerald are portrayed in “off-model” ways that conform to Sim’s authorial vision and play off them. Knowing what went before fully informs what happens in those books.

    It looks to me as if he’s selling off Cerebus piecemeal, under the impression that this is how he can get the best deal for each part. But really it just means that the most “popular” parts are reprinted and everything else gathers dust.

    A full scale reprint project would entail using some of the profits from the first books to create a “buffer” in case sales drop too much on the last ones”. Which would mean that for a time the first books might be “withheld” to build demand that can carry through to the end. It would also mean having something to “tease” hardcover sales with, added material and whatnot that can’t be found elsewhere. Except now it can. Books of “Extras” are usually saved for the end of such a project, not done beforehand.

    The recent announcements, more than anything else, has convinced me that we will never see a reprint project on Cerebus beyond Sim’s own basic reprints of his phone-books. The digital editions will probably end up being the only “archival” format we will ever see.

    In many ways Sim willed the current market into being, with the 600 page Essentials and Showcases, the 1000 page Omnibus editions, the 50-100 issue creator-driven series that are continuously collected. Yet for some reason he himself is stuck in the embryonic stages of this process, running out cheap softcover editions to a market begging for pricey permanent volumes of their favorite series.

    I am looking forward to the book of covers, though.

  8. R. Fiore says:

    The announcement that IDW is doing a book of Cerebus covers suggests that Sim was having his little bit of fun. Why would you reprint the covers if it wasn’t a prelude to printing the comics?

  9. mateor says:

    The last point strikes me as quite true.

  10. R. Haining says:

    Mr. Thompson, you are a far more patient person than I will ever be. After all of Dave Sim’s nonsense, I would not only not leave the offer on the table, I would drag the table out to the backyard, douse the table with gasoline, and set the table on fire. Then, I would go out a buy a new table and tell Dave Sim (among other things) to never darken my towels again.

  11. Kim Thompson says:

    Actually, if you’re going to reprint the comics in a more accessible format, it would make more sense to come up with ancillary projects like a covers book AFTER you’ve re-established the franchise and broadened its appeal. I think Dave may be a smart (albeit maddening — and the crazy-or-devious? question remains unresolved) tactician but a terrible strategist.

    I did turn out to be a little prescient in invoking IDW several times as an optional publisher for CEREBUS, though, didn’t I?

    I would be lying if I didn’t say that a HUGE component within my reaction to the death rattle of this negotiation is relief. Good luck to all who get caught in the CEREBUS vortex in the future.

  12. R. Fiore says:

    Actually, it seemed to me a more natural destination might be Dark Horse, since they’re publishing all those old ’70s barbarian comics already.

  13. Briany Najar says:

    Yeah, I was thinking Dark Horse would be a good fit. With Conan and Krull, plus all that Hellboy stuff, they seem to be purveyors of discerning, well crafted fantasy with a vaguely indie edge. Cerebus would fit in with their profile reasonably well, but I don’t know if they’re big on the whole production-values and design side of things. Possibly not, judging by what I’ve seen.
    Anyway, nobody’s going to be doing it until Sim’s finished with his current reissuing activities, so, whatever.
    “I’ve got dreams, dreams to rememberr…”

  14. Briany Najar says:

    Oh, I lost track of the threading. That was in reply to R.Fiore, whose comment is currently the penultimate one before that one I did before.
    I just wanted to say “penultimate” there.

  15. Tony says:

    Hey Kim, there’s an ongoing discussion going on elsewhere about the interrupted EC color Archives, and some people are longing for Fantagraphics to step in:

    Anything to declare on that front?

  16. R. Fiore says:

    I believe Gary and Kim are both on record as preferring the EC art in black and white.

  17. R. Haining says:

    Actually, I think they’ve said that only in the cases of a limited number of artists, such as Kurtzman (inclusive of the stories he wrote), Krigstein, and possibly Craig would be color would be considered warranted on artistic grounds. However, economics make it a moot point.
    To people who cite the fact that the Barks library editions are in color, I am certain that these books reach a much wider audience making the addition of color affordable.

  18. Jim Sheridan says:

    Dark Horse has also done a solid job with NEXUS.

  19. Kim Thompson says:

    Yes, but we both think color Barks is better than black-and-white Barks, whereas black-and-white EC is better than color EC (in most cases). I think the limited Golden Age and Silver Age comic-book palette works fine for cartoony work and stylized super-hero work but is intrinsically at odds with more illustrative work, such as (most) EC. And trying to re-color Golden Age and Silver Age work using a more nuanced modern palette has never worked out, has it? If we thought there was an ideal way of coloring (or re-coloring) EC, we would’ve done it.

  20. R. Fiore says:

    Given the structure of the Fantagraphics EC Library there could be room for a color volume of stories where color is a particularly key feature.

  21. Knut Robert Knutsen says:

    While I originally read all the EC stories in black-and-white reprints and feel the quality of the linework generally benefits immensely from not being covered by colour, an argument could be made that Marie Severin’s colours, at times deliberately garish, at times subduing the violence or subtly enhancing scenes, was an important part of the initial success and cultural impact of EC Comics. With this series being broken down according to artists, I feel that there might be room for a volume dedicated to Marie Severin’s best colour work on the EC line, contextualized by other well known and respected colourists.

    But then I generally feel that even with the large number of “historical” publications about comics, colourists and letterers are critically ignored. (I’ll change my mind when someone publishes a Ben Oda biography).

  22. Kit says:

    Most of EC’s output has been actively in print or generally available in colour for the last two decades, though, between Cochran, Gladstone, DC and Gemstone packages, 32-pagers, “annuals” and archives – plus the Krigstein stories that Marie Severin recoloured for the Fantagraphics volumes. There’s no lack of it in the marketplace, so a well-thought reprint project that takes a different approach is a net positive in that it only adds to the opportunities to appreciate the work.

  23. R. Haining says:

    Personally, I’m an agnostic regarding the issue of color. I would say Feldstein, in addition to the artists previously mentioned, benefits from color, but color does not enhance the work of Williamson, Ingels, or (particularly later) Wood. However, it argued that in all of the instances that Kit cites, the production was far less than ideal and did not do justice to Marie Severin’s contribution to EC.

  24. Briany Najar says:

    Yeah, Wood’s art from the mid-50s doesn’t look like he wanted it coloured, or at least not in the conventional US comicbook way. He was using black to show the dynamic play of light across complex forms, not just outlining shapes to be flatly filled with one of a coarse gamut of colours. Plus he used those grey tones with the regular dot-pattern, which would have made things harder for the people organising the colour screens – rather than Williamson who used stochastic tone patterns, thus avoiding moire problems when his tones were layered with the colourist’s. Indeed many times when Wood used the tone-patterns the colourist would refrain from using more than one layer of ink underneath it.
    Between about 1951 and 1956, there seemed to be a move towards more detailed textural rendering, light effects and general modelling, which was later abandoned. Infantino (that famous streamliner) in his earlier days almost looks like a Glenn Fabry type at times.
    Anyways, my point is, just about every US comic artist from that time, who was working in a quasi-realist mode, is probably going to look better without colour. Especially that old palette where any colour that isn’t of a primary or secondary hue ends up being so dark that it subsumes the linework. Feldstein is one exeption, as he stuck with that simple late-40s style, and I can see that Kurtzman was so conscious of the whole process, and so bold and clear with his pattern-making, that the colour didn’t necessarily detract from his efforts either.
    I tend towards the idea, though, that if the art wasn’t concieved with specific colour ideas in mind as integral factors of the compositional working, then I’d rather see it in unfettered monochrome.
    Some dishes can do without ketchup.

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