April 2009 | Robot 6 | The Comics Culture Blog

Annotations for Trinity issue #48

Trinity #48

Trinity #48

This issue of Trinity was pretty much devoted to one plot point. Considering that we’re on issue #48 of 52, it was a crucial plot point, but still. Just enough trivia to retain my regular format.

Mind you, I am not complaining, because I liked the issue pretty well. However, the days of obscure references and extended riffs on tangential Easter eggs are probably behind us.

But that’s not why we read Trinity, now is it?


* * *


“Batman Said They Had A Plan” was written by Kurt Busiek, pencilled by Mark Bagley, inked by Art Thibert, colored by Pete Pantazis, and lettered by Pat Brosseau; Rachel Gluckstern, associate editor; Mike Carlin, editor.
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Thin wallets, fat bookshelves | Joe Sacco’s next book

Panel from Footnotes in Gaza

Panel from Footnotes in Gaza

I receieved a nice surprise while flipping through publisher Henry Holt’s fall 2009 catalog yesterday. There, on pages 24-5 was a nice plug for Joe Sacco’s upcoming book, Footnotes in Gaza. I’ll steal directly from the catalog copy to provide you with a plot summary.

Rafah, a town at the bottommost tip of the Gaza Stip, is a squalid place. Raw concrete buildings front trash-strewn alleys. The narrow streets are crowded with young children and unemployed men. On the border with Egypt, swaths of Rafah have been bulldozed to rubble. Rafah is today and has always been a notorious flashpoint in this bitterest of conflicts.

Buried deep in the archives is one bloody incident, in 1956, that left 111 Palestinian refugees dead, shot by Israeli soldiers. Seemingly a footnote to a long history of killing, that day in Rafah — cold-blooded massacre or dreadful mistake — reveals the competing truths that have come to define an intractable war. In a quest to get to the heart of what happened, Joe Sacco arrives in Gaza and, immersing himself in daily life uncovers Rafah past and present. Spanning fifty years, moving fluidly between one war and the next, alive with the voices of fugitives and schoolchildren, widows and sheikhs, Footnotes in Gaza captures the essence of a tragedy.

The catalog doesn’t give a price, but does note that the book is 416 pages and will be out in stores this December. Sacco is one of the most talented people in comics today, and he’s been working on this project for quite awhile. I strongly anticipate this being the dark horse candidate for best book of the year.

Slash Print | Following the digital evolution

Split Lip

Split Lip

Webcomics | The long-running Split Lip horror webcomic is now available in print. Split Lip Vol. 1 is a 158-page trade paperback collecting 11 horror comics, all written by Sam Costello and drawn by artists such as John Bivens, Jason Ho and Sami Makkonen.

Costello is selling copies on the Split Lip website and will sell them at conventions as well.

E-devices | BoingBoing points to an announcement from Gamma Dynamics that they’ve developed “a new electrofluidic reflective display” that uses colored pigments. Mark Frauenfelder wonders if this could lead to a color version of Amazon’s Kindle device. Matt Maxwell says, “And you will end up reading your comics on it, sooner or later.”

Webcomics | The Opera web browser recently celebrated its 15th anniversary by sharing a comic that detailed its not-so-secret origin. [Hat Tip: Kelson Vibber]

Webcomics | French cartoonist Raphael B. uses the scroll bar to his advantage in this very cool Spider-Man webcomic that transcends any language barriers. [Hat tip: Laura Hudson, at the relaunched Comics Alliance blog]

Humor | Meet the world’s first Post-Paper Evolution Consultant. “I’m 29. I was practically raised by an original Nintendo, so I was there the first time a video game (Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest) showed a richness of characterization, lyrical language, and elegant plotting that rivaled the finest novels. I was blogging by ’02, Facebooking by ’04, bored of Facebook by ’06, thinking it was lame how thirty-five year olds got super in to Facebook in ’08. Like it or not, I’m the future.”

The secrets of Jughead’s haberdashery — revealed!

Jughead needs a new hat

All hail King Jughead

As much as I’ve enjoyed Archie Comics over the years — and, aside from their horrid treatment of Dan DeCarlo, I have enjoyed them — one thing has always bothered me. Namely: what in God’s name is that thing that Jughead always wears on the top of his noggin?

Is it a hat? A crown? Some sort of Masonic symbol? Seriously, what the hell is that thing supposed to be?

Thankfully, the folks behind I’m Learning to Share have been asking the same questions and are considerably less lazy about trying to track down the answers.

Turns out at some point people actually wore things like that

It appears that the first people to wear the original ‘Jughead’-styled caps were auto mechanics, welders and other workmen who found they could get the same ‘safety’ function of a factory worker’s beanie by altering an old worn-out fedora.

The method was to turn a fedora upside-down, push the hat’s crown inside-out, then
turn up the brim and trim away its excess with a scalloped cut.

Another mystery solved. Now if someone can only explain those infernal criss-crosses on the sides of Archie’s hair …

Morrison shares details on The Multiversity

The DC Multiverse

The DC Multiverse

The latest issue of Wizard Magazine has an interview with Grant Morrison, where the Final Crisis writer discusses his next project for DC, tentatively titled The Multiversity. Kirk Warren at The Weekly Crisis read Wizard (so you don’t have to!) and shares some of the details on the project, as well as a great image that references a bad Michael Keaton movie.

Morrison says, “I’m working on books for seven different parallel universes. Each one is a first issue with a complete story and series bible. Each one spotlights the major superhero group of a different alternate reality. And they all link together together as a seven-issue story that reimagines the relationship between the DCU and the Multiverse.”

Two of the Earths that will be featured are Earth-5, home of the Captain Marvel Family, which Morrison envisions as “a line of books with the Marvel Family done in a more traditional, all-ages, All-Star Superman style,” and Earth-4, home of the “original Watchmen,” the Charlton Comics characters who inspired Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ masterpiece. Morrison says he wants to “do the Charlton characters in a story I’d construct as an update on that ludic Watchmen style – if Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons had pitched the Watchmen now, rooted in a contemporary political landscape but with the actual Charlton characters instead of analogues!”

Lots more at the link, and I daresay if there’s any issue of Wizard Magazine you don’t want to miss, it would be the latest one. And I have to agree with Kirk; attach Frank Quitely to that All-Star Captain Marvel book, stat!

Wait, did X-Men really rip off Doom Patrol?

My Greatest Adventure #80

My Greatest Adventure #80

As hesitant as I am to pick the nits of a humor website, I have a few issues with Cracked.com’s list of “6 Famous of Characters You Didn’t Know Were Shameless Rip Offs” — namely, the contention that Marvel’s X-Men “borrowed” heavily from DC’s Doom Patrol.

Writer Juan Arteaga isn’t the first to assert that, of course. However, his evidence wavers between flimsy and flat-out wrong.

Arteaga points to their conceptual similarities — superhuman misfits, led by a paraplegic, dedicated to protecting a world that shuns them — the fact that The Doom Patrol debuted in My Greatest Adventures #80 in June 1963, some three months before The X-Men #1, their near-identical cover taglines, and the names of their arch-enemies.

As Don Markstein and others have stated previously, the production lag makes it highly unlikely that The Doom Patrol influenced the creation of the X-Men. Stan Lee would had to have been told about the concept well before My Greatest Adventures #80 hit the stands. (Plus, Doom Patrol/X-Men certainly isn’t the only coincidence in concept and timing: See The Red Tornado/The Vision and Man-Thing/Swamp Thing.)

That point is certainly open to speculation — Doom Patrol co-creator Arnold Drake certainly thought Marvel had ripped off the idea — but it doesn’t amount to proof.

So, how about the rest of the “evidence”?

The cover taglines: The Doom Patrol’s “The World’s Strangest Heroes!” versus The X-Men’s “The Strangest Super-Heroes of All!” The Doom Patrol was the lead feature in My Greatest Adventure from Issue 80 (June 1963) to Issue 85 (February 1964) before the series was renamed The Doom Patrol the following issue (dated March 1964). Variations of the phrase appeared less prominently on those first few issues before becoming a full-fledged banner with The Doom Patrol #86.

“The Strangest Super-Heroes of All!” appeared at the top of the very first issue of The X-Men, dated September 1963.

The arch-enemies: The Doom Patrol’s Brotherhood of Evil versus The X-Men’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Arteaga calls this “possibly, the most unnecessary thing” borrowed by The X-Men. However, Magneto’s team of mutants debuted in The X-Men #4 while the Brain’s group of misfits bowed in The Doom Patrol #86 — both dated March 1964.

I’ll leave the other entries on the Cracked list to someone else to dissect. But No. 1 is sure to trigger arguments and/or scoffing.

Picturebox, Broken Frontier stake more Web claim

A Yuichi Yokoyama print available at PictureBox Gallery

A Yuichi Yokoyama print available at PictureBox Gallery

It seems like new comic sites are bustin’ out all over the place this week. The other day it was Katherine Darcy’s new Manga Critic, now PictureBox has unveiled a new site. I’ll let publisher Dan Nadel describe it:

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Green Lantern: First Flight release date changes again

Green Lantern: First Flight

Green Lantern: First Flight

Warner Bros. Animation has shifted the release date for the upcoming Green Lantern: First Flight DVD back to July 28, which was the original release date before they changed it.

Johanna Draper Carlson at Comics Worth Reading also notes that the prices have apparently been lowered for the two-disc special edition and Blu-Ray edition, to $24.98 and $29.99 respectively. The single disc version is $19.98.

But the most interesting thing Johanna notes is sales data for the four previous DC animated films:

  • Superman: Doomsday – over 850,000 units shipped
  • Justice League: The New Frontier – over 740,000 units shipped
  • Batman: Gotham Knight – over 1 million units shipped
  • Wonder Woman – over 400,000 units shipped

“As usual, the girl is last — but it’s also the newest title, so it’s had the least time on the shelves, and it’s received mixed reviews,” she said. “It shouldn’t be surprising that Batman, with his superior media penetration, has done the best.”

Gotham Knight also benefited from being released right around the same time as, and being tied into, The Dark Knight and the overall Batman movie franchise. I’m surprised that New Frontier, however, is getting beat by Doomsday, since it features Superman, Batman and a lot of other characters.

Humberto Ramos cancels con appearance over swine-flu concerns

Runaways #8

Runaways #8

Citing concerns about the swine flu outbreak, Mexican artist Humberto Ramos has canceled his planned appearance this weekend at Comicpalooza in Houston.

“Fortunately me and my family and friends […] are all alright,” Ramos wrote this morning on his blog, “but this is a more important reason to remain alert and precocious. Avoiding places where [there] is a big concentration of people is one the main warnings we got from day one of the outbreak, so being in a plane or the airport is not the best place to be right now.”

Ramos, who recently wrapped up a run on Marvel’s Runaways, notes that while he and his family haven’t been affected by the virus, he prefers to remain close to home for the moment.

There have been 99 confirmed cases of swine flu in Mexico, with eight confirmed deaths. On Wednesday the Centers for Disease Control reported 91 confirmed cases in the United States, up from 64 the day before. The U.S. also saw its first death from the virus: a 23-month-old child from Mexico who was being treated in Houston.

Concerns about the epidemic led 20th Century Fox to cancel the premiere of X-Men Origins: Wolverine in Mexico City, where theaters have closed to help stem the spread of the virus.

Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Central Park Media

Central Park Media

Publishing | Long-troubled manga and anime distributor Central Park Media has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy (liquidation), citing assets of $126,282 and debt of nearly $1.2 million. Founded in 1990, the New York-based CPM played an important role in the growth of anime in the United States.

The company later branched out into manga and manwha with such imprints as CPM Manga, CPM Press and Be Beautiful, but was forced to cut back drastically in 2006 after the bankruptcy of the Musicland retail chain. [Anime News Network, ICv2]

Naruto, Vol. 43

Naruto, Vol. 43

Sales charts | Naruto and Watchmen continue their slide down USA Today’s bestseller list as the 43rd and 44th volumes of Masashi Kishimoto’s ninja saga drop to Nos. 105 and 107, respectively, the collection of the Alan Moore-Dave Gibbons miniseries falls to No. 110. [USA Today]

Awards | Online voting is open for comics professionals for the 2009 Eisner Awards. Ballots are due by June 15. [Eisner Awards]

Awards | Three graphic novels have been nominated for the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Awards: Cleburn: A Graphic Novel, by Justin S. Murphy and Al Milgrom; The Soddyssey, And Other Tales of Supernatural Law, by Batton Lash; and Will Eisner’s The Spirit: A Pop-Up Graphic Novel, by Will Eisner and Bruce Foster. The winners will be announced next month during BookExpo America. [IBPA]

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Todd Klein teams with J.H. Williams III for new print

Drawing the Sword

Drawing the Sword

Letterer Todd Klein announced a new print on his blog yesterday, a collaboration with Promethea artist J.H. Williams III. Titled Drawing The Sword, the text Klein will add is from Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory. All 500 copies will be signed by both creators, and it will sell for $20 plus shipping.

Klein has done other prints over the past year or so with Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Alex Ross; you can find them for sale on his website.

DeStefano, J. Bone round out Magic of Shazam! fill-in team

The Magic of Shazam!

The Magic of Shazam!

A couple of weeks ago Kevin mentioned that the Tiny Titans team of Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani would be filling in on issues of Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! to help get it back on a monthly schedule, along with an unnamed artist.

This may only be news to me, but I totally missed the announcement that the art will be by Stephen DeStefano of Venture Bros. and ‘Mazing Man fame. Yep, there it is in the DC solicitations. And J. Bone is doing covers, which he talks about on his blog. That’s very cool — not that I don’t like what Mike Kunkel’s been doing on the title, because I do, but I’m looking forward to seeing both of these guys working on the title as well.

Send Us Your Shelf Porn!


Welcome to another edition of Send Us Your Shelf Porn. Our special guest this week is Joe Hare, the manager at Comix Connection in Mechanicsburg, Pa., one of several stores in my area and one of my favorite places to shop. Joe’s a great guy and he’s got quite an impressive collection of comics, as I think you’ll agree.

Before we start down that road though, it’s time for the weekly pitch: Shelf Porn needs your help to keep it going. Send us photos of your collection or perhaps just suggest some people you know who might be interested in contributing by emailing me at cmautnerATcomcastDOTnet. We’re always on the lookout for good shelves.

And now here’s Joe …

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Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs: Warlord of Io

Warlord of Io and Other Stories

Warlord of Io and Other Stories

Warlord of Io
Written and Illustrated by James Turner
SLG; $3.95

Writers like Jeff Parker, Matt Fraction, Fred Van Lente, and Paul Tobin rightfully deserve to be at the top of the People Who Make Awesome list, but they get something of an advantage by being able to throw stuff like the Hulk or MODOK or Galactus into their stories. Not that it’s an unfair advantage. These guys got to play with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s toys by first showing what they could do with the stuff in their own rooms. But right up there with them has to be James Turner.

He may not have the exposure of those other guys, but he’s no less Rip-Your-Brain-Out-Of-Your-Head-Because-You-Won’t-Need-It-Anymore-After-This Awesome. If you’ve read Rex Libris, you know what I’m talking about, but baby he was just getting warmed up there. Warlord of Io and Other Stories has five stories in it and they’re all fantastic.

Half of it is the first chapter of the “Warlord of Io” story. I thought this was going to be a self-contained one-shot, but I’m happy to be wrong about that because I really want to read more of it. It’s about a boy named Zing who just wants to be a rock star, but unfortunately has to take over ruling the moon-world when his father Emperor Zoz suddenly decides to retire to the Pleasure Domes of Zur with Enormous Breasted Space Amazons in Zero Gravity. What’s a poor little Crown Prince to do?

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Raise your hand

Black Lanterns

Black Lanterns

In preparation for the big “Blackest Night” event that’s spinning out of Green Lantern, DC’s Source blog has been posting information on all the Corps. of the rainbow, ending with the above image of the Black Lanterns.

Whose hands do you see?

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