Although Frank Cho has earned acclaim for work ranging from Liberty Meadows to Shanna the She-Devil to Mighty Avengers, his often-racy pinups frequently garner the most notice.
However, that attention isn’t always positive. Such is the case on Facebook, which apparently blocked Cho’s account for about half of Tuesday.
Artist Gene Ha passed along the news last night from Cho, who wrote, “Someone took offense to my artwork and got me BANNED from Facebook. My account is completely locked out. This is my third offense. The first two times, I was suspended. But this time I can’t even login. The screen goes white. At this point, I just want to know which image got me banned.”
But shortly thereafter, the matter appeared to have been resolved, with Cho again having access to his Facebook account.
After 14 hours of hell, my Facebook account is working again with no explanation,” the artist wrote. “Every time I login, my screen went completely white. I tried login on 3 separate computers and all 3 went blank. My tech buddy, Brandon Peterson, figured out that it was not a physical problem but someone from Facebook admin just put a block on my account. Now they just lifted my block without a reason or explanation.”
While Cho is back on Facebook, for now, which image triggered the apparent ban remains a mystery.
As a tribute to Jonah Hex co-creator Tony DeZuniga, who passed away a year ago today, organizers of California’s Stockton-Con announced they’ve renamed their all-ages art competition the Tony DeZuniga Memorial Art Contest. A Philippines native, the artist lived in Stockton for much of the past decade.
“Naming the Art Contest after Tony is such a great honor,” DeZuniga’s wife Tina said in a statement. “I wish Tony could see the success of Stockton-Con. I myself was so surprised by last year’s attendance. The organizers worked so hard and people really traveled just to attend the event. I’m so proud and so honored to be part of this event.”
Veteran cartoonist Roger Langridge has issued a call for help in finding several pieces of original artwork that came up missing following a September exhibition in Italy. They were to be shipped to London, but apparently never arrived.
“I have no idea what might have happened to them,” he writes on his blog. “I’m keen not to accuse anybody of anything, as I have no proof of any wrongdoing; there may have been a mistake made when packing the artwork, and it may still be in Italy. Somebody may have tampered with the package en route. I have no clue what the real story might be. What I do know is that I would like the work back. Some of the pieces are ones I intended to keep for the rest of my life. Others I was hoping to sell to help get me through a period where I’m not earning very much. One piece is the property of another person, who kindly lent it to me for the exhibition.”
You can view some of the pieces here, and the rest on Langridge’s blog (where you can also find his email address in case you’ve spotted any of this artwork).
When you know you don’t have a lot of time, you prioritize.
That’s what Zachi Telesha did. In August 2008, age 7, the Allentown, Pennsylvania, youth was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Telesha set himself a series of personal goals, and he died this week, at age 12, a published comics writer.
Telesha was a fifth-grader at McKinley Elementary School when the publisher Rodale, a corporate sponsor of the school, learned of his illness and his desire to write a comic. He spent five months working with Rodale staffers and teachers from his school to produce the graphic novel, Hero Up!, which features four superheroes — one of whom, Venom Transporter, was based on Telesha himself. “He can get bit by the most poisonous snake and spider at the same time repeatedly and still just get stronger,” Telesha explained in a YouTube video.
Darryl Cunningham’s How to Fake a Moon Landing, which debuted last month at MoCCA Arts Fest, looks at a number of popular fallacies, from homeopathy to global warming denial, and lays out not just the science behind each one but the history as well, including the personalities who drove them.
Personal tales crossed over into science in Cunningham’s first book Psychiatric Tales, which not only described different mental disorders but related stories about each one, told from Cunningham’s vantage point as a care assistant on a psychiatric ward and his own experience with depression. How to Fake a Moon Landing is less personal but still has a point of view, which is that there’s good science and bad science, and it’s important to be able to tell the difference. (You can see excerpts from the book, and his other work as well, on his blog.) I spoke with Cunningham about both books during a quiet moment at MoCCA.
ROBOT 6: Do you have a background in science?
Darryl Cunningham: I worked as a care assistant in an acute psychiatric ward, and after a few years, I thought I would do training to be a mental health nurse. I did a three-year course, which is very, very academic — more academic than it needs to be. Through that I learned how to write essays and research things, and to be skeptical about research, to look at how things have been properly peer reviewed, [whether] the evidence has been replicated, that kind of thing. I got a sense of how science works. After eight years of doing this, I was completely burned out. I couldn’t continue — I had a major crisis, really, started suffering from anxiety and depression, and I had to leave that work, but out of that whole experience, Psychiatric Tales came out.
I got into the habit of researching and have been able to boil down a lot of information into a comic strip format. And I listen to science podcasts when I’m drawing — some are famous ones, like The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe — and listening to these, I realized there was a whole series of hot-button issues that came up time and time again that people didn’t really understand, things like the idea that the moon landing was a conspiracy, the MMR vaccination controversy, and evolution, not so much in Europe but very much here. I had the whole book structured for me and ready to go. All I had to do was research, write, and draw it. [Laughs] It took the better part of a year.
Cartoonist Ruben Bolling, creator of Tom the Dancing Bug, rounded up 23 cartoonists to contribute their work to an animated ad for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of mayors, led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, that is advocating for “common-sense measures that will close deadly gaps in our gun laws.”
The Mayors Against Illegal Guns ads eschew detailed discussion of the issues in favor of a simple images of people making an emotional appeal. This particular ad follows that format with cartoon characters, some familiar (the teenagers from Zits, the Family Circus family, Jason and his dad from FoxTrot), some more generic.
Adding another string to his bow, comic artist/storyboarder/production designer/album cover illustrator/rapper Chris Weston has decided to branch out as a caricaturist.
He’s posted these over the past couple of days via his Twitter feed and Facebook page: the Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughan cartoon (below) shows something of a classic MAD magazine influence (the Wilson being particularly Jack Davis-y); his second, “A Feast of Lecters” (above), shows an artist quickly getting the hang of this cartooning lark, displaying that unctuous slickness we expect from Weston’s linework.
“We spoke on the phone for many years, at least once a week and often more. I am shattered,” author Samuel Delany wrote in a Facebook post announcing Morales’ death. “His many friends will miss him deeply. He had agreed to be my literary executor, and the idea that he would pre-descease me never entered my head. For me and many others he was an indispensable friend. To say he will be deeply missed is an incredible understatement.”
A longtime entertainment journalist and former arts editor at Vibe, Morales had worked with Baker on satirical cartoons for the magazine before the two reunited for Truth, published during a period when Marvel was taking creative risks with such comics as Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s X-Statix, and Ron Zimmerman and John Severin’s Rawhide Kid, and its short-lived Tsunami imprint.
Controversial almost from the moment it was announced, Truth uses the Tuskegee Experiments as inspiration to re-examine the history of the Super-Soldier serum, depicting a regiment of black soldiers who undergo medical experiments during World War II in an attempt to recreate the lost formula that produced Captain America.
Kicking off its celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Man of Steel, The Plain Dealer has released a video that traces Superman’s Cleveland roots, from the character’s creation by teenagers Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in the city’s Glenville neighborhood to the studio they later established that employed local artists like John Sikela, Leo Nowak, Ed Dobrotka and Hi Mankin.
Over the next few days, the newspaper will roll out more Superman content, including a 90-second video about kryptonite, the full story of the character’s creation, and an illustrated timeline.
Looks like the 2000AD publicity department are starting to take its Youtube channel seriously as a promotional tool: Alongside the trailers for various strips and some goofing around by creators, the magazine just posted a couple of videos with Simon Davis, one of the more under-appreciated artists in its stable for the past few decades. The videos quietly cover some news that will be seen by some as a big deal — that Davis is taking over as regular artist on the classic thrill “Slaine” (well, it’ll be news to most, though not those who listen to the ECBT2000AD podcast).
Davis broke into 2000AD during the 1990s “brown period” of muddily reproduced watercolor art. Davis’ work stood out by a mile as created by someone who understood how to paint comics that looked crisp and detailed on newsprint, often by making novel palette choices (becoming notorious along the way for using blue as a skin tone and giving the assassin character Finnegan Sinister the brightest of red noses). Davis is rare for a U.K. comics artist in that he’s never made any prolonged attempt at breaking into the American comics industry (I can only remember him producing a handful of pages for the JLA: Riddle of the Beast Elseworlds graphic novel alongside a dozen or so other painters). Instead, Davis’ work outside of comics has been as a storyboarder and as a fine-art painter of no small renown (his awarding-winning portraits can be seen at his website).
Mark Evanier has a fascinating, and unflinching, assessment of a period of Carmine Infantino’s storied comics career that’s gone largely overlooked in the obituaries that have appeared since the artist’s death on Thursday: those five years, between 1971 and 1976, when he served as publisher of DC Comics.
It wasn’t a great time for the company, or the industry, as newsstand distribution changed, printing costs increased, comics price raised — from 12 cents to 15 to 25 — the number of pages increased (with reprint material added to the mix), leading to a drop in sales and, ultimately, Infantino’s replacement by Jenette Kahn. (It’s also a scenario eerily familiar to anyone who’s been reading comics for more than a few years, as publishers struggle time and again to adapt to changes in the marketplace.)
But wait, there’s more: “Infantino always insisted he was not responsible for that failed strategy and he certainly didn’t cause the distribution crisis,” Evanier writes. “He might have been able to make the company more creator-friendly but maybe not … and even with that impediment, he managed to come up with some pretty good books. What he couldn’t seem to do was to keep them running long enough to find an audience. The minute it was clear or even suspected something new wasn’t selling as well as Batman, it was terminated. A few comics were even, quite literally, cancelled before there were any sales figures in on them at all [...] A lot of those books were terrific. True, Green Lantern/Green Arrow by O’Neil and Adams only lasted fourteen issues but with a different man in charge, it might not have existed at all. Give him credit for that. Give him credit for helping move comics into a new era by among other things, treating covers as intended works of art rather than copy-heavy sales pieces. Give him credit for all the new careers that were launched during his time in charge. And a lot of comics that were considered flops during his regime — considered that by him as well as others — are still with us, some reprinted time and again in expensive hardcover editions with their characters turning up in other media and current comics. Time-Warner is now making a lot of money off some of Carmine’s ‘failures.’”
Really, you should read the whole piece.
As part of a career in superhero comics that reached back to their beginnings, Carmine Infantino was one of the pillars of the Silver Age, and not just because he was a big part of its formative moment. His sleek redesign of the Flash became the avatar for DC Comics’ resurgent superhero line, and his unique style helped define not just the Scarlet Speedster’s world, but eventually all of the company’s titles.
A 2007 recipient of the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing, Gladir began working for Archie in 1959, initially penning one-page gags for Archie’s Joke Book before moving on to other titles, including Archie’s Pal Jughead, Archie’s Girls Betty and Veronica and Archie’s Madhouse. It was in that last title, in 1962, that he and DeCarlo introduced Sabrina, the well-meaning witch who became a sensation, inspiring two animated series, a television movie and a live-action sitcom.
“I think we both envisioned it as a one-shot and were surprised when fans asked for more,” Gladir recalled in a 2007 interview. “We continued to do Sabrina stories off and on in Mad House until 1969 when we were flabbergasted to hear it was to become an animated [TV series].”
When Matt Fraction, Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon reteam for the fourth volume of their acclaimed spy-fi series Casanova, they’ll bring with them a literary heavy-hitter: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon.
“When Casanova returns at the end of the year, the main story by Moon and me will be backed up by shorts created by Michael Chabon and Bá,” Fraction wrote on his blog. “He keeps saying ‘Like Tales of Asgard‘ and I’m not sure if he’s kidding or not.”
Chabon won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which follows two Jewish cousins who partner to create the Escapist, one of the most popular heroes of the Golden Age of comic books. Many of the events of the novel, which is dedicated to Jack Kirby, are based on the lives of actual comic-book creators like Will Eisner, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Jim Steranko and Stan Lee.
For as long as I’ve been following the comics industry I’ve heard creators say things along the lines of, “I’m not in it for the money,” and, “I’d be doing this even if I wasn’t getting paid.” Those are statements of passion that drive deep into the heart of a conversation that’s receiving more and more attention lately, and not just in comics. The question that’s been raised is: Should creators have to make comics for free just because they would? And if so, for how long?
When an unknown writer or artist is trying to make a name for herself in the comics industry, one way of doing that is to create work for free. Give away a webcomic. Contribute to an anthology that won’t make any money but may get seen by the right people (especially if you put it into their hands). Work for a small publisher who only pays if the project makes a profit. These are all accepted practices. What’s going on lately, however, is that people are starting to question how accepted they should be.
In response to that line of questioning, defenders of the current system argue from tradition. Alexis C. Madrigal, senior editor of The Atlantic, wrote a long piece on the realities of digital journalism and why it’s often tough to pay journalists anything, much less a fair wage. His basic argument is that funds are limited, even for a digital magazine that’s doing pretty well. “The economics of our business are terrible in some ways,” he writes. “And like everything else, the worst of it falls on the workers, the people making the widgets, doing the journalism, making the beds. The money gets sucked upwards and the work gets pushed down.” He continues, “[E]ven when you have a generous owner who is not trying to make a gazillion dollars and skim the cream, this game is still really, really hard. You still have limited funds. You still can’t pay freelancers a living wage.”