Current Transmissions

Conversing on Comics with Jamie S. Rich

Writer Jamie S. Rich has been a staple of the independent comics scene for more than 20 years, first as a frequent writer to letters columns (sometimes called a letter hack), and then as an editor at Dark Horse and Oni Press. Since 2004 he’s made his living as a freelancer, creating comics like It Girl & The Atomics and You Have Killed Me, and writing about film for several Portland, Oregon, newspapers.

But that’s not why I reached out to interview him. Yes, we talked about his comics work, but what I was most interested in is his recent prose novella Bobby Pins & Mary Janes, a story about a young woman trying to carve out a life while working as a comics editor. Although far from a comic industry tell-all, it’s unique for providing an honest perspective on the editorial role in comics while also serving as a convincing slice-of-life story.

We also discuss his recently announced webcomic at OniPress.com called A Boy And A Girl, his penchant for collaborating with artists in person, living in the comics hub of Portland, and his recent endeavor to do a writer’s version of off-hand sketches for fans.

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Justiniano sentenced to prison for possession of child porn

Josue Rivera (AKA Justiniano)

Josue Rivera, better known to comics fans as the artist Justiano, was sentenced this morning in Connecticut to 10 years in prison for possession of child pornography, suspended after he serves three years. That will be followed by 10 years probation.

The Creeper artist pleaded guilty in July to second-degree possession of child pornography following a 2010 incident in which he mistakenly gave a funeral home director a thumb drive containing 33 files classified by police as child pornography instead of the one containing photos of a deceased relative. Police later seized Rivera’s computer and found additional files of suspected child pornography.

Although the 39-year-old artist claimed at one point he had only been looking at the photos because he was bored, the Connecticut Post reports the files included the head of Rivera’s 10-year-old niece Photoshopped onto the nude body of a girl having oral sex.

When asked this morning by the judge whether he had anything to say, the newspaper reports Rivera responded, “I think I’m good.”

He initially pleaded not guilty to first-degree possession of child pornography, and requested a jury trial. But then in June a judge denied a motion to suppress the thumb drive, which Rivera’s attorney argued was obtained by police through an illegal, warrantless search. The judge ruled the search valid, as the material on the drive was brought to the attention of the police by a third party, the funeral home director.

As Justiniano, Rivera had penciled such titles as DC Comics’ The Creeper, Day of Vengeance and Countdown to Mystery, as well as Chaos! Comics’ Chastity: Rocked and Evil Ernie: Straight to Hell.

Sgt. Pepper artist Sir Peter Blake tries his hand at comics


Let’s not forget that the British strain of pop art emerged a few years before the American variant. Of that first group, Peter Blake might not be the last man standing, but he is the most famous, thanks to his rock ‘n’ roll associations. To celebrate his 80th birthday, there’s an upcoming exhibition of both new work and a retrospective look at his long and prolific career at the Waddington Custot Galleries: Peter Blake: Rock, Paper, Scissors, from Nov. 21 to Dec. 15.

His new works mark a return to the montage style familiar from the cover art to The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, with large casts of figures placed in front of familiar London landmarks. Above is The Comic Book Convention Comes to London. It features a bizarre, seemingly random, mix of U.S. and U.K. comic icons in a rather messy composition. I like some of Blake’s other pieces in this series (see more over at It’s Nice That), but this really doesn’t move me. It shows no particular insight or affection into the form he feels free to lift visual elements from wholesale.

Dagwood Bumstead for president: Yes, he can (take a nap)

Dagwood Bumstead, the disowned heir to a locomotive fortune who’s lucky if he can make it to work on time, has entered the race for the White House. Sure, he’s a bit late, but what else would you expect?

His campaign kicked off in Thursday’s installment of Blondie, the comic strip created in 1930 by Chic Young and now co-written by his son Dean. “Because everybody is having such conflicted opinions about the presidential candidates this year, we thought we’d have some fun in the comic strip and have Dagwood run for president,” Dean Young said on the comic’s website. “As we all know, the road to the White House can be very bumpy and, in his typical bumbling fashion, Dagwood takes a rather convoluted route.”

With Election Day on Tuesday, Dagwood’s run against President Obama and Mitt Romney will be a short one. But he’s already found time to squeeze in a nap.

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Comics A.M. | Scottish city may honor Beano characters

Bash Street Kids

Comics | Scottish publisher DC Thomson has asked Dundee City Council to rename a street in the city’s west end to honor the Bash Street Kids, stars of the long-running comic strip in The Beano. An unnamed street adjacent to 142/144 West Marketgait would be called Bash Street as part of the celebration of the magazine’s 75th anniversary. [LocalGov]

Retailing | North Hollywood will get a new comics shop on Nov. 10, when Blastoff Comics opens its doors. Owner Jud Meyers seems to think it is an essential part of a hip neighborhood: “They want restaurants, they want bars, they want supermarkets, they want gyms. What didn’t they have? They don’t have a comic book store, every neighborhood has got to have a comic book store.” The opening will feature an assortment of comics guests, including Mark Waid, Greg Hurwitz, and Jim Kreuger, whose The High Cost of Happily Ever After will premiere at the event. [Patch.com]

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Preview: Take a look at Diana Thung’s August Moon

Diana Thung’s August Moon, out this week from Top Shelf Productions, brings magical elements into a grittily realistic setting in a way that’s reminiscent of the films of Hayao Miyazake. The underlying theme, of outsiders disrupting harmony with the (mostly) unseen spiritual elements of nature, will seem familiar as well. Thung’s story is set in the town of Calico, which is mostly cut off from the rest of the world and is watched over by large, rabbit-like creatures. Any notion that this is going to be a warm-and-fuzzy story is shattered early on, when two of the creatures are shot, one fatally. The body attracts the attention of a scientist, who comes to town with his daughter Fiona to investigate. Meanwhile, Jaden, a strange child who is the grandson of a street vendor, is trying to protect the creatures’ secrets. It’s a very classic sort of story told in an unusual style, with plenty of quirky originality, and the book has already garnered praise from Junot Diaz and Hope Larson. But don’t take their word for it — check out our preview and see for yourself.

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The Simpsons’ Montgomery Burns offers his services to Mitt Romney

Boo-urns

Sure, President Obama has received high praise from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and, just today, the endorsement of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but Mitt Romney has now secured the invaluable assistance of the Springfield Republican Party.

In a video message from C. Montgomery Burns, the nuclear power tycoon and kingmaker offers the candidate a way to overcome “the one thing that might deny us the presidency that is the God-given property of the Republican Party.” It’s not the 47-percent video, the overseas bank accounts or even, as Mr. Smithers says, “the tax returns that even Wesley Snipes would call suspicious.” No, no, no … it’s the harrowing tale of Seamus the dog.

The Simpsons returns Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.

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Grumpy Old Fan | 43 for 43

The longest journey begins with a single issue

Every week, hard as it may be to believe, I try honestly to offer something I think might interest the larger group of DC Domics superhero readers. However, this week I am invoking a personal privilege. For one thing, with Halloween on a Wednesday (when I usually end up writing these essays), the holiday will more than likely take priority.

The main reason, though, is that today is my birthday, and as you might have guessed from the headline, this year is my 43rd birthday. Therefore, this week I have pulled together an especially memorable DC story and/or issue from each of those years, 1969 through 2012. (Note: They may not always line up with the actual year, but just for simplicity’s sake, all dates are cover dates.) These aren’t necessarily the best or most noteworthy stories of their particular years, but they’ve stuck with me. Besides, while I’ve read a lot of comics from a lot of sources, for whatever reason DC has been the constant. Maybe when I’m 50 I’ll have something more comprehensive.

* * *

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Tomer Hanuka’s The Man With The Iron Fists poster for Mondo

Tomer Hanuka designed a Mondo poster for RZA’s directorial debut The Man With the Iron Fists, and the limited-run (just 175 printed) sold out in double-quick time. It’s awesome, but we’ve missed it. Perhaps it will pop up soon on eBay. Reading between the lines of some of the recent posts at Hanuka’s Facebook page, there might be other releases in different colorways if we’re lucky.

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DC reveals next lineup for Legends of the Dark Knight

Legends of The Dark Knight: No Reservations

DC Comics has released a new lineup for its digital-first Legends of the Dark Knight that includes Paul Tobin, Tradd Moore, Christos Gage, David Tischman, Chris Sprouse and Karl Story.

Launched in June as part of an expansion of the publisher’s digital-first slate, the out-of-continuity series features standalone stories by different creative teams chronicling some of Batman’s cases. New chapters can be downloaded each Thursday. Here’s the schedule for November and December:

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Quote of the Day | Ed Brubaker on the appeal of work-for-hire

Captain America #19

“The appeal of work-for-hire is a few things — you get paid well for writing comics, and your work gets seen by a pretty wide audience that might not have ever heard of you otherwise. And sometimes, you’re a fan of the character, like I was with Cap, and you get to sort of be the caretaker of them for a while. That really meant more to me than I even realized, until I was done.”

Ed Brubaker, discussing work-for-hire and his epic eight-year run on Captain America, which came to a close last week

Ghosts and Joe Kubert Presents feature some of Kubert’s final works

When Joe Kubert passed away in August, he left a sizable hole in the world of comics, by virtue of his lifelong career in the field, his fairly unique role as one of the medium’s first and most influential teachers, and his immense talent.

At the time of his death, many of the obituaries and remembrances mentioned he was still drawing comics at his advanced age, and that, in fact, he had projects on his drawing board.

I suspect a lot of people will be contemplating Kubert’s work this week, and mourning his loss, as Wednesday the major publisher with which he was most associated throughout his career released some of his latest and, sadly, last work, giving readers to chance to see some of that stuff of that was on his drawing board when he passed away: an eerie, unfinished story for a Vertigo anthology and the first issue of a new limited series bearing Kubert’s name.

The Vertigo anthology is Ghosts, and Kubert’s piece is “The Boy and the Old Man;” it’s about a brave old warrior on his figurative deathbed, lying there awaiting his end, and, ultimately, vigorously fighting against it when it arrives, in order to save a young man.

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Kate Beaton has very limited-edition sketchbook for you

If you need a Kate Beaton sketchbook to go with that copy of Hark! A Vagrant and are one of the first 500 people to act, TopatoCo (an online distributor for merchandise by indie cartoonists) has you covered. There’s also a supply at Desert Island Comics in Brooklyn, which I guess means that less than 500 are available for online orders. The book was put together from scans of Beaton’s actual sketchbook. “Some are doodles, some are research,” TopatoCo writes. “You know how it goes with sketchbooks. We’re keeping the run small to make this a special thing, for fans who want something a little different and personal.”

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The case of Li’l Gotham and the magically changing Batgirl costume [Updated]

While some are pointing to changes to a Batgirl costume in the digital-first Li’l Gotham comic as further evidence of behind-the-scenes hijinks designed to erase Stephanie Brown from DC Comics, the truth may less conspiratorial — if still a little odd.

Bleeding Cool pointed out this morning that a panel from the Dustin Nguyen/Derek Fridolfs story had been altered from the preview released early Wednesday. In the original version, a blonde girl can be seen among the trick-or-treaters dressed in what’s unmistakably a Stephanie Brown-Batgirl costume. However, in a second version posted on the website, the same girl is shown now with dark hair but without the purple stripe familiar to Stephanie fans, leading Bleeding Cool to conclude, “Yup, in the DC Universe, not even little kids are allowed to dress up as Stephanie Brown.”

But in the comic downloaded this morning by Robot 6 (below), the purple stripe remains, clearly marking the costume as Stephanie Brown’s. Still, it’s definitely odd, particularly considering that the ash-colored hair is almost indistinguishable from the mask. Of course, why that figure was the only one on the page changed is a bit of a mystery — as is why there are seemingly two edited versions of the panel floating around.

We’ve reached out DC Comics for clarification, but the offices are closed because of Superstorm Sandy, so it may take a while for a response.

Update (9:25 a.m.): It appears the panel posted at Bleeding Cool is fake. The girl’s hair color was changed from the time of the preview’s release, as Robot 6’s downloaded image shows, but not her costume.

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Comics A.M. | This weekend, it’s Long Beach, Tucson & Rhode Island comic cons

Long Beach Comic Con

Conventions | Creators like Neal Adams, Tim Bradstreet, Howard Chaykin, Amanda Conner and Scott Lobdell will headline the Long Beach Comic & Horror Con, held Saturday and Sunday at the Long Beach Convention Center. “I think most of our artists are thrilled to come back each year,” said Phil Lawrence, principal sales director for the event. “This is the earliest we sold out our Artists Alley and we have almost 190 tables. By focusing on the artists and giving them their due, they seem to keep coming back and signing up earlier — and they promote the show, which helps us out, too.” [Gazettes.com]

Conventions | Tucson Comic-Con may be small, but it puts comics — not other entertainment — front and center. [Arizona Daily Star]

Conventions | Also up this week: Rhode Island Comic Con, which doesn’t eschew the other media but boasts RISD alumnus Walt Simonson as the headline guest. [The Providence Phoenix]

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