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This week on Thursday’s Jazz Alternatives [on New York radio station WKCR] there was an interview with a member of the New York Jazz Initiative, an organization that holds workshops in New York area high schools to get kids interested in jazz. The idea is to have them play with professional musicians, and in doing so create a new audience for the music. Their plan is “to educate and inspire the next generation of performers and listeners.”
During the interview there was a lot of talk about how the golden age of jazz has passed and now schools are churning out jazz musicians with nowhere to play. There are more players than listeners, really, so a new audience for the music has to be created lest it become “museum music.”
I couldn’t help but think about comics while I was listening to the interview. This might be a new “golden age” of comics but what if the audience just dries up in the next decade or so? Jazz was dominant on the radio and in nightclubs in 1960, but by 1970 jazz musicians were running out of places to play. I thought, “What’s going to happen when all the comics shops close?” That won’t happen, you say? Well, they said that about record shops, too, and now they are just about all gone.
–Cartoonist and critic Frank Santoro, writing on the future of comics for The Comics Journal. Santoro is writing as a partisan of independent/small press/alternative/art comics published by entities other than large corporations, and as such I wonder if his concern is a valid one. From Peter Laird shutting down the Xeric grants for self-published comics to DC going same-day digital for its entire line, the assumption made by people all across comics is that the replacement of print by digital is a difference in degree, but what if it’s a difference in kind?
I tweeted it after I got back home the night of the show and I stand by it now: Book for book and creator for creator, the second annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival was the best comic convention I’ve ever attended. I’m not sure I can articulate exactly why — certainly not in a comprehensive fashion, as I was in and out of the day-long show within three hours and didn’t even attend any of the programming (though I could see it was pretty much standing room only from my vantage point by the hot dog stand that provided grub for the attendees). I’m sure people who stayed longer, participated more, and took advantage of all the show’s ancillary events could paint you a bigger and better picture. But from my admittedly narrow perspective, it came down to a sense of…well, of giddiness — that’s the best way I can put it. Pretty much everyone I saw or spoke with at the show seemed head-over-heels happy, not because of proximity to cool parties or big-money media extravaganzas, but because of proximity to comics — tons and tons of unusual, gutsy, great comics.
Retailing | Rich Johnston confirms that Diamond Comic Distributors is developing a digital comics service that, in the words of a company representative, “will be entirely focused on driving sales of digital comic-related content through brick and mortar comic book specialty retailers.” No details were made available, but an official announcement is expected “in the near future.” In the meantime, Johnston gathers initial reactions from several retailers. [Bleeding Cool]
Publishing | Amit Desai, who has worked at Warner Bros. since 2004, has been named as DC Entertainment’s senior vice president, franchise management: “In his new role, Desai will develop and implement the individual franchise plans for Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash, MAD Magazine, Vertigo titles, and other DC properties. This will include driving wider cross-promotional support across all Time Warner divisions.” [press release]
Publishing | Alex Segura, former publicity manager at DC Comics, has been hired by Archie Comics as executive director of publicity and marketing. [press release]
Crime | Police arrested and released two suspects in the murder of Kenneth McClure, the St. Louis retailer found shot to death on Tuesday. Prosecutors have asked for more evidence before deciding whether to file charges against the 25-year-old woman, who had reportedly worked at Legends Comics & Sports Cards and had been in a relationship with McClure, and a 32-year-old man, who is related to the mother of the 13-year-old girl who accused McClure of rape. [St. Louis Today]
Publishing | DC Comics announced three promotions in its manufacturing and operations departments: Alison Gill to senior vice president-manufacturing & operations; Nick Napolitano to vice president-manufacturing administration; and Jeff Boison to vice president-publishing operations. DC Publicity Manager Alex Segura also announced this morning that today is his last day at the company. [The Source, The Source]
Publishing | Eiichiro Oda’s blockbuster pirate manga One Piece has sold 32.34 million copies in 2010, more than double what it sold the previous year. According to Japanese market survey company Oricon Communications, the series’ five newest volumes have sold a combined 12.5 million copies. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Comico co-founder Gerry Giovinco weighs in on an eBay listing that includes original artwork apparently left in the stewardship of his former partners Dennis and Phil LaSorda when the company went bankrupt in 1990: “It always was Comico policy to return all art to the creators. If there is art that was not returned, we are in total agreement that it should be returned to the rightful owners of the work. If you are a creator that believes your work could be among this lot, we would suggest you fight to get it back.” [CO2 Comics Blog]
She specializes in zeitgeisty op-ed columns featuring schoolyard-taunt nicknames for the most powerful people in politics…and in MAYHEM! She’s New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, and she’s kicking ass and uncovering the crime of the century in The Incredibly Fantastic Adventures of Maureen Dowd, “A Work of Satire and Fiction” from Night Business and Gangsta Rap Posse author Benjamin Marra.
Told in Marra’s inimitable, po-faced ’80s-trash throwback style, TIFAoMD‘s preview pages show Dowd — winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary and recently named the eighth-biggest hack in journalism by Salon’s Alex Pareene — lounging in lingerie, battling burglars, flirting with fellow Times columnist Tom Friedman, and trying to blow the lid off the Valerie Plame scandal before her big date with George Clooney. And for a political junkie like me, it’s basically heaven. (Ordering info and preview page after the jump.)
Comics | A copy of Detective Comics #27 bought for 10 cents by Robert Irwin in 1939 sold at auction Thursday for $492,937. It’s not a record price for the first appearance of Batman — a CGC-graded 8.0 copy fetched more than $1 million in February — but the $400,000 that the 84-year-old Irwin will make after the commission fee is subtracted will more than pay off the mortgage on his home. [Sacramento Bee]
Digital piracy | The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously approved a bill that would grant the Justice Department the right to shut down a website with a court order “if copyright infringement is deemed ‘central to the activity’ of the site — regardless if the website has actually committed a crime.” In short, Wired’s Sam Gustin writes, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act “would allow the federal government to censor the internet without due process.” [Epicenter, AFP]
Programming Director Bill Kartalopoulos has released the programming schedule for the upcoming 2nd annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, taking place on Saturday, Dec. 4 in Williamsburg, and it’s a doozy. Lynda Barry & Charles Burns and Françoise Mouly & Sammy Harkham will be paired off in panels that are perhaps the highlight of the show, while other spotlighted cartoonists include Golden Age artist Irwin Hasen (in conversation with Paul Pope, Evan Dorkin, and Dan Nadel) and Big Questions author Anders Nilsen, who drew the still-awesome poster you see above.
Check out the full schedule in the BCGF press release after the jump.
Details have been announced for the second annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, which will be held on Dec. 4 at a new, larger location — Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Brooklyn, New York.
Special guests for the free, one-day event will include Lynda Barry, Kate Beaton, Gabrielle Bell, Charles Burns, Jordan Crane, Evan Dorkin, Renée French, Bill Griffith, Sammy Harkham, Irwin Hasen, Anders Nilsen, Paul Pope, Johnny Ryan, Leanne Shapton, Mark Allan Stamaty, Jillian Tamaki and Adrian Tomine.
The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival is organized by Desert Island, PictureBox and Bill Kartalopoulos.
Read the full press release after the break.
Origin story time: Back when I worked at Wizard, I was introduced to the concept of a themed sketchbook by coworkers like Ben Morse and David Paggi, whose Nova and Lockjaw sketchbooks celebrated their favorite obscure superheroes through the generous contributions of comics artists. My problem? I don’t have a favorite obscure superhero. The only hero I really love is Batman, and the problem there is that I’m sure most superhero artists doing sketches at cons are sick of drawing him, while most alternative artists doing sketches at cons are sick of thinking about him. Who could I choose that would fit the bill?
Then it came to me: David Bowie. He’s my favorite musician, and it’s fair to say his outlook and approach to art literally changed my life. Plus, with all those alter egos and ch-ch-ch-changes, he’s like a superhero anyway, right? And thus, at MoCCA 2007, the David Bowie Sketchbook was born.
I’ve since collected sketches of Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke, Aladdin Sane, the Goblin King, Major Tom, or whatever else you care to call the former David Jones from 80 artists and illustrators. Below are the latest batches, from this year’s Small Press Expo in September and Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival last weekend. How must the others see the faker?
* Organized by Desert Island‘s Gabe Fowler and PictureBox‘s Dan Nadel, the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival made its debut on Saturday, and I’m awfully glad I was able to make it. (I didn’t think I’d be able to, but my wife and mother-in-law gave me a reprieve from going to see New Moon for the third time. Hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!) I live on Long Island, so having an artcomix convention on my very own land mass is a cause for celebration. And provided you’re willing to brave a dreadful mile or so on the BQE and the Kosciuszko Bridge, it’s not even that much of a hassle to get there — parking in Brooklyn is a snap.
* Less easy was dealing with the weather, which was awful. Freezing rain and, eventually, snow. I figured this would do a real number on attendance levels …