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Comics A.M. | Does Desperate Dan hold key to City of Culture?

Desperate Dan

Desperate Dan

Comics | Could the competition to become the 2017 U.K. City of Culture hinge on … Desperate Dan, the pie-eating Wild West strongman from the long-running children’s comic The Dandy? Hull Daily Mail columnist Angus Young thinks the character could give Dundee the edge over fellow finalists Leicester, Swansea Bay and, yes, Hull. Dundee, Scotland, is home to The Dandy and The Beano publisher DC Thomson, and features statues of Desperate Dan and Beano character Minnie the Minx in its city center. “Having your picture taken next to the barrel-chested grizzly-chinned hero is apparently one of the top-ten things to do when visiting Dundee,” Young writes. “[…] This a bloke who thinks nothing of eating several cow pies in one sitting. A cowboy so tough he shaves his chin with a blowtorch and sleeps in a reinforced bed filled with building rubble.” The winner will be announced in November. [Hull Daily Mail, The Evening Telegraph]

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Quote of the day | When is a comic not a comic?

"Secret Romance" by Geoff Grogan

"Secret Romance" by Geoff Grogan

“Comics? Not comics? It only matters in so far as it means someone will (or won’t) pick up the book and take it home.”

Geoff Grogan, co-editor of the newsprint anthology pood and creator of the multimedia comics (hey, I’ll say it if he won’t) Look Out!! Monsters and Fandancer, on the only definition of “comics” worth a damn. Whether it’s Prince Valiant or Kramers Ergot 4, I’ve gotten a lot less concerned with using definitions to define a given work right out of the comics discussion. The best way I know how to put it is this: Comics is any art you can read.

Help advance the cause of science—with comics!

Neil Cohn explains his research

Neil Cohn is a doctoral student at Tufts University who studies the way people read comics—or, according to his bio, “the relationship of the cognition guiding the comprehension of comics to the processes used in understanding language.” He blogs, rather infrequently, at, where he finds interesting bits of research about how people read and create comics and other media.

Now you can help: Neil has an experiment up right now, and anyone is invited to participate. It’s basically an online survey—no wires and electrodes, no strange drugs—and only takes a few minutes to complete. So go, be a guinea pig. As an added incentive, participants have a chance to win one of two $50 Best Buy gift certificates.

Neil doesn’t just study comics—he also illustrated the non-fiction comic We the People, so his creator credentials are in order. Here’s a short interview with Neil at Dimes for Nickels, which gives a bit more background on his research.

(Via Scott McCloud.)

Summary and response: Shaenon Garrity sees the future

This is the future: Writer Molly McIsaac reads Hellboy on Women Read Comics in Public Day

Web comics creator and manga editor Shaenon Garrity has penned a ten-point manifesto on comics at comiXology that is well worth a read. I’ll summarize her ten points here for brevity, but you should really go over and read Shaenon’s explanations, as she expands on every point:

1. Newspaper comics are dead: I don’t think this comes as a surprise to anyone. Most of their creators are dead as well.
2. Monthly comic books are dead: Shaenon chalks this up to the deficiencies in the direct market.
3. Format is infinitely mutable: It’s all comics, and people will read it in the format that suits them.
4. The audience is infinitely fragmented: When you take the wider view, lots of people are reading different types of comics, and they no longer fit the standard stereotypes. ” Open the discussion to webcomics, and the audience fragments all the way down to the tip of the long tail; on the Internet, everyone is famous for fifteen people.”

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Scott McCloud defends (some) motion comics

It's a comic about drinking, OK?

Scott McCloud has posted an example of an animated comic, Vincent Giard’s bol, that works pretty well, along with a brief explanation of how motion comics can work:

The best way I’ve come up with to explain it is that looping animation (and sound, for that matter) still communicate a static span of time. If panel 2 clearly comes after panel 1 and before panel 3, it still feels like comics, even if panel 2 is a short loop of some sort.

It’s a good point, and in this case, the motion gets more and then less pronounced as the comic goes along, so there is a progression to it. Scott says,

The point isn’t whether or not we want to give it a particular label or not, but whether a given comic works as storytelling. Does it feel whole? Can we lose ourselves in the reality of the strip? And in this case, I’d say yes.

I agree that the animation fits the story, but looking a the comic as a whole is a bit like trying to read a comic printed on a bowl of Jell-O.

Everyone’s A Critic | A round-up of comic book reviews and thinkpieces

Dan Dare

Dan Dare

Paul Gravett looks at the influence of the British boys’ comic Eagle, home of Frank Hampson’s Dan Dare, which was favorite childhood reading for John Byrne, Chris Claremont, and Bryan Talbot, among others.

Casey Brienza isn’t just a manga reviewer, she’s a grad student studying paratext, the trappings of manga that make it manga. That’s more interesting than it sounds—check out her slideshow and brief writeup of the importance of trim size to American manga, and the way it was not only standardized but was used to define non-Japanese books as manga.

Faith Erin Hicks contemplates the uses of drawing as she compares Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto with Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy and throws in some thoughts on Kate Beaton for good measure.

Richard Bruton, who is not in the target audience by any means, picks up Twilight: The Graphic Novel and finds it… not terrible. Sean Kleefeld, meanwhile, finds some interesting parallels to a vintage comic (mainly, both seem to be incoherent).

Tintin dissenter Noah Berlatsky remains unmoved by The Castafiore Emerald, although his son loves it.

Chris Sims and Mike Sterling deliver their monthly beatdowns of Previews.

Kent Worcester reviews Art in Time: Unknown Comic Book Adventures, 1940-1980, which is the sort of book that would make me stay up nights.

Johanna Draper Carlson reviews two print editions of webcomics, The Night Owls and Louis Trondheim’s Little Nothings: Uneasy Happiness.

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