Passings | Artist Janice Valleau Winkelman, creator of the detective Toni Gayle, passed away on Dec. 8 at age 90. Winkleman, who drew under her maiden name Janice Valleau, had polio as a child and wore a brace through school. Her first work was published in Smash Comics in 1939, when she was 16. She studied at the Phoenix Art Institute and moved to New York, where she found steady work as a penciler and inker for Archie Comics and Quality Comics. She left the industry during the anti-comic crusades of the 1950; author David Hajdu profiled her in the prologue to his chronicle of those times, The Ten Cent Plague. According to the Grand Comics Database, one of her stories was reprinted as recently as last April, in Archie Double Digest #238. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
Publishing | Douglas Wolk uses a classic comics trope — who would win in a fight between Marvel and DC Comics, or rather, Batman and Iron Man? — to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the two companies and how their business models have evolved. [Slate]
Comics | Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater and writer and artist Dan Parent talk about the latest story arc, which takes the Riverdale gang to India for an encounter with Bollywood. [The Times of India]
Manga | Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, spoke about manga and the importance of freedom of expression at the most recent Comiket, the world’s largest comics event, in Tokyo. [CBLDF]
Retailing | ICv2 analyzes the August direct market numbers and comes up with some interesting patterns: While the market as a whole is up, the number of comics with sales of more than 1,000 has been declining; sales dropped a bit for most ongoing comics series in the Top 25, but strong sales of Before Watchmen and two annuals more than compensated for that; and graphic novels sell in far lower numbers than comics, but because many of them are backlist titles, the numbers still increase from year to year. ICv2 also posted lists of last month’s Top 300 comics and graphic novels. [ICv2]
Publishing | Yet another big publisher spawns a graphic novel imprint: This time it’s Penguin, whose Berkley/NAL division will launch a graphic novel imprint, InkLit, next month. Helmed by former DC vice president and Yen Press co-founder Rich Johnson, InkLit will publish both original graphic novels and adaptations of prose works. The line will begin with Vol. 1 of Patricia Briggs’s Alpha and Omega, which collects the trades published by Dynamite; the second volume will be all new material. Also in the works are books by Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Sage Stossel. [Publishers Weekly]
The Columbus College of Art & Design has announced the schedule for its first-ever comics symposium, Mix 2012. The event is highlighted by a keynote event with Chris Ware, as well as a rare screening, two exhibitions ,and a comics-making marathon for CCAD students.
While the symposium is primarily held Oct. 3-6, there are several events occurring around it, such as a Maus roundtable discussion on Tuesday, Oct. 2, and a three-week gallery exhibit starting Sept. 21 that showcases original artwork from Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth.
Thursday night features a screening of the acclaimed BBC Four documentary by Jonathan Ross, In Search of Steve Ditko, which has rarely been shown in the United States (outside of YouTube, that is). There’s also an open house at Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, where the public will be able to dive into the largest and most comprehensive academic research facility of printed cartoon and comics art. How many opportunities have you had to examine original art from Jeff Smith’s Bone, Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes, Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland, the work of P. Craig Russell, and more?
Creators | Market Day creator James Sturm explains he’ll be boycotting The Avengers movie because he believes Jack Kirby, co-creator of many of Marvel’s longest-lasting characters, “got a raw deal”: “What makes this situation especially hard to stomach is that Marvel’s media empire was built on the backs of characters whose defining trait as superheroes is the willingness to fight for what is right. It takes a lot of corporate moxie to put Thor and Captain America on the big screen and have them battle for honor and justice when behind the scenes the parent company acts like a cold-blooded supervillain. As Stan Lee famously wrote, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’” Tom Spurgeon notes the position seems to mark a shift for Sturm, who wrote the Eisner-winning 2003 miniseries Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules for Marvel. [Slate, The Comics Reporter]
Quickly becoming the defacto reporter-of-record for comics on the mainstream industry scene, prolific writer Douglas Wolk is taking his critical eye to a bastion of UK comics publishing: Judge Dredd. In his new blog, Dredd Reckoning, Wolk is delving into the long-running Dredd stories from 2000AD and other outlets beginning with his first stories from 1977.
Although Dredd is a unifying figure for British comics fan, he’s largely been held at arm’s length by American audiences like a distant relative they just can’t warm up to. At one point, DC even attempted a U.S. Judge Dredd series drawn by a young Michael Avon Oeming that failed to grip audiences. This critical assessment of Dredd could be an eye-opening journey for American readers who want to know more but don’t know where to start or how to appreciate the work.
And this isn’t the first time that Wolk’s embedded himself in a narrow comics subject and went at it. His blog 52 Pick-up provided a week-by-week, blow-by-blow annotation of DC’s 52 series. Wolk has written about comics for Rolling Stone, Wired, and released a long-form, award-winning book on comics called Reading Comics.
There’s no word yet if Wolk will attempt to review the botched Sylvester Stallone flick from the 1990s, but here’s hoping.
What’s that you say? You didn’t know there was a secret? Well, various internet wonks have been kicking around a very intriguing theory about Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All Star Superman — the Absolute Edition of which hits stores tomorrow — involving its villain, Lex Luthor. In his latest column at Techland, Douglas Wolk sums up the All Star Superman secret theory and runs down all the available evidence for it. If you’re the sort of person who enjoys picking apart literary mysteries for which there aren’t obvious answers present in the text — from Mulholland Drive to the end of The Sopranos — this is very much the article for you. And even if you aren’t, it’ll give you a whole new way to look at one of the past decade’s greatest superhero comics, which is always a good thing.
I bet you never even realized that a drawing of Emma “The White Queen” Frost quietly planning to “polish her diamond form” by Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley was exactly what your life was missing, did you? Then thank Douglas Wolk for bringing this final piece of our collective psychological puzzle to our attention.
Writer and critic Douglas Wolk uses superheroes to explain Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgment in this video taken at the Ignite Portland 7 conference. (via)
C. Tyler‘s graphic memoir (the first book of three), You’ll Never Know (Book 1): A Good and Decent Man, has been getting a great deal of praise as of late. Our own, Chris Mautner, noted (in his review of Tyler’s book) that it “certainly deserves any accolades it receives”. The memoir (as described by Fantagraphics): “tells the story of the 50-something author’s relationship with her World War II veteran father, and how his war experience shaped her childhood and affected her relationships in adulthood. ‘You’ll Never Know’ refers not only to the title of her parents’ courtship song from that era, but also to the many challenges the author encountered in uncovering the difficult and painful truths about her Dad’s service — challenges exacerbated by her own tumultuous family life.” Even though she’s quite busy, she was generous enough to recently entertain a few of my questions via email.
C. Tyler: Before we get started, I have to say this first: Bill Murray, I love you and I’m ready to go on that date, so please call.
Now what were those questions?
Tim O’Shea: Are you annoyed, pleased or indifferent when reviewers of the book liken it on some level to Maus?
Tyler: Maus is such an important work. To be likened on some level to Maus: unbelievable. However, my answer comes more from a personal place.
When I first read the New York Times Review by Douglas Wolk, I was ready to bust out cryin’ with joy. You see, Art Spiegelman was one of the first official cartoonists I met. I was part of the fan team that helped with the first Raw promotions, hanging up fliers all over Manhattan. This was 1982 maybe? It felt so cool to be part of his inner circle and close to the early excitement he was feeling about Maus. I remember we were in a cab once on the way back from a Raw party and I was thinking how my Dad was over there, too, as part of the armed effort that eventually liberated his Dad. And his Mother. But I never believed that I could ever produce a work that would be mentioned in the same sentence.