INTERVIEW: DiDio & Lee on "Dark Knight 3," Vertigo's Future & DC's Evolving Readership
Although there have been plenty of events — with still more to come — in celebration of Batman’s 75th anniversary, Popeye’s 85-year milestone has gone largely unnoticed. However, King Features Syndicate and Los Angeles’s Hero Complex Gallery are about to remedy that.
The official “Popeye: A Tribute Art Show” premieres Friday, with more than 100 artists from around the world paying homage to the spinach-eating sailor introduced in 1929 in E.C. Segar’s Thimble Theatre comic strip.
Curated by by the illustrator Chogrin, the show features works by such artists as Francesco Francavilla, Brent Engstrom, Miranda Dressler, Scott Balmer, Alina Chau and Shawn Dickinson. Of course, they’re just for starters. You can see some of the pieces below, and more on the art show’s blog and Facebook page.
The world was saddened to learn of Robin Williams’ passing on Monday, and the circumstances surrounding his death only made it more tragic. Most of us, however, prefer to remember the comedy legend through the times he made us smile.
Perhaps it was his goofy silliness as the alien Mork, or his stellar voice work in Aladdin, or the way he managed to fill out the form of an old lady in Mrs. Doubtfire. He had loads of dramatic roles as well, from The Fisher King to Dead Poets Society. Williams could make you empathize with the hurting soul underneath the clown, the man behind the facade.
For all his versatility — from playing a cartoon bat trying to save the rainforest to a frightening stalker working at a photo booth — it’s a shame Williams was never in a superhero movie, especially in an era when the likes of Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson and Anthony Hopkins have embraced such genre roles.
Oh, wait. Williams did play a superhero, of sorts: He was Popeye the Sailor Man.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at all the comics and other stuff we’ve been reading lately. Our special guests today are Brendan Tobin and Pedro Delgado, who run the March MODOK Madness site. And with this being March, the madness is in full swing, so head over there to check out a lot of fun art featuring everyone’s favorite big-headed villain.
To see what Brendan, Pedro and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Happy Mother’s Day and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Ryan Ferrier, who I spoke to a couple of weeks ago about his comic Tiger Lawyer and recently kicked off an Indie GoGo project to fund the second issue.
To see what Ryan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
This week Fantagraphics shipped Popeye Vol. 6: Me Little Swee’Pea, the final book in the publisher’s thorough collection and handsome representation of the entirety of E.C. Segar’s comic strip starring the immortal, iconic sailor character.
So once that book has been read and enjoyed, what is an insatiable Popeye fan to do then?
Well, I’m glad I asked myself that, because it provides a perfect segue into IDW’s Popeye #1, which also shipped this week.
Like BOOM!’s recent Peanuts comics, there’s an aura of superfluity about the endeavor: Does the world need more, Segar-less Popeye comics when there are so many hundreds of pages of Popeye comics by Segar so easily available?
I honestly don’t know, and I suspect the answer to that question varies from potential reader to potential reader.
Certainly plenty of Segar-less Popeye narratives in various other media already exist, and certainly the character is familiar to folks around the world who may have never read a single one of the great cartoonist’s strips, thanks to decades worth of animated cartoons, a few video games and that Robin Williams movie.
Here’s something I do know, though: If there are going to be new Popeye comics, then I hope they are all as good as Popeye #1.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d go all-in on AvX: Vs #1 (Marvel, $3.99). As a story format-junkie, this seems like an ideal supplemental series to the event comic series as we know it – I may have read it wrong, but this seems low on continuity and high on action – kind of a throwback to the condensed comics of the ’60s, I hope. And seeing Kathryn and Stuart Immonen on this together is a big deal – wish they’d get more chances like this! Next up would be the finale of The Twelve, #12 (Marvel, $2.99). I argued with myself about waiting for the trade at this point, but at the end of the day I’m more interested in this than a lot of everything else going on out there. Plus, I bought the eleven previous issues so I should finish it out, right? Next up would be Spaceman #6 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). I’m finding this series benefits from a deeper re-reading prior to each new issues, but it’s paying off in spades in terms of my enjoyment. This is definitely a palate cleanser after Azzarello and Risso’s run on 100 Bullets, but in a good way. Finally, I’d get Daredevil #11 (Marvel, $2.99). The Eisner Awards judges got this one right when they piled nominations on this book, because Waid, Martin, and Rivera have really made the quintessential superhero book here. The fill-ins from Khoi Pham and Marco Checchetto seem off-putting, but they’ve earned some lee-way after the murderer’s row of creators who started the book. Can’t wait to see Samnee on this, however.
If I had $30, I’d start off with an interesting looking project that’s gotten no press – Airboy: Deadeye #1 (Antarctic Press, $3.50). Chuck Dixon and Ben Dunn — what a pairing. After that I’d go back to get Supercrooks #2 (Marvel/Icon, $2.99); Mark Millar knows how to sell a high-concept, but it’s Leinil Yu that’s making me come back past the first issue. After that would be an Avengers two-fer: New Avengers #25 (Marvel, $3.99) and Secret Avengers #26 (Marvel, $3.99). I dropped off New a few issues back, but with this new issue covering some never-before-seen connections between Iron Fist and the Phoenix Force, I’m back in for this one. And Secret Avengers, well, Remender’s on a roll with his Marvel work and this is continuing on that without being an Uncanny X-Force retread. And guest artist Renato Guedes seems a better fit for this than his work on Wolverine.
If I could splurge, I’d lunge for a copy of The Art of Amanda Conner (IDW/Desperado, $29.99). I was fortunate enough to get a digital review copy of this earlier, and seeing it like that only made me want this more. Rather than just being a template art book plugging in her work, the design and packaging really go along with what you’d expect from Amanda’s tongue-in-cheek comic style. Reading this makes me want to go back and track down her earlier work that I missed.
On any given week, reading Ben Towle’s Twitter feed or Oyster War Tumblr or his blog, I tend to take away some perspective of substance. And that’s what prompted me to do this email interview with him. Rather than explain what ground we tried to cover, I prefer to jump right into the interview, after thanking Towle for his time and thoughts. This interview was conducted prior to Towle’s Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean being nominated in the Eisner Best Publication for Kids category.
Tim O’Shea: When you started on Oyster War, did you expect that “publishers [would not]… be beating down my door to publish this weird, not-all-ages mashup of 20s newspaper comic strips and obscure (at least in the U.S.) French graphic novels“? Or has that been an unexpected, disappointing surprise?
Ben Towle: As far as my statement about publishers goes, I should clarify: no big publishing house is beating down my door to give me a publishing deal with a decent advance. And no, this doesn’t surprise me at all.
I guess I’ve gotten a reputation as a naysayer as a result, but I’ve always been quite dubious of the (in my opinion, very Pollyanna-ish) claim that the graphic novel as a literary/art form has “arrived.” I think if you look at what GNs for adults have gotten deals from big publishers, they’re almost exclusively very specific genres—usually memoir with some sort of an angle (historical, grave illness, identity politics, etc.)—-and that’s not the sort of thing I’m personally interested in doing comics about.
That said, I’m optimistic that once Oyster War gets to the point that it’s, say, 75% complete I’ll be able to shop it around to a specialty graphic novels publisher and find it a home. It would be nice if we got to the point that there’s a sizable enough audience for adult general fiction graphic novels to sustain the “living from advance to advance” model that successful prose authors can pull off, but until then, I’ll just continue to do what I’ve been doing: produce the work that I love doing and which I truly believe in, and hope to find some success with those projects on the back end.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item.
This week’s a big week for me, so with only $15 I’d have to leave a lot of things back and make some hard choices. My five under $15 would start with Joe The Barbarian #8 (DC/Vertigo, $3.99) by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy. I’m a big fan of both guys, but I have to admit the story went over my head the same way The Filth did in serialization. Be that as it may, I’ve kept buying the issues just to amaze myself with Murphy’s art. Now that the complete series is out, I’ll re-read it all in one sitting and hope for the best. Second would be the fourth issue of Incognito: Bad Influences (Marvel/Icon, $3.50) because, well, Brubaker and Phillips can do no wrong. After that I’d get Secret Warriors #25 (Marvel, $3.99) because Hickman’s writing here plays up to all the things I like — espionage, secrets, and overly-complicated story arcs. Over on the DC side I would pick up Brightest Day #21 (DC, $2.99). This series has ebbed and flowed for me, depending on which story arcs are brought to the fore in each issue… but I’m excited to see what happens and that’s what it should be about, right? My last pick is a cheat — I only have some change left, but thankfully the Fear Itself Sketchbook (Marvel) coming out is a free promotional item. I’ll take Stuart Immonen sketches any day!
Alt-horror visionary Tom Neely — he of the much acclaimed, mostly wordless graphic novel The Blot — is at it again with another psychologically troubling take on the cartoon icons of the early 20th century. This time he’s putting Popeye through the paces in Doppelgänger, an action-packed reinterpretation of E.C. Segar’s sailor man. The book pits Popeye against his greatest enemy of all: himself. Multiple copies, in fact. It’s not Neely’s most overtly horrific work, to be sure, but doubles have been a staple of the uncanny for centuries (as Freud himself noted), and the scenes of Popeye and his duplicates assaulting one another evoke everything from Dead Ringers to 28 Days Later, all with impeccable linework that recalls the great master cartoonists of yore. You can order it through Neely’s I Will Destroy You imprint. Tastier than spinach and twice as good for you, folks!
Creator Ben Towle channeled Popeye creator E.C. Segar to draw the Uncanny X-Men. “I used E.C. Segar’s Thimble Theater characters as my models here,” he said, noting he used the X-Men crew that were active in the X-Men/Teen Titans crossover from the 1980s.
Google celebrates comics again today with a Doodle on its homepage marking what would’ve been the 115th birthday of Popeye creator E.C. Segar.
Born on Dec. 8, 1894, in Chester, Illinois, Elzie Crisler Segar worked as a drummer and film projectionist at a local theater while taking a correspondence course in cartooning. He eventually moved to Chicago, and was hired by the Chicago Herlad, which in March 1916 published Segar’s first (but short-lived) comic strip, Charlie Chaplin’s Comedy Capers.
After media mogul William Randolph Hearst bought and closed the Herald, Segar was sent to King Feature Syndicate in New York City, where he created Thimble Theatre, a strip starring a coy flapper named Olive Oyl, her fiance Harold Hamgravy and various members of the Oyl family.