"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Passings | Archie Comics artist Tom Moore died yesterday at the age of 86. Moore got his start as an artist in the Navy, where he served during the Korean War: His captain found a caricature that Moore had drawn, and instead of calling him on the carpet, he assigned him to be staff cartoonist. Moore’s comic strip, Chick Call, ran in military publications, and after the war he studied cartooning in New York, with help from the GI Bill. Moore signed on with Archie Comics, drawing one comic book a month, from 1953 until 1961, when he left cartooning for public relations. “It’s important to create characters that can adapt to anything, but whose personalities are consistent,” Moore said in a 2008 interview. “Establish that, and don’t deviate. Betty doesn’t act like Veronica, and Charlie Brown doesn’t act like Lucy.” He returned to cartooning in 1970, drawing Snuffy Smith, Underdog, and Mighty Mouse, and then went back to Archie to help reboot Jughead, staying on until his retirement in the late 1980s. After retiring, Moore taught at El Paso Community College and was a regular customer at All Star Comics. [El Paso Times]
Publishing | DC co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio talk about the comics market as a whole, variant covers, and their move to Burbank, among many other topics, in a three-part interview. [ICv2]
Commentary | Christopher Butcher discusses the way the comics audience has diversified, and the way that parts of the industry (the parts that aren’t involved, basically) have refused to acknowledge the enormous popularity of newer categories of comics by “othering” them: “‘Manga aren’t comics,’ went the discussion. They were, and are in many ways, treated as something else. The success that they had, the massive success that they continue to have, doesn’t ‘count’. All those sales and new readers were just ‘a fad’, and not worthy of interest, respect, or comparison to real comics. It was the one thing that superhero-buying-snobs and art-comics-touting-snobs could agree on (with the exception of Dirk Deppey at TCJ, bless him): This shit just isn’t comics, real comics, therefore we don’t have to engage it.” Butcher sees these attitudes changing at last, though, thanks to the massive commercial and critical success of books like Raina Telgemeier’s Smile (three years on the New York Times graphic novel best-seller list!) and Mariko and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer. [Comics212]
Digital comics have been heralded as the next logical step for the comics medium, but with them comes the challenges of transitioning from one medium to another. Over on the blog Levin/Albright, Matt Levin argues that the “Guided View” functionality in digital comics readers fundamentally changes and “breaks” the comics medium, specifically when looking at a comics page as a whole.
“When reading a comic with Guided View or a similar technology, we’re losing a number of elements,” Levin explains in his blog post. “We don’t see the construction of the whole page, which would peripherally influence our understanding of the current panel. We also lose the sense of relative size of each panel, which is the most basic way that creators imply pacing. Reading the same comic on and offline would leave markedly different impressions.”
To better understand what Levin is getting at, it’s important to step back and take a look at a comics page. When reading a comic book in its natural form, we’re reading it in two different ways simultaneously. We’re taking in the story one panel at a time (a ‘montage’ view as Levin calls it), but also digesting the story in the larger context of the page those panels share (in a ‘collage’ view). For an example, Levin shows a page from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns in both its original comic book presentation: