"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Creators | The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland has named its first Cartoonist in Residence: Cameron McPhail, who left his job in 2002 as chief executive of wealth management at the Royal Bank of Scotland to become a full-time cartoonist. He and his colleagues in the Kartoon Faktory collective will produce books about the animals in the zoo and possibly a comic strip as well. [Edinburgh News]
You don’t step on Superman’s cape. You don’t spit into the wind. And you don’t mess around with Matthew Inman, creator of the wildly popular webcomic The Oatmeal. Charles Carreon learned that earlier this year, when he sued Inman over allegedly defamatory comments and was made an Internet laughingstock.
Now Inman has taken aim at Jack Steuf, who last week wrote an unflattering profile of the cartoonist at BuzzFeed. (True confession time: I linked to the article in Comics A.M., although by the time I read it, the most egregious error had already been removed.) Inman posted the BuzzFeed article in its entirety and added his own annotations, taking issue with almost every point and ending with the allegation that Steuf had to leave his last job after a fake birthday card that mocked a poem written for Sarah Palin’s son, who has Downs Syndrome.
The most serious error in the BuzzFeed article is that Steuf relied in part on what turned out to be a fake profile of Inman on a website called SodaHead. The profile portrayed Inman as married, with children, and a staunch Republican, none of which is true. In fact, Inman is not married, has no children, and voted for Barack Obama both times. BuzzFeed removed the inaccurate information and added a terse note at the end of the article:
Update: A previous version of this piece linked to a profile that implied Inman was married, had children, and holds certain political beliefs. The profile is a fake. Inman refused to comment for this story, but posted an extended challenge to it on his website.
As mea culpas go, that’s pretty thin gruel. This is bad stuff. It’s poor journalistic practice to trust anything online, and the fault lies not just with the reporter who did it but also with the editor who let it get by. As Slade Sohmer points out in a nice analysis of the situation at HyperVocal, BuzzFeed’s nonchalant response erodes the website’s credibility and, by association, online media in general.
Publishing | According to the San Diego Comic Con schedule, Archaia will publish an adaptation of Shotaro Ishinomori’s classic sci-fi manga Cyborg 009, “reimagined” in Western style. The adaptation will be written by F. J. DeSanto and Brad Cramp, and illustrated by Trevor Hairsine. In case you missed it, David Brothers recently wrote a fascinating piece on the original. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Colleen Doran is looking for original art from her creator-owned series A Distant Soil. “I require good quality scans of the art for the future editions of the print books, as well as the upcoming digital editions … If you purchased A Distant Soil original art, I would be very grateful if you would get in touch with me.” [A Distant Soil]
Conventions | Despite the $500-plus price tag, the least-expensive tickets for MorrisonCon, the Grant Morrison-focused convention being held in September in Las Vegas, are already sold out. Remaining tickets cost between $699 and $1,099. Morrison says the high-priced event combines “visionary ideas, occult ritual, music and spoken word performances, art workshops, experimental films, DJ sets and in-depth discussions inspired by the comics.” [Hero Complex]
Publishing | Industry veteran Jim “Ski” Sokolowski, who was let go in October as Marvel’s chief operating officer ahead of a round of layoffs, has been hired by Archie Comics as senior vice president-sales and business development. The publisher also promoted Harold Buchholz from executive director of publishing and operations to senior vice president-publishing and operations, Paul Kaminski from editor to executive director of editorial, and Alex Segura from executive director of publicity and marketing to vice president-publicity and marketing. [Archie Comics]
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 walk out of the comic store with one book this week Fatale, Vol. 1: Death Chases Me (Image, $14.99). I fell off this book after the first issue, preferring to read in trades, and now that time has come. I’m looking forward to being surprised at what Brubaker and Phillips have done in this first arc as the debut issue was very promising.
If I had $30, I’d load up at Image with Manhattan Projects #4 (Image, $3.50), Prophet #26 (Image, $2.99) and Hell Yeah #4 (Image, $2.99). Prophet is becoming my favorite Image book because it unites my comic heroes of childhood (Prophet!) and one of the top cartoonists out there (Brandon Graham) with a surprising introduction of BD-style science fiction. Hell Yeah is a fun romp reimagining the staples of ’80s and ’90s comics as if John Hughes were the eighth Image founder. Last up I’d get Wolverine and the X-Men #12 (Marvel, $3.99). I was worried this series would get derailed by Avengers Vs. X-Men, but Aaron and Co. have managed to keep it on point as best as conceivably possible. It’s an ideal opening to bring Rachel Summers to the forefront, and the smirking Kid Gladiator on the cover is full of win.
If I could splurge, I’d get Michel Rabagliati’s Song of Roland hardcover (Conundrum Press, $20). I’ll always admire Free Comic Book Day, because it was there that a little Drawn and Quarterly one-shot introduced me to Rabagliati’s work. I’m surprised to see this new volume of his work not published by D&Q, instead published by Canadian house Conundrum. Anyway, this book appears to deal with the death of the father-in-law of the lead character, Paul. It’s been extremely engaging to see Paul grow through the series, and having him deal with events like this as I myself grow up and experience similar events is really touching.
At The Comics Journal, Ryan Holmberg has a lengthy and intricate piece on the Japanese creator Suzuki Miso and his coverage, in manga form, of the effects of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami on the manga industry. There’s a lot to chew on here, and Holmberg casts a skeptical eye on some of Suzuki’s reporting, but there is also a fascinating description of how the Japanese comics market works and why the earthquake hit it so hard. One striking similarity between Japan and the United States is that while comics themselves are only a tiny part of the nation’s economy, they are fertile ground for properties that are developed in other media with much greater impact.
Of course, being part of a comic itself, Suzuki’s journalism was directly affected by the very factors he was writing about: The first chapter of his manga, “The Day Japan and I Shook,” appeared in Comic Ryū, but that magazine was forced to suspend publication shortly afterward. Since then Suzuki has been publishing it online, and it will pick up again in print in December, when Comic Ryū resumes print publication.
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, many publishers put their manga magazines online for free. This was due to disruptions in the distribution chain as well as shortages of ink, paper, fuel and other supplies. While it was presented as a selfless gesture of help to those stricken by the earthquake, Holmberg points out that the earthquake victims were less likely to have internet than residents of Tokyo and other less affected areas. Furthermore, the big publishers resumed print publication and distribution as quickly as possible, suggesting that their benevolence was also good business sense: Posting the manga online kept readers in the loop while the physical comics were unavailable to them. This is, of course, exactly what Suzuki is doing.
At any rate, this is one comic I’d love to see translated. JManga, call your office!
The other day, Graeme McMillan asked why there are no news comics about the riots in the UK—he thinks that the immediacy of comics is exactly what is needed to fully convey a situation like this.
David Ziggy Greene’s comic What the F*** Just Happened? is a report from the scene, not a dispatch from the thick of the riots but a stroll through the aftermath. The comic includes a piercing insight into what the riots were all about, at least in one one shop in one neighborhood. On the other hand, Tom Humberstone accompanies his image of Londoners rebuilding with a blog post that argues that there are no simple answers to why the riots happened. Sally Jane Thompson also posts an illustration inspired by the riots, this one much more abstract in its concept than the other two.
Martin Rowson responds with an editorial cartoon.
(First two links via The Forbidden Planet blog.)
The Comics Journal, a venerable, influential and controversial mainstay of comics journalism that had developed an air of the walking wounded in recent years, has radically revamped and relaunched its online presence. Its new editors are Dan Nadel and Tim Hodler, best known as the minds behind Comics Comics magazine and, in Nadel’s case, the art-comics publisher PictureBox Inc.
The print version of the Journal will continue to be helmed by founding editor and Fantagraphics co-publisher Gary Groth, acting in a more hands-on capacity as of the forthcoming Issue #301 than he has in years, by the sound of it. Kristy Valenti serves as editorial coordinator. Contributors to the new TCJ.com include Frank Santoro, Jeet Heer, Joe “Jog” McCulloch, Ken Parille, Ryan Holmberg, Rob Clough, Richard Gehr, R.C. Harvey, R. Fiore, Vanessa Davis, Bob Levin, Patrick Rosenkranz, Nicole Rudick, Dash Shaw, Jason T. Miles, Andrew Leland, Naomi Fry, Jesse Pearson, Tom De Haven, Shaenon Garrity, Matt Seneca, Tucker Stone and Hillary Chute. On a Robot 6-related note, my colleague Chris Mautner and I will also be contributing.
A look at the new site reveals a multifaceted approach, with reviews, columns, interviews, lengthy features and essays (the current lead feature is a look at the legacy of, and turmoil surrounding, Frank Frazetta by writer Bob Levin), an events calendar, selected highlights from the magazine’s archives, and more. The biggest news, perhaps, is that Hodler and Nadel plan to have literally the entire 300-issue Comics Journal archive scanned and posted online by the end of this year and made available in its entirety to the print magazine’s subscribers. Click here for Hodler and Nadel’s welcome letter, in which they explain some of the changes and reveal a bit of what’s ahead. (And click here for their farewell letter to Comics Comics.)
and quite a few writers complained to me today that they would write better but they aren’t getting paid to do it.
having lived the first 10 years of my career making no money and having lived with artists and writers who have done the same… I don’t care about that.
you either work really hard and really try to make something worthwhile or you don’t. money has nothing to do with it. if you find a way to make money doing it fantastic. that I lived for many years under the impression that I was never ever ever going to make a dime. and so did a great many of my peers. money and the quality of your work should have nothing to do with each other. it just an excuse to fail.
This isn’t quite what he’s talking about, but I did want to say a few words about this aspect of Bendis’s critique specifically. True, many artists in every art form toil primarily for love of the game, out of an innate need to create rather than out of hope for monetary reward. But journalism about and criticism of comics of the sort Bendis is calling for makes making comics, never the world’s most lucrative profession for the vast majority of people who participate in it, look like the California Gold Rush of 1848 by comparison. In a way, it stands to reason: Given the comparatively small number of paying gigs in comics, and the comparatively small audience for the product of those gigs, the number of paying gigs for comics criticism and journalism of any kind — including copy-and-paste and pseudo-hip snark, let alone in-depth investigative reporting and pages-long close reading of creators’ work — is going to be vanishingly low.
comics as an art form is in fantastic shape. the only things missing? thoughtful longform investigative journalism and critique. all we get nowadays are knee-jerk reviews and cut and paste blogging. which I have no problem with but it’s ALL we get. on a slow news week like this one I would love to see some of our better reporters rolling up her sleeves and helping the medium thrive. even reviews of trade paperbacks and graphic novels have seemed to have fallen by the wayside even though the sales are crazy large.
you’ll forgive me but I think that a snarky pseudo-hip attitude towards mainstream comics is uninteresting. if you’re a cut-and-paste blogger or comics journalist and I just annoyed the shit out of you… prove me wrong.
I am enjoying the e-mails from professionals agreeing with me but not wanting to stir the pot Cut and paste blogging is cut and pastes from an article from another source… then adding a line of comment & signing their name to it.
I’m sorry I got on my high horse, I just do love this medium and I know a lot of you out there do as well. I miss amazing heroes and for clarification I go to almost every cut-and-paste comics blog
–Brian Michael Bendis, the industry’s most popular writer, taking aim at a lot of people who write about the industry, on Twitter today. Shots fired! Shots fired!
(And now, by cutting-and-pasting his tweets, adding a line of comment, and signing my name to it, I’ve become part of the problem. Dammit!)
Footnotes in Gaza
by Joe Sacco
Metropolitan Books, 416 pages, $29.95.
If you’re at all familiar with Joe Sacco’s comics — if you’ve read any of his previous graphic novels, like Palestine, Safe Area Gorazde or The Fixer — then it won’t come as much of a shock to you when I say that his latest book, Footnotes in Gaza, is another exemplary work, perhaps even his best to date. You’re already aware of the high standards he continually sets for himself as a storyteller and an artist and how he amazingly seems to reach those benchmarks time and again. You probably don’t need much convincing.
If you haven’t read any of Sacco’s books up till now, you’re in for a treat. Well, I suppose “treat” is the unequivocally wrong word to use considering the book’s grim subject matter, but there is something so captivating and masterful about Sacco’s work — he uses the medium to such great effect, squeezing every bit of tension and drama from his narrative while avoiding obvious, sentimental heart-tugging or one-note political polemics — that it’s hard not to be stunned by the power of artistry on display, even while you’re being moved to anger or sadness by the tragedy he’s recounting.
The Ridenhour Book Prize honors Joe Sacco’s tenacious reporting and recognizes Footnotes in Gaza as a work of profound social significance, one that explores the complex continuum of history. At a time when peace in the Middle East has never seemed more elusive, Sacco’s illustrations bear witness to the lives of those who are trapped by the conflict. This marks the first time that the Ridenhour judges have awarded the prize to an illustrated book
The Ridenhour Prize is named after Ron Ridenhour, who uncovered the My Lai massacre and later became an investigative journalist. (via)