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Comics A.M. | Marvel’s ‘fathers of invention’; Gaiman, Tan win Locus Awards

Jack Kirby

Legal | Brent Staples pens an editorial for the New York Times on the legal battle between the Jack Kirby estate and Marvel: “The Marvel editor Stan Lee sometimes offered general ideas for characters, allowing the artists to run with them. Mr. Kirby plotted stories, fleshing out characters that he had dreamed up or that he had fashioned from Mr. Lee’s sometimes vague enunciations. Mr. Lee shaped the stories and supplied his wisecrack-laden dialogue. And in the end, both men could honestly think of themselves as ‘creators.’ But Mr. Kirby, who was known as the King of Comics, was the defining talent and the driving force at the Marvel shop. Mr. Lee’s biographers have noted that the company’s most important creations started out in Mr. Kirby’s hands before being passed on to others, who were then expected to emulate his artistic style.” [New York Times]

Awards | Writer Neil Gaiman (Sandman, The Graveyard Book) and artist Shaun Tan (The Arrival, Tales from Outer Suburbia) are among the winners of the 2011 Locus Awards. Gaiman’s “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains” won for best novelette, while “The Thing About Cassandra” won best short story. Tan won for best artist. [Locus Online]

Legal | Jeff Trexler reviews the legal battle between Warner Bros. and the heirs of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster through the filter of the Neil Gaiman/Todd McFarlane decision, where a judge ruled Gaiman has copyright interest in Medieval Spawn, Angela and other Spawn characters. [The Beat]

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David Aja’s Red Skull: Incarnate cover process

Red Skull Incarnate

Red Skull Incarnate

Much like he did for his 5 Ronin covers, artist David Aja has posted his preliminary sketches for his Red Skull Incarnate covers, for which he pulled inspiration from Nazi war propaganda posters.

“I did extensive research into historical documents for the styles,” he said on his blog. “In order to make that work, I used different typographies each issue, emulating different typefaces in real work; so I needed a uniform tone, technique and color in the finished art to identify all the covers as a whole collection.”

The five-issue miniseries by writer Greg Pak and artist Mirko Colak kicks off in July.

Government-issued comics fail to convince skeptical youth

Government-issued comix

The government of South Korea has a wee problem: Nobody believes them any more, at least when it comes to their account of the sinking of a patrol boat last March. According to polls, over half of South Koreans in their 20s don’t buy the official explanation that the boat was sunk by a North Korean torpedo. So what’s a beleaguered government to do?

Make some comics! As Bloomberg News reports, the government of Lee Myung Bak has released a 32-page comic about the incident, featuring a journalist who is investigating the story and discussing it with his fiancee. Here’s some sample dialogue:

“When it comes to security issues, I wish that all people would speak with one voice,” says a survivor of the sinking depicted in the comic strip. “The people should love and trust us in the military.”

As that sparkling bit of dialogue indicates, this comic is about as well done as most government propaganda comics, and it’s about as well received, too: Rather than stirring up support for the government, the comic appears to be resurrecting memories of the not-so-distant past, when South Korea was a military dictatorship and such propaganda was the norm.

Debunked! Comics editors not on Nazi death list

Wartime propaganda from the Beano

Today is Battle of Britain Day, and the British blog Bear Alley takes the opportunity to investigate a bizarre bit of popular knowledge: That the editors of the kiddie comics Beano and Dandy were on the Nazis’ death list.

Beano and Dandy traffic in broad, slapstick humor, usually involving pies in the face, broken windows, and the eternal cycle of bullying and revenge. Most stories ended with someone getting whacked with a slipper, apparently the traditional means of restoring authority in postwar Britain. But according to local lore, in the late 1930s (Dandy was founded in 1937, Beano in 1938), many of the jokes came at the expense of Hitler and Mussolini. Aware of comics’ ability to lead youth astray, the Nazis put the editors of both comics on their list of people to be dealt with once they had successfully invaded Britain.

There is actually such a list—the Sonderfahndungsliste G.B.—and anyone can read it, as London’s Imperial War Museum printed a facsimile in 1989, but apparently nobody bothered to until Bear Alley’s Steve Holland took the initiative. His finding: Although a number of newspaper editors appear on the list, along with playwright Noel Coward and novelist H.G. Wells, the Beano and Dandy editors, George Moonie and Albert Barnes, are nowhere to be found. The sole cartoonist on the list is David Low, the political cartoonist for the Evening Standard, who, not surprisingly, had been churning out anti-Nazi cartoons by the barrel. He was slated to be handed over to the Gestapo, but history dictated otherwise.

It’s not surprising that the British found this story credible, as both comics are beloved institutions over there, and the British themselves recognized the power of popular culture after the war by hanging Lord Haw-Haw, an American-born broadcaster who made Nazi propaganda broadcasts on German radio, for treason.

(Image from the pop culture blog The Daily Hitler.)


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