R. Crumb Archives | Robot 6 | The Comics Culture Blog

The 6 best things from Emerald City Comicon

Emerald City ComiconEmerald City Comicon may not come with the metric ton of announcements that Comic-Con International does, but in a way it’s all the better for it. Comics still feel as if they’re front and center just where I like them, and the announcements have more charm because they aren’t screaming to be heard over the din of film and television rollouts.

One year, I’ll get up to Seattle to experience the event firsthand, but in the meantime, I get to absorb all the news and photos like everyone else, as they’re posted online. ECCC even streamed all of its panels on flipon.tv. Anything that happened in Room 301 is free for anyone to watch. Everything else can be purchased with a full archive pass for $14.95. Or if, you don’t want to sit through hours of panel footage, there’s CBR’s coverage or, heck, try Google or something.

A number of announcements jumped out as particularly noteworthy, so let’s run through The 6 Best Things from ECCC. And from my count, Dark Horse won Emerald City. Your miles may vary though, so post your favorites in the comments.

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Early Superman cover art sells for $286,800

action comics15-cover artThe earliest original Superman cover art known to exist sold at auction over the weekend for $286,800, exceeding early estimates.

Fred Guardineer’s cover for Action Comics #15 (dated August 1939), on the fifth cover appearance of the Man of Steel, depicts the superhero aiding a distressed U.S. submarine on the ocean floor. It was purchased by Richard Evans of Bedrock City Comic Company in Houston.

“Guardineer’s cover is the earliest Superman cover art in existence, and an absolute treasure of comics history,” Ed Jaster, senior vice president of Heritage Auctions, said in a statement. “A price like this shows just how much collectors covet a rarity like this.”

A prolific Golden Age writer and artist, Guardineer created Zatara, whose first appearance in Action Comics #1 was overshadowed by the debut of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Superman.

The Feb. 20-22 auction in New York City featured more than 1,200 lots, including the second part of the Don and Maggie Thompson collection. Highlights included: a near-mint copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, which sold for $191,200; Jack Kirby and Frank Giacola’s original cover art for Tales of Suspense #84, which fetched$167,300; and R. Crumb’s original art for the three-page story “Ducks Yas Yas” from Zap Comix #0, which went for $101,575.

Comics A.M. | WonderCon still hoping for return to San Francisco


Conventions | David Glanzer, Comic-Con International’s director of marketing and public relations, looks back on this year’s WonderCon, which was held in Anaheim, California, rather than in San Francisco, touches upon the uncertainty about the location for next year’s show — “we just don’t have dates at the Moscone Center yet” — and discusses changes to pro and press registration for Comic-Con. [ICv2]

Conventions | Grant Morrison talks about MorrisonCon, the Sept. 28-30 convention billed as “a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” “It’s not going to be ‘Come here and buy some comics and listen to a few panels,’ ” he says. “After two days you will be a changed person.” Tickets for the Las Vegas show, which is limited to 1,000 attendees, cost $767, and include a two-night stay at the Hard Rock Hotel, access to the guests and after-hours parties. [The Hollywood Reporter]

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Comics A.M. | Fran Matera dies; Corto Maltese complaints addressed

The Legend of Bruce Lee, by Fran Matera

Passings | Steve Roper and Mike Nomad artist Fran Matera has died at the age of 88. Matera, who worked briefly in the Quality Comics bullpen, where he worked on Doll Man and other titles, before enlisting in the Marines during World War II, also drew such comic strips as Dickie Dare, The Legend of Bruce Lee and Nero Wolfe. His comic credits also include the “Chuck White and Friends” feature in Treasure Chest, and issues of Marvel’s Incredible Hulk and Tarzan. [Rip Jagger’s Dojo]

Publishing | Dark Horse manga editor Carl Gustav Horn takes the long view and refuses to give pat answers to questions about trends and hot properties: “This August, the longest-running manga in the North American market, Kosuke Fujishima’s Oh My Goddess!, turns eighteen. We started OMG! during the era of manga marketed as comic books, continued it into the era of manga marketed as graphic novels, and transitioned into the era of manga marketed as tankobon (Japanese-style GNs). Now we’re moving ahead into the era of manga marketed for e-reading.” [ICv2]

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Crumb on McCay (and Twain and Obama and …)

Crumb on Crumb

Part of Robert Crumb’s website includes a series of observations called “Crumb on Others,” in which the cartooning legend talks about a diverse spectrum of people from Mozart to Martin Luther King Jr.

Take this musing on Little Nemo‘s Winsor McCay as an example and then click the link above for the others:

The guy’s not even human. I don’t know how he did it. It’s unbelievable what he did, week after week on those Little Nemo strips. It’s incredible. His son said he was a workaholic, that he didn’t pay any attention to his kids or anything, he just worked all the time. And that’s the only way he could have done those strips, just worked constantly. God, just the conception of those strips, and every week? He did those for years. Omigod, I don’t know how he did it. It’s beyond anything I could even imagine doing. I guess he was a man of his time, you know, people conceived things differently then. It’s like a tiffany lamp. I look at that thing and I can’t even imagine how they did it. Or some ancient Egyptian gold leaf figure on a throne, you know, some pharaoh — have no idea how they did it. That’s how Winsor McCay is to me. And then guess what? He made his own animated cartoon and drew every single cell himself! How about that?

Thanks to Chris Mautner for pointing this out.

What Are You Reading?


Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly round-up of … well, what we’ve been reading lately.

Today our special guest is the legendary Gilbert Hernandez. Known best as the co-creator of Love & Rockets, his other works include Sloth, The Troublemakers, Chance in Hell and Yeah! with Peter Bagge (which is being collected by Fantagraphics)

To see what Gilbert and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.

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Ovi Nedelcu’s Illustrated Bible

Animation and sometimes comic artist Ovi Nedelcu has updated his blog with new pages from his long-gestating project The Bible Storybook. While Nedelcu spends most of his time in animation these days, comics fans might know him from his story in Flight Vol. 4 and his short-lived series Pigtale. This project looks to be quite different from R. Crumb’s recent adaptation on the Bible, and enjoyable in a very different way.

Here’s the first two pages:

You can see more over at a dedicated blog Ovi set up for the project.

“This doesn’t exist, but I can make it happen”: Françoise Mouly explains it all

To paraphrase Mary McCarthy, every word in Françoise Mouly’s interview with CBR’s Alex Dueben is fascinating, including “and” and “the.” It’s a marvelously insightful look at nearly every aspect of the legendary RAW, New Yorker, and Toon Books editor’s multifaceted career: The status of Toon Books, the challenges of producing educational books for children that are also fun to look at and read, her personal history with comics, the importance and legacy of her and husband Art Spiegelman’s seminal alternative-comics magazine RAW‘s production values, the shift among underground/alternative cartoonists’ careers from character-focused (a la Zippy, Jimbo, and Adele Blanc-sec) to creator-focused, her duties and work style as The New Yorker‘s art editor, working with visual artists from across the comics and illustration spectrum, her dream of an increased presence of actual comics in the magazine, R. Crumb’s apparent New Yorker beef, Toon Books’ upcoming slate…pure gold from one of comics’ most influential figures.

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Comics A.M. | Another One Piece sales record, another cartoonist layoff

One Piece, Vol. 6

Publishing | The 60th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s popular pirate manga One Piece sold more than 2 million copies in its first four days of release. It’s the first book to move more than 2 million copies in its first week of sales since the Japanese market survey company Oricon began reporting its charts in 2008. As we reported last week, this volume’s 3.4 million-copy first printing set a record, and propelled the series past the 200 million-copy mark. [Anime News Network]

Editorial cartoons | Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Matt Davies has been laid off by the Gannett-owned Journal News in White Plains, N.Y. [Comic Riffs]

Publishing | Abrams has made three comics-related promotions: Susan Van Metre to senior vice president and publisher, overseeing all comic arts books as well as Abrams Books for Young Readers and Amulet Books; Charles Kochman to editorial director of Abrams ComicArts; and Chad W. Beckerman to creative director, overseeing design for all comic arts books as well as Abrams Books for Young Readers and Amulet Books. [Abrams]

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Straight for the art | Cool old magazine covers

Popeye as you have never seen him before

Popeye as you have never seen him before

I’m not sure why exactly Stephen Kroninger decided to post a bunch of magazine covers from the 1970s and 80s, but they’re fun to look at, and there are some old friends here like Art Spiegelman and Robert Crumb. That Popeye cover alone was worth the click for me. (Found via Journalista.)

Talking Comics with Tim: Michael Dowers

Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s

Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s

I first started covering the comics industry in the late 1990s, and at first I had a mindset of trying to cover the mainstream stuff, DC and Marvel. Fortunately I soon broadened my horizons and started to cover independent and/or mini-comics creators. More recently, when I learned that Fantagraphics had tapped Michael Dowers to edit and compile Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s, I jumped at the chance to interview him. Here’s a rundown of the book from Fantagraphics (plus a Flickr flipthrough of the book):  “Newave! is a gigantic collection of the best small press cartoonists to emerge in the 1970s after the first generation of underground cartoonists (such as R. Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, and Art Spiegelman) paved the way. These cartoonists, inspired by the freewheeling creative energy of the underground comix movement, began drawing and printing their own comix. The most popular format was an 8 1/2” x 11” sheet, folded twice, and printed at local, pre-Kinkos print shops on letter-size paper; because of the small size, they were dubbed ‘mini comix.’ As they evolved many different artists, one by one, became interested in this do-it-yourself phenomenon. By the 1980’s they became known as Newave Comix, a term taken from England’s Newave rock ’n’ roll movement. An explosion of do-it-yourself artists emerged. Many talented artists went onto bigger and better things, others have disappeared into the fog never to be heard from again.” The collection is a staggering 892 pages–and Fantagraphics offers a 32-page preview here.

Tim O’Shea: The book is dedicated in “Memory of Michael Roden, Clay Geerdes, and R.K. Sloane”. Would you mind telling folks a little bit about each of them?

Michael Dowers: All three of these guys were very dedicated to what they were doing. It was their lives. Michael Roden was a very creative type and not only drew and made mini comix, but was a musician, a sculptor, and an entertainer. This man lived and breathed creativity almost all his life. Clay Geerdes was extremely dedicated to the world of underground comix. He saw Newave as the new underground and was responsible for encouraging, inspiring, and developing many cartoonists along he way. I do believe that Newave would have been a very different world with out him. R.K. Sloane was an amazing creative mind. He had accomplished many things in his life. In the early days he even had real underground comic published before undergrounds died in the latter 70’s. He made a movie called “Goblins” in the latter 70’s and went on to draw comics working for people like Big Daddy Roth. I met R.K. Sloane right around this time and published a full size comic of Big Daddy Roth’s RAT FINK drawn by Sloane. He went on to be one of the best of low-brow surrealistic painters that Robert Williams influenced before Sloane died. We will miss all three of these highly creative and influential people.

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Talking Comics with Tim: Chris Wisnia

Doris Danger

Doris Danger

After self-publishing his work for a few years, this past November, SLG Publishing released Chris Wisnia’s 96-page Doris Danger: Giant Monster Stories. As we quoted Wisnia when the book was first announced: “I made this book for people like me — people who love Jack Kirby, robots, low-budget 1950’s sci-fi films; realistic, somewhat non-stop army, secret society, AND spaceship action, absurd conspiracy theories, romance, bad dialogue, ridiculous plot lines, seventh grade humor, kitsch, and of course…GIANT MONSTERS!” I email interviewed Wisnia back in November about the project. Before jumping into the interview itself, Wisnia wanted me to mention: “My website is www.tabloia.com, where you can find plenty of tidbits and bonus features. OH! And SLG is sending out free audio commentary CD’s, narrated by myself, to readers.”

Tim O’Shea: After years of self-publishing, how did Doris Danger land at SLG?

Chris Wisnia: I self-published about a dozen books from 2004-2007, but it was very expensive. Around 2006 or so, I began taking my books around at conventions, and showing my work to publishers, with the hopes of getting picked up by someone. I’d left a few things with Dan Vado at SLG, for maybe a year or so. For some reason, I didn’t get the impression he was interested in anything.

Then in 2008, at Wondercon in San Francisco, I went and re-introduced myself, and he remembered me (or my work). I told him I’d emailed a few times and not heard back. And he said he never got any of those emails. And he gave me his card. It was then I realized I’d been emailing the generic SLG “info” site administrator or whatever. When I wrote his actual address, he wrote me back within the day.

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

The Book of Genesis Illustrated

The Book of Genesis Illustrated

Sales charts | R. Crumb’s The Book of Genesis Illustrated climbs seven spots to No. 2 in its second month on BookScan’s list of top-selling adult graphic novels in bookstores. It’s bested, as most are, by the latest volume of Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto. But it’s another story on USA Today’s bestseller chart, where Crumb’s book drops 49 places in its second week to No. 129. [ICv2.com, USA Today]

Passings | Tom Spurgeon, NPR’s Mark Memmott and Ina Jaffe, and Michael Cieply of The New York Times have obituaries for Comic-Con co-founder Shel Dorf, who passed away on Nov. 3 at the age of 76.

Libraries | The Yoshihiro Yonezawa Memorial Library of Manga and Subculture opened over the weekend at Meiji University’s Surugadai campus in Tokyo. Users can become one-day members of the library, where they can have access to about half of the 140,000 manga for about $1.10 per copy. The books can’t be removed from the library. [The Japan Times]

Internet | Tom Spurgeon points out that the review blog Guttergeek will move to the expanded TCJ.com, joining a stable of hosted blogs that will include The Hooded Utilitarian. [Guttergeek]

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Straight for the art | R. Crumb’s “Varieties of Women”

R. Crumb takes on Abu Ghraib

R. Crumb takes on Abu Ghraib

Does this make Robert Crumb officially fashionable? The undeground comix legend and author of The Book of Genesis Illustrated is gracing the internet presence of fashion bible W magazine with a gallery titled “Varieties of Women.” It’s actually something of a history lesson, with featured females ranging from cavewomen to Egyptian gods to medieval German peasants to 19th-century asylum inmates to Crumb’s own high school classmates to “friends” of Russ Meyer and Hugh Hefner. Yes, Abu Ghraib torturer/fall gal Lynndie England’s in there too. And yes, portions of it are as NSFW as you might expect.

(Via Pop Candy.)

Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Libraries | Two library employees in Nicholasville, Kentucky, were fired last month after they refused to allow an 11-year-old girl to check out The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which they dubbed pornographic. However, the policy of the Jessamine County Library states it’s the responsibility of parents to decide what’s appropriate for their child to read.

The fired employees, Beth Bovaire and Sharon Cook, stand behind their decision, asserting that the award-winning comic by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill contains lewd pictures that are inappropriate for children.

“If you give children pornography, a child, a 12 year old, can not understand and process the same way a 30 year old can,” Cook told a local television news station. [WTVQ, WTVQ]

Tokyo International Manga Library

Tokyo International Manga Library

Libraries | A private university in Tokyo hopes to promote the serious study of manga by opening a library stocked with 2 million comics, anime drawings, video games and other artifacts. If everything goes as planned, the Tokyo International Manga Library would open on the campus of Meiji University in 2015. [AFP]

Publishing | Even after the closing last year of Virgin Comics, upbeat profiles of the Indian comics industry continue to appear regularly. But here Gaurav Jain, head of the Mumbai-based Illusion Interactive Animation, offers a more dismal assessment of the scene in India: “While competition has arrived, the local industry continues to live in its shell, churning out visually unappealing and terribly written local content with little or no film and television possibilities. One of the most widely read labels offers sanitized, vanilla retellings of Indian mythology and historical figures with visuals inspired from the works of Raja Ravi Verma. Derivative art work and bland writing, leads to visual fatigue.” [The Wall Street Journal]

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