The New York Times
Part one-crazy-night comedy of errors, part Curb Your Enthusiasm-style comedy of discomfort, part heartwarming second-chance romance, part cartooning master class, Daniel Clowes’s new book Mister Wonderful packs a lot of delights in between its long covers. The book began life as a weekly strip in The New York Times Magazine‘s “Funny Pages” section before Clowes reformatted, edited, and expanded it for its new incarnation from his frequent publisher Pantheon. Now the misadventures of Marshall, a middle-aged divorcé with a penchant for second-guessing pretty much every word out of his own mouth, and his fateful blind date can sit comfortably on your bookshelf instead of lying in your recycling bin after the weekend’s over. And the added bonus to any new Clowes comic, of course, is new Clowes interviews.
Over on the CBR mothership, Clowes spoke with Alex Dueben, who elicited from the cartoonist a provocative take on the much-lamented demise of the alternative comic-book series (a la Clowes’s own Eightball):
Courtesy of the minty fresh new DanielClowes.com website comes this unused illustration of the notoriously lachrymose right-wing TV and radio host, whose nightly journey into madness can be seen on the Fox News Channel. Wilson and Mister Wonderful author Clowes was commissioned to draw the portrait for a New York Times Magazine profile on Beck when it seemed he wouldn’t be willing to sit for a photograph, but apparently cooler heads prevailed and/or Beck found a break in his busy schedule of rooting for the massacre of unarmed Arab protesters, and an agreement with the dreaded liberal media behemoth was reached after all. Oh well, the Times‘ loss is our gain. Get the full story of the illo, and lots more besides, at DanielClowes.com.
Give this man his Pulitzer already: Benjamin Marra’s The Incredibly Fantastic Adventures of Maureen Dowd
She specializes in zeitgeisty op-ed columns featuring schoolyard-taunt nicknames for the most powerful people in politics…and in MAYHEM! She’s New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, and she’s kicking ass and uncovering the crime of the century in The Incredibly Fantastic Adventures of Maureen Dowd, “A Work of Satire and Fiction” from Night Business and Gangsta Rap Posse author Benjamin Marra.
Told in Marra’s inimitable, po-faced ’80s-trash throwback style, TIFAoMD‘s preview pages show Dowd — winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary and recently named the eighth-biggest hack in journalism by Salon’s Alex Pareene — lounging in lingerie, battling burglars, flirting with fellow Times columnist Tom Friedman, and trying to blow the lid off the Valerie Plame scandal before her big date with George Clooney. And for a political junkie like me, it’s basically heaven. (Ordering info and preview page after the jump.)
One of the sad consequences of having to let my New Yorker subscription run out (bad economy and all that) is that I’ve had to go through some serious Roz Chast withdrawl. Thankfully, the New York Times seems to be feeling my pain, as they recently enlisted Chaz to contribute to their ongoing look at insomnia:
One thing I do when I can’t sleep is play alphabet games. I try to list various things from A to Z: countries, rock groups, prescription drugs, movies, books, celebrities whose first and last names begin with the same letter… you get the idea. I don’t mind repeating categories from one night to another. Diseases might seem to be an unlikely insomnia game category, but for some reason, it’s one of my favorites.
The Times‘ Manohla Dargis on women in Hollywood: “Women are starved for representations of themselves”
This is not a story about comics — but in a way, it is: In a fairly devastating piece in the New York Times and a no-holds-barred interview with Jezebel, film critic Manohla Dargis lays out the sorry state of films made by and for women in Hollywood today.
Dargis presents the evidence in painstaking and depressing detail. First there’s the good news: hits like Sex and the City, Mamma Mia, and The Twilight Saga: New Moon have made it all but impossible to dismiss women as a “niche” audience. (Which stands to reason, since they’re 51% of the population after all.) The bad news, of course, is that these films — and most romantic comedies and Sandra Bullock vehicles, to name a pair of other standard and successful “femme-driven” film types — are not very good. Dargis argues that their success stems from a massive number of female moviegoers desperate to see themselves represented somehow, anyhow, on screen.
Another silver lining: women-directed films have some hot Oscar prospects this year, led by Kathryn Bigelow’s masterfully suspenseful Iraq War action-drama The Hurt Locker. But Bigelow had to struggle for years to get that movie made, while equally worthy male directors with similar track records cruise from one big-budget star vehicle to the next. And the critical success of The Hurt Locker or Nora Ephron’s Julie & Julia can’t mask the fact that the major Hollywood studios released a grand total of 11 films directed by women this year. Want a comics connection? Soon-to-be Marvel parent company Disney had one; DC owner Warner Bros. had none. Meanwhile, perhaps Bigelow shouldn’t hold her breath on Oscar night: In the Academy Awards’ 81-year history, only three women have been nominated for Best Director, none of whom went on to win.
Lately, acclaimed cartoonist Seth has mostly been busy delighting us with his designs for Drawn & Quarterly’s John Stanley Library. But with Halloween only a day away, the artist behind George Sprott and Wimbledon Green has decided to spook us instead. Seth has provided illustrations for a series of New York City ghost stories, reported by writer Lizzy Ratner in The New York Times. Created in ghostly blue and white, they’re like the artiest, most tastefully drawn episode of Ghost Hunters ever.
(Via Peggy Burns at the D&Q blog.)
I’ve long been an admirer of illustrator. designer and children’s book author Christopher Neimann‘s work, though I realize I haven’t been quite aware of jut how clever and inspired his work often is. The above image, for example, comes from an extended comic on his working methods that manages to be self-deprecatingly funny and informative at the same time. I’d also recommend checking out his blog on the New York Times. His latest entry, Masters of the Universe, uses voodoo dolls to crack jokes about his OCD. Why hasn’t anyone thought of collecting this stuff in a book yet?
I, for better or worse, kicked off things last Friday when I was left scratching my head by the seemingly miraculous appearance, and disappearance, of Marvel’s two-year-old collection of The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born from the hardcover list.
Retailer Christopher Butcher quickly offered a possible answer: that The Times may be relying on orders from Diamond Comic Distributors, rather than sales to customers, for its data from direct-market stores — and that a deep discount on remaindered copies of The Gunslinger Born triggered the one-week spike.
Since Butcher’s initial response, retailer and ComicsPRO board member Brian Hibbs has joined the discussion at both Butcher and MacDonald’s blogs, revealing that “something close to a quarter of ComicsPRO’s membership has put their names in to report” sales information to The Times.
So, the newspaper is receiving sell-through data from at least some comic shops. How that’s added into The Times’ arcane bestseller formula is anybody’s guess.
And that brings us to Todd Allen, who attempts to “reverse engineer” the Graphic Books list by comparing The Times positions with Diamond ranks and ICv2.com estimates.
His conclusions pretty much bring us full circle, with more questions than answers about how the newspaper compiles its bestseller information.
“The Times list is what it is,” Allen writes, “and some indication of sell-through is better than none.”