Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

delany revisited


Saturday, January 23, 2010

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I’ve revised my earlier posting on Samuel Delany. Instead of offering up a hard-to-read 7 page scan, I’ve posted the Delany excerpt as a text (thanks to the good offices of Gil Roth, who helped publish Delany’s 1984). So if you are interested in all this, please go back to the earlier posting, here.


Genie Junkie


Friday, January 22, 2010

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Friend of CC Robin McConnell has posted scans of an article about Gary Panter‘s design work for Genie Junkie, a Liquid Television short. I e-mailed Gary about it and he said “it was one more commercial job I did to survive.” He didn’t come up with the idea, or write the script or animate it. Still, it’s fun to check out. Here’s the short:

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Jason T. Miles interview


Saturday, January 16, 2010

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Our newest contibutor, Jason T. Miles, spoke with Robin McConnell over at Inkstuds. It’s a really good interview. Both the interviewee and the interviewer are in good spirits. Thanks for the name-check, Jason. Listen to it here.

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Smilin’ Stan


Thursday, January 14, 2010

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Check out this early ’70s Marvel horror comic. Basically, in the early ’70s horror was hot and Marvel quickly threw together a lot of titles for the stands. Books like these were a way for Marvel to reprint their old catalog and maybe print new stuff. Well, one of the reprints in this issue was penned by a young Stan Lee. I’m not sure where the story, “Poor Mister Watkiss”, first appeared but it was probably from the late ’50s. Maybe Journey into Mystery? The story itself is nothing special but I’m guessing Stan liked it enough to put it in Vault of Evil #1 in 1972.

What is special, or funny, is that in the same issue there is a letter from a university thanking Stan for helping kids learn how to read by using Marvel Comics. Wait, that’s not the funny part. The funny part is that in Stan’s horror story the main character, an annoying obnoxious cad, asks a librarian for “some good readin’.” When the librarian offers the man some poetry, the man replies: “I don’t mean that longhair stuff! Do you have any blood-curdlin’ mystery yarns? Y’know, the kind with lot of killin’s, an’ gore and guys gettin’ whammed in the guts…?”

You gotta wonder if Stan put the letter and the story in the same issue on purpose. And if not, it’s funny anyways.


Voices: Kirby and Crane and … Me?


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

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I have to admit, even I’m a little shocked by the silliness of the MoCCA statement about this whole Archie credit issue. To wit (and I promise, this is the last time I’ll mention it, since clearly it’s like talking to a brick wall): I emailed Karl at MoCCA 3 times over the course of a month before posting my thoughts on the show. Having curated a show there and done numerous events over the years, yes, that means I can expect a response back, just as I would respond to any colleague who emailed me. No, I couldn’t make it back to the museum itself, but I didn’t need to — I was asking why there were no credits and why it was OK to ignore and perpetuate a shameful legacy. How is a phone call or email not enough to explain that? The fact that I’m somehow being blamed by Ellen in her “statement” is probably self-evidently ridiculous. But just in case: Guys, the issue isn’t whether or not I could make it back over the to museum: The issue is that you don’t act anything even remotely like an educational institution. It’s not Archie (the company’s) fault that you don’t have anyone on hand who can ID the original art–there are at least a dozen historians in the NYC area who could do that; nor is it the company’s fault that you would refuse to even acknowledge the issues at play. Nor is it my fault. Get a grip, admit that you screwed up, and move on. Every commenter (myself included) basically was giving you the benefit of the doubt. By issuing a defensive statement that somehow pulls me in and (again!) ignores the real issues at play, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Anyhow, onto happier matters. Here are a couple of recordings by artists. Y’know, the people that draw comics! Both of these recordings have been linked to but I want to reiterate how wonderful they are. First is Jack Kirby in 1970, with Steranko chiming in occasionally. Kirby sounds like a forceful visionary let loose on a crowd, practically preaching.

Jeet kindly transcribed the following passage, which is one of the best ever statements on cartooning:

Drawing a good figure doesn’t make you a good artist. I can name you ten men, right off the bat, who draw better than I do. But I don’t think their work gets as much response as mine. I can’t think of a better man to draw Dick Tracy than Chester Gould, who certainly is no match for Leonardo Da Vinci. But Chester Gould told the story of Dick Tracy. He told the story of Dick Tracy the way it should have been told. No other guy could have done it. It’s not in the draftsmanship, it’s in the man.

Like I say, a tool is dead. A brush is a dead object. It’s in the man.

If you want to do, you do it. If you think a man draws the type of hands that you want to draw, steal ‘em. Take those hands.

The only thing I can say is: Caniff was my teacher, Alex Raymond was my teacher, even the guy who drew Toonerville Trolley was my teacher. Whatever he had stimulated me in some way. And I think that’s all you need. You need that stimulation. Stimulation to make you an individual. And the draftsmanship, hang it. If you can decently: learn to control what you can, learn to control what you have, learn to refine what you have. Damn perfection. You don’t have to be perfect. You are never going to do a Sistine Chapel, unless someone ties you to a ceiling. Damn perfection.

All a man has in this field is pressure. And I think the pressure supplies a stimulation. You have your own stresses, that will supply your own stimulation. If you want to do it, you’ll do it. And you’ll do it anyway you can.

The Crane interview from 1961 is notable for the heavy shoptalk, Crane’s unabashed patriotism, and his wonderfully intelligent awareness of both his own and his medium’s history. I’d never heard Crane’s voice before – his laconic twang fits perfectly with that plush cartooning of his. Cartoonist Verne Greene is a great and officious host. There is also a Chester Gould interview from the same series. Invaluable stuff.

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Who is Dr. Death?


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

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The Creation Convention which opened on February 28, 1981 in New York city was a pretty bread-and-butter comics affair. Walking through the 18th floor of Statler Hotel you could see the usual mix of back-issue dealers and fan favorites, swords-and-sorcery buffs and baseball card mavens. Stan Lee stalked the halls complete with his sleazy lounge-lizard moustache and receding hairline. Terry Austin was on hand to offer the lowdown on his falling out with John Byrne over the inking of the X-Men (apparently Byrne didn’t like Austin’s habit of adding jokes in the background).

If you were very alert and had an eye for the new, you might have noted a table with three young men, gawky, gangly lads who didn’t quite seem to belong at the convention. The three were selling a self-published comic called Psycho Comics. What was it about these guys that made them seem like interlopers, oddballs even among a hotel hall of oddballs? It was something in the eyes, a glint of mockery and mischief. And their hair was more coiffed, albeit in a punk fashion, than was the norm at a comics event.

A photo from Amazing Heroes #1 (July 1981) gives us a snapshot of the trio. Two are well known: Dan Clowes and Rick Altergott. The third called himself Dr. Death. Who is he? Mort Todd? Charles Schneider? Any advice from readers would be appreciated.

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2009 comics criticism list


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

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Hey everyone, Frank Santoro here. I was asked by Ng Suat Tong to participate in a survey of comics criticism from the 2009 calendar year. I agreed as long as I didn’t have to nominate any of the pieces to be voted on. I just wanted to vote on the list that Suat provided me. Check this out for details.

So here’s the outcome. And below that are the pieces I voted for. This was fun. Thanks. I’m gonna refrain from writing about any of the pieces here. I think they are all pretty awesome. Comics criticism is a buffet these days. There is something for everyone.


Top three, all with four votes each:

Robert Alter: “Scripture Picture” (The New Republic)

Joe McCulloch, “A Review of Batwoman in Detective Comics Focusing
Mostly on the Art

Tom Spurgeon on Rereading

Remaining four, all with three votes each:

Eddie Campbell on Will Eisner and PS Magazine (30th August 2009)

Tom Crippen “Age of Geeks” TCJ 300

Dirk Deppey, “The Man Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight”

Andrew Rilestone on Watchmen



Seth, “The Quiet Art of Cartooning” (Walrus Magazine)

Joe McCulloch, “A Review of Batwoman in Detective Comics Focusing Mostly on the Art

Tom Spurgeon on Rereading

Derik Badman: Rubber Blanket

Ken Parille on Tim Hensley and Gropius

Douglas Wolk “Shades of Meaning” (New York Times)

Eddie Campbell on Will Eisner and PS Magazine (30th August 2009)

Dan Nadel on Hal Foster

Nina Stone: “The Virgin Read: You Need More Janet Jackson In Your Life, Power Girl”

Bill Randall: “Lost in Translation” TCJ 300



Steelers win Super Bowl…Gary Panter paints a mural in a fancy museum…Watchmen is fine by me—just think if they would have made it in 1992…Fumetto Festival in Switzerland rules…TCAF is awesome even in new location…Canadians have their shit together…Kids still don’t know their comics history…Diamond raises minimums—and all but last indy pamphlets that haven’t already jumped ship finally do…

But indy folks still keep releasing pamphlets anyways. Why? I like to think it’s cuz they are easier to store than mini-comics. I have boxes of mini-comics that I can never look through like I look through my LP records or graphic novels that sit on a shelf. I used to love this about mini-comics, now it drives me crazy. My Cometbuses, King Cats and Battlestack Galacticraps all fit together. And my Low Tides and my Slime Freaks fit together. But then are way too many zines tied with string and dumb bindings that just make them impossible to store. I’ve been throwing those ones out. They’re usually pretty bad anyways. Except the new Coppertone zine…

Mazzucchelli show at MoCCA is awesome. And so is new book…MoCCA the con is an oven. Good crowd tho…Multiforce published…Nexus tanks. The Dude quits comics…Comic Con no longer viable for Indy creators, still viable for some Indy publishers. Con promoters duke it out over who gets to host Daisy Dukes when and where…Disney buys Marvel. DC stumbles. War declared. Goofy/Wolverine crossover jokes begin…

Penguins win Stanley Cup…

SPX was fun as usual. The rise of Ben Marra continues. Critics crowd roundtable and argue among selves…Kramers klan kills it with Simpsons comic…Prison Pit mania begins…

APE was weird, as always. The kids in the Bay Area don’t buy anything. Except Bone … The kids love to fight about C.F. … Kick Ass movie trailer looks cool … Crumb’s Genesis published … Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival was a hit.

New Comics Journal site launches, sputters, re-launches.
Final Crisis on Infinite Blogs Crossover begins, etc. (stay tuned).


Oh, Archie


Monday, January 11, 2010

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Following up on Dan’s post on the MoCCA Archie show from last week, I wanted to draw your attention to two related links.

First, Tom Spurgeon agrees with Dan, and today does a nice job of clearly presenting the issue. (Incidentally, he also put up a post collecting all of his 2009/10 “Holiday Interviews” with critics, including contributions from four of your favorite Comics Comics bloggers.)

Second, Bob Heer (whose Kirby and Ditko blogs I’ve enjoyed for years, without realizing until today that he is Jeet’s brother!) has written a long post tackling a related ethical issue: whether or not the artists who created so many recently republished classic comics are being paid royalties.

At the risk of being accused of putting my head in the sand, I’d say that’s kind of important. What would Siderman do?

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La-Z-Blog: Year One


Friday, January 8, 2010

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Finally, the Year We Make Contact. What better way to celebrate than with an all-CC links roundup?

1. Dan takes to the internet to discuss Ron Regé and Joan Reidy’s Boys with Tom Spurgeon.

2nd: The Daily Cross Hatch begins a multi-part interview with the always voluble Frank Santoro.

3. Speaking of Frank, Cold Heat has been appearing on a lot of best of the year lists, including here and here. And Dan’s Art Out of Time made a most important of the decade list.

4. Also, Jeet’s been doing some great posts on gay representation in old newspaper comics on his other blog, which you have probably already read, but if not: here and here.

5. I think Dash might have a book out this week or something?

6. And finally, this isn’t the most interesting video in the world, but it seemed important to post, if only for the light it sheds on the now apparently settled-for-good Mort Drucker controversy. I still don’t understand that quote from the book I mentioned, though…


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Remembering Archie


Thursday, January 7, 2010

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Art by Harry Lucey

About six weeks ago I strolled over to MoCCA here in New York to see The Art of Archie Comics, an exhibition devoted to “one of the oldest and most beloved family-friendly brands in the comic book industry.” There are some fine Harry Lucey pages. Gorgeous Dan DeCarlo examples. But something is missing on the walls: art credits. There are no attributions to be found except on a rather confusing handout available by request at the desk. What little information there is about the material on display is written in a kind of corporate press-release speak, filled with misinformation (or outright untruths, like the notion that John Goldwater was the sole creator of Archie) and nicely omitting (a) the notoriously shabby way the company treated its artists (artists who still don’t receive credit in the various reprints) and (b) the rather “interesting” fact that the company has retained all, or most, of its original art.

To me, this is dark, sad stuff. Archie Comics has a great artistic legacy—one worth examining. But it’s been over two decades since the Kirby v. Marvel fight, and over a decade since the nasty business over Dan DeCarlo came to light. We all understand (or should) the financial and moral issues at play and I’m not going to reprise them here. In the case of DeCarlo, a man who made Archie millions of dollars was fired in his twilight years and denied any share in the characters he created. It’s somewhat grotesque to use his work to “celebrate” the company without even acknowledging the issues at play. Was DeCarlo’s family invited to contribute to or comment on the show? Were any of the deceased artists’ families asked?

I was reluctant to even write this piece, since, in some ways, it’s barely worth addressing. Obviously the Archie show is not intended as history in any intellectually serious way, but it’s hosted and organized by MoCCA, which is, in fact, the only “museum” of comics on the East Coast. I happily curated a show at MoCCA and support its mission in the abstract. The medium needs institutional support. But it needs to be serious support. This startling lack of scholarship and disregard for the moral rights of artists was, I imagine and hope, unconscious and not malicious—I doubt anyone at MoCCA even knew about or researched the situation. But that’s not much of an excuse.

I wrote to MoCCA with questions about all of the above issue, but aside from an invitation to come to the museum and chat, which I couldn’t fit into my schedule, I wasn’t able to get a response via email or phone.

Situations like this are complicated. MoCCA is cash-strapped and I would imagine (well, I hope) that MoCCA received some kind of donation for hosting the show. Museums are hardly temples of virtue and must work with corporate sponsors to survive. The problem here, though, is that the museum is actually furthering a historically and morally dubious agenda. But look, what am I going to do about it? As a publisher, I plan to exhibit at the MoCCA Festival because it’s part of my business, despite, in some ways, my reluctance to support the program anymore. So I don’t exactly have much moral ground.

Giving MoCCA the benefit of the doubt, I’ll assume The Art of Archie Comics is part of a steep learning curve, and that the museum and its board will, in the future, look more closely at the issues at play around historical work and try a bit harder to remember men like Dan DeCarlo.

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