Archive for May, 2010

The Ruined Cast


Saturday, May 29, 2010

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“The Ruined Cast” / Dash Shaw – demo teaser from Howard Gertler on Vimeo.

Hey everybody, Frank Santoro here to update you the “not comics” project I’m working on: Dash Shaw’s new animated feature, The Ruined Cast.

We’ve made a three minute teaser and are presenting it here for your viewing pleasure. Check it out! And yes, I hand painted those waves rolling in from the ocean!

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Sunday: Art in Time in L.A.


Friday, May 28, 2010

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It'll be Like This

L.A. denizens:

This Sunday I’m having an afternoon book launch for Art in Time, featuring conversations with both contributing and like-minded cartoonists. We will be covering everything from Real Deal to Illuminations to Love and Rockets. Come on down — I promise a very unusual event.

Sunday, May 30
5 pm – 9 pm


611 N Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, 90036

Adventurous Cartoonists & Far-Out Comics

In celebration of his new comic anthology Art in Time: Unknown Comic Books Adventures, 1940-1980, art director/editor Dan Nadel will present an afternoon of book signings and conversations with notable cartoonists about the impact of adventure comics on popular culture. First, Dan will begin with an overview of adventure comics — from crime to cavemen, and back again! Next up, “Angry Youth”/”Prison Pit” author (and Cinefamily cover artist) Johnny Ryan interviews Lawrence Hubbard, co-creator of the raw ‘n riotous comic series “Real Deal”, set against the backdrop of a crime-ridden South Central. Later, join underground greats Sharon Rudahl, John Thompson and Barbara (Willy) Mendes in a panel discussion on their work, and on the milieu of 1960s subversive comics! Wrapping up the show is “Love And Rockets” co-creator Jaime Hernandez presenting a screening of the 1949 Joseph L. Mankiewicz classic A Letter To Three Wives, followed by a discussion with Jaime on the film, moderated by cartoonist Sammy Harkham.

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Bruce Timm color guides


Friday, May 28, 2010

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hand colored marker guide for the colorist

This one is for all you color nerds out there. I was leafing through the Batman Animated book and found a few color guides by Bruce Timm from his Mad Love comic. There are some notes for the colorist from Timm and I think they’re worth sharing. Remember this was 1994. Timm’s notes read:

“Basically, I wanted to keep the color as simple as possible. I feel a lot of the new, computer-separated books are way over-rendered, the “Image” books being the worst offenders. In particular I really hate that “hard-edged” gradation that Oliff & Chiodo use so often. Please try to keep gradations as smooth as possible & “air-brush”-y as possible.”

Hunh. Pretty interesting to think that Timm in ’94 was reacting against Image Comics coloring. Also interesting to think that his way of thinking, that his reaction has had its own influence on comics and on animation.

And beyond that the Batman Animated book by Chip Kidd seems to me to be a big influence itself. Dash never stops talking about it. Jim Rugg too. Something about identity or something. Bodyworld, Afrodisiac… seeing around a character, a setting, a story. Hunh. I feel like Joe Pesci in JFK, “It’s a mystery wrapped up in a riddle…!” What does it all mean? It means, the pledge drive is over, dear readers, thank you for your support.

Welcome back to regular programming.

Bruce Timm's color guide for Mad Love

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Don’t Forget!


Thursday, May 27, 2010

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Today is the last official day of the Comics Comics pledge drive. Act fast if you want to grab hold of any of the amazing stuff we have for sale. Everything from Bushmiller and Frank King originals to Paper Rad and Jim Rugg prints. Dash Shaw. Matthew Thurber. PictureBox multi-book packs. Mini-comics curated by Jason T. Miles and back issues selected by Frank Santoro. And Johnny Ryan is still taking commissions. Don’t let these opportunities slip away…

Look here and here and here for more details.

And thank you so much to all of you who have already given to us. You can’t know how much we appreciate it.

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Harold Gray Unbuttoned


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

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Before you go any further, please take a look at the ongoing auction in support of this blog….

As Jog noted, there is a new Little Orphan Annie volume out this week: the fifth in the “Library of American Comics” series edited by Dean Mullaney. The volume covers the years 1933 to early 1935. As usual, I’ve foisted one of my longish introductions on the book. In writing my introduction I was immeasurably helped by Jeff Kersten, a scholar who is doing research on Chester Gould. Jeff provided me with a series of letter that Harold Gray wrote to Chester Gould in 1933. In these letters Gray complains at length about the policies of the Tribune-News Syndicate, especially that of publisher Joseph Patterson and Vice-President Arthur Crawford, who Gray thought were “chiselling” their staff cartoonists out of royalties from spin-offs. Gray also gossips a bit about their other cartoonists in the Tribune-News Syndicate such as Sydney Smith.  These letters give us an unprecedented look into the business side of the comic book industry, and both Jeff and I will be mining them for future research.

I strongly encourage anyone interested in the history of comics to pick up the books in the Annie and Dick Tracy series. As an appetizer, I’ve decided to share an excerpt from the first letter Gray wrote to Gould with some annotations:

Harold Gray to Chester Gould, May 23, 1933:

Dear Chester; —

Your letter written Sunday arrived just now and I am delighted to hear from you. Also I am considerably embarrassed, for I have meant to write you long before this and now you’ve beaten me to it. Time and time again in following your strip I have sworn to drop you a line to tell you how sincerely much I like it and how dam glad I am to see you going over with such a solid success. It’s a whale of a strip in every way, and it has tickled me a lot watch you avoid many of the pitfalls many wise guys predicted for you in the handling of the strip and in the handling of yourself.


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Recent Read: The Anime Machine


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

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In The Anime Machine, Thomas Lamarre has a smart, cute way of describing the difference between full and limited animation: “Drawing the movement (full) vs. moving the drawing (limited.)” Limited animation is sliding planes of drawings, done by moving a drawing a little bit, taking a picture, and then again. This has created so many interesting, inventive ways of communicating depth on a two-dimensional playing field- as opposed to moving through space like in Pixar animation or Tekkon Kinkreet environments where the drawings are somehow (I have no idea how) mapped onto three-dimensional spaces for the camera to move around in.

The most common example is when a camera zooms out from a drawing and objects in the foreground slide from the sides to the center of the frame. Obviously, this doesn’t happen in real life; nothing is flat. We’d see the side of the objects as we move past them. But our brain fills in the gaps and it creates the illusion of moving backward in space. This is aided by our acceptance of live-action camera zooms, which flatten the picture plane (like in Barry Lyndon.) (more…)


Wilson Blah Blah


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

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They aren't very likable.

Since everyone else is really digging in and delivering the goods this fund-raising week, I should probably pitch in with a post or two of my own. Unfortunately, I just moved from Brooklyn to New Jersey, and ten years’ hoarding worth of books and comics have spent the last three weeks packed away in cardboard boxes (as is our scanner, so no images). All comics except for Wilson, that is—left out for my wife to have something to read during the move—so that’s the topic I will write about, half-assed though the resulting piece might be.

Please feel free to poke holes in the following:

Numero UNO: Since when did everyone decide that “likable” characters were important? Because nine-tenths of all Wilson reviews (from comic-book enthusiasts, that is—interestingly enough, “mainstream” critics largely seemed able to take this aspect much more easily in stride) make a big deal of how the book’s flawed because the protagonist is an asshole. At first I just chalked that up to ignorant posturing, but now even the estimable and usually astute R. Fiore is getting into the act, and taking the philistine position. Something is happening here, but I don’t know what it is. (more…)

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THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (5/26/10 – So Many Collections)


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

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That’s right, what can we do for you? So many wonders are available right now for just a few thin dollars, although I am legally obligated to mention that they do not involve a worm coat, unless Johnny Ryan elects to involve one in your personalized erotic violation; $100.

Speaking of which, the above image hails from issue #10 (Dec. 1979) of Warren Publishing’s notorious 1984 (later 1994), an “illustrated adult fantasy” magazine released in the wake of Heavy Metal and succinctly characterized by contributing writer/occasional artist/eventual momentary editor Jim Stenstrum as “a beaver-fest” in TwoMorrows Publishing’s The Warren Companion. Stenstrum wrote this piece, The Whatever Shop!, a sarcastically patriotic American-consumer-vs.-dangerous-foreigners 12-pager that also pokes some fun at unattainable beauty standards as promoted by society at large (and, as it goes, the rest of the magazine). Hammered critique was typical of his work, best remembered in harsher form via the Neal Adams collaboration Thrillkill (from Creepy #75, Nov. 1975), but exemplified in 1984 by Rex Havoc and the Asskickers of the Fantastic, a short-lived Abel Laxamana-illustrated recurring feature in which a crew of consummate action professionals confront strange, typically parodic beings and kill them. In these segments, the magazine becomes less the Swank of late ’70s newsstand comics than a Mad-informed American cousin of 2000 AD. But future developments were not forthcoming – when Stenstrum left Warren in 1981, he left comics entirely.

The art seen above, of course, represents another stream: it’s the great Alex Niño, who eventually became the standout regular of 1984, crafting increasingly elaborate spreads as swirling cartoon puzzles, stretching outward toward Warren’s bankruptcy in 1983. Such visual expansion is also a pertinent theme for this week’s highest-profile deluxe item:


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Johnny Ryan Will Violate You for $100


Monday, May 24, 2010

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On Your Wall for $20!

We’re halfway through our big Comics Comics fund-raising drive, and we’re still in the red! People ask us constantly when we’re going to publish a new print issue of Comics Comics, and our ongoing debt is a big reason. We have a whole bunch of other potential projects simmering in our heads, too, but need to pay off our debt and raise some capital in order to realize them. Thank you so much to those of you who have already given or purchased—you are bringing the long-awaited debut of a new Comics Comics age that much closer.

In the meantime, between now and the end of the week, we’re going to keep bringing you incredible new offers.

First up, check out our eBay store. We are still offering many of the same great items from before (though note that some have already sold—you have to move fast!): Paintings and drawings from Dash Shaw and Frank Santoro! Rare prints from Ben Jones and Paper Rad! An incredible one-of-a-kind Profanity Hill pledge pack from Jason T. Miles! Original Frank King comic strips! Drawings from Matthew Thurber! And various pledge packs of PictureBox books and comics!

And new today, the following four BUDGET-priced incredible options:

1. A Jim Rugg / Frank Santoro signed silkscreen poster featuring Castle from Cold Heat — TWENTY DOLLARS!

2. A signed copy of the third volume of Frank King’s acclaimed Walt and Skeezix — TWENTY DOLLARS!

3. A signed copy of Dan’s Art in Time: TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS!

4. And, an extra-special offer for those of you who have always wanted to browse through Frankie’s famous long-box sales, but haven’t been able to attend any of the shows where he offers them: a mystery grab-bag of five awesome hard-to-find back issues specially curated by Frank himself.

That’s right: five superb back-issue-bin gems hand-chosen by Frank — TWENTY DOLLARS!

4A. Not a budget item, but a new addition: A page from Jim Rugg’s incredible Cold Heat Special #4 – NINETY NINE DOLLARS!

*And don’t forget!* As the headline should remind, you, for a mere $100, the great Johnny Ryan will draw an 8 x 10 portrait of you, the Comics Comics reader (or person of your choice), being “erotically violated.”

This seems like the perfect gift for any occasion. Dedicated readers choosing this option should first order this “item” via PayPal. Send $100 to orders (at) pictureboxinc (dot) com and include your address and a message. Please also send a photograph to the same email address. Mr. Ryan will then get to work. Allow at least 60 days before delivery.

Finally, if for some reason you’d like to support us, but don’t feel like buying anything in particular on offer, you can tip us any amount you like via the PayPal button below.

Thanks again for your continued patronage!

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A Seth Notebook


Monday, May 24, 2010

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 First of all, I would encourage anyone reading this to take a look at the on-going auction in support of the fine work being done on Comics Comics by my co-bloggers.

Below are some entries from my Seth notebook. Earlier excerpts were published in the magazine Sequential Pulp, which was released at TCAF and can still be found on line by clicking to the link I just provided to the fine website Sequential. The version of the notebook provided below is expanded from what was published in Sequential Pulp.  

Without further ado, here is my Seth notebook:

The Englishness of Seth. Seth is of course quintessentially Canadian. Look at all his investigations into the rolling landscapes of Ontario and Prince Edward Island, his work in mapping out a Canadian cartooning tradition through the Doug Wright Awards and the Doug Wright book (among other projects), his indebtedness to Canadian artists like Thoreau Macdonald.

Still, no less than the United States or Argentina, Canada is a creole nation made up of the mix of many ethnicities. Like most Canadians, Seth is a mutt but one strand of his heritage is worth a closer look. His mother was English, a war bride who came to Canada after marrying Seth’s dad.


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