Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Not Me!" "Ida Know!" "Yog-Sothoth!"

Dep't of the Sublime: For your edification, education, and enlightenment, I hereby direct you to The Nameless Dread, a heretofore unknown collaboration between Bill Keane (The Family Circus) and H.P. Lovecraft (The Family Cthulhu). Fourteen mind-expanding imagetexts to fill you with, well, a nameless dread...
Via The A.V. Club Blog.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Comic Book Artist's Will Eisner Tribute: Some Things are Worth Waiting For

Thanks both to a phone call from pal The joey Zone and the fine folks at the Will Eisner Discussion List, I learned yesterday that the long-awaited Will Einser tribute issue of Comic Book Artist magazine was now available in finer comics shops.

Eisner, who passed away January 3, 2005, was one of the most important and influential cartoonists this country has produced, with a career spanning the growth of the modern comic book. From his 1940s creation of the newspaper comic-book insert, featuring The Spirit, to his later kick-starting the "graphic novel" movement in the 1970s, and beyond, Esiner's impact on comics can't be overstated. Rather than go into detail here, I'll point you to his website's short but comprehensive biography. More information about Eisner may be found at my; watch for even more there soon.

Kate and I caught a glimpse of the issue at one of Houston's Bedrock City Comics shops, and believe me, this looks like a true "must-have" for anyone interested in Eisner's work or even in comics in general. It's chock-full of interviews with - and essays & artwork by - dozens and dozens of cartoonists, writers, editors, publishers, friends, students, disciples, and more.

Full disclosure: Thanks to editor Jon B. Cooke's prodding, I've got a page-long essay in this tome myself; I also helped out a bit in the editing department, for which I was amazed to learn that Jon rewarded me with the title "Special Contributing Editor." Yowza!

I'll post a more in-depth review once I've received my own copy; but I wanted to alert folks here about it now, since it's sure to disappear from the shelves quickly. At nearly 200 pages (including several gorgeous color sections) for only about $15, it's a steal - or a sound investment, depending on your temperament. Pick up a copy at your local comics shop, or order on-line via Top Shelf Comix. And several books written, edited, or worked on by Messr. Cooke are available via

Above: Dave Gibbons' beautiful, respectful cover to CBA v2 no6.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Comics Studies at the University of Florida

In the last few years, the University of Florida has become a magnet for graduate studies in comic art. When you know that pioneering scholar Dr. Don Ault teaches there, this information isn't terribly surprising. Don's scholarly interests range from William Blake to Carl Barks, the "Good Duck Artist" who is best known for bringing life to Scrooge McDuck in Disney comic books. (Here's one of Don's articles, encompassing both Blake and Barks!) Florida also hosts a yearly conference on comics and now hosts the Comics Scholars' Discussion List.

Don is quoted today in an article on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln library's new comics collection, where he briefly discusses the growth of comics scholarship. He also drops this tidbit about comics studies in his own backyard:
[T]he University of Florida has more students applying for post-graduate work in comic books than any other field this year.
This statistic is great news for the field, and is a tribute to all of the hard work and dedication put forth by Don and his host of graduate students.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Superhero Renaissance?

No, I'm not suggesting that superhero comics have suddenly "seen the light." Pal Miron Murcury alerted me to this Photoshopping contest at The theme this time should be pretty clear from the examples I've posted here: "Blue Boy Wonder" by the pseudonymous "Snowcrash," "Superdegas" by "DerPartnerSweeny," and "Wonder Woman" by FlashDaz.

Not all the entries are as accomplished as these three, but there are several here that are amusing and unexpected. Maybe not worth 1000 looks, but definitely worth a look or two; check it out here.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Alternative Comics: An Emerging Conversation

Getting in on the Ground Floor Dep't:Tom Spurgeon's excellent today begins a week-long, ongoing interrogation apologia conversation over the new book Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature. The combatants participants are Charles Hatfield, the book's author, and Bart Beaty, who writes CR's regular Conversational Euro-Comics column. Both are university professors whose primary field of research involves comics. (Full disclosure: They're also friends of mine - Bart from years of on-line discussion-list banter, academic conferences, and comics-related activities, including one lunch in which we and a few others planned an ill-fated hostile take-over of the Comics Journal; and Charles from our [many] years as graduate students and bad influences over each other at the University of Connecticut.)

The conversation should prove insightful, enlightening, and full o' meaty, intellectual goodness: Neither of these gentlemen, to my recollection, has ever suffered from a loss of words. The conversation begins with a bang, as Bart begins with "simple" questions, such as pretty much challenging the very foundations of Charles' book: "I'm skeptical of claims that comics are "primarily a 'literary form.'" In his response, Charles asserts, "I suppose what I want the book to do is, not simply elevate comics, but poke and prod at the whole traditional, hidebound notion of what 'Literature' is." Wow, these kids take this stuff seriously.

There's lots more to both sides than I've indicated here, natch; but I think I have to give this round to Bart. Charles ol' pal, why not take the direct route and make Bart read the entire title? I was under the impression that the book's overall argument was that "alternative comics" [this specific subset of all-that-might-be-labeled-comics] can and should be seen as "a literature" - that is, a distinct, and in some respects cohesive, body of texts, with its own tropes, tics, and ties. Anyway, that's what I might have said - but hey, it's Charles' book; and besides, I still, um, need to read it...

But don't let me stop you - head over right now to Let's You and Him Fight. Next month it's Bart's turn to roast over the coals of Craig Fischer's probing intellect; in fact, I think I can hear Craig sharpening his critical claws already.

Above: the cover to Charles' book. Go buy it, already!

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Read It: Interview with Steve Bissette

SwampyGood friend Steve Bissette (creator of the late, lamented life-of-a-T.rex comic book series Tyrant, editor of the late, lamented horror-comics anthology Taboo, and penciller of the second "golden age" of Swamp Thing, amongst many other kwality kredits) is featured in a big ol' interview at iBrattleboro. He talks comics, movies, and more, including info about his new gig teaching at the Center for Cartoon Studies and his somewhat-controversial opinion concerning the pernicious effects of the first (original) Star Wars movies on a generation. There's lots more where this came from, too; check out MyRant, his blog, for musings far and wide. (Today he used the adjective "downright anus-puckering," so you know it's good stuff!)

Above: Swamp Thing illo by Steve, as featured at the website for Henderson State Library's Stephen R. Bissette Collection

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