Business: Marvel hangs on in ’08, but down in ’09

Jim Milliot has a quick analysis of Marvel’s year-end numbers:

Marvel’s publishing division finished 2008 with sales of $125.4 million, virtually flat with 2007 when revenue was $125.7 million. Operating profit slipped to $47.3 million from $53.5 million, which the company said was primarily due to ongoing investments in digital initiatives. Unlike most traditional book publishers, Marvel did well at the end of the year with fourth quarter sales up 9%, to $33.1 million and earnings rising to $13 million from $12.3 million, which the company said benefitted from higher profile releases.

However, ’09 is expected to be down a bit without the added boost of IRON MAN.

Sales in the publishing segment are expected to be flat at best with sales ranging from $115 million to $125 million with earnings continuing to be negatively impacted by digital media spending.

Don Marquis and George Herriman

Archy Pyramid
Kristy Valenti looks at a lesser known facet of George “Krazy Kat” Herriman’s career — his illustrations for archy and mehitabel. Written by journalist Don Marquis, these popular blank verse poems supposed a friendship between a cockroach (archy) and an alley cat (Mehitabel) who liked to dance in the moonlight. The poems had no punctuation because archy typed them out by jumping up and down on the keys of a typewriter:

Though Mehitabel resembles a gendered (Mehitabel is both intensely feminine and pointedly undomesticated), more feline version of Krazy Kat, Herriman’s Archy suggests, more than resembles, a cockroach (if one could pinpoint what kind of cockroach Archy is, in my humble opinion it would be an American one): it may be the hat. Which is not to say that Herriman’s version of Archy isn’t definitive: it is. Other illustrators, before and after Herriman, have tried their hand (including Edward Gorey), but none have matched Herriman: his rendering of Archy is simply a whole other layer of characterization. And, though the font (and the lack of capitalization) is diegetic, Marquis couldn’t possibly have found an illustrator more sensitive to language: when certain lines are transcribed in Herriman’s lettering, they seem especially to sing (they’re so full of life, they’re practically vibrating).

If you’ve never read archy and mehitabel, it’s worth searching out — jangling and whimsical odes to the Bohemian life, as in “the song of mehitabel”:

i have had my ups and downs
but wotthehell wotthehell
yesterday sceptres and crowns
fried oysters and velvet gowns
and today i herd with bums
but wotthehell wotthehell
i wake the world from sleep
as i caper and sing and leap
when i sing my wild free tune
wotthehell wotthehell
under the blear eyed moon
i am pelted with cast off shoon
but wotthehell wotthehell

Captain Kirk planning to take over Canadian civilization

Extinct Shatner-786173
William Shatner, beloved blowhard, pitchman, voice-over actor, and the man who made the phrase “Get a life!” famous as a nerd icon, would like to run for Prime Minister of his native planet, Canada:

The 77-year-old star said: “My intention is to be Prime Minister of Canada, not Governor General, which is mainly a ceremonial position.”

Shatner revealed his lofty ambition in response to a letter from a fan who urged him to put himself forward for the Governor General of Canada.

The Governor General is appointed by the monarch – which in Canada is currently Queen Elizabeth II – to perform the constitutional duties of the sovereign on her behalf.

In his letter, Shatner regretfully added: “I must, with my deepest thanks, turn down your honourable intent to advance me as Governor General. Besides which, I don’t have time to be Governor General.” Despite his busy schedule, the actor is confident he has what it takes to run the country, explaining: “As Prime Minister I can lead Canada into even greater exploits.”

While there is some potential that this is an errant thought and not a planned career change, the idea of the non-aggressive, harmonious people of Canada being led by Captain Kirk does lead down fruitful paths of reverie. One could imagine Kirk and his exploration team landing on Bloor Street, and the ensuing conversation with Spock over the communicator.

“Captain, sensors indicate a Grade 4 civilization, organized around the concept of a sporting competition involving men propelling themselves on ice while striking a small rubber disk with a curved stick. The game usually involves the ritual consumption of a beverage with intoxicating effects by the supporter of each team.”

“Spock, such a peaceful people should be left unaffected by Federation politics.”

“Captain, according to my data, the people of Canada are also known for their attractive women.”

“In that case, I’d better run for Prime Minister.”