Satrapi/Ware

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[Note; we totally thought we had posted this last week, but it went up during a period of turmoil in WordPress. Moral: we suck.]

New York City is lucky to have many awesome comics-related events, but one of the most awesomest was a recent conversation between comics demi-gods Chris Ware and Marjane Satrapi moderated by Francoise Mouly. With a line-up like that, it’s no wonder the Skirball Center at NYU was jammed — we’d estimate there were somewhere between 400-500 people there on a Friday night. Images from the work of both was flashed on an enourmous screen, and both were effusive in their praise for one another, and talkative about their own processes. On paper it was a bit of a mismatch — Satrapi is witty and voluble, while Ware is known for his Herculean self-effacement. While on previous occasions we’ve seen Ware speak, he was genuinely shy, he’s now an absolutely hilarious and engaging speaker, and it’s safe to say both had the crowd eating out of their hands. But why take our word for it when an audio recording is up on WYNC?

Comment: Ware and Strapi have very different attitudes when it comes to discussing their own work. Strapi is comfortable and reflective while Ware’s adorably self-deprecating. When it comes to talking about your own art, can you relate?

One other thing that fascinated us about the event is that it was part of a larger three day festival of New French Writing that paired French and US authors in talks. There were some well-known names in the US contingent — E. L. Doctorow, Edmund White– and equal heavy hitters from the French squad — Bernard-Henri Lévy. However, after talking to a few people we confirmed that the cartoonists had the biggest crowd AND the biggest venue. Which is odd, because books without pictures are, in theory, more popular than books with pictures. But during the lengthy wait for the program to begin there was a palpable excitement for the superstars of cartooning to appear. Talking to a few non-comics affiliated folks at a reception later at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, they confirmed that Ware and Satrapi were the “rock stars” of the event.

We’re pretty sure Ware, in particular, wouldn’t be all that comfortable being branded a “rock star,” but as comics, graphic novels and “graphic books” get more and more acceptance and notice, it’s interesting to see that this kind of excitement is being generated over the creators. Hopefully, rather than it being a distraction or having a cheapening effect, it’s a sign of something we’ve long known: that cartoonists are important creators with important things to say.

All in all, a great evening. In the jump a larger version of the above picture where you can see how big the images were, because it was cool.

[Audio link via Jeet Heer]
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John Higgins’ RAZORJACK

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While the names Moore and Gibbons readily spring to mind when the name of a certain much beloved graphic novel classic is named, there is a THIRD member of the creative crew, colorist John Higgins, who worked on the original WATCHMEN and the remastered Absolute edition. In the intervening decades, Higgins has solidified his reputation as a fine cartoonist in his own right, and he’s proud to announce a new edition of his magnum opus, RAZORJACK. While the book was originally self-published, the UK indie Com.x has collected the entire story into one graphic novel, available in many fine comics shops and on Amazon here.

Higgins talks about the book (and you-know-what) in an interviewMindless Ones » Blog Archive » 21 Questions with John Higgins:

I initially loved being in control of all the aspects of self-publishing, but after a while I was spending more time doing everything except drawing my story, so to collaborate with Com.x on the next two issues was brilliant, they took over the production and business aspect of publishing which allowed me to do what I love doing and hope I do best. Writing and illustrating my own stories.

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International Males, Comic Book Movies Division

Nikki Finke reports that Marvel is attempting to make sure its superheroes sell overseas via the time honored tradition of an “advisory board”:

Spider-Man dancing a Bollywood number? The Hulk dressed in a Mao jacket? It could happen. (Though Thor is already worldly in his Norse outfit, and Captain America won’t translate.) Marvel Entertainment announced today that it’s forming an “International Advisory Board” comprised of business leaders from key international growth markets to work with Marvel executives to explore opportunities for expanding the penetration of the key character brands in international markets.

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Along those very same lines, idle THOR casting rumors, but when did that ever stop us from posting pictures.? Latino Review spotted THOR director Kenneth Branagh having lunch with Alexander Skarsgård, the 6’4″ Swedish son of Skellan Skarsgård, and, well, you know the mind wanders and you could picture him saying “Verily!” We’re not sure if Swedes are allowed to play Norsemen…we’re weak on our Scandinavian etiquette.

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Meanwhile, the Huffington Post(!) scrounged up some pictures of Jake Gyllenhaal as The Prince of Persia. He may not be Persian, but he sure is a prince. Hey now!

Land o’ Links, 3/11/09

Reduced posting today due to an all day judging activity.

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§ Derek Kirk Kim (!) and Gene Luen Yang (!) on their new book, THE ETERNAL SMILE:

DKK: Also, to answer the original question, there was an impetus much more urgent than wanting to draw something fantastical that drove me to asking Gene to write for me. Namely, I was up against the most severe writer’s block I have ever suffered from. For myriad reasons I just couldn’t write at that time. I was completely constipated story-wise, and I didn’t want to just sit on my laurels while I waited for “inspiration to strike.” So I asked the best writer I knew to collaborate with me, and luckily for me, he agreed. And it totally worked in alleviating my writer’s block too. After “Duncan” I began work on the stuff I’m most well known for, “Same Difference” and all the various short stories. That tends to happen when you spend so much time talking shop and storytelling with such a talented cartoonist. Gene and I spent a lot of time together back in those days, and I have to say, despite our obscurity at the time (or maybe because of it), those were some of my favorite days in my career. Gene inspired me tremendously.


§ The Morrison/Quitely duo has reunited for The Concert In Central Park…oops, that should be a new book called…BATMAN & ROBIN. Whom will it star???

The DC Nation page that concludes this week’s new DC Comics releases confirms long-standing rumors that Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely – the award-winning and best-selling creative team of “All Star Superman” – are in development on a new Batman series called “Batman & Robin.”

Accompanying the Frank Quitely images is a message from DC Executive Editor Dan DiDio that reads, “We interrupt this week’s DC Nation page to showcase some very special art for a very special new comic series….”


The book debuts this summer.

§ Do women make comics? Computer says YES!

§ Film Threat suggests Pixar stories are not original. We say: It’s the execution that matters.

§ Someone liked the HOWARD THE DUCK movie!!

§ The The first review we’ve seen of Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter the cartoon adaptation of the comic-within-a-comic:

Presented here as a single, cohesive narrative, this is the journey of a shipwrecked sea captain (voiced by Gerard Butler) who uses his rapidly blurring principles to justify his increasingly savage behavior on his way home to protect his family. The images are relentlessly gruesome, a virtually non-stop orgy of death and dismemberment, with more blood and entrails than a cartoon butcher shop. Rumors are circulating that this animation will be edited into some future extended cut of the feature film, to more faithfully recreate the Watchmen experience.

§ Related: EW has an exclusive video preview of Black Freighter, but it didn’t seem to work on our computer.

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§ Related: Gerard Butler!

Authentic Shakespeare portrait?

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§ NOT COMICS, but cool: What is believed to be the only contemporaneous portrait of he Bard has been found hanging in some family cupboard:

In 2002, art restorer Alec Cobbe, joint heir of the Cobbe estate, was at the National Portrait Gallery’s Searching for Shakespeare exhibition and came upon a painting known as the Folger portrait, which itself, until 70 years ago, had been thought to be a life portrait of Shakespeare. The similarities between the two were obvious and Cobbe rang Wells immediately, setting in motion more than two years of extensive art historical, literary and scientific research.

The result is the firm belief that the Folger painting is a copy of the Cobbe original. It is also likely to have been used by the teenage engraver who produced one of the most recognisable of Shakespeare images – the copper engraving of a bald, round-headed man on the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays, published in 1623.


Let’s hope this isn’t like those “Hitler diaries.”