LOST: Paradox, Schmeradox

If you watched last week’s episode, you know where this is going. So let’s get right to it.

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Borders looking shakier than ever

A post at Consumerist rounds up a variety of bad owen surrounding troubled big box bookstore chain Borders:

Yesterday’s post about Borders closing down its unprofitable CD and DVD sections prompted a tip from the owner of a small music label. He says his distributor has already cut off shipments to Borders once for nonpayment (in November 2008), and on Monday the distributor warned labels that they’ll have to agree not to hold him “liable on any future shipments to Borders in case they file for bankruptcy.” Borders’ CFO left in January, which is rarely a good sign for a troubled company. And this morning, the Detroit Free Press notes that the bookseller is facing being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. We may not have to wait long to find out; CEO Ron Marshall is hosting a conference call with analysts and investors next week.

The grim comments section has even more baleful signs, including this:

I work at a B&N in a town where there is also a Borders, and I’ve been hearing various grumblings from customers recently, from Borders not being able to special order certain items, or requiring that all special orders be paid for ahead of time. These weren’t always small-press books either, some of them were from major publishers. Word was that it was because their suppliers were not getting paid and were severely limiting what they could get. The above story seems to support that.

Borders’ financial troubles have been a point of much worry among comics publishers and distributors — some of the smarter among them are making future plans around the idea that there will not be a Borders around very soon. At the very least, proceeding with caution around the retailer would seem to be a necessity.

What does everyone think would be the result of a World Without Borders®?

Harvey Awards Nominations due FRIDAY!

The Harvey Awards nominations close Friday, so if you haven’t organized your voting tong yet, hurry up! Ballots are downloadable at the above link.


A. David Lewis has made SOME NEW KIND OF SLAUGHTER, a look at mythic floods by the writer and MP Mann, available to download for FREE at the above link. The move is to get more people to read it and nominate it for a Harvey Award, but it’s also just a good comic, so enjoy.

R.I.P Anne Cleveland


Cleveland PhotoAnne Cleveland, a cartoonist from the ’30s to the ’50s, whose main subject was college humor and her alma mater, Vassar, has died at age 92, according to a comment on this blog by her granddaughter, Ursula. We’ve taken the liberty of reprinting the comment here with some minor technical editing:

My grandmother died in February 2009 (she was born in May 1916, not 1917, so the previous age was wrong). The Oregonian refused to publish a paid obituary with a cartoon instead of a photograph– yeah, I know, my mother is up in arms about it.

Anne had a twin brother, Van (short for Van Buren; I think that was his middle name), and two younger brothers, Stanley and Harlan. Her father had volunteered as a clergyman in WWI; he died of a blood infection contracted during that time period when Anne was a girl (somewhere between ten and thirteen). Her mother supported the family; she worked at Andover as a house mother for a while, and eventually became Dean of Women at Rollins College.

Anne started out at Vassar as a classics major, and soon switched to art history. (There are several family legends about her ability to identify art forgeries.) At some point she taught a few classes at Rollins; during WWII she worked for the WAC, drawing maps. (My mother has some sketches of Anne’s fellow WACs.)

My grandfather’s name is Augustus R. White; to this day, he says that he married Anne because she was the most brilliant woman he’d ever met. Anne and Gus had two children, A. Tobias White and my mother, Susan (now Susan Whitcher). Gus’s family had lived in Shanghai before the War, and maintained business interests in Japan afterwards; that’s why Anne spent time in Japan (where my mother was born).

I understand that in addition to the books, which one can buy on Amazon, Anne published some cartoons in the New Yorker, but I have not yet tracked them down . . .

Anne & Gus divorced c. 1965. After that, Anne spent a couple of years in New York, battling depression, then moved to Ashland, Oregon. She lived in Ashland until the early 1980s, until she moved to Baltimore to be closer to my mother; she moved back to Portland, Oregon with my family in 1992.

Cleveland’s cartooning career was fairly minimal, but she became something of a cause celebré here at this blog, for various reasons. Instead of rehashing that, we’ll just post links to appreciations by Shaenon K. Garrity, here, here, and here. (We’ve stolen a photo of young Cleveland and a cartoon from Garrity.) Our last post on Cleveland can be found here. Our condolences to her family, and thanks to Ursula for passing on the news.

Craig Yoe’s Secret Identity

Politics Flyer
Craig Yoe has been reminding us to remind you about his new blog, Secret Identity, which both celebrates the release of his Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-Creator Joe Shuster — which just came out this week! — and other matters of some…naughty import. Plus, he’ll be talking about the book — which, as the title suggests, reveals a little-known facet of Shuster’s career – in April!

Sam Hiti


Important reminder

Michael Kupperman has a blog!

No end in sight

200903250348How swamped are we? So swamped that we missed covering the story of a lifetime, as a tale of heroism and hope unfolded in Thailand. A Thai fireman who just happened to have a Spider-Man costume in his locker over at the firehouse, donned the costume in order to save a frightened autistic boy who had gone out on a ledge and refused to come in. “The boy immediately ran into his arms with a smile,” the hero Spidey’s boss reported.

This story reveals many things about life and love and loss. It reveals that keeping a spare superhero costume around is a very good idea. It reveals that Spider-Man is loved around the world. It reveals that mentally challenged children love superheroes and hope to be rescued.

The fireman, Sonchai Yoosabai, also keeps an Ultraman costume in his kit, allegedly to “liven up” fire drills. In many cases, we’d advise caution around anyone who likes to “liven things up” by dressing in a spandex long underwear suit, but in this case, it saved the day.

Kibbles ‘n’ Bits, 3/25/09

§ Scott McCloud will be teaching a two-day seminar on Visual Storytelling Through Comics: Theory and Practice at SVA in May. Sign up!

§ Accused “comic book killer” Michael George may be released from prison as he awaits a retrial. George was convicted of killing his wife nearly 20 years ago, but the verdict was overturned on appeal.

§ Comics historian Peter Sanderson recently appeared on WNET’s Sunday Arts program to talk about MoCCA’s WATCHMEN exhibit, which he curated. You can watch the video above, but beware, it made our computer do very strange things.

Zombies 1A-253X300§ Kiel Phegley interviews Guy Davis as his GN for Les Humanoïdes is serialized in the US.

Kiel Phegley: When the new editions of Humanoids stuff was announced, I was pretty astonished looking over the list to see how many American artists had worked on major projects for them that readers here seemed to be unaware of. In terms of your work on Zombies, where did the comics fall in terms of the other work you’ve done that we have seen?

Guy Davis: Let’s see. When did I start doing the Zombie’s stuff? I think Humanoids started with it around 2004. Originally, it was done for Humanoids in the U.S. when they had Metal Hurlant magazine over here, and then when they stopped publishing that magazine in the US, we started doing Zombies as its own book in France, with the fourth volume coming out just last year… and I think when Zombies started first coming out is also when B.P.R.D. was really starting to get going, and I’d just shift between the two. And for Zombies, it was only in eight-page increments at the start and easier to fit that in with other deadlines.

§ First rate “MeOW!” from Kurt Hassler, publisher of Yen Press, in this profile of Yen cartoonist Svetlana Chmakova, as we return in time to 2005:

When the first volume of Dramacon was published by Tokyopop in 2005, many manga fans rejected works by non-Japanese creators. That has faded, Chmakova said. “I definitely feel more acceptance from the reader side,” she said. “I’ve seen quite a few people shed their preconceptions about OEL manga and become fans.”

One reason for the initial fan rejection of OEL manga was the weakness of some of the early properties, according Yen Press publishing director Kurt Hassler. “People who loved manga but had very little instruction were being given contracts early on, putting out full books without the kind of guidance you need on a professional level.” By contrast, he said, Japanese and Korean editors spend a lot of time working with their creators.

§ Mark Evanier tirelessly investigates the mystery of Lionel Ziprin.

§ Sean Kleefeld mistakes a toilet for Green Lantern; rigorous psychological testing ensues.