§ This week’s scene report at TCJ is Providence, RI by Jacob Berendes. That’s right, what’s going on in the original home of Fort Thunder?
§ Jim Shooter recalls a visit with Diamond owner Steve Geppi, who although now near bankruptcy, in 2008 still owned a lot of cool shit:
Steve showed us many fantastic things. Among his proudest possession were several books collecting original art birthday cards for William Randolph Hearst created by the cartoonists syndicated by his King Features. Each one was clever, brilliantly conceived and, of course, had amazing art.
Contributors included Hal Foster (Prince Valiant), George Herriman (Krazy Kat) and Billy DeBeck (Barney Google and Snuffy Smith). Many more. All the great King Features creators of that era were represented.
I saw a bat leaning up against the wall in a corner. “What’s that?”
A bat Babe Ruth used in 1927, the year he hit 60 home runs, said Steve. Ruth used only eight bats that year. This was one that survived.
I asked Steve if I could touch it. Sure, said he. I picked it up. Took a few gentle cuts with it.
At the very opposite end of the comics universe, Matt Seneca is interviewing Blaise Larmee, who is the Hattori Hanzo of comics’ cutting edge of formalism:
M: It’s probably still a relevant one, just because it’s reflective of how comics has incorporated iconoclasts before. When people like Crumb and Ware come along with idiosyncratic styles there’s less of a reactionary backlash than a picking-over of their methods for useful takeaways. Maybe that’s why comics hasn’t really gone through modernism — it hasn’t needed to. Do you agree with that? And do you think it’s a useful way for an art form to progress?
B: You’re talking about how comics is accepting of creators?
M: Of creators who bring stylistic or formal innovations to the table, specifically. Underground comics were a big response to the sort of trite content that was necessary to pass censors in the ‘50s and ‘60s, but then it became “cool” and got sort of taken up by everyone pretty quickly…
B: Honestly I think my problem with comics is that they are not cool…
C-cut…I thought they’re were not for kids any more?
§ In a moment of shocking revelation, David Brothers realizes why Twilight fans are a dangerous force that can never be stopped:
I like a lot of things. I like books, movies, music, girls with certain haircuts, Anna Karina, girls with freckles, and even a few video games. But if you asked me to camp out for four days so that I could get a brief taste of any of those… honestly, I’d laugh at you. That’s a silly idea to me.
I think that’s because I don’t like anything as much as those people like Twilight.
With November’s release of Avenging Spider-Man #1, Marvel Comics instituted an interesting program: with every print copy of the book, readers also got a digital code allowing them to download an electronic copy, “free.” And I was ready to write this off as a quirky experiment, until I started reading Game of Thrones… And now I believe it’s not just a good idea to include them in every comic and graphic novel, it’s necessary for the survival of the industry.
§ Brigid Alverson lists her Best Manga Series of 2011. It was a good year despite the manga implosion.
§ Famous and vanished (probably long dead) hijacker/robber D.B. Cooper’s connection to an old French comic book is explored.
A potential Canadian connection to one of the FBI’s most famous cold cases was first raised in 2009, when the U.S. agency revealed that Cooper appeared to have fashioned his identity and modus operandi from a 1960s-era, French-language comic book about a Royal Canadian Air Force test pilot and space traveller named Dan Cooper. The hijacker — while popularly known as D.B. Cooper because of a news reporter’s error after the crime took place — actually identified himself as “Dan Cooper” when he first boarded a passenger plane on Nov. 24, 1971 at the airport in Portland, Oregon.
§ These photos from the recent “An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer” tour are totally 2011.
§ Chris Mautner’s “Comics College” feature gets to Grant Morrison and he actually gets through it:
Morrison is not always an easy writer to read. He’ll frequently break the fourth wall, indulge in non-linear storytelling or throw out obscure references. He expects his readers to meet him halfway and often a bit of work is required to suss out exactly how everyone moved from plot point A to B. Usually this type of effort is rewarded, however, as at his best his writing blends surreal, dense and sometimes elliptical storytelling with a fondness for humanity and a yen for crafting likable, fully rounded characters.
Recommended starting points ALL-STAR SUPERMAN and DOOM PATROL are sound picks, but we’d throw in WE3, too.
§ In 1939, a 12 year old boy named Donn Fendler become lost while climbing Mount Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine. Lacking GPS or Formspring, it took rescuers days to find him in the hostile terrain, and after his dramatic story of survival, he was considered such a celebrity that President Roosevelt gave him a medal. Now his story — already turned into a local classic book — is a graphic novel! Because today’s comics are are tackling personal stories in addition to superheroes. The art is by Ben Bishop, creator of NATHAN THE CAVEMAN.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.