§ Portland’s Steve Duin reports on last weekend’s Wizard World Portland, which kicked off the never ending con season:
The con featured Stan Lee (for a reported $75,000), William Shatner, Elvira, Summer Glau, a Playmate of the Year (Portland’s Sara Jean Underwood), and a Robin/Robin Lopez reunion. Dark Horse and the green Power Ranger showed up. And because the tables in Artist’s Alley were free, several local cartooning all-stars were on hand, including Matt Bors, Shannon Wheeler, Matt Wagner and Periscope Studios.
It’s the longest finished narrative I’ve done so far, so it was a pretty big change for me. (“Kid Mafia” has more pages, but isn’t close to being finished yet). I draw a lot of short stories, partially because I like that medium a lot, but also because I get bored really easily. It’s been difficult for me to commit to longer comics, although I think I’m getting better at it.
§ HBO just showed a documentary about the great editorial cartoonist Herblock and here’s a profile:
Stevens wanted to capture the man he’d known, but he also wanted to depict a time when a newspaper cartoonist had vast power, before television had sapped newsprint’s influence—to say nothing of the Internet. An irony of Herblock’s legacy is that he flourished as a creator of powerful images in an era when the printed—and broadcast—word were king. Today’s media environment is far more visually oriented, with bright, color pictures on screens big and small. Yet there’s no cartoonist of his stature and reach today.
§ And another link from The A.V. Club:
What makes Herblock—The Black & The White worth checking out is the handy gallery of the master’s cartoons, a selection cherry-picked from an enormous body of work. (Herblock originally contracted with the Post to supply a cartoon a day, seven days a week.) They add up to a remarkable record of a thoughtful, sensible man’s list of concerns over the course of the second half of the century. Although the interviewees all attest to Block’s childlike sweet nature, he was really good at deciding whom he ought to hate. One famous Herblock cartoon offered a free shave to newly elected President Nixon—whom Block rendered for years with the thick 5 o’clock shadow of a cattle rustler in a B-Western—as a way of saying that the office of the presidency mattered more than long-standing animosities. The beard on Herblock’s Nixon caricature had grown back by the beginning of 1969; being capable of an honorable gesture didn’t make Herblock a sucker.
§ If you are a student of the history of the comics blogosphere, you probably already read Tim O’Neil’s interview with Abhay Khosla:
Anyways, I don’t think I could’ve done more than that year– it was just … The lists would be material to bounce off of but it’d be the same lists month after month. And it just took up a lot of time and … and it just wasn’t funny enough– I didn’t know what I was doing to do it well for that long. Plus, back then, all the good comic columns ended in a year. This was back when there were comic columns…? People reading this might not even have any idea what I’m referring to– there were all of these columns, and they all lasted about a year, if they were good. Come in Alone, Basement Tapes, the Steven Grant columns, Gail Simone’s early thing, the whole forgotten era of comic columns as vehicles for online personae or what have you. (My favorite was Warren Ellis’s Do Anything…? That one was more of a subjective history of comics than a “column”). No one gives a shit about columns anymore– not comic pros anyways, which is maybe just as well, the online persona bit being pretty gross. On the other hand, I’m not sure if any of that’s gone away any– with twitter, I’m sure people are still getting sold on some shabby books based on “so and so’s brand stands for hugs”, so. Columns arguably forced the author and recipient of the personae to consider some greater picture of Comics, maybe…? Doesn’t matter. That time is gone.
§ Speaking of comics internet history, Greg McElhatton, who goes all the way back to 1999 as a reviews, is putting his own review site on indefinite hold while he finishes up a degree among other things.
§ Here’s a review of Clifford Meth’s Comic Book Babylon, the SECOND comic book history of that name; his one digs into the struggle between publishers and creators.
§ Today’s moment of satori: A GOOD READ: Graphic novels not just for fans of action heroes
§ Writer Sterling Gates recounts his history of how he got into writing, and it’s a good story if you don’t know it:
“Good things can happen to you at your lowest — even when you’re sitting around eating Fruit Loops.” From an early age, Gates’ life was about superhero comic books because running a comic book store was his dad’s business. Gates said his father would keep the back stock in their garage and boxes of 20,000 comic books would line the wall floor to ceiling. “Comic books were the outlet for the trials and tribulations I had as a young man,” he said. “Bullies are mean … I sought solace in my comics.” After Gates’ father died in June 1998, his family got rid of the comic book store, but Gates’ love of comics never left him. Later, when Gates attended the University of Oklahoma School of Art and Art History, he began to think intellectually about comics and ask “What makes a good story?” and “How can I make it the most impactful?”
§ Valerie D’orazio compares Batman and Justin Bieber and it makes sense, honest.
§ Do enough people appreciate Renee French? I think not.
One of those artists is Renee French, who’s been published by Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, PictureBox, Sparkplug Comic Books, Oni Press, Dark Horse, Toon Books, and Atheneum. Whether she does comics for a general audience, for children, or in collaboration with a writer, every one of her works is unsettling in ways that are difficult to immediately identify. Working with a small publisher like Yam Books undoubtedly meant that French could create exactly the kind of book she wanted. As anyone who read Tim Hensley’s Ticket Stub could tell you, Ayuyang spares no expense in terms of design, no matter how odd the request. In the case of her newest book, Hagelbarger and That Nightmare Goat, French has created an object that defies easy categorization.
§ Cartoonists as media stars! Rafael Grampa stars in a film for Absolut.
§ And on Apple’s 30th Anniversary website, Dave McKean describes the very early days of creating comics digitally in 1995.
§ Animation Magazine interviews Anne D. Bernstein, who doesn’t like always talking about being a woman in animation, but she ends up doing it anyway:
Anne D. Bernstein: Being a television writer—especially in comedy—means you have to learn to speak up. When I was starting out, I would say something funny, no one would react, and then 15 minutes later a guy would say the same thing louder and get a laugh. It goes hand-and-hand with drawing attention to yourself and being outspoken, traits not always encouraged in women. Most of the time I work with people I like, I am accepted and I enjoy the healthy competition.
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.