§ Dog bites man: Webcomicker Zachary Weiner has a Kickstarter for a collection of his strip Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, which made its goal in three hours and is now up to $80K. Over at Fleen, Gary Tyrrell looks at some of the interesting incentives Weiner used.
§ Over at the (finally) redesigned Good Comics for Kids blog, an all-star roundtable looks at how the Big Two are doing with comics for kids in the wake of the cancellation of Superman Family Adventures. Things could be better:
Scott: Both DC and Marvel lack commitment to a long term plan for their all ages series, knowledge of what appeals to today’s readers and awareness of the children’s publishing industry.
Michael: I agree with all that and would just build off that last point. For some reason, both companies are insistently focused on trying to make kids comics work in the Direct Market, a system that really only works for readers with lots of discretionary income and transportation to a comics specialty shop. That audience includes some parents, but doesn’t include the kids themselves.
And where they’ve thought at all about general bookstores, from the outside it looks like their strategy is pretty half-hearted.
As I’ve noted here many times, kids’ comics in bookstores are actually leading the category, even setting aside the Dork Diaries/Wimpy Kid hybrids. But as I’ve also noted here, the Big Two, anyway, don’t have a corporate mandate to be entertainment for little kids. That’s for all the cartoon networks and so on. Graeme has further commentary.
§ Everyone has been talking about Gary Groth’s essay on EC comics because Groth is a great critic who doesn’t do it nearly enough.
The artists toiling in comics who cared about such matters were few and far between and usually at the level of craft, not art. The few artists who did have a sophisticated grasp of the concept, or the integrity to implement their beliefs, toiled in obscurity (such as Barks or Stanley) or were marginalized (like Kurtzman and Krigstein). There was no place for them. (The cultural context of newspaper strips was entirely different, but the cartoonists in that area still thought of themselves as something less than artists — as newspapermen, cranking out dandy entertainments to build readership — of which Caniff was probably the nonpareil practitioner and proponent. Although George Herriman thrived in this context, thanks to the patronage of Hearst, the absence of a genuine aesthetic context had its drawbacks — just as our more self-conscious age of artistes has its own set of drawbacks.)
Groth’s essay is a rebuttal of sorts to Chris Mautner’s revisionist take on EC Comics, which Fantagraphics, Groth’s publishing company, is reprinting. This is kind of a generational debate thing. To comics scholars over a certain age, EC Comics—and two or three from a list consisting of Barks, Stanley and Eisner— were the only expression of comic books as more than just pulp potboilers for the entire pre-Underground era. To folks after a certain age, EC comics are mostly very beautifully drawn, better written pulp potboilers. (Tom Spurgeon touches on this dichotomy here.) I guess it’s possible to have a third view—Kurtzman and Krigstein were trying for more, but most of the ECs were just ludicrously good fun. One era’s pulp potboiler is another’s native culture. Anyway, to generations bottle-fed on Clowes/Hernandez formula, ECs aren’t too revelatory but they sure knew how to draw.
If anything, EC—and Barks, Stanley and Eisner—stand as proof that no matter how menial the conditions cartoonsits are forced to live in, the will to make better art was always there. Comics win.
§ Anyone who was following the story of how Marvel sold original art to a Winnipeg art gallery in 1973 will want to read Joe Krolik’s comment here.
§ Former Charlie Brown voiceover actor apprehended on the way to Mexico after stalking the plastic surgeon who performed a boob job on his now-estranged girlfriend. Would this have been as funny if he had voiced a Thundercat?
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.