§ More on the current mini-brouhaha over The 99, as the UK’s Guardian looks at Dr. Naif al-Mutawa and the pressures he faces from both sides in doing something as seemingly simple as giving Islamic youth superheroes.

That conviction is that nobody from the outside is going to save Islam from its more extremist elements – it’s going to have to save itself. And The 99, featuring 99 characters based on the 99 attributes of Allah, is, he hopes, that means: a way of focusing on the positive aspects of the religion, of inculcating peaceful, life-giving virtues in children and of presenting a peaceful, tolerant, multicultural version of Islam to the rest of the world.

It’s a conviction that has seen him so far raise in excess of $30m in three rounds of funding from private investors, fight off a ban in Saudi Arabia (he’s subsequently been re-banned but he’s fighting it again), and persuaded Endemol, the company behind Big Brother, to produce a multimillion-dollar, 26-part animated series, which in the new year will be shown on Hub, the US network previously known as Discovery Kids that goes into 60 million American homes.

THEN the fun will begin!
§ Frank Santoro has gotten up to the 9-panel grid in his spin around comics storytelilng!

The 9-panel grid also seems to be well suited for “talking at the reader” stories. Chester Brown’s “My Mom was a Schizophrenic” is a good example. There’s a lot of text and talking heads and 9 tall thin panels per page really lets the author pack in the dialogue. And it doesn’t look too crowded. If it was a 6-panel grid, I think the balloons would be too big because of the wider square panels and it would feel like a chore to read. Here the faster “beat” of the 9-panel grid works well.

WHAT WILL BE NEXT? Comics don’t have a 10 panel grid!!!!

§ There have been many recent stories on MAD legend Al Jaffee, around the occasion of the release of a new book. This is one of them.

For Jaffee, the experience recalled  profound feelings of displacement he endured as a “reverse immigrant” to Lithuania at an early age. His parents immigrated to this country, but Jaffee’s mother couldn’t resist homesickness and she twice returned to her native land with her four boys.  Jaffee’s father brought the children back twice but his mother stayed behind. Later she, along with all the other Jews in the shtetl, were taken to the forest and shot by Nazi-sympathizing neighbors.


§ We forgot to run this picture of Warren Ellis at the UK RED premiere last week. Good going, Warren!

§ In the LA Times, Sonja Bolle suggests comics you could give as abat mitzvah gift. For those unaware, a bat mitzvah is a celebration thrown for a 13-year-old girl. Suggestions include Joan Sfar’s The Little Prince adaptation — something we’d give to anyone any age — and Barry Deutsch’s HEREVILLE.

§ Perhaps only peaceful Kiwis, among the world’s most easygoing folk, could ask Why does everyone hate Comic Sans so much?

Time magazine is among the organisations which seem to have already turned against the font. Earlier this year it named Comic Sans as one of history’s 50 worst inventions, alongside sub-prime mortgages and asbestos.

§ Many years ago, Sean T. Collins committed the youthful sin of not liking Jaime Hernandez. This month he’s been atoning for it with a series of reviews of every Jaime GN. The latest one runs today.

§ David Brothers runs down the senescence of the superhero and tags Flex Mentallo for its part:

All of your illusions and ideas of the superhero are deconstructed and proved false by Watchmen. They’re normal people, rather than superheroes, and act accordingly. There’s no magic, no aspirational aspects, and nary a wink from Superman. Just hard edges and gritty realism.

DKR is the blaze of glory. It’s a revitalization before death. Watchmen is the autopsy. At the end, there are no secrets. What’s Flex Mentallo? It’s a wake, that time when everyone gets together, gets drunk, and talks about the deceased.

We’d throw Brat Pack in there as well. Heck, maybe we will.

§ In today’s episode, Johanna is annoyed by a pushy PR person. Seriously, anything we need to do that’s more than cutting and pasting a password is too much for our limited attention span.


§ Is Mark Millar the Simon Cowell of comics? Richard Bruton thinks so but makes no mention of where Millar should begin purchasing his charcoal rib-knit T-shirts.

Superior: 24 pages, 5 minutes of reading and it barely says anything. Simon Pooni’s young life coping with Multiple Sclerosis gets a quick run through, and Millar throws in a bit of bullying just to make sure we get the point. Then a magical monkey turns up, grants him a magic wish and all of a sudden he’s transformed into his movie superhero idol Superior.

And that’s it. That’s the entirety of this first issue. Thin doesn’t even get close to the experience. There’s really nothing here, and certainly nothing that hasn’t been done before. It’s dull, pointless, uninteresting stuff.


  1. I’m with the Kiwis – I don’t get the comic sans hate. I’ve been using it in my work e-mails for the past few months and no one’s objected to it, so I kinda feel the hate for it is some inside joke I don’t get.