§ First off, big congrats to Beat colleague Whitney Matheson on the birth of her baby girl!

§ Tony Isabella celebrates his 40th anniversary in comics

I met Stan Lee that day and managed not to embarrass myself.  Stan told me I would also be assisting him with Monster Madness, which consisted of big photos from monster movies with humorous dialogue written by Stan and a smattering of prose articles commissioned and sometimes written by me.

I met many other people that day, but I couldn’t tell you all their names if my life depended on it.  They most likely included Frank Giacoia, Mike Esposito, John Verpooten, George Roussos and others.

All were very friendly to the new kid.

The only unsettling moment during that first week came when someone came up behind me and smacked me on the back of the head in a less-than-friendly manner.  It was Jim Steranko, who was peeved with me for some months-old impropriety.  He growled at me and told me that he was going to get me fired…and apparently tried to do just that without success.

§ Nate Powell is celebrating 20 years of publishing comics.

§ Trailer for the new book by Jon Klassen This Is Not My Hat.

§ Of all the diaries the Comics Journal has presented, this one by Mark Siegel is the one I have most desired to read. Because many times I have wondered…HOW DOES MARK SIEGEL DO IT? He not only runs First Second, but he draws graphic novels and raises two kids in his spare time, travels around giving lectures and God knows what else. he’s one of the most productive people I know. The secret? Hint: he gets up at 5 am. Alright then.


§ Artist Peter Nguyen will be selling this very nice print of the Women of DC at New York Comic Con. Larger version in the link.

§ Jimmy Gownley looks back on publishing AMELIA RULES, his long-running kids comic, and he looks forward:

Now that he’s finished “Amelia,” Gownley is attempting to tell a more personal story. His next book, tentatively titled “The Cartoonist,” is scheduled to be released by Scholastic in 2014. It chronicles Gownley’s teen years in Schuylkill County, when he sold his first comics out of his high school locker.     “The first pint run was 57 copies. I had to borrow money from my parents and I got the pages back and they were in the wrong order,” he said. “I couldn’t possibly get them reprinted. I couldn’t ask my parents for more money. I had to figure out a way to make the part out of order a flashback. I wrote in by hand ‘earlier.’ No one ever called me on that.”


§ Sean Howe’s “Marvel Comics: The Untold Story” is the MUST READ non-fiction book of the season:

The strange saga of Goodman’s anti-climatic death is just one of the once untold stories found in Howe‘s book. Through three years of research, Howe stitches together the tale of how impoverished child prodigies, hallucinating peaceniks, and mercenary careerists helped Marvel weather Wall Street machinations, Hollywood failures, and the collapse of the comic book market. Howe captures the often volatile world of hero-and-villain makers. While the recent ballooning movie budgets and story lines that have pitted hero against hero would surprise Goodman if he were alive, he would surely recognize the never-ending battles between writers, artists, and editors. Throughout the book, it’s like Howe is putting a glass to the door at Marvel’s old offices on Madison Avenue and letting us listen in as the drama plays out like an issue of Chris Claremont’s theatrical run on the X-Men in the 1980s.


§ There was also a comic con in Dublin this weekend, and some familiar faces were there.

§ Re our musings on nerd media the other day, Gina McIntyre is taking over running the Hero Complex blog for the LA Times. McIntyre has been working on the site for a long time, and oversees the annual San Diego Comic-Con coverage. She plans to broaden the blogs scope with video games, genre fiction and more.

§ And speaking of Hero Complex, here’s a nice interview with Hope Larson about A WRINKLE IN TIME: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL.

§ Have you ever wondered just what Disney sees when they look at the Marvel characters? Answer: dollar signs.

“In other words, yes, we were going to put the Thor movie out, we were going to put Cap out, we had Iron Man going, but we were really going to put the weight and breadth of The Walt Disney Company behind something like Avengers which had enough depth of content, enough characters, enough continuity in a story that could continue into future films that this is where we wanted to make our big investment of time, organization and money,” he said. “And that has really come to pass.”



§ As long as we’re talking money, this incredible infographic shows how Marvel and DC have stacked up at the box office over the 40+ years, and like the monthly Diamond charts often are, it’s a split decision, with one winning the gross and the other the average.

§ Aaaaaand, this piece ponders whether Fox can make a shared universe from its Marvel properties, the X-Men and Fantastic Four. We’re sure Mark Millar, Fox’s new superhero consultant, can find a way.

§ The long, long journey of Battling Boy. But, we hear the journey may be drawing to a close very very soon.

§ Toronto eccentric Zanta gets his own comic.

§ Here’s today’s multicultural comics piece, a look at the growing comics scene in Bangladesh:

The combination of words and pictures seem to be creating a new breed of readers among the youngsters in the City, with more and more people taking to this form. Sreejita Biswas, a 26-year-old writer, shares that she discovered her love for graphic novels almost a decade ago. “There’s been no looking back since. Every time I step into a bookstore, I need to buy one, regardless of whether or not I can afford it,” she says. Unlike other readers though, she has been obsessed and writing about them long enough for her to want to take this passion to another level. “A couple of friends of mine and I conceived ‘Strip Tease’, an online magazine about the world of comics and graphic novels. After getting people to give us articles and work for us, we are all set to launch by the end of October. I’m not entirely sure if this will work out well or not but it’s worth a shot. We are looking for like-minded people to join the team and help us in whatever little way they can,” declares Sreejita.


§ I missed this really excellent Chris Ware profile that came out a few weeks ago. Like all Chris Ware profiles, a picture of long, relentless sadness emerges.

When he was a child, Ware connected deeply with Charlie Brown, he said. He remembers connecting so deeply that he sent Charlie Brown a valentine. “‘Peanuts’ was the first comic strip with a truly empathetic cartoon character, and Charlie Brown was the first character who grabbed you by the heart. A comic strip is good for telling jokes and for looking down (on characters), but in Charles Schulz’s work, you always felt through his characters. So I felt truly sorry for Charlie Brown, which is an amazing thing to produce using just four little pictures. I felt horrible for him. I gave the valentine to my mother and asked her to send it to Charlie Brown and she said OK then probably put it in the place where all the letters to Santa Claus went.”


§ From the sublime to the ridiculous….The Situation will finally show up at Wizard World Austin to sign his comic.


§ Warren Ellis ponders Travis Charest’s webcomic, SPACEGIRL and the form itself.

But, honestly, wouldn’t it be nice if a bunch of people started to bring strange ideas and new thinking to the dramatic form, in a low-impact serialised form like this?  What if, just for the hell of it, the next 18000 webcomics weren’t about funny animals or core nerd wanking?

On second thought, hey, that’s not going to happen.  And webcomics are a very important venue: as George Burns said about vaudeville, it’s the place the kids go to be lousy.  It’s a learning space, and a play space.  It’s important that it remains that way.  But no-one could change that if they wanted to, and but it shouldn’t be just that.



  1. I probably shouldn’t complain about the promotion for my blog, but I wish you hadn’t cut the excerpt at the red meat and continued to the next paragraphs where I talk about how I admire Jim and how we seem to be good now. Sigh.

    BTW, I make a special offer in that blog whereby people can send me some to write about or review and get randomly-selected comic books from my garage sales in return. It’s fun.

  2. Mark Siegel commented at the Brooklyn Book Festival that he originally set his alarm 15 minutes early, then added to that timeframe as he worked.

    There is something about working early in the morning before sunrise, or long into the night, when there is no one around and you are alone with your thoughts.

    Not to give Mr. Siegel a swelled head, but his trip down the Hudson reminds me of a “Meanwhile…” column from Dick Giordano, where he told of his commute from Connecticut, editing a comic called “Watchmen”.

  3. Re: Spacegirl.

    Colleen Doran’s A Distant Soil is an example of which Mr. Ellis speaks, even if it is adapted from the serialized comic book. (She recently changed from a full-page reprint to one which emphasizes certain panels, which speaks to Mr. Ellis’ format concerns.)

    As for the comedy wanking… what’s interesting about webcomics is that they have revived the serial comedy strip. “For Better or For Worse” and “Gasoline Alley” were two which had ongoing storylines with a humorous point-of-view, and many online strips do that very well. (Some in a science fiction/fantasy vein, like Dave Kellett’s “Drive”.)

    Of course, here are two proven rules of comics promotion:
    1) Newspaper editors hate serial strips because they are hard to drop. Like a soap opera, the minority readership is vocal, and will vociferously petition that the strip continue. Do that online, where you are your editor, and you’ll have a loyal audience.

    2) Explore strange new worlds. Find that virgin territory which hasn’t been exploited. You’ll get readers from other media, as well as readers looking for something different in their favorite medium. Do it well, and you’ll also get readers looking for something good.

  4. “‘Peanuts’ was the first comic strip with a truly empathetic cartoon character, and Charlie Brown was the first character who grabbed you by the heart.”

    Can Chris Ware really be that ignorant to think that there were no empathetic characters in the 100 years of comics before ‘Peanuts’? Hopefully, he just meant to refer to his own experience because otherwise, he is even more self-absorbed than people say he is.

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