§ It’s a well-known but puzzling fact that boy’s literacy levels are dropping in many areas, leading to an educational crisis for the male set. Well, according to this article, one way to get boys to read is to

a) keep it a secret from girls


b) make it involve comic books.

The boys coveted those mysterious letters, careful not to let the girls sneak a peak, as the date approached.

When the day arrived, around 20 youngsters clamoured into the library for the first meeting of the Forestview Guys Read Club.

Laid out neatly before them was a wide selection of graphic novels that promised tales of heroism, magic, suspense and humour.

Even an instant of reflection will reveal that this explains an awful lot of things. No one tell Gabby Schwartz.

Interview corner: Sergio Aragonés at The A.V. Club

AVC: A lot of people credit Mad with teaching them to disrespect authority, whether it’s their parents or the government. But the magazine has always been apolitical. When you’re doing something like “A Mad Look At Illegal Immigration,” are you concerned with putting across a point, or with not taking sides?

SA: You’ve said it in both ways. I’ve really tried to take a lighter side of every serious problem, and the side that I take usually is the side from something that I believe in, because Mad never had a political center at all. There are all kinds of extremes in Mad. There are people from the right, people from the left. So it’s not a point where they would say, “Sergio, this is the direction where we want you to take the article.” I wanted to have fun with it, but at the same time talk about “Look this is the problem.” One thing I learned from my family… My father was very political. But he told me, “Be very careful when you get into politics, because there’s no black and white. There’s an in-between in everything. So look at that side, don’t take one point, because then you are negating half of the other people. Try to find the logic on a problem, something that you believe, and take the position that you believe, but be very careful about it.” So I was very well trained in that aspect.


§ Matt Seneca and Sean Witzke discuss Jim Steranko for 18,000 words. This widely linked piece verges dangerously on the tl;dr, but it’s still a bit exciting to see two obviously perceptive critics discuss a figure like Steranko — obviously seminal in some way but kinda corny as hell, too:

Hmmm… let me think.  You ever read Valentina?  That comic’s like Nick Fury plus in a lot of ways, just a lot less violent.  All the visual stuff, the pop, the sex, the overpowering tone (though a completely different one).  Elektra Assassin, I can see what you mean but that comic has some real ideological convictions behind it, even if it’s just “politics is fucked”.  But I agree, it’s SHIELD for the Reagan era.  Of McCarthy’s work I’d actually pick out Paradax as the more Steranko-y comic, though it has been a while since I looked at Freakwave.

But getting to your point, yeah, I don’t mean any of this to say or even imply that Steranko wasn’t fully engaged in what he was doing.  The thing about Mark Millar comics is that he isn’t trying, he’s come up with the equation for bare-minimum comics that sell.  Which to me makes him like the Don Heck of the modern era.  (And if we’re gonna talk Sex Pistols-style comics, we need to talk about Kyle Baker.)  But Steranko was trying with every panel, and that’s what makes this stuff so good to read despite the lack of preoccupation with story.  It’s not like he was making a concerted choice to disregard plots or making sense, it’s that he was so into drawing the pictures, pushing the formal boundaries, designing the pages, that story had to fall by the wayside to a certain degree.  You can’t make this comic do what it does with a heavier plot, then you get Casanova.  And nobody wants that.

Ideas are being spit out like sparks from a roman candle, but this is the way we’ll eventually slash our way to critical consensus, we suppose.


§ Speaking of Kyle Baker, now that Thor: The Mighty Avenger is gone, perhaps people should pay attention to the fact that Baker and David Lapham are doing a Deadpool book. It’s not one of the books up for a cancellation vote, but it does sound like the kind of thing you should support, even if it’s as far from the gentle, rollicking tales of T:TMA. Baker has a brief post about drawing the book on his blog:

So far I’ve learned that Marvel will allow close-ups of turds, penises and asses, but will censor religious imagery and certain sexual positions. Seriously, they told me it wasn’t the fucking that got me in trouble, it was the position. Of course I’m allowed to depict as much violence as I want.

§ RELATED: Matt Seneca again, live blogging a reading of the Lapham/Baker Deadpool whilst topsy:

9.47: OK, this issue has the best and most disturbing single panel of the act of peeping tomism I’ve ever seen. This stuff could go in a gallery no sweat. (Page 8 panel 5.)

9.50: Aw, graphic panel of a grown man picking his zits! This is like Alfred E. Neumann on crack, folks!

§ Who will follow Cathy in newspapers??? More likely; Who would WANT to??

At Editor & Publisher (October’s issue), cartoonist-reporter Rob Tornoe summarized the contest by reviewing the availability of comic strips about women by women, assuming that newspaper editors, known to be a somewhat knee-jerk lot when it comes to their comics sections, would be looking for an exact replacement for the profession’s iconic strip about female issues by a female.

§ Kelly Thompson lists My 20 Favorite Comics Females and it’s a very wide-ranging list, from Maggie Chascarillo to Cassandra Cain.

§ This is a bit old, but Warren Ellis takes a crack at the Superman OGN vs the Superman periodical numbers :

That’s a smaller gross right now, using the low end of Brian’s estimate of the print run. But as soon as it goes into reprint, it clears the 900K mark and keeps going — before it has its paperback run.

Of course, if Brian’s wrong and the print run was 50k, then that’s a stone million in gross in one month. With a reprint in the lucrative hardback format and a long life in paperback to come. At which point, you start to understand old Joe’s position.

§ And more numbers, as John Jackson Miller regards various aspects of determining the bestselling comic of all times:

I would tend to regard the “phone books” as a distinct delivery system from the traditional American comic-book-held-together-by-staples; they are, in many senses, books on their own. There have been American anthology monthlies — indeed, comics began as anthologies — but most topped out at 80 pages, and few have been seen in recent decades. But it is proper to say that Shonen Jump provides a somewhat closer comparison to X-Men Vol. 2, #1 than One Piece does — and there, X-Men #1 holds the edge.

On the other hand, any given One Piece tankouban is more appropriately compared to sales of Watchmen and similar collected editions. According to Brian Hibbs, Watchmen sold 424,814 copies of its softcover collection in 2009 through just those stores that report to Nielsen’s Bookscan; while its all-time sales are higher still, it’s probably safe to assume that with One Piece‘s first printings so monumental, there are individual tankouban in those 60 volumes that have outsold it over time.

§ In Houston, the recent crime spree of stealing comics growswith its own Bonnie and Clyde:

They’re a less than dynamic duo accused of a trail of crimes that might surprise you.

Two Katy residents have been booked with felony theft, but cops are not done with them just yet.

The Houston Police Department has asked us not to release the identities of the man and woman.

They’re accused of stealing expensive comic books around the city. That’s right: comic books.

The couple has robbed several times, hitting one store, Bedrock Comics, four times.

They might want to consider an artists likeness or something.


  1. So the librarians are taking a page from Little Lulu? Alright! Mancave at the library! (Hmmm… sports comics…)

    According to the “death” PR, Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 1 has sold a million copies. Which puts it up there with The Death of Superman trade and Watchmen.

    Yeah, the MAX Deadpool (DP Max?) is lots of fun. And if you want something a bit more suitable to subway reading, try Van Lente’s Taskmaster miniseries out now! (#3 is awesome on so many levels.)

  2. I feel that if the only way to get boys to read is keeping it secret from girls, we’re dealing with much deeper problems than stunted literacy.

  3. Well, if reading is frowned upon, then most boys won’t read.

    I used to watch the sit-com THE KING OF QUEENS until I realized that the character of Doug Heffernan was the poster-child for illiteracy (and stupidity). He’s a fat, stupid, inconsiderate guy with a nice house and a hot wife … This is what you should strive to be, fellas! Sadly, it’s just one of the tv shows that manage to work in their anti-reading message.

  4. “You can’t make this comic do what it does with a heavier plot, then you get Casanova. And nobody wants that.”

    What exactly is that supposed to mean? Last time I checked, Casanova was an awesome comic with quite a following.

  5. I read — or tried to read — that Steranko piece before. it irritated me. Seems like a couple of guys spouting off hot air, and we get comments like the “Casanova” remark, which really don’t make any sense. Seems more like they’re trying to wow everyone with their knowledge of pop culture and snarky comments.

  6. I love how in this country nudity is frowned upon but graphic violence is okay.

    Does anyone else see what’s wrong here?!?