§ Today’s MUST READ: Christopher Borrelli at the Chicago Trib has a fantastic profile of Lynda Barry. Matt Groening, Chris Ware, and Ivan Brunetti all sing her praises, colorful thoughts and anecdotes are recounted, and lots of players and history are revealed:

I ask if she liked “Peanuts.” She says she appreciates it now, but hated it at the time—too melancholy for a sad child. She liked “Family Circus”—”You know how everything’s in a circle? I wanted to reach into it.” She recently met Jeff Keane, the son of “Family Circus” creator Bil Keane. She says she touched his hand and burst into tears.

Matt Groening says he tried to get Barry to go Hollywood in the ’80s. “I said to Lynda, ‘Let’s write a romantic comedy,’ and she agreed.” A pitch meeting followed at a Los Angeles movie studio. Groening remembers walking into the executive’s enormous office, where Barry immediately moved toward a cagelike sculpture in the corner and stood inside it.

§ A comic shop opens in Brooklyn!

§ John Jakala regards the upcoming manga-sized NEXUS reprints from Steve Rude.

§ Johanna Draper Carlson looks at Archie sales figures for 2008:

It’s that time of year again. Due to the way they mail subscriptions, Archie Comics are required to file Statements of Ownership, Management, and Circulation in their publications. So I collect the figures to see how an often-overlooked comic franchise is doing.

§ And Noah Berlatsky DID NOT LIKE old POWER MAN comics:

And lord, the art is horrible. I’ve argued at various points in the past that mainstream comics art has dropped off a cliff in recent years; this volume seems designed to make me eat my words. Frank Robbins and Lee Elias are the main artists in the run, and there’s just nothing to like about either of them. Bizarrely distorted faces, awkward poses, an utter lack of style or design sense; it’s just page after page of ugly, mediocre dreck. A few of the fill-in artists (Sal Buscema, Bob Brown) are somewhat better, but none of the drawing is what you’d call enjoyable until John Byrne (with Chris Claremont in tow) comes in for the last two issues. Not that John Byrne is my favorite artist or anything, but in comparison — well, this volume makes quite clear why he was hailed in some quarters as a demi-god.

Those Essentials are a double-edged sword, I tells ya.


  1. I don’t care for the so-called “manga size” books. Smaller than comic book size? That’s already too small as it is what with intricate art squeezed into tiny panels. Comics getting smaller is not a welcome sight.

  2. Heh. If Lee Elias had only drawn a longer run of POWER MAN — and inked more of his own work — it’d probably be one of my favorite runs of the era.

    I love Lee Elias artwork.


  3. The newest Comics Journal #296 also has a cover and great interview with Lynda Barry. She’s got a lot of the same ideas about creativity and the imagination that Alan Moore has. Although I’m fairly certain she’s never read any of Moore’s work, I’d love to see them in the same room bouncing ideas off of each other.

  4. I’m with Kurt on this one. Lee Elias was wonderful as was Frank Robbins. I still look through my battered old copies of Human fly just to enjoy the art. (Can’t bring myself to read the stories anymore though). Hard to believe anyone could prefer Byrne’s stocky figure work over the woonderful fluidity of Robbins and Elias but I guess it takes all sorts.

  5. Even when I was ten or eleven years old I couldn’t stand Robbin’s artwork on the Captain America & the Falcon – but yet when he drew the Invaders – I was all over it.