§ As we were getting ready to go out last night we happened to catch a brief item on CNN featuring the MAD cover of “Obama’s First 100 Seconds” that we linked to yesterday, proof that despite getting cut to quarterly status, MAD has already reached adjectival status. In fact, David Sarasohn in The Oregonian takes a look at MAD’s history and lasting legacy:

Change happens to everything. For one thing, Mad is already owned by DC Comics, meaning that Alfred E. Neuman has the same employer as Superman, and it’s hard to imagine what they talk about at company picnics. But a quarterly should be something like the Great Plains Journal of Classical Philology, not a magazine whose masthead has always listed the editorial staff as “the usual gang of idiots.”

So it’s worth a farewell — or at least, since it’s going from monthly to quarterly, two-thirds of a farewell — to Mad, a truly influential and subversive publication, which assured generations that the powerful and famous existed to be mocked. Today, that sentiment can be found all over the Internet, not to mention cable television — including, of course, “Mad TV.” But there was a time, not too long ago, when it seemed an intoxicating, forbidden concept.

24-1§ It’s hard to find just one paragraph to quote from this seminal Onion story: Obama Disappointed Cabinet Failed To Understand His Reference To ‘Savage Sword Of Conan’ #24:

“If my inner circle of advisers can’t even communicate about the most basic issues, how are we going to tackle the massive problems our nation faces?” Obama said during a press conference. “When I tell my cabinet that getting bipartisan support is exactly like the time Conan got Taurus to help him steal Yara’s jewel, they need to understand what I mean.”

After receiving no reaction from the assembled reporters, Obama added, “Because a giant spider is protecting this chamber full of precious jewels, just like Congress is protecting its…. God, how are you people not seeing this?”

§ Columnist Jeff Yang at SFGate looks at Avatar-gate:

When is an Asian cartoon not an Asian cartoon? The answer to this Zen dilemma is at the heart of the latest high-octane kerfluffle currently clogging the Net — one that’s pulled into its vortex two of the most celebrated Asian American creators in comics: Gene Yang, National Book Award finalist for his graphic novel “American Born Chinese,” and Derek Kirk Kim, whose work has won comics’ most prestigious laurels — the Xeric, Ignatz, Eisner and Harvey awards.

§ Tom Mason interviews Marc Bernardin at Comix 411 in a wide ranging talk, including how the book MONSTER ATTACK NETWORK is faring on the road to the movies:

TOM: Do you think it would have been successful if you’d just written the screenplay or pitched it around the old-fashioned way, or did having the graphic novel give you an added boost?

MARC: The graphic novel definitely makes a property more attractive to Hollywood but, ironically, it limits your involvement. Unless you’re already an established name—or are willing to say no to any deal that doesn’t include you writing or producing — a giant movie studio isn’t going to let a nobody take first crack at scripting. Especially if, as we did, you wrote the equivalent of a $200 million dollar FX-heavy tentpole action movie. So, in that regard, if we wrote this as a spec, at the very least we’d get to arbitrate for screenplay credit…but getting it on the right desks would’ve been a lot harder.

§ Matt Tauber interviews comic strip reprint king Dean Mullaney, who has returned from “What ever happened to…” to being the man behind some of the most entertaining comics being published:

The 6th and final volume of ‘Terry & the Pirates’ is being released this week from the Library of American Comics. I figured it was time to get the inside scoop from series editor Dean Mullaney while the series was still fresh in our minds and hearts. I thought we should go back to the beginning and find out where the idea of reprinting ‘Terry’ began. “I originally planned to reprint ‘Terry’ in the ‘80s not long after I started Eclipse Comics,” Mullaney explains. “So the format we’re using now, which is the color Sundays followed by three dailies, three dailies and the color Sunday again, that was a format I came up with more than 25 years ago. I was going to do it then, but then NBM came out with the black and white books. We were all grateful at the time that NBM did them because that was the first time the entire Caniff series had been reprinted. Luckily I’ve lived long enough that I’ve got the chance to do it the way I’ve always wanted it to be. ‘Terry’ has always been my favorite strip, so for me to do it now is just a thrill.”

§ Misleading headline of the day? Looking at the success of Obama in comics, Fox asks: Is It Time for a Black Comic Book Superhero?, which would imply there aren’t any.

Marvel Comics, home of Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man and the X-Men, is keeping up with the times. The company recently announced the untold story of the first Marvel superhero of color in the “Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel” project. The Black Panther, another Marvel mainstay, will undergo a life-altering new storyline and will be featured in an animated series.

Whether any of these developments will mean more big screen time for black superheroes will be up to Marvel readers. “While we’re always looking to represent characters from all walks of life, at the end of the day the most important thing is crafting good stories — that’s what people are going to respond to,” said executive editor Tom Brevoort.

A sidebar asks various scholars and comics types, including Jerry Craft, Spike, Erik Larsen, and Zuri Stanback for their takes on the question, and it ends up being a thought-provoking piece:

Spike, creator of the “Templar, Arizona” series: “I think it’s a mistake to market any character, new or old, as ‘the black superhero.’ If you want to draw parallels, consider Obama. He never ran as ‘the black candidate,’ and he hasn’t got any interest in being ’the black president.’ His skin color is incidental to his identity and motivations, not the core of them.”

Zuri Stanback, creator and artist of the “Epiphany Park” series: “In general, having a black president will help continue the destruction of negative black stereotypes. There will be an increased desire to have more accurate depictions of the diversity, values and intellect that exist within our community. We are not just a collection of singers, dancers, athletes and thugs, and that will be better reflected in mainstream pop culture in the near future.”

§ This interview with Malaysian artist Tan Eng Huat includes information on Doom Patrol, Batman and the Malaysian comics scene.

§ shathley Q at PopMatters starts out thinking the comics industry didn’t capitalize on all the superhero movies last year, but comes around by the end of the piece.

§ Area man brings superheroes to life — and it’s…Bob Hall!

§ At The Walrus, Sean Rogers begins a long look at the cartooning career of Matt Groening:

By inviting Groening to fill one of the 16×21 inch Kramers pages, editor Harkham encourages us to view Groening simply as a cartoonist among cartoonists, a practitioner of the art, rather than as some anomalous success story, or Life in Hell as another bit of toilet-reading sandwiched between Heathcliff and Love Is… on the bookstore Humour shelf. In these pages, Groening numbers among the oldest of the old guard, and if he’s a fresher hand perhaps than your ’60s underground icons like Kim Deitch, he’s still roughly a contemporary of your ’80s alternative stars like Jaime Hernandez, both of whom appear here too. Ranking Groening alongside such esteemed peers, as well as the usual Kramers upstarts and radicals, is an editorial decision that bespeaks a level of respect and admiration that almost dares readers to quibble with it.

§ Entertainingly incoherent manga review by Courtney Love:

In a confusing blog on her MySpace page, the former Hole singer reveals she can’t get enough of a female Japanese artist.

She wrote: “Anyone Japanese know who played ‘NANA’ in Ai Kawazawas ‘NANA’ as adapted to a Japanese Teen Rock movie? I do love my Ai. I’d love to get in touch with her. Anyway – I hear she’s the one to give a song to, and I’m obsessed with a Japanese female artist crossing over here – it’d be so cool.”


  1. So, whose take, Todd Alcott’s or shathley Q’s, on the summer’s superhero films was more accurate? When the opinions are as divergent as they are in this case, I tend to think that the critic who sees “Art” has engaged in over-analysis. In the case of IRON MAN, Q might be looking at the character concept and thinking that themes present in the concept are present in the stories as well. Occasionally, over the decades, they were, but if one saw writers modify Stark’s armor again, again, and again, saw Stark go from wealth to poverty, back to wealth, changing his outlook on life repeatedly– Q ends up unintentionally arguing for doing comics as standalone stories, so that what starts out as a fresh, exciting concept isn’t crushed under the weight of a mountain of stories.


  2. Jeff Yang said Derek Kirk Kim and Gene Yang identified themselves as “Avatards,” which they most certainly did not. Until (Jeff) Yang gets to the part of the article where he writes about what’s he’s discovered, the tone is condescending and the tone facile.

    Aside from the attention to the issue, boo, hiss.

  3. How quickly we forget “M.A.N.T.I.S” which incidentally comes out on DVD soon, including the two unaired episodes in which one had him get eaten by a dinosaur since it wasn’t going to be re-newed for a second season.

    Or Static Shock, for that matter. Excellent animated series.

    I can’t wait until Obama starts quoting “Crisis on Infinite Earths” or “Marvel Secret Wars” to his cabinet when it comes to riding out this recession.



  4. I’m still laughing at that Onion Obama article.

    “When asked by the press corps if this week’s hiccup has caused him to rethink any of his appointments, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton interrupted the president to assert that she and her colleagues have already begun educating themselves about comic books, and will soon be “an invincible team of Supermen and Wonder Women working to save America.”

    “Wonder Woman? That’s not even Marvel,” Obama responded before storming out of the press room. “Who are you people?””

  5. “Aside from the attention to the issue, boo, hiss.”

    @Lea Hernandez

    For further reading, also see essays “The “R” Word: How do you avoid saying “Retarded”?” by John Cook, “Beware the Advozealots: Mindless Good Intentions Injure the Handicapped” by Bernard Rimland, “The Word Police” by Michiko Kakutani, or “Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell.

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