“These days, comics need to carry more weight, to make a stronger emotional connection with the reader. You can’t put a fluffy show like “Magnum, P.I.” on TV now, because people expect material with deeper content, like “House.” They don’t watch the show and forget it. They buy the DVD.”

“They want to cherish the book and reread it every few years. Comics cost more than ever now, and folks expect more bang for their buck.”

Courtney Crumrin creator Ted Naifeh talks to Comic Book Resources about moving away from pamphlet comics toward longer, more durable publications.

Meanwhile, Jesse Reklaw talks to Tom Spurgeon about the decaying alt-weekly market, and whether or not he considers himself a web cartoonist:

SLOW WAVE couldn’t exist without the internet. It’s certainly cooler to think you’re an alt-weekly cartoonist instead of a web-cartoonist, since there are so many web-cartoonists at an amateur level. Maybe SLOW WAVE is more of a print-comic since that’s where my money comes from.”


Reklaw also discusses dropping out of a PhD program at Yale for the glamorous cartoonist lifestyle :

“Around the same time, Slow Wave (which I had been self-syndicating for three years) got picked up by five papers in a two-week period, and I calculated that — in my dumpy grad student apartment, with no car or serious expenses, entertaining myself with free film school movies and dumpster-diving, and basically being a cheap-ass — I could support myself on comics.”

And this was in the roaring ’90s! What does it take to support yourself on comics in a world of economic chaos? More bang for your buck, we presume.

Posted by Aaron Humphrey


  1. “You can’t put a fluffy show like “Magnum, P.I.” on TV now, because people expect material with deeper content, like “House.” ”

    So he hasn’t seen Knight Rider then.

  2. Yeah, his opinion of TV is hard to reconcile with what’s actually on. But at least TV is free. Comics are too expensive to still be considered throw-away entertainment, so I agree that people should expect more from them than the usual phoned-in stories we usually seem to get.

  3. Nobody’s seen the new Knight Rider. I thought the show was getting such low ratings now that the only reason it’s still on TV is that NBC said they were going to let it run a bit longer to hope that it’ll find its audience. Seems to be fulfilling exactly what Naifeh was saying.

  4. You…. you… *GASP* throw your comics away?!?

    Television is not free… first you’ve got to buy the television set. Then you’ve got to pay for the electricity to run it. You’ll probably get bored with the five channels you get (if they come in clear), and get cable to improve selection and signal clarity.

    Then, you’ll become attached to a show, and you’ll want to buy the DVD collection. Which means more money for the box set AND money for a DVD player. I don’t own a television, but I own eleven box sets of TV shows. (I watch them on my Mactop.)

    Whereas I can go to my local library and check out a graphic novel for free. Cost? $2.00 for the subway, and I can read the book on the way back.

    For all the doom and gloom, I still find comicbooks which interest me. DC’s Family Dynamic was fun. Glamourpuss offers some interesting theory. True Story Swear to God is a romantic biography deserving of greater sales.

    As for bang-for-the-buck, almost every reprinted collected trade paperback I buy is because I have enjoyed the stories in comicbook form, and want to enjoy them again, in an easier format. I’ve purchased duplicate copies of trades (most recently, the 1951 edition of Pogo) because the original copy is in storage back home.

    Can a $10 movie be compared to a $10 graphic novel? Perhaps, if only on how much enjoyment one gets from each.

  5. I’m remembering Stephen Colbert when, I believe, House beat him out for an Emmy or some other award and he congratulated Fox for having the courage to put another medical drama on television.

  6. This is based on a lame aesthetic. Show me one flabby “graphic novel” with the raw power of Zap #0. It’s the same mindset that values concept albums over amazing singles, thinking that the longer form is “deeper”.

    Work in comics form which needs to be longer is another matter. I think that the challenge is to keep the energy extended over a longer work. Seth, Bros Hernandez, Satrapi all do this with great brio.

    Measuring comics by the standards of other media is usually based on some fundamental fallacy. (Watchmen movie, I am looking at you!)

  7. Charles: an “alt-weekly” is an alternative weekly newspaper, which usually have a large concentration on arts coverage and a variety of alternative comic strips. The local one here in St. Louis (the Village Voice-owned Riverfront Times) has at times run Tom Tomorrow’s “This Modern World,” Matt Groening’s “Life In Hell,” Derf’s “The City,” and Max Cannon’s “Red Meat,” among others, just as an example.

  8. >> This is based on a lame aesthetic. Show me one flabby “graphic novel” with the raw power of Zap #0. It’s the same mindset that values concept albums over amazing singles, thinking that the longer form is “deeper”.>>

    He doesn’t say “longer.”

    He says they need to carry more weight, be deeper, make a stronger connection, and not be fluffy, so it’ll be something people want to reread.

    I think ZAP #0 fulfills that requirement very well, in its way.

    Now, me, I still want a complete reprinting of the Frank Doyle/Dan deCarlo JOSIE/SHE’S JOSIE series, pre-Pussycats, and comics didn’t get any fluffier than that. But it’s good fluffy, like the perfect meringue.

    For that matter, I think we are getting reprints of DUNC & LOO and THIRTEEN (GOING ON 18), which are masterfully-done fluff, as well.


  9. Watching broadcast television is free.

    Televisions aren’t. Electricity isn’t. Cable is a racket.

    You’re picking nits.

  10. @Kurt:

    I have been thinking about a way to respond sincerely and respectfully both to you & to Ted Naifeh… Short of writing a doctoral thesis on the incredible long lasting concentrated power of pulpy pamphlet 1960’s Batmans (I mean, what kind of comics did _you_ read until they turned into liquid form, a la Ambush Bug?), I can’t come up with a “perfect posting” on this subject.

    It is true that my initial comment was a reaction to The Beat’s quote & posting and your reply drew me to revisit the original interview, which is more nuanced. And, honestly, the point of view is Ted Naifeh’s towards his own creation, which is authentic. Respect to the artist!

    That posting became a straw man of sorts. There is a pretentious “concept album” over 45’s aesthetic out there, and it comes from comics heads newly liberated from the ghetto as well as non comics folk… To them, I recommend, The Comic That Plugs You In!

    Yeah, it’s not about the length of the work, it’s about which kind of comics language/style is being employed. The poetics of the pulpy era are not the only comics language out there, of course. But I would still contend that those Bat Hound stories are absolutely deep, strong and nutty as hell. More like a really good candy bar than a meringue, I suppose.

    DeCarlo pre-Pussycats Josie? Oh, man that sounds like classic patisserie to me!


  11. American Heritage:



    1. An unbound printed work, usually with a paper cover.
    2. A short essay or treatise, usually on a current topic, published without a binding.

    [Middle English pamflet, from Medieval Latin pamfletus, from Pamphiletus, diminutive of Pamphilus, amatory Latin poem of the 12th century, from Greek pamphilos, beloved by all : pan-, pan- + philos, beloved.]

    Merriam Webster:

    Main Entry: pam·phlet Listen to the pronunciation of pamphlet
    Pronunciation: ˈpam(p)-flət
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English pamflet unbound booklet, from Pamphilus seu De Amore Pamphilus or On Love, popular Latin love poem of the 12th century
    Date: 14th century

    : an unbound printed publication with no cover or with a paper cover

    Modern periodical comics descended from the comics magazine are *not* pamphlets. They are saddle-stitch bound by staples (or occasionally perfect bound), and therefore do not qualify as unbound publications.

  12. >> Modern periodical comics descended from the comics magazine are *not* pamphlets.>>

    Nor are they books, or all that often comical.

    Some pamphlets are indeed staple-bound or stitch-bound — the “unbound” refers to no hard cover or book-style binding. For instance, Thomas Paine’s COMMON SENSE, perhaps the best-known pamphlet in history, was stitch-bound, but didn’t have heavy covers or multiple signatures, much like a lot of modern standard-format periodical comics.

    But getting anal about the definition isn’t the point — language borrows words for jargon that aren’t always 100% accurate, or don’t stay accurate. We call novels “novels,” even when they’re not new, and bad cars “lemons” even though they’re not citrus fruit.

    The term “pamphlet” was borrowed for comics to have a convenient term that describes “modern periodical comics descended from the comics magazine” without having to say such a mouthful. In a format discussion, “comic books” covers multiple formats, and “magazines” is usually used for standard-magazine-sized comics like SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN and HEAVY METAL.

    “Pamphlet” is simply a convenient jargon for the traditional American comic book periodical format, but takes much less time to say. Some people use the term “floppy” or “single,” but whatever the term, they want a shorthand description of the format, in discussions where they want to distinguish between them.

    So a saddle-stitched or side-stapled single-signature booklet can indeed be called a pamphlet without roiling definitions. But even if it couldn’t, it’d still work, just as a Hail Mary pass doesn’t need to involve Catholicism, or a bug in a computer program need not be an insect.

    Jargon creates meanings, when it needs to, to invent or repurpose words for specific needs.


  13. Well, years ago I read a book on US TV which found “a Proustian awareness of time and memory” in a certain episode of “Magnum.” (The “P.I.” was dropped from the title in Britain.)

    As for today’s shows, I defy anyone to find any fictional work with less psychological depth and more complete dumbness than “CSI” or “Cold Case.” And what makes him think people don’t buy the DVD box set and then forget about it – if they even watch it all?

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