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§ Matt Tauber started a blog, and so far he visited Milton Caniff’s hometown, Hillsboro, OH, and has an on-site report, complete with pictures of buildings associated with Caniff, and this plaque.

§ NY Anime Festival update with new panelists etc etc.

§ Mark-Oliver Frisch interviews Dark Horses’ sales guy Dirk Wood:

You’ve got the direct market and the book market. The interesting thing to me is that there seems to be sort of a new model in the United States growing, which are direct market stores that are much more focused on the graphic novel than on the original pamphlet. And they’re expanding it by doing really interesting things like galleries, art shows. There’s kind of a third market developing. Like real hip, urban type comic shops. I think what’s happening is the direct market is actually in a growth period and has a chance to grow. It’s just changing.

§ John Fultz was very excited about his piece on THE FIRST KINGDOM, one of the very first books ever printed just for the direct sales market, so he sent everyone the link to the piece.

§ Over at Comics Waiting Room, Matt Maxwell explains why there haven’t been any new breakout characters lately:

Anyways, the thing is that as creators became more and more cognizant of the potential rewards that they were missing out on, the less creating was actually done (for the big two). I’m not criticizing this phenomena, simply observing it. As a creator-guy myself, I think that the creators who come up with the concept ought to see some kind of reward out of it when Stupendous Man gets put on lunchboxes or on a movie screen. And yes, the publisher, as the entity that helped get that character exposure, is entitled to a slice of that pie as well. I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with the publisher taking an ownership stake or shutting the creators out of the equation altogether. Fair is fair, right?

So, we’re looking at a place where creators aren’t going to be rewarded for going all out and coming up with new characters, new places, new things. Add to that a generation or more of creators who are perfectly fine with this. Hell, they’re more than fine, because all they want to do is play with the toys already in the toybox. Those were the characters and villains that they loved as kids and they really haven’t grown out of that phase. Well, they have, kinda, because they like to see superguys ripping limbs off each other and the like. But some writers would be perfectly happy if all we ever got was Batman and the Joker over and over amen. Not to mention some of the fans.

§ The New Yorker boldly tests the effects of introduction of color to humor.

§ Mark Evanier recounts WGA strike history for The New Republic.

As a WGA member since ’77, I’m presently on my fifth such strike–and I’m a novice compared to some. Last week, I picketed with a guy who’d walked off a job writing for Phil Silvers. One hates to think how many signs he’s carried. Why so many strikes? Some of it may be our very nature. Something about writing for a living may just make you feistier and more contentious and more demanding of respect … but if that’s it, it’s probably a small part. More likely, it’s luck o’ the draw–the timing of when our contracts come up for renegotiation–and maybe some strategizing on the part of the AMPTP. There’s a thing called pattern bargaining, a semi-inviolate concept that says that if one union makes a gain or eats a rollback, the other unions will gain or eat accordingly.

§ A nice piece on the Giant Robot Biennale at the Japanese American National Museum. If we were in LA we’d go to it!