Back in 1986, comics legend Alex Toth did a thorough critique of a Steve Rude Johnny Quest story. He didn't mince his words. (About Toth, Rude)
Hook Jaw. Hook Jaw, a blatant "Jaws" rip off in which a murderous shark was the hero, was perhaps the most notorious comic strip in the short-lived (and parentally despised) Action Comics (complete history here). Action was a direct influence and precursor to the legendary 2000AD, and Hook Jaw reads like a first draft to the magnificent (and recently reissued) Shako, about a rampaging killer bear who happens to be the hero of the story. [more inside]
If the funnies in your local paper have gotten you down, with their limited space and xeroxed gags, why not take the wayback machine to the Golden Age of newspaper strips, courtesy of Gocomics' Origins of the Sunday comics? Started July last year and curated by Peter Maresca, it shows off how sophisticated and beautiful the American comic strip was almost from its birth in the 1890ties .
"One series that I’ve kept up with, however, that doesn’t get enough credit for its cast of active, intelligent females, is B.P.R.D., written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, and currently drawn by a rotating group of artists, including Tyler Crook, James Harren and Laurence Campbell." -- Craig Fischer explores some of the female characters in Hellboy and B.P.R.D
The Great Maple Syrup Heist - in cartoon form! ...and other illustrated stories by Lucas Adams in Modern Farmer, including The Legend of the Goat Man and The Pleasant Valley Sheep War. [more inside]
Cartoonist Julia Wertz reflects on the years she spent consumed by alcoholism and depression, via comics and prose. [Previously] [more inside]
"This symposium explores the relationship of superheroes to questions of power, ideology, social relations, and political culture. It represents the first time that a political science journal has devoted sustained attention to the superhero genre as it is reflected in the pages of comic books and graphic novels, and on the big screen." -- PS: Political Science & Politics holds a symposium on The Politics of the Superhero. [more inside]
A lengthy interview with Alan Moore on the Gollywog ("a strong, likeable and positive figure"), his film Act of Faith and sexual violence, and the "herpes-like persistence" of Grant Morrison.
"When I first saw Oliver had something called a "Stickum-Shaft Arrow," I worried that it was some kind of Silver Age, Native American racist caricature arrow. Nope! It's just a long, hard shaft he fires at his eventual lover Black Canary, which covers her in sticky goo. No problems there!" -- Rob Bricken looks at Green Arrow and his less than useful trick arrows. Not that Hawkeye does better.
"That is not to say that Oglaf depicts a perfect world. There is a dark side to its humor and it can depict humiliations and sex coerced through magic and subterfuge and through dominance. When a king wants his court wizard to transform him to look like the duke so he can sleep with the duke’s wife (a variation on a scene from Excalibur), he realizes it is easier to order the court wizard to transform himself into the duke’s wife and the king fucks him instead." -- Osvaldo Oyola explains the timeless appeal of Oglaf. Not remotely safe for work.
G. Willow Wilson is the author of the new Ms. Marvel series that is coming out Feb. 5th. Wired interview here. The reboot places Kamala Khan, a shape-shifting Muslim superheroine from New Jersey at the heart of the series. [more inside]
"Now, nerds have a long memory. I am dead certain that somewhere out there in the great world there are fans who are looking forward to once again buying "real" Star Wars comics. There are probably even a few brave souls who entertain the notion that Marvel will simply pick up with issue #108 (in spirit if not in deed) as if the subsequent thirty years were just a bad dream. " -- As long expected, Marvel will start publishing Star Wars comics again next year. Tim O'Neil looks at what this means from a fannish point of view.
If you haven't hung your calendars for 2014 yet, why not take advantage of repeating dates and use the 1975 Mighty Marvel Calendar -- featuring important milestones like Sal Buscema's birthday, the exact moment fans started protesting Dr. Strange's first costume change, and all the Doctor Doom appearances a mortal mind can handle?
Michel Fiffe contemplates life After COPRA, the 12 part monthly comic which he wrote, drew, published and distributed himself throughout 2013. A brutal, action-packed follow up of sorts to Fiffe's bootleg Suicide Squad comic Deathzone it managed to do a better job of evoking the spirit of Ostrander and McDonnell than DC's own efforts and become one of the top comics of 2013. Fiffe talks more about the expeirence in his Exit interview with Comics Alliance.
"If you've ever felt lost and worthless, step aside, because someone else feels even more so, and his name is Chief O'Brien of the Starship Enterprise. Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation, crappy jobs, and ennui will enjoy our short-lived Chief O'Brien at Work comics." From cartoonist Jon Adams.
"You live now, Adam Ant, as you have lived many times throughout history, fighting evil wherever you may find it!"
"Simply changing the skin color of the mutants obviously doesn’t address all of the issues around privilege in the Marvel Universe. The visual and narrative sexism that permeates superhero comics remains intact. Some characteristics of white characters also become negative stereotypes when applied to non-white characters. Wolverine is a symbol of wild, untamed, white male power, but when I recolor his skin to imagine him as a person of color, his snarling, predatory aggression reads as a stereotype of wild black men." -- Orion Martin reimagines the X-Men as mutants of colour to make clear why the idea of mutant discrimination as standin for real world issues is problematic. He does so by recolouring some famous X-men images. [more inside]
On the heels of firing Wolverine, Professor X makes some additional personnel changes. [more inside]
Much like its former publisher, the cover art for pornographic magazine SCREW could be described as “crude, rude, infantile, obnoxious, and dirty," as well as gross, misogynistic, and really NSFW. But it has also featured work from such terrific cartoonists as Tony Millionaire, Wally Wood, Spain Rodriguez, Renee French, and many others. Frequent contributor Danny Hellman presents SCREW: The Unofficial Cover Art Blog.
Cartoonist Mike Holmes draws himself (and his cat) in the style of other famous cartoonists/illustrators/animators. Examples: Maurice Sendak. Chris Ware. Rob Liefeld. Dr. Seuss's How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
Twenty years ago tonight, id Software uploaded Doom to an FTP server at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completely changed the video gaming industry. [more inside]
Chris Sims examines Harley Quinn, one of the most misused and misunderstood characters in comics, taking in her Batman:The Animated Series debut played by Arleen Sorkin (audio), through to The Batman Adventures: Mad Love and the New 52 incarnation which recently drew ire with a controversial try-out page for artists.
From 1989, when Calvin & Hobbes was still pretty new, The Comics Journal's interview with Bill Watterson. The interviewer was Richard Samuel West.
Wonder Woman will be finally be appearing on the big screen, though not in her own film. Instead she'll appear in the untitled Batman vs Superman movie set to open in 2015 that will be directed by Zack Snyder. The character will be played by actress Gal Gadot.
Sales of digital comics have soared in the past three years. Readers love the look of comics on the iPad screen and they also love the convenience of in-app purchasing, which allows consumers to buy and store their comics within a single app. So it’s a big deal when Apple bans a comic—usually because of sexual or mature material or nudity—and it has happened to at least 59 comics this year. - Are comics too hot for Apple? Publishers Weekly looks at Apples role as Gatekeeper in the wake of their rejection of Sex Criminals #3 and retroactive removal of Sex Criminals #1 from the iOS marketplace. Strangely the books remain available via iBooks. This is not the first time Apples policies have been confusing or raised concerns of censorship, such as with the Saga of Saga #12 earlier this year, and before the rise of comixology with the banning/unbanning of Ulysses Seen (previously).
Poor Little Rich Boys: The Art of the Mumbai Circulating Library, by Ryan Holmberg, The Comics Journal's resident Indian comics specialist.
So He Drew This Instead. (TW: child abuse)
In the summer of 2012, Jeffrey Wilson interviewed Noam Chomsky.
“When the police came into [Occupy Wall Street] under Bloomberg’s orders and smashed up Zuccotti Park one of the things that they did was destroy all the books. You have got to destroy books that are dangerous. It has a long tradition back to the middle ages. Arizona knows all about that.”They discussed the Occupy movement (previously) and its roots in previous resistance movements, back to the Civil Right Movement Spanish Civil War. To bring the conversation to a mass audience, he's now publishing the transcript as a comic book. The artwork so far is beautiful. [more inside]
Meet the Somalis is a series of short comics depicting the various experiences of fourteen Somali immigrants in cities across northern Europe.
String Theory is a character-driven serialized comic book published on the web and written/illustrated by Dirk Grundy (Twitter cat feed). Following the adventures of grumpy, socially inept super scientist Dr. Herville Schtein, it is set in an alternate timeline where "the Cuban missile crisis went terribly wrong," the Cold War never ended, super scientists and super powered individuals run amok, the American Southwest is an irradiated postnuclear desert, "America...is not doing so well," and Chicago... Let's not talk about Chicago. It is about failure and families and how we all kind of mess each other up a little, but only because we care. It's kind of sad. But also kind of funny. Think Venture Brothers with the satire and comedy turned down, and the characterization and plotting turned up. Oh! There is also a very cute talking cat, if that helps sell it for you. [more inside]
Say It With Sea Otters is a blog where adorable cartoon animals deliver difficult messages. Here are some examples: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. While the sea otter has a well deserved reputation for extreme cuteness, these aquatic weasels engage in behavior that to humans seems truly reprehensible. Of course, we humans haven't exactly treated them well throughout history. Indeed, the first scientist to describe them, George Wilhelm Steller, emphasized their valuable fur in his description of them.
Starlogged is a "celebration" of all things British and geeky, with a focus on 1972 - 1995 and Marvel UK, especially their early nineties attempt at creating their own superhero line. A true nostalgiafest for people raised on dodgy black and white reprints of American comics and hardcover annuals.
"He calls this the Tao of Hawkeye. You can’t just have a database around Hawkeye, right? Not if you really want to understand Hawkeye over time. Because Hawkeye isn’t just Hawkeye. He’s also Ronin and Goliath and Clint Barton. Sometimes he’s dead. Oh, and by the way: he started as a villain. Who remembers that? -- Back in the eighties people like Mark Gruenwald and Peter Sanderson guarded Marvel Comics' continuity. These days Peter Olson tries to do the same for a much bigger Marvel using science and math.
The anti-Communist Captain America was ret-conned into being a crazed history graduate student named William Burnside who had himself surgically altered and then dosed with a flawed version of the Super-Serum, which drove him insane to the point where he saw communist sympathizers everywhere. The subtext isn’t particularly thick here: the “Commie-Smasher” was a paranoid wannabe, whereas the real Captain America is the “living legend of WWII” waiting in suspended animation during the Second Red Scare, who emerges back onto the scene with the arrival of the New Frontier and the Great Society. - Why Captain America Is the Progressive-Era Superhero We Need.
My Friend Dave, twentysix mini essays on Dave Berg, longtime Mad Magazine cartoonist, by Craig Fischer.
"Technically it’s not a book at all: The Great War is actually one continuous drawing, a 24ft-long panorama narrating the British forces’ experience of 1 July 1916, spatially and chronologically, from orderly morning approach to chaotic battlefield engagement to grim aftermath. There are no boxes of text or speech bubbles, no individuated characters, instead Sacco portrays a mass event in painstaking, monochrome, almost technical detail. It’s like a cross between Hergé and the Chapman brothers; the Bayeux Tapestry as a silent movie." -- Cartoonist Joe Sacco's latest project, The Great War is about one particular day in the War: 1 July, the start of the Battle of the Somme. [more inside]
"I'm a professional indie cartoonist, and before that I was an aspiring pro." Spike is the author of Poorcraft, a how-to-live-well-within-your-means comic that many many of us on the Blue really dig.
The book is about a little warrior princess who is given a silly looking pony on her birthday, and it’s not exactly what she wanted … So [the story] is about finding value in something unexpected - Kate Beaton, best known for her Hark! A Vagrant book and website, announces Fat Pony, her new project. Wired Interview.