Review of Criterion Collection's "Crumb" and "Ghost World" DVDs

Cartoonists Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg take a look at the booklets that come with Criterion Collection's Crumb and Ghost World DVDs and Blu-rays, both directed by Terry Zwigoff. I've seen both films multiple times and already have the Crumb DVD, but I wasn't aware that Criterion did one for Ghost World. Sigh *pulls out wallet* Read the rest

A video review of the upcoming book -- Original Art: Daniel Clowes

Cartoonists Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg take a page-by-page look at the upcoming Fantagraphics book, Original Art: Daniel Clowes. It measures a whopping 17 x 24 inches and has photos of Clowe's original art pages. I can't wait to get this book. You can pre-order a copy here. Read the rest

That time Charlton Comics published a trans sci-fi story in 1953

Back in September, a rare print edition of Space Adventures #7—originally published by the new-defunct Charlton Comics in 1953—sold for $1,800.

The comic book speculator market isn't normally the kind of cash cow that the 90s thought it was going to be. Unless you've got one of those very rare early superhero origin comics—or you happen to sell something random like Avengers #257 at the exact right time for a convenient movie tie-in—you're typically lucky to make even a dollar on an old comic.

Space Adventures #7 has nothing to do with superheroes, or non-superhero movie adaptations. But it's still coveted, probably because it contains a pre-Comics Code story called "Transformation" that was illustrated by Dick Giordano, who went on to become the Executive Editor at DC Comics, and written by a curiously uncredited author.

What's more interesting about the comic, however, is that it deals unexpectedly with transgender issues.

Here's a basic synopsis of the 8-page story from Comic Book Plus:

Anticipating nuclear war that would leave Earth barren of life, Lars Kranston convinces his colleagues to go to Mars. His paramour Betty Stone insists that she go as well. The ship crashes on Mars. Everyone but Lars and Betty are killed, but Lars thinks she died too. Betty wakes up suffering total amnesia. Lars decides to use the supplies that survived the wreck. He manages a complete sex change. The tumultuous situation on Earth dies down. The predicted war never occurs. Betty remembers the journey.

Read the rest

Interview with the real Joker

 

Above, a 1966 interview with the best of all Jokers, the inimitable Cesar Romero who camped it up for the Batman TV series (1966-1968) and subsequent theatrical film. Romero famously refused to shave his trademark mustache for the role so they just slathered the white greasepaint right over his whiskers. (Interview with Romero starts at about 3:36, but watch from the beginning to catch an interview with Julie "Catwoman" Newmar.)

Read the rest

Watch the soap opera inspiration for Harley Quinn

In 1987, Arleen Sorkin played a bizarre dream jester on the classic soap opera Days of our Lives. Watch above. Several years later, that curious character became the inspiration for Harley Quinn on Batman: The Animated Series. Naturally, Sorkin voiced Ms. Quinn.

From Vulture:

In 1987, Sorkin was a regular on the soap opera Days of Our Lives, playing the show’s comic relief: the ditzy, leggy, Noo Yawk–accented Calliope Jones. But unlike her flighty character, Sorkin was a skilled and experienced comedy writer. “I could never just come in and run my lines,” she told Vulture. “I was forever suggesting stuff, probably out of boredom!” So when she went to a screening of the faux-medieval The Princess Bride, an idea struck her: Why not do a fairy-tale dream sequence on Days? The producers were into it and aired an episode in which Calliope acts as a court jester, roller-skating into a throne room and doing some hackneyed borscht belt gags for a royal family.

(Writer Paul) Dini and Sorkin were college friends, and one day, she gave him a VHS tape of her favorite Days moments — including her jester bit. The tape sat idle for years. But in mid 1991, Dini was sick as a dog and popped the tape into his VCR. He was a budding television writer at the time, cranking out freelance scripts for the as-yet-unaired Batman: The Animated Series. He’d been struggling to come up with a female character to use as a one-off in an episode about Batman’s archnemesis, the Joker.

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An excerpt from Seth's graphic novel masterpiece, Clyde Fans

It took Canadian cartoonist Seth twenty years to complete his graphic novel Clyde Fans, and it was worth the wait. Seth is one of the greatest living cartoonists, and I've been a fan of his work since 1985, when he drew Mister X (after Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez stopped working on it).

Clyde Fans appeared in serial form in Seth's comic Palookaville, published by Drawn & Quarterly. The entire anthology runs 488 pages, and each panel is gorgeous.

From the book description:

Twenty years in the making, Clyde Fans peels back the optimism of mid-twentieth century capitalism. Legendary Canadian cartoonist Seth lovingly shows the rituals, hopes, and delusions of a middle-class that has long ceased to exist in North America—garrulous men in wool suits extolling the virtues of the wares to taciturn shopkeepers with an eye on the door. Much like the myth of an ever-growing economy, the Clyde Fans family unit is a fraud—the patriarch has abandoned the business to mismatched sons, one who strives to keep the business afloat and the other who retreats into the arms of the remaining parent.

Abe and Simon Matchcard are brothers, the second generation struggling to save their archaic family business of selling oscillating fans in a world switching to air conditioning. At Clyde Fans’ center is Simon, who flirts with becoming a salesman as a last-ditch effort to leave the protective walls of the family home, but is ultimately unable to escape Abe’s critical voice in his head. As the business crumbles so does any remaining relationship between the two men, both of whom choose very different life paths but still end up utterly unhappy.

Read the rest

Watch the trailer for the upcoming Watchman series on HBO

Published in 1986, the Watchmen comic book series by Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons is rightly regarded as a masterpiece. (It was the first DC comic book series I read after Jack Kirby's Kamandi folded in 1978 and I loved it.) Now, HBO is adapting the series for TV.

From Damon Lindelof and set in an alternate history where “superheroes” are treated as outlaws, this drama series embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name while attempting to break new ground of its own. The cast includes Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Jean Smart, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Hong Chau, Andrew Howard, Tom Mison, Frances Fisher, Jacob Ming-Trent, Sara Vickers, Dylan Schombing, and James Wolk.

Image HBO/YouTube Read the rest

The Book of Weirdo - a history of the greatest magazine ever published

Robert Crumb launched Weirdo magazine in 1981. I bought the first issue from the comic book store I worked at in Boulder, Colorado, and it blew my mind. It had comics by Crumb (many people, including me, think Crumb's work in Weirdo is his best), a selection of incredible illustrations from the late Polish artist Stanislav Szukalski's bizarre theory about human evolution (Netflix has a new documentary about Szukalski produced by Leonardo DiCaprio), comics by homeless Berkeley cartoonist Bruce Duncan, tracts from the Church of the SubGenius (Weirdo was the first place I came across the Church), and Foto Funnies (starring Crumb and amateur models recruited from UC Davis). I had never seen anything like Weirdo and I instantly fell in love with it, looking forward to every issue.

Here's the intro, where Crumb describes Weirdo as, "another MAD imitation, another small-time commercial venture with high hopes, obviously doomed to failure."

Weirdo was partly inspired by MAD, but it really took the look and feel from the short-lived Humbug magazine, launched in 1957 by MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman. Like Humbug and Kurtzman's follow-up humor magazine, Help! (which Crumb drew comics for), Weirdo had a small circulation (never topping 10,000 copies per issue) even though both magazines were loaded with talent. During its 28-issue run between 1981 and 1993 Weirdo ran comics by Peter Bagge, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Kim Deitch, Julie Doucet, Debbie Drechsler, Dennis Eichhorn, Mary Fleener, Drew Friedman, Phoebe Gloeckner, Bill Griffith, Rory Hayes, Gilbert Hernandez, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, John Kricfalusi, Carol Lay, Joe Matt, Diane Noomin, Gary Panter, Harvey Pekar, Raymond Pettibon, Spain Rodriguez, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, Dori Seda, Art Spiegelman, Carol Tyler, Robert Williams, S. Read the rest

God of Hammers cosplay with LED eyes (don't try this!)

Thor is in the house.

Eerily prescient 1950s comic book about "The Wall"

My friend Craig Yoe edited a great anthology of old, forgotten comic book stories, called The Unknown Anti-War Comics. Here's a three-page story from the anthology about a group of intergalactic migrants who seek refuge on Earth and are told they are too different from Earthlings to stay.

Here's a video about The Unknown Anti-War Comics:

Read the rest

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quotes Rorschach from Watchmen

Joe Lieberman (76) went on Fox Business News last night to let everyone know that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (29) "is not the future."

I wonder how many Democratic Ocasio-Cortez supporters who watch Fox Business News heard this, smacked their head and said, "By gum, Joe is right! I'm going to subscribe to John Dingell (88) and Louise Slaughter's (88) Twitter feeds right now so I can be part of the future!"

AOC was gentle with Granpa Joe:

She showed less patience for other old guard Democrats who are jealous of the attention AOC has received for sharing policy ideas that people actually like. She quoted the famous line that Rorschach of Watchmen uttered after pouring a pan of hot cooking grease on a fellow prisoner.

Image: Fox Business News Read the rest

A previously undiscovered Jim Steranko swipe

A friend of mine (who wishes to remain anonymous) shares my interest in finding swipes of famous illustrators and comic book artists. Neither of us begrudge these artists for swiping (that's the comics industry term for using reference material perhaps a bit too faithfully). After all, these artists worked under brutal deadlines and sometimes they had to cut corners to meet them.

"One of the great swipes," says my friend, "is Jack Kirby swiping a Hal Foster image and turning one panel that became an entire comics series and an integral part of the standing DC Extended Universe."

That swipe is well-known. But my friend found a swipe by the Great Jim Steranko which was previously unspotted:

"It appears that when Steranko painted the covers for the Shadow reprints, he swiped this cover from Spicy (Speed) Detective. The original artist was Hugh Joseph Ward and the periodical was Speed Detective June, 1945.

"The image below is more the norm: Steranko being swiped himself. Here Williams' pinball machine "Blackout" swiped Steranko's famous Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D issue number 6 cover for its scoreboard art:"

Read the rest

Sample pages from Liz Suburbia's new comic book anthology, Thee Collected Cyanide Milkshake

Artist Janelle Hessig (who was a guest many times on Boing Boing's retired Gweek podcast) has launched a comic book publishing company in Oakland called Gimme Action. Tomorrow Gimme Action is releasing a new comic anthology by Liz Suburbia (who wrote and illustrated the excellent Sacred Heart in 2015).

Suburbia's anthology is called Thee Collected Cyanide Milkshake, which includes all seven issues of Liz's mini-comic Cyanide Milkshake.

As Janelle describes it, "the book takes you on a journey from hilarious single panel gags (a la Mad Magazine) to deeply personal autobio strips about subjects like anxiety and street harassment to horny sci-fi (favorite new genre?). If it sounds jam-packed, that's because it is. But it never feels fractured or inconsistent as it takes readers through a variety of experiences. Cyanide Milkshake is personally very precious to me and I feel honored that Liz has trusted me with her genius work. I truly believe this book will make the world 176 pages less shitty. It feels worthwhile to note that this book was created by a woman, published by a woman, printed by a women-owned press, and debuts at a women-run comic convention (Short Run in Seattle)."

Thee Collected Cyanide Milkshake ships November 1st, 2018. Ordering info is on the Gimme Action site.

Enjoy these sample pages:

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Doc Pop's risographed mini comics are fun and quirky

Today was a good day. A package from San Francisco artist Doctor Popular arrived in the mail. Inside were eight tiny publications, what he calls the Mini-Comics Mixtape.

He writes, "All 8 comics were drawn in under 24 hours with no planning in advance, so the stories can get a little out there." They're so good -- funny, offbeat and engaging!

Plus, he used a Risograph to print the comic books in two colors, which makes them look extra neat.

He's selling the set for $12 over at Etsy or through his site DoctorPopular.com.

Doc Pop previously on BB Read the rest

Comic book art being auctioned off for a great cause

Giving generously to an important cause is cool. Y’all know what’s cooler? Giving generously to an important cause and, as a result, becoming the proud owner of a gorgeous piece of comic book art.

Cat Staggs — the co-creator of Crosswind and an artist on Wonder Woman ‘77 — was approached at a recent comic book convention and was commissioned by a fan, Danielle Van Lier, to throw together a gorgeous drawing of Wonder Woman. It was a sketch with a mission: to raise as much coin as possible for Immigrant Families Together. It’s a charity that focuses its efforts on improving the lives of families separated at America’s southern borders in the following areas:

• Raising funds through coordinated crowdfunding and individual giving in order to post bond for parents separated from their children • Paying bonds and providing pro bono legal representation to fulfill all legal responsibilities while awaiting trial so that they may be with their children • Arranging safe transportation from state of detention to the city where children are currently in foster care • When needed, finding long-term housing in the destination city while they await trial • Connecting parents with resources in order to sustain them during the process of being unified with their children • Working with local organizations and government to expedite the process of achieving full custody of their children while they await trial

Given the shitty way that the Trump administration has been treating families seeking safe harbor from the dangers of their homes, this is vital work. Read the rest

Tom Hardy caught a real nasty bug in the latest trailer for Venom

Tom Hardy continues his tradition of playing comic book characters whose main power is mumbling in the latest trailer for Venom. It's a fun-filled 3:14 that extols the virtues of teamwork, appreciating one another's differences and making the best of a bad situation.

I'm betting the movie'll be just like the Odd Couple, but with more eviscerations. Read the rest

Aquaman will never be cool no matter how hard DC tries

When you've got a 77-year-old hunk of intellectual property that can breathe underwater and talk to fish, it's not a bad idea to update it so that it's relatable for a modern audience. In the case of what I'm seeing in this first trailer for the Aquaman movie, I feel like DC may have missed the mark by about 20 years. It is so grim-dark and EXTREME that you'd swear that 1990s Todd McFarlane was called in as a consultant.

I love DC comics. I grew up with them. I really want their movies to do well. But I'm not sure that this is the right way to go. Read the rest

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