There will be no new comic books in any stores "until further notice," thanks to coronavirus.

Diamond Comics is the exclusive shipping and distribution source for all weekly comic books. Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, Boom! — they all send their single-issues to comic book stores through Diamond.

Due to coronavirus concerns, however, the company has halted all shipments for the foreseeable future.

Comic book stores can still sell other merchandise, as well as some graphic novels, trade paperbacks, collected editions, and other bound book-style publications. Single-issues will also continue to be available digitally through Comixology, as most publishers have already announced their solicitations for new comics through at least June.

But what this means for the future of the comic book industry remains to be seen. While graphic novels and trade paperbacks of single issues have continued to increase in popularity, those single weekly issues remain the backbone of the industry, just as they've been for the last 50+ years. The entire serialized structure of the medium depends on it. Even if you prefer to pick up the collected editions of SAGA (also known as "waiting for the trade"), the comic still benefits from the 6 months of promotion that it gets every time a new single issue is released. Each single issue sells around 40,000 copies, compared to 1-2,000 copies per graphic novel (although the first trade paperback continues to sell more than 1,000 copies per month on average, based on a quick glance through Diamond's sales charts). Self-contained graphic novels — those that are created and released as a single, cohesive entity, instead of as a collection of single issues — rarely sell as well as collected trade paperbacks. Read the rest

"Metropolis Kid" will make you dance like Superboy

Metropolis Kid by Model Decoy

I've known Doron Monk Flake and Ari Sadowitz since high school, and it's been an honor to watch their musical prowess grow and grow and grow. Their current project, Model Decoy, pumps out Prince-like post-punk jams, full of sick rock riffs and soaring jazzy vocals that bring gravitas to clever lyrics that are mostly about their favorite nerdy comic books and movies.

Their newest single, "Metropolis Kid," is a perfect example of this. It makes you want to tap your feet as you croon along with Superboy (being young Kon-El, the misfit clone of Superman and Lex Luthor, not that cranky bastard Superboy-Prime

You can find the band's back catalog on Spotify, but they just released "Metropolis Kid" and two other new songs exclusively on Bandcamp, which is waiving their fee today (March 20) so that struggling bands can get 100% of the proceeds of their music during this quarantine.

(If you're feeling generous, you can buy some tunes from my own band, the Roland High Life, too — we're not as funky as Model Decoy, but we do have some good banger about Spider-Man and, uhh, conspiracy theorists.)

Model Decoy on Bandcamp

Image: Pat Loika / Flickr (CC 2.0) Read the rest

Box of Bones -- "Tales from the Crypt Meets Black History"

Here's a Kickstarter for a cool graphic novel project by Ayize Jama-Everett, John Jennings, et. al. called Box of Bones, described as "Tales from the Crypt Meets Black History."

When my friend Mark Dery let me know about this project, he wrote, "Jordan Peele remixes Lovecraft? Zora Neale Hurston meets EC Comics? Pulp voodoo in the age of Trump, Black Lives Matter, and white supremacy’s death rattle? I’m guessing all of the above, conjured up by Jama-Everett’s evocative prose and Jennings’s dynamic, Kirbyesque illustrations."

When Black graduate student, Lyndsey, begins her dissertation work on a mysterious box that pops up during the most violent and troubled time in Africana history, she has no idea that her research will lead her on a phantasmagorical journey from West Philadelphia riots to Haitian slave uprisings. Wherever Lyndsey finds someone who has seen the Box, chaos ensues. Soon, even her own sanity falls into question. In the end, Lyndsey will have to decide if she really wants to see what’s inside the Box of Bones.

Described as “Tales from the Crypt Meets Black History,” Box of Bones is a supernatural nightmare tour through some of the most violent and horrific episodes in the African Diaspora.

Volume 1 contains art from John Jennings, Sole Rebel, Damian Duffy, Frances Olivia Liddell-Rodriguez, Tommy Nguyen, Jarmel and Jamal Williams, and Bryan Christopher Moss with covers by Stacey Robinson!!!

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Fascinating video about comic book inker, Vince Colletta, the man some claim ruined Jack Kirby's art

Comic book nerds are likely familiar with the work and controversies surrounding artist and inker, Vince Colletta. He is best known as an inker on Jack Kirby's The Mighty Thor, other Kirby titles, and other books at Marvel and DC.

But Colletta is not best known for the quality of his work, but rather, how fast he was, how many corners he cut, and how he did a disservice to the artist's original work in the process. Kirby would submit pencil art with crowds in the background that Colletta would simple remove, or he'd greatly simplify the machinery and technical greeblies in the backgrounds that Kirby was known for. If an image had background characters that needed to be there, Colletta would render them in silhouette rather than ink in the details. Management loved him because he met deadlines. Co-workers liked him because he was pleasant. Artists and generations of fans disparage him, dubbing him "the inker who ruined Jack Kirby's art."

Image: YouTube Read the rest

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.

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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.)

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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.

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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:

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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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