Ava DuVernay is directing an HBO adaptation based on Brian Wood's DMZ

DMZ, an outstanding post-apocalyptic comic written by Brian Wood which came to its satsifying conclusion in 2012, and has been subsequently collected in beautiful deluxe editions (which also reprint my introduction to the series' third volume) is being adapted as a pilot for HBO by Ava DeVernay, the afrofuturist filmmaker whose work includes A Wrinkle in Time and Selma. Read the rest

Lynda Barry is a Macarthur "genius"

Underground comics artist Lynda Barry (previously) is one of this year's class of $625,000 Macarthur Foundation "genius grant" recipients, and it's so deserved. Read the rest

Stargazing: Jen Wang's semi-autobiographical graphic novel for young readers is a complex tale of identity, talent, and loyalty

Jen Wang (previously) is several kinds of excellent comics person: from her debut graphic novel Koko Be Good (a complex and heartfelt take on "manic pixie dream girls") to her award-winning, bestselling, brilliant genderqueer fairy tale The Prince and the Dressmaker, to In Real Life, the middle-grades comic she adapted from my story Anda's Game to the unmissably fantastic annual comics fair she started in LA, she is versatile, smart, compassionate and immensely talented. Now, in her latest, Stargazing, a semi-autobiographical graphic novel for young readers, she brings the action closer to home than ever, and yields up a tale of friendship, identity, talent and loyalty like no other. 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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HOW TO: XKCD's Randall Munroe finds the humor in taking silly questions very, very seriously

One of my favorite genres of book is the popular engineering book, a rare breed that combines physics and engineering to establish the full range of ways to address a problem (for example, if you want to talk about whether solar can ever replace fossil fuels, it's useful to know how many photons penetrate the Earth's atmosphere every day); no one does this genre better (or funnier) than Randall Munroe, the creator of the wonderful XKCD webcomic, whose 2014 book, What If? combines Dear Abby with extreme physics ("How fast would a human have to run in order to be cut in half at the bellybutton by a cheese-cutting wire?"); now there's a companion volume, How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems, which picks up where What If? left off. Read the rest

The Folio Society is releasing a facsimile of Marvel Comics #1

The Folio Society's limited, slipcased editions (previously) are some of the most beautiful books being produced today; the company's $225 Marvel: The Golden Age 1939-1949 ships in late September, and includes a facsimile of the ultra-rare Marvel Comics #1, reproduced from one of the last surviving mint-condition 1939 copies. Read the rest

Thieves attempt to sell off stolen comic book collection... at the victim's own comic shop

In Saint Louis, thieves broke into Martin Casas's storage locker and snatched his comic book collection. Then they took the comics to a local comic shop to sell them. Thing is, Casas owns the shop. From the Riverfront Times:

...A Chesterfield woman called within days of the storage locker burglary and asked if Apotheosis might want to buy a box of her comics. Encouraged by a store employee, she dropped off the box on Friday for review and left her name and phone number. Casas arrived shortly after she left to see what she had brought. As soon as he saw the box, he knew.

He had written "Cap" on the side, designating it as a box of Captain America comics. Inside, he searched for one particular comic, the third installment of the Captain America Truth series. He had gotten it years ago and knew his copy had a small red mark on the corner.

"Sure enough, there's that book," Casas says. "It's my box."

He called the cops first, and then the woman. She apparently had no idea she was trying to sell the comics back to their rightful owner, so Casas played dumb.

"This is a great collection," he told her on the phone. "You've got at least a couple hundred dollars in comics there."

He arranged a meeting for 10 a.m. the next morning, Friday. But before he hung up, he asked if she might have any more, as he was interested in buying whatever he could for the shop.

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J Michael Straczynski's "Becoming Superman": a memoir of horrific abuse, war crimes, perseverance, trauma, triumph and doing what's right

J Michael Straczynski (previously) is known for many things: creating Babylon 5, spectacular runs on flagship comics from Spiderman to Superman, incredibly innovative and weird kids' TV shows like The Real Ghostbusters, and megahits like Sense8; in the industry he's known as a writing machine, the kind of guy who can write and produce 22 hours of TV in a single season, and he's also known as a mensch, whose online outreach to fans during the Babylon 5 years set the bar for how creators and audiences can work together to convince studios to take real chances. But in JMS's new memoir, Becoming Superman: My Journey From Poverty to Hollywood, we get a look at a real-life history that is by turns horrific and terrifying, and a first-person account of superhuman perseverance and commitment to the right thing that, incredibly, leads to triumph Read the rest

Podcast: Occupy Gotham

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my essay Occupy Gotham, published in Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman, commemorating the 1000th issue of Batman comics. It's an essay about the serious hard problem of trusting billionaires to solve your problems, given the likelihood that billionaires are the cause of your problems.

A thousand issues have gone by, nearly 80 years have passed, and Batman still hasn't cleaned up Gotham. If the formal definition of insanity it trying the same thing and expecting a different outcome, then Bruce Wayne belongs in a group therapy session in Arkham Asylum. Seriously, get that guy some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy before he gets into some *serious* trouble.

As Upton Sinclair wrote in his limited run of *Batman: Class War*[1], "It's impossible to get a man to understand something when his paycheck depends on his not understanding it."

Gotham is a city riven by inequality. In 1939, that prospect had a very different valence than it has in 2018. Back in 1939, the wealth of the world's elites had been seriously eroded, first by the Great War, then by the Great Crash and the interwar Great Depression, and what was left of those vast fortunes was being incinerated on the bonfire of WWII. Billionaire plutocrats were a curious relic of a nostalgic time before the intrinsic instability of extreme wealth inequality plunged the world into conflict.

MP3

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Al Jaffee's MAD Life: how a traumatized kid from the shtetl became an American satire icon

Back in 2010, It Books published Mary-Lou Weisman's biography of MAD Magazine icon Al Jaffee: Al Jaffee's Mad Life: A Biography; I missed it then but happened upon Arie Kaplan's 2011 writeup in The Jewish Review of Books this morning and was charmed by the biographical sketch it lays out. Read the rest

An illustrated guide to San Francisco's most unusual statues

Peter Glanting's illustrated guide to San Francisco's most unusual statues is an annotated delight, even if, despite its length, JWZ wrote, "They skipped a few of my favorites." Read the rest

New Elfquest series

Elfquest, my favorite series of fantasy comics books and graphic novels, is returning for a run featuring popular character Skywise. Elfquest: Stargazer's Hunt is out November: notify your comics retailer and demand it!

Russ Burlingame writes:

Fans of the series may be surprised to see the Pinis coming back to it; back in 2018, we asked the pair whether they might return do a "reunion tour" in the vein of Terry Moore's Strangers in Paradise XXV, and they shot down the notion at the time.

"No, you have met few couples who are more completely in sympathy and in-tune about having no more deadlines in their lives for the rest of their lives," Wendy Pini told ComicBook.com at the time. "I will jump in say, though, that if I knew I was going to be drawing these blankety-blank elves for 40 years, I would have designed them quite differently. They all would have been bald and naked."

ElfQuest: Stargazer’s Hunt goes on sale November 13, 2019, and will be available for pre-order at your local comic shop soon.

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Using machine learning to pull Krazy Kat comics out of giant public domain newspaper archives

Joël Franusic became obsessed with Krazy Kat, but was frustrated by the limited availability and high cost of the books anthologizing the strip (some of which were going for $600 or more on Amazon); so he wrote a scraper that would pull down thumbnails from massive archives of pre-1923 newspapers and then identified 100 pages containing Krazy Kat strips to use as training data for a machine-learning model. Read the rest

Man-Eaters Volume Two: Fleshing out the world where girls turn into lethal werepanthers when they get their periods

Volume One of Man-Eaters, Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk's scathing, hilarious, brilliant comic about girls who turn into man-eating werepanthers when they get their periods, is the best comic I read in 2019, and Volume Two, just published by Image comics, continues the brilliance with a set of design-fiction-y fake ads and other collateral that straddle the line between a serious piece of science fictional world-building and Switfian satire. Read the rest

The best Joker is the woman Joker who snaps after a lifetime of being told to "smile, baby" by shitty men

Last week, Geraldine DeRuiter tweeted a short, sharp alternate character arc for The Joker: "The Joker should have been a woman. And she finally went insane because too many random dudes told her to smile, so now she perpetually smiles while terrorizing Gotham." Read the rest

Batman Dark Knight Returns Issue 4, Kayfabe Commentary

No deep dive of this legendary comic exists online from a cartoonist's perspective, let alone 3 cartoonists! The boys, Ed Piskor, Jim Rugg, and Tom Scioli continue to unpack the Frank Miller 1986 Batman classic over the course of 4 jam-packed episodes, one chapter at a time!

For more videos and deep dives like this make sure to subscribe to the Cartoonist Kayfabe YouTube channel 

You can support the channel by grabbing some stuff from our Spreadshop! Read the rest

Batman Dark Knight Returns Issue 3, Kayfabe Commentary

No deep dive of this legendary comic exists online from a cartoonist's perspective, let alone 3 cartoonists! The boys, Ed Piskor, Jim Rugg, and Tom Scioli continue to unpack the Frank Miller 1986 Batman classic over the course of 4 jam-packed episodes, one chapter at a time!

Part 1 here:

For more videos and deep dives like this make sure to subscribe to the Cartoonist Kayfabe YouTube channel 

You can support the channel by grabbing some stuff from our Spreadshop! Read the rest

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