Trouble with Comics

Bill Sienkiewicz Weighs In On Concerns Over Frank Miller’s Health

                                      Photo by Richard Burbridge

Frank Miller’s friend and sometime-collaborator Bill Sienkiewicz has gone on the record on Facebook regarding the health of Frank Miller:

Everyone is expressing concern about Frank. It’s the 800 lb. gorilla in the room that everyone has zero qualms about seeing and discussing. We ALL love Frank— even those in the creative community who don’t share his political and creative views. I certainly can’t speak for him—he has actual reps and agents for that—but I’m close enough to honestly and sincerely thank everyone for their concern on his behalf. I’m sure he’d appreciate everyone expressing their best wishes, while at the same time poo-pooing any need for concern. When I saw him in SDCC, we hugged and he smiled and told me he was look forward to taking his first real vacation in 20 years. So Amen to that. He knows I- and so many others- are here for him should he feel the need to talk or whatever—-about anything at all. So we’ve all got that covered 12 different ways to Sunday- and his fans have it covered at least 3 times that. He deserves to be successful, happy, and healthy.

Public concern over Miller’s well-being arose after a recent Wired profile by Marvel historian Sean Howe included pictures by photographer Richard Burbridge that seem to make Miller look far older and more fragile than expected.

Alan David Doane

TWC News with ADD [081711]

* Tony Isabella takes a hard look at the state of freelancer contracts in comics these days, and lays out a basic template for what should actually be included in such legal documents. Interesting for process junkies, essential for pros, both aspiring and current. Be sure to subscribe to this new, even bloggier version of Tony’s Bloggy Thing.

* I know it’s difficult, but imagine for a moment a world where DC Comics doesn’t suck as much. Be sure to read the sidebar introduction. 

* Like my hero Roger Ebert, Tom Spurgeon got sick and wrote brilliantly about it. Set some time aside to really take this one in, and some more time to reflect on the implications of what you’ve read.

* I should link to Tim Callahan more often, both because he’s relatively local ( I see him often at the Albany Comicon) and because he’s a good and balanced writer. He brings those skills to his examination of Dave Sim’s Cerebus The Aardvark. Tim and I had a brief discussion of Sim on Twitter, and the gist of it is that I think Sim’s ideas are toxic and repugnant, and that they torpedo my ability to appreciate Cerebus as comics. Tim takes a more nuanced and forgiving view, and good for him for doing so.

Alan David Doane

TWC News with ADD [012411]: Sausage is for Americans

* Over at Comics212, Christopher Butcher wonders if DC dropped the Comics Code to save a few pennies. I miss the days when Chris did one like this three or four times a week, but I’ll take what I can get. Related: At Comics Worth Reading, Johanna Draper Carlson looks at the recent history of the Comics Code, now apparently dead in the water.

* Wow, Cry for Justice sounds like an enormous piece of shit, just like 90 percent of everything else published by Marvel and DC these days.

* At The Panelists, Craig Fisher has a two part look at DC’s Jonah Hex, part of its ten percent of quality comics. I haven’t read every issue, but the ones I have read have been almost uniformly entertaining and pretty to look at.

* Uncomics: Christopher Butcher again, this time at his eponymous website, running down his Five Favourite McDonald’s Sandwiches. Seriously. Now, I didn’t eat at McDonald’s when we were in Canada a few years back, but my wife did and told me that everything tasted better, something my Canadian friend d. emerson eddy told me can be attributed to better food standards up north (not surprising). Agree with Mr. Butcher about most of these, especially the McRib, which it seems to me used to be good but just does not cohere as a sandwich anymore. My feeling is the sauce is wrong, and roll should be buttered and grilled, not that Mickey D’s would go to that much trouble this late in the day.

Alan David Doane

TWC News with ADD [011011]: “For Old Time’s Sake, or something.”

* Tom Spurgeon’s Holiday Interview Series kicks it up a notch with an informative chat with cartoonist Dan Clowes.

* Mark Evanier reflects on Saturday’s terrorist attack in Arizona and notes that a liberal commentator has apologized for his strident rhetoric. I have a feeling a similar apology will not be forthcoming today when the Hate Radio gang (Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, etc.) take to the airwaves. In fact, I’d bet you twenty devalued American dollars (oh, why didn’t I invest with Goldline years ago?!?) that those assholes will find some way to be the injured parties in the wake of an event that left six dead, including a 9-year-old girl. Oh, and Bryan Lambert hits a little closer to my own personal feelings about this shooting rampage.

* Christopher Butcher explains the wacky, weird and wonderful work of Evan Dorkin. And since it’s the 21st century and all, here’s a related YouTube video, Welcome to Eltingville (I am still waiting for the collected edition of the comics that inspired the animated pilot).

* Top Shelf announces its 2011 lineup of graphic novel releases.

Alan David Doane

TWC News with ADD [010511]

* asks “What do women want from comics?" I think they just want them not to suck, which the vast majority of Direct Market superhero comic book fans actually seem to prefer.

* DC is finally collecting Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Flex Mentallo, and in a deluxe hardcover, at that. Wonder what that will do to the market for back issues of this long-out-of-print and well-regarded mini-series. At Comics Worth Reading, Johanna looks at the long and storied history leading up to this week’s announcement. (I first heard the news from Kevin Pasquino, who has some thoughts on the subject at his blog.)

* Marvel has announced new titles for bigwigs Axel Alonso and Joe Quesada.

* Stan Lee has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Presumably Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko will get theirs next month.

— Alan David Doane

TWC News with ADD [010411]: Unslap My Face

* At Comics Worth Reading, Johanna Draper Carlson has the news that DC is reinstating letters pages in their funnybooks. GOOD. Dropping this seemingly minor tradition in comics is one of the reasons for my own personal disconnect with much of what the industry has to offer, I think. I can’t provide a rational, scientific explanation for this, but I can tell you that reading just about any new #1, corporate superhero comic, artcomic, any kind of comic at all, and finding no text piece at all, no little introductory essay, always seems like a little slap in the face to me as a reader. If DC does it right and uses letters pages as a way to communicate with readers (and not as a vapid promotional tool), I wouldn’t be surprised to see the erosion of readers begin to slow down a little. I’m not saying it will actually increase sales, because I don’t think it will, but I do think it could help build loyalty among whatever readership remains.

* At The Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon interviews writer Kelly Sue DeConnick.

* At the Ferret Press blog, Dara Naraghi has restarted his “Guess the Artist" feature, always a fun way to test your comics chops.

* Longtime comics critic Randy Lander posts his top comics and graphic novel lists of 2010.

* Glycon knows I love me some Alan Moore, and I haunted the shelves at FantaCo for something like a year waiting for the 1963 Annual that never was. Big Numbers is another great, incomplete Moore epic, and it seems artist Bill Sienkiewicz is game to wrap it up.

* In design news, CBR has news that Archie is taking their covers in a more retro direction. I’m a little baffled that anyone would think the example given is really retro looking, but maybe they’ll get the hang of it eventually. Not having the UPC code on the front cover is definitely a step in the right direction, if that’s really what I am seeing, there.

* Apparently Kevin Huizenga has more Ganges on the way. Yay.

* Bob Temuka says Grant Morrison’s Batman was the #4 best comic he read in 2010.

* Tony Isabella gets killed with kindness as his history of life in the comics industry continues.

* Uncomics: The best non-comics news of the new year to date. World-class film critic Roger Ebert is coming back to TV, and bringing a whole lotta talented friends with him.

Alan David Doane

Fantagraphics To Launch Complete Barks Ducks Hardcover Series

In what is surely the first big comics news story of the year, and what might be the best one, too, Fantagraphics has announced that it is reprinting the complete Carl Barks Donald Duck comics in a twice-yearly hardcover format. Robot 6 has the news and an interview with Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth (I spotted the news first at Sean T.’s joint).

I’m not kidding when I say that, after The Complete Peanuts (also published by Fantagraphics), this is the reprint project I’ve been waiting most of my life for. Barks was an absolute master of comic book storytelling, but there has never been a definitive, all-encompassing project you could point to and say “Yeah, get that and you’re all set.” As of today, that has changed. Fantagraphics (an advertiser on this site, I should note) has long prided itself on being the publisher of the world’s greatest cartoonists, and it’s astonishing and gratifying to see them add one of the probably half-dozen best of all time to their stable. The Complete Peanuts, Krazy and Ignatz, Prince Valiant and other Fanta reprint projects have proven that they know how to handle material like this with class and respect, and Gary Groth, Kim Thompson, Eric Reynolds and the rest of the gang at Fantagraphics are to be congratulated and thanked for adding this monumental feather to their cap. Way to go, guys. You just made 2011 a very good year for a lot of comics-loving folks like myself.

Alan David Doane