goComics
 

CLAY GEERDES WEBSITE

Clay_Geerdes_(1934-1997)Clay Geerdes, one-time college English teacher and sometime cartoonist, spent the last quarter of the 20th century around San Francisco Bay as a freelance street reporter and photo-journalist, covering the hip scene. But it was as champion of creative self-expression and passionate promoter of cartooning that he made his mark in the history of comics. Clay was a friend of mine, and some time after he died in July 1997, I devoted a posting of Harv’s Hindsight to him at the Usual Place (RCHarvey.com), expanding a piece I’d written for The Comics Journal shortly after he died.

In the ensuing years, others who knew and valued Clay have constructed memorials and remembrances. Among them is Clay’s nephew, Bill Kossack, who has built a website dedicated to Clay, claygeerdesinfo.com

The web site showcases the majority of Clay's photography, newsletters, mini-comix, and biographical information of his life. Here’s Kossak’s list of the site’s departments and their contents:

            ■ The Biography area will feature a detailed listing of Clay's life events, personal photos, and audio/video clips. Some of the photos will include childhood pictures, Navy military tour, and assorted pictures of family and friends.

            ■ The Newsletters category has all of the Comix World / Comix Wave issues listed and arranged by year and title. Every issue has been reproduced in its entirety along with the date and issue number. All of the mini-comix published under Comix World or Comix Wave will be included in this category. They are searchable by title or year of the book.

            ■ The Article section will list any article written by Clay that was published by magazines, newsletters, and newspapers. The main Photography section lists Clay's work with subjects such as the early comic conventions in the 1970s, people in the comic book industry, and many other miscellaneous themes.

            ■ The Anderson Valley Advertiser section lists all of the articles published by Clay in the newspaper Anderson Valley Advertiser from 1995-1997. The full articles are revealed in text format for everyone to read. The full articles Clay did not submit for publication are now released.

Clay Geerdes and comics

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

LYNCH ARCHIVE AT THE IRELAND

Bijou Funnies cover WackyPacksLynch Legendary underground cartoonist Jay Lynch’s personal collection of original art, comics, correspondence, magazines, press files, and other ephemera has been acquired by the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum (BICLM) at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. A press release from the Ireland reports that Lynch, an integral figure in the underground comix movement, is the creator and editor of Bijou Funnies (home to his creations Nard n’ Pat) as well as a frequent guest writer for Mad magazine and the Topps Company, for whom he contributed to the iconic Bazooka Joe, Garbage Pail Kids, and Wacky Packages. He is also the creator of children’s books for Françoise Mouly’s TOON Books series..

“My interest in comix goes far beyond just my work in creating them,” Lynch said, “and this collection is representative of my lifelong interest in satire, as it applies to comics as well as other aspects of the popular Phoebe and the Pigeon People
culture spectrum—from satirical publicity campaigns, letters from key figures in satire and the underground movement, and much more.”

The collection totals to nearly 250 cubic feet of manuscript materials, original art, underground comix, merchandise from Lynch’s work at Topps, and letters from R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, and other icons of the popular culture dating back to 1956. Additionally, the collection is home to an extensive number of fanzines and college humor magazines, often offering the earliest look at work from Harry Shearer, Art Spiegelman, Gilbert Shelton, and more. Also in the collection are some famous (and infamous) publicity campaigns.

Said BICLM Curator and Associate Professor Jenny E. Robb: “We’re honored that Jay is entrusting his extraordinary collection to us. It would be impossible to overestimate the value of these materials for research into the underground comix movement. The collection not only documents Jay’s career, but also provides rich insights into the last half century of popular culture.”

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

ZUNAR'S CASE REJECTED

Zunar photoMalaysia’s High Court turned down satirical cartoonist Zunar’s legal challenge to the Sedition Act, clearing the way for a lower court to set his trial date on nine counts of seditious speech. Zunar, 53, and his legal team were challenging the legality of the 68-year-old colonial-era law, arguing that the Sedition Act contradicted the new nation’s constitutional guarantee of free speech.

Zunar, aka Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, could face 43 years in prison if tried and convicted of alleged sedition stemming from tweets he had sent out that criticized last year’s jailing of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges.

Eric Paulsen, one of Zunar’s lawyers, told BenarNews that his client would now try to persuade the Court of Appeal to overturn the High Court’s decision.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

RETURN OF THE RED-HEADED REPORTER

Black Orchid Murders cover

Brenda Starr, that glamorous and feisty redheaded reporter, and her mysterious lover with an eye-patch and a laboratory full of black orchids are making a come-back, saith biffbampop.com. For 70 years, the melodramatic romantic adventures of Brenda Starr, Reporter, Dale Messick’s sometimes frilly fashion adventure strip, captivated comic strip readers.

“This time around, America’s favorite comic strip heroine (at its peak, the strip appeared in 250 newspapers and drew 60 million fans) will headline a new mystery novel series created by USA Today bestselling author J.J. Salem.” The first title, Black Orchid Murders, was reportedly set for publication in this spring. But I don’t find it listed anywhere, so it’s doubtless still coming.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

AND THEN MIGNOLA QUITS !!!!

Mike Mignola has just announced that he’s giving up Hellboy comics and taking a year off to get away from comics, and paint (“Although,” Alex Dueben adds at suicidegirls.com, “he admits that it’s really a year of trying to figure out what he’s going to do for the rest of his life.”) I suppose that the character’s having finally produced one of the best action figures on the market, Mignola thinks there are no mountains left to climb. But leaving the character after 23 years wasn’t easy.

Mike Mignola and Hellboy photo

Mignola admitted to Jeffrey Renaud at comicbookresources.com that “drawing the last page [in the last book, No.10 of Hellboy in Hell] was really difficult.”

“I’d always known what I was going to do,” he told Meredith Woerner at latimes.com, “but when it came down to actually doing it, I kind of lost my nerve. I didn’t lose it completely, but I did kind of keep waffling back and forth. It’s one thing to say you’re going to do this weird thing, it’s another thing to actually do it.”

He told Renaud: “When it came right down to doing it I thought, can I really get away with this? That was the most angst I had on the entire series, doing the last page. Then it was just amazingly liberating once it was done. Now after a couple months I’m going, what am I doing with the rest of my life?”

“I don’t want to say that this ending isn’t satisfying for the fans,” he said to Woerner, “but it’s not an easy ending. It doesn’t spell anything out in a real comfortable way. It’s an odd ending. So I did start wondering: ‘Oh, what is the audience going to think? Is it going to be too weird?’ And then I said: ‘Well, I can’t come up with an ending that’s any less weird. This is the ending I’ve always wanted, so this is the ending we’re gonna do.’”

More details (including resolving some of the myths about Hellboy — “the Right Hand of Doom” and others) can be found in the Usual Place (RCHarvey.com), Rants & Raves Archive, Opus 354. And to find out more about Hellboy (including my nefariously unqualified admiration of Mignola’s work), visit Harv’s Hindsight for December 2014, here.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

HELLBOY NEWS

Among the numerous happily useless items in the goodie bag given out with our badges at the National Cartoonists Society’s annual meeting, this year in Memphis (May 27-29), was a Graphitti-designed action figure of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, 9 inches tall. A giant. Hellboy was in some goodie bags, and in others, also from Graphitti, were similarly designed action figures for Grendel and The Spirit. I got Hellboy, and I like it a lot. But I wouldn’t have sneezed at The Spirit; maybe next time.

 

The sealed plastic sarcophagus Hellboy came in was emblazoned with the following description of the character, the best orientation to Hellboy I’ve ever seen of this oft-baffling creation—:

“Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, World’s Greatest Occult Detective. Actually, he’s not a very good detective at all, but he can take a beating and he means well. He was born in Hell and brought to earth by Nazi mad scientists and the undead ‘Mad Monk’ Rasputin in 1944. He looks like trouble and may actually be the Beast of the Apocalypse. For now, though, he’s a good guy, protecting mankind from vampires, werewolves, cannibal hags, flying heads, human fat giants and assorted other nameless horrors. He falls down a lot and often catches fire, but he’s a good man (or boy) in a tight spot, and we of the Earth are happy to have him.”

On the front of the package we learn that the figure is accompanied by “Cloth Jacket, Interchangeable Hand, Sword, and Big Ass Gun.”

Can’t do better than that, kimo sabe.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

PRINT COMICS THRIVE

Steven Universe 1 CoverThe digital revolution has wreaked havoc in nearly every corner in the print publishing game — except, surprisingly, comic books. According to Tom DiChristopher at cnbc.com, print sales in comics are thriving alongside the rise of their digital counterparts.

“Print comic book revenues have been on the rise in recent years,” DiChrisopher says, “even as digital comics' sales boom. Print receipts have held up at a time when publishers have introduced all-you-can-download subscriptions that offer thousands of comics for a flat monthly or annual fee.”

In 2014, digital comics revenues excluding unlimited subscriptions reached $100 million, according to ICv2 — up from just $1 million seven years ago, when ICv2 started collecting data. Meanwhile, the North American market for print comics grew from an estimated range of $650 to $700 million in 2009 to $835 million in 2014, according to ICv2 and the Comics Chronicle. That includes sales of single issues at comic shops and newsstands as well as book channel sales of trade paperbacks, or collected volumes of comics.

There are signs digital comics are butting up against the law of large numbers. Sales growth slowed in 2014 to 11 percent, down from 29 percent in 2013 and 180 percent in 2012. In the coming years, it could be more difficult to keep growing the readership.

Weekly circulation of newspapers is down 17 percent over the last decade, and advertising sales have plummeted more than 50 percent, according to Pew Research Center. Magazine ad revenue is forecast to see only minimal growth through 2019 on the strength of digital sales after five years of decline, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“To be sure,” DiChrisopher continues, “comics are relatively new to the digital domain [and as time passes, the situation for comics may change and parallel the fates of music and print media]. Creators have been uploading web comics since the rise of the commercial internet in the '90s. However, mainstream comics didn't migrate online in any significant numbers until smartphones and tablets became commonplace.”

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

COXIMOLOGY FORGING AHEAD IN DIGITAL

ComicsX ComixologyFollowing its launch in 2007, ComiXology established itself as the dominant player in digital comics distribution — largely on the strength of its Guided View technology, which offered a more fluid reading experience than previous apps had afforded. Marvel Entertainment and DC Comics adopted Comixology's platform in their digital storefronts.

And in the last week of May, Comixology pulled off a major surprise with the launch of Comixology Unlimited, a monthly subscription service that’s hoping to be the Netflix of comics, the Spotify of sequential art, the Marvel Unlimited of books not published by Marvel.

lex Spencer at comicsalliance.com reports that “the Twitter reaction since the launch suggests the news wasn’t just a surprise to readers, but to many of the creators involved too.”

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

THINKING VISUALLY WINS LYND WARD PRIZE

Penn State’s University Libraries and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book are pleased to announce that Unflattening by Nick Sousanis, published by Harvard University Press, has won the 2016 Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year.

Unflattening,” the jury noted in the press release, “is an innovative, multi-layered graphic novel about comics, art and visual thinking. The book’s ‘integrated landscape’ of image and text takes the reader on an Odyssean journey through multiple dimensions, inviting us to view the world from alternate visual vantage points. These perspectives are inspired by a broad range of ideas from astronomy, mathematics, optics, philosophy, ecology, art, literature, cultural studies and comics. The graphic styles and layouts in this work are engaging and impressive and succeed in making the headiest of ideas accessible. In short, Unflattening takes sequential art to the next level. It takes graphic narrative into the realm of theory, and it puts theory into practice with this artful presentation of how imaginative thinking can enrich our understanding of the world.”

Unflattening CoverSousanis showed me a few pages that represented his thesis several years ago at the Denver Comic Con. His premise is that we think in pictures as well as in words. At the time, that seemed to me a commonplace observation. It still does. But Sousanis takes the idea and runs with it to new and unexpected lengths.

The press release continues: The Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize honors Ward’s influence in the development of the graphic novel and celebrates the gift of an extensive collection of Ward’s wood engravings, original book illustrations and other graphic art donated to Penn State’s University Libraries by his daughters. ...

Between 1929 and 1937, Ward published his six groundbreaking wordless novels: Gods’ Man, Madman’s Drum, Wild Pilgrimage, Prelude to a Million Years, Song without Words and Vertigo.

A $2,500 prize and a two-volume set of Ward’s six novels published by The Library of America will be presented to Nick Sousanis at a ceremony at Penn State in the fall.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

IN THE DIGITAL AGE, PRINT COMICS THRIVE

The digital revolution has wreaked havoc in nearly every corner in the print publishing game — except, surprisingly, comic books. According to Tom DiChristopher at cnbc.com, print sales in comics are thriving alongside the rise of their digital counterparts.

“Print comic book revenues have been on the rise in recent years,” DiChrisopher says, “even as digital comics' sales boom. Print receipts have held up at a time when publishers have introduced all-you-can-download subscriptions that offer thousands of comics for a flat monthly or annual fee.”

UnderstandingComics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2014, digital comics revenues excluding unlimited subscriptions reached $100 million, according to ICv2— up from just $1 million seven years ago, when ICv2 started collecting data. Meanwhile, the North American market for print comics grew from an estimated range of $650 to $700 million in 2009 to $835 million in 2014, according to ICv2 and the Comics Chronicle. That includes sales of single issues at comic shops and newsstands as well as book channel sales of trade paperbacks, or collected volumes of comics.

There are signs digital comics are butting up against the law of large numbers. Sales growth slowed in 2014 to 11 percent, down from 29 percent in 2013 and 180 percent in 2012. In the coming years, it could be more difficult to keep growing the readership.

Weekly circulation of newspapers is down 17 percent over the last decade, and advertising sales have plummeted more than 50 percent, according to Pew Research Center. Magazine ad revenue is forecast to see only minimal growth through 2019 on the strength of digital sales after five years of decline, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“To be sure,” DiChrisopher continues, “comics are relatively new to the digital domain [and as time passes, the situation for comics may change and parallel the fates of music and print media]. Creators have been uploading web comics since the rise of the commercial internet in the '90s. However, mainstream comics didn't migrate online in any significant numbers until smartphones and tablets became commonplace.”

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

FIRST ISSUE: MOCKINGBIRD

An admirable first issue must, above all else, contain such matter as will compel a reader to buy the second issue. At the same time, while provoking curiosity through mysteriousness, a good first issue must avoid being so mysterious as to be cryptic or incomprehensible. And, thirdly, it should introduce the title’s principals, preferably in a way that makes us care about them. Fourth, a first issue should include a complete “episode”—that is, something should happen, a crisis of some kind, which is resolved by the end of the issue, without, at the same time, detracting from the cliffhanger aspect of the effort that will compel us to buy the next issue.

Mockingbird 1 CoverMOCKINGBIRD No.1 isn’t really a first issue. We know the character: an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Barbara “Bobbi” Morse has been around for a while, both before and after she was brought back from the dead by Fury. Besides, this is a one-shot “50th anniversary” issue. So the usual criteria for a first issue don’t apply. The issue opens with her awakening in bed with her current lover, Lance Hunter, but she mutters the name of a former lover, “Clint” — as in Clint Barton, Hawkeye. Lance doesn’t seem to mind, though.

Barbara arises, gets dressed, reads in the morning paper that her mentor, Wilma Calvin, has been murdered, and goes to the morgue where Wilma’s corpse is residing. Joined by Wilma’s son Percy, Barbara conducts an autopsy and decides Percy killed his own mother. Percy, however, has drugged Barbara by lining her plastic gloves with neurotoxin, which knocks her out. When she recovers, she’s bound to an examining table, but she breaks free and takes Percy out. At the end of the issue, she’s back in bed with Lance, and as she turns out the light, she says, “Goodnight, Clint.” And Lance says: “You did that on purpose, right?”

A nicely circular storyline, but I don’t know why writer Chelsea Cain wants Barbara to object to Lance’s “cuddling her.” Probably because cuddling is intimate, and Barbara is trying not to be too intimate with Lance. But that’s just a guess.

Mockingbird1

Mockingbird2

The book is drawn by Joelle Jones in her usual hard-edged bold linear manner. But Cain doesn’t take full advantage of Jones’ talent in rendering action sequences. As you can see in the accompanying illustrations, the narrative on many of the book’s pages is carried by multiple tiny panels that permit a focus on only parts of the person depicted. This kind of pacing is skillfully managed, creating and sustaining mood for dramatic emphasis, and Cain/Joelle make it work here.

But they also contrive a huge two-page illustration of Barbara performing the autopsy under a massive ceiling light to no dramatic purpose. A conspicuous waste of space. Ditto the single page given to showing Percy hovering over Barbara’s body as she wakes up, chained to the examining table. The space would be better used in showing Barbara taking Percy down after she’s broken free of the shackles.

Given the over-all success of the book, this quibble is perhaps excessive. In any event, it’s nice to see Jones at work again in a pleasingly complex tale.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

A VISIT TO ABE MARTIN LODGE

I was in Indiana last year, visiting relatives, but I encountered a charming scrap of cartooning lore while there, thanks to my nephew, who recommended that we dine one evening at the Abe Martin Lodge, a resort atop Kin Hubbard Ridge in Brown County State Park just down the road a piece from Nashville, Indiana, a small town with artist colony aspirations and numerous souvenir shops, tourist traps, and parking problems.

Dedicated and named in 1932, Abe Martin Lodge now boasts 84 sleeping rooms (two beds and a bathroom each), meeting and conference rooms, a dining room/restaurant, an indoor water park and, scattered around the immediate vicinity, numerous cabins for rent. The Lodge claims to be “only one of a few resorts in the world named after a cartoon character.” “Only one of a few” is a curious statement, hedged with qualifiers that handily undermine disputation — if any. (Well, there’s Disneyland, but Disney wasn’t a cartoon character; and the defunct Dogpatch U.S.A. in northwest Arkansas, but Dogpatch, although individual enough to be a virtual character in Al Capp’s Li’l Abner, was the locale, not a personage. So unless anyone can think of a resort named after a cartoon character, Abe Martin Lodge stands undisputed—despite the qualifiers.)

And who, you ask, was Abe Martin?

Glad you asked. He was the comical concoction of Kin Hubbard, an Indiana cartoonist and humorist renowned for three decades, 1900-1930.

AbeMartin1

AbeMartinLodge1

As we see from the above visuals, Abe Martin was probably the inspiration for the expression “cracker barrel philosopher”: he stood around mostly, uttering utterances both profound and comical. With every daily appearance, he usually uttered two such utterances, but they were not connected or related to a common theme. They were, each, entirely free-standing.

Both Hubbard and Abe were famous enough to enjoy the admiration of none other than Will Rogers, who considered Hubbard an equal in the humorist racket. Rogers is still remembered even today, amid the rampant wholesale absent-mindedness that distinguishes our times, rendering both Hubbard and Abe among the forgotten famous. If you want the whole story of Hubbard’s career and Abe’s creation, you can find it at RCHarvey.com in Harv’s Hindsight for March 2013. Or in a chapter of my book, Insider Histories of Cartooning: Rediscovering Forgotten Famous Comics and Their Creations (which is shameless offered for sale at the aforementioned RCHarvey.com).

We conclude with a short photographic essay depicting Abe Martin as he now appears in the lobby of the Abe Martin Lodge. AbeMartinLodge2

 

AbeMartinLodge3

Abe Martin, incidentally, is still being published—in reprint, I suspect, in the newspaper that Hubbard’s father published in Ohio, the Bellafontaine Examiner. The publisher nowadays is Kin Hubbard’s grandson.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

FEATURED SERVICES:
MOBILE SERVICES:
GAMES & PUZZLES:






For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com