« June 2016 | Main | August 2016 »


Shakespeare First FolioA previously unknown First Folio of William Shakespeare’s plays was found a month or so ago in the library at Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute off the Scottish coast. The find brings the worldwide census of surviving First Folios to 234, from an estimated 750 copies published in 1623, seven years after the famed playwright’s death. Ardent readers of my Rants & Rave magazine at the Usual Place (RCHarvey.com) will doubtless remember our essay "Rest In Peace and Acclamation, Bard," in April’s installment of Harv’s Hindsight.

Incidentally, when I wrote about Shakespeare therein, asserting that playwriting was akin to comic book writing, I didn’t know that the Grand Comics Database (GCD) lists 511 stories attributed to the Bard. Something he wrote inspired each of them, I assume. “Perchance to dream,” for example, is the name of a story. Big THANQUES to Ray Bottorff, Jr., who keeps an eye on GCD.

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


Jim Davis with Odie and Garfield


Garfield’s creator, Jim Davis, will be teaching at his alma mater, Ball State, starting the fall 2016 semester as an adjunct professor, reports Kara Berg at the Daily News. Davis won't start off teaching a specific class, said Arne Flaten, director of the School of Art. It will be more of a series of workshops, lectures, hands-on demonstrations, focus groups and master classes — some of which will be open to the public, some only available to drawing or animation students. Davis’s studio is in Marion, Indiana, a short commute from the Ball State campus.


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


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


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 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


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


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


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


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


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


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