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Henry Bliss photo

The former New Hampshire home of the famously reclusive author J.D. Salinger was bought recently by Harry Bliss, a New Yorker cartoonist and former board member at the Centre for Cartoon Studies. The house is adjoined by a studio apartment (reached through a tunnel from the main property that enabled Salinger to go back and forth without being seen) which Bliss thought might be a good space to have young artists come and use whilst studying at the Centre, presumably. “The idea of nurturing a graphic novelist -- I’m so into it,” Bliss said, “ — this idea that you could go somewhere and be away from everything and have that intimacy with your work.”

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


March  Book Three coverCongressman John Lewis made history at the 2017 American Library Association (ALA) Youth Media Awards (YMA) on Monday, January 23, when Top Shelf’s March: Book Three, the third and final installment in a graphic-novel trilogy that has Lewis’s 1965 Selma March as its dramatic centerpiece, written with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell, took four YMA wins, including the Robert F. Sibert Medal, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award and, the crowning honor, reported Christina Vercelletto and Sara Bayliss at slj.com — the Michael L. Printz Award.

Previously, March: Book Three earned the 2016 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature as well as the 2017 Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature, the RFK Award, and the Eisner.

It irks me just a little that all these awards, an indisputably distinguished list of honors, proclaim the book as children’s literature thereby ignoring its suitability for adult readers as well. It’s almost as if — “Well, comics — it’s for kids, right?”

No, not any more. But you couldn’t tell by looking at the awards the book has collected.

Lewis, however, was not inclined to carp. “I love books and I love librarians,” he said. “When I was growing up, I tried to read every single thing I could. I hope these awards will help inspire all of our young people — and some of us not so young — to read, to learn, and to act. March is a guidebook reminding us that we all must speak up and stand up for what is right, what is fair, and what is just.”

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


Black Lightning has found a home at the CW after a brief dalliance with Fox, which opted not to proceed with a pilot. The TV series is being produced by Greg Berlanti, who has also has a hand in Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Riverdale. The series is being written by the husband-and-wife duo of Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil. One of DC’s first African American superheroes, Black Lightning was created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eden. The television show would also mark the first major Black superhero for the CW’s lineup. No release date was revealed.

Black Lightning - The CW

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


Jake Tapper CartoonJake Tapper, CNN’s chief Washington correspondent and onetime cartoonist, wrote the foreword to Mad’s forthcoming parody book, Mad about Trump, due out in June. The book will also include some of Tapper’s cartooning — namely, a caricature of Trump, another of Trapper and, finally, one of CNN colleague, Wolf Blitzer. Said Tapper:

“Trump is most fun to draw — just a great mash of caricature-able features from bouffant to eyebrows and scowl, to high cheekbones and the regal pride.”

Tapper has also written a novel, The Hellfire Club, about shady politics, backroom deals, and crime “set smack dab in the ‘swamp’ he covers on a daily basis,” saith the Washington Post.

Mad About Trump cover

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


After a year of comparative decorum — proclaiming its issues free of total female nudity (a borderline serious misrepresentation) — Playboy has brought naked ladies back to the magazine. But it has not restored the other feature that it discontinued with the March 2016 issue. Cartoons. It’s a tragic shame. Playboy did more than any other magazine to elevate the art of single-panel magazine cartooning with its full-page color cartoons. And now the magazine has seemingly abandoned its legacy, and magazine cartoonists have only one other prestigious outlet — The New Yorker, which, alas, no longer publishes full-page single-panel cartoons.


NYer Cartoon Issue cover 12-15-97

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


By Brian M. Kane

Hal Foster photoBefore television, when most films were still black and white, the Sunday comics were an oasis of color in a Depression-era gray world. Highly popular comic strips drove newspaper sales in the early 20th century, so it is little wonder that their creators were regarded as celebrities. The epic Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur by Harold Rudolf “Hal” Foster premiered in the color comics section on February 13, 1937.

Prior to Prince Valiant, Foster originated the adult-protagonist adventure strip genre by adapting Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan as a black and white daily strip in 1928, which was followed by the Tarzan color Sunday feature from 1931-1937.

Yeates photoFaced with imposing financial and creative constraints as a work-for-hire artist, Foster focused his considerable skills as an illustrator toward producing his own strip. The extraordinary effort resulted in international prominence for both Prince Valiant and Foster. Today, after 80 years, “Val” remains one of the few adventure strip characters still in print, now being expertly drawn by Tom Yeates.

Fitnoot: For all of Kane’s commemorative article, plus brilliantly colored illustrations from the strip, visit kingfeatures.com/2017/02/prince-valiant-turns-80/

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



Dick Tracy logo panelMike Curtis (writer) and Joe Staton (artist) keep bringing into their Dick Tracy more and more walk-ons by characters from other strips. The most recent completed adventure, which has Will Eisner’s the Spirit partnering with Tracy, also saw the arrival of Daddy Warbucks and Mr. Am from Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie, and Hotshot Charlie and the Dragon Lady from Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates. There were so many guest appearances that the plot often wanders off into a weedy vacant lot next door, a typical outcome when a parade of cameo actors goes by because each requires some background explanation or a few minutes in the spotlight alone.

Curtis reached out to Denis Kitchen to arrange for The Spirit’s appearance to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Eisner’s birth; as Kitchen & Hansen Agency, Kitchen represents Will Eisner Studios, the family-owned entity that controls Eisner’s intellectual property. Acting for the estate of Al Capp, Kitchen had earlier brokered the Fearless Fosdick/Dick Tracy crossover.

With the end of the Spirit story, Staton is taking off for a few weeks to complete another project that he committed to before picking up the Tracy gig — an encore appearance of E-Man, a comic book superhero that he and Nick Cuti created years ago. In his absence, Tracy will be drawn by Shelly Pleger, who is the regular inker and letterer on the strip. Pleger’s continuity has something to do with cosplaying at comic cons, and at the beginning some other antique Tribune Syndicate characters show up — Harold Teen and his buddy Shadow from Carl Ed’s Harold Teen.


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


Peanuts Group 3-DReuters reports that the U.S. brand management company Iconix Brand Group Inc is exploring a sale of its majority stake in Peanuts Worldwide LLC, which owns the rights to cartoon strip characters Snoopy and Charlie Brown, according to people familiar with the matter.

Created by Charles Schulz and licensed in over 100 countries, the characters generate about $30 million in 12-month earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, the source added. They declined to comment on the expected deal valuation — and they cautioned that there was no certainty that any deal at all would occur. So why report this?

Because if true, it means big bucks for someone.

In 2015, Twenty-First Century Fox Inc released “The Peanuts Movie,” which was nominated for a Golden Globe award and grossed $246 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo (quoted by Reuters), a website that tracks the revenue that movies generate. Iconix logoPeanuts' largest international market is Japan, where a new Snoopy museum opened last year.

Iconix, which also owns clothing brand Joe Boxer and outdoor wear brand London Fog, purchased an 80 percent stake in Peanuts in 2010 from U.S. media company E.W. Scripps Co in a deal valued at $175 million. The remaining 20 percent is owned by Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, which is controlled by the Schulz family.

But if “sources” aren’t prepared to vouch for the veracity of their own rumors, we can safely disregard this whole blurb.           

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


After 58,000 copies of Resist!, the free comics newspaper edited by Francoise Mouly and Nadja Spiegelman, were distributed at Women’s March events throughout the country on January 21, the decision has been made to produce a second issue, reports ICv2's Milton Griepp.

When Mouly heard that the TrumpTwit had been elected president, she says, “I was in a state of shock.” The cover image she’d been planning for the week’s issue of The New Yorker — which played on the theme of the first woman president — had to be scrapped. Instead, for the magazine’s November 11 issue, she chose an image of a brick wall stacked almost to the top of the page [see Opus 361 of Rants & Raves at the Usual Place]. And then, like so many Americans trying to adjust to their new reality, she had to figure out what to do next. At this point, her daughter got involved.

“There was a need to be making something rather than sitting around feeling helpless,” Spiegelman told NY Mag, quoted by Toni Airaksinen at redalertpolitics.com. “And this felt like a way of giving voice to something that needed to exist.”

Just after Thanksgiving, Spiegelman and Mouly posted a call for submissions on Facebook, and within hours, thousands responded. At first, most of the contributions came from men, but by December 10, Mouly told Betsy Gomez at CBLDF, there were more women than men: “We were getting many comics by women on the topic of resisting the force of fascism.”

Over 1,000 submissions for the first issue were received in a whirlwind process between the election and the Inauguration, and the 40-page tabloid included pieces from such notable contributors as Alison Bechdel, Lynda Barry, and Roz Chast not to mention offerings from male cartoonists — including a Zippy piece by Bill Griffith, and a piece by a family member of the editors, Pulitzer Prize winner Art Spiegelman.

The print run of the first issue was increased from a planned 20,000 to 58,000 after a contribution from Mitch Berger and preorders from thousands of supporters, including retailers.

Submissions for a second issue are now being solicited, with a release date planned for this summer, perhaps around July 4. Visit resistsubmission.com/

The free distribution outside of comic collector channels has driven demand for the post-Inaugural issue higher than supply. Buy It Now prices for the first issue on eBay as this is written range from $14.95 to $79.95. But at the Usual Place (RCHarvey.com), we sampled the issue, a couple of which we’ve posted here.




Irks & Crotchets: The Women’s March, organized as a show of feminist solidarity, was roiled by infighting after some organizers told white women to “check their privilege” so women of color and lesbians could lead the protest. Being white is “not okay right now,” one organizer declared “ especially after 53 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump.”

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


EW Defenders coverNow it’s official: comics are a legitimate part of mainstream popular culture. Entertainment Weekly is our guide. The Defenders (Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil and Iron Fist) were on the cover of the January 20 issue; and the next week, TV’s “Supergirl” and funnybooks’ Patsy Walker: AKA Hellcat were numbers 4 and 5 of the week’s Must List—“the things we love this week.” Then a few weeks later, the movie about Marvel’s Thor was a cover feature. And so it goes. Validation.

Then the February 6 issue of Time magazine did a two-page serious review of “Riverdale,” the “dark” TV version of the Archie Universe. How dark? Archie is getting over an affair with his music teacher; and a murder is afoot. Time is a supposedly serious newsmagazine; EW is cake and cool whip. After Time coverage of Archie, we need look no further for the ultimate validation.

But it goes on. The following week, Time took up the matter of National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates’ writing comic books — specifically, Black Panther. And when Coates produced a story Black Panther & The Crew with Black Lives Matter symbolism, Coates responded to a question: “This is in the air. It’s not like I looked at a Black Lives Matter protest and said, ‘Hey, I want to write a comic book about that.’ But you’re confronted with it every EW Thor coverday. So when I sat down to think about what is this story with four black protagonists about, that rose up. The events of the day are with me.

“These issues are all over comic books,” he continued, “— and particularly throughout the history of Marvel. What weighs on me is reading X-Men as a child. They were charged. They dealt with discrimination. They dealt with being an outsider. They dealt with the things that I was feeling. The comics I’ve always read have always had a philosophical thread. The Black Panther books are not just a story about a king trying to rule. I’m trying to answer other questions, philosophical questions, social questions.”

Time accompanied the interview with sidebars about “comics we can’t wait for” — Motor Crush, Steven Universe, Batwoman (“perhaps the highest-profile queer superhero”), Extremity, and America (“queer Latina superhero America Chavez gets her own comic”), all illustrating the premise that “comic books have become ground zero for new kinds of heroes.”

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


Stan Lee got fans all in a swivet over the past few weeks. He has cancelled appearances at a few conventions, including Big Apple Comic Con and Salt Lake Comic Con FanX, due to health issues. But, at 95, he’s bound to have some off-days. In any event, he has taken to Facebook to let fans know his health is improving: “Been feeling almost back up to snuff,” he posted. “So time to send out the battle cry: Excelsior!”

Stan Lee Excelsior! photo

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


The Pro cover


Paramount Pictures has picked up rights to The Pro, a graphic novel with a comically sleazy heroine (not to say “working girl” — but she is) by Garth Ennis and Jimmy Palmiotti, lovingly drawn by Amanda Conner. Erwin Stoff of 3 Arts is producing and Zoe McCarthy has been hired to write the screenplay. She is best known for her script “Bitches On A Boat.”

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