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Rob Liefield on Platinum Studios

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 8:09 pm

“For years Platinum’s owner and I have existed in an uneasy truce. He has consistently presented characters from my catalogue without attributing me as their rightful creator. It is an insult to creator’s everywhere when their input and contributions are diminished. It is not a tradition I would encourage or pursue.”

From this week’s Lying in the Gutters.

There is also talk of legal maneuvering.

This might turn out to be interesting, especially to those webcomics creators who are contemplating signing over the rights to their creations to Platinum (owner of webcomics portal Drunk Duck) — or, for that matter, signing over their rights to anybody else. I have no specific opinion on the matter right now, but plan to watch this play out with great interest.


Dirk Deppey Reviews Curses

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 12:43 pm

Kevin Huizenga’s short story collection Curses was one of my favorite comics of 2006. I read it back when I still had some illusions that I would get back to updating Graphic Novel Review at some point (I still have those illusions from time to time, but then hackers attack the WCN server and I get wedded to my least-favorite kind of work, server admin, for another month or two). So, yeah, I started to take notes about the book the second time I read through it — and they made no sense at all. Dirk Deppey’s review , just posted today, does a much better job than I would have, in explaining why Curses is a must-read. But don’t let the complexity of the review — or any summary — fool you. It’s not a Hard Book at all. It’s just a Hard Book to Explain. As Dirk puts it:

Curses is simultaneously true to Kevin Huizenga’s central vision and all over the map, and it’s difficult to describe the book’s formal complexities without losing sight of what a smooth reading experience it provides.

… read the full review


Supergirl by Paul Pope? [UPDATED]

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 6:21 pm

If I wasn’t sure that this was a mistake on Amazon’s (or somebody’s) part, I’d have bought this already. Maybe some of you who follow superhero comics more closely can let me know the scoop? I’m pretty sure this is actually by that other guy, the one whose artwork I hate. The one whose women all look like starving, swaybacked refugees who happen to have been given boob jobs and expensive hairdos somehow. I forget the name. Oh, wait — that’s a lot of “mainstream” comic artists, isn’t it? Most of them?

Anyway. If Paul Pope is actually doing a Supergirl comic, let me know. I remain unconvinced. Especially looking at the cover. Ah well.

Dirk Deppey confirms that it’s not Paul Pope. That’s a shame. I would have totally bought that. I loved Paul Pope’s Batman: Year 100 project.

For that matter, I have been digging on Matt Wagner’s Batman, too — the stories are stupid, but the artwork is neat, in a “look at how I can incorporate the amateurish mannerisms of Bob Kane and his early assistants into my masterful illustration style — and create beautiful drawings!” kind of way. Um. Which has nothing to do with Paul Pope, or Supergirl. So never mind!


Comic Mix to Bring Veteran Creators to the Web

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 7:15 pm

According to Alex Ness at Pop Thought, longtime comics veterans Mike Gold, Tim Truman, John Ostrander, Mike Baron, Mike Grell, Denny O’Neil, Tony Isabella, Marv Wolfman and Peter David and others are soon to be involved in the launch of a new webcomics/blog portal, to be called Comic Mix. Jefferey Stephenson has possibly uncovered some interesting dotcom industry connections in the venture.

I don’t think that the established webcomics readership will flock to this in droves. I can’t imagine the typical Sluggy Freelance or Penny-Arcade fan — or the typical Modern Tales fan, for that matter — getting excited about these names, or even knowing who they are. Maybe I’m wrong. But it does have a strong and obvious potential to pull in longtime comic book fans — and especially lapsed comic book fans, who, thanks to the 90’s boom/bust, probably outnumber current comic book fans 10 to 1. And bringing those readers back to comics would be a very good thing, indeed. Or maybe I’m just biased — because I was one of those readers (I just came back a bit earlier).

Either way, I wish them luck, and hope they do well.


Joe Rice Smacks Down the Aesthetic Subjectivists

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 3:17 pm

My entry into the webcomics world as a vocal fan, circa 2000 or so, was marked by numerous accidental flamewars I kicked up on the subject of quality. For example, I had a link-list of comics I liked here on, and the headline above that list read, “Quality Webcomics.” Offensive in the extreme! For some people, the very idea that some stuff might be better than other stuff was obnoxious and rude, because “everything is subjective”; others acknowledged that some stuff is actually better than others, but felt indignant that somebody might say so, (I think the argument went: “This is the Internet, everybody can look at the comics themselves for free and make up their own minds, so SHUT YOUR TRAP ABOUT IT OH! AND ADD MY COMIC TO YOUR GODDAM LINK LIST YOU PINK-BODY-SUIT-WEARING TURDMONGER”– that kind of thing).

And then when Modern Tales launched. Sheesh. The word “elitist” never had so much play! I felt like I needed to buy a set of blue china and a pince-nez just to live up to my online reputation! If I didn’t already smoke a pipe, I would have had to start!

Similar flamewars erupted around the existence of the Webcomics Examiner (which I had almost nothing to do with, except for providing free hosting). And, again, when some friends and I launched Graphic Novel Review (if I remember correctly, that was mostly about my comparing corporate franchise comics like Spider-Man to Harlequin Romances in the submission guidelines — erm, maybe I was asking for it, there, with that one, I’ll grant you).

Anyway. Everybody’s a critic of the, um, critics, I guess.

Joe Rice is talking about print comics, not webcomics, in this post over at Comic Book Resource’s blog, but he hits the nail on the head.

It is possible for art to be good or bad; even moreso it is possible for art to be better or worse. And the more extreme the difference, the easier it is to tell. If I draw a little cartoon, that cartoon is not as good as a Quitely piece. Even if my mom looks at it and loves it, it isn’t better. It is worse. It’s OK for my mom to like it more; that is her subjective opinion. But it would be silly of her to try to objectively claim it was better. It isn’t. That is a fact. I don’t know how to draw. Every technical aspect would be worse. Every creative aspect would be worse. And if I drew more panels I guarantee the storytelling would be in every way worse than a Quitely page. Is my mom stupid for liking mine more? No. Do I look down on her? No. But is my page better? Absolutely not.

There’s a lot more in the post. Plus, like, a five-hundred-comment-long thread. Check it:

No, Art is Not Purely Subjective

[EDIT: the blog was originally incorrectly attributed to a different comics news site — I’m tempted to say that I have trouble telling’em apart, but that would be snarky and untrue. It was just me being stupid.]


Platinum Studios Announces KISS comic

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 12:49 pm

From The Beat, word that the ’70’s glam metal band KISS and Platinum Studios will be working together to put out a comic book and webcomic.

Two questions occurred to me right away:

1. Will the band mix their own blood into the ink?

2. Will Platinum Studios buy up all the copies?

Elitist that I am, I was never much into KISS (I even broke up with a guy once because I thought it was creepy that he liked them — yes, I was a music snob in high school! shocking, I know!). When they come out with a Siouxsie and the Banshees comic, or maybe one featuring the classic lineup of The Smiths in slam-bang crimefighting action, then I’ll probably get more excited.


Sequart on Hutch Owen: Unmarketable

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 1:36 pm

Sequart has a review with sample pages frm Tom Hart’s “Hutch Owen: Unmarketable.”

“Tom Hart has a real gift for simple and direct storytelling and has one of the most distinctive voices and cartooning styles in comics and, as stated before, only jerks don’t read his work.”

Hutch Owen runs daily at

- Eric


Comic struggle: A new book collects works of Archie Comics artist Dan DeCarlo

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 2:04 pm

Honolulu Star-Bulletin reviews Fantagraphics’ new Innocence And Seduction: The Art of Dan DeCarlo:

You’d think that cartoonists have a happy life, drawing such funny stuff all day long. And yet, it’s a cutthroat business, and the captains of industry are quick to crush the life out of the creative team if they think another buck can be squeezed out of them.

The case of Dan DeCarlo comes to mind. … He invented Josie and the Pussycats for Archie, and the comic book was a hit. … DeCarlo learned totally by accident of the subsequent “Josie and the Pussycats” movie that was released in 2001; Archie Comics neglected to inform him. When DeCarlo, exhausting other means, hired a lawyer to investigate his legal rights to the character, Archie dropped him cold, after a 40-year working relationship.

- Eric


Zap! Pow! Blog!… this weekend

Filed under: — Gaz Chaloner @ 12:40 am

(Posted for the organiser by me, as I’m involved as a blog guest:)

Hi everyone

As part of the exhibition programme for Heroes & Villains: Australian Comics and their Creators, the State Library of Victoria (SLV) in Melbourne, Australia, is staging a unique online event.

Zap! Pow! Blog! is a live ‘blog’ event being held online between Friday 12 January 2007 - Sunday 14 January 2007. This three-day event will feature some of Australia’s best-known comic creators, who will post their own personal blog on the SLV website, discussing their works as featured in the Heroes and Villains exhibition, as well their broader life and work in Australian comics.

Comic fans from Australia and around the world are welcome to join in this unique event (registration is free) and to post their own comments, and engage with the featured creators (and other comics enthusiasts) in a lively online discussion. (Note: The blog will be moderated by the SLV, so there may be a small time lag between when you submit your comments and when they appear online.)

The schedule of featured guests over this 3-day period is as follows:

Kevin Patrick (SLV Guest Curator)
TIME: 12.00pm - 2.30pm (AEST)
Gerald Carr (Vampire, Fire Fang)
TIME: 2.30pm - 5.00pm (AEST)
Dillon Naylor (Batrisha the Vampire girl, Da ‘n’ Dill)
TIME: 5.00pm - 7.30pm (AEST)

Philip Bentley (Inkspots, Fox Comics, Passionate Nomads)
TIME: 12.00pm - 2.30pm (AEST)
Chrsitian Read (The Watch, Eldritch Kid, etc)
TIME: 2.30pm - 5.00pm (AEST)
Mandy Ord (Nosebleed, etc)
TIME: 5.00pm - 7.30pm (AEST)

Tad Pietrzykowski (The Dark Nebula)
TIME: 12.00pm - 2.30pm (AEST)
Trudy Cooper (Platinum Grit)
TIME: 2.30pm - 5.00pm (AEST)
Gary Chaloner (The Jackaroo, Will Eisner’s JOHN LAW)
TIME: 5.00pm-7.30pm (AEST)

For Internet users outside Australia who want to participate in this event as it happens, please consult your preferred world time conversion website (such as The World Time Server -, so you can log-on for the blog sessions of yoour choice at the correct Australian eastern standard time [AEST].

Zap! Pow! Blog! will be a great chance for fans to ‘meet’ some of the best and brightest names in Australian comics, past and present - and promises to be a unique event in the history of Australian comics.

For further details, refer to the Zap! Pow! Blog! website at:

Looking forward to meeting you all online for this great event.

- Kevin Patrick
Kevin Patrick
Buzz Productions


Dirk’s Platinum Investigation Concluded (?)

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 2:14 pm

Dirk Deppey gives us the fruits of his investigation of CowboysAndAliensGate today on Journalista, in which he talks, among others, to one of the head honchos at Platinum Studios, Brian Altounian. I have some thoughts and theories about what Dirk was told by the Platinum guy, and what was really going on, and where those two don’t exactly match up in the real world — and I even submit that my thoughts and theories are unavoidable, if you read Dirk’s piece — but I will keep them to myself, because I am in no position to really, objectively know the things that I can’t help but believe. And that’s about as diplomatic as I can be, isn’t it? I guess it is.


On sale NOW: TCJ #280

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 1:00 pm

Also from Joey’s favorite muckrakers, the latest issue of The Comics Journal is in stores this week, on the web site for subscribers, and probably being read by my mailman as I type this. Of particular interest to friends of Talk About Comics may be the review of Scott McCloud’s “Making Comics.” Over on the TCJ board, former Modern Tales artist Jesse Hamm asks reviewer Noah Berlatsky, “Did you read the book while passing kidney stones? I can’t imagine why else your reaction would be so vituperative.”

Also, there’s a Frank Thorne interview by Gary Groth, a Farewell to Playboy Cartoon Editor Michelle Urry compiled by yours truly, a Carla Speed McNeil interview by Markisan Naso, and Time Out of Joint: A Column in Cultural Criticism: The Crypto-Revolution of Our Age XVII: The Lords of Chaos by Kenneth Smith.

- Eric M.

Dirk Deppey Wants Platinum Dirt!

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 9:12 am

Today in Journalista, Dirk Deppey notices that Entertainment Weekly is reporting Platinum Studio’s claim of having the “number one graphic novel” for December without bothering to point out the, um, unusual circumstances that may make that claim invalid (there are accusations from numerous reputable sources that Platinum purchased all, or almost all, of the books from retailers themselves, in order to artificially inflate the sales numbers, or something). It occurs to me, given Platinum’s stated business model (licensing comics properties to other media) that if there is a shell game going on, Platinum probably doesn’t care if it gets exposed in the comics press (and among comics fans and pro’s) at all — because the probable target of any scam would not be people in the comics community. There’s not enough money in the Direct Market to make this kind of risky business worthwhile. The target would be movie studios — you know, real movie studios — who might pay more money than they otherwise would, to license Platinum’s properties, thinking they’re hotter than they really are, based on these kinds of unquestioning reports in the entertainment press. If this kind of thing is really going on, that is. I’m no investigative reporter! But Dirk is! He wants to know more and is asking people with information and documentation about the accusations against Platinum (specifically retailers) to email him, and give him the full scoop. The TCJ has a long history of this kind of muckraking (and, kids? Guess what? Muckraking is GOOD — if it weren’t for muckraking, you’d be eating rat feces in your morning breakfast sausage, and there wouldn’t be any labor unions, and Standard Oil would still be a monopoly, and etc.), and isn’t afraid of, you know, lawsuits or whatever. This is a story worth watching. May be the biggest story to come out of comics since the ’90’s boom/bust.


Your Random Direct Market Comics Publishing Scandal of the Day

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 10:41 am

I’m not sure what, specifically, motivated retailer/blogger Christopher Butcher to post this warning to creators about shady publishers and their tactics. I mean, he tries to provide context, but one of the links is broken, and the names (of the creators, of the publisher, of the property in question) don’t ring any bells. No matter. I just don’t follow the lower echelons of the Direct Market closely enough, I guess. I gather Mike Gagnon is a failed publisher, and HC Noel is a creator whose work was compromised in some way by this failure? I dunno. Regardless of the specifics, there’s solid and meaningful advice here for you, if you’re considering signing with a print publisher — especially a new, relatively unknown print publisher — to help you take your work to the Direct Market. Why you’d bother doing such a thing is another question Butcher addresses obliquely. In my gloss here, I’m stressing this part of it a little more strongly than he does, and maybe not getting exactly what he said, but — really, there’s no point in signing with new, relatively unknown publishers at all. In a world where Lulu and, for that matter, Kinko’s exist, and where free hosting for webcomics is the norm, not the exception, there’s very little advantage to be gained in signing with any print publisher, unless it’s, you know, one of the really big publishers, or at least someone with an actual track record. An, um, positive track record, I mean. There are lots of “publishers” out there who are nothing more than a logo, a website, and a business card. And there are lots of others who carry along behind them several decades’ worth of bankrupted companies and fizzled business plans. You don’t need them.

Read Butcher’s post here

Via Journalista


The Beat provides the needed context and this money quote:

Does your publisher have kajillionaire Sir Richard Branson bankrolling it? Great! Then maybe you will sell 5000 copies in the direct sales market. Think about THAT metric.

I didn’t realize Virgin Comics had done quite so poorly in the Direct Market. Good thing all their eggs aren’t in that basket.




Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 12:32 pm

Jen Contino over at The Pulse has a brief interview with Shaenon Garrity about the story she co-wrote with her husband Andrew Farago. There are wonderful Ron Lim drawn pages to look at.

I’m not sure which emotion to feel after realizing that I can still pick MODOK, Arnim Zola and the Super Adaptoid out of a crowd but can’t be bothered to learn the names of my next door neighbors beyond “Dude who plays airdrums in his car to Phil Collins songs” and “Chick with lots of festive blinky shit in yard.”

- Eric


Falafel Man, here to save the day

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 9:36 pm

Haaretz Daily: “… when one of her teachers asked the students to invent a superhero, Maya-Gur knew exactly who her hero would be. At that moment Falafel Man was born. He is the protagonist of her new comic book, which will premiere today at the Ka-Boom! 3 annual comics convention in Tel Aviv (see box).

Like his American colleagues, Falafel Man gained his superpowers in the wake of a strange laboratory accident involving falafel. To his credit, he is far from perfect, and has a sense of humor. He has a glorious beer belly, an uncontrollable affection for falafel and a picture of Schwarzenegger hanging on a wall in his house. Is this loser capable of saving the citizens of Israel from all the criminals and bad guys?”

Eric says: Presumably Bill O’Reilly will sue Falafel Man for identity theft.

On Professional Behavior

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 2:12 pm

If there’s a prominent, well-respected, and popular comics journalist, who also happens to be gay, and he criticizes the owner of the company you work for in one of his posts, no matter how harshly, it’s probably not a good idea to call that journalist a turd-burglar on your website, even if it’s buried in a comment thread. Most employers frown on prejudice, gay-baiting, alienating the press, public meltdowns, and so on. Maybe not. I dunno. Just a thought. Or maybe Platinum’s attitude toward gays is reflected in DJ’s posts? That would be a shame. The Direct Market has already flushed one openly homophobic publisher down the drain, not too long ago.

[CORRECTION: the actual slur was turdmonger. I’ve screencapped it, since it’ll probably go away soon.]

[DECEMBER 24: apparently the post has been removed from DJ’s website, as has his follow-up post responding to my post above.]

Attitude Books reviewed in The Comics Journal

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 12:57 pm

It’s actually in some ways more of an essay on the current state of alternative comics using all three Attitude books as a jumping off point than it is a traditional review. Above is the part where The Comics Journal talks about what a misunderstood genius I am. That’s right, I’m gonna knock your eye out, kids.

You can also find all of the Attitude books on this Amazon page called “So you’d like to… beat your family to death“:

“Does your family understand you ? No ? Then you should put them out of their misery. … Read some Ted Rall. Better yet, read some of the new, provocative [Attitude] cartoonists being published today. They’ll get you nice and angry, so you can burn down the government after beating your family to death.”

Thanks to Ted for the TCJ tip-off — my copy has been sitting on my coffee table for weeks, under stacks of mail I haven’t read. Busy, busy, busy …

Now that I crack it open, I see the TCJ Attitude review is right in front of their American Born Chinese review. For some reason I missed this under the twenty copies of the Frederick’s of Hollywood holiday catalog.

- Eric


Gil Thorp dropping names

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 1:14 pm

Courier Journal: “[Gil Thorp writer Neal] Rubin often uses the names of real people in the strip, which appears in about 50 newspapers. Young Rick’s co-editor on the Milford High paper is ‘Helen Marzano,’ named for the wife of Terry Frei, who writes columns for the Denver Post. Rubin once named a character ‘Ken Burger’ for a sports columnist in Charleston, S.C. ‘I need to use names,” he said, ‘and I figure I might as well use names that people get a kick out of. For some people, it might be as close as they ever get to being on a baseball card …”


RSS Feed for Webcomics Nation Swapmeet Merchandise

Filed under: — Joey Manley @ 5:33 pm

The Webcomics Nation Swapmeet is where WCN Premium cartoonists post their print comics, t-shirt, and other merchandise for sale. (For example: Shaenon’s just started selling Narbonic Volume Two — get’em while they’re hot!).

In addition to viewing the latest merchandise on an actual webpage, you can now subscribe to get update notifications within your RSS aggregator, so you’ll know immediately when Narbonic Volume Three, or whatever, is available.

To monitor every product category in the Swapmeet by RSS, use this feed:

You can also get a category-specific feed (just t-shirts, just comic books, etc), by going to the Swapmeet on the web, and browsing down to your category of choice. An orange feed icon will appear beside the name of the category at the top of the page. Subscribe using that icon for a filtered category-specific feed.

Coming soon: creator-specific feeds. Or maybe I’ll just incorporate Swapmeet products into the already-existing creator-specific RSS webcomics feeds. I dunno. Or maybe I’ll do both. Or put that choice in the hands of the creators. Or maybe let people subscribing customize the feed to include only webcomics, or webcomics plus merchandise if they want. Grar. See? That’s why I haven’t done this yet. Indecision. I’ll figure out something soon, though.


Marvel Holiday Special #1 is like A Modern Tales reunion book

Filed under: — Eric Millikin @ 1:59 am

Newsarama has the entire 10-page story “How Fin Fang Foom Saved Christmas” from Marvel Holiday Special #1.

That story is co-written and drawn by Roger Langridge. Another story in the book is written by Shaenon Garrity. And I believe the whole thing is edited by John Barber.

- Eric

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