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Welcome to the webbed and wired edition of R&R, aristotle. We’ll be doing the same sort of song and dance here as we do in print: reviewing the latest comics and cartoon-related books and ranting about trends and abuses and unfathomable foolishnesses. Each installment will stay here for about four weeks, with a new one coming in just about every other week or so. If you don’t have the time to ponder every punctuation mark in this deathless prose and merely want to see what might be there that would interest you, we suggest you scroll down the page looking for the bold-face type that heralds the notables who reside herein this week. So here we go with Opus 382 (and a reprise of Opus 381):

 

Opus 382: Old Duffer Gets Inkpot, Nemo to Return, Toothpaste Caper in Gasoline Alley, Batman White Knight Limps to an End, Peter Wheat Review & Nick Meglin RIP (July 31, 2018).

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Opus 381: Editoonist Fired for Being Critical of the Trumpet, the Denver Comic Con & More Ominous Trumperies (June 30, 2018).

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Opus 382 (completed July 31, 2018). Down the rabbit hole this time, we look at conservative editoons arousing reader ire and do book reviews of Hollywood and the Comics, a new Peter Wheat reprint, Assume the Worst: Graduation Speeches You’ll Never Hear (truthful ones), and a graphic instructional tome on sex. We also report on DC Black Label’s morphing into a reprint imprint, and we start a new department devoted to the antics of our wispy-haired Prez, Trumperies (as distinct from politics and national issues). And we have our usual departments on editoons and newspaper comic strips. Oh—and we are both humbled and honored to have received the San Diego Comic Con’s Inkpot Award “for achievement in the comic arts.”

            We also tell you more about Tom Tanquary’s documentary video on the history and influence of newspaper comic strips in America—which relies upon interviews with 20 well-known cartoonists—and show you how to help make history by joining the Kickstarter campaign to fund the last stages of the film’s production.

            And we post an extensive and fond farewell to Mad’s Nick Meglin, who died unexpectedly June 2.

            If you’re a non-$ubscribing visitor here, taking advantage (as we encourage you to) of our Open Access Month, you might consider wandering from the Rants & Raves posting at hand to look at some of the evergreen articles of history and biography in Harv’s Hindsight. Here are a few—:

            Hubris & Chutzpah, the Al Capp/Ham Fisher Feud that Resulted in Fisher’s Death, posted January 29 2013 (click on Harv’s Hindsight, then scroll down to this date)

            Origin and Evolution of the “Comic Con,” November 30, 2017

            Who Discovered Superman?, November 30, 2013

            Hefner Died. In His Bed, Of Course, October 31, 2017

            Unforgettable Jane (the British Comic Stripper), September 30, 2016

            The Real Captain Easy, January-February, 2012

In the meantime, we provide the following list of this Opus’s content so you can pick what you want to see without having to read through everything. Here’s what’s here, in order, by department—:

 

 

MAKE HISTORY

Join Our Kickstarter

 

NOUS R US

Old Duffer (RCH) Gets Inkpot at Sandy Eggo Con

Stan Lee’s Situation Still Unclear

Sales Decline Slightly in 2017

DC Black Label Titles Are Reprints

Nemo to Return; Ditto Inks

            Scholarly v. Academic Discussed

Rob Rogers’ Spiked Editoons On Display

Conservative Editoons Spark Reader Objection

Glenn McCoy Laid Off; Takes Up Animation

Wedding Plans Foiled

Garfield Is Forty

The Toothpaste Caper in Gas Alley

Odds & Addenda

Watterson Editorial Cartoons

Statue of Archie

Simpsons Comics Dies Off

 

The Utterances of Art Spiegelman

 

FUNNYBOOK FAN FARE

Batman White Knight Ends Badly

Doomsday Clock Limping Along

Shipwreck and Skybourne Too Long in Coming

Plastic Man’s Essence Is Still Illusive

Renato Freelancer Ends Second Round Well

 

TRUMPERIES

The Guy’s So Silly He Rates a Department Separate from—:

 

EDITOONERY

Rounding Up Highlights of the Month’s Editorial Cartoons

 

NEWSPAPER COMICS PAGE VIGIL

The Forbidden and the Intriguing in Today’s Funnies

 

ACCRETION OF INTENTION DEPARTMENT

Review of Hollywood and the Comics

BOOK MARQUEE

Short Reviews Of—:

Pocket Full of Dennis the Menace

Dennis the Menace in Hawaii

Assume the Worst: Graduation Speeches You’ll Never Hear

Feiffer Triology Concludes with The Ghost Script

Instructional Book on Sex

                                               

BOOK REVIEW

Of The Adventures of Peter Wheat

 

A-GAGGING WE SHALL GO

Playboy Still Isn’t Cutting It

 

PASSIN’ THROUGH

Art Paul

Nick Meglin

Harlan Ellison

 

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

If Not of A Lifetime

“Goddamn it, you’ve got to be kind.”—Kurt Vonnegut

 

Our Motto: It takes all kinds. Live and let live.

Wear glasses if you need ’em.

But it’s hard to live by this axiom in the Age of Tea Baggers,

so we’ve added another motto:.

Seven days without comics makes one weak.

(You can’t have too many mottos.)

 

And our customary reminder: don’t forget to activate the “Bathroom Button” by clicking on the “print friendly version” so you can print off a copy of just this installment for reading later, at your leisure while enthroned. Without further adieu, then, here we go—:

 

 

HERE’S A CHANCE TO HELP MAKE HISTORY

If you enjoy our twice-a-month trips down the rabbit hole for comics news and reviews and history and lore, maybe you would like to help make history. Here’s your chance. For the past several years, I’ve been working with an Emmy award winning television documentarian, Tom Tanquary, to make a film about the American newspaper comic strip and how it influences our culture and vice versa. We traveled all over the U.S. to interview cartoonists and get their perspective on their art and its relationship to its readers. As you doubtless expect, I had a great time talking shop with almost twenty professional cartoonists: after all, talking about comics is what this fortnightly online magazine, Rants & Raves, is all about.

            I talked with Greg Evans, Cathy Guisewite, Jules Feiffer, Mell Lazarus, Wiley Miller, Brian Walker, Mort Walker, Lalo Alcaraz, Sandra Bell-Lundy, Ray Billingsly, Bill Holbrook, Darren Bell, Jeff Keane, Keith Knight, Morrie Turner plus active observers like Jeannie Schulz, Andrew Farago at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco and historian Peter Maresca (Sunday Press).

            We visited the Walkers, Ray Billingsly and Jules Feiffer on one harrowing week in the spring. Bad weather forced us to land, briefly, in Philadelphia; then on to New York, where Tom had rented a van. By then, it was night, and we made our way to the Hamptons (where Feiffer was) in the dark. Thank goodness for GPS; otherwise, as in the olden days, we’d still be wandering the countryside.

             It was lunchtime when we dropped in on Knight, so we all went off to a local fast-food spot. As we ate, Keef drew a Sunday strip—right there, before our very eyes—wholly imperturbable. And as he drew, he answered our questions and responded to our comments.

            The plan was that I talk to cartoonists. I’d talk to them about the profession, their strips, and the syndication business. And then later, Tom would edit the video, taking out only what he wanted for the documentary. In effect, I was left entirely to my own devices and desires, so I followed myself happily. Among the things that I remember was that Feiffer, who was working on his second graphic novel while we were there, said doing a graphic novel had reinvigorated him. Suddenly—once again—he loved drawing and cartooning again.

            None of this is apparent in the documentary, but I think you can tell everyone is having a good time. I was anyhow.

            Tom is now moving into the post-production phase of making the film. So far, he’s financed the whole project himself; but now he needs to hire people with expertise he doesn’t have in order to finish the film, and he’s launched a Kickstarter to raise the funds. Herewith, the News Release—:

                                   

Picture and Sound Productions announces the final stage of development for its feature length documentary:

“Hand Drawn Life – The History and Influence of Newspaper Comic Strips”

 

 

UNLIKE OTHER WORKS ON THIS SUBJECT, “Hand Drawn Life” traces the history of the newspaper comic strip by detailing its effects on the readers and its impact on society. The film explores not just the timeline of their creation but the emotional connections these drawings have had, and are still having, on the reader. These strips are arguably the first form of American pop culture. Unlike the books, sheet music and traveling side shows of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, newspaper comics were syndicated to papers across the country, thanks to William Randolph Hearst. This meant for the first time, people in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and elsewhere could read the same cartoon at the same time. These cartoons united the country in a common entertainment experience like never before.  And they continue to connect readers to this day.

            With interviews from 20 of the greatest names in the comic strip world, both creators and historians, the story unfolds without a narrator. The people that know best weave history and personal experience into a tale of modern American culture. They explore how these comics, deployed by newspaper editors to sell newspapers, turned into a truly unique art form. Not just their ability to craft a gag or joke in just a few panels of drawn figures, but also to convey complex ideas and emotions, to create other worlds and fantastic stories, and to let millions of readers know they are not alone. They have their trusted friends right there on the comics page, day after day, with new adventures and laughs, new stories to tell.

            Jeannie Schulz, widow of Charles Schulz, says in the film: “People may read the comics to get away from themselves, but in Peanuts, they found themselves.” That could also be said of comics in general. Even with radio, movies, television, and now the internet, comic strips continue to connect with their readers.

            This is their story.

            The Kickstarter campaign to get finishing funds for post-production is underway. To hear Tom explain it (he does a better job than I do) and to see a short preview of the 90-minute film, go here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/228655795/hand-drawn-life?ref=email          

 

 

 

READ & RELISH

            “Its better to prepare children than to repair them.”—Jim Zimmerman, former Macy’s chair

            Upon being named U.S. poet laureate in 2006, Donald Hall explained his simple view on the value of poetry: ‘There is no other purpose than the beauty of it,’ he said, ‘—and that is reason enough to be.’”

 

 

 

NOUS R US

Some of All the News That Gives Us Fits

 

 

OLD DUFFER GETS INKPOT

I would be seriously remiss in my duties as a crusading journalist if I failed to report that I received the coveted Inkpot Award “for achievement in comic arts” two weeks ago during the 49th Sandy Eggo Comic Con.The Inkpot has been bestowed on 15-20 people a year since 1974—professionals in the fields of comic books, comic strips, animation, science fiction and related areas of popular culture. So there are now well over 600 of us.

 

 

 

 

            Recipients in the inaugural year include legends in movies and popular culture and in the histories of cartooning and comics fandom:

            Forrest J. Ackerman (magazine editor)

            Ray Bradbury (prose writer)

            Kirk Alyn (actor)

            Milton Caniff (cartoonist, Terry and the Pirates, Steve Canyon)

            Frank Capra (filmmaker)

            Bob Clampett (animator)

            June Foray (voice actress)

            Eric Hoffman (film historian)

            Chuck Jones (animator)

            Jack Kirby (comic books)

            Stan Lee (comic books)

            Bill Lund / William R. Lund (actor/writer/founding member of San Diego Comic-Con)

            Russ Manning (comic strips, Tarzan, Star Wars)

            Russell Myers (cartoonist, Broom Hilda comic strip)

            Charles Schulz (Peanuts)

            Phil Seuling (comic art convention founder)

            Roy Thomas (comic book writer and fan, co-founder of Alter Ego)

            Bjo Trimble (science-fiction fandom figure)

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