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 397 and a reprise of Opus 396B:
Opus 397: Reviews of “Watchmen” on tv, “Joker,” Olivia Jaimes’ Nancy, Corto Maltese Secret Rose, Graphic Novels Irena and They Called Us Enemy & Obit for Bill Schelly (October 28, 2019).
Opus 397 (October 30, 2019). Down the old rabbit hole this time, we find reviews of “Watchmen” on tv, the Joker on the big screen and in Murphy’s comicbook, Olivia Jaimes’ Nancy, graphic novels Corto Maltese Secret Rose, Irena, They Called Us Enemy, plus news and obits for Bill Schelly and others—and more, much more, as you can tell by rolling an eyeball over the ensuing list of what’s here, by department, in order—:
Editor’s Note: The longest articles are marked with an asterisk (*) to help you decide which ones to visit right away and which ones to postpone to another day. Excessively long pieces get two asterisks (**).
BEFORE WE START
How To Kill Off Democracy
NOUS R US
Top 10 Graphic Novels in Classrooms
Bechdel Makes the Dictionary
Sesame Street’s 50th
Archie Blue Ribbon and Katie Keene
The Far Side
Freddy the Pig
Asterix on Currency in Europe
Spider-Man Remains at MCU
Feige Wins; Perlmutter Looses
ODDS & ADDENDA
Underpants not Underwear
McFarlane in Guinness
Scorese and Ford Coppola Not Fans of Comicbook Movies
Leto Not Joker Anymore
**WATCHMEN ON TV
A Preview and a Review (Mine)
FUNNYBOOK FAN FARE
*The Joker Is Back—:
Murphy’s Curse of the White Knight
More Antic Outrageous Ignorances of Clown in Chief
Postponed Until Next Time (I know: sob)
NEWSPAPER COMICS PAGE VIGIL
Puzzles, Obscenity, Jake Tapper on Dilbert, Potty Talk
—And More in the Funnies
RANCID RAVES GALLERY
Two Notable Magazine Covers
The Black National Anthem
By James Weldon Johnson
Short Reviews of—:
Nancy by “Olivia Jaimes”
The Secret Rose (Corto Maltese Adventure)
Longer and Critical/Analytic of—:
Studies in Comics (Scholarly Tome)
Single Panel Magazine Cartooning
Some Examples Thereof
LONG FORM PAGEINATED CARTOON STRIPS
Reviews of Graphic Novels—:
Irena: Book One, Wartime Ghetto
*They Called Us Enemy
ONWARD, THE SPREADING PUNDITRY
A Miscellany of Actual Political News
Ram Mohan (India’s Father of Animation)
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 in the same spirit, here’s—:
Chatter matters, so let’s keep talking about comics.
And our customary reminder: when you get to the $ubscriber/Associate Section (perusal of which is restricted to paid subscribers), 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—:
BEFORE WE START, THERE’S THIS—:
It was John Adams who declared that “the government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men.” What, exactly, does that mean? How does a government of laws function that makes it different from a government by men?
A government by men exists as long as there are men powerful enough to boss everyone else around.
A government of laws functions like a game. It works as long as everyone plays by the rules, the laws. When people stop playing by those rules, that game, like any other game, deteriorates and soon ceases to be.
Unhappily, we have a situation today of some people not playing by the rules. Trump has ordered that no one in the White House staff or in the State Department testify before the House committees that have subpoenaed them. Those who obey this order are not playing by the rules. If you’re subpoenaed, you must show up. That’s the rule, the law. People who disobey that law are undermining American democracy, a government by laws.
And that makes Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, a force for the reinstatement of government by law.
She testified despite a White House declaration that there would be no more cooperation with Congress. In obeying a subpoena, she acted in defiance of the White House. But by testifying on Friday, October 12, she is playing by the rules, her behavior asserting that this is a government of laws, and to make the government work, the rules must be followed.
If you don’t play the game by its rules, the game is pretty quickly over.
NOUS R US
Some of All the News That Gives Us Fits
MAUS, MARCH LEAD TOP 10 LIST OF COMICS USED IN SCHOOLS
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) released results of a survey on comics used in schools, reported slj.com, revealing the most-read comics in the classroom. The Top 10 were:
Maus by Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)
March (trilogy) by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf Productions)
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon)
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
Amulet (series) by Kazu Kibuishi (Scholastic)
Bone (series) by Jeff Smith (Scholastic)
Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud (William Morrow Paperbacks)
Ms. Marvel (series) by G. Willow Wilson et al (Marvel Comics)
Smile by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic)
(tie) Dog Man (series) by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic) and Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (DC Comics)
The organization wanted to find out if comics are being used in schools, how they are being used, and if teachers encountered resistance in their efforts to incorporate comics in the classroom. Between May 10 and August 9th, 223 teachers responded to the online questionnaire.
The majority (77 percent) of respondents said comics were used for independent reading; about 54 percent use them for supplemental instruction; and 40 percent use comics as "main unit assignments." More than half (54.8 percent) didn't face resistance at all. For those who did, the most opposition (31.2 percent) came from fellow teachers, followed by parents (19.1).
The statistic is slightly suspect. Those who found the online questionnaire were probably fans of comics themselves and eagerly used them in the classroom. And that jacks up the usage factor. Those who aren’t fans of comicbooks probably never looked for the questionnaire.
Still, however skewed, it’s nice to know.
BECHDEL MAKES THE BIG BOOK
"Bechdel Test," named for cartoonist and graphic novelist Alison Bechdel, is one of 530 new words and phrases Merriam-Webster dictionary added in September, reports Sasha Goldstein at sevendaysvit.com. The definition reads: "A set of criteria used as a test to evaluate a work of fiction (such as a film) on the basis of its inclusion and representation of female characters."
Bechdel introduced the world to the test in a 1985 Dykes to Watch Out For comic strip, in which two women try in vain to find a movie that passes a test with three criteria: "One, it has to have at least two women in it," the strip reads, "who, two, talk to each other about, three, something besides a man."
Bechdel didn't know of the dictionary definition until Seven Days contacted her last week.
"I'm very, very excited to have anything to do with a dictionary," Bechdel said.
The cartoonist said the honor follows Stigler's law of eponymy, which states that no scientific discovery is named after its actual discoverer. Friend Liz Wallace thought up the Bechdel Test, according to Bechdel.
SESAME STREET’S 50TH
Craig Yoe, once Creative Director/Vice President General Manager at the Muppet Palace, remembers its founder on the 50th anniversary of Sesame Street:
Geez. I remember Jim Henson having me art direct a 20th anniversary logo for Sesame Street when working with him at the Muppets. Has time flown by so fast? The towering creative and caring Jim is long gone now, but that seems like yesterday, too. The heartfelt mission of dedicated people on and off screen brilliantly mixed with lovable fur, feather, and ping pong ball concocted critters endures.
ARCHIE KEEPS MOVIN’ ON
And A Legendary Fashion Plate Moves In
Archie Comics will continue their outreach with a new line of young adult original graphic novels in 2020 and will resurrect legendary fashion plate, Katy Keene. The new book imprint, Archie Blue Ribbon, will be targeting a bookstore market and filling a gap in the company’s current publishing program, which has primarily targeted comic book stores and newsstands.
“At Archie, our goal is always to present the best story in the best format to reach the most readers,” Archie Comics Co-President Alex Segura told Scoop.
Blue Ribbon’s launch titles will be Betty and Veronica: The Bond of Friendship by Jamie L. Rotante with art by Brittney Williams, followed by a Riverdale tie-in with Riverdale: The Ties That Bind by Micol Ostow and Thomas Pitilli. Both comics launch in 2020 and will be 144 pages.
Katy Keene will join Archie both on CW’s tv show “Riverdale” and in Archie and Katy Keene No.1. The comicbook will debut in January 2020, and be written by Mariko Tamaki and Kevin Panetta, with art by Laura Braga. In it, the town of Riverdale is sent reeling after the “insta-famous” and ultra-fashionable Katy Keene shows up, and nobody is more competitive with her than Archie Andrews.
“The Boondocks,” Elfquest, The Far Side, Freddie the Pig
● Aaron McGruder’s animated series based on his newspaper comic strip, The Boondocks, is being revived with a two-season order, saith HBO Max. The revived show, re-imagined by McGruder, will debut on the streaming service in fall 2020; the show’s original 55 episodes will also be available. Quoted by the Washington Post’s Michael Cavna, McGruder said: “There’s a unique opportunity to revisit the world of The Boondocks and do it over again for today. It’s crazy how different the times we live in are now—both politically and culturally—more than a decade past the original series and two decades past the original newspaper comic. There’s a lot to say, and it should be fun.” See pictures On the Other Side of the $ubscribers’ Wall (OOSOSW).
● Wendy and Richard Pini return this fall with a new series, Elfquest: Stargazer’s Hunt. When Elfquest: The Final Quest concluded, it ended the hero’s journey of Cutter Kinseeker, chief of the Wolfriders. But that was only the start of a new adventure for Cutter’s “brother in all but blood,” Skywise, the stargazer elf, who thought he knew everything about Cutter but learns how mistaken he was. A tragic accident involving his daughter, Jink, sends Skywise on a quest of his own from the elves’ ancestral Star Home through uncharted space and back to the World of Two Moons. Story by the Pinis with script by Wendy and art by Elfquest almni, Sonny Strait.
● Gary Larson’s iconic newspaper single-panel cartoon seems poised to return online. TheFarSide.com changed its homepage art to some of Larson’s creatures being thawed out by a blow-torch and offered a fresh message, said Cavna. “Uncommon, unreal, and (soon-to-be) unfrozen. A new online era of The Far Side is coming!” Cavna added that the return could mean a mix of archival material and new art from Larson.
● I discovered Freddy the Pig when I was in fifth grade, and I spent most of that year and the next reading about him. From 1927 to 1958, Walter R. Brooks wrote 26 books starring one of the great characters in American children’s literature, the aforementioned Freddy, who, when he stands on his hind legs and puts on people clothing, looks like a short pink-faced chubby fellow. Whenever there’s trouble on the Bean Farm, Freddy rises to the occasion and is by turns cowboy, explorer, politician, publisher, poet, magician, banker, campaign manager, pilot, and ace detective—to mention a few of the guises he assumes to solve the problem. The series was reintroduced in 2001 and is presented again with Kurt Wiese’s superb drawings in handsome hardcover British editions by Duckworth Overlook, available at daedalusbooks.com.
More pix OOSOSW.
Asterix on the New Two-Euro Coin
For Asterix’s 60th anniversary this year, there’s a new film, a new comic and a new coin. The Monnaie de Paris is to mint a new Asterix two-Euro coin featuring the face of Asterix, the best-selling comic book character in the world, as drawn by his co-creator Albert Uderzo. This is a rare example of an established comic book character featured on official European Currency. To See What The Coin Looks Like, and To Read the Reviews of “Watchmen” on tv, Joker, Olivia Jaimes’ Nancy, and Graphic Novels Irena and They Called Us Enemy, and More, Much More —Click Here
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