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 385 (and a reprise of Opus 384a’s Bunny Bonus):
REMEMBERING BILL COSBY (October 26, 2018)
Opus 385 (finished November 1, 2018). Once again, we got carried away and wrote twice as much as an ordinary opus requires. So, considerate of our readers always, we simply cut the thing in half to make it readable in one sitting, and in this half, we report the news of the last seven weeks— particularly Stan Lee’s situation, Jane’s gay marriage, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s hiring of editoonist Steve Kelley, Alley Oop’s comeback, Tijuana Trumpet, and the annual meeting of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonits (AAEC), plus reviews of first issues of half a dozen funnybooks.
Next time, we’ll do book reviews— among them, IDW’s Bungle Family, Tarzan, Dan Dunn, Baron Bean and the Library of American Comics Essentials; Sad! Doonesbury in the Time of Trump; Garfield: the Complete Works (Volume 1, 1978-79); The Art of Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse (it’s his 90th birthday); Friedman’s More Heroes of the Comics; Mike Luckovich’s “A Very Stable Genius”; Talking Mort Walker: A Life in Comics and more.
But this time, we have another Monster Posting. And, considerate of our readers always (as I said), we offer the listing of the contents immediately below so you can scan the lot and pick out those articles you’re most interested in and not waste time wading through matters that don’t interest you. Here’s what’s here, in order, by department (concluding with a Surprise Ending)—:
NOUS R US
Stan Lee Seems Okay
Denver Con Bullied Into Name Change?
Pittsburgh Massacre: Why the Jews?
Jane’s Gay Marriage
Ted Rall Case Update
Comics Journal Returns to Print
Famed Chef Wrote Graphic Novels
The Nib Is Five
$10,000 Overnight for the Trumpet’s Portrait
Mankoff Up To His Old Trick
STEVE KELLEY HIRED AT POST-GAZETTE
Telgemeier’s Two New Ones
Odds & Addenda
Robert Ariail Laid Off
New York Comic-Con Attendance Record
Wimpy Kid Tour
EDITORIAL CARTOONISTS MEET
AAEC Convention Swan Song?
FUNNYBOOK FAN FARE
Number Ones Reviewed—
Soldier Supreme in the Infinity Wars
Chaykin’s Hey Kids! Comics
THE FIRST COMICS?
NEWSPAPER COMICS PAGE VIGIL
Luann Sunday and Peanuts Sunday—Critiques of Kavanaugh?
Garfield and Mutts (Cats and Dogs?)
Only In the Comics
Foolishnesses of Our Beloved Leader
Trump Makes the Covers Again
THE FOURTH ESTATE
RANCID RAVES GALLERY
Old Life Cartoon Illustrations
ONWARD, THE SPREADING PUNDITRY
Climate Change and We’re All Gonna Drown
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: 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—:
NOUS R US
Some of All the News That Gives Us Fits
STAN LEE SEEMS, WELL—OLD AND A LITTLE FEEBLE
But Otherwise Okay
Excerpts from Another Daily Beast Interview
LAST WINTER, WE STARTED HEARING horrifying stories about how Stan Lee was being preyed upon by members of his so-called staff and his daughter, J.C. (Joan Celia), who were stealing money from the aged (95 years old) millionaire, threatening to drain the comic book legend’s bank account and leave him penniless in what remains of his old age. Lee, still grieving over the loss of his beloved wife Joan of nearly 70 years, seemed helpless in the hands of these shysters.
The Daily Beast sent a reporter around to see how much of this story was true. Mostly the stories were accurate, but the facts of the matter had been somewhat exaggerated. In early October, the Daily Beast returned, reporting on another visit to the Stan Lee mountaintop mansion, seeking verification of the latest rumors.
According to the Beast’s reporter, Mark Ebner, Lee has fired the members of his entourage who were conducting their elder abuse and thievery, and Lee now seems in control of his life—thanks to the shepherding care of his daughter and her lawyer. Ebner picks up the story, and the rest of this Rancid Raves report is all his, albeit excerpts.
Complicating matters further was a lengthy piece in The Hollywood Reporter alleging that Lee’s 67-year-old daughter was “a prodigious shopper with an ill-tempered personality” who was not only bleeding his estate dry, spending tens of thousands of dollars a month, but had also verbally and physically abused her father and late mother. The THR piece cited former nurses who claim that J.C. often placed “insulting phone calls” to her father, and Brad Herman, Lee’s former business manager, told the publication that he once witnessed the following incident: “In ‘a rage,’ J.C. took hold of Lee’s neck, slamming his head against the [wheelchair’s] wooden backing. Joanie [Lee’s wife] suffered a large bruise on her arm and burst blood vessels on her legs; Lee had a contusion on the rear of his skull.” (J.C. denies this.)
Enter Kirk Schenck, the attorney for J.C. and the son of George Schenck, executive producer of the CBS series “NCIS.” Schenck is concerned about the negative press alleging elder abuse of the comic book icon at the hands of his client, so he’s invited me [Ebner] to Lee’s $25 million aerie, nestled in-between the Winklevoss twins and Dr. Dre on the “bird streets,” high above the Sunset Strip, for a friendly sit-down to set the record straight. ...
Today, Lee’s hearing is almost shot, his breathing labored, and his voice frequently fails him. [And his vision isn’t so good either.—RCH] He’d rather be reclining in his comfy chair—gazing out across his swimming pool at the canyon view, reminiscing about times with his late beloved wife Joan. But before I can sit with Lee, Schenck pulls me into the parlor to try and set the tone for the story he and J.C. want to see.
“The closest thing I can say is that they [Lee and J.C.] have a Kennedyesque relationship. They yell at each other sometimes, but she is the love of his life, and she has gotten a bad rap because [of those four guys]—Max Anderson, Jerry Olivares, Keya Morgan and Brad Herman. All of them have been kicked out because she is essentially the only one forcing the bad guys away from him,” Schenck tells me.
“She is the avenger; she is the person who protects that man. She would jump across the table and stab someone if someone came after him. That’s the gist of it. He’s not in great shape. You have to speak loud. Don’t ask him about specific finances.”
Everyone in the room is manic, save for me and Lee. With Schenck frantically stage-managing Lee and his daughter throughout our conversation, it feels as though I’m [being featured] in one of the many hostage-style videos of Lee that have been leaked to the media by bad actors with worse agendas (one of which featured Lee—being coached by Keya Morgan off-screen—alleging that Schenck was manipulating J.C. and supplying her with drugs). If it weren’t for the narcotics mellowing him, I’d like to believe that Lee would immediately eject himself from his recliner and demand a handler-free conservatorship.
There are five phones recording video and audio of our chat, and J.C. spends half the interview like a puppet master—inches from her father’s weary visage.
With that, I’m introduced all around and—with the aid of a voice amplifier—we begin our chat. [The chat goes on for quite some time, but I’m going to quote only the tiniest fragments that seem the gist of the story, redeeming the reputations of J.C. and her father.]
STAN RESPONDS to Ebner’s comment that he’s sorry Lee had to go through all the “chaos and drama” of recent months by saying: “There really isn’t that much drama. As far as I’m concerned, we have a wonderful life. I’m pretty damn lucky. I love my daughter, I’m hoping that she loves me, and I couldn’t ask for a better life. If only my wife was still with us. I don’t know what this is all about. ... I wish that everyone would be as abusive to me as JC.
J.C. Lee: [Interjecting] He wishes everyone was so abusive.
Stan: She is a wonderful daughter. I like her. We have occasional spats. But I have occasional spats with everyone. I’ll probably have one with you, where I’ll be saying, “I didn’t say that!” But, that’s life. ...
Asked if she’s ever yelled at her dad, J.C. says: “Unfortunately, I didn’t until the last ten years or so—never before. Having someone not being able to hear, and also having a strong personality that—you know, he’s a strong guy. But, you know, he can’t hear. We’re not alone, and there’s always other people and influences, and I find that, yes, I’ve been raising my voice for several years. And I’ve had these horrible people in my family’s home, telling my parents the worst things: “Do you know what Kirk does? He’s buying them drugs!” Everyone is talking dirt like you’ve never heard. This poor man is worried about his only daughter. He’s sitting up here, and Keya [Morgan] had him so afraid—he was calling 911!
“It’s all about divide and conquer,” she continues. “Divide, conquer, destroy—and it’s been a horrible situation. And they turn my father so against me that he didn’t know he had a daughter. He thought he had a son named Keya! I was never a child that ever yelled, but I also have to say, I’ve been damn angry. I’ve had Keya, and Max before him, take over this house, where they’re not allowed to talk on the phone with me. Scientology. Don’t want to mention it, but you better believe, it’s right there. ...
Asked about reports of his daughter’s lavish spending and the way money is now being managed, Stan said: “I decided my daughter is no longer a teenager. This money will be left to her, and instead of waiting until I die, I will give her as much as I can for her to enjoy now. And that’s what I’m trying to do. Sometimes we have a few discussions. ‘Dad, can I ever have another few bucks?’ And I say, ‘Are you sure you’ll be left with enough?’ But there’s no problem. There’s no problem at all. ...
J.C. (to her father): ... “You were always the good guy, and there were just creeps around you, and it was this town. Never you.
Stan: “I learned later on in life, you need advisors if you’re making any money at all. I did everything myself. The first years of my career when I wrote Super Rabbit [an early cartoon character he created], and when I wrote all those characters, and I wrote the Hulk—I handled everything. I paid all the bills, I did all the bookkeeping, I handled everything. But then, a little money started coming in, and I realized I needed help. And I needed people I could trust. And I had made some big mistakes. And my first bunch of people [the vultures that he eventually fired] were people that I shouldn’t have trusted.
J.C.: “And the second, and the third bunch. We are still looking.. He is still young enough to still be looking.” ...
Asked if he missed attending comic conventions with the hoards of admiring fans, Stan said: “I don’t miss the signings. I miss the creating. And that’s the writing I’m waiting to do.”
RCH AGAIN: REVIEWING THE INTERVIEW, it looks as if Stan Lee is being carefully managed by his daughter and her lawyer. Stan seems quite content with the present arrangement. He doesn’t seem the victim in this interview, which clears his daughter of allegations of elder abuse. And if she and her lawyer are bleeding his fortune dry, that seems to be okay with Stan, who is not enough of a financial manager to know. But they’re all friendly; no animosity is evident in any of the exchanges between Ebner and Lee and J.C. That, of course, is what Schenck and J.C. want us to think. And judging solely on Ebner’s report, what they want us to think is probably the truth.
THE AGE OF INTIMIDATION
The Bullies Are Winning
The Denver Comic-Con is changing its name. Next year’s gathering (May 31-June 2) will go by the name “Denver Pop Culture Con.” This maneuver is designed, presumably, to avoid a law suit from the San Diego Comic-Con people, who, you’ll recall from Opus 383, successfully sued the Salt Lake Comic-Con, winning nearly $4 million in attorney’s fees in addition to a judgment award of $20,000 and a permanent injunction preventing the Salt Lakers people from ever again using any of San Diego’s trademarks, "confusingly similar marks (i.e. Comicon or Comiccon), or any phonetic equivalents (i.e. ComiKon or ComicKon) for any event."
The Denver organizers were considering a name change long before all the legal maneuvering, and the Salt Lake decision merely accelerated the process.
I think the Denver folks acted prematurely: I don’t think they have anything to fear from Sandy Eggo. First, the term “comic con” has proliferated nation-wide—perhaps even worldwide—and is in common use, much like “kleenex,” originally the name of a specific product, now denominates any facial tissue; and I therefore doubt that the Sandy Eggans would pursue the matter everywhere. Second, the Salt Lake situation was different: the Salt Lakers didn’t just use the term “comic con”; they also deliberately, cynically, deployed it and other echoes of the San Diego Con to confuse people into thinking that somehow the Salt Lake Con was the famous Sandy Eggo Con.
But—wotthehell wotthehell—better safe that sorry. The Denver name change, after all, more accurately reflects the kind of convention the Denverites are staging. Moreover, the new name is buried in the history of the Denver Con. The Con has been sponsored and run by the Denver Popular Culture Classroom since the beginning. When not running the Comic Con, the Pop Culture Classroom devises and presents in area schools programs that will stimulate creativity and involvement in popular culture.
Still, I hate to see the bullying tactics of the Sandy Eggo crowd winning. Bullying is winning everywhere—notably, in the #MeToo lynch-mob-rule movement in which the mere mention of an allegation of sexual harassment is enough to get a man’s livelihood suspended. Bullying and mob rule undermine the rule of law and judicial process in which one is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Yes, women have been subjected to a lot of bad-mannered men eager to show off their peckers. The solution to the problem, however, is to re-institute good manners as an aspect of civilization even if it impinges somewhat upon the presumed right of an individual to do his own thing. (We have an amusing but obscene illustration on the Other Side of the $ubscriber’s Wall; don’t miss it if you can.)
The Pittsburgh Massacre
WHY THE JEWS?
My daughter is reading Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl to her son, my eleven-year-old grandson Braeden. To explain the Holocaust, my daughter said that some people fear other people so much that they hate them and persecute them. Fear grows into hatred, then persecution. Pretty good shorthand explanation.
Years ago, Jules Feiffer was in Denver to open a show of his original art. I went to the opening, and Jules asked me to join him for dinner later that week after another appearance at a local bookstore. At dinner, our conversation began when Jules asked me what I thought of David Michaelis’s biography of Charles Schulz (Charles Schulz and Peanuts). I said I didn’t like it because Michaelis didn’t understand cartooning or cartoonists. And he spent far too much of the book on Schulz’s extra-marital affair, distorting the over-all effect of the work. Later in the evening, I approached another subject—why Jews are hated.
We had touched on the subject some years before. We’d encountered each other at a cocktail party shortly after Will Eisner’s book about that colossally scurrilous humbug, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, had been published, and we talked briefly about Eisner’s book, to which Eisner gave a marvelously sinister (and wholly accurate) title, The Plot. I had a good opinion of the book despite a couple of its minor flaws (see Opus 160), and when I explained that to Jules, he said I was letting my Jewishness influence my literary judgement. I laughed and told him I wasn’t Jewish, which sort of stopped him momentarily. “Well,” he said ... and continued his critique of Eisner’s book, probably a sounder verdict than mine (although I don’t remember it, alas).
Since then, I’d developed a theory about why Jews are hated, and at our dinner together, I tried it out on him. It started, I said, during the early years of Christianity. At issue during those formative days when most followers of Christ were Jews was whether gentile converts had to be circumcised in order to be Christians. The gentile objection to circumcision inspired the hatred that has followed Jews ever since.
Jules pooh-poohed that notion. Jews have always been hated, he said—for centuries before Christ’s arrival on the scene.
So much for my theory, I thought.
BUT MY CURIOSITY had been whetted long before that, and I kept looking for an answer. I think I found it in a book that directly addressed the issue— Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism by Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin. Prager, the back of the book tells us, is “one of America’s most respected thinkers”; and Telushkin is a rabbi and scholar and a senior associate of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. Turns out that both my daughter and Jules Feiffer are right about antisemitism: it has its roots in fear, and it began long before Christianity.
According to Prager and Telushkin, hatred of Jews began with what made them Jews. Their monotheism started it all. “By affirming what they considered to be the one and only God of all humankind, thereby implying illegitimacy to everyone else’s gods” in those early, polytheistic ages, “the Jews entered history—and have often been since—at war with other people’s most cherished beliefs.”
And the laws that Jews formulated based upon monotheism, set them apart. “Because the Jews also asserted their own national identity, Jews intensified antisemitic passions among those who viewed this identity as threatening their own nationalism.”
Jews then intensified the matter by claiming to be “chosen by God ... to bring the world to God and His moral law (i.e., ethical monotheism). This doctrine of the Jews’ divine election has been a major cause of antisemitism.”
“The attempt to change the world, to challenge the gods, religious or secular, of the societies around them, and to make moral demands upon others (even when not done expressly in the name of Judaism) has constantly been a source of tension.”
Though I am not Jewish, I am moved, as is William Falk, editor of The Week, by the concept of tikkun olam —the rabbinical teaching that we each have a duty to “repair the world.”
And finally, Judaism demanded of Jews that they aspire to higher quality lives: as a result, they were, generally, better educated with stable family life. And this, too, “provoked profound envy and hostility among many non-Jews.”
In short, everything that distinguishes Judaism from other beliefs and ways of life—everything that makes Jews Jews—has, from ancient times on, prompted fear, envy, antagonism and, eventually, hatred.
And none of it justifies the ages of persecution.
I’M QUOTING HERE from the earliest pages in the book. Prager and Telushkin go on for another 200 pages to elaborate upon their thesis. The foregoing abbreviated analysis of Judaism in the ancient world provides a broad foundation upon which, century after century, antisemitism built, laminating on freshly cooked-up prejudices and new wholly specious biases to create a monstrous misapprehension of Judaism and Jews, arousing passions that no other religion or nation or political entity has inspired and making Jews the object of the most enduring and universal hatred in history.
And that hatred has, throughout history, taken murderous forms like the slaughter of eleven people in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and six million in concentration camps during World War II.
Falk reported in The Week (November 9) that when Robert Bowers, the synagogue murderer, arrived at an emergency room with several bullet wounds needing treatment, he shouted, “I want to kill all the Jews!” The doctor and the nurse waiting to treat him at Allegheny General Hospital were Jews; the hospital’s president, Jeffrey Cohen, belongs to the Tree of Life congregation.
They tended to Bowers as they would any other patient.
Cohen, however, made a point of talking to Bowers, “to see what kind of person could turn an AR-15 on grandfathers and grandmothers and two disabled men. He saw not a monster but a ‘very lost guy’ who’d listened to the ‘noise’ telling him that white, Christian America was being invaded by Jews, by a caravan of Central Americans, by foreign vermin.
“‘Words mean things,’ Cohen said. ‘Words are leading people to do things like this.’”
Edward Felsenthal, the editor of Time, himself a Jew, wrote about Edel Rodriguez’s rendition of the Tree of Life on the cover of the magazine that week (November 12). “The roots of the Tree of Life ... run deep in America,” Felsenthal said, then he quoted George Washington who wrote in his famous letter to the Jews of Newport, R.I.: “Everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.” (And on the Other Side of the $ubscriber’s Wall, we have posted Rodriguez’s inspirational Time cover.)
Fitnoot on November 7, the day after Election Day. As if to repudiate the antisemitism of the Tree of Life murders and to affirm by practice an otherwise theoretical principle of nondiscriminatory humanity, Colorado elected its first Jewish governor yesterday. And Jared Polis is not only a Jew: he’s also gay, the first openly gay man to serve as a governor in any state. Rejoice: all is not lost in the era of the Trumpet.
And Tolerance Grows Elsewhere
JANE GETS MARRIED AND DISAPPEARS
A lesbian marriage ends the 20-year run of Paige Braddock’s Jane’s World, perhaps the first gay life comic strip in wide circulation. “After years of on-and-off-again dating,” as George Gene Gustines reports at nytimes.com, “Jane and Dorothy take their relationship to the next level in the final (for now, at least) installment” of Braddock’s strip on Friday, October 19, as “they seal their union with a kiss.” (Here, on the Other Side of the $ubscriber’s Wall, we have the last strip and a short selection of strips leading up to the wedding.)
But the kiss and the marriage are more than just a kiss and a marriage, Guistines writes: The strip “ends on a note that shows how much times have changed since the strip first began.” He continues by quoting Braddock: “When I started the comic, two women could not have been married; it would have been pure fiction,” she said in a telephone interview. “This shows how much has changed for the LGBT community in 20 years. It’s sort of staggering.”
The rest of our report is all Gustines.
Braddock’s strip faced early rejections. One criticism was that “it wasn’t gender-specific enough,” the cartoonist recalled.
“Back in the ’90s, a comic about a woman had to be about topics that women would be interested in: kids, family, husbands and bathing suits.”
Undeterred, she began posting her cartoons on her own website as “See Jane” in 1995, and it built a following as it evolved into “Jane’s World” in 1998. The strip was published in some alternative weeklies and received a tryout in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where Braddock once worked as an illustrator. In general, however, “mainstream papers considered Jane too radical,” Braddock said. “I sometimes think I was just 15 years too soon.”
Reader reaction to Jane’s World has always been generally positive — and the gay story lines would sometimes take readers by surprise, Braddock said.
“What would happen is that people wouldn’t realize it was a gay comic,” she explained “That content wasn’t always front and center.”
When a story line would focus on Jane getting a girlfriend, some readers would write in: “Wait a minute. She’s gay?”
A more appreciative response, Braddock said, came from a father who recently learned his daughter is a lesbian: “He had started reading Jane’s World and it made him think that his daughter was going to be okay.”
A big break for Braddock came from Amy Lago, then the editor of Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts at United Feature Syndicate. Lago was working on starting an online syndicate of comic strips. Lago thought Jane’s World was worth a try. (Braddock’s affiliation with the Peanuts gang would be a long-lasting one: in 1999, she became the creative director at Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, and this year she took on the role of chief creative officer.)
The strip also got an audience via Yahoo!, which often promoted comics.
Braddock gives Schulz a lot of credit for shaping her into the cartoonist she is.
“Until I started working directly with him, I’m not sure I had the courage to put my real authentic self into my work,” she said. “That’s one of the things I always liked about Peanuts and why I think it still resonates today: Schulz’s authenticity.”
Over the years, she had wondered how she would know when to end the strip. With the 20th anniversary and the wedding, the timing seemed right. “I felt I could go out on a high note,” she said.
This does not necessarily spell the end for Jane, Dorothy and friends. “Maybe five years from now, I’ll jump back and see where they are,” Braddock said.
Braddock continued to reflect: “Yesterday was a weirdly sad and happy day as I contemplated today's reveal of the last Jane's World strip. And I'd like to say thank you to a few people. Because a comic succeeds through the support of great editors and publishers, like John Glynn, Shena Wolf, Céline Lion, Joel Enos, Amy Brunger Lago, Frank Rizzo, Celina De León, Andrea Colvin, Jeremy Atkins, Devin Funches, and the whole crew at Lion Forge.* And to my loyal, patient, kind and always supportive readers— what can I say?— Thank you. Here's to love. Here's to forever. Thanks to George Gene Gustines for sharing Jane's story. And to my wife, Evelyn, for being okay with all the late nights spent inking comics.
* RCH (just to finish things off properly)—: Lion Forge is the publisher of Love Letters to Jane’s World, a 2018 collection of Jane strips from the beginning until August 23, 2017 (304 8.5x10-inch page paperback, b/w with some color; $22.99). We get to watch as Braddock’s drawing and lettering skills improve in short stories of Jane’s various misadventures (including getting kidnaped by an alien from outer space) and wannabe love affairs, plus some letters from fans and some anecdotes like this one—:
There was a hotel room. At a conference. Tequila was involved—the expensive, silver kind. What do three lesbians do when it gets to that point in the night? Scratch that. What do three lesbians who have girlfriends at home do when it gets to that time of the night? They arm wrestle. Or two of them do—one takes pictures on her flip phone. Biceps bulged. Teeth were clenched. Noises came from deep in their throats. Their conjoined fist shook as one arm tried desperately to lower itself onto the other ... Who won that night? We all did. Watching Alison Bechdel and Paige Braddock duke it out—the two cartoonists who best capture lesbian desire in the comics—I realized I was not simply a fan of Jane’s World. I was inside a double-page spread.— Hilary Price, who draws a comic strip called Rhymes with Orange.
The Rall Case May Never End and Its Relevance Remains
Update from Ted Rall, who is suing the Los Angeles Times for defamation of character and other slurs and slanders (see Opus 342a and Opus 373 for details)—:
Now we're waiting for the court to rule. Guesstimate is that it will happen in early 2019. If they rule for me (the plaintiff in Ted Rall v. LA Times et al.), anti-SLAPP is no longer an issue, the Times is out of stalling tactics, and we begin discovery: subpoenaing the Times' secret documents and deposing their employees in preparation for trial in LA Superior Court.
If they rule for the Times (the defendant), my defamation and wrongful termination case ends. I will have to pay the Times hundreds of thousands of dollars in their padded $715-an-hour fees.
More importantly, losing my case would be a major defeat for anyone who works for what a California court defines as an employer of a "media company" with First Amendment rights: a newspaper, a magazine, a website, a social media platform, any number of Silicon Valley tech companies. If I lose, it means the Times' argument that they can defame, retaliate and discriminate against their employers — even for sexist, racist or homophobic reasons — would become case law. Any "media" company in the state would become exempt from these important protections.
That's why I'm fighting so hard. It's not just for me. Tens of thousands of California workers, most of whom have never heard of me or my case, are in danger of losing their rights because of the Times' reckless arguments.
COMICS JOURNAL RETURNS TO PRINT
At Least for the Immediate Future
The current print The Comics Journal, which is renowned for its in-depth interviews, comics criticism, and thought-provoking editorials (it sez rightchere, in the magazine’s very own promo), features Gary Groth in frank and often hilarious discussion with the satirist and children’s book author Tomi Ungerer. Ungerer talks about the entire trajectory of his life and career: growing up in France during the Nazi occupation, creating controversial work, being blacklisted as a children’s book author due to a backlash against his erotica.
This issue, No.303, the first in its new twice-a-year print format, covers the “new mainstream” in American comics — how the marketplace and overall perception of the medium has drastically shifted since the “graphic novel boom” of the early 2000s and massive hits like Persepolis, Fun Home, and Smile. It also includes sketchbook pages from French-born cartoonist Antoine Cossé, an introduction to homoerotic gag cartoons out of the U.S. Navy, Your Black Friend cartoonist Ben Passmore’s examination of the role art and comics have in gentrification, a reconsideration of the comics canon by Eisner Award-winner Dr. Sheena C. Howard, and more.
Dunno about subscription, but you can order No.303 at fantagraphics.com/tcj-303/ for $14.99.
Jules Feiffer has begun contributing to Tablet magazine, announced Paul Berman, the magazine’s critic-at-large, who went on: “The editors have not told me what these contributions will be, and neither has Feiffer. I am in the dark. And yet, I know, and everyone knows, and the cosmos agrees, that his contributions will be brilliant. It will be a matter of exquisite ink lines. There will be humor. The dialogue will be pitched to a human voice. I trust that, politically speaking, he will do his best to overthrow the government.
“Will he do this by drawing cartoons? It could well be so, though for all I know, he may write a play, or a screenplay, or a serial graphic novel. If he composes sermons, they will be okay with me. I hope he denounces his critics, if, by chance, he has critics (but who would criticize him?). ...
“Jules has told me that, when he was a young boy, he was inspired to pursue his career as political cartoonist by studying cartoons from the old socialist magazine from Greenwich Village in the 1910s, The Masses, where the cartoons were immortally great. A line is thus drawn from The Masses to Tablet magazine, which may seem like a quirky line. But history is a quirky line, for which we should be grateful.”
And we should be grateful for Feiffer, too. And on the Other Side of the $ubscriber’s Wall, we have a strip he did recently for Tablet.
QUOTES & MOTS
In Germany, Rice Krispies don’t say “Snap, Crackle, Pop”; they say “Knisper, Knasper, Knusper.”
The skin of the African elephant, the largest living land animal, weighs 2,000 pounds by itself, and there are more than 60,000 musceles in its trunk alone.
Now, back to Serious Journalism.
TV CHEF WROTE GRAPHIC NOVELS. WHO KNEW?
The late Anthony Bourdain, acclaimed writer, chef, and tv host, wrote graphic novels. Michael Dooley in printmag.com asserts that Bourdain was “once an aspiring comics artist, who had a passion for the medium in its myriad forms. He loved and collected adventure newspaper strips like Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates and Will Eisner’s The Spirit, action superhero artists such as Jim Steranko and Neal Adams, and Harvey Kurtzman’s Mad and Robert Crumb’s Zap. And his latest graphic novel, the just-published Hungry Ghosts, blends together his tastes in food, comics, and Japanese culture, sprinkled with a generous helping of the supernatural.”
Co-written with Joel Rose, the novel is from the Dark Horse imprint Berger Books and is apparently drawn by several artists. The editor, Karen Berger, founded DC Comics’ Vertigo, the line that had published the pair’s 2012 debut graphic novel – and New York Times No.1 bestseller – Get Jiro! – which is dedicated to Jack Kirby – and its 2016 follow-up, Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi.
Dooley goes on: “When I interviewed the book’s art director Richard Bruning about his design approach to the handsomely-packaged hardcover, he replied: ‘Hungry Ghosts was an interesting challenge due to both the unusual editorial material and the diverse range of artists with their singular styles. Although the monstrous legends and ghostly spirits come from Japanese folklore, the actual stories take place in a wide variety of cultural settings. This caused me not to go too heavily into Japanese motifs. The logo was a deliberate attempt to evoke a Japanese flavor but keep it otherwise clean and not ornamental in any way.”
As intimated last time (in Opus 384), Alley Oop is destined to return to the nation’s funny pages. His hiatus will be over in January when he’ll resume his exploits at the hands of writer Joey Alison and artist Jonathan Lemon. Monday through Saturday, they’ll give us the old Oop; on Sundays, they’ll tell the story of Li’l Oop, a new preteen version of our taciturn hero that will focus on his early middle-school years.
Middle school? In cave-man times? I don’t think that promises much, but then I never got a comic strip into production, so what do I know?
Sayers said she hopes to add more humor to the strip: “I want to make it a little zanier and just have a little more fun and draw readers in,” Sayers said. The Sunday installments, she said, would likely not involve time travel. They will be a little more slice-of-life and coming-of-age-type stories, she said.
Sayers, who usually draws her own comics, will be working with Lemon on the strip. “All of my own strips start out as scripts anyway,” she said. “I’m excited to see someone else take that and put their own spin on it.”
Lemon, who has been working daily on his comic strip, Rabbits Against Magic, since its debut in May 2008, is looking forward to the challenge.
On the Other Side of the $ubscriber’s Wall, we post a page of Lemon’s character sketches, showing the evolution of the appearance of Alley Oop and Lemon’s approach to drawing the character. (Sharp eyes will also note the playful inclusion of one of his magic rabbits.)
He said he believes “purists will be happy with the fact that the characters are not radically changed and also excited that the freshness of the heyday of the Alley Oop universe is being revived..”
The syndicate’s announcement alluded to time travel in the strip, and I’m glad to hear that: the prehistoric sequences were never as much fun as traveling through time to Rome in Caesar’s time or the old American West during the gold rush. I’m eager to see how this comes over.
In his Rabbits Against Magic, by the way, Lemon does an awful lot of drawing in backgrounds for a comedy featuring two very simply rendered rabbits (in the same family of artistry as my own, Cahoots, who appears on our gateway page and elsewhere).
NIB CELEBRATES FIVE YEARS
A Message from Founder Matt Bors—:
Five years ago, I launched The Nib as an online destination for the kinds of comics I wanted to see more of in the world: scathing political satire, great journalism, and powerful non-fiction.
The Nib was going to exist in defiance of print and online trends and carve out a space for cartoonists. And if you told me back then that in five years we would have published thousands of comics from over 300 cartoonists and just launched a print magazine, I would have said to you, “Well, shit, that’s my plan exactly. Must be easy getting there.”
It has not been easy getting here.
We’ve had ups and downs, great successes, and near-death experiences. We’ve had comics reach over a million people in a single day and we’ve had the rug pulled out from under us and publishing halted. We’ve re-launched and re-tooled, animated and live-drawn.
And now we’ve launched our most ambitious project: a quarterly print magazine and membership program called The Inkwell to support The Nib for the long haul.
Members of The Inkwell also get our special newsletter, which features a behind-the-scenes look into the goings on at The Nib. ...
Here’s a small sampling of the work your membership will support:
Raw and real comics on the issues of the day from a diverse range of creators, like “I’m Tired of Performing Trauma: Five Cartoonists on #MeToo.”
Weekly cartoons tearing down Trump from the likes of Tom Tomorrow and Pia Guerra.
Comics journalism on under-covered issues like the homeless are politically organizing.
New voices like Chelsea Saunders, who started drawing for us this year and has already become a regular contributor.
Our first print issue’s theme is Death, and we came at it from every angle for 112 pages, from the personal to the political to the absurd.
RCH: I joined, and I just received the promised special newsletter via e-mail. It is interesting in the manner of what’s-online info notices. Nothing extensive or penetrating.
Remember this one? Opus 382? When the Associated Press reported that the Colorado capitol’s wall of presidential portraits is missing one—the Trumpet’s? Presidential portraits cost about $10,000 and are paid for through donations. A local tv station learned that the group that collects private donations for the portraits hasn’t received a single dollar for Trump’s picture. Not a dollar. He apparently does not inspire Colorado Republicons. But Trump’s blank space on the wall didn’t remain blank: a prankster placed a portrait of Putin on an easel below the space where Trump’s portrait would go.
Well, the day after this newsstory appeared inn the Denver Post, Trump’s minions got busy, and within 24 hours, they collected the requisite $10,000.
Here it is, kimo sabe—excerpts from the 8 (not including covers) “sweaty 3x4-inch pages of palm pounding fun as our Prez and the lovely Superpornstar Stormy Daniels (plus a surprise love interest) get it up, get down and get it on!” as Mitch O’Connell sez in promoting this masterpiece. Yeh, I couldn’t help myself: I sent off for the whole thing. ... And To See as Much of It as I Dare Reveal—plus Steve Kelley Getting Hired at the Post-Gazette and Reviews of Cemetery Beach, Dick Tracy, MCMLVII, Soldier Supreme, Chaykin’s Hey Kids! Comics; Archie 1941, and Batman’s Dick, Not to Mention the Discovery of Another “First Comics” and Some Delicious Old Drawings from the Antique Humor Magazine Life and More, Much More —Click Here
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