Tagged: “Weird Al” Yankovic

Mindy Newell: Look! Up In The Sky!

I am so very tired of it.

Last week fellow ComicMix columnist Molly Jackson wrote about the sexual harassment of cosplayer Mindy Marzac at the most recent Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California. Separately, Frank Cho drew a riff of the “infamous” Milo Manara cover and all hell broke loose.

Separately, country music icon Tim McGraw decided to do a benefit concert for the Sandy Hook Promise charity and suddenly he became persona non grata to the gun lobby while others call for his records to be banned.

Separately, political hack Peter Schweizer was a consultant for Sarah Palin when she was John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 Presidential election, and we’re supposed to take seriously his allegations that Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, okayed the sale of Uranium One, a Canadian company with uranium mining claims in the U.S., to Rosatom, a Russian atomic energy agency.

Aside: On April 24, NBC News released a statement, after doing its own research into what, I admit, could be a very serious matter, saying that these allegations “don’t hold up so well.” Here is their report:

  • Ian Telfer, who was Uranium One’s chairman at the time it was being taken over by Rosatom, did donate money to the Clinton Foundation. However, he told the Financial Post  that he committed those funds to the Foundation in 2008, “before Uranium One had any negotiations with the Russians, and the donations he has made since then were part of that initial pledge.” Hillary Clinton also did not become secretary of state until 2009.
  • Frank Giustra, a Canadian businessman who the New York Times noted also donated to the Clinton Foundation and who owned the predecessor to Uranium One before its sale to the Russians, sold his personal stake in the company in 2007. The proposed sale of Uranium One occurred in 2010. Giustra himself released a statement criticizing the Times’ reporting, calling it “wildly speculative, innuendo-laced,” and inaccurate, and noting that contrary to the Times’ claim that Bill Clinton had flown with him to conclude a stage in the Uranium deal, “Bill Clinton had nothing to do with” that purchase.
  • The State Department only had one vote on the nine-member Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) that approved the deal. Other agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Energy, Commerce, and Justice, also weighed in.
  • The chairman of the CFIUS is the TreasurySecretary, not Secretary of State.
  • Rosatom hadto get approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is an independent agency outside of the secretary of state’s influence.
  • Utah’s local nuclear regulator also had to sign off on the deal, as it involved mills in the state.
  • Former Assistant Secretary of State Jose Fernandez, who was the State Department’s principal representative on CFIUS, said, “Secretary Clinton never intervened with me on any CFIUS matter.”

Yeah, I’m tired of it. “It” meaning all the bullshit that’s out there.

  •    •    •     •     •

Last week I wrote about the second season of Outlander, mentioning how the truly erotic and openly sexual scenes between heroine Claire Randal and her 18th century lover/husband are breaking down the barriers of what is shown on television shows these days.

Well, score another smashing down of said barrier. Last night’s episode, in which the dastardly Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” attempted to rape Jamie Fraser’s sister, not only gave us the full Monty of Jonathan’s jack, but also gave us the delightful (not!) view of the Captain fruitlessly masturbating as he endeavored to get himself hard enough to penetrate the woman. And what did Jamie’s sister do while this was going on? Laughed at him! (You go, Jamie’s sister!) Kudos to the historical accuracy once again. “Black Jack” is not circumcised, a procedure which in the 18th century was only carried out only by Jews and Muslims as part of a religious ritual. No word, however, on whether or not there was digital manipulation of the actor’s penis. Is he or isn’t he? Only his intimates know for sure.

  •    •    •     •     •

DC Comics, a subsidiary of DC Entertainment, a subsidiary of Warner Bros Inc., officially closed its New York City doors at 1700 Broadway, across the street from The Ed Sullivan Theater, on Friday, April 10, moving out to Burbank, California and Warner Bros. corporate home and studios.

How does that affect me?

Practically speaking, not at all. I haven’t been to DC’s NY offices since November 2001, and I don’t expect to be visiting their shiny new environs any time soon.

My professional days at DC weren’t at 1700 Broadway anyway. They took place at 666 Fifth Avenue, a landmark Manhattan skyscraper built in 1957, which is also known as the Tishman Building, and was home to the Top of the Sixes restaurant – it’s since closed. Dick Giordano once took me to lunch there. I had an enormous shrimp cocktail and an absolutely mouth-watering Scottish barley soup. Also two glasses of a very fine Merlot. It was a very good meeting.

My emotional reaction is a bit more difficult to define. End of an era, rose-colored nostalgia, of course. Some “what could have been” meanderings. A little anger at what part of me sees as a general dissing of New York City’s grand history as the publishing mecca of the world, and a more personal dissing of DC itself as a New York City historical landmark of pop culture by Warner Bros., which now so overtly sees DC and its comics only as product.

I wonder what they will do in a few years when the superhero movies craze goes away, as all crazes do. Will they continue to support DC, or will they sell it off as “non-profitable?” I personally opt for the later, which will leave only Marvel Studios – if they survive – as the premier comic book movie producer. And if Warners sells DC to Disney/Marvel, will a Supreme Court fight over “entertainment monopolies” ensue?

green lantern oathBut, as Mike Gold so fittingly described it, I do have a lot for which to be thankful regarding DC; first and foremost the many friends and good people I met, and the feeling they gave me that, yes, you weird woman, you, you weren’t that weird after all – there were others out there just like you who loved comics and science fiction and could recite Green Lantern’s oath, and dug Doctor Who and grokked Spock. And I would have never traveled around the States and across the Atlantic to participate in conventions, and I would have never spent a day in Marvel’s Bullpen.

And I sure as hell wouldn’t be here now, trying to inform and entertain you with my love of comics and pop culture, with my opinions, with my attitudes, with my political stances …

… and just generally trying to raise your hackles.


The Point Radio: Lisa Loeb Flies High Again

This weekend, HELICOPTER MOM opens in select theaters with music (and an appearance) from singer/song writer, Lisa Loeb. Lisa talks about this and her many new projects, plus recalls what it as like hearing her music on the radio for the first time. Meanwhile, one of NBC’s biggest successes this season has been their prime time crossovers. This week CHICAGO PD, CHICAGO FIRE and LAW & ORDER:SVU together for one epic story and the show runners give us an exclusive sneak peek.

We’re back in a few days with a voice to match a familiar face. Actor Burn Gorman talk about this season of TURN:WASHINGTON’S SPIES, his love for TORCHWOOD and more. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Marc Alan Fishman: When Are Characters Not Real?

This past week we were given a pivotal episode of Gotham. Amidst all the gut-wrenching angst, two minor sub-plots reached fever pitch. In one, the soon-to-be Riddler finally snapped, and joined the “Murder-Because-I-Can’t-Take-It-Anymore” club. In the second, Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot finalizes his plans to murder Sal Maroni – after the don himself decides to push the buttons of the would-be Penguin. Both these plots were fantastically acted. Both left me seething as much of the characters on screen. But the actions taken by both men as depicted struck me as off-character compared to their comics origins. Disconcerting, but simply par for the course adaptations.

Ever since the pilot, Edward Nygma’s screen time has been dedicated to his pining for one Ms. Kringle, deep in the fileroom of the GCPD. And while Edward didn’t quite take no thank you as an answer for his advances… it would take her having to date a man who proclaims “some women just need a strong hand” to eventually turn Nygma into a killer. Was his repeated stabbing of Kringle’s meathead beau deserved? Sure, if you’re playing fast and loose with morality. But up to that point, the “Riddle Man” was eccentric but not psychopathic. A cursory glance of my own definition of what makes The Riddler doesn’t often cross the boundaries of passionate physical violence. In fact, really, it never does.

When I think of Edward Nygma? It’s too hard not to immediately recall “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich” from Batman: The Animated Series. In the episode, Nygma was a puzzle maker pushed to his limits by the greed of his boss. When pinned against the wall, Nygma wilted and took a full year to return to Gotham, reformed as the mastermind so many of us pin to the very core of the character. The Riddler is a thinker. He’s a player in a grand game. He’s a thief. He’s not blood-thirsty malcontent. In Gotham, the proclivities of the character remain in tact – he’s clever, obsessed with riddles, and seemingly more obsessed with matters of the mind than of physicality. But in the show, the creators are apt to force the psychosis onto Edward rather than really let it seep in from the corners. In the cartoon? The Riddler was a nuanced ne’er-do-well. In live action? He’s a living cartoon.

Where I found Nygma’s turn to the dark(er) side to be a bit foul, I’m of the opposite mind concerning young Penguin. While Mr. Taylor himself merely walks the walk of the would-be villain… he certainly wouldn’t be pinned in a lineup of actors one would think of when the casting turns to the oft-depicted Rubeneque rogue. But I digress.

As depicted throughout this first season, there’s been a ton to like about Oswald. His silver tongue and laughable frame allowed him to play in between heavy mafiosos like Loki must do at Asgardian cocktail parties. He talks his way into power and out of seedy situations. The Penguin is a schemer. He’s a would-be kingpin (no, not Kingpin) who fancies himself an ornate and public figurehead not unlike the dons he aspires to murder. When plunged into his enemies, Ozzie’s knife feels well-placed. From the very first time we meet him, he was always a bird of a darker feather… both on the page and the screen.

It leads me to the bigger question we comic book fans find ourselves asking when our magazine heroes become moving pictures. Where is the line drawn? In many cases, it’s been as spot-on as we could ever hope. Marv in Sin City. Hellboy. The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series. Captain America in all those Marvel movies. In each depiction there was truly no wiggle room between the source and the eventual performance. But as with so many things, the devil is in the details.

Think of the Daredevil movie, circa 2003. While the character of course was white in the comics, casting a mountain of a man like Michael Clarke Duncan in the role of The Kingpin seemed more fitting. And the way he was played in the movie (in spite of the absolute atrocious writing) was true to the source. The Kingpin was a heavy-hitting don, with his fingers in a lot of criminal pies. He was classy, and he radiated power. I’d be hard-pressed not to ask our resident Black Panel creator Michael Davis how he personally graded the depiction. In sharp contrast, there’s Bullseye. What was once one of the most dangerous and professional killers in the MCU was represented by a scene-eating Irishman with his logo carved into his forehead. He rode loud obnoxious motorcycles, wore loud boots, and seemingly smirked at everything in apropos of common sense. Maybe he was high? What he wasn’t was Bullseye.

Ultimately, our characters are merely licenses. They are templates by which studios fill in enough detail in order to eventually deliver a new end-product. We, the gatekeepers of cool, typically judge these depictions against the knowledge we’d absorbed through years of private fandom. Those stalwart traits that drive the characters must remain in tact for us to wholly celebrate them. See: The Avengers. When they stray too far – become too Hollywood, too dark, too polished, or simply too unrecognizable? Well, that’s when we mock the hell out of them and demand justice. See: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

On second thought, maybe don’t see that movie. That hardly looks like the Batman and Superman I know. Natch.


2015 Eisner Award nominations

2015 Eisner Award nominations

eisnerawards_logo_2Comic-Con International has announced the nominations for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for 2015. The nominees, chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of judges, highlight the wide range of material being published in comics and graphic novel form today, from companies big and small, in print and on line. The awards will be given out during a gala ceremony on Friday, July 10 during Comic-Con International: San Diego.

Best Short Story

Beginning’s End,” by Rina Ayuyang, muthamagazine.com
Corpse on the Imjin!” by Peter Kuper, in Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed the World (Simon & Schuster)
Rule Number One,” by Lee Bermejo, in Batman Black and White #3 (DC)
The Sound of One Hand Clapping,” by Max Landis & Jock, in Adventures of Superman #14 (DC)
“When the Darkness Presses,” by Emily Carroll, http://emcarroll.com/comics/darkness/

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)

Astro City #16: “Wish I May” by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson (Vertigo/DC)
Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers, by Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson (Dark Horse)
Madman in Your Face 3D Special, by Mike Allred (Image)
Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration #1 (Marvel)
The Multiversity: Pax Americana #1, by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely (DC)

Best Continuing Series

Astro City, by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson (Vertigo)
Bandette, by Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain)
Hawkeye, by Matt Fraction, David Aja, & Annie Wu (Marvel)
Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples (Image)
Southern Bastards, by Jason Aaron & Jason Latour (Image)
The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, & Stefano Gaudiano (Image/Skybound)

Best Limited Series

Daredevil: Road Warrior, by Mark Waid & Peter Krause (Marvel Infinite Comics)
Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, by Eric Shanower & Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
The Multiversity, by Grant Morrison et al. (DC)
The Private Eye, by Brian K. Vaughan & Marcos Martin (Panel Syndicate)
The Sandman: Overture, by Neil Gaiman & J. H. Williams III (Vertigo/DC)

Best New Series

The Fade Out, by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips (Image)
Lumberjanes, by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, & Brooke A. Allen (BOOM! Box)
Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona (Marvel)
Rocket Raccoon, by Skottie Young (Marvel)
The Wicked + The Divine, by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie (Image)

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7)

BirdCatDog, by Lee Nordling & Meritxell Bosch (Lerner/Graphic Universe)
A Cat Named Tim And Other Stories, by John Martz (Koyama Press)
Hello Kitty, Hello 40: A Celebration in 40 Stories, edited by Traci N. Todd & Elizabeth Kawasaki (VIZ)
Mermin, Book 3: Deep Dives, by Joey Weiser (Oni)
The Zoo Box, by Ariel Cohn & Aron Nels Steinke (First Second)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12)

Batman Li’l Gotham, vol. 2, by Derek Fridolfs & Dustin Nguyen (DC)
El Deafo, by Cece Bell (Amulet/Abrams)
I Was the Cat, by Paul Tobin & Benjamin Dewey (Oni)
Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, by Eric Shanower & Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse, by Art Baltazar & Franco (DC)

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17)

Doomboy, by Tony Sandoval (Magnetic Press)
The Dumbest Idea Ever, by Jimmy Gownley (Graphix/Scholastic)
Lumberjanes, by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, & Brooke A. Allen (BOOM! Box)
Meteor Men, by Jeff Parker & Sandy Jarrell (Oni)
The Shadow Hero, by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew (First Second)
The Wrenchies, by Farel Dalrymple (First Second)

Best Humor Publication

The Complete Cul de Sac, by Richard Thompson (Andrews McMeel)
Dog Butts and Love. And Stuff Like That. And Cats. by Jim Benton (NBM)
Groo vs. Conan, by Sergio Aragonés, Mark Evanier, & Tom Yeates (Dark Horse)
Rocket Raccoon, by Skottie Young (Marvel)
Superior Foes of Spider-Man, by Nick Spencer & Steve Lieber (Marvel)

Best Digital/Web Comic

Bandette, by Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover, Monkeybrain/comiXology.com
Failing Sky by Dax Tran-Caffee, http://failingsky.com
The Last Mechanical Monster, by Brian Fies, http://lastmechanicalmonster.blogspot.com
Nimona, by Noelle Stephenson, http://gingerhaze.com/nimona/comic
The Private Eye by Brian Vaughan & Marcos Martin http://panelsyndicate.com/

Best Anthology

In the Dark: A Horror Anthology, edited by Rachel Deering (Tiny Behemoth Press/IDW)
Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream, edited by Josh O’Neill, Andrew Carl, & Chris Stevens (Locust Moon)
Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It, edited by Anne Ishii, Chip Kidd, & Graham Kolbeins (Fantagraphics)
Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed the World, edited by Monte Beauchamp (Simon & Schuster)
To End All Wars: The Graphic Anthology of The First World War, edited by Jonathan Clode & John Stuart Clark (Soaring Penguin)

Best Reality-Based Work

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast (Bloomsbury)
Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories, by MariNaomi (2d Cloud/Uncivilized Books)
El Deafo, by Cece Bell (Amulet/Abrams)
Hip Hop Family Tree, vol. 2, by Ed Piskor (Fantagraphics)
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood, by Nathan Hale (Abrams)
To End All Wars: The Graphic Anthology of The First World War, edited by Jonathan Clode & John Stuart Clark (Soaring Penguin)

Best Graphic Album—New

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, by Stephen Collins (Picador)
Here, by Richard McGuire (Pantheon)
Kill My Mother, by Jules Feiffer (Liveright)
The Motherless Oven, by Rob Davis (SelfMadeHero)
Seconds, by Bryan Lee O’Malley (Ballantine Books)
This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki (First Second)

Best Graphic Album—Reprint

Dave Dorman’s Wasted Lands Omnibus (Magnetic Press)
How to Be Happy, by Eleanor Davis (Fantagraphics)
Jim, by Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics)
Sock Monkey Treasury, by Tony Millionaire (Fantagraphics)
Through the Woods, by Emily Carroll (McElderry Books)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips (at least 20 years old)

Winsor McCay’s Complete Little Nemo, edited by Alexander Braun (TASCHEN)
Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan: The Sunday Comics, 1933–1935, by Hal Foster, edited by Brendan Wright (Dark Horse)
Moomin: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition, by Tove Jansson, edited by Tom Devlin (Drawn & Quarterly)
Pogo, vol. 3: Evidence to the Contrary, by Walt Kelly, edited by Carolyn Kelly & Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics)
Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, vols. 5-6, by Floyd Gottfredson, edited by David Gerstein & Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books (at least 20 Years Old)

The Complete ZAP Comix Box Set, edited by Gary Groth, with Mike Catron (Fantagraphics)
Steranko Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Artist’s Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW)
Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Trail of the Unicorn, by Carl Barks, edited by Gary Groth (Fantagraphics)
Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: The Son of the Son, by Don Rosa, edited by David Gerstein (Fantagraphics)
Walt Kelly’s Pogo: The Complete Dell Comics, vols. 1–2, edited by Daniel Herman (Hermes)
Witzend, by Wallace Wood et al., edited by Gary Groth, with Mike Catron (Fantagraphics)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material

Beautiful Darkness, by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët (Drawn & Quarterly)
Blacksad: Amarillo, by Juan Díaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido (Dark Horse)
Corto Maltese: Under the Sign of Capricorn, by Hugo Pratt (IDW/Euro Comics)
Jaybird, by Lauri & Jaakko Ahonen (Dark Horse/SAF)
The Leaning Girl, by Benoît Peeters & François Schuiten (Alaxis Press)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia

All You Need Is Kill, by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Ryosuke Takeuchi, Takeshi Obata & yoshitoshi ABe (VIZ)
In Clothes Called Fat, by Moyoco Anno (Vertical)
Master Keaton, vol 1, by Naoki Urasawa, Hokusei Katsushika, & Takashi Nagasaki (VIZ)
One-Punch Man, by One & Yusuke Murata (VIZ)
Showa 1939–1944 and Showa 1944–1953: A History of Japan, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)
Wolf Children: Ame & Yuki, by Mamoru Hosada & Yu (Yen Press)

Best Writer

Jason Aaron, Original Sin, Thor, Men of Wrath (Marvel); Southern Bastards (Image)
Kelly Sue DeConnick, Captain Marvel (Marvel); Pretty Deadly (Image)
Grant Morrison, The Multiversity (DC); Annihilator (Legendary Comics)
Brian K. Vaughan, Saga (Image); Private Eye (Panel Syndicate)
G. Willow Wilson, Ms. Marvel (Marvel)
Gene Luen Yang, Avatar: The Last Airbender (Dark Horse); The Shadow Hero (First Second)

Best Writer/Artist

Sergio Aragonés, Sergio Aragonés Funnies (Bongo); Groo vs. Conan (Dark Horse)
Charles Burns, Sugar Skull (Pantheon)
Stephen Collins, The Giant Beard That Was Evil (Picador)
Richard McGuire, Here (Pantheon)
Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo: Senso, Usagi Yojimbo Color Special: The Artist (Dark Horse)
Raina Telgemeier, Sisters (Graphix/Scholastic)

Best Penciller/Inker

Adrian Alphona, Ms. Marvel (Marvel)
Mike Allred, Silver Surfer (Marvel); Madman in Your Face 3D Special (Image)
Frank Quitely, Multiversity (DC)
François Schuiten, The Leaning Girl (Alaxis Press)
Fiona Staples, Saga (Image)
Babs Tarr, Batgirl (DC)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)

Lauri & Jaakko Ahonen, Jaybird (Dark Horse)
Colleen Coover, Bandette (Monkeybrain)
Mike Del Mundo, Elektra (Marvel)
Juanjo Guarnido, Blacksad: Amarillo (Dark Horse)
J. H. Williams III, The Sandman: Overture (Vertigo/DC)

Best Cover Artist

Darwyn Cooke, DC Comics Darwyn Cooke Month Variant Covers (DC)
Mike Del Mundo, Elektra, X-Men: Legacy, A+X, Dexter, Dexter Down Under (Marvel)
Francesco Francavilla, Afterlife with Archie (Archie); Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight (Dark Horse); The Twilight Zone, Django/Zorro (Dynamite); X-Files (IDW)
Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson, The Wicked + The Divine (Image); Ms. Marvel (Marvel)
Phil Noto, Black Widow (Marvel)
Alex Ross, Astro City (Vertigo/DC); Batman 66: The Lost Episode, Batman 66 Meets Green Hornet (DC/Dynamite)

Best Coloring

Laura Allred, Silver Surfer (Marvel); Madman in Your Face 3D Special (Image)
Nelson Daniel, Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, Judge Dredd, Wild Blue Yonder (IDW)
Lovern Kindzierski, The Graveyard Book, vols. 1-2 (Harper)
Matthew Petz, The Leg (Blue Creek Creative/Top Shelf)
Dave Stewart, Hellboy in Hell, BPRD, Abe Sapien, Baltimore, Lobster Johnson, Witchfinder, Shaolin Cowboy, Aliens: Fire and Stone, DHP (Dark Horse)
Matthew Wilson, Adventures of Superman (DC); The Wicked + The Divine (Image), Daredevil, Thor (Marvel)

Best Lettering

Joe Caramagna, Ms. Marvel, Daredevil (Marvel)
Todd Klein, Fables, The Sandman: Overture, The Unwritten (Vertigo/DC); Nemo: The Roses of Berlin (Top Shelf)
Max, Vapor (Fantagraphics)
Jack Morelli, Afterlife with Archie, Archie, Betty and Veronica, etc. (Archie)
Stan Sakai, Usagi Yojimbo: Senso, Usagi Yojimbo Color Special: The Artist (Dark Horse)

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism

Alter Ego, edited by Roy Thomas (TwoMorrows)
Comic Book Creator, edited by Jon B. Cooke (TwoMorrows)
Comic Book Resources, edited by Jonah Weiland, www.comicbookresources.com (link is external)
Comics Alliance, edited by Andy Khouri, Caleb Goellner, Andrew Wheeler, & Joe Hughes, www.comicsalliance.com (link is external)
tcj.com, (link is external) edited by Dan Nadel & Timothy Hodler (Fantagraphics)

Best Comics-Related Book

Comics Through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas (4 vols.), edited by M. Keith Booker (ABC-CLIO)
Creeping Death from Neptune: The Life and Comics of Basil Wolverton, by Greg Sadowski (Fantagraphics)
Genius Animated: The Cartoon Art of Alex Toth, vol. 3, by Dean Mullaney & Bruce Canwell (IDW/LOAC)
What Fools These Mortals Be: The Story of Puck, by Michael Alexander Kahn & Richard Samuel West (IDW/LOAC)
75 Years of Marvel Comics: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen, by Roy Thomas & Josh Baker (TASCHEN)

Best Scholarly/Academic Work

American Comics, Literary Theory, and Religion: The Superhero Afterlife, by A. David Lewis (Palgrave Macmillan)
Considering Watchmen: Poetics, Property, Politics, by Andrew Hoberek (Rutgers University Press)
Funnybooks: The Improbable Glories of the Best American Comic Books, by Michael Barrier (University of California Press)
Graphic Details: Jewish Women’s Confessional Comics in Essays and Interviews, edited by Sarah Lightman (McFarland)
The Origins of Comics: From William Hogarth to Winsor McCay, by Thierry Smolderen, tr. by Bart Beaty & Nick Nguyen (University Press of Mississippi)
Wide Awake in Slumberland: Fantasy, Mass Culture, and Modernism in the Art of Winsor McCay, by Katherine Roeder (University Press of Mississippi)

Best Publication Design

Batman: Kelley Jones Gallery Edition, designed by Josh Beatman/Brainchild Studios (Graphitti/DC)
The Complete ZAP Comix Box Set, designed by Tony Ong (Fantagraphics)
Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream, designed by Jim Rugg (Locust Moon)
Street View, designed by Pascal Rabate (NBM/Comics Lit)
Winsor McCay’s Complete Little Nemo, designed by Anna Tina Kessler (TASCHEN)


The Law Is A Ass


tumblr_lf0ctlIUPc1qfqksuo1_r1_1280At first he wasn’t a thief. Then he was. Now he isn’t again thanks to Batman, Incorporated.

Last week I wrote that every time Batman appropriated prototypes from Wayne Enterprises  projects and adapted them into Bat-tools, he was stealing from the shareholders of Wayne Enterprises. I’m happy to report that as of Batman and Robin v 1 16 http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Batman_and_Robin_Vol_1_16, he stopped being a thief.

In that landmark issue, Bruce Wayne publicly admitted that he had been secretly bankrolling Batman’s operations for years. Then Bruce announced his new initiative; Batman, Incorporated.

Batman, Incorporated is an international organization in which Batman franchised out his brand to crime fighters all over the world. He engaged surrogates in locations as diverse and wide-spread as England, Argentina, Africa, Hong Kong, Australia, Paris, and Japan. Even that far-off and exotic land of South Dakota. Batman, Inc., also included Nightwing, Red Robin, Robin, Batgirl, Frank, Dino, and Sammy. You know, the Bat Pack. Batman, Inc. is fully funded by Wayne Enterprises. According to the DC Comics online database, it’s even part of Wayne Enterprises’s security personnel.

Once Wayne Enterprises started funding Batman’s mission publicly, Bruce stopped being a thief. He was no longer secretly taking property from Wayne Enterprises and converting it to Batman’s private use. Instead he was publicly taking property from Wayne Enterprises and converting it to Batman’s public use. And as Emily Litella was wont to say, “That’s very different.”

Okay, so Bruce isn’t stealing from Wayne Enterprises, but how does Bruce justify Batman, Inc. to the Wayne Enterprise shareholders? Even if it’s not stealing to have Wayne Enterprises give equipment to Batman, it would seem a waste of company resources. Shareholders not only have a property right not to have corporate assets stolen, they also have a right not to have corporate assets squandered. Bruce’s fiduciary duties to the shareholders includes not squandering Wayne Enterprises assets. Like Kim Kardashian, Wayne Enterprises has to keep its bottom line well-rounded.

So exactly how did Bruce Wayne sell the concept of funding Batman, Inc. to the shareholders? I’m not sure, actually. There are a few ways he could have justified funding Batman, Inc. and I don’t know exactly which one he actually used.

The first, and easiest, justification would be that Batman, Inc. was paying Wayne Enterprises for the equipment, just as a local police force purchases Chargers to be patrol cars and pays Dodge for the cars. That way the shareholders are happy because Wayne Enterprises, thus they, make money by backing Batman, Inc.

I said that’s the simplest and easiest justification. I doubt that’s the one being used. There’s no indication that Batman, Inc. has any sort of income or revenue stream which could generate the monies necessary to pay for all the stuff and services it was getting from Wayne Enterprises. I’ve certainly never read about Batman, Inc. setting up its own system of online currency, the Batcoin. So let’s cross off the possibility that Batman, Inc. is paying Wayne Enterprises and look at the next method of mollification that Bruce could use.

If Bruce set up Batman, Inc. to be a 501(c)(3) organization, that could keep the shareholders happy. Section 5019(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code is the code provision which establishes certain not-for-profit organizations as being tax-exempt. The section also provides that any gift made to a 501(c)(3) organization is deductible from one’s income taxes.

Section 501(c)(3) has a list of some of the functions that organizations can perform to qualify as charitable organizations. Among them are, preventing cruelty to children, lessening the burdens of government, and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency. As a crime-fighting organization, Batman, Inc. does any of those.

If Batman, Inc. were a 501(c)(3) – or other charitable organization – Wayne Enterprises could take a tax deduction for all the goods and services it provided to Batman, Inc. and lower its tax burden. If it’s paying less taxes, then its profits are higher, which satisfies the shareholders. You don’t have to be a member of TEA Party to know that less taxes makes people happy.

But what if Batman, Inc. weren’t a charitable organization? There’s still another justification that Bruce could use for funding Batman, Inc. Bruce could point out that by funding Batman, Inc., Wayne Enterprises was helping to lower crime and making the world a safer place. That would generate enormous good will for the company and make the world think of it as a benign corporation that was doing good work. When a company is perceived in such positive ways, people are more likely to do business with it. So by doing good work through funding Batman, Inc., Wayne Enterprises could increase its business and, thus, its profits. This is why some corporations do things such as donate body armor or body cameras to police forces. For the good will it engenders.

Even if there wasn’t any good will involved, Bruce could argue that by funding Batman, Inc. he’s making Gotham City and the world a safer place. That benefits the shareholders, because it means they’re not as likely to get robbed. And it benefits Wayne Enterprises financially, because it’s not as likely to get robbed, either. As someone who has been robbed at gunpoint, I can tell you from experience; not being robbed makes you happier than being robbed does.

Those are among the emotionally satisfying ways that Bruce could justify funding Batman, Inc. to the Wayne Enterprises shareholders. The feel-good justifications. There’s one more which is every bit as practical, just not as touchy-feely. Remember, Wayne Enterprises hired Batman, Inc. as part of its security force. If a corporation is going to hire security personnel, it’s got to supply them with uniforms and equipment, doesn’t it? You can’t have your night watchmen running around naked and without flashlights. How would you make a successful movie franchises about museum guards or mall cops, if they had rampant nudity and were rated X?

So there you have it. Batman’s fixed. He’s back to the way he started out so he’s not a thief anymore. Now if we could only do something about getting him back to being the other way he used to be when he started out. You know, just being neurotic instead of psychotic.

Martha Thomases: Tim McGraw, Frank Cho, Sex and Guns

spider-gwenIt’s going to take me a bit to get to comics this week, so please bear with me. We have a lot of outrage to get through first.

Recently, country singer Tim McGraw decided that, when he was in Hartford, Connecticut on his national tour, he would do a benefit concert for the charity Sandy Hook Promise. This organization was started after the shootings at the Sandy Hook elementary school and describes their mission thusly:

“1) Protect children from gun violence so no other parent experiences the loss of their child by engaging and empowering parents and communities with targeted prevention programs in the areas of mental wellness early-identification & intervention, social & emotional development and firearm safety & security.

“2) Help our community through this tragedy by providing resources and programs that foster connection, resiliency and overall wellness.”

Naturally, all hell broke lose.

By volunteering to do a benefit concert for an organization dedicated to protecting children from gun violence, Tim McGraw had, according to the haters, betrayed country music. In order to be a true country music artist, they seemed to say, McGraw had to love guns, cowboy hats, hunting, and vote Republican. McGraw, a self-confessed Democrat, had revealed himself to be an apostate.

(I wouldn’t know about these standards, because this and this and this and this are the kinds of country music I like.)

Country music fans are funny like that. A decade ago, when the Dixie Chicks criticized George W. Bush and the build-up to the Iraq War at a concert in England, they were banned – by programmers, not the government – from country radio. Some pro-war people burned their CDs in public.

As a leftie, there are creative people who have political opinions with which I disagree. Sometimes, that is enough to make me question their art (Andrew Dice Clay) and sometimes I continue to like their work anyway, but with reservations (Mel Gibson). Sometimes I never liked their work in the first place (Ted Nugent) so not liking their opinions has no effect on my life.

Never have I wanted to ban them. Never have I burned their products in the public square. If it comes up in conversation, I am not shy about expressing my opinion. I might even join a demonstration, but to protest those opinions with which I disagree, not their attempts to earn a living.

We seem to confuse those two things.

Which brings us to comics. Finally.

Artist Frank Cho recently drew his riff on the Spider-Woman cover controversy on a comic book with a blank cover. He did not do this for Marvel, nor did he make a poster and try to sell it. He did, however, post the image online.

And then the Internet happened.

I haven’t read all the commentary because, well, it upsets my stomach. There are people (often but not exclusively women) who don’t like the image and have said so. There are people (often but not exclusively men) who liked it a lot and don’t like it when other people say they don’t like it. There may or may not be people who wanted to ban the image, but, to be honest, I just can’t.

Look, if you put an image on the Internet or any public forum, you are asking for a reaction to said image. If you’re lucky, you will be met with universal acclaim. That happens so rarely that you shouldn’t expect it.

The next best thing is that some people will like it and some people won’t, and those who don’t will write something thoughtful that is useful to you and your work.

Again, that doesn’t happen much, because of said Internet.

Speaking only for myself, I don’t find Cho’s drawing interesting, nor do I think the point he seems to be trying to make is very compelling. I would say the whole thing is a sophomoric attempt to shock using boobies (BOOBIES!) except it isn’t funny and my hero, Michael O’Donahue, once said that “sophomoric is liberal code for funny.”

However …

Cho drew the picture for his own amusement. If he is amused, that’s fine. That’s all he wanted to accomplish. If he wants my opinion, it is here for him. He is welcome to be unamused by my opinion, and that is the risk I take for putting it out here.

Now, if Marvel had commissioned and published that image, that would be a different thing. Then we could discuss the editorial perspective, the marketing issues, and what Marvel was trying to say about the audience it wanted to reach. This isn’t the Spider-Woman cover, but Cho’s personal riff on the Spider-Woman cover.

You, Constant Reader, have every right to let Cho know what you thought of his effort. He put it out there. I would urge you to keep your criticism (if you have criticism) to the subject at hand, and not blow it up into an Indictment of All Society.

In any case, whatever point he was trying to make seems to have been missed by his own statements. The good news (go, read the link, it will make you feel good) is that, in an attempt to clarify his point, he sold the drawing and gave the money to a domestic violence shelter.

I would say we can all agree that’s a good thing, but, it’s the Internet. I don’t think we can all agree it’s Friday.


Tweeks: WonderCon 2015 Haul Part Deux!

This week we bring you the second half of our WonderCon Anaheim Haul! Most importantly we review two new Tweeks-Approved comics for kids…and yes, we guess, even adults.  Both are very different, though they both have monsters.  In William Lykke’s Death-Danger Scooter Girl, Number 1 there a bikini-wearing goddess and her monster husbands and half-monster babies and lots of driving around on a scooter.  While in  Top Shelf’s Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell, we have depressed monster, the village who needs him to terrorize them, and an unlikely doctor and stowaway newsboy who are sent to fix the problem. 

As as a special treat, you also get to hear Maddy’s weird sneeze and find out which other Top Shelf comics we love.

Tweeks: MLP Cutie Mark Crusaders DVD

My-Little-Pony-5Attention Bronies: My Little Pony – Friendship is Magic: Adventures of the Cutie Mark Crusaders was released on DVD this week.  As you know, a pony’s cutie mark shows their special talent on their flank for all to see, but what if you’re a pony who hasn’t figured out how you are unique yet?  Cutie Marks are the quest for the Cutie Mark Crusaders and this DVD features them in 5 episodes (well, really truly only 4 because “Pinkie Pride” is about Pinkie Pie’s party planning showdown with a pony called Cheese Sandwich, voiced by Weird Al), plus bonus features like coloring pages, a sing-a-long and digital wallpaper.  All the details are in this week’s video…as well as our true feelings about Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash.