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The Beat is going to be hung up for the next day or so with Industry Day here at the CEnter for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, VT.
We arrived late last night, missing out on the pizza party, but still charmed by this quirky town and the Hotel Coolidge. It was too dark to see anything when we arrived but there are still a few patches of snow on the ground, mute reminders of the long grueling winter of ’13.
The journey with Carol Burrell, Robyn Chapman and Jesse Reklaw, was uneventful save for the start, when the idea of loading a few boxes of books into an SUV become a tense caper worthy of Danny Ocean or Guy Ritchie. It eventually took the efforts of five people to pull off the gig, despite the best efforts of a cranky security guard, a stubborn FedEx truck and a cast of thousands of idling NYC vehicles.
Since we left at a time when dinner on the road was required, we decided to stop at a Friendly’s, where Robyn was attacked by a variety of orange food stuffs.
I myself was charmed by the idea of the fishamajig or the clamroll, but after envisioning being stuck in a car after eating dubious clam strips, thought better of it. Still, I feel I must return some day for a glorious meal of clams and a Fribble, maybe with an ice cream pizza to follow up.
In the car was much stimulating talk — of kickstarter and comics and state troopers at speed traps. Robyn is well into publishing again with her Paperrocket imprint. She’s already put out Ariel Bordeaux’s Deep Girl, and will be debuting a new book by Reklaw at MoCCA. The micro publishing movement is going strong.
I’ll be deep in reading comics and talking to students over the next day but will report back when I have a chance.
• I regret to inform the dozen
s of people who were looking forward to my being there, that I won’t be at WonderCon after all. Some travel stuff and other factors made it unfeasible. I’m sad I won’t be seeing everyone, but not as sad that I won’t be complaining about the line at Starbucks every morning.
For those who are going, please take notes!
• I will be at the Center for Cartoon Studies for THE FIRST TIME EVER this Thursday for Industry Day, if all goes well.
• Beside CCS, I am going to the dentist today, because I have a “situation” which is teetering on the edge of something…bad. So of course I read this.
The exciting news in all this is that Gabrielle Bell has a Tumblr now!
This is an announcement of vital import and historic significance!
The week following Daylight Savings Time is in many ways the worst of the year for me. And this will be no exception. In my confused, biorymthmically challenged state I have decided the only solution is to do more! In that spirit ‘m going to ramp up my tumblr a bit more—using it for what god intended, links to the Beat, quick links to images, cool ephemeral things, Karl Urban, and the occasionally diary post. I know I am probably doing this all wrong, so use the comments to tell me why. I also have my occasional tumblr for The Brokeback Pose. Feel free to follow or ignore as you see fit.
If you’ve been following me on the internet for any length of time, you know I have always been obsessed with finding the perfect refreshing drink, whether it’s long gone Pepsi Blue, Code Red, Ca Phe Sua instant coffee, Starbucks’ much missed Tazo Berry Chai, Dunkin Donuts’ Mango Fruit Blast, and so on. Well, here is a new one, the Bai5 line of antioxidant waters. I was describing my favorite flavor, Congo Pear, the other day and said “It’s got real pear juice and coffee fruit and white tea extract! It’s a water-based drink!” to which someone replied “So it’s pear-flavored coffee tea water?”
Yes it is, and it tastes great.
Bai5 has about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of green tea, but this delivers a gentle, kicky perk-up, not the massive, number-crunching crank of my morning Aero Press coffee. The fruit flavors are all delicious (although I found the Ipanema Pomegranate a little too acidic) and great to hydrate after a night out. I’ve tried Brasilia Blueberry and Panama Peach as well—each bottle has only about 5% fruit juice, just enough to give it some body and flavor, but the flavors are distinct. The sweeteners used are stevia and Erythritol, and leave no aftertaste.
I know I sound like an ad, but this is a really tasty drink. I guess the main reason to drink it is for the antioxidants—free radicals begone. The only problem is that since it’s a water-based drink (yes that is the dumbest thing anyone ever said) you can down it very quickly, and at between $2-3 a pop it isn’t cheap. It’s a little hard to find but you can buy it on Amazon.
As long as I’m mentioning other uses of the coffee bean, I also like Starbucks’ Refreshers, which are made with Green Coffee Extract from the unroasted beans. This debuted during last year’s Comic-Con and luckily they were giving them away for free on my walk to the Con, or I might not have discovered the restorative powers of the Cool Lime Refresher—caffeine and vitamin C in one cup. Perfect for the blogger on the go.
Green Coffee Extract and coffee fruit have all sorts of crazy claims about health benefits…I have no idea of any of them have any factual basis. I just know I like to chug my fruity coffee tea water.
Although everything seems to be forever on the internet, it really isn't. It's oh so fragile, and the prime time of your life can be crossed out by one CEO's pen swipe.
Ok, break’s over! For the Classic Children’s Literature challenge in January, I read Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (totally original, I know, but this is as good a time as any to catch up on the major classics). And then I decided to compare them with Catherynne Valente’s The Girl Who [...]
Last night a bunch of folks gathered together to remember editor and comics community member Marc Wilkofsky, who died last month. There was a dinner at a diner and then a bunch of folks at a quiet lounge telling stories and laughing. The dinner was a bunch that hadn’t been in the same place since before 9/11, a core group of NYC chapter Friends of Lulu foot soldiers. Friends I made through FoL, like Mike Brisbois and Dave Roman and John Green, Ed Douglas and Abby Denson. Good friends and people.
At the memorial, Dave had put together a lovely zine with stories and photos. Marc would have liked it for sure, but even more he would have liked the gathering and remembrances that poured out. I knew Marc far less than many—I missed out on most of his legendary birthday parties, for instance. But I was delighted by the stories of his Zelig-like ability to appear on TV—a recurring role on a Tempestt Bledsoe show, a teaser on Nickelodeon—and his legendary dance moves and love of karaoke and kindness and thoughtfulness towards others in general.
I was also told of his wisdom regarding ending the local Friends of Lulu chapter. Mark’s tireless efforts enabled Fol-NYC to close in good standing with the IRS and in the black. They were even able to make a sizable donation to Girls Inc. NY with the remaining monies, a nice example of pay it forward.
As with any death that tales place far from one’s friends, there was a bit of a detective story aspect to last night as well as various people pieced together Marc’s last year. I think those who loved him were able to get a sense of closure about some things.
For me, meeting others who knew Marc from other aspects of his life, all with their funny, warm stories, was a reminder that every person’s story is part of a tapestry of time and place, touching other lives, with unseen connections and gifts. And sometimes the seemingly humblest person has the most to give.
This morning I was also reading TCJ’s extraordinary page of remembrances of the late Spain Rodriguez. It’s a fascinating snapshot of the birth of underground comics, with the intertwining lives of Crumb and Spiegelman and more, as well as a tribute to a man who made an impression on everyone he met and whose spirit was conveyed in his robust, vital art.
I’m not sure exactly what the takeaway from all this is…except the simple one to stay close to the ones you love, and don’t let stupid shit get in the way because life is painfully, shockingly short. And also that we all meet so many extraordinary people along the way in so many unexpected places…keep your heart open to the potential that life offers you.
The Beat’s Year-End Survey questions are out and Person of the Year polling has begun, but just to warm you up, we’d like to salute our PERSON OF THE DAY, Comic News Insider’s Jimmy Aquino, who just celebrated his birthday. Sadly we couldn’t make the festivities, but we still wanted to salute a guy who is a friend of comics and, more importantly, a friend.
Anyone who knows Jimmy knows he a voracious reader, and constantly talking about the books he likes, and introducing people to new creators and books. His con reports are chatty and full of photos—almost like being there. And he’s up to 449 weekly episodes of CNI—a great run.
But Jimmy is also a great person to hang out with who knows his food and wine and will never steer you wrong with a restaurant. He’s a great friend to have in general and we’re lucky to call him friend.
They’re really not kittens any more—more young cats. But as you can see, Charlie and Lucy have settled in pretty well.
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By Mark Bevir
Governance, governance everywhere – why has the word “governance” become so common? One reason is that many people believe that the state no longer matters, or at least the state matters far less than it used to. Even politicians often tell us that the state can’t do much. They say they have no choice about many policies. The global economy compels them to introduce austerity programs. The need for competitiveness requires them to contract-out public services, including some prisons in the US.
If the state isn’t ruling through government institutions, then presumably there is a more diffuse form of governance involving various actors. So, “governance” is a broader term than “state” or “government”. Governance refers to all processes of governing, whether undertaken by a government, market, or network, whether over a family, corporation, or territory, and whether by laws, norms, power, or language. Governance focuses not only on the state and its institutions but also on the creation of rule and order in social practices.
Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament
The rise of the word “governance” as an alternative to “government” reflects some of the most important social and political trends of recent times. Social scientists sometimes talk of the hollowing-out of the state. The state has been weakened from above by the rise of regional blocs like the European Union and by the global economy. The state has been weakened from below by the use of contracts and partnerships that involve other organizations in the delivery of public services. Globalization and the transformation of the public sector mean that the state cannot dictate or coordinate public policy. The state depends in part on global, transnational, private, and voluntary sector organizations to implement many of its policies. Further, the state is rarely able to control or command these other actors. The state has to negotiate with them as best it can, and often it has little bargaining power.
But, although the role of the state has changed, these changes do not necessarily mean that the state is less important. An alternative perspective might suggest that the state has simply changed the way it acts. From this viewpoint, the state has adopted more indirect tools of governing but these are just as effective – perhaps even more so – than the ones they replaced. Whereas the state used to govern directly through bureaucratic agencies, today it governs indirectly through, for example, contracts, regulations, and targets. Perhaps, therefore, the state has not been hollowed-out so much as come to focus on meta-governance, that is, the governance of the other organizations in the markets and networks that now seem to govern us.
The hollow state and meta-governance appear to be competing descriptions of today’s politics. If we say the state has been hollowed out, we seem to imply it no longer matters. If we say the state is the key to meta-governance, we seem to imply it retains the central role in deciding public policy. Perhaps, however, the two descriptions are compatible with one another. The real lesson of the rise of the word “governance” might be that there is something wrong with our very concept of the state.
All too often people evoke the state as if it were some kind of monolithic entity. They say that “the state did something” or that “state power lay behind something”. However, the state is not a person capable of acting; rather, the state consists of various people who do not always not act in a manner consistent with one another. “The state” contains a vast range of different people in various agencies, with various relationships acting in various ways for various purposes and in accord with various beliefs. Far from being a monolithic entity that acts with one mind, the state contains within it all kinds of contests and misunderstandings.
Descriptions of a hollow state tell us that policymakers have actively tried to replace bureaucracies with markets and networks. They evoke complex policy environments in which central government departments are not necessarily the most important actors let alone the only ones. Descriptions of meta-governance tell us that policymakers introduced markets and networks as tools by which they hoped to get certain ends. They evoke the ways central government departments act in complex policy environments.
When we see the word “governance”, it should remind us that the state is an abstraction based on diverse and contested patterns of concrete activity. State action and state power do not fit one neat pattern – neither that of hollowing-out or meta-governance. Presidents, prime ministers, legislators, civil servants, and street level bureaucrats can all sometimes make a difference, but the state is stateless, for it has no essence.
Mark Bevir is a Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of several books including Governance: A Very Short Introduction (2012) and The State as Cultural Practice (2010). He is also the editor or co-editor of 10 books, including a two volume Encyclopaedia of Governance (2007). He founded the undergraduate course on ‘Theories of Governance’ at Berkeley and teaches a graduate course on ‘Strategies of Contemporary Governance’.
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Image Credit: Martin Schulz during the election camapign in 2009. Creative Commons Licence – Mettmann. (via Wikimedia Commons)
The post Does the state still matter? appeared first on OUPblog.
So I’ve been on vacation (on and off) for the last two weeks and hadn’t been paying too much attention to the internet—a wonderful activity that I highly recommend every six months or so. On the way home from a wedding I was surprised to learn that the man I call “John V.” seems to have become the focus of concentrated internet outrage for a day or so—and I couldn’t be more thrilled.John V., a message board poster who uses rotating IPs to avoid filters, has been haunting the comment boards of female writers for over two years. A few months ago, for whatever reason, he seems to have started using Twitter as a base for his insults and rape-obsessed ragings. As you can see from the above, about a month ago he made a series of posts aimed at me, Tom Spurgeon, DCWKA’s Sue, Jill Pantozzi and a few others that shocked quite a few people. Although John V. is clearly a misogynist with a deep hatred of women, he also seemed to have a mad on for men of comics like Spurgeon.
At this time we all just ignored him. It was nothing new. I know he’s been hounding Sue for a long time. His Twitter bio read “I eat loudmouthed feminist morons for breakfast. Afterwards I’m full because they are really, really fat.” It was also nothing new for The Beat. I have many of his deleted comments saved up. Here’s a sample:
Heh, linking to dcwomenkickingass. One dumb bitch linking to a dumber bitch. Classic Heidi.
And more recently:
Hey Heidi, guess who’s going to wondercon? Can’t wait to see you there, sugar britches. This is going to be really fun.
While these sexual threats and “I’ll be back!” warnings are the products of what is clearly a disturbed mind, John V’s most annoying trick was posing as someone else—often a woman—and completely derailing otherwise at least semi-intelligent discussions, such as his posing as “Jason in the UK” and arguing
that Faith Erin Hicks
was a welfare slacker despite the plain statement that she had worked at an animation studio. My troll radar wasn’t up and Hicks herself defended herself against this creep, a situation I deeply regret and which I’ve apologized for. Here was his excited “unveiling:”
Well folks, now that things have died down, just wanted to say how much I enjoyed derailing this thread and causing the internet shit storm that I did. My troll powers are as unparalleled as the idiocy and irrelevancy of female comic bloggers. I had only intended on messing with my favorite victim Heidi. What a bonus it was then to get Faith Hicks all butt hurt!
Since then I’ve been very suspicious of new posters engaging in long arguments in the many gender comment threads here…if I’ve gone too far the other way, too bad. One rotten apple and all that….
Frankly, I never bought this up before because John V. was looking for attention and hoping to frighten people and I didn’t want to give him any more attention. But now the cat seems to be out of the bag. Over the last few days he made the mistake of targeting Ron Marz, who got people more up in arms about it; and then Mark Millar saw it and was shocked:
As male pros we maybe live in a little bubble. This might go on more than we realise. But we need to clamp down on this shit fast… ethically, if not because many of these pros are personal friends of ours. Comics has the coolest rep with people now. It's a broad church and much less of a boys club in particular than it was when I was a kid. This kind of thing just gives us a horrible name and we owe it to ourselves as well as the pros concerned to stop it.
According to Millar’s sources, John V. is a 51-year-old married man living in California. And the law has been engaged:
Thank you very much, but I engaged a criminal lawyer in LA yesterday and have one of the women involved co-ordinating with the others today, hopefully. I don’t want to say much more in a public forum just now as it may prejudice the case and between the details we’ve got and the tweets we saved the police have everything they need. Even if this doesn’t go to court the guy should hopefully be publicly outed in California and the shame of this will not only stop him attacking women online, but also discourage others from trying this in future. I found out last night that this idiot had been making sexual threats to some of the women concerned for over two years now.
While no one has contacted me directly, it does seem that John V’s Twitter accounts—he had several—have been shut down. If this guy is as crazy as he seems—and his mentions of rape and escalation of contact over the last few months suggest that there is some real escalating mental illness involved—I doubt that the threat of legal action will be enough to stop his behavior. But we’ll see.
And of course there has been a ton of internet commentary on this. And a private message from a woman industry professional I respect greatly who says she actually altered her public behavior over fears about John V. I can’t express the rage and sorrow this makes me feel. I never thought John V. was anything but a pest, but I can see how others have taken him more seriously. Maybe I didn’t take him seriously enough.
There’s also been some discussion of whether it took a man to actually rouse people against the troll. I’m really, truly grateful to Ron and Mark for raising awareness of this. One of the reasons I know several women never brought this up is because they felt they would be questioned for making accusations—and indeed some of the “free speech” advocates in various comment threads has diverted attention from the fact that some malicious idiot was making threats and crude sexual comments about women.
That said, this is far from my first time at the internet pigsty dance. I was once a member of a message board where male members proudly discussed that they loved to make “jokingly” misogynist statements. When I complained (or argued) I was told I didn’t get the joke and was being childish. Guess which message board I don’t go to any more?
Back on the Comicon.com and original TCJ.com boards—petri dishes of internet fungus in a variety of colors—a coterie of deeply embedded trolls got on my case a number of times—photoshopping a picture of me into a sexual act, calling me names, blah blah blah. At the time, these things bothered me, of course, but it bothered me more when some of the perpetrators were eventually allowed back into the fold—I’ll tell you this right now, my tolerance for internet trolling is Zero and my forgiveness is non-existent. Electronic emotion is cheap, and if you go out of your way to insult me on the internet, I have no reason to forgive that member ID ever.
Nowadays, I have more of a seen-it-all attitude towards the internet and message boards. I get annoyed and angered but not upset. However, I know a lot of people aren’t as thick-skinned as I am. And while we all take our lumps on a public forum, I’d suggest that those who were so outraged by the crude rape threats of John V. look a little deeper into some of the other messages floating around. For instance, Rachel Edidin examines the Idiot Nerd Girl meme which started as another expression of “get your cooties out of my hobby” insecurity:
I hate the Idiot Nerd Girl meme. I hate it for much the same reason Feminspire writer Jessica Bagnall hates it: the entrenched geek misogyny that informs its pretty pink face. I hate it because it’s a convenient distillation of everything I hate about the “fake geek girl” strawman. I hate it because it vilifies enthusiasm. I hate it because, as a member of the geek community and a geek-industry professional, and especially as a feminist geek, I nurture a deep and abiding dislike for gatekeepers.
I hate the Idiot Nerd Girl meme because it’s not just a meme in the diluted ‘net-slang sense. It reflects and recycles and reinforces a bundle of more traditionally defined memes: the sticky and tenacious subtexts and cultural dogmas that justify and normalize misogyny and harassment and make the geek community so seethingly toxic to female members–and especially female newcomers–that it doesn’t even need a formal gate to keep them out. Idiot Nerd Girl is the throwaway byproduct of a culture that regularly responds to criticism from women with flurries of rape threats.
One thing is true: I am definitely seeing a lot more male insecurity in the trolls and threats, as do some of the women I’ve privately corresponded with over this. I’m sorry that some of you feel powerless when women invade your pastimes. But just as uniting the power of the crystals makes the most powerful crystal or it takes a lot of vehicles to make a Unicron …the more people who take part, the more powerful the hobby. Guys, we’re not STEALING power. We’re making it.
In conclusion, I don’t know the actual status of any legal action against John V., but anyone who wants copies of my correspondence can email me at comicsbeat at gmail dot com.
And thanks again to Ron Marz and Mark Millar for raising attention on this matter. It’s nice to have someone in your corner.
§ You may note that the front page of The Beat looks different. I tinkered with the template in order to alleviate some of the strain on the database, so hopefully there won’t be any more crashes before we move to our new, updated look and server (which is coming, promise). In the course of doing this, I crashed the database worse than it ever had been before to the point where even after rebooting the server the errant process would immediately lock it up again. After a few reboots, I finally managed to turn off the offending script (which had to do with suddenly resizing the 14,000 or so images hosted on the site—sheesh) and heroically saved The Beat all by myself! All without really knowing what I was doing!
Oh yeah!§ I have taken down yesterday’s post on various PR gaffes regarding the death of Joe Kubert. First, it was detracting from remembering a very great artist and person. In the greater scheme of things, it was unnecessary. Second, the comments were truly moronic for the most part. Seriously, people. What is wrong with you? I’m putting in a new commenting system in the redesign and it’s going to be easier than ever to nuke the hagglers and eggers and trolls.
§ Speaking of trolls, another controversy over the reaction to Kubert’s death arose yesterday when a certain blogger went off on Kubert’s work on the controversial BEFORE WATCHMEN project and made comparisons so stupid that he later apologized for them. I’m not going to name or link because given the person’s past track record, it was all a ploy for attention. And it worked.
§ In this context however, it’s worth noting that Kubert had no problems with work for hire. His long, long career was generally controversy free, and—most importantly—Kubert was treated by publishers with tremendous respect throughout his career. It was respect he’d earned through his talent and his demeanor. DC probably could have done a BEFORE TOR if they wanted, although it would be pointless, because the work was so tied into Kubert’s style and viewpoint. I doubt Kubert would have made a public fuss, because that’s the kind of guy he was, and he grew up in the WFH system. (Guessing here, admittedly.) But that system treated him well. Many weren’t as lucky—or as talented—as Kubert. I think I’ve said all along that while I think BeWa is offensive on many levels, I don’t hold it against the artists who are working on it. High-paying jobs are few and far between and few people can afford to turn such a project down.
Anyway, this is a time for celebrating the many great things about Joe Kubert. Despite these kerfuffles, his work on a single ethically tarnished work is going to be nothing but a footnote in an amazing life.
Seriously. I feel like it is New Year’s Day again now that you-know-what is over. I can clean the closets, file things away, start NEW projects and just get on with life. BONUS: Comic-Con was so early this year that I actually have five weeks of summer left! Next year it will be back to normal, held July 18-21 with Preview Night on July 17th.
As befits a hangover, I’m trying really hard not to drag out our coverage any more. One or two more panel reports that were in the queue, and my own wrap-up. Commensurate with the month long frenzy of build up, everyone wants to forget about it as soon as possible when its over. The one exception may be an ongoing listing of panel audio; every year so many great panels, they really deserve wider dissemination. But after tomorrow NO MORE COMIC-CON POSTS. Promise.
Speaking of new projects, one of the ways I’m getting on with my life is getting back to fixing up the Beat! A redesign and server move is underway that should patch up the database so there aren’t any more nasty crashes whenever there’s the merest traffic surge. My jerry-rigged fix before the con actually held up during the show, despite traffic going up 50%. The fix did not stand up to the getting home wave on the Tuesday after the show, which I accurately predicted would be the biggest day of all. It’s really funny how everyone gets home and hits the Beat (and other sites) first thing in the morning to see what actually happened.
Anyway, I’m tanned, rested and ready to pick up the pieces of my life. Moving on.
A week away from Stately Beat Manor always results in some meta.
§ You may have noticed more contributions by other writers here; of course Todd and Torsten have been tearing it up for a while, but we’ve also introduced columns on reprints and future comics. We’re open to other contributions and columns but they should be informative and focused, not random comics reviews type things. The reality is that this is a personality-driven site, but there’s way too much going on in the world for one person to cover. Email us at comicsbeatinfo at gmail.com if interested.
§ Are you attending a comics convention, anywhere in the world? We’re looking for first hand reports of shows around the globe. Same rules apply. Same address: comicsbeatinfo at gmail.com.
§ The Beat recently got a boost in Google indexing and now appears in more news indexes. This has led to a LOT more commenting from people outside the usual peanut gallery. And some of these comments are…not very informed. I have resisted stringent modding of comments or Facebooking comments because I am a Webbe Olde Timer, and believe that sometimes the best information comes from people who never posted before or can’t use their real names, for whatever reason. I realize this is very much a Web 0.9 idea but…well there ya go. Plus I hate Facebook, as I believe it is a money sucking, privacy invading corporation and not my friend. Like, I wouldn’t turn to AT&T or Microsoft for commenting either.
I’m proud of the smart discussion that takes place, and informative comments that come from readers and industry figures at this site. BUT I do realize that there is probably more chaff in the comments than before. Since I don’t have time to really police the comments, I’m going to rely on community standards. If you feel a comment has gone over the line, feel free to ping me at comicsbeat at gmail.com. That’s a different email than above.
§ FINALLY, after some crashes due to more traffic, I’m pretty sure the problem was with the Wordpress database, which I’ve repaired. But my web team at Smartbomb are going to be doing some tinkering and fixing things that have been bugging me for years, like why are the tags not on the front page, that kind of thing. So if you have suggestions for improvements…can you guess which email to use? Yes, it is comicsbeat at gmail.com.
Ps: Vietnamese Instant Coffee.
I am a daydreamer. The world around me inspires me, and sometimes, most times, when I’m bored, my brain kicks in like a screensaver, accessing the underutilized cranial capacity of my cerebral lobes.
So what’s on my mind today? MegaMillions. It has now reached Blofeld proportions, with an estimated jackpot of Five Hundred MILLION Dollars. Half a BILLION dollars. More than the GDP of Dominica. So here’s where my imagination kicks in, calculating:
- twenty year payout = $25,000,000 a year
- After taxes of 50% = $12,500,000 a year.
What could I do with that windfall? Oh sure, there’s that dream house I created in the Fourth Grade, with the video arcade, mini-golf course, and various museum-quality collections of comics and other stuff. I’d probably build a variation on that idea, probably buying a warehouse somewhere.
Of course, I’d supplement my comics collection. Way back in 1990, I decided to collect towards one goal: conserving comics and graphic novels for an eventual special collection which would one day form the nucleus of a research collection somewhere. I’d probably buy a brownstone somewhere to house it, perhaps replicating what the James Beard Foundation does for cooking. And then I’d start thinking of other ways to bootstrap comics up to the level given to film, rock and roll, and other popular cultures which have gained acceptance and respect.
But my odds of wining the MegaMillions (or any lottery) are very slim. So, until I win a nice chunk of change (six digits or greater), I am going to make some suggestions on what others with disposable income (and/or leisure time) could do. Some ideas won’t require a lot of money, others would require periodic donations of small amounts (less than $1,000), and some, some would best be funded by an organization or non-profit foundation.
There are sources of funding out there right now. The Federal Government does offer grants via the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. There are similar programs at the state and local level. A few comics creators have sponsored comics-based initiatives, such as the Xeric Foundation. (This is not to disparage those well-to-do comics
We’re looking for a few good people to help cover this year’s San Diego experience. What you get: a press badge. What you do: write.
We’re not looking for people who want to chew the end of their pencil and look wistful. Or people who dream of rubbing up against a sweaty Jason Momoa. Although come to think of it, if you do, you can write about it.
In other words, be serious. And if we know you, so much the better.
That email: comicsbeat at gmail.com
Over the weekend, Cory Marder passed away after a long illness. The wife of Beanworld creator Larry Marder, Cory was best known to a small group in the industry, but loved by everyone she touched. Charles Brownstein has a beautiful tribute here that says everything. My heart goes out to Larry on this irreplaceable loss.
I adore this picture. Look at her, out in Africa, in the presence of the elephants she so dearly loved, the breeze tousling her hair and unbridled happiness flowing from her smile. This lady personified optimism, and had the disposition of the sun — bright, cheerful, warm, kind, funny, nourishing and filled with delight. If you didn’t smile around Cory then it was a clear indication that you were in need of the sort of psychological care that only a specialist can provide. If you didn’t love Cory, then your capacity to love was broken.
I guess this is the part where you say “We’re losing too many good ones
,” the awkward thing people say when faced with the reality of the circle of life. As a man once told me, “Youth is a series of hellos, age is a series of goodbyes.” Cory would be the first person to say to take the chances to live the life you want while you have the chance. Have that conversation, go to that city, take that day off. These are the things you will remember as you make your own goodbyes.
[Jimmy Aquino and occasional co-host Grace Helbig.]
As previously noted, we were guests the other night on Comic News Insider’s gala 400th episodealong with Ben Templesmith, Chriss Cross, Becky Cloonan, Paul Pope, Emma Hayley, and many more. And we were there to announce a new partnership between CNI and The Beat!
As you may have noticed, we’ve brought on several more contributors of late (with more in the wings), to expand our coverage of events around the world of comics and nerditry. CNI’s host Jimmy Aquino is not only a good friend, with whom we’ve shared many a late night con adventure, but he’s also a seasoned interviewer with lots of showbiz and comics connections and we’re delighted to be teaming up with him for more coverage.
What does this partnership mean exactly? Well, more late night con adventures, probably. But we’ll also be dropping by CNI on a regular basis for some quick updates on the news and the road. And Jimmy will be contributing interviews and articles for The Beat.
So—it’s all good!
I lost my best friend yesterday. Inky was my companion through heartaches and joys and adventures and an earthquake. Although she loved me as much as I loved her, she was feared by a parade of houseguests over the years, as this cartoon by Lee Marrs shows. Trina Robbins, who loved cats more than anyone I know, said Inky was the worst cat she ever met! My friend Seth once housesat for me and ending up locking the bedroom door because he was so terrified of her. It’s true, in her youth she was a fierce, hissing spitfire. But as her long life drew to a close she mellowed out and became a sweet, loving cat, even though she never lost her ability to throw up on something valuable at the worst possible time.
We love our animal companions so much, as they give affection honestly and without fear. Inky was with me and Ben in sickness and in health, and kept our spirits high even in sadness. I’ve had her with me most of my adult life…it’s going to be strange going on without her. I think I’ll hear her meowing in my dreams forever, as I remember her sitting in my lap purring during the long nights of writing, year after year.
Goodbye, my friend.
Twenty-two years ago, on May 16, 1990, Jim Henson died from a rare bacterial infection.
Like many in my generation, I had grown up surrounded by Muppets. There was Sesame Street (a mere four months younger than me) which taught and entertained twice a day until I had to go to school. There was the “Sex and Violence” special which served as a pilot to The Muppet Show a few years later. Once a week, on Wednesdays, the local CBS affiliate would air The Muppet Show, which my family would watch during dinner. The success from that television show would produce multiple movies, creating imagined worlds which seemed very real.
His sudden passing was a shock to many. Five days later, a memorial was held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, where the above clip is from.
I discovered that song by accident, a few years ago. During the second season of the Muppet Show, Bernadette Peters guest starred. Robin, Kermit’s nephew, feels ignored, and decides to run away. He stops by Ms. Peters dressing room to say goodbye…
So where did this song come from? 1975. Hal Hackady and Larry Grossman wrote the music for “Snoopy! The Musical”, the sequel to “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”. (Both musicals were animated. You can find the Peanuts version of this song on YouTube, but it’s a bit strange, what with Snoopy singing, and some strange cinematography.) So how did this song work its way to the Muppet Show? Larry Grossman served as a musical consultant for the first three seasons, suggesting musical numbers for each guest, as well as penning a few songs during the third season. (“Jamboree” and “The Rhyming Song” are the two best known.)
But I’m sharing this because I got to thinking… It’s hard to believe in yourself when others believe you to be worthless, or less than perfect. Add in the uncertainty and awkwardness of adolescence, power it with just enough intellect which makes you question the world around you, and it’s easy to believe what others say about you, even when one’s imagination fuels hope for a better day someday.
I don’t know exactly what Jim Henson believed in, although he left many examples in his work. He had quite a few doubts and stumbles before the success of Sesame Street, and a few afterwards. But others did believe in him, like Lew Grade and Joan Ganz Cooney, and he managed to do what he loved, and to share that enjoyment with the world.
So to all those who believed and believe in
Last Thursday, a co-worker noticed copies of “Life With Archie” on the freebie shelves.
This led to a discussion of the marriage storylines, which led to the recent third marriage with Valerie.
Which led to a discussion of the cast of Josie and the Pussycats.
Which led to Wikipedia, which has a picture of JatP and Scooby-Doo.
(at which point I noticed that there were a lot of teenage cartoons on the air in the early 1970s, which led to Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm (who got married and had kids!…. their 20th wedding anniversary will be next year.)
Which led to the second Scooby Doo series:
Which led to Batman, and the voice:
“He reprised his role as Batman on The Adventures of Batman,
Waren Ellis , the acerbic writer and social critic, discusses perhaps reinstating his commenting system, an idea he quickly rejects:
Which brings up another thing, and I’m not going to ascribe it to Charlie, who is a nice man, but it’s real – sometimes, your commenters, by which you often mean your audience and your readership, are really fucking annoying, and sometimes you don’t like them. Which you can’t say. Who’s going to pick up another book by a writer who says “My readers are awful pieces of shit and I can think of twenty of them, right off the bat, who should be drowned in hot pig blubber”? Nobody. “My audience are all complete pissflaps. Have you read my website comments threads? Utter inane gibberish. I would like to train a giant horse to fuck out all their eyes.” Who’s going to say that?
I guarantee you that even the sweetest and kindest writer has thought that exact thought more than once in their lives. And its corollary: “Oh god, my readers are such horrible demented shitbags, what am I doing so wrong that I attract them all to me?”
Just as I know that every writer has dropped the ball at least once and disappointed a reader. Or exposed themselves as a total prick or a frothing nutter.
Running a blog puts you a bit more on the front line with readers, but at recent events in which I interacted with real life humans, disparaging remarks about the Beat’s recent comments were frequent and mortifying. For whatever reason, this seems to have become a Newsarama refugee camp and the results are discouraging. Sure there are entertaining byways of history going on here and there, like comics figures Tom Mason and Paul Power
disputing something that happened in an auto garage many years ago in the Platinum thread. But so much more of it should be strangled in its crib—the best example being someone who was getting a drubbing in some argument inventing a new screen name and then complaining that the thread was out of control. I can see ISPs, you know.
I’ve never seriously considered turning off comments — the utility of corrections and amplifications still being present — but I’m been thinking of putting in a more robust comment modding system of some kind. NOT FACEBOOK. I would never require someone to be on Facebook to have free speech, no matter how subnormal that speech might be. I don’t really have time to ruthlessly police the comments, and I would rather put resources towards hiring writers than just blocking idiots. But, oh,
what a world we live in.
As with many things, however, implementing this will have to wait until the site gets an overhaul in the next few months.
So in the meantime..BEHAVE. And don’t be a subnormal pissflap.
We’re done at BEA and BlogWorld and so on, and getting back up to speed on posting. Huge thanks to Torsten, Todd, Vanguard Steve and Jessica for keeping the show running while we were away from the computer. We’ll have more BEA thoughts tomorrow but in the meantime, not to make anyone jealous or anything, but here’s the promo item of the show…and maybe the year, a travel themed giveaway for Lemony Snicket’s new series, “ALL THE WRONG QUESTIONS” which has art by Seth…everything from a pen with an octopus to a bar of soap. The first book will have a 1 million copy laydown October 23rd.
Also, if you’re hearing good word from BEA it’s not just hype. After two years of panic and gloom people realized that they are still here and people still like to read books. Changing and morphing, yes, but readers still want stories and information. And comics are a more vital part of that than ever.
All the apologies in the world for today’s Beat outage. I finally figured out how to get it back online. Our Elite Tech Team is working on a more secure and long-lasting solution but in the meantime, Python, Apache and MySQL are refusing to play nice. Man, I missed the Beat. It was scary not having it around.
In case you’re wondering, the above image is from a blog post reprinting the Marvel-themed computer book, which seems too bizarre to be an actual licensed Marvel product, but in 1984 I guess it made a lot of sense.
Python, Apache, and MySQL didn’t even exist in 1984.
Luckily, Valkyrie did.
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Today we celebrate Heidi MacDonald, founder and Editor-In-Chief of The Beat, a comics pioneer, and a great person!
Why today? Well, way back in 1982, Heidi published her first piece of comics journalism (at least, the earliest I could find) in the July 1982 issue of the Comics Journal, titled “Archetype Meets Angst” (p. 35). Since most of the comics industry will be at Comic-Con this July weekend, I figured I’d surprise her with this post, and allow everyone to congratulate her, and maybe buy her a burrito.
Heidi would go on to write many more articles for the Journal and its sister publication “Amazing Heroes” in the heady days of the Black and White Boom/Bust, mini-comics, and self-publishing. She worked at the Hollywood Reporter, and eventually became the comics editor at Disney Adventures, introducing talented cartoonists to a huge readership of children. (It was at DA that the first color version of Jeff Smith’s Bone was published, possibly convincing Scholastic to print the entire series in color years later.) She was a founding member of The Friends of Lulu, which advocated for more female involvement in the comics industry, either as fans or professionals. Heidi had a brief stint as an editor at DC Comics, working on both the Johnny DC line as well as Vertigo. While at Vertigo, her editorial acumen midwifed Brian K. Vaughan’s “Y the Last Man”, which would win five Eisner Awards. She’s even been published herself! (And appeared in comics, as well, courtesy of Alex Ross!)
Not afraid of new technology, she has been active online since the early 1990s (and maybe sooner… Compuserve had an active comics forum long before AOL became a household name). She tweets, facebooks, blogs… in a variety of guises and formats.
So I noticed the thirty-year anniversary. Heidi had gobsmacked me last October with an appreciation, so I thought I’d return the favor! Heidi is widely known, generally (and sometimes grudgingly) respected, and one of the Tzadikim of the greater comics community. So I secretly contacted the Future Mr. Beat, Ben McCool, and explained my plan. I needed his support, not only as a sounding board, but also because my Rolodex is rather weak. I set up an email address (MessagesForHeidi at Gmail) and asked him to spread the word. Below you’ll find various testimonials, presented in the order they were received. If you