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Autobiographical comics used to be a feature of zines and small private presses, but readers are increasingly able to follow their favorite genre of the comics medium in graphic novel editions from mainstream book publishers. There’s no doubt that the artistic appreciation for autobiography and semi-autobiographical works is on the rise, but amid commentary on layouts, designs, and narrative choices, it’s easy to lose touch with the personalities behind the works and the often difficult waters they navigate to create their comics. At Housing Works Bookstore and Café in Soho, part of the Housing Works charitable organization benefitting those affected by HIV/AIDS and homelessness, four cartoonists weighed in on their life in comics on March 5th in a panel hosted by comics scholar and author Christopher Irving (LEAPING TALL BUILDINGS, GraphicNYC). The event formed part of “Geek Week” at Housing Works, with copies of speakers’ books donated by publishers for sale to support the charitable organization.
Panelists included Dean Haspiel (BILLY DOGMA, CUBA: MY REVOLUTION), Bob Fingerman (MAXIMUM MINIMUM WAGE, FROM THE ASHES), Laura Lee Gulledge (PAGE BY PAIGE, WILL AND WHIT), and Ethan Young (TAILS) and featured projected slides of their artwork along with readings, commentary, and discussion. Haspiel read “Dumbo” from his STREETCODE series, a tale of extensive personal injury after being “busted” as a thief by an overzealous and perplexed local driver during a film-shoot in Brooklyn and Fingerman read from an unpublished script of issue #11 of his acclaimed MAXIMUM MINIMUM WAGE series (which will appear in the new deluxe edition coming from Image March 20th) about the trials and tribulations of negative reviews and the dubious creative credits of working for “porno mags”. Gulledge, too, presented previously unseen material from her upcoming (in March) new book WILL and WHIT dealing with the stresses and awkwardness of teen life pursuing artistic expression, while Young read from his series TAILS, featuring cultural and familial clashes over relationships, but also noted that a second printed volume of the previously online series TAILS will be coming soon from Hermes Press.
Each of the cartoonists presenting their work engaged the audience on an emotional level in different ways, showcasing the versatility that makes autobiographical comics so popular. Haspiel’s comic narrated the already inherently absurd scenario of playing a thug in a friend’s film being chased by a costumed superhero an the equally absurd but downright serious impact of being mistaken for a real thief and being mown down by a would-be vigilante on set. Haspiel’s “DUMBO” focused on the psychological shock and mental processes handling the bizarre, and all too physically real situation.
Fingerman’s script handled his experiences working for a “rag” magazine in semi-autobiographical fashion through his avatar “Rob”, with an ear for frank and surprising dialogue between Rob and former co-workers on the subject of a bad review of his comics issued by a replacement writer in Rob’s own former column on the magazine. Through Rob’s dialogue, the audience could hear the character’s increasing fixation and personal struggle with the affront, while other characters commented irreverently on his overblown reactions. The emotions of the situation were powerful, even while comedic in tone.
Gulledge’s selection from WILL and WHIT used limited but realistic dialogue between friends to tease out the tensions in young adult conversations, anxiety in public performances (in this case a puppet show) and the supportive, but complicated role of group friendships. While Haspiel and Fingerman handled subject matter that may have been unfamiliar to many readers, but connected on the level of universal reactions to antagonizing situations, Gulledge presented a universal situation and explored it through the lens of different personality types.
Young’s performance dealt with two major universal themes, family pressures and romantic relationships, but introduced the complicating factor of cultural divides as his character (also named Ethan) engaged in “blunt” conversations with his mother, translated from Cantonese into English, about whether dating a Chinese-American girlfriend was really the right thing for him. Each comics artist preserved a kernel of universal human experience in their works while bringing intricate detail of personal experience into the narrative to render it unique, compelling, and even more visceral. Experiencing the comics as performance, read by their creators, brought an added dimension of reality to the stories. Autobio comics readers often become fans of the “voice” of the cartoonist and feel that they almost know the author/artist personally, but this was a rare chance to hear the comic audibly and experience the comic visually with creator participation.
Christopher Irving took the opportunity to play readers advocate and encourage the panelists to explain how autobiography maps out the gray areas between art and life, asking what the relationship is, exactly, between these creators and their comic avatars. Gulledge explained that her characters are often “different variations” of sides of her personality, and in one of the most memorable phrases from the evening explained that portraying versions of herself in comics encourages her to take risks in expression, making her willing to “drop the baby” being thrown at her if necessary. The allusion was to a situation wherein street urchins might attempt to pick your pocket by throwing a doll at you, pretending it’s a real baby, in the hopes that you’ll be distracted enough to attempt to catch it. “Drop the baby” made for an excellent metaphor for autobiographical cartooning when the creator has to realize the difference between art and real life and take greater risks based on that truth.
Fingerman commented, to the audience’s amusement, that he would “gladly drop a baby”. His reasons for using an avatar named “Rob” rather than his own name, Bob, in MAXIMUM MINUMUM WAGE involved shying away from direct “narcissism” while keeping a certain “weight” of truth alongside the “latitude” for some fictionalization. Like Stephen Colbert’s concept of “truthiness”, he said, his comics get closer to the truth by allowing more freedom of expression than strict autobiography. He also added that after ten years of reflection on MAXIMUM MINIMUM WAGE and working on the new hardcover edition from Image , however, he’s “seriously thinking of coming back to the series and starting it up again”, which provoked a round of enthusiastic applause from the audience.
Haspiel’s own feelings about the difference between autobiographical and semi-autobiographical comics, two genres he has worked with extensively, pivot on his concern that autobiographical comics only allow the reader to act as “voyeur” in someone else’s life. Like Fingerman, Haspiel reflected on the fact that semi-autobiographical narratives enable the creator to zero-in on “emotional truths” that they might not be able to emphasize as fully when sticking purely to facts. His advice to autobiographical or semi-autobiographical cartoonists, generally, is to “get outside” and experience life, making sure you “show up to the party” that is life and take part in order to create compelling stories. Gulledge chimed in that she agreed with Haspiel and Fingerman, that even autobiographical comics are not about the cartoonists life in terms of their purpose, but are about “helping” the reader understand themselves by engaging with real-life situations.
[Image from STREETCODE's "Dumbo" by Haspiel]
Young explained that he feels that his life can, in some ways, seem stereotypical, including his Asian-American heritage, emphasis on city narratives, his real-life situation of quitting college, and even being “self-indulgent” in writing stories designed to “get even” with an ex-girlfriend. But having a relatable life is certainly not a hindrance in autobiographical comics, especially when you capture the “romance” you see in the ordinary. Young hopes to “capture” some truths from his life in a memorable way, such as “living really broke” and “being single in New York”, experiences many readers might share. The most problematic thing Young has faced, he said, about working in autobiographical comics, is that readers equate the Ethan of his comics with Ethan in real life and feel free to tell him that he’s an “asshole” on a regular basis. He’s also been questioned for bringing “fantastic elements” into his works despite their overtly “realistic” tone, and like Haspiel and Fingerman, Young thinks a “metaphorical” element helps him “comment on how interconnected we are with our creations”. It seemed part and parcel of artistic freedom to branch from autobiography into metaphor for several of the panelists.
The discussion between comics artists on the panel was often freeform and interactive during the event, and they chatted about the increasing role of images online, the freedom the internet offers in terms of self-publication, and the impact that it has had on autobiographical comic production. Haspiel commented on the ways that social media has become a form of autobiographical expression, leading him further down the road of embracing metaphor rather than strict biography in his work. Even Gulledge expressed her movement toward “boiling down” life experiences to get to what life is “really about” due to the comparison between unedited and immediate self-expression on social platforms. Haspiel also noted, however, that social media opens up publicity options for web-based work, as in the case of ACTIVATEcomix, which he founded in 2006, and his currently curated multimedia arts site TRIP CITY. The very same technology that raises questions about autobiography by presenting human experience in an unfiltered way can serve as the platform for promoting the more focused works of art that reflect on life’s truths. One of the final topics of the evening focused on advice for cartoonists about funding and publishing their autobiographical and semi-autobiographical works. Now, more than ever, Haspiel argued for the need to be “be part of a community”, whether seeking crowd-funding or readership.
It was clear from hearing the panelists in discussion that they do form their own community of creators supporting many of the same goals in comics, and that each of them has a specific commitment to their readership in creating their work. The fact that the event spotlighting “the cartoonist in comics” not only benefited the comics community by exploring the role of biography and providing insights into creative process, but also raised funds for a worthy local charity emphasized the reciprocal role of community in supporting artwork about the significant truths hidden in everyday life and improving “real life” for those in need. The event was live-streamed by Housing Works and may be available in video format soon.
Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.
Authors and musicians are coming together for a benefit that will raise money to rebuild Red Hook, a water-front community in Brooklyn that was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
Novelist/journalist Kurt Andersen will host the event, which is called “Defiance: A Literary Benefit to Rebuild Red Hook,” and will take place on November 14th at Littlefield at 7pm. Musicians Steve Earle and Stew will perform and novelists Joseph O’Neill, Sam Lipsyte, and Rivka Galchen will do readings, as will non-fiction writers Phillip Lopate, Chuck Klosterman, Philip Gourevitch, Meghan O’Rourke, Deborah Baker, and Robert Sullivan will also participate.
Tickets for the event cost $50, and can be purchased at this link. All proceeds from the event will be split between two charities who are helping to rebuild Red Hook post-Sandy — Red Hook Initiative and Restore Red Hook.
We’re soliciting donations from international comic book writers and artists to give what they can (signed books, original artwork, etc.). We’re planning on holding either a local auction or on ebay for these items, and the proceeds will all go to those in need. A great deal of people have already pledged their support.
As all of you know, I never sell original artwork, so this a rare exception that any piece is available. 14′x17″ India ink on Bristol board. If I have a chance, I’ll personalize a note on the back to the donor. Please, look into bidding to help raise funds for this crucial cause. Thanks!
Wow, sounds like a once in a lifetime opportunity here.
The Philippines, as we have often noted here, have a unique comics background, and have produced some amazing cartooning talent over the years, so this comics-based grassroots support is very appropriate. Anyone interested in contributing should contact Fullybooked at email@example.com with the subject “AUCTION”.
is a great way to end the week. The Kesels had been assigned a drug affected baby and this meant their child was born with a methadone addiction and has to be hospitalized for six weeks:
Isaac was born, sadly addicted to methadone, and had to go through withdrawal, which is a long and I’m sure not fun process. It took about six weeks for him to be weaned all the way off the methadone, and some of those weeks were very tough. He was very inconsolable; we couldn’t soothe him, clearly he was agitated. He was on a morphine treatment during that time period, but each day, they cut that back just a little bit more and so his body had to pick up the slack and clean himself out a little more. It took about six weeks, but now he’s just a kid. He’s a very happy kid and seems to have no major effects from the drugs. There might be some learning disabilities later on. The doctors have told us we might not really know until he enters school. We might find he has a little trouble with math, with reading or something like that. Right now, he seems to be very, very normal. We’re extremely happy. He brings a lot of joy into our life.
As mentioned above, Kesel is selling a stunning Silver Age comics collection to pay the medical bills. You can purchase something at Blastoff Comics. “I’m selling my past to gain a new future,” he told CBR, and the whole story is touching in the extreme.
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Just now got back from visiting with Roger at the hospital. Wish there was something more to report, but 2 weeks in he’s still in critical but stable condition, and still completely non-communicative. He requires an anti-seizure medicine which as a side-effect can make him sleepy, so that may contribute to his lack of lucidity. On the bright side, the swelling has decreased dramatically and he once again looks like the Roger we know and love, though I’m sure he’d have something to say about the haircut they gave him.
I promise to continue keeping you all posted as his recovery continues and when there’s more to share.
Thanks again for all your love, care, concern, good wishes and prayers! Roger still needs them, and we believe they’re going to help him tremendously.
In all the hubbub of the last few weeks I haven’t been able to write about the passing of Robert L. Washington III, a comics writer who was a key part of Milestone comics. He co-created Static and helped write Blood Syndicate and other comics for DC and Valiant. And then, things got slow. And Washington had troubles, years of them. And on June 7th at the age of 47, he died of multiple heart attacks.
Just before his death, he’d been helped out by the Hero Initiative, as shown in the above comic which he wrote for a Hero Initiative anthology. Washington had ben living marginally on part time jobs…and when he died, as you may have read, there wasn’t enough money left to bury him. Some folks have been collecting fund to give him a proper funeral; I’ve given and I would hope some of you reading this will follow that link and make a donation.
I remember Robert Washington. To be honest, he was pretty unforgettable, with a booming voice and an easy laugh. He also wore hats quite a bit, which always stood out. When Milestone was riding high, we were convention pals, of the casual sort you make, making jokes at BarCon, saying hello in artist alley. It was apparent to me that Washington was a “character”, like many of the people in creative businesses, but all the same, I didn’t expect him to die in a pauper’s grave.
What was a day in your life like when you had steady comic book work?
Phenomenal — I woke up when I wanted, did what I wanted, stopped by the office one week to drop off a script and a week later for the check. It was really great lifestyle. As long as you turn in the work, your lifestyle is completely your own. I will beat you up to get back to it. That was the early 90s until about 1998.
What was a typical day like before reaching out to the Hero Initiative?
Going on the Internet, which I could barely afford to — I don’t have a computer, so I use one at an Internet café. I’d collect cans for money for bus or train fare.
This is the part that we all need to write in big letters on our walls however:
Looking back at your career and life, what would you stress to young writers and artists?
Have a backup plan. That goes for everyone that wants to go into media. Being really talented isn’t enough. Do something that’ll bring you a regular income in any other industry, you can work your way back into media. The people I know in my situation have no fall-back
Legendary Filipino creator Tony DeZuniga recently had a severe stroke, and he is currently in critical condition. And his family does not have health insurance—yeah, this stuff happens in the Philippines, too. HIs wife Tina wrote of the details in the link below.
I’ve been in touch with Neal Adams and he’s going to try to pull something together to help Tina and Tony. If anyone would like to contribute to Tony’s health care, they can send the money directly to the DeZunigas via Paypal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you make the payment as a personal gift, 100% of the amount gets transferred.
I have some books signed by Tony on my website www.fantompress.net. I’ve been doing Doc Savage related collectibles to help Bob Larkin whose wife is suffering from brain cancer.
Tony signed book plates for the Showcase Doc Savage reprint from DC and I’ll donate 100% of the profits from the sale of the Showcase books to Tony as well as 50% of the profits for anything else on site that you purchase.
Tina also is hoping to be able to send scans of some of Tony’s art that she will sell to help with their bills, so please drop me a line to get on the list to be notified when I get them.
DeZuniga co-created Jonah Hex and Black Orchid and brought many of the other Filipino artists of the ’70s and ’80s work. He’s a legend of the field, and if you can’t afford to help him monetarily, at least send him some good wishes. Display CommentsAdd a Comment
Hero Initiative is the non-profit organization that aids comic creators in medical and financial need—and if you’ve been reading the Beat lately you know that they are more needed than ever. Tonight, as part of the Emerald City Comicon, they are having a bowling fundraiser which sounds like a great time for a great cause, as they say. Although spots have already been auctioned off, you can still go watch the fun:
That’s right! We’re bowling to raise money for our cause on Friday March 30 at 8pm! There are 24 spots to bowl with a special guest including Jim Valentino, Francis Manpul, Barry Kitson, Tony Parker and more at Garage Billiards at 1130 Broadway in downtown Seattle! (http://www.garagebilliards.com) For $40 you get 2 games with a special guest, shoe rental, a drink ticket and five raffle tickets to win a bowling pin designed by artists such as Joe Linsner or Matt Wagner!
And if you don’t want to bowl, come and have some fun! The custom bowling pins can be won by ANYONE who shows up! Raffle tickets are $5 each, and tickets will be sold all day Friday at booth number #807 and all evening at the event. Winners MUST BE present.
And of course our special guests at the booth will be signing and sketching for us. Check it out!
Friday, March 30 (hours 2-8)
200-300: Keu Cha
300-400: Scott Morse
400-500: Mike Oeming
500-700: Bill Willingham
Saturday, March 31 (hours 10-7)
1230-130: Jim Valentino
130-230: Adi Granov
430-630: Chrissie Zullo
Sunday, April 1 (hours 10-5)
1030-1130: Steve Lieber
1130-1230: Matt Fraction
The CBLDF is offering this swell poster for THE MASSIVE by Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson as member thank you. BUT ONLY THIS WEEKEND! So hurry if u want to get this charmingly model kit-evoking poster.
This weekend only! Brian Wood and Dark Horse Comics are thanking new and renewing CBLDF members by giving away an exclusive print promoting the upcoming series THE MASSIVE by Brian Wood & Kristian Donaldson. The 17″ x 24″ print, which was given away exclusively at ComicsPRO was designed by Wood to evoke the classic Japanese model kits of his youth, and will come signed by the artist. This weekend only, we’re offering it as a thank you to everyone who joins the CBLDF at the $50 Supporter level or higher, while limited supplies last! Please join the CBLDF today!
We’ve been meaning to write up the disgusting legal maneuver that has left 69-year-old Gary Friedrich owing Marvel $17,000 after a failed attempt to get some ownership of Ghost Rider, a character he co-created back in the ’70s. In a story first reported here by Torsten, Marvel/Disney filed a countersuit for copyright infringement based on Friedrich’s convention appearances selling Ghost Rider-related merchandise. As Daniel Best wrote:
This stipulation has been agreed upon and so ordered by the court, with the final judgement reflecting all that contained within. This now means that Gary Friedrich has the right to appeal, and appeal he shall, but it also means that he now owes Marvel Comics, a multi-million dollar making machine, backed by the multi-billion dollar Disney company, $17,000 and cannot ever sell anything related to Ghost Rider, nor can he even say that he created Ghost Rider for any form of gain or advertising. Well done Marvel!! I do wonder though, how does the likes of Joe Quesada, who has also made millions from Marvel in recent times, take the court’s judgement? As Friedrich himself has stated, he is unemployed, has no real assets and is, for all intents and purposes, destitute. $17,000 might be chump change for some, but for someone in Friedrich’s situation it’s a lot of cash.
The reaction to this has been two-fold. First, it’s the latest and worst example of an encroaching corporate power-grab against actual creators—although it is merely financial Darwinism in a world where corporations are people, there is the chance of a significant PR backlash, as James Sturm’s call for a Marvel boycott earlier in the week over the Kirby matter shows.
Second and even more chilling is the possible end to the gentleman’s agreement that has allowed freelance artists to sell sketches, drawings and even entire books of art based on copyrighted characters. Marvel and DC have long looked the other way for this staple of the freelancer’s income. But Disney doesn’t. If Friedrich owes $17,000 over the bits and pieces he has sold over the years, what about the countless, expensive convention sketches by Adam Hughes to name just one? Or Steve Rude. Or anyone.
These questions are now circulating everywhere. In the meantime, Friedrich is old, broke and in ill health. Although many doubt Marvel will try to collect the money—since he had none—the ruling has taken away one of the few ways he had to make money. As he has written to several supporters, he is in danger of losing his home. In a recent Facebook status update, he wrote:
Since the various news agencies and websites have reported the ruling against me on my claims against Marvel in the Ghost Rider lawsuit, and the assessment of a $17,000 judgment against me and my company instead, I have read an amazing amount of comments in my support on the internet, and have received many messages of support directly. Although the reports of my emplo
By Michael Otto
Dear First Lady Obama:
I am writing this letter in support of your Let’s Move campaign against obesity. As you well know, traditional recommendations for physical activity and good nutrition have met with failure in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, rates of adults who engage in no leisure time physical activity have been in the range of 20-30% for over 20 years. Moreover, over 75% of individuals do not
The Hero Initiative reminds us that California residents can help this charity — which helps older and financially challenged comics creator with no other support — just by registering your Ralphs card.
Hey, Hero Friends in California,
It’s time for the Labor Day tradition right up there with backyard barbecues and dreading school—the annual re-upping of your Ralphs card for Hero!
On September 1, Ralphs wiped the slate clean, and we need to build back from Square One!
When you register your Ralphs Rewards card with a Ralphs-approved charity, EVERY time you shop and use the card, Ralphs will kick in a small percentage to the charity of your choice. It costs you, the consumer, NOTHING. It’s just Ralphs kicking in a couple bucks to good causes.
And yes, The Hero Initiative is one of those Ralphs-approved charities, and yes, we need YOU to re-register your card for Hero, which is easy as pie (tho’ not quite as tasty):
1) Sign in to Ralphs.com with your email and password
1a) If you have not created an account, create one now! Takes about 60 seconds!
2) Click on “Ralphs Rewards” in the upper right corner
3) Click on “Community Contribution.” It’s in the left-side menu under “My Ralphs”
3a) Hit “enroll” at the bottom.
4) Now enroll! When signing up, our NPO # (non-profit organization #) is: 80680, and we’re under our corporate name, “A Commitment To Our Roots.” Don’t let it throw ya!
5) Now go get a pie.
That’s it! We greatly appreciate your support in the past, and hope we can count on it in the future! Any questions, please let us know!
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has launched a major fall membership drive that hopes to raise $100,000 by the end of October. And to do it — they have some amazing premiums listed: professional review with Brian Azzarello or lunch with Dan DiDio or tea with Neil Gaiman. Costs for the defense of Brandon X — an American arrested for anime and manga images on his computer –are kicking into high gear, and every dollar counts. Here’s the deal:
The comics industry’s greatest creators are standing behind the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in Be Counted, a new membership drive that seeks to raise $100,000 for the organization’s legal and education work by October 31. In addition to the CBLDF’s current rewards for membership, the organization is offering a variety of access opportunities, including lunch with legends, such as Neil Gaiman, Dave Gibbons, Mike Mignola and Gail Simone, and professional development reviews from top editorial experts, including Scott Allie, Dan DiDio, and Bob Schreck. The Be Counted membership drive starts today and will continue through October 31, with new incentives added frequently.
Contributions to CBLDF made during this campaign will help the CBLDF in the following ways:
This September, the CBLDF must contribute the first installment of the $150,000 in legal fees needed to defend Brandon X, an American citizen facing a minimum sentence of one year in Canadian prison and registration as a sex offender because Canada Customs alleges that Japanese horror and fantasy comics on Brandon’s laptop are child pornography. His case is important because it raises important precedent questions about the artistic merit of comics and the rights of readers and artists traveling with comics on their electronic devices. The CBLDF needs your help to pay the lawyers defending this case because we seek to establish a precedent that protects comics in Canada and influences courts in the United States.
Beyond Brandon’s case, the CBLDF needs your help to ensure we are able to continue our other important program services. Your membership dollars will pay for our membership in Media Coalition, which helps us track and fight unconstitutional legislation. You will also ensure we have the resources we need to pay our monthly retainer for routine First Amendment legal work.
The CBLDF continues to assist librarians and retailers when comics and graphic novels are challenged. Often this happens on a case-by-case basis, during which CBLDF staff gather defense materials for each individual incident. We currently seek funds to develop more substantial preventive tools, including joining an important anti-censorship coalition that protects the right to read.
Please visit www.cbldf.org to learn about all of the rewards offered in this important campaign, and to Be Counted by joining the Fund!
Be Counted Professional Supporters & Membership Incentives
Professional Development Review: Scott Allie — Dark Horse editor Scott Allie will offer a Professional Development Review for members joining at $500 or greater. This is an incredible opportunity to receive some one-on-one guidance with one of comics’ top decision makers while suppo
Join the CBLDF at Jim Hanley’s Universe (4 West 33rd St.) this Tuesday evening from 6:30pm-8:00pm for an open call for volunteers. As New York Comic-Con approaches, the CBLDF needs the help of dedicated volunteers more than ever.
You can volunteer for the CBLDF in any number of ways. In the office, volunteers may be asked to help with inventory, membership fulfillment, design work, copywriting, and more. As the CBLDF hosts many events outside of the office, we also need volunteers to assist at conventions, fundraisers, and special events such as creator Q&As and CBLDF Master Sessions.
If you have a talent and the desire to put it to work for a good cause, we want you on board! As a volunteer for CBLDF, you’ll have a chance to boost your resume, build teamwork and leadership skills, and meet some great people along the way. This event is an opportunity for volunteers past and present to mingle, learn about what the Fund has been up to, and how you can help. Pizza will be served.
PLus a ton more things to bid on, including Saturday Night Live tickets and a confab with Tom Brevoort.
CBLDF’s Be Counted Week Two Launches With SNL Tickets, Tom Brevoort & More!
This week the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund continues its Be Counted membership drive with brand new membership rewards including Saturday Night Live tickets and a meet and greet with Seth Meyers; a professional development review with Marvel SVP of Publishing Tom Brevoort; a variety of thank you’s from Batman Incorporated artist Chris Burnham, and a chance for professionals to get out of (or into) Bleeding Cool free!
Since launching the Be Counted campaign last Thursday, the CBLDF has raised over $19,000 towards its goal of raising $100,000 by October 31 for its legal and program work. If you aren’t a member of the CBLDF, now is the time to Be Counted and sign up for membership, which starts for as little as $25 a year and includes rewards like a Green Lantern membership card, and at higher levels, CBLDF tote bags, prints, and original art. Membership contributions are tax deductible and you’ll be thanked on our CBLDF Member List.
Check out all of our Be Counted member rewards, which include opportunities to meet supporters like Brian Azzarello, Neil Gaiman, Dave Gibbons, Mike Mignola, Gail Simone, Jeff Smith, Frank Quitely & more! Please join the CBLDF today!
Tom Brevoort Professional Development Review: Tom Brevoort — Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Publishing will offer a Professional Development Review at NYCC for one member joining CBLDF for a donation of $1,000 or greater. This is an incredible opportunity to receive targeted, one-on-one feedback to improve your comics skills from one of the most experienced editors in the field while supporting the CBLDF!
Chris Burnham Professional Development Review: Chris Burnham – Batman Incorporated artist Chris Burnham will provide a Professional Development Review at NYCC or via email to donors who join for a membership level of $250 or greater. This is an incredible opportunity to have one of the most versatile and talented artists in mainstream comics give you hard earned advice to help your craft.
Lunch With Legends: Chris Burnham — Enjoy a unique opportunity to have lunch on Saturday of NYCC with Chris Burnham, the exciting artist on Batman Incorporated when you join CBLDF for a membership contribution of $250 or more! CBLDF wi
When the Comics Code went defunct earlier in the year, there was much speculation over what would happen to its records. But less wondering over who would own the intellectual property rights to the Code Seal itself — an iconic image much used over the years. Turns out the CBLDF has received the rights — thought the PR doesn’t make it clear exactly how — and will be able to license it for T-shirts, mugs, and so on.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund today announces that it has received the intellectual property rights to the Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval in an assignment from the now-defunct Comic Magazine Association of America, which administrated the Code since the 1950s.
The Comics Code Seal comes to the CBLDF during Banned Books Week, a national celebration of the freedom to read, and just a few months following a decision in the U.S. Supreme Court where Justice Scalia cited CBLDF’s brief addressing the comics industry’s history of government scrutiny and the subsequent self-regulation the Comics Code represented. Dr. Amy Nyberg, author of Seal of Approval: The History of Comics Code has prepared a short history of the Comics Code Seal and the era of censorship it represents exclusively for CBLDF that is available now in the Resources section of cbldf.org.
CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein says, “As we reflect upon the challenges facing intellectual freedom during Banned Books Week, the Comics Code Seal is a reminder that it’s possible for an entire creative field to have those rights curtailed because of government, public, and market pressures. Fortunately, today comics are no longer constrained as they were in the days of the Code, but that’s not something we can take for granted. Banned Books Week reminds us that challenges to free speech still occur, and we must always be vigilant in fighting them.”
The CBLDF will take over licensing of products bearing the Comics Code Seal, including t-shirts, providing a modest source of income for the organization’s First Amendment legal work. Graphitti Designs is currently offering t-shirts with the Code Seal to benefit CBLDF.
Brownstein adds “It’s a progressive change that the Comics Code seal, which is yesterday’s symbol of comics censorship, will now be used to raise money to protect the First Amendment challenges comics face in the future. That goal probably would have been unimaginable to the Code’s founders, who were part of a generation of comics professionals that were fleeing a witch-hunt that nearly trampled comics and any notion that they deserved any First Amendment protection.”
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a 501c3 not for profit organization dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of the comics field. It is currently in the midst of Be Counted, a member drive aiming to raise $100,000 for urgently needed First Amendment legal and education work. To learn more about the CBLDF and to support its efforts, please visit www.cbldf.org
Team Cul-de-Sac launched as a fundraising effort for Parkinson’s Disease research after Reuben award-winning cartoonist Richard Thompson was diagnosed with the illness. The plan is to publish a book next spring and auction off some of the all-star art. Along the way it’s featured art by retired cartoonists like Bill Watterson and Cathy Guisewite, all drawing Thompson’s Otterloop characters. Here’s a new piece by not-retired cartoonist Garry Trudeau.
Earlier today we noted Stan Lee’s penchant for pacting. Sadly, his partner in the Marvel Age, Jack Kirby did not live to see the era where his creations and influence dominate pop culture. In fact, his family is right now engaged in a bitter dispute with Marvel Comics over the rights to the characters he created.
Some have called, passionately, for a boycott of Marvel over this. and they would have the high ground. But if a boycott isn’t your style. Nat Gertler has started his own way to remember The King, a program called A Buck for Jack which suggests you donate a dollar every time you go see a movie based on Kirby’s creations.
Now, I don’t want to miss these films – they’ve got filmmakers like Kenneth Brannaugh, Jon Favreau, and Joss Whedon, stars like Robert Downey Jr. and Natalie Portman, and a pretty good track record of quality. But I feel uncomfortable going to these movies knowing that they are not benefiting the goals of the man who brought so much creative energy to the work. So here’s what I’m doing: for every film I go to see that features Kirby-crafted concepts but made without financial tribute to Kirby, I’m giving a buck to Kirby’s legacy. For now, it will be by giving that money to the Jack Kirby Museum; if I ever find a way to give it to the Jack Kirby heirs instead, I will start directing the money there.
The campaign is completely unaligned with the proposed Kirby Museum, the Kirby heirs or any other official entity. But it sounds like a good way to watch a Marvel movie and at least make some kind of concrete contribution to keeping Jack Kirby’s memory alive.
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There’s been much speculation over the fate of Krypto, Superman’s pet dog who somehow came with him to Earth, in the New 52 — it seems, based on comments at NYCC, that in this grim, no future world of economic collapse, there is no place for a dog in a cape. We’d argue that the opposite is true — the world needs a dog in a cape more than ever! — but it seems that Superman’s dog will only be seen in flashbacks set on Krypton, like the above Gene Ha variant cover to SUPERMAN #3. He’s also been given a grim and gritty makeover as an albino dire wolf, like he wandered over from the set of Game of Thrones.
However, those who miss Krypto will definitely enjoy the art that is going up in an auction for writer Steve Niles’s greyhound Sonny, who is undergoing a very expensive treatment for lymphoma. Artists have been donating art for Niles to sell at auction and collect into a print set to raise money for the treatment. Here’s a Bernie Wrightson piece, which really should be in the 31 Days of Halloween folder:
And Jill Thompson’s.
So, as you can see, Krypto lives on. And hopefully, Sonny will, too.
Charles Brownstein notes that the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s October fundraising goal of $100,000 is 77% there — they have today to raise the last $25,000 and lots of great premiums still available. Check out the list below and see if there’s something on your wishlist.
Last month, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund asked the comics community to Be Counted as members of the organization, and set a fundraising goal of $100,000 by October 31 to support their important legal and education work. Today, the Fund has raised over $77,000 of that goal, thanks to the generosity of those who heard the call to Be Counted, and the professional community supporting the campaign. Today, the CBLDF is asking anyone who hasn’t joined or renewed their membership the organization yet to sign up to protect free speech, and to take advantage of some of the unique rewards they’re offering to thank supporters during the drive!
All members signing up to Be Counted by 12 Midnight pacific time on October 31 will be able to receive signed thank yous, including the 2011 CBLDF Member Card featuring Green Lantern, and signed by Geoff Johns, with other rewards for members signing up at higher levels including signed prints from Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, and original art from Matt Wagner, Jeffrey Brown, Cliff Chiang, and more. If you’re not sure if you’re a member, you can see the current year member list here.
The Fund also has opportunities left for Lunch With Legends, including one last Neil Gaiman tea date, and lunches with Dave Gibbons, Frank Miller, Frank Quitely, and more. For aspiring pros, we also have professional development reviews with Karen Berger, Tom Brevoort, Dan DiDio, Gail Simone, Jennifer L. Holm & more!
If you’re not able to make a lunch date, the Fund also has some exclusive thank you drawings from Neil Gaiman, Frank Quitely, Chris Burnham, and Matthew Holm for members signing up during this drive.
The CBLDF exists because of the grassroots support of the comics community. If you value free expression, we’re asking you, right now, to please Be Counted as a member of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund to help us perform our important work.
Here’s how your contribution will be used:
Legal Action Last September, the CBLDF contributed the first installment of the $150,000 in legal fees needed to defend Brandon X, an American citizen facing a minimum sentence of one year in Canadian prison and registration as a sex offender because Canada Customs alleges that Japanese horror and fantasy comics on Brandon’s laptop are child pornography. His case is important because it raises important precedent questions about the artistic merit of comics and the rights of readers and artists traveling with comics on their electronic devices. The CBLDF needs your help to pay the lawyers defending this case because we seek to establish a precedent that protects comics in Canada and influences courts in the United States.
Beyond Brandon’s case, the CBLDF needs your help to ensure we are able to continue our other important program services. Your membership dollars will pay for our membership in Media Coalition, which helps us track and fight unconstitutional legislation. You will also ensure we have the resources we need to pay our monthly retainer for routine First Amendment legal work.
Pekar’s widow Joyce Brabner, was uncomfortable with the idea of a heroic monument, so in conjuction with some local artists they’ve come up with a more populist memorial: a statue at the Cleveland Heights library that would also serve as a place where people can read and make comics.
A way to celebrate comics as art and literature at a Cleveland Heights public library. A literary landmark, a desk that’s always filled with paper and pencils for people to sit and write or draw comics at the same place where Harvey Pekar liked to work.
Mounted on the desk, a sculpted bronze comic book “page.” Stepping out from a panel, Harvey– using his semi celebrity to focus on the creative possibilities of the art form he opened up to so many people. On the reverse, gridded into bronze ruled “panels,” a giant slate storyboard that looks very much the way Harvey always started his own scripts. (He wrote and drew stick figures, just like Paul Giamatti in that movie.) Plenty of chalk and plenty of encouragement from a library that cherishes comics. At different times each year, a librarian can unlock the middle drawer of the desk and pull out copies of books that Harvey read as a kid that inspired him to write, AMERICAN SPLENDOR scripts, memorabilia and anything else that could inspire library patrons to be creative with comics.
Rewards include thanks you on the website, posters, copies of CLEVELAND, copies of Pekar’s comics and your own phone call or coffee date with one of the stars of the AMERICAN SPLENDOR movie.
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The Canadian comics free speech organization known as the CLLDF (Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund) has been mostly dormant for a while, but they have reactivated as part of the CBLDF case involving an American who faces charges over images found on his laptop by Canadian border inspectors. They’ve incorporated and added two Canadians retailers to their board, Jay Bardyla of Edmonton, Alberta; and Jennifer Haines of Guelph, Ontario.
The Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund announces that, 22 years after forming as an ad hoc fundraising organization in defense of a Calgary retailer charged with selling obscene materials, it has at last been formally incorporated. CLLDF Board of Directors member Derek McCulloch says, “It’s a long overdue step, and one we hope communicates our intention to grow the Fund as a bulwark in the defense of free speech in Canada.” McCulloch added that while the Fund has been incorporated with bylaws outlining its mission as a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the free speech rights of Canadian comics professionals and fans, its status as a charity is pending. ”The paperwork is in at Revenue Canada,” McCulloch said. ”We hope to have charitable status before the end of the year.”
The move toward formal incorporation comes in the wake of the CLLDF’s involvement, in partnership with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, in the defense of an American citizen facing criminal charges in Canada for comics brought into the country on his laptop.
At the same time, the CLLDF announces that it has expanded its Board of Directors from three members to five. Joining founding Directors McCulloch, Leonard Wong, and paul Stockton are two prominent Canadian retailers: Jay Bardyla of Edmonton, Alberta; and Jennifer Haines of Guelph, Ontario.
Jay Bardyla is the founder of Happy Harbor Comics, the award winning comic shop located in Edmonton, Alberta that works tirelessly to promote the craft of comics to schools and libraries through free presentations and who keeps its doors open to creators of all types to put their books upon their shelves. A 30 year collector, 24 year employee and 12 year owner in the comics industry, Jay believes he has only begun to understand the industry he loves dearly and looks forward to many more decades of learning about the medium, inspiring others to create comics and to protecting the hobby.
Jennifer Haines opened The Dragon in September 1998 in Guelph, Ontario. Since then, it has gone on to become the Echo Reader’s Choice best comic store in the area in 2009 and 2010, as well as an Eisner finalist in 2010 and 2011. Jennifer has an M.A. in Classical Studies, as well as a B.Ed, which has led her to form comicsintheclassroom.ca, a resource for teachers and librarians. Additionally, she works closely with schools and school boards to help them design specific graphic novel curricula. When she’s not in the shop, she works as a teacher, primarily of Latin and Drama.
“I’m very pleased to be a part of such an important organization,” Haines said. ”It is vital to protect our freedom
While comics pundits continue to debate (well, really beat down) Frank Miller over his ornery comments about the Occupy Wall Street movement, Occupy Comics continues to ramp up, with the addition of contributions from Darick Robertson, Dan Goldman, and musician Amanda Palmer , just three new high profile contributors with, we’re told, more to come.
The project has a Kickstarter page, and is already $1000 away from their goal of funding comics coverage of the protest movement. Susan Cagle, Charlie Adlard, Molly Crabapple, Joseph Michael Lisner, Steve Niles, Tim Seeley, Ben Templesmith, and others are already on board.
In a PR statement, the organizers write:
In order to get funds to protestors in various cities quickly, Occupy Comics is looking to raise at least $10,000 that will be distributed to the individual artists involved in the project, who will then determine the best way to support the movement in their area or on the national level.
Because at portion of the funds raised will be used to create the books, and all other money going directly to occupation needs, Occupy Comics organizers are hoping to raise well-over the original Kickstarter goal in order to give protestors more money to continue their campaign against economic injustice.
Spearheaded by Matt Pizzolo of Halo-8 (the film & comics studio behind behind the Warren Ellis and Grant Morrison documentaries), Occupy Comics has received a tremendous amount of support from people in the industry on every level who are volunteering their efforts in order to expand awareness and complete the final products.
Alan Moore will contribute a prose essay to the Occupy Comics project currently running on Kickstarter. He joins David Lloyd on the roster of the project which will record the Occupy Movement in comics — their V FOR VENDETTA comic has been an inspiration for the protesters with the Guy Fawkes mask from the comics showing up around the globe.
Moore’s contribution will be a longform prose piece (possibly with spot illustrations) the content of which is still to be determined, but Moore has indicated he intends to touch on the principles of the Occupy movement and how those principles compare and contrast with the comics business in terms of corporate control of creative arts and also in terms of the superhero paradigm itself.
The project now reunites Moore with his V FOR VENDETTA collaborator David Lloyd, who joined the roster last week.
“Alan Moore and David Lloyd joining the project is really incredible not just because their creation from 30 years ago continues to inspire activists today, but because they themselves are inspired by the activists they helped influence,” said Matt Pizzolo, who spearheaded the organization of Occupy Comics. “It’s also impressive how careful they both are to join the coalition as part of the team, they want to support the movement and the project without being treated as de facto leaders.”
Uniquely, Occupy Comics is more than just a show of solidarity with the protesters: the collaborators are creating new art & stories inspired by the protesters and are actively fundraising for them – having already raised nearly $15,000 on Kickstarter with just days left to go.
This is the first project of its kind to bring together artists and writers inspired to create change by making art together and utilizing that art to financially support a social protest movement in an organized, sustainable way.
Updated Complete Roster
(in alphabetical order)
Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead)
Mike Allred (Madman)
Marc Andreyko (Manhunter)
Susie Cagle (Notes on Conflict, arrested at Occupy Oakland)
Mike Cavallaro (Parade (with fireworks), Life & Times of Savior 28)
Kevin Colden (I Rule the Night, Grimm’s Fairy Tales)
Molly Crabapple (Dr. Sketchy’s)
Tyler Crook (Petrograd, B.P.R.D.)
Vito Delsante (Superman, FCHS)
J.M. DeMatteis (Justice League, Spider-Man, Imaginalis)
Guy Denning (painter)
Eric Drooker (Flood!)
Troy Dye (Shrek, Puss in Boots, The Goblin Chronicles)
Joshua Dysart (Swamp Thing, The Unknown Soldier)
Zoetica Ebb (Biorequiem.com)
Joshua Hale Fialkov (I Vampire, Tumor)
Dan Goldman (Shooting War, 08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail)
Jenny “Devildoll” Gonzalez-Blitz (Coffin Factory art collective)
Brea Grant (We Will Bury You, Suicide Girls)
Zane Grant (We Will Bury You, Suicide Girls)
Joe Harris (Ghost Projekt, Spontaneous)
Dean Haspiel (American Splendor)
Joe Keatinge (Hell Yeah, Glory, Brutal)
Tom Kelesides (Shrek, Puss in Boots, The Goblin Chronicles)
Ales Kot (upcoming projects w/ Image Comics & DC Ent)
Superheroes have often stepped up to campaign for charities, but this morning’s announcement of Warner’s new WE CAN BE HEROES initiative has set the bar pretty high. A multi pronged campaign spearheaded by DC Entertainment and WB has committed several million dollars to teaming with three charities to fight starvation in the horn of Africa, were 13 million people are currently at risk due to drought and war. In addition to selling merchandise, DC Entertainment will match donations dollar for dollar up to $1 million.
The initiative was announced this morning at a presentation featuring Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros.; Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group; and Diane Nelson, President, DC Entertainment. Representatives of the three charities that are benefitting from WE CAN BE HEROES — Save the Children, International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps —were also present. Save the Children’s Cokie Roberts stole the show, however — she was introduced by Nelson as “the real Wonder Woman.” Roberts joked that it was perhaps best that she didn’t wear the costume however.
Although the effort will run across WB’s various divisions, WB president Jeff Bewkes announced, DC Entertainment is leading the charge with its aspirational superhero characters. The Justice League — the traditional line-up with the addition of Cyborg — is the face of the campaign—no actual comics tie-ins weren’t mentioned, although it seems like a logical outlet. Maybe Vixen can be involved somehow? An African women superhero, she seems ideally suited to the theme of the campaign.
The effort recalls a previous charity campaign, heroes Against Hunger from 1986, in which proceeds of a benefit comic went to combat famine. Superman has also fought landmines in the past.
The event was also the corporate debut of the new DC logo, which appeared on various slides and artwork. It’s here, and it’s Gotham.
The week of Comic-Con just got even MORE momentous with “The Course of the Force” which ties the Olympic torch relay, lightsabers and Comic-con up in one totally nerdtastic bundle.
And it’s all for a good cause. As announced by Chris Hardwick and Marvin E. Quasniki in the above video, this Nerdist-sponsored event will be a relay-style run from Santa Monica to San Diego starting July 7 and ending Wednesday July 11th as Comic-Con kicks off. Participants will carry a special lightsaber along the more than 100 mile route in quarter mile segments.
On top of creating an event for Star Wars enthusiasts to celebrate and embrace their love of the Saga, Course of the Force will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Fans will have the opportunity to participate in the historic lightsaber relay through various promotions and online calls to action.
Participants in the relay are encouraged to come decked out in their best Star Wars, or pop culture- themed running gear, not only to look good but also to win prizes. Ancient Jedi Masters carried within backpacks are not required.