Monday, August 31, 2009

Spring 2010 Picture Book Previews

From We Planted a Tree, illus. by Bob Staake (Random/Golden)

From Here Comes the Garbage Barge, illus. by Red Nose Studio (Random/Schwartz & Wade)

From Benno and the Night of Broken Glass, illus. by Josée Bisaillon (Kar-Ben)

From The Eraserheads, illus. by Boris Kulikov (MacmillanFSG/Foster)

From Sweet Dreams Lullaby by Betsy Snyder (Random)

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Father In Law...

A scene from a true story he tells that always makes me shiver. This was a campout in the Superstition mountains in the 1950's. He's the second boy from the front.  

Introducing: Pigpen

In Rockford, Ill., one day last week, a ten-year-old named Jack Hill trudged along the street without looking where he was going. His nose was buried in a comic-strip magazine devoted to the exploits of Superman. He started absently across a street. A car missed him by a hair; bystanders yelled at him. Jack moseyed on regardless, smack in front of another car. In the hospital, to everyone's amazement but a Superman's, he proved to have no injuries to speak of.

What Jack Hill and his fellow fans find so absorbing about Superman is not simply their hero's imperviousness and giant strength but his ability to fly through the air. Last week Superman took to the air in earnest, as a three-a-week serial.

Scarcely more than a year ago Superman was just a comic-strip nobody from an obscure planet called Krypton. Now, as almost every kid in the U. S. (and many a grownup) well knows, Superman is THE man to have around in a 1940 pinch. He can outswim a torpedo, outfly an airplane, outdistance a streamliner train, outrun a speeding automobile, punch his way through armor plate. Also he can get down to brass tacks as Clark Kent, reporter, write superscoops for his paper.

Almost as phenomenal as his comic-strip career is Superman's vogue with U. S. youth. He appears in 77 U. S. dailies, 36 Sunday papers. With Superman its ace, the magazine Action Comics' net paid circulation has whooped since June 1938 from 130,000 to 800,000. Superman Quarterly is gobbled up at the rate of 1,300,000 copies an edition. The Superman Club has 100,000 members, including Eric & Jean LaGuardia, Spanky McFarland (Our Gang Comedies), a La Follette, a Du Pont, eleven middies from Annapolis, 16 students at Hiram (Ohio) College. In the works are Superman rings, sweater emblems, a Superman watch, a Superman radio (with super power).

Superman comes on the air with a shrill, shrieking sound effect (combination of a high wind and a bomb whine, recorded in the Spanish war). Voices hail him with: "Up in the sky—look! It's a bird. . . . It's a plane. . . . It's SUPERMAN!" Superman or no superman, he has to watch his step on the radio. Mothers' clubs have their eyes on him, the Child Study Association of America feels that his occasional rocket & space ship jaunts are a bit too improbable. By radio's own war rules, he must remain neutral, may mix in no international intrigues, rub out no Hitlers. So last week Superman cleaned up a local mob bent on wrecking the Silver Clipper, a streamliner train; caught them after a quick repair job near Denver, heaving 20 tons of rock off a trestle and replacing missing rails in a jiffy.

Radio's Superman is six-foot-two, 184-lb. Clayton Collyer, brother of Cinemactress June Collyer. The episodes are produced in Manhattan by Superman, Inc., recordings expressed to stations using them. Superman has a sound effect about every four lines. For many of his righteous crushers, jumping on various sized berry baskets suffices. For the disintegration of a steel ball bearing in an episode recorded last week, the sound men finally got the oomph they wanted by tossing a dinner plate in the air, busting it with a hammer on the way down.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Personal Reminder

Milt Caniff on his new comic strip Steve Canyon:

"You've got to read it every day so that you'll know what happens. Make it so they can't stand it."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sunday Funnies Posters

There are "posters" that came in the Sunday funnies once upon a time.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Top 100 Comics

Wes's Franklin Fibbs comic strip is on Tom Spurgeon's growing list of Top 100 Comics:

Cul-De-Sac, Richard Thompson
Doonesbury, Garry Trudeau
Dykes to Watch Out For, Alison Bechdel
Ernie Pook's Comeek, Lynda Barry
Franklin Fibbs, Hollis Brown and Wes Hargis
Life in Hell, Matt Groening
Lio, Mark Tatulli
Maakies, Tony Millionaire
Mutts, Patrick McDonnell
Pearls Before Swine, Stephan Pastis
Speed Bump, Dave Coverly
The Boondocks, Aaron McGruder
The Pain: When Will It End?, Tim Kreider
Tom The Dancing Bug, Ruben Bolling
Zippy, Bill Griffith
Zombies in Toronto, Chester Brown
Mike Luckovich's Editorial Cartoons, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Pat Oliphant's Editorial Cartoons, syndicated
Tom Toles' Editorial Cartoons, Washington Post

Jan Balet

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Southern Justice (Murder in Mississippi)

I ran across a Norman Rockwell painting I've never seen before, called Southern Justice. This depicts the murders of the three civil rights workers in Mississippi. As I understand it, this is Rockwell's color sketch, which Look magazine chose over the finished painting, but I'm not sure if it was actually published or not. At any rate, a powerful, masterful work.
(Note: This is the final painting, as a reader pointed out. The looser sketch was used in the magazine.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Warner Bros. & DC Lose Rights to Superman's Origins

A judge on Wednesday ruled that the family of superman's co-creator, Jerry Siegel, has "successfully recaptured" rights to additional works, including the first two weeks of the daily Superman newspaper comic-strips, as well as portions of early Action Comics and Superman comic-books.

The ruling is based on the court's finding that these were not "works-made-for-hire" under the Copyright Act. This means the Siegels -- repped by Marc Toberoff of Toberoff & Associates -- now control depictions of Superman's origins from the planet Krypton, his parents Jor-El and Lara, Superman as the infant Kal-El, the launching of the infant Superman into space by his parents as Krypton explodes and his landing on Earth in a fiery crash.

But Warners/DC still owns other elements, including Superman's ability to fly, the term kryptonite, the villain Lex Luthor, Jimmy Olsen and some of Superman's powers.

Sources: Variety and

This seems to indicate the strength of the claim is based on Siegel and Shuster creating Superman independently several years before they sold the rights to DC. I'm no legal expert, but as a court ruling this could set a legal precedent for other creators.

Could this be applied to older, syndicate-owned newspaper comic strips? Could the Schulz family get the rights to the originally submitted Peanuts strips and even its original cast from United Media? Could Chester Gould's daughter reclaim ownership of Dick Tracy? This may have big implications for corporate-owned strips such as Popeye, The Phantom, Blondie, Dennis the Menace, Buck Rogers, Little Orphan Annie, Flash Gordon and others.

Or it might just mean we won't see any more Superman origin stories.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Pig + Veggies

Thursday, August 13, 2009

So I was drawing some eyes and mouths...

After scanning them to correct a few expressions in a painting, I had to take a second glance at how unintentionally creepy this drawing was.