Monthly Archive for July, 2011

On the Kirby vs. Marvel Decision

Jack Kirby's iconic cover to Fantastic Four #1 (1961), the beginning of the so-called "Marvel Age of Comics"

By now, most of you interested in such things will have seen that the heirs of Jack Kirby have had their lawsuit against Marvel rejected in a summary judgment by the federal court in New York. A sad, if predictable setback for the Kirby heirs, but also for anyone hoping for official recognition and substantial reconciliation efforts from the mainstream comics industry towards the creators (or heirs of), whose work have exploited throughout most of their sordid history, without more than a pittance in compensation.

The judge’s decision is understandable and rationally argued, but sometimes the adhering to letter of the law obstructs justice. Marvel and their corporate overlords at Disney would do well to recognize that and do the only honorable thing and start a systematic compensation plan for all creators who have suffered under the unjust and largely unarticulated work-for-hire conditions that governed their daily operation through at least the 1970s and which have secured for their shareholders millions upon millions of dollars in revenue over the last half century or so.

For those of you who read Danish, I now have a summary of the decision up at Nummer9.

Picks of the Week

The picks of the week from around the web.

  • ‘New’ old masters. This seems to be the season of sensational (and ‘sensational’) discoveries. Headlining is the long-lost Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci, which has turned up in an American collection and will be exhibited publicly for the first time at the sure-to-be-unmissable National Gallery show in London this fall. Several highly respected specialists vouch for its authenticity and it does looks like an extraordinary painting — look at the refinement of the right hand, the translucence of the sphere and the distant expression, the almost non-presence, of Christ. It fits well into the master’s modus operandi, better than, say, that pretty drawing from a couple of years ago.

    In other news, the Italian conservator, champion of the “Buffalo Madonna,” of which I wrote a while ago, has now made another find, this time in Oxford, which he also claims is by Michelangelo. And again, it seems obvious that his optimism knows few bounds.

  • The Illustrated Wallace Stevens at Hooded Utilitarian. The next week will see more than twenty artists illustrating selected poems of that great American master. I’m willing to bet already that few of them will be as hauntingly great as Anke Feuchtenberger’s, but am very much looking forward to seeing them all.
  • Ryan Holmberg on Shimada Kazuo and Tatsumi Yoshihiro. This is a bit old now, but I would be remiss not to link to the latest, and in some ways most impressive installment in Holmberg’s series on the birth of gekiga, in which he unearths an important missing link with what went before.
  • Memento Mori

    gone.gifShock, outrage, sympathy and sorrow. Those are the feelings of the moment.
     
    Our thoughts are in Norway.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Picture by David Mazzucchelli.

    Beats, Rhymes, and Longevity


    I’ve been on a bit of a Tribe quick this last week, culminating Saturday at the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival, where Q-Tip was the headliner. It was a bravura set by a born performer: Tip’s clear delivery, whether rapping, singing (weakly, but charmingly) or beatboxing, coupled with a tighly-knit band animating the Tribe compositions with live instruments, made for a great show.

    The icing on the cake was an all-star line-up of guests that included Monie Love (reluctantly performing “Monie in the Middle” before quickly absconding), an on point Sean Penn (not the mopey-faced actor), Black Thought from The Roots (spitting “Love of My Life and “The Next Movement”, tight as always, then backing up Tip on a crazy rendition of “Bonita Applebum”), Busta Rhymes (the crowd went wild when he appeared for “Scenario”, but it quickly turned into call-response; the real fyah was his insane verse from Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now”) and Kanye West (rapping “Dark Fantasy” down among the crowd, dropping a couple of his pop joints, then acting plug 2 for Tip on “Award Tour”).

    For me the most enjoyable parts were elsewhere though. Continue reading ‘Beats, Rhymes, and Longevity’

    Paying for It at Hooded U


    I have a piece up on Chester Brown’s much talked-about new book Paying for It up at Hooded Utilitarian today. Go check it out.

    Picks of the Week

    “I heard something recently by Richard Feynman, and he said that understanding the way the universe works is like extrapolating a huge checkers game from a regular game of checkers. Checkers is an easy game to play, but if the board were huge and you had many, many checkers, it wouldn’t be easy to play anymore. While you can understand the universe somewhat while examining a small component, when it’s right in front of you, when you think about the extent of it and how it all works together, it completely escapes you. Trying to think about the moral universe, the political universe, the nature of consciousness, the question of what consciousness is—all that stuff is easy to do if you create a small system that’s got tight borders and contains a limited sphere of action. That’s what the Unifactor is for me—a little thought laboratory, with just a few characters in it and a limited number of forces, and those forces have a limited range. Even though they all correspond to things that I see existing in the real world, they’ve been reduced to a size that allows me to play with them and think about them and mix them up and see how they react with each other.”

    – Jim Woodring

    The picks of the week from around the web.

    Recovering from the long weekend, I have a quick bunch of comics links. Some of them are old news, but so good that I still want to call attention to them:

  • Jim Woodring interview by Nicole Rudick at The Comics Journal. One of the greatest interviews in comics, Woodring delivers one of his most thoughtful and inspiring interviews so far. A must-read.
  • Grant Morrison interview at Mindless Ones. Another of the great interviews in comics delivers meatier-than-usual talk here. Check it out.
  • Comicalités. New online journal for comics scholarship Not all that much there yet, but it’s interesting material. Bookmarkable!
  • Ng Suat Tong on Chester Brown’s Gospel adaptations. This is an archival item, but still worth noting in case you missed it. Brown is the hottest name in comics right now, and this is an in-depth examination of one of his great, unfinished projects.
  • Merwyn Peake at 100. Michael Moorcock leads a handful of writers in a thoughtful look back.
  • Roskilde Festival 2011: No Hangover


    Yes, I missed the festival this year, damn it. Would have loved to wyle out with the Odd Future crew, peeped Atmosphere doing their new sh*t, and checked for the Big Boi/Janelle Monáe double feature, etc. And just to have been there, as usual. But it was not to be.

    Fortunately, others were, and as usual my peeps at Rapspot delivered comprehensive coverage of the hip hop and -related events at the festival, with more to come in the next few days. Drop by there and check it out.

    Photo of Tyler the Creator (OFWGKTA) by Kenneth Nguyen for Rapspot.

    Happy 4th of July!

    Get yer Faves!


    Today I received Favorites, the zine Craig Fischer has put together to benefit Team Cul de Sac’s fundraising to support research into Parkinson’s disease. It’s a great little thing I encourage you to buy and read, and not — really! — just because I have a piece in it on Carl Barks.

    You see, Team Cul de Sac is run by Chris Sparks, friend to the great cartoonist behind the comic strip of the same name, Richard Thompson, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009. Its main project is a massive art book with contributions from a wide range of cartoonists to be published by Andrews McMeel in 2012.

    Favorites is Craig’s and a bunch of other writers about comics’ way of contributing to this worthy cause. It unites thirty-odd such people, each of us writing about “our favorite comic”, whatever that may mean. Here’s the list of contributors: Derek Badman, David Bordwell, Noah Berlatsky, Alex Boney, Matthew J. Brady, Scott Bukatman, Joanna Draper Carlson, Isaac Cates, Rob Clough, Corey Creekmur, Andrew Farago, Craig Fischer, Shaenon K. Garrity, Dustin Harbin, Charles Hatfield, Jeet Heer, Gene Kanneberg Jr., Abhay Khosla, Susan Kirtley, Sean Kleefeld, Costa Koutsoutis, Andrew Mansell, Robert Stanley Martin, Chris Mautner, Joe McCulloch, Anna Merino, Mike Rhode, Jim Rugg, Frank Santoro, Chris Schweizer, Caroline Small, Tom Spurgeon, Ben Towle, and myself.

    Favorites is $5. You can buy it through Team Cul de Sac.

    Cover illo from Favorites by Richard Thompson.