Monday, February 1, 2010


There's some kind of poetic irony to this interview- Watterson's first in 15 years- appearing just days after the death of Salinger.
It's a short one and there's no info about what the Calvin & Hobbes creator is doing these days, but beggars can't be choosers. Click the quote for the entire interview as it appears in the Cleveland Plain Dealer-
Because your work touched so many people, fans feel a connection to you, like they know you. They want more of your work, more Calvin, another strip, anything. It really is a sort of rock star/fan relationship. Because of your aversion to attention, how do you deal with that even today? And how do you deal with knowing that it's going to follow you for the rest of your days?
Ah, the life of a newspaper cartoonist -- how I miss the groupies, drugs and trashed hotel rooms!
But since my "rock star" days, the public attention has faded a lot. In Pop Culture Time, the 1990s were eons ago. There are occasional flare-ups of weirdness, but mostly I just go about my quiet life and do my best to ignore the rest. I'm proud of the strip, enormously grateful for its success, and truly flattered that people still read it, but I wrote "Calvin and Hobbes" in my 30s, and I'm many miles from there.
An artwork can stay frozen in time, but I stumble through the years like everyone else. I think the deeper fans understand that, and are willing to give me some room to go on with my life.

Friday, January 22, 2010


What do you call those books with too many pictures to be straight-up chapter books, but too many words to be comic books? Comics Lit maybe?

Well now you can call two of them movies!

The Beat has a trailer for the DIARY OF A WIMPY KID adaptation hitting theaters April 2.
Click it HERE to see it courtesy of Yahoo.

And my buddy George Merchan (he who built this glorious blog you see now) has some fantastic news. Martin Scorsese is ready to adapt Brian Selznick's THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET. George provides all the details HERE at Let's hope this will bolster the trend of talented directors taking on kid's literature. Or should I say comics lit?

You know what? Maybe not. When I say "comics lit" over and over it starts to sound very dirty.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Is Spidey getting rebranded?!

Last week internerds all across the web were gobsmacked by the news of Spider-Man's cinematic reboot. Plans are underway to send Peter Parker back to high school and focus on the web-slinger's teenage years.

Today Marvel has announced a rebooting of their Marvel Adventures line. First act of business? Send Parker back to high school! From

Marvel is proud to announce a bold new beginning for the critically acclaimed Marvel Adventures line with SPIDER-MAN #1 and SUPER HEROES #1! Perfect for readers of all ages, these two all-new series are the perfect jumping on point for readers new and old with oversized debut issues, packed with a full length all-new stories and bonus back up stories, just like the comics from when you were a kid! Subsequent issues will be regular sized and priced at $2.99, perfect for everyone’s summer reading!

Doesn't that cover art look like a fine design for a new Spider-Man animated series? You know, something that could pull in the male viewers that have long eluded Disney? That's what I thought. But then I have a lot of crazy ideas.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Toon Books Official Site

Jeff Smith + Toon Books = Inevitable

Here we have the first instructional book from Toon Books. The lesson: how to dress yourself if you're a mouse. Little Mouse is eager to visit the barn. His mother tells him to "get ready" and he can go play, thusly the rich plot unfolds. It's to Smith's credit that he makes buttoning a shirt an engaging action. This is hard work for a little mouse, but our hero is up to the task. He carefully recites aloud what he needs to do as he pulls on his pants and buttons that troublesome shirt (Sign O the times - this is the first children's book I've seen that shows kids how to fasten their sneakers, not tie them). As he dresses, his monologue is punctuated by excited speculation over what fun awaits in the barn. Fully clothed with a shirt, pants and sneakers he proudly tells his momma he's ready to go. But wait - Shyamalan plot twist! Momma delivers the punchline, "Mice don't wear clothes!" Little Mouse flies into the air, throwing off every shred of clothing at once and runs nekkid to the barn. This little bit of slapstick gets the biggest laugh out of my four year old.

The story is sweet and expertly drawn by Smith, which comes as no surprise. There is one sneaky plot hole I missed, but my little girl noticed it immediately. Her first question was, "But what did his momma mean when she told him to get ready?"

What indeed?

LITTLE MOUSE GETS READY releases September 7, but you can see a preview HERE.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Random Floppy Reviews: Captain America and This Month's Boom! Kids Titles


This cover is misleading. That is to say, it's a little static and unexciting. It certainly doesn't hint at the wonderful absurdity found within this issue. It's another tongue in cheek superhero tale as Captain America and Rick Jones are literally pulled into teh internets by the evil forces of Hydra. The criminal organization traps our two heroes in their devious new website, pitting them against actual message board trolls and other avatars representing the internet's slimy underbelly (thankfully the 4chan guys aren't called in). My favorite part of this story is the look of Cap himself. He's constantly clenching his teeth and leaping into battle like a spastic maniac. But wait that's not all! There's also a short back-up story scripted by whack-job Roger (MUPPET SHOW) Landrige. It's the WW2 era cap battling a German MODOK prototype who comes equipped with clunky stovepipe arms.

Boom! Kids

Miss Piggy finally gets her close-up! It's hard to write a good Miss Piggy story. Let's face it, it's a man's world in Jim Hensen's imagination and the only leading lady is a vain, obnoxious shrew obsessed with landing her (frog)man. A close look at Jim Henson's treatment of Miss Piggy hints at some repressed issues. His son has gone on record as saying Jim's favorite character was Pigs In Space star Link Heartthrob, who once performed the Village People's hit Macho Man. I'm just sayin'...

Anyway, Landridge manages to deliver yet another terrific MUPPETS comic. Each issue explores the defining mission of a character. Unfortunately, Piggy's mission in life is to land her husband, that confirmed bachelor Kermit. That aside, the show vignettes are as clever as usual. And the art even manages to do justice to Miss Piggy, truly the hardest Muppet to draw appealingly.

Boom! Kids

Do I have to go over how much I dislike THE WORLD OF CARS for a third time? It's like reliving the same trauma over and over again (and I mean trauma like a Mickey Rourke date rape). Just go read some previous reviews and sporadically add the phrases "issue three", "remains flaccid and redundant", and "oh alcohol, please end my pain."

Boom! Kids

The Incredibles continues Mr. Incredible's tragic sexual impotency storyline. Any kind of psychosexual metaphors you attach to the movie's superhero cliches are pulled into clearer focus here. The poor guy is left to wander the house powerless as his wife goes off and has exciting, explosive adventures. Even his own daughter continues her journey to being a fully realized woman when she experiences her first kiss. For all their powers, even The Incredibles cannot escape the threat of suburban ennui.
And there are these cool looking muscle-men monsters with giant blocks for hands that can smash concrete and stuff.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bill Wray Channels Mike Mignola

DC's CARTOON NETWORK BLOCK PARTY isn't particularly bad so much as just bland. It's uninspired title pretty much tells you all you need to know. So I don't expect this month's issue to be anything special, but dang that's a spiffy cover from Bill Wray.

A thought:

With Nick Magazine out of business, wouldn't it be great if DC could lure those cartoonists to this book? They could turn it into something really creative and special.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Incredible Kirby-esque Cover

As a rule I loathe the idea of variant covers. But I just couldn't resist sharing this killer INCREDIBLES #3 limited edition Boom Studios sent me. Dig them Kirby boots! I'll play the pimp and let you know this is available only at HeroesCon this weekend!


Monday, June 15, 2009

Captain America-Palooza

Fact - I was just about to write about how much I enjoyed last week's issue of MARVEL ADVENTURES SUPERHEROES: CAPTAIN AMERICA.

Fact - I've been working on an editorial piece wherein I compare Marvel's successful movie-making machine to DC's clunky contraption and how that relates to DC's superior efforts to attract young comic book readers.

Fact - The New York Daily News just "broke" the comics "story" about Steve Rogers returning as Captain America next year.

What do all of these facts have to do with one another? Synergy, that's what!

Little did I know that even that charming little 28 page comic book I enjoyed last week was all part of Marvel's three year marketing push for the Captain America movie (coming soon, Summer 2011!). But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I've been of the opinion for awhile now that Marvel considers its comic book division obsolete. That they are content to do no more than print comics for an ever dwindling market of thirtysomething males. Without courting any new readers, monthly Marvel comic books will eventually become extinct. Now with the recent price hike to four bucks an issue, that's sure to happen sooner rather than later. The majority of their profits, and the future of their superhero properties, is found in video games, DTV animation and film. That last one is their biggest cash source. Thanks to a decade of smart film making they've been able to merchandise the shit out of their characters. This makes their comics function as little more than promotional tools- a way to keep the brand out there between films and maybe stir up a little mainstream media attention over publicity gimmicks such as Obama appearances or Captain America assassinations.

Marvel has enough clout now to produce their own movies, as opposed to leasing their characters out to different studios. The geek-o-sphere is already buzzing about their upcoming Captain America and Avengers movies scheduled for 2011. Marvel laid out some teaser marketing for them at the end of Hulk and Iron Man last Summer. Since 20th Century Fox produced the only Marvel movie this summer - the unfortunate Wolverine - there was no cinematic platform available to promote Cap and The Avengers. So they enlisted the publishing division to pull out the old dog and pony show. This month sees a focus on Captain America through the aforementioned MARVEL ADVENTURES title, plus an anniversary issue of the "regular old universe" CA title, bolstered by that Daily News article. This kind of promotional push makes the Captain America brand vital. Basically they're trying to create a mainstream demand for these films by reintroducing Cap into the pop culture consciousness. It's crazy, complicated shit and Marvel has become very adept at it.

So what about that issue of MARVEL ADVENTURES SUPERHEROES: CAPTAIN AMERICA? That little stand-alone issue that's a small piece of an awesome and terrible marketing juggernaut? Well, it's pretty good. I'll post my favorable review of it tomorrow. And if that just makes me another media pawn in Marvel's promotional machine - so be it. I have no problem with helping Galactus as long as I can turn some folks on to a legitimately good comic book in the process.

Retailer Brian Hibbs has a more cynical view over at The Savage Critic.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Summer Reading Assignment

Alice Cooper says school's out forever and it's time to kick back and read some comic books.

How big of a misanthropic nerd am I? Such a nerd that some of my best childhood memories are of reading comic books in the Summer. And I don't just mean the general idea of it, I mean specific vivid memories such as enjoying WEST COAST AVENGERS #2 one warm June day with a glass of Lipton's instant iced tea. Or sitting on the back porch with an oversized hardbound volume of Gladstone's THE COMPLETE TALES FROM THE CRYPT.

So let's round up a few choice selections for these crazy kids today. What follows is a little bit of the old and some new releases, just to mix things up. I tried to find some fairly dense material that can withstand rereadings. These are also all available in soft cover or disposable floppy issues. No unwieldy hardcover collectors editions here. These books are meant to travel in a beach bag or sit poolside or get dragged into the woods. These are Summer books and will therefore receive some abuse. By September you'll know if your kids enjoyed them by the beaten spines and creased covers.

Official Site

Kean Soo's whimsical tale of a girl and her dragony friend concludes in the second volume of the graphic novel series. From the official site:

This second book picks up immediately where the first book ended, and will bring the story of Portia, Jason and Jellaby to a satisfying conclusion. I had always intended for Jellaby to be read as a single 300-page story, so I would suggest you dust off your copy of the first book and give it a re-read before reading Monster in the City!

Little Brown Young Readers Publishing

If adventure has a name, it must be Tintin. Grab a few of these oversized editions for rip roarin' good time. Not only are they long engrossing tales, but you can spend just as long rereading each page just to take in Herge's delicately detailed renderings. A kid can spend an entire day getting lost in his masterful compositions. Be sure to include a few of the Captain Haddock stories for the full blistering-barnacles experience.

Dark Horse Comics

Dark Horse has been doing the world a wonderful service by reprinting these classic comics from the fabled land of 1950's suburbia. Did such a world really once exist? A land where kids wander the town unsupervised all day, getting into shenanigans and kerfuffles? The LITTLE LULU titles still endure because they pepper this Americana setting with plenty of sardonic wit. Not to mention the fact that solid, professional comics storytelling never goes out of style. This latest reprint trade of John Stanley/Irving Tripp era stories is in glorious color, the perfect outdoor read on a sunny day.

Top Shelf Productions

This is probably the closest thing to a dramatic selection (even if it does star talking animals). It's a funny and poignant story of juveniles exploring art and relationships and ambiguous lake monsters. The story pulls you in immediately as it casually follows it's characters along their days. It's thoroughly quirky and just as thoroughly engrossing. If I have one kvetch it's only that the art could do with a splash of color. I love black and white and clean line work is full of personality, but even a monochromatic color scheme could take this book from looking nice to looking exceptional. Regardless, older kids will enjoy getting to know Turnip the elephant and all of her friends.

Marvel Comics

A good limited series is always a fun way to mark the beginning and end of summer. Unfortunately, the Big Two have taken the notion of fun out of this equation. The self contained miniseries is now a decidedly unfun cataclysmic crossover event full of sturm und drang that doesn't actually end so much as fizzle out, leaving a lingering sense of dissatisfaction and self loathing. Luckily this year Lockjaw and the Thunder Frog have slipped in under the radar with the true must-read Summer event of the year. The first issue is already out and it's a fun story that avoids being overly silly. It's surely tempting to make a self consciously camp story about superpowered animals (and a dragon), but PET AVENGERS takes itself half seriously. Really, that's the only way to make such a concept work.

DC Comics

As far as self-contained story comics go, the latest Batman spin-off is your best bet. Thanks to it's assured consistent monthly quality, this is the ideal series when you need to grab a random comic book or two on a rainy day. Each issue offers a fun guest appearance by another DC hero and the stories are dense enough to offer more than a mere three-minute trifle of a book (TINY TITANS, I'm looking in your direction).

Eleanor Davis
James Kochalka

I know, I know - I said no hard covered books. But I can't resist. When you need something to read to the little ones, your best bet is STINKY and the JOHNNY BOO books. One is about playing in the woods with a monster, the others are about watching the stars and eating ice cream. You can't get more Summery than that. How much more summery can that be? The answer is none. None more Summery. You can read my reviews HERE and HERE to get the full picture.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Random Floppy review: TOY STORY #1

Boom-Kids! Official Site

The latest Boom-Studios/Pixar joint hits the comic shop shelves this week. It's a pleasant enough story, but not exactly worth the investment. Reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey, a strange looking plastic orb is left among the toys. Nobody knows what kind of mysterious new toy this thing is, so panicked hijinx ensue. This is basically a riff on Buzz's introduction to the fold in the original film. Problem is, it's not a story that can adequately fill an entire issue.

It used to be standard operating procedure for humor comics to have three or four stories per issue. You write a premise, fill it with a few gags and wrap it up in 8-10 pages. The old pros at ARCHIE still follow this formula and perhaps that's part of the reason why you still see those books on the stands today.

TOY STORY #1 takes an eight page story and stretches it to fill an entire issue. There are large, sparse panels with very little dialogue. It's the equivalent of listening to a bad comedian drag out a joke. This title would do well to follow the old formula. After all, there's an entire toy chest full of characters to play with. A collection of three stories plus a few one-page gag comics thrown in would work perfectly. You can even change the title to TOY STORIES. Somebody get me Mark Waid's number. We need to talk!

Preview TOY STORY #1 HERE.