From where I sit, as a professional artist, cartoonist, occasional comics journalist, and comics reader of 50+ years, I see four areas in which the comics industry has at various times gone off the rails: Format, Content, Distribution, and Marketing. Each of these areas has been affected by a number of foolish, short-sighted, fear-driven decisions over an extended period of time, the cumulative effect of which has led to the current state of the industry.
The convoluted history of the various Captains Marvel (and their knockoffs) is probably the subject of more urban legends and misunderstandings than probably any other segment of comics history. Throw in the widespread confusion over the difference between copyright and trademark, and it’s a pretty deep swamp. Let’s go wading!
There was a minor controversy in the comics world after Bleeding Cool picked up an Instagram post from comic artist Trevor Von Eeden; a photo of a check, which Trevor described as his payment from the Black Lightning TV show. Bleeding Cool assumed that this check must also be indicative of Tony Isabella’s proceeds from the show. Naturally, Tony had something to say about that. I reached out to him and recorded an interview. Here’s a transcript of that conversation.
We lost Russ Heath today. He passed peacefully at age 91. If you don’t know his work, do yourself a favor and look him up. He was one of the best comic artists of his generation, specializing in WWII and western comics. Aside from his enviable talent, Russ was quite the character. He was cranky but in a fun curmudgeonly way, always quick with a (usually off-color) joke, but with pretty strong opinions about comics and a lot of other things. Today we say goodbye.
I was reminded of WIR recently and thought it was high time somebody documented the origin of the term and site, at least somewhat beyond the bare-bones detail to be found at Wikipedia. As it happens, I know pretty much all the people who were involved in the site, and was present during some of the early discussion, so I invited them to participate in an online roundtable discussion.
One of the most incisive and compelling observers of the human condition, Harlan Ellison passed away in his sleep last week at age 84. Everyone who ever met him has a Harlan story, to the point that being in his presence was usually referred to as “witnessing the ‘Harlan Live’ show,” and we here at the Junk Shop are no exceptions. Here are a few.
At the Mount San Antonio College Writer’s Day in Walnut, California in 1974, Harlan Ellison read aloud his new story “Knox” to a packed auditorium. He saw today coming. He’d been late, as always; to entertain us while we waited, the literature department chairman had, with great relish, himself begun reading Harlan’s earlier story, “Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman.”Before the chairman finished, word came that our guests had arrived: Harlan, and Ray Bradbury — who never learned to drive, even after half a lifetime writing about Tomorrow; Harlan chauffeured Ray from Cheviot Hills, so both were late. They were put onstage together as chastisement. Harlan went first. And hit all of us right between the eyes.