Sunday, May 15, 2016

Between the Lines: Derf Backderf

My next appearance! This Week.

This Wednesday, May 18 at 7 pm, Literary Cleveland hosts an author talk with graphic novelist Derf Backderf, in conversation with fellow comics creator John G. The event will take place at the legendary Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern. Admission is free.

Join Derf and John as they discuss the creative process and the nuts and bolts of writing 
comics. Macs Backs will be selling Derf's books. Signing to follow the talk.              

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Baron of Prospect Ave. update

My webcomic experiment is chugging along here. I have 24 pages up and am starting to post several pages a week. The plan is to knock the shit out of this over the summer. The opening scene is completed and I'm starting in on the next.

I'm having fun with it, and I'm happy with it so far. This isn't something I really view as a commercial work. It's a labor of love. I just want to keep busy and stay productive. Of course, that's how Trashed began, too, as a just-for-fun webcomic. And look what happened there!

As I explained earlier, this project is funded by a year-long grant from the Cultural Workforce, a taxpayer-funded arts organization here in greater Cleveland. How cool is THAT? Art grants for comics! So I can afford to give it away for free, because I am getting paid for it. My plan is to deliver a complete 100-page (or so) story this year. After that, I'll take down the pages and add to the story to make it a proper book and, yeah, it'll eventually be published.

I'm posting these pages in simple b&w. No shading, no color. I didn't want to get bogged down with that. Eventually, I will, and the finished book will have one or the other. Besides the original PR&TP was just b&w line and everyone seems to enjoy it just fine.

Fear not, this tale will be every bit as bawdy and grungy as the original. The first sex scene is just around the corner!

Read it all HERE

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The War on Political Cartoons Continues

Not satisfied with the almost total extinction of the daily political cartoonist, the Corporate Master of Media are now turning their attention to niche publications and their cartoonists.

Rick Friday has been penning political cartoons on farm issues for the Farm News in Iowa for 21 years. Last week, he wrote a cartoon that was mildly critical of the salaries of AgriBiz CEOs. 

The editor of Farm News emailed him the next day with the news that higher ups had ordered the editor fire Friday immediately. Apparently, an advertiser, presumably one of the AgriBiz's in the cartoon, had yanked its ads in protest and the newspaper decided to buckle and throw itself at the feet of the offended corporate entity and plead for mercy.

Farm News is owned by Ogden Newspapers Inc. of Wheeling, West Virginia. The family-owned chain owns several dozen daily, weekly and niche newspapers, mostly in small markets and most are total shit.

This is how bad its gotten for the once-storied profession of political cartooning. Our Masters don't like being made fun of in cartoons, no matter how small the publication.

Wrote Friday in a facebook post: "Hopefully my children and my grandchildren will see that this last cartoon ... will shine light on how fragile our rights to free speech and free press really are in the country."

Monday, April 18, 2016

Kate Beaton vs. Tit Windows.

Comix superstar Kate Beaton has taken on dumbass superdude comics and their proclivity to depict women as preposterous boob-inflated pole dancers in 5-inch fuck-me heels. In a series of hilarious tweets she riffs on Marvel's Cloak and Dagger characters (pictured above), particularly the underage heroine Dagger, who sports some rather impractical "tit windows" in her costume. You can read the tweets HERE.

I myself took on this very topic, way back in 1997 when superdude comics were at their dumbest.

The issue now, of course, is that, unlike 1997 when the mainstream comics industry had crashed and damn near went under completely, women are coming into the field in HUGE numbers, as both readers and creators. Women and girls are the fastest growing comics readership in 2015.  In 1997, that readership was all male. But walk into a typical mainstream comics shop today and it's nothing but tits and high heels as far as the eye can see. One hokey cheesecake cover after another. A wall of tits! It's like the back room of newsstands when I was a kid, where all the porn mags were on display and pervy businessmen would slink in and out to drool over the stroke mags during lunch hour.

Personally, I say..... FABULOUS! The mainstream companies don't want those women readers? Fine. I'll take them! That's why comics like mine... and Kate's... are enjoying great popularity. And the mainstream publishers can continue to pander to their shrinking readership of superdude fanboys who get off on tit windows. Of course, those fanboys who were 20 in 1997 are now middle-aged, and since Dagger here is an underage teen who's the same age as their daughters, that's kinda gross.

Kate is apparently getting a lot of shit from said fanboys, who are a humorless bunch when someone dare points out the stupider aspects of their reading material. I caught some crap for the above strip, too, although 1997 was before the Electric Intertube really took off. Note the clunky Compuserve (anyone remember Compuserve??) email address that's all numbers! So the grousing was limited to nasty letters and face-to-face grumbling. There was a comics shop I frequented then where I bought my Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly stuff, having long lost interest in superdude books. I got chewed out there by the owner and a couple of his customers over this strip. It was good-natured, but nothing is good-natured on the Electric Intertube. I liked this strip when I did it.... and still like it!... but I guess the typical alt-weekly reader of that era wasn't a comic book reader, because the reaction, frankly, was mostly indifferent. Comic books in the Nineties, before the blockbuster movies, were very much a dirty little lowbrow thing.

Not that the mainstream publishers care about attracting female readers. Oh sure, they wouldn't mind, and I think they're trying. It's just that they haven't a clue how to do so. And, as long as the movies and tv shows are making billions, they don't really give two shits about the comic books. Marvel and DC, it's long been rumored, operate at a loss! 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Back at Ohio State

Visited Ohio State yesterday to scan a bunch of City strips for upcoming reprint projects. The bulk of my originals are in the Derf Collection at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum. From 2000 on, I have complete digital files here at the Derfcity Studios HQ, but for the first decade of the strip, my files are mostly small xerox copies, because that's how I sent out the strips to client papers before the Electric Intertube became our lord & master. And those files are incomplete, to say the least, so a-scanning I went.

In honor of this task, I posted the photo at left, of yours truly just starting out. This is me in 1981, in my dorm "studio" in a noisy quad in Siebert Hall, working on an early political cartoon for The Lantern, the student newspaper where I was first published. Thirt =-five years ago. Is that right? Gad, that IS right. Can't quite make out the cartoon, alas. I usually wrote elsewhere, since my room was a gathering place for the entire floor (we had an Atari!), most often at a quiet booth at Bernie's Bagels on the High St. strip. Then I'd draw in my room, usually late at night when everyone else was snoring. It was a great room, and that year was the best of my life at that point, but the following year I got a single, mainly so I could draw in peace. I had just wormed my way into The Lantern in the photo above (after three tries.... and three rejections!) but by the next year, I was cranking out 5 or 6 cartoons a week!

The photo at right, 
in the Billy yesterday, re-creating the 1981 photo, was the idea of Caitlin McGurk, the museum's social media expert. 

Monday, April 4, 2016