Saturday, November 30, 2013

Support your local businesses!

OK, the big boxes had their day, and, as usual it was a sickening display. Black Friday Death Count charts this year's mayhem:


Today belongs to the sane. It's Small Business Saturday. Get your ass out there and support your local merchants, instead of the billionaire creeps who want to strip us of everything.

Don't forget, my fellow Clevelanders, I'll be at Mac's Backs Books in Clevo Hts. from 3-4 today, signing books. Mac's has an entire day-long slate of authors and signings. It's Cleveland's best bookstore, and the Coventry District is chock full of wonderful small merchants. That's where you should be doing your shopping. I know I will be!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Derf art for sale at Genghis Con!







This Sunday, I'll be at The Genghis Con indy comix fest in Cleveland. For you locals, it's at the Beachland Ballroom from 2 to 7 pm. THis show is in its 5th year and I've been part of it since the beginning. We're hoping to build more of a cohesive, vibrant comix scene here in Cleveland, home of Siegel & Shuster, Havery Pekar, Brian Michael Bends, Bill Watterson, Brian Azzarello and many other A-list creators. 


To that end, and as an enticement to pull in folks to the con, I'm offering a series of original drawings, all done of the back of comic book backer boards, for the ridiculous price of $30 each! That's right, original Derfs for $30! These are one-of-a-kind pieces. I've drawn up characters from all my books, for example Joey and Wendy from Punk Rock & Trailer Parks up top. And have created a series of Ghoulardi Finks, featuring a mash-up of Cleveland's beloved horror movie host in some Big Daddy Roth hotrods. The ones here are just a few of the 20 or so I'll have for sale. They won't last long. In addition, I'll do pieces on request while at the con, although I'll be under a time constraint, obviously. Each pieces takes me a half hour or so, so do the math. 

These aren't available by mail order, and I won't reserve anything. You want em? Come to Genghis Con and get em! Doors open at 2 pm.


Small Biz Saturday



For all all you Cleves, I'll be at Mac's Backs Books in Cleveland Hts. tomorrow on Small Biz Saturday, from 3-4, signing books. Bring your previously purchase books and I'll sign those, too! As long as you browse a while in the city's finest indie bookstore. This was Harvey Pekar's home base, and it's mine, too. When I first moved to the city way back in 1986, I bought my new copies of Weirdo and Hup here.

See you there.


Fan photos

Selfies with books. Fans have sent me dozens of these, posing with a new copy of MFD. Yeah, it's a little odd, but very flattering and fun... a lot better than photos of someone's f-ing dinner… especially when put together in a gallery like, well, this one.





















Wednesday, November 27, 2013

More My Friend Dahmer News!



Even more great news. My Friend Dahmer has been picked as a Sélection Officielle for the upcoming  Angouleme 2014 comix festival in France! This is Europe's largest celebration of all things comix. It's a big deal.

Happily, I'll be attending the Angouleme, courtesy of my beloved French publisher Éditions çà et là. The French edition of Punk Rock & Trailer Parks will also be out by that time.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Vote for My Friend Dahmer….. in France!



My Friend Dahmer…. or, rather, Mon Ami Dahmer… is up for another book prize in France. 

You can vote for it in the Priz de la BD FNAC.

Just select the "Je Vote" button underneath the cover. At the bottom of the page add your email, and in the field to the right type in the number of people you think will vote in the contest. I put 5000 and it was happy with that. Then hit the the "votre" button and viola!

Help a brother out and vote.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Ohio State Cartoon Museum






Some thoughts on the grand opening of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum at Ohio State University this past weekend.


As I wrote a few posts down, I'm a graduate of Ohio State, part of its great tradition of comix creators, stretching all the way back to Milton Caniff. The Cartoon Museum is woven into my career, more than any other pro except for Jeff Smith, whose beginnings mirror my own.  It had just been founded when I started at the school, initially as the Milton Caniff Cartoon Reading Room. Caniff donated his art and papers to the university, which was frankly lukewarm about the gift (like all large universities, it prefers cold hard cash from illustrious alum), but two small classrooms were converted on a little-traveled side hall in the Journalism Building to house the collection. Curator Lucy Caswell was put in charge, under the umbrella of the OSU Libraries. Few knew of its existence. 


I started at Ohio State shortly after. I was a journalism major and walked by that door with the intriguing sign "Milton Caniff Reading Room" every day. Finally on a whim I veered right, turned the knob and walked in. There was Lucy behind a desk with a smile and a greeting. I introduced myself and was stunned she knew who I was and knew of my then embryonic work. At that point, I had done a number of cartoon ads for the OSU Bookstore chain, which were plastered all over campus, but done only two or three political cartoons for the school paper, The Lantern, all of which were frankly godawful. It was the start of my most treasured mentor-student relationship. 

I soon became the main political cartoonist for The Lantern and my comix career was launched. Over the next three year (and beyond) Lucy was my most valued confidant, a vital pillar of support from a faculty that was largely ambivalent (and ultimately antagonistic) toward me and my cartoons. She listened patiently to my complaints and fears and frustrations. She gently prodded me forward and celebrated my triumphs. She introduced me to working professionals.  I and a couple other students nagged her into offering her first comics history class. I harangued several Lantern staffers, including my future wife,  into signing up for the course so we had enough of a roster to get it on the schedule. This last tale btw elicits more looks of awe from fellow comix creators than my work does! She even got me an interview with Milton Caniff for a term paper I wrote for the class!  I shamelessly brag of my connection to Lucy, and have for years. 

And over the next three decades, Lucy Caswell built this modest collection into the world's largest cartoon museum and research institution. The museum moved to larger digs in the bizarre Wexner Center when that deconstructionist masterpiece was built. Typical, the university higher ups stuck the museum in the basement, accessible only by a back door. The academic snobs at my alma mater had yet to acknowledge comix as a legitimate art form, nor did they have the slightest clue what Lucy was steadily building here. That finally changed with the arrival of some fresh blood and open minds in the faculty, and with some huge green donations from Charles Schutz's widow and massive donations of original art when competing museums closed their doors.

FInally, a new museum space was green lighted. Dilapidated Sullivant Hall, where I snoozed through several classes in its auditorium with famously soft seats, was selected as its new home. Right at the main entrance to campus. At last my alma mater has recognized what an incredible institution it has. It is quite a facility. And the opening show, Treasures of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum, is, for comix fans, simply the greatest collection of comix art I have ever seen. Puddles of drool were everywhere as pros and fans stared in open-mouthed wonder at the original art on display. Pardon my crappy photos, taken with my antiquated third-string camera (the first two were casualties of the My Friend Dahmer book tour and have yet to be replaced), but here's just a small sampling of what awaits visitors:

An entire case of Spirit pages by Will Eisner!
FDR as imagined by Basil Wolverton!

The original drawings for Wionsor McCay's Gertie the Dinosaur, the first animated cartoon. Amazing.
Chester Gould's drawing table! Every Dick Tracy strip he ever drew was done on this surface. The vandal here was tased by librarians and hauled away by security moments after this shot was taken.

A huge Yellow Kid original, hand-colored by Outcault himself, from 1905. The Yellow fucking Kid!!!
An oil-colored Krazy Kat!

The pivotal scene by Denny O'Neill and Neal Adams in GL/GA #78, the book that introduced social issues to mainstream comics for the first time. A personal fave when I was a young comix dork.

What the hell is THAT doing here????? 
That's just a small sample of what this show contains. If you're a comix fan, DON'T miss the chance to see it.

Latest BARON OF PROSPECT AVE. webisode is up

Otto is back! Read the whole story as it unfolds HERE



Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Disturbing Appeal of Derfcity

Hell of a week. 



First actor Rainn Wilson gave My Friend Dahmer a huge shout out (to his…. gulp… 1.5 million Twitter followers).

"Wow. Reading this is unlike any other reading experience I've ever had. Do it."

Just in time for Christmas shopping! Thanks, Rainn!

Then I get an unexpected write-up on The Examiner. "The Disturbing Appeal of Derfcity and Other Alt Comix." In this article, the writer discovers my bestseller for the first time, and apparently alt comix as well! At least mine, and those of Charles Burns. It's delightfully clueless…. dude! read more comix!…. but hey, I'll take it.

I like the juxtaposition, too. When I introduced myself to Burns, whose work I've long admired, at the Miami Book Fest, he recoiled and fled!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The President of the Derf Fanclub




Sadly, he looks about what I expected he'd look like. Dammit, I got into this biz for the hot groupies! Where are the damn hot groupies? You lied to me, Crumb, you bastard!


Buddy Max Cannon took great delight in this video, and in the similarity my fan has to one of the Red Meat characters. Yeah, Max had some free time on his hands today.

The publication my fan is showing here is from 1997, even though this vid was only recently made. A 15 year old cartoon? I think that's the old Comic Relief magazine, which is long, long gone. I have no memory of any of the strips he shows. It's very flattering, though. Thanks, fan!



Dude has a number of video blogs up. Dude likes comics and toys. Don't we all? 


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dahmer and the real estate spiders




Over on the My Friend Dahmer blog, I posted a few months ago that Jeff's boyhood home, the one that was a major setting in MFD, was once again on the market.



Since then I have gotten regular "comments", at least one a week, like the following, from someone named SizzlingLEO:



Really nice but One way you can view a lot of the homes that are for sale in your desired area is to utilize a listing agency. They maintain information on many of the hot properties that are on the market. If you are looking to sell some property, you may want to hire them to include your home in their listings. Click Here to get free consultancy now!!!


That's right. Some real estate entity's online spiders flagged a post about a serial killer's home, where a young man was murdered and horribly butchered, as a worthy place to drop a commercial message! Hilarious. And kind of comforting really. Instrusive technology that is completely ineffective. Let's hope those NSA spiders are, too!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

50 Essential Graphic Novels




Abebooks released its list of 50 essential graphic novels and I'm on it! 


It's a great list. A few glaring omissions. The author doesn't come out and state it, but obviously ongoing comic book series that are later collected in a tome got the short end of the stick here, so Jeff Smith's Bone and Peter Bagge's Hate and Neil Gaiman's Sandman are absent. It's a list of 50 stand-alone graphic novels, not a list of the 50 greatest comix works. It's a fine line, since books like Watchmen and Ghost World also appeared first in serialized form, although limited to a defined run from the get-go, not open ended like, say, Hate. So these are considered a single work. Don't know how you then explain Jimmy Corrigan, which was a weekly newspaper feature that ran for years. I'd also say a collection of Little Nemo or Krazy Kat, even if it was serialized with no defined beginning or end, is better as both art and as a story than just about anything here. Same with Tin-tin. Like all such lists, it's open for heated debate.

It's also heavily weighted to the last 25 years. That's ok, since graphic novels only really emerged en masse starting in the Seventies. That's not say the "wordless picture books" of the early 20th century weren't groundbreaking, and someone like Frans Masereel is a personal favorite, and his art is AMAZING, but truth be told, none of these books, in terms of sheer story and complexity and emotional power, can hold a candle to modern works.  We're in a golden age of graphic novels right now. Enjoy it!

Glad to see Peter Kuper here. He's a fellow Clevelander. I fact he and I, unbeknownst to either of us, elbowed each other at local cons when we were teenage comix dorks! Small world, no?


Joe Sacco is the biggest omission to me. How can Safe Area Goradze not be on this list? Manga also gets totally overlooked. I'm not a great fan of the form, but there are a few masterpieces that are universally lauded, like Barefoot Gen. And no Moebius? No, I don't think so. 

Frank Miller is noticeably omitted, too. Just a few years ago Dark Knight Returns and 300 were at the top of every graphic novel list. I still think Dark Knight Returns is a masterpiece, even if it's difficult to block out the next 30 years of DC shamelessly regurgitating the book in ever-more tiresome ways. It's hard not to regard it as a hack corporate reboot, but it was anything but when it came out in 1985. That's certainly not Frank's fault that DC ruined it. I never though much of 300. It's crap history, a neocon wet dream, and more than a little homophobic and racist. Miller's subsequent works have given full flower to those leanings, especially the loathsome Holy Terror, widely regarded as the worst comic ever created. He's become the Ted Nugent of comix. Has any creator, outside of that glory-hogging gasbag Stan Lee, suffered a greater decline in rep than this guy? Too bad, since I'm still a huge fan of his Daredevil, and always will be.

Obviously the compiler(s) of this list have no use for superheroes. That's more than fine with me! The way that lowbrow and tired genre dominates comix in this country is maddening. I would have included a couple stellar works, like Kingdom Come and DKR, but I have no problem ignoring the long-underwear stuff. It gets more than enough press.

In any case, this list is a great place to start for fans new to graphic novels.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Comix Shops!

Check out the list of fab comix shops in the column on the right. These are stores that I have personally visited. I'll be adding to this list,. These were ones I just coughed up from memory.  We're losing our shops rapidly, so please, frequent a local one, if you're lucky enough to have a shop in town. Or stop in one of these when traveling.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

It was lost, then found.







This week's "new" strip on Gocomics is actually a very old strip. It originally ran in 1991, my second year producing The City and just after I began syndicating it to weekly papers outside my Cleveland home base, The Cleveland Edition.


I thought it was lost. 

Back in the day, after it appeared in the late lamented LA Reader, a t-shirt company in LA wanted to license it for a shirt design. Gave me the big sell that they were making shirts for some big catalogs popular at the time. This was the first time this happened to me and, with visions of massive royalty checks dancing in my head, I agreed. This was well before the intertubes (or decent flatbed scanners, for that matter), so I sent them the original art so they could make the design. Never heard from them again. No shirts, no checks and the fuckers stole my original! 

But I recently found a xerox copy. I cleaned it up and added some color. Came out real nice. Turns out last week I was totally fucked when deadline loomed. Nothing. Total blank. I attempted a couple ideas and they were awful. So I posted this strip instead, just for fun.

And damned if I didn't hear from some fans on Twitter and Facebook who said "Hey! I've seen that one before!" Twenty-two years ago???? And I was in maybe four papers at the time! Holy crap, that's SOME memory! I forgot about this one and I wrote the damn thing. That's very flattering, that a strip would stick with fans for so long, but Jeezus! 

So long to Cleveland's Cuddly Red Jigaboo?

Suspicions are rising that the Cleveland Indians are quietly retiring their appalling racist mascot, Chief Wahoo.  According to a report on Sportslogos.net, a site that covers (you guessed it) the world of sports logos, the Indians unveiled their uniform designs for next season and the Chief is noticeably absent. 

A few years back, the Chief's leering visage was on the caps. By last year, he had been moved to the sleeve and the team went with a cap 'C' on the cap. In 2014, no Chief. I'm curious whether this will extend to the souvenir stand, where Wahoo is one of the biggest moneymakers in baseball swag. We'll see.

This hasn't hit the somnambulant media here in Cleveland yet. And the racist trolls that fill sports boards will fucking FLIP OUT when they hear the news. 

In honor of the soon-to-be-departed Chief, here's some of the cartoons I've done over the years. I'm gonna miss the fucker. He was cartoon gold.





This one above, from 1991, was the first time anyone in Cleveland had called out the Chief as preposterously, indefensibly racist. Seriously! The cartoon cost the weekly paper its Indians press pass. The team yanked it in retaliation!

Clevelanders are so goddam clueless about this mascot. They just love the bastard, practically weeping whenever someone threatens the beloved racist icon of their youths. And local media never really called the Indians or the fans on it until recently, although the daily paper had, at the time the above cartoon appeared, sort of banned the Chief form its pages. "Downplay" would be a better description. He still appeared in ads, and, of course, on photos of the team, but staff artists were banned from drawing him. Yeah, that's really drawing the line.

Most Clevelanders cling to myth that Wahoo was created to honor Louis Sockalexis, a Native-american player who was on an early Cleveland team, The Spiders, for three years from 1897-1899. He was an infamous drunk. Notre Dame kicked him out of school for boozing and his intake only increased in the majors. He once knocked himself out of the line-up when he injured an ankle jumping out the window of a brothel!  He could hit, but reportedly couldn't field or throw worth a damn. He was eventually sent packing for his alcoholic antics. Why a team would want to "honor" a mediocre ballplayer and embarrassing drunk doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Especially it wasn't even the same franchise! The Spiders were a National League team. Ask White Sox fans how much nostalgia they have for Cubs history. And why would the franchise want to remind ANYone of the Spiders, still regarded as the worst team in baseball history? The 1899 squad went an eye-popping 20-134, after the sleazy owner (some things never change) shipped all the team's good players to the St. Louis Browns, which he also owned. Including Cy Young! ! The Spiders were so dreadful, it averaged but 31 fans a game in 30,000-seat League Park. Other teams refused to come to Cleveland for games, since their cut of the gate wouldn't come anywhere near covering travel expenses, so the Spiders played the entire second half of the 1899 season on the road. The team was disbanded after the season.

The Indians began in 1901 when the American League was founded. They were first known as the Blues, then the Broncos, then as The Naps (in honor of their HOF superstar Nap Lajoie), they didn't become the Indians until 1914.

So suddenly 15 years later, the owner decides to name the team for this drunk? Preposterous. Truth is, a contest was held in the press to select a new name and "Indians" was the top choice, probably because the similarly-named Boston Braves had just won the World Series.

Wahoo didn't materialize until 1947. A full five decades after Sockalexis' brief, sad career, the team decides to "honor" him with a bug-eyed, hook-nosed caricature? The first version was even WORSE, with bright orange skin and a giant gold tooth. The present Wahoo came along in 1951 and we've been stuck with ever since. The Indians haven't won a title since Wahoo's bright, red leering mug was adopted. the Curse of Chief Wahoo, it's called here.

But as I said, the fans love it. Any call to retire the character brings out howls of "PC thought police!" and the usual blatherings when sports fans are called out on their racist behavior. And the vast majority still cling to that "it was as an honor" bullshit, the way a Birther clings to  a copy of a fake Kenyan birth certificate.  Read the troll comments after this column by a local scribe if you want to lament for humanity.  I've seen Indians fans screaming at Native American protestors who picket every opening day. I remember one guy who got so incensed he got himself hauled away by cops. 



Above is a local TV interview with Native-american activist Russell Means from 1994. "Chief Wahoo has to go. It will begin the changing of policy. I'm a human being! I'm not anyone's mascot." I shook this guy's hand at one opening day and apologized for the idiots. He was very gracious and thanked me for the support. Couldn't have been nicer in an extremely tough situation.




This one is from 1998.




One of my favorite covers. From 1999.

There are others, but these are the only ones I could quickly locate. Good riddance, Chief.


Monday, November 4, 2013

New "Baron of Prospect Ave." posted

The new installment of  The Baron of Prospect Ave. is posted. Yeah, it's just a splash, but I drew my ass off on this one so at least admire it for a second or two. The story starts rolling with the next installment. It's slow going, I know, but it's free so what's your beef? A couple months from now there'll be a good chunk of it up, so if you don't like this page at a time shit, come back then.



Faux "My Friend Dahmer" Movie Trailer

Group of college kids with WAY too much time on their hands make a faux My Friend Dahmer movie trailers. Thanks, guys.





Nick Cardy RIP

Another great passes. This is, sadly, a monthly thing as this generation of creators, maybe THE generation of creators, reaches the end. Nick Cardy is best known for lengthy runs on Aquaman and Teen Titans, and his all-too-short stint on Bat Lash, widely considered the best western comic ever done by a US comic company. From 1968 to 1975, he produced hundreds of gorgeous covers for DC.







Of particular note, were Cardy's covers from 1968 to 1971, a period of unprecedented experimentation at stodgy DC. Publisher Carmine Infantino, himself one of the greats and also recently passed, reportedly did all the cover layouts for the entire DC line, then passed these on to Neal Adams or Joe Kubert or Cardy to finish. The dramatic perspective is classic Infantino, but just look at Cardy's beautiful use of shadow and that wonderful ink work. That brush was instantly recognizable.


He was no slouch as a storyteller either! While not as wildly experimental as Adams or Jim Steranko, Cardy pushed the boundaries. His work on Teen Titans, which in the late Sixties morphed into a sort of super-hippie commune, is well worth checking out. The stories are hilariously earnest, too. 


My favorite Cardy cover (and interior) above. One of the first comic books I purchased.