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Snoopy, of course, is a beagle. We know this because it's repeatedly referenced throughout the comics and cartoons. Marmaduke is a great dane. We also know this since it's referenced in the strip. Fred Basset is a basset hound -- it's mentioned in his name!

What type of cat is Garfield, though? Or Heathcliff? What kind of dogs populate the cast of The Dogs of C Kennel? As far as I'm aware, their breeds have never been mentioned. And the impact on their stories? None at all. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that most people never even thought to consider what breed Garfield might be; it's that inconsequential to the story.

So why would you care about what "breed" of humans are in any given story?

I'm not saying race is inconsequential and we should be completely color-blind to it, but it doesn't have to impact every story. Marmaduke's great dane-ness is relevant to the stories Brad (and later Paul) Anderson want to tell. Garfield's specific breed doesn't appear to hold any interest to what Jim Davis is trying to say, so it's non-issue there. Readers have innately understood that and, consequently, don't care.

So why should you care that Hulk is Asian? Or Captain America is Black? No one seemed to give a damn when Psylocke got switched from British to Japanese -- since race wasn't an especially significant part of the stories being told at that time -- so why would it matter now?
  • What happens to the physical location of a comic shop when the store itself closes? Patty Wetli follows up on the October closing of Variety Comics.
  • Either Jarkata is still trying to overcome a stigma of comics as being a lesser medium, or Adil Akbar is, like some of his American counterparts, woefully behind the times. In either case, at least he didn't use the stereotypical "Bif! Pow! Wham!" headline in his argument that comics are literature.
  • Finally, I don't have any real news to go with this picture, but I just really liked it. It's Congressman John Lewis talking to a young fan at Comic Con, not long after he won an Eisner Award for March. Taken from Top Shelf's Facebook page.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned wanting to pick up IDW's Jack Kirby's Thor, Artist's Edition. I was interested in seeing precisely how Vince Colletta went about inking Kirby's pencils, as he had a reputation for erasing figures and simplifying details for the sake of getting his work done more quickly. I mean, to think that readers were getting this Kirby book that had some of his work deliberately removed? What kind of monster would do such a thing?!

So I actually picked up the book last week, and have been looking through it. It's probably a good 20% larger than most of the Artist's Edition books (mimicking the size of the original art Kirby was using at the time) so there's a lot of gorgeous detail to take in. The book includes six complete Thor stories (all by Kirby and Colletta) plus almost another 50 pages of originals from a smattering of random issues.

The first thing I noticed is that Colletta was very liberal with white paint. Beyond just the occasional touch-up when he had a stray ink line to cover up, he used white as an artistic element itself, adding in extra highlights or amplifying a Kirby Krackle effect with a secondary, reversed Kirby Krackle on top of the first. Sometimes, in places where Kirby seemed to have laid down some particularly heavy pencils, Colletta would simply paint over them with white rather than bother trying to erase the marks completely. He was very generous with his use of white on the page, moreso than any other inker I've seen.

The first instances I noticed where Colletta left part of the art uninked were background elements. None that were critical, by any means, and they were all pieces that butted up against word balloons. It looked like Kirby had penciled the whole panel, but the lettering took more space than he'd anticipated and, while the balloons didn't completely cover his art, they covered enough that inking what remained would have been somewhat confusing since you couldn't tell what the lines were for.

I eventually found a background vase/planter that Colletta had removed in favor of just a straight column. But here again, given the placement near the sole character's head, I could see some justification for the change from a readability perspective. I found a few other incidents like that: where a minor background element was removed or simplified for what could easily be understood to be an attempt to improve reader comprehension.

In fact, in the whole of the book, I found exactly one panel where Colletta had removed whole figures and I didn't see how that would improve the panel's readability...
If you look closely, you can see that three of the figures have been whited out. One in the lower left, one just to Thor's right, and one underneath the second thought balloon. The one under the thought balloon makes sense, in the same way that some of the deletions I mentioned earlier do. I don't really see a reason why these two other figures, though, would be left out. Their inclusion wouldn't seem to impact legibility at all, and the amount of time inking them -- especially relative to the details on the rest of the page -- seems negligible.

But other than that, though, I can't find anywhere where Colletta deliberately left out portions of Kirby's pencils in an effort to seemingly save time. In fact, there are any number of instances where he could have cut some corners in his inking but did not. Large fight scenes with crowds of people, the High Evolutionary's workshop with electronic doodads all over, the filigree on any number of Asgardians... Colletta had plenty of opportunities to skip over Kirby's details, but he elected not to.

It seems to me that his reputation has been highly exaggerated. My guess would be that the couple of instances where he did that were teh start of it. Perhaps someone glancing at his art boards without really studying them may have noticed the heavy use of white paint and assumed Colletta was using it to hide Kirby's pencils? Judging from what I see here, though, Colletta's reputation seems highly undeserved.

I'm still not fond of Colletta's inking style, personally -- I think a heavier line suits the power behind Kirby's work better; someone like a Joe Sinnott or Mike Royer -- but I don't think Colletta should be maligned as someone who just cranked work out as quickly as possible with no regard to the stories being told. From what I'm seeing, he was actually very concerned with the storytelling, and he was largely working to make sure these were more readable than Kirby had originally drawn them.
Comic Con International just wrapped up in San Diego again and, as always, I find myself having watched it from afar. It's just not an event I've ever been able to financially justify. When I was younger, I simply didn't have the funds at all and now that I'm a little better off financially, I find that I can get much of the same types of things in my own neighborhood. Particularly now that I live in Chicago, we get many of the same celebrities between C2E2 and Wizard World, and any of the books and toys that are available at San Diego can be bought online. Those are more expensive individually, sure, but the additional price I might pay online is still far, far cheaper than plane tickets and a hotel bill.

So these days, honestly, I don't have a strong inclination to go out to San Diego.

Except...

One of the cool functions of a convention -- any convention -- is that you can meet with industry professionals in person. You can have face-to-face time with them, and you become more of a real person. While you can certainly have solid and positive relationships with people that you know exclusively online, the personal interaction you can have at a convention can be made much stronger. Sometimes that's in the simple notion of putting a face to a name. Other times, it's becoming more familiar with their thinking style, as you're able to pick up on visual and auditory cues that you might not get in posts and Tweets.

Or maybe there's something more complex. Maybe, as you're just shooting the breeze, an idea gets generated that both parties can capitalize on. A joint project that neither would've thought of except for the happenstance of chatting on a busy convention floor. While the idea may be small or inconsequential, it might also lead to larger projects.

But maybe an idea isn't actually generated there, and you just have a good time talking with one another. Maybe over drinks or a role-playing game or something. But then months later, when someone comes up with a new project, that shared experience can bring you more quickly to the top of their mind. "Hey, yeah, I remember that one time when we were hanging out, he said something about liking that one band."

The point of going to a convention, generally, isn't just to make industry connections and get more business. I mean, I suppose you could, but that's a very cynical approach and I suspect most people would see it as such. But by going to a con to connect with other people, some of whom may actually be in the industry, it can be a good way to get more involved in the industry yourself.
Here are this week's links to what I've had published recently...

Kleefeld on Comics: On Business: Cardboard Boxes
http://ift.tt/29PtXiy

FreakSugar: Fanthropology: Whither Pokémon Go
http://ift.tt/29OwAOk

Kleefeld on Comics: On History: Spectrum #1 Review
http://ift.tt/29JawcO

Kleefeld on Comics: Weekly Comics Links
http://ift.tt/29LFsZG

FreakSugar: Webcomics Wednesday: Insta-comics!
http://ift.tt/29NjbXY

Kleefeld on Comics: On -isms: The Punisher
http://ift.tt/2axjvLn

Kleefeld on Comics: On Strips: Seuss Political Cartoons
http://ift.tt/29YLHe7


It's not uncommon knowledge that Dr. Seuss worked did political cartoons before he became well-known as a children's book author. Most of his cartoons were done during World War II and, not surprisingly, focus on issues surrounding the war. But today, in 2016, many of them are still sadly relevant. I thought today I'd share a small sampling of some that I find still resonate today...
The first comic I bought regularly every month was Fantastic Four. I was basically using my allowance and birthday money for those issues. When I started working (as a golf course caddy when I was 12*) I was able to start buying more comics, and I began picking up Silver Surfer and The Punisher as those two titles had JUST started and I thought it was cool to get in on the ground floor. I was only nominally familiar with the Punisher at the time, but I also had this idea that it would give me some insight into the more "street level" aspects of the Marvel Universe that were certainly absent in FF and Surfer.

Now, keep in mind that I'd only been collecting comics for maybe a year at this point. And I'm just barely aging into being a teenager. But after about a year and a half, maybe two years, I began to lose interest in the Punisher. Even with as little experience as I had at that point, I saw that there wasn't much character there and the stories were kind of repetitive. I kept buying it, though, for another two years or so because I still had that notion of trying to stay abreast of the non-cosmic side of the Marvel Universe. But in scanning back through those books, I don't recall much of anything past the first few issues.

Think about that for a moment. One of the first three titles I bought regularly, just as I was getting into comics with anything resembling commitment -- some of my most formative years in comics that had the most lasting impressions -- and I can't remember five years of stories about this character. There was a bad guy, he came in and shot them up. There was another bad guy, he came in and shot them up, but this time it was in a foreign country. There was another bad guy, he came in and shot them up, but this time he had to wear a disguise. It was kind of tedious to me even as a kid. After around 1991/92, I largely avoided the character altogether. (And in the 1990s, that took some effort, let me tell you!)

Every now and then, I'd catch some passing news item about the character, but I've generally continued to ignore him. Until yesterday. Jessica Plummer wrote this piece suggesting that, with all of the gun violence in the United States today, with an ongoing debate about enacting stronger gun laws, with mass shootings being a regular news item, maybe we should retire the glorifying-gun-violence Punisher. Like I said, I haven't really given the character much thought for many years, but she makes an excellent point. Almost regardless of how he's portrayed, he almost inevitably leaves behind a spray of bullet casings and a pile of dead bodies in his wake. And while there's an argument to be made that he could be used as a conduit to a discussion about gun violence, history has long since proven that's just not going to happen.

I don't want to really get into the politics of the gun debate, but to lay my cards on the table, while I was completely behind the first amendment for most of my life, about five years ago, I started pivoting to the conclusion that there is simply no reason to have guns legal in the US. At all. Not even for police. And in that light, I have to say that I think Plummer has a fantastic idea.

I'm not calling for any kind of petitions or boycotts or anything, but I think Marvel, of its own volition, should remove the character from circulation in any capacity. It doesn't have to be done with any great fanfare, just... don't use him. The whole point of the character is that he acts as judge, jury, and executioner. He's a one-man, completely unregulated militia. Hell, even Judge Dredd has rules he has to follow! (Not to mention that the whole premise of Dredd is supposed to be satire. Dredd is a commentary on what we should avoid, not an ideal we should strive towards!)

There are an insane amount of stories in pop culture that resolve issues with guns. But few routinely glorify the deaths of human beings at the hands of them in the way Punisher does. Maybe it's time to put that concept up for reconsideration. What do you say, Marvel?

* A) It wasn't nearly as fun as Caddyshack would imply. B) I'm pretty sure there were some child labor laws being broken. They did ask how old I was, and I lied by saying 13, but the guy who hired me said that if anyone else asks, I should lie and say 14.