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Here are this week's links to what I've had published recently...

Kleefeld on Comics: Chucky Jack's A-Comin Review
https://ift.tt/38ytFeb

Kleefeld on Comics: Comics Events
https://ift.tt/35tX3QX

Kleefeld on Comics: Eddie's Week Review
https://ift.tt/3ihaNDS

Kleefeld on Comics: The History of Mr. Tuberculus
https://ift.tt/3nLlIqp


Today I'm looking at The History of Mr. Tuberculus by Lobrichon. I think it's worth noting primarily because so many comic fans think the history of comic books starts with Famous Funnies in 1933 with perhaps an occasional nod to the first appearance of the Yellow Kid in 1894. But this book dates to 1856, and bears most of the hallmarks commonly attributed to comics. (Perhaps the only one missing, in fact, is the word balloon which certainly isn't a requirement to be considered comics.)

Anyway, several years ago, Robert Beerbohm posted a few images from the 68-page book he was selling, which I'm reproducing below with rough translations.

The History of Mr. Tuberculus by Lobrichon

He was named a corresponding member of the Clysomanie Company. And he had a brilliant marriage.

But he falls into the water; fortunately nature has provided for everything. He contracted the bad habit of poking his nose into everything.

He started to worry about the consequences of his stupidity. He makes a resolution to change his life and adopt the latest fashion.

He gives up and goes in search of a new world. But he is stopped by the rain.

However, to be careful, he returned to change down. And pick up a handkerchief.

The young Tuberculus indulges in the pleasure of the hunt, but he feels bored to some embarrassment. The fishing seems to him most advantageous.

And it shows the path of your glory. But the young Tuberculus discovers that it is easier to descend than to ascend.

Moral: He who puts a stop to the fury of sparrows, also knows how parents entertain kids.

There is record of a Timoléon Marie Lobrichon being born in Cornod, France on April 26, 1831. He received his formal training at the Beaux-Arts Academie with François Edouard Picot (1786-1868) and his gallery debut was at the Paris Salon of 1859.

Lobrichon became one of the most sought after and celebrated painters for portraits of children. He was able to capture the character and personality of each child. This gift carried over to all his portraiture; rather than being just a portrait, Lobrichon created a story which involved the character’s personality. In 1884, he illustrated the very popular book The Song of A Child by Jean Aicard. With the 1856 publication date for Mr. Tuberculus, that would've made Lobrichon 25 at the time.

The Mr. Tuberculus comic is a wonderful treasure and I would love to see the full thing scanned and placed online for the historical record. Because I know I sure as heck can't afford to buy it myself!
Eddie's Week
Eddie's got the week off from work and all he really plans to do is lay about his apartment and relax. Maybe watch some werewolf movies. He's rudely awakened by some pounding on his front door, and a bunch of government agents barge in, set up a jail cell in his living room, and throw Randall "The Backstabber" Orefeo into it as part of a city-wide plan to fix prison over-crowding by having citizens "volunteer" to keep some criminals locked up in their homes. Eddie didn't sign up for this, but gets railroaded by the lead agent so quickly that he doesn't really even realize what's happening until everyone leaves.

Now, you've seen stories where your average guy gets caught up in some bizarre circumstance kind of randomly, and then the story is about him dealing with it? Eddie's Week isn't that. Instead, Eddie keeps floundering from one bizarre set of circumstances to another, any one of which could lead to an interesting story. There are parts that are connected to a broader narrative, and some that aren't, but it's one of stories where, when we casually learn that werewolves and witches are for-real things, you just roll with. Here, let me just have Eddie himself sum up his week for you...
Eddie describes his week

And there's another 20% of the book to go at that point!

Strangely, impressively, despite being kind of all over the map, creator Patrick Dean holds the story together rather well. Even some of the points that seem random and get dropped right away find ways of circling back. And while Eddie absolutely does not make any of the choices I would make if I found myself in his shoes, there's enough world-building that happens -- often without you even realizing it -- that put Eddie in a world where his decisions actually kind of make sense. I'm not sure how Dean works, but he either spent a huge amount of time mapping this all out or he's got a mind like a steel trap.

His illustration style is cartoony, as you can see above, and isn't far removed from various Mad artists that I've heard him claim have been his inspiration. You can catch glimpses of Will Elder, Jack Davis, Sergio Aragones, and many of the other usual gang of idiots in Dean's work, and he's managed to capture them all in a style still uniquely his own.

In the Afterword, Dean relays the long road of challenges it took to get Eddie's Week published. That's worth a read as well; the story is more tragic than you expect and that Eddie's Week got published at all is phenomenal. Dean would have every right to be proud of this work just seeing this see the light of day, but that it's a fun, entertaining read with some really clever twists make its success all the sweeter!

The book came out late last year, published by Birdcage Bottom Books. It retails for $14 US and is worth every penny!
Paper Charades promo
Here's another of my somewhat sporadic "upcoming online comics events" posts. As always, I'm noting the times in the time zones they're being presented to me; please remember to adjust according to wherever your location is.
  • January 12, 6:00pm ET
    Howard Chaykin - Part I: PARADIGM

    In this visual demonstration, Chaykin walks participants through the PARADIGM, the perfect and archetypal visual to illustrate the hidden language, syntax, and vocabulary of comics and the comics page. Cost is $30.
  • January 12, 5:30pm CST
    Author Talk: Andrea Towers

    Join Andrea Towers as she discusses her debut non-fiction book, Geek Girls Don’t Cry: Real-Life Lessons from Fictional Female Characters. Using examples from both real life and pop culture, the book focuses on the power women have to overcome any obstacles. Free of charge.
  • January 15, 8:00pm ET
    Dan DiDio Q&A

    Now YOU can talk to Dan and find out about the ins-and-outs of the comic business, how cartoons get on the air and more! Dan is happy to answer questions about the business, or just talk comics or animation in general! Only 10 people will be part of this exclusive session! Cost is $50 but proceeds from this talk benefit Hero Initiative.
  • January 16, 12:30pm (No time zone provided. CST?)
    Kids Book Club: Class Act

    Join BookPeople for another meeting of kids book club with local volunteer group Austin Allies! All kids ages 8-12 are welcome to join to discuss Class Act by Jerry Craft. Free of charge.
  • January 24th, 4:00pm ET
    Paper Charades: Kids Edition!

    The contestants in this family-friendly, Pictionary-like game are three of the top YA cartoonists working today: Raina Telgemeier, Dana Simpson, and Shannon Wright. Contestants will draw prompts provided by the hosts, and you are invited to guess what they are in the chat. Hosted by the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. Free of charge.
  • January 28, 6:00pm GMT
    Music and Noir in Comics: Reading Thompson and Campbell's Jem and the Holograms and Díaz Canales and Guarnido’s Blacksad

    Panelists Hailey J. Austin (University of Dundee) and Susan Bond (University of Toronto) will discuss their respective Comics Grid articles on Noir and Music in Díaz Canales and Guarnido’s Blacksad (2000) and Musical Sequences in Thompson and Campbell's Jem and the Holograms (2015). Free of charge.
  • February 6, 11:00am CT
    How to Get Noticed in the Graphic Novel World

    Whether you have been writing graphic novels, are just beginning to dabble in this genre, or are simply curious about them, you no doubt have questions about how to get discovered in the graphic novel world. Literary agent Janna Morishima will answer so many of your questions and get you on the path to creating your own graphic novels. Registration is $15.00 for members of SCBWI, and $25.00 for non-members.
  • February 11, 8:00pm ET
    Mark Waid: Comic Writing

    Now Mark Waid will teach you what HE’S learned from decades from experience! This is a highly intensive, learning-focused session in which Mark will layout the ins-and-outs of plot structure, and creating riveting stories and memorable characters! Only 10 seats are available for this exclusive session! Cost is $125 but proceeds from this talk benefit Hero Initiative.
Chucky Jack's A-Comin
Several years ago, I discovered the existence of a comic called Chucky Jack's A-Comin' which purportedly detailed the "thrilling life and times of John Sevier founder of Tennessee." I know about nothing when it comes to the history of Tennessee, but I was intrigued mostly about the name "Chucky Jack" and I have a general interest in non-fiction comics. Even so, it took me until last week before I was able to track down a (reasonably priced) copy of the book.

The comic is a fast-paced 24 pages of Sevier's life, covering from his birth in 1744 through his death in 1815. (Although the first 28 years of Sevier's life are covered in the opening two pages and the last 19 years take a single page!) The rest of the story puts him very much in the role of the hero, constantly stepping up to help govern the lawless territory west of North Carolina, or fight off Cherokees or, later, the British. After the Revolutionary War (with many more heroics), inhabitants of the area pushed for it to be recognized as the state of Franklin and put Sevier up for governor. He's pulled into trial for treason at the behest of the governor of North Carolina, but he escapes mid-trial... and is later rewarded by being made a Brigdaier-General? He spends a few more years fighting various Native American tribes before Tennessee is eventually given formal statehood. Sevier then spent most of the rest of his life serving in various government positions, including in the state Senate and US Congress.

I wasn't familiar with cartoonist Bill Dyer prior to reading this. Apparently, most of his cartooning was specifically for the Knoxville News-Sentinel, although he did work on the syndicated The Adventures of Patsy comic strip from 1946 until 1955. (He was either the 7th or 8th cartoonist to work on the strip; there's a bit of nebulous period where Patsy went uncredited for a while.) One of Dyer's frequently-noted comics were "Dyergrams" of collegee football games, where he visually presented the entire game as a cartoon. I haven't found a good image of one to study it very well, but they look a bit like Billy's dotted-line adventures in Family Circus. If they 'read' well -- and, like I said, I haven't found one at a decent enough quality to study it -- it seems like it would be an excellent way to present a game. I suspect in Dyer's hands, they would be well done. Dyer's storytelling is quite good in Chucky Jack; my copy of the issue has a page ripped out, and I had no trouble picking up on the key story points that I missed.

However, while Dyer's storytelling is solid, some of the story itself is questionable. First, and most egriously, is the really bad Native American stereotypes depicted. The book was produced in 1956, so that's hardly surprising, but yeah... the fact that Dyer does specifically cite the Cherokee and Creek tribes by name instead of always lumping them together as "Indians" (although he uses that term much more often) is probably the high point of his depictions here.

The other problem here is that, even going into this knowing nothing about Tennesse history and never having heard of Sevier before, I can tell there's a good chunk of this that's bullshit. Beyond streamlining things for storytelling purposes, this reads like the Disney-fied versions of Davy Crockett or Daniel Boone. Sevier here does stop and reflect on his actions a couple times, but he is always in the right, always makes the right choice, and never fails at anything. Even his treason is presented as standing up for the rights of residents, but it's the governor of North Carolina (Samuel Johnston; he's never named in the book though) that's just being petty and enacting a personal grudge against Sevier. A quick check on Wikipedia, while not necessarily the final bastion of truth, finds a lot of discrepencies with the tale Dyer tells.

If this was just Dyer doing this by himself, I might allow for a little more leeway. But, as you can see from the cover, this was published in cooperation with the Great Smoky Mountains Historical Association and, on the inside front cover, is an introduction by Sevier biographer Kermit Hunter where he quotes Dyer himself: "In order to draw a booklet of Chucky Jack's life, all I had to do was let history tell its own story." Except he didn't. He took whatever stories and legends had been fed to him that a bunch of old white men developed specifically to create a perfect fictional hero to show just how magnificent Tennessee was in its origins. These stories act more as propaganda than they do as history, and many of America's problems stem from being taught this exceptionalist version of American history.

Dyer clearly had a deep love of Tennessee, and an abundance of talent to showcase that. I'm just annoyed that he chose such a skewed story to tell.
Here are this week's links to what I've had published recently...

Kleefeld on Comics: Closing My Patreon
https://ift.tt/38cuh9h

Kleefeld on Comics: Ping Pong Review
https://ift.tt/3ncy4HX

Kleefeld on Comics: The State of Retail
https://ift.tt/2JPGszr

Kleefeld on Comics: Staying Safe
https://ift.tt/398ypq6

Kleefeld on Comics: Read DC Axed
https://ift.tt/3hYTl6L


The dumb-as-fuck-looking Johnny DC mascot from the 1960s. Did DC *ever* know how to market itself?
I got an email yesterday announcing that the DC Digital Comics Shop (ReadDC.com, formerly ReadDCEntertainment.com) will be shutting down on January 14. They're not splitting from the comiXology platform as a whole; they just won't be maintaining a separate DC-specific site. Any comics you purchased through the site will still be available to you on comixology.com.

I can't findd specific dates, but I believe both Marvel and DC launched brand-specific portals for their digital comics in 2012. Marvel dropped theirs in early 2020, instead pushing their Marvel Unlimited "subscription" program. I'm certainly not privvy to their sales info, but I wouldn't be surprised if they make more money on Marvel Unlimited than they ever did with individual digital comics sales. It's not a program that makes sense for me personally any more, but I can see the appeal for readers here as well. DC, as far as I know, has never had a similar program where readers can pay a monthly fee for access to their entire library.

And that obliquely points to one of DC's problems: they still don't know what they're doing online, despite running a company website of some sort since 1994. Back in 2014, I talked about how they seemed to approach their whole online presence with no sense of strategy, like they were just copying what other companies are doing without understanding why. But even so, they seem to be deliberately holding one hand behind their back in their approach to digital comics.

Their digital comics site, as a whole, has retained its original design since launch, despite comiXology and Marvel redesiging their sites to better accomodate cell phones, which have seen increasing usage online. (As a point of reference, when DC launched its digital comics portal, the hottest phone available was the iPhone 4.) While Marvel released digital comics for free on an almost weekly basis -- running the gamut of titles, and often tying in with whatever news or movie was most popular at the time -- DC released almost nothing. Mostly just promotional newsletters and, in the past year or so, every other issue of the Teen Titans cartoon book.

I recall that they had a number of issues with Zuda Comics as well. Here's what I wrote about Zuda, when it closed in 2010...
I also heard out-of-school tales that former DC President Paul Levitz didn't really like, or even really understand, Zuda. And while he's not in charge any more, that attitude would have certainly permeated much of the culture at "DC-proper" and has likely continued. That essentially put Zuda behind the 8-ball from Day One and, in that respect, I'm surprised they survived this long. I suppose that's largely because, despite DC's worst efforts, Zuda was still quite successful. Especially if the TPB sales from Bayou and High Moon are any indication. I wrote some time back that, "The Zuda folks are the red-headed, bastard step-child with only one arm, a club foot and Asperger's as far as DC is concerned" and I think that has remained valid. It's only now that DC has got their crap together enough with comiXology that they've been able to kill Zuda off without raising too much holy hell from their fanbase...

Frankly, I'm not at all surprised Zuda has closed. It was almost inevitable. Not because Zuda was doing anything so wrong, but because office politics and "this is the way we've always done it" stood in its way. Zuda was always "not-DC" within the DC offices, and it's likely that DC Comics getting folded into DC Entertainment and Diane Nelson's subsequent appointment as President last year is what's kept Zuda alive this long. (Not infrequently, an incoming leader likes to take some time to survey the status quo before making significant changes.)
Honestly, I don't see anything different now, ten years later. Digital comics aren't part of "DC-proper" and they're given the short shrift. Which is mind-boggling to me! I can almost guarantee that Marvel is making tons more money than DC when it comes to digital comics, because they've given digital comics some measure of consideration and have a strategy around them. They don't have an also-ran "well, we've got the files digitally to send to the printer anyway" approach.

I get that, in the broader picture of Warner Brothers, digital comics sales aren't even a blip on the radar compared to Wonder Woman 84 or whatever, but you'd think somebody in the publishing division wouldn't continue to approach the web as if it's some strange new thing that no one has figured out how to monetize yet. DC's management has changed several times since 1994 but they don't seem to have altered their thinking about the web since then.