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Here's James Day on his Day at Night program interviewing Herbert "Herblock" Block for a half hour. This originally aired on February 28, 1974. Herblock had already won three of his four Pulitzers by this point, among many other awards.
Johanna Draper Carlson pointed me to these two posts by artist Lea Seidman Hernandez in which she apologizes for the racism in Mangaverse Punisher. I've excerpted a chunk of it here...
It’s racist, and I was uncomfortable when I drew it, but it had been written by Peter [David], a friend, and approved by an editor.

The main characters, Japanese-Caucasian sisters, were named Hashi Brown and Sosumi Brown. (Update: there’s also a female villain named “Skan Kee Ho.”) There was exotification of Asians. I depicted Sosumi, the Punisher, in a sexy kimono alá manga art of “bad” women even as I was careful to dress Hashi in a “schoolgirl” uniform that was mid-thigh length shorts and a jacket, alá Utena. Because I was sick of the sexualization of children, but didn’t grasp that exotification needed to be off the table, too...

I needed the money, we were constantly over a barrel when my kids were little. Punisher paid me $6000. This says a lot about how shitty comics pay most of the time, about how tough it is to keep one’s head above water when there are disabled kids in a family and an inflexible schedule doesn’t allow for crises or disasters.
This isn’t an excuse. This is to show how economic disparity, minimal aid for disability, and wage stagnation forces people to take questionable jobs.

If I’d said, “The names are too much, let’s change them.” I’m not sure how that would’ve gone. I could’ve drawn the Punisher in any number of ways, but I went straight to a kimono. How stupid. I didn’t address all of the things completely in my control.

I can’t walk back what I did almost 20 years ago. It was wrong, I knew it, and I was afraid of career sabotage, and needed the money desperately.

I’m sorry that I had a part in it. I always will be...
She later added...
To anyone who was hurt by the racism in Marvel Mangaverse Punisher, of which I was the artist, I offer my deepest apologies.
I can’t change the circumstances that led me to be afraid of pushing back, but I am changing how I conduct myself going forward.
I also apologize for taking 17 years to fully comprehend an apology and being accountable for the work was in order.
I've quoted nearly all of it because it's worth repeating. She details what she could have pushed back on, what she had express control over, and where her failings were. She owns her mistakes here, and apologizes for them -- unprompted -- twice.

And to cap it all off, she added a third post asking Marvel to stop reprinting it because it's racist, putting her principles now before her bank account since that would forgo her ever earning royalties from the work.

That is how you apologize when you inadvertently make a racist (or sexist or able-ist or homophobic or...) comic. Own your mistake, learn from it, make a sincere apology, and then try find a way to keep those racist images/stories from gaining a wider audience. In Hernandez's cases, she'd like to see them never reprinted; if the offense were a lesser one, however, perhaps correcting the art or the lettering might be sufficient. The point is she fully admits that she put money before her principles before, and is actively choosing do the opposite now.

Many people could stand to take some lessons from Hernandez.
  • This is an older post about an old cartoon, but Thierry Smolderen posits that George Cruikshank's penultimate illustration for Oliver Twist is based off Rodolphe Töpffer's Mr. Vieux Bois.
  • Teddy Jamieson writes about how a new hotel in Glasgow, Scotland commissioned Frank Quietly to design their interior walls.
  • History teacher Tim Smythe has started posting videos about he uses graphic novels in the classroom. His first one is on using Joe Sacco's The Great War in his lesson on World War I.
At the tail end of last year, I pulled out a few old comic book scripts I found sitting in my archives, but I forgot to include this last one.

This is the script for Fantastic Four #51 circa 2002. This one's a little less inherently interesting than the others I presented, in that there's no real backstory behind it. This is the just the original plot treatment by Carlos Pacheco and Rafael Marín, from which artist Mark Bagley drew the story. It was then passed to Karl Kesel to script. It was originally provided to me by Marín and, at the time, he noted, "Carlos and I are amazed at how Mark intepreted [sic] the plot... and how well Karl scripted it!" Fascinating to see work like this, though, and how it progress from an idea to execution.

Fantastic Four volume 3 #51 by Rafael Marín and Carlos Pacheco
Every year on Martin Luther King Day, various comic fans trot out some of the comic biographies about him. I've either talked about or included scans of them myself. And even though we're still a few weeks away from Black History Month (when it would be more "appropriate" to bring this up) I'm wondering why we don't have more comic book biographies of great Black leaders. I started a list of them last year, and even off the top of my head, there's a lot of holes.

As far as I'm aware, no one's ever tired a comic book biography of Huey Newton, James Baldwin, Frederick McKinley Jones, Octavia Butler, Mae Jemison, the Tuskegee Airmen, Pam Grier, George Washington Carver, Serena and/or Venus Williams, or any of a million other notable Black people of importance. Most of the biographies we do have are either from Golden Legacy or Bluewater, neither of which are especially well done. Don't get me wrong; I'm thrilled that someone did a biography of Matthew Henson in comic book form, but it's not exactly a great piece of work.

I get that biographies of all sorts can be a harder sell. Most people don't live a life that's absolutely so amazing all the time that it can be a complete page-turner from start to finish. I'm sure people would get bored with Indiana Jones if we spent any more than a few minutes among all of the movies with him teaching in the classroom.

But at the same time, the biggest on-stage production success in years has been a biography of Alexander Hamilton. Indeed, it's already broken more than a couple sales records. Why can't a comic biography be done the same way?

Well, they can, in fact. My Friend Dahmer by Derf earned more than a few critical accolades and sold very well, eventually being turned into a feature length movie that also did very well. John Lewis' March trilogy likewise earned both critical and financial success. It's not that people are opposed to biographies; it's just that they're opposed to dry, tedious ones that are little more than a regurgitation of facts. Read up on any of those biography-less individuals I mentioned above and see if they don't all have (or have had) interesting lives. You're going to tell me the first Black woman in space is boring?!? One of the founders of the Black Panthers?!? Fighter and bomber pilots from World War II?!? Hell, I think you'd have to work hard to make these people even start to sound boring!

Again, I know that, historically, biographies are a hard sell and most people don't want to touch them because they're not guaranteed to make money. Most of the Kickstarters that I've backed and ultimately failed were biographies. But, despite the stigma, that's not because they don't sell. It still boils down to telling a good narrative; it's weak storytelling that doesn't sell, not biographies.

So, come on, people! Get your work together and put out some good biographies in comic form! There's plenty of fantastic subjects that have never been touched, just waiting for the world to hear about them!
Here are this week's links to what I've had published recently...

Kleefeld on Comics: On Business: Looking for Dredd Experts

FreakSugar: Fanthropology: Black Panther Excitement

The Comics Alternative: Webcomics: Reviews of The Shaderunners, Binary Star, and Nautilus

Kleefeld on Comics: On History: Valiant Comics, 1994

Patreon: MTV Geek Classic: Kleefeld on Webcomics #61: Going Mainstream

Kleefeld on Comics: Weekly Comics Links

FreakSugar: Webcomics Wednesday: Networks & Platforms

Kleefeld on Comics: On -isms: The Stan Lee Allegations

Patreon: MTV Geek Classic: Kleefeld on Webcomics #62: An Unseen Division

Kleefeld on Comics: On Strips: From Trees to Tribunes

The Chicago Tribune was one of the behemoth newspapers back in the day. It's still known and respected, now, but it (along with newspapers more generally) carried a lot more clout in the days before television. Of course, it also had several local rivals -- there were eight local daily papers in 1910 -- so they actually had to do a bit of advertising to get buyers' attention.

One of the things the Tribune did was hire their own cartoonists. Little Orphan Annie, The Gumps, Gasoline Alley, and others started there. But then, of course, they had to TELL people that as well!

Which leads me to From Trees to Tribunes. It was a 1931 silent "documentary," about a half-hour long, that relayed how a newspaper is made. I use quotes because, really, it's just a long ad. They did this a few times -- there's another version with the same name from 1937. But, notably, they spend a decent amount of time showcasing their cartoonists. I found someone who had edited down the footage to just the cartoonists' part and added a period soundtrack over it, so I thought I'd share the video here.

The featured cartoonists include: John T. McCutcheon, Gaar Williams, Carey Orr, Sidney Smith, Frank King, Frank Willard, Carl Ed, Martin Branner, Walter Berndt, and Harold Gray. Judging by the strips that are shown, this appears to have been filmed in February 1931. Also worth noting is that, while most of the cartoonists simply sit and draw, Frank Willard gives us a bit of a neat sight gag.