TCJ 300: Journal Datebook

Posted by on December 31st, 2009 at 3:26 AM


From “A+” in MySpace Dark Horse Presents Vol. 2, written by Nate Piekos and drawn by Jeff Wamester; ©2009 Nate Piekos.

MySpace Comic Books Shuts Down

June 17: The social media website MySpace announced it was laying off 30 percent of its workforce, about 400 employees. MySpace Comic Books, a site on the network that hosted previews from Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse comics, will subsequently be shut down. The site, which launched in 2007, also ran full issues of comics, interviews and a news feed from Comic Book Resources. MySpace is owned by News Corporation, which also owns several other companies including 20th Century Fox, Fox Broadcasting Company, the New York Post and HarperCollins.


Musée de la Bande Dessinée in Angoulême Opens

June 20: The Musée de la Bande Dessinée has opened in Angoulême, home of the famous French comics festival, and claims to have the largest collection of comic books and comic art in the world. It contains more than 8,000 original drawings and more than 110,000 comic books and magazines. The museum replaces a much smaller one that closed 11 years ago, and it will have official status as a Musée de France, alongside such institutions as the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles, according to The Independent. The new museum, located in a converted factory, will be the official depository of every comic book published in France in the same way that the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris receives a free copy of other types of new books.


Jon Goldwater is New CEO of Archie Comics Publications

June 25: Jon Goldwater, son of Archie Comics co-founder John Goldwater, is the new company’s new CEO. He is the brother of Richard Goldwater, who ran the company with the late Michael Silberkleit, the son of the other Archie co-founder Louis Silberkleit.


Cartoonist Behzad Bashbo Among Jailed Iranian Journalists

June 25: Cartoonist Behzad Bashbo is among at least 36 Iranian journalists who have been arrested and jailed since the country’s disputed June 12 presidential election, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The Iranian government has confirmed that it is holding 150 people arrested after the election, according to The Guardian. Other sources cite higher numbers.


From Sparky and Duncan Tell It Comics, ©1986 B.N. Duncan and Sparky.

B.N. Duncan: R.I.P.

June 27: B.N. Duncan, the cartoonist, critic, curator, archivist, publisher, producer and publicist for the publicly shunned, died June 27 at 65 of lung cancer. The center of his world was Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue, particularly its stretch between Bancroft and Dwight, bordered on the north by raving street ministers and the south by an intersection that fairly merited a posting: WARNING: SCHIZOPHRENIC CROSSING. The focus of his attentions was that portion of its populace that was, by choice or circumstance, brain chemistry or additive enhancement, misfortune or grace, the most offbeat and broken down, the furthest set-apart and cast-aside, the likeliest to receive society’s stares or stones. His mission was to make their value known through word or sound or image.

The winds of mental breakdown, incomplete schooling, a congenital incapacity for employment, and marital collapse blew Duncan onto the Ave. in 1968. He never left. He became an artist and it became his Yoknapatapha County, albeit it with increasingly higher rents and louder police sirens. He drew from it the cartoons about earthworms and comradeship, S&M and Jesus that he placed in the Berkeley Gazette and Screw, Worker-Poet and Weirdo. He would publish, with the help of local photocopy machines, his own collections and those of others he deemed neglected and worthy. For four years, he put out the Tele Times, which his compatriot Ace Backwords has described as “looking like a magazine created by someone who had never read one.” He and Backwords also produced the Telegraph Avenue Street Calendar, featuring Duncan’s impossible-to-ignore photographs of the area’s more exotic fauna, an album sampling the sweet sounds of its most itinerant musicians, and a gallery show featuring its visual artists’ paintings and sculpture. Duncan wrote reviews for a paper that serves the East Bay’s homeless and contributed interviews to this very journal. He went at his pursuits with spirit and courage and seriousness of purpose, and if his income ever reached a level of interest to the IRS, I would be surprised.

In the decade I knew him, Duncan cast a consistently striking presence. My memory replays him as striding forward, tall, gaunt, a raging bonfire of untamed orange hair and beard, a blend of Ichabod Crane and the Cowardly Lion. His thick glasses are taped together, or missing an ear piece, or misplaced altogether. His coat appears to have been collecting stains and carnage since Little Big Horn. (While Duncan’s conversation always seemed more balanced to me than many political pundits, his DNA clearly lacked the gene in charge of good grooming.) He bears, cross-like on one shoulder, a storage box of books, which he will lay out for passers-by in front of the now-defunct Cody’s Books, hoping for a lightning strike of his due.

Last Sunday saw a memorial “service” at his customary roost. Adele and I spent about 15 minutes. Plastic liter bottles of Razzle Frazzle soda and boxes of Frito Cocoa Loops — not the actual brand names — were available for the mourners’ pleasure. A guitarist played. A dozen of the patched and tattered, the vision-blasted and voice-battered, the scabrous veterans of outer galactic wars exchanged memories and reminiscences and non sequiturs. Ace arrived from the Med, grinning. “I am so drunk,” he said. “I brought Duncan back a coffee.”

It was, e-mailed a cartoonist to whom I had sent the scene’s description, exactly how Duncan would have wanted to be remembered.

— Bob Levin


Honduran Cartoonist Allan McDonald Freed After 24-Hour Detainment

July 1: Allan McDonald, whose editorial cartoons have shown support for ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, has been released after being detained for 24 hours by the Honduran Armed Forces. McDonald was taken from his home outside the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa along with his 17-month-old daughter Abril, according to Editor & Publisher. The military reportedly destroyed McDonald’s drawing materials and cartoons after ransacking his house. McDonald’s cartoons against the recent military coup have been published in the newspaper Diaro el Heraldo de Honduras and on the website


Ruben Bolling Wins 2009 AAN Cartoon Award

July 1: The Association of Alternative Newsweeklies has announced its AltWeekly Awards. The first-place winner was Ruben Bolling for his Tom the Dancing Bug comic; Bolling has previously won the first-place award in 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2008. Second place went to Jen Sorensen for Slowpoke and third place went to Kenny Be for Worst-Case Scenario & Hip Tip.


Artist Sued Over Comic Insulting to South Korean President

July 1: The Wonju city government in the Gangwon province of South Korea filed a 123-million-won ($100,000) compensation suit against a cartoonist identified only as Choi, after a cartoon appeared in the city’s promotional gazette that was offensive to South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak. According to The Korea Times, the cartoon, which depicted people bowing in front of a monument with statues behind them with the words “Lee Myung-Bak should die” and “Lee Myung-Bak is a son of a bitch” written on their torsos, was supposed to honor Korean Vietnam War veterans. The words had been hidden in the form of patterns. The cartoon passed the censorship checks, and the gazette was released to the public. The city government subsequently recalled and discarded all copies of the edition. The city office stated the “cartoon was drawn in such a manipulative way that not many people could notice what was written in the first place. However, the content was so humiliating for not only the head of the state, but all public servants. We will fight for the dignity of the city.” The 123 million won includes compensation of 100 million won and fees for the printing, recalling, and discarding of the gazette.


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