Journalista for Jan 7, 2010: Still waiting for the savior

Posted by on January 7th, 2010 at 8:53 AM




“Back when [the Robot 6 crew] were at Newsarama, I kept having to explain to people that they’re *not* like Newsarama.”


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Recently posted to our homepage:

  • Michel Fiffe presents the conclusion next installment to his multi-part interview with comics veteran Ty Templeton.

  • R. Fiore reviews the new Alex Raymond collection, Rip Kirby: The First Modern Detective.

  • Shaenon Garrity reviews Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas’ Sam’s Strip: The Comic About Comics.

  • Rich Kreiner reviews Denis Kitchen and Paul Buhle’s The Art of Harvey Kurtzman.

  • Ken Worcester discusses the appeal of the superhero genre.

(Above: A Rip Kirby sketch by Alex Raymond.)

And in the news…


Above the Fold


Life in interesting times

  • Former Tampa Tribune sports cartoonist Lamar Sparkman died yesterday morning after complications from pneumonia, at the age of 88.

  • IceNews reports that the unidentified Somali man accused of attempting to kill Kurt Westergaard over the Killer Danish Muhammed Cartoons has denied all charges at his first court hearing. Meanwhile, the Copenhagen Post informs us that “the Danish Security and Intelligence Service PET will resume the 24-hour surveillance and protection of the Mohammed cartoonist.” And according to something called the Free Internet Press:

    The 28-year-old Somali who is charged with attempting to kill the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and the man suspected of being the suicide bomber who killed some 24 people in Mogadishu several weeks ago were in Sweden together last year, according to the Swedish newspaper Expressen.


  • Publishers Weekly reports that independent booksellers had an “okay” holiday season.

  • Andrew Mernin speaks with Kevin Mann, founder of the U.K. digital-publishing company Take Comics.

  • Introducing the latest entry in the E-reader Battle For Supremacy: the enTourage eDGe.

  • On the same subject, let me answer a question: No, the new Apple iSlate will not be a gamechanger, since it answers a non-existent demand with an operating system that most people don’t use.

    Sorry Mac fans, but it seems to me that the biggest problem with the Cult of Apple lies in their unwillingness to recognize themselves as a cult. Believe me, as a convert to the Cult of Linux, I sympathize with the need to feel that one’s choices in technology grants some sort of superiority that will be recognized in short order. Alas, it just isn’t true. It would take a small essay unto itself to explain why — mostly centered around Bill Gates’ foresighted decision to sell the Windows operating system by itself and leave the hardware to others — but it really boils down to the fact that non-Apple PCs are much, much cheaper.

    Apple’s two exceptions really do prove the rule. The iPod sells well because it was the first modern MP3 player, because MP3 players are the logical next step for a long-running and popular device (the Walkman), because Apple was the first company to sign agreements with all the major record labels for access to their catalogs, because there are iPods available that don’t cost an arm and a leg to own, and because you don’t need to own a Mac to use it. The iPhone sells well because it was the next logical step in smartphones, because almost everyone owns a cellphone, because the cost of purchase is subsidized by AT&T (which sells them at below the manufacturing cost but make up the difference in monthly fees), and because you don’t need to own a Mac to use it.

    By contrast, there is neither strong mainstream demand for a tablet computer, nor is there a killer app attractive enough to distinguish such things from other portable computers. Essentially, tablet computers are netbooks without the lid. Oh, they’re cool netbooks, to be sure, but there isn’t a single, simple explanation for why you have to own a tablet over any other kind of laptop, the way there was when the iPod and the iPhone were first released — and given Apple’s propensity to sell overpriced technology to the upper-middle classes as status objects, unless Apple really marks down the price, there’ll be at least one big reason not to buy such a thing from Steve Jobs. The iPhone’s economic model simply doesn’t work for regular computers. Without an obvious service requiring monthly payments, there’s no reason for anyone else to subsidize the cost of the machine — why pay a third party for bandwidth, for example, when there’s WiFi everywhere? That means that Apple will have to keep price consistent with production costs, the way they do with the Mac. Which means that it will more likely than not be priced like a Mac, and most people are simply not willing to spend half again as much money on a “cool” computer that does the same things as do cheaper, equally powerful devices.

    This isn’t to say that the iSlate will fail. Apple could, in theory, find a way to keep the price at (say) $200 or less, which would make the device cheaper, although almost certainly less powerful. If they do, they could in fact market it beyond their existing base of true believers. Even then, though, the iSlate will be one device among many. More likely, it’ll debut at somewhere between $500 and $800, which means that it’ll be another Mac — a pretty-but-expensive device sold mainly to self-described “creative types” looking for another accessory. Either way, readers expecting a repeat of the company’s massive success with the iPod are advised not to hold their breath.


  • Jeff Rivera presents a follow-up Q&A with publisher Richard Nash on the future of the book industry.

  • Rich Johnston watches the water surrounding the Marvelman copyright drama get even muddier.


Mike Sterling: The end of civilization

Sterling finds the most dubious items from the latest Diamond catalog, so you don’t have to.



¡Journalista! continues after this commercial message.




  • Nick Miller on Jeffrey Brown

    A Q&A with the author of Clumsy and Funny Misshapen Body.




  • Glen Weldon on Alec: The Years Have Pants

    “[Eddie Campbell’s book] is much more than simply a gimlet-eyed Gasoline Alley — the three decades of mature, complex and emotionally compelling work compiled here represent a major accomplishment in comics storytelling, and in storytelling, period. It’s nothing less than a modern epic of the everyday.”

    (Above: sequence from a recent strip, ©2008 Eddie Campbell.)


  • David Brothers on Yotsuba&! Vol. 7

    “I picked out seven things I liked from this volume of Yotsuba&! I don’t know that they’re the seven funniest things, but they are things that I think encapsulate what Yotsuba&! is all about.”







  • Jeet Heer: Popeye the crossdressing man

    A few final notes and links concerning Heer’s recent essay on gay representations in comics.





Comics and Art


  • Homepage: Vintage Ad Browser

    This link has traveled widely over the past few days, and for good reason: It’s a fantastic collection of gorgeous commercial work.

    (Above: One of the advertisements at the site, circa the 1920s.)


  • Online portfolio: Matthew Scott

    I get a strong Jordan Crane vibe off of some of Scott’s work.

    (Above: “Lily,” ©2008 Matthew Scott. Link via Nate Williams.)


  • Online portfolio: Sam Wolfe Connelly

    The phrase “drunk with imagery” comes to mind…

    (Above: “Tysgan,” ©2009 Sam Wolfe Connelly.)





Comics Culture


  • Your Not-Comics Link of the Day:

    Nine Inch Nails’ collaborative video The Gift, now available for download in a variety of formats and sizes, as well as on YouTube.

    (Above: screenshot from the video.)


  • Your Scans_Daily Link of the Day:

    From The Big Book of Grimm, Jonathan Vankin and Nick Bertozzi’s “The Little Old Man.”

    (Above: panel from the story, presumably ©2009 DC Comics.)


Events Calendar


This Week:


  • December 8-10 (Sacramento, CA): The weekend’s first big J-culture event is SacAnime, taking place at the Radisson Hotel on Leisure Lane. Details here.
  • December 8-10 (Concord, NC): The weekend’s second big J-culture event is Ichibancon, happening at the Great Wolf Lodge and Resort on Weddington Road. Details here.
  • December 8-10 (Los Angeles, CA): The weekend’s third big J-culture event is Anime Los Angeles 6, taking place at the Los Angeles Airport Mariott. Details here.
  • December 10 (New York City, NY): A release party for the seventeenth edition of the Mome anthology takes place at Bergen Street Comics, from 5-7PM. Details here.


Want to see your comics-related event listed here? Email a link to and let me know. Please include an online link to which I can send people for more information. No sales-only events, please — it’s nice that you’ve marked things down at your store or website, but I won’t be listing it here.

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