Journalista for Nov 11, 2010: Maybe you’re just not that important after all

Posted by on November 11th, 2010 at 2:48 AM



“As the number of full-time staff positions for newspaper cartoonists dwindles into the dozens, some editorial artists say they’re baffled by the reasoning behind the reductions. Why, they ask, does the drawing board so often become the chopping block?”


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Recently posted to our homepage:

  • Presenting scans of a 1920 edition of the French satirical magazine Fantasio, because you deserve nice things and we both know it.
  • International comics: Fredrik Stromberg reports from the AltCom Festival, happening right now in Malmö, Sweden.
  • International comics: Gary Chaloner pimps the Australian horror-comics anthology EEEK!
  • Rob Clough jots down five observations about Sam Henderson’s newest minicomics collections of his single-panel gag work.
  • As always, R.C. Harvey covers the funny pages.
  • Over at The Hooded Utilitarian, Vom Marlowe reviews Jeremy Love’s Bayou.

And in the news…


Above the Fold


Life in interesting times

  • In Japan, the 60th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s manga series One Piece sold over two million copies in just four days.

    ©2010 The Journal-News.

  • Alan Gardner brings word that Matt Davies, editorial cartoonist for the Journal-News of New York’s Hudson Valley, has been laid off.

  • Publishers Weekly reports: “As sales in the traditional trade segments plunged in September, e-book sales jumped 158.1%, according to the monthly sales estimates released by the Association of American Publishers.”

  • Charles Kochman has been promoted to the position of editorial director for Abrams ComicArts, according to Heidi MacDonald.

  • New York retailer Emil Novak offers some solutions for low comic-book sales in the Direct Market.

    From The Walking Dead Vol. 5: The Best Defense, ©2006 Robert Kirkman.

  • Jason Wood argues that the new Walking Dead TV series won’t translate into higher sales for Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s comic book. His principal example: The fact that the Iron Man films didn’t do jack for the character’s comics:

    If you think about it, even comic book film adaptations deemed by some as commercially disappointing, like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, illustrate the fallacy. Many pundits were disappointed in Scott Pilgrim‘s $31.5 million domestic gross. Yet that means millions of people paid money to see that movie. Yet the comic book series — cult hit that it may be — doesn’t sell anywhere close to those numbers.

    Longtime ¡Journalista! readers probably already know where I’m going with this, but it’s been a while, so let’s do the Occam’s Razor thing anyway.

    First and foremost, note moving goalpost in play here — Wood earlier speculates that even a 1% audience transference would give The Walking Dead a massive sales boost, but when reaching to Scott Pilgrim for a comparison, suddenly anything less than a majority of the film’s viewers rushing out to buy the books would fail to count. But set that aside — Wood’s missing the point in a fairly major way when it comes to comics sales and multimedia adaptations. The fact is that any number of comics have seen massive sales boosts based upon films that didn’t even do all that well by Hollywood standards. Think Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Ghost World, Persepolis, 300 and, yes, even Scott Pilgrim. These books all saw sales boosts because the increased visibility also came with increased word of mouth in magazines and newspapers, and because their reputations were more than well-earned. So why didn’t the Iron Man movie give a boost to the comics that inspired it? Set the Way-Back Machine for July of 2005, from The Comics Journal #269:

    To emphasize the point, compare two media phenomena that attempted to drive sales towards graphic novels: Naruto and X-Men. The fact that Naruto has become popular in both print and animated forms should surprise no one; given that it’s the story of a young boy who’s secretly a nine-tailed demon, who spends his days going to ninja school and getting into constant trouble, you could safely call this series a license to print money from the moment its creator wrote that concept down in his notebook. If the Naruto anime left you interested enough in the story to go to a bookstore and check out the manga, you’d find more of the same: The anime stays as close as possible to manga-ka Masashi Kishimoto’s original concepts, and Kishimoto is in turn the consistent driving force behind the creation of the comics version, regardless of who spotted the blacks or drew a particular forest background. So long as you first bought the Naruto volume with the big “1” on the spine, liked it and followed it with the one labeled “2,” you’re pretty much guaranteed to be satisfied by the results.

    If the X-Men films convinced you to pick up your first X-Men graphic novel, however, you’d be in for an entirely different experience. Your first exposure would depend upon which author’s version of the series you pulled out of the stack, be it Stan Lee, Chris Claremont, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar or Chuck Austen, and the artwork would likely change from one artist to another within the book’s pages. If you remained interested enough by what you read to buy a second one, that second volume would be as much of a crapshoot as the first, unless you very carefully observed which names were on the spine each time you invested your hard-earned dollars on a new book. The replaceable nature of the writers and artists, as dictated by the work-for-hire business practices upon which Marvel depends, actively discourages casual readers exactly to the extent that casual readers can never be sure what they get when they open an X-Men book.

    As with Naruto and X-Men, so too with Scott Pilgrim and Iron Man. Iron Man comics didn’t see a sales spurt from the release of the movie because there was no obvious jump-on point for potential new readers, and even if there was, there wasn’t a point to which one could jump next, which is a killer inhibitor to long-term sales. By contrast, there are six Scott Pilgrim volumes, created by a single author (and hence a consistent narrative voice), and they have an obvious beginning, middle and end that can be identified by the numbers on the spine. Oh, and Oni Press made a point of getting copies of the books into prominent display points in bookstores nationwide, so of course they did well in the wake of the movie.

    Likewise, Image Comics is putting some serious weight behind The Walking Dead, and while it’s too soon to see the results, I’d be awfully surprised if there wasn’t a serious sales boost in the works. Wood asserts that there are structural barriers to comics gaining sales from associated media adaptations, but he’s overgeneralizing — there are structural barriers to work-for-hire superhero comics gaining sales from associated media adaptations. Comics that don’t suffer from these handicaps have been able to ride the wave just fine, thank you very much.



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Graphic NYC




  • Deborah Vankin on R. Crumb

    “We have nothing to do with the cartooning world here, nothing whatsoever. Our daughter does more than we do. She knows some of the young French cartoonists.”






  • Tom Spurgeon on Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard #4

    ©2010 David Petersen.

    “Perhaps because of the format and because I got dropped into the middle of it with little in the way of laborious set-up, this side-series comic worked just fine for me, even more so for a perceived little-kid version of the person I am today. If there were more mainstream comics at this price point and fashioned with this level of apparent care, the comics industry might be a very different place. I’d listen to such a story.”




Comics and Art


  • Stephen Kroninger: Two MIAD sketchbooks

    ©1986 Stephen Kroninger.

    “I’ve generally kept this sketchbook work to myself over the years. By the few who had seen them, I was asked over the years if I would make drawings for illustration assignments for various publications. Once I was asked if I’d be willing to draw for a magazine under an assumed name. I’ve always turned down the offer. My commitiment in print was to collage. I’m not sure why I’ve maintained such a purity of purpose all these years. I was born to sing the gospel but I don’t believe singing an occasional blues will codemn me to the fires of hell. Even Mahalia Jackson was known to sing a show tune now and again. I guess I’ve always thought of my sketchbook drawings as a kind of warming up, a way to keep loose for my collages.”




Events Calendar




  • Nov. 11 (New York City, NY): Liza Donnelly talks to Bob Mankoff onstage at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon art on Broadway, beginning at 7PM. Details here.
  • Nov. 11 (Los Angeles, CA): Michael Gondry will be signing copies of his new multimedia collaboration with Julie Doucet, My New New York Diary, at Family on Fairfax Avenue, beginning at 7PM. Details here.
  • Nov. 11 (New York City, NY): Cartoonist Arnold Roth will be among those paying tribute to the National Lampoon, in a panel discussion at the 92nd Street Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association, beginning at 8:15PM. Details here.


This Weekend:


  • Nov. 13 (New York City, NY): Tucker Stone will speak with Kevin Huizenga at Bergen Street Comics, beginning at 8PM. 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. (Note: Under no circumstances will I link to a Facebook page. Seriously, what idiot “advertises” their event solely on a website that requires registration to see the advertisement?)


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