J Michael Straczynski's "Becoming Superman": a memoir of horrific abuse, war crimes, perseverance, trauma, triumph and doing what's right

    J Michael Straczynski (previously) is known for many things: creating Babylon 5, spectacular runs on flagship comics from Spiderman to Superman, incredibly innovative and weird kids' TV shows like The Real Ghostbusters, and megahits like Sense8; in the industry he's known as a writing machine, the kind of guy who can write and produce 22 hours of TV in a single season, and he's also known as a mensch, whose online outreach to fans during the Babylon 5 years set the bar for how creators and audiences can work together to convince studios to take real chances. But in JMS's new memoir, Becoming Superman: My Journey From Poverty to Hollywood, we get a look at a real-life history that is by turns horrific and terrifying, and a first-person account of superhuman perseverance and commitment to the right thing that, incredibly, leads to triumph Read the rest

    Podcast: Occupy Gotham

    In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my essay Occupy Gotham, published in Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman, commemorating the 1000th issue of Batman comics. It's an essay about the serious hard problem of trusting billionaires to solve your problems, given the likelihood that billionaires are the cause of your problems.

    A thousand issues have gone by, nearly 80 years have passed, and Batman still hasn't cleaned up Gotham. If the formal definition of insanity it trying the same thing and expecting a different outcome, then Bruce Wayne belongs in a group therapy session in Arkham Asylum. Seriously, get that guy some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy before he gets into some *serious* trouble.

    As Upton Sinclair wrote in his limited run of *Batman: Class War*[1], "It's impossible to get a man to understand something when his paycheck depends on his not understanding it."

    Gotham is a city riven by inequality. In 1939, that prospect had a very different valence than it has in 2018. Back in 1939, the wealth of the world's elites had been seriously eroded, first by the Great War, then by the Great Crash and the interwar Great Depression, and what was left of those vast fortunes was being incinerated on the bonfire of WWII. Billionaire plutocrats were a curious relic of a nostalgic time before the intrinsic instability of extreme wealth inequality plunged the world into conflict.

    MP3

    Read the rest

    Al Jaffee's MAD Life: how a traumatized kid from the shtetl became an American satire icon

    Back in 2010, It Books published Mary-Lou Weisman's biography of MAD Magazine icon Al Jaffee: Al Jaffee's Mad Life: A Biography; I missed it then but happened upon Arie Kaplan's 2011 writeup in The Jewish Review of Books this morning and was charmed by the biographical sketch it lays out. Read the rest

    An illustrated guide to San Francisco's most unusual statues

    Peter Glanting's illustrated guide to San Francisco's most unusual statues is an annotated delight, even if, despite its length, JWZ wrote, "They skipped a few of my favorites." Read the rest

    New Elfquest series

    Elfquest, my favorite series of fantasy comics books and graphic novels, is returning for a run featuring popular character Skywise. Elfquest: Stargazer's Hunt is out November: notify your comics retailer and demand it!

    Russ Burlingame writes:

    Fans of the series may be surprised to see the Pinis coming back to it; back in 2018, we asked the pair whether they might return do a "reunion tour" in the vein of Terry Moore's Strangers in Paradise XXV, and they shot down the notion at the time.

    "No, you have met few couples who are more completely in sympathy and in-tune about having no more deadlines in their lives for the rest of their lives," Wendy Pini told ComicBook.com at the time. "I will jump in say, though, that if I knew I was going to be drawing these blankety-blank elves for 40 years, I would have designed them quite differently. They all would have been bald and naked."

    ElfQuest: Stargazer’s Hunt goes on sale November 13, 2019, and will be available for pre-order at your local comic shop soon.

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    Using machine learning to pull Krazy Kat comics out of giant public domain newspaper archives

    Jo?l Franusic became obsessed with Krazy Kat, but was frustrated by the limited availability and high cost of the books anthologizing the strip (some of which were going for $600 or more on Amazon); so he wrote a scraper that would pull down thumbnails from massive archives of pre-1923 newspapers and then identified 100 pages containing Krazy Kat strips to use as training data for a machine-learning model. Read the rest

    Man-Eaters Volume Two: Fleshing out the world where girls turn into lethal werepanthers when they get their periods

    Volume One of Man-Eaters, Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk's scathing, hilarious, brilliant comic about girls who turn into man-eating werepanthers when they get their periods, is the best comic I read in 2019, and Volume Two, just published by Image comics, continues the brilliance with a set of design-fiction-y fake ads and other collateral that straddle the line between a serious piece of science fictional world-building and Switfian satire. Read the rest

    The best Joker is the woman Joker who snaps after a lifetime of being told to "smile, baby" by shitty men

    Last week, Geraldine DeRuiter tweeted a short, sharp alternate character arc for The Joker: "The Joker should have been a woman. And she finally went insane because too many random dudes told her to smile, so now she perpetually smiles while terrorizing Gotham." Read the rest

    Batman Dark Knight Returns Issue 4, Kayfabe Commentary

    No deep dive of this legendary comic exists online from a cartoonist's perspective, let alone 3 cartoonists! The boys, Ed Piskor, Jim Rugg, and Tom Scioli continue to unpack the Frank Miller 1986 Batman classic over the course of 4 jam-packed episodes, one chapter at a time!

    For more videos and deep dives like this make sure to subscribe to the Cartoonist Kayfabe YouTube channel?

    You can support the channel by grabbing some stuff from our Spreadshop! Read the rest

    Batman Dark Knight Returns Issue 3, Kayfabe Commentary

    No deep dive of this legendary comic exists online from a cartoonist's perspective, let alone 3 cartoonists! The boys, Ed Piskor, Jim Rugg, and Tom Scioli continue to unpack the Frank Miller 1986 Batman classic over the course of 4 jam-packed episodes, one chapter at a time!

    Part 1 here:

    For more videos and deep dives like this make sure to subscribe to the Cartoonist Kayfabe YouTube channel?

    You can support the channel by grabbing some stuff from our Spreadshop! Read the rest

    Batman Dark Knight Returns Issue 2, Kayfabe Commentary

    No deep dive of this legendary comic exists online from a cartoonist's perspective, let alone 3 cartoonists! The boys, Ed Piskor, Jim Rugg, and Tom Scioli continue to unpack the Frank Miller 1986 Batman classic over the course of 4 jam-packed episodes, one chapter at a time!

    Part 1 here:

    For more videos and deep dives like this make sure to subscribe to the Cartoonist Kayfabe YouTube channel?

    You can support the channel by grabbing some stuff from our Spreadshop! Read the rest

    Batman Dark Knight Returns Issue 1, Kayfabe Commentary

    No deep dive of this legendary comic exists online from a cartoonist's perspective, let alone 3 cartoonists! The boys, Ed Piskor, Jim Rugg, and Tom Scioli unpack the Frank Miller 1986 Batman classic over the course of 4 jam-packed episodes, one chapter at a time!

    For more videos and deep dives like this make sure to subscribe to the Cartoonist Kayfabe YouTube channel?

    You can support the channel by grabbing some stuff from our Spreadshop! Read the rest

    Houston! I'm at Comicpalooza all weekend!

    I'm one of the guests of honor at this weekend's Comicpalooza festival in Houston, Texas: in addition to my keynote and signing, you can catch me at panels on copyright, robots and AI, cyberpunk, copyright (again!). Read the rest

    Dennis the Menace in Hawaii, Cartoonist Kayfabe Commentary

    Dennis in Hawaii by Alan Wiseman and Fred Toole

    One of the most popular comics in American history gets the Kayfabe book club treatment with Ed Piskor, Jim Rugg, and Tom Scioli.

    In 1958, Pines and Hank Ketcham sent the Dennis the Menace comic book crew to Hawaii to research a 100 page Dennis the Menace special. The resulting comic book went on to phenomenal success and 9 printings over the subsequent decade.

    Jaime Hernandez and Dan Clowes both sing its praises. What makes this comic book so special and how does it look 60 years later? Join us to find out!

    For more videos and deep dives like this make sure to subscribe to the Cartoonist Kayfabe YouTube channel Read the rest

    "A Fire Story": a moving, beautiful memoir of the Calistoga wildfire in comics form

    In 2017, cartoonist Brian Fies lost his northern California home in the Calistoga wildfires; in the days after, working with the cheap art supplies he was able to get from a surviving big box store, he drew A Fire Story, a strip about how he and his wife barely managed to escape their home ahead of the blaze, and about life after everything you own (and everything your neighbors own) is reduced to ash and slag. The strip went viral, and in the months after, Fies adapted it into a deeply moving, beautiful book. Read the rest

    Akira volume 2, Cartoonist Kayfabe Commentary

    What better way to celebrate 2019, the year before the Neo-Tokyo Summer Olympics, than to revisit Katsuhiro Otomo's classic manga in a book club format with the Cartoonist Kayfabe crew, Ed Piskor, Jim Rugg, and Tom Scioli . Miss the earlier videos? No problem:

    For more videos and deep dives like this make sure to subscribe to the Cartoonist Kayfabe YouTube channel Read the rest

    Eleanor Davis Comics! Cartoonist Kayfabe Show and Tell

    Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg discuss a few comics from one of the best cartoonists of their generation!

    Eleanor Davis' books:

    ? You & A Bike & A Road ? Libby's Dad ? BDSM (Frontier 11) ? How to Be Happy ? Why Art??

    Eleanor Davis art & comics on Instagram

    Subscribe to the Cartoonist Kayfabe YouTube channel for more comics vids and analysis like this. Read the rest

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