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kottke.org posts about comics

Fleen, a blog about webcomics, examines IndieKarma

posted by Jason Kottke   May 15, 2006

Fleen, a blog about webcomics, examines IndieKarma with an interview with the founder of the company and an analysis of its potential viability. Here’s my post on IndieKarma.

Short interview with Chris Ware upon the

posted by Jason Kottke   May 09, 2006

Short interview with Chris Ware upon the occasion of a show of his work at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. “I’ve found that anything I do [to] carefully plan and pare down in advance feels utterly false and constructed once I actually do it, having nothing of the sort of accident and unevenness of real life that I hope to, at least, modestly edge towards.”

Chris Ware, unwilling to compromise the quality

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 19, 2006

Chris Ware, unwilling to compromise the quality of his products, moves his ACME Novelty Library series from Fantagraphics to Drawn & Quarterly. (via waxy)

Chris Ware overrated? That’s what this illustration fan thinks.

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 27, 2006

Chris Ware overrated? That’s what this illustration fan thinks.

Regarding my question about the first superhero

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 03, 2006

Regarding my question about the first superhero back in October, Peter Coogan sent word about his upcoming book, Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre. “An exhaustive and entertaining study of the superhero genre, this volume traces the roots of the superhero in mythology, science fiction, and the pulps, and follows the superhero’s development to its current renaissance in film, literature, and graphic novels.”

Short Chris Ware interview in the Guardian.

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 02, 2005

Short Chris Ware interview in the Guardian. When’s he going to cheer up?

The first superhero?

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 18, 2005

Out of a recent conversation popped this interesting question: who was the first superhero? After a short discussion and a few guesses (Superman, Batman, etc), it was agreed that this might be the most perfect question to ask the internet in the long history of questions.

The earliest superhero I could find reference to was Mandrake the Magician, who debuted in 1934, four years before Superman, who was probably the first popular superhero. Mandrake’s super power was his ability to “make people believe anything, simply by gesturing hypnotically”. Does anyone out there know of any superheroes who made an earlier media appearance?

There’s a related question that has some bearing on the answer to the above question: what is a superhero? There have probably been books (or at least extensive Usenet threads) written on this topic, but a good baseline definition needs to acknowledge both the “super” and the “hero” parts. That is, the person needs to have some superhuman power or powers and has to fight the bad guys. But this basic definition is flawed. Superman is an alien, not human. Batman doesn’t have any super powers…he’s a self-made superhero like Syndrome in The Incredibles. Or can a superhero be anyone (human or no) that fights bad guys and is superior to normal heroes…the cream of the hero crop? And what about a costume or alter ego…are they essential for superheroism? These are all questions well-suited for asking the internet, so have at it: what’s a good definition for a superhero?

And there’s (at least) one more angle to this as well…where did the idea of the superhero come from? As Meg suggested to me at dinner last night, was there a cultural need for a superhero during a super-crisis like the Great Depression? Or did the idea evolve gradually from regular heros (cowboys, space cowboys, etc.) to heros who were magicians (with special powers…it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine a magician possessing supernatural powers) to classic superheroes like Superman?

Peter Schjeldahl, in a harsh review of

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 13, 2005

Peter Schjeldahl, in a harsh review of graphic novels for the New Yorker (with particular contempt for Harvey Pekar), suggests that the artistic breakthrough of graphic novels has occurred, been recognized, and “that a process of increasingly strained emulation and diminishing returns has set in”, citing Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan as the form’s peak. Here’s a positive review of Ware’s newest collection.

Three weeks in, I’m quite enjoying Chris

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 04, 2005

Three weeks in, I’m quite enjoying Chris Ware’s contribution to the NY Times Magazine The Funny Pages, Building Stories (pt 1, pt 2), maybe because I often imagine inanimate objects like buildings having personalities.

The NY Times Magazine has launched The

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 22, 2005

The NY Times Magazine has launched The Funny Pages, their comics+ section. PDFs of the comics are available online…here’s the first Chris Ware strip. They’re also podcasting and the first episode is an interview with Ware by John Hodgman, assisted by organist and radio-man Jonathan Coulton.

Top 10 cheap marketing ploys to increase sales

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 13, 2005

Top 10 cheap marketing ploys to increase sales of comic books, but as noted in the comments, a sufficiently generalized version of this list would work in many instances.

New feature in the NY Times magazine:

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 07, 2005

New feature in the NY Times magazine: comics! First up, a six-month-long strip by Chris Ware, on whom I have a non-sexual crush.

Chris Ware’s new book is out soon

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 06, 2005

Chris Ware’s new book is out soon and Salon has an early review. Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan is one of my favorite books of all time.

Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art NOW THEN online exhibit

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 14, 2005

Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art NOW THEN online exhibit. “What did professional comic artists draw like when they were 12 years old”?

Chris Ware to self-publish own books and

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 26, 2005

Chris Ware to self-publish own books and graphic novels from now on.

McSweeney’s #13

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 21, 2004

A few weeks months ago, I chose this book as the first official selection of the unofficial kottke.org book club. The idea of the book club is that I tell you what book I’m going to read next, you can read along if you’d like, and then we get together to discuss it in the comments of a thread like this one.

What a terrible idea…I apologize for even suggesting it. I have trouble reviewing books as it is without the added pressure of a deadline and having people (if any of you actually chose to follow along) who read the book depending on me getting some sort of rip-roaring conversation going. As a result, even though I finished the book weeks and weeks ago, I’ve been avoiding writing this review. However, since I got myself into this, I’m going to give it a shot and hope that someone else can rescue us with a thoughtful, knowledgeable review of the book and/or the comics format in the comments. Here we go.

Many of my friends are into comics in one way or another. I never was, not even as a kid (ok, not exactly true…I really liked Bloom County). I go into comic shops, thumb through comic books and graphic novels, and leave wondering what the hell all the fuss is about. I guess you could say I don’t get comics. Which is odd because as a sort of socially awkward dork, I should identify with many of the characters in the stories and the artists drawing them (and I mean that in a good way).

A few years ago, I bought Chris Ware’s perfect Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, one of my all-time favorite pieces of media. But that’s been the exception to the rule for me and comics. McSweeney’s #13 contained a comic by Chris Ware (he designed the wonderful dust cover as well); it, The Little Nun strips by Mark Newgarden, and the wonderfully spare comics by Richard McGuire (which reminded me of Powers of Ten) were the highlights for me.

So instead of a review, a question. What am I missing here? Why do you enjoy comics and/or graphic novels? I can guess why they are appealing, but I’d rather hear about it from you guys.

Understanding Comics

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 21, 2003

I was reading a piece by David Sedaris the other day and it contained a passage wherein something happened and a character in the story reacted to it, which is not unusual except that he somehow found space inbetween to write 2-3 additional sentences without interrupting the flow of the story. In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud talks about this idea in the context of comics:

See that space between the panels? That’s what comics aficionados have named “The Gutter!” And despite its unceremonious title, the gutter plays host to much of the magic and mystery that are at the very heart of comics! Here in the limbo of the gutter, human imagination takes two separate images and transforms them into a single idea.

While McCloud relies on human imagination to fill in the gaps, Sedaris recognizes one of the endless numbers of gaps that may be filled in a prose narrative and does so great effect.

Remember a Movie

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 26, 1998

New episode of 0sil8 today. Go submit your movie reviews and I’ll post them in an upcoming episode.