Wednesday 13 February 2008

Dandy surprise

As a random purchase this week, I picked up a copy of the current issue of The Dandy (no 3439, 31 January - 15 February 2008, D C Thomson), and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was almost entirely restored to being a traditional comic, with only half-a-dozen pages of non-comics material. However, it’s described on the cover as an “Awesome Mega-Comix Special”, so this may not last. This issue is only on sale for another day or two, so rush out now and inflate the sales figures!

The highlight is a two-page guide to drawing comics by Jamie Smart.

A slightly less rigorous analysis of the form than that offered by Thierry Groensteen, but fun nonetheless.

Tuesday 12 February 2008

Gone from a world he never made

Steve Gerber has died, aged only 60. His was one of the most distinctive voices in comics, and he did more than most to expand the range of what letterpress, mass retail comics could cover in the days before the opportunities and disappointments of the direct market. Tom Spurgeon has an obituary.

“Cry Turnip!”, written by Steve Gerber, illustrations by Frank Brunner, inking by Steve Leialoha, lettering by Tom Orzechowski, edited by Marv Wolfman, Howard the Duck issue 2, Marvel Comics, March 1976, reprinted in Essential Howard the Duck Volume 1, 2002

Monday 4 February 2008

Manhattan on Mars

Crater on Mars, photograph reproduced from The Daily Telegraph web-site, 2008:

Crater on Mars, panels reproduced from Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins, 1987:

It’s either a coincidence or a quite remarkable marketing effort for the upcoming movie …

Update, 5 February Oops. It seems that I have been misled by the Telegraph running that story a little late. Over 20 years late, in fact. (See the comments section.)

Next on Gad, Sir! Comics!, the startling news that it looks like there is a man in the Moon. And, hey, don't those stars form a line that's a bit like a plough?

Is he dead, then? Poke 'im with a stick to find out

Hhrmmhm! Oh, sorry, I must have dozed off. Now, where was I?

Oh, yes, Judy Drood, girl detective.

(panel from Mad Night by Richard Sala, Fantagraphics Books, 2005)

In issue 287 of The Comics Journal, Bill Sherman writes of Judy Drood in his review of The Grave Robber’s Daughter that “her name evokes both Nancy Drew and ancient Celtic rituals”.

It took that issue of The Comics Journal a month to cross the Atlantic, and it has taken me a few weeks to get around to reading it all, so by now Bill Sherman is probably fed up with people reminding him of Charles Dickens’s final, unfinished, novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

So far as I know, Dickens made up the name “Drood”. Certainly, if you Google it, you’ll find no real people in the first couple of hundred hits. His manuscript notes show that he started with the name “Brood”, and played with variants such as “Brude” and “Drude” before settling on “Drood”.

None of which means that Sherman (or Sala, for that matter) can’t come up with his own associations, of course.

Incidentally, the cover illustration reproduced above is probably more pored-over than any other picture drawn to accompany any of Dickens’s works, in the hope that it might provide clues to how Dickens would have finished the story. It is by Luke Fildes, who shortly thereafter gave up illustration work to concentrate on portrait painting, ending up as a member of the Royal Academy and a Knight to boot. But I have to say that his illustrations are generally very stiff and bland, and hardly deserve to be considered alongside the work of his predecessors on Dickens’s novels, Cruikshank and Phiz. Indeed, next time you find yourself wondering why a first-rate comics writer like, say, Grant Morrison, is so often lumbered with second-rate artists, remember that it happened to the most successful novelist of the nineteenth century, too.