Mark Waid says it best in the blurb he wrote for the book I most want this Christmas. Says the man from Boom! Studios: “I now have a new book for my ‘Five I’d Take to a Desert Island’ list. Gotham City 14 Miles is the perfect companion to my favorite pop-culture phenomenon of all time!”
In case you need an explanation, 14 miles is the distance from the Batcave underneath “stately Wayne Manor” to Gotham City in the 1960s Batman TV show starring Adam West and Burt Ward. Gotham City 14 Miles is the title of a forthcoming book of essays about that TV classic, edited by my pal Jim Beard.
Inside, Beard’s bunch offers up a thoughtful reevaluation of the 44-year-old show, one of the first big comic book successes on the small screen. The series had an impact not just on pop culture, but on the DC Comics Batman as well. According to Beard, “essays examine Batmania, camp, the role of women, the show’s participation in ‘60s counter-culture, its many celebrated actors, its lasting cultural effects, and other critical subjects.”
So did you hear the big news? Marvel’s moving to a new office building in Manhattan!
Not to be outdone, Warner Bros. decided to shake things up with a large scale corporate shift. This interview with Diane Nelson from Comic Book Resources actually sheds very little light on the nuts and bolts of it.
And the lack of real answers has caused Tom Spurgeon to raise some questions he’d like to see answered about the situation forward-going.
Naturally, and because I sometimes can’t keep my mouth shut, I have my own take on the matter.
So did you read that great interview Adi Tantimedh had with Alan Moore over yet at Bleeding Cool? I was going to write about it precisely because I disagreed with almost every comment on the site and then I discovered that a much better writer, Tom Spurgeon at the Comics Reporter, did a much better job of encapsulating my feelings. So my work here is done.
Remember all those comic book movies that people outside of comics don’t really know are based on comics because they don’t have capes and boots, like The Losers, Scott Pilgrim, Road To Perdition, etc. There’s a new one coming up next month called Tamara Drewe, based on the graphic novel by Posy Simmonds.
The trailer looks awesome and I get a Reuben, Reuben vibe from watching it. (Yes, that’s the world’s oldest reference point, but go look it up.) Tamara Drewe looks like a lot of fun and I hope it moves a few thousand copies of the graphic novel, which is also well worth reading. Here’s a nice article on the movie from the BBC.
Now let’s see what else is out there.
We visit the Monster Costume offices to get a look at their awesome new iPad app, Bartleby’s Book of Buttons Vol. 1: The Far Away Land. Aimed at children and parents, Bartleby is a new take on what a book can be when you have the power of the iPad and its multitouch screen at your disposal. Rather than focusing on pages, the book focuses on interaction with the story, character, and elements.
We also chat about the potential future of interactive books in general, and where Monster Costume sees that they can take their publishing platform in the future.
It’s easy to toss around the word “genius,” especially when it comes to comics. We all have our favorites and we all like to think ours are the great ones. But one look at Roy Crane’s work and anyone can see that he definitely was worthy of the “genius” tag.
Crane created two great adventure classics, Wash Tubbs (which later became Captain Easy) and Buz Sawyer, with Wash being called the first true newspaper adventure strip. He’s been dead for 30 plus years, but looking through his strip work, you can see his influence in comics from Milton Caniff to Alex Toth to Howard Chaykin. Even the modern strip, Rip Haywire by Dan Thompson shows a Crane influence as does Randy Reynaldo’s Rob Hanes.
And in a classic Comics Journal interview, Art Spiegelman calls Crane an influence on Jack Kirby.
Continuing my series on cartooning and cartoonists, Roy Crane wrote about himself and his work back in 1964. This is pulled from an oversized saddle-stitched magazine from Allied Publications with the creatively-challenged title These Top Cartoonists Tell How They Create America’s Favorite Comics. It featured an introduction by Beetle Bailey’s Mort Walker and was compiled by Allen Willette.
Here’s Crane on Crane:
So did you see Iron Man 2 yet? Did you, huh, did you? Two things amaze me about the Iron Man franchise. One is that Robert Downey, Jr. was born to play Tony Stark. There’s none of the brooding self-importance that comes with other super-hero movies - Iron Man is serious but it’s also fun. The other is that in the right hands - and there are hundreds of right hands on any movie - even a second or third tier super-hero property can be turned into a good movie. If Downey, Jr. was playing Hank Pym in the Ant-Man movie, I’d be there in a minute.
Now while you’re saving your money for the Iron Man 2 DVD, here are a few fun things to occupy your eyes and mouse.
Brian Hibbs: I know why people, myself included, like to talk to artists and writers because it’s all so cool, but I think more interviews could be conducted with retailers since they are the comic book business. Retailer Brian Hibbs is a very smart guy - I may not always agree with him but he carries a good argument with him and he knows his business. Tom Spurgeon at Comics Reporter gets to the heart of the matter with a lengthy but hugely worthwhile interview.
If you’re a fan of the 1960s Batman TV show starring Adam West and Burt Ward, then you already know what that phrase means. It’s the sign you see denoting the distance from the Batcave to Gotham City. Wayne Manor was way out in the 1960s suburbs! Gotham City 14 Miles is much more than that, however. It’s also the title of a new book edited by Jim Beard whose full title is Gotham City 14 Miles: 14 Essays On Why The 1960s Batman TV Series Matters. Essayists include Beard, comics historians Peter Sanderson and Robert Greenberger, and a host of people whose names are being revealed one at a time.
The book will be published by the Sequart Research & Literacy Organization a “non-profit devoted solely to the study and promotion of the artistic and literary medium alternately known as comics, comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, manga, sequential art, and sequart.”
Beard says Gotham City 14 Miles is the first book on the old Batman TV series in over 10 years, and I say it’s about time. The book will examine the 1966-68 TV series and “quantify its worth and weight in current pop culture. It also intends to shoot down many of the cliches, falsehoods and outright misinformation about the show and illuminate its strengths and, yes, its weaknesses.”
My buddy Shaun McLaughlin was a producer at Warner Bros. and responsible for some of their best Bruce Timm-related toons like Batman Beyond, Static, and various incarnations of Justice League. It adds up to over 400 episodes of prime animated entertainment, so he knows how to make something with mass market appeal.
He’s moved on to freelancing, pushing several projects through the development wormhole, including both an animated feature (with Omens Studios) and a live-action one. But when you’re in development, you get a lot of down time while you wait for people to make decisions, give notes, and update their social networks.
You could watch a lot of TV or surf the web or blog about your cat, but Shaun’s put his thumb-twiddling time to good use and come up with a nifty little project with his biz partner Gabriel Benson: Cheapjack Shakespeare.
I met Jules Feiffer once at a party some years ago. He seemed uncomfortable (long before meeting me, thank goodness), but friendly and talkative, if that makes any sense. I can’t say we really had a conversation or that he’d remember I was even there - the best I could do was to mumble out that I was a big fan. I read his work in The Village Voice for a number of years when I used to commute into Manhattan, his book The Great Comic Book Heroes was one of my early Rosetta Stones for comics and I’ve probably seen his animated short Munro as many times as I’ve seen What’s Opera, Doc?
Continuing my series on cartooning and cartoonists, Jules Feiffer wrote about himself and his work back in 1964. This is pulled from an oversized saddle-stitched magazine from Allied Publications with the creatively-challenged title These Top Cartoonists Tell How They Create America’s Favorite Comics. It featured an introduction by Beetle Bailey’s Mort Walker and was compiled by Allen Willette.
Here’s Feiffer on Feiffer:
The comic book industry is like a city with a lot of restaurants. If you want to find something good, you need a recommendation. That’s how I discovered the most-excellent work of the twin brothers Brendon and Brian Fraim.
My friend J.C. Vaughn is not just the Executive Editor and Associate Publisher of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, he’s also a comic book writer. He pointed me in their direction because J.C., Brendon and Brian collaborated on the serialized adventure/mystery strip, Antiques, for The Antique Trader newspaper.
Their new project, Vampire, PA is debuting from Moonstone in June. J.C. wrote it, Brendon and Brian illustrated it and Mark Wheatley is coloring it. There’s a great 8-page preview of the first issue over at Vaughn’s website, Well-Defined Productions.
© Gear Live Inc. – User-posted content, unless source is quoted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Public Domain License. Gear Live graphics, logos, designs, page headers, button icons, videos, articles, blogs, forums, scripts and other service names are the trademarks of Gear Live Inc.