Friday, June 30, 2006

The Beat is moving

Heidi MacDonald is moving her fun news blog about comics culture to the website of her current corporate masters at Publisher's Weekly. Since she has been working for PW for awhile and co-edits their weekly e-magazine about comics, the move makes a lot of sense and eliminates the need to constantly remind her audience who her employer is when reporting on PW stories or Reed Exhibits events (like the New York Comic Con). It's also a good move on the part of PW --they get an established, well-liked property with a huge backlog of posts and enormous community goodwill (not to mention one of the most experienced women journalists in the comics world --and one with a variety of interests beyond the myopic realm of superheroes and kids comics). Congrats to Heidi and here's to many more years of the Beat!

MILE HIGH COMICS presents THE BEAT at The Beat is moving

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Superboy 1940

Surprising bit of arcana concerning the early days of Superman that may be of interest especially to people curious about the ongoing litigation involving the Siegel family and the ownership of Superboy. It seems that the name "Superboy" was being used by the owners and promoters of Superman as early as 1940, when a Superman Day was held at the New York World's Fair. Long-time fans and collectors may know that a special World's Fair comic book featuring Superman was published, but many may not know that a Superboy and Supergirl, selected from real live boys and girls, were crowned on July 4, 1940.

Recently, the website Superman Through the Ages was contacted by Bill Aronis, who states in a letter that he was selected as "superboy" for a day by a panel consisting of Charles Atlas and other celebrities as part of a promotion for Superman comics. 15 at the time, Aronis responded to an ad on the back of a Superman comic and was chosen from among hundred of other applicants. He received a trophy and a tour of the National offices and met some of the creative talent behind the comic book.

The use of the name Superboy for this event predates Superboy's actual comic book debut in More Fun Comics #101 by 5 years. The use of the name Supergirl (won by Maureen Reynolds) predates the appearance of the comic book Supergirl by 18 years (the so-called "Magic Totem Super-Girl" from a story in Superman #123 or by 9 years (the so-called "Lucy Regent Supergirl Story" in Superboy #5 published in 1949), depending on which history you subscribe to.

Recently, the heirs of writer Jerry Siegel, who created Superman with cartoonist Joe Shuster, succeeded in winning co-copyright of the character Superboy. The Siegels argue that the concept and name of Superboy, and the idea for stories of a teenaged Superman, were invented by Siegel before he entered the army in 1943 (Siegel submitted Superboy concepts to National/Detective beginning in 1938, shortly after Action Comics #1 was published).

Read the full story here:

1940 New York Times Superman Day Article

photo above: the first Superboy?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Wonder Woman: Lesbian or Dyke?

A recent essay by Trina Robbins is now online. Trina discusses the lesbian overtones in the classic Wonder Woman titles and, as her title suggests, comes down on the "The inhabitants of Paradise Island were lesbians" side of the equation. Robbins reviews the reception of the WW comics based on a sampling of old letters page comments and finds a few choice quotes from WW's writer on the topic of his goals in creating the heroine. Always a fascinating topic, more so lately in light of the increasing attention to issues of superhero sexuality in the mainstream media.

Robbins doesn't really go into the flipside of her question (a topic popular not only with Wertham but also with contemporary readers like Chester Brown): "What is it that male readers find so stimulating about Wonder Woman's adventures?"

Wonder Woman: Lesbian or Dyke?

Above: Trina Paper Dolls and a panel from a Wonder Woman homage by Chester Brown

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

That's What You Think!

Thought Frequential was a dead blog?

That's what you think! And the Legion of Doom echoes that sentiment:

To celebrate the return of this infrequent weblog about comics, Frequential links to the latest potential viral website honouring the greatest tv show ever.

Superfriends was my favourite tv show for about 4 years when I was a kid, and here's why.

Comics Comics

Wow, Dan Nadel and Timothy Hodler have a blog and are putting out a FREE magazine about comics that should bring the artcrit and design sensibility seen in the Ganzfeld to an exclusively comics environ. Nadel seems to have a very unique (to comics criticism, anyway) take on art and his editorial style (basically: "this ugly drawing is comics --deal with it") is refreshing.

The blog is mostly a way to hype publishing efforts like PictureBox, Lime Publishing, and Nadel's Art Out of Time, but also has reviews (like a feature on Carl Barks) and excerpts from the new Comics Comics mag.

Hodler's essay on Barks has some interesting points. He argues that "His sense of space is outstanding" and that "this isn't complicated, theoretical stuff that needs a lot of explication to understand, anyway. In some ways, Barks' place in comics is similar to Robert Louis Stevenson's in English literature. They're both so masterful that sometimes they're taken for granted, their contributions to our culture overlooked or dismissed as children's stories."

I like those old Barks comics as well, but find it hard sometimes to get past the weirdness of the Disney brand (not to mention the weirdness of the animal conceit that the Air Pirates and Mad's "Mickey Rodent" had such fun with). Barks did manage some interesting social satire and his storytelling and dialogue are very sharp, but Robert Louis Stevenson? Maybe it's just because one of my old perfessors was an editor of the Complete RLS, but I don't see the complexity of plot or theme in the decidedly adult work of Stevenson mirrored in Barks. Now when we compare Stevenson's drawing to Barks...

Comics Comics