More Nonsense: Violence Against Creators (and Characters)

Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat was abducted on Thursday by by a group of masked gunmen believed to be working for President Bashar al-Assad. He was beaten, his hands were broken, and then he was abandoned on the side of a road, his attackers saying that this was "just a warning." Ferzat is a critic of the present regime. His latest cartoon compares al-Assad to his Libyan counterpart, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

al-Assad and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi by Ali Ferzat

Tom Spurgeon has link roundup. He has his doubts over the authenticity of a self-portrait making the rounds on the Web. Given the severity of Ferzat's injuries, it would have been an impressive act of defiance. Needless to say, the countries that have come out in support of the "Arab Spring", and actively lent support to the rebellion that ousted Gaddafi, have condemned the attack.

Noah Berlatsky interviews Shaenon Garrity, Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, and J.R. Brown about the effect of the Borders liquidation on the manga industry.

Timothy Callahan has read the entirety of Cerebus.

Ah, Grant Morrrison. He plans to bring the sex back to Wonder Woman. I can certainly get behind that if he manages to execute it well. In a recent Rolling Stone interview, he criticizes everything from sexism in superhero comics, rape as an occurring phenomenon in Alan Moore stories, to Chris Ware's supposed "nihilism." While many praised Morrison's candidness, David Brothers isn't having any of it. He points out that Morrrison should look at his own work first, especially when making claims like "I managed to do thirty years in comics without any rape!". And he calls him out on his unwillingness to speak on behalf of creators' rights:
You know what Frank Miller did when he got a platform? He repped, and he repped hard. For Jack Kirby, for Bill Finger, for Steve Ditko, and for other creators who deserved to get their art back or to own their creations. For those who got screwed in the name of profit and cheap labor. Sin City letters pages are littered with shots fired at Marvel over how they treated Jack Kirby. The Big Fat Kill (#5, I think) was where I found out that Marvel screwed Kirby. He built a platform and then he used it for good. Is he perfect? Nah. Bill Finger’s name isn’t on DKSA, though it might have been shouted at as a street name or something. But he tried. He got an acknowledgement to Finger and Jerry Robinson into DKR. He didn’t hide behind mealy-mouthed corporate speak to justify two guys getting screwed so that he could write Action Comics with a clean conscience. Two guys who jumpstarted the genre that he loves so much, at that.
Dan Nadel and J. Caleb Mozzocco also chime in.

Speaking of Kirby, Tom Spurgeon and Paul Gravett celebrate his 94th birthday.

(As my small way of showing support for the Marvel boycott, I've suspended reviewing any new Kirby-related material coming from the company, for now.)

Kevin Melrose asks "Is Flashpoint DC’s deadliest (and bloodiest) event yet?" citing a post by Chris Eckert, which puts the death toll conservatively at 833 million. But it isn't that number that impresses (Crisis on Infinite Earths and The Infinity Gauntlet were statistically far worse), it's the outright sadism towards the characters that accumulate over the course of the event. His list of deaths is quite an eye opener for the variety of ways the characters meet their gruesome ends. This parade of gore and violence is so ludicrous it becomes tedious self-parody.

Blackest Night #1: Writer: Geoff Johns Pencils: Ivan Reis Inks: Oclair Albert Colors: Alex Sinclair.

The Big Two's reliance of universe-wide events to hold on to their shrinking readership is kind of like the movie industry's reliance of expensive tentpole movies to hold on to movie theater patrons. Following the storylines through several ongoing titles is prohibitive and costly, as is the weekend movie goer being made to regularly watch effects-laden mega-blockbusters in 3D. As with the movie studios, there's a general willingness to blame this decline on anything else, rather than admit to the possibility that the audience is shrinking because the final product they release usually sucks. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, co-publisher Dan Didio acknowledges the 52 relaunch is related to falling sales:
"The truth is people are leaving anyway, they’re just doing it quietly, and we have been papering it over with increased prices,” DiDio said. “We didn’t want to wake up one day and find we had a bunch of $20 books that 10,000 people are buying."
 Von Allan's tracks the rise of comic book prices with the minimum wage, and his conclusions don't bare any good news for DC outside of a temporary spike in sales.

Speaking of crossovers, Jess Evins traces their literary and mythological roots.

James Sturm tells us how hard it is to get a cartoon into the New Yorker.

Ah Jim Shooter. According to him, Marvel almost published DC in 1984.

Derik Badman makes a webcomic of the sky with his digital camera.

Johnny Ryan plays Chester Brown in Paying For It

I babble on about the Hooded Utilitarian best of comics poll.

Other News:

Astrophysicists have made the most realistic depiction yet of spiral galaxy formation. Supercomputers are fun!

Linux, Linux, Linux!

Steve Jobs gives and takes way.