Oil Spill Comics

Many comics are doing strips about the oil spill in the gulf. This week Sherman's Lagoon jumped in - I'm very interested to see where Jim Toomey will take things as I assume all the strips will be from the point of view of ocean dwelling creatures.

Edison will be doing oil spill strips as well but from a slightly different angle. Tune in starting July 5th to see how John decided to handle it.

Edison Website Updates

We love the look of the Edison website, (I am especially fond of the bright colors and how they look on my ipad) but it has long been overdue for some updates. So watch out over the next week or two for some changes.

The first - which has just happened while I was typing this - is on the samples page which is currently called "The Edison Files". The previous crop of samples were from the first 6 months of the strip and were incredibly outdated.

Putting new samples up has been a goal for over a year but between one thing (we are incapable of making any changes to our own site and must count on other people to do it) and another (we only this week finally got around to actually picking out new ones) it just didn't get done.

I want to take a minute and address that first issue. John and I are programming and code idiots. And our brains are middle aged (and stretched too thin) - which means it doesn't look as though programming is a skill set we are going to master any time soon. So we have had to depend on the programming skills of others. Until now those other people have either been A) Too busy, B) Unable to handle the code either - this from someone who actually makes their living setting up websites - go figure - or C) Expensive. And this brings me to something I never see addressed in the whole print vs. web debate that springs up over on The Daily Cartoonist.

I never see anyone talking about how much you need to know about programming and the internet to get a successful webcomic going. You need to know a lot. And you often need a lot of time to learn it all. And if you are already working another job while you try to get your comic off the ground, that time is really hard to come by. And if you are not twenty something and get all this stuff intuitively, you are going to not only need to find time, but money for a class. Or else you need to pay someone else to do everything for you. Which is going to be tough if you're just starting out and have no start up capital.

So what we finally did was get our 19 year old genius son to do it :-)

So enjoy the new samples - the dailies are now in full color in addition to the Sundays.

I'll update other changes as they happen.

Piers Baker on Tall Tale Radio

This week Tom Racine interviews Piers Baker, creator of the wonderful strip Ollie and Quentin.

Pop over there and check it out!

And while you're at it, be sure to read Piers blog - I love the Sunday Hyperlinks he just posted :-)


Congratulations to Tony - he made it! You can read more here.

Thanks to all of you who pledged, I 'm really looking forward to my first issue!

John and I just finished donating to a terrific project called Coffee Talk. Started by cartoonist Tony Murphy (It's All About You), it will be a newspaper composed completely of comics and will be available in coffee houses. You can read all about the project and make a donation here.

It looks as though Tony will be offering some great comics including Norm Feuti's Mr. Zimby. I love the retro look of this comic and am happy that it might be getting a chance to appear in print.

Best of luck Tony!

Everybody go donate - it's super easy, since it's through Amazon you can use a major credit card, and you can donate as little as a dollar or as much as a thousand dollars (I'm sure Tony would love you for that) and the money is only charged to your account after full funding of the project is confirmed. If he doesn't make it, there is no risk to you that you'll lose your money.

There are only 6 days left and over $2500 to go! So hurry!

UPDATE: It's going well but there are only 61 hours to go and the goal is still $2000 short - if you haven't pledged yet, please hop over there and help make it happen.

Tall Tale Radio Interview - Reubens aftermath

Tom Racine of Tall Tale Radio very nicely asked us to do another interview which is now up here.

I would ask that before you listen to this interview you would take into account that we were a tad sleep deprived and also recovering from the New Jersey Revelry - the older one gets the longer the recovery process takes :-)

I say this because, as I listened to it this morning I realized that, A) I seem to have felt the need to talk very loudly this time, B) I interrupted Tom at least 3 times - maybe more and C) I blathered.

Part of this I put down to Tom's ability to put you so at ease that you feel as if you are just shooting the breeze over drinks with a friend. Which is why I sound like I'm at a bar :-)

Regardless, thank you so much, Tom for all your support of Edison - we really appreciate it.

Ironman 2

We interrupt the Reubens wrap up posts (parts 3 and 4 still to come) to bring you this review of Ironman 2. (Warning - this post is long and contains spoilers.)

Now I know the movie has been out for a month already and I am coming very late to this party, but we just couldn't get out and see it until last night. Largely because of all the preparations for the Reubens. (Getting a week's worth of strips produced and shipped off 4 days early is no mean feat.) But better late than never.

Let me start by saying that Ironman is a character I knew absolutely nothing about before I went to see these movies. My comic book reading as a child was sporadic at best. There were no comic book shops anywhere near my house so I was left with three sources of comic book reading material.

1) The barbershop where my father got his hair cut. (This was where I discovered the big crush of my 7 year old life -Thor. Actually, I think I still have a crush on him - sorry John.)
2) The dentist's office - all the normal little girls were reading Little Lulu and Richie Rich - I went straight for the Fantastic Four.
3) My dad's anthology books. From Marvel there was "Bring on the Bad Guys" and "Origins of Marvel Comics" both by Stan Lee. And then two giant hardcover compilations "Superman from the 30's to the 70's" and "Batman from the 30's to the 70's". My dad was one of those poor guys whose mother threw out all his original Superman and Batman comics when he went into the navy.

Despite my spotty exposure to great comic books, I have always adored the sheer abundance of color and energy jumping off those pages. Fans of Edison who pay particular attention will notice that I color Edison less like a traditional newspaper strip and more like a comic book - the bolder the better. I know purists hate this but John's drawing can support it and it's one of the things that makes the job fun for me.

So when I go to see a movie based on a comic book, I am looking for a few things, dazzling, graphic color and a cinematic approach that evokes the layout of the comic book page. I want to feel as though I am looking at a comic book with all those crazy camera angles and exaggerated close ups. And, most of all, I want to be transported into the reality of that comic book's world without ever feeling that it's contrived.

On this level, the two properties that have succeeded best at this for me have been the Spiderman and Ironman films. Their very comic-ness just jumps out at me and draws me in.

I now have to publicly admit something that is going to make me very unpopular in some circles. I hated "The Dark Knight".

Absolutely hated it.

I cannot even find words to describe to you how much I hated it. I loved "Batman Begins" and was really looking forward to this movie - maybe that's one reason I hated the sequel so much, I set the bar impossibly high. But I don't think so. I think the main reason I hated it was that it felt nothing like a comic book. The first movie went to a lot of trouble to create its own universe and the second movie felt like a run of the mill thriller/action flick - the sets looked pretty much just like downtown Chicago, for one thing. And, while I know it is sacrilegious to say this, I was completely unimpressed by Heath Ledger as the Joker. For me he just played a run of the mill psychopath, not a comic book villain.

So I was pretty worried about the same thing happening this time. I completely loved the first Ironman movie and was steeling myself for a letdown.


Loved it. Absolutely loved it from start to finish. I suspected I would because I am a big fan of director John Favreau. I knew he had a great handle on humor when I saw "Elf" and, for me, the injection of the right kind of humor into an action movie makes all the difference between an engaging film I'll want to see more than once and just another "blow things up", "smash some cars" tour de force.

So, with my love for injected humor in mind I'm going to give you some of my thoughts as I watched the film and also a couple of my favorite moments.

First of all - did anyone else notice the "mouth props"? Mickey Rourke always has this toothpick in his mouth and Sam Rockwell at least once has a lollipop. Is this because no one can smoke in the movies anymore - even the bad guys?

And, is it just me, or is there a subtext comparison with Apple (Stark- elegant and sleek) and Microsoft (Hammer - clunky and overengineered) - especially that little non-functioning super bomb?

I liked Howard Stark's expo as a sort of "Uncle Walt the Evil Physicist Genius" with his Epcot Gone Wild.

And I liked Howard's approach to the future - discover a new element and then disguise it as a theme park.

Oh, and be sure to put in a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" moment when Tony discovers the big secret using a giant map model.

There was the nod to the Tyson/Holyfield fight when Favreau bites the guard on the ear.

And I think my absolute favorite moment - when Tony puts the little block into the kinetic sculpture so it will stop moving.

I loved Scarlett Johansson - especially when she was wearing her secret agent ninja suit - she is one of the only women ever to successfully look like a real comic book girl character come to life. Another was Michelle Pfeiffer as catwoman all those years ago.

Both Rourke and Rockwell were terrifically evil, always hitting just the right tone. Exactly what I've come to expect from both of them as stellar actors. (But those fingernails - ick! I've heard someone speculate that his nails really look like that and they didn't need any make-up. I hope not.)

I liked Terrence Howard OK in the first movie but did feel he was a weak link in the overall cast - I like Don Cheadle better.

Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson - I'm a sucker for deadpan delivery - love this guy. And the Captain America shield.

Gwyneth Paltrow - love her and Samuel Jackson also. Another favorite moment from the film "Sir, I'm gonna have to ask you to exit the donut".

Finally, Robert Downey Jr. I want to hate this guy. I really do. He has a bad history as a drug abuser and, by all accounts, a colossal jerk. But I can't. Because, first of all - he did his time, seems to have repented and stayed clean. I haven't heard any horrible stories of erratic behavior for a long time. And secondly, he's so damn good. I've never seen him give a bad performance. From the first time I saw him as Charlie Chaplin in 1992 to now. Even his little gem of a performance in Bowfinger. I have no idea where the recent Sherlock Holmes movie falls on the radar of Holmes fans but Downey is just flat out excellent in that film. He has a quality in common with Owen Wilson and Alan Rickman - they are guys who steal every scene they are in. You just can't take your eyes off them.

I have to stop - there were so many great moments, I can't even remember them all. I think I need to see it again this weekend :-)

I know this is longer than one of my usual posts, so tl;dr Iron Man 2 was a great movie - g0 see it.

Reubens on the Hudson pt 2

More pics from the weekend:

Mell Lazarus at the podium during the awards ceremony. The Big Giant Head you see on stage is some poor guy (I never found out who) who had to wear this costume (for about 2 hours) as one of the characters of Tom Gammil's "The Doozies". If you've never seen Tom's hilarious videos, check them out here.

The legendary George Booth at the podium. This is the one person I totally geeked out about meeting - more on Mr. Booth in a separate post.

Dave Blazek and Mark Parisi offer their gentle commentary on John's loss in the newspaper comic strip division.

The legendary Joe Kubert and Bill Janocha

One great thing that happens at the Reubens is that a number of people bring sketchbooks and request drawings from their fellow cartoonists. There are also some folks (myself included) who have books and things that they would just like to have signed.

Frank Pauer had the foresight to bring Brian Walker's book on the history of comics which he has now had signed by a darned good number of the cartoonists featured in it. (Sadly I did not take a photo of said book) I brought a bunch of old "Cartoonist Profiles" with me this year and had the good fortune to have an issue that featured "KAZ" - Larry Katzman. Larry was one of the presenters this year (it was a thoroughly enjoyable presentation on some of the history of the NCS) and he graciously not only signed my mag but drew a little cartoon as well.

Here is John drawing Edison for Chris Janocha, son of Bill Janocha who works on Beetle Baily.

And here he is drawing for Loose Parts' Dave Blazek. As a special bonus, Dave serenaded John with some rockin' piano music during the process :-)

The finished drawing.

Part 3 still to come.......

Reubens on the Hudson pt 1

Well we're back!

In the interest of timeliness I will be posting about the weekend in stages as I get organized.

I'm going to start with the posed cocktail type shots because there are a boatload of those and I want to get them out of the way :-)

You will notice that most of these fall into the "John standing next to someone famous" category. This is because of all the cocktail parties that happen at the Reubens - I think I counted about 12. Well..... maybe only 5 but, still - it's a weekend with a lot of standing around drinking and talking.

And for me that usually includes high heels. I added it up and I spent total of 18 1/2 hours standing with a drink in my hand. That includes the marathon session on Saturday - about 2 hours before the awards ceremony and 5 1/2 hours after that. (This would be because all the hobnobbing carries on until 2-4 a.m. each night). Needless to say, my knees and feet are still recovering. (Would totally do it all over again, though!)

Here goes:

John with Lynn Johnston - I need to put a little explanation by this one: when John got his development deal with King Features, I contacted Ms. Johnston for guidance. She not only called John, but spent about an hour giving him some very important advice and also the name of Stu Rees, Intellectual Property Lawyer Extraordinaire. John knew at the time that this was a generous act on the part of Ms. Johnston, but now that he is in the trenches of producing a daily strip he really understands how hard an hour of non strip time is to come by. Thanks again to Lynn so much!

With Tom Richmond, winner of this year's NCS award for Best Newspaper Illustration

With Tom Stemmle

With Rocky Shepard - President of King Features

With Chad Frye - note how I have cleverly positioned them so that John appears to be wearing an illuminated mortar board.

With Bob Rich - nominee for Best Newspaper Illustration

With Frank Pauer - Editor of "The Cartoonist"

With Anne Gibbons

With Dan Thompson, Dave Blazek - nominee for Best Newspaper Panel Cartoon, and Bucky Jones

Sam Viviano (Vivainio), Frank Caruso, and Patrick McDonnell - another note - if you have not seen this video on how to get your work into Mad Magazine you must watch it right now!

Rocky Shepard and Rina Piccolo

Linda Houden and Amy Lago

With Norm Feuti - apologies John - I think I ran your hair through a blender before I took this one :-)

With Mark Parisi

With Caroline Roth

With Rina Piccolo

More pics on John's blog here and more to follow tomorrow!