Saturday, November 14, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Sunday Comix will be having an Opening Reception to celebrate its second Art Show at the Crimson Cup Coffee House [4541 North High Street] this Friday, October 2nd from 7pm until 9pm. The works of Jonathon Riddle, Bob Corby, Kira Keck, Matt Wyatt, Ray Tomczak, Michael Carroll and Max Ink will be on display.
Friday, September 25, 2009
According to the press release:
The project is estimated to cost $20.6 million and will be completed in 2013, at which time Sullivant Hall will house both the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum and The Ohio State University Department of Dance. “The Graves Foundation has made a critical investment to enhance the learning environment for students, faculty, and visitors from around the world,” said President E. Gordon Gee. “The revitalized Sullivant Hall will be a fitting home to two university treasures – the top-ranked Department of Dance and the world-renowned Cartoon Library and Museum. Naming the latter in Billy Ireland’s honor is a fitting tribute to a remarkable Ohioan.”
The Elizabeth Ireland Graves Foundation is managed by Billy Ireland’s granddaughter, Sayre Graves, and is based out of Bremo Bluff, Va.. The Columbus Dispatch hired Ireland, a native of Chillicothe, Ohio, shortly after his high school graduation in 1898. A self-taught cartoonist, he worked for the Dispatch until his death in 1935 (the above cartoon was illustrated in 1934) and was known both for his editorial cartoons and for his Sunday feature The Passing Show. An exhibition of Ireland’s work will be held at Ohio State in the fall 2010. “Billy Ireland was a Columbus celebrity during his lifetime,” according to Lucy Shelton Caswell, the cartoon library and museum’s founding curator. “He enjoyed a national reputation and his work is still delightful to read. This is a fitting honor for a great cartoonist. We look forward to sharing his work with a new generation of readers.” Established in 1977 with a founding gift of the Milton Caniff Collection, the Cartoon Library and Museum was housed in two converted classrooms in the Ohio State’s Journalism Building. Since then, Caswell has built it into a widely renowned collection that is a destination for both cartoon researchers and fans from around the world.
Thousands of donors have contributed to the collection, with gifts ranging from one item to tens of thousands. With the recent addition of the IMCA’s extensive permanent collection, the Cartoon Library and Museum now houses more than 400,000 works of original cartoon art, 35,000 books, 51,000 serial titles, 2,800 linear feet of manuscript materials, and 2.5 million comic strip clippings and newspaper pages.
Now the world’s largest collection of cartoon art and comics, the Cartoon Library and Museum is currently located in the basement of the Wexner Center for the Arts http://cartoons.osu.edu/. Its new, permanent home in Sullivant Hall will expand its space from its current 6,808 square feet to more than 40,000 gross square feet of space storage and exhibit space allowing more of the collection to be displayed and accessible to the public.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
If you're an artist/writer/publisher of indie comix, sign up for a table to exhibit your work (Tables are still $55 till February but fear not, it only goes up to $65 for full tables. Still a bargain compared to other indy shows)! If you're a reader/lover of comic books, be sure to clear your calendars on APRIL 24 & 25 to see all SPACE has to offer in 2010.
This show is purely a grassroots effort/ DIY show. So, anything you can do in your area to help promote this is a good thing. The show lives and dies by word of mouth so spread the word.
Map of My Heart celebrates the twentieth anniversary of John Porcellino’s seminal and influential comics zine, King-Cat Comics, which he started self-publishing in 1989 and which has been his predominant means of expression. In this collection, while Porcellino is living in isolation and experiencing the pain of divorce, he crafts melancholic, tender graphic ballad of heartbreak and reflection.
Known for his sad, quiet honesty rendered in his signature deceptively minimalist style, Porcellino has a command of graphic storytelling as sophisticated as the medium’s more visually intricate masters. Few other artists are able to so expertly contemplate the sadness, beauty, and wonder of life in so few lines.
Patrick Porter will accompany John with some fine acoustic music.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
The ToonSeum will be presenting Tom Richmond: the MAD Art of Caricature, from August 1 through October 4.
Tom Richmond is one of the most recognized and respected caricaturist in the world. A member of MAD Magazine’s Usual Gang of Idiots since 2000, His sharp pen has produced dead-on caricatures of pop culture icons, political figures, movie stars and even the president’s dog.
Tom’s style and technique carry on in the great tradition of MAD Magazine legends such as Mort Drucker and Jack Davis.
Tom’s work appears in publications, films, and comics worldwide. His company also provides caricature artists for some of the nations top theme parks. He recently completed a new book about President Obama’s dog due for release this fall.
The “MAD Art of Caricature” also gives a behind-the-pen-and-brush look at Richmond’s parodies of movies, including “Harry Plodder,” “Spider-Sham,” “Battyman Begins,” “30 Crock,” “Obama’s Inauguration” and many more.
“The ToonSeum is proud to take MAD out of the teacher’s trash can and put it on museum walls where it belongs,” says ToonSeum Executive Director Joe Wos. “Tom is truly a master of mockery, and we are delighted to present his work at the ToonSeum.”
Richmond will drop by the ToonSeum Aug. 1 and 2 for book signings, a demonstration and a special Master Caricature Class. More information is available at www.toonseum.org.
The exhibit runs from Aug. 1 through Oct. 4 at the ToonSeum, which is located inside the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh on the city’s historic North Side.
What: “Tom Richmond: The MAD Art of Caricature”
When: Aug. 1-Oct. 4
Where: ToonSeum at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh on the city’s historic North Side, 10 Children’s Way, Allegheny Square.
Cost: ToonSeum admission is included with paid admission to the Children’s Museum, which is $10 for children 2-18 and seniors; $11 for adults
Details: 412-325-1060 or www.toonseum.com
Friday, July 3, 2009
“When I figured out I wanted to do a dreamer/time-travel piece, I started looking into the Revolutionary War... I fell in love with the crazy guys who started the war. They were so idealistic, and actually believed that their ideas were right and had the power to change the world.”
Monday, June 29, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
I found this on the Wexner Center for the Arts WexBlog.
During the month of August, the Mahan Gallery will holding an exhibit, “This is a Comic Book,” which focuses on the art stylings of some of the most independent, individualistic and far-reaching comics being published (or self-published) today. The exhibit will be featuring artists such as Ron Rege Jr. (Los Angeles), Lauren Weinstein (Mass.), Anders Nilsen (Chicago), and Columbus’s own Phonzie Davis.
There will be an opening reception, Sat, August 1, 6-10pm (during the Gallery Hop, of course)
<-- image credit:
King Top: Bluetooth, 2009
17 x 23.5 inches, watercolor on paper
Thursday, June 18, 2009
In celebration of their 10th Anniversary, Detroit's comic shop supreme Green Brain Comics kicks off a summer full of events with the inaugural exhibition in their new art gallery space.
Entitled "The Best of the Green Brain Comic Jams" this exhibition features some of the most unique, humorous and downright baffling pieces of comic art created by a host of local and visiting cartoonists. These works have been culled from a huge library of collaborative works created over the last several years at monthly Comic Jams.
"We have been inviting local cartoonists to collaborate on comic jams on the second Wednesday of the month for years." says Dan Merritt, co-owner of Green Brain Comics "And we thought it would be great to open our gallery space by showing off some of the gems that were created right here by some of our good friends and talented cartoonists."
The opening reception runs from 7pm to 10pm on Saturday, June 20, 2009.
And just six days later, author James Danky will present a slideshow and be signing his book, Underground Classics on Friday June 26th from 5pm to 7pm. Mr. Danky is both co-author (along with Denis Kitchen) and co-curator (same) of the art exhibit Underground Classics: The Transformation of Comics Into Comix (running May 2 through July 12, 2009 at the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, WI).
Underground Classics provides the first serious survey of underground comix as art, turning the spotlight on these influential and largely underappreciated artists. Essays from the book’s co-writers and co-curators James Danky and Denis Kitchen, alongside essays by Paul Buhle, Patrick Rosenkranz, Jay Lynch, and Trina Robbins, offer a thorough reflection and appraisal of the underground movement. Over 125 original drawings, paintings, sculptures, and artifacts are featured, loaned from private collections and the artists themselves, making Underground Classics indispensable for the serious-minded comics fan and for the casual reader alike.
So, if you're in the neighborhood, visit Green Brain Comics at 13210 Michigan Avenue in East Downtown Dearborn and see what Jams they've got on the walls! More information can be found at www.greenbrain.biz or by calling 313-582-9444.
The Wild Goose Creative is hosting a weekend of Geek-related awesomeness. "Geekfest" runs from Thursday until Saturday at the Wild Goose Creative homebase (2491 Summit Street, Columbus.) There will be plays, movies, games, comic book readings and stand-up comedy.
Of particular note is on Thursday (that's TONIGHT!), the first act of Michael Neno's superhero play-in-progress, Octo's Helmet, will be performed along with three other geekishly-themed plays. Members of WGC will be bravely tackling the roles of Rabbit Lass, Metal Elbow, and other forlorn misfits from Mr. Neno's vast Universe of misfits.
Geekfest is open to any and all geeks - from movie buffs to comic fanatics, Whedonites to Tolkienites--you’ll find something to feed your obsession! Each event is a suggested donation of $5, but don’t let that stop you. Pay what you can, or just stop by to have some fun!
Want more information? Email Jessie.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
|When:||06.13.2009 | 17:00 - 19:00|
|Event Title:||You'll Never Know - Dad & Daughter Book Signing|
|Where:||Shake It Records - Cincinnati|
"You'll Never Know" Dad & Daughter Book Signing
And, as an added rare bonus, her father, 90 year old World War II veteran Chuck Tyler -- subject of the book -- will also be there to sign copies.
A Cincinnati Exclusive!!!!
You'll Never Know Book One: A Good and Decent Man is published by Fantagraphics of Seattle. It tells the story of the 50-something author's relationship with her World War II veteran father, and how his war experience shaped her childhood and affected her relationships in adulthood. "You'll Never Know" refers not only to the title of her parents' courtship song from that era, but also to the many challenges the author encountered in uncovering the difficult and painful truths about her Dad's service.
You'll Never Know makes full use of Tyler's virtuosity as a cartoonist: stunningly rendered in detailed inks and subtle watercolors, it plunges the reader headlong into the diverse locales: her father's wartime experiences and courtship, her own childhood and adolescence, and contemporary life.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Jean Schulz, the widow of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, issued a challenge: in addition to her initial gift of $1 million, she will provide an additional matching gift of $2.5 million if Ohio State raises the same amount from other sources.
"We are very grateful to Jean Schulz for her generous gift and for her challenge which will encourage everyone who cares about cartoon art to become involved in our project," said Lucy Shelton Caswell, Professor and Curator of the library. "The new Cartoon Library and Museum will be a place of learning and enjoyment for the public and scholars alike."
Located at a highly visible location along High Street and adjacent to the Wexner Center for the Arts, the historic Sullivant Hall is in dire need of repair. The planned renovation will provide 40,000 gross square feet of space for the new Cartoon Library and Museum that will include a spacious reading room for researchers, three museum-quality galleries, and expanded storage with state-of-the-art environmental and security controls. A dedicated ground-level entry will allow for easy access to the new facility. The addition of exhibition galleries dedicated to cartoon art will facilitate public display of the Library's extraordinary collection. Total renovation costs are estimated at $20.6 million.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009, 7:00-9:00 pm, 162 Hopkins Hall, 128 North Oval Mall
"A Whirlwind History of American Comics" by Dr. Jared Gardner, Dept. of English, followed by a gallery talk by Lucy Shelton Caswell, curator of From the Yellow Kid to Conan: American Cartoons from the International Museum of Cartoon Art. Free and open to the public.
Sunday, July 19, 2009, Free Family Programs
12:30-4:30 pm From the Yellow Kid to Conan: American Cartoons from the International Museum of Cartoon Art at the Hopkins Hall Gallery + Corridor,
1:00 pm The Secret of N.I.M.H. (1982), Wexner Center for the Arts Film/Video Theater
2:30-4:30 pm Special events at the Hopkins Hall Gallery + Corridor: enjoy lemonade and cookies, print a comic strip with Bob Tauber, Logan Elm Press and Book Arts Program, and make an authentic newspaper printer's hat
Co-Sponsors: The Ohio State University Cartoon Library & Museum, Wexner Center for the Arts, the Department of Art Hopkins Hall Gallery + Corridor, University Libraries, and Logan Elm Press and Book Arts Program
From Yellow Kid to Conan: American Cartoons from the International Museum of Cartoon Art Collection will be held at the Hopkins Hall Gallery + Corridor from June 28 – August 7, 2009.
Hogarth and Beyond: Global Cartoons from the International Museum of Cartoon Art Collection will be held at the Cartoon Library and Museum’s Reading Room gallery from June 10-August 31, 2009.
Exhibition Opening Reception and Special Events:
Saturday, June 27, 2009, 7:00 pm, Wexner Center for the Arts Film/Video Theater
- 101 Dalmations(1961) proceeded by animated shorts, the Brave Little Tailor (1938) and Leprechaun's Gold (1949). Introduction by animation historian Jerry Beck. Visit wexarts.org or call 614-292-3535 for tickets. $7 ($5 for members, students, and senior citizens).
Sunday, June 28, 2009, Grand Lounge, The Ohio State University Faculty Club, 181 South Oval Dr.
- 1:00 pm Milestones of the International Museum of Cartoon Art. Panel discussion with former trustees Brian Walker, Jerry Robinson, and Arnold Roth moderated by Dr. Jared Gardner, Dept. of English.
- 2:15 pm Keynote Speaker - Jim Borgman, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and co-creator of the comic strip Zits
- 3:30-5:00pm Exhibition opening reception at the Hopkins Hall Gallery + Corridor. Refreshments will be served.
For more information:
http://cartoons.osu.edu/?q=events http://www.wexarts.org/fv/index.php?eventid=3887 http://cartoons.osu.edu/?q=press/international-museum-cartoon-art
Monday, May 18, 2009
Dear SPACE Exhibitors
SPACE 2010 Update
SPACE 2010 will be April 24 and 25, 2010.
I just wanted you guys to be the first to know about the new venue for next year. We are moving to the
Ramada Plaza Hotel And Conference Center
4900 Sinclair Road
Columbus, OH 43229
It's right off I71 at the Morse Sinclair exit.
They have a restaurant, a bar and shuttle service to the airport. The room rate will be less than $80.00 per night.
I haven't finalized the layout yet but there appears to be room for about 140 tables which is about what we had at the Aladdin Shrine Complex and a panel room that's just across the hall from the exhibitors room. (I lost about 10 pounds at SPACE 2009 running from the front to the panel room a few times each hour.)
I don't have final numbers worked out but I think we will be holding the table prices (including the returning exhibitor early registration price) the same as last year.
Don't do anything yet. I will notify you for the early registration and particulars about the hotel rate.
Flyers at MOCCA:
MOCCA is about 2 weeks away. If anybody is planning on going and is willing to drop SPACE flyers off at the freebie tables please let me know.
SPACE Prize for Webcomics:
I'm adding a 3rd catagory for the 2009 SPACE Prize- Webcomics. The prize will consist of a plaque and $50.00 (enought to pay for your website for a month or two). If you were an exhibitor at SPACE 2009 and would like to enter your comic please send me the following info:
A few rules:
The comic (or portion under consideration) must have been posted on-line between March 3, 2008 and April 17, 2009.
We can't afford to pay a charge or a subscription fee to get to your comic. If that is the case some way to deal with that will be needed. The comic could be reviewed by up to 3 different people for judging.
More Webcomics Participation:
I've been trying to include webcomics into SPACE for sometime now and I know we have a healthy participation. The Webcomics Prize is a product of that effort. I'd appreciate it if anybody has some ideas on how to further incorporate it into SPACE to send them along. If anybody participated in the the New England Webcomics Weekend this year and has some info on how that worked I'd be interested. I will be contacting them directly to hopefully compare notes.
That's it for now.
Back Porch Comics / SPACE
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The Ohioana Festival takes place in Columbus, Ohio this week May 6-9, 2009
Here are the details of Jeff’s appearances:
Tomorrow, Wednesday May 6, kicks off with a WOSU Interview hosted by Fred Anderle with fellow authors Ann Hagedom, and Phil Brady from 11am-12pm. You can stream it live by clicking here.
Thursday May 7, 2009: Signing at Barnes and Noble Lennox Town Center from 6:30pm-7:30pm
Saturday May 9, 2009: Panel Discussion with fellow author Erin McCarthy at the Board Room of State Library of Ohio from 11:30am-12:15pm
A Conversation with Jeff Smith at State Library of Ohio from 2:00pm-2:45pm followed by a booksigning / meet & greet at 2:45pm-3:30pm
Friday, April 24, 2009
Jean Schulz, the widow of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, has given $1 million to the Ohio State University Cartoon Library & Museum to support the renovation of Sullivant Hall, the future home of the world’s most comprehensive academic research facility dedicated to documenting printed cartoon art. Jean has also promised another matching gift of $2.5 million if Ohio State raises an equal amount.
“We are very grateful to Jean Schulz for her generous gift, and for her challenge which will encourage everyone who cares about cartoon art to become involved in our project,” said founding curator Lucy Shelton Caswell. “The new Cartoon Museum and Library will be a place of learning and enjoyment for the public and scholars alike.”
Monday, April 20, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
From the SPACE PR machine (aka Bob Corby):
Nate Powell, who is an LA Times Book Prize finalist in the Young Adult fiction category (up against the likes of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman!) for his graphic novel, SWALLOW ME WHOLE will be at SPACE on Saturday and Sunday. SWALLOW ME WHOLE is the first graphic novel since 1992's MAUS to make the list! Find out more at http://www.topshelfcomix.com/ and http://seemybrotherdance.org/
Also just announced SWALLOW ME WHOLE has been nominated for three Will Eisner Awards: Best Graphic Album (New), Best Writer/Artist, and Best Lettering!
On Saturday, April 18, we will be presenting an exhibition of original pages from Carol Tyler’s soon to be released graphic novel “You’ll Never Know Book One: A Good and Decent Man”, published by Fantagraphics Books. The book is the first in a series regarding her father’s World War II experiences. There's additional information on the book and other projects of Carol’s at the University of Cincinnati website. Also, you can read this Publishers Weekly interview.
Jeff Stahler (”Moderately Confused” and editorial cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch), Steve Boreman (”Little Lost Dog”) and John Kovaleski ("Bo Nanas" and MAD Magazine UGOI) will be on a panel called “The Adventures of a Working Class Syndicated Comic Stripper” at 2:00 Saturday, April 18
Sunday , April 19, We will be presenting the Atomic Indy Artist Comix Show
An exhibition the Cartoon Art of Columbus’ Sunday Comix Group (That's us!).
Two full days of Panels, Programs and Exhibits are posted at http://www.backporchcomics.com/program.htm
Also there are 6 pages of Premiere Comics which will be available at SPACE at http://www.backporchcomics.com/premier_comics.htm
Check out who else is going to be there at the Exhibitor List http://www.backporchcomics.com/space.htm
And don’t forget:
Friday April 17, 2009 3:00-5:00 PM meet some of the SPACE exhibitors at
The Ohio State University Cartoon Library and Museum (formerly the Cartoon Research Library) Open House
Enjoy the Reading Room Gallery Exhibition, Light: A Forgotten 19th Century Humor Magazine, along with behind-the-scenes tours of the library stacks and a special display of treasures from our collection.
There will also be some special treasures out for viewing, including original Bone art by Jeff Smith, original Calvin and Hobbes art by Bill Watterson, and original art by P. Craig Russell.
SPACE Exhibitors will also be working on the annual jam panel.
The first 20 people in the door will receive a free single day pass to SPACE!
April 18 & 19, 2009
Saturday 10am-6pm Sunday 10am-5pm
Aladdin Shrine Complex
3850 Stelzer Rd. Columbus OH
Off I 270 near the Easton Town Center
Admission $5.00 per day and $8.00 per weekend.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Also: A Paul Pope video interview.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Time: 3:00 - 5:00 pm
Reading Room Gallery
27 West 17th Avenue Mall
Enjoy the Reading Room Gallery Exhibition, Light: A Forgotten 19th Century Humor Magazine, along with behind-the-scenes tours of the library stacks and a display of treasures from our collection, including original Bone art by Jeff Smith, original Calvin and Hobbes art by Bill Watterson, and original art by P. Craig Russell, acclaimed illustrator of Ring of the Nibelung, The Sandman, Hellboy, and Coraline.
This event is in conjunction with SPACE, Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo.
The first 20 people through the door will receive single day passes to SPACE!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
"...Back in New York Comic Con, in February, I had an idea for a new story, but I was kind of struggling with the ending. And then I saw this commission that Mike [Norton] did for somebody of Jeffry and Lora from The Waiting Place. And seeing Mike, today, drawing those characters just lit a fire under my butt to get the story going. So I finally came up with the whole story. I'm scripting it currently. And I'm really geeked to see Mike draw them with his ability now."
Monday, March 30, 2009
No website that I can find; just getting this off of the promo...
The Brush Experience presents Comic Me
featuring the artwork of Freestyle Komics and the sounds of the Liquid Crystal Project
@ Urban Spirit Gallery/Loft
893 East Long St
April 4, 2009
8PM - 12AM every first Saturday
18+ (for the mature and the progressively artistic)
$10 cover at the door
Have you ever wanted to be a superhero? Or imagined having a super power? Maybe be a character in your own comic book... Well now is your chance!!!
We at the Brush Experience are bringin' out our inner comic book hero on canvas!!!
Come out for a night of fun and action... you be the artist and the hero this night!!! We will be featuring local comic book artists Freestyle Komics!!! And the Liquid Crystal Project!!!
LIVE MUSIC, REFRESHMENTS, AND LIVE ART
The Brush Experience is a social experiment combining people and art to yield creative results. It's where everyone can be an artist (if only for one night) while indulging in food and drinks in an inviting and inventive environment. As the evening progresses joint artworks bloom and are shared for all artists to enjoy! Paint, socialize, chill as you create or watch masterpieces being made!
For more info email email@example.com
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wayne Alan Harold and P. Craig Russell
Night Music: The Art of P. Craig Russell
Book signing | 6 PM(Wayne Alan Harold, 2008)
Tue, May 12, 2009 | 7:00PM
Night Music provides an illuminating behind-the-scenes look at one of the most acclaimed and interesting comic book artists working today, P. Craig Russell.
Before the film, come by the Wexner Center Store where Russell will be signing copies of his work, including his graphic novel adaptation of Coraline, at 6 PM.
Born in Wellsville, Ohio, and now living in Kent, Russell quickly established himself as one of the most distinctive artists in the fantasy genre with early work on Doctor Strange for Marvel Comics in the mid 1970s. He has since created mesmerizing interpretations of characters ranging from Conan to Neil Gaiman's Sandman, along with a string of astonishing adaptations of operas (The Magic Flute and Salome among them) and of Gaiman's children's classic Coraline. (80 mins., video)
Wexner Center for the Arts
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Ken Mills and Jeff Smith
The Cartoonist: Jeff Smith, Bone, and the Changing Face of Comics
World Premiere(Ken Mills, 2009)
Fri, May 22, 2009 | 7:00PM
The Cartoonist is a portrait of Columbus-based cartoonist and Bone-creator Jeff Smith and his impact on the field during the past 20 years. The Wexner Center is pleased and proud to host the film's world premiere.
The film surveys Smith's career during the run of Bone and also captures the key moment when he shifted focus from completing his popular epic to beginning new projects, including Rasl. Shot during the run of Smith's Wexner Center exhibition Bone and Beyond in 2008, the film is filled with interviews with fellow cartoonists including Harvey Pekar, Terry Moore, Paul Pope, and Scott McCloud. (76 mins., video)
Wexner Center for the Arts
Friday, March 13, 2009
or... you can watch it right here!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
In Moore's telling, Nixon sent the super powered Dr. Manhattan in to Southeast Asia and won the Vietnam War, and kept Watergate to coming to light by having Woodward and Bernstein arrested. He then got the Constitution's term limits on the president repealed, allowing him to still be in office as Watchmen's story opens in 1985.
Watchmen is one of two comics published by DC in 1986—the other being The Dark Knight Returns-- that perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the 1980's, and while the name and face of the president of Watchmen's United States are Nixon's, the foreign policy that Moore is reacting to is Ronald Reagan's.
Therein lies my major problem with Moore's alternate history. Quite frankly, I cannot see Richard Nixon, a president who prided himself on his statesmanship and foreign policy expertise, allowing U.S.-Soviet relations to decay to the point, as is the case in Watchmen, where the bombs are just moments from flying, especially with Henry Kissinger at his side as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State. Under Reagan, however, this scenario was frighteningly plausible.
If Nixon is merely a stand in for Reagan, why not use Reagan? In the early stages of Watchmen's development, DC nixed the use of the characters from Charlton Comics defunct “Action Heroes” line of comics, which DC had recently acquired the rights to. Moore was forced to create new characters that roughly parallel the Charlton heroes. Dr. Manhattan stands in for Captain Atom, Nite Owl II is Blue Beetle, Rorschach is the Question and so forth. Did DC also put the kibosh on Reagan as president, perhaps afraid of portraying the sitting chief executive in a negative light? Well, I've never heard or read anyone else even speculating about this possibility, and DC's publication of The Dark Knight Returns that same year, which does depict Reagan and not flatteringly, seems to argue against it.
Having Nixon still in office in 1985 does serve to establish that Watchmen is set in an alternate universe. Of course, the presence of a blue, glowing, naked man who can see into the future is enough to do that.
I'll just say that I honestly have no idea why Nixon is still president, especially as it seems to serve no real purpose storywise.
Another thing that bugs me is the business of Dr. Manhattan winning the Vietnam War. If he could do that, why didn't LBJ send him in years earlier?
So, I've worked out an alternate alternate history for the world of Watchmen that makes a little more sense to me, and still makes the story's events of 1985 possible.
In 1968, after the Tet Offensive, with the war going badly and public opinion turning against him at home, president Lyndon Johnson reluctantly orders Dr. Manhattan to 'Nam to end the war. It is precisely this victory, perceived as a grossly unequal use of force and a display of American arrogance, that inflames the left wing of the Democratic party against him and drives Johnson to withdraw his name from consideration for his party's presidential nomination.
As in real life, Nixon defeats Democrat Hubert Horatio Humphrey and independent candidate George Wallace to become the 37th president of the United States. His dirty tricks never come to light and his opening of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China makes him quite a popular president. Despite Nixon's disdain for domestic affairs, Dr. Manhattan has made electric cars possible, so the US is not dependent on Arab oil, and other innovations and new industries made possible by the good doctor help to keep the economy on track. Nixon serves out his Constitutionally allotted two terms and is still quite popular when he leaves office.
With that popularity, you would think that his vice president would be a shoo-in to succeed him. However, while Watergate never blew up in Nixon's face in this reality, apparently the entirely separate scandal that drove Nixon's first veep, Spiro Agnew, from office did, and Jerry Ford replaced Agnew. I only recently learned that Ford made a promise to the Senate during his vice presidential confirmation hearings that he would not be a candidate for president in 1976. Of course, in our world, by the time '76 rolled around, circumstances had changed. Ford was now president, and he reasoned at the start of his truncated presidency that to announce he wasn't going to run in the next election would make him a lame duck from day one and even more politically ineffective than he ultimately proved to be. In my alternate alternate world of Watchmen, however, Ford, being an honorable man, honors his pledge and sits out the campaign. The public is still in the mood to elect a Republican, however, and former California governor Ronald Reagan's political star had been rising throughout the sixties. With no incumbent in the race, he sails to the nomination and easily defeats Jimmy Carter.
Reagan proves to be as popular with the American people as he was in real life, and his handling of the Iran hostage situation by sending in Doc Manhattan, ending the crisis in about six hours and restoring the Shah to power, makes him even more popular. At the beginning of his second term, it is Reagan who uses his immense popularity to ram through the necessary Constitutional changes to keep him in office as long as the American people will have him. Thus, we find him in 1985, as the story of Watchmen commences, at the beginning of his third term and engaged in a deadly game of nuclear brinkmanship with the Soviet Union.
I haven't seen the film yet, but from what I've heard, Moore's alternate history of the American comics industry did not make it into the movie. This aspect of Moore's alternate history seems a little better thought out , which is only natural, since he worked in the industry, but still doesn't quite ring true. In Moore's version of events, the emergence of real live costumed crime fighters nips the nascent superhero genre in the bud, as no one wants to read about fictional super heroes when they can read about real ones in the newspapers. Thus by the 1950's the dominant genre is pirate comics. As it serves the story, this does make sense, as it sets up the parallel story from the “Tales of the Black Freighter” reprint comic, which also was left out of the film. However, logically, it seems backwards. After all, the existence of real life cops and doctors and lawyers has never dulled the public appetite for books, television shows, movies, and even comics about them. Going to the moon didn't kill science fiction. In fact, it seems to me that the emergence of real super heroes would only increase demand for fictional accounts of super heroic adventure.
None of these petty quibbles detract from the brilliance of what Moore accomplished in Watchmen. After all, when people talk about what makes the book great, they speak of its intricate structure, its deconstruction of the super hero genre, and its realistic portrayal of its characters. The alternate history is merely background detail.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
art contest. Judging criteria include factors beyond the artwork such as compelling stories, unique characters, innovating storytelling technique, and humor.
This year’s judges, who also will present at the symposium, include Cleveland-area resident Terri Libenson, creator of the syndicated comic strip "The Pajama Diaries," and Californian Justin Thompson, creator of the Web comic "MythTickle" and illustrator for Charles Schulz's Creative Associates Studio.
Last year's prizes totaled more than $1,000 in gift certificates, art supplies and comics treasury collections. Plans also are in the works to feature the winning entries in a gallery show.
Comic strip, graphic-fiction authors of all drawing abilities can submit up to five entries. Advance electronic or mailed entries are $12 for initial submission and $8 for each additional entry. Entries submitted at the symposium are $15 each. The deadline for early entry is March 27.