Tag Archives | Comics

Google Shows Its Spirit

Someone at Google–maybe Sergey Brin, maybe Larry Page, maybe just whoever’s in charge of choosing “Google Doodles” is a cartoon fan*. We know because the company sometimes pays tribute to cartoons and cartoonists. And it’s currently demonstrating its laudable good taste by using a Google logo featuring Will Eisner’s Spirit, the most notable work of one of the greatest comic artists ever. The art celebrates the 94th anniversary of the birth of Eisner, who passed away in 2005, and is inspired by his famous splash pages.

With the US Postal Service having long ago debased itself by releasing too many cartoon-related stamps featuring too many subjects that aren’t all-time greats, Google doodledom may be the highest honor currently being paid to comic art’s greats. Well done, Google.

*Actually, come to think of it, this 2008 Wired article by Steve Levy says that Google search boss Udi Manber likes cartoons–New Yorker cartoons, to be precise. Maybe he’s responsible for the Spirit tribute. Then again, we haven’t (yet) seen Google doodles commemorating the work of Peter Arno, George Price , or Barney Tobey


Dave Gibbons Draws Digitally

I had a very good time over the past few days at San Diego Comic-Con International–an event I’ve been attending off and on since 1988. One of the highlights was meeting Dave Gibbons, the artist of Watchmen and other exceptional examples of comics storytelling. Gibbons was at the booth of Smith Micro Software, the publisher of an application called Manga Studio. He told me that he does almost all his cartooning digitally these days, using a Wacom Cintiq tablet.

I have mixed feelings about the notion that pencils, pens and brushes may be growing obsolete–hey, I collect good old fashioned original artwork–but Gibbons’ enthusiasm for digital tools, and the work he produces, makes me feel better about the whole idea.

Here’s a video clip of him drawing with Manga Studio and a Cintiq, and explaining why he does so:

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The T-Grid: Mickey Mouse vs. Spider-Man

It’s not the biggest media merger ever, but it may be the most intriguing one: The Walt Disney Company has agreed to buy Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. Which means that Mickey Mouse, Goofy, the Amazing Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Pinocchio, the X-Men, Gus and Jaq-Jaq, Kermit the Frog, Captain America, the Little Mermaid, Ghost Rider, Buzz Lightyear, the Dazzler, Dr. Strange, Hannah Montana, all 101 Dalmatians, and both Donald and Howard Duck will work for the same company.

I’m reporting on this here mainly because it seems like a safe bet that Disney is putting down its four bil in part because of the potential it sees for Marvel characters in digital form: in games, on the Web, via digital distribution of movies, on mobile devices, and more. But I’m also covering this because I felt like doing a T-Grid. After the jump, a quick comparison of two legendary characters who will surely meet before too much time has passed.

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Why Twitter Didn’t Conquer Comic-Con

Action Comics #1Contrary to current received wisdom, Twitter doesn’t change everything. At least it appears not to have changed the venerable San Diego pop culture extravaganza known as Comic-Con very much. Variety’s Marc Graser is reporting that the Hollwood moguls who thought the con would be all a-Twitter with discussion of the blockbusters previewed to audiences of thousands were disappointed by the volume of movie-related tweetage that actually happened. Unlike South by Southwest Interactive, Comic-Con remained a largely real-world event.

I’ve been attending the convention off and on for more than twenty years, including this year’s edition, and I’m not surprised that it didn’t turn out to be that much of a tweetfest. Here’s why:

Comic-Con isn’t necessarily rife with technogeeks. Movie and comics geeks, yes. But in three days of con, I was the only person I spotted using a laptop in any of the panels and previews. Actually, I saw only about three or four computers, period. It’s true that the overlap between fantasy fans and Web addicts is large, but perhaps even Web-savvy congoers weren’t in technonerd mode last week.

Comic-Con itself isn’t that tech-savvy an event. Thanks to sponsorship by iGoogle, it did offer free Wi-Fi this year, but that fact wasn’t widely promoted. (Last year, Wi-Fi was pricey, and in years past the rates were designed to gouge exhibitors.) As far as I know, the con doesn’t do things like offer an iPhone application or send out the sessions as an RSS or iCal feed. It’s just not an event that puts the Internet front and center.

Comic-Con is incredibly jam-packed with stuff to do. There are dozens of things going on at any given moment, and the pace is far faster than the laid-back SxSW atmosphere. If you attend every preview, panel, and party you find enticing, there’s no time left to tweet.

Comic-Con doesn’t involve breaks. The previews and panels run back-to-back, and if you’re going to one of the most crowded events–which includes all the major movie previews–you’re lucky if you get in at all. You can’t tweet while you’re rushing down a hallway from one end of the convention center to another.

Actually, standing in one place at Comic-Con long enough to tweet is hard, period. The show floor, in particular, is one of the most bustling places I’ve ever been–if you stop moving, you’re likely to be flattened by a squadron of Stormtroopers.

Tweeting at the movie previews is tricky. They’re held in darkened halls, and the illumination of your phone might tick off nearby fellow attendees. The previews are also accompanied by repeated stern warnings about the prohibition of phototaking and audio recording; I’m paranoid, but I tend to keep my phone in my pocket for fear of being mistaken for a pirate and getting dragged off by San Diego Convention Center security goons.

Comic-Con is a sensory experience. South by Southwest Interactive is mostly conversational. Comic-Con involves movies and comics and people dressed as Batgirl and Boris Badenov, plus the opportunity to meet folks such as Ray Bradbury and Stan Freberg–neither of who, I’m guessing, spend much time on Twitter. It’s possible to tweet about it (I did some of that myself) but less satisfying than being there.

Will Twitter have more of an impact at Comic-Con next year? Maybe so–I’m guessing that we still haven’t seen the service peak as a cultural phenomenon. But the convention, at its best, is a pretty wonderful event even sans Twitter. Hollywood may be disappointed, but the low-volume tweeting may simply have been evidence that those 120,000 congoers were having a really, really good time.


iGoogle Does Comics

I’m in San Diego for the massive pop-culture convention known as Comic-Con–along with roughly half the world’s population, judging from the crowds. And when I jumped online, I discovered that Google is here in spirit, too:

Google Comics Logo

On my display, at least, that art is a bit tough to make out, but those are four DC Comics heroes: Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Plastic Man. But the really cool part of Google’s comics celebration is that it’s come up with more than fifty iGoogle themes based on comics. The variety is spectacular: There’s Mutts, Peanuts, and Nancy; Superman, the Hulk, and Krazy Kat; Beat Girl; designs by Jaime Hernandez, Daniel Clowes, and Kim Deitch; and lots more. Including–inevitably–Ziggy.

At the moment, I’m enjoying E.C. Segar’s Popeye:

Popeye iGoogle Theme

Like other iGoogle themes, these ones auto-change depending on the time of day. Nicely done–but I hope Google decides that every day is comics day, and continues to add more. If there was a Pogo theme, I’d install it in a heartbeat…