Active Weekend LinkBlogging: Review Ethics, New Roles for Old Friends, More

Ragnell and Kalinara are back with Dispatches From the Fridge, a blog collecting links about women in (mostly) superhero comics. As they say, “We’ve no intention of replacing When Fangirls Attack. We consider ourselves a weekend supplement, perfect for slow Sunday afternoons.” That’s a nice, achievable aim, without risking burnout. When Fangirls Attack, their original linkblog, now with new owners, has been on hiatus, although the latest message, dated mid-November, says WFA intends to return before the end of the year. You’ve got three weeks, gals!

Update: Hey, Fangirls Attack is back! There are an astounding number of links to catch up on, too.

Along those lines, I don’t agree with this rant against Trina Robbins’ book From Girls to Grrrlz, but I admire her passion. If I may oversimplify her very lengthy post, the main objection seems to be that Trina prefers to recommend comics other than superheroes for girls, and the poster feels insulted and left out as a result because she likes superhero comics.

Speaking of moving away from superheroes, congratulations to Alex Segura on his new position as Executive Director of Publicity and Marketing for Archie Comics. He’s an excellent choice for any comic company, let alone one that’s moving rapidly into the modern era and trying new things they need to get the word out about.

This tongue-in-cheek legal analysis of treating superheroes as property is a tad too silly for my taste, but it’s written by a couple of lawyers who are willing to tackle a bunch of similar topics, so you may want to browse around their blog. This webcomic strip and the two following tackle the same topic, with overtones of the much-loved-by-me 70s take on “Dial H for Hero”, where fans could send in character ideas.

Alex Toth books

IDW has revamped their planned Alex Toth book into a three-volume set because of the scope of material involved. Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth is now due in March 2011 as the first volume. According to co-writer Dean Mullaney, “the book has been compiled with complete access to the family archives, and with the full cooperation of Toth’s children.” Continuing the description,

The second book in the series, Genius, Illustrated, picks up the story as Toth becomes one of the leading character designers in television animation; continues through his renewed career in comics with Warren, DC, and his creator-owned properties of the 1970s and beyond; and includes an examination of the artist’s poignant final years.

The third book, Genius, Animated, is a wide-ranging art book reproducing hundreds of Toth’s model sheets and storyboards for such successful cartoons as Space Ghost and Dino Boy, Jonny Quest, Space Angel, Super Friends, The Fantastic Four, Hot Wheels, Thundarr, and Shazzan…and also includes many full-color presentation pieces designed to sell new series to the networks.

Unfortunately, the book has already achieved some notoriety. Genius, Isolated was originally due in October. It seems that someone put it on their press list as due at that time, and the result was a faked review (now removed, see note at end) posted at the AV Club. One of the comic contributors wrote about the book as though they’d seen it, although of course they hadn’t. The result was their firing and a public apology from the editor after the fraud was pointed out by another blog.

Now, I’ve written better and worse reviews here, and it’s relatively easy — if you don’t have much of an opinion about a particular book or want to slide around it — to put out lots of factual descriptions and plot/content description in lieu of actually evaluating a work. And yes, it’s easy to jog your memory about what the publisher thinks are the high points of a work by referring back to the press materials, and maybe under a tight timeline it’s understandable to not read the entire book and skim instead. (Not a good idea, not good craft or responsible, but understandable.) But to write about something without ever having seen the object or its interior page images (in the case of an electronic copy)? That’s just a lie. I can’t conceive of why someone would bother doing that.

Then again, I also wonder why the editor wouldn’t be double-checking an updated release list or asking for coverage of books s/he’d been sent or seen.

Update: Chris Sims uses the incident for some humor, as is his wont, coming up with some amusing fake reviews of other books not yet released.


10 Responses to “Active Weekend LinkBlogging: Review Ethics, New Roles for Old Friends, More”

  1. Thad Says:

    Hadn’t realized until now that Leonard Pierce was the AV Club reviewer who got canned. Bizarre; in my observation he’s been pretty thorough and insightful and generally appeared to have actually seen the things he was reviewing. Wonder what went through his head.

  2. Johanna Says:

    That’s the part I’m curious about. Why would someone do that? Was it a cry for help, to get all psychological?

  3. Grant Says:

    Re: “the main objection seems to be that Trina prefers to recommend comics other than superheroes for girls, and the poster feels insulted and left out as a result because she likes superhero comics.”

    It’s kind of a ramble so it’s hard to know what the main point is. She seems to be saying that Robbins is making the historically false point that there weren’t any female friendly superhero comics to choose from during the war and post war era. If Robbins is coming at this from a generational perspective, then if you’re growing up in the 50s looking for girl superheroes, yeah, there isn’t much as pretty much all superhero titles were dead during that period. Although, as the rant correctly points out, there were a lot during the 40s.

    I think its also a given that, generally speaking, women don’t flock to superhero titles like guys. On the other hand, I see (and hear from comic shop owner pals) that women are buying more superhero titles now than ever before. And sometimes the gulf between the sexes with regards to taste isn’t always so wide. For example, my retailer friend in Calif tells me that the main buyers for Tarot, Grimm Fairy Tales and Lady Death are women (based on walk in buyers and subscriptions). So even women can have crappy taste in comics, not just guys. I find that heartening in a way. They aren’t all buying manga and Jane Austen comic book adaptations.

    I think where the rant goes off track is that it implies that Robbins is talking in absolutes, and I doubt that’s the case having read some of her stuff (although I’m sure there was plenty of condescension by Robbins towards the superhero genre and no doubt the ranter is most likely reacting more to that than anything else).

    All that said, I did like the cover comparisons thing. The comments about the Love and Rockets cover and the Miss America thing were pretty funny.

  4. Tommy Raiko Says:

    “…with overtones of the much-loved-by-me 70s take on “Dial H for Hero”, where fans could send in character ideas.”

    If I can be forgiven some nitpickery on behalf of comics history, the “Dial H for Hero” feature that let fans submit their character ideas was from the 1980s, not the 70s.

  5. Johanna Says:

    You’re right! I remembered Adventure #479, but I was putting it in 1979 instead of the correct 1981. Thank you!

    Grant, you point out that any generalization starts falling down when you look at specific examples. That’s important to remember, but there is sometimes some use to statements that begin “in general…”

  6. Grant Says:

    I think it’s possible to talk generalities and specifics without the two being mutually exclusive or without some merit. I don’t believe I implied otherwise in my comment.

    I think when it comes to the question of what genre of comics women prefer to read you can talk specifics with regards to the high percentage of women that read manga. But since no one has any hard data with regards to what else they read beside manga you almost have to talk generalities and anecdotally. With regards to what comics women were reading in the 40s and 50s (particularly with regards to superhero themed books) even more so.

    I’m always curious as to why there hasn’t been a serious, large scale poll done to find out what the female comic readers are reading. Particularly now that there are more women reading comics, more women in the industry and with all the women bloggers out there. Whenever the subject of what comics women are reading comes up there is literally no hard data to refer to and every conversation begins with “generally”. I’d think someone would want the answer to that besides me. ;)

  7. Johanna Says:

    I don’t think there’s any incentive for someone with money to do that kind of poll, and those who want the figures don’t have the money. Those kinds of surveys are usually done to demonstrate support for a new product — and if no one’s interested in launching other kinds of comics for women, then why gather figures to show whether it would succeed?

  8. Hsifeng Says:

    Johanna Says:

    “…This tongue-in-cheek legal analysis of treating superheroes as property is a tad too silly for my taste, but it’s written by a couple of lawyers who are willing to tackle a bunch of similar topics, so you may want to browse around their blog…”

    Thanks for recommending that blog! Law and the Multiverse is like Polite Dissent, only that one’s done by a doctor instead of lawyers. :) One nitpick, though – the post to which you linked is about treating superpowers as the property of people including superheroes. ;)

  9. January 2011 Previews: Indie Month, Recommendations, and Snark » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] a second Best of Dan DeCarlo volume (JAN11 0543, $24.99 US, March 23), and the first of three Alex Toth books is resolicited. Genius, Isolated (JAN11 0542, $49.99 US, March 23) will cover Toth’s life and [...]

  10. Good Comics Out April 27: Genius, Isolated and Page by Paige » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] the American side, the book of the week is clearly IDW’s first of three Toth books, Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth ($49.99). I’m hoping KC will be able to [...]




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