Strange Eggs

Sunday, May 22, 2005


I just signed emergency petition to stop the "nuclear option" the far right wing's plan to seize absolute power to stack our courts - and I hope you will sign too.

Whether you're a Democrat, Republican, Socialist or Anarchist you don't want this to happen. We (not to get all Star Wars) are a republic, not an empire. If Senator Frist and the GOP majority prevail, a long tradition of filibustering will be narrowed and a new precedent will be set allowing the Republicans to force a vote on a nomination with a simple majority instead of three-fifths of the Senate. This move will affect any party that becomes the minority in the future. It could be your party, it could be mine.
Republicans are fixing to blow up 200 years of Senate history just because they're not getting their way on a handful of "radical" judicial nominees. You can't change the rules just because things you're not winning. If we could, Vietnam and Korea would be a nuclear potholes. the Senate must follow its own rules when carrying out advice and consent responsibilities. The filibuster rules are designed to protect the interests of the minority party by creating an incentive for majority senators to reach out for compromise rather than adopting a winner-take-all approach. The result of compromise has historically almost always resulted in better government.

The filibuster swings both ways; Republican J. Strom Thurmond filibustered for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Things weren't going his way, but he had to follow proper procedure by filibustering. A guy who was "pro" segregation played by the rules, nearly half a century ago. That happened because pro segregation President Eisenhower (R) enforced the will of the people. The perfect example of this was when he, the following year controversially sent federal troops to Little Rock to enforce the Supreme Court decision to desegregate schooling.

Starting Monday, the petition will be delivered straight to Congress every three hours until the final vote, and many of our comments will be read aloud on the Senate floor.

Please find out more and sign right now at:

http://www.moveonpac.org/nuclear

Best,

Chris Posted by Hello

Friday, May 13, 2005


STRANGE EGGS review and interview at Nickelpig

We at Nickelpig Media got our sullied little meat-grabbers on an advance copy of Strange Eggs, SLG Publishing's latest comic foray. What greeted us inside this 48 page anthology were some of the best graphic stories we've seen in print.

When comic aficionados hear "anthology," Dark Horse's Sandman: Endless Nights inevitably comes to mind. After all, it was one of the most successful comics in recent years. But Chris Reilly, Ben Towle, and Steve Alhquist have put together an all-together different anthology. One that doesn't get weighed down in excess. One that walks the edge because it furthers the story, not because it's a sure bet for titillating teens.

Strange Eggs is a smart, well-crafted volume. It contains over a dozen vignettes that vary in humor from cute to dark, and cover topics as innocuous as public access television, and as controversial as abortion. We were thoroughly entertained from page one on.

The book debuts May 25th. But in the meantime, we have a little treat for you. I had the opportunity to talk with Chris, Ben, and Steve. The following is our exchange: to read the interview go to: http://www.nickelpig.com Posted by Hello


The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund came away a winner in South Carolina this week – with a little help from its friends. Joining a broad coalition representing everything from booksellers to an obstetrics practice, the CBLDF gained a crucial victory over South Carolina's Harmful to Minors Law. On Monday U.S. District Court Judge Patrick Michael Duffy struck down the law, and a key amendment that expanded the law to include on-line material, as unconstitutional.

Under the statue, the state would have been able to bring criminal sanctions against those who disseminated "harmful material to minors" online, defining the term "material" to mean "pictures, drawings, video recordings, films, digital electronic files, or other visual depictions or representations but not material consisting entirely of written words." The felony would have been punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $5,000.

According to CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein, the law represented a major threat to the comics community. "There were significant risks to retailers of comics and cartoonists who create content online," Brownstein told the Pulse. "The law would have threatened, for instance, a web retailer posting the covers or sample pages from books like The Complete Checkered Demon, A Child's Life, Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron, and Popbot. It would have threatened art dealers displaying original pages for sale that depict sexually explicit nudity that could be harmful as to minors. These are instances of protected speech facing a serious content restriction because of the law's overbroad wording."

The law might have also enjoyed a significant effect on the Internet comics community. "Likewise, web comics like Patrick Farley's Delta Thrives, Nick Bertozzi's The Salon, and much of Donna Barr's work, all of which contain some degree of nudity or sexual content could have been vulnerable for prosecution." Brownstein said. In the end, the costs could have kept artists of all types from risking certain kinds of creation for fear of being penalized. Brownstein explains: "And the penalties were so significant -- a felony charge carrying the penalty of up to 5 years in prison, a fine of $5,000, or both -- that the possibility for speech to be chilled by artists and retailers censoring themselves rather than face prosecution was a real danger."

The basis of Judge Duffy's decision seemed to be that the amendment violated the First Amendment because it failed to employ the least restrictive means from keeping minors away from harmful material on the Internet. The judge also noted that the law impinged on Congress' ability to regulate interstate law – asserting South Carolina had the right to pursue cases against legal businesses in other states according to what was accessible in the state in which the law was passed – and expressed concerns that the law would not keep minors from preventing material outside the U.S.

State Attorney General Henry McMaster disagreed with the Judge's decision in published reports, saying that the thread of prosecution would be much more effective than any filtering method, because they could be circumvented. "We think it's important in today's society that law enforcement take a strong view on obscenity aimed towards children," he told the Associated Press. In fact, Duffy's decision allowed that the protection of minors was in the state's interest – Brownstein also allowed this in talking to the Pulse – but that the amendment was unconstitutional despite that interest and therefore had to be struck down. McMaster's office will review the decision before deciding if the state will appeal.

Duffy also singled out a credit-card based verification that the state had proposed to block minors from the offending material as "too burdensome."

The South Carolina victory was a long time in coming. The law in question was expanded to include electronic files four years ago, and challenged before a single person could be prosecuted. Six other states have lost challenges to similar legislation, attorney for the plaintiffs Michael A. Bamberger told reporters Thursday. All of those challenges are beginning to add up to a solid Federal denial of such state laws. "Most of this generation of Internet censorship laws are dead," Brownstein confirmed to the Pulse. He was able to name several cases that had previously gone the Fund's way. "Media Coalition, and the Fund by extension, participated as amicus or plaintiff in both COPA and this one, Media Coalition has also led successful challenges in Vermont, New York, Virginia, New Mexico, Arizona, and served as amicus on a Michigan law of this nature."

CBLDF' fellow plaintiffs in South Carolina were the Southeast Booksellers Association, Print Studio South, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, and Families against Internet Censorship. The coalition was represented by David W. Odgen, Janis C. Kestenbaum, and Kenneth A. Bamberger of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, Washington, D.C.; the aforementioned Michael A. Bamberger of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP, New York City; and Armand G. Derfner and D. Peters Wilborn, Jr. of Derfner, Wilborn & Altman of Charleston.

The CBLDF's Other Kind Of Advocacy

The win in South Carolina calls attention an increasingly important and vital aspect of the Fund's activities, that is, participating in challenges to unconstitutional laws in conjunction with other Free Speech organizations. Although not as highly publicized and not as easy to understand as when the Fund provides direct legal help to a retailer in danger of being convicted of a criminal offense, Brownstein firmly believes that this kind of work is just as, if not more, important as the more traditional CBLDF cases. "A maxim I repeat so much as to drive reporters like yourself nuts is that it's better to prevent a case than defend a case, and participation in these sorts of cases can help to prevent an actual prosecution that would require thousands of dollars and a lot of human misery to defend."

Brownstein also stressed that decisions to participate in such cases are hardly made in vacuum. Asked if South Carolina and other comics businesses are kept apprised on such cases, Brownstein said, "Yes, we're in regular contact with the retail, publishing, and creative communities on these matters, and generally find them supportive of our participation in challenges such as these." Brownstein pointed out that the way the Fund operates, with votes on all maters from the board, also means that the comics community's interests are solicited in this most direct manner possible. "Don't forget also, our board of directors, who vote on whether or not we will join one of these cases, represent a diverse cross-section of the business community, including retailers, creators, publishers, distributors, and a lawyer, so our participation in these cases is always a result of the Fund's board in their capacity as representatives of the business community we serve communicating that they see a need for us to weigh in on a case."

The South Carolina case did not represent a specific expenditure for the Fund. "The Fund participated in this case under the aegis of our membership in Media Coalition," Brownstein said, "And so there was no additional expense for participating in this case beyond our annual member dues."

What's Next?

With the Internet challenges beginning to die down, Brownstein says the next group of important advocacy work could take place "along the lines of violence and harmful to minors display provisions. We beat the Michigan and Arkansas harmful to minors display laws last year, but there's always one or another in committee that could actually get legs."

Brownstein pointed out one scenario under which these sorts of laws might become an issue. "What's probably most disturbing right now is a set of laws in Michigan that are seeking to restrict video game violence, but one of which attempts to apply a legal definition to 'ultra violence' as harmful to minors that would certainly be a threat to comics, movies, video games, and a wide variety of expression. Violence has never been proven to be obscene or harmful, but there's always someone trying to make that happen.' Brownstein noted that the Fund will be active in watching these cases, but take action according to what the individual situation calls for. "Now, we're not a lobbying group, so the best we can do is keep an active watch upon those laws and, when appropriate, such as this South Carolina case, participate in a constitutional challenge."

Brownstein cited as specific cases on the advocacy end Muslim Community Association of Michigan v. Ashcroft, an ACLU challenge to the PATRIOT Act as "stagnating in the courts, and Lyle vs. Time Warner as "still developing," concluding, "So there's not much on our advocacy docket, but I think we're at a bit of a calm before a major storm."

The Fund's Executive Director also mentioned that the full attention of the Fund remains on the ongoing retailer's case in Georgia.

"We remain ever vigilant and ever watchful." Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


STRANGE EGGS REVIEW FROM THE NINTH ARTSlave Labor cracks open some STRANGE EGGS with an intriguing new anthology, Warren Ellis gets a JONES for a new ongoing, and we dust off our old Atari as comics dabble in the world of video games.
09 May 2005

Welcome to The Forecast. Every Monday, Ninth Art's core team of comment writers, the Ninth Eight, will be your guides to the best, worst, weirdest and most noteworthy books on the shelves of your local comic shop.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: STRANGE EGGS

When I was a boy, I used to watch a cartoon called LUDWIG. Ludwig was a morbidly surreal thing, a mechanical egg that would use his myriad gewgaws and contraptions in the pursuit of musical adventures. Here's a brief sample of Ludwig's unique style. No, I don't know what the pervert in the deerstalker is doing there, either.

For those of you for whom Ludwig is scarcely egg enough, Slave Labor Graphics has a chocodooby surprise in store this week, with the release of STRANGE EGGS.

STRANGE EGGS is a 48-page anthology comic that centres on the relationship between two urban urchins, transplanted to the countryside, and an egg-delivering lunatic named Roger Rogers. Each week, Mister Rogers visits the children, Kip and Kelly, and presents them with a novelty egg. One week it might be made of wood, the next plastic, but whatever the material, each egg hatches into a new and wondrous adventure. From cholesterol-seeking nerdroids to evil plastic kittens, Kip and Kelly find that life in the country may well be more than a little...eggsasperating?

Please don't hurt me.

STRANGE EGGS wraps the simple premise of Kids Plus Egg around the creative chops of the best and brightest at Slave Labor Graphics. Contributors to the book include Ian Carney and Woodrow Phoenix, Roger Langdridge, Scott Saavedra, Kerry Callen, Derf, and the delightfully monikered Crab Scrambly. Click here to sample some of the deliciously broad range of artistic styles on offer.

As we have seen in recent weeks, the high-quality anthology comic has returned with a vengeance. What STRANGE EGGS has over such wonderful books as BIZARRO WORLD, FLIGHT and FOUR LETTER WORLDS is a singular premise and an attractive price. If you find that the cost of books in this vein tends to outweigh your willingness to risk disappointment, then STRANGE EGGS might well be the thing for you. [Matthew Craig] Posted by Hello


NOMINEES for the 18th Annual HARVEY AWARDS (2005)

Best New Talent
Samuel Hiti / End Times - Tiempos Finales / La Luz Comics
Christopher Reilly / Puphedz / Brillig Productions
Andy Runton / Owly / Top Shelf
Leslie Stein / Yeah, It Is / Alternative Comics
Bryan Lee O'Malley / Scott Pilgrim / Oni Press

Best New Series
Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist / Dark Horse Comics
Ex Machina: The First Hundred Days / DC Comics/Wildstorm
Or Else / Drawn & Quarterly
Owly / Top Shelf
1602 / Marvel

Best Letterer
Daniel Clowes / Eightball / Fantagraphics Books
Todd Klein / Wonder Woman / DC Comics
Seth / Palookaville / Drawn & Quarterly
Dave Sim / Cerebus / Aardvark-Vanaheim
Richard Starking / Conan / Dark Horse Comics

Best Writer
Brian Michael Bendis / Daredevil / Marvel
Daniel Clowes / Eightball / Fantagraphics Books
Alan Moore / Promethea / DC Comics/Wildstorm/America's Best Comics
Christopher Reilly / Puphedz / Brillig Productions
Judd Winick / Green Arrow / DC Comics

Best Artist
Charles Burns / Black Hole #2 / Fantagraphics Books
John Cassady / Planetary / DC Comics/Wildstorm
Darwyn Cooke / DC: The New Frontier / DC Comics
Juanjo Guardino / Blacksad 2 / ibooks/Komikwerks
Jaime Hernandez / Love and Rockets / Fantagraphics Books

Best Cartoonist
Kyle Baker / Plastic Man / DC Comics
Daniel Clowes / Eightball / Fantagraphics Books
Batton Lash / Supernatural Law / Exhibit A Press
Bryan Lee O'Malley / Scott Pilgrim / Oni Press
Jeff Smith / Bone / Cartoon Books

Best Cover Artist
Charles Burns / Black Hole / Fantagraphics Books
Juanjo Guardino / Blacksad / ibooks/Komikwerks
James Jean / Fables / DC Comics/Vertigo
Scott McKowen / 1602 / Marvel
Humberto Ramos / Spectacular Spider-Man / Marvel

Best Single Issue or Story
Batman: Room Full of Strangers / DC Comics
Black Hole #12 / Fantagraphics Books
Dogs and Water / Drawn & Quarterly
Identity Crisis #1-4 / DC Comics
Eightball #23 / Fantagraphics Books
Puphedz / Brillig Productions
Supernatural Law #101 / Exhibit A Press

Best Domestic Reprint Project
Krazy and Ignatz / Fantagraphics Books
B. Krigstein: Comics / Fantagraphics Books
The Last Heroes / ibooks/Komikwerks
Marge's Little Lulu Vol. 1 / Dark Horse Comics
The Complete Peanuts 1950-52 / Fantagraphics Books
The Spirit Archives Vol. 14 / DC Comics

Best Continuing / Limited Series
Eightball / Fantagraphics Books
Identity Crisis / DC Comics
Love and Rockets / Fantagraphics Books
The New Frontier / DC Comics
Supernatural Law / Exhibit A Press

Best Inker
Charles Burns / Black Hole / Fantagraphics Books
Danny Miki / Ultimate Fantastic Four / Marvel
Andy Parks / Green Arrow / DC Comics
Seth / Palookaville / Drawn & Quarterly
Steve Leialoha / Fables / DC Comics/Vertigo

Best Colorist
Daniel Clowes / Eighball / Fantagrahpics Books
Laura Martin / Astonishing X-Men / Marvel
Patricia Mulvihill / 100 Bullets / DC Comics/Vertigo
Stefani Renee / Ant / Arcana Studio
Dave Stewart / DC: The New Frontier / DC Comics

Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work
American Elf: Sketchbook Diaries of James Kochalka / Top Shelf / James Kochalka
Bone: One Volume Edition / Cartoon Books / Jeff Smith
Clyde Fans: Book 1 / Drawn & Quarterly / Seth
Locas / Fantagraphics Books / Jaime Hernandez
R. Crumb's Kafka / ibooks/Komikwerks / Robert Crumb & David Zane Mairowitz

Special Award for Humor in Comics
Kyle Baker / Plastic Man / DC Comics
Jimmy Gownley / Amelia Rules! / ibooks/Komikwerks
Roger Langridge / Fred the Clown / Hotel Fred
Christopher Reilly / Puphedz / Brillig Productions
Johnny Ryan / Angry Youth Comix / Fantagraphics Books

Best Anthology
Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventure of the Escapist / Dark Horse Comics / Diana Schutz, Editor
Fight #1 / Image Comics / Kazu Kibuishi, Editor
Kramer's Ergot #5 / Gingko Press / Sammy Harkham, Editor
McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #13 / McSweeney's Books / Chris Ware, Editor
Nickelodeon (Comic Book Section) / Viacom/Nickelodeon / Dave Roman, Editor

Best Graphic Album of Original Work
Blacksad 2 / ibooks/Komikwerks / Juajono Guardino, Juan Diaz Canales
Carnet De Voyage / Top Shelf / Craig Thompson
Jimbo in Purgatory / Fantagraphics Books / Gary Panter
Owly / Top Shelf / Andy Runton
Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1 / Oni Press / Bryan Lee O'Malley

Best Syndicated Strip or Panel
Doonesbury / Garry Trudeau / Universal Press Syndicate
Tom, the Dancing Bug / Ruben Bolling / Universal Press Syndicate
Maakies / Tony Millionaire / Self-Syndicated
Mutts / Patrick McDonald / King Features Syndicate
Underworld / Kaz / Self-Syndicated

Special Award for Excellence in Presentation
In the Shadow of No Towers / Pantheon
McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #13 / McSweeney's Books
Mr. X Collected / ibooks/Komikwerks
The Complete Peanuts 1950-52 / Fantagraphics Books
Valerian: New Future Trilogy / ibooks/Komikwerks

Best American Edition of Foreign Material
Blacksad 2 / ibooks/Komikwerks
Buddha / Vertical Inc.
Metabarons / Humanoids Publishing
Persepolis 2: Story of a Return / Pantheon
Valerian: New Future Trilogy / ibooks/Komikwerks

Best Biographical, Historical, or Journalistic Presentation
Comic Art Magazine / M. Todd Hignite / M. Todd Hignite, Editor
Comic Book Artist / Top Shelf / Jon B. Cooke, Editor
The Comics Journal / Fantagraphics Books / Gary Groth and Dirk Deppey, Editors
Indy Magazine / Alternative Comics / Bill Kartalopoulos, Editor
Men of Tomorrow / Basic Books / Gerard Jones, Author Posted by Hello