Saturday, November 16, 2019

Multimedia Outlet



Longtime readers of Shadow of a Doubt should be familiar with a feature that appears here from time to time called "Graphic Grandeur", where I examine the graphic arts, which sometimes includes illustrative work, but more often than not comics, both strips and books, mainstream and alternative. In carrying out this examination, I owe a good deal of gratitude to the above web site, in providing me with informational tidbits about the great cartoonists of past and present, as well the great cartoonists' art itself, which I've happily snagged (Fair use! Fair use! I can't emphasize that enough!) It's not just the information or the art, however; this web site has inspired me. Comics are such an underappreciated art form that it's tempting to ignore it on this blog altogether. Isn't there enough movies and TV shows and celebrity quotes to keep me busy in this space? Why spread myself thin by adding comics to the mix? Well, for one thing I love comics, and The Comics Reporter often reminded me why I love them. The relative popularity of the web site also proved to me that there were people out there who like reading about comics, and even if they don't want to read what I have to say about the subject, they could at least lovingly gaze at a Dan Decarlo-drawn Betty and Veronica cover. Longtime readers of Shadow of a Doubt should also be familiar with the many obituaries that appear in this space. Well, finding out that someone notable died is easy if that person is Whitney Houston or Tim Conway, but when it's a Russ Heath or Carmen Infantino, I don't learn about it from The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, the TV news, or my local paper but from The Comics Reporter (I was pleasantly surprised once to find a link to this blog on TCR after I did one such obit.) Speaking of obituaries, that's kind of what you're reading right now. Tom Spurgeon, the founder, and I believe the sole reporter, of The Comics Reporter, died this past Wednesday.

Spurgeon was an editor at the print magazine The Comics Journal (where I first encountered his name) from 1994 to 1999, and, after he left that post, continued on at the magazine for a few more writing reviews and conducting interviews. From 1999 to 2002, Spurgeon and artist Dan Wright collaborated on a Wildwood, a comic strip about forest animals with a Christian bent (it never appeared in my hometown paper, but samples I've seen on the web didn't seem particularly preachy. Spurgeon recently endorsed Bernie Sanders for president, so I'm assuming he was not part of the Christian Right.) In 2003, he and Jordan Raphael wrote Stan Lee and the Rise and the Fall of the American Comic Book. The next year Spurgeon and Rapheal launched the aforementioned Comics Reporter, one of the first comics news aggregator sites, featuring criticism (at which Spurgeon excelled), interviews (he was pretty good there, too), cartoonists birthdays, comic-con listings around the country (including Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, of which Spurgeon himself was the Executive Director) and, of course, breaking comics news. There's been no new postings from TCR since Spurgeon's passing, so I have to guess it's not going to survive him. Now that doesn't mean I'm going to stop doing "Graphic Grandeur". I have a couple of posts in mind, including a big one a few days before Thanksgiving. And nowadays there's plenty of online comic news aggregation sites, all of which have have reported on the death of Tom Spurgeon, the man who paved the way.

1968-2019



12 comments:

  1. Hi, Kirk!

    Thanks for letting us know about Tom Spurgeon and what he meant to you. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my big brother and me lounging around the room we shared reading stacks of horror and fantasy comic books. We didn't just read them. We devoured them. You know from past comments how much I appreciate the art form and admire the illustrators.

    Spurgeon died young. Can you reveal cause of death? Although The Comics Reporter has apparently come to an end, it's good to know there are many other active sites carrying on Spurgeon's work, including yours.

    Beginning Monday I will be away from home and visiting family in another city for ten days including Thanksgiving. I will do my best to maintain a presence on the blog circuit. Enjoy your Sunday and have a great week, good buddy Kirk!

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    1. Shady, I've clicked on about fifteen online obituaries and tributes (there's many more than that) and none of them seems to know why he died so suddenly. I can tell you that he used to be, by his own admission, a "big, fat guy" and once weighed up to 400 pounds! In 2001, he had emergency surgery for an undisclosed illness, and slimmed down to about 200 pounds. That's all I know.

      Between now and Thanksgiving, I'll probably have only two posts. If I can find the time I might squeeze in a third but I doubt it.

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  2. I was not familiar with his work but it sounds like he was a talent gone too soon. RIP

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    1. Debra, Tom Spurgeon wasn't a household name, but well-known among people who like to read comics-related news and criticism, and that's hardly a huge chunk of the population.

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  3. A lot of talent there. And, speaking of "I see dead people," last night we saw Haley Joel Osment on "The Kominsky Method."

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  4. The little boy from The Sixth Sense? Mitchell, I have a funny story about that movie.

    My mother and a friend had seen the film in a theater. Afterwards, she excitedly told me about how she'd seen this movie with a surprise ending (which I'm going to reveal in this anecdote, so SPOILER ALERT!) She wouldn't tell me the ending, because she wanted me to be surprised, too. So a short time later, the movie comes out on either DVD or video, I don't remember which, and we decided to watch it together

    "You're never going to guess the ending, Kirk, never"
    "OK, Mom."

    Ten minutes into the film, she again says, "You're never going to guess the ending. Never"

    And then she said it again ten or so minutes after that, and again ten or so minutes after that, and then again, and again, and again, making it impossible for me to enjoy or relate to the film as anything but a puzzle to be solved. Because I was forced to have to think about the ending, the wheels in my mind began turning, and about a third of the way through the film I turned to her and said, "I think I figured out how this is going to end. Bruce Willis is dead himself."

    "HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT?!" my mother bellowed.

    She then accused me of knowing the ending in advance and pretending not to. But I didn't know it! If she hadn't told me ahead of time there was a surprise ending, and then keep reminding me of it every ten minutes, it would have been just as much of a surprise to me as it originally was to her!

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    1. Kirk:
      This story is priceless. OUR mothers! Mine saw the film before we did and told me over the phone, "I was so surprised at the end that HE was dead the entire time." The film started and I immediately knew who HE was.

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    1. See my reply to Debra, Adam. He was not a household name, but I wanted to give him his due nonetheless.

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  6. Thanks for posting this. I always appreciate people who share their enthusiasms and give so much pleasure to others. I keep thinking that I'd like to learn how to draw comics, as I love the look of them. I am into graphic books right now, and the best are awesome.

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    1. Oh, Jenny, Tom Spurgeon either reviewed or reported on many, many graphic novels, both mainstream (Watchmen) and alternative (Maus).

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