‘Battlestar Galactica,’ Art Spiegelman and ‘Batman R.I.P.’ in Everyday Hero headlines

Nov. 28, 2008 | 4:11 p.m.

A holiday weekend edition of Everyday Hero, your handpicked headlines from the fanboy universe…

Spiegelman_selfportrait Art for Art’s sake: This has been the year of the long-view Art Spiegelman interview, no surprise considering the release of his early-career survey "Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!" and the retrospective reflex it inspires in journalists. The latest one I’ve seen is by Tom Gatti, and although there is a odd dearth of quotes (maybe Gatti didn’t get much time with the Pulitzer Prize winner?) there are some insightful descriptions of Spiegelman’s long, strange pen-and-ink odyssey, like this one: "More attractive was the countercultural attitude of ‘The East Village Other,’ and Spiegelman approached the editor, who wanted strips about sex and drugs. ‘I knew little about either, so I enrolled at Harpur College, New York State, and set out to find out about both while dodging the draft.’  His studies didn’t get much of a look-in: when he wasn’t working professionally for Topps, where he created trading cards and stickers (including, many years later, the phenomenally popular Garbage Pail Kids), Spiegelman was embracing the hippie scenes of New York and San Francisco. But artistically he had hit a psychedelic plateau, and it wasn’t until he met the artist Robert Crumb that his passion was reignited. ‘Crumb had just had a life-changing LSD trip, and his sweetness had been curdled into knobbly-kneed, cross-hatched, gritty cartoons – a direct contrast to the prevailing ‘less is more’ aesthetic. He was so clearly light years ahead of anybody else.’ Spiegelman took ‘a giant step sideways and backwards’ as he tried to integrate what he’d learnt from Crumb. Initially that took the form of rampant taboo-breaking. Crumb and his peers were risqué but Spiegelman’s portrayals of patricide and necrophilia disturbed Crumb’s wife so much that she barred him from her home. In 1968, aged 20, he wound up in a mental hospital: he told the doctors that it was a bad trip, but he was really suffering from what he describes as ‘twisted brain passages.’ Soon after returning home, his mother committed suicide: his father found her in the bath, her wrists slashed. There was no note. Then Spiegelman was kicked out of college.Broken down, Spiegelman began to build himself back up. He befriended a professor who showed him how to look at ‘art that didn’t have speech bubbles.’ " [The Times of London]

Batman_and_plastic_man_3_bb_2"Brave" words: I’ve written a couple of times about how much my 7-year-old son Ben likes the new animated series "Batman: The Brave and the Bold" and how refreshing it is for me as a parent to watch it with him — it’s just right in tone and never condescending — so for the parents out there, I wanted to pass on the news about this new on-line activity area linked to the show: "The free, all-ages, ad-supported site is online now at www.braveandthebold.com. It features a serialized Batman game entitled ‘The Terror of the Time Traps,’ interactive virtual action figures known as ‘Inter-Action Figures,’ detailed back story on many of the popular DC Comics characters who co-star in upcoming episodes of the show, step-by-step character drawing lessons featuring Batman and friends, and more." [Warner press release] ALSO: I saw that I missed an Underwired interview earlier this month with "B&B" story editor and co-producer Michael Jelenic, you can find that here.

Bmcv686variantcopy_2The Great Gray Lady goes Gotham: The New York Times doesn’t have much news coverage of the comic-book world, so it was a bit odd to see this dispatch from George Gene Gustines in the Art Briefly roundup this week: "When you title a Batman comic book storyline ‘R.I.P.,’ it’s understandable if readers worry about the fate of that Gotham City hero. The story’s final chapter, in ‘Batman’ No. 681, written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Tony Daniel, arrived in stores Wednesday. It features a scene in which Batman is caught in a helicopter crash and only his cowl is recovered. But that’s all part of the plan by DC Comics, which has devised several months of stories without the caped crusader. ‘You realize in their absence how valuable the character is,’ said Dan DiDio, DC’s senior vice president and executive editor. ‘Bruce Wayne will always be back as Batman someday.”’ [New York Times] ALSO: To read more on the Batman plans, check out my interview with DiDio here.

Murakami3_5Murakami in L.A.: Japanese artist Takashi Murakami is drawing up a new future in Southern California. Suzanne Muchnic has the lowdown, and here’s an excerpt: "Murakami, whose giant Buddha, bug-eyed monsters and magical mushrooms packed in huge crowds last year at the Museum of Contemporary Art, is putting down roots in Los Angeles. A multifaceted artist who embraces painting and sculpture, film and mass-produced goods as part of a single enterprise, he is planning to open an animation studio here next summer. Often called Japan’s Andy Warhol and headquartered in Tokyo, Murakami already has a studio in New York. But he has decided that Hollywood is the place to expand his filmmaking capabilities. The new studio will operate under the umbrella of Kaikai Kiki, his production and artist-management company. ‘Animation and film have always been among my greatest influences, ever since I first saw ‘Star Wars’ and Hayao Miyazaki’s films,’ Murakami said in a statement. ‘This studio represents a great step in the evolution of Kaikai Kiki and gives me a closer proximity to the community of artists with whom I hope to collaborate as I continue my explorations of animated and live-action film.’" [Culture Monster]

So say we all: And have you seen the new promo for "Battlestar Galactica"? It’s right here…

– Geoff Boucher

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