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The Iconographies
"The Iconographies" is a series of weekly features focusing on iconic moments, creators, characters or publications in the ongoing 'biography' of graphic literature.

Friday, December 19 2014

The Best Part: Ringing in the New with Dark Horse’s Mike Richardson

Who better to talk about the future of the comics industry than someone who’s been inventing the future of comics for nearly four decades now? To wrap up this year, we sit down for a full session with Dark Horse Publisher and President Mike Richardson.


Wednesday, December 17 2014

Continuism: The One Interview with Scott Snyder

With a mind as encyclopedic as Scott Snyder’s all interviews seem to become a single interview. And talking about Wytches #3 (released today) also means talking about parental love, childhood fears and the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA.


Friday, December 12 2014

Worldbuilder: The Paul Duffield Interview Concludes

Paul Duffield takes us back to the power of Frank Miller’s Daredevils, where the vertical sunless, steel-and-glass canyons of Manhattan, were always repurposed as horizontal spaces.


Thursday, December 11 2014

Sometimes I Live in the Country, Sometimes I Live in Town

Today on the Iconographies we begin with Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion, and work our way through Revival and Rachel Rising to Gotham?!


Friday, December 5 2014

Putting a Shot Clock on Racism: Exclusive Preview of MAD’s 20 Dumbest, 2014

This year, Alfred E. Neuman puts his hands up against the pure Dumb of racism, football field not included.


Thursday, December 4 2014

Shield Down, Don’t Shoot: Ferguson, Missouri and the All New Captain America

Captain America is black. Of course he is. Perhaps he always was.


Friday, November 21 2014

Worldbuilder: The Paul Duffield Interview

At a time when we failed to fully understand the implications of webcomics, Paul Duffield helped define the new medium, both as a cultural phenomenon and as a commercial vehicle for artists.


Thursday, November 20 2014

“Sarge, should we hate the Jerries?”: Examining ‘Charley’s War’

There is a corner of the British comics industry that is forever devoted to the portrayal of warfare.


Thursday, November 13 2014

“Ms. Marvel” Keeps the Change

The reason Ms. Marvel is so capable of dealing with the enormous shifts in her life is that, underneath all of her typical teenage fear and doubt, she very much knows who she is.


Friday, November 7 2014

On the Edge of Hell’s Kitchen in a Cramped Hallway: New York Comic Con 2014

What was it like? We return to the scene of the crime, in this case NYCC 2014, where Michael D. Stewart writes, "I have a confession. I like New York Comic Con. But I don’t love it."


Thursday, November 6 2014

Staring Down the Inevitable Reign of Digital Comics

With comics in particular, I love the ritual of going to the shop each week, sorting every new stack into a reading order, then putting everything away in an organized manner after I’ve read it.


Friday, October 31 2014

150 Battleborn Halloweens Later

It’s the strangest of strange troikas; Nevadan statehood, Halloween and comics. But this Halloween, marking the 150th anniversary of Nevadan statehood, might just be the most elegant comment on the current state of comics.


Thursday, October 30 2014

Halloween ‘75: Dracula, the Spider and the Pompatous of Love

I remember that Halloween, Halloween 1975. I wanted to dress as Spider-Man…


Friday, October 24 2014

All Tomorrow’s Progs: An Exclusive Preview of “2000AD: Winter Special ‘14”

After an 18-year absence on the global stage of popculture, the 2000 AD Specials returned earlier this year. The Winter Special is a thematic return to the magazine's roots.


Thursday, October 23 2014

Marvel Universe LIVE! - Cyclops Danced and Wolverine Lost His Claws

I refuse to accept that I am too old to enjoy a live-action, stunt bike, superhero arena show. I'm not too old. I love superheroes and I was ready to love Marvel Universe LIVE! But "good enough for the kids" just isn't good enough.


Friday, October 17 2014

There’s No Beginning, There Be No End: The Last of the Greats

The Last of the Greats was published by Image in 2011-12, a five-issue mini-series that received deserved critical acclaim but ultimately flew under the radar, popularity-wise.


Monday, October 13 2014

John Woo Said “For a Better Tomorrow:” CW’s “The Flash” and “This American Life’s” “Serial”

Just ahead of tomorrow's second episode of The Flash, we present this special Iconographies on this show isn't very different from This American Life's spinoff, Serial.


Thursday, October 9 2014

That Old, Black Thaumaturgy: Scott Snyder’s “Wytches”

Wytches marks a radically important turning point in Scott Snyder's evolution as a writer. And thereby hangs a tale…


Friday, October 3 2014

The “Mighty Avengers” are Mighty Avenger-y

Mighty Avengers stars a pseudo-random collection of heroes who form a team based on external circumstances rather than because of some specific shared goal. What’s wonderful about that, though, is that it’s exactly why the original Avengers started way back when.


Thursday, October 2 2014

Of Mermaids Falling from the Moon: Ancient Comicbooks from Before the Flood

Richard Shaver called the rocks that he found "Rock Books". Within them he saw both stories and pictures from the ancient past. They were the world's first comicbooks -- comicbooks from before the flood.


Friday, September 26 2014

The Day the Old Batman-town Steel Mill Shut Down

Imagine Batman, the whole of the intellectual property, the full weight of publication and production history, now 75 years on from its inception, and imagine it as a town.


Thursday, September 25 2014

Exemplary Continuity in She-Hulk

“My own views on continuity are something of a mixed bag. Basically, I think the massive, over-populated mainstream superhero worlds create opportunities for interesting, inventive interactions between the disparate characters…”


Friday, September 19 2014

Is the Past Merely Epilogue?: Nostalgia, After “The Fox”

What writer-artist Dean Haspiel and co-plotter Mark Waid achieve with Red Circle’s The Fox: Freak Magnet is nothing short of amazing—the simultaneous dismantling and honoring of the golden age of pulp.


Thursday, September 18 2014

Transmissions in Blue and Yellow from Comic-Con 2014

This summer gone, it’s Daniel’s first time at Comic-Con. But it’s beginning to feel like all our first times, again…


Friday, September 12 2014

The “Going Out of Business” Sale for the 20th Century

This is a story about the distribution model of comics and why I want to see it evolve to the same levels comics storytelling did in the ‘90s. And this story begins with two vignettes…


Riley Rossmo’s Eclectic Signature

“Momentum” is a good word for Rossmo’s work in general. If there’s one thing that ties together his eclectically vast projects, it’s the kinetic energy his art contains.


Thursday, September 4 2014

They Call Alabama the Crimson Tide: Southern Bastards in the Heart of Dixie

Southern Bastards is a true Alabama story as much as To Kill a Mockingbird is a true Alabama story.


Thursday, August 28 2014

“It Never Happened Again” and Again and Again

In his book It Never Happened Again, Sam Alden uses two short comicbook stories to offer a slight twist on the old journey-vs.-destination philosophy.


Friday, August 22 2014

Somewhere in Dimension Mek: “Our Heroes” and the Superhero Funny Book

Our Heroes is like a Saturday morning cartoon, only better. It perfectly captures the spirit of the funny superhero. (The Human Mallet Lives!)


Friday, August 15 2014

The Silver Surfer Spectrum

We didn’t see Marvel’s iconic Surfer of the Cosmic skyways in the recent Guardians of the Galaxy, but iwe should have.


Thursday, August 14 2014

The Religion of the Dark Knight

While we can’t always relate entirely to DC’s superheroes, we continue to remain fascinated by them because like “The Sons of the Batman” we too desire to be empowered or shaped by something bigger than ourselves.


Friday, August 8 2014

Single Comma Issues

I’m a single issue reader. I don’t avoid trades or anything, but I refuse to wait for them, either, preferring to consume my comics one chapter at a time.


Friday, August 1 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy: From the Marvel Universe to the Marvel Milky Way

Guardians of the Galaxy promises to show us more than any movie has to date of the Marvel Universe and to give us, for the first time, some genuine cosmic-superheroes-in-space excitement.


Thursday, July 31 2014

Secret Origin of the Superhero: On Philip Wylie’s “Gladiator”

If you have ever wondered what a superhero novel written by Ernest Hemingway would have been like, then Gladiator is your answer.


Thursday, July 24 2014

The Pursuit of ComicCon: Comics, Fans and the Ideology of Choice

OK, I’m going to sound a little G.O.P., but ComicCon is a public good and must be defended. And you’d never guess from what…


Wednesday, July 23 2014

The Victor Belongs to the Spoils: 75 Summers of the Batman

Just a single thought about what Batman has come to mean over the last 75 years.


Friday, July 18 2014

A More Authentic Transmedia: The Ethics of Transmedia Fatigue

Sometimes, as Stuart Moore writes in Wolverine: Under the Boardwalk, you just gotta disappear.


Thursday, July 17 2014

Out of the Shadows: The Brandon Easton Exclusive

Creative force Brandon Easton talks with Julian Chambliss about his newest documentary, the state of comics today, and the questions nobody ever asks.


Thursday, July 10 2014

Reanimating the Dailies: Star Trek: The Newspaper Comics

Over the last couple of years IDW has collected the entirety of the Star Trek strips that ran from 1979 to 1983 into two large, coffee table style volumes in their Library of American Comics series.


Friday, June 27 2014

On ‘Kings Watch’ and its Effortless Humor

Kings Watch is an example of a classically outrageous sci-fi action tale being told with a more modern sensibility.


Thursday, June 26 2014

Trip with an Infinite View: Chaos, Order, Good and Evil in ‘Forever People’

Jack Kirby, World War II veteran, was channeling youth when he produced Forever People. He was on the side of change and disorder for the cause of freedom.


Friday, June 20 2014

A Bit More Collected: Down the Pop Culture Rabbit Hole with “Death Sentence”

To understand Death Sentence you'd need to understand why 1986's Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns were both roaring successes, and a dismal failures.


Thursday, June 19 2014

Where Do They Come From? What Do They Want?

In the long pop culture heyday of UFOs that stretched from the late '40s to the mid-'70s, it seemed that flying saucers were everywhere. UFOs swept the nation.


Friday, June 13 2014

More Story to Tell: “New Lone Wolf and Cub Volume 1”

In the first year of The Iconographies, we took an in-depth critical tour of the wonder that is Lone Wolf and Cub. Now, as creator Kazuo Koike returns to his magnum opus, so do we…


Thursday, June 12 2014

The Effective Archetypes of “Afterlife With Archie”

With Afterlife With Archie you could change all the names and the location while keeping everything else the same, and it wouldn’t be any less powerful or impressive a series.


Friday, June 6 2014

Monomythography of an Art Form: A Prelude to Considering “The Only Living Boy”

The Greil Marcus-edited A New Literary History of America offers insight into the deeper cultural DNA of David Gallaher and Steve Ellis's The Only Living Boy.


Friday, May 30 2014

Labored: Why Kyle Higgins’ “C.O.W.L.” Couldn’t Come at a Better Moment

If you picked up the launch issue of C.O.W.L. earlier this week thinking that, with the season finale of Mad Man, ‘60s nostalgia is now back in, you’re maybe missing the sheer depth of Mad Men, and definitely of C.O.W.L.


Thursday, May 29 2014

Makin’ Out: Learning about Sex from Al Feldstein’s ‘MAD Magazine’

We miss him now that he’s gone—Al Feldstein was one of the dynamos of MAD.


Friday, May 23 2014

A Second Look at Jonathan Hickman’s Early Creator-Owned Work

Jonathan Hickman writes himself into very exclusive fraternity that includes greats like Philip K. Dick and William Shakespeare, where the writer is recast as public intellectual.


Thursday, May 22 2014

Structured Silence: Comics Storytelling, Minus Text

Sometimes, it’s nice for the words to step aside in a comic and just let the art tell the story for a while.


Friday, May 16 2014

Jazz Age Redux:“Iron Metropolitan” as Lens on Emergent Social Media Storytelling

In Iron Man: Iron Metropolitan writer Kieron Gillen finally offers a unique vision of the signature Marvel superhero, leading us into a world where art deco becomes a metaphor for modern-day geopolitical upheaval.


Thursday, May 15 2014

The Dead Child in “Scalped: Dead Mothers”

In Scalped: Dead Mothers Shelton is determined to see his mother’s killer brought to justice, refusing to leave the reservation until the killer is caught.


Friday, May 9 2014

We’re All Alive, in Spite of Death: Dan Goldman on the State of Comics Culture

We talk with transmedia writer and creator of the breakout Red Light Properties Dan Goldman about how he spent Free Comic Book Day and the state of comics culture in general.


Thursday, May 8 2014

The Azzarello-Risso Yearbook, Part 4 of 4: “Brother Lono”

Lono was a major character in 100 Bullets, arguably the meanest, most sadistic. But at the beginning of Brother Lono, he’s already done a 180-degree turn around in attitude and demeanor.


Friday, May 2 2014

Mourning the Death of Gwen Stacy

I was five years old the night Gwen Stacy died. I didn’t hear the news. It will come as no surprise if Gwen Stacy does die in today’s release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2.


Thursday, May 1 2014

The Azzarello–Risso Yearbook, Part 3 of 4: “Spaceman”

The protagonist is Orson, also the “Spaceman” of the title, genetically engineered years ago by NASA to be able to travel to and live on Mars.


Friday, April 25 2014

An Avenger for All Seasons: Captain America, Identity, and the US Experience

The key to Captain America: The Winter Soldier success is clear. It captured and integrated into the Marvel cineverse Captain America’s dedication to the common man's ideas of America.


Thursday, April 24 2014

The Azzarello–Risso Yearbook, Part 2 of 4: “Broken City”

Once they’d established themselves as a formidable creative force with almost five years of excellent work on 100 Bullets, Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso got to take a crack at one of the biggest comicbook characters ever: Batman.


Friday, April 18 2014

That Thing, That Time…: A Look at Mimi Pond’s “Over Easy”

Over Easy is hauntingly beautiful, breathtaking, ferociously intelligent. It allows us to peer behind the veil of private lives in a radically different way to other biographies.


Thursday, April 17 2014

The Azzarello–Risso Yearbook, Part 1 of 4: “Jonny Double”

The star of Jonny Double is also its title character, a private investigator who fancies himself hardboiled but is really just headstrong and impulsive without quite enough talent to back that up…


Friday, April 11 2014

Redshift: Talking with John Arcudi About His Expanding the Hellboy Universe

Our month full of Hellboy to celebrate Hellboy’s 20th anniversary continues as we share an earnest conversation with Hellboy Universe collaborator John Arcudi who opens up about his expansion of the Universe with B.P.R.D. and the Lobster Johnson stories.


Thursday, April 10 2014

Comic Book Story Storage

Each Wednesday comic selections have been made and it’s easy to end up with a sizable stack of new material each week. Fully absorbing, appreciating, and retaining every panel of every issue is challenging, if not impossible.


Friday, April 4 2014

Oriatur, or a Bigger, Richer World: The Interview with Hellboy Creator Mike Mignola

In the handful of days before Dave Brockie’s passing, Mike Mignola and I spoke at great length about the then upcoming 20th anniversary of Hellboy, a character who by his very nature resisted his fate, and hoped to shape new options by his own hand…


Thursday, April 3 2014

Emerald City Comic Con and the Future of Media

Comic books become movies. Movies becomes soundtracks, games like Avengers Battle for Earth, become interactive experiences.


Friday, March 21 2014

Later on with Hellboy: The Mike Mignola Warm Up

Today, we kick off the lid on a month full of Hellboy, to celebrate the character’s 20th anniversary.


Thursday, March 20 2014

Superheroes Are a Great Terrible Idea

There are lots of stories about superheroes helping out with natural disasters, military operations, diseases, hunger, and the other countless problems of the world. But there aren’t very many superheroes who only do that stuff and leave the crime-fighting to someone else. Why not?


Friday, March 7 2014

The Cataclysmic Destruction of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe

It redefined the comic book industry for the new millennium. Now it is an ever-unfolding tragedy.


Thursday, March 6 2014

“FBP” and the Stability of Constant Flux

As the story progresses in FBP, it offers a steady supply of shock, giving the audience fresh reasons to get hooked all the time. Not knowing what’s coming makes each new development a delightful surprise, rather than an inevitability.


Friday, February 28 2014

Things Will Be Better Now: Dan Goldman on “Red Light Properties”

Dan Goldman is a precious intellect, and we need to rally around him. He is one of the rare few artists working in any medium who are actively engaging with the idea of what it means to be making transmedia.


Thursday, February 27 2014

The Best Bad Influences: Drumhellar and Broad City

Drumhellar's main character, Drum, and one of Broad City's two leads, Ilana, are both what could and would normally be considered bad influences—they push their friends to do dangerous things for the sake of excitement or discovery.


Friday, February 21 2014

A Clean, Unlighted Place: A Prelude to the Dan Goldman Interview

Dan's fearlessness is, in all truth, the light of rationalism, and the courage of spirit that comes from humanistic values. And that is the fireside we both sit at, as we head into the darker winter of the conversation ahead.


Thursday, February 20 2014

Black Kirby NOW: An Interview with John Jennings

An Afrocentric future is born out of the inspiration and aspiration of a growing African diaspora. Of course, this promising future is a reflection of a troubled past and contested present.


Friday, February 14 2014

Whiskey in a Bar: The Big Picture with Jimmy Palmiotti

Superstar creator Jimmy Palmiotti talks about PaperFilms, his most newest KickStarter project, Denver, and his mainstream success, but none of this in an actual bar.


Thursday, February 13 2014

Sanctioned Spoilers

Isn’t modern life grand? A comicbook fan can dig into the histories of specific characters, creators, titles, etc. via the numerous online archives and blogs that are out there for just that purpose.


Friday, February 7 2014

The Past Is No Refuge: Watching Project Black Sky Unfold

For their Project Black Sky superhero line, publisher Dark Horse engineers one of the most formidable social media campaigns ever.


Thursday, February 6 2014

The Fictional Science of Great Science Fiction

Right now there’s an abundance of great “hard” sci-fi comics, titles that pay close attention to the tiny details of whatever made-up sciences their stories entail.


Friday, January 31 2014

Make Me Wanna Die: Revisiting “Death Sentence”, Nearer the End

We said some very polite and clever things about the opening chapter of Death Sentence, identifying Monty's facility at producing a Dostoevskian or Dickensian narrative that confronted existential angst at a societal level. The truth is far more tantalizing.


Thursday, January 30 2014

“Unity” Makes the Old New Again

The super-people who band together to take Aric down are all characters from other Valiant Comics titles, ostensibly making Unity something of a Justice League or Avengers type book for the publisher, except that the stars of Unity aren’t exactly heroes.


Friday, January 24 2014

Learning to Live Again: Privacy, Surveillance, and the Unwritten Apocalypse

A work as erudite and as literary as The Unwritten couldn't possibly be laced with current real-world, media-hyped, crises, could it?


Thursday, January 23 2014

Scott Snyder’s Original Batman

Before DC relaunched their entire line, Scott Snyder had an 11-issue run on Detective with artists Francesco Francavilla and Jock. Bruce Wayne was believed to be dead at the time, so his first protégé Dick Grayson was under the cowl instead.


Friday, January 17 2014

Actus Tertius: Finale: Somebodies, Say Something!

The question on the use of popculture goes far beyond cultural legitimacy or even cultural validity, writer and critic Samuel Sattin reminds us…


Thursday, January 16 2014

Wrestling with ‘Loose Ends’

Loose Ends is a truly remarkable work, with oversized pages that give the highly stylized art and dialogue ample room to impress, and a story that’s intimate but enormous, with wonderfully rich and bold characters to match.


Friday, January 10 2014

Samuel Says: Plumbing the Sociocultural Depths of “League of Somebodies”

It's the question I didn't ask author and critic Samuel Sattin that wakes me at 3am each morning…


Thursday, January 9 2014

“Prophet’s” Patience

Prophet was a title created by Rob Liefeld as part of his Extreme Studios imprint. It was short-lived, however, and after more than a decade, Image Comics relaunched Prophet in 2012 with a brand new creative team and direction.


Friday, December 13 2013

Somebodies Talking: Introducing Samuel Sattin’s “League of Somebodies”

In League of Somebodies author and critic Samuel Sattin introduces the idea of the highbrow superhero deconstructionist novel. In doing so, he starts a quiet revolution in thinking.


Thursday, December 12 2013

“Six-Gun Gorilla” Wants You to Want Great Stories

What Six-Gun Gorilla is all about is encouraging us to seek out good stories for ourselves, to find and hold onto whatever value and meaning they contain.


Friday, December 6 2013

Silver Linings Playback: Exclusive Preview of MAD’s 20 Dumbest for 2013

Falling in love is hard on the knees, Aerosmith reminded us some two decades back. Between President Obama's "backpedaling" on the Syrian red-line and Miley's twerking, 2013 has been a little like that.


Thursday, December 5 2013

I’ll Have Seconds

Unlike the Thanksgiving leftovers reheated, going for seconds is hard when it comes to comicbook issues.


Friday, November 22 2013

Wormhole to the Past: Superman and Lois Lane Turn 75

"Nostalgia is a seductive pleasure these days, but I worry about what it means for the ongoing health of comics…" A Look at Superman: A Celebration of 75 Years and Lois Lane: A Celebration of 75 Years.


Thursday, November 21 2013

Calling It a Comeback: Ultimate Spider-Man, Later

While the primary focus of this narrative is Miles Morales’ return as Spider-Man, the road there is paved with the tribulations of all the other characters involved.


Friday, November 15 2013

Drawing on a Wider Canvas: Artistic Wrestlings with Idea of the X-Men

It's been said that the power in the X-Men is that of social commentary, that the X-Men stand in for any oppressed minority. But could the X-Men really have made it to 50 years on the strength of nothing more than a thinly-veiled analogy?


Friday, November 8 2013

A New “Birth of the Cool?”: Reimagining Comics for the Digital Age

The shift to digital distribution in the comics industry is having a significant impact. Today, comics is witnessing its very own Birth of the Cool.


Thursday, November 7 2013

The Lessons of Comicbook Loss

When it comes to character death, it’s necessary to split the discussion into two parts: mainstream superhero books and everything else.


Friday, November 1 2013

“Dress It Up Pretty…”: How “Inside MAD” Defeats Marketable Nostalgia, and Why It Must

Inside MAD proves that sometimes novelty and innovation parades as marketable nostalgia.


Thursday, October 31 2013

“Hawkeye” Comes Together

In Hawkeye #8-13 six smaller stories come together to form the larger one, with each chapter written from the point of a view of a different character. Then the real magic begins.


Friday, October 25 2013

Sugar Crash Futures: What I’ll Read, Waiting for the Halloween Hangover

I almost never sleep on the night before Halloween ('cept really for that Devil's Night back in 2002, and y'know, when I was a kid). And that has absolutely nothing to do with comics.


Thursday, October 24 2013

None of the Magic Has to Fade: Characters and Creators

The magic of comics is the magic of perpetual fiction--the idea that the well-worn and familiar can easily pop up in new and unexpected scenarios like the Silver Surfer appearing in analog on the cover of Joe Satriani's Surfing with the Alien.


Friday, October 18 2013

“Break It Down For Me”: Comics Beyond the Crimeboard

The crimeboard become the signature of high quality comics storytelling nearly a decade ago, but it would take another decade before metaphor would become medium. With Justice League of America #8, we seem to be on the cusp of another evolutionary leap in storytelling.


Thursday, October 17 2013

Lying Cat, Sophie, and Me

If you’re not reading Saga, you’re robbing yourself of Lying Cat.


Friday, October 11 2013

Apocalypse Season: Exclusive Art, and John Ficarra on “MAD #524”

"We're comedy first responders," John Ficarra says, "…but it's going by too fast." And that's really all that needs to be said, comedy as a rescue from a grand danger we cannot yet conceive.


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