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.
More Recent Features
Image Comics Challenges the Comics Industry with ‘Island #1’

Island #1 brings something to comics that hasn’t been as popular for a long time now, the anthology comicbook.

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‘Lantern City’ and Its Steampunk Origins

Origins aren't predicative of outcomes. But the consequences of choices are compounded over time. This becomes remarkably apparent with Lantern City's choice of genre in steampunk.

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‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ 30 Years On

In 1985, Crisis on Infinite Earths was a necessary evil to tie together inchoate timelines in DC's grander continuity. No one could foresee this book coming to define the next 30 years in comics.

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Plumbing the Depths of Space and Human Psychology in ‘Southern Cross’

On its surface Southern Cross is a simple tale—a beloved sister dies, a loving sister hops an interplanetary transport to reclaim the body and investigate the death. But there hidden depths here, both literary and human.

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Heavy Metal or Why the All-New Batman Totally Rocks

Bruce Wayne who? The most entertaining Batman story in sometime finds Commissioner Gordon donning the cowl.

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What’s at Stake with Warren Ellis’s ‘Injection’

Warren Ellis tackles the same theme from Marlowe's Faustus, and carries the grander ambitions of comics with him.

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John McCrea’s Fun-Loving, Magical Terrors in ‘Mythic’

John McCrea’s combination of bananas-crazy and legit-scary artwork is enough to keep one enthusiastically following the title all on its own, patiently waiting for the meat of the plot and/or characters to reveal themselves in full.

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Four Great Things About ‘Nonplayer’

It's been four years since the release of the first issue of Nonplayer, but it's been well worth the wait.

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It’s Time to Hear the Truth After Growing Up Spidey

"Spider-Man No More", like other superhero stories of loss, are so universally true, so much about loss, responsibility, and guilt.

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Will the ‘Supergirl’, ‘Lucifer’ and  ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Shows Be Transmedia or Tranq-Media?

Our expectations around for these upcoming TV shows get to the very heart of transmedia as a phenomenon.

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The Many Faces of Love in ‘The Names’

Our three-part series looking at Peter Milligan and Leandro Fernandez's The Names draws to a close with a love note of sorts.

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The Heightened Reality of the Art in ‘The Names’

Today, our series looking at Peter Milligan and Leandro Fernandez's The Names continues, with a focus on the art of the comic.

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Loyalty and Tribalism in ‘The Names’

The nastiest, scariest, most threatening villains in The Names are a group of betrayers within the Names known as the League of Psychopaths, and this is only the beginning.

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A Job for Superman: On Multiversity, Convergence and These Precious Mortal Hours

The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1 begins with a return to the beginning of the superhero genre, but not the real beginning.

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Three Fully Formed Concepts in First Issues: ‘The Maximortal’, ‘Deep Sleeper’ and ‘Rebel Blood’

The first time I read The Maximortal #1, I honestly believed it was a self-contained one-shot. Was I ever wrong.

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Why They Fight: A Brief History of Batman Battling Superman

Over the course of any relationship, especially ones that last three quarters of a century, there's bound to be some friction, some tension and some overall sour times.

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Cars That Will Kill You, An ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Triptych Finalé

Thus far, we've seen director Joss Whedon leverage the history of comics fandom and of Hollywood film in a grand and postmodern experiment. Here's why.

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Avengers Age of Ultron, a Triptych’s Second Frame

Avengers: Age of Ultron is an amazing spectacle and there's very little you don't see. But if there is something unnoticed, it might be how seamlessly Whedon crafts the movie into the history of Hollywood.

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A Response to Avengers: Age of Ultron, in Triptych

Even after Daredevil, especially after Daredevil, Avengers: Age of Ultron might be the finest realization of the Marvel Universe on screen.

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‘The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy’ Is Something of a Duck-Rabbit Itself

The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy does more than introduce major themes and arguments in philosophy. It raises interesting questions about the visual nature of philosophy itself.

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Every Generation Gets the ‘Daredevil’ It Deserves

Marvel's Daredevil is a reminder that our pop culture, even that which is rooted in the pulp tradition, can be vivid, vital, and powerful.

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The Steady Increase of Awfulness in ‘Borb’

With homages to Little Orphan Annie and Gasoline Alley, there's a lot serious ground to cover in Borb, and a lot of serious laughs.

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‘Copperhead’ Is Greater Than the Sum and Then Some

New Sheriff Clara Bronson comes to Copperhead not because she wants the job but because she needs it. The real reason though, isn’t explained.

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‘Frankenstein Underground’ and the Deaths That Tax Us

Frankenstein Underground is the magnificent postmodern crown jewel in the Hellboy-verse that creator Mike Mignola thinks of as a love-letter to Edgar Rice Burroughs. We think otherwise.

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The High Art of Disownership in ‘Death Sentence: London’

Death Sentence: London is quite possibly the most important work of 2015.

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“Get Down, America!” Howard the Duck for President

Howard the Duck ran for president way back in the year of the American Bicentennial. His platform sounds just as good today as it did back then.

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Janelle Asselin, Rosy Press and the Reinvention of the Ordinary

Sometimes once in a rare while someone with a single idea disrupts an entire industry. Veteran Editor Janelle Asselin's Rosy Press might just be that idea for this generation.

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‘Convergence’ and ‘Secret War’ Get to the Heart of the Matter

In the lead up to the release of Convergence and Secret War, we explore why these comicbook stories matter to you, no matter what the publishers' say.

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‘Invisible Republic’ Gives Us Two Tales, Twinned With Shakespeare

Smashing the hubris of grand space opera against the neonoir of political investigative journalism, it’s only a matter of time until we make the leap to Shakespeare.

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Big Neon Kill Machine

In Suiciders, series creator Lee Bermejo gives us an elegant drama of transitions, and in doing this offers perhaps the most innovative mediation on LA itself.

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‘Injury Time’ and Others for ‘The Black Hood’

A quatrain of "ways of looking", as Wallace Stevens put it, at the groundbreaking first issue of Dark Circle’s relaunch of The Black Hood.

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Swingin’ Through the Slow Burner of Harvey Kurtzman’s ‘Jungle Book’

This story is about what happened in between Mad and Playboy. It's the story of how one time the great Harvey Kurtzman played a real slow burner.

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‘Rebels’ Argues for Freedom As Pop Culture

Rebels is the book I was waiting for Brian Wood to attempt. Since long before Local, since before Northlanders since even before DMZ. It’s the story of the American Revolution, told in a way that only Brian Wood can.

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Phases of Moon Knight

Last month’s Moon Knight #12 saw the conclusion of the second arc of the book. But with two different creative teams and two different approaches, is this even the same book? Or an under-the-radar reboot?

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Jeff Lemire on the Coming-Through-Slaughter of ‘Descender’

The interview with creator Jeff Lemire on his newest book Descender, which releases in March.

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How ‘Descender’ Draws a Map of All of Sci-Fi

Released next Wednesday, Descender's a game-changer. Here's why.

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Crashed Saucers and Contactees: UFOs and the Secret Origin of the Green Lantern

From Roswell to Aztec to Oa. The secret origin of Green Lantern, DC's science fiction superhero, is found among the crashed saucers and contactees of the 1950's UFO movement.

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Please Rise for the Honorable: Reflecting on 2011 via ‘Judge Dredd: Urban Warfare’

It wasn’t so long ago, 2011, but it felt momentous. It was only a matter of really, until our art would begin to make comment. And what better art than the decades old dystopian fiction of Judge Dredd?

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“Rasputin”,  Issue 4, Page 14

Artist Riley Rossmo’s aesthetic energy is a big part of what makes Rasputin click as a comic, a major factor in its unique personality and tone, so any scene as strong and effective as this one must be attributed to him at least to some degree.

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The Ghost of Spectres Past

On the cusp of “Convergence”, which ties together all DC comics ever published, have Fawkes and Templesmith finally found the character’s quintessential magic?

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The “Change” You Want to See

What really pops out and smacks you in the face about Change is the art by Morgan Jeske and Sloane Leong.

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Legacy v. Statement: Talking with Goon Creator Eric Powell

Today the Iconographies proudly presents the magic of Eric Powell’s the Goon as it draws to a close. Maybe.

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CEO Supervillains: Toyo Harada & Dario Agger

The businessman bad guy is nothing new. Lex Luthor and Wilson Fisk (the Kingpin) both come to mind immediately as classic comicbook villains whose main source of power is their wealth. And they’re not the only examples…

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Love Everybody, Trust No One in “Hinterkind”

Hinterkind focuses on characterization, developing its cast intelligently and deliberately so that everyone is fully formed and multi-faceted.

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This Dream of You: Selma. Selma, Alabama

How writers Civil Rights Movement Icon Congressman John Lewis, co-author Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell's March: Book One push us to one, inescapable conclusion -- everybody needs to go to Selma. Now, more than ever.

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Ideas Become Geographies: An Interview with Miss Lasko-Gross

It’s never about confidence, it’s about doubt, Lasko-Gross, the transgressively intelligent creator of Henni, reminds me.

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We Are Charlie Brown

In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, what I want more than anything is for art to be redemptive for any who view it, and for comics to be transformative.

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9 Jan 2015 // 9:37 AM

The Letter

Back in 2012 we wrote Alex Segura an open letter. In the closing days of 2014, Alex wrote one of his own.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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“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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…”

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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.

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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…

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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…

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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!)

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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.

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14 Aug 2014 // 8:04 AM

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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A More Authentic Transmedia: The Ethics of Transmedia Fatigue

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

A Chat with José González at Newport Folk Festival

// Notes from the Road

"José González's sets during Newport Folk Festival weren't on his birthday (that is today) but each looked to be a special intimate performance.

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