Comics, comics, everywhere...

with esteem and respect to Bruce Eric Kaplan

I have cited this cartoon before, because I think it sums up the mainstreaming of comics that we seem to have been experiencing over the past few years. We can parse out the details, but there's no denying that folks are talking about comics out in the open, without apology, with more frequency than ever before. This situation was driven home to me over the past few days.

First off, I got a phone message from a pal telling me that a local AM talkradio host was going to be interviewing Neal Adams. I tuned in and for a solid hour Adams talked about the reinvention of Batman in the sixties after the television show and other topics that wouldn't have been out of place on any comics blog. Check it out: July 15, 2:00pm.

I grant that that interview might have been sold because of the Dark Knight movie, and that the situation in general has been helped by so many comic book adaptations or comics-inspired films being released this summer, but c'mon: who would have imagined that a regular essayist on NPR would contribute a piece examining in detail the DC fan/Marvel fan divide, under any circumstances? Yet this is what I heard the very next day on Morning Edition, in a piece by John Ridley.

The next day, Steve Scher, the host of Weekday, a local program on the Seattle NPR affiliate, devoted a whole hour of his show to comic books, speaking with Mike Mignola and Douglas Wolk, among others. I guess this shouldn't have surprised me so much, since Scher spent a whole hour interviewing David Hajdu a few months ago, when Ten-Cent Plague came out, and constantly surprised the author with his depth of understanding of the subject.

Out of curiosity, I did a search on the NPR site tonight, and found that this afternoon I missed an All Things Considered report on international comics and that a few days ago Day to Day used the Batman movie opening as a springboard to do a fairly thorough examination of the evolution of The Joker over the years. That's all in addition to pieces on Dark Knight itself.

To top it off, I stopped by the library this week to talk to another pal, and she gave me a copy of the SPL annual report: they got Ellen Forney to produce it in "graphic novel" format, which is to say it uses some specific elements and the general aesthetic of comics to present the material. Here's the cover and a sample page:

So, while I don't think that we'll be seeing folks on the beach reading comics a regularly as paperbacks, or that graphic novels will replace newspapers as the commuter's reading material of choice, it seems pretty clear that the door to the general culture is opening wider and a little bit of light is being shed onto the shadowy world of comics geekdom.

To do list...

Call for papers: Journal of Tourism Consumption & Practice
Call for papers: New Journal - Recreation and Society in Africa, Asia, and South America
Call for papers: Association for Tourism in HE 2008 Conference - 3-5 Dec, Canterbury
Call for papers: State of Tourism in Africa - for Tourism Analysis Journal; email Kenneth Backman for further details
Final call for papers: RC50 (International Tourism) - 24-26 Nov, Jaipur, India
Call for chapters: The Experience of Tourism & Leisure: consumer & management perspectives (to be edited by Morgan, Lugosi & Ritchie)
Summer School: Territorial Development: culture, itineraries & creativity - 15-16 Sept, University of Bologna, Rimini

Tourism Report

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to oversee the expenditure, administration and policy of the DCMS, which is the government department responsible for UK sport and cultural projects in the UK. The DCMS provides VisitBritain with funding for marketing the UK abroad. The Committee has recently published a report which voices their concerns on the quality of support provided by DCMS to VisitBritain and in particular their decision to reduce future funding to VisitBritain. The proposal to introduce 'double British summer time' is also discussed as well as other issues regarding tourism in the UK including the Olympics 2012. For further clarification, here's another document which sets out the details of the funding agreement between DCMS and VisitBritain.

Latest articles...

Read some views on extreme tourism in this blog; this article tries to answer the question of who's participating in this activity and why. From extreme to dark tourism, Hitler lost his head soon after the heavily criticised waxwork was unveiled at Tussauds in Berlin. There have been a number of abstracts and articles on Chinese tourists and how destinations are marketing and catering for them in recently (non-Athens passwords apply). Also included are various reports on the Beijing Olympics as well as articles with a special focus on medical tourism, wildlife tourism and impact of tourism on World Heritage sites.

Zip! Bang! Zot! It's The Librarians!

One of the old TPBs in the Last Shortbox is Zot! Book One (Eclipse Books:1990), which collects the first half of the original ten-issue color run of Zot!, Scott McCloud's whimsical-yet-thoughtful take on the Flash Gordon style of adventure story. I have always liked this series, mostly for its mischievous tone, as it apparently alternates between parody and hommage of its source material. McCloud's talent is clearly in its developmental stage here: the illustrations are as masterfully expressive as any of his art, but he doesn't seem to display the same easy command of line and form as in his later work, and the plot can be pretty pedestrian. It's well worth a read, however, and not just for its historical value.

I recently acquired another Zot! collection:

The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991

Luxembourg 2007 - final report

As a European Capital of Culture in 2007, Luxembourg made sure that important facts were recorded, for example, numbers of visitors in 2007, whether the programme was well received and targets met. The result is a 140 page detailed report with contents including a look at audience profiles, cultural participation, marketing, communications, tourism and sustainability issues, social and economic factors.

Journals Roundup

On the Road magazine:
  • People, places, transport and travel industry & cruise updates
  • Feature: Faith based tourism
  • Hotel & restaurant news
  • European Eccentrics
  • Group options & attractions
Hidden Europe:
  • Lismore, Ireland
  • Immrama - Lismore Festival of Travel Writing

Marketing Birmingham: reports

Marketing Birmingham produce statistics following various surveys they carry out relating to tourism in Birmingham. The latest hotel occupancy report for the first quarter of 2008 is now available. The Birmingham Perceptions Survey has gathered people's views of Birmingham as a place to visit and to do business. And good news for retail - Birmingham is still second to only London's West End in terms of retail expenditure as illustrated in the the 2007 CACI Retail Ranking Results.

ATLAS Cultural Tourism Survey

A summary of a survey carried out by ATLAS for 2007 is now available online. It covers over 20 sites and events in 8 countries with results showing a continuing rise in cultural holidays. Tables and graphs containing statistics have been included to illustrate the results.