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§ October 9th, 2020 § Filed under comic strips, publishing, question time, Uncategorized § 10 Comments

So this got brought up in a discussion I happened to witness between Twitter pal Ben and another person, and decided it was something I needed to acquire for my own self. May I present to you, from the co-creator of Twin Peaks, the creator of Eraserhead, and the guy what did that one Dune movie…a collection of David Lynch’s comic strip The Angriest Dog in the World:


For those of you unfamiliar with the strip, each installment is a series of the same panels (an introductory caption box, three panels of the Angriest Dog growling and straining at the chain in a yard, and a final panel of the same scene at night. Only the dialogue balloons of someone speaking off-panel change. A look at the Wikipedia page will give you a sample strip.

Anyway, this book is not in any way a comprehensive collection of the strip, which had run for about ten years. This is a short book, presenting only a very few strips, each one separated by a page that’s black on one side and white on the other. It’s more of an art piece than anything else, purposefully strange in the way you’d probably expect from anything that would come from David Lynch. It’s a handsome looking item, measuring 11 inches wide by 5 inches tall, 36 pages plus covers. A neat curiosity, but if you’re waiting for the Definitive Compleat Angriest Dog Hardcover Set, I’m afraid that’s not yet a thing. There was a previous collection, now out of print, but I don’t really know anything about it. Strips were also reprinted in Dark Horse Comics’ Cheval Noir a couple of decades back.

You can find this new book at Rotland Press.

• • •

FROM THE QUESTION POST, Paul asks

“What is your reaction to Gerry Conway’s recent screed?”

What Paul is referencing is this message [WARNING: pop-up ads my blocker didn’t block, which locked up my machine for a minute] from longtime comic writer/editor Conway in regards to improving the comics industry. His idea is basically for Marvel/DC to cancel everything, repurpose properties into books aimed at a younger market and get ’em into bookstores/grocery stores/movie theaters/anywhere that’s not a comic shop, and cater to the older fans with occasional trade paperbacks with new material.

I mean, this isn’t a new idea, and the fact that the best-selling comics in the U.S. are in fact books aimed at kids. I mean, DC and Marvel both had their eyes pop out of their heads shaped like giant dollar signs when they saw how well Raina’s books were doing and immediately started their own line of reasonably successful young reader graphic novels.

Now my response is a bit biased, as I’d see this drastic of a plan as being the end of comic shops, or at least comic shops as we generally know them. Eventually DC/Marvel/etc. will have to come up with some kind of format for their regular titles that’s more cost effective in regards to size and cost and so on. Probably a shift away from the periodicals to a regular trade paperback format, but I don’t think the market is quite ready for that yet.

That doesn’t mean that Conway’s idea of getting comics into other retail spaces isn’t a good idea. Of course, you’d have to convince these other retail spaces to consider even carrying comics, assuming whatever format these will be in will be at a price point that’s profitable enough for these other venues to be worth the hassle. And frankly, I can’t see movie theaters wanting to deal with them…I’m picturing a few months of theater employees having to clean up The Book Corner because folks are just standing around reading grpahic novels while waiting for the movie to start, and tossing them back on the shelf haphazardly, if at all, when showtime starts.

But whatever they do I don’t see any real reason to “kill all the comics” in order to do this. Can’t see why there can’t be a parallel to get graphic novels into new places and getting the regular monthlies, or whatever they eventually become, into comic shops. Or everything just goes to digital, leaving print for eventual collections of that material, or throwback releases for a niche collectors market, which the comic book industry already kind of is but you get my meaning.

Basically, everyone has ideas on how to “save comics,” and Mr. Conway’s isn’t any better or worse or even that much different from what’s been proposed. The big trick is getting other industries to cooperate with any of these schemes.

10 Responses to “whynotboth dot jpeg”

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    I understand the constant call to get comics in more places, but the people making this call do tend to underestimate the difficulty in doing so. Take, for example, the comment that is probably posted at least once every day somewhere on the Internet, that Marvel and DC (and now, maybe, IDW and Image) should join Archie in producing digests to sell at supermarket checkout lanes. The people arguing for this all seem to be completely unaware of the basic fact that publishers PAY the supermarket chains for these spaces, and that those spaces are currently all booked. Marvel and DC can publish all the digests they want, but they will not get anywhere near a supermarket checkout lane unless SOAP OPERA DIGEST or NATIONAL ENQUIRER or ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY goes out of business and its spots become available.

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    Sure, theaters wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of also being a comic shop (can you imagine how many comics would have popcorn better stains on them?). But I’ve always wondered why Marvel and DC don’t have programs to let people who attend an Avengers or Batman movie take their ticket stub to a local comic store and get $2 off an Avengers or Batman comic of their choice.

  • Jim Kosmicki says:

    These arguments are almost always based on nostalgia, not reality. Think back to where you bought newsstand comics when you were younger. How many are still in business? If they are, how many still sell reading material?

    People reference Walmart, but that just tells me that they haven’t been in Walmart lately. Walmart’s reading material section keeps getting smaller and smaller.

    Our local supermarket just remodeled, and they still have ONE rack for magazines (they used to have 5 or 6), and NO paperback racks. NONE.

    People reference Archie digests, and for good reason. Those publications kept Archie solvent for decades. But try to find those digests now. Archie can’t afford the racking fees, or the sales aren’t enough to justify many of them. Again, our local main supermarket chain has, I believe, ONE slot for Archie digests, out of 12 checkout lanes. Walmart only has Archie digests on about every 4th or 5th checkout lane, and it’s usually just one slot, not multiple like it used to be.

    As you indicated, the main thing Conway suggests has already happened – it’s just not the big direct market publishers who are benefitting. Mainstream publishers like Scholastic are doing just fine selling to a younger audience through bookfairs and such. Most of the material is not superhero material, which is another reason it tends to be invisible to most of comics’ fandom.

    Including comics in a college classroom was a radical move when I was in grad school back in the late 80’s/early 90’s. Now it’s commonplace and raises no eyebrows.

    I would imagine that you stock Raina and First Second books and Dav Pilkey and such. The readers of those books are going to keep reading comics as they mature – but it won’t be FANDOM style comics. Comics will simply be another medium of entertainment – another way for creators to tell stories that they want to read.

  • Jon H says:

    Re: The Book Corner

    They could just print oversize posters of the covers for display and keep the actual comics in a rack behind the counter.

  • Jon H says:

    They should try selling comics through barber shops.

  • Thom H. says:

    1. Love David Lynch and The Angriest Dog in the World. Thanks for the heads up on the new “collection”!

    2. “Probably a shift away from the periodicals to a regular trade paperback format, but I don’t think the market is quite ready for that yet.” Is this because there are so many readers of the periodicals still around, and they wouldn’t make the switch? Or comic shops wouldn’t be able to handle the change in format? Or some other reason? I’m genuinely curious because I can’t decide how I feel about the idea.

  • Brad says:

    Talking about new venues for comics — anyone else see Peachtree Playthings’ Disney-licensed comics in Dollar Tree? I commend the effort, but they’re hard to find and have only reached Issue #3 after a year. Here’s some more detail: https://disneycomicsrandomness.blogspot.com/2020/02/disney-comics-from-peachtree-playthings.html

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Walmart’s reading material section keeps getting smaller and smaller.”

    THEY HAE A READING SECTION???

  • Andrew-TLA says:

    The trick is, there were some Marvel digests put out last year. Right there at the registers at the store I work at, next to the Archies and the almanacs and whatnot. Spider-Man and Avengers. My guess is that they were actually put out by Archie, the format looked identical.

    And the contents demonstrated the problem, at least as far as Marvel is concerned. They had something like 3-4 issues in each book, from the seventies to fairly recent, sorted randomly. Which meant no cliffhangers got resolved and no subplots could reach proper fruition. Not to mention sudden shifts in art style.

    As opposed to Archie, which has spent decades producing mostly short stories using a very specific house style. Sure, the fashions may change (and some artists are/were better at aping Dan DeCarlo than others), but a sixties Archie story looks almost indistinguishable from one much later. Making it easier to fill their digests with a range of material.

    And now I see that the Archie folks have signed a deal with WebToons. Makes sense to me, going where the readers already are.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Marvel digests put out last year. Right there at the registers at the store I work at, next to the Archies …my guess is that they were actually put out by Archie”

    Yes, they were! (I bought a few). They had some Archie house ads, as well as ads for Marvel stuff. I haven’t seen any any in awhile, so I assume that’s done.

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