Saturday, March 22, 2008

Glasses Are In, Borders and Quebecor Are -- Out?

Hmmmm, this revamped blog is a mixed blessing. Bear with me, folks, we'll smooth out the bumps and red typeface in the weeks to come.

Morning, all... links and blinks:

* Center for Cartoon Studies folks made the grade at the SPLAT comics event in Manhattan this past week, and CCSers also made The New York Times fashion pages! I always knew you were cool, CCSers, but here's cultural proof. Yep, glasses are 'in' -- and being a cartoonist with glasses puts you on the cutting edge of 2008 style.
  • The New York Times SPLAT slideshow "Life is a Runway: Must-Have Glasses" is here, check it out --
  • -- and note that slide #2 is our current CCS fellow Bak, and slide #5 is CCS pioneer class alumni Caitlin Plovnick. Looking good!

    * Get The Flock outta here, before the Flock eats you! The carnivorous Pleistocenian phorusrhacid Titanis walleri -- the 'terror bird' -- got a pop culture shot in the arm with its appearance in Roland Emmerich's fun 10,000 BC (best sequence in the movie, to my mind), but Bob Smith was there before Roland.
  • I reviewed James Robert Smith's (aka Bob Smith to his pals) recent novel The Flock on Myrant earlier this year as one of my fave books of the year,
  • and artist Mark Masztal glommed on to a copy and has been posting art inspired by Bob's book on his blog. Check 'em out, and here's hoping Bob and Mark can make it happen.

  • * The US dollar is at a historic low, the recession Washington keeps wishing away is hitting us all at the gas pump and in the grocery stores daily. It's about to nail the writing and comics community harder than it thus far has.

    Bad news for book lovers and comics creators and publishers:
  • "Book retailer Borders Group Inc on Thursday suspended its quarterly dividend and said it may sell itself..."
  • Though the chain bookstores have been behaving like corporate phorusrhacids, Borders as much as any, this will be a major blow to many who work at Borders, to book lovers whose only local access to product is via a Borders, and to publishers, authors and creators who will lose vast income in those unsold books.

    These kinds of losses devastate the creative community, and the comics community is already facing a crisis from the other end of the food chain via
  • the troubles at Quebecor, printer of almost all of Marvel and DC's comicbooks; this from January 14, 2008 (link compliments of Rick Veitch)
  • when "the struggling commercial printing giant... accepted the $400 million rescue financing proposal saying it is 'in the best interests of the company and its stakeholders.'..."

    Then, Rick Veitch sent me the following article as email text on January 17th of this year, saying, "...I think one of their core problems is they negotiate five year contracts with guys like DC and Marvel. Then when the dollar drops out they are screwed." And oh, has the dollar dropped out since (another gift of the Bush Presidency, dedicated to devastating the US economy for their own economic gain). Here's the January announcement:

    Quebecor World fails to obtain new financing
    Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:57am EST

    MONTREAL, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Quebecor World Inc said on Tuesday it failed to obtain $125 million of new financing required under waivers from its banking syndicate and missed a debt payment on $400 million of notes.

    The struggling commercial printer, which is working on getting bank approval for C$400 million of rescue financing from its parent, media group Quebecor Inc, and a private equity fund managed by Brookfield Asset Management, said it did not make the $19.5 million payment of interest due that was due on Tuesday on its $400 million 9.75 percent Senior Notes due 2015.

    The company said the failure to obtain the $125 million of new financing or make the interest payment on the notes do not result in an immediate default on its debt.

    (Reporting by Robert Melnbardis; Editing by Renato Andrade)

    Now, that was written when $1 US = $1.01 Canadian; our dollar has taken a beating since then, further debilitating Quebecor's fortunes.
  • This past week, Quebecor was in the Canadian news again:
  • "The Montreal-based holding company, which was forced into creditor and bankruptcy protection after its banks rejected a rescue plan in January, warned last month that it expected to take a hit of up to $779 million resulting from the difficulties of its Quebecor World printing subsidiary."

    This will have a terrible impact on the comics industry, so hang on to your hats and pay off those credit card debts ASAP, cartoonists.

    * On a cheerier note,
  • Hey, Ma, I made it to the front page of the Brattleboro Reformer!
  • The photo, BTW, was clicked by my sweet, sweet wife Marjory.

    Have a Super Saturday, sap-suckers --

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