LA Times

Mimi Pond helps keep comics alive in LA Times

Hollywood Forever by Mimi Pond (click to read)

With newspapers continuing to make cuts to their comics pages, we’re really fortunate to see the Los Angeles Times continue to feature Mimi Pond by publishing her ongoing series of op-ed comics about life in LA. For Halloween, the LA Times’ Opinion L.A. blog ran “Hollywood Forever,” a comic about the odd cemetery of the same name in east LA.

Mimi Pond is a local (since 1990 – basically a native!) cartoonist who has had her work published in National Lampoon, The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Boston Globe and others. In 1989, her comics friend Matt Groening asked her to write an episode of his new TV series The Simpsons. That episode, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” ended up being the first episode aired and was later nominated for two Emmy Awards. She also wrote an episode for the fourth season of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and the final season of the sitcom Designing Women. But her heart has remained with comics, contributing to Seventeen Magazine, Adweek, among other publications. She’s also had several collections of her work released with a new original graphic novel currently in the works.

The LA Times has been lucky to have her. Unfortunately it’s tough to find a complete directory of all of her comics on (their search engine is awful). So, here’s my swing at it. Please email with any info on ones I’ve missed or corrections. Most recent is at the top. I’ll try to add to the list as new ones are published and/or posted by The Times.

“The Truth Is People Are Leaving Anyway”

So says DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio in last night’s Hero Complex blog. But could DC’s massive relaunch gamble this September actually halt the exodus?

According to the article, Justice League #1, the flagship title and debut issue of the massive line-wide relaunch of the publisher’s entire superhero universe, has received pre-orders asking for over 200,000 copies. Six other issues from the 52 titles shipping in September have pre-orders over 100,000 copies. That is fantastic news. Monthly comic books haven’t seen those kinds of numbers in years. There are also pending digital sales when the publisher starts releasing online and mobile versions of those same print comics simultaneously in September.

The full quote:

“The truth is people are leaving anyway, they’re just doing it quietly, and we have been papering it over with increased prices,” DiDio said. “We didn’t want to wake up one day and find we had a bunch of $20 books that 10,000 people are buying.”

Typically people from the major superhero publishers keep things pretty rosy in public interviews and online conversations. You know things must be dire when the talk gets this frank.

Another crucial observation made by DiDio:

“The walk-in, casual fans have gotten away from us,” DiDio observed. “We are down to just the die-hard buyers.”

Bringing back casual fans is the key. It’s a massive key to resuscitating sales. I’m still not completely convinced that what is getting published in September is a big enough break from the publishing and editorial strategy they’ve worked under in the past to bring in a casual readership, but 200,000+ copies is a sign I could be wrong (and I’d love to be wrong on this). Of course, it could be comic stores overestimating interest in their orders. It could only last a month or two. But for now, things are looking very promising.

If only they acted sooner. Over the weekend, a 4-store chain of comic book shops in Arizona abruptly shut down. Stores have been quietly dropping away for a while now, but this was a well-known and well-liked chain praised as a smart retailer. These weren’t the grimy comic store dungeons people avoid like the plague. But the profit margin of running a comic book store is so small that one car through your main store’s front window followed by an economic downturn and lost customers, and five years later you’re done. Atomic Comics was a big account for Diamond Comics, the industry’s primary distributor.

Would DC’s relaunch have saved them? Will it turn sales around across the entire industry? That’s a big job for one publisher, even the industry’s #2 publisher. After all, their material doesn’t cater to everyone. But if other publishers can find a way to join in the hype and fill in the gaps, we could be on to something. Hey, I’m trying to be positive here. It could happen.

BREAKING: Newsstands still exist, kids still read comics

This just in: Print Still Happens! (Click for bigginess)

Amid all the attention put on digital, its exclusive contract with the future, and the “print is dead” mantra, it’s refreshing to be reminded that kids can still be completely entertained by a comic book made of dead trees and staples at their local newsstand.

The Los Angeles Times has a Southern California Moments site that highlights a local photo of the day. This picture, titled “Fully engaged,” was selected for January 25. It was taken by user bobcov1 on September 9, 2010. The kids sit at King’s Newsstand, located at 8361 Beverly Blvd. at Kings Road. It’s named after its neighbor Kings Road Café, although I’m not sure which was there first. The boy on the right is reading a comic book although I can’t tell which one. His brother (presumably) seems to be reading a magazine, another form of print that’s becoming more and more rare in this ever-increasingly app-powered world.

The photo’s caption reads, “Two young boys, clearly aware that life exists beyond Gameboy, entertain themselves the old-fashioned way.” Game Boy. How quaint. (Nintendo DS, maybe. Or the PSP.)

It’s easy to forget that outside of major cities, newsstands have become a rare sight, but Los Angeles actually has a ton of them. In fact there’s one a few blocks away from me on the corner of National and Sepulveda that I could probably walk to in about ten minutes. (Incidentally, there’s a pretty crummy comic book store in the strip mall kitty-corner to it that I’ve finally given up on.)

According to Yelp, there are over 1,000 newsstands in the greater Los Angeles area. It would be interesting to see what kind of presence comic books have in these newsstands, and what kind of sales they generate. I mean, does anyone actually still buy comics at their local newsstand? Here’s the photographic proof that says they do.

(Via The Beat)

LA Times calls Drama After Dark a Weekend Pick

Today’s Los Angeles Times calls this Saturday’s “Drama After Dark: A Night of the Macabre with Poe and Gorey” as a Weekend Pick:

Actors from the Guild of St. George troupe should scare the pants off you with a dramatic presentation of the stories of Edgar Allan Poe and Edward Gorey on the moonlit grounds of the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, natch. “Drama After Dark: A Night of the Macabre With Poe and Gorey” will feature more than a dozen works by the spooky pair, including “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Raven,” “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” and “The Evil Garden.” 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino. 6-10 p.m. Sat. $25-$30. Recommended for ages 10 and up. (626) 405-2128,

It’s also listed in The Guide as a Best Bet:

Over a dozen chilling tales by Edgar Allen Poe and Edward Gorey will be acted out on the grounds of the Huntington: “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Raven,” “The Gashleycrumb Tinies,” “The Evil Garden” and more. The actors of the Guild of St. George promises to give you goosebumps. Not suitable for children younger than 10.

I’ll be there! Will you?