The Comics Journal #309

The latest issue of The Comics Journal includes an illustrated article on Sharon Smith Kane, one of the youngest (probably the youngest) syndicated cartoonist in American history. Her single-panel cartoon Buttons an’ Beaux appeared in newspapers for three years in the early 1950s. Kane signed her syndication contract while she was still a senior in high school, and drew Buttons an’ Beaux to put herself through college!

Click the link above to order a copy!

Cartoon Art Museum Annual Fund Drive

We’ve (almost) made it through 2022!

No better time than now to show your support for the things you love, including cartoons! The Cartoon Art Museum’s Annual Fund Drive is underway, and every donation we receive through early 2023 will be doubled thanks to a generous matching grant!

And if you want to get a little something for yourself this holiday season, the Cartoon Art Museum bookstore has signed and sketched copies of the updated edition of Batman: The Definitive History of The Dark Knight, DC: Collecting The Multiverse, Sideshow: Fine Art Prints vol. 2, and Sideshow: Capturing Archetypes vol. 4! Stop by today!

Kevin Conroy, 1955-2022

If anybody ever tells you, “don’t meet your heroes,” don’t listen to them.

There were so many great, fun, unforgettable, “I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this!” moments that occurred while I was writing my Batman history book, and near the very, very top was getting to spend an hour on the phone with Kevin Conroy, who’d voiced Batman and Bruce Wayne on Batman: The Animated Series, as well as Justice League and any number of additional animated projects and video games (and one very memorable live action performance, too). We talked about his audition, about his approach to the role, about how much his performance as Batman had meant to so many people, and

When we were wrapping up the manuscript, my editor, Chris Prince, asked who I’d like to write the book’s introduction, and I think I blurted out “IT’S GOT TO BE KEVIN CONROY” before he’d even finished the question. We asked Kevin, and he graciously and quickly agreed, and mentioned that no one had asked him to write anything before. About a week later, he sent us a brief essay looking back at his acting career and his life as Batman. Poignant, a little self-deprecating, funny, but, above all, sincere. A perfect introduction from a perfect gentleman.

Thanks for everything, Kevin.

Introduction to Batman: The Definitive History of The Dark Knight in Comics, Film, and Beyond, by Kevin Conroy, 2019

I’ve always been fond of the phrase “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” It certainly applies to my life. I had trained to be a stage actor, developing the skills to interpret the elevated texts of Shakespeare, the heroic passions of the Greek plays, the gritty realism of contemporary theater. Attending drama school at the age of seventeen, I was certain of my career direction. Although I am fortunate enough to have been able to support myself as an actor my entire life, I learned early on that the theater just doesn’t pay the bills, and the theater I’d trained for was somewhat a relic of a bygone time. Actors tend to make their living in film and television and venture to the theater at a financial sacrifice to assuage the itch to be on stage in front of a live crowd. There’s really nothing like it.  

On one of my excursions to LA from New York, my agent sent me to audition for this new project being done at Warner Bros.: Batman. New? I thought. Batman had been around for years. I was so naive to the Batman liturgy that I had no idea how groundbreaking this series was going to be. On meeting Bruce Timm, Eric Radomski, and Andrea Romano, I explained I was only familiar with the Adam West Batman. Bruce was horrified: “No, no, no, we love Adam, but that’s not at all what we’re doing. Don’t you know the Batman legacy? His parents were killed in front of him as a child, and he lives to avenge their deaths and cure the world of evil. It’s very noir and dark. What kind of childhood did you have?” I didn’t want to get into how the nuns at St. Bridget’s didn’t approve of comics and said, “I just haven’t really been exposed to comic books. Look, let me use my imagination.” I improvised on the spot, imagining myself in the trauma of that child—with his world collapsed upon him, what kind of man would he become? How could he mask his pain? How could he fight the hurt and rise above it? My voice went to a very broody, husky, pained place. I honestly think my naivete as to whom I was auditioning for and the importance of the Batman legacy allowed me to be much freer and more experimental than I would have been otherwise. I felt totally at ease in the isolation of that sound booth to improvise. I booked the job.  

 As I grew into the role over time, I was amazed at how strange a coincidence it was that of all the superheroes, the one I would portray was this one. I, an actor familiar with classic stage tragedy, was playing the one superhero who has no superpowers and is just driven by the raw pain of his childhood to right the world. He is a true hero in the tradition of the classics but with the raw intensity of contemporary drama. Like a modern Orestes. I also learned that Batman is his true self—what he has become to deal with his pain. That means that Bruce Wayne is the performance, the three-piece suit of armor he puts on to face the world of society.  

 Recently, when I was appearing at a comic convention in Chicago, I was approached by a woman. She reached out to me and said, “I grew up in the projects on the South Side. My parents worked long hours. I was alone every afternoon. Most of the kids I grew up with got into trouble and are either dead or in jail. But I had you. Batman kept me safe, taught me what was right, kept me out of trouble. You really touched my life.” I hugged her tightly and thanked her for making me realize that life had led me to do something more than just entertain. You see, I’d been busy making other plans. 

-Kevin Conroy

Nothing Echoes Like an Empty Mailbox

On Friday, September 30, I attended a special presentation at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa as the United States Post Office unveiled a new set of postage stamps commemorating the centennial of Charles Schulz’s birth. I had a great time, and had a lot of fun catching up with old friends at the museum.

So what was I doing there, apart from trying to hang out with Snoopy? Earlier this year, Patrick McGeehan of the Post Office reached out to me–author of The Complete Peanuts Family Album–to ask if I’d serve as a consultant on the project. This entailed a little bit of research, a little bit of editing, acting as a sounding board, and having long philosophical conversations about Peanuts. Right in my wheelhouse.

My contribution to the project was fairly small, mostly chiming in on the biographical information included in the main stamp booklet and in the strip collection, Nothing Echoes Like an Empty Mailbox, but it was a fun, really interesting experience. Anything for Charlie Brown, right?

Nothing Echoes Like an Empty Mailbox, book and commemorative card

Comic-Con 2022!

We’re back!

My wife, Shaenon K. Garrity, is a Special Guest at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con! She was invited for the 2020 convention to celebrate the 20th anniversary of her classic webcomic Narbonic, but fate had other plans. Better late than never!

I’ll be there, too, representing the Cartoon Art Museum! See me at booth #1634! I’ll be signing and drawing commissions to raise funds for the museum’s exhibitions and public programs. I won’t have any books for sale at my booth, but Insight Editions should have you covered if you want to buy my books at the convention.

I’ll also be doing commissions for the museum when I get back home, starting next Monday! I’ll post the link once it’s live, but for donations of $15 and up (give generously if you want to request multiple characters or full color artwork), I’ll draw Batman, TMNT, Harley Quinn, ’80s cartoons…pretty much anything.

Thanks, and stay safe!

LumaCon 2022!

It’s convention season!

This Saturday, April 30, I’ll be at my first convention since January 2020! That 2020 convention, my only one that year, was LumaCon, a fun, local con hosted by the libraries of Petaluma and run by a dedicated group of librarians, volunteers, and high school students.

LumaCon 2022!

Shaenon and I will be there from 10am-4pm and look forward to catching up with friends that we haven’t seen in person in the past couple of years, as well as diving back into the convention scene. It’s been too long.

Two new books! One big day!

I’ve got two books arriving on November 16!

Sideshow: Fine Art Prints, Vol. 2 has lots of great artwork, and a really nice Boba Fett cover!

Sideshow Collectibles Presents: Capturing Archetypes, Volume 4: Demigods and Defenders: The Balance of Power has the longest title imaginable, but just look for Thanos on the front cover and Grogu on the back cover and you’re all set!

Capturing Archetypes has a fun intro by Bobby Moynihan, a brilliant comedian who’s probably best known for his time on Saturday Night Live. I’m *this close* to being a Not Ready For Prime Time Player, I can feel it.

As always, signed and sketched copies will be available as soon as I receive books from my publisher. Drop me a line for details–cover price plus shipping gets you the character of your choice.

Sideshow Fine Art Prints and Capturing Archetypes

I’ve got two new books coming out from Insight Editions and Sideshow Collectibles this fall!

First up is Sideshow: Fine Art Prints Vol. 2, with a great Boba Fett cover! I’ve been wanting to have a Star Wars book in my bibliography for a long time now, and this is at least a start. In stores October 5!

Then, on November 2, you can add Sideshow Collectibles Presents: Capturing Archetypes Volume 4: Demigods and Defenders: The Balance of Power to your bookshelf! This one was a lot of fun, and it’s a great showcase for the amazing artistry and photography of the team at Sideshow Collectibles. Introduction by the great Bobby Moynihan!

DC: Collecting The Multiverse: The Art of Sideshow was published last fall, and I’ve still got copies available. Drop me a line and you can buy it from me for cover price plus free shipping in the U.S., and I’ll sign it and draw a sketch of your favorite DC character inside. Just drop me a line through the contact form on this site.

DC: Collecting the Multiverse

Happy November! I’m expecting my copies of DC: Collecting The Multiverse: The Art of Sideshow soon! If you’d like a signed and sketched copy, featuring the DC Comics character of your choice, contact me through this website to place an order! $75 plus shipping ($15 in the U.S. for Priority Mail flat rate) gets you a customized, personalized copy of this incredible collection!