Meandering Through a Monday

William Hamilton and The New Yorker, the animated adventures of Prince Valiant, Bill Gallo, Romero’s Axa, Jay Stephens interview, the dark side of book publishing, Brian Fies, and why cartoons are still worthwhile.

I may have some doubts about the cartoons that have appeared in The New Yorker for the past quarter century as to actually, in my mind, being “New Yorker cartoons” as I came to know them.

Michael Maslin recently showcased the first and last New Yorker cartoons of William Hamilton, who contributed to the magazine from 1965 to 2013 and is undoubtedly worthy of being a New Yorker cartoonist.


Yes, The Legend of Prince Valiant Season 1 is available to watch via streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

In Season 1, Prince Valiant and his companions actively embark on a quest to find Camelot after King Cynan overruns their kingdom. Along the way, they encounter challenges, allies, and enemies, including rescuing kidnapped friends, battling corrupt barons, and uncovering treachery within Camelot itself. The season culminates in a triumphant victory over Cynan, but with new threats emerging and King Arthur’s special plans for Prince Valiant, their journey is far from over.

Anubhav Chaudhry at MSN informs us how we can watch it.

“The Legend of Prince Valiant is an American animated television series based on the Prince Valiant comic strip created by Hal Foster. Set in the time of King Arthur, it’s a family-oriented adventure show about an exiled prince who goes on a quest to become one of the Knights of the Round Table. He begins his quest after having a dream about Camelot and its idealistic New Order. This television series originally aired on The Family Channel from 1991 to 1994 for a total run of 65 episodes.”


[I]n May 1960, when legendary Daily News cartoonist Leo O’Mealia suddenly died. Gallo had to help fill his shoes. He quickly caught the eye of Mets fans with his character Basement Bertha, and the rest is history.

Ron Marzlock for Queens Chronicle gives a very brief profile of New York Daily News cartoonist Bill Gallo.


…Running to nineteen adventures, the series centred on Axa, a spirited woman in the year 2080, who can no longer endure the oppressive order of the Domed City, a utopia built to protect the remnants of humanity after the Great Contamination.

Driven by a thirst for freedom, she escapes to the wild, uncharted territories beyond. As a nomadic adventurer in the devastated outside world, Axa encounters a diverse array of survivors and challenges, forging a new, exhilarating life far from the confines of civilisation….

John Freeman of downthetubes informs us of plans to collect Romero’s Axa comic strip.

(Axa sheds her clothes much more often than Enrique Badia Romero‘s Modesty Blaise.)


Jay Stephens has a new book coming soon and that earns him an interview with The Comics Journal.

Jay is an animator and comic book creator and also a comic strip cartoonist (Oddville! and Oh, Brother) and he discusses his comic strips in the interview with Jason Bergman:

… So yeah, I was doing alternative weekly strips. James Sturm [editor of The Stranger] reached out and that ended up being in a few other papers. Vice in Montreal and one in Albuquerque, I think. And Sara Dyer, too, was an early supporter of the work. She was doing her Mad Planet zine back then and Oddville! ran there as well.

Oh, Brother, yeah. And we [Bob Weber, Jr. and Jay] were both parents to an older daughter, younger son relationship, which is what the strip is about. And all I had to do was draw them, not sweat about the writing. It was fun to do. But… directly out of Secret Saturdays, we launched a failed daily strip. I was drawing a daily strip every day for a year. There’s about 400 of them, I think. I mean, we weren’t making money on it. It was the wrong timing again. You know, entering the newspaper game at a time when comics were being cut, sections were being cut, ad revenues were down… yet another problem with timing…


Friend of TDC Brian Fies leads us to Elle Griffin’s article at The Elysian No One Buys Books.

In 2022, Penguin Random House wanted to buy Simon & Schuster. The two publishing houses made up 37 percent and 11 percent of the market share, according to the filing, and combined they would have condensed the Big Five publishing houses into the Big Four. But the government intervened and brought an antitrust case against Penguin to determine whether that would create a monopoly.

The DOJ’s lawyer collected data on 58,000 titles published in a year and discovered that 90 percent of them sold fewer than 2,000 copies and 50 percent sold less than a dozen copies.

Elle, after reading the transcripts of the trial sums up:

The Big Five publishing houses spend most of their money on book advances for big celebrities like Britney Spears and franchise authors like James Patterson and this is the bulk of their business. They also sell a lot of Bibles, repeat best sellers like Lord of the Rings, and children’s books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar. These two market categories (celebrity books and repeat bestsellers from the backlist) make up the entirety of the publishing industry and even fund their vanity project: publishing all the rest of the books we think about when we think about book publishing (which make no money at all and typically sell less than 1,000 copies).

Published cartoonist Brian Fies has some comments about the article:

MY TWO CENTS: All of this matches my observations and experience, and none of it surprises me. If anything, I’d say the situation is more dire in my graphic novel niche.

I won’t discuss my sales numbers, I figure that’s between me and my publisher, but I am happy to report that each of my books has sold more than 2000 copies, so I’m in the top tenth percentile already. Yay me?

Most of my books have earned out their advances, such that I get a modest royalty check a couple times a year. One of my books never will, so I’ll never see another dime from it. Yay me again?


So drawing stuff is old, what’s your point?

The point, is that cartooning and comic drawings have been around ever since; from Egyptian graffiti to Romans bragging about their victories on large columns, to artists utilising the relatively new printing press to satirise and ridicule those in charge.

And the thing is, despite all our new technology, it’s still one of the most graphically efficient and effective means of conveying a message.

Chaz Hutton at his Outlined Substack explains why The World’s Oldest Media is Still Worth Your While.

feature image from the cover of Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow paperback edition

3 thoughts on “Meandering Through a Monday

  1. Modesty Blaise at least tried to come up with plot related reasons to take her clothes off, even if some were pretty tenuous. Axa, from memory, didn’t.

  2. I own the PRINCE VALIANT DVDs in case I ever want to try again from the beginning to actually see whether it comes anywhere close to the comic strip storywise. But once again, unless you’d never seen any Foster strips or even Murphy, Gianni or Yeates either, I doubt you’ll be satisfied by it as there’s very little attempt by the cartoon’s directors to try to capture the look of the strip’s characters, even something as simple as Val’s helmet haircut. Not sure if it looked too European or too Japanese overall, but that “small” deficiency prevented me from getting into it when Family Channel aired it.

  3. This was an unexpected surprise to wake up to, thanks DD!

    I would add that my post generated an interesting discussion on Facebook, particularly when author Rebecca Solnit said she just didn’t buy some of the most shocking data, such as the Department of Justice’s conclusion that half of all books sell fewer than a dozen copies. Surely an author’s family alone would account for at least 12! Nobody knows where the DOJ got that number and I think it’s right to be dubious of it. I’d put more stock in other data that seem to have come from the publishers themselves.

    I think it’s fair to generalize that most books don’t sell very many copies. Some fraction of books, probably less than half, earn a profit. The vast majority of authors don’t earn enough to make a living at it, and a tiny number of blockbuster bestsellers support most of the publishing industry. The problem for publishers is that nobody knows in advance what books will be blockbusters, so they take a lot of risks, occasionally on people like me.

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