Small Summer Philosophies #4



Everyone is on vacation. Officially, I have been “free” for a few weeks now. That’s what the word “vacation” literally means, by the way: “to be free”, from the Latin word vacare – also the root of vacuum, which is a space devoid of anything. But I don’t feel very free at all, especially not on the inside. To continue the metaphor of vacationing as “emptying” – I feel like I’m trying to dig a hole in the ocean. Yes, a lot of Work is tossed out of the daily routine, but immediately Daily Stuff has flowed in and replaced it with small worries, aches & pains. Nope, I’m not in vacation-mode at all yet.

My inner unrest is made worse by the general imperative, shouted at me from commercials, billboards and through the social media, that THIS IS THE TIME TO RELAX! HURRY UP! SUMMER’S HERE! ENJOY YOURSELF! NO STRESS! OR ELSE!!

I must forget about getting a vacation. I’m not going to be “free” from my own thoughts & routines. A better approach is to consider this period the Holidays – and I really mean Holy Days. (called that because in the Olden Days people only got days off that were religion-related).

What did people do on holy days? It was not a matter of being free, but of doing something ELSE than the daily routine. To find an occupation that is a bit more edifying than just work. Something that lifts you up and gives you a new perspective.

When you look at it this way, everything can be Holy. As long as it gets you away from the ordinary.

This Summer, I’m not going to be Vacationing – I’ll be Substitioning.


NBM in September: the return of Dillies

Ack! We’re very late with this as Previews for October is already in stores today but we do have a very special book scheduled for September, in case you weren’t already aware, the next graphic novel by Dillies of Bubbles & Gondola that got 2 Eisner noms:

Renaud Dillies, art, Régis Hautière, story
The charm of Renaud Dillies strikes again: after the mouse of Bubbles and Gondola, here is another dreamer, little chick Abelard. To lure pretty Epily, Abelard sees only one solution: to catch the moon for her! So off he goes to America, the country which invented flying machines. Armed with his banjo and his proverb-sharing hat, he launches out on the country roads, meets Gypsies, then Gaston, a grumpy bear with whom he will share a good bit of his way… As opposed to dreamer Abelard, Gaston has his feet firmly planted on the ground. With this funny animal road-movie where the absurd becomes poetry, Régis Hautière and Renaud Dillies offer us another small jewel.
8 ½ x 11, 128pp., full color hardcover, $19.99, ISBN 9781561637010

see previews and more on his Bubbles & Gondola

and from Eurotica:

Barbarian Chicks & Demons, Vol.5
The exploits of Barbarian warrior women in an Heroic Fantasy world continue. Cunning and lasciviousness galore with often a tongue firmly in cheek on these beautifully painted stories set to amuse and arouse!
8 ½ x 11, 48pp., full color trade pb., $11.99
ISBN 9781561637140


As for our sister co. Papercutz, there’s quite a list from the second Power Rangers all-new comics, also the second all-new 3 Stooges GN, the next Classics Illustrated Deluxe “Scrooge”, a new Garfield to a slew of boxed sets with the Smurfs, Garfield, Disney Fairies, and Geronimo Stilton.

MAKE SURE TO PUT IN YOUR ORDER before it’s too late! Or you can always order from us.

Animated cover

Thanks guys at NBM for fixing the plug-in so I can post this animated cover of my newest book in The Netherlands!

The animation was done by my brother, Maarten Isaäk de Heer.

You can click on the image to get the machine to start.

[kml_flashembed publishmethod=”static” fversion=”8.0.0″ movie=”” width=”700″ height=”700″ targetclass=”flashmovie” play=”true” loop=”true” menu=”true” quality=”best” scale=”exactfit”]

Get Adobe Flash player


Cool, huh?

I hope the content of the book lives up to this cover…

This comic book is about science, and I’ve been working on it all of the past year. It will appear in Holland in October 2012. If it ever appears in the US (pending the success of ‘Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics’), it will probably be called ‘Science: a Discovery in Comics’. More information (in Dutch) can be found when you click here.

Small Summer Philosophies #3



A friend of mine used to be a real asshole. He was rude, self-centred and boorish. At a certain point, he decided this attitude wasn’t working for him, and he chose to behave in a more pleasant manner. He’s been a nice guy for years now. “Deep down, I know I’m an asshole,” he says of himself, “But since I don’t act like one, doesn’t that mean my nature has changed? Am I still an asshole or not?”

Different philosophers have different things to say about this issue of True Nature. Plato would probably hold that in the absolute realm of ideas, his Asshole-ness is a fixed given. Aristotle might argue that True Nature is what someone is “meant to BECOME” – so was my friend meant to become an asshole, or someone who chose not to act like one?

The best thing I have heard about True Nature comes not from a philosopher, but from a children’s book author. “It is our CHOICES that show what we truly are, far more than our ABILITIES.”

Can you guess who said this?




It was Professor Dumbledore, speaking to Harry Potter, when he wonders how much of the Dark Side he has in him, seeing how many talents he has in common with his dreaded enemy Voldemort.


From 'Philosophy - a Discovery in Comics'

So ask yourself: what are the choices that shaped your True Nature?


Following it’s debut at San Diego Comic-Con, Stan Mack’s TAXES, THE TEA PARTY, AND THOSE REVOLTING REBELS A History in Comics of the American Revolution has been garnering quite a bit of attention.

Stan appeared on the local San Diego Fox affiliate with fellow political cartoonists Paige Braddock and Doug TenNapel to discuss their work.

At SDCC, Stan appeared on Publisher’s Weekly “Serious Pictures: Comics and Journalism in a New Era” panel which also featured Ted Rall, Chris Butcher, Dan Carino, Ed Piskor, Andy Warner, Susie Cagle and Calvin Reid.

Reid told the audience that, “comics journalism “makes a complex narrative easier to understand.””

Mack shared his take, “Unless you’re on the front line doing breaking news stuff, we (cartoonists) tend to see the human side of politics, so [my work] was a picture of what was going around the people behind the explosions.”

Stan also appeared on the panel “Progressive Politics in Comics” with by Susie Cagle, Cecil Castellucci, Shannon Watters and Gail Simone.  After the panel, he spoke with San Diego Jewish World about TAXES, THE TEA PARTY, AND THOSE REVOLTING REBELS and the commonalities with an earlier work THE STORY OF THE JEWS: A 4000 YEAR ADVENTURE, which turned out to be the theme of “oppression.”

““This (TAXES, THE TEA PARTY, AND THOSE REVOLTING REBELS)  is kind of a bottom’s-up history as was my Jewish history.”   In the Jewish history, “what I imagined was my family in all these different centuries traveling and what they were facing.” His more recent book looked at “rising up against oppression coming from England.”   While the colonists were oppressed economically,  oppression for the Jews was both ” intellectual and physical, there still was that idea of people fighting against the system, trying to make some headway.””

Stan also spoke to FishbowlNY about how after reacquiring the rights to the book from now defunct publisher, Avon, he, “kept the original book in a drawer waiting for the right timing. He fine tuned the copy, while trying to make the American Revolution appear more relevant.”

“If you look at the elements: there’s taxation, depression, there’s the battle between big government and small,” Mack says. “… There’s a lot of stuff that resonates with the issues of the day.”

And finally, in a fantastic interview with with Salon, Stan discusses how the book addresses life in America today.

“Whether it’s health care, immigration, the tentacles of big government, foreign relationships, the environment — all of this year’s political issues seem to come down to a battle between, as I say in my book, Aristocraticks versus Democraticks, profit versus virtue, and individual liberty versus the public good.

Unlike the dangers that people in other countries face if they criticize their governments, about the biggest risk the Tea Party faithful and Occupiers face is having a Fox broadcasting crew chase them down the street waving microphones and cameras. And that’s because our Bill of Rights — which, by the way, was opposed by former revolutionaries John Adams, Hamilton, and Washington, and was pushed for by ordinary citizens until it was included — protects them.”


Stan Mack’s TAXES, THE TEA PARTY, AND THOSE REVOLTING REBELS A History in Comics of the American Revolution will be released later this month.

Tom Paine, propagandist

I was at NBM’s booth at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con promoting my Taxes, The Tea Party… book. I was also on two panels, one called Progressive Political Cartooning hosted by journalist and critic Douglas Wolk, the other on Comics and Journalism in a New Era put together by Calvin Reid of Publishers Weekly. Both panels featured young cartoonists (much younger than me) working as political reporters taking on serious topics and, in some cases, being advocates for the causes they’re covering. As they spoke, I reflected on the different uses of comics journalism.

I thought back to my time as a weekly cartoonist-reporter for the Village Voice. First, I had to overcome the expectation that if you worked in panels you were supposed to be funny. True, my early topics were more lighthearted, but more and more, I covered newsworthy events.

For example, look at one of my comic strips from 1989. Squatters in New York’s East Village have gathered to decide whether a homeless couple, Beth and Pete, should be accepted into the building. Beth and Pete wait outside the door. I was inside.

I was biased toward the squatters (some of whom were my friends), who were fighting the good fight, challenging the city and real estate interests by occupying abandoned buildings in a low-income neighborhood. They were protesting the displacement of the poor and the gentrification of the neighborhood. But, as in all movements, there was dissension in the ranks. Some saw the humanity of Beth and Pete’s situation, others acted like members of a co-op board from the Upper East Side.

My comics coverage was the only consistent inside view of the lives of these activists. Most of the media showed up on riot day. Some of the squatters would get pissed off when my strips didn’t toe the party line. But i wasn’t trying to be a propagandist for the movement—not that there isn’t a fine tradition of journalistic provocation in this country.

That point reminded me of Tom Paine as he appears in my book.

Paine was a brilliant and passionate writer whose work actually did something many pundits and advocates must fantasize about: His words changed people’s minds, and inspired them to get off their bottoms and take action. That has got to be a propagandist’s dream. But it wasn’t mine. I was trying to be a good reporter.

San Diego: a photo gallery

Better late than never, right? Sorry, was just too busy to getting around to this but we have some good pics of our doings in SD:

Stan Mack premiering the new edition of his graphic album on the American Revolution.
Fuzzy sorry, but Brooke Allen signing her Home for Mr. Easter and showing off all her fun little cast bunnies. Catch her at SPX, she'll have those with her.
See her page and blog here.
Cornnell Clarke of Eurotica's Peanut Butter series was signing there most of the time.


At a dinner at the Royal India in the Gaslamp Quarter, from left: Jim Salicrup, chief at Papercutz, Cornnell, me, Brooke, Stan Goldberg, famous Archie artist and now artist on Papercutz' 3 Stooges and Nancy Drew and Jolyon Yates, artist on Ninjago.
I couldn't help it!! Geary's wife Deborah (wearing some outrageous wig that night), Rick, me, Brooke.


Brooke, Stan, Jolyon
…and only in San Diego: an endless freight train lumbering past the Con. ctr. while thousands of fans wait to be able to leave the ctr at the end of the day!!


Small Summer Philosophies #2



Do we have Free Will? Anyone who grew up in a western civilization will probably answer YES to that question. Of course I have Free Will! Am I not completely free to decide what I will do or not do in the next second? I could choose to get up and go to the toilet, OR make myself a snack in the kitchen, OR I could even go out of the house, into the car and ride to Paris to start a new life!

But it’s not very likely that last thing will happen. Why not? Well, I’m just not that kind of person. So, my Free Will is limited by who I AM.

What makes me who I am? DNA and past experiences. Those two together seem to predestine me to DO certain things and NOT do a whole lot of others. So how much of a Free Will do I have then? My choices are a lot more limited than they seem at first.

I can’t change who I AM – that is fixed, by my genetics and by everything that I have experienced in my life so far. Does that also mean I can’t change what I will do in the next second? Is every future action also fixed? Nope. If my genes and background have predestined me to be afraid of heights, for instance, that does not prevent me from deciding to climb the Eiffel Tower tomorrow. I probably won’t. But maybe I have grown sufficiently fed up with my phobia. Maybe I feel I should confront my fears and overcome them. That might make me decide to do a course on “coming out on top of your vertigo” – and that will change who I am, which will change the range of choices I have in the future.

Maybe we shouldn’t call it FREE Will but FLEXIBLE Will. You can’t do something that’s completely opposite to who you are destined to be – but you can make a choice that nudges your personality into another direction, which opens up new possibillities to choose from.

I think.

(Unless it is already a fixed thing whether we are a person who can nudge their personality or not. In that case everything is predestined, after all.)

From 'Philosophy - a Discovery in Comics'


Stan’s book, will premiere this week at San Diego Comic-Con, and we’ve already got an early review and fantastic interview with Stan already!

Stan Mack’s Taxes, The Tea Party, and those Revolting Rebels brings Mack’s keen eye and ability to blend the everyday and the profound to the story of the American Revolution. Originally published in 1994 as Stan Mack’s Real Life American Revolution (a shout-out to his long-running Stan Mack’s Real Life Funnies), it has been updated and is as fresh today as it was back then. Mack has done his homework, so this is not a retread of the standard story; he brings a new perspective and a lot of hey-I-didn’t-know-that facts to the history we all thought we knew.

– School Library Journal


Stan also spoke with Imprint, a magazine focusing on art and design, about the book and providing a pretty good reason to check it out.

“If you read my book, you will no longer have to swallow what the right or the left tells you about the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, and the Bill of Rights. You can swallow your own conclusions.”

Read the full interview HERE.

Stan Mack will appear on two panels this week at Comic-Con; “Progressive Politics and Comics” on Thursday, July 12 at 1:00 PM in Room 32AB, and “Serious Pictures: Comics and Journalism in a New Era” on Sunday the 15th at 3:00 PM in Room 32AB.