And So

Well, another day is here. I went to Frank's comic sale over the weekend. My major find was Joe (brother of Tim) Vigil's Dog #1. Luckily, Joe "Jog" McCulloch covered it over in our old neighborhood. Like so many comics, the Jog description is better than thing itself, which is, as far as I'm concerned a time saver, allowing me to just page through, absorbing the essence of the shit without actually stepping in it. Frank manfully comped me that issue and then took a ten dollar bill off me for assorted other comics.

And so you can read more of Jog's thoughts (thusly avoiding reading more comics, which is a goal of mine) this very day since he mightily brings us a bunch comics coming out this week.


Daredevil artist Paolo Rivera announced he's leaving the title and Marvel to make his own work, and own it too. His and Mark Waid's Daredevil is a great superhero effort, and he's proven himself a very inventive cartoonist in the fine David Mazzucchelli-influenced lineage.

And lots of things are being previewed and people interviewed. Here's the great Brendan Burford, of King Features, interviewing editorial and Mother Goose & Grimm cartoonist Mike Peters. Noah Van Sciver talks about his Fantagraphics release, The Melancholic Young Lincoln at MTV. Over at Drawn & Quarterly there's a nice looking preview of the company's Pippi Longstocking graphic novel, Pippi Moves In. Apparently an artist has made a comic entirely by painting on walls. And Dave Sim reflects on his Kickstarter success. I didn't know he was working on a graphic novel about Alex Raymond's death. Finally, Tom Gauld comments on Ray Bradbury.

And on the history front, Steve Bissette on Tijuana Bibles and Richard Samuel West on post-Punch American cartoon weeklies. This time it's The Jester:

In the prospectus, Williams declared that The Jester’s contents would be "entirely original, both in letter press and embellishments, furnished expressly for this work, by the first authors and artists of the time.  In these days of general Copydom, and distorted locality, The Jester deemeth it not too presumptuous to advance that he will be the first to cast off the second-hand garments of European literature, which however excellent when ‘worn in their newest gloss’ must perforce lose, not only much of their fashion, but of their freshness, from the circumstance of travel.  He therefore, with a justifiable degree of pride, announceth that he will appear in a thoroughly new suit.  Home manufacture, both in weft and woof.  American in make, look and feeling!”

Now that's an intro.

33 Responses to And So

  1. Derik Badman says:

    “I didn’t know he was working on a graphic novel about Alex Raymond’s death.”

    I’m pretty sure that’s referring to the back half of Glamourpuss. I can’t imagine he’s making two comics about Raymond’s death.

  2. Kit says:

    It’s Dave Sim, I can totally imagine it!

    Though if it means more hamfisted fashion mag satire and less crazed mindreading of long-dead cartoonists possessed by other dead cartoonists spirits in Glamourpuss, I’m against it.

  3. David Roel says:

    Yeah, I would bet it’s a collection of the Glamourpuss material.

  4. Joe McCulloch says:

    It’s almost definitely the Raymond stuff from glamourpuss, since the series as a whole isn’t going to have a print collection (at least not anytime soon)… Sim’s putting out a dvd with digital versions of the first 25 issues instead.

  5. Jeet Heer says:

    The weird thing is a Dave Sim graphic novel about the death of Alex Raymond is actually something I’d like to read.

  6. Dan Nadel says:

    I didn’t know such a thing was being serialized. Huh. Unsurprisingly, I’m fascinated by Alex Raymond’s death and the whole cartoonist lifestyle of the time. Stan Drake was in the car!

  7. BVS says:

    me too

  8. Derik Badman says:

    If you haven’t been following Glamourpuss because of the completely ridiculous front half fashion parody, you should be following it for the photorealism/Alex Raymond content (and there’s a lot about Drake, too, Dan). It’s a really unusual and fascinating bit of work. Not sure how accurate we can consider it, considering how many assumptions Sim makes about the people involved, but he has done his homework on the factual elements.

  9. Joe McCulloch says:

    I sort of view it as the comics equivalent of an essay film (Godard, Herzog) where research has gone into it, but the conclusions are primarily personal or poetic…

  10. Dan Nadel says:

    Thanks for the info, Derik and Joe. I guess I’ll get the book when it comes out.

  11. Kim Thompson says:

    Absolutely. Sim has a real bias against Milton Caniff’s work (he’s on team Alex-and-Stan, with a vengeance) which makes for some odd moments at times, but I’ve been diligently buying up GLAMOURPUSSES for this half of the book. (Yes, the fashion half is completely unreadable, and even when it’s not overt, Sim’s well-known opinions on gender issues give his portrayal of airheaded models a disagreeable undercurrent.)

  12. Dan Nadel says:

    One my least/most favorite things about old school comics talk is the idea that there are sides: Caniff vs. Raymond, for example. It’s like rooting for a team, except you never, ever win ANYTHING. Kim, you’re making me want to walk into a shop and commit the genuinely frightening act of asking “do you have any Glamourpuss back issues?” Shudder. I will say this, though, if I had to choose who I was gonna hang out with, it would’ve been Raymond and Drake over Caniff. But I would have rather talked comics with Caniff who seems like genuinely knowledgable guy, but a square. In fact, we should commission an article: The cartoonists who were most fun to hang out with, circa 1954. This reminds me of the fantastic Cartoonist PROfiles article on Frank Robbins, which spends a good amount of space discussing the artist’s hi-fi system. Manly cartoonists doing manly things.

  13. Dan Nadel says:

    I can’t believe no one wants to argue with me about who was more fun to hang out with. This is the internet, where people argue about meaningless shit all day. Ah well. Life!

  14. Jeet Heer says:

    I don’t know about hanging out or teams but I’d strongly argue that Roy Crane was by far the most interesting of those adventure guys — a constant innovator, intellectually restless, very smart but without a pretentious bone in his body. Aside from Crane, I’d say that Caniff at his peak (say 1938 to 1942) was the best of the batch — a real storyteller and innovator with an interesting view of the world. Raymond, Drake, Robbins etc. all had their moments but are clearly secondary figures (how’s that for stirring the hornet’s nest of online outrage).

  15. R. Fiore says:

    The interesting thing I’d like to have a chance to talk to Crane about are the occasional radical dog whistles one finds in Wash Tubbs/Captain Easy: Gozy Gallup singing a Wobbly song on the hobo race (“accidentally” — like fun), Easy talking about going to Spain to fly for the Republicans (“they’re paying pilots good money” — but not as much as the other guys). Caniff though I think would be the most interesting conversationalist; he had a wide range of interest and awareness that went well beyond comics.

  16. R. Maheras says:

    Caniff, like Kirby, is one of those creators I would have loved to talk to just for an hour or so, but never got the chance.

    And my questions would have mostly eschewed deep philosophical stuff and focused primarily on the specifics of the creative process — from a project’s twinkle in the eye to completion. I don’t know how many interviews I’ve read where typical journalistic questions were asked, but the creative process was essentially ignored or glossed over.

    I mean, look at all the stuff we know about, say, Jack Kirby, yet there is prescious little out there about HOW he got his ideas, fleshed them out, and went through the process of putting them on paper. Does anyone know exactly how he used his supposedly substantial collection of reference material to catalyze or enhance a story? Did he get his story ideas by staring at the basement wall until he had an epiphany, or was there some sort of specific process he went through? How did he go about laying out a story? What were his biggest challenges during the penciling process? Did he do thumbnails on paper, in his head, or not do them at all? How much inking did he actually do during his career, and what steps did he go through when inking a page? How fast an inker was he? What inking materials did he use? Did he even LIKE to ink? Etc., etc., etc.

  17. Dan Nadel says:

    I bet Jeet has some insight into that aspect of Crane. And yes, Caniff was clearly very sophisticated and had a seriousness about his culture that I really respect. That’s partly what makes Harv’s massive biography so readable for me.

  18. Dan Nadel says:

    Jeet, I am outraged and appalled. Clearly you’re working against the true illustration cause! I’d like to have a better feel for Caniff-the-person than I do. You added a lot to the picture in the Sawyer intro, but I want more. Caniff at this peak (and I’d extend it to 1944) is really just amazing. I’m also enjoying the Steve Canyon IDW book — it’s wonky work at points, but the way he moves characters through a physical and plot space is so precise and surprising… Agreed he’s a better cartoonist than the rest at that point (although for erotic weirdness, just plain sexual confusion, inky sexual morass, or, pulp imagery — all things I love conditionally, you can’t beat Raymond), but I’d rather get drunk at a bar with Raymond and sit in the park with Robbins. Bonus points if you’ve ever wanted to visit a brothel with Al Capp! I have not. But I bet someone out there has.

  19. Chance Fiveash says:

    The strange thing about Caniff for me is…I love the “Caniff school” cartoonists more than Caniff himself. Lee Elias and Frank Robbins are a bit more exciting that ole’ Milt. On the Caniff vs. Raymond/Drake…eh, I have no irons in this fire. I love both schools of art for different reasons.

    I was going through an early issue of More Fun Comics yesterday (pre-superhero) and it was interesting that each story was drawn by an artist that was influenced by either Raymond, Caniff or Roy Crane. That’s a testament as to the impact those 3 had on budding cartoonists back then (and Foster as well, but Foster was hard to imitate).

  20. Jeet Heer says:

    Politically Crane and Caniff went through the same trajectory, although Crane was decidedly more on the left in the 1920 and 1930s. Crane actually rode the rails as a young man, more as a lark than out of poverty but that might have put him contact with real live Wobblies. In any case by there is a distinct left-populist streak in Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy. Caniff and Crane were both New Dealers by the late 1930s and worried about the rise of fascism in Europe and Asia. During WWII they jumped on the patriotism bandwagon and never go off, becoming Cold War liberals after the war and gradually moving to the right.

  21. Jeet Heer says:

    @Chance Fiveash. Agreed that some of the Caniff school took his style in a more exciting direction than Caniff himself, Toth being the best example of this. But Caniff was a storyteller as a well as stylist — and very few adventure comics have been as good as Terry and the Pirates at its best.

  22. Chance Fiveash says:

    Jeet, I’m certainly not disputing Caniff’s skills as a storyteller. I think Terry in it’s prime is wonderful. I was referring more to the art than anything else. I should have made that clear. And while I adore Toth and he was an early disciple of the Caniff style (although, in interviews he leaned more toward Sickles and Robbins as an influence…but not a stretch from Caniff by any means), he outgrew that style very quickly while others retained it for years…

  23. Derik Badman says:

    Drake gets a raw deal because his work was so soapy/melodramatic, but I’d rather read Juliet Jones than any of Caniff’s work.

  24. Briany Najar says:

    Well, I’m glad somebody finally mentioned Noel Sickles – I mean, fer Christ’s aches! (etc)
    I think it’s been noted – and if it hasn’t, I’m laying it down right now – that Robbins, especially on Johnny Hazard, was a bit more Sickles than he was Caniff. The early Terry I’ve seen seems a bit clear-line almost, compared to Sickles’ more gibbous, facet-y strokes – and Robbins’ Hazard is so voluptuously limned at times that I can almost feel/hear the brush wiping blackness across the support. I loves it.
    However, I suppose hanging out with Noel, a man whose career was set in place while he was still a teenager, would probably be somewhat constrained to chatting about great artists, rather than red light romps and arm-wrestling and/or fervent political debates. I dunno though, not read the books.
    Anyway, stop ignoring Noel Sickles, it’s so unfair!

  25. Jeet Heer says:

    Hi Derik — how much of Terry have you read? There are real problems with Caniff (the racism, the sometimes heavy use of esoteric hip talk and military jargon) but still at his peak he really created an involving narrative that had everything you’d want from a continuing adventure strip (including more than a little soap opera).

  26. Derik Badman says:

    I read 2 volumes of the IDW collections and one old Dragon Press (?) collection and… is there a stretch of strips in the Smithsonian book? So, a decent amount of Terry. I’ve read a couple of those Steve Canyon collections from Checker. The only Caniff I currently own is one of the Kitchen Sink Canyon volumes because the art is reproduced at such a nice large size.

  27. Dan Nadel says:

    I wouldn’t wanna choose between the two. It took me until just the last few years to actually enjoy Caniff. I think Juliet Jones is waaay better than its current stature might lead one to believe. It’s soapy, but pitched just right, and the storytelling is kind of miraculous.

  28. Jeet Heer says:

    I’ll agree with you that “Juliet Jones” is an under-rated strip. I myself like soap opera when its done well and Drake drew like a dream.

  29. Robert Boyd says:

    The problem with Sickles is that his stories are terrible. That’s why I hold Caniff in higher esteem–he was a really good artist but a great storyteller. (At least at his peak.) Robbins was a bit sillier than Crane but still good. Crane was an amazingly good story-teller. But Raymond wasn’t so great (which is not to take anything from his art). But Raymond was a genius story-teller compared to Sickles.

    (And let’s not forget Overgard. How about a “Complete Rudy”–Fantagraphics? IDW?)

  30. Eric Hoffman says:

    glamourpuss overall is a very mixed bag. Yes, the fashion magazine satire is, as Kim Thompson remarks, distasteful given Sim’s views on women, the humor is also quite mean-spirited and, as a result, often unfunny. Aside from some of the linework, there’s really not much to recommend here.

    The history of photorealism is far more interesting, at least from a historical standpoint (as someone else mentions here, Sim has done his homework) – it’s also legions above the fashion satires in that it is far less static, narratively speaking (Dave appears to have largely eschewed narrative post-Cerebus; can you blame him?) – yet there is an equally uncomfortable undercurrent of “anti-feminism” at work in Sim’s very speculative ruminations concerning the artists’ relationships with their wives. It feeds back into Sim’s view that any artist that submits himself to marriage or relationships with women will somehow end up compromising his artistic integrity.

    That said, I believe glamourpuss a worthwhile work – as with any work of art by a personality such as Sim’s, it probably says more about the artist than anything. It features some great art, but does have a disappointing reliance on computer fonts, particularly given Sim’s universally recognized talents as a letterer.

    The collected glamourpuss, from what I understand, will appear in digital form, but only the first 25 issues. Sim did mention a 26th issue, but I believe this will be the last in published form. Beyond that, I believe the series will continue, but only in an electronic format.

    As to what the hell is THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND, well, it seems quite likely that it will either simply be a reprint of the glamourpuss material (thankfully without the fashion satires) or a reprint with some new material to flesh out the story, or, what is less likely, an entirely new work.

  31. Kristine says:

    Talk: Crane
    Drink: Ditko, Eric Stanton, and Joe Maneely. That’d be a bender to (not) remember.

  32. Eddie campbell says:

    Jeet, Dan, I agree re. Juliet Jones. It was a pleasure to get the the three volumes lately published by Classic Comics. Previously I had ten slim books in Spanish (with two inserted in English) and was happy enough to just look at them. Reading it all in order makes it quite a different experience. The volumes of Mary Perkins by Starr are also excellent and I would dearly love a long run of Kotsky and Apartment 3G (I have just enough of it to know it’s first rate). I never understood why the fashion went against these comics.

    I even have a soft spot for Mary Worth by Saunders and Ernst back in its earliest days.

  33. Dan Nadel says:

    Yeah, the Classic Comics books of Juliet Jones and Mary Perkins are awfully good. Drake and Starr were on to something and had a good long run at it. I’ve never read the Kotzky work, but he was certainly an excellent cartoonist. A natural. There’s a Starr interview coming up in Alter Ego — he’s led a colorful life, and his partnership with Drake is interesting, too — I’m a fan of their work together on Kelly Green. As for why these things went out of fashion… as near as I can tell, they never had a fan base among the writers who made the history. Plus, there’s not been a logical way “back in” from a contemporary POV — they have no heirs, really.

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