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Archie’s Black Book

Today on the site, we are posting the Comics Journal’s 1992 interview with the late, great Jack Davis, conducted by Lee Wochner.

WOCHNER: If I shoot some names at you, maybe you can give me some profiles about what you remember of them. Bill Gaines…

DAVIS: Bill was always just a very generous person. He was a big guy. I think he’s kind of shy, but he’s his own man. He’s full of a lot of love for people. He’s just a very giving person, and he’s a good businessman, and I respect him an awful lot. If it hadn’t been for him, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now. I might be somewhere else, of course, but I like where I am now and I owe it all to Bill. There’s a certain chemistry we all had with the horror bit. He enjoyed the horror bit, he enjoys his humor, and he enjoys having a good time… and it’s a family thing. I think that when people come in from the outside, be it a writer or an artist, it’s pretty much a compliment because he’s the one who says, “OK, bring him.”

WOCHNER: Al Feldstein…

DAVIS: Al is the guy who gave me my first job and I think he’s a very good editor. He makes sure that everything runs right, that deadlines are met, and he’s put me on the carpet quite a few times for being late, and I’ve never had that from anyone else. I’ll be late sometimes, but Al really used to chew me out, and I needed it. I think, also, he was a genuinely good man, but he was concerned about MAD and running everything right, and he did it that way, and expected in return that you do a good job and not lay back. Every time I’d bring something in, he’d say, “Well, you didn’t knock yourself out on this,” and I didn’t — sometimes I would, and that would make me mad, but that’s an editor, and that’s his job.

Rob Clough is here today too, with a review of Peter Kuper’s Ruins.

In many respects, Ruins is a fictionalization and recapitulation of Peter Kuper’s 2010 book Diario de Oaxaca, which was a highly elaborate sketchbook diary of his time living in Mexico around 2006. Oaxaca is well known as a tourist center that draws in a lot of ex-pats because of its unique charms and focus on the arts. Cartoonists like Steve Lafler and Carrie McNinch have also spent time living there. During Kuper’s tenure, Oaxaca’s annual teacher’s strike for higher wages turned into a brutal military crackdown, and Kuper captured that with his drawings. He also became fascinated by the insect life he observed and was interested in capturing all aspects of living in the town without romanticizing them. Still, his love of Oaxaca despite (and mostly because of) its quirks was obvious when reading the book. Kuper is one of the founders of the politically charged anthology World War III Illustrated, and awareness of the social justice ramifications of what he saw came naturally to him. That said, it was surprising to see that both in his diary and in the fictionalized Ruins, he never examines his own role as an ex-pat and what effect he had had on Oaxaca, be it positive or negative.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Steve Dillon, the British artist who co-created Preacher, has passed away at the age of 54, reportedly due to a rupture appendix.

Mr. Dillon was a legend among comic-book fans and considered a master of his craft by colleagues. Known for a deeply expressive, often humorous style that leapt off the page, he created characters that could communicate volumes with a single expression.

His “pages were as fluid as camerawork, as efficient and composed as theater,” the novelist and comic-book writer Warren Ellis, a fan of Mr. Dillon’s work, said in an interview. “Everything breathed.”

—For Paste, Shea Hennum interviews Anya Davidson.

I don’t think I’ve seen many people talking about purposefully choosing certain coloring methods. How do you make that decision about what’s best for the project?

I think most sane people stick with one coloring method. I’m always wanting to experiment. But I just feel it out. I have a vibe in mind that I want to convey. Like my book Lovers in the Garden is set in ‘70s New York, and it’s kind of a novella, so I thought that would be a good project to try a combination of different types of markers and colored pencils. It has kind of a gritty vibe, and it’s shorter and the original pages are smaller, so I had the luxury of going all out on the hand coloring. If I want something to look slicker, I color it digitally. I’m still working it all out. I probably always will be.

—The film critic David Bordwell writes at length about Archie comics, prompted by a recent reading of Bart Beaty’s Twelve Cent Archie.

Hergé liked to keep his scene’s space clear and consistent, modifying it slightly with “cut-ins” and “pans.” [Harry] Lucey, like other American comics artists, freely changes angle and even character arrangement to create variety and to point up dialogue. In one pair of panels, the change of angle is bold, slicing off half of Archie’s face to give greater emphasis to Betty’s angry arm-thrust and Ronnie’s reaction on the far right.

—Dash Shaw:


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