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Clawing At The Eyes

Today at the Comics Journal, we've got a long one for you--and it's worth it. Next week sees the release of Clyde Fans, Seth's twenty-years-in-the-making graphic novel detailing the relationship between two brothers and the rise and fall of the the fan business they inherited. Initially serialized in issues of Palookaville, partially released in a hardcover 14 years ago, the upcoming release is nearly 500 pages long and contains everything one would associate with the idea of a "Seth comic"--methodical pacing, men in the throes, willing and otherwise, or ritual, the performance of ritual, heavy, monolithic line. Birds on signs, women with triangle hair, old habits, old hobbies. If I'm writing longer than is necessary to introduce a feature, it's only because these two--the book, and our interview--were both revelatory in a way I didn't anticipate. I've read everything Seth has made over the years, often immediately upon release, and I've read some great writing about the work--but I never found my way in. There was always a dour humor to his work that I didn't catch until later, when I was told how to find it, and I never felt as if I could catch the rhythm of his books in the way I felt taken along by his major contemporaries. Upon reading (and loving) the nerdcore jokemachine that is Wimbledon Green, I found myself often apologizing to him in my head, imagining that he'd be disappointed to know how to have a fan whose enthusiasm was reserved for crowdpleasers only. 

Reading Clyde Fans in conjunction with today's feature interview changed quite a bit of that. In this 30,000 word conversation with the cartoonist, which took place in the fall of 2018 between two longtime Seth scholars, Eric Hoffman & Dominick Grace, I found myself fascinated with his use of comics to unpack splinter factions of his own personality, surprised and excited to learn how much discovery is to be found in the way he creates a story, and inspired by his willingness to criticize and question the identity he's chosen to embrace over the decades that have formed his professional career. I wouldn't say that I feel like i'm owning a mistake--I always knew the guy was a talented artist--but it wasn't until now that I felt like that was something I felt and believed, which are two things a bit more valuable than mere knowledge.

(There's also a fair amount of gossip in this one, and I like those things quite a bit too.)

 

Quick

Today on the site, we have AJ McGuire's review of Graham Chaffee's To Have & To Hold.

In Graham Chaffee’s Big Wheels, published by Fantagraphics in 1993, the narrative is handed off from one character to another as they pass by each other or interact throughout a single day in the city. This is a timeless device in short fiction, films, and comics which allows the artist to focus on whatever catches their fancy and avoid that which doesn’t. In Chaffee’s To Have and To Hold, published by Fantagraphics in 2017, he returns to the same device, but uses it exactly once and employs it towards different ends. Rather than using it as a trick to avoid a cohesive full-length story, its in service to the themes and character arcs.

Plenty of fiction has multiple protagonists at different times throughout the narrative. But to abandon one and fully switch to a second is rare. Psycho, the 1960 proto-slasher blockbuster, did something like this with a major and unexpected switch from one protagonist to another. Robert Bloch, the author of the novel from which Hitchcock’s movie was adapted, used this trick often in his fiction. He would introduce a sympathetic character and then kill them off. Chaffee, though, does something different. He doesn’t kill off a sympathetic character but rather a character slowly over the course of the story is revealed to be less and less sympathetic at the same time as a second character is moving through an opposite character arc becoming more central to the story and the reader's sympathies. Similar to Psycho, the narrative can only fully switch to the new protagonist by the death of one at the hands of the other.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Fiona Smyth and Alootook Ipellie will be inducted into the Giants of the North Canadian Hall of Fame.

Fiona Smyth, an artist and teacher known for her groundbreaking comics tackling female sexuality, and Alootook Ipellie (1951–2007), a multi-faceted artist, writer, activist, and cartoonist recognized for his satirical comics about Inuit life in Canada, will be inducted next month into the Giants of the North Hall of Fame for Canadian cartoonists.

For more than three decades, Fiona Smyth’s work has straddled art, comics, and murals. Since her days as a student at the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University) in the mid-1980s, her comics have been marked by a bold and overt sexuality—rare for a female cartoonist at the time—that often, erroneously, saw her labeled an anti-feminist. Alongside her countless self-published zines, Smyth’s comics have appeared in Vice, Exclaim!, and her pioneering 1990s Vortex series, Nocturnal Emissions.

—Cleveland.com talks to John Backderf about his planned book about the Kent State shootings.

“I’ve boiled the story down to showing how it unfolded,” Derf said. “It’s a very personal account of this shocking event that still reverberates today. I think that’s when history is at its best, is when you boil it down to people.”

The book took three years of research by Derf, who pored over the archives at Kent State University and spoke to witnesses and victims of the shooting.

 

Not Sure

Today on the site, Joe McCulloch has our obituary for Kazuo Koike.

Kazuo Koike, the wildly prolific writer of Japanese commercial media, comics foremost among them, died of pneumonia on April 17, 2019. He was 82.

Born in Akita Prefecture on May 8, 1936 -- his true name was Seishu Tawaraya, though he may have been born under the given name Yuzuru -- Koike led an early life of disparate vocation. He studied law at Chuo University in Tokyo, but, like most students, did not pass Japan's formidable national bar examination. He studied writing with the novelist Kiichirō Yamate, but this brought him no success. Instead, he found work at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and took jobs in the leisure fields of golf and mahjong. It was not until his thirties, in 1968, that he arrived in comics via Saitō Production, the studio of popular gekiga artist Takao Saitō (b. 1936), who had broken away from the collective setup of the pioneering Gekiga Studio of the 1950s and built a house of mass production, an industrial sector of comics with room for a dedicated scriptwriter among the other work teams. Koike applied for the position, having caught word in a boys' comics magazine, and immediately became a unique figure in manga: a dedicated writer who did not come from any other literary field. Of historical note is his work on Saitō's Muyōnosuke, a period drama about a lone swordsman bounty hunter that brought Koike his first deep dip into comics jidaigeki, but western readers will best recognize Golgo 13, the still-running adventures of a sniper-for-hire, on which Koike served as founding scriptwriter with creator Saitō. The feature was devised for Big Comic, a new magazine aimed at teenagers and adult men; the character is introduced at the window of a hotel in Hamburg, bathed in neon, dispassionately smoking a cigarette while clad only in a pair of white briefs, a prostitute lolling in bed behind him. An era had begun.

Koike separated from Saitō Production in 1970, and strode promptly into renown. In a 2015 interview with the Criterion Collection, he would describe the Japanese comics scene at the time as a close-knit one where people knew each other; that was how he came to approach the artist Gōseki Kojima (1928-2000), a 41-year-old veteran of kamishibai, rental manga, and magazine serialization, to create a new period drama for the young male market. Lone Wolf and Cub -- in which Ogami Ittō, the shōgun's executioner, suffers the slaughter of his household and the ruin of his honor, and gives his child, Diagorō, the choice of the ball and the sword, and the child chooses the sword, and thus joins his father on the assassin's road -- was a grand success, running from 1970 to 1976, selling more than eight million copies in collected form in Japan, and launching a feature film series for which Koike wrote many of the screenplays; there were also two television series, and various sequels, parodies and homages. Portions of two of those Koike-scripted feature films would subsequently be edited together and dubbed into English, released to American theaters in 1980 as Shogun Assassin, a blood-drenched foundation for Koike's overseas fame, beloved by cult movie enthusiasts on VHS, though few at that time would recognize the writer's name.

Matt Seneca is here, too, with a review of Julian Glander's 3D Sweeties.

When I'm bored at work, which happens enough to have caused my return to writing comics criticism after years away from the field, one of my favorite things to do is pull up and peruse all my liked posts on Twitter or Instagram. It feels like this should be a foregone conclusion, and maybe it is, but I sure don't see it discussed very much: memes represent an evolution of the comics medium. The basic formula of making humor out of an incongruous juxtaposition of a visual statement with another element, be it visual or textual, is functionally identical to the soil of political and gag cartoons that the comics form sprouted from. This dude is a comic. So is this thing, and this. That one you just favorited probably is too!

I think a big part of what's driving the amount of discussion around Olivia Jaimes's rendition of Nancy is the way it uses the extreme short form and funny technology gags to spotlight just how strong the connective tissue between traditional comics and memes really is. It'd sure be nice to have a few more things like that one though! For a medium situated in such close proximity to what's arguably become the lingua franca of 21st century discourse (no shit!), the bulk of comics seems rather uninterested in exploring meme mechanics or considering ways to try and draft off the insane momentum of the new art form that's moved in next door.

Enter Julian Glander and 3D Sweeties! On the most formal level, Glander's book has no more in common with memes than anything else that comes out new on Wednesday: his pages are organized into gridded sequences of square boxes featuring pictures of characters doing and saying things. But the online-obsessed, non-sequitur, punchline-implying more than punchline-delivering things they do and say feel a lot more like the kind of igs your friends show you to break up a quiet moment at the bar than they do the funny papers, and the visual world they inhabit is more exotic still. Glander's digital drawings are both incredibly weird and incredibly beautiful, and they're definitely the best part of this book. 3D Sweeties' computerized characters wander far afield indeed from the human or even traditional anthropomorphism: a sentient cup ("Cuppy", duh) is the closest thing the book has to a star, and most of its best sequences follow the travails and shit-talk of shiny, slimy forms with blasé attitudes. More notable still are Glander's neon color schemes, which look drowned in Kool Aid and then dried out in a desert of Fun Dip (thinking about it, Kool Aid Man is probably the comics character most similar to this book's cast).

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Ailsa Chang at NPR talks to Darrin Bell.

CHANG: So what was it about the trial involving Trayvon Martin's death that inspired you to start doing editorial cartoons again?

BELL: Well, the trial of George Zimmerman pretty quickly turned into the trial of Trayvon Martin as far as I was concerned. It seemed like it was a criminal trial of the person who had been killed. And half the country basically decided that Trayvon Martin was responsible for his own death before the trial even started. And they didn't change their minds no matter what they saw. And around the same time, my wife and I found that we were pregnant with my first son. And it occurred to me that if he were to grow up and something like this were to happen to him, half the country would say he had it coming. And I wanted to protect him. The only way I knew how to do that was through cartoons. That's what I do.

The most recent guest on the RiYL podcast is Lauren R. Weinstein.

Lynda Barry and Matt Groening appeared together at Case Western Reserve University.

Barry and Groening met at Evergreen State College when Groening heard Barry had written to one of his favorite authors, Joseph Heller, and received a response. Barry wrote about how much she loved his novel “Catch-22” and asked him to marry her. Heller wrote back, “I’d like to marry you, but I don’t want to live in the dorms.”

... Groening also shared a question a college professor asked him: “You do what you do adequately well, is it worth doing?” Groening admitted he grapples with this question daily.

 

Lost Cities

Matthias Wivel is here with a new installment of his Common Currency column. This time, he focuses on the latest book by Posy Simmonds, Cassandra Darke.

Cassandra Darke, the titular protagonist of Posy Simmonds’ latest comic, is the cartoonist's most heroic figure so far, the book an assertive step in the direction of more proactive social engagement, more upbeat than previous efforts but with the same cynical undercurrent. As in her previous long-form comics—Gemma Bovery was based on Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Tamara Drewe on Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd—it wears its literary source material loosely if comfortably. Cassandra is a modern Scrooge, convinced of her own contentment in isolation, yet compelled beyond it.

Set in London, key points in the story appositely take place around Christmas of 2016 and 2017, between which Cassandra’s circumstances change considerably. She is the proverbial unlikely heroine: a portly 71-year-old art dealer running the business she co-founded with her ex-husband, who since married her stepsister and yet handed over the day-to-day to her due to the onset of Alzheimer’s. When we first meet her, she looks like the long-lost cousin of Grandma Giles, sheathed in a puffer coat and a low-set trapper hat. Roaming the holiday rush at Picadilly on a sugar high fueled by a box of macaroons from the Burlington Arcade, she is about to be outed as a fraud.

It turns out she has issued and sold unauthorized copies of a bronze sculpture by one of the artists she represents. According to her unreliable narration—Simmonds likes those—she did it to placate the market out of contempt for collectors who see only investment where she sees art. It seems clear, however, that the reason was mostly that she needed the cash in order to support her lavish lifestyle—her house in Brittany, her holidays in five-star hotels, her live-in housekeeper and her penchant for fine wine—in a field that for most smaller business owners are bringing diminishing returns these years, especially if they are unwilling to adapt.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Lone Wolf & Cub co-creator Kazuo Koike has died. We will have more coverage soon.

The pioneering comics scholar Donald Ault also passed away recently, which we also plan to cover more fully. In the meantime, the International Journal of Comic Art blog has republished a short memoir written by Ault.

In 1968 it was unthinkable to me that as a beginning literature professor, I could incorporate comic books -- especially Donald Duck comics which I had admired since I was a child -- into upper division and graduate courses at a major research institution. ... My mentors cautioned me against introducing the study of comic books into my professional profile for university teaching because, as Arthur Asa Berger has noted, popular culture studies were looked down upon at that time by "serious" scholars at research institutions. Drawing attention to my interest in Donald Duck, they said, would surely jeopardize my chances of getting (and keeping) a high-powered teaching job. Consequently, though I had been reading and collecting comics for over twenty years, my academic studies had sequestered me from comic "fandom" and the intellectual movements, especially in Europe, that had made great strides in legitimizing comics and raising their cultural profile through exhibitions such as those organized by Maurice Horn and others. I knew nothing of the various comics "clubs" formed at private universities including Harvard, and I was unaware that Terry Zwigoff (later the director of "Crumb" and "Ghost World") had already been teaching non-credit courses that focused on Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics at the University of Wisconsin in 1966-1967. At that time it would have been inconceivable to me to learn, as Wolfgang Fuchs has remarked, that Donald Duck comics were already one of the "darlings of [European] intellectuals." Even though I was just across the Bay from San Francisco State, I didn't know that Arthur Asa Berger was teaching courses in comic strips using diverse analytical tools such as semiotics. In 1968 I did not yet know Carl Barks's name, and I feared the anonymous author, who I was sure had both written and drawn his own stories, had died, or certainly retired, since the steady flow of his comic book work had suddenly stopped in mid-1967, replaced at first by reprints and later by pale imitations.

—History. For Hogan's Alley, Jean Kilbourne writes about the sexual harassment and manipulative behavior she encountered during her experiences with Al Capp.

Brilliant and talented, Capp also was a depraved predator. In February of 1968 he was asked to leave the University of Alabama (where he had been invited to give a lecture) after being accused of making “indecent advances” to four college students in the space of a few days.[1]

According to reporter Jack Anderson, Capp told a young woman who had delivered some materials to his hotel room that he was impressed with her and discussed the possibility of hiring her to help produce the "Capp on Campus" radio series, then in progress. He began making forceful advances toward her and exposing himself to her. I was struck by the following: “Although she was not injured, she was sufficiently upset by the experience to be admitted a few days later to the university infirmary where she remained under sedation for several days.”

—Reviews & Commentary. Maggie Umber writes about how her company 2dcloud has survived health concerns and financial difficulties and other obstacles.

Before I got sick in 2018, Raighne and I got divorced. I relocated with him to Chicago, we collaborated on my graphic novel 270° and launched a book collection on our revamped website. I did all the touring for 2dcloud while Raighne worked four jobs. However, there still wasn't enough money to pay artist royalties, printer and credit card debt. Every week people dropped out of our lives, cancelled book deals, contracts. Our company shrunk down from a team of people to us and our publicist Melissa.

Any sane person would have given up, but 2dcloud was our baby. Unfortunately, 2dcloud cost us our marriage and me my health but it also brought so many wonderful and weird books into the world. We didn't want to give up on our baby.

—Crowdfunding. Bill Mantlo's younger brother Michael has undergone severe financial hardship while caring for his disabled sibling, and has set up a GoFundMe to solicit help.

My big brother is, and has been, permanently disabled for the last 27 years, and I willingly accepted the responsibility of being appointed his caregiver all those years ago.

I have been attempting to bring my brother home from the nursing home he has been placed in for the last 10 years. It has been a difficult struggle, filled with numerous pitfalls and obstacles, but I gave my word to him that I would do everything in my power to make it happen so that he could live out the rest of his life with dignity, and peace. It has become painfully obvious to me in the last few months that the powers that be will not let that happen.

 

As You Will Be

Today at the Comics Journal, we're basking in ongoing Sloane Leong content: this Friday, she's talking with Antonio Hitos, another one of the artists-in-residence at Maison de Auteurs. Rules and Peanuts--there's nothing I don't love about both of those subjects.

In the past couple of years, especially in the field I’m in which is part of a more rigid tradition, the comics are just storyboards for movies or they’re just pitches for a tv show.

Yeah, that’s a shame. I mean, comics can also be cool just because the story is interesting or the drawings are fun or whatever, they can work that way just fine. But it would be so much better if, on top of that, they were also exploring the possibilities that are inherent to their own language.

Exactly, yeah. I totally agree. What are some challenges that come up when you work in such a…I don’t want to say strict—

It is strict.

Today's review comes to us from Keith Silva, and its on Ascender #1, the latest comic from content machine Jeff Lemire. It's a negative review of the comic and Lemire in general

Perhaps it’s too harsh to rest Ascender’s bankruptcy of ideas on only one of its storytellers when Lemire’s script shoulders as much (more?) of the burden. Lemire works his familiar familial theme into Ascender which his readers have come to expect and depend upon. Like legions of others, Lemire has made a prosperous living and professionally respectable career being a family guy. He’s never met a damaged ragamuffin or traumatized and (mostly) straight white male whom he hasn’t found a way to write into a family either by their own blood or manufacture. When not hammering home ‘the family,’ Lemire’s stories stick to the most popular literary themes: love, war, survival, coming-of-age, good vs. evil, etc. This isn’t to fault Lemire for writing stories that rely on popular literary themes, but to point out he’s more run-of-the-mill than exceptional. And yet he maintains steady employment, receives positive critical attention and is more prolific than many of his peers: there are a lot of middling comics on the shelves bearing the name Jeff Lemire.

 

Secret Projects

Cynthia Rose has returned to TCJ with a monster of an article (the good kind of monster), reporting on the Pulp Festival outside Paris, new books and exhibits by and about two major cartoonists—Posy Simmonds and Catherine Meurisse—as well as interviews with both cartoonists.

The Pulp Festival "forces comics out of their frames," in order to mix them up with all the other arts. As well as hosting guest stars and staging exhibitions, Pulp combines BD with music, dance, film and a range of offbeat happenings. But one of the best things about it is that it happens at La Ferme du Buisson.

Just beyond the edge of Paris, this is a former farm that dates from 1879. Developed by the Menier family of chocolate barons, it once fed hundreds of their workers and supplied the beetroot used in their chocolates. Now its one-time stables and dairies have become studios, theaters, cinemas and a médiathèque.

Ferme Director Vincent Eches conceived Pulp in 2013. This, its sixth edition, proved every bit as ingenious as bigger-name fêtes. One reason was its stars: the artists Posy Simmonds and Catherine Meurisse. Simmonds is the subject of a major retrospective, called "J'ai deux amours" ("I Have Two Loves") and Meurisse created a Festival installation, D'après nature ("From Nature"), based on her book Les Grandes Espaces ("The Wide Open Spaces"). Pulp also celebrated the French debut of Cassandra Darke – Posy Simmonds' first graphic novel in eleven years – and the monograph So British! The Art of Posy Simmonds by critic Paul Gravett.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—This year's Pulitzer winner for editorial cartooning was Darrin Bell.

Michael Cavna at the Washington Post profiled Bell.

Amy Lago, his longtime Post Writers Group editor, says she had been urging Bell to do editorial cartoons since she arrived at the syndicate in 2004. “There were two things that prompted him to finally accept: the death of Trayvon Martin and the birth of his son,” says Lago, who calls Bell “quite possibly the hardest-working cartoonist among my [many] acquaintances.”

(At one point, she notes, Bell was writing and drawing two daily comic strips, creating three editorial cartoons a week, successfully submitting New Yorker cartoons and working on a “secret” storyboard project.)

—Tillie Walden's On a Sunbeam won this year's LA Times Book Prize. That award has a good record.

—At PW, Deb Aoki writes about MariNaomi and her Cartoonists of Color and Queer Cartoonists databases.

Both sites provide a resource for comics creators, publishers, editors, librarians, academics, journalists and event managers; anyone looking to discover new creators. Largely created and funded by MariNaomi, both databases are free for artists to join and free for anyone to use. Cartoonists can submit their contact info to the database to be listed.

MariNaomi (who is half-Japanese) said that the need for the databases occurred to her after she noticed an article that spotlighted “20 female cartoonists who draw themselves naked.” Although delighted that the article focused on women making comics, MariNaomi was dismayed that the story included only white women cartoonists.

“I was sick and tired of feeling invisible; tired of not seeing diverse representation and of hearing that there weren’t diverse creators out there, which I suspected was bullshit” she said. “It inspired me to start telling stories about race, which was something that I had avoided since I was told that my story wasn’t universal enough a few years back.”

 

WRENSDAY

Today at the Comics Journal, we're sharing a 22 page look at Nobrow's Darwin: An Exceptional Voyage. I first heard about this book when one of the people (not a Nobrow employee) who worked adjacent to it condescended to me about how he'd already read it, and hadn't realized how good Nobrow was until he had read that specific book, and why hadn't I told him about the book before? (At the time of this conversation, I had not worked at Nobrow for 16 months and had never heard of the Darwin book.) As I was listening to him and nodding and wondering how soon I could leave the conversation and go anywhere else in the world, I realized that he must think that I care to be this nasty--he must think I want something, to talk like this? But I had just said "hi", you know, trying to buy time to surreptitiously look at his name tag. Never figured that one out. Comics is a weird business.

Today's review comes to us from Josh Kramer, and he's taking a look at Brian Fies A Fire Story, the extended hardcover edition of Brian losing his house in a 2017 California wildfire, which he had previously described in a webcomic.

On the first page, after Fies’ name, an asterisk leads to text at the bottom that reads, “but not to his usual standards.” This caveat makes the deft cartooning and vulnerable storytelling that follows all the more impressive. But it also begs the question, what would this be like if it were up to Fies’ standards? The full-length graphic novel version, also titled A Fire Story, came out this March from Abrams ComicsArts. And not only is the book inspired by the original webcomic, it is more or less a faithful recreation.

Over on Facebook, you can find an impressive collection of Alberto Breccia images. If you'd like to see them without Zuckerberg's involvement, there's two exhibitions--one in Argentina, one in France--that'll solve that problem for you. For more information 0n that, John Freeman has you covered.

Over on Tumblr, our very own Matt Seneca has launched a webcomic edition of his Infinite Prison--according to him, you've only got a couple of weeks to read it, so get cooking.

RIP, Kazuhiko "Monkey Punch" Katou. The manga creator most known for Lupin III reportedly passed away last week

 

Lumpen

Today on the site, TCJ stalwart Bob Levin takes a look at Andrew Whyte's recent book about Maxon Crumb, Art Out of Chaos.

Whyte comes across as someone who has seen enough art to be confident in his own judgments. He considers Maxon’s writings to be “complex” and “intriguing,” “alien” yet “erotic.” He finds his visuals “extraordinary,” “perceptive... and original,” “provocative and profound,” rich with “foreboding,” demonstrating “arrestive inventiveness” and mastery of “composition, detail and technique.” Most impressively to me – since it underscores my own shortcomings – is his ability to get beyond Maxon’s externals and, while avoiding none of them, relegate them to a place where they do not interfere with his gaze. He views Maxon’s deviations from the norm no differently than most of us would another’s choice of eyeglass frames.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Nominees for this year's Doug Wright Awards have been announced, and include Michael DeForge, Hartley Lin, John Martz, and Fiona Smyth.

Slate and CCS have announced the winners of their annual Cartoonist Studio Prize: Keiler Roberts for print, and Lauren R. Weinstein for online.

—Reviews & Commentary. For The New Yorker, Stephanie Burt reviews Tillie Walden's On a Sunbeam.

The big, densely plotted volume has all the virtues of “Spinning,” plus the scale, the sense of wonder, and the optimism intrinsic to what’s called space opera or science fantasy. (Think “Star Trek” and Starfleet Academy.) As with “Spinning,” it can be hard to equal in prose the comic’s inviting, spare line work, use of black-and-white, and expressive qualities. (Walden can make one pen stroke on one character’s face equal two pages of dialogue.) “On a Sunbeam” is at once a queer coming-of-age story, a story about how to salvage lost love and youth, and a multigenerational story about how to thrive in a society that does not understand who you are or what you can do. It is the kind of story that adults can and should give to queer teens, and to autistic teens, and to teens who care for space exploration, or civil engineering, or cross-cultural communication. It is also a story for adults who were once like those teens, and the kind of story (like the Aeneid, but happier) whose devotees might occasionally return to it, hoping for divine advice from a randomly chosen line, or panel, or page.

At The Nation, Jillian Steinhauer writes about Mark Dery's biography of Edward Gorey.

For 33 years, Edward Gorey rented an apartment in Manhattan. The author and artist hated New York City, but like so many others, he had moved there after college to embark on a career. The one-room apartment, at 36 East 38th Street, was Gorey’s refuge, his “cabinet of wonders, bohemian atelier, and Fortress of Solitude rolled into one,” as the cultural critic Mark Dery puts it in his new biography, Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey. The place was crammed with books, art, and miscellaneous objects that Gorey had collected, often memento mori. These included a real mummy’s head, which, by the time Gorey lost his lease in 1986, was sitting on a shelf in a closet, wrapped in brown paper. When he was away in Cape Cod, as the story goes, Gorey asked some friends to pack up his things for him, but they managed to miss the head. Instead, the super found it.

“I got a call from a detective at some precinct or other who said, ‘Mr. Gorey, we’ve discovered a head in your closet,’” the artist recalled in an interview. Gorey responded, “Oh, for God’s sake, can’t you tell a mummy’s head when you see one? It’s thousands of years old! Good grief! Did you think it took place over the weekend?”

Nicholas Theisen writes about the ethics of scanlations.

I’m back on my bullshit, because the whole discourse surrounding the “wrongness” of scanlation that I constantly see on social media, frankly, drives me bonkers, in part because people on “either side” of the issue never seem to be asking the useful questions or speaking from a shared set of facts. The anti-scanlation crowd is largely made up of people who either are professional translators or work in publishing, in other words those who directly benefit from the existing copyright regime. If I were being more fair, perhaps I would describe this group as those who have firsthand knowledge of the negative impact of scanlation in the manga distribution economy. On the other side we have the, if not pro-scanlation, then at least scanlation agnostic who speak almost solely from the perspective of readers and consumers in a market economy. In other words, the “two sides” are arguing from two completely different realities.

And I say manga distribution economy, because whether the two sides like it or not, the licit and “illicit” trades in translated Japanese comics are not wholly distinct entities. They are, in fact, inextricably linked to one another.

—Interviews. NPR interviews Cathy Guisewite.

—RIP. Gene Wolfe.