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Secret Briefings

Today on the site, Annie Mok returns with a very fun email interview with Space Academy 123's Mickey Zacchilli.

I think a lot of burgeoning cartoonists see you as something of an artistic hero. Have you seen or heard about your influence on other cartoonists and their work? Are there artists you, in turn, have work you’ve been influenced by?

Uhhh I haven't heard this, about me being an artistic hero haha. There are a lot of artists and works I'm influenced by, of course! Jillian Tamaki and CF, as I mentioned above. Brian Chippendale has certainly been an influence on me but please don't ever talk to me about Fort Thunder. I'm always inspired by Michael DeForge (SA123 wouldn't exist were it not for Leaving Richard's Valley, which was Michael's daily Instagram comic that inspired me to start my own) and lately I've been reading the Naruto manga which has been really inspiring, for like, life in general haha, also watching Avatar: The Last Airbender (about to start Legend of Korra) which has been similarly inspiring and energizing in lots of ways. It feels stressful to make a list of people who inspire me right now because I'm really bad at recalling things off the top of my head and might forget to include a person that is particularly inspiring to me or something!!! So i'm not gonna do that. But there are so many amazing cartoonists working today! I feel inspired just thinking about reading comics. I just really like comics right now I guess!

One of your signatures is speech balloons with the tails connecting right to the speakers’ mouths, and hand-lettering with a lot of flair and personality. The decision, of course, makes no more or less sense than any other of the visual languages comics has developed over the last century, but it’s striking. When I read your comics, this touch makes me think about how the characters are communicating, how they may sound when they talk, in a way I may not get from more traditional speech balloons and lettering. How did you come to these approaches to balloons and letters?

I started doing the word bubbles that way because I used to not be so good at anticipating the layout, so I would just have to squeeze the bubbles in wherever, and sometimes it would be really confusing as to who was speaking if the bubble didn't connect directly to their mouth haha. So, it came about out of necessity. I still do it because I think it's way easier to understand that way, and it always felt kind of weird to me that the word bubbles are often added after the drawing is done, just overlaying the drawing, like they aren't an integral part of the comic?

Also I found I could break up the bubbles (sometimes a character will have two or three bubbles coming out of his mouth in the same panel) which allowed me to control the pacing of the speech -- so I was able to deliver it to the reader in a more specific manner, like in a movie! Hope that makes sense. I guess you can do that with regular word bubbles too!

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Hannah Berry talks about the financial difficulties of life as a graphic novelist. (Via The Beat.)

Let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we? We’ve come this far together, let’s not get all coy about the financial side of things:

As a comicker I’m extremely fortunate to be published by Jonathan Cape, who as part of Penguin Random House are able to afford a bigger advance than a lot of other publishers of graphic novels. Specifically, for Livestock mine was £10,000. (NB never ask a prose novelist about their advances at similar points in their career because it will keep you up at night.) You only get a portion of this advance on signing the contract, though - the rest you get on delivery of the final thing and on publication. My editor is a kindly man, and so he arranged for the portion on signature to be £5,000.

Fortunately the Arts Council also offer grants under their Grants for the Arts scheme, and I made a successful bid (fourth time lucky) for just over £10,000. The various bits of freelance work I did on the side amounted to maybe another £9,000. Altogether that makes an income of approximately £24,000 over three years.

—Angouleme has named its Grand Prix nominees: Emmanuel Guibert, Rumiko Takahashi, and Chris Ware.

 

What About The Feelings

You may think you're at The Comics Journal, but that's where you're wrong, Buster. Today, you're at the Ariel Schrag Journal. We're starting things off with a nice long interview, courtesy of Schrag Superfan, Noah Berlatsky. In this section, Ariel talks about some of the complaints she faced after the release of her novel, Adam.

So I guess the thing after- after that was Adam, which we talked about a little bit. I guess I was curious with Adam, what kind of feedback you’ve gotten from trans readers.

Well I’ve gotten- well there’s personal feedback I’ve gotten from friends of mine who are trans and then there’s the internet, which is a whole other level of feedback.

Were people very critical?

Are you not aware of the extreme backlash that the book received?

No, I’m not.

Oh, yeah. There was a lot of criticism of it. For various reasons. It kind of turned into a bit of a wildstorm where many people who just hadn’t even read the book but just didn’t like the premise, you know, would go online and be like “this is the worst book I’ve read the synopsis of."

So, the book isn’t perfect or anything and if somebody is pissed off or reads it and has a critique then I’m interested in that but it’s kind of hard, at least on the internet- it’s kind of hard to find that within the barrage of people who haven’t read it or who skimmed it or who just want something to be angry about.

But most people- I have a lot of trans friends who have read it, and there are a lot of reviews by trans people that were positive and some that are negative. As long as somebody put thought into it I’ll pay attention. But, the main thing that people took issue with were that they don’t like the idea that a lesbian would date a trans man because that means she’s not a lesbian. Which is the point of the book.

There's also a lot of difficulty with people understanding the difference between showing a character doing something bad and condoning that behavior. But they also don’t like it because it promotes incest, because Adam watches his sister have sex. It’s just weird to me. It’s not how I’ve ever experienced media-

You didn’t get these kinds of criticisms for Awkward and Potential?

No, but I don’t think as many people have read those so maybe they would- there’d be more-

Let's not stop there. Move right on into our review of the day, which is of the Parts of It collection mentioned by Ariel in the interview. Nate Chazan, take the wheel:

Autobio comics trick you into having empathy. When we read comics, we articulate voices and imagine their utterance, and on some level I think we convince ourselves we understand the emergence of thoughts and feelings onto the page. In autobio, our reading enters us into role-play as the author, and without realizing it we begin to view their perception of the world as normal. The talented artist of autobio have the power to make something particular appear universal, to make us take the truth of an experience for granted before we even construct it as an experience. (This power can also be abused -- the reader of recent Chester Brown or an irritating self-help webcomic[1] alike will often find themselves asking, “who let you into my head?”)

Over at The Guardian, you'll find an extensive look at the 2019 comics most likely to be reviewed by major media outlets, courtesy of that white guy with the beard who wears sweaters and handles basically 94% of comics related publicity

Over at The Beat, they've got their final installment in their annual Creator Survey results, which focuses on their Comics Industry Person of the Year. (You get one guess, although you'll need two). The survey goes on past the top line to touch upon various creators and titles, with special admiration reserved for the Publisher of the Year: Annie Koyama.

 

Meat-Heavy

Today on the site, Rob Clough's High-Low column returns with a look at the comics of E.A. Bethea.

E.A. Bethea's comics read as detailed, confessional fever dreams. Her comics have the cadence of poetry, the text and images coalescing into commentaries on visual detritus, hilarious observations, charged and frequently sexual memories, and fascinating personal and cultural details. She's been fairly prolific of late, and Domino Books published a collection of her work titled Book of Days Daze. It is unfortunately printed on cheap newsprint instead of the thicker paper stock she's used in self-published comics like Faded Frankenstein and All Killer, No Filler. That said, those latter two comics had limited print runs, so the Domino edition is most people's best chance to read Bethea's work. Despite its limitations in this format, it is my choice for the single best single-issue minicomic/zine of 2018.

Faded Frankenstein, from 2016, is my favorite of her collections. Bethea ranges from nine to twelve panels per page, shakily hand-drawn as though she had no time to indulge in precision. There's a furious flow to her writing that makes it seem as though it's bursting out of her pen, each page a separate explosion of images and memories that demand to be expressed. Sometimes a page will have a single image. Other pages are illustrated text in an open-page format. Some of her stories have a conversational feel, as though she was confessing them to the reader at one of the hole-in-the-wall bars that she favors. Others are directly poetic, didactic or purely observational. All of them are dense and immersive, demanding a reader's full attention.

We also have a preview excerpt from Alexander Utkin's The Water Spirit.

Finally, one correction. As a reader kindly pointed out, an apparent excess of eggnog and fruitcake during the holiday season led to tabulation errors when we tallied votes from participants' lists of the best comics of 2018.

The actual combined votes lead to the following consensus list for 2018:

1. Jason Lutes, Berlin (Drawn & Quarterly), 16 votes
2. Julie Doucet, Dirty Plotte: The Complete Julie Doucet (Drawn & Quarterly), 13 votes
3. Eleanor Davis, Why Art? (Fantagraphics), 12 votes
4. Lauren R. Weinstein, Frontier #17: Mother's Walk (Youth in Decline), 11 votes
5. (tie) Tommi Parrish, The Lie and How We Told It (Fantagraphics), Tillie Walden, On a Sunbeam (First Second/Avery Hill/self-published), and Lale Westvind, Grip Vol. 1 (Perfectly Acceptable Press), 9 votes each
8. (tie) Yvan Alagbé, Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures (NYRC), Nick Drnaso, Sabrina (D&Q), Hartley Lin, Young Frances (AdHouse), Olivier Schrauwen, Parallel Lives (Fantagraphics), Noah Van Sciver, One Dirty Tree (Uncivilized), and Jim Woodring, Poochytown (Fantagraphics), 8 votes each

Note: If all votes for works by Olivier Schrauwen, Noah Van Sciver, and Lauren R. Weinstein were added together (each artist received multiple votes for multiple works), the list would have been somewhat different. The top 13 artists of 2018 would then be 1. Lutes, 2. Van Sciver, 3. Weinstein, 4. Doucet, 5. Davis, 6. Schrauwen, 7. (tie) Parrish & Walden & Westvind, and 10. (tie) Alagbé & Drnaso & Lin & Woodring.

Apologies to all affected artists and publishers.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. David Foster Wallace biographer D.T. Max profiled Nick Drnaso for The New Yorker.

Drnaso is as composed as his panels, which are rendered in crisp, almost rigid lines. He had only complimentary things to tell me about other cartoonists, and insisted that he wasn’t bothered by the fact that Drawn & Quarterly, which specializes in indie comics, had greatly underestimated the demand for “Sabrina.” “I don’t care in the least,” he said. “I never thought there was some sales goal I needed to hit.” He is so modest that, at one point, he offered an apology for his modesty, observing that “self-deprecation can be a little bit overbearing on the person who is forced to listen to it.” The only time I saw him express an impolite emotion was a few weeks after the book fair, when we were in a minor car accident on Milwaukee Avenue, in Chicago. He was taking me on a tour of Logan Square, a fast-gentrifying neighborhood about which he has “mixed feelings.” It is not far from where he lives with his wife, Sarah, and their three cats. We had just eaten a meat-heavy breakfast at a favored diner—“It does the job,” he commented—when a minivan rear-ended us. Drnaso’s car had barely budged, but he was clearly upset. “What the fuck was that?” he said.

The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Peter Kuper.

—Reviews & Commentary. Gary Panter celebrates the comics of Gene Ahern.

Some things don’t become particularly interesting until they’ve survived their own era, outlasted the competition; they’re bizarre remnants. In the early ’60s, among the Sunday comic strips abandoned at the local laundromat that I most enjoyed reading were reprints of Gene Ahern’s Our Boarding House (1921–1936) and Room and Board (1936–1953). I found the prehistoric quality of these strips, both of which were set in dumpy boarding houses featuring patched couches and worn-out lamps, and a cast of layabouts who looked like beaten boxers with misshapen noses, very compelling.

Brian Nicholson looks back at the Batman comics of Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle.

The Breyfogle stuff is so dynamic, and the plotting is so straightforward that publishing it alongside an annual by different people and a 16-page “Bonus book” that tried out new creators is basically only useful as a point of contrast, but everyone reading this collection will be immediately aware of much better the Grant/Breyfogle stuff is compared to pretty much everything else without needing any help. (Good lord, imagine someone who willingly reads the Batman comics DC currently puts out monthly reading this!)

—Misc. John Porcellino has launched a new weekly strip at The Chicago Reader.

And Michael Kupperman gave a presentation for Google:

 

Glue For Ghoul

Today at TCJ, we've got the latest installment in R.C. Harvey's most recent adventure spelunking into the past, which is currently being published in a serial format popularized by podcasts and other transmedia properties. 

That Fisher’s obsession about Capp had become utterly shameless can be deduced from the venue of the essay — an instruction booklet for a correspondence course in illustration and cartooning. Rather than supply a drawing lesson, Fisher was asked by Coulton Waugh, the author of the course, to tell how he had become successful: Waugh’s expectation was that Fisher’s story would be inspirational to aspiring young illustrators and cartoonists. The hillbilly origin tale is wholly extraneous to the essay’s ostensible purpose — and to its running argument. But it is integral to what had, by this time, become Fisher’s absorbing preoccupation: that the hillbillies who were making Capp rich and famous appeared first in Joe Palooka.

And Fisher was right. In Al Capp Remembered, published in 1994, fifteen years after Capp’s death, his brother Elliott wrote: “Alfred never quibbled about the obvious relationship between Big Leviticus and Li’l Abner. He freely admitted that his hillbilly was germinated in the Sunday pages of Joe Palooka.”

The essential fact was never in dispute. At issue was who created Big Leviticus. If Capp created Big Leviticus, he could scarcely be accused of “stealing” the hillbilly idea.

We’ll probably never know, with certainty, the truth about who created the hillbillies in Joe Palooka. But it is more than probable that each of the participants in the dispute has a piece of the truth on his side. Take the question of the “creation” of a comic-strip character. In his mind, Fisher could legitimately claim to have created Big Leviticus and his obnoxious family even if all he actually did was give Capp instructions to do a sequence about Joe Palooka fighting a roughneck hillbilly. The concept, as they might say these days in Hollywood and other suburbs in La-la Land, was Fisher’s. The execution might have been left entirely to Capp. And if Capp fleshed out the idea — gave personality to Big Leviticus and his entourage — he could legitimately claim to have “created” the character, too.

Our review of the day comes to you from the land of Germany--written by a German, and about a German's work. One of those people is Oliver Ristau, the other, of course, is Anna Haifisch.

While Drifter took pleasure in mostly recapitulating color schemes already proven in predecessors like Von Spatz or The Artist series, The Mouse Glass focuses on establishing harsh contrasts, for example between the luminously bright fires in yellow resulting from the attacks of marauding street fighters and the environment surrounding them, laid out in large green and orange flats on the cover. In times of war, the light flair of her former works has to step aside for a kick in the eye.

And meanwhile, there's a delightful conversation with Katsuhiro Otomo up as part of a Kodansha promo piece on the book.

Q. It’s said in France—and in the West in general—that Akira depicts your concerns about political issues, especially nuclear power. Do you think that’s an erroneous interpretation, brought about by cultural differences between Japan and the West?

KO: I’m aware of this line of thinking, but it’s because France takes a philosophical view to everything, distorting it. It’s not how it’s seen in Japan, and it’s not what’s depicted in the comic. I have no intention of expressing my political views or philosophical opinions. I’ve said this often before, but one of my influences as I made Akira was Tetsujin 28-go. This was a manga series meant for kids, with numbers applied to the cast of characters, and I wanted to make an homage to this series. I also wanted to depict the later Showa period (postwar Japan), including preparations for the Olympics, rapid economic growth, and the student unrest of the 1960s. I wanted to recreate the assorted elements that built this era and craft an exciting story that would seem believable enough in reality.

Looking at the world now, I wonder how it wound up like this. Looking at issues like wars/conflicts and organized crime, I can feel the world slowly fall out of balance, and I hope we can improve on that. Basically, though, Akira was heavily influenced by the manga I read as a child, and it portrays this kind of brilliant force that you see in people around the world in their younger, purer years. That’s the simple theme preached by Akira; it’s a tragedy depicting people destroying the world’s balance amid this era that I wanted to recreate.

 

 

Pacific Ocean

Today on the site, Michael Dean has our obituary for Supernatural Law creator Batton Lash.

Wolff & Byrd creator Batton Lash died Saturday at the age of 65 after a two-year battle with brain cancer. Though he was never a star of the comics mainstream, the announcement drew a surge of web posts from fans and independent comics creators who knew Lash as a friendly and supportive presence at comics conventions.

Born in Brooklyn in 1953, Lash attended New York’s School of Visual Arts, where he studied under comics legends Will Eisner and Harvey Kurtzman. After graduation, he did illustrations for such publications as Garbage magazine and the book Rock ‘n’ Roll Confidential and worked as an assistant for comics artist Howard Chaykin. Invited in 1979 to contribute to newly launched newsweekly Brooklyn Papers, Lash noted that the area where the broadsheet was distributed included a concentration of courts and law offices: a prime audience for a humorous strip about the law. His Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre followed the case files of Alana Wolff and Jeff Byrd, whose legal practice specialized in supernatural and super-powered clients. Both gothic and cartoonish, Lash’s art reflected the influence of his mentors by combining realistic detail with expressive caricature. The strip ran in Brooklyn Papers until 1996 and, in 1983, was picked up by the National Law Review, where it continued until 1997.

Edwin Turner is here, too, with a review of Paul Kirchner's Hieronymus & Bosch.

Paul Kirchner's Hieronymus & Bosch collects over eighty comic strips that riff on the afterlife of a "shameless ne'er-do-well named Hieronymus" and his faithful wooden toy duck, Bosch. The hapless pair are trapped in Hell, the primary setting for most of the strips (although we do get a bit of heaven and earth thrown in here and there). Kirchner's Hell is a paradise of goofy gags. The one-pagers in Hieronymus & Bosch cackle with burlesque energy, propelled by a simple plot: our hero Hieronymus tries to escape, fails, and tries again.

And what sins have damned poor Hieronymus to Hell? When we first meet the cloaked miscreant he's passed out, drooling all over an altar, clearly having enjoyed too much communion wine. An annoyed bishop prods him awake and kicks him from the church doors and into the village, where he proceeds to sin his ass off. Kirchner's Hieronymus doesn't quite fit all of the seven deadly sins in this morning (those same sins that the historical Hieronymus Bosch captured so well in his famous table), but he comes pretty damn close. Notably, he steals his comrade Bosch--a toy duck--from some poor kid. The wages of sin are death though, and poor Hieronymus, in a fit of wacky wrath, slips in some shit, falls on his toy duck, and careens into death.

Bad news: He's in Hell, where hope is strictly prohibited.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Maria Bustillos reconsiders what is possibly Saul Steinberg's most famous images (and interviews David Remnick about it).

I was looking into this drawing because it had dawned on me recently that I’d never quite understood the joke. Was it “Oh New Yorkers! they think they’re the center of the world!”?? Or was it, “Well, it’s funny that they think that but also they are, right? ha-ha!” I saw in it a poking fun at the paradox, the small-mindedness of “cosmopolitanism.” Maybe, the artist’s little joke against himself.

Was I ever wrong! Not one person whom I’ve asked about this drawing understood what Steinberg meant by it, even though the answer is written plain as day in the weird and excellent 2012 biography by Deirdre Bair—and still more clearly in the image itself, once you know how to look. It turns out the answer matters, too; it matters a lot.

Brian Nicholson looks at Alack Sinner.

In the story “Life Ain’t A Comic Book, Kid,” two comic creators, Muñoz and Sampayo have discovered that there’s a real detective who shares a name with their fictional detective character, so they visit New York to meet him. It’s for comic relief, mostly, but crime fiction doesn’t really traffic in this level of fourth-wall breaking. There are arcs of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal and Rich Tommaso’s Dry County that work the job of a cartoonist into a crime plot, but that’s those works being beholden to the tenets of realism, and using autobiographical lived experience for verisimilitude, which isn’t the goal here. Instead, it creates a space for the cartoonists to say, explicitly, to their main character: “Yeah, you’re an honest man and you don’t kill people, but you’re still an American, and so complicit in a system that exploits the rest of the world, so we are not cool.”

Dana Forsythe revisits the well-trod but always worth revisiting story of Love & Rockets.

Groundbreaking, epic, and heartfelt, the quintessential indie comic Love and Rockets is as relevant today as it was when Mario, Gilbert (aka Beto), and Jaime Hernandez self-published the first issue in 1981. A blend of sci-fi, telenovela, superhero tales, comics, jokes, and short stories, the magazine was worlds away from anything anyone, especially Marvel or DC, was publishing during those days.

Not only did Love and Rockets usher in a new age of independent comic books, but it also broke ground with stories featuring marginalized voices and characters from the LGBTQ and Latinx community. By the time DC and Marvel had introduced Latinx characters like Sunspot, Firebird, and Bushmaster in the early '80s, Margarita Luisa "Maggie" Chascarrillo, Esperanza "Hopey" Leticia Glass and the fiery Luba were living out real lives in the fictional towns of Hoppers and Palomar in Love and Rockets.

—Crowdfunding. Carol Tyler has launched a Patreon.

 

Blood on the Tarmac

It's Friday, and we're pleased to be sharing the final day of Ellen Lindner's Cartoonist Diary. In today's installment, she fucks with her hair. When you're young, this is something you do because you claim you're trying to express yourself, but it's actually an attempt to discover yourself via a means of expression. When you do this during adulthood, then it becomes more of a means of enjoyment and pleasure. I just made all that up, but I bet it's true for somebody! Ellen is a pal from a ways back, and I like her more than I like most people. And I like people a lot: they're my favorite!

It's also time for some more pals--hell, i'm gonna call this a Conflict of Interest Friday! Why not. It's Joe "Jog" McCulloch and Matt "Ezekiel" Seneca, taking a look at Parallel Lives. Longtime fans of TCJ will know that these two powerhouses only team up on the most important of topics, unless they're teaming up with me, in which case we talk about late period Garth Ennis comics. Get your Schrauwen on!

Yeah - Arsène Schrauwen, especially, spun comedic gold out of what we in the present inevitably see as the banality of the past… but that stuff is still banality. Even toward the end of that book, its artist seemed decidedly tired of the period drag he’d draped his story in, pivoting first into fantasy with an attack of half-human leopard men, then into a very specific quasi-futurism with the construction of a technological wonderland deep in the African jungle. The past is pork and beans, the future is whatever you want it to be. Maybe Schrauwen just didn’t want to hold back his prodigious ability to invent from whole cloth anymore! His vision of the future is basically a point-A-to-point-B extrapolation from our own present - or just the intensification of a culture shift that’s already begun, as you suggest. But powered by Schrauwen’s unique creativity, which forgoes the big sweeping visions sci-fi usually affords and focuses in instead on the ins and outs of leisure, it feels novel.

This is in part due to Schrauwen’s switching up the structure of his pages. Where his previous work mainly used a gridded structure seen in any number of comics (usually a 6- or 8-panel page layout), here he scales up to a 6x4 24-panel grid, usually broken up slightly by one or two larger keystone images. The grid will get even denser in subsequent stories. This obviously enables Schrauwen to pack more information into less pages; “Hello” and later chapters of Parallel Lives could have filled out album-format graphic novels if they’d been illustrated more expansively. But it also forces Schrauwen into a highly elliptical visual treatment of the future, with the technophilic landscapes we expect from sci-fi comics relegated to a few geometric shapes and bold colors in the backgrounds of tiny panels. Schrauwen is focusing on people, using the futuristic setting not as a character itself (as we see so often in comics), but only the push that puts the personalities he’s playing with in motion.

The narration in Arsène and “Greys”, as well as all the other comics in this volume, is absent from “Hello”, robbing it of some absurdity and giving it a cracked sitcom feel. I didn’t enjoy returning to the story as much as I thought I would: put in context among other Schrauwen works rather than Mould Map, it feels a little less distinct. Still, as the only story here to straddle our world’s past and its future, it’s an important piece in the puzzle Parallel Lives presents, acting as a pivot point for the book’s subject matter.

Did I say it was conflict of interest Friday? Big surprise: this artform has less people participating in it than my high school has who participated in breathing, while the business division lacks the numbers to fill out a bowling league. The question isn't whether or not you know the people involved, it's whether or not you check your spelling. That being said: I love Michel Fiffe, and I'm becoming deeply invested in winning Austin Price's approval. Here's your Bloodstrike Brutalists review!

 

Ready

RJ Casey is here today with an interview with a young cartoonist named Katie Fricas, whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, and Hyperallergic, among other places.

I was going to bring up those [Blabbermouth] comics because they seem especially like a way to excise humiliating memories.

I’m never going to do something like those comics again. I was actually reading the journals of Paul Klee and his journals are really good. They are all these short paragraph snippets that are like arbitrary memories. Have you ever read Andy Warhol’s journals?

No, I haven’t.

His journals are like what he ate and who he hung out with. They are more like lists. Paul Klee’s journals would be like him looking into his brain for memories and pulling out anything and writing it up in three sentences. At the end of the paragraph, he would put how old he was. It was like, “Went to the market with Mama. Seven years old.”

OK.

I was reading those and having some depression issues. I was trying to pull myself out, so I was just like, “Let me just do this exercise where I just think of everything I can and put an age on it.” I was going to write it in short snippets too. That’s what turned into Blabbermouth. I noticed as I was doing it that a lot of the memories were kind of sexual. Then I was starting to think of things that were related. Then the memories stopped being like random grab-bagging.

Connections were being made.

Yeah. They all connected into this TMI comic. It was like an exorcism in a way. I wanted to confess, move on, then start hitting the pavement. I’ve been making comics forever, but I’ve only been sort of an “art monster” about it for the past four years. That’s when I really started being thirsty for blood.

And, of course, Ellen Lindner is here with Day Four of her Cartoonist's Diary.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Colin Beineke talks to Now editor Eric Reynolds.

Given Fantagraphics’s access to the market and reputation within the field, when you select what to include in issues of Now what sort of responsibility do you feel to your readership and to new artists? In a sense, editing an anthology like Now is a gatekeeping position.

I do feel a genuine responsibility on that front. You’re trying to thread a needle of quality but also trying to provide a gateway drug for comics fans into other stuff. But you have to balance that with the type of work that you’re running. There’s a lot of work that I like but I wouldn’t necessarily run in Now: a lot of more outré, avant-garde, more transgressive, more provocative stuff that I genuinely get off on as a fan of comics, but I wouldn’t necessarily think would be the best thing to put in Now. You’re constantly, whether you want to admit it or not, balancing aesthetics and common sense and market considerations. Not just because you, as a publisher, want to make money, which is invariably true, but also because you want to be a good ambassador for the work.

Abraham Riesman talks to Nnedi Okorafor.

When Marvel asked if I wanted to write T’Challa, I hesitated, and it was because of my issues with Wakanda. I had serious issues with Wakanda. And also a lot of my comics friends were like, “You need to do this.” I was like, “Well, okay, if I have these issues with Wakanda, I can address these issues by writing it. I can expand things.” I think it was Stan Lee who created it.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby together, yeah.
How they created it and their limited ideas and understanding and knowledge of Africa, that’s really what it is. And it’s no judgment on them, but that’s really where I think its issue came from. Because having a country that is the most technological and wealthiest nation in the continent, and then have it hide itself and keep all of its technology to itself from the rest the continent of Africa, with everything around them. They’re landlocked, so that means all the countries around it were having different types of issues, and Wakanda just kinda stayed quiet with all of its technology and wealth. The excuse is, Well, if we let people know, they’ll consume us. I get that, but it’s still problematic.

 

Rather Like Fairy Land Isn’t It

It's Wednesday here at TCJ, probably means it's Wednesday wherever you are: that's how days work, most of the time. Today, we've got our last look back at 2018 before committing ourselves fully to 2019. It's a special edition of our Retail Therapy column, with a whole mess of retailers swinging by to let us know what a "Best of" means to them as readers & retailers.

It's also time for day 3 of Ellen Lindner's Cartoonist Diary. In this installment, she's getting her Instagram on.

Our review of the day is of the most recent Street Angel release, from Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca. Courtesy of Marty Brown, it continues the Journal's tradition of liking Rugg related items.

In fact, some of the most fun Rugg and Maruca have is when they’re cheekily referencing an elaborate backstory for Street Angel that never gets shown in the books. Each successive volume seems to push the boundaries of what is possible in Street Angel’s world, and vs. Ninjatech is perhaps their most delightfully bonkers hardcover to date, going deeper into the Shiraz Thunderbird Expanded Universe than we’ve seen before. Typical Street Angel encounters tend to happen at, uh, street level: she gets into a fight after school or rescues a dog or goes trick-or-treating or finds a dead body in an alley – all things that could reasonably pop up in a homeless girl’s periphery on a given day. In Ninjatech, we start to see the larger infrastructure (“the ninja industrial complex”) of the world she inhabits. It’s like Rugg and Maruca’s season 3 of The Wire.

Ramble # 3: I watched that scene at the end of Sully that's made up, the one where he makes people feel bad by being the best dad with the second best mustache (Aaron Eckhart has the best mustache), and at the end, the Breaking Bad lady apologizes to him on behalf of America for not giving him the Best Dad award earlier. Clint Eastwood made all that up, apparently. I'm in Austin, what do you want from me. I found some deal to rent a tiny shitbox car for 7 bucks a day, but they didn't have any shitboxes, and the guy behind me in line was being a real Charlie Asshole to everybody, so the dude at the counter said "lemme help you out here". His "help" turned out to be a giant red pick up truck. It's great! I keep accidentally driving over curbs because the fucking thing is huge, I love it. Great food out here, FYI. I'm no foodie--my doctor actually told me i'm in the minority of the population who has no emotional attachment to food, that I view it purely as fuel--but I can tell the difference between good and great. Great stuff here!

I'm in Austin for a show, and I got to see a whole big presentation on the history of graphic novels, but it was a history that starts in 2006, because it was a history on making lots of money in graphic novels--so you can skip past all that stuff about underground comics and zines and what not, get right to the kids stuff they're now doing million count print runs on. It was interesting in a way, seeing how much of the financial legs of this thing has been built off of basically five people (3 creators, one marketing director, whoever the buyer was at Target back in 2010), a giant entertainment conglomerate that prints comics as an afterthought to their global movie empire, and a huge, never-ending beating stream of goodwill. But it was also a reminder that progress doesn't necessarily take everybody with it, which is painful. 

Like everything else, the most exciting parts where the tinier revelations, about how the mechanics of a basic panel to panel transition becomes so useful in a classroom, or how the experience of personal expression that eludes some children falls immediately into perfect flow when comics are touched upon. It's nice, after so much time in 101, to hear a conversation getting taken past the introductory stage. It's not the conversation I had expected, but the older I get, the less my hunches are turning out to be correct--i'm starting to develop a taste for surprise. Luckily, as my doctor said: that shit is just fuel.