BLOG

No That Doesn’t Work

Today on the site Alex Dueben brings us an interview with creative duo Kerascoët.

Your publisher sent me a copy of your new children’s book, Paul and Antoinette. How did this come about?

Sebastian:  We started to work with Kirsten Hall of Catbird Agency in New York. She contacted us a few years ago. She was building her own little agency and she looked all over the world for people she wants to represent in the US. So we said, okay, why not.

Marie:  She showed our art book to Claudia [Zoe Bedrick] and she fell in love with a character we made a few years ago–this pig with the big glasses. She asked us to make a story about him and that’s how it started. We want to make more and more children’s books. For me it’s the holy grail of fiction. I’m so happy to see it.

So you had Paul and then gave him a sister.

Marie:  Yes, she said how about make a couple? We thought a strange couple. He looks very clean and strict and so we gave him a sister. [Sebastian] has a sister and I have a brother and when you are two you are very different roles. As a child my brother had glasses and was strict and everything was perfect in his room. I went to his room when he wasn’t there and just opened the door and closed it and when he came back he knew I had opened the door. I don’t know how because I didn’t touch anything. I liked gross things a lot. I ate the grease, the disgusting part of the meat, just to watch him react. I loved the pleasure of watching him react.

Sébastien:  It’s also a way to talk about accepting different people, and accept that people who aren’t like you can bring you something else in your life.

Marie:  I’m so happy with what she did with the book. It’s a beautiful book.

I gave the book to a few people to read who commented that they liked how the typical gender dynamic–that the girl would be neat and the boy would be messy–was flipped.

Marie:  Thank you.

Sébastien:  Most of our characters are female. We like strong female characters. Like Miyazaki.

Elsewhere:

I am an enormous Mark Alan Stamaty fan, and here’s an all-too-rare interview with great (Who Needs Donuts?) cartoonist and illustrator.

My pal Anya Davidson gets the Inkstuds treatment. 

And here’s a solid profile of cartoonist and educator Tom Hart. 

Trina Robbins resumes blogging with a post about Wonder Woman and pantsuits. 

 

Finally, I enjoyed this look at the making of a local bookstore in Brooklyn — another branch of Greenlight, one of the best stores around.

 

Katana

RJ Casey is back to day with a review of Tommi Parrish’s Perfect Hair.

You’re at a party and someone is telling you all about their new job, new significant other, new something. You’re trying to listen, but all you can concentrate on is making eye contact, like you’ve been taught. Don’t look over their shoulder or at their moist mouth. You try staring at the left eye. Then the right. It’s not possible to split focus on both eyes, is it? You start fixating more on the performative act of communication than the actual practice. That zone right there — where you’re half-listening and fraught and floating with self-consciousness — that’s the feeling Tommi Parrish explores in Perfect Hair: a book that may not make you happy to be alive, but sure will make you glad you’re a comic reader.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Brian Nicholson has a couple of interesting reviews up, of Tristan Wright’s Low Light and Mark Wheatley & Rick Burchett’s 1991 Black Hood.

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I was a kid, not being a sociopath, while the image of a man with a gun might have been compelling, I felt no desire to project myself into it, as a fantasy, the way I felt with the idea of flight. That image, though, was everywhere. I was a child during a time when there were four ongoing Punisher comics, and Robocop and The Terminator, despite their origins in rated-R movies, were common sights in toy stores.

Reading comics from fifty-cent bins, where a comic shop’s cast-offs from the year or two before went, I encountered the early issue of the Impact Comics line. I didn’t realize until much later that this line of comics was designed specifically for children, that the teenager protagonists were meant to be relatable or aspirational. At least, I didn’t think of them as being intended for children any more than the other comics I read were. The Black Hood was the line’s take on the simplistic stripped-down concept, of a vigilante with firearms. He was introduced initially as a guest star in the line’s first four books, before being given his own title, the fifth to debut. Reading that series now, what’s striking about them is how focused they are on the dismantling of a dangerous notion. It seems like it’s taking the responsibility of a young audience seriously, to parody ideas too many people a few years older were taking completely seriously.

—At the Criterion blog, Eric Skillman writes about Paul Pope and Ron Wimberly’s work on the packaging for the new Lone Wolf and Cub box set.

The Lone Wolf and Cub film series has its roots in the Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s seminal manga of the same name, which was itself a major influence on western cartooning and illustration in the 1980s. It felt only natural to pay homage to that connection in our design. We brought in Paul Pope, an American artist whose work is heavily influenced by Japanese brushwork and manga styles.

—The latest Comics Workbook roundup post has a lot of good stuff in it.

 

More Less

Today we have George Herriman biographer Michael Tisserand with an exclusive image feature about Herriman and Hal Roach. Here’s a bit:

The party began on Thursday evening, December 7, 1933, and lasted until the next morning. Five hundred invited guests joined Roach at his studio in Culver City to celebrate his twentieth year as a studio head, with thousands more listening to an NBC radio broadcast of the proceedings. “Memory Lane was all lighted up with electrics,” reported Grace Kingsley for the Los Angeles Times. “The place had been fitted up like a palace.”

It’s likely, but not certain, that George Herriman was among those in attendance.

Elsewhere:

A short interview with Zunar in the NY Times.

Sammy Harkham has made an enormous print of one of Chester Brown’s finest sequences. 

 

Getting Through

Joe McCulloch is here as always on Tuesdays with his usual guide to the Week in Comics, highlighting the most interesting-sounding books new to stores. Spotlight picks this week include a new volume of Schuiten & Peeters, and a tribute to Wally Wood.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. NOLA.com talks to Michael Tisserand about his George Herriman biography, which is looking likely to be the book-on-comics of the year.

After 10 years of scouring microfilm archives, yellowed newspapers and public records, Tisserand has pieced together Herriman’s journey from his humble birth in the Treme neighborhood to heights of fame in Jazz-era New York and Los Angeles. It wasn’t easy.

“I had to teach myself to be an historian,” Tisserand said. “I didn’t anticipate the amount of difficulty it would be finding Herriman’s work.”

Dylan Horrocks is a guest on the Radio New Zealand program Nine to Noon.

The latest episode of Process Party features Tom Kaczynski.
—Reviews & Commentary. Douglas Fratz reviews a newly revised biography of EC Comics (and science fiction) writer Otto Binder by Bill Schelly.

Binder’s story provides many insights into the history of science fiction and comics as well as his own work. His greatest strength as a writer was the ability to channel his inner youth, writing in a mode that communicated a wide-eyed innocence that resonates with the 8-year-old in all of us. This was best exemplified in his Captain Marvel family comics in the 1940s through the early 1950s but can also be seen in his pulp science fiction stories. The most poignant moments of the Adam Link series are established by Binder’s ability to characterize the robot as a brilliant but innocent youth who must survive in an adult world he has difficulty understanding.

—News. The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar was arrested on another sedition charge.

It’s been an eventful weekend for Zunar, the Malaysian political cartoonist facing nine separate charges of sedition which could net him up to 43 years in prison. First, on Friday his new cartoon exhibit was stormed by an angry mob of government supporters displeased by his frequent criticism of Prime Minister Najib Razak. Riot police were called in to disperse the crowd, but yesterday representatives of the ruling party UMNO lodged a formal complaint against Zunar, who was then arrested on yet another sedition charge as well as a charge of “intentionally humiliating a person.” He has now been released after posting bail.

Uncivilized Books has launched a Kickstarter to fund a new imprint of children’s comics, including work by Kickliy, Marzena Sowa and Berenika Kołomycka, and others.

We need your help! We’ve just worked with French publisher Dargaud to bring the beautiful children’s comic Musnet to American kids. Working with Dargaud is an exciting opportunity that lowers our overall production costs. However, it also brings some hurdles: to co-print the books, we need to work according to their release schedule, which is faster than ours. That means our books will need to wait for a few months before they can be released through our American distributor. It will be difficult for us the absorb the printings costs on books that can’t be sold until much later. Without co-printing, we will need to find another printer, at much higher printing prices.

 

Oinks

Hi there, 

Today on the site we have the second part of Paul Tumey’s enormously interesting chat with George Herriman biographer Michael Tisserand. Michael’s book, Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White, is coming out December 6th. Here’s the first part of the chat if you want to catch up. And here’s some from today:

Paul Tumey: I was struck by how slight and skinny he was. And how his shoulders really do look his portrayal in that Tad boxing-in-the-office cartoon, large and rounded.

Michael Tisserand: And how big his hands appear to be!

Paul Tumey: Yes, those hands of Herriman’s look magical. So that’s a good segue into Herriman’s later years. It seems, after all those years of hanging out with fellow artists and colleagues, maybe dating a hootchie kootchie dancer at Coney Island, and travelling all the southwest, Herriman became somewhat reclusive in his later years. Is that right — and if so, why?

Michael Tisserand: He did. Undeniably. His granddaughter commented on it. So did Boyden Sparkes and Segar. There were bouts of reclusiveness before those final years too. His friend Harry Carr wrote to the Wetherills about how he couldn’t get George to go to Arizona, and how much it would help if George would go.

Shortly after Herriman’s wife died, an artist arrived to paint Bobbie’s picture. In her memoir, she said that it was the car crash that killed Herriman’s wife that had made Herriman so isolated and depressed. She actually wrote that Herriman was consumed with guilt because he was driving the car, but this is contradicted by family stories and all the news accounts of the accident, and so it doesn’t ring true to me.

He also suffered from bad health, including debilitating migraines. Remember that he was making cartoons about suffering rheumatism when he was barely thirty years old.

Paul Tumey: I know that in some cases arthritis can lead to depression, which can certainly cause one to become isolated.

Michael Tisserand: I never want to diagnose Herriman. When I read a modern diagnosis in a biography of a historical figure, I start to think more about the biographer and less about the subject. But certainly it seems he was depressed in some fashion. And his contemporaries specifically talked about Herriman having an inferiority complex. In letter after letter, he disparages his work, or at least its lack of popularity. And yet, the work itself is uncompromising, and so confident in its own beauty.

Paul Tumey: I agree – it is dangerous ground to psychoanalyze a person from the past. But in those letters and accounts, if nothing else, Herriman seems to have been very self-effacing. That aspect of his personality comes through in your book.

Michael Tisserand: Yes, and racial passing actually means to literally self-efface. To remove a face. Again, I try very hard to not try to say what is going on inside Herriman’s head. My goal really was just to tell his story as accurately as possible.

Slow links weekend. The most relevant one is info on Resist, a free cartoon newspaper being put together by Francoise Mouly, Nadja Spiegelman and Gabe Fowler.

 

Thanks for Nothing

Today on the site, stranger to controversy Johnny Ryan talks to Real Deal co-creator Lawrence Hubbard.

What was your high school experience like? Did you enjoy it? Did you ever have to beat the shit out of some wise ass punks?

My high school years were rough, my father had run out on us three years earlier and we were pretty broke, living on welfare and food stamps. I didn’t have any clothes or other fly gear a lot of my friends had (bellbottom pants, print shirts, platform shoes, cool hats, looking like the Jackson Five). I pretty much kept a low profile, but I always enjoyed my art classes.  After High School, I got a job at a now defunct savings and loan in the stock room, doing shipping and receiving and unloading trucks, no time for college, broke needed money. Over the years I took classes at Santa Monica College, UCLA, Otis Art Institute, but never had time to get a degree, always working and taking care of other people. Funny thing is all my fights took place in junior high school (what they call middle school now) when I was there in the early ’70s the gang bang shit was getting hot and heavy here in Los Angeles, Crips, Brims, Ace Duce, Piru’s (now called Bloods).


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Alex Dueben talks to Daniel Alarcón.

Dueben: I know that you were born in Peru but grew up in the states. Did you read comics growing up?

Alarcón: Not at all. I read Asterix and I read Condorito, which is a Chilean comic book for kids. That’s it. I never read any of the superhero stuff or the comics that kids read here in the states. I’m not sure why. It just never appealed to me. I think coming to it with a fairly blank slate was not a bad thing. Maybe comics people would disagree with me but it certainly felt like I had a fair amount of freedom to try things out because I didn’t have any preconceived notions of what comics had to be.

Dueben: You were not playing with the conventions of comics because you just didn’t know them.

Alarcón: I also wasn’t necessarily thinking of the work in the long tradition of comics books. I was thinking of it more as a visual adaptation of a short story that already existed. I learned a great deal about comics reading The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, the Michael Chabon novel, and then I came across Joe Sacco and I found his work to be tremendous. Those were my reference points more than Superman or Batman or those kinds of things.

—Good news on the Mike Diana documentary Kickstarter, which has surpassed its fundraising goal, and raised enough money to clear Diana’s arrest warrant.

A Kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary about the US comic artist Mike Diana – the first person to receive a criminal conviction in the US for “artistic obscenity” – has surpassed its $40,000 (£32,000) goal, with enough extra money to clear the outstanding warrant for his arrest in the state of Florida.

Diana was living in Largo, Florida, when he became the first person to be convicted and jailed on obscenity charges in 1994, for his self-published comic book Boiled Angel. A jury took just 40 minutes to convict him following a sting in which an undercover police officer procured copies of Diana’s underground comic.

—Kim Jooha names and catalogues a new genre: European Abstract Formalist Comics.

 

That One

Today on the site, one last Joe McCulloch update before Turkey.

I went to the Comic Arts Brooklyn show a few weeks back — recorded a podcast about it and everything — and one of the things I bought in the surrounding area, while I was in town, was this: the tinsel-strewn Winter Holiday issue of Mebae, a Shogakukan magazine aimed at little, little kids. Ages 2-4. I’m 35. I swear, I had a plan.

The New York Times has a good look at the complete March.

If you happen to be in New York over the holiday and the coming weeks, there are three art exhibitions that might offer insight, comfort, rage, or really whatever you need for the present situation. First among them is Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, at The Met. It should be of particular interest to comics readers, not just because the artist is drawing a comic book, and not just but because his monumental paintings are feats of narrative ingenuity, but because they are audaciously, unrelentingly acts of artistic and social revolution executed with an encyclopedic knowledge of cartooning and painting. Go see this. Next is Max Beckmann in  New York, also the Met, which offers some of Beckmann’s most complex allegorical paintings — visions of a civilization eating itself. And finally, over at Hauser and Wirth, there’s a show of every one of Philip Guston’s Nixon drawings. 170 of them. Channeling a half century of his own work, and the cartooning traditions of Bud Fisher, George Herriman and E.C. Segar, Guston made dozens of drawings, and one brutal painting, of the President. These are strange drawings – they are not message driven (i.e. nothing like political cartooning), but rather visual meditations, using objects and figures, on Nixon’s life. Miraculous drawing here.

gusto77397-0rnr77

 

Light Day

Today, Rob Clough reviews Daryl Seitchik’s Exits.

There’s a telling sequence early in Daryl Seitchik’s debut long-form work, Exits, where the protagonist, Claire Kim, has to deal with being objectified by her boss, the owner of a mirror store. He’s looking at a laptop at an image of a curvaceous woman in a bikini with the head cropped. When Claire walks over, the laptop is positioned such that her head is atop the bikini model’s body. While she does not see him do this, the scene is a kind of a deadpan and shorthand manner of establishing the way she’s seen by her boss, and the effect that it has on her is explored as she washes one of the countless mirrors in his store.  Those scenes establish how desperately Claire wants to control how she is seen, and the helplessness she feels in dealing with that gaze that she’s well aware of experiencing on an everyday basis. Even worse than that blatant bit of objectification is when he tells her, apropos of nothing, that she looks depressed; rather than offering support or even asking that she get help, he tellingly says, “No one wants to see that.” It’s another deadpan moment where at first it seems like he is expressing genuine concern for a moment but then quickly reveals that her actual welfare is unimportant to him. It is another way for him to control how she is seen and what her image looks like, an attempt to mold her into something that is more pleasant for him and his customers to look at. Not only is he objectifying her, but he is also viewing her as a commodity, as a thing that would help him sell other things. Her only means of resistance at this point in the story is to not voluntarily contribute to her objectification by pretending to be happy and perky. What it means to be seen in relation to one’s identity, especially as a woman, is at the heart of this book.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The Washington Post picks its favorite comics of 2016.

—One of Hergé’s Tintin drawings has sold for a record-breaking 1.55 million euros.

—Robert Boyd reports from Zinefest.