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Room Service

Today at TCJ, we're taking a look at Ernie Colón, who passed away last week. First up, you'll find Steven Ringgenberg's obituary, and after that, you'll find Kent Worcester's 2007 interview with Ernie, first published in Comics Journal #285. 

Did you always feel a sense of pride in being a cartoonist?

I always shared Will Eisner’s belief that comics could be something more. I felt this very strongly, from my first years in the business. As far as I am concerned, the only people who tried to put down comics were staffers at DC and Marvel, who would refer to what I did with Richie Rich and Casper as “bigfoot” drawing. That would piss me off. I somehow thought that what we were doing was cartooning. 

I only met Will Eisner a couple of times, but as far back as I can remember I thought that comics could be a lot more than simply superhero comics. When I was growing up there were all kinds of comics, from Westerns and romances to kids’ comics. I resented the fact that superheroes became the major genre in comics, and I probably made a mistake when I let people know how I felt at DC and Marvel. 

Our latest Cartoonist Diary of the week launched yesterday, and continues all through the week. Alison Wilgus, who recently made her solo debut with Chronin, is sharing her experience at Wiscon, a feminist science fiction & fantasy convention that took place in Madison Wisconsin earlier this year. Today, she describes her experience at a "vidding" showcase.

Has Daniel Best been posting excerpts from his Todd McFarlane book for a while? I hadn't seen 'em before. One fun thing to do is watch those videos advertising Neil Gaiman's writing Master Class, where he describes stories as being the imagination's kiss, who arrives promptly in a dream carriage every morn if you have a smiling heart, and then read an actual letter he and a lawyer have put together.

Over at Comicosity, Jude DeLuca has a long, hard take on that Heroes In Crisis comic--which appears to be even more offensive than previous reports had made it seem--that concludes with multiple examples of times when super-hero comics have engaged with more complicated issues of trauma with in more delicate, compassionate fashion. It's interesting to note that none of these examples that Jude pulls are from recent super-hero comics.

 

Next Round

Well, July--otherwise known as the first month that TCJ didn't have Tim Hodler to legitimize this place and keep the trains moving--has reached conclusion. Is it clear on your end how bumpy it has been? Don't answer that: I've already heard from most of you, and it's my aim to keep making progress from wherever we are right now. This week, we'll be sharing space with the extraordinarily talented Molly Mendoza, whose Cartoonist Diary begins today. We may very well have a new one of these every week for a bit.

Our other piece of the day comes to us from Alex Dueben. He's speaking with Joan Steacy, the new-to-the-scene cartoonist behind Aurora Borealice, from Conundrum Press. 

Beyond just drawing 200 something pages, the act of putting your life on the page like this is exhausting.

It’s very revealing. Most of my life I’ve hidden my vulnerabilities, and here I am putting them out there. I’m a stronger person now and fine with it, so hopefully some people can relate to it. We all have insecurities, anxieties and obstacles to overcome, life can be hard at times. Eric’s response to my first book, which is now the first chapter. I wasn’t sure what he'd think  because he plays a big role in it. I got this letter back and he really liked it but one of the things he said that surprised me was "What you don't realize is that I too--and still, largely, am. I have always been debilitatingly shy and unable to relate to people" To me, I couldn't believe it because I easily related to him and found him so easy to talk to. Sadly, I lost Eric last year and he never got to see the completed version. The strength he gave me over the years was such a valuable education. 

I've made my way through most of the responses to San Diego Comic Con, and the one I thought handled the best was Chuck's from Mile High Comics-I like it even more as the days go by. The rest I don't have any patience for.

Finally, one of the great joys of my time spent working at Nobrow Press was having the chance to work with Jeremy Sorese on Curveball, his book with them. Beyond being impressed by his wit and style, Jeremy's generous and kind attitude towards young students and cartoonists was a shining example of how one could carry themselves in this particular field--I genuinely treasure the opportunity I had to work with him. As such, seeing the outpouring of support he has received from the comics community following the horrible assault that befell him in New York last Thursday doesn't surprise me--he is one of the true bright spots that this artform has. For more information on what happened to Jeremy, and how one can help support him at this time, take a look at this gofundme campaign set up by his friends

 

The Seizure Class

This week at The Comics Journal, Austin English delivered his latest 10 Cent Museum column, focusing on the complete Clyde Fans. It's a long, thoughtful piece about the book, and we're pleased to share it. As Austin puts it in his opener, "Seth's skill and talent is not up for debate any longer. We must instead move on to the implication of what he is trying to say, the only way to engage with an artist of consequence."

It's interesting to live in a time when so many of long delayed & long running series are reaching conclusion--along with Clyde Fans, D&Q also published Jason Lutes' Berlin last year, and this fall sees the first major collection of Chris Ware's Rusty Brown arrive. Even The Walking Dead--a comic whose success was at one point anecdotally described to me as the "only reason" Diamond was able to financially survive--has ended. In their wake, larger titles now seem to arrive fully formed, as imposing bricks of value and meaning, no longer appearing without decades of public gestation--or the opposite occurs, with thousands of pages appearing online before some unknown line is crossed and their cultural importance is discussed as a foregone conclusion. 

This week also sees Matt Seneca's review of Pope Hats 6, also referred to as "Shapeshifter". As with Austin's take on Seth, Matt is looking at an artist whose talent and skill demands serious analysis, even if the current work is not to the critic's liking.

We're also pleased to return to France once more, with Sloane Leong's the penultimate interview in her series of conversations with her fellow artists-in-residence at the Maison de Auteurs in Angouleme. This week, she spoke with Giorgia Casetti. Reading these interviews and seeing the general commonality of experience amongst Sloane's peers has been an educational experience, and an enjoyable one. Again and again, these artists describe a drive to create and access their own intangible comics language, the difficulties of managing influence, having a cultural support network that goes beyond mere social ties, and struggling under never-ending financial difficulties. This was all Sloane's idea to do these--I'm grateful she made it happen. 

San Diego Comic Con took place this past weekend. It's not a show that harbors huge importance to me, neither personally or professionally, and this most recent one didn't either. Bright side stuff: I guess if they're gonna reprint Steve Ditko's work against his wishes, I'm glad that the job is going to Scott Dunbier, who is going to do it with a lot more class than the other guy would have.

 

Ashes of American Gags

Well, the week is out here at TCJ: but the geek culture behemoth that is San Diego Comic Con has already begun. That Cats trailer really is as bad as they're saying!

This week at The Journal, we finished out a week of cartooning with two more pieces by Elizabeth Beier, covering her time at the Queers & Comics Conference. Along with the giant line-up for the "Long Form Comics" panel, Elizabeth also delivered her take on the well received "Non-Fiction Comics & Comics Journalism" panel. It looks like we've already locked down our next one of these, so stay seated!

On Tuesday, Matt Seneca took a look at the tenth volume of Kramers Ergot, and spoke with editor Sammy Harkham as well. The book itself is an excellent collection of comics, with Sammy's extensive centerpiece one of the strongest of his career. 

Kramers Ergot 10 makes things plain as can be from its indicia on in, proclaiming debts in bright red capital letters to RawWeirdo, andThe Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics, a holy trinity of American anthologies. Weird shit in their time, in combination these titles laid out a rough playbook for the alt-comics style of the '80s and '90s - one that Kramers would provide a necessary pivot from a generation later. The name-drop opening of this volume suggests a circle closing, that focusing on differences between canon and challenger ignores their fundamental connection. "I felt like this issue could be the one where we make it explicit," Harkham told me in an Oakland alehouse on the eve of the book's release, "the relationship Kramers has always had to the history of comics. When issue 4 came out everyone was like 'oh, it feels so cutting edge and new, blah blah,' but the reason they're feeling that way is because it hearkens back to the last one hundred years of comics. There is a lineage that it's connected to. And in this one we just make that more explicit."

Since the pieces publication, the ongoing conversation regarding how its creators are compensated for their work in Kramers has returned in full force, primarily on social media (both public and private), while some have also brought up a lack of diversity amongst the book's contributor list. Both are serious subjects that deserve attention and conversation, and we will speak more about them soon.

But that's not all that went down this week--we're pleased to welcome two new TCJ contributors to these digital pages this week. The first is someone comics criticism readers will be well aware of: Hillary Brown! She's been assembling her first array of pieces for TCJ for the past few month, and the first appeared this week--a review of Tonta, by Jaime HernandezHere's how she opens that one up:

It seems like the abiding conception of Jaime Hernandez’s Tonta is that it’s a minor work of his, a sort of tossed-off compilation of stories focusing on a character who’s more an Io than a Jupiter, a character actor rather than a leading lady. But the fact is that reading it, for me, produced the same rush of blood to the brain and almost dizzying happiness as his “major” Maggie and Hopey stories. It’s not quite Stendhal Syndrome, but it’s close. Experiencing work that you love so completely is a sort of out-of-body experience, which is what Stendhal was getting at, whether or not he actually became physically weak by hanging out around various Florentine masterworks. Philosophers have been trying to unpack the idea of the “sublime” for centuries, so it’s unlikely that I’m going to put my finger on it here, but the general point is that it’s something that makes you feel small, as though dwarfed in the presence of a god or godlike force. So how does a comics nerd from Oxnard do that once, much less over and over again?

Our other new teammate is Ryan Flanders, formerly of MAD Magazine. While the unfortunate timing of MAD's transition towards the grave (a mostly reprint magazine selling only via Diamond is not MAD Magazine) forced the initial topic of Ryan's piece for us, he somehow managed to deliver something a lot more positive than one might expect. He'll get his venom on soon enough, one hopes.

To open an issue of MAD Magazine, from any point in its history, is to encounter an assemblage of many of the most brilliant writers, artists and satirists working in that era. It is a whole package you can hold in your hands, an ensemble of voices echoing out as one, an orchestra of insanity, hilarity, and cultural acuity. Though it’s had its imitators, and influenced many successful comedic endeavors, there is truly nothing else like MAD — a regularly-produced menagerie of carefully crafted, intertwining words and visuals. Within the staff, we were never satisfied if an issue was just okay — we always wanted the damn thing to be good. And good takes time. 

And then there's Brenda Dales! Another new contributor? We're not sure yet, as Brenda's main interest was in one book, and one creator, and now that she's delivered her interview with Wilfrid Lupano--whose A Sea of Love was released in the US via Lion Forge, after finding initial success in a Dargaud edition in Europe, and heads into the weekend with three Eisner nominations to its name--time will tell if she wants to go for round two.

In late June of 2019 I met up with Wilfrid Lupano in Washington, D.C. at an event connected with the American Library Association annual conference, and we had a conversation that navigated throughout his creative process for the book. Here I follow up with him in an intercontinental email exchange in early July of 2019 about this maritime masterpiece (he’s now in France, and I’m not).

And finally, this week's reviews were both returns of sorts--a new book by Max de Radigues, which is probably his fifth in the last twelve months--reviewed by Rich Barrett,  and the latest installment in the Brubaker/Phillips Criminal series, the cheekily comics-focused Bad Weekend, reviewed by Sean Witzke. (He seemed to like this one.)

Next week, we'll aim to find something at San Diego worth jawing about, review some comics, interview some cartoonists, and find some decent drawings to look at. 

 

 

Live Scribing with Elizabeth Beier: Non-Fiction Comics & Comics Journalism

From May 16-19 2019, New York City's School of Visual Arts hosted the Queers & Comics Conference, a biennial LGBTQ cartoonist conference. The event was organized by Jennifer Camper and Justin Hall and provided a space for artists, writers and fans to discuss everything from publishing to story structure to social justice to different kinds of pens. Bay Area artist Elizabeth Beier attended the event and created visual notes of some of the panels. 

In today's installment, Elizabeth recounts the Non-Fiction Comics & Comics Journalism Panel, featuring MK Czerwiec (moderator), Rosa Colón, Martina Schradi, Alison Wilgus, and Elvis Wolf discussing comics based on true stories. While they all have very different subject matter, ranging from health and care-taking to aviation to women's bookstores to queer immigrants to Puerto Rico, they had some common concerns. These included the importance of research and learning as one goes, the struggle to be timely when long-form researched work takes time to create, and the tension between explaining or telling a true story vs advocating for a point of view. 

 

Envy Not The Oppressor

This week in TCJ, we've kicked things off with a classic monster interview with a stone cold master: Everett Raymond Kinstler, whose career stretches from pulp covers through to US Presidents, with a stopover at Hawkman. If you're at all familiar with my preferences regarding interview subjects, you may know that I love to hear about what goes into working on Hawkman, a character I have absolutely no real affection for nor nostalgic connection to, and yet nonetheless remain fascinated with hi: however, this is the third time an interview with a Hawk-related creator came along where the interviewer refused to engage with the aforementioned Hawk-related creator about what it's like working the Katar beat. In his defense, I didn't actually speak to Steven Brower prior to his conversation with Kinstler, and would have lacked the courage to even make the request--but I can certainly grouse about it now and I believe Kinstler wouldn't have minded a bit as he has dealt with far more difficult individuals than I. Here he is, recapping his first meeting with James Montgomery Flagg:

So I got up and here was this guy, he looked big to me, he wasn’t that tall, but he was maybe 6’1” or 6’2”, a great shock of white hair, heavy brows, and I remember he was wearing a navy blue shirt, with red suspenders, and he said, “Come on, let me see your work, it probably stinks.” Made me feel great, as a 17-year-old, and he looked through the work and I remember he said to me, I have reason to remember this of course, “Well, I see so much crap these days. And Mayor LaGuardia believes they can make art in the school programs, all they do is produce mediocrity.” He started to look, he said, “Young fella, you’re doomed to be an illustrator. Or doomed to be an artist.” And then he asked me about Mr. DuMond, he kind of settled down, and then talked about Mr. DuMond and he told me he studied with him 50 years ago.

Today, we've got an official statement from Robin McConnell on the future of Inkstuds. Robin's decade plus time at Inkstuds has produced hours of interviews with many of the creators and critics featured both here and in our print edition.

This week, we'll be running some non-fiction comics--but this time, they aren't part of our traditional Cartoonist Diary series. Instead, it's Elizabeth Beier's look at various panels from the recent Queers & Comics Conference, hosted at NYC's School of Visual Arts. So far, she's given us her notes on Magdalene Visaggio's  conversation with Justin Hall, and today she's recapping another conversation, this one between Nicole Georges and Mariko Tamaki. Stay tuned for two more installments, arriving on Thursday and Friday.

Our first review of the week comes courtesy of Robert Kirby. He's here with his take on How I Tried To Be A Good Person, by Ulli Lust. Those of you with access to Tim and my email accounts will be aware that more people wanted to review How I Tried To Be A Good Person than any other title so far this year! Here's some Kirby Krackle on Lust for ya:

Her follow-up, How I Tried to be a Good Person, begins a few years after Today. Lust appears more settled, yet no less driven to live according to her own lights, come what may. A thread running strongly throughout both books is the allure of wresting oneself from societal conventions—and the often-heavy costs of doing so. Lust is determined to live her truth, even occasionally putting herself in physical danger. At other times, she’s left contemplating the line between self-actualization and selfishness. Lust relates all this in an uncompromisingly frank manner, with anthropological detail. It’s a rich narrative.

And of course, last week was a full house as well. We delivered a giant look at Polish cartoonist Przemysław Trusciński's TRUST album. Only days later, ICv2 published a galley of overly serious actors dressed up in his Witcher designs. Coincidence, or excellent advance planning and trend-forecasting? (Spoiler alert: anything that distracts Henry Cavill from recording voice-overs for the Synder cut is a waste of time.)

We also celebrated the return of Alex Dueben, who was here talking to J.M. DeMatteis about all things Moonshadow. (The only thing Alex loves more than Moonshadow is apologizing to DeMatteis about his love for Moonshadow. I would do the same if I was talking to Keith Giffen about the 5YL--two sides same coin.)

As I think I’ve said in our previous conversations, I think this is one of the great comics. Period. But I will admit that re-reading it again for this interview, I found myself sometimes thinking, it’s a very wordy book.

You have no idea how much copy I cut out of that book! I’d write a page and then start slicing and dicing. That said, comics aren’t one thing or another. They’re anything we want them to be. And with Moonshadow—and a number of other projects I’ve done over the years—I wanted to explore the line between prose and comics.  

There are some people who say that comics should be “movies on paper.” And they can be that. But they can also be a thousand other things. Want to do three of four pages that are essentially illustrated prose and then shift into more typical, or perhaps even wordless, comics? Why not? Don’t let the format lead you, let the story lead you.

The other big return we had last week (along with Alex and Rob Clough) was Tegan O'Neil's surprise return to her super-hero column, Ice Cream For Bedwetters, which had run its official last installment a few weeks prior. In this follow up, Tegan used an oversized collection of bad Spawn spin-off comics to talk about the dawn of Image Comics. And RUNE! (Stick around for the comments, where Don Simpson shows up with enough sauce to make the whole thing a sundae.)

Malibu was Image’s original publisher, until the money materialized and the founders realized they had no need for middlemen. In their absence Malibu rolled out a new superhero line, too, this time with a bunch of guys you remembered from the 70s and 80s. Which was also a pretty good marketing gimmick for the time, if we’re being completely honest. And, before we go any further, it bears stating for the record that there was good stuff under the Ultraverse banner. A lot of seasoned pros doing very confident but rarely phenomenal work.

Except for Rune, which was one of the very best comics of the decade, and you only don’t think that because you haven’t read Barry Windsor-Smith’s ode to the naked lavender space vampire who likes ripping people in half with his bare fucking hands. I mean, Rune should be a household name. If people know who Spider-Man: Noir is, then by god they should know about Rune -

Other recent reviews included Josh Kramer's take on Cannabis, the latest in Box Brown's attempts to get paid for drawing about all the things he's interested in. Personally, i'm looking forward to future installments where Box really drills into the sort of mundane middle aged things that fascinate me. A whole comic where you keep pretending you've seen TV shows just so your younger coworkers will include you in conversations? A stack of sequential art devoted to how proud you feel when you don't take your phone with you to the bathroom? Here for it, big guy. 

Last week also saw Oliver Ristau deliver review coverage on Diabolical Summer, one of the many European graphic novels that IDW publishes makes physically available on a frequent basis. As part of shout out summer, Oliver has included a dig at a random Grant Morrison comic in the middle of his review as an attempt to lure Marc Singer out for a legit take on that GMoz Green Lantern comic that nobody I pay attention to has ever talked about with more than a cursory nod. Here's hoping!

As someone who enjoyed every cigarette he ever smoked right up until he stopped, it's great to see that John Constantine covers have returned to their original glory, featuring close-ups on the character lighting up a smoke. I can still remember that old 90's SPIN article where Trent Reznor kept talking about drinking protein shakes and thinking: man, growing up must suck. Don't go changing, Hellblazer!

Fleet Foxes. Get the hell out of here, Fleet Foxes.

Sophie Campbell's a very talented cartoonist, but I have to admit that my first thought when I heard there was a female turtle entering the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe was: agh, i hope that doesn't mean the turtles are gonna start fucking, nobody wants to see the turtles fucking. Unless they get Zulli back, of course. If they're gonna get sex into the Turtleverse, it's gotta be 100% serious, all the time. (THE HAND)

 

 

 

Farber Vs. Lester

This week at The Comics Journal, we're going all in on Nate McDonough, whose Cartoonist Diary launched on Monday with a near real time look at his various travels. Today, he's visiting with a Pittsburgh classic: Bill Boichel, the physical embodiment of the phrase "gateway drug" as it applies to comics. What's to come for the rest of the week? Come back and see.

This week's big conversation is with Trevor Von Eeden. In our latest edition of Creator X Creator--the badly named but roughly accurate category of interview where the people who make the stuff talk with others who do so as well--Eeden gets into his history with Josh Bayer, and how that history has influenced the work these two have done together for the next wave of All Time Comics.

I'm COMPLETELY self-taught. As mentioned above, I learn the Zen way--by observation, experience...and as an artist, self-contemplation--because Art is all about expressing The Human Condition...which is inside of EVERY human--so why look elsewhere to learn it? I discovered Alex Toth's work while devouring Neal's photo & art morgue files at Continuity after work (I enjoyed free access to the studio, 24/7)...I also discovered Ayn Rand in '82, while working at Neal's studio. Her book The Fountainhead infused me with the idea that an artist could and SHOULD be a person of INTEGRITY--and her BRILLIANT, dramatic, and highly visual writing style inspired me to create visions of my own on paper--first inside of my head... All of the above, plus my desire to impress and inspire Lynn Varley as an artist (to prove to her her OWN worth) led into the creation of my own comics art and story-telling style in The Batman Annual # 8 (and the early THRILLER issues later on--but that's another story...) I never ask anyone for assistance nor advice in my life, and definitely not in my art...it's all MINE, and that's what makes me HAPPY.  

Today, you'll find the return of Rob Clough's High-Low column--this time around, Rob is taking a look at some more off-the-beaten path work from the boundary-pushing kuš!, who recently released some Chinese underground comics.

R. Orion Martin worked for a time as a translator in China, where he found a burgeoning underground comics scene. He has since published fascinating minicomics translated into English and has partnered with the stalwarts over at kuš! as well. These comics feel familiar in appearance and subject matter for American alternative comics readers, but also strange and original. Martin has noted that while a number of Chinese artists looked at manga and manhwa, they either didn't feel like they could draw in that style or it simply didn't speak to them. When they got hold of European underground comics, that proved to be a game-changer. Let's take a look at a few of these unusual comics.

Our first review of the week comes to ya from Paul Tumey, who returns to us with a look at The Artist Behind Superman: The Joe Shuster StoryTumey claims he's here to stay, and said the handcuffs weren't necessary. But hey, that's company policy!

I almost didn't read this book. Not only is the story familiar to me, but it also stirs up my dyspepsia something terrible. The shameful saga of how badly the Men of Steal who ran National (the company that eventually became D.C. Comics) treated the creators of Superman, the property that made the company wildly successful, is well documented. In 2004, Gerard Jones told the story in Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book (Basic Books). Almost a decade later, Brad Ricca expanded the story with his in-depth book, Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster—the Creators of Superman (St. Martin’s Press, 2013). Voloj and Campi are well aware they are walking a fairly worn path—these two volumes and eight others on the formation of the superhero comic book are listed in The Joe Shuster Story’s selected bibliography.

Over at Inkstuds, Aisha Franz is talking with Robin about Shit Is Real and the recent Clubhouse anthology. 

Over at The Nation, Jeet Heer is delivering a major comics adjacent article, and it's on the subject that's been the talk of the town since last week: the changes at Mad Magazine. We'll be covering this subject in our own way pretty soon. For now? Get your Jeet on.

Over at Sina Grace's Tumblr, there's a much shared post from the creator about his experience working at Marvel Comics on the Iceman series. While it's easy--and correct--to criticize the people in charge of things at Marvel for being fundamentally lousy at their job and offensively stupid, it's often something you can only reckon with by pointing out how bad most of their comics are, and how gross most of their employees act on social media. Having someone like Sina come along and give you the actual receipts--that's the stuff!

Over at Longbox Coffin, you'll find an article on Alan Moore's Supreme that nails it about as hard as the truth can. Stick around for a guest appearance of a TCJ regular, and then say Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday, Brian!

Over at Ink Logging, Tom Kaczynski has his take on Silver Surfer Black #1, a recent Marvel comic I also purchased and read. Like Tom, I was also impressed with the splash page that is framed with the Surfer's smooth non-penis dead center.

Tom of Finland is gearing up for a special birthday!

 

Thanks, President Pullman

Today at the Comics Journal, we're launching you into the weekend with Tegan O'Neil's final column for us under the Ice Cream for Bedwetters banner--what's that? You'll have to read it to find out what comes next--but here's a bit of it, to get you started:

I really didn’t enjoy Spider-Verse - it made me grouchy in a way I hadn’t been expecting because it made me feel decidedly out of touch. It wasn’t that I didn’t get it, it was that I got that it represented a completely new paradigm of fandom that didn’t hold much appeal for me. And after I mulled that over for a while I realized something else: that was OK, too.

Sometimes it takes seeing something you don’t like to bring into relief what you do: all the cool stuff that audiences were responding to onscreen didn’t really interest me because what I really like about these characters and stories has absolutely nothing to do with them as ongoing properties. I can’t identify with a character in a movie when I’ve personally written thousands of words about how his creators hated each other. There’s no way to get back to that place, for me, for so many reasons, but that’s a really big one.

Today's review comes to us from Matt Seneca, who is here with a deep dive into Yuichi Yokoyama's Plaza. I've been suckered into buying expensive foreign editions of comics that are over my head by Matt, Joe McCulloch and Chris Mautner before, but let me spoil Matt's review a bit to say this: Plaza is the real deal. When we get to the end of 2019 and start arguing about which comics are as great as Kevin Huizenga's River at Night, there's gonna be one real contender for the fight--and it's this comic right here.

This might not be the best Yuichi Yokoyama comic, but it's definitely the most Yuichi Yokoyama comic. For my money, the enigmatic mangaka is the contemporary cartoonist whose work carries the highest sum total of uniqueness and quality - the guy out there right now who there's the least amount of stuff as weird as, and the least amount of stuff as good as. Even given that distinction though, Plaza sits in rarefied air. It's a book that challenges you to read it all through in one go, one whose every new panel throws another hard left jab out at your eye and dares you to assimilate its information into the story you've been reading. Yokoyama is many things, but accessible has never been one of them, and this is his least accessible book. It's also the hardest to buy - no American edition, no importer, and almost sold out in Japan - but I bought one, so I'm gonna talk about it anyway.

Yesterday, I hope you read our nice long interview with Polish comics superstar  Przemysław Truściński, in the first TCJ work from Michal Chudoliński, who will be covering the Polish scene in comics for us. Next week, we'll be spotlighting some more of Truściński's work that we weren't able to fit into the interview.

We also had another extended glaring contest from Sean Witzke, who was able to find a way to lower his standards enough to not completely dislike a genre comic about space truckers.

Because of the July 4th we'll be quiet until next week. Tune in then for a new Cartoonist Diary, the return of Rob Clough's Hi Low Column, an interview i'm kinda worried about, and a whole mess of reviews. Here's a picture of me and Gary Groth discussing our plans for the website, taking just this past week!