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Tell Us Again About Monet, Grandpa

Today on the site, we have dueling review of the new Sunday Press collection, Dick Tracy: Colorful Cases of the 1930s. First up, Frank Young:

Peter Maresca’s books celebrate what I call the art of looking. Their generous page size and crisp full-color presentation invite us to regard comics as more than a diversion—something to vacuum down in between checking Facebook and binge-watching Westworld.

Via these lavish books, we get a window into the original impact the newspaper comics had on their eager readership. In this tabloid format, details abound from panels that are at least 200% larger than their prior reprinting in the early (and smaller than the present size) volumes of IDW’s ongoing Tracy reprint project, which shrunk Sunday strips shrunk to Kleenex size on a single 7” x 9” page. These dimensions hampered Dick Tracy. A magnifying glass is required to retrieve any information from these undersized images, and made me inclined to skip the Sunday strips altogether—a disservice to Chester Gould’s fascinating, endlessly eccentric work.

And then comes Paul Tumey:

For me, the first thrilling sense I got that the strip had slipped into the dreamlike territory it would fully embrace in the 1940s and beyond, comes in the climax to the first of the four complete cases, with Boris Arson, described by Garyn G. Roberts as the “premier rogue” of the 1930s Dick Tracy comics. A secret hideout is shown, hidden in an elaborate cave that resembles the secret lairs of James Bond villains to come along thirty years later. The entrance, a giant hallway, is guarded by unreal vicious striped big cats oddly called “wildcats” instead of tigers. “Man-killing Ozark wildcats,” to be exact.  A long sliding cage can be moved through the entrance, protecting those inside it from the wildcats. In this moment, the strip become hyper-obsessed and fetishistic, although I doubt Gould, himself would have approved of those terms. I think he was reaching into his imagination to tell a good story, something he succeeded at dozens―if not hundreds―of times.

The Sunday Press volume also offers a section or extremely rare pages from 1931-32 when the Dick Tracy Sundays squeezed a whole crime story in a single Sunday episode. In these first pages, Gould’s style shifts and grows weekly. For a brief while, these pages ran another Chester Gould creation, the single-tier topper, Cigarette Sadie, a gag strip I quite like about a nightclub cigarette girl.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Ruben Bolling (Tom the Dancing Bug) has won the Herblock Prize.

“I’m honored to win the award and so thankful to the Herblock Foundation,” the cartoonist told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “I’m also sad that it’s pretty much an award for satirizing, lampooning, parodying and railing against Trump throughout his rise to power.”

—Reviews & Commentary. The great Roger Angell remembers New Yorker cartoonist James Stevenson.

The cartoons were deftly drawn, gestural and vigorous—a man bolting out of a Broadway theatre with his date says, “Getting the hell out of here is worth the price of admission.” The drawing of some frogs on a lily pad that accompanied his Times obituary the other day shows him at full range. One of a pair of young frogs addressing a large elder frog asks, “Tell us again about Monet, Grandpa.” Nothing is missing: the young frogs are damp and innocent, the geezer frog plump and a bit tired, and the water and lily pads Impressionist. Jim’s cartoons roam freely but return again and again to pompous businessmen, critically but affectionately presented. An old poop, sitting up in bed, is reading a book titled “The Riot Act.” Another boss, self-importantly erect in his office chair, is sporting bunny slippers under the desk.

And Lee Lorenz introduces a selection of Stevenson’s cartoons.

Andrew Hickey writes about Judge Dredd.

I came across what may be the wrongest thing Grant Morrison (a man who I admire hugely as a writer, but who has made more than his share of wrong statements) has ever said:

at least Batman also has Bruce Wayne, giving him all of two dimensions. Dredd is just Dredd. I think the character is now as relevant to the new century as Dan Dare was to the 1970s.

Now, leaving aside the number of dimensions the characters have, and whether that makes them better or worse for stories (though I think Dredd, as written by John Wagner and a couple of other writers who get the character, a list which definitely doesn’t include Morrison, is a far more nuanced character than is usually believed), who could really believe that a fascist authoritarian police state which exercises seemingly unlimited violent power, in a world where the citizenry are regularly gripped by senseless, meaningless, obsessions which destroy thousands of lives for no good reason is irrelevant to the twenty-first century? Perhaps it’s the way in which the world is hugely overpopulated but humanity has destroyed most of it and clustered in crowded, angry, cities that is irrelevant?

Sheila Heti reviews Dominique Goblet’s Pretending Is Lying.

Though Goblet has written five others, this is her first book translated into English (she relettered every page). She uses charcoal, pencil and ink to employ a range of styles; splotches of yellow oil saturate the opening pages, which depict a visit to her estranged, alcoholic father, as if to express the mess they’re in. She renders a televised racecar crash with the blurry precision of a Gerhard Richter black-and-white photorealist painting — gorgeous panels that are violently interrupted along the bottom by Dominique’s mother shouting in angry letters, “Little brat! I’m going to tie you up!!!” Later, it’s darkly funny when she draws the phrase “that said” with elaborate curlicues, as her father mockingly imitates her fancy “university language.” “Thaaaaaat said . . . you’re not gonna come here and get stuck up with me!!”

R. Orion Martin write about Dad’s Weekend, from Pete Toms.

There’s a scene in the comic Dad’s Weekend, by Pete Toms, where the protagonist, Whitney, upon receiving a form to bail her mentally unsound father out of jail, says, “At least this will make a good cryptic Facebook post.” It’s a fitting encapsulation of the deep cynicism that runs through this bleak but funny comic, and of the ways this cynicism feels uniquely shaped by the internet.

In this 24-page comic, Whitney, a biracial woman in her twenties, visits her father, Manny, who has become obsessed with an Illuminati-tinged conspiracy about world domination by lizard people. During her visit, following the death of a close friend, Manny begins to spiral out of control.

Sophie Pinkham writes about Other Russias, the new collection by Victoria Lomasko.

In “Other Russias,” a new collection of graphic reportage by Victoria Lomasko, Russians from radically different walks of life come face to face for the first time. A stonemason and Orthodox activist named Sergei, shown with an icon hanging around his neck, announces, “The West wants to destroy the bold and beautiful Russian people.” On the opposite page sits Victor Mizin, a lecturer in political science at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. With a shot glass and a half-empty carafe of vodka on the table in front of him, Mizin complains, “Russians are shit. But me, I’m seventh-generation intelligentsia.” In real life, Sergei and Victor would never sit down together for a conversation, and yet, in Lomasko’s view, they are voices that need to be heard together in order to be fully understood.

—Misc. The New York Times has a video of James Sturm drawing live.

 

Off/On, Lights/Noise

Today on the site, Frank is back with the second part of this Risograph Workbook: An interview with Jesjit Gill of Colour Code Printing

What is your risograph origin story? When did you first encounter risograph? I assume you were interested in printmaking before you discovered riso printing.

I studied printmaking, primarily screenprinting, at OCAD in Toronto. After graduating I did a residency at AS220 in Providence, RI, where I got to learn how to use a small offset press. While I was there I visited Mickey Zacchilli and saw a riso for the first time. I think I had a vague idea of what they were but when I saw one working for the first time it blew me away. At that time it perfectly encapsulated what I loved about screenprinting and what I wanted to get out of offset printing, but it was so much easier to handle in terms of costs, materials, and space. As soon as I got home from the residency, I was on the lookout for a used riso and soon after I went splits on one with Patrick Kyle and Michael Deforge.

I’ve noticed risograph printers have “meet ups”, little fairs and conventions. I imagine it is like any other subculture – however this one interests me because of the direct connection to book making. It reminds me of zine culture and comics fandom in a way. Can you speak to how risograph printers are different than other printers beyond obvious differences in materials?

I think a large number of riso printers probably have some background in self publishing, printmaking, comics or whatever, experiences that give us an appreciation of the process and how accessible and easy it is to use. Riso is sometimes looked down on by other printers because of the way the ink dries, the resolution, the misregistration etc. but as artists and designers ourselves, we come to this medium with an understanding of it’s limitations and are eager to explore and push those limits.

Elsewhere: 

I’m opening a show tonight in Elmhurst, IL, just outside of Chicago. It’s called Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago.

Here’s the blurb: 

Elmhurst Art Museum proudly presents Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago, an examination of the intertwined histories of two of Chicago’s greatest exports: pinball and Imagist painting. Curated by Dan Nadel, this interactive exhibition invites guests to play pinball on Chicago-designed and built pinball machines from the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s—including machines manufactured by Elmhurst’s Gottlieb family—alongside paintings, sculptures and prints also made in Chicago in the same period. Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago will feature works by Roger Brown, Ed Flood, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, Christina Ramberg, Suellen Rocca, Barbara Rossi, Karl Wirsum and Ray Yoshida; pinball machines including Kings & Queens, Old Chicago, Fireball, Duotron, Gorgar, and Blackout, featuring art by the likes of Roy Parker, Gordon Morison, Dave Christensen, Doug Watson and Constantino Mitchell, who will also exhibit original pinball backglass paintings, some for games never produced. The exhibition will be on display from February 25 – May 7, 2017. 

Most of the world’s finest pinball machines were made in Chicago’s North Side factories, and many of those were manufactured by Elmhurst residents, the Gottlieb family, and designed and illustrated by local Chicago artists. As those machines reached the apex of pictorial and engineering ingenuity, the artists now known as the Imagists were finding their unique visual style with inspiration from many vernacular sources including the arcades and Riverview Park. Pinball provided inspiration with its high contrast coloration, absurd juxtapositions and ultra-flat forms. Pinball was but one inspiration for these artists, along with the city’s many color storefronts and the enormously popular Riverview Park. This exhibition also contains photographs of Chicago in those years, as recorded by some of these same artists. Kings & Queens is inspired by Imagist painter Ed Paschke’s 1982 pinball exhibition, Flip! Flash! Pinball Art!, at the Chicago Cultural Center, which featured a wide selection of pinball machines from previous three decades.

A selection of the imagist pieces featured in Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago are on loan courtesy of the Elmhurst College. The Elmhurst College Art Collection is a collection that focuses on artists working in Chicago between about 1950 and the present, with a special focus on the Imagists. The full collection is housed in the A.C. Buehler Library on the Elmhurst College campus.

Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago reveals a new view of both the city and some of its finest exports with major works on loan courtesy of private collectors and institutions including the Illinois State Museum, Elmhurst  College and the Roger Brown Study Collection.

Design by Ethan D’Ercole.

 

The Groin Vaults of Branson

Today on the site, we have Alex Dueben’s interview with French cartoonist Sandrine Revel.

What interested you in making a biography of Glenn Gould?

I’ve been dreaming of this for twenty years. I discovered Glenn Gould while learning to play the piano. What attracted me to him was his legend, his way of playing, his mystery, his need for solitude. He played for himself more than for others. A great personality for comics.

The first five pages of the book make it clear that this is not going to be a typical biography. I wonder if you could talk us through what you were thinking with those pages and why you wanted to start the book that way.

In these first few pages I wanted to set the tone. Embark the readers within the first few panels in the fantasy world of Gould. You discover the first panels like the first notes or measures of a prelude of Bach. We start the story inside the mind of Gould, which remains the thread of this graphic novel.

How do you typically work? When you’re writing, do you script the book out in detail? Did you work that way with this book?

When it’s just me, I don’t write a script. I know what I don’t want and what my intentions are. I write very little, the story is stashed in a corner of my mind. I draw a lot, I quickly put together the more important sequences and I compose adding links. Justifications, parallels. When in doubt, I try to redo a page, a sequence, I modulate a great deal before being sure of the result. My ideas come to me often while walking my dog in the forest. So as to be quick in execution, I work on a pen tablet. This tool allows me to be faster in the creation process.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Publisher Annie Koyama has donated a large collection of original art to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library in Ohio.

The L.A. Times Book Prize nominations have been announced, and the graphic novel category includes work by Nick Drnaso, Jason Shiga, Anna Haifish, Patrick Kyle, and Rokudenashiko. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell’s March was nominated in the young adult category.

—Interviews & Profiles. Sarah Moroz profiles Daniel Clowes for The Daily Beast.

His rich roster of characters double only vaguely as alter egos: “I don’t know that the events of their lives are necessarily mine,” he cautions. “They’re certainly not the wholeness of what I am. But there’s always some emotional resonance… I write out the things I’m thinking about all the time.” With Patience, released last year—billed as a science-fiction time-traveling love story—he wrestled with “my younger self and how I became myself now from this younger man.”

Max Morris talks to Matthew Thurber, and his controversial 2014 piece for this website comes up.

I feel more than ever that printed media contains autonomous power that is almost magical. All internet publication is embedded in and framed by another corporation. With print, as soon as it flies off the press it belongs, like the land, to “you and me”. The disturbing thing about social media is they change the terms of publication from one of total freedom, to one where you are being allowed to express yourself. Because they grant it… they can take it away. Social media echo chambers are destructive: look at what they have helped to do in terms of ripping our country in half, replacing everything with a simulation of reality. Is that what you mean by “a lot is changed”?

—Reviews & Commentary. Bill Boichel reviews Michael Tisserand’s Krazy.

Tisserand broadens the context of Herriman’s life further, to encompass large swaths of American history, society and culture, and in the process places Herriman’s life not only at the center of the history of comics, but at the crossroads of America itself at the dawn of the 20th century. While it has long been known that Herriman was born in New Orleans of mixed “Creole” heritage, with African as well as European forebears, the specifics had always been murky, at best – but no more! Tisserand, much of whose earlier writing focused on New Orleans, and who evidently knows his way around a variety of New Orleans archives, leveraged his preexistent knowledge, rolled up his sleeves and dug deep, tracing Herriman’s roots back to the 18th century as well as outlining much of his extended family history.

 

Word for Word

Today on the site:

Paul Tumey presents part two of his interview with My Favorite Thing is Monsters author Emil Ferris. Part one is here.

Paul Tumey: I’ve worked out you averaged a page every three days. Does that sound about right?

Emil Ferris: Actually it was probably about a page every two days.

Paul Tumey: That is impressive, to say the least. Earlier, you mentioned the story of the making the book was “… catastrophes followed by what amount to windfalls and blessings.” Can you share a little of that story? I’d love to know more.

Emil Ferris: Yes, There were a lot of setbacks and challenges in the process of making the book. I’m glad to relate them; it might be instructive for people who also have a story to tell. During the production of the book I went broke, experienced some homelessness due to various catastrophes, lost important relationships and had myriad physical disability setbacks and obstacles. But I believed in the story and I narrowed my focus and just kept going.

Paul Tumey: Books One and Two together are about 600 pages? It’s an ambitious work. And, like Maus, Fun Home, etc. it’s got something different and new and, if you’ll pardon the word, strange, to offer. Was it hard to find a publisher?

Emil Ferris: The two books together are coming in at closer to 800 pages between the two. And yes! It was a challenge. I have a great agent who held with me throughout the trials of the thing. The book was noticed early on by Katie Adams and initially the book was slated to come out with the extremely wonderful publisher for whom she worked, but, when finally they had the book in hand the publisher felt that I would be best off to do it differently. (The head of this company, Judith Gurewich is a total mensch!) That publisher decided to ask nothing back from the support they gave me to complete the work. I was deeply grateful, utterly broke and completely lost when they decided not to publish it. So Holly Bemiss and myself, we hit the (publishing) street like two Depression Era sales dames carrying worn suitcases full of encyclopedias (my book, “the big monster”). We went from town to town and then were ‘taken in” by the kindly folks at Fantagraphics, Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds, who just threw everything behind the book they could.

Elsewhere:

The great graphic designer and illustrator Alan Aldridge has passed away. He was best known to comics readers as the co-editor of the Penguin Book of Comics, one of the earliest cross-genre anthologies of the medium. 

 

 

Not That It Really Matters

Welcome back from the Presidents’ Day weekend. Joe McCulloch is here as usual this morning with his guide to the Week in Comics! This time, his spotlight picks include new books from Vanessa Davis and Elaine Lee & Michael Kaluta. He also writes at some length about a Slovenian funny-animal detective comic.

I will suggest that the first issue of Animal Noir is pretty much drenched in allegory – look at the hoodie on that zebra toward the bottom right… these are not uncharged symbols, and the creators are not unaware of that charge, suggesting an animal metropolis of upper-class lions (royalty of the animal kingdom, natch) who for some reason have managed to stem their predatory impulses into socially acceptable means of feeding on the less-advantaged classes of zebras and gazelles. Animals now behave as humans, complete with interracial (species) relationships; in fact, some of these relationships are strictly economic, as in the shadowy world of “hunt porn,” where certain species simulate the process of being hunted and devoured by predators, for the gratification of those same predators flattering themselves as old-fashioned wild animals at home.

Joe doesn’t mention it, but some of the potential problems he detects here are very close to the ones that marred Zootopia.

And we also present Cynthia Rose’s appreciation for the late Andre Franquin.

Was Belgian Andre Franquin (1924-1997) comics’ greatest draftsman? One colleague who certainly thought so was Hergé. “Franquin”, he declared, “is a great artist. Next to him, I’m only a mediocre pen-pusher.” Fantagraphics’ Kim Thompson agreed with Tintin’s creator. “In terms of ultra-classic greatness,” he once wrote me, “Hergé has that abstract line but Franquin has something else. He created the most complete, the most alive, the most absolute cartooniness in comics history.”

A current Paris retrospective, Gaston, shares their views. It also honours a landmark birthday – the sixtieth year of Gaston Lagaffe, Franquin’s most well-known character. Gaston, whose last name means “the blunder”, is an dedicated idler in jeans and espadrilles. While hardly the first antihero of European comics, Gaston was one of their first post-adolescents. Franquin made him into a prototype of subversion.

Over three decades the artist honed Gaston’s interests, showing him to be an inventor, a music fan, a DIY fanatic and an amateur chef. But, if his character exudes a Sixties effervescence it also has the era’s disillusions. As Renaud Defiebre-Muller notes in the show, “Gaston pits personal autonomy against social control: against manners, against respect, against everyday decorum”. Elevated to stardom by Franquin’s graphic brilliance, this rebellion-by-default changed the rules of the bande dessinée.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. For the Chronicle of Higher Education, Lee Konstantinou writes about recent developments in academic comics studies.

But this success has given rise to a new set of problems. If an earlier generation of scholars passionately argued that academics should study comics, scholars now arriving on the scene are asking how best to do so. That is the question Bart Beaty and Benjamin Woo attempt to answer in their slim but illuminating volume, The Greatest Comic Book of All Time. Beaty, a professor of English at the University of Calgary, and Woo, an assistant professor of communication studies at Canada’s Carleton University, run through a series of contenders for the “greatest comic book” title, including Spiegelman’s Maus, the short works of Robert Crumb, the superhero oeuvre of Jack Kirby, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, and so on.

Bart Beaty writes about what he considers to be last year’s best comic, Philippe de Pierpont and Êric Lambé’s Paysage après la bataille.

De Pierpont and Lambé have been collaborators on and off for more than a decade now. They had previously published Alberto G., a quasi-biography of Giacometti, in 2003, as well as La Pluie and Un Voyage. Four years ago Lambé shocked the comics world with the graphically astonishing graphic novel, Le Fils du Roi (elaborately cross-hatched in ball point pen). Paysage saw a return to the simpler line art of his earlier work, now paired with breathtaking compositions. Framing and layout operate in this book at an incredibly high level to create meaning. It is a formal tour-de-force.

At Paste, Hilary Brown writes about Dominique Goblet’s Pretending Is Lying.

Dominique Goblet started work on this loose memoir back in 1995, and it wasn’t published in her native Belgium until 2007. In the meantime, she reworked old pages, many of which had aged and yellowed. But rather than clean them up or redraw the images, she treated them like a palimpsest or a patina. Ten years after, New York Review Comics has released an English translation alongside translator Sophie Yanow with new lettering from Goblet. The book fits right in with the weird array of sequential art the relatively new imprint has released so far: a reissue of Mark Beyer’s Agony, a gorgeous English edition of Blutch’s Peplum (one of the most underappreciated books of last year), a compilation of Glen Baxter’s weird single-panel surrealistic gags, a giant volume of Norwegian cartoonist Hariton Pushwagner’s Soft City (dating from the late 1960s to early 1970s and interesting, but perhaps a little overappreciated). The publisher clearly likes mining hidden gems, polishing them and showing them off proudly to a public that is (probably) mystified by their contents. Pretending Is Lying falls right inside those lines.


—Interviews & Profiles.
Dana Jennings at The New York Times profiles Emil Ferris.

Now, about that bite. It came 15 years ago when Ms. Ferris, who is 55, contracted West Nile virus from a mosquito. “I woke up in a hospital room three weeks after being admitted,” she recalled in a phone interview. “I was paralyzed from the waist down. I couldn’t speak. And I’d lost the use of my right hand, so I couldn’t draw.”

At 40, she found herself in a wheelchair, with a 6-year-old daughter, Ruby, to raise. But Ms. Ferris, like her stubborn heroine, doesn’t give in. She taught herself to draw again, received an M.F.A. in creative writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and eventually plunged into “Monsters.” “The virus both impelled and scared me at the same time,” she said. “I honed my focus and determination, and the book saw me through.”

And Sam Thielman at The Guardian interviews her.

When I was a child I had this severe disability, so I was the kid in the playground who wasn’t running. I had a spinal curvature, some amount of hunchback, two different lengths of leg, but I learned – and this is what’s so interesting about the world – I learned the my story-telling [of] horror and ghost stories would get a crowd of ten kids around me. So I was not alone. I learned how not to be alone in the playground. They would all show up for the next installment – of course I would always leave it hanging anywhere I could, so I could be assured that the next installment would be something they were looking forward to, because I didn’t want to be alone.

Recode talks to Alison Bechdel.

[The “Bechdel test”] was just a lesbian feminist joke of the ’80s, the kind of stuff we were all saying to each other. And it, you know, it just disappeared. But then, 20 years later, these young feminists resurrected it. I think it started with women in film school who were being told the exact opposite. “If you want to sell a movie to Hollywood, don’t put more than two women in it.” Etc.

The LARB Radio Hour interviews Vanessa Davis.

—News. The longtime New Yorker cartoonist James Stephenson has died.

Mr. Stevenson, born in New York City in 1929, found his way to The New Yorker in 1947. “I was not hired on merit,” Mr. Stevenson wrote in The Life, Loves and Laughs of Frank Modell — “My mother was a friend of the Fiction Editor, William Maxwell.” He worked for that summer as an office boy, and a part-time supplier of cartoon ideas. Nine years later he was hired by the Art Editor, James Geraghty, as a full-time ideaman. Mr. Stevenson recalled that Mr. Geraghty turned to him after the hiring handshake and said, “You must not tell anybody at the office or anywhere else what you do.”

 

Summer House

Today on the site:

Paul Tumey is here with part one of a two-part interview with Emil Ferris, author of the much-anticipated and well-reviewed new graphic novel, My Favorite Thing is Monsters.

Paul Tumey: How long have you had that remarkable graphic style — how far back does it go?

Emil Ferris: I think I really started developing that style when I was about eight.

Paul Tumey: And I agree―a flashy style with substance isn’t worth much, I think―facing off with the difficult feelings is what gives the whole enterprise depth. I feel that when I read Monsters. That pulled me through the narrative as much as plot.

Paul Tumey: You can see artists getting into that space and producing work of remarkable depth and complexity, and then backing off from it, perhaps out of survival. It seems very intense and consuming … although the work that can come from that state can bring rewards.

Emil Ferris: I agree. I think that’s the sacred geometry, if you will, that makes theater cathartic. The capacity we have to feel an emotional state and move through it towards empathy and understanding and yet have it all be ‘fictional’ ‘play-acting’ and thereby safe. The artist is a willing servant to those altered states and a shamanic being taking us down a dark path, meanwhile punching holes into the tunnel to allow us light and hope and a view as we travel that dark passage. That view is sometimes a page, a scene, a moment of film or a painting, poetry, music, dance, vision.

Paul Tumey: That shamanic journey, the transformation of one’s self and life, is captured with sensitivity and vision at several key points in Book One of Monsters. I’m thinking of Karen’s shift into werewolf mode and later, her psychedelic trip in the graveyard at night.

Emil Ferris: As unlikely as it is, there is some truth to that graveyard tripping scene. When I was a kid I belonged to the Marble Cake Kids, a little theatrical troupe of children of many different races run by two counterculture mavens called Leo and Mila. The troupe had their base at Hull House on Beacon Street, only a stone’s throw from Chicago’s infamous Graceland Cemetery. So necessarily as a kid obsessed with monsters, I decided I needed to sneak into Graceland and wait for wonders. When I was finally able to get into the cemetery, the actual wonders were the graves of famous Chicagoans whose stories I researched as I got older. There was also a ghost child rumored to live in the cemetery who I desperately wanted (and still want) to appear to me and befriend me. As for the marijuana connection, that occurred after I was a bit older, when imbibing of the weed and going into cemeteries became a pastime of mine.

Elsewhere… a rogue’s gallery of links.

TCJ-contributor Frank Young has some newly uncovered 1944 John Stanley material.

Michael Dooley pays tribute to Bernie Wrightson, who was probably the very first artist I was completely obsessed with. True story.

And here’s a podcast with Benjamin Marra.

 

Challenger

Today on the site, Zach Davisson has written our obituary of manga master Jiro Taniguchi.

In 1990, Taniguchi turned his eye away from gangsters and mountain climbers to look inside at his own life with The Walking Man. Here another Taniguchi hero emerged: the middle-class, middle-aged man becoming aware of his own surroundings. This Zen-like, introspective hero would appear again and again, in semi-autobiographical comics like A Zoo in Winter, the fantasy-tinged A Distant Neighborhood, and the foodie comic The Solitary Gourmet.

It is this aspect of Taniguchi that appealed to French readers. His simple, reflective storylines touched a deep cord in France, who resonated with the comics’ appreciation for nature and daily life that are not quagmired in nostalgia. From 2007-2008 French jeweler and luxury brand Cartier used Taniguchi’s art for a commercial campaign that spread his fame across the country—a bit ironically, considering Cartier is selling a lifestyle completely at odds with Taniguchi’s portrayal of middle-class life. France also loved Taniguchi enough to commission Guardians of the Louvre, a fanciful story about a lone Japanese man wandering through the ancient art gallery, conversing with famous paintings in a mad fever dream. And lest you should think of Taniguchi as only a wise prophet of the nobility of a peaceful life, while he creating these idyllic portraits of modernity he was also drawing Fatal Wolf, an ultra-violent wrestling comic. Taniguchi was a multi-faceted jewel. One of those facets was huge, rippling muscled men attempting to tear each other apart. The guy could draw an exquisite blood stream.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation has announced a challenge grant to raise money for the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library’s Lucy Shelton Caswell Research Award.

The endowment will provide funding for scholars to travel to Columbus and use the BICLM collections for research and publishing. A committee will be appointed by the BICLM curator to review applications and select award recipients. The Foundation will also contribute a stipend for the award each year until the BICLM can raise the matching funds to establish the endowment.

—Interviews & Profiles. Priscilla Frank talks to Aline Kominsky-Crumb.

[My comics persona] is made up of exaggerated parts of me that I blow up and push to the maximum. I drew the most sordid, unacceptable parts of myself. I’m not as ugly as I draw myself. But when I was younger, that’s how I felt, so that’s what I drew.

In retrospect, I thought I’d bring out the worst part of myself and see if people still loved me. I didn’t do it on purpose ― to shock ― but it was shocking to people. I did it because I needed the ultimate approval.

For EW, Anthony Breznican talks to the novelist Victor LaValle, who is launching a new comics series riffing off of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

There are two different versions of the ending [to the novel]. The one we know is Percy Shelley’s ending. Mary Shelley actually had an ending where he pushes away from the shift, but Percy didn’t want that because he didn’t like that the monster was rejecting civilization. He thought civilization should reject the monster. It’s a tiny change, but it makes so much difference.

For HiLobrow, Adam McGovern speaks to the artist John Jennings about his work on the comics adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Kindred.

When we first approached the adaptation, one of the things that was in the front of our minds was to try to make an adaptation that utilized the best aspects of the comics medium. You don’t want to make something where the first thing people say is, “this could have not happened.” We wanted to make something that had the underlying themes of the book, and was the story, but also did something with the medium of comics that the prose novel couldn’t do. The initial script was a lot more meta; it was almost like you had to read the original story to get the whole thing, but then our editor Sheila Keenan, in her infinite wisdom, was like, “No — you don’t wanna create a book that makes people have to go out and get another book.” [laughs] In the rewriting process we came up with something that was a lot more streamlined, and is an homage to the original story but also reified aspects of the emotional content of the work in a way that comics can do.

The most recent guest on the Process Party podcast is Rich Tommaso.

—Reviews & Commentary. Books blogger Levi Stahl writes about his reading experiences with Marvel crossover events past and present.

Month to month, reading superhero comics as an adult can be frustrating. No other medium with which I’m involved is as clearly deformed by the needs of the marketplace (like in its endless crossovers, to take but one example). So often it fails to realize its potential, brought down by simplicity, pathology, or the low and narrow expectations of its fan base. But every once in a while you get a comic like these two, and you remember why you’re drawn to this medium, the connection it makes between your long-gone childhood self and the adult you who knows better but still looks to stories of people and events that are larger than ourselves but nonetheless, time and again, resolve to the human.

At The Millions, Mary Capello writes about Margaret Wise Brown.

It was interesting at the outset to think about the vast mood influence the magic of one of Brown’s books had cast into the nighttime wells of millions of children over a period of several decades and still to this day. Then, to pause to consider how little any reader, be they parent or child, knew about the particular geometry of her life, to say nothing of the scores of books she wrote that haven’t yet enjoyed the same ascendency as Goodnight Moon including her Noisy Book series, or those she wrote under a handful of pseudonyms. Could it matter to our experience of the book to know that Brown didn’t live to see Goodnight Moon thrive, that she died young, at 42 in 1952, exiting life with the kind of boisterous exuberance she was known for: cause of death was a cancan-type kick of her leg into the air following a minor surgery. She died instantly of an embolism. In an equally strange twist of fate, in her will, Brown had named the child of a friend the right to all monies earned by her books should he survive her, but the boy, who never completed high school and who gained a reputation for destroying public property and beating people up, grew up to squander the millions.

 

Won’t Go Back There

Today on the site Joe McCulloch brings the new comics.

Elsewhere:

Tucker Stone has reported that Dahlov Ipcar, who wrote and illustrated childrens books, has passed away. Via Facebook: 

A few years ago, pretty soon after I started at Nobrow, my friend Jason and I drove to Georgetown Maine and interviewed Dahlov Ipcar, who was 96 at the time, about her children’s books that we were getting ready to re-issue via Flying Eye. She was electric: 96 years old, living alone (it was her elderly son’s job to supply her with groceries), very direct, funny and acerbic as hell. I loved her. I wrote her letters afterwards (that was her preferred method of contact with me) whenever I had something of note to tell her about my work on her books, and I spoke to her a few times on the phone to set up some interviews and assist her with supplying books for events she would do at a local children’s hospital. She was always on top of it, and funny in a crusty, tough way that belied decades of commitment to craft and hardcore farmhouse living.

She just passed away, which was expected. I am sorry to her family for that, but I know how incredibly proud her sons were to work with her, and how much she loved and missed her husband, who passed away himself decades ago. Her life was lived as fully as one could dream of –a family she loved, and an art she devoted herself too. One of the first things that she told Jason and I when we arrived to make the attached video was that she had no interest in living to be 100 years old–as she put it, she was tired of spending so much of her morning going to the bathroom–and that was only the first of many things that made us laugh.

I just checked. Her 100th birthday would have been this November. Nice work, Dahlov.

Trevor Alixopolus makes a comic about the mysteries of East Los Angeles. 

And the great Ivan Brunetti wrote in to call our attention to an auction of his own artwork to benefit Linework No. 7, an excellent (I saw the first couple issues) student-edited comics anthology featuring the work of Columbia College Chicago students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Ivan teaches comics and illustration at Columbia College, and there is a lack of funding for Linework. In 2014 he sold a page of original art on ebay to fund the Linework project, and those funds helped sustain us through 3 issues, 2 exhibits, and some individual student projects. Here is a link to the auction. Go get some good art for a good cause.