Blog – The Comics Journal http://www.tcj.com Fri, 20 Jan 2017 15:39:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.1 Copyright © The Comics Journal 2011 editorial@tcj.com (Mike Dawson) editorial@tcj.com (Mike Dawson) 1440 http://images.tcj.com/2011/04/tcj_talkies.jpg The Comics Journal http://www.tcj.com 144 144 http://www.tcj.com/feed/podcast/ The Comics Journal podcast TCJ Talkies is a biweekly creator interview podcast hosted by Mike Dawson at The Comics Journal. Cartoonists and other comic book luminaries will stop by the Talkie-Hut and chat about their creative process, motivation, and careers. Comics, cartoonists, The, Comics, Journal, graphic, novels, sequential Mike Dawson Mike Dawson editorial@tcj.com no no Strange Days http://www.tcj.com/strange-days/ http://www.tcj.com/strange-days/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98148 Continue reading ]]> R.C. Harvey writes about George Herriman, and Michael Tisserand’s widely acclaimed biography of the artist, Krazy.

We don’t have to penetrate more than a fraction of an inch into Michael Tisserand’s inch-and-a-half thick, three-pound 545-page biography of Krazy Kat’s kreator to realize that it is a stupendous triumph of exhaustive research and organizational skill. I’ve read only the first two chapters of Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White, and I already know more about this shy genius than I ever expected to know. But we don’t have to read even that much to realize that this volume is a biography of the cartoonist, not a critique of his work.

Just riffling the pages of the book reveals that not much of Herriman’s comic strip art is on display, and without visual evidence, we can’t examine or much appreciate his cartooning achievement. And besides, Tisserand himself tells us in an author’s introductory note that “the dimensions of this book do not allow for a full presentation of Herriman’s grand comics.”

In fact, there are no complete comic strips on display. This book is deliberately not about comic strip artistry. And he tells us exactly that right at the beginning: none of Herriman’s “grand comics.”

Just biography then? No, there’s a little more.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:


—News.
Tisserand’s book was already nominated for an NBCC award, and it is now also officially a nominee for a PEN award.

—Interviews & Profiles. AJ Frost talks to Françoise Mouly, Nadja Spiegelman, and Gabe Fowler about their Resist! anthology, just released.

In all my professional life, forty years in comics, I realized printing something—an artifact—is something I understand. It’s a way for me to remember my past. I can remember when my children were born… I can remember which book I printed/published when. I have a way of mapping out my history through publication. And that felt right to have such a publication as my way out of some insurmountable moment. For me in a way, it was a little bit of a replay of September 11th when I couldn’t figure what to do and I eventually came up with this New Yorker cover of black-on-black from [Art Spiegelman’s] suggestion that this was a way to show that there was no solution. Similarly, Gabe’s offer felt like this would be a printed artifact that will catalyze and focus a complex and inarticulate response.

Rob Vollmar talks to Alan Moore.

My friend Adam Curtis, who is an excellent documentary filmmaker, did a wonderful film called The Power of Nightmares, which suggested that previously our political leaders sold us dreams. They would promise us, if we were to elect them, that they would give us this, this, and this. We believed them and we elected them. Then they would say, “Yeah, actually, we’re not going to do that. We’re going to follow our own agendas but thanks for electing us.” They kept doing that until, even as stupid and often subservient as we are, we eventually saw through that. We started saying, “No, you’re not actually going to do the things you said you were going to do, are you? These were just dreams you were selling us. So we are going to stay away from the polling booth in our thousands, in our millions, because we feel disenfranchised from this political system.” Of course, that’s a problem. What kind of mandate have you got if 90 percent of your population are not turning up at the polling booth?

So, if dreams aren’t working anymore, let’s sell them nightmares. This is particularly applicable to the world post-2001 with the spectre of the jihadist, which is our new cultural bogeyman. It was the slack-jawed Russian back when I was a boy and presumably the square-headed German shortly before that.

Alex Wood talks to Robert Crumb.

All I can do is just pile onto what everyone else says [about Donald Trump], you know? It’s all people talk about. It’s an endless subject of conversation and has been since he started running for president. The media of course loved him — loved him! They couldn’t get enough of Trump. He really shot their ratings up. People were either morbidly curious, or outraged, or they supported him–all of ’em. All the people I know that despised him, they just couldn’t help but watch him and gasp in indignation at his latest outrageous statement. “Did you hear what Trump said yesterday?” [laughing] That sort of thing. And of course his supporters just lapped it up. The more outrageous the better, as far as they were concerned.

—Reviews & Commentary. For The New Yorker, Gabrielle Bellot writes about gender fluidity in the work of George Herriman.

In the years following [Arthur Asa] Berger’s initial reporting, a number of writers have grappled with [the racial] aspect of Herriman’s work. “In the comics page no less than in social life, the opposition between black and white can be redefined but not abolished,” the journalist and comics scholar Jeet Heer has written. As Michael Tisserand points out in his new biography, “Krazy,” Herriman might have lost his job as a cartoonist had he been outed as black. When Herriman worked at the Los Angeles Examiner, as a staff artist, the paper published multiple articles about light-skinned African-Americans who had tried to pass as white and were subsequently “exposed.” But “Krazy” also helps to expand the meaning of the comic’s subversive play with identity beyond race. In an era when books depicting homosexuality and gender nonconformity could lead to charges of obscenity, “Krazy Kat,” Tisserand notes, featured a gender-shifting protagonist who was in love with a male character.

At Print, Michael Dooley presents art from Ho Che Anderson’s King.

The incoming U.S. President was responsible for skyrocketing sales of March, the graphic novelization of the life of civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis. Inadvertently responsible, to be sure. Nevertheless, it gained an incredible bump of more than one hundred thousand percent. And any escalation in literacy is cause for celebration these days. Especially when it encompasses visual literacy. And even more particularly so when the book pays tribute to someone who continues stand up against racism more than 50 years after having been beaten and arrested for peacefully protesting. So it seems time to revisit a related graphic novel bio, groundbreaking and critically acclaimed when first released, on the life of Lewis’s mentor and marching buddy. I’m referring here to King: A Comics Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Coming In http://www.tcj.com/98146-2/ http://www.tcj.com/98146-2/#respond Thu, 19 Jan 2017 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98146 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Rob Clough looks at Kevin Czap and Czap Books.

Kevin Czap was recently awarded the Emerging Talent award at the Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC) festival, a fitting honor for a cartoonist and publisher who is starting to publish on a more aggressive basis. A self-proclaimed “Comics Mom,” Czap’s goal as a publisher is to nurture and encourage the artists that they publish (Czap’s preferred pronouns are they/them) to be their best and most fully-formed artistic selves, no matter their style or method. Their forward-thinking and nurturing presence as a publisher is most closely aligned with how Annie Koyama works with her artists, but Czap’s dedication to the crew of artists they’ve been publishing for years as well as their eye for challenging, weird, and poetic work reminds me most of Dylan Williams’ Sparkplug Comic Books. Like Williams, Czap is 100% invested in their artists. Also like Williams, Czap is very much hands-off in terms of content; the only real “editing” is the selection of the artist for publication. The result is a surprisingly wide array of genres and approaches, united only by the humane themes in their art. Czap is also publishing some of the most challenging, cutting-edge comics available now, like Czap Books’ flagship anthology title, Ley Lines, one that focuses on relationship between art and artists. Let’s take a look at some recent and older work published by Czap, including their own comics.

Elsewhere:

The newly enduring longevity of Fletcher Hanks is some kind of testament to the what a nerve the work strikes. And also Paul Karasik’s ongoing promotional efforts. Here’s one.

And at The Paris Review, Joe Ollmann takes us behind the scenes of his new book on William Seabrook.

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Tired of Winning http://www.tcj.com/tired-of-winning/ http://www.tcj.com/tired-of-winning/#respond Wed, 18 Jan 2017 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98035 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, we have a special treat for you: an interview with the great Ted Stearn of Fuzz n’ Pluck fame conducted by the also great David Mazzucchelli.

AN IMAGINATION ARCHIVE

DM: (Sifting through books and papers) I’m sitting here going through, like, thirty years of your stuff, and it’s really interesting to see the connections between drawings and paintings you were doing about thirty years ago—

TS: (laughing) Thirty years! That’s crazy.

DM: Well, that’s the late eighties, right?

TS: Eighties, yeah.

DM: It’s interesting, ’cause I remember a lot of those paintings very distinctly—

TS: Really?

DM: Yes, very clearly. Well, pretty clearly—

TS: You know, Richmond [Lewis] was an inspiration for me. She really was.

DM: Oh, yeah?

TS: Yeah. I mean, I didn’t want to paint like Richmond, but I remember I would go in your apartment and you would have all the Daredevil stuff out, and I was like “Okay, looks good! I want to see Richmond’s paintings, though!” (laughs)

DM: Her stuff was out too, as I recall.

TS: Yeah, well I kinda went “Oh, David, that’s really cool, you’re an incredible draftsman—let’s go see the paintings, now.”

(laughter)

DM: Smart move. Some of the imagery in the paintings you were doing back then found its way into the first comics you were making.  The “Beach Boy” comic for example [published in Rubber Blanket No. 1]—there was a lot of Coney Island imagery and boardwalk scenes in your paintings before that.

Painting by Ted Stearn, late 1980s.

TS: Right. Well, that was the first comic I did for you, and that was definitely pulling from my obsession with the Jersey Shore (laughs)—before it was a TV show!

DM: And where did that come from—that obsession?

TS: Um, I don’t know. I think I saw a lot of aesthetic stuff that I was really excited about, and so I wanted to reinterpret it as, not a cacophony, but a whole orchestration of shapes and colors and busyness and—

DM: You mean the combination of signs and different typography and different-shaped buildings and things all crammed together, that kind of accumulation?

TS: Yeah, I think it reflects in the comic maybe a little bit? Just how disorienting, if you walk through a boardwalk area? I was very intrigued by that, and I was also intrigued because it’s right next to nature—beach, ocean, complete nature—and then you’ve got this, you know, orgy of the follies of civilization or something. Also, I grew up in that kind of environment—we would always go to the beach in the summer, and as a kid I loved the boardwalk, the ocean, the whole scene. So it had a lot of personal resonance with me in hindsight, and the whole craziness of the boardwalk made me think about that contrast.

DM: There was another painting of the huge orange with human legs—

TS: (Laughs, shakes head)

DM: —that became Sourpuss in the Fuzz and Pluck comics.

TS: Yeah. (Shakes head) I don’t know why, I really don’t. I think it’s best not to analyze too much….

Also, Sara Lautman is back with one more bonus strip to follow up on her week creating our Cartoonist’s Diary.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The National Book Critics Circle has announced the nominees for this year’s awards, and one of the nominated titles is Michael Tisserand’s George Herriman biography, Krazy.

Fortune magazine takes a look at Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter’s possible role within the Trump administration.

While announcing the news that he has picked David Shulkin (a previous appointee of President Barack Obama) to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, Trump also mentioned that Perlmutter has been “very, very involved” in advising Trump’s team on veterans affairs issues. Trump also called Perlmutter—the Israeli-American executive who became Marvel’s CEO in 2005—”one of the great men of business” in the Wednesday press conference, Trump’s first as president-elect.

—Interviews. Betsy Gomez interviews Françoise Mouly and Nadja Spiegelman about their Resist! anthology.

FM: We first did it to address our own need, and our need was to do something. Not just sit around being stunned and depressed — we wanted to do something affirmative. That’s when we succeeded, because the outpouring of responses, and even seeing all those images, I think that getting a copy — that’s obviously a reward that it gets into so many people’s hands.

We were also going to do a slideshow of all the submissions that we got. We want people to go “Ohhhh, wow!” There is an absolute force out there. We want them to be as aware as we are of the positive or the constructive force. It’s not a denunciation. It’s not an attack on Donald Trump. It’s a celebration of everything that we have in common, of not just women, but men also, and people for whom gender is fluid, as well as young, as well as old, as well as professional artists, as well as doctors and lawyers and grandmothers, as well as everyone who feels that they lost something on November 8th — they should be able to find something here that is at least as sustaining as what was taken away that day.

The most recent guest on Process Party is Leela Corman.

—Reviews & Commentary. Dash Shaw’s Cosplayers Christmas.

The release of A Cosplayers Christmas as a standalone comic immediately draws attention to itself as an item of commercial production due to its ties to a season that has become increasingly associated with rampant consumerism and due to the way it invalidates the “perfectness” of the existing collection by implying that what has been produced to date is incomplete, thus requiring the production of a more “perfect” collection at a future date. This commercial aspect of the comic is countered on the comic’s cover by Shaw’s dedication of the item as a gift from him to you, the reader. To further emphasise the conflation of commercial and gift-giving principles, Shaw includes, on the comic’s cover, a depiction of the icon of the festive season, Santa, on the side of a Coca Cola bottle (Coke being the infamous creators of the popular image of Santa via the advertising campaigns they first began in the 1920s). This blurring of the lines between gift and product (you have to exchange money to receive the “gift” and are thus made fully aware of its ascribed monetary value) also alludes to the inseparability of art and commerce, with Shaw purposefully attaching his work to a consumer-centric holiday in order to comment from within its systemic order. In the same way as the designs of previous iterations of Cosplayers reflected the themes that were to be explored within their pages, the market positioning and cover construction of A Cosplayers Christmas summarises the dominant theme of the comic itself.

—Misc. Lee Moran writes about R. Sikoryaks’s recent Trump comics.

“The idea occurred to me right before the election,” the New York City-based artist told The Huffington Post on Saturday. “Trump had said so many outrageous things during his campaign that I wanted to catalogue them.”

“It was important to me to only use Trump’s actual quotes, I didn’t want to put any words in his mouth,” he added. “Once Trump became the president-elect, I felt I had to do it.”

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Football or Single http://www.tcj.com/football-or-single/ http://www.tcj.com/football-or-single/#respond Tue, 17 Jan 2017 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98111 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site: Joe McCulloch bring us some on-topic comics. 

Elsewhere:

The only upside of the President-elect’s recent behavior is that March sold yet more books. 

Here’s a review of the new Alan Moore collection/critical text published by Uncivilized Books.

Comic art auctions are increasingly frequent and with an increasingly far ranging selection of material. So, setting aside the commercial aspect for a second, check out this Sotheby’s auction of mostly European comic art. The Chaland, Doury, and Kiki Picasso pieces alone are such unusual things. Chaland because he’s so loose while still working within that Atomic style. Doury because graphic reproduction can’t do justice to the physicality of rendering; Picasso because, again, the technique itself is beautiful, image aside.

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Gosh Goodniss http://www.tcj.com/gosh-goodniss/ http://www.tcj.com/gosh-goodniss/#respond Fri, 13 Jan 2017 13:00:44 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98003 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Sara Lautman brings us the final installment of her tenure creating our Cartoonist’s Diary.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The e-book subscription service Scribd is no longer offering access to comics, apparently due to lack of reader interest.

In a statement to PW, Scribd confirmed that the comics subscription access has ended:

“We launched comics in 2015, and while we were excited to bring new content to our readers, few actively took advantage of them. We will be focusing our efforts on enhancing the experience surrounding our other great content types including books, audiobooks, magazines, and documents.”

[…]

Initially Scribd called the launch of the comics subscription category “explosive for us, with the biggest response and fastest adoption we’ve ever seen.”

This year’s nominees for inclusion in the Will Eisner Hall of Fame have been announced. The four judges’ choices, who are automatically inducted, include Milt Gross, H.G. Peter, Antonio Prohías, and Dori Seda.

—Reviews & Commentary. For the New York Times, Nelson George offers a positive but measured notice to Michael Tisserand’s Krazy.

Though Tisserand does a truly exhaustive job detailing Herriman’s private and public lives, the promised analysis of race in his vast catalog of “Krazy Kat” cartoons is more fleeting than intricate. It feels scattershot even when he identifies potentially relevant material, as with a cartoon published on April 18, 1937, in which Krazy Kat encounters a “pale, even unearthly white” baby bear. “Krazy and the bear talk,” Tisserand writes, “and Krazy grows confused as to the bear’s identity.” Krazy discovers the “equatorial bear” has a mother from the South Pole and a father from the North Pole, and that his parents met halfway at the equator. Krazy’s parting line is “Happy mittin’ on the equator — is all I can say.”

For LARB, Daniel Worden reviews a new collection of stories and comics by Nick Francis Potter.

Many of the most exciting and prominent comics creators today have used Tumblr or other digital tools. Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant; Eleanor Davis’s How To Be Happy; Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree; and Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente’s The Private Eye are just a handful of the most notable works in recent years to have originated entirely or in part on the internet. This digital renaissance of self-published, independent comics and zines has no doubt contributed to the increasing visibility of comics as an aesthetic form. In Potter’s New Animals, one sees the influence of comics artists like Lynda Barry, Sammy Harkham, Jason, Gary Panter, Johnny Ryan, and Dash Shaw, to name just a few. It is where the influence of these creators mixes with prose fiction that the collection has its most impressive effect, blending the intimacy of hand-drawn lines with the cool detachment of minimalist prose.

For Comics Workbook, Juan Fernandez profiles Rachel Masilamani.

An accomplished story teller, Masilamani is hard pressed to categorize her work. Endlessly fascinated with people, Masilamani draws inspiration from her own life and the behaviors of those around her to create stories that burrow themselves deep into the minds of her readers. Her stories elegantly blend naturalistic storytelling with expressionistic visual representation.

In much of her work, Masilamani explores notions of local and universal truth by blurring the line between fact and fiction. In so doing, she makes her inner life palpable. She walks this tightrope in ways similar to the memoir work of Carol Tyler, Mardou and Gabrielle Bell.

—Misc. PEN America has published a post-election feature called “State of Emergency”, curated by Meg Lemke, Rob Kirby, and MariNaomi, which includes comics by TCJ contributors Kirby, Whit Taylor, and others.

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Happy Driver http://www.tcj.com/98005-2/ http://www.tcj.com/98005-2/#respond Thu, 12 Jan 2017 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98005 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Cynthia Rose reports from the Grand Palais Hergé retrospective. 

Although it is worshipped as a “ninth art” in France, the Grand Palais has never before dealt with the bande dessinée. Here their explicit intention is to elevate Hergé and place him alongside Vélasquez, Warhol and Picasso. Critics have made a lot of this but the show was tailored to justify it. Every day, as soon as it opens, the place is packed with crowds aged “from 7 to 77” – Tintin magazine’s summary of its target audience. Yet the show isn’t describing merely a master storyteller or a titan of the bande dessinée.

Its portrait is that of a royal figure, an authorised and reified Hergé. A true peer of the very artists he collected, he is seen as a great whose drawing merits comparisons to Dürer and Da Vinci. For brilliance, scope and artistry, the art on show is indeed singular and it can certainly withstand a little overzealousness. In 450 original pieces from all stages of Hergé’s life, a visitor gets both the creation myth and apotheosis of his ligne claire. As a bonus, he or she also sees private paintings plus an illuminating survey of Hergé’s graphic design.

And Sara Lautman comes in for day four of her diary.

Elsewhere:

-RESIST! is now available for pre-order and pick-up. Here’s all the info.

-I love this article on correspondence course work by the little-known cartoonist Elizabeth Stohn. 

-Michael Cavna at the Washington Post writes briefly and well about George Lucas’s forthcoming museum.

Tom Gauld and Ben Katchor each offer cartoons for coping. 

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Giggles http://www.tcj.com/giggles/ http://www.tcj.com/giggles/#respond Wed, 11 Jan 2017 13:00:39 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97960 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Sara Lautman continues her week’s tenure creating our Cartoonist’s Diary.

And yesterday, Joe McCulloch delivered his usual indispensable guide to the Week in Comics! Spotlight picks this time include new books by Eleanor Davis and Juan Gimenez.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Global Journalist talks to the political cartoonist Ako Eyong, who was forced to flee his native Cameroon after drawing a cartoon unpopular with the authorities.

I got out of my own country using a false passport… Now of course, when I got to America, I had to regularize my situation, I explained to the U.S. government how I got out of Cameroon using a false passport and how I was looking for political exile.

I went through a lot of interviews, and eventually after a year, I got a work permit and social security number.

Brian Heater’s RiYL podcast features Al Jaffee.

The Process Party podcast talks to our own Joe McCulloch about, uh, hentai.

—Reviews & Commentary.
For The Smart Set, Chris Mautner writes about Julia Gfrörer’s Laid Waste.

The apocalypse is all the rage these days. Of course, it’s a topic that never completely goes out of fashion. There’s always some person raving on a street corner about how all is lost and a few folks huddled around him or her, eager to listen. But these days, what with climate change, bees dying, ebola, and, of course, the recent election, it’s a topic on a lot of folks’ minds (at least judging from my social media feeds).

It’s a topic that’s on the mind of cartoonist Julia Gfrörer (pronounced “gruff-fair”) as well, or at least it’s the central setting of her latest graphic novel, Laid Waste. Gfrörer isn’t interested in depicting wanton death and destruction a la Michael Bay, however, as much as she is in depicting her characters’ attempts to find some sense of hope or solace in a world that is swiftly falling down around them.

Rob Clough writes about Sarah Glidden’s Rolling Blackouts.

This book is a work of meta-journalism, as she followed members of the Seattle Globalist to Turkey, Kurdish Iraq and Syria and documented their process. Throughout the book, there are two separate dynamics: the dynamic between the Globalist crew and the people they interview and use as contacts, and the dynamic between Sarah Stuteville of the Globalist and her friend Dan, an ex-marine who saw time in Iraq who happened to be one of her oldest friends. Glidden stood as an outsider in both sets of dynamics, in part because she didn’t want to interfere with the work the Globalist journalists were attempting to accomplish. While Glidden was obviously a character in this book, she very pointedly noted that this wasn’t a memoir. She got to shape it the way she wanted and wasn’t obligated to share her feelings about anything in particular. As such, we never hear Glidden’s feelings about being an American in the countries they traveled to, nor how she felt as a Jewish person in those countries. Indeed, her ethnic background wasn’t brought up a single time in the book. Glidden the person in this book is a very intelligent and perceptive cipher, and that’s as it should be.

—Misc. A young Ed Piskor tries out for Extreme Studios.

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Car-Copter http://www.tcj.com/car-copter/ http://www.tcj.com/car-copter/#respond Mon, 09 Jan 2017 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97925 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Sara Lautman returns with another week’s tenure creating our Cartoonist’s Diary. In Day 1, she confronts a dilemma at a karaoke bar.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The well-known historian (Men of Tomorrow) and comics writer Gerard Jones has been arrested on suspicion of possessing and distributing child pornography.

Gerard Jones, 59, was arrested after a police investigation and ensuing search warrant at his residence in the 600 block of Long Bridge Street in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood turned up a host of electronic devices storing more than 600 images and videos depicting child pornography, police said.

[…]

He was arraigned Thursday and entered a not guilty plea on charges of possession of child pornography and distributing child pornography, a spokesman for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office said.

—Reviews & Commentary. For Le Monde Diplomatique, Jonathan Guyer writes about the connections between Arab comics and fine art.

Arab comics began in Cairo in the 1880s with karikatur (political cartoons) and with Yaacub Sanua, whose periodical Abu Naddara (The Man with the Glasses) and later spin-offs lambasted Egypt’s khedive, Ismail Pasha, in drawings and texts. Sanua’s anti-establishment, anti-imperial view led to his publications being banned (1). At the same time, Ottoman publications, influenced by French and British caricatures, took off in Istanbul and travelled across the Ottoman empire, aiming at those in power. Sanua’s caricatures and Ottoman works, among them Hayal (daydream) and Istikbal (the future), both founded in 1875, were strikingly similar to contemporaneous drawings in Europe such as those by James Gillray and André Gill (2).

We just passed the second anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and the thinkpieces still show no signs of ending, though long ago we stopped linking to very many of them. With that anniversary in mind, here are two more intelligent essays, taking opposite sides on whether Charlie‘s artists use of satire is effective and whether it should be defended or condemned.

First, Magnus McGrogan makes a harsh political critique of the weekly for Jacobin:

The Paris massacre was a trigger for the intensification of French bombing of ISIS positions in Syria. At home it involved the imposition and extension of a state of emergency, with a nationwide crackdown on “radicalized” elements in the Muslim community and beyond. One might expect critical left journalism to focus on the social causes of Islamist radicalization in France, or to situate the phenomenon of jihadism relative to the West’s geostrategic goals in the Middle East. Instead, Charlie tends to react against extremism within the discursive framework of the “war on terror” in an echo of Val’s earlier polemics against “Islamic totalitarianism.”

Islamophobia has continued unabated in France. The summer of 2016 witnessed yet another assault on female Muslim dress codes, this time a burkini ban imposed by thirty Mediterranean municipalities, and endorsed by Socialist prime minister Manuel Valls. Shocking images of armed police ordering a Muslim woman to strip on a public beach did not appear to register with Charlie, whose front page response appeared to add insult to injury: Muslims were jokingly urged to “loosen up” and take to the beaches naked.

Then for the Los Angeles Review of Books, the initially Charlie-skeptical Jacob Hamburger explains why he changed his mind:

So when I was offered the chance to do some translation work for Charlie Hebdo last year, I had my reservations. But I was curious, and as a graduate student, happy to have another gig. As I learned more about Charlie Hebdo’s history and came into contact with their surviving staff, I discovered how far off the mark my reservations had been. France’s historical and legal traditions of free speech create an important niche for satirists that Charlie Hebdo has long filled. Despite the rebellious attitude of a paper that has called itself a journal irresponsible, its staff has been constantly attuned to the responsibilities that their role demands. Its confrontations with Islam, as well as with Catholicism and the Front National, were an attempt to fulfill these responsibilities. And in a time when the ideal of free speech is in danger of losing its meaning, Charlie Hebdo sets an increasingly rare example of a commitment to defining and defending its bounds.

The paper is an example of what an authentic commitment to free speech looks like in practice. Recognizing this can help us distinguish responsible and intelligent satire from its many sorry imitations today — the internet trolls and the self-proclaimed “provocateurs” like Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos who glorify nastiness for its own sake. Of course, my discomfort with some of what I had seen them print has not gone away. As with all good satire, it isn’t supposed to. Understanding Charlie Hebdo in context does not mean always liking it, but for those struggling to affirm their commitment to free speech in today’s climate, the paper’s example is worth exploring and, yes, celebrating.

Finally, Abhay Khosla is not impressed by DC’s response to last year’s Orlando Pulse massacre.

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Lox and Eggs http://www.tcj.com/lox-and-eggs/ http://www.tcj.com/lox-and-eggs/#respond Fri, 06 Jan 2017 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97915 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, R.C. Harvey writes about the life and work of Jerry Dumas, who passed away at the end of last year. 

Jerry Dumas was a cartoonist’s cartoonist. Specifically, he was a life-long associate of Mort Walker’s, a member since 1956 of “King Features East,” as the Walker “studio” was sometimes called when Walker and his partners produced several comic strips simultaneously. Dumas was a part of the team that met weekly to propound jokes for both Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois—and other strips as Walker came up with them—and he also drew some of the product from time to time. Dumas died November 12 at his home in Greenwich, Connecticut, from neuroendocrine cancer. He was 86.

Since April 18, 1977, Dumas had been producing a comic strip of his own, Sam and Silo, a reincarnation of one of the medium’s most eccentric creations, Sam’s Strip, in which the title character was the proprietor of his own comic strip that he ran like a business. Sam frequently encountered characters from other strips, tried to hire some of them, stored unemployed speech balloons in a closet against the day they might come in handy, palled around with John Tenniel characters from Alice in Wonderland, kept arrow-pierced hearts and shining light bulbs in a handy prop room with a supply of labels (“desk,” “table,” “phone”), and watched out constantly for disappearing border lines and characters with erasers.

Dumas’ handiwork extended far beyond the funny pages: he was a gifted writer, an insightful poet, raconteur, painter, athlete and essayist. He was a storyteller with words alone as well as with words and pictures combined. In quiet unassuming prose, he recorded his apt observations of the follies and frailties of human nature in articles for The Atlantic Monthly, The Smithsonian and the Washington Post. He wrote a weekly column for Greenwich Times, the last of which appeared a few days before he died, titled “Ageless Tips That You’ve Reached a Certain Age.”

More and around:

Robyn Chapman’s annual micro-press survey is now online.

R. Orion Martin writes about Ronald Wimberly’s work for Hyperallergic.

Hey, wanna see a good comics-adjacent art show in NYC? Well, I co-organized one on Elizabeth Murray’s drawings. Here’s the NY Times on it.

 

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Slalom http://www.tcj.com/slalom/ http://www.tcj.com/slalom/#respond Thu, 05 Jan 2017 13:00:12 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97884 Continue reading ]]> Robert Boyd reviews Inés Estrada’s Impatience and Lapsos.

Inés Estrada is a 26-year-old Mexican cartoonist currently living in the USA. According to her blog , she makes a living “making whatever the fuck I want,” and that includes self-publishing  Impatience, a beautifully printed and designed book. The cover is outlined in intense red which carries over to the edges of the pages and the back cover, which is printed in silver ink on a red background.  Impatience is an anthology that includes comics in English and comics in Spanish featuring simultaneous translation into English.

“Traducciones” (“Translations”) is one of the translated stories. Estrada handles translating her own work in an unusual way—instead of replacing the original Spanish language balloons with English, as is usually done with translated comics, she places the translation at the bottom of the page, typeset with slashes to indicate a new balloon or caption. It is easier to read than you might expect—no more difficult than watching a movie with subtitles. Easier even—you don’t have to read them in a hurry like you do with movie subtitles or opera surtitles. It also means that the translation doesn’t have to be in any way abridged. I’ve only seen this before in poetry books. As an undergraduate I read Pablo Neruda’s Twenty Love Songs and a Song of Despair in parallel translation. The Spanish original poem would be on the left-hand page and the English translation on the right.

And Rob Clough writes about the reissue of Katherine Arnoldi’s The Amazing “True” Story of a Teenage Single Mom.

Originally published in 1998, Katherine Arnoldi’s The Amazing “True” Story of a Teenage Single Mom is packaged and blurbed in a manner that reflects the “Wham! Pow! Comics Aren’t For Kids Anymore” narrative that still afflicted comics at the time. The cover features the artist in a flying pose and a blurb from Entertainment Weekly says that she’s “a superheroine for our times.” To be sure, 1998 was a fallow period for long-form comics, and it was surprising at the time for a big publisher like Hyperion give this book a chance. Though theoretically aimed at that lucrative young adult audience, this book has a remarkably harrowing quality to it, rendered in a style closer to Aline Kominsky-Crumb (by way of Hans Masereel). It’s amazing how noncommercial this book really is and how viscerally powerful Arnoldi’s storytelling is on page after page.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Toni Aireckson writes a short piece on Resist!, the political comics anthology edited by Françoise Mouly, Nadja Spiegelman, and Gabe Fowler, which will be released in conjunction with Trump’s inauguration.

After the three collaborators settled on their idea, a website was launched and a call for submissions was put forth. Within a few days, they received over 1,000 comic submissions and over $4,000 in donations — enough to print over 30,000 copies.

Nadja Spiegelman told Red Alert that they were “originally planning on publishing 30,000 copies, but with the awe-inspiring financial support we’ve received from hundreds of people ordering advanced copies from our website, we’re now hoping to print as many as 50,000.”

—For Vulture, Abraham Riesman writes about DC’s dumb idea to bring back “the Watchmen” and integrate them within the DC universe. (It’s a mostly good piece, though Riesman exposes his fanboy inner self when he calls Rebirth “one of the smartest and most forward-thinking initiatives in DC’s history.”)

So what happens when those earnest do-gooders meet the tragic idiots? There are only two possibilities that I can imagine. One is an extremely metatextual satire that finds humor in the eye-rolling notion of such an encounter. But that’s about as likely as Batman adding a tutu to his costume. Much more probable is a story that crassly capitalizes on 30 years of enthusiasm for and familiarity with Watchmen’s characters by throwing them into a serious, high-octane adventure alongside the kinds of figures they were designed to mock. The idea is perverse in its misguided, more-is-more shallowness.

Duck Edwing, RIP.

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New Days Now http://www.tcj.com/new-days-now/ http://www.tcj.com/new-days-now/#respond Wed, 04 Jan 2017 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97859 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site:

We present a many of our contributors’ best-of-2016 lists. We sent out a call and we are so grateful for so many great responses. So have at it.

Elsewhere:

I read a few comics over the break. Can’t quite remember what, but something. Spent a long time looking at Virgil Finlay drawings online. Those are really good. Is there something substantial out there about the great artists that emerged from the very early fandom? Finlay, Bok, Manning, Crumb… so many. Too many to list, probably. It seems, at least looking back now, that the fans in the 1930s through the 50s were really onto something … before superheroes kinda took over? I don’t know. Just some thoughts. Speaking of which, Richard Corben book covers from the 1970s: Really good. 

Anyhow, also, our own Robert Boyd is now serializing the underrated 1996 comic strip Mysterioso, by Scott Gilbert.

That’s all for today, folks.

 

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Welcome Back http://www.tcj.com/welcome-back-2/ http://www.tcj.com/welcome-back-2/#comments Tue, 03 Jan 2017 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97766 Continue reading ]]> Joe McCulloch is here to inaugurate the new year with a new installment of his invaluable column examining the Week in Comics! His breakout picks this time include new works by John Porcellino and Dan Méndez Moore. He also writes a bit about Chantal Montellier:

Another January has dawned, which means that it’s time to revisit the great year of 2016 and all of the comics we’ve missed. For instance, did you know that a new translation of work by Chantal Montellier is now available? Maybe not, since it isn’t in print – only through the Europe Comics digital portal can you obtain Lara Vergnaud’s English edition of 2011’s Marie Curie: The Radium Fairy, a split-format educational album pairing a 24-page illustrated timeline of the titular scientific icon by Renaud Huynh of the Musée Curie with a 20-page color comic by Montellier. It’s the comic with which we will concern ourselves, accepting for now that these biographical projects seem to be the only avenue by which Montellier is allowed into English anymore; indeed, we may even find contentment in our reading 2008’s Franz Kafka’s The Trial: A Graphic Novel, an English original authored with David Zane Mairowitz, that Montellier does unusually interesting work with flatly declarative or pedagogical books.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—A/V: The Process Party podcast has an end of the year episode featuring many guests discussing their favorite comics of 2016, including the aforementioned Joe McCulloch, plus artists including Josh Bayer, Leela Corman, Sophia Foster-Dimino, Sarah Glidden, Sammy Harkham, Jim Rugg, Josh Simmons, and Gina Wynbrandt.

The RiYL podcast has recently interviewed both Dame Darcy and MariNaomi.

Virtual Memories talks to George Herriman biographer Michael Tisserand.

—Interviews & Profiles.
Tom Spurgeon has posted his annual series of holiday interviews, including such guests this year as Tony Millionaire, Sammy Harkham, and TCJ contributor RJ Casey.

—Reviews & Commentary.
For Deadspin, Tom Scocca writes about the final joke of Momma creator Mel Lazarus.

For nearly 35 years, Mell Lazarus knew exactly how the end would go for Momma. In 1982, when the cartoonist began dating Sally Mitchell, who would become his second wife, he confided to her that he had already decided what the final installment of his comic strip would be, and he told her the idea.

Lazarus did not share the idea with the comics syndicate, Mitchell recalled in a phone conversation, nor with his daughters, nor even with his brother, Herb, who was his best friend.

“We never talked about it again,” Mitchell said, “but I always had it.”

For LARB, Osvaldo Oyola writes about Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreze’s Black Panther.

Coates seems committed to doing for his readers what his professors did for him, disabusing them of a “weaponized history.” In the slowly (sometimes too slowly) building story that first appeared in four issues of the comic book and is now collected in the first trade paperback collection of Coates’s Black Panther — the first part of a 12-issue arc entitled A Nation Under Our Feet — Coates breaks “the comforting myths of Africa, of America, and everywhere” as they exist in the Marvel Universe through a critical investigation of the title character’s African nation of Wakanda.

John Porcellino picks his favorite comics of 2015.

They say that timing is everything, and in this age of nanosecond attention spans and constantly refreshing newsfeeds that’s more true than ever. So it’s with great delight that I present here a brief and certainly incomplete list of Some of My Favorite Comics of 2015.

Every year more and more cool comics are released in droves, and every year I have less time to read them. But I buy them, and they stack up in boxes and overflowing shelves waiting for that moment when I can retire from the daily grind and sit down and read all those DeForge books. And mark my words, friends — That day shall come.

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Year’s End http://www.tcj.com/years-end/ http://www.tcj.com/years-end/#respond Tue, 20 Dec 2016 19:02:55 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97734 We’ve gone fishing until January 3rd. Here’s our year in review to keep you busy. See you in 2017.

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Choppy Waters http://www.tcj.com/choppy-waters/ http://www.tcj.com/choppy-waters/#respond Fri, 16 Dec 2016 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97562 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, we are pleased to present Eddie Campbell’s review of Michael Tisserand’s much-discussed new biography of George Herriman, Krazy.

Of all the cartoonists in our starry firmament, Herriman is undoubtedly the one who has received the most attention over the decades. By itself, the introductory matter in the volumes of the Fantagraphics collection of the complete Sunday pages, by Bill Blackbeard and others, could be arranged to form a voluminous and comprehensive biography. And there was also the lovely biography/art book by McDonnell and O’Connell (1986). The sweet and poetic genius of George Herriman has been extolled, described, explained and “doped out centrifugally, centripedally and in the fourth dimension,” to lift some of George’s own words from an unrelated situation. The continuous exposure of the last five decades has in no way dimmed my own certainty that he was the finest and most near perfect of our pantheon of cartoonists. The poetic world of Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse remains as beautiful and haunting to me today as it was when I first peeped into it one day in 1970 (I’m recalling the three Sunday samples in the Penguin Book of Comics By Perry and Aldridge). Is there anything remaining to be uncovered? Is there any corner into which we have not already turned the beam of our searchlight? It turns out there is.

We also have the second part of another excerpt from We Told You So: Comics as Art, the long-awaited oral history of Fantagraphics Books put together by Tom Spurgeon with Michael Dean. This section’s topics include uncanonization of a direct sales manager, criticizing Will Eisner, the mole in the Journal, Fiore vs. Pekar, and Capital City vs. Diamond.


Ilse Thompson:
The first collection of The Complete Crumb Comics that I edited started the first years of American Splendor. Because Crumb and Harvey Pekar both own the copyright on their collaborations, we had to get permission from Pekar to publish the work. He was against it. He wouldn’t. Crumb eventually persuaded him, and I got a memo from Gary saying that he had relented. When the book came out, I was arranging for complimentary copies to be sent to contributors, and calling people to confirm their addresses. I called Pekar, who popped a cork when I told him that American Splendor had been reprinted. He had forgotten that he’d OK’d it. “Gimme Groth! I’m going to sue him!” He demanded to speak with anyone in a position above me. I was afraid to tell him that I had edited it, and told him that everyone else was at lunch, because I didn’t want anyone to know I’d pissed him off.

The next morning, Kim told me that Pekar had called to apologize to me, and that I should expect a call from him. When he called, we spent an hour on the phone. He gave me a lesson in Russian literature.

Groth: At first, Pekar refused to give permission to reprint the strips Crumb drew from his scripts. I had to call Crumb and ask him to call Pekar and intercede, which he did. My impression was that Pekar refused permission either because of some feud he was having either with Bob Fiore at the time or an argument I had with his wife Joyce Brabner, but which I remember thinking was a petty reason to deny his collaborator the right to include those strips in his complete works.

R. Fiore: The Harvey Pekar business was one of the more idiotic episodes I’ve ever been involved in. One thing to remember was that it came during that whole period when the move was being made and my return from Seattle, and if you read anything I was writing at the time you’ll see that I was just in a foul mood. You could see it in that ridiculous feud we were carrying on with the Comics Buyer’s Guide, overheated rhetoric mostly provided by me, as if we were in a death struggle with Don Thompson for the soul of the comics, (a) as though they had one and (b) as though it would have been worth having. I am put in mind of Jorge Luis Borges’ description of the Falkland Islands War: Two bald men fighting over a comb.

Thompson: The Fiore/Pekar feud highlights one of the problems, which is that people would inevitably take the writing of one person in the Journal as a company-wide broadside, and generalize their dislike of that person into a loathing for the Journal and Fantagraphics as a whole. So a lot of people hate Gary for nasty reviews of their work that Gary may not agree with, or even have read.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:


—Reviews & Commentary.
In the wake of the recent tragic Ghost Ship fire, Brian Chippendale writes about artists and DIY living spaces, including Fort Thunder.

Far from the neighborhoods behind brick two feet thick, we could be anyone and do anything we wanted. Fort Thunder was my first zone, starting in 1995. By 2002 we were evicted by fire marshals and the building was razed for a shopping center. We had over 100 shows during the six years of the Fort’s lifespan, not a huge amount compared to other art spaces, but it was plenty. We didn’t pay the rent with parties; we paid the rent by cramming in roommates. Paying the rent using money the shows generated never really dawned on us since we made the shows super affordable, keeping only the change in the bottom of the donation bin. We had the Fugazi mentality: keep things cheap and do it for the people.

Our lease-free month-to-month 7,000 square foot space had a large cavernous side where the shows happened and bigger projects could be worked on, plus a music practice space, silkscreening area, kitchen, and a bike repair zone. The smaller side contained the library and living quarters where most of the six to twelve roommates built their rooms. The rooms were crafted from whatever we and the cats dragged in; found wood (mostly pallets), paper, cloth, cardboard, plastic. Anything that was cheap or free. If there is one thing that every broke warehouse dweller knows it’s that wood pallets are the cheapest wood you’ll find; available and plentiful.

Via an excellent, thorough interview, comics scholar Hilary Chute names and explains her five favorite comics of 2016.

One of the things that [Nick Drnaso] captures so incredibly in this book is that it’s not just a ‘slice of life’ look at suburbia. There are a lot of comics like that, capturing the texture of everyday life. Chris Ware is the master of that form. This book is about really dark things, from the very first, fascinating and incredible story about race to the story that feels really relevant right now, about a teenage girl who fakes an abduction and says that she’s been abducted by an Arab man. The community starts producing this anti-Arab sentiment. There’s the story about a child named Tyler, who has a form of OCD. He has these unwanted thoughts so that everywhere he looks, he sees people being killed and dismembered. I actually found that hard to look at.


—Interviews & Profiles.
The most recent guest on Inkstuds is Jessica Campbell.

For BBC.com, Cath Pound writes about Tove Jansson’s career as a painter.

The daughter of Finnish sculptor Viktor Jansson and his Swedish artist wife Signe Hammarsten-Jansson, known as Ham, Tove Jansson grew up in an environment where art, work and life were inseparable. By the age of 14 her work was already appearing in print and she soon followed her mother to the satirical magazine Garm. At art school, where her early work had a mystical, fairytale quality to it, she was considered a bright and promising student. The self-portraits she painted in the 1930s and ’40s reveal her development as an artist and, thinks art historian Tuula Karjalainen, are among her strongest works.

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Whipped Nog http://www.tcj.com/whipped-nog/ http://www.tcj.com/whipped-nog/#respond Thu, 15 Dec 2016 13:00:46 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97581 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site we have another excerpt from We Told You So: Comics as Art, this one entitled, “Fantagraphics vs. Everyone (Part 1).

The Comics Journal vs. The Comics Industry

Barry Windsor-Smith, cartoonist: In the early 1990s, Jim Shooter, Bob Layton and I were traveling to a downtown restaurant. We were crowded in the back of a yellow cab, and the chat was inevitably about the world of comic books. I wasn’t interested, so I was tuned out, thinking of things other than comics.

But then, the mention of The Comics Journal caught my attention and I briefly tuned back into the conversation as Bob snorted, “Fuckers!” with Jim concurring — “Those bastards.” It’s rare for Shooter to curse. I guess he reserves his expletives for The Comics Journal.

Chiming in, I said, “The Journal is the only real magazine we’ve got.” In that context, where Jim and Bob were openly hostile, my use of the term “magazine” implied an arbiter of taste, criticism and intelligence, like The New Yorker, for instance. They both looked at me briefly, and, turning away, Shooter’s ass tightened so fast that it almost overtook the speed of Layton’s gall bladder stricture — what little air was in the back of the taxi was immediately sucked into each of their lower guts with a thunderous stereophonic whistling sound. Following through, I said, “Damned good thing they keep us on our toes, right?”
The rest of the short journey down Broadway passed in silence. Staring out the window while returning to my private musings, I coined the ungainly term Reverse Fart.

 

Steven Grant: We felt all the comics-news outlets, not just the Journal, weren’t really serving the needs of the comics-professionals community, and there was really no reason to expect them to. We [WAP!, the freelancer’s rights newsletter] never really conceived ourselves as being in competition with the Journal in any way, though I heard rumors the Journalthought we were positioning the newsletter that way. But there was a general sense of outright hostility from the Journal toward the rank and file of comics professionals — which isn’t to say a lot of the Journal’s assessment of the business wasn’t accurate, just that they often professed their views in ways that were perceived as elitist and confrontational — and there were a lot of professionals who didn’t feel comfortable discussing their issues with the business with the Journal.

Gary Groth: The “industry” at large, of which 90 percent or more consisted of Marvel and DC (and Archie), had schizophrenic views of us. In the early days, we would give Gerber and Thomas and Englehart space to rant about Marvel and Jim Shooter, which they appreciated insofar as comics creators had never had a public forum available to them to voice their grievances; it was really the first time that a magazine would give them that kind of space and allow them to express themselves uncensored. Before that, fanzines toed the company line and the vast majority of creators were frankly too feckless to speak out. And to be fair, the Journal could be perceived as schizophrenic: We’d often run negative reviews of their books while championing their rights as artists. So there was always a tension there. Some comics creators respected our willingness to uphold artistic standards and give even creators we didn’t necessarily believe maintained those standards a place to speak out, and there were other comics creators who despised us for our “attitude.” Our attitude was a big problem.

Kim Thompson: That was the point, I think, at which the unity of alternative-minded mainstreamers and alternative cartoonists started to fray. It was a relationship that just couldn’t hold. They were based on improving the mainstream model, and we were based on bypassing it — or smashing it. There was also a residue of hostility because of all the mean things we said in reviews.

Groth: By the time WAP! showed up, I think the scales had been lifted from our eyes — or my eyes — and I realized corporations like DC and Marvel were not reformable and the only moral option was to not work for them — which was not something the Journal could effect. WAP! was interested in improving conditions so that artists could make more money producing crap rather than get fucked over for producing crap. I saw it as a venue confirming the work-for-hire status quo, which I was increasingly uncomfortable with. I came to the conclusion that producing crap was the problem, not how much one gets paid for it. Of course, self-publishing and indy publishing wasn’t the answer either, but I didn’t think it through that far. If I had, I would’ve realized there was no answer and slit my wrists.

Joe Sacco: I remember meeting Jim Shooter at one of the San Diego conventions and asking him for a quote about something or other, and him telling me, “I don’t talk to that rag.”

And more:

Tony Millionaire is ending his long running comics strip, Maakies. It began in 1994 and is ending now. The artist’s announcement is here. Tom Spurgeon has some thoughts about that.

R.C. Baker on the Philip Guston’s magnificently vicious Nixon cartoons.

Here’s a very nice tribute post to the great Richard Kyle, including scans of many pages from his magazines. 

Jane Mai adapts a portion of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s novel The Return of Münchausen over at the Paris Review. 

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Impossible Dream http://www.tcj.com/impossible-dream/ http://www.tcj.com/impossible-dream/#respond Wed, 14 Dec 2016 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97513 Continue reading ]]> Rob Kirby talked to Talk Dirty to Me creator Luke Howard about what it’s like to teach at CCS, growing up with a mother diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and his creative process.

How is teaching at CCS for you? How does it aid or influence your own comics? Or does it hamper your process? 

It hampers my process in the way any full-time job hampers comics-making. There just aren’t enough hours in the day and a big chunk of energy and time is being eaten up by something that isn’t comics. So what’s the solution? Either make less comics, or work two full-time jobs – your day job and your comics job. For the time being I’ve gone down that second route. It’s rough, maybe not even sustainable in the long run. But there are things about my job at CCS that really keep the fire lit. My two years as a CCS student were the hardest and most productive work years of my life. As a faculty member, being around a tribe of young cartoonists that are going through the same things—pushing themselves to be stronger cartoonists with every assignment, and the constant flow of self-improvement—can be an incredible boon to my own productivity. And I think especially since I’m still relatively wet behind the ears when it comes to comics, being at the epicenter of an education system keeps me hungry for furthering my own education. Heading into my third year as a faculty member, I feel like I’ve almost been through four years as a student, if that makes sense. It’s funny, though, you mentioning that it seems like I’ve found my niche. That doesn’t feel all that true from my perspective. Not to say I haven’t been lucky to have the opportunity to make books with both AdHouse and Retrofit—maybe that is a niche of sorts. From my side of things it all still feels very precarious, like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like maybe the next time I sit down to make a comic it’ll be like I’m 10 years old again, and what comes out on the page will feel unacceptable—the spell will be broken. I still feel a lot like Emma does at the end of that story, the future is unclear.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The most recent guest on the Process Party podcast is Jason Lutes.

—The most recent guest on the RIYL podcast is Kyle Baker.

—The film rights to Daniel Clowes’s Patience have been sold.

—Sarah Cowan writes about Philip Guston’s Richard Nixon drawings.

“A lot of work after the election looks very different,” I overheard someone say in Hauser & Wirth as we followed the saga of Poor Richard, Philip Guston’s satirical drawings of Richard Nixon’s rise to power. The show had been installed on November 1 as a last minute idea; on opening night it drew an amused crowd of boomers and millennials, the distance in their experience bridged by the convincing sense of security many of us had that doomed week. When I returned to the show less than a month into the Trump transition, the drawings had turned on us: a joke at the expense of our smugness.

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Wonder Stories http://www.tcj.com/wonder-stories/ http://www.tcj.com/wonder-stories/#comments Tue, 13 Dec 2016 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97502 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Joe McCulloch brings in some of the last comics of the year. 

Elsewhere:

Retired comics critic and TCJ-contributor Matt Seneca is making some of his best writing available in printed and bound form.

A local neighborhood story on SF and comics writer Otto Binder.

Leela Corman’s We All Wish for Deadly Forced is reviewed here.

Check out some images from the great Ara Peterson’s (Paper Rodeo, Forcefield) new exhibition over at the Paris Review.

Finally, Richard Kyle passed away last week. He was 87 years old. He edited and produced one the greatest magazine about comics until TCJ, Graphic Story World (also called Wonderworld) and contributed to Graphic Story Magazine . His taste was prescient in the extreme, running from Red Barry, Howard Nostrand, Jesse Marsh, and Osamu Tezuka as well as many other (especially European) artists who would not gain recognition until much later (if at all). It remains one of the great resources of comics history, and it was published in the late 1960s and early 1970s! Kyle is also generally credited with coining the term “graphic novel”. In 1970 he founded and ran the Graphic Story Bookshop, where he imported and sold European and Japanese comics before, I think, anyone else. I remember him telling me he’d proudly sold a Druillet book to Jack Kirby in the early 1970s. Makes sense. Speaking of Kirby, it was Kyle who solicited and published Kirby’s Street Code in 1983 (it was only published in 1990 in Argosy), and insisted on doing so as a pencil-only piece. A first for the great artist. Kyle also had a second career as a pulp crime novelist under a few different names, none of which he would divulge (and nor have I been able to discover them). Kyle was a man way ahead of anyone else. I spent a wonderful afternoon with him in 2010, and then lost touch. I hope to pull together the interview I conducted… soon.pages-2-and-3-graphic-story-world-2_-1971-july

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It’s in the Headline http://www.tcj.com/97485-2/ http://www.tcj.com/97485-2/#respond Mon, 12 Dec 2016 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97485 Continue reading ]]> Greg Hunter is here today with his latest episode of Comic Book Decalogue, in which he talks to Eddie Campbell (Alec, Bacchus, From Hell) about the March trilogy, the early sports-page cartoonists, and much more.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The Angouleme festival has made its official selections for 2017.

—Reviews & Commentary. Edwin Turner reviews the latest book from Roman Muradov.

It’s tempting to read perhaps too much into Jacob Bladder’s metatextual self-reflexivity. Here is writing about writing, art about art: an illustrated story about illustrating stories. And of course it’s impossible not to ferret out pseudoautobiographical morsels from the novella. Roman Muradov is, after all, a working illustrator, beholden to publishers, editors, art-directors, and deadlines. (Again from the end notes: “DEADLINE: A fictional date given to an illustrator to encourage timely delivery of the assignment. Usually set 1-2 days before the real (also known as ‘hard’) deadline”). If you’ve read The New Yorker or The New York Times lately, you’ve likely seen Muradov’s illustrations.

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So what to make of the section of Jacob Bladders above? Here, a nefarious publisher commands a hapless illustrator to illustrate a “career ladders” story without using an illustration of a career ladder (From the end notes: “CAREER LADDER: An illustration of a steep ladder, scaled by an accountant in pursuit of a promotion or a raise. The Society of Illustrators currently houses America’s largest collection of career ladders, including works by M.C. Escher, Balthus, and Marcel Duchamp”).

Glen David Gold writes about Michael Tisserand’s George Herriman biography, Krazy.

Herriman had a longer apprenticeship than most, working on dozens of strips that never caught fire during the spectacular publication battles between Hearst and Pulitzer that led to the birth of full-color comics such as “The Yellow Kid” and “Little Nemo. ” He was learning his form at the same time that jazz, animation and slapstick comedy were likewise getting their cultural feet under them. Also boxing. Boxing had obeyed “the color line” until 1910, when, in defiance of racist attitudes, the country demanded that black Jack Johnson and white Jim Jeffries finally take the ring. (It’s of course ironic that overcoming racism involved allowing people of different races to beat each other up, but such is our way.)

Michael Dooley writes about the cartoons from Paul Krassner’s satirical journal, The Realist, the subject of a new collection, and republishes a 2000 profile of Krassner.

Among the countless others for whom Krassner has been an important inspiration, the strangest may have been Andrew Breitbart, despite their diametrically opposite worldviews. Breitbart is the founder of Breitbart News, notorious for using fake news sites to source their dishonest and deceptive “journalism.” When Krassner interviewed Breitbart for Playboy in 2011, he said he admired Krassner’s “trailblazing and causing mischief and mirth and effecting the type of political and social change you were attempting.”

And now the Chairman of Breitbart Media is about to become the new President’s chief strategist. So, despite a somewhat tenuous relationship to design, it appears timely to revisit that AIGA Journal profile I wrote, “Here Lies Paul Krassner.” Among several other stories, I discuss the time the FBI anonymously distributed leaflets in black neighborhoods that called for the “elimination” of Krassner and other Jews. The headline was “Lampshades!” repeated four times. Fortunately, he’s still with us at age 84. But so’s the FBI: two weeks prior to last month’s Presidential election the FBI Director’s public, vaguely worded, announcement of a tenuously-related email investigation did manage to shoot down some potential votes for candidate Clinton. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

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Recent Reading http://www.tcj.com/recent-reading-3/ http://www.tcj.com/recent-reading-3/#comments Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:00:43 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97423 Continue reading ]]> No links today. Instead, here are some scattered thoughts on comics I’ve been reading. I suppose it’s a somewhat conservative list, but it’s what is at hand at the moment, and what I felt like writing about. There are lots of things missing but, y’know, I only get this energy going every so often,  so here goes…

Charles Burns: Last Look

last-look-burns

What a thing. I know this was completed two years ago, but reading the three books in a single volume is an entirely different (and recommended) experience. It does not let the protagonist, Doug, off the hook for his recklessness. His culpability in the emotional devastation he has caused is not excused. It is explored, relentlessly, in the only terms available to him — comics, a la Herge and Romita. And Burns’ empathy allows the sub-narrative, which tracks Nitnit (a Doug dream figure) in a beige-hued nightmare world, to flourish. Formally,  there is so much about comics in there, in the sense of image repetition and immersion/escapism.It’s one of the best graphic novels I’ve ever read. And the larger project around the book (Johnny 23, the Nit Nit portfolio, the current books from Cornelius, Vortex and Love Nest) make this a territory richer than any Burns has explored. It’s like he just keeps going, and makes us realize how an artist can blend aesthetic and procedural obsessions (here I think of Burns’ Marvel Try-Out Comic as key to Last Look) with an emotional core that clearly keeps this moving forward. The images in these other projects continue the world of Doug’s obsessions, but blend them with the author’s creating a kind of meta-fictional art that thrums with authenticity and urgency. 

Vanessa Davis: Summer / Autumn Hours (online only)

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-4-33-30-pmThese are among the most naturally funny and heartbreaking comics being published today. What strikes me the most is Vanessa’s natural line and sense of space and color. It’s a kind of calligraphic approach that seems informal, but could come with years of practice. She’s able to condense so much emotion and wisdom into a few pages. With the basic backdrop of the summer season as her narrative thread, Davis takes us through memories, physical transitions, and geographic relocations, all in an even tone, from  comedy (the peculiar problem of sweater weather and the definitions of fancy) to  real sadness (an elderly parent, a dead one; intense anger). In Davis’s work, an umbrella base becomes totemic in a tough, and not at all romantic way, and the habits of beavers provide some comfort in dealing with humanity’s foibles. I love these comics. Also remarkable is that the Paris Review is regularly running comics on its web site. And phenomenal comics, too.

Steven Weissman: Looking for America’s Dog

lookingforamericasdog

Looking for the perfect cure to post-election blues? This is it. Weissman delivers his best book yet, in this odd, entrancing collection of linked short comics on the theme of Bo, the presidential dog. I’m still trying to figure out how to explain this thing. It’s like a series of campfire stories, almost, sweet at first, but often acidic — there is darkness here, as symbols of hope get lost, mutate and become sometimes sinister. Great, textured cartooning with the best use of zipatone this side of Wally Wood.

 

Ted Stearn: Fuzz and Pluck: The Moolah Tree

moolah_treeI have loved Ted Stearn’s work since his Rubber Blanket days, and this is a wonderful book. I would even go so far as to say it’s practically the best book you could give to someone you love, simply because it’s so full of kindness, beauty, and incredibly funny, brilliant cartooning. It’s a yarn, a la Carl Barks and Charles Portis, in which Stearn’s longtime protagonists, Fuzz (a bear) and Pluck (a chicken) embark on an epic quest a “moolah tree” that,  of course dispenses cash. The foolishness of such a task, and the many people they encounter along the way (including two of my favorites kinds of characters: hippies and pirates) each present their own difficulties and pleasures. I liked spending time with everyone and everything in this book, and that is partly due to the incredible artwork. It seems like Stearn has set the whole thing in a 17th century Flemish landscape, its terrain meticulously detailed, and every structure perfectly rendered. But it never feels like “background” material — it’s fully integrated as cartoon drawing, so you can fully immerse yourself in his world.

Lynda Barry: Greatest of Marlys

stl012230-thumb-250x294-497282The single best case for Lynda Barry’s important and greatness as a cartoonist. It gathers such versatile material all performed in a similar format, and with such verve. You don’t need me to tell you to get this book. Just get it. Your life will be better.

Chester Gould: Dick Tracy: Colorful Cases of the 1930s

dicktracyIs this how it’s done? Damn near perfect. Great scholarship, perfect selections. I just want more writing about the visuals. I can never have too much. It’s actually thrilling to watch Gould’s cartoon language develop in a single book — you watch him grow into a masterful stylist and you see the Tracy world coalesce. This one is absolutely essential. 

Lauren Weinstein: Normel Person Comics (online and in The Village Voice — click through online)

screen_shot_2016-11-08_at_5-39-16_pmI, like Lauren and her husband, my pal and co-editor, Tim Hodler, am a “normal” person in the sense that we just can’t fucking believe what is happening around us but we are self-aware enough to understand the absurdity of that luxury. I think.  Normal here opens up to move away from the old “white straight guy” meaning and into a whole mindset of viewing the world and asking simple, structural questions and funny, moving observations. Halloween costumes, babies, food. The basics of our particular little kind of life. All done in Lauren’s detailed line work and lush watercolors. A master at work.

Jonathan Chandler: You Are Crumbling All My Jonathans

A great pamphlet from Jonathan Chandler, who depicts a monologue directed at the reader. It’s genuinely frightening, in a Kubrickian way. We are confronted with an aggressive, angry man who taunts us and another being, and preys on our inaction. Really good work, as usual. 

Jonathan Barli: The Gaze of Drifting Skies: A Treasury of Bird’s Eye Cartoon Viewsdriftingskies

This book contains early-to-mid 20th century illustrations that seem to fall under the header of “single image narrative”. Barli seeks to establish these cartoons as a genre, but offers no proof other than, um, saying they’re a genre and citing Bruegel. Does Eric Fischl count? What about Chris Ware? I dunno. Some are, indeed, a bird’s eye view (i.e. seen from above). Others are from the ground, others are underneath the ground. Others are on a staircase. Barli pulls together some very rare images by rarely reproduced artists and then, um, doesn’t offer any biographical or bibliographical information. Like, none. He managed to over-design the shit out of the book, complete with a pointless die-cut and odd references to Jules Verne, but no actual information on the art he’s collecting. I get that it’s a nice gift book and quite a difficult thing to even find all the material, but smart merchandizing and rudimentary scholarship needn’t be mutually exclusive.

Stef Sadler: The Kimberly Toilet Files

I couldn’t find an image of this cover online, or anyplace to buy it, but hopefully one of those Sadlers will tell me. This is a change of pace for Stef, chronicling the daily life of Kimberly Toilet, who works at a “Sports, Spa, Soap” store. Kimberly is monitored, tormented, bothered, and altogether frustrated by post-Internet society. Told in a crisp, digital style — very funny and sweet and altogether a descended of some 2000 AD backup feature that was too good to be published. 

Jessica Campbell: Hot or Not: 20th Century Male Artists.

61zkd2rypcl-_sx311_bo1204203200_l love this little book that does exactly as the title suggests: breaks down male artists into the ol’ “hot or not” categories usually reserved for women, even, or even especially in the art world. Campbell nails the silly “objective” tone of it all, digs deep in her choices, and is very, very funny. Also, her unfussy, to-the-point cartooning removes any sense of artifice. The book moves along easily and you barely stop to realize how funny, weird, and uncomfortably natural it all feels.

Wally Wood Department:

Bhob Stewart and J. Michael Catron, editors: The Life and Legend of Wally Wood

lifeandlegend-wallacewoodWhat is this book? Nothing in or on it gives any clue. It is the latest in what is arguably a glut of Wally Wood publishing activity. This one is based on Bhob Stewart’s wonderfully eccentric volume from a decade back. That one, a shabbily printed paperback apparently divested of swear words and nudity by its publisher, was a shambling compendium of essays, interviews, memories, and biographical anecdotes. It was no more and no less than an old school fan’s memory book. It worked, and was a great resource for further writing on Wood. This one, somehow based on Stewart’s (though there’s no indication of that previous book outside of a one-line mention in the colophon) and with an additional editor, J. Michael Catron, but with no indication of Catron’s relative contributions. The cover boasts of introductions by Howard Chaykin and Maria Reidelbeck, which is practically a distress signal. This is clearly for comics nerds of a certain age. And that’s a shame, because Wally Wood, inarguably one of the greatest, strangest and most interesting comic book artists of the 20th century, has influenced a tremendous amount of visual culture, from superhero and SF comics to Robert Crumb to Kerry James Marshall to Elizabeth Murray to Gladys Nilsson to Mike Kelley to Dan Clowes to George Lucas to Sue Williams. Let’s pretend you’re a historian and you’ve noticed how a few cartoonists keep popping up whenever contemporary painters discuss their influences — Crumb, Wood, Wolverton, Kirby. Let’s take the next step and see if you can find anything of worth written about them. Wolverton you have, thankfully, Greg Sadowski’s Creeping Death. With Crumb you have a ton of interviews. The other two, you’re shit outta luck.

Anyhow, back to this thing. It seems to be chronological, but there’s no narrative through-line and no hierarchy of content. For example, four pages are given over to unpublished very rough sketches for an-unpublished edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the accompanying text by Stewart includes a complete account of that books’ hollywood fates. Diane Dillon’s moving account of her friendship with Wood is only 3 paragraphs and yet given an entire spread. We get four pages from Rick Keene ostensibly about trading cards Wood did for Topps, but it’s mostly about Keene’s own childhood. Six pages are devoted to TwoMorrows’ removal of some nudity in the first edition. There are interviews with John Severin and Al Williamson that provide little insight. You see where I’m going here. This thing is just a mess. There’s no sense that one piece of text (and corresponding work) is more important than another. There are multiple overlapping essays on Mad and EC, with little attempt to differentiate them. The best essays are those that attempt to understand Wood as a working artist and a human being, like Russ Jones’ moving memoir, West 74th St., and Ralph Reese’s account of his life as an assistant to Wood, “When in Doubt, Black it Out”

Then there is the bizarre art direction: Some images are printed as line art, some as objects, with no apparent guiding principle. Catron takes pains to tell us that Wood developed the visual look of Daredevil’s sensory powers, but offers no visual examples. Numerous spreads are taken up with black and white reproductions of comic book pages printed too small (four to a page) to actually get anything from. Most of the color EC work is shown in contemporary digitally colored form, which is especially odd since that mode is particularly unkind to Wood’s linework. If you picked up this book hoping to see good examples of Wood’s art, you’d be sadly mistaken.

What you never get is any kind of evaluation of Wood’s talents. What made him unique? What was he best at doing? What this book needed was someone to look at it and say, “what are we trying to do here, and what’s the best way to accomplish this”? If the goal was to show Wood’s progress, it fails. And there’s no hint of what Volume 2 contains.

shattuck-cover_finalWorse yet is the collection of Wood’s western strip, Shattuck, which was completed for a military newspaper in 1971. It’s unclear, and editor David Spurlock never says, what exactly Wood contributed to this strip aside from an idea. The aforementioned Howard Chaykin, as well as Dave Cockrum, did a lot of the art. Chaykin tells the story of this strip better in his own introduction to The Life and Legend than David Spurlock does in his.  This is miserable, poorly drawn, and charmless work (even by my very forgiving standards), replete with pointless violence, rape fantasies and the like. Wood did a lot of dreck, but it was almost always beautifully finished. For unexplained reasons the art is reproduced from the original boards, like an “artist’s edition” which makes it look even worse. So why even publish this thing? There’s nothing to be learned about his work here — no entertainment value. There’s so much great work of his to be published nicely — the only thing Shattuck shows is how low Wood (and, I would guess his estate manager) could go. A sad affair all around.
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Better, however, is Roger Hill’s Galaxy Art and Beyond. Hill contributed two excellent essays to the Life and Legend book, and here we get all of Wood’s astonishingly beautiful SF illustrations produced between 1956 and 1962. Hill wrote a detailed introduction that goes into the publishing history of Galaxy and other SF magazines, Wood’s relationship to them, and even Wood’s drawing techniques, this last bit being particularly invaluable. Like many other authors coming out of Boomer fandom, Hill doesn’t do much aesthetic evaluation, preferring a “just the facts” approach, but the facts here are deeply researched and well organized. The book itself is a tad crowded — with sometimes a half dozen drawings on a spread, but I’ll take what I can get. When the layout opens up and we get a full page or full spread illustration, it sings. This work was Wood right between his ultra-detailed EC period and his streamlined 1960s work. He’s at his peak in terms of design, brushwork, and spatial rendering. When we think of what SF looked like in the middle of the 20th century, this is it. Grab this one for a real masterclass in what Wood could do.

wood_galaxy_1958_11_b_birdsofafeather

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Don’t Interfere http://www.tcj.com/dont-interfere/ http://www.tcj.com/dont-interfere/#respond Thu, 08 Dec 2016 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97390 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, we present an excerpt from the long-awaited We Told You So: Comics as Art, an oral history of Fantagraphics put together by Tom Spurgeon with Michael Dean. This particular chapter covers the years from 1978 to 1984, when the company was headquartered in a three-story house in Connecticut, and began publishing comics as well as criticism. Watch out for appearances by Gary Groth, Kim Thompson, the Hernandez brothers, Peter Bagge, Jack Jackson, Gil Kane, Art Spiegelman, Heidi MacDonald, R. Fiore, Bud Plant, R.C. Harvey, and Carter Scholz.

Groth: I knew nothing about Connecticut, had never set foot in the state before. But, New York was too expensive (although I don’t know if Brooklyn was more expensive than Connecticut at the time) and Connecticut sounded like the kind of place we could rent a house rather than an apartment.

Thompson: The move to Connecticut was a pretty big deal in one way: At that point we both quit our day jobs. I was a general office worker. Gary was doing freelance typesetting. He didn’t so much quit a job as stopped doing it. At that point we realized we had to do this as a full-time job or not do it.

Groth: When we got to Connecticut, we rented a house. It was only the two of us at the beginning. We worked in a basement in the house for about a year, but the basement flooded at least once, causing havoc with comics, files, everything on the floor (which was everything). So, we moved to this huge three-story house, in an exclusive section of Stamford. Everybody thought I was nuts, since I was the one who engineered this move, but I thought we needed more space and I thought it was something of a deal. It had five bedrooms, two living rooms, three sundecks, a ground-level “basement” that wouldn’t flood, a two-car garage. It was in this area surrounded by other huge houses, owned by TV-network executives and doctors and lawyers. We clearly didn’t belong there.

Dwight Decker, editor: Some people called it the Ski Lodge because it somewhat resembled one, built into a hillside so the second-floor back door was at ground level while the first floor/basement had a front door. It was well back from the street and pretty well surrounded by woods. There were other houses in the area, and I wonder if there was a potential conflict with zoning laws since Gary was running a business out of his house and there were UPS and other delivery trucks making frequent stops.

Kenneth Smith, cartoonist and writer:
Every closet and shelf-system was crammed with reference copies and Fantagraphics publications. The living room was rather shadowy and very amiably laid out, nearly a conversation pit. It must have been a fun place to work, even with hell-on-wheels deadlines over everybody’s heads. In retrospect, I guess I wonder why there weren’t more tables and working surfaces. I know I always have a shortage of unencumbered surfaces, not to mention shelving.

Thompson: It was the same thing, different place. We just lived in a nicer house.

Steven Ringgenberg, editor: It was in a beautiful neighborhood and I liked to go running when I lived there.

Groth: We shared a really long driveway with one other house. Five of us lived in the house. The office was on the ground floor in a large wide-open space, which included a bedroom and a sauna. Yes, a working sauna! The living rooms and the kitchen and two bedrooms were on the second floor and on the third floor were two more bedrooms. Our neighbors put up with us for six years. I don’t know if they knew quite what we did. I think they probably thought it was some drug-dealing operation, and the fewer questions asked the better.

Decker: Because housing was so expensive in Stamford, Gary sublet bedrooms to a couple of people who had nothing to do with Fantagraphics and worked elsewhere (I can’t remember if it was more than one). I can only guess what they thought of the mad goings-on.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. The University of Guelph profiles Wendy creator Walter Scott.

“A lot of the first Wendy comics were inspired by the punk scene,” says Scott, whose artistic influences include Kathy Acker, Dodie Bellamy, Matt Groening and Tanya Linklater.

They also drew on his experience of what he calls loss and yearning, as well as issues of identity that stemmed from the push and pull of hiding and exposing his aboriginal roots.

“I wanted to create a character enough like me but different enough — to talk about my experiences but not have to be me. That difference allowed me to open to other people,” he says.

Ben Navotny profiles Laurenn McCubbin.


How do fine art and comics compare as industries in which to work? How do the opportunities compare, and how do the chances of getting exploited compare?

There are a lot of similarities, in that they are both very white, and in both there is a stratification of worth. The people whose work is perceived to be worth more in comics and in fine art — there’s that five percent in either that people are going to pay attention to. It’s hard to get attention. It’s hard to do something new because, again, in both fields there are standards that we already think of that people need to reach before we will actually consider them artists. There are weird cliques in the working world of both. The indie kids of comics and the warehouse gallery kids are very similar. The superhero kids and the blue chip artists are very similar. And then the people who consume these arts, they like the things that maybe are not the great art. They’re not getting the good stuff because it’s not part of our common parlance. But, boy oh boy, do they love it when somebody draws photorealistically at a really large scale. That’s the thing in fine art that drives the fine art people crazy. “Why do you guys keep liking this stuff?” And in comics it’s, “Why do you guys keep liking Jim Lee?” No one makes money in either field. It’s hard to make money in comics; it’s hard to make money in fine art. Very few people do it. It is a very rarified group of people who actually can make a living at this. And the people who do work their asses off. Which is not to say that the people who don’t don’t also work their asses off!

Steven Cuevas profiles Steven Weissman.

“[Trump]’s more like a professional wrestler character,” explains Weissman.

“When I drew comics about President Obama or Hillary, they seem like real grown-ups with real grown-up problems,” he says. “You can relate to someone who seems to have some real (inner) conflict. I don’t see conflict in Donald Trump. You just sort of see this ego.”


—Reviews & Commentary.
Chris Mautner writes about Moto Hagio’s Otherworld Barbara.

Barbara is dense with ideas as well. Influenced by Noam Chomsky, Ray Bradbury, Carl Jung, genetics, neuroscience, and more (there’s even a joke reference to Last Year at Marienbad), Hagio explores identity, aging, and our flawed perception of reality. But the high-minded philosophical explorations are grounded by the fraught emotional landscape of the characters. As mentioned before, broken or dysfunctional families are familiar territory for Hagio (she has spoken publicly about her own issues with her parents), as are characters who are so emotionally reserved they could fall somewhere on the autistic spectrum. Here, though, the anger over neglect from parental figures (and adult authority in general) constantly threatens to spill over into violence — it is frequently suggested that the withdrawn Kiriya could do Tokio real harm — as though despite the relative lack of blood on the page everything is building inexorably toward a tragic climax.

Brian Nicholson writes about Ron Wimberly’s Prince of Cats.

It’s a take on Romeo and Juliet, told from Tybalt’s perspective, with a primarily black cast, built around the author’s realization that the way the characters in the play act violently, indifferent to death, never seemed surprising or weird to him, presumably because growing up in New York City, he witnessed people who lived the same way. Some of them are white, but race doesn’t factor into their interactions: They are all living inside this milieu, sharing the same assumptions about codes of behavior.

In order to tell this story, Wimberly works out an elaborate system of cultural reference. The language is a mixture of iambic pentameter and Notorious B.I.G. allusions, but with the opening scene-setting text ending on a Langston Hughes reference. It takes place in the 1980s. 1980s New York, in comics, is also partially defined by the work of Frank Miller in Daredevil, which he filled up with ninja. The swordfighting is played up in a way that recalls the Wu-Tang Clan’s love of kung fu movies, but also present in the mix is Walter Hill’s The Warriors, which itself had a structure partially modeled on The Odyssey. This, then, creates a good deal of artifice, despite the fact that it is talking about some of the realest stuff there is: Both in terms of hip-hop’s insistence on “the real,” or notions of “real shit” meaning the threat of a body count, and the archetypal story we are all supposed to relate to.

Magdalene Vissagio promotes a movement in comics she calls “The New Sincerity.”

For a crop of comic creators who grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, every genre convention was questioned and every piety challenged, where the snarling, gun-toting heroes of Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefeld formed the gold standard of the medium. Today, there’s a growing emphasis on comics simply being…fun. My own miniseries Kim & Kim aside, it’s not hard to point to the books joyfully pushing forward without a hint of ironic distance: Squirrel Girl, Lumberjanes, Jonesy, Jem and the Holograms, the aforementioned Teen Dog, The Backstagers, and to a lesser extent, Charles Soule, Javier Pulido and Ronald Wimberly’s run on She-Hulk.

Stylized, youthful, increasingly female and often queer, these books are almost (read: explicitly) a deliberate slap in the face to a toxic fandom culture and a broken business model that has focused exclusively on 45-year-old white dudes. And I find it interesting how much these books joyfully and deliberately dance right past everything we’ve always been told American comics are supposed to be—serious literature—while wearing a Walkman and a high-top fade.

—Misc. For The Paris Review, Kevin Huizenga adapts an excerpt from the new translation of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s novel The Return of Münchausen.

Though Krzhizhanovsky wrote for some twenty years, Soviet censorship and World War II conspired against him, and none of his fiction was published in his lifetime (he died in 1950). “A fantastical plot is my method,” he once wrote. “First you borrow from reality, you ask reality for permission to use your imagination, to deviate from actual fact; later you repay your debt to your creditor with nature, with a profoundly realistic investigation of the facts and an exact logic of conclusions.” In Münchausen, Krzhizhanovsky borrows from the life—both real and legendary—of Baron Münchausen to spin his own absurd tale involving the baron’s post–World War I perambulations in Berlin, London, and Moscow on a diplomatic mission. Bizarre and fantastic, Münchausen (or is it Krzhizhanovky?) defends imagination above all else.

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Sneaking to Bronx http://www.tcj.com/sneaking-to-bronx/ http://www.tcj.com/sneaking-to-bronx/#respond Wed, 07 Dec 2016 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97399 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Rob Clough reviews Drew Friedman’s More Heroes Of The Comics.

In many respects, More Heroes Of The Comics is more in line with Friedman’s traditional interest in b-grade, obscure, and discarded American culture than the first volume. That first book, which had 83 illustration plates, included Friedman’s heroes from EC Comics and a number of obvious choices like Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Bob Kane, etc. He threw in a few more obscure choices in an effort to make the book more than a line-up of dead white men, but the history lessons came more from Friedman’s visual interpretation of each artist through his portrait/caricature than via the accompanying text, even if Friedman took great pains to have his biographical copy reflect the controversies that might have surround each subject, especially with regard to issues like exploitation. In this new book, Friedman tackles one hundred subjects, and has the luxury to go in some offbeat directions.

For example, the Three Stooges-obsessed Friedman includes Norman Maurer, a cartoonist who happened to marry Joan Howard, the daughter of Moe. A couple of years later, he wrote and drew the first Three Stooges comic book (featuring Friedman favorite Shemp) and later worked on early 3D comics, including the Three Stooges in 3D. Maurer’s portrait is a profile shot at his drawing desk of an unassuming young man with the typically slicked-back hair of the era. Also featured in the book are Hy and Bill Vigoda, brothers of the well-known actor (and another Friedman favorite) Abe. They are featured not just because of Friedman’s fan interests, but rather because they represent something that Friedman repeatedly makes a point of emphasizing: people who worked in the industry for a long time, on comics that aren’t lionized today in the same way that popular culture has seized upon superheroes. The Vigodas, for example, after working in some of the early comics sweatshops, went on to long careers working in Archie comics.

I loved this book. It’s so much fun, and like Rob notes, full of oddities and never-beens. The true heroes.

Some links:

Glen David Gold reviews Michael Tisserand’s Krazy.

Leslie Stein perfectly sums up the holiday spirit right here.

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I Drink Your Milkshake http://www.tcj.com/i-drink-your-milkshake/ http://www.tcj.com/i-drink-your-milkshake/#respond Tue, 06 Dec 2016 13:00:09 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97315 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Joe McCulloch is here with his usual guide to the Week in Comics, highlighting the best-sounding books new to stores. Spotlight picks this time include Michael Tisserand’s much-anticipated George Herriman biography and a new collaborative effort from Stanislas Barthélémy and journalist Laurent Rullier. Joe also writes about a Disney comic by Lewis Trondheim, Nicolas Keramidas, and Brigitte Findakly.

The album is technically part of a line of artist-driven Mouse comics at Glénat, with additional contributions by Régis Loisel (who’s done work for Disney’s animated films) and “Tébo” (also the writer of Keramidas’ Alice au pays des singes series with Glénat) — along with a book by Bernard “Cosey” Cosendey that IDW also plans to release — but really it’s part of Trondheim’s continuing project of summoning works and traditions from comics’ past and making them his own.

However, I am at a disadvantage. For one, I’ve not read what I suspect is this book’s closest relation, the 2010 Spirou et Fantasio sub-series album Panique en Atlantique, which Trondheim wrote for artist Fabrice Parme with purportedly similar throwback flair. Moreover, I *have* read this very good review of the Mickey book by Jonathan Bogart, whom I fear has plumbed all the depth this piece has to offer. Of particular note, Bogart reads the book’s central conceit — that the comic we’re seeing was not really created by Trondheim & co., but found by them in a hidden stash of regional European Disney comics from the ’60s, serialized at only one page per issue by anonymous talents — as a means of re-framing Mickey Mouse and all his baggage as something suddenly native to the small-format serialization of Franco-Belgian children’s comics: a truly BD Disney at last.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. James Yeh reviews Richard McGuire’s new book of New Yorker spot drawings/comics for the Times.

As in his loudly (and deservedly) praised 2014 graphic novel “Here,” McGuire’s singular, virtuoso approach to storytelling is again the star. Whereas “Here,” with its static living room scene and bold leaps forward and backward in time, explores a simultaneous vision of space and history, “Sequential Drawings” takes a more playful, spare and gag-like approach, wordlessly shuffling between imaginings of the secret lives of diner condiments (“Scenes From a Table”) and stylish insects (“Insect Fashion”), inventories of funny hats (“Hats”), obstructed faces on the subway (“Subway”) and ice (“Ice”).

—Interviews & Profiles. Robert Newman profiles Drew Friedman.

Years ago it could be a little nerve-racking if the phone wasn’t ringing with work as much as I’d like, but now I basically decide what I want to create. I make my own hours and for the most part decide what I want to work on. The solitude isn’t a problem because my MacBook is right by me at the desk, so I’m never really alone for too long—I’m always connected with my fellow travelers, that is, if I wanna be.

The New York Times interviews Zunar.

I’m facing so many laws three laws have been used against me so far. But one thing I keep in my mind — one very, very important thing — is that the biggest enemy for anyone in the world is self-censorship. For me, talent is not a gift but a responsibility. People ask, do I have fear? Yes, I have fear, I’m human. But responsibility is bigger than fear. So I don’t want to really think what the government will do next to me. I just concentrate on what I’m supposed to do. That can help me continue and draw more cartoons. If I start to think about law, I start to think about prison, I start to think about government action, I will definitely start to practice self-censorship — and this is no good. So I will draw as usual.

The most recent guest of the Process Party podcast is Rina Ayuyang.

—Misc. 2dcloud has launched a Kickstarter to fund their fall 2016 lineup, including new books from Sab Meynert, Tommi Parrish, and Jake Terrell.

We’ve been using Kickstarter as a mechanism for pre-orders and curated book bundles since 2010. This is our 8th Kickstarter. It’s been a powerful tool allowing for discovery, discussion and distribution.

Our Kickstarters are simply put, how we keep the lights on for our company. Think of them as NPR style fundraisers operating as a way to sell small curated book bundles.

This is the final week of the Kickstarter to fund a new documentary about the aforementioned Drew Friedman.

For years, artist Drew Friedman has chronicled a strange, alternate universe populated by forgotten Hollywood stars, old Jewish comedians and liver-spotted elevator operators.

Vermeer of the Borscht Belt is an in-depth documentary tracing Friedman’s evolution from underground comics to the cover of the New Yorker.

Friedman grew up in the New York literary scene of his father, writer Bruce Jay Friedman, but he was more at home with the Three Stooges, Car 54 and MAD magazine. Vermeer of the Borscht Belt traces fifty years of American popular culture through the unique lens of Drew Friedman.

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Model Building http://www.tcj.com/model-building/ http://www.tcj.com/model-building/#respond Mon, 05 Dec 2016 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97345 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, we revisit Dana Gabbard’s 1989 interview with Don Rosa, whose Disney Duck work is presently being reprinted by Fantagraphics.

GABBARD: There’s a lot of pacing, suspense and detailing. Very vivid and very immediate is how I would describe your work.

ROSA: One problem I’ve always had is when somebody has invited me to speak at some school about creative writing or to give a lecture on this or that, I’ve always refused because I don’t consider myself an expert on this stuff. I don’t know what I’m doing — I just do it! I’ve never tried to figure out what my style is. I just sit down and do it. My training came from not trying to please anybody — just to do it for the fun of it. I made comic books for myself when I was little. And I just did it the way it seemed it should be done. I’m not saying this is the right way to do it. I just never thought about it and just sat down and started doing it.

And I never concentrated on developing any particular art style, since I wasn’t planning on doing it for a living. If I had, I’d have tried to learn how to draw a bit more in a Disney style rather than something that comes out looking like Robert Crumb. But I know where that comes from. Once I started doing stories for Gladstone, people said “they look like a cross between Carl Barks and Will Elder.” And there’s a lot to that. Because when I was little with all those Dell Comics my sister had, the only ones I really liked were Barks’ ducks and the Little Lulus. It’s much more difficult to explain to somebody what’s good about Little Lulu. I mean, what’s good about Carl Barks’ ducks is pretty evident. It stares you right in the face. The artwork is good, the stories are complex. More than anything else, I liked Barks’ style. But Little Lulu is a bit more elusive to explain … Anyway, after that I moved right into Mad Magazine (1957-1958) because my sister was in high school in those days and that’s probably what she started bringing home instead of Dell comics. So I was just a Mad Magazine fanatic for the next seven or eight years. I went right from Carl Barks to Will Elder and Basil Wolverton. I am a Robert Crumb fan. Of the so-called “underground” artists, he’s one of the only ones I really liked. But I never tried to imitate his art. I’m sure whatever drawing style I had must have developed by the time I first saw Crumb’s comics. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Sometimes I try to explain it to myself, that neither I nor Robert Crumb took the stuff seriously. So we didn’t try to make it look pretty — we just started putting all that noodling little cross-hatching in there. From what I’m learning in the Robert Crumb sketchbooks and Complete Robert Crumb stuff from Fantagraphics, he used to make all these comic books for himself, too, just like I used to do. All sons of silly stories.

(Ooops, that wasn’t quite ready yet).

At the Wall Street Journal, Sarah Boxer reviews Krazy.

Great interview with cartoonist Laurenn McCubbin over at the LARB.

The great French cartoonist Gotlib has passed away.

 

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No That Doesn’t Work http://www.tcj.com/no-that-doesnt-work/ http://www.tcj.com/no-that-doesnt-work/#respond Fri, 02 Dec 2016 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97302 Continue reading ]]> 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.

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Katana http://www.tcj.com/katana/ http://www.tcj.com/katana/#respond Thu, 01 Dec 2016 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97288 Continue reading ]]> 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.

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More Less http://www.tcj.com/more-less/ http://www.tcj.com/more-less/#respond Wed, 30 Nov 2016 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97277 Continue reading ]]> 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. 

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Getting Through http://www.tcj.com/getting-through/ http://www.tcj.com/getting-through/#respond Tue, 29 Nov 2016 13:00:30 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97247 Continue reading ]]> 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.

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Oinks http://www.tcj.com/oinks/ http://www.tcj.com/oinks/#respond Mon, 28 Nov 2016 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97224 Continue reading ]]> 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.

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Thanks for Nothing http://www.tcj.com/thanks-for-nothing/ http://www.tcj.com/thanks-for-nothing/#respond Wed, 23 Nov 2016 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97188 Continue reading ]]> 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.

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That One http://www.tcj.com/that-one/ http://www.tcj.com/that-one/#respond Tue, 22 Nov 2016 13:33:55 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97094 Continue reading ]]> 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

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Light Day http://www.tcj.com/light-day/ http://www.tcj.com/light-day/#respond Mon, 21 Nov 2016 13:00:39 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97097 Continue reading ]]> 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.

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Under Protest http://www.tcj.com/under-protest/ http://www.tcj.com/under-protest/#respond Fri, 18 Nov 2016 13:00:12 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97079 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Alex Dueben speaks with the great Ed Sorel about his long career and his latest book, Mary Astor’s Secret Diary. 

Why did you chose to draw the interior illustrations that you did?

The great thing about doing a book is that you can pick the scene you want to draw. There was one scene that I knew I had to do–her father attacking her because of what he considered her lack of ambition. I did a kind of strobe shot of his fist banging on the piano. I knew I had to do that even though it was a very difficult picture to do. Then there were the pictures that had absolutely nothing to do with the book that I did because I wanted to. There’s a picture of Tom Mix with some car that was made in Los Angeles that nobody knows about. I did it because it was fun to draw and I had a picture of it. The book was in my entire life this book was more a labor of love than anything I have done before.

I know that you went to art school, but you said earlier that you never studied life drawing?

Because it was impossible. I went into art school at the very time when drawing was considered rather old hat. The illustrations in The Saturday Evening Post were condemned as the lowest form of art, illustrated books stopped, the New York school of abstract painting was considered the acme of fine art. I graduated from Cooper Union in 1951. The good thing about it was there were plenty of jobs and the bad thing about it was that I still didn’t know how to draw. My drawing skill–which was not too bad when I was nine years old–had completely atrophied from going to High School of Music and Art and going to Cooper Union. The thing that was valued was design and abstraction. Which interested me not at all. And still doesn’t. Even though I started Push Pin Studios with Seymour Chwast and Milton Glaser, which was essentially a design studio. I did learn how to do design, but it never really interested me. What I loved was drawing.

You seem to have found a niche of doing illustration fairly early in your career, though. At least that’s how it looks from the outside.

I suppose. Some young people have an image of what they want to become very early in their life. All I ever wanted really was to have my own apartment. When I was a young man I didn’t care how I got the money to get my own apartment, but the truth of the matter is I wasn’t good at anything except drawing. Fortunately I was able to make a life for myself where all I had to do was draw pictures. I was a hack to start out with and gradually became something more than a hack. I regard my early years of working for agencies and working for magazines as being paid to learn. I did what was required and in the process learned how to draw.

Elsewhere:

Lauren Weinstein’s new weekly comic strip is a bright spot in these times.

The New York Times interviews recent MacArthur winner Gene Luen Yang.

The Washington Post announces its list of the best graphic novels of 2016.

And here’s a lovely piece on a fine new (and previously unpublished) Hokusai book.

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Experience http://www.tcj.com/experience/ http://www.tcj.com/experience/#respond Thu, 17 Nov 2016 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97065 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, we present Rob Clough’s interview with Keiler Roberts, the creator of Powdered Milk.

RC: How do your husband and daughter feel about being characters in your work? Have you ever had to self-censor something because you realized it was too personal for them?

KR: They generally feel good about it. Xia laughs her head off when I read her parts to her. I do hold back on their behalf. I don’t write about Scott in ways that would make him look very bad or would reveal too much. He proofreads all my rough drafts if he’s in them. I won’t put anything in about Xia that I think might embarrass her. It’s hard to know exactly what that’ll be with kids though.

RC: Do you ever collaborate with your husband Scott? Are there unique challenges or benefits to living in a two-artist/cartoonist household? Do either of you ever seek out the advice of the other in helping to solve particular difficulties you might be having with what you’re working on?

KR: No. I hate working with him on almost anything. He wanted us to make a birthday card for Xia together and I scowled at him, drew a bunch of stuff very quickly, and said, “You finish it. I’m going to bed.” Of course when I woke up there was this gorgeously ornate card on the counter. He’d somehow covered everything I did in this lace pattern. I just want to get it done. He wants to take forever and consider all the options and then be elaborate. It’s not just him though, I don’t want to collaborate with anyone.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. March: Book Three, created by John Lewis, Nate Powell, and Andrew Aydin, has become the first graphic novel to win a National Book Award.

“I remember in 1956 when I was 16 years old, going down to the public library, trying to get library cards, and we were told that the libraries were whites-only and not for coloreds,” Lewis said.

But Lewis, whose work in the civil rights movement is chronicled in the March trilogy of graphic memoirs, said he would not relent.

“I had a wonderful teacher in elementary school who told me, ‘Read my child, read!’ And I tried to read everything,” Lewis said.

“To come here and receive this award — it’s too much.”

—Reviews & Commentary. Kelton Sears reviews Julia Gfrörer’s Laid Waste.

The book is, unsurprisingly, incredibly bleak. Agnés’ is a quiet devastation. Her walks through town are punctuated with children burning their dead parents’ bodies, dogs gnawing on decomposing limbs, and pits of corpses, to which Agnés will add her sister’s body and the body of her neighbor Giles’ wife. Gfrörer’s masterful emotional juxtaposition reaches a crushing zenith here. In one of the most brutal sequences of her career, we watch Agnés plainly and dutifully pound dough into bread as the world around her is subsumed by the darkness, until she breaks down sobbing, begging Saint Catherine for her own death. Soon follows the most heart-rending, nihilistic sex scene you’ll probably ever read, in the midst of which Agnés quips, “Nothing matters at all.” Despite everything I’ve just written, Laid Waste is, counterintuitively, a life-affirming glimpse into the void.

Rob Clough reviews The Shirley Jackson Project.

[Editor Rob] Kirby will surely earn some degree-of-difficult points with his The Shirley Jackson Project, an anthology featuring “comics inspired by her life and work”. Jackson has been dead for nearly fifty years, but her influence on modern psychological horror remains as strong as ever. A new biography that’s just been released has also stirred up more attention to the novelist and short story writer as well. Simply put, this was a passion project for Kirby, who was delighted and surprised to find as many Jackson fans in the alt-comics world as he did who were willing to contribute to this book.

John Marsfelder tries to go deep analyzing Garfield.

The impetus for the joke’s setup comes from actual cat behaviour: Much of Garfield’s personality is derived from taking humans’ observations and interpretations of the things their housecats did and anthropomorphizing them: Cats are vain, cats are aloof, cats only care about me for what they can get from me, they claw things I don’t want them to claw, don’t listen to my commands like my dog does, and so on and so forth. So Garfield asks us to imagine how cats would display this behaviour if they could rationalize like humans do, and then, without missing a beat, turns around and points out the absurdity of its own question. Because for one thing, the joke is, of course, double-edged: Jon may mock Garfield and accuse him of having an inflated ego, but the cat is right. After all, whose name has the title of the comic been given, and who is its central character? The defense rests.

—Interviews. Rachel Gould talks to Jessica Campbell.

The art world (and the comics world) have serious gender parity issues, and talking exclusively about how a male artist looks and disregarding his accomplishments is a way of obliquely poking fun at this idea of male genius in the arts. Certainly, addressing the canon in this way is obscene, but it feels like awarding myself agency in an arena in which I often feel helpless. Plus so much of art history is men painting women they want to have sex with: Cezanne’s wife, Gauguin’s coterie of Polynesian children, Vuillard’s mom… I want to reverse that gaze.

There’s also a history in art of neglecting the work of women in favour of men’s work. Janson’s History of Art, the book used (still) as the text in many art history survey courses, including my own as an undergraduate, included no women when it was first published (1962), which H.W. Janson defended by basically saying women can’t paint. Now, of course, there are women included in that text, but there are still people (Georg Baselitz, for instance) who continue this argument. And the same is true in comics!

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The Fight http://www.tcj.com/the-fight/ http://www.tcj.com/the-fight/#comments Wed, 16 Nov 2016 15:36:02 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97048 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Greg Hunter reviews the Machine Man compilation.

Jack Kirby’s Machine Man belongs to multiple worlds, both on the level of plot and in the circumstances of its creation. Kirby devised Machine Man (aka X-51, aka Aaron Stack) during his return to Marvel in the late ’70s, as a character in his loose adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Although the company’s license to publish 2001 comics later expired, Machine Man fell under Marvel IP and fell into the Marvel universe, wrestling with rival robots, the US military, and his own existential malaise. The character’s name sums it up—he’s machine and man, an artificial intelligence that insists on its humanity. Machine Man: The Complete Collection covers the character’s brief post-2001 series, including Kirby’s issues (the first nine), a few installments of The Incredible Hulkfeaturing X-51, and issues 10 through 19, for which Steve Ditko provided art. These comics are not the best-remembered work of either artist, but the exceptional talents of Kirby and Ditko, balanced against the stories’ missteps, make the collection a fascinating, multifaceted book—no ordinary mixed bag.

Jerry Dumas, of Sam’s Strip, and a longtime Mort Walker-collaborator, has passed away.

And in more Ditko-related news, Abraham Riesman at New York magazine reports on Steve Ditko in lengthy and lazy fashion by rehashing Sean Howe’s Marvel book and Jonathan Ross’s pathetic documentary, hilariously referring to Paul Levitz and Arlen Schumer as “historians”, and managing to marginalize the last two decades of Ditko’s (frequently brilliant) output as “mail order curios.” And that’s not even the worst part. That comes when Riesman, after Ditko (of course) has declined to be interviewed, interviews the artist’s neighbors about Ditko’s mail (!), and waits in his hallway in order to ambush him, with success! He got him! He got the old codger! Scoop! Fanboy scares old man!  What, exactly was the point of stalking Steve Ditko? It was not going to result in an interview, so I guess the idea was to just fuck with an 89 year old artist who, for fifty years has asked for privacy? No point. Just fanboyish masturbatory pleasure.

In other links fun, Bob Eckstein interviewed by Gil Roth.

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A Total Mess http://www.tcj.com/a-total-mess/ http://www.tcj.com/a-total-mess/#respond Tue, 15 Nov 2016 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=97042 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Joe McCulloch brings us his usual indispensable guide to the Week in Comics, highlighting all the most interesting-sounding books being released to stores. His spotlight picks this week include new titles by Taiyō Matsumoto and Dash Shaw.

He also writes at length about the work of La Morris Richmond.

Not a few months ago, at the Cartoon Crossroads Columbus festival, it was my great pleasure to meet La Morris Richmond; he was present for SÕL-CON: The Brown + Black Comix Expo, a suite of events partnered with CXC and run concurrently in the same venues. I’ve written about Richmond’s work before, specifically the 1993 Northstar horror comic Boots of the Oppressor, one of the most potent among b&w indie shock-horror specimens for its detailed attention to the systemic and linguistic dehumanization of black men and women under slavery. It is probably still Richmond’s most visible work, coming half a decade after his comics debut in NOW Comics’ The Real Ghostbusters #4, pencilled by a young Evan Dorkin; a rather gentler style of horror.

Indeed, there were not a few black creators active in the ’90s indie horror comics scene and its adjacent ‘bad girl’ boom of sexy occult divas. The late Steven Hughes springs to mind; he was co-creator of Evil Ernie and Lady Death, titles most commonly associated with their writer, Brian Pulido. The artist Louis Small Jr. was also prominent, having overseen the revival of Vampirella with writer Kurt Busiek and inker Jim Balent. But Richmond’s works as a writer were much spikier, and far less common – he only published one other short story with Northstar, the almost oneirically scattershot “.12 Gauge Solution” in Splatter Annual #1 (1994, drawn by Rich Longmore), before embarking on a work ostensibly more populist yet pushed even deeper into intensity – scenes from the life of a black separatist superhero.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—In a bit of good publishing news, Fantagraphics has announced they will begin distributing the books of UK publisher Breakdown Press.

Breakdown Press was founded by Simon Hacking, Tom Oldham, Josh Palmano and Joe Kessler in 2013. Their goal was to put out the work of cutting edge cartoonists and some of the very best alternative manga. Since then, Breakdown Press has become a curatorial publishing force, releasing books by Conor Stechschulte, Lale Westvind, Seiichi Hayashi, Antoine Cossé, and many others.

“Breakdown is the UK’s most ambitious, progressive, and editorially risk-taking comics publisher, so it was logical to partner with someone we considered a kindred spirit.,” said Fantagraphics President Gary Groth. “We look forward to getting their books and authors the wider readership in the US that they deserve.”

—Sacha Mardou writes about the treatment of women in the work of Daniel Clowes, making comparisons to Updike and Nabokov.

Clowes’s most stirring heroines often get to blow the joint at the end. Naomi walks out of David Boring’s warped (after?) life. We can’t help but note how pathetic and inept David looks next to this smart, deserving woman who packs her bags, vowing to escape the coming apocalypse. Good for her! Vida leaves for Hollywood, Violet leaves her bullshit non-marriage and step-family behind, and of course Enid is going to get on that bus before the story’s done.

What is going on here? The women get more choices than Clowes’s men. From Clay Loudermilk to Daniel Pussey to David Boring the men inhabit this spectrum of sad indignities like Fate’s blind somnambulists. The women are operating on a more awakened level I think. Dan Clowes writes women so damn well that they overshadow the men they deal with on every page that they interact together. Why is this so? Is it because of feminism? Post modernism? Punk rock? What’s driving this?

—The most recent episode of Inkstuds features Seth and Noah Van Sciver.

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Territory http://www.tcj.com/territory/ http://www.tcj.com/territory/#respond Mon, 14 Nov 2016 13:00:10 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96977 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site we have part one of a two-part sprawling, fascinating conversation between our own Paul Tumey and the author of Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White (Harper Collins, December 6), Michael Tisserand. I can’t wait to read this book, which, from what I hear, will be a landmark in the study of 20th century visual culture. Here’s a bit of their dialogue:

 

 

Paul Tumey: That leads me to my next question. For almost a hundred years, people have been writing about the life and work of George Herriman. Gilbert Seldes sang his praises in 1924. In 1986, Patrick McDonnell and Karen O’Connell published Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman. This has been regarded as the definitive book on the subject. In addition, there’s been a library’s worth of introductory essays to the various reprint volumes of Herriman’s work published over the years by Bill Blackbeard, Richard Marschall and others. One would think all the stories were told, and the subject was exhausted. And yet, in 2016, you’ve given us something new and, I think, quite magical: a 560-page, detailed biography of Herriman. Can you talk a little more about the research methods you used to deepen and broaden Herriman’s story? How did you dig all this stuff up, man?

Michael Tisserand: Patrick and Karen’s work was certainly a foundation. Their writing about Herriman is beautiful and timeless, as is Gilbert Seldes’, actually. But of course none of these writers had the Internet to make it possible to do a more exhaustive search.

But I started there. Patrick and Karen very generously shared all their original research with me, as did many others. When I started out, I was concerned that the comics scholarship community would be suspicious of an interloper, but it was just the opposite. The generosity has been overwhelming.

Paul Tumey: So you built on the work of others?

Michael Tisserand: Yes, exactly. Rick Marschall invited me to his house and beneath a painting by Rudolph Dirks, answered question after question about early newspapers and syndications. I had a most wonderful day with Bill Blackbeard. Tom Inge had once pursued a biography of Herriman and shared with me the letters and other information he’d received, which then led me to contacting Russell Myers, who shared a recorded interview he’d conducted with Bud Sagendorf that focused just on Herriman. Jeet Heer took me under his wing and provided copies of his copious files, and engaged in conversation after conversation about Krazy Kat. Same with Art Spiegelman and Chris Ware. Brian Walker, who co-curated the show that sparked this book, opened up his archives and even invited me to lunch with his father, Mort Walker, and Jerry Dumas. One of my happier afternoons of research!

And there were so many more. I learned the extent to which cartoonists are scholars of their art. Not only do they possess the knowledge, but in many cases, they own the historical treasures such as old letters and inscribed pieces of art that are necessary for telling the story.

Elsewhere:

The Nib has 10 cartoonists’ reactions to the election.  I look forward to much, much more, like the new New Yorker cover. This 2015 essay by Toni Morrison has been shared a lot lately. It’s worth revisiting.

RIP The great Leon Russell, love poet. I will miss you.

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Through the Graves the Wind is Blowing http://www.tcj.com/through-the-graves-the-wind-is-blowing/ http://www.tcj.com/through-the-graves-the-wind-is-blowing/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2016 13:00:01 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96812 Continue reading ]]> We must hope for the best, but after Tuesday’s election, even the best tastes like ashes. There are innumerable issues that should be of great concern to all Americans: violence against religious and ethnic minorities and immigrants, likely civil rights abuses, an unleashed police-state mentality, the empowerment of white nationalist groups, the potential erosion of press freedoms, the imminent possibility of another economic collapse, almost certain international turmoil, and a gutting of our already far too meager efforts to fight climate change. Among many other things.

Cartoonists have historically played a small but important role in times of political and cultural crisis: giving vent to anger, attacking powerful and oppressive forces, providing emotional comfort to the afflicted, helping to focus attention on absurdities and wrongdoing and means of action. Those of us who value the art form should be vigilant in our support for and defense of those artists who will be brave enough to tell the truth in the days, months, and years ahead. It should go without saying that this is only one small part of a wider range of vital struggles, but it should not be forgotten, here least of all. We will need as many courageous artists as we can get. I hope they are out there.

I would like to look back at this post years from now and feel embarrassed by my dramatic tone. But I don’t expect to.

——————————

Rob Clough has written a review of the first installment of a new anthology, 4Panel.

Canadian artist Mark Laliberte has been publishing his 4Panel experiments in the pages of Carousel magazine and on the web for quite some time now. They are the product of a less restrictive version of OuBaPo-style constrictions, which give artists certain parameters they have to work with, like including certain elements on a page, telling the story as a visual palindrome, or using the same images but different words in multiple panels. The sole constriction for this particular project is that each artist has to work with the old comic strip standard of four panels at a time forming a single, coherent unit. What goes into those panels is up to each artist, and for the first print volume of 4Panel, Laliberte chose three artists whose visual styles are certainly varied.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News.
Former Wizard World convention exec Stephen Shamus has been sued for alleged theft, according to a brief report in the New York Post.

A comic-convention marketing exec raked in $1 million for himself by stealing celebrity-signed merchandise from his own company and then selling it, according to a lawsuit.

Stephen Shamus, 42, helped select celebrities for fan gatherings run by Wizard World, which pays stars to show up and sign autographs for fans — but often fenagled the high- profile figures into signing memorabilia for him personally.

—Interviews & Profiles. The Guardian speaks to Al Jaffee.

What do you think of the current political scene? There’s so much now that’s so far afield it’s a little hard to blow it out of proportion.

You’re absolutely right. I think they’re defeating Mad, because they’re going beyond anything we can think of doing to show the clownish nature of their claims. It used to be that politicians claimed that they would make jobs for everybody in the country within two years or something like that; now they claim that they’re going to make jobs for everybody on Mars. It’s just so outlandish.

GQ talks to Sean Howe, the author of Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, about Dr. Strange.

“I think that’s what makes Doctor Strange so interesting and also so difficult to adapt,” says Howe. “I liked a lot of things about the movie, but the Doctor Strange comics are Exhibit A in the argument that some things that can be done in comics just can’t be replicated any other way. There’s a lot of great nods to Ditko’s visual motifs from the comic book, but it’s different to see them on a page. I think there are a lot of people who mistakenly believe that the movies are the realization of what comics really wanted to be, and I think that kind of shortchanges the comics”

The latest guest on Virtual Memories is Ed Koren.

—Reviews & Commentary. For the Saturday Evening Post, Ed Dwyer writes about the current state of comic strips.

Today, wherever I am, I still open the paper to the “funny pages” first thing to start my day with a smile. But I am in increasingly diminished company, as newspapers have consolidated or shut down across the country and readership has dropped dramatically. The numbers tell the tale: In 1960, there were 1,763 total daily newspapers (morning and evening) with a total circulation of 58,882,000; in 2014, there were 1,331 with a total circulation of 40,420,000. Meanwhile, average daily newspaper readers are now in their mid-50s and getting older. And reading the newspaper is not a habit with younger generations, who prefer to get their news online (ironically, often at newspaper websites) or via social media like Facebook or Twitter. Even some of my own contemporaries tell me that they don’t read the print newspaper. “Print, how quaint,” they sniff.

For Paste, Shea Hennum has written a basic introduction to European comics.

Since the mid-’90s, smaller publishers like NBM have intermittently translated work, but French, Spanish and Italian tomes came in at a mere trickle for more than a decade. As a result, a generation of readers was cut off from a rich wellspring. But that’s begun to change; thanks to the ascendance of publishers like Humanoids, efforts by smaller publishers like Uncivilized Books, New York Review Comics and IDW, which launched a EuroComics imprint specifically to import classics like Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese and Jose Munoz and Carlos Sampayo’s Alack Sinner, some of the finest comics ever produced are poised to become more accessible.

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More From There http://www.tcj.com/more-from-there/ http://www.tcj.com/more-from-there/#respond Thu, 10 Nov 2016 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96888 Continue reading ]]> Life goes on, right? Right. So here we go.

R.C. Harvey reports back from CXC. 

The first two days of the four-day CXC took place at the Billy Ireland, with programming and special exhibits; the succeeding two days transpired downtown at the city’s Metropolitan Library, where the CXC Expo opened. Spinning out from those two sites, the CXC took over the city with special exhibits at various venues.

CXC replaces the triennial festival of cartoon art that was sponsored by the Billy Ireland for many years. The idea of CXC founders Jeff Smith (Bone) and Lucy S. Caswell (curator emeritus of the Billy Ireland) was to make Columbus the Angouleme of America. Like the International Comics Festival in France in January of every year since 1974, CXC would take over the host city.

For Smith, CXC is a dream come true. “I had this idea,” he said, “What if we could bring these artists together on one weekend in Columbus? This isn’t the kind of event where people come dressed up as Captain America (although they’re free to do that if they want to). These artists are people that are working from their own voice.” As Smith did in creating Bone (which, this year, celebrates its 25th anniversary).

This year, CXC took over Columbus from Wednesday evening, October 12, with a preamble event, through the following Sunday.

There’s no registration. No list of attendees. (And people, including Columbus residents, come and go all weekend.) And no head count. Attendance at last year’s “soft launch” was estimated at 600-1,200.

And elsewhere, links to amuse and uplift:

Nick Gazin loves CAB.

A cookbook that is also partly a comic? Do tell…

Christoph Niemann makes fun graphics. 

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Not Feeling It http://www.tcj.com/not-feeling-it/ http://www.tcj.com/not-feeling-it/#respond Wed, 09 Nov 2016 13:00:44 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96880 Continue reading ]]> Art is and will continue to be vitally important in the days and months to come, but somehow blogging about comics feels too frivolous this morning.

Still, for those of you who need a distraction, we have published the latest episode of Greg Hunter’s Comic Book Decalogue, an interview with an upcoming comics artist named Trungles, who work is engaged with folklore, mythology, and vintage illustration, and who appears in Mirror Mirror 2. In this episode, he talks Carolyn Nowak, Harry Clarke, Watchmen, and picture books.

Links will wave to wait until tomorrow.

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No Snow, No Show http://www.tcj.com/no-snow-no-show/ http://www.tcj.com/no-snow-no-show/#respond Tue, 08 Nov 2016 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96816 Continue reading ]]> Nothing more important today than comics, right? Joe McCulloch will tell you about them.

Elsewhere, comics marches on…

Alex Dueben interviews Dash Shaw.

Fletcher Hanks is featured over at Vice.

Apparently The Saturday Evening Post still exists and has published a pretty broad overview of newspaper strips today.

And… oh boy, what a day.

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Let’s Table This http://www.tcj.com/lets-table-this/ http://www.tcj.com/lets-table-this/#respond Mon, 07 Nov 2016 13:00:06 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96784 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Tim Goodyear talks to the eccentric British cartoonist Shaky Kane.

Tim Goodyear: The Shakyverse is a real place, it transcends the comics.

Shaky Kane: I like to imagine so. There’s a certain familiarity to everything I produce. It’s sort of populated or for want of a better word, furnished by the same stylistic tropes.

The very stuff I spent my time conjuring up onto the cheap sketch pads with wax crayons in my room as a child. It’s genuinely heartfelt. It’s a sincere appropriation of something very American. Something that resonated with me and I’ve kept close to me for the best part of 60 years.

Insects, especially giant ones; do they gravitate to you?

Giant insects have always held a fascination.When I stayed up watching late night TV, while my father worked nights, the giant ant invasion movie Them! made a real impact.

I thought it was the greatest. Likewise, I was thrilled to see American troops fighting off hoards of giant insects on the Topps Mars Attacks! bubblegum cards which were reprinted in Ireland and distributed over here by a company called A&BC. Giant Insects and GIs were as synonymous as Cowboys and Insects.

Eating bugs, zebras, hamburgers, human flesh; food plays a roll in many of your comix. Do you ask your collaborators to address diet? 

Well, it certainly isn’t part of my agenda. To be honest I’ve never really given it any thought. Cowboys and Insects, certain features a lot of Big Insect feasting. But that’s what made Bug Town famous.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. For Hyperallergic, Nicole Rudick interviews Ben Jones.

NR: When I think of Christopher [Forgues]’s work, I think of pencil, but when I think of yours, I think of all the different media you’ve used, and I think of color. How do you know when you want to do something just in pencil?

BJ: I think I know why Chris does it. He lives a strict and severe existence. He’s a true believer. An analogy for Chris is that he’s in a war and he has to go into battle, so [you should] take your bulletproof vest. And he’d be like, “The bulletproof vest will slow me down and will affect my decision-making on the battlefield.” I think that’s what he’s doing with just using pencil and never erasing — he’s forcing himself in the moment to make confident decisions. You can see that in his drawings.

You have to say something very different for why I do it. I think it probably goes back to me copying Far Side comics as a kid. I did it two ways. I did it on a Macintosh SE by tracing them with a mouse, and I did it with a pencil in a sketchbook. Not to make this like a childish escapism thing about my process, but those are two tools that I think are great and I’ve stuck with them.

For The New Yorker, Sarah Larson talks to Richard McGuire, focusing primarily on his spot illustrations for the magazine.

In 2005, the artist Richard McGuire—now, perhaps, best known as the author of the lovely and powerful book “Here”—was living in Paris, working on an animated film, when he heard from one of his editors at The New Yorker. McGuire has contributed covers and illustrations to the magazine for many years. “They wrote me and said they had this idea,” McGuire said recently, at a café in the West Village, where he lives. The idea concerned spot illustrations—the cozy little drawings of, say, a fork, a chair, or a window dotted with hanging plants—tucked into long sections of text. For decades, spots had been drawn by many different artists per issue, as the cartoons are, each one doing its own thing while providing some relief for the eye. In 2005, for the eightieth-anniversary issue, “they said, ‘We want a whole issue done by one person,’ ” McGuire told me. So he began drawing some spots. “I think it was because I was working on the animated film that made me think of it as a sequence,” he said.

Michael Maslin talks to Arnold Roth about his John Updike covers.

I tell this story sometimes, like when I give talks in art schools, because people ask about those covers. We lived in Princeton then. It was a Friday evening. I had my studio in my house, naturally. The phone rang and it was woman who said, “I’m an art director with Knopf. John Updike has instructed us that he wants you to do a cover for a book that will be coming out, Bech a Book.” I was honored. We put it in action — I sent him a bunch of drawings — some of them ran on the cover flaps. About 11 years later, again — I got a call, and she said, “We have another Bech book.” [Bech Is Back] So same thing, I did the jacket. Thirteen years after that, the phone rings, the same conversation. I raced down to the kitchen where Caroline was making dinner, and said, “Hey — I have a steady gig.”

Also in Hyperallergic, Benjamin Sutton talks to Jessica Campbell about her book, Hot or Not: 20th-Century Male Artists.

One of the few rules that I set out for myself was that I could not immediately call to mind what the artist looked like. So, artists like Picasso, Warhol, and Pollock were off the table. They are too iconic, too recognizable.

There are, unfortunately, thousands of artists who needed to be cut from the book, though this means that I can spend the rest of my career working on sequels to fill in the art historical gaps. I’m hoping it will turn in to the Fast and Furious of book series.

The most recent guest on the Process Party podcast is Julia Gfrörer.

—News. The winners of the Joe Shuster Awards have been announced, including best cartoonist Jillian Tamaki.

—Reviews & Commentary. David Sipress remembers the late New Yorker cartoonist Bob Weber.

One afternoon, as we were leaving the restaurant, Bob asked me to walk a few blocks with him. He next reported something to me that I had been vaguely aware of, and more than a little bothered by—that there had been some grumbling about my drawing among the cartoonists.

“I was listening to a couple of guys say that your drawing is too awkward, or that you can’t draw, and I knew they were missing something, so I decided to find out for myself. So over the weekend I sat down and tried to draw like you. I tried and tried, and you know what? I couldn’t do it.”

This act of kindness and curiosity was pure Bob Weber, and it erased forever any anxiety I might have had about what others thought about my work.

—Misc. Photographer Greg Preston is attempting to crowdfund a book of photographs of comics and animation industry legends. Michael Dooley talks to Preston for Print.

Photographer Greg Preston is a good-natured, low-key guy. There’s an ease about him that enhances his subjects’ comfort amidst their already-familiar surroundings. It’s visible enough in The Artist Within, a handsome, generously-sized hardcover from 2007 with roughly a hundred “portraits of cartoonists, comic book artists, animators, and others,” as the book’s subtitle has it. He’s captured a broad spectrum of extraordinary talents, from Al Hirschfeld, Jules Feiffer, and Carl Barks to Jack Davis, Gahan Wilson, and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, and from Will Eisner, Neal Adams, and Frank Miller to Crumb, Spiegelman and the Hernandez Bros. The lush details and rich tones and textures of his full-bleed monochromes reward repeat visits.

Comics Enriched Their Lives! #44.

The Lone Wolf and Cub series of film adaptations are coming out on Blu-ray from Criterion soon, and they’ve posted a brief interview with the original manga writer Kazuo Koike in anticipation.

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Basic Human Concern http://www.tcj.com/basic-human-concern/ http://www.tcj.com/basic-human-concern/#respond Fri, 04 Nov 2016 12:00:16 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96787 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Keenan Keller, of The Humans and Galactic Breakdown,  interviews Benjamin Marra, whose most recent book, American Blood, is out now. Here’s a bit:

Sex is also a key component to a lot of your work and just like your use of violence, you use it to various effects from sexy renderings of the human form, to titillating hardcore pounding, to the absurdly awkward, verging on disturbing…  Is it a send-up of the genres you’re satirizing or are you trying to say more with these depictions of sex? 

Yes, it is a send-up of the way sex is handled in genre and American visual storytelling. It makes me think about the power images hold. If my work were prose and I were writing about sex I don’t think it would get the same kind of attention, but because the sex is depicted it somehow becomes more significant. I think sex is a very human act but for some reason it’s largely missing from a lot of visual stories in the U.S. In television that appears to be changing. Television is a lot more daring these days with the themes it explores. It’s obvious to state, but in many feature films graphic violence is accepted where sex is not. One theme is about the destruction of life, what tears us apart as humans. The other is about creation, feeling alive, and what we share as humans. It’s strange, but also a very human fault to be obsessed with doom rather than salvation. 

Elsewhere:

Well folks, if you’re in NYC you might be going to CAB this weekend. Here’s a preview of what awaits you.

I liked this “lost” Mothers News interview by Brian Nicholson.

The Comic Art Museum in San Francisco has a new home.

The movie version of Wilson, by Daniel Clowes, has a trailer out and it looks promising.

]]> http://www.tcj.com/basic-human-concern/feed/ 0 Get You Hence http://www.tcj.com/get-you-hence/ http://www.tcj.com/get-you-hence/#respond Thu, 03 Nov 2016 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96741 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Greg Hunter reviews a new tribute anthology, The Shirley Jackson Project, edited by TCJ’s own Rob Kirby, and featuring artists such as Eric Orner, Jon Macy, Gabrielle Gamboa, and Maggie Umber, among others.

Kirby’s tribute anthology was produced under one major constraint: Jackson’s estate holds the rights to her stories, precluding any straightforward adaptations. Many entries in the book are closer to meditations; the pieces will appeal most to existing converts, but they’re also evidence that these converts abound. Kirby, in his introduction, describes Jackson not as a horror writer—as she’s sometimes known—but as a writer interested in psychological states and psychological flux. This idea echoes throughout the anthology, especially in the autobiographical pieces (or comics that appear to be autobiographical). Several cartoonists use Jackson as a lens with which to examine fraught family dynamics and/or moments of instability in their younger years.

Eric Orner’s “Brendan in the Jungle,” possibly the best of these entries, documents a long-distance correspondence with a friend who’s beginning to self-destruct (and who’s reading a Shirley Jackson collection as he does so). Orner includes specific scenes from this collapse along with discrete, related images, while anchoring his panels with a tight grid and alternating white and gray backgrounds. On its surface, his story has less to do with Jackson than most pieces in the book, but in fewer than ten pages, “Brendan” manages to cover transitions, manners, and death—and if a reader reduced Jackson’s work to three elements, it might be these.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:


—Interviews & Profiles.
The Guardian profiles Lynda Barry.

“A parent company would buy the successful weekly papers in different towns, and the first thing they would do was kick out the cartoonists,” she says.

If saying things you shouldn’t say was what sparked Barry’s comic strip, it was likely also the thing that ended it: “For someone who had just acquired a weekly paper to have to read these really sad stories about childhood – I can understand why they would replace me with sudoku.”

Flood magazine talks to Julia Gfrörer about her new book, Laid Waste.

You’ve created a vivid picture of a medieval village and the people who populate it, but there’s plenty that’s strange here, too. How do you relate to this period of time?

It’s a fallacy to assume that our ancestors were enormously different from us, but inaccurate to imagine them being very like us, too. You sometimes get glimpses of things that are shockingly familiar—for example, an exhausted scribe noting in the corner of a manuscript page that his workday is almost over. But other things are very difficult for us to understand: it’s in vogue now to identify with historical witches and heretics, but we rarely see ourselves as the bigoted accuser.

The most recent guest on Inkstuds is Sean T. Collins.

—Misc. The cartoonist and animator Alex Fellows (Spain & Morocco) has recently lost his employment, and is selling art at very reasonable prices to help stay afloat.

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Long Days Wait http://www.tcj.com/long-days-wait/ http://www.tcj.com/long-days-wait/#respond Wed, 02 Nov 2016 12:00:46 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96766 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, I bring you my chat with Anya Davidson about all things Band for Life, as well as art and life and such topics that sprang to mind. Go out a buy everything you can by Anya. Here’s a bit from the interview:

I somehow don’t think Guntit is actually based on your own bands (or maybe….), but the member do fit some rock archetypes. Are you a reader of rock bios? If so, which is your fave?

The name Guntit is taken from a real band. Lale Westvind, Thomas Toye and Laura Perez Harris were all living in New York (Lale’s since moved to Philly) and they started a band. When I heard they were called Guntit I was like “that’s the best band name ever.” You know, the reason most of us start cartooning is we’re in grade school and we draw our teachers boning or something and our classmates think it’s hilarious so we keep at it. I wanted to make Lale, Tom and Laura chuckle, because they’re some of the coolest people on the planet, so I drew this proto Band For Life Strip and that’s how it started. But all the characters are fictional in the sense that they’re 95% me, a sprinkle of my friends and a sprinkle of observation out in the world. As far as band bios, yeah, I read Come as You Are, the Story of Nirvana when I was a kid and that was a big deal, and Confusion is Next, the Sonic Youth Story. Get in the Van, the Rollins one, is great. I read White Line Fever, by Lemmy, while I was on tour once. That’s a great one for reading in the car cause the type is huge. And Patti Smith’s memoirs. I don’t know if I have a favorite, although the Nirvana one turned me on to a lot of other music. I did very consciously set up a rivalry between Annimal, the drummer in my book, and Linda, the frontwoman. I’ve always hated the Rolling Stones, but I find the rivalry between Richards and Jagger really entertaining in a camp way. So I sprinkled some of that in. But it’s just a fact that bands have conflict. I don’t know if collaboration can exist without conflict.

Elsewhere:

Philip Guston’s masterful Nixon cartoons are going on view in NYC.

Alex Dueben interviews Paul Kirchner.

Fest news: Trendsetting festival TCAF is now working with the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival.

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[sic] http://www.tcj.com/sic/ http://www.tcj.com/sic/#comments Tue, 01 Nov 2016 12:00:02 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96671 Continue reading ]]> Joe McCulloch is here with his usual guide to the Week in Comics, highlighting the most interesting-sounding books new to stores. This week, his Halloween-appropriate spotlight picks include new titles by Julia Gfrörer and Rick Geary.

Rarely do I encounter a perfect All Souls’ Day comic, but Julia Gfrörer is a rare talent – wholly committed to a completely distinct vision and just going for it over and over again.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Dilbert creator Scott Adams talks to Michael Cavna about his Donald Trump boosterism and “Master Persuader” theories. (I so wish Kim Thompson were still here, so he and Gary could do a part II of this epic argument.)

“My speaking career ended because of this,” the Bay Area-based cartoonist said of his once-lucrative side business.

Although his book sales have stayed healthy, Adams said that many off-put readers now view “Dilbert” through more critical glasses, which has affected his licensing sales. All told, Adams said, his income has dipped precipitously.

Yet the Reuben Award-winner says he regrets none of it.

Xavier Guilbert talks to Sammy Harkham.

I mean, I’m always looking at stuff. I’m seeing stuff from Japan, I like a lot of the older comics, but with Kramers, I realize there’s a certain thing that I go for. I like work that regardless of the decade that it’s made in, feels very relevant today. So it fits in aesthetically with everything else. So — with the stuff we’ve reprinted in the past, because we’ve also did Marc Smeets. So when we reprint something, it’s important to me that for the person flipping through, it all feels cohesive, you know ? Sometimes, there’s works that I like, that I’m like — argh, I don’t think that Kramers is the right place for this. Maybe I can help get it published as its own book, or do something with it. But for Kramers, it has to hit this sort of sweet spot of a very particular kind of comic.

A Case for Pencils talks to Best American Comics series editor Bill Kartalopoulos.

In general, my job is to consider all of the comics that come to us through our open submission process and to keep my eyes open and reach out to artists and publishers to make sure we’re getting all of the work that we should be seeing and considering. I end up with countless piles of comics in many forms: graphic novels from large publishers, small hand-stapled zines self-published by artists, comics published online, and pretty much anything else you can think of. We’ll take anything as long as it’s previously published (in print or online) within the past year and is by a North American artist (which includes Canada and Mexico). I consider all of these works and select a pool of about 120 comics to send to each year’s Guest Editor, who then chooses the approximately thirty pieces that will go into the final volume.

The Hollywood Reporter talks to Frank Miller about Batman movies and his desire to create a Superman book exploring his Jewish roots.

When you tell a superhero story you tell it in broad strokes. You don’t sneak you message in. I would love to see the visuals of Superman facing a Panzer tank and the emotional release of him smashing a place like [the] Buchenwald [concentration camp].

The Arkansas International talks to NYR Comics editor Gabriel Winslow-Yost.

I do think there’s sometimes been a tendency, when non-comics publishers approach comics, to focus on books that do recognizably “serious” things: nonfiction comics on worthy subjects, and graphic novels with elaborate literary structures and characters. It’s a way of saying that hey, comics can do it too — they’re real books! And plenty of really good comics fall into those categories, including some that we’ll be doing. But I think that what’s most interesting and exciting about comics is not how they can do what prose novels or journalism already do, but that they can do things no other medium can: how they form something unique and powerful, with its own possibilities to be explored.

The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Jim Woodring.

The most recent guest on Process Party is Matt Furie.

—News. Tim Pilcher has written The Guardian’s obituary of Steve Dillon.

When asked “What do you like to draw?”, the comic artist Steve Dillon would reply: “A good story.” That retort explains why he was considered one of the best exponents of his craft, both by fans and by fellow creators. “I’m not one of these artists into drawing giant robots or soldiers or big-titted women,” he said. “Because, for me, it’s all about the story … The acting side of comics is quite important to me. The facial expressions, how they interact and all that sort of thing.”

Lynda Barry has been chosen as the University of Wisconsin’s first recipient of the Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art.

—Commentary. Christian Heymans writes about the scandalous manga of Go Nagai.

The economic development and the social and political upheavals profoundly changed the Japanese way of life and the manga industry had to adapt. The Dankai generation, the baby boomers, who constituted the main readership of the school-life themed manga in the post-war period, and who had now grown up, were receiving more pocket money or their first salaries. The moralistic stories and good-mannered heroes of their childhoods no longer suited the tastes of these teenagers and young adults. Manga publishers did not want to lose these readers whose expectations they still had to meet. Elements that were once considered taboo (sex, violence, scatology) were introduced one by one in humoristic manga as well as action and adventure stories in order to accommodate this masculine readership.

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http://www.tcj.com/96683-2/ http://www.tcj.com/96683-2/#respond Mon, 31 Oct 2016 12:00:50 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96683 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site we have Gary Groth returning to these hallowed pixels to bring us the latest drawings by Brooklyn’s own Jonah Kingstein — a pen and ink master of outrage. At age 94 he’s unleashed his powers upon Donald Trump. Gary interviewed the artist as well.

Elsewhere:

darcy-copy

This is the run-up week to not just next week’s election, but also Comic Arts Brooklyn, which this year proudly features the great Dame Darcy, as well the debuts of Charles Burns’ new book from Le Dernier Cri — a collection of 180 pages of his “Free Shit” zines, as well as Richard McGuire’s new book, Sequential Drawings. The fest itself is free and runs from 11am to 7pm at Mt. Carmel Gymnasium, 12 Havemeyer Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with several related satellite events that kick of Thursday night at Desert Island, so check out the web site for info. Tom Spurgeon interviewed Gabe Fowler about the show here.

In other fest news: Here is Connor Willumsen’s Lakes International Comics Art Festival report. 

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Father Figures http://www.tcj.com/father-figures/ http://www.tcj.com/father-figures/#comments Fri, 28 Oct 2016 12:00:51 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96622 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Rob Clough reports from this year’s meeting of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, held in Durham, North Carolina.

During the opening reception, show co-organizer J.P. Trostle said, “Wow, North Carolina is hell-bent on making this one of the most interesting and timely conventions we’ve ever had.” Trostle was referring not just to the passage of the odious anti-trans law HB2, but also to yet another victim of police violence, this time in nearby Charlotte. Indeed, there was some internal debate within the AAEC as to whether the festival should be held in Durham, given HB2, but it was decided that an organization whose purpose is to make pointed political commentary would be an ideal match for this controversy.

What interested me most about this festival was what factors went into it being considered a success. Editorial cartooning jobs have been shrinking steadily for years as newspapers fold and budgets decree that such posts are luxuries for the survivors. Of course, people have been shoveling dirt on the relevancy of political cartoons as early as the founding of the organization, and yet it continues to adapt and persevere. From the heydey of alt-weeklies in the ’80s to the movement to the web and multimedia platforms in the last few decades, editorial cartooning’s ability to provoke with a stark image is still powerful and threatening, a fact reinforced when one considers the fate of many such cartoonists around the globe.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Chelsea Cain, the Mockingbird writer who left Twitter to escape a flood of online abuse, writes about the experience on her blog.

My husband and our 11-year-old daughter were downstairs watching an episode of Buffy, and I was sitting up here in my home office, blocking some of these people, responding to some of them. Strangers, yelling at me because I wrote a comic book that they didn’t like, and because I was a woman. And I got a text from my 11-year-old daughter. “I love you,” she wrote.
And I just thought, what am I doing? Why am I up here engaging with mean strangers, who couldn’t care less about me, when the two people I love most in the world are downstairs?
I posted a comment about how I was done with Twitter. And I went downstairs.

Jeet Heer reflects on the work of Jack T. Chick, soliciting opinions from cartoonists including Kim Deitch, Sammy Harkham, Dustin Harbin, and Mary Fleener. Jeet ultimately compares Chick to Leni Riefenstahl, which seems a little overblown. Chick was undoubtedly interesting, but I don’t think his talent or influence as a cartoonist approaches Riefenstahl’s in film. Still, a good piece well worth reading.

Mary Fleener, an alternative cartoonist from San Diego, has a more personal grudge against Chick. “In the summer of 1971 I was having a mad, ‘love the one you’re with,’ affair with this guy named Jim,” Fleener wrote to me. “We’d make huge salads, and then walk all night in the hills above Malaga Cove in Palos Verdes, then come back to his house, where his parents were never home, and I’d read his Tarot cards, and we’d smoke pot, and had the best time. We really had an ‘open relationship’ with no ties, no expectations, and it was working … we were happy! Then he went to Hawaii for 3 weeks and came back a Born Again Christian, and told me we were finished, and as a parting gift, handed me a Chick tract that told the story of ‘Maria’ who was into astrology and how she was gonna burn in hell, or something like that.”

Art Spiegelman writes in The New Yorker about the painter Si Lewin.

I first met Si when he was a spirited and elfin ninety-four-year-old who still spent most of his waking hours painting—as he had since childhood. I’d stumbled onto his book “The Parade,” from 1957, while researching wordless picture stories—obscure precursors of today’s graphic novels that briefly flourished between the two World Wars. “The Parade,” obscure even by this genre’s standards, was drawn shortly after the Second World War, but was conceived while Lewen, a Polish Jewish refugee from Germany, was a member of an élite force of native German-speaking G.I.s who were in Buchenwald right after it was liberated.


—Interviews & Profiles.
Jess Nevins has dug up a 1944 interview with Lev Gleason.

Philippe Leblanc interviews Anya Davidson.

I think it’s hard to capture the energy of a musical performance on the page. One of my primary concerns as a cartoonist is to make work that’s lively and captures motion really well. Having a free flowing line is important. I don’t want my work to look stiff. So I try to draw panels with a lot of movement in them. Another way is with colour. I’m also fascinated by the power dynamics in rock and funk music. The showmanship in those genres, the costumes, the poses, are so iconic and evocative. It’s something I try to capture as well. I’ve watched so many performance of the Plasmatics, and Wendy O Williams, their front woman, is just really owning these strong images of female empowerment. Same with the funk singer Betty Davis. She’s always dressed in these outrageous futuristic sci-fi outfits and she’s this tall statuesque woman. She just looks like a goddess.

—Misc. The aforementioned Rob Clough has launched a Patreon to help support his comics reviews.

I’ve been writing comics criticism for fifteen years now, in places like Savant, The Comics Journal, Cicada, Sequart, Foxing Quarterly, Sequential Magazine and the Poopsheet Foundation. Of course, my home base for a decade has been my own High-Low site: http://highlowcomics.blogspot.com I’ve been providing criticism about comics from across the alternative/indy spectrum, including shedding light on new artists, short-run minicomics, YA comics, and of course the major releases from Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, etc. Anyone who’s been following my blog for the past six months has seen that I’ve been adding reviews five days a week.

Now I’d like to make the time and effort that goes into that work a little more sustainable.

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Car Sitting http://www.tcj.com/car-sitting/ http://www.tcj.com/car-sitting/#respond Thu, 27 Oct 2016 12:00:05 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96618 Continue reading ]]> Hi there,

Today on the site, Josselin Moneyron talks to Kuš!’s David Schilter, along with his co-editor on the recent “manga” issue, Berliac.

Josselin: The title “Gaijin Mangaka”, which has a very vague literal meaning, makes clever use of how these Japanese words have acquired a more specific meaning once extracted from their original cultural setting. Is it a term sometimes used by some of these artists to try and define their sensibility?

David: It took us a while to come up with a summarizing title, and it was a challenge to not choose something plain silly. First we even thought, we could give the artists a theme, but then we just wanted to leave the contents completely to them. At one time I came up with the idea of “Foreign Manga”. Google helped me to translate it to “Gaijin”. Berliac uses “Gaijin Gekiga” as his header on his website, so with slight adjustments we got our title. Though Berliac said “Gaijin” is often used as derogative term, so we did have some slight reservations.

Berliac: My Japanese friends explained to me that the term Gaijin was “extracted from its original cultural setting”, in which it had racist connotations, by foreigners living in Japan to refer to themselves. So, I don’t know about the other artists, but when it comes to defining my own work, I don’t have any reservations, quite the opposite, I gladly see myself as an outsider, and make it an identity factor in my own work. One of the nicest “fan mail” I’ve ever received was from Japan, from a man saying he could certainly trace Yoshiharu Tsuge’s influence in my work, but at the same time he enjoyed learning about my own cultural background and experiences. Isn’t this a bit like immigrating? I learn your visual grammar as fluently as possible, to tell you about myself, to connect, and I learn about your own culture in the process.

Elsewhere:

The writer Chelsea Cain, recently of the Marvel comic book Mockingbird, becomes the latest female creative to quit Twitter after persistent harassment.

Aidan Koch reports back from LICAF on her experience there with Comics Workbook.

Ben Katchor on Virtual Memories.

Steve Dillon remembered at Hyperallergic.

Charles Burns’ show at Galerie Martel is viewable in its entirety. I think this is all unpublished work — fascinating stuff here. It’s reaching deep into his and our history. I love it.

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Getting Even http://www.tcj.com/getting-even/ http://www.tcj.com/getting-even/#respond Wed, 26 Oct 2016 12:00:35 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96448 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, the great cartoonist Joyce Farmer remembers her late colleague, the pioneering writer and comics publisher, Lyn Chevli, who co-founded the first comic written, drawn, and published entirely by women.

When Lyn Chevli moved to California with her mother and two small children in 1961, she never looked back. She had a bachelor’s degree in art from Skidmore College, but she didn’t like to draw, preferring instead to make silver jewelry and exquisite bronze sculptures using her beloved welding torch. With her then-husband, Dennis Madison, she started the renowned bookstore/art gallery, Fahrenheit 451, in Dana Point, California, then moved the business to Laguna Beach in 1968. The store carried a mix of new-age literature, including early underground comix.

Lyn became disturbed by the clever but bizarre and androcentric stories in the early undergrounds, especially Zap Comix, and decided to produce a feminist comic book that would match the Zaps in anarchic content, but from a woman’s point of view.

After selling the bookstore in 1972, she enlisted the help of another local artist — me — and together we set out to “get even.” Abandoning our first impulse to slice and separate body parts from our male cartoon subjects, we created antic stories and illustrations based on our own experiences of menstruation, birth control, chin hair, motherhood, lack of privacy, and society’s skewed attitudes toward all women of that era. Both of us had been involved in birth control and pregnancy counseling for the Laguna Beach Free Clinic for several years, and that experience informed our work, bringing forth a sense of empowerment and a sex-positive atmosphere for women, though we didn’t quite understand what we were doing at the time.

Joe McCulloch is back today with his usual guide to the Week in Comics, exploring all the best-sounding releases new to stores. His spotlight picks this week include new books by Moebius and Ronald Wimberly.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Misc. Drew Friedman shares an excerpt from his book, More Heroes of the Comics: a short biography of Orrin C. Evans, the publisher of All-Negro Comics.

In the early ’30s, he landed a job as a general assignment reporter, for the 100-percent-white-staffed Philadelphia Record. Evans was not always readily accepted as a journalist. Meeting with re- porters after his son was kidnapped in 1932, Charles Lindbergh refused to start the press conference until Evans was removed from the room. Evans’ wartime exposé of racial segregation in the Armed Forces resulted in death threats.

Will Forte writes about how he got his start by drawing cartoons.

I sent them to a college buddy of mine (Matt Rice) who had recently become a literary agent. He started sending them around to people. One of these people was a manager (Julie Darmody) who showed them to a producer (Joel Gallen). And the next thing I knew, I had my first professional writing job for the Jenny McCarthy sketch show on MTV. Once that show was over, the cartoons got me my second writing job at The Late Show with David Letterman. To this day, one of the most exciting things I’ve ever heard was that my hero, David Letterman, had seen and liked my dumb little cartoon book. And just like that, I was a working writer and it was all because of the cartoons.

—A/V. On the third episode of Process Party, Mike Dawson and Zack Soto talk to Derf.

The latest RIYL features an interview with Tom Tomorrow.

If you enjoyed Joe McCulloch’s obituary of Jack T. Chick yesterday, you might want to listen to this 2013 podcast he recorded about the same artist.

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Comics in zer Deutsch? http://www.tcj.com/comics-in-zer-deutsch/ http://www.tcj.com/comics-in-zer-deutsch/#comments Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:01:45 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96451 Continue reading ]]> I’m back from the Frankfurt Book Fair. There are still books, don’t worry. I saw Joost Swarte from afar, but that was as close as I got to comics, really.

Today on the site:

Jack Chick, the mystery man of religious tracts, has passed away. Joe McCulloch has written our obituary.

Joe has also written about the artist extensively here and here and here and here!

The best long form take on Chick (and one of the best texts about comics, period) is by Daniel Raeburn. He’s kindly posted a PDF here.

And more:

Garth Ennis pays tribute to his late collaborator Steve Dillon. 

Chris Mautner writes eloquently about Ta-Nehisi Coates’ current run on Black Panther.

Also, The Economist discusses comics journalism.

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