Blog – The Comics Journal http://www.tcj.com Fri, 02 Dec 2016 13:00:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.1 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 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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Archie’s Black Book http://www.tcj.com/archies-black-book/ http://www.tcj.com/archies-black-book/#respond Mon, 24 Oct 2016 16:00:30 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96442 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, we are posting the Comics Journal’s 1992 interview with the late, great Jack Davis, conducted by Lee Wochner.

WOCHNER: If I shoot some names at you, maybe you can give me some profiles about what you remember of them. Bill Gaines…

DAVIS: Bill was always just a very generous person. He was a big guy. I think he’s kind of shy, but he’s his own man. He’s full of a lot of love for people. He’s just a very giving person, and he’s a good businessman, and I respect him an awful lot. If it hadn’t been for him, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now. I might be somewhere else, of course, but I like where I am now and I owe it all to Bill. There’s a certain chemistry we all had with the horror bit. He enjoyed the horror bit, he enjoys his humor, and he enjoys having a good time… and it’s a family thing. I think that when people come in from the outside, be it a writer or an artist, it’s pretty much a compliment because he’s the one who says, “OK, bring him.”

WOCHNER: Al Feldstein…

DAVIS: Al is the guy who gave me my first job and I think he’s a very good editor. He makes sure that everything runs right, that deadlines are met, and he’s put me on the carpet quite a few times for being late, and I’ve never had that from anyone else. I’ll be late sometimes, but Al really used to chew me out, and I needed it. I think, also, he was a genuinely good man, but he was concerned about MAD and running everything right, and he did it that way, and expected in return that you do a good job and not lay back. Every time I’d bring something in, he’d say, “Well, you didn’t knock yourself out on this,” and I didn’t — sometimes I would, and that would make me mad, but that’s an editor, and that’s his job.

Rob Clough is here today too, with a review of Peter Kuper’s Ruins.

In many respects, Ruins is a fictionalization and recapitulation of Peter Kuper’s 2010 book Diario de Oaxaca, which was a highly elaborate sketchbook diary of his time living in Mexico around 2006. Oaxaca is well known as a tourist center that draws in a lot of ex-pats because of its unique charms and focus on the arts. Cartoonists like Steve Lafler and Carrie McNinch have also spent time living there. During Kuper’s tenure, Oaxaca’s annual teacher’s strike for higher wages turned into a brutal military crackdown, and Kuper captured that with his drawings. He also became fascinated by the insect life he observed and was interested in capturing all aspects of living in the town without romanticizing them. Still, his love of Oaxaca despite (and mostly because of) its quirks was obvious when reading the book. Kuper is one of the founders of the politically charged anthology World War III Illustrated, and awareness of the social justice ramifications of what he saw came naturally to him. That said, it was surprising to see that both in his diary and in the fictionalized Ruins, he never examines his own role as an ex-pat and what effect he had had on Oaxaca, be it positive or negative.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Steve Dillon, the British artist who co-created Preacher, has passed away at the age of 54, reportedly due to a rupture appendix.

Mr. Dillon was a legend among comic-book fans and considered a master of his craft by colleagues. Known for a deeply expressive, often humorous style that leapt off the page, he created characters that could communicate volumes with a single expression.

His “pages were as fluid as camerawork, as efficient and composed as theater,” the novelist and comic-book writer Warren Ellis, a fan of Mr. Dillon’s work, said in an interview. “Everything breathed.”

—For Paste, Shea Hennum interviews Anya Davidson.

I don’t think I’ve seen many people talking about purposefully choosing certain coloring methods. How do you make that decision about what’s best for the project?

I think most sane people stick with one coloring method. I’m always wanting to experiment. But I just feel it out. I have a vibe in mind that I want to convey. Like my book Lovers in the Garden is set in ‘70s New York, and it’s kind of a novella, so I thought that would be a good project to try a combination of different types of markers and colored pencils. It has kind of a gritty vibe, and it’s shorter and the original pages are smaller, so I had the luxury of going all out on the hand coloring. If I want something to look slicker, I color it digitally. I’m still working it all out. I probably always will be.

—The film critic David Bordwell writes at length about Archie comics, prompted by a recent reading of Bart Beaty’s Twelve Cent Archie.

Hergé liked to keep his scene’s space clear and consistent, modifying it slightly with “cut-ins” and “pans.” [Harry] Lucey, like other American comics artists, freely changes angle and even character arrangement to create variety and to point up dialogue. In one pair of panels, the change of angle is bold, slicing off half of Archie’s face to give greater emphasis to Betty’s angry arm-thrust and Ronnie’s reaction on the far right.

—Dash Shaw:

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Meatballs and Beer http://www.tcj.com/meatballs-and-beer/ http://www.tcj.com/meatballs-and-beer/#respond Fri, 21 Oct 2016 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96404 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Alex Dueben catches up with Sophie Campbell.

Do you have an ending in mind for Wet Moon?

It keeps changing! I was going to do one certain ending, but then I wanted these two particular characters to stay together instead of breaking up and so I’m overhauling Volume 7 and scrapping all this stuff that I drew before. Because of all that, now the original ending I had doesn’t work anymore. Maybe eight or nine will be the last book? I thought I might periodically come back and do a short Wet Moon story here and there, that would be really fun. Just short little fun stories about whatever characters I felt like working on at that particular time. One thing I’ve been joking about for years is Wet Moon 2099. I could end the current series at Book 8 or 9 and come back a few years from now and do Wet Moon 2099. [laughs]

And today also marks the long-awaited return to TCJ of Ng Suat Tong, whose review of the new ABC News/Marvel collaboration, “Madaya Mom”, is as provocative as his writing always is.

The joke goes that the difference between consumers in authoritarian states like China and those in the U.S. is that readers in America sometimes like to believe that they are getting impartial truth from the likes of The New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC, or The Guardian. The Chinese have no choice but to believe that it’s all excrement. But that’s only because the Chinese government is so abysmal at this game. It took years for their state-owned conglomerates to figure out that they even needed to talk to the press, much less shape its message.

When Marvel-Disney contributes a free war comic to an American audience you can be sure that the propaganda is safe, conservative, and in line with the inclinations of the powers that be.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Forbes talks to manga editor and publisher Kazuhiko Torishima.

After all this study and analysis, Torishima had a very important revelation about manga itself, as he explains, “Once I’d read a lot of manga I came to realize that there are two main types, the first is easy to read and the other is hard to read. To explain, when it’s easy to read the pages just flow through your fingers. When it’s harder, you have to go back a few pages to check what was happening. As such, I discarded all the manga I thought that fell into the second, harder to read, category. This only left the easy to read manga and the best one was Ore wa Teppei by Tetsuya Chiba.”

Comics Alliance talks to Kyle Baker.

I started my career designing books for Milton Glaser’s studio. We did educational books for Barron’s. I had also done some newspaper advertising for the Columbia Record club. In the advertising and book publishing business, we always employed the latest technologies, whether it was photostat machines, typesetting machines, Pantone film, art projectors, Airbrush machines or computers.

Now I use the same technology that is standard in the world of commercial graphics. I use 3D, motion capture, desktop publishing, inkjet printing — and anything else that helps me do better work. Most entertainment is distributed electronically, whether via TV, web, or phone, so it just makes sense to create the work that is most compatible with the delivery system.

An excellent Vulture interview with Jonathan Lethem about his new novel includes some interesting exchanges on comics.

Since you’re interested, Professor Lethem will now continue the lecture: I have a very strong belief that superhero movies have nothing to do with comic books. And that this is the case at a deep formal and structural level. What makes a page of a comic book a deep and mysterious artifact is the stillness and the blank space between the panels, the gutters as they’re called. Comics have an extremely baroque relationship to the idea of time, because a page is a series of static moments that have to be activated by the reader in the blank space between the panels. And it’s really in the blank space, in those gutters, where the action is. That’s where the mind is going.

On Radio Times, Marty Moss-Coane talks to Edward Sorel and Jules Feiffer.

—Commentary. For Comics Workbook, Sacha Mardou reports from this year’s CXC.

I get in on Thursday night and head to the President’s Reception feeling very wallflowerish as I know literally no one except through Facebook and Instagram. First off I meet Tom Spurgeon (finally!), Jeff Bone and his lovely wife Vijaya, Caitlyn McGurk, and Robin the Inkstud. I nervously nurse my wine and then I am rescued by Sergio Aragonés, who sits next to me with a plate of meatballs and a beer. I’m a vegan but I don’t even care about the meatballs! It’s Sergio Aragonés and I proceed to fannishly monopolize him for the next hour. Sergio! I’ve loved his comics in Mad Magazine since I was eight years old.


—Misc.
Filmmaker Frank Henenlotter has launched a Kickstarter to fund a new documentary about Mike Diana.

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Long Straight Path http://www.tcj.com/long-straight-path/ http://www.tcj.com/long-straight-path/#respond Thu, 20 Oct 2016 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96388 Continue reading ]]> Today, we are happy to republish Ken Parille’s 2014 essay on Abner Dean, with a new introduction.

I can rarely remember where I was when I discovered any of my favorite cartoonists. But Abner Dean is different. On a summer afternoon in Charlottesville, Virginia, I went to a used bookstore near the University and headed, as always, straight to the cartoon/humor section. An oversized book’s black hardcover spine sporting the title Abner Dean’s Naked People stuck out from a shelf filled with beat-up paperbacks and small hardcovers with torn dust jackets. (It’d be cheesy to say that the book was “calling” to me, though that’s how it felt, or at least how I remember it). Opening the volume, I was instantly amazed — and puzzled. The drawings employed an elegant style I’d seen in pre- and post-WWII American magazines, but everything appeared strangely skewed, with nude yet de-sexualized characters, washed-out black and gray dystopian settings, and cryptic captions. The work radiated a peculiar aura, blending funny and sad with smart, provocative, and (oddly) inspirational. I quickly paid the seven dollar price penciled inside, left the store, and read it on the walk home.

Rob Kirby is also here, with a review of Walter Scott’s artworld satire, Wendy’s Revenge.

Walter Scott’s first book, Wendy (2014, Koyama Press), was an out-of-left-field surprise. Having never encountered the series before, I was delighted by Scott’s razor-sharp satire of the twenty-something art-hipster milieu, and the layers of truth and emotion that rise in bas-relief from the often absurd shenanigans of his artist heroine and her friends. For most of them, life consists of stumbling through a myriad of roommate-swaps, relationship drama, spur-of-the-moment hook-ups, grant-chasing, and professional jealousy, all interspersed with partying—lots of partying. “My life is a mess, like always,” Wendy says. The humor and poignancy of the story is that Wendy’s messes are generally self-inflicted.

Wendy’s Revenge expands upon the saga and heightens the absurdity of our heroine’s adventures. As the book opens, Wendy moves briefly to Vancouver, where she takes part in a group show (this goes badly), goes to see a psychic, nabs a residency in Yokohama, and later travels to LA to attend a gallery opening and indulge in some stressful intrigue with some shady art people. Through it all, we are privy to her hopes, her dreams, and her ever-present anxieties. She truly suffers for her art, even if we don’t see her make any. Wendy spends so much of her time living The Artist’s Life that she doesn’t really have a lot of time to actually do art. At one point in the story, an acquaintance asks Wendy exactly what kind of art she creates. Wendy’s reply: “Uh—it’s a secret.”


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

Henry Jenkins interviews comics scholar Bart Beaty.

Some have worried that a core canon (Spiegelman, Ware, Bechdel, Satrapi, Gaiman, Crumb, Moore, Sacco) has emerged in comics studies prematurely — that too much of the early writing defining the field circles around a small number of writers and works and as a consequence, we are constraining our methodologies and theories to reflect that limited sample. Would you agree?

This is the subject of so much of what Benjamin Woo and I wrote about in our book The Greatest Comic Book of All Time!, and I absolutely do agree. In our first chapter we attempted to put some data behind what seems to be a pretty common understanding about comics studies: that it has been thoroughly concerned with a small handful of creators and works published over the past thirty years. In the book we surveyed the field of scholarly publishing on comics in order to demonstrate just how narrow the work being done can be. What we found is that comics studies is disproportionately concerned with a very small handful of creators and texts in comparison to cognate fields. So, yes, I absolutely agree with that.

The Guardian talks to Dash Shaw about his new movie.

The whole film looks like your work. How much of it did you draw?

That’s a good question and it’s hard to answer. There are other people involved – Jane Samborski is the lead animator on it. For some sequences she’d pencil the figures and I would ink. For others, maybe it’s all my drawings but she’s compiled it into aftereffects. So it’s a lot of my drawings. I storyboarded the whole movie, and so there are kind of indications of how the whole thing would look. It was kind of a collage – replacing temporary elements with better elements and adding more elements. I can’t really give you a percentage.

Crockett Johnson biographer Philip Nel explains How to Read Harold.

Thanks to the stylistic consistency of Johnson’s clear line, Harold and his artwork all inhabit the same reality. Their shared aesthetic allows Johnson to convince us that, for example, oscillating between two and three dimensions is perfectly normal. Or, at least, this oscillation — which begins at the moment when Harold draws the path — convinces most people. It puzzled both of Johnson’s editors. Looking at Johnson’s dummy, his editor Ursula Nordstrom said, “I found myself asking such dumb questions — like where did he draw the moon and the path and the tree?” First among a list of “The parts I am not too sure of,” Harper reader Ann Powers also named “the pathway at the beginning (too strange?).” It may be strange, but when Harold is standing in an empty void, it also makes sense for him to draw a “long straight path.” It’s practical. It anchors him. It also creates the illusion of three dimensions in what has — up to this point — been a two-dimensional space. Unlike most pre-schoolers, Harold understands the vanishing point.

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R for Rocket http://www.tcj.com/r-for-rocket/ http://www.tcj.com/r-for-rocket/#respond Wed, 19 Oct 2016 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96353 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Kevin Huizenga interviews the inimitable Ben Katchor.

I’ve heard you are running a good comics department over there at Parsons. How is that going?

We teach comics and animation within the Illustration program at Parsons. A student can minor in Comics and Graphic Narrative. We have many people on our faculty who work with text and image: Matthew Thurber, Bob Sikoryak, Lauren Redniss, Nora Krug, Steven Guarnaccia, Mark Newgarden, Josh Bayer, Henrik Drescher, Lale Westvind, Neill Swaab, James Romberger and some interesting animators: Ted Wiggins, Ana Mouyis, Motomichi Nakamura, Gary Leib and others. We’d like students to think of themselves as artist/authors working on self-initiated projects.

Parsons is unionized, right? 

Only the part-time faculty are unionized at Parsons (SEIU); the full-time faculty are considered part of the administration and are not unionized. The part-time faculty union contract forbids them from striking. 


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

For Print, Michael Dooley talks to four artists participating in a tribute exhibition to Osamu Tezuka, currently showing at Gallery Nucleus in Los Angeles.

Michael Dooley: How did this exhibition originate?

Chogrin: Osamu Tezuka’s artwork is one of the biggest influences in my art style and work ethic. Any time I do an interview I always cite Tezuka. Tezuka was very prolific and kept working until his last breath. I think that says a lot about somebody, and it is amazing how much of a legacy he’s left behind. His art style has a very innocent aura, while his storylines are sometimes very grounded by the realities of life, which I think is a rare combination. He was never afraid to explore new themes and subject matters. Really a true artist that the world will talk about, analyze, and pay tribute to for centuries to come.

For Thrillist, Sean T. Collins reveals the 33 books he thinks are the best graphic novels of all time. It’s a strong, obviously personal list that will provoke plenty of argument, and doesn’t lean on too many of the usual suspects. Phoebe Gloeckner makes the list twice.

A work of such profound empathy that it almost feels like a hole in the world, [Carol Swain’s] Gast is a gentle yet ultimately unforgiving look at the ways in which the world can break down those who cannot quite bring themselves to fit in. It follows an 11-year-old girl named Helen on a trip to the Welsh countryside, during which she discovers she can talk with the wild and domesticated animals that populate its rolling landscape — all of whom speak to her of the death of a “rare bird” who lived near by. This turns out to be a farmer named Emrys, whose gender dysphoria (he wore women’s clothing and ostentatiously dyed his hair, but kept to himself out of fear of reprisal and continued to identify as male) and failing fortunes led him to suicide. Gast functions like a murder mystery with no real killer and no real victim; the investigation itself is the point, as Helen learns about this sad and secretly much-loved person’s life, and about life and death themselves in the process. Swain’s soft charcoal artwork, the unusual and descriptive angles of her drawings, and her willingness to take things slowly make for an utterly unique reading experience.

Bob Heer looks back at Dylan in the comics.

When I first read WATCHMEN, I thought the most unrealistic thing was that Bob Dylan licensed one of his most iconic protest songs to a perfume company. But then, decades later, Dylan licensed that very song for a bank commercial. And then he appeared in a lingerie ad with another of his songs. And I think the song even appears in the movie which shares a name with the book.

Alan Moore does, indeed, know the score.

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Popo http://www.tcj.com/popo/ http://www.tcj.com/popo/#respond Tue, 18 Oct 2016 12:00:21 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96299 Continue reading ]]> Joe McCulloch is here as usual with his guide to the best-sounding releases new to comics stores this week, and his highlight picks this time include books by Los Bros Hernandez and Al Columbia. He also writes at length about a Finnish comic he picked up at SPX.

I was not familiar with [Anna] Sailamaa prior to this, but something about the book compelled me to pick it up entirely on a whim. Perhaps the winding, sinister title lettering reminded me a bit of Julia Gfrörer — you don’t see very many comics reminiscent of hers — though Sailamaa works in a much more removed, rather formalistic approach. The book is split into three parts (“Cleanliness”, “The Wound”, “The Clean-up”), each covering a portion of one day in the lives of young girls who live in a highly metaphorical group home environment, seemingly devoid of adult supervision. Text introductions to each section describe the characteristics of the house in great detail, both its physicality and the eternity of the space which it occupies – nothing truly changes in this place. Observational drawings of stones, water and plants accompany these preludes, as if from a science textbook, and Sailamaa maintains this aloof and observational stance as the sections play out. “Cleanliness” begins with the faces of every girl sleeping, in full splashes and four-panel grids. As they away the perspective shifts between extreme closeups of parts of their bodies, especially their hands, and side-profile images of their faces, to which most of the dialogue is attached.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Liza Donnelly.

—News. The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar has been barred by police from leaving the country, a decision the artist has vowed to fight.

Even though I am facing nine charges under the Sedition Act, I am still not convicted since my case shall only start on the 22nd of November this year. This clearly shows gross abuse of power and blatant violation of human rights by these individuals.

Matt Furie is teaming up with the ADL to help reclaim Pepe the Frog from hate groups.

The [ADL} announced on Friday an experiment to try and reform the image, working with its creator, Matt Furie, who will create “a series of positive Pepe memes and messages” to be promoted on social media with the hashtag #SavePepe.

The winner of this year’s Emerging Artist award at CXC was Kevin Czap.


—Reviews & Commentary.
John Adcock and Huib van Ostal disagree as to whether or not A.B. Frost is responsible for some illustrations.

I’m quite sure now that all of the illustrations on all eight pages are the work of one cartoonist, probably A.B. Frost. Co-editor Huib van Opstal disagrees and believes they are simply clumsy copies, “in no way are these pen and ink drawings ever made by A.B. Frost himself.”

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Thanks, Tone! http://www.tcj.com/thanks-tone/ http://www.tcj.com/thanks-tone/#respond Mon, 17 Oct 2016 12:00:02 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96259 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Aug Stone interviews the Dutch comics legend Joost Swarte, who is launching his first magazine in 40 years at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

AUG STONE: Where did the idea for Scratches come from?

JOOST SWARTE: Well… (laughs) I must dig in my memories. I always have liked the idea of doing a magazine again. I started Modern Papier when I was 22. It was my first magazine, a small underground publication. We did a print run of about 1000-1500. Artist friends joined in, Peter Pontiac and people from the Dutch underground who were involved with the magazine Tante Leny Presenteert. And then in 1973 there was a publisher who wanted to reach a younger audience so I proposed to make Cocktail Comics, a magazine presenting the new generation of Dutch comics artists. It wasn’t too much of a commercial success although all the artists were paid a professional rate and that was already far better than with the smaller underground publications. And we had the same freedom as with the underground publications, so that was quite good. But then I got a lot of attention from friends and publishers to publish my work so I left the whole magazine idea aside. Until two years ago, when the new publishing house Scratch was founded in Amsterdam and they asked me to be an advisor.

At about the same time I heard of the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is the biggest in the world. The guests of honour at their 2016 Fair are the Low Countries, Holland and the Belgians, with whom we share our language. And I thought it’s a good idea to not only present the literature of our countries at the Book Fair but also the comics. So I started to talk with people from the literary funds in Holland and in Flanders. And they got interested and supported this idea. That was the start of the magazine. It’s intended to give an international podium to Dutch and Flemish comics artists. We’re doing it in English with the hope that they will also have future publishers abroad.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles.
The NPR Illustration blog talks to Daniel Clowes.

LA: Your new book Patience deals with time travel as a way to fix your life. If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give 20 year old Daniel? Would you change anything?

DC: I thought about that a lot working on this book because this book really is about the dialogue between the older version of a person and the younger innocent naive version of that person. But I don’t know, I think things sort of fell into place in this miraculous way in my life, so I would hate to upset that. And anyway I would hate to say, “Don’t do that, that’s stupid!” because that might have been the fulcrum that everything hinged on that allowed me to be still drawing comics at 55 years old.

I just remember what an awful person I was, and everybody is, when they’re in their early twenties. They just don’t know how self focused they are. Maybe it’s just because I’m reflecting on how I was at that age, but I was so incredibly living in my own head, completely unaware of how much of an effect I have on other people. It was just all about my own tortured soul at that young age, and it’s hard to look back on your early work and not see that and think, “Oh come on man, get over that.”

For The New Yorker, Sarah Larson talks to Ward Sutton about the new collection from The Onion‘s great political cartoonist, Stan Kelly.

Articles have been written about how it’s hard to tell whether the Kelly cartoons are a parody or not. “There are people who take it at face value, even though it’s in the Onion, which always surprises me,” Sutton told me. “On Facebook, someone posted a Kelly cartoon that was saying that vegetarians were the inhumane ones, because they were stabbing cattle farmers in the back,” he said. “People were just indignant about it.”


—Reviews & Commentary.
For Time, Matt Furie writes about his attempt to reclaim Pepe.

I have a stack of Pepe fan art sent to me by school children. Moms write me to say how much their kid loves Pepe. Kids write me to ask how his name is pronounced (Peep? Pee-pee? Pep-pay?). As the copyright owner, I was licensing a bunch of things like indie video games, card games; making official clothes, a plush toy; and I was excited by my plans for the future. I was thinking, Memes rule!

—Misc. I always forget Chris Ware’s Heavy Metal days.

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Record Holding http://www.tcj.com/record-holding/ http://www.tcj.com/record-holding/#respond Fri, 14 Oct 2016 12:00:50 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96249 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site:

R.C. Harvey on Al Smith, of Mutt and Jeff anonymity:

Smith, like Jones, is a name so plentiful in English-speaking countries that it achieves virtual invisibility and thereby anonymity. And the only Al Smith who ever broke free of the amorphous mob of Smiths is the one that was a picturesque governor of New York: he attracted enough notice that he was able to run for President of the U.S. against Herbert Hoover in 1928 and lost because he was Catholic, voters of the day being provincial enough to believe that if a Catholic was in the White House, the Pope would be running the country.

Our Al Smith, the nearly unknown cartooning one, wasn’t even a Smith at first: he was born March 2, 1902 as Albert Schmidt in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Henry Schmidt and Josephine Dice. Eventually, he “Americanized” his name to Smith. We don’t know when he did this, but it was done by the time he was signing one of the most famous comic strips in the history of the medium, 52 years after he was born. He continued signing Mutt and Jeff  for 27 more years before retiring. By then, Al Smith had been producing the same daily comic strip for almost 50 years, at the time, a world record.

Supplying autobiographical information for the membership “album” of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) in 1960, Smith wrote: “Born in Brooklyn, I became an orphan at age four. My boyhood was like an Horatio Alger story. Shoeshine boy after school, made 60 cents a week. Quit that to become butcherboy at $1 a week. Loved to draw and make people laugh. Could not afford lessons. Loved vaudeville. Might have tried acting career if I hadn’t married. … I was too young for the First World War and too old for the Second.”

Elsewhere:

It’s a big weekend for comics festivals:

Cartoon Crossroads Columbus has begun… get your details over here. And The Lakes International Comics Festival is on now.

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It Pays to Rent http://www.tcj.com/it-pays-to-rent/ http://www.tcj.com/it-pays-to-rent/#respond Thu, 13 Oct 2016 12:00:12 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96139 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Chris Mautner reviews the latest Fuzz & Pluck book from Ted Stearn, The Moolah Tree.

The world of Fuzz and Pluck is populated with deluded and frustrated characters and abounds in disturbing dreams and odd transformations. At one point in their quest to locate the tree, Fuzz and Pluck come across a swarm of angry bees, which ends with Fuzz covered in mud and Pluck swollen to twice his size in stings. There’s a frightening dream sequence early on where Pluck cuts off his legs in an attempt to make bait for fish and then Fuzz is torn by two stray threads asunder, until nothing is left of him but two eyeballs.

That Fuzz would have such an unsettling nightmare should should not be surprising to those who have read their previous adventures. Both Fuzz and Pluck and >Fuzz and Pluck: Splitsville had an element of horror to them, however slight. Think of their initial appearance with the cheesecake character that everyone ends up devouring. Or the creepy half-grapefruit villain in Splitsville. Or the little girl’s toys that tear off a duck’s wings in order to attach them to Fuzz (also from Splitsville).


Meanwhile, elsewhere:


—Interviews & Profiles.
Sam Thielman at The Guardian speaks to Ben Katchor.

I was looking at 17th-century draftspeople and not comics. [Nicolas] Poussin, and Rembrandt, and the whole other world of anything but commercial art. I grew up reading comics, but then I discovered a whole other world of picture-making. They didn’t all make comics, but they made heavily narrative pictures. Poussin was a philosopher-painter, he wasn’t just a painter, so there was a big literary angle to these images. So I looked at that. That’s what was always interesting work.

You can’t keep recycling what’s happening. The critique was that I didn’t like how most comics were drawn and I had to draw differently than they did. If you don’t have a critique of what you’re doing, you may as well not do it. Just go on and be an apprentice to somebody and do what they do. That’s a pretty deadly direction to go in. Robert Crumb was looking at Albrecht Dürer, and looking at Doré and these incredible draftsmen of the 19th century. He was looking at early newspaper comics.

The AV Club talks to Ed Brubaker about his comics and his work on the new HBO show, Westworld.

When I first came here, I had done a couple TV pilots, and a friend of mine wanted to leave comics and come work in Hollywood, and I said, “Well, you’ve got to understand that when you sell a TV pilot, imagine if you turned in the best issue of Batman ever, and DC was like, ‘Well we love this, but we can’t publish it because we have to publish this other thing by this other person.’ There’s always room for a great issue of Batman at DC Comics, but networks have a limited amount of shows they can put on. You could do a pilot that is everyone’s favorite pilot at the network and they all say, “Yeah, but who’s going to watch this?” They’re not just judging shows on, “Is this good?” They’re judging it based on how many people will want to see this in our estimation. The odds are really long on getting anything made, so if you come from comics and you’re still making a living in comics, that really helps because you’re not desperate for someone’s permission to write for a living.

Mike Dawson has put TCJ Talkies into hibernation and started a new podcast with fellow cartoonist Zack Soto called Process Party. The guest on the first episode is Vanessa Davis.

The RIYL podcast’s latest guest is Dash Shaw.

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Institutionalized http://www.tcj.com/institutionalized/ http://www.tcj.com/institutionalized/#respond Wed, 12 Oct 2016 12:00:19 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96155 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site:

We are lucky to have Ron Rege interview Dame Darcy on the occasion of her essential new book, Meat Cake Bible. It’s a doozy.

Rege: This is not a graphic novel by any means. You’re a cartoonist from the pre-graphic novel era, which isn’t that long ago.

Darcy: Yeah, and all the kids do this manga thing now. Everyone does anime and this anime style. It’s fine, especially in my genre, Gothic Lolita. It’s all this anime goth. I’m Gothic Lolita too, but I have nothing to do with anime. All the millennials are super into anime and they need to expand on that, you know. 

Rege: I think eventually they’ll absorb it and do it in their own style or something like that.

Darcy: I hope so because I’m kind of getting sick of it. You know, you’re drawing really great, but you’re drawing just like anime. Come up with your own thing guys! I’m going to do a skill share video series teaching how to self-publish and do your own comics, and coming up with your own style is the main part of it! [laughter]. You’re not learning anything if you do that. You gotta go into your soul and come up with your own look!

I taught sequential art at the School of Visual Arts, and I’ve done lectures with PNCA and SCAD and Columbia and stuff like that, and one off things at public schools. I’ll volunteer. I did a little comics course for kids in the inner city schools in LA. I did it here for summer camp in Savannah. I’m all about it. One of the first things I say is, ‘Okay what’s you’re spirit animal? What’s your favourite stuff? What’s your favourite colour? What’s your favourite food? Combine it all in to a character, that’s where you’re going to get your style!’

Rege: That’s cool.

Darcy: Yeah, they come up with the cutest, hilarious stuff. I just love teaching people how to tap into their pathos. That’s what it’s really about. Just inspiring people with your work to be themselves, and to tap into their pathos. Like, be yourself so brazenly!

I love how when Obama became president he was like ‘yeah, I know there’s never been a black president before, but my reality and my confidence is so strong that I changed reality. I made it so there was a black president even though there’d never been one. In my world there could be one, and so now there is.’ I love that! That’s the key to manifestation and magic. Just alter reality so that it becomes your reality!

Rege: Oh my god.

Darcy: Seriously. I wanna be as big as Snoopy or as mainstream as Hello Kitty or some shit. Really I do.

Elsewhere:

Monday night I attended Dash Shaw’s NYC premier of My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea, which I absolutely loved. It’s beautiful to look at, funny, and suspenseful. I was blown away, really. There are visual effects in there that I’ve just never seen before. If it’s playing anywhere near you, go see it.

I also wanted to mention, since I’ve gotten a few emails asking about it, that all the installation photos from the Ben Jones exhibition at The Hole are now online. Ben’s new show was fascinating because it was a rare instance of a cartoonist making comics that function as narrative drawing in a contemporary gallery space. These are not enlarged images (e.g. Shrigley), murals, or groups of drawings (Pettibon), but rather straightforward canvases that take a new approach to the comic medium. The show consists of oil stick-on canvas 3 by 3 foot cartoon panels assembled into narrative blocks (or 6 by 9 foot “pages”). They manage to feel as intimate as his notebook-sized comic strips and yet take on a new, somewhat ominous meaning — their dumb subject and large size a visual equivalent to, say, the comedy of Eric Andre or Will Ferrell. On a technical level, the work functions because his line is distinctly warm, his cartoon forms basic, and his sense of space and scale adaptable to large spaces. 

There’s a strange and digressive history of how comic art has been shown in museums and galleries (this is leaving aside cartoonish art, like Peter Saul). Usually a cartoonist like Clowes or Barry or Crumb exhibits the original drawings for their publications. Every so often (particularly in the 1940s and 50s) a cartoonist will make paintings or, in the case of a young artist like Aidan Koch, sculpture.

But mostly it’s original pages on a wall. Even Jim Shaw generally shows his “dream” comic book pages as if they were made for publication. And of course there’s the legacy of Pop: It’s rote by now to discuss Roy Lichtenstein’s use of comic book panels as material for paintings. Less well known is that contemporaneous cartoonists, notably Al Capp (Li’l Abner) made “pop art” prints of their own work, complete with enlarged ben-day dots and the like, as if to compete with the men they considered “thieves”: Lichtenstein, Mel Ramos, Erro, et al. And younger contemporary artists have toyed with the comic strip as a source for material, like Jayson Musson, who exhibited his own versions of Nancy-cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller’s renditions of modern art, circa mid-20th century. 

That’s all. Just a few thoughts on this great show.

Still more:

Speaking of art and comics, here’s a full look at the Mould Map show.

BK Munn sketches out a history of the Cartoonist’s Guild, which I hope he expands on.

I always like to link to Leslie Stein’s latest.

I may have posted this many years ago, but I ran across it again. The classic live cartoon/art film, Fat Feet.

Here’s Jim Rugg over at Clocktower radio.

It looks like SPX has posted quite a few videos from last month’s programming.

Here’s Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez interviewed by Bill Boichel:

 

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Gathered from Coincidence http://www.tcj.com/gathered-by-coincidence/ http://www.tcj.com/gathered-by-coincidence/#respond Tue, 11 Oct 2016 12:00:16 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96058 Continue reading ]]> This weekend marks the second annual Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, and festival director (and Comics Reporter editor) Tom Spurgeon talked to me about what people can expect at this year’s show, about the process of putting together We Told You So, the long-awaited oral history of Fantagraphics coming out this December, and what it was like to work with Gary Groth and Kim Thompson in the 1990s.

I was probably one of the last employees who went to work for Fantagraphics in part because I wanted to be with people who got my jokes. I was pre-Internet, a solitary comics reader, and the thought of working on a magazine I enjoyed about a subject I loved was way more appealing than watching people sniff underwear at a Home Shopping Network warehouse. I was Gary’s fifth choice.

It was really young, Tim. I showed up for work about two months after Kurt Cobain killed himself — not related — so the whole city still felt young, but not excitingly so, maybe. But the office, Jesus. Gary and Kim were the oldest and they were like 37 and 39. Conrad Groth was a baby. The vast majority of us were 26 or younger. It was a lot rattier, with loud music and a lot of smoking on both porches. We did not have full computer coverage — Roberta Gregory used to come in to cut Rubylith and what is now the marketing room was half Kim’s office and half the stat camera room.

Joe McCulloch is here too with his usual guide to the Week in Comics!, spotlighting the most interesting-sounding books new to stores. His spotlight picks this week include new titles from Baudoin and Sarah Glidden, but it’s a packed week, with comics from such major talents as Anya Davidson, Shigeru Mizuki, Ted Stearn, and Abner Dean, too.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Commentary. Jeet Heer writes about the alt-right’s appropriation of Matt Furie’s Pepe the Frog character (and the history of funny animal racial politics) for The New Republic.

Mickey Mouse was in fact racially ambiguous, since he owed much to black culture but wasn’t seen as black by the audience, all the more so because as he became a corporate symbol Disney played down the black cultural references. By the 1950s, Mickey was a home-owning suburban rodent living in a white picket house. The 1927 Disney short Steamboat Willie, the first cartoon with sound, was inspired by Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer—which is not surprising, since both Disney and Jolson (famous for his blackface) belong to the tradition of white artists who appropriated black culture and sold it to mass white audience. What got lost in the process was Herriman’s satirical intent. While Krazy Kat remains a powerful commentary on racism, one looks in vain for such commentary in most Disney cartoons.

The Melville House blog spoke about the situation with Furie’s old editor at The Believer, Andrew Leland.

The Pepe knockoffs online are pixellated and shitty and have none of the charm of Furie’s achievement. They’re like the disenfranchised Bart Simpsons of the 90s, playing in the NBA or brandishing bongs and wearing dreads. But in reverse: Bart was born to be a schoolkid, but then got coopted into underground drug culture. Pepe, conversely, was born to get high, but now he’s been conscripted into a hateful subculture that has nothing to do with his true spirit.

I’ve heard several cartoonists describe Furie’s situation as an artist’s nightmare, and it’s not hard to agree. I might add, though, that if Furie were inclined to take it, he has been handed a very rare opportunity to create a comic that will be read by an extremely large audience, one that might even be career-defining. I guess in a way that’s kind of an artist’s nightmare, too!

Over at The New York Review of Books, they have excerpted Chris Ware’s introduction to the new Pushwanger translation, Soft City.

Soft City is something of a miracle. Not only for existing in the first place, but for surviving at all. Drawn between 1969 and 1975 by the Norwegian artist Hariton Pushwagner (now often just Pushwagner, though born Terje Brofos in 1940), it languished in obscurity for decades and was very nearly lost before finally being issued in book form by the Norwegian publishers No Comprendo in 2008, following a messy legal dispute involving the artist and his former dealer. Most pointedly, however, it is a miracle of its native medium—the comic strip—for its startling and disquieting vision in a form that had never before quite seen anything like it. Funny, or maybe not so funny, that it would take forty years for the rest of the world to realize it.

—Interviews & Profiles. SPX has posted videos from many of this year’s panels on YouTube.

The latest guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Glen Baxter.

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Where Is Everyone http://www.tcj.com/where-is-everyone/ http://www.tcj.com/where-is-everyone/#respond Fri, 07 Oct 2016 12:00:44 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96046 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Bob Levin writes about Robusto!!!, a collection of subversive punk comics from Serbia, and interviews its main writer, who is known as Wostok (among other names).

Robusto!!! is set in 1993, but seems to have been published between 2001 and 2005. If this is correct, why did you wait until so long after the events that you depicted had occurred?

Robusto!!! started more like a joke, actually. I was teasing my friends Red and (Peki?) because they tried to sell a few pirate discs just to get out of some debt. Then I said, “Hey, guys, you are criminals now, hahaha! But don’t feel ashamed because you are only small time crooks and the real big criminals are employed in our government and on other important positions in our state! Then I started to remember everything that happened in previous years in our unhappy and fucked up society and than I decided to make a comic serial.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, a slow comics news day:

—News. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell’s March: Book Three is now a finalist for the National Book Award.

—Interviews & Profiles. The Comics Alternative podcast talks to Jason Shiga.

—Reviews & Commentary.
For the Village Voice, Mallika Rao writes about diversity at Marvel Comics.

But these characters can also front, deceptively, for a monochrome industry. [G. Willow] Wilson blames “a certain amount of gatekeeping” for sustaining this status quo. “Any time you get a new creator or writer or artist, there’s this question of, well, how are they qualified, especially if this person is female or a person of color. The fact is, there is not such a thing as being qualified to write comics. A lot of the best comic writers don’t have high school degrees. Now we have Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Roxane Gay [the writer, also black, tapped to write World of Wakanda as a companion to Black Panther]. If you look at their qualifications — he’s a MacArthur ‘genius.’ Gay is a bestselling author, teaching at the college level. Margaret Atwood is another public intellectual [who’s been recruited]. If you’re a white dude, you can just write comics because you’re good at it, but if you’re a person of color or a woman, you have to be a MacArthur genius or have a Ph.D. or speak three languages.”

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Fear, Relief http://www.tcj.com/fear-relief/ http://www.tcj.com/fear-relief/#respond Thu, 06 Oct 2016 12:00:23 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=96033 Continue reading ]]> On the site today: Greg Hunter’s Comic Book Decalogue features an excellent discussion with Anders Nilsen about his new book, A Walk in Eden, comics, and art.

Elsewhere:

Tucker Stone went to SPX and reports back on some of what he brought home with him.

Here’s a 2013 video tour of Un Regard Moderne.

Not-comics but comics adjacent: A portfolio of early work by Austrian painter Maria Lassnig, whose expressive figuration and muted palette could teach cartoonists a lot.

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It Follows http://www.tcj.com/it-follows/ http://www.tcj.com/it-follows/#respond Wed, 05 Oct 2016 12:00:16 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=95963 Continue reading ]]> It’s been a sad week for French comics. In her second memorial piece on the site this week, Cynthia Rose remembers the legendary bookseller Jacques Noël.

Under cover of night, as September faded into October, bookseller Jacques Noël of Un Regard Moderne departed this life. It was not the sort of loss that cranks Le Monde into hyperbole. But outside of Noël’s Left Bank bookstore, the stream of passing mourners has yet to pause. A few leave notes or flowers but most stand in silence, remembering.

That’s because there is really no other bookstore – possibly no other place – like Un Regard Moderne. A literal temple to the book, it is most frequently compared to a den, a grotto or a cavern. Here the wary customer has to browse carefully, weaving in between the shaky stalactites, mountainous piles and heaving shelves of barely-balanced volumes. Noël’s tiny kingdom is layered, stacked and crammed with riches: bandes dessinees, fanzines, monographs on art, graphics and literature, Beat Generation rarities, Situationist tracts, self-published everything, graphzines, underground comics, leftist lit and erotica. It’s a place where Guy Debord meets Gary Panter, the Marquis de Sade sits atop Nazi Knife and William Burroughs knocks elbows with L’Association. For almost two decades, the shop has functioned thusly – both a living sculpture and a natural resource for artists, writers and thinkers.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Jillian Capewell at the Huffington Post interviews Sarah Glidden.

She’s still present in this second book, but more in a minor way. “I guess I’m coming from the school of journalism where you don’t really believe in objectivity,” Glidden said. “Part of the reason I like comics journalism is that, by drawing, you’re kind of showing with every single panel that it is subjective. Somebody not only witnessed all of this stuff, but somebody drew it. I hope that the medium of comics itself reinforces that idea, that, hey, remember, somebody is telling you this story. Somebody is choosing what’s important.”

And so does the podcast Comics Alternative.

CBR talks to Dave Sim, who has returned, in a way, to Cerebus—in webcomic form.

It is very much a branding exercise. When we started putting “Cerebus in Hell?” together, at first I was just using the image of Cerebus from the “Cerebus” trade paperback cover. This is the “Cerebus” trade paperback that sell the best and this is the one that all the retailers keep in stock, so let’s just have this be the only Cerebus that we use.

It’s a branding exercise, and it’s getting back to the humor that attracted a lot of people to “Cerebus,” that it was actually a funny comic book as opposed to in quotation marks “funny.” By the time the twentieth or thirtieth “MAD” imitator was coming out, it was like, “Yeah, yeah, we get it, but this is not particularly funny.” Funny isn’t something that you can fake. You either read it and laugh or you don’t read it and laugh.

J. Caleb Mozzocco talks to Tom Gauld.

I like the dated-ness of the idea of living on the moon. It seems to come from a time when we were more simply optimistic about science and technology’s ability to change our lives for the better. It seems amazing that the moon was there for millions of years and humans looked up in wonder, then we went there, and for a few years people were bouncing around, playing golf, driving a car etc. Now, again, it’s completely lifeless and has been for more than forty years.

Frank151 discusses how Matt Furie’s Pepe the Frog character has been co-opted by online Trump supporters with Furie’s editor at Fantagraphics Eric Reynolds.

At first I was watching it from a distance and not necessarily feeling like we had to do anything or should do anything. When it really first started to take a more disturbing turn, in my mind, was first when Hillary Clinton’s website had an explanation about Pepe being associated with white supremacists and there was no mention of the fact that, actually, he was this sort of innocent creation of this innocent cartoonist in Southern California who has had absolutely nothing to do with his character being associated with these groups. I’m a Hillary supporter and it sort of bummed me out that there was this only half-truth to the story.

But then the really disturbing turn was when the Anti-Defamation League felt the need to categorize Pepe in this way, and in their defense, they perfectly did their due diligence in terms of identifying Pepe as the creation of Matt and as this character that took on a life of its own, completely irrespective of Matt’s desires or wishes and didn’t reflect on him personally. But still, it’s just creepy. It’s definitely disturbing and it’s also just really frustrating to see the Trump family being heavily responsible for all this. I don’t know, the whole thing is very, very, fucking weird.

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The Greatest http://www.tcj.com/the-greatest-2/ http://www.tcj.com/the-greatest-2/#comments Tue, 04 Oct 2016 12:00:38 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=95956 Continue reading ]]> Lots to do today. Joe McCulloch bring us his weekly report.

Elsewhere:

Jacques Noël , the great founder and proprietor of the Paris bookstore where all good and bad forms of comics and illustration converged, Un Regard Moderne, passed away on Friday. The store was particularly renowned for championing the likes of Le Dernier Cri, ESDS, CBO, UDA, and other publishers of transgressive art. I was always honored to see one my books in the chaos. But that place (because calling it a store would be deceptive — it was a place where you went and had an experience that sometimes resulted in maddening frustration and other times in walking out with a rare Pascal Doury edition) was just as likely to have a great stash of fiction, art monographs, pulp, and incredible reprints and archival material. Also, most of it was in head-high piles. What a place. I loved going there. It was a temple to print and it brought its owner few rewards, I suspect. I was just there in May and with a sly grin Jacques showed me a delightfully vicious Bruno Richard pamphlet. The vicious cannot be underestimated. I miss the vicious in art. RIP Jacques Noël.  Thank you.

1013651_402701963176966_48828589_n14485133_983133278475801_6576641402789910022_nMore prosaically, on to some links:

Gary Reed, founder of the classic 80s/90s company Caliber, passed away.

Yet another piece on Matt Furie’s Pepe character., this time in the NY Times.

Want to wear Frank Santoro around your neck? Here’s your chance.

I like cute little profiles of comic book collectors. Here’s one, with a cameo from some excellent artworks.

Robert Crumb’s parents: Bewildered!

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Bein’ Green http://www.tcj.com/bein-green/ http://www.tcj.com/bein-green/#respond Mon, 03 Oct 2016 12:00:07 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=95933 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Cynthia Rose has our official obituary for Ted Benoit.

La ligne claire has not made this much news in Europe for decades. On Wednesday, the Grand Palais opened an epic Hergé expo, which has received only raves from critics and the art world. Its curator, Jérome Neutres, calls it an ambition fulfilled. “Our whole aim is to show that Tintin’s creator was, quite simply, a truly great artist. We want to put him on the same footing as a Vélasquez, a Helmut Newton or a Fantin-Latour.”

Then two days after the opening, France discovered that Thierry “Ted” Benoit had died. Benoit, 69, may not have been the ligne claire‘s purest inheritor. But he was certainly one of its great innovators. As the obituaries and tributes to him proliferate, many have begun with similar sentiments. Benoit, they note, was more than just a wonderful draftsman. He was – quite simply – a truly great artist.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Rachel Cooke profiles Sarah Glidden.

Glidden, the daughter of two doctors, studied painting at Boston University. “But then 9/11 happened. I was only 21 and I started to be interested in journalism. My reaction to it, besides feeling a sense of horror, was that if a war was going to happen immediately, there must be more to the story than I knew. So I started reading everything. I was drawn to photojournalism. I think I wanted to be Tyler Hicks [the Pulitzer prize-winning New York Times staff photographer], but I was also very shy. I didn’t have what it took to talk to people and take those kinds of pictures and nor did I have any training.”

Angelique Chrisafis talks to Riad Sattouf.

Sitting in his Paris publisher’s office, as the second volume of The Arab of the Future is released in English and the third volume comes out in French, Sattouf is hesitant about being seen as a voice of the Middle East. He views himself as stuck somewhere, neutrally, in the middle of his mixed French and Syrian roots and hates any kind of flag-waving or identity politics.

“I waited so long to tell this story partly because when I started to make comics I didn’t want to be the guy of Arab origin who makes comics about Arab people,” he says. “I didn’t want to be the official Arab comics artist. So I made a lot of comics in France which weren’t related to this part of me. I made a movie. But even during all that other work, I was thinking I have this good story, how could I tell it?”

The RIYL podcast talks to Matt Furie.

—Reviews & Commentary. Speaking of Furie, Chris Mautner explains what’s happened to Pepe the Frog.

The character has been deemed an “online hate symbol” by the Anti-Defamation League.

How could a goofy-looking cartoon character be considered a symbol of anti-semitism? To explain that we’ll have to take a quick spin through Pepe’s brief history.

Pepe was created by cartoonist Matt Furie around 2005 as one of the characters in his comic book series Boys’ Club, a surreal stoner comedy about a group of anthropomorphic buddies sharing an apartment. Most of the jokes involved bathroom humor, body fluids, or just plain goofy absurdism. It was about as far from political (or even topical) humor as you could get.

Christine Smallwood reviews Sarah Glidden’s Rolling Blackouts for Harper’s.

The book comes alive when the Americans recede from the frame. Glidden draws excellent grimaces, arched eyebrows, and narrowed eyes; her smiles are good, too, but she has less cause to use them.

For PEN America, Meg Lemke writes about Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer.

This One Summer has been removed from schools and (K-12) school libraries, on the basis of “use of profanity,” and the sweeping charge of “vulgarity,” which covers allusions to a potential abortion—and a miscarriage—and one suspects the possible queerness of one of the main characters. It was also removed from shelves at some elementary schools where perhaps, as the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund wondered, teachers added any Caldecott short-listed title without researching its recommended age group (12+, in this case). In news footage that I admit cracked me up (with the kind of laughing that leads to tears), a coiffed local newscaster in Florida reports on the plea of the alarm-raising parent who just wanted other concerned mothers to “be aware of this ‘illustrated book,’ described as a graphic novel…” as she flips fast through the lushly drawn pages. A GRAPHIC graphic novel: Be afraid, be very afraid.=

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Oxygen to the Dumb http://www.tcj.com/oxygen-to-the-dumb/ http://www.tcj.com/oxygen-to-the-dumb/#respond Fri, 30 Sep 2016 12:00:10 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=95869 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site we bid Dash Shaw a fond farewell as he wraps up his Cartoonist’s Diary at Fantastic Fest.

Elsewhere:

The great French master of the clear line, Ted Benoit, has passed away.

Matt Furie has had a shitty year, as his character Pepe was appropriated by right wing nut jobs and then declared a symbol of hate by the ADL. Herewith a summary of the events.

Adventure Time, the animated show that seems to employ a generation of post-Kramers cartoonists is calling it a day in 2018.

Longtime cartoonist Sparky Moore has passed away.

Here’s a look at how actors rake in the cash at conventions. 

 

Frank Santoro and the young cartoonist Cameron Weston Nicholson were in conversation at SPX:

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Cave-In http://www.tcj.com/cave-in/ http://www.tcj.com/cave-in/#respond Thu, 29 Sep 2016 12:00:20 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=95826 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Rob Clough reports on this year’s SPX, which seems to have been a very successful one.

The tension that has marked some past shows was simply not in evidence this year. I attribute that to Bernard’s decision to take over the entire ballroom at the Marriott hotel that serves as the show’s headquarters. The show moved to its new location a decade ago, after outgrowing its old Holiday Inn location in Bethesda. That first show had about three hundred exhibitors; I attended, and was interested in about a quarter of them. The show this year had seven hundred exhibitors, and I was interested in about the same proportion, meaning that the actual number of interesting exhibitors has zoomed up to nearly two hundred people. Bernard solved the problem of turf by expanding it for everyone. This year more than ever, it was possible for fans of different interests to have completely different experiences, to never interact and still have a fully satisfying experience. Of course, some of the differences were less pronounced than one would think. For example, the crew behind Adventure Time is like a young alt-cartoonist all-star team, featuring the likes of Tom Herpich, Jesse Moynihan, Michael DeForge, Seo Kim, Sam Alden, Luke Pearson, Jillian Tamaki and more. An upcoming issue of Ryan Sands’s cutting-edge anthology Frontier will feature Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar.

Also, Dash Shaw brings the fourth installment of his Cartoonist’s Diary. This time, he describes the U.S. premiere of his new film at the Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas.

The sensibility of Alamo Drafthouse reminds me of Spectacle Theater in Brooklyn, but on a way bigger scale. They play strange videos before movies and have a huge appreciation of exploitation movies and goofy humor and anything bizarre. Everyone working at the theater is having a blast. You can tell everyone wants to be here, which is (strangely) not the feeling you always get at film festivals. This feels like something in-between a film festival and a comic convention! I even wear a badge around my neck, and there are sword jugglers and snake handlers in the theater lobby.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. AMFM Magazine has a very nice interview with Dash, which I highly recommend.

BEARS: It seems like it’s a big risk for somebody working in animation to go the more abstract route, which I love that you did. I don’t see people making a lot of animated movies that are taking risks. Everything looks like everything else. Everything is either trying to look like Pixar, live-action, CGI thing, or it’s trying to look like a Studio Ghibli thing. I love that your cartoon can only be your cartoon. It has your voice just in the picture. I don’t feel like enough people take advantage of that.

Shaw: I think the reason for that is it’s a ton of work to make all of those drawings. Even though the tools now are very accessible— like I just made this with a scanner. Really, the same tools that I could make a comic book, I used to make this movie with. The tools are there to make a movie like this, a lot of people have those tools. But it’s a lot of drawing. My experience in comic books both helped me know how to do a lot of drawing because I would make books that were hundreds of pages long. I would have to draw the same character over and over and over. So that experience prepped me for this. Also, the alternative comic world, to me, is the most exciting and diverse place for graphic personalities and sensibilities. When I think of the visual storytellers that I like, it’s 99% comic book artists. I love Miyazaki but I think these comic book artists are the coolest.

At Vulture, Abraham Riesman profiles Karen Berger.

Berger chafed — first quietly, then publicly. In late 2012, it was announced that she’d be leaving DC. She stayed on to help with the transition, but made her dissatisfaction known in a May 2013 New York Times profile. In it, she called DC and its rival Marvel, “superhero companies owned by movie studios” — an increasingly true statement, but one tinged with obvious disdain. The next year, after she had left the company, she spoke to me for a feature about John Constantine and earned DC’s ire by being even more explicitly critical, saying, “They’ve taken the character and put him in a place that’s Constantine-lite” and adding, “As far as I’m concerned, he’s not the real Constantine.”

At The Beat, Alex Dueben talks to Teri S. Wood of Wandering Star.

I was originally one of those 1990’s, Independent creators, inspired by Bone and Cerebus. That had been my plan, to stick with self-publishing, until the big, comic book crash of 1995 hit. So many stores and distributors went under, unable to pay for the books they’d ordered, and suddenly, I had no way to pay my print costs. I was thousands of dollars in debt. Wandering Star almost died right there. It was pretty scary.

—Reviews & Commentary. In a short burst of 24 tweets, Joe McCulloch critiques Chris Ware’s recent New Yorker covers, and in the process puts the standard lazy, one-note, imaginatively cramped attacks on Chris Ware to shame. Hopefully he’ll expand these thoughts into something longer.

Liam Baranauskas from n+1 visits Pogofest in Waycross, Georgia.

I came to Waycross because a friend told me that in the 1980s, the town had marketed itself as the home of Pogo Possum, which seemed like an absurd pitch, even to a fan of the strip like myself. By 1987, the year of Waycross’s first Pogofest, Pogo had been defunct for a decade and a half and was long past its pre-Flower-Power-era sell-by date. Fetishism and irony had not yet merged to resurrect every pop-cultural fad of the postwar era, and anyway, we’re talking about southern Georgia, not Brooklyn or Portland. Pogo’s winking political allegories—a parody of the Dixiecrat stance on school desegregation, a plotline about the John Birch Society (renamed “the Jack Acid Society”)—had targeted a political consensus widely held in Waycross at the time, so it was hard to imagine its residents responding with anything more enthusiastic than skepticism.

For The Guardian, David Barnett writes about various attempts to censor comics, checking in with Mike Diana, Denis Kitchen, and Neil Gaiman.

Diana was just 25 when he became the first person in the US to be convicted of “artistic obscenity”. The jury took 40 minutes to find him guilty on three counts: for publishing, distributing and advertising his comic series Boiled Angel.

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Early Colors http://www.tcj.com/early-colors/ http://www.tcj.com/early-colors/#respond Wed, 28 Sep 2016 12:00:09 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=95828 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site:

Katie Skelly reviews Gina Wynbrandt’s Someone Please Have Sex with Me.

Wynbrandt is an artist whose progression shows over the four years of work included in this volume, and it’s obvious this progression is hard-won: the draftsmanship improves, the gags hit faster and harder, and she grows more and more willing to plunge head first into totally pathetic depravity with each piece. The style of Someone focuses on the essential, with few details in the drawings that don’t suit the gags. The book also rides out the cresting wave of the Risograph aesthetic, with pink and blue coloring, for a pleasing, sometimes teenage diary-esque effect.

And Dash Shaw continues his Diary with a discussion of his writing process for his next animated feature. 

Elsewhere:

Molly Roth, who interned for PictureBox and worked hard on the construction of this very web site, has some funny cartoons over at the New Yorker. She done good!

Here’s the best rundown I’ve seen of the Mould Map-as-exhibition event coming up.

I like these Anders Nilsen drawings.

 

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The Fire of the Laws of Reason http://www.tcj.com/the-fire-of-the-laws-of-reason/ http://www.tcj.com/the-fire-of-the-laws-of-reason/#respond Tue, 27 Sep 2016 12:00:50 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=95727 Continue reading ]]> Joe McCulloch is here with his usual indispensable guide to the Week in Comics, highlighting the best-sounding books coming to stores tomorrow. His spotlight picks this time include new comics by Miriam Libicki and William Cardini.

We also have day two of Dash Shaw’s tenure creating A Cartoonist’s Diary. Today he talks about receiving the French edition of Cosplayers: Perfect Collection.

I got the French edition of Cosplayers: Perfect Collection in the mail. This collection is maybe more “perfect” than the U.S. one because it has the Christmas Special in it, which will come out later this year as a separate pamphlet comic in the States. Apparently, Christmas Specials are not a thing in France, so it wouldn’t make sense for it be a separate item. Seeing this French edition is cool for me a few different reasons… One is that the issues never came out in France. I redrew and corrected and added a bunch of things for the collection, so France will only see the better versions.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Vice speaks to MariNaomi about her Cartoonists of Color database.

So you hear the question, “What people of color cartoonists?” a lot?

I’ve heard this so much over the years that’s it’s just rote. “There aren’t any black people in comics.” “You have to write for men, because women don’t read comics.” The people who say that shit aren’t doing their homework. Apparently we’re doing their homework for them.

Michael Cavna talks to Keith Knight.

[My strips about police brutality] are getting more attention than they used to. Someone who worked at a museum in St. Louis said she first discovered my work because someone was posting my comics around St. Louis during the Ferguson protests. I thought that was really cool.

People aren’t nearly as naive or ignorant about it as they were even a few years ago. And it excites me that we seem to be entering into a new era of activism and active protest amongst the masses. Athletes, students and others are stepping up and speaking out.

And he also talks to Ed Piskor.

I think when I started getting significant birthday/Christmas money to spend is when I started thinking hard about how that cash could be invested in my career as a cartoonist. The money would go to comics, and not [to] little bags of weed or cigarettes like normal kids. It was really mind-blowing to see the credits on the splash pages of comics, because it let me know that actual human beings created them, and not just some computer program or something.

Dominic Wells has an epic-length interview with Alan Moore.

“Here it was,” Moore says, pointing to an unprepossessing stone wall underneath a bridge that’s so low that he has to stoop. “That’s where industry and free-market conservatism were born. It [the machinery] was driving three looms, these looms would work without anybody to look after them, they’d just employ a few children to sweep out the corners and unsnag the machines if they got snagged, and immediately of course all the local cottage industries collapsed.

“So a little while after that, Adam Smith came to visit and he saw these machines working with nobody to work them, and he said ‘oh that’s marvellous, it’s like there’s a hidden hand’, then ‘ooh, that would make a nice metaphor for freemarket capitalism’. And that’s why we have this completely mystical notion that doesn’t exist, this is why Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher said that it was OK to deregulate the banks; we didn’t need market control because there was hidden hand! And now here we are.”

Steven Heller talks to Drew Friedman about his second Heroes of the Comics collection.

At this point, so much has been written in comics history books and comics magazine articles and online tribute groups that it’s rare you’ll find an unheralded genius from that era. Everyone seems to have a Facebook tribute book these days. But there are a few innovative cult comics artists who perhaps are not as well-known as they should be, maybe because their styles were a little more oddball than the norm. A few that come to mind include Ogden Whitney, who I included in the first book. He was a master of deadpan absurdity and his comic book adventures of the lollypop sucking Herbie, the “Fat Fury,” really jumped out at me. I also include in the new book the notorious publisher Myron Fass, actually two drawings of him in More Heroes of the Comics. He started out as a comic book artist, but he’s fascinating because his publishing career basically consisted of shamelessly and successfully ripping off what other publishers were having success with, like MAD, and Creepy & Eerie.

The latest guest on Virtual Memories is Tom Gauld.

On the latest episode of Inkstuds, Sean Ford interviews Tillie Walden.

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Closed Off http://www.tcj.com/closed-off/ http://www.tcj.com/closed-off/#respond Mon, 26 Sep 2016 11:00:46 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=95771 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site: Day One of Dash Shaw’s Cartoonist Diary, in which Dash introduces us to his in-progress graphic novel, Discipline. 

And RJ Casey talks to Warren Craghead about the artist’s remarkable daily Donald Trump drawing project.

Elsewhere:

The writer Nahed Hatter was murdered in Amman, Jordan, as he prepared to testify about a cartoon he posted online.

Kaitlyn Greenidge writes about the recent controversy over real or perceived cultural appropriation in fiction in the NY Times.

I wrote about Carroll Dunham’s drawings over at Hyperallergic.

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Rocket Science http://www.tcj.com/rocket-science/ http://www.tcj.com/rocket-science/#comments Fri, 23 Sep 2016 12:00:49 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=95696 Continue reading ]]> Paul Buhle is here today with a review of Corrine Maier and Anne Simon’s graphic biography, Einstein.

Since the distant days when Chomsky for Dummies sought to explain difficult ideas to popular audiences through an acute combination of art and text, comics have come to be a natural medium for scientific explanation. Indeed, Logicomix, the somewhat fictionalized biographical treatment of Bertrand Russell and his philosophical theories of math, proved a surprise bestseller a half dozen years ago. No others in the scientist-biographical category have been so successful, but as science, math, and the universe continue to get the comic treatment of various kinds, further experimentation is obviously ongoing.

This reviewer, an old-time historian of the Left, asks himself why Einstein is superior to Marx, the comics version of one famed Central European Jewish socialist over another. Most of Marx ended up treating his social life as radical exile, impoverished father and husband (very occasional adulterer), leader of the First International, and so on. The “Marxist” theories toward which he devoted his ardent energies got pretty short shrift. In fairness, such ponderous subjects as the Left Hegelianism of the young revolutionary romantic would prove daunting to any comics treatment.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Two artists who work in the comics form, Gene Luen Yang and Lauren Redniss, were awarded MacArthur “genius” grants yesterday.

—Reviews & Commentary. Chris Mautner looks back at the work of Richard Thompson.

Once you start digging in, however, you realize this is no average four-panel sitcom. For one thing, there are those names. Blisshaven. Otterloop. Danders. Thompson had a deep gift/fondness for strange words and phrases and incorporated them in into the strip whenever possible (hence the pangolins and trebuchets), giving the strip a healthy sense of the absurd. Cul de Sac teemed with weird objects and concepts — a toy nobody knew how to play with, a compact car so tiny it tips over easily — that pushed the strip right up to the edge of the fantastic without ever truly crossing the line. And while it could be a very verbose strip at times, Cul de Sac never felt like it was drowning in dialogue.

At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Jackson Ayres writes about the way AIDS was depicted (through the metaphor of “the Legacy virus”) in X-Men comics.

On one hand, the comics featuring Legacy tended to evince sentimental liberal humanist attitudes toward AIDS, at times even reinforcing homophobic reaction. Understood in the light of popular fantasy, on the other hand, the moments when X-Men was at its most outlandish, eschewing even the pretense of mimesis, provided opportunities for more daring, even radical, interrogations of the AIDS crisis.

Jonathan Guyer writes about the Egyptian cartoonist Andeel.

Broadly speaking, Andeel’s oeuvre falls into two categories: snap political commentary and social criticism. The former body of work—including caricatures of the president, mockery of the military—has garnered international acclaim. But in fact it’s in cartoons about the quotidian—relationships, technology, hipsters, vegetarianism—where Andeel often shines brightest.

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Dirty Johnny http://www.tcj.com/dirty-johnny/ http://www.tcj.com/dirty-johnny/#respond Thu, 22 Sep 2016 12:00:52 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=95689 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Robert Boyd writes about Bart Beaty and Benjamin Woo’s new book, The Greatest Comic Book of All Time: Symbolic Capital and the Field of American Comic Books:

Bart Beaty and Benjamin Woo begin The Greatest Comic Book of All Time by acknowledging that fans love to make best-of lists. I instantly thought of pop music super-fan Rob in the novel and movie High Fidelity. He is constantly making lists, and the lists tend to be “top five” lists. The listing activity is always in service of naming the “greatest” of whatever is being listed. Beaty and Woo then discuss about several top 100 and top 500 lists from the world of comics, including Hero Illustrated (remember them? They were kind of a low-level Wizard knock-off) list, “The 100 Most Important Comics of All Time” from 1994 and The Comics Journal’s 1999 list “The Top 100 (English-Language) Comics of the Century” (note: both Bart Beaty and myself contributed to that list). The authors point out that Youngblood #1 by Rob Liefeld was on the Hero Illustrated list but not on The Comics Journal list. This book doesn’t express an opinion on whether Youngblood #1 deserved to be on either list. They write, “We have no intention of lecturing you about the comics that we think you should read. Rather, we want to examine the very process of list making and curating. We are not interested in what makes great works so great but how any work comes to be seen as great.”

The conceptual framework they use is “symbolic capital.” This is derived from the work of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. They write, “Any given work or creator will have differing levels of economics (i.e., sales), social (i.e., buzz and connections), and cultural (i.e., prestige) capital, but symbolic capital represents an overall index of social capital.” For the most part, Beaty and Woo only look at economic capital and cultural capital. They have somewhat quantifiable ways of looking at each.

Elsewhere:

The 2016 MacArthur Fellows were announced today, and cartoonist Gene Luen Yang and picture-story artist Lauren Redniss are among the recipients. 

The great Kerry James Marshall writes on Black Panther at Artforum.

Fair round-up: Nick Gazin at the NY Art Book Fair, and here’s Publishers Weekly on SPX.

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476 http://www.tcj.com/476-2/ http://www.tcj.com/476-2/#respond Wed, 21 Sep 2016 12:00:23 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=95621 Continue reading ]]> Rob Clough is here with a review of Caitlin Skaalrud’s Houses of the Holy.

Houses of the Holy is Caitlin Skaalrud’s journey into the deepest, darkest memories and emotions. Clinically discussing the events that led to a certain conclusion would have done little to actually convey the experience, so instead Skaalrud chose to invent a visual language to depict and a poetic language to describe the events of a lifetime that led her main character to her lowest ebb. The book’s blurb describes the journey as Dantean, but there’s no Virgil present to explain what we’re seeing to either Skaalrud’s presumed stand-in character or to readers. Instead of a straightforward narrative, there’s an emotional narrative wrapped in symbols, fragments, and genuinely harrowing sequences.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Tucker Stone is reviewing the comics he brought home from this year’s SPX.

This collection is the most painful one Dustin [Harbin] has done, and considering the reputation that autobiographical work has for being lonely-worship solipsism, it’s strangely courageous to see Dustin–one of the few people in comics that is funny in the sense that he makes you laugh, as opposed to being called funny because he makes you feel like you’re safe–commit to the relative mundane topic of habitual exercise, middle-aged ennui and everything else that comes with break-up recovery.

Sean Rogers reviews new books from Tom Gauld, Jessica Campbell, and Riad Sattouf.

In this debut monograph by Jessica Campbell – whom the faux-scholarly preface deems “one of the world’s leading art critics” – the author serves as docent, guiding readers through the masterworks of 20th-century art. Emphasis on “master”: The dudes who ruled high modernism are the subject here, though it’s not their bodies of work that come under scrutiny so much as their bodies, full stop.

Andrew Hickey reviews Alan Moore’s Jerusalem. (There are obviously a slew of reviews of this novel; I plan on mostly just linking to the most comics-familiar of them.)

If I were to attempt to summarise this utterly unsummarisable novel, the best way to put it would be that it’s plot is a history of Moore’s ancestry, both physical and literary, that its themes are those of From Hell (with a little of Promethea thrown in), and that its style is that of Voice of the Fire. It is, in short, a culmination of everything Moore has been working on throughout the last thirty years, and possibly his greatest work (though writing less than a week after the book’s release, it’s impossible to say for sure). It’s a book that not only resists criticism, it contains the obvious criticisms of itself in its last chapter—

—Interviews & Profiles. Robert Anthony Siegel profiles Archie Rand, painter and creator of the comics-adjacent art book, The 613.

Rand considers “The 613” a single painting, but it is in fact a series of canvases illustrating the 613 commandments of the Torah, the backbone of Jewish law. It is self-consciously religious art — and yet maybe it isn’t. Rand’s style is derived from the EC Comics of the 1940s and ’50s — think Tales from the Crypt and early Mad magazine — and his imagery stands at an odd slant to the ancient Hebrew text. Commandment Number 10, “Not to Test the Prophet,” pictures a man standing in the open mouth of a brontosaurus. Number 80, “To Bind Phylacteries so that the Laws will be as a Sign upon your Arms,” shows an Alfred E. Neuman–type goofball playing with a yo-yo.

The Comics Alternative podcast talks to Carol Tyler.

The Virtual Memories podcast talks to New Yorker cartoonist and Peter Arno biographer Michael Maslin.

—Misc. Alan Moore endorses Jeremy Corbyn.

As an anarchist I don’t vote, preferring direct political action and comment without an elected intermediary. If I did vote, however, I would try to vote with the way that viable human history appeared to be going rather than against it. The economic and political agendas imposed in the West over the last thirty or forty years clearly lead only to a ruined environment, to international austerity while the planet’s billionaires attempt to become trillionaires, to Donald Trump, and to a horrific abyss that threatens to make the English Civil War look like a Sunday-school outing.

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