Blog – The Comics Journal http://www.tcj.com Fri, 24 Mar 2017 14:06:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.3 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 Gifts for the General http://www.tcj.com/99649-2/ http://www.tcj.com/99649-2/#respond Fri, 24 Mar 2017 12:00:58 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=99649 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site:

Frank comes back with his Riso journey, this time talking to Ryan Sands, publisher at Youth in Decline.

I really think it is interesting that riso and the “art book fairs” of Printed Matter have run concurrent – meaning we are seeing more “zine” people at comics shows and vice versa – can you speak to this loose crossover? I feel like your label sort of runs in that corridor…

Whenever there’s a tool that has lots of funky ways you can mess with it AND a fairly low cost to experiment and make mistakes, this sort of machine is good for folks that care about all the details of physical book production. I get super bored by books that are simply “risograph-themed” anthologies, but I love seeing “art book” folks use it in unexpected ways – like the thermography technique of Colour Code Printing to create elevated inks and push the envelope with the machine. That said – at its heart, the machine was intended to be a blue collar workhorse for schools and churches and offices to churn out hundreds of pages a minute for cheap, so I bristle a bit at the trend of high-end “risograph prints” in limited editions. I saw a gallery show in SF recently that had a 3-color risograph print for $40!!! Are you kidding me? That shit cost like $0.90 to print and you could make 1000 prints in an afternoon (including drying times!).

On a less cranky note, some of my favorite risograph books are actually not comics at all, but text-heavy magazines and journals. When I visited Motto in Berlin back in 2011, I saw a bunch of poetry zines and literary journals published on risograph – my favorite in this vein is the queer film journal Little Joe Magazine. Their embrace of a limited spot color palette feels vintage without being slavishly retro or lame. So nice.

Elsewhere:

-Tomorrow night the great Brian Chippendale is opening a show of his new paintings at one of my favorite galleries, Safe Gallery in Williamsburg. Go check it out. 

-TCJ-contributor Philip Nel discusses children’s books that address the ideas and realities of refugees. 

-The NY Times has a lengthy obituary of Skip Williamson.

-Tributes to the illustrator Jack Unruh.

-I always enjoy an interview with Daniel Clowes, and here he is talking Wilson.

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Maybe next Spring? http://www.tcj.com/maybe-next-spring/ http://www.tcj.com/maybe-next-spring/#respond Thu, 23 Mar 2017 12:00:44 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=99635 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site:

Frank Young interviews the Tumblr phenom Samplerman.

Do you consider yourself a cartoonist? What led you to creating your “Samplerman” persona?

I am a 46-year-old cartoonist. I’ve been writing and drawing comics for more than 25 years, without any popular success, I have to admit—perhaps because of a lack of self-confidence, not harassing publishers enough, taking no answer for a “no thanks,” and no longer posting my pages (lots of improvised and unfinished stories) on my obscure blogs.

I have always chosen the DIY way to make my fanzines and minicomics: it is affordable and it mostly requires commitment and time. Due to lack of feedback, I’ve felt discouraged from time to time. Sometimes I can’t believe that I’ve kept doing this for so long instead of finding a real job…

I’ve been obsessed with comics all my life. I would have liked to be a comic strip cartoonist, but that career doesn’t exist in France. The conventional formats here are the hardcover, annual 44-page book or the black and white, 300-page one-shot graphic novel. I’ve always been attracted to arts of all kinds: poetry, radio, cinema, animation, the avant-garde, experimentation and the borders of communication. I’m also drawn to abstraction, distortion, destruction, surrealism, sociology and politics. Most of my past comics are kind of absurd and meaningless (nonsensical, to say it nicely). At the end of the day, whatever I am doing, the path from a panel to another has become for me the ordinary way to explore this alternate reality (comics) where I feel at home. So yes, I think am a cartoonist; a weird cartoonist.

Hence the question could be: “Are the Samplerman pieces strictly comics?” I would answer: “Depends on how restrictive your definition of comics is.” If the reader considers certain of my “stories” just as a sequence of panels without any logical connection, I am fine with that, but my works are at least a failed attempt at doing a story from a cartoonist’s neurasthenic brain.

 Elsewhere:

Our friends Sean T. Collins and Julia Gfrörer talk about their upcoming anthology, Mirror Mirror II

And Michel Dooley remembers Jay Lynch and Skip Williamson with an image-heavy post.

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Taking All the Lox http://www.tcj.com/taking-all-the-lox/ http://www.tcj.com/taking-all-the-lox/#respond Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=99539 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site we have Gary Groth’s lengthy 1985 interview with Bernie Wrightson. It’s a great read.

GROTH: Again, about the Frankenstein book, what I’m interested in finding out is what is the intent of the illustrations? Are you intent upon adding another dimension to the novel?

WRIGHTSON: Not really. I started this in 1976. All this time, and all this work, all this effort and aggravation and what not have gone into this simply to embellish this old book. Which, when I started out, I thought was a terrific book. Now, six years have gone by, and I don’t think it’s such a terrific book, anymore. Okay, we’ve got some good drawings to go in there, some of them are spectacular. And for anybody who does like the book, this is going to be a real good edition of it. My personal feelings have nothing to do with that at all. You should just buy the book because you want it, and enjoy it, and don’t worry about how I feel. When I did the drawings, I was really involved with the book and my intentions were really good when I did them. They had to be or my drawings wouldn’t be that good. I really believe that an artist can’t communicate to a viewer unless he really pours himself into it and tries to do that. And I tried to do it with that, and they work. So, I’m not apologizing for that, I’m not apologizing for anything, I’m just saying that I’m glad I’m still not doing it, because my attitude has changed completely.

GROTH: It sounds like you think a little less of the book now than when you first started.

WRIGHTSON: Yeah, I guess I do.

GROTH: Who are some of your favorite authors?

WRIGHTSON: Stephen King.

GROTH: Poe, I guess? Or isn’t he one of your favorites?

WRIGHTSON: He was real good to start out with, but I don’t think I’d ever read him again. Wells, H.G. Wells, in limited doses.

GROTH: Lovecraft?

WRIGHTSON: Nah. He was always a little too ponderous. I have a hard time with the language. There are a few things that he’s done that I’ve really enjoyed, but for the most part I can’t take him.

GROTH: What do you like about King?

WRIGHTSON: What do I like about King? Damn near everything. The guy has an uncanny knack for creating characters who are people that you know, just really solid people. A storyteller par excellence. Absolutely riveting from the first page. A terrific command of the language and colloquialism and slang and bullshit and whatever. And on top of that, he can scare the fucking pants off me.

GROTH: That’s what friends tell me.

WRIGHTSON: Have you ever read him?

GROTH: No, I never have. And friends have told me that they’ve actually gotten frightened reading his books. And I can’t imagine that.

WRIGHTSON: If you’ve never experienced that, I envy you. Because I wish I could re-experience that feeling for the first time.

GROTH: I keep intending to read The Shining, but I’ve not gotten around to it.

WRIGHTSON: I think you ought to start out with Salem’s Lot.

WHITE: How about Firestarter?

WRIGHTSON: Firestarter and Salem’s Lot, I think, are the two best stories he’s written.

 

Elsewhere:

Robert Silvers, the truly legendary editor of the New York Review of Books, passed away on Monday. The New Yorker has a series of tributes.

Peter Bagge talks about his new graphic biography of Zora Neale Hurston over at CBR.

Comics culture: The Paris Review looks at bodybuilding and the old sand-kicking ads.

 

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More is More http://www.tcj.com/more-is-more/ http://www.tcj.com/more-is-more/#respond Tue, 21 Mar 2017 12:00:24 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=99391 Continue reading ]]> First up — good news! I’m so happy to report that Tim Hodler and Lauren Weinstein welcomed a baby girl into the world yesterday. 

Today on the site we have an obituary for Bernie Wrightson by Steve Ringgenberg.

Born in 1948, to a working class Baltimore family, Wrightson didn’t recall receiving a great deal of encouragement for his early artistic endeavors from his parents, but as he observed in a 2015 interview in Comic Book Creator, “I’ve been drawing as long as I can remember.” Comic books and comic strips were early influences, with Wrightson citing Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant, Flash Gordon, drawn by Mac Raboy and Buz Sawyer by Roy Crane as his favorite comic strips. Wrightson was only five or six when he began reading EC Comics, the most visceral of which, as drawn by Graham Ingels or Frank Frazetta, had a profound influence on his aesthetic. Another big influence on Wrightson was horror films: He was fortunate to be in the “Monster Kids” generation, when Famous Monsters of Filmland began publishing, and Universal released its “Shock Theater” package of old horror films for syndication, spawning a host of local late night horror movie hosts like Baltimore’s own Dr. Lucifer, played by faded movie idol Richard Dix.

Popular interest in dinosaurs had a resurgence in the late 1950s, providing another piece of Wrightson’s influences. While he remembered loving Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, other, more cheaply done dinosaur films failed to impress him. As he recalled in the same Comic Book Creator interview, “I saw that Lost World remake with Claude Rains (1960), and that was a huge disappointment…you couldn’t fool me with plastic horns on a big lizard…” Another great early influence was the Ace Books editions of Edgar Rice Burroughs featuring covers and frontispiece illustrations by Frazetta, which Wrightson credits with getting him to start reading novels cover to cover.

And the great Joe McCulloch brings us his weekly dose, but with comics listing to follow later today.

Elsewhere:

A look at a mostly under-known aspect of Betty Boop.

Ben Schwartz on Michael Tisserand’s George Herriman biography.

Bringing Wilson from page to screen over at The New Yorker.

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Gone Masters http://www.tcj.com/gone-masters/ http://www.tcj.com/gone-masters/#respond Mon, 20 Mar 2017 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=99479 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, we have a 1984 interview with the late Skip Williamson.

And it’s another sad day for comics, as Bernie Wrightson, a beloved artist of numerous comics and books, has passed away after suffering from brain cancer.A fine summary of his life is on his own web site. Wrightson specialized in post-EC horror, emerging in the early 1970s to co-create Swamp Thing, draw covers and stories for DC, short stories for Warren, and co-found “The Studio”, a space on Manhattan’s Upper West Side where he, Barry Windsor Smith, Michael Kaluta and Jeffrey Jones worked, and about which an influential book was published. Wrightson is perhaps most acclaimed for his illustrations for Frankenstein, which were rendered in an elaborate pen and ink manner reminiscent of one of his heroes, Franklin Booth. He also collaborated with Stephen King, illustrating books including The Stand. Wrightson created his own character, Captain Sternn, who was featured in the print Heavy Metal and the anthology’s film version. The artist went on to draw Batman, the Punisher, and in recent years returned to Frankenstein. There’s more, of course, and we will have a full obituary soon, as well as an archival interview. I will say that, personally, Bernie Wrightson was the first artist I ever really studied. Starting when I was about 10 or 11 I ordered his posters out of the Bud Plant catalog and read and re-read his 1991 monograph, A Look Back, so many times that it fell apart. It was through Wrightson, and his old friend Joel Pollack (the founder of Big Planet Comics) that I learned about 19th and 20th century adventure illustration, to which I’ve returned in the last couple of years. Wrightson was the comic book heir to the EC horror line, and I suspect that if his influence on comics waned in the last couple of decades, it flourished in film via directors like Guillermo del Toro, who, like me, grew up on the stuff. I moved on from Wrightson somewhere just south of 18, but I have a a huge amount of appreciation for the work, in all its dedication and drama. He was at his best in Frankenstein, which I can still recommend, and whenever he moved into a his brushy horror mode, often in images for posters and portfolios. 

Wrightson, Jones, Kaluta, Smith.



 

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Smoot http://www.tcj.com/smoot/ http://www.tcj.com/smoot/#respond Fri, 17 Mar 2017 12:00:28 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=99415 Continue reading ]]> We are sad to report that another underground comic book great, Skip Williamson, has passed away. Patrick Rosenkranz has written his obituary.

Here’s the trailer for the documentary on the artist:

and here is a 2012 interview with Williamson. 

We will have an archival TCJ interview shortly.

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Daunting http://www.tcj.com/daunting/ http://www.tcj.com/daunting/#respond Thu, 16 Mar 2017 12:00:45 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=99371 Continue reading ]]> Rachel Davies has interviewed R. Sikoryak, primarily about his strangest and most ambitious literary adaptation yet, a comics version of the iTunes users’ agreement.

Because I try to adapt heavy, important works of literature, usually, like Crime and Punishment or Wuthering Heights, it sometimes gets daunting to struggle with a work that people are very familiar with, and that has characters that people really love. What was great about the Terms and Conditions for me was that there’s no narrative, and no one has an emotional attachment to it, at least not in the same way. I certainly don’t! It freed me up, it liberated me from having to worry about being faithful to it because there’s not a narrative to be faithful to. And it doesn’t lend itself to illustration in an overt way. I wasn’t interested in choosing a text that would be cinematic [laughs], I was interested in a text that didn’t have those concerns that I usually have when I’m doing a text. By choosing a text that had no narrative, it meant I could use the narratives of the comics that I was parodying to provide drama, or suspense, or humor. It was, in a way, a relief. I don’t know how I could do this again! [laughs] But for this project it was kind of a break from the way that I normally make comics.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. The Guardian interviewed Sikoryak too.

Sikoryak has been praised by some for making T&Cs more accessible, which he finds baffling. He just enjoys the challenge of making something dismissed as unreadable readable. In his eyes, convincing someone to read terms and conditions is just like getting someone to read “worthy” classics they feel guilty about skipping, from Camus to Beckett and beyond. “I like using texts that are perceived as important,” he says, “and that includes iTunes T&Cs. All my work is an attempt to bridge the gap between what we call high art and low art, what we think is important or serious, and what we see as frivolous and meaningless. Often, that boundary doesn’t exist.”

Raymond Briggs shares his writing day for the same paper.

Ho ho, those were the days! When one had a “writing day”. Before the advent of No 1: old age, and No 2: partner, wife, whoever, getting long-term incurable illnesses. These slightly disturb the cosy pattern of the working week. A whole day to yourself! When was that last experienced?

In 1958, I got my first 30 bob a week bedsit and was earning a living as a self-employed illustrator. This was what got me into writing. I was often amazed at how bad some of the stories I was given to illustrate were. Golly, I thought, I could do better myself! So I tried to write one and sent it to the editor for some advice. To my utter amazement, he said he would publish it. Just shows what the standard was. Me, a kid of 24.

And the most recent guest on Process Party was Eleanor Davis.

—Reviews & Commentary. It was Will Eisner’s centenary last week, and many tributes were written (some we linked to already), including a piece by R.C. Baker in the Village Voice:

Packaged in a Sunday newspaper supplement, the self-contained seven-to-eight-page Spirit stories proved a hit with readers, and by 1941 the young artist/writer/entrepreneur had a busy studio employing a staff of ten. As with Rubens before him and Warhol later, Eisner’s name was signed to artwork he never touched; many soon-to-be giants of the medium, including Batman creator Bob Kane and future Village Voice cartoonist Jules Feiffer, did apprenticeships in the Eisner studio. In a mark of his business savvy, Eisner insisted on owning the rights to his characters, and he even had the prescience, as war with Japan threatened, to buy a wholesale quantity of finely crafted Japanese ink brushes — which he preferred over domestic brands — fearing that imports might soon come to an end. Decades later he would joke that he was still using brushes from that stockpile.

And by Michael Dooley for Print:

Eisner’s graphic style was often balletic in its grace. One Contract tale opens with a full-page aerial perspective of Dropsie Avenue with its stoops, fire escapes, clotheslines strung from building to building, its elevated subway line in the distance, and many other minutely indicated details rendered with deft, casual brushstrokes. Then it’s followed spread of panels that indicates a swooping down onto tenants chatting from their windows, then a zoom through to settle in on a domestic scene. With spare use of captions and cartoon balloon dialogue, a bounty of exposition is compacted into three small pages with breathtaking fluidity.

Osvaldo Oyola echoes Barthes with an essay about the pleasures of reading serial comics.

At the time that I began regularly reading Marvel superhero serial comics, it was pretty much assumed that any series that began was meant to go on for as long as it sold well enough, regardless of changes to creative team, or even sometimes the very title of the book. When the martial arts craze that inspired the Iron Fist series started to die down, for example, it was combined with the also struggling Luke Cage, Power Man (which had already renamed from Luke Cage, Hero For Hire) to make Power Man & Iron Fist starting with issue #50. It would go on with the two characters teamed up for another 76 issues, cementing an iconic friendship that was essentially mandated by the market, but would become a defining aspect of both characters. I tried to be a regular reader of the series soon after I encountered the pair guest-starring in an issue of ROM Spaceknight, looking for the first part of the two-part story that crossed over between them—how novel such a thing seemed then!—I found other issues that drew my attention. I was taken by its premise and sense of exploring a seedier part of the Marvel Universe. Still, I was unable to read as many of the issues I would have liked, nor could I count on getting every issue each month (actually, it was bi-monthly which made finding it even harder before the days of the pull-list and the advent of the direct market). In reading the first volume of Power Man & Iron Fist (which lasted from 1978 to 1986), I was always engaging with fragments of a larger unknown (and some ways, unknowable) whole.

Ray Davis connects Cerebus to the alt-right.

Not so much Cerebus-the-character, who Jeet Heer picked as Trumpalike a year ago. More Cerebus-the-comic-book: a Shoah-slow train ride from geeky lulz to lunatic-fringe antifeminism through a series of cosmological mother-in-law jokes. Beginning with MAD parodies of teenage-boy-aimed comics, Sim took his hard-earned technique into realms in which it’s a less, let’s say, established bearer of light: the Flaming Carrot and Druckerized Lou Jacobi dropped wisdom on the moon; Druckerized Maggie Thatcher led execution-torture for the matriarchal dystopia; Druckerized Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway rotated with Druckerized Marty Feldman and Mick Jagger and Batman/Wolverine/Punisher.

Jared Gardner wants people to start archiving webcomics.

It is always worth thinking about the history of earlier storage media when making predictions about the future. Film is as good an example as one could hope to find: a vastly popular medium with international reach and lots of industrial and institutional support. At only 120 years from its origins, one might imagine that the history of cinema is fully at our disposal. Sadly, this is not the case. Today, only about 20-25% of all silent films produced in the United States between the origins of cinema and the end of the silent era in 1927 still exist. In some part of the world, that proportion is considerably lower; for example, in Japan over 90% of all film made before 1945 is believed lost forever.

—Misc. Dangerous Minds has turned up an old Charles Mingus anti-bootlegging comic strip.

As one can see from the signature at the bottom left, the strip was executed by Gene Bilbrew, an African-American cartoonist whom some credit with creating the first black superhero, the Bronze Bomber. Bilbrew had once been an assistant to comics legend Will Eisner. Later on Bilbrew worked as a fetish artist at Irving Klaw’s bondage-oriented Movie Star News/Nutrix company; Klaw also discovered Bettie Page.

Finally, Clickhole gets some a-mazing quotes from Stan Lee. (I know.)

I knew I wanted to publish comics, but I was too lazy to learn how to draw, so I had to find an artist that was dumb enough to agree to make my ideas instead of their own. Jack Kirby was the perfect patsy, a dull-eyed rube with incredible artistic talent and no common sense. I paid a visit to his house while eating a big chicken parm and offered him half if he agreed to be my art slave for the rest of his life. He immediately accepted the deal and scarfed down the half-sandwich. I never paid Jack anything after that chicken parm, and he never fully understood how raw that deal was for him, though he suspected. When Jack passed, I felt some guilt, so I gave half of a Sprite Zero I had been drinking to his widow. I know that’s what he would have wanted.

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Walkin’ http://www.tcj.com/walkin/ http://www.tcj.com/walkin/#respond Tue, 14 Mar 2017 12:00:45 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=99331 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, it’s a snowy day and Santa Joe brings you the new comics.

Elsewhere:

Al Jaffee interviewed over at Vanity Fair. It’s nice that Jaffee has had such public appreciation these last half-dozen years. 

Passings: 

The New York Times on Jay Lynch.

Classic big foot New Zealand Cartoonist Murray Ball passed away.

 

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Timeless http://www.tcj.com/timeless/ http://www.tcj.com/timeless/#respond Mon, 13 Mar 2017 12:00:08 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=99325 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site:

Katie Skelly reviews Eleanor Davis’s Libby’s Dad.

Davis returns to her toolkit once again to explore the landscapes between language and reality, threat and violence. However, Libby’s Dad’s grasp doesn’t quite take the same hold as any of the How to Be pieces. A short story about a group of prepubescent neighborhood girlfriends, Libby’s Dad finds its tension in one of the girls spreading a rumor that Libby’s newly divorced father had threatened to shoot Libby’s mother as the result of some unknown argument. Libby’s father has also treated the girls with the utmost hospitality, ordering them KFC, allowing them to eat sweets after dark, letting them use the pool in his new midlife crisis pad. Philosophical questions rise up for the girls: how could someone be dangerous and generous at once? How could they possibly be close to someone who could also destroy all of them? And the eternal question: is it ever possible to really know someone? All of Davis’s usual pieces are in play: a child’s lack of grasp of nuance; an environment capable of enveloping its characters with its visually and psychically overwhelming elements; an ambiguous distance between truth and fiction; a paranoid whisper-down-the-alley; and an intrusion of imagined violence and mental illness — all diffused within pages of them reaching their greatest pitch. Why?

Elsewhere: 

Joe McCulloch talks Tatsumi over here.

Not much comics news, but comics-adjacent painting: R.B. Kitaj has a great retrospective in New York at Malborough, and here’s a fine piece of writing on it.

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Person in Charge http://www.tcj.com/person-in-charge/ http://www.tcj.com/person-in-charge/#respond Fri, 10 Mar 2017 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=99285 Continue reading ]]> Anyhow, today on the site we have two of our great cartoonists in conversation: Phoebe Gloeckner and Julia Gfrörer. The two spoke on the occasion of the release of Gfrörer’s recent book, Laid Waste. Here’s a teaser:

PG: You just said that you’re working on the drawings; you have it all written. Is that your typical process? Do you write the whole thing out? Do you script it? What do you do?

JG: I thumbnail and script it at the same time. And then pencil it and ink it, so it’s all penciled now, and I’m just inking.

You generally do it in different passes. It general, you have the whole thing worked out, and then you return to the beginning, and start inking, and so on?

Yeah. Usually I’ll kind of jump around. I won’t do it straight from beginning to end, but I’ll do whatever part I feel like doing. If I’m feeling not super into it, I’ll ink a page or draw a page that I feel like is going to be fun or easy — when there’s not a lot happening in it. In this Flesh and Bone sequel, yesterday, I was feeling unmotivated, and there’s a page where the witch is spinning with a drop spindle. And then the thread gets tangled, it does that thing where it twists in on itself and makes a tangle. That was really easy to draw, it was just several panels of thread spinning and then tangling up. It went really quick, and I was like, this is really motivational. It was like: BAM, I finished a page.

You got into the swing of things.

Another question I had is about collaboration. Amongst your collaborations — and I don’t know all of them — I’m thinking of the work you did with Sean, and they were adaptations of Poe stories. That was just something I would just expect you to do on your own. I would totally trust whatever you would come up with, your interpretation. I’m wondering: why the collaboration, and how did that change your work?

The porn adaptations of Poe, that was Sean’s idea. He sent me the script for the first one before we really had a relationship, he just knew my work.

[Laughs.] That’s very seductive.

I know. [Laughter.] I read it, and when I realized what was going to happen in it — at first I was like, “Who does this guy think he is?” To try to improve on Poe seems like a gutsy move. When I finished reading it, I was like, “This is amazing.” I was really into it. I did end up drawing it. Then, it just became a thing we do for fun. I don’t usually collaborate with people. I drew some stuff for Anne Elizabeth Moore for a magazine but she hired me to do it. With Sean, I really like his writing, I think he as a good sense of what is going to be good for me to draw: what I’m going to enjoy drawing, and what’s going to look good drawn by me. We’ve done a couple Poe/porn books. We did a comic called Hiders, which was just a 4 page one about these two young women who turn into werewolves together. But they don’t talk about it when they’re both human.

Elsewhere:

 

 

Hooo wee, look at that great Kim Deitch drawing from the 1970s in our little window.

Podcast updates: Tucker Stone (who hangs out with Tim much more than me, which makes me secretly sad but I’ll get over it) talked Punisher over here. At Comic Books Are Burning in Hell, Joe McCulloch and Katie Skelly talk Insufficient Direction and then Joe and Chris Mautner discuss Pretending Is Lying.

Reminder: The Women in Illustration Tumblr is on quite a roll lately, especially with the always amazing Margaret Brundage.

Over at the New Yorker, Paul LaFarge details the true life of one of a character in his new novel about H.P. Lovecraft. Salient line: “Who keeps track of the lives of fans.” One of my favorite things is to track certain strains of fandom… I love the fandom that seeded underground comics, the fandom that resulted in so much commerce in the 1970s and 80s and the fandom that birthed this magazine and Fantagraphics. And now the fandom that keeps a thousand zine and comics fairs in bloom. 

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Home Plate http://www.tcj.com/home-plate/ http://www.tcj.com/home-plate/#respond Thu, 09 Mar 2017 13:00:06 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=99275 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, RJ Casey talks to the cartoonist Sophie Yanow about memoir, comics journalism, and translation, among many other things.

I am interested in architecture and economics and how those things affect livability. It seems to me that the obvious short term is that more and more people will be priced out of living in “major” cities. Seattle suffers from the same tech industry influx that San Francisco does, which for residents means so much energy spent on keeping your housing or just needing to move. The crazy capitalist endgame might be what we see in London, where entire neighborhoods are empty of people because the international super-rich have bought massive apartment buildings as places to park their capital rather than to house humans. While there are many great architects and urban planners out there, they can’t solve this stuff alone. Short term, people need to band together to strengthen things like rent control and renter protections. Long term… replace capitalism?

Also, Rob Kirby reviews the new book by Thi Bui, The Best We Could Do.

In her early twenties, Bui traveled back to Vietnam to meet her extended family. It was shortly afterward that she began to record the family’s history, hoping that “if I bridged the gap between past and present… I could fill the void between my parents and me.” Her narrative flashes back and forth in time, illustrating how larger events (war, dictatorship, immigration) shaped the family’s lives. She records her father’s traumatic, uprooted childhood in the 1950s (she calls him “Bố,” or “daddy”) and how he endured periods of living as a refugee with his abusive, philandering father in a country wracked with sociopolitical turmoil and poverty. Meanwhile, Bui’s mother (“Má”) grew up in privilege as a child of a civil engineer, shielded for many years from the dire conditions of much of the country. After marrying Bố, Má gives birth to multiple children, usually under extremely difficult conditions, including her daughter, Bích, right before the Tet Offensive in 1968; a stillborn child, Thảo, in Saigon in 1974; and her son Tâm in a UN refugee camp in Malaysia in 1978.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. The New York Times talks to outgoing New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff about some of his own favorite cartoons. I haven’t seen much extensive commentary on this upcoming change yet, but Mankoff was a somewhat polarizing figure in some cartooning circles, for various reasons including the setup of the Cartoon Bank, the magazine’s cartoon caption contest, and the fairly laborious submission process he oversaw.

While Mr. Mankoff, 72, may be leaving the magazine, he’s hardly retiring. He will be teaching a course about humor and communication at Fordham University. He’ll continue to consult on the Cartoon Bank, a licensing platform he founded in 1992. He’ll also be working on Botnik Studios, a company he’s creating with the comedy writer Jamie Brew that explores using artificial intelligence to augment creativity. (Mr. Mankoff, a former graduate student in experimental psychology, has already collaborated with a Microsoft researcher on an algorithm that can sort through the flood of entries to the magazine’s weekly cartoon caption contest.)

Newsarama talks to Ben Passmore.

I was reading some Frantz Fanon with a homie of mine, another black guy existing in the New Orleans punk scene, and comparing our experiences navigating various exchanges with our white friends and acquaintances. We were reading Black Skin, White Masks, which is largely about the psychological effects of colonization on black people. It wasn’t the first time we’d had that type of conversation, it’s the kind of thing black people that interact with some amount of white people on a regular basis have within five minutes of meeting each other. The only difference was that the context of the conversation was our sense of dysphoria, or how our social relationships with white people effected how we saw ourselves. Something about this particular conversation with my friend made me realize the extent we, black punks, live if a different world than our white friends.

The Beat talks to Maggie Umber.

I’m a cartoonist and the associate publisher at 2dcloud. This past year I had a 24 page comic in the anthology The Shirley Jackson Project edited by Rob Clough and published by Ninth Art Press. My first graphic novel, Time Capsule, was published by 2dcloud in 2015. My upcoming graphic novel, Sound of Snow Falling, is being kickstarted as a part of 2dcloud’s Spring 2017 collection.

—Misc. The New York Times gets R. Sikoryak to explain some of the thinking behind his pastiche-target choices in his comics adaptation of the iTunes users agreement.

Joe Cool, the Snoopy persona, is not that far from Steve Jobs. I had to use “Peanuts,” that’s why it’s in the first 10 pages or so, because that was one of the first things I knew I wanted to do. I’ve always been interested in pulling people into comics who might not even be that into comics, but are aware of them: “Oh yeah, I saw that Christmas special with the dog, right?” People might recognize the characters or the general notion of a strip and that sort of pulls them in.

Linda Medley, the creator of Castle Waiting, is in need of financial assistance.

Several years ago I was diagnosed with severe cervical spondylosis as well as carpal tunnel syndrome, and took some time off from creating artwork to rest, and adapt to new modes of working. Although my convalescence took longer than anticipated, I’m currently hard at work on Castle Waiting Volume 3 and hope to have the first 150-page installment ready for publication next year…but I’ll need your financial help to be able to continue working on it.

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Ticket Here http://www.tcj.com/ticket-here/ http://www.tcj.com/ticket-here/#respond Wed, 08 Mar 2017 13:00:01 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=99123 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, we bring you an interview with the late Jay Lynch by Gary Groth, conducted in the last few months of Lynch’s life. It allows a glimpse into a life led in multiple areas of cultures and small publishing, and the kind of knowledge that only a certain kind of cartoonist of a certain generation has access to.

GG: Well, one thing you have said was that when you worked for The Seed, and by the way, was that an anarchist periodical?

JL: It started as such, but it kind of evolved into one of those permission-seeking “legalize marijuana” kind of papers. And that never interested me, that attitude.

GG: Why would that not interest you? I mean, would you not want to see marijuana legalized?

JL: I would. But the way to do it isn’t to beg for it. The way to do it is to just, everybody smoke marijuana and if that happens all of a sudden it will be legal.

GG: So you’re opposed to the strategy.

JL: Yeah. Well, it started as a … There were surrealist papers in Chicago, and it started off as a spinoff of those. But then it evolved into a political thing.

GG: Now I think you mentioned that you ran afoul of their political doctrine, where they rejected work by you because it was not politically pure. Did you experience a lot of that? You said at one point that hippies don’t have a sense of humor.

JL: With The Seed, yeah. Once I ran a cover with a man thinking of a woman wearing a brassiere, a pointy brassiere. And that was sexist to them. But it ran in the Madison-Milwaukee Bugle-Americanas the cover, they printed in. But The Seed lost all of my art and all of Crumb’s art, and when they printed it they’d print it in purple ink, so you couldn’t really reproduce from what they’d printed. It was kind of … If a free press and the free exchange of ideas is the goal, it wasn’t that. It was: “This is sexist. This is not good for the revolution.”

GG: Have you become more sympathetic to that point of view, sexism and racism as unpalatable sources of humor? How do you feel about that?

JL: Well I think what he did wasn’t really racist, but it was a mockery of racism. And I think it’s good what we did, because there was a reverse discrimination type thing going on. When I worked for Renewal [magazine], we ran a — Jerry Farber was the guy’s name — article called “Student as Nigger,” which compared college students protesting against the war to Negroes working within the system during protests in the ’50s. So for the illustration to that I drew a guy that was split in half, and one half was a student wearing a tweed jacket with patches and carrying schoolbooks and having a beard — all the clichés of what was a student then. The other half was a plantation Negro holding a watermelon, and that was the analogy that was in the article. But even the editor of Renewal at the time made me change the whole watermelon-carrying half to a Negro with a black suit on, like Sidney Poitier. So there was a taboo, but it meant that all black people had to be Sidney Poitier. Like there was a big outcry against Amos ’n’ Andy, but really Amos ’n’ Andy is just The Honeymooners but they’re black. It’s not like the janitor Lightnin’ represents all characters in the thing, any more than Ed Norton represents all white men. So as a reaction to the overly sensitive depiction of blacks in the liberal media, I think that’s what I did and that’s what Angelfood McSpade kind of was.

Elsewhere:

Here’s more Jay Lynch.

Historian (and author of Lynch’s TCJ obituary) Patrick Rosenkranz:

A lengthy clip related to his fanzine collaborator, Don Doehler:

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Wham http://www.tcj.com/wham/ http://www.tcj.com/wham/#respond Tue, 07 Mar 2017 13:00:53 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=99228 Continue reading ]]> As is usual on Tuesdays, Joe McCulloch is here with his usual indispensable guide to the Week in Comics, listing and commenting upon the best-sounding comics new to stores. This week’s spotlight picks include new books by MariNaomi and Kazuto Tatsuta.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Eleanor Davis writes about her recent experience with citizen lobbying.

Previously, citizen lobbying had felt impossible to me; but after making a hundred phone calls and speaking up at rallies and commission meetings, it didn’t seem like such a big deal. I realized that just because people who disagree with me might tell me I am wrong or confused, it doesn’t actually mean I am wrong or confused. I realized I don’t think it’s wrong to irritate people or waste their time when they are actively trying to dismantle or deport everything I love about my country. I realized that whenever I wasn’t busy fighting for what I believed in, I was busy feeling very, very bad.

Hazel Cills writes about the Raymond Pettibon exhibit up in NYC.

While many still see Pettibon as the unofficial creative director of hardcore, the irony is that even as he was creating this aesthetic back in the ’70s, he was often simultaneously critiquing it. “I mean, what the fuck is a battle to punk rockers? Against long hair?” he later recalled in an interview with BOMB Magazine in 1999. “Jesus. It’s a really decadent mockery, when you think of it.” A plaque at the New Museum exhibition inside a display case of Black Flag flyers assures visitors that “most of his actual illustrations of punks were less than flattering,” and notes for the record that Pettibon’s visuals were usually not made by collaborating with the musicians. At the time, hardcore punk was a hypermasculine scene; loud, angry at seemingly everything, and ready to pummel each other in the pit, its true believers were a direct counter to the long-haired, peace-and-love hippie culture of the previous decade. Yet Pettibon’s cover art for Black Flag’s 1981 Six Pack EP depicts a man cowering in the corner, blood all over the floor, as if to mysteriously warn fans about the dangers of attending one of their shows.

At Savage Critics, Abhay Khosla has a huge multipart review of Marvel’s Civil War II.

At this point, the question of whether or not Bendis has written a “good comic” is especially meaningless. They made a Netflix show of one of his comics that won a fucking Peabody, and he got to go to the Peabody’s (!). This life’s a game, and that dude’s played the game well, man. (And I think he’s deserved his success– he worked very hard for it, anyways.)

So now that he’s had this whole career, whether one comic is good or not doesn’t seem all that Life-or-Death. But what strikes me as interesting is you can now see this entire career of him exploring and reexploring particular themes and go “oh how does this fit into that“…

More specifically, Bendis’s career-long obsession is characters negotiating situations where the Old Systems don’t work anymore– characters either choosing to redefine themselves because of their exhaustion with the old status quo, or having new status quos thrust upon them.

Neil Gaiman writes about Will Eisner.

I bought my first copy of The Spirit in 1975, in a basement comics shop in south London. I saw it hanging on a wall and knew that, whatever it was, I wanted it. I would have been about 14. Reading it on the train home, I had no idea that the stories I was reading were 30 years old. They were fresher and smarter than anything I’d seen in comics – stories that somehow managed to leave out everything that wasn’t the story, while telling wonderful tales of beautiful women and unfortunate men, of human fallibility and of occasional redemption, stories through which the Spirit would wander, bemused and often beaten up, a McGuffin in a mask and hat. I loved The Spirit then. I loved the choices that Will made, the confidence, the way the art and the story meshed. I read those stories and I wanted to write comics, too.

—News. Vanessa Davis has won The Paris Review‘s Terry Southern Prize.

This year’s Southern Prize will be presented by the filmmaker Todd Solondz to Vanessa Davis for her series “Summer Hours,” a comic in eight parts that began last June on the Daily.

—Interviews. Betsy Gomez talks to Ariel Schrag about the recent school challenge to her Stuck in the Middle anthology.

I’ve read a lot of middle-grade and young adult prose fiction, and I know that Stuck in the Middle is fairly tame compared to much of what is currently available in school libraries. Many books written for middle school-aged kids tackle similar subjects and use realistic language and scenarios. Stuck in the Middle is targeted because, being a graphic novel, it’s visual and the content is more immediately recognized. For instance, if a parent has a problem with their child reading about someone being bullied, they would have to spend more time reading through the prose of a novel to find the objectionable section, whereas opening up a comic to a drawing of a kid calling another kid a name can be recognized instantly. Comics also have a history of being considered “low brow” or “corrupting,” so despite the high caliber of the artists and work in Stuck in the Middle, people sometimes bring this prejudice to the book.

The most recent guest on Process Party is Joe Decie.

—Misc. 2dcloud has launched a Kickstarter to crowdfund their spring 2017 lineup, which includes new work by Maggie Umber and Sarah Ferrick and the Sean T. Collins/Julia Gfrörer-edited issue of Mirror Mirror.

We’ve been using Kickstarter as a mechanism for pre-orders and curated book bundles since 2010. This is our 9th Kickstarter, and it’s how we keep the lights on. We’re selling these book at less than retail cost and giving you a closer connection with us as a label and with our authors. Which we think is cool. Help us bring these works into the world

Chester Brown and Dave Sim have been arguing about prostitution and misogyny and petitions again.

According to Dave [Sim, he never considered me his friend, and] this was his reason for hanging out with me regularly:

“I [thought] it was worth maintaining communication for the sake of Canadian Cartooning Posterity.”

He wasn’t my friend, he was fraternizing with me for the sake of Canadian Cartooning Posterity? Perhaps that’s so, but I do remember Dave saying that he was my friend. Perhaps he was using the word ironically. At the time I assumed he was sincere because he certainly acted like a friend. I was sincere in being Dave’s friend. I genuinely like the guy.

Kevin Huizenga higlights a disturbingly plausible passage about how comics conquered the world from Jarrett Kobek’s I Hate the Internet.

—Not Comics. At Hyperallergic, Rob Colvin writes about “Like Art,” and how art has been influenced by social media. It would be interesting to consider whether comics has been similarly affected.

It is art that looks very much like art you’ve already seen, that you know very well, and that you already like. […] It’s “the look for less,” with no greater aesthetic aspirations. It lives for heart taps, thumbs-up clicks, and space on people’s walls — digital or brick-and-mortar.

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Um Tut Sut http://www.tcj.com/um-tut-sut/ http://www.tcj.com/um-tut-sut/#respond Mon, 06 Mar 2017 12:20:53 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=99127 Continue reading ]]> The pioneering cartoonist, historian, and satirist Jay Lynch has passed away. Aside from being an incredibly funny, dextrous cartoonist, he was, as a teenager, an important part of mimeograph fandom, as an adult, the crucial part of the underground press, and later still, a longtime contributor to Topps bubblegum cards. His was truly a career and life in art that will never exist again. 

Our coverage of Jay Lynch’s life and times is in three parts:

-Patrick Rosenkranz has written an obituary.

-Gary Groth conducted the artist’s final interview (this will run in the next couple of days).

-And we’ve republished his long out-of-print 1987 TCJ interview.

Rest in peace, Jay.

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The Waiting http://www.tcj.com/the-waiting/ http://www.tcj.com/the-waiting/#respond Fri, 03 Mar 2017 13:00:20 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=99114 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Bob Levin reviews Turkish Trilogy, a Serbian collection of comics describing and mocking low-budget Turkish cinematic remakes of Star Wars and other blockbuster Hollywood films.

As I understand it, in the early 2000s, the American blogger Seanbaby posted online reviews of bootleg videos of grab-the-bucks (or lira) unauthorized Turkish remakes of hit Hollywood movies, including Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, and The Exorcist, which had been churned out at a level of excellence which made Plan 9 from Outer Space look like Citizen Kane. These reviews caught the eye of Wostok, a Serbian cartoonist/film maker, who had seen the same bootlegs. Unbeknownst to and unauthorized by Seanbaby, he then drafted comic book scripts based upon them and led workshops, from Macedonia to Slovenia, in which dozens of amateur cartoonists illustrated these scripts, which Wostok had printed in book form in Croatia, in runs of ten or twenty, ordering more each time he sold out his stock. One of these made its way, via the internet, to Berkeley and me.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. The Chicago Tribune profiles Emil Ferris.

Ferris boards the Purple Line “L” in Evanston, not far from her home, and glances around the train car and picks a seat that offers options, the widest, most expansive view of the largest variety of subjects. She places her cane against a railing. She drops her tote bag on the seat beside her and unfolds a sketchbook with her right hand and, in her left, grips a thicket of pens. She scans up and down the car, staring at her half-dozen fellow riders for a long second or two while simultaneously not quite gawking. She looks for interesting faces, for characters to insert into her work (after a tweak or two, for privacy).

The Fridge Door talks to Jessica Campbell.

I took a class in undergrad that used Janson’s History of Art (an edition that included women, thankfully) but countered it with essays like Linda Nochlin’s “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” Frankly, most of the blatant sexism that I have encountered in art has been in the comics world, where even last year, the largest (or second largest?) comics festival in the world gave out a lifetime achievement award that, of 30 nominees, included not a single woman. And, similar to Janson’s text, about 10 years ago in comics there was a touring exhibition and catalogue called The Masters of American Comics that was intended by its curator/editor to solidify a comics canon and included not a single woman artist. I remember watching a panel discussion with him where he said that there’s “never been a female Milt Caniff,” which was essentially the same as Janson saying that there’s never been a female Rembrandt or whatever. Yeah, OK, but there is a female Mary Cassatt, Artemisia Gentileschi, Frida Kahlo, etc.

Inkstuds interviews Rich Tommaso.

—News. After a decades-long tenure, Bob Mankoff is stepping down from his position as cartoons editor at The New Yorker.

New Yorker editor David Remnick announced yesterday that Mankoff will step down and that the magazine’s Emma Allen will inherit the post. Mankoff says that he’ll continue to contribute cartoons to the publication, and that he’ll keep working on the forthcoming book “The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons.”

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Crew of 15 http://www.tcj.com/crew-of-15/ http://www.tcj.com/crew-of-15/#respond Thu, 02 Mar 2017 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=99085 Continue reading ]]> Today it’s part three of Frank Santoro’s Risograph series. This time he interviewed Ryan Cecil Smith.

Tell me about your current set up. What kind of machine(s) do you have?

I don’t have my own risograph, thankfully! Basically since 2010 or so I’ve used a risograph print shop in Japan called Retro Jam for all my color prints, and then after leaving Japan I’ve continued to use them for everything I make. I love working with them and I don’t want to change my process if I can help it. The tricky part, honestly, is the logistics of paying them and getting everything shipped to me in the US. But they do such good work, and I like working with them so much, that I’d rather figure it out than start working with someone else. And…well, it *might* be a good investment to buy a risograph for myself… but I don’t really have the space for it. I like my deal now.

Personally, I am fascinated with how risograph printing has changed the landscape around making color comics. Before risograph, as you know, the choices were expensive offset or expensive print on demand. And often dealing with those printers was difficult. The riso printers I have engaged are not faceless sales reps on the phone who have no experience making comics. So riso printers and their enthusiasm for the materials has reinvigorated the small press scene – which has drifted into “book publishing” (like giant offset press books) – and I was hoping you could speak to that?

Well, my print shop Retro Jam is kinda a mix between those two things. They are a big commercial shop with an official process and are quite strict about how they do things. They’re very professional, clear, and fast. Actually it took awhile for me to get used to this. But now, I like it! And, I think that if you only worked with them over email, they would be basically faceless and get the job done. However, thankfully I have gotten to know everyone at my print shop (they have a staff of 25 or so) and am happy to be friends and know that many of them are artists and designers, too. Which, of course, is clearly reflected in all of their website, print material, their workshop space, etc.

Elsewhere:

Lauren Weinstein remains our foremost chronicler of the new… reality. Here’s her latest.

Frank has announced the new semester of his correspondence course.

CF has announced the release of three new receipt-printer zines. Highly recommended. 

I didn’t know about this art director, Harris Lewine. Worth looking at this typography. 

 
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The Dreaded Final Exams http://www.tcj.com/the-dreaded-final-exams/ http://www.tcj.com/the-dreaded-final-exams/#respond Wed, 01 Mar 2017 13:00:44 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=99077 Continue reading ]]> Today, we bring you a new episode of Greg Hunter’s Comic Book Decalogue podcast, with the second half of his interview with Eddie Campbell, who discusses Jack Kirby’s place in the canon, Mary Perkins On Stage, and the hazards of autobiography.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. The most recent guest on Process Party is Jason Latour.

—News. After a parental complaint, an Oklahoma middle school library has pulled the Ariel Schrag-edited YA comics anthology Stuck in the Middle.

An Oklahoma middle school last week pulled the comic anthology Stuck in the Middle: Seventeen Comics from an Unpleasant Age off of shelves after one parent called it “trash” and complained of vulgarities, sexual references, and drug use in some of the stories. Although one egregiously biased local news report suggested that the book is permanently banned, an equally biased report from a competing station indicates that Mid-Del School District is following its challenge policy by forming a review committee to decide its fate.

—Reviews & Commentary. Jonathan Shapiro is disappointed by Edward Sorel’s graphic biography of Mary Astor.

Edward Sorel is the United States’s best political cartoonist. The proof is in his Richard Nixon.

A masterpiece of mordant wit and cruel accuracy, Sorel’s Nixon is less a human face than a poisonous pastry. It is a misshapen dough-face with beady eyes as dead as rancid prunes, a heavy black beard that could just as easily be poppy-seeds as rat turds, and a thrusting, penis-shaped batard of a nose. It not only looks like Nixon, but it also looks like Nixon’s unspeakable soul.

Alas, we don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.

Apostolis Doxiadis (Logicomix) explains what comics has in common with Brecht.

The graphic novel has strengths its cousins lack. Aristotle, in his Poetics, established the tradition of searching for the characteristics of a medium through its masterpieces (and it is worth noting that graphic novels are best understood as a medium, and not as a genre. A genre is defined by its content, a medium by its physical form). By Aristotle’s lights, the proper focus of this discussion would be Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Alan Moore’s Watchmen, which are in my view­ – but also that of many other lovers of the medium – the two best graphic novels ever produced. I am certain that neither could be outdone by a novel or a film trying to do the same job (and I’m not thinking here of the largely disappointing cinematic adaptation of the latter). And yet, Aristotle notwithstanding, Maus and Watchmen do not form good cases for comparison with other media – both are simply too atypical.

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Off the Menu http://www.tcj.com/off-the-menu/ http://www.tcj.com/off-the-menu/#respond Tue, 28 Feb 2017 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98983 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site it’s Joe, still at the marathon, telling you about the new comics, including two pamphlets of, as we used to call them, the genre variety.

 

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Tell Us Again About Monet, Grandpa http://www.tcj.com/tell-us-again-about-monet-grandpa/ http://www.tcj.com/tell-us-again-about-monet-grandpa/#respond Mon, 27 Feb 2017 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98922 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, we have dueling review of the new Sunday Press collection, Dick Tracy: Colorful Cases of the 1930s. First up, Frank Young:

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

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

And then comes Paul Tumey:

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

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

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew Hickey writes about Judge Dredd.

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

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

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

Sheila Heti reviews Dominique Goblet’s Pretending Is Lying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Off/On, Lights/Noise http://www.tcj.com/offon-lightsnoise/ http://www.tcj.com/offon-lightsnoise/#comments Fri, 24 Feb 2017 13:00:54 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98918 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Frank is back with the second part of this Risograph Workbook: An interview with Jesjit Gill of Colour Code Printing

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere: 

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

Here’s the blurb: 

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

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

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

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

Design by Ethan D’Ercole.

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The Groin Vaults of Branson http://www.tcj.com/the-groin-vaults-of-branson/ http://www.tcj.com/the-groin-vaults-of-branson/#respond Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98871 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, we have Alex Dueben’s interview with French cartoonist Sandrine Revel.

What interested you in making a biography of Glenn Gould?

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Word for Word http://www.tcj.com/word-for-word/ http://www.tcj.com/word-for-word/#respond Wed, 22 Feb 2017 13:00:26 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98876 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere:

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

 

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Not That It Really Matters http://www.tcj.com/not-that-it-really-matters/ http://www.tcj.com/not-that-it-really-matters/#respond Tue, 21 Feb 2017 13:00:05 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98769 Continue reading ]]> Welcome back from the Presidents’ Day weekend. Joe McCulloch is here as usual this morning with his guide to the Week in Comics! This time, his spotlight picks include new books from Vanessa Davis and Elaine Lee & Michael Kaluta. He also writes at some length about a Slovenian funny-animal detective comic.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

And Sam Thielman at The Guardian interviews her.

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

Recode talks to Alison Bechdel.

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

The LARB Radio Hour interviews Vanessa Davis.

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

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

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Summer House http://www.tcj.com/98766-2/ http://www.tcj.com/98766-2/#respond Thu, 16 Feb 2017 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98766 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere… a rogue’s gallery of links.

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

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

And here’s a podcast with Benjamin Marra.

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Challenger http://www.tcj.com/challenger/ http://www.tcj.com/challenger/#respond Wed, 15 Feb 2017 13:00:01 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98653 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Zach Davisson has written our obituary of manga master Jiro Taniguchi.

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

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


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Won’t Go Back There http://www.tcj.com/98611-2/ http://www.tcj.com/98611-2/#comments Tue, 14 Feb 2017 13:00:32 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98611 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site Joe McCulloch brings the new comics.

Elsewhere:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Favor http://www.tcj.com/favor/ http://www.tcj.com/favor/#respond Mon, 13 Feb 2017 13:00:05 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98597 Continue reading ]]> Frank Santoro is back and inaugurating a new series of columns on Risograph printing. He begins by interviewing the artist many credit with getting the recent trend started, Mickey Z:

Risograph. What is it? Where did it come from? Most of us comics makers never really even heard of risograph until 2009 or so. Recently, I was noting to a friend how much better looking most risograph printed comics look than most “print on demand” or even most offset printed comics—and how prevalent the use of risograph has become. We tried to think about the first risograph printed comic we saw–what it was and when it appeared. It was then that Providence-based comics maker Mickey Zacchilli’s name kept popping up. Many of the people I interviewed for this series mentioned Mickey’s comics printed with a risograph as an inspiration, and then they all seemed to have gone on their own risograph research and development program. So I decided to go to the source and asked the great Mickey Z to fill us in… what really happened? Read on below.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary.
At Slate, Isaac Butler reviews Joe Ollmann’s Abominable Mr. Seabrook.

Every nonfiction comic must find a way to tackle this tension between the need to tell a true story and render a personal work of art in both image and text. Art Spiegelman’s Maus and David B’s Epileptic do this through using frequent symbolism to make it clear we are not reading literal truth. Journalist Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza becomes an investigation into whether or not the truth of historical events is even knowable. Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home is organized as a series of chronologically scrambled, thematically linked episodes, as if the page is mimicking both obsessive research (which she draws herself doing) and the searching qualities of memory at the same time.

For The New York Times, Janine di Giovanni reviews three recent comics set in the Middle East, from Sarah Glidden, Riad Sattouf, and Loïc Dauvillier & Glen Chapron.

“If I locked you up, it was so you could taste hate,” Dr. Amin Jaafari’s captor says in the extraordinary graphic novel version of Yasmina Kadra’s “The Attack.” “Anything can happen if you scratch at someone’s self-esteem. Especially if they are feeling powerless.”

This is not just a simplified explanation of the complex motivations of a suicide bomber. These words, in a sense, exemplify the brutal cycle of the Middle East tragedy: Injustice leads to powerlessness, to frustration to rage, and finally to acts of violence that undercut any attempts at peace or reconciliation.

Ken Parille remembers Alvin Buenaventura.

When I’m reading a comic — especially some weak 1970s’ DC or Marvel book — I’ll often imagine Alvin watching over my shoulder, not at all happy with what he’s seeing. In a soft monotone voice he condemns me for wasting time on crap when there’s genuinely engaging, idiosyncratic work out there, waiting.

—Interviews & Profiles. Emil Ferris has drawn a short comics memoir for the Chicago Reader.

Ferris uses those early experiences as a loose backdrop in her stunning debut graphic novel, My Favorite Thing is Monsters. Set in 1960s Uptown, Monsters is told from the perspective of a 10-year-old’s diary as she attempts to solve the murder of her mysterious upstairs neighbor. The book, which is haunting, ambitious, and altogether remarkable, took Ferris more than a decade to complete. The story behind its creation is as astounding as the book itself.

A very brief excerpt of the book can be found at The New Yorker’s website, along with a quick introduction by Françoise Mouly and Genevieve Bormes.

On the eve of the publication of a work about the past, Ferris is surprised by its relevance to the present: “When I started on this—years and years ago—we were living in a different time,” she said. “I was wondering, Why am I doing this? I’m talking about the rise of fascism. I’m talking about racial inequality. I’m talking about the lack of representation for children who are lesbian and gay and trans.” She would ask herself, back then, “Is this just a history lesson that I’m making? I thought it’s good to be reminded that these are important topics.”

“Now, though, I’m a little astonished,” she said. “It has all come back.”

The most recent guest on Virtual Memories is Patrick McDonnell.

A new interview with Daniel Clowes:

—News. The artist Kurt Holley, known for comics he published under the name Kurt Wolfgang, was arrested last week for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend in Gainesville, Florida.

—Crowdfunding Requests. The family of artist Jeremy Treece is asking for help after a devastating series of health, employment, and housing issues.

Our hope is that this campaign will help our family move into a new home by February 28th, and help us find a decent used vehicle for getting the children to and from school and running errands, but also for helping Lisa (me) get to and from doctor appointments and making sure that I have the availability to accept interviews and possible job offers.
Why do we need help? Jeremy’s freelance income varies month to month and it had been my income that stablilized us- up until the point I lost my job. Our car had been a wreck from the beginning and is now being torn apart for scrap by a local salvage yard. The community we are living in has issued us an unexpected notice that they will “not be renewing” our lease, which is up as of February 28th; if we are not out by that date, legal action will be taken.

Ink Brick, the journal of comics poetry, has launched a Kickstarter.

In 2017, everyone knows that comics are a powerful medium for storytelling and beautiful artwork. But what other expressive possibilities are hidden in the form? What new things can we say with all the elements of the comics page—the panel arrangements, cartooning, word balloons and captions, lettering styles, and on and on? In short, what else can comics do?

We started Ink Brick to answer that question. We started it to create a home for this exciting form that most people still don’t know about, to create a community. We’ve now published six issues featuring over 100 creators from across the world. We’re getting more work than we know what to do with, and we need your help to expand our reach and embark on exciting new projects.

The great Sam Henderson has started a Patreon account.

I’ve been around professionally for about 25 years. I edit a comic called MAGIC WHISTLE. I had a regular comic for NICKELODEON magazine from 1993 to 2009. I’ve done work for NEW YORK PRESS, OBSERVER, COMICS JOURNAL, DC COMICS, CARTOON NETWORK, MEDIUM, DISNEY, AOL, was nominated for an Emmy for my writing on SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS in 2001, still write for the comic, have had several book collections, a development deal, yet despite all this I’m always broke. Last year I made, uh, let’s just say… less than you. Hoping this will be one of the things to change that.

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All Inside http://www.tcj.com/all-inside/ http://www.tcj.com/all-inside/#respond Fri, 10 Feb 2017 13:00:08 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98564 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site we have cartoonist Julia Wertz interviewing her friend and peer Sarah Glidden about Glidden’s recent book, Rolling Blackouts. 

Comics journalism is kind of new, at least to the general public. What do you think of the state of it now, and who’s doing good stuff? Or stuff you like?

I think it’s great! With places like The Nib, which are devoted exclusively to comics journalism. Other websites—or even magazines—which aren’t traditionally into comics, but adding comics journalism. I think there’s a lot of people doing a lot of really good work, like Joe Sacco, who’s been doing this for so long. He’s great. And he’s done work for Harper’s, publications that aren’t prone to using comics. But there’s a lot of great new people too. I really like Sam Wallman’s work. He’s an Australian cartoonist. A lot of the stuff on The Nib I think is really interesting.

Is it still a small field? A couple of you working, or do you think it’s a lot bigger than people assume? I assume it’s small.

It’s pretty small, but comics journalism—there’s a range of stuff. Lisa does comics journalism: her restaurant reviews and her movie reviews. She’s done things like the visit to the toy show. That’s comics journalism, also. I actually use her work when I do classes. I use her work as an example of comics journalism too, because I want people to know it’s not just stories about refugees. The things that you traditionally think about are Joe Sacco-style comics journalism.

Right. Very political.

I mean, you do comics journalism. I think that, in that way, sometimes people forget that there’s more to comics journalism than The Nib. Anyone working in nonfiction—basically, the lines can blur between memoir and journalism. I think that’s where New Journalism that started in the 1970s and ’60s comes in. I think that’ lots of things can be comics journalism. I’d be interested to see more movie reviews in comics form, or just like, “Here I am, dropping in to the swap meet for a day, in a new place. What is it like?”

You think it’s more palatable, especially for younger people, to see a comic, versus seeing a textbook or an article?

I don’t know about palatable, but I think that maybe comics can make people take a second look at something. At the moment, we’re bombarded by text and photos all the time. So, drawing and images that are hand drawn are more rare. When you see a comic, maybe you’ll take notice and want to read it, just because it’s different. What will happen when there’s as many comics journalists out there as there are prose journalists, maybe then people won’t really be into it anymore. At the moment, it’s an exciting time, because it is still fairly new. I think people can pay attention.

Elsewhere:

Our own Chris Mautner writes about Gerald Jablonski’s new book.

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Get Your Shovels http://www.tcj.com/get-your-shovels/ http://www.tcj.com/get-your-shovels/#respond Thu, 09 Feb 2017 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98556 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Paul Tumey shares a lecture on early food-themed comics.

When you think about it, food is a pretty ingenious topic for studying a popular art form. Eating is something we all do; it’s woven throughout cultures and histories. Viewing comics through the lens of something so ubiquitous and essential reveals a “living art” aspect to the medium. For example, an E.C. Segar 1933 Thimble Theatre Starring Popeye comic strip in which Wimpy salivates copiously over a juicy hamburger is something a reader in 2017 America can directly relate to because that food is still a part of our culture today. Wimpy would not be amusing today if his ardent passion for a hamburger with “pickles, lettuce and onions both” were instead, say, dancing the Lindy Hop. Because of its universality and direct route to our brains, hardwired to crave and consume edibles every day, food as a theme can help make a comic strip relevant to succeeding generations.

Aside from the timeless aspect, broadly surveying food themes in comics from 1865 to 1954 reveals a fascinating correlation with social movements, trends and history itself. For example, comics in the mid-1940s depicted wartime food shortages and ten years later, they skewered excessive consumerism, mirroring America’s own changes through World War Two and into the prosperous 1950s. Comics, it seems, have often reflected the times in which they were made. The great comics both reflect and comment upon the times, all the while entertaining us.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Juan Fernández reports from Angoulême.

Before we get into all dissecting and reflecting on this latest edition of the heavy weight championship of comics expos, Angoulême, let’s go for a stroll, take it easy and soak it all in. What do you say?

—Liam Otten talks to comics scholar Liam Otten.

Many comics scholars arrive through fandom. Does a more traditional academic background provide greater critical distance?

I don’t think so. There are debates about fan studies and whether fans can be rigorous scholars. But people who study high texts — Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, Toni Morrison — also have deep attachments.

I do think scholars of popular culture have a heightened sense of the need to defend their subjects. In some ways, it’s similar to black studies — which is why I’m interested in the nexus between African-American studies and fan studies. Certain kinds of fandom are like political commitments.

—At The New Yorker, Peter Schjeldahl writes about the art of Raymond Pettibon.

In his art, Pettibon only sometimes addresses topical politics, or topical anything, but he knows his archetypes, and it’s nice to have eschatological expertise on current events. How seriously to take it is an uncertainty that haunts all of Pettibon’s art, which is surveyed in “A Pen of All Work,” a retrospective at the New Museum of some seven hundred creations, mostly drawings with text. He has intrigued and befuddled a growing audience since the late nineteen-seventies, when he emerged, in Hermosa Beach, California, as a bookish surfer who made flyers and album covers for the punk band Black Flag (his older brother Greg Ginn was the founder and guitarist) and a flurry of zines. His fame took hold slowly, and it remains confined largely to fine-art circles. Seeing the show is like being lost in a foreign but strangely familiar city, where polyphonic disembodied voices whisper, yell, or sputter wit and wisdom that you’re rarely sure that you heard quite right.

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Hey Eveybody… http://www.tcj.com/hey-eveybody/ http://www.tcj.com/hey-eveybody/#respond Wed, 08 Feb 2017 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98481 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Rachel Davies brings us our second review of the great Soft City. 

The first person represented in Soft City is a baby, wide eyes and all. The book begins with the baby trying to figure out “what’s happening” as it gazes out a window surrounded by hundreds of windows just like the family’s own. While we eventually lose the outline of the baby, and their overarching thoughts strung across the page, the outlandish grandiose of adult life seems as if its been processed and regurgitated by an infant. As the parents climb out of bed, they’re already occupying their simplistic roles within the binary—the mother thinks “I must look for the baby,” while the father insists simply, “I must shave.” Soft City presents a dizzying, infant-POV understanding of our places in the world that is at once intriguing, and rather depressing. Every family in their apartment complex has one wife and one child, supporting their family by occupying the same job at the same corporation, Soft Corp. It seems that the only person who has somewhat escaped this cycle is their boss, who works in a private office, phoning in to his wife and kid who are somewhere on a beach, as well as the family’s child, who seems hesitant about this lifestyle.

Elsewhere:

Here’s a very long history of Image Comics. 

Hey, it’s Dan Clowes on French radio. 

And it’s Noah Van Sciver on internet radio!

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Kaboom http://www.tcj.com/kaboom/ http://www.tcj.com/kaboom/#respond Tue, 07 Feb 2017 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98421 Continue reading ]]> Joe McCulloch is here as usual with his guide to the Week in Comics! Spotlight picks this week include new books by Dominique Goblet and Ronald Wimberly.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. J. Hoberman writes about the cartoons of Gerhard Richter.

Before the blurry “photo paintings”—large images based on family snapshots or magazine ads—that would establish his preeminence, Gerhard Richter experimented with another form of Pop: cartoon drawings.

Shortly after the Berlin Wall went up and the painter defected, or as he would say “relocated,” from Dresden to the West, Richter drew a series of images featuring a single protagonist going through an abstract landscape. Recently discovered in a 1962 notebook, these have been published by his archives in a facsimile edition titled Comic Strip—a sparely beautiful book-object that, like Krazy Kat or Little Orphan Annie, has a central character or rather an expressive motif.

At Atlas Obscura, Lauren Young writes about the 19th century cartoonist Marie Duval.

In the late 1800s, London was swept up in the new craze of visual, satirical journalism. When Judy magazine, a twopenny serio-comic, debuted a red-nosed, lanky schemer named Ally Sloper who represented the poor working class of 19th-century England, it was one of the first recurring characters in comic history.

But credit for that character has long gone to the wrong person. Two people were responsible for Ally Sloper—and one of the creators has only recently been rediscovered by academics and comic fans.

New Yorker cartoonist David Sipress writes about maintaining sanity as an artist in the Trump era.

My own mental health has definitely taken a hit. From late last summer through early December, I drew a topical cartoon (the Daily Cartoon) five days a week for newyorker.com. I was forced to stay extremely well-informed in order to make jokes about the very stuff that was turning my head into a dark, scary place, and wreaking havoc on my digestive system. (It’s my habit to read or watch news during meals.) At night, I lay in bed, sleepless for hours, replaying the day’s events.

For The New Republic, Josephine Livingstone writes about a New York exhibition of the comics of Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb.

Best of all, perhaps, this exhibition lets the viewer see out of the eyes of one of Crumb’s women. The Crumb woman, maybe. Crumb’s comics are, to be frank, kind of sexist. He has also at times used racist imagery in his comics, to satirical but nonetheless unpleasant effect. The goddesses he manufactures are powerful but they’re not human. They’re iron buttocks, straining shirts. But Kominsky-Crumb is a person, and she draws through the experience of being desired by and desiring Robert Crumb. In this sense, the show is engaging and delightful but also, in a mutual kind of way, redemptive.

Bob Heer writes about some samples of the work of Dan Spiegle.

Frank Santoro is launching a video series of comics commentary:

Frank's Comics Corner #1 from Frank Santoro on Vimeo.

—Interviews & Profiles. Rivka Galchen profiles Mo Willems.

Last September, when I first met Willems, I had my three-year-old daughter with me. Willems, who is forty-eight, was wearing orange combat boots, black jeans, a black button-up shirt, and a dark floral blazer. He appeared to be about seven feet tall (though emotionless measurement says he is six feet two). My daughter has memorized much of Willems’s œuvre, an achievement that doesn’t greatly distinguish her from her peers. When Willems waved at her, she began to cry. “I understand,” he said. “It’s a big disappointment. The first of many.”

To promote the above-mentioned show, Paul Laster interviews Crumb and Kominsky-Crumb for Time Out New York.

When did you start working together?
RC: In 1972 we were living in the sticks. She had a little trailer and I lived in a cabin next door. She was laid up with a broken foot and was pissed at me because this other girlfriend had come to see me. So to placate her I said ,“Let’s draw a comic together.”

What was the reaction when you starting publishing them?
AKC: I’ve memorized some of the reader responses: “Maybe she’s a good lay, but keep her off the fucking page” and “Let her do the cooking; you do the cartooning.” It was a real boys’ club.

The most recent guest on Process Party is Joey Alison Sanders.

The most recent guest on Comics Alternative is Karl Stevens.

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It Still Knows How to Pound http://www.tcj.com/it-still-knows-how-to-pound/ http://www.tcj.com/it-still-knows-how-to-pound/#respond Fri, 03 Feb 2017 13:00:10 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98398 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, webcomics columnist Shaenon Garrity returns with the long-awaited second part of her Homestruck binge-read.

Mea culpa. I confess to you, my brothers and sisters, it’s been too long since Part 1 of my binge-read through Andrew Hussie’s juggernaut webcomic-cum-multimedia-phenomenon Homestuck.  My early cockiness was ill-founded. This is a long-ass webcomic that demands enormous dedication, which may explain why it attracts hardcore fans: cosplayers, shippers, epic fanfic authors and fanartists, and probably otherkin. There have to be people who believe they’re literally Homestuck characters, right? I’m disappointed with the Internet if this isn’t a thing.

This installment covers Act Five, which is at least as long as Acts One-Four put together and is in turn dwarfed by the even more massive Act Six. This is Zeno’s Webcomic: I’ve reached the halfway point several times now, only to find just as long a stretch still looming before me.  It defies Aristotelian logic, but so do most webcomics.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:


—Interviews & Profiles.
For the Irish Times, Una Mullally profiles Ralph Steadman.

One day in 1970 Ralph Steadman was out on a boat, covering the America’s Cup yacht race and feeling seasick. The illustrator’s companion on the waters off Rhode Island was the journalist Hunter S Thompson.

“Hunter was popping pills the whole time, and he was perfectly all right. I’d never had anything before. I said, ‘What are those things you keep eating?’ He said, ‘Well, they’re pills, Ralph.’ ‘What sort of pills?’ ‘Well, they’re psilocybin.’ ‘What’s that?’ ‘It just helps me through the day.’ ‘Would it be any good for seasickness?’ I said.

“This is where the phrase ‘Pay the ticket, take the ride’ comes from, because I took one. And, God, I’d never done drugs before or since. I don’t like them. I like wine, but not until seven o’clock at night. It’s all right as long as you know when to stop, like everything. The unfortunate thing with drugs is that once it’s in you it’s in you. Ain’t much you can do about it.”

For Rookie, Rachel Davies talks to Vanessa Davis.

I have this fine art background, and I’ve been inspired by a lot of design things. I love pattern making and beautiful images. When I was a younger artist, I wanted to master that. Before I wanted to be a cartoonist I wanted to be a textile designer, or a painter, or I wanted to be one of those people who mastered the way things looked. I figured I could because I was good at drawing, and I loved things that looked good. But I found that when I’m drawing comics, I’m working through a story. That’s something I fought against in my artwork for a long time because I didn’t realize I could combine those things. I didn’t realize I could combine my natural conversational storytelling, autobiographical instincts–which are probably stronger in me than my aesthetic ones. When I tried to be a designer or I tried to do beautiful things, just as beautiful things, they would fall short. They wouldn’t really do it, that isn’t where my skills lie. A lot of the stuff that you’ve seen that hasn’t been in books are things where I’m trying to work things out, [whether it’s] jokes, images, or how I draw. When I’m in the zone, I’m drawing from life, and I’m expressing a story. All the rest of the time I’m just grasping.

At the same site, Minna Gilligan talks to Hellen Jo.

As a medium, I adore comics because you, the artist and writer, are the master of the story, and because you have an intimate relationship with the reader. Comics are also so full of possibility—in terms of art, in terms of story—precisely because so much is up to you. There are no real rules, and if you are a DIY zinester, there are no bosses or editors or directors. You determine the outcome of your work. I also love that comics and zines are cheap and accessible, to both readers and creators. You want to make a zine? Sit down, draw it, print it out and staple it, and bam: You’re a cartoonist. The zine and comics communities are full of people who understand these facts, and it’s wonderful to meet and commiserate with other people who understand that holing yourself up in a dark room hunched over a desk like a dirty beast troll throughout the day and nighttime is a worthwhile and sometimes important pursuit.

—Misc. At the Paris Review, Joe Ollmann has posted the third and final installment of his comic explaining how he created his latest book.

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http://www.tcj.com/98400-2/ http://www.tcj.com/98400-2/#respond Thu, 02 Feb 2017 13:10:19 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98400 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Robert Kirby reviews the recent Spanish comics anthology Spanish Fever:

The talent roster in Spanish Fever ranges from well-known pros like Miguel Gallardo and Max, to newer artists like Ana Galvañ and Clara-Tanit Arqué. There’s a wide variety of narrative and visual styles, ranging from traditional underground comix to the ubiquitous European “big nose” style to work that would look at home in an American minicomic. In subject matter, the stories range from autobiographical, political, and quotidian to surreal and just flat-out weird. It’s an eclectic stew that comes together agreeably, making a good case for the vibrancy of the Spanish comics scene, though a few weaknesses keep it from being a truly top-notch compendium.

In his introduction, Eddie Campbell notes that the new Spanish comics all share the importance of authorial voice, i.e., that they feature characters that are pure expressions of the authors, beholden to no meddling publishers or corporations. Garcia’s forward to the collection extrapolates on this theme, offering a mini-history of Spain’s comics leading to its current artistic renaissance amid the country’s current economic crisis.

Elsewhere:

Lauren Weinstein’s wonderful strip, Normel Person, has a new installment — one of her best.

NPR reviews Mr. Seabrook. 

Daniel Clowes is having a rare solo show in Paris. Here’s the artwork on view. I love seeing Dan’s preliminaries, as nerdy as that is.

 

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Renowned Creatures http://www.tcj.com/renowned-creatures/ http://www.tcj.com/renowned-creatures/#respond Wed, 01 Feb 2017 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98346 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, we have a preview excerpt from the upcoming US edition of Dominique Goblet’s Pretending is Lying, which includes a short afterword by the book’s original editor, Jean-Christophe Menu.



Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. At Forbes, Rob Salkowitz profiles Emil Ferris, creator of the upcoming My Favorite Thing About Monsters, which looks to be a major book.

“I spent the last 20 years or so being a single mom, raising my daughter in Chicago,” said Ferris when we spoke by phone. The daughter of free-spirited artistic parents, Ferris grew up telling stories and drawing in her notebooks, much as her young protagonist Karen does in the book.

Fourteen years ago, her life took an unexpected turn. “I was bit by a mosquito, and a few weeks later, woke up paralyzed from the waist down, unable to speak and had lost the use of my right hand.” Ferris had contracted West Nile virus, and her sudden disability derailed her career doing commercial art and industrial design.

She spent her days at the Art Institute of Chicago, determined to power through her disability using the power of art. “I became so invigorated that I began to heal,” she said. “I got some facility in right hand and started to draw more, first digitally and then with pen and paper.”

For LARB, Leah Mirakhor talks to Riad Sattouf.

Is it true that you decided to begin your memoir after the Syrian uprising?

Yes, exactly. Because I had to help a part of my family still living in Homs. They wanted to come to France and were denied visas. So I had to go to the French administration and meet with people, incredible people, and I wanted to show how stupid they could be. But to be interesting, I decided I should tell the story from the beginning.

So there was almost a practical reason?

Yes, exactly. And also, because I’ve made two movies. My first movie in France was a huge success — French Kissers. And after this movie, I made another movie, Jacky in the Kingdom of Women. It was a complete failure. And after that, I had no more friends. My phone was no longer ringing. [Laughs.] It was incredible. So I told myself, “Okay, I have no more friends, my life is over, maybe everything is over for me.” And I asked myself, “What would you do before dying?” And I said I would write this story about my family and my childhood, and I started to make this book. So thanks, Jacky! [Laughs.]

As part of Black History Month, Allstate Insurance has produced a short video biography of Ariell Johnson, owner of Amalgam Comics in Philadelphia.

The most recent guest on Process Party is Sacha Mardou.

—News.
Adrian Tomine is offering a custom portrait to the person who offers the largest single donation to the ACLU by Friday. This follows similar offers by cartoonists such as Sarah Glidden, Emily Flake, Box Brown, Julia Wertz, and others. I believe those other offers were for last weekend only, but if anyone knows of similar charity drawing offers that are still available, please let me know via email or in the comments and we’ll pass them along.

After health issues and repeated brain surgeries, Bernie Wrightson and his wife has announced his retirement.

We have had to come to the sad conclusion that he is now effectively retired: he will produce no new art, and he is unable to attend conventions. Should this situation change I will happily announce it here.

He can still sign his name (in fact he was signing Kickstarter prints in the hospital!), and is otherwise pretty healthy and has good cognition. We expect to continue releasing signed prints, and offering occasional pieces of art for sale from the collection that remains. We both thank all of you for your continuing support and good wishes!

—Misc. At the Nib, Sarah Glidden has a comic about the vetting process for Syrian refugees.

In an interview about his reading habits at the New York Times, novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen speaks repeatedly about his love of comics, namechecking the Hernandez brothers, Alan Moore, Rumiko Takahashi, Osamu Tezuka, Adrian Tomine, and Gene Luen Yang, among others.

Comic books long ago predicted presidents like Donald Trump, in series like Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons’s “Give Me Liberty.”

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More Shmoos http://www.tcj.com/more-shmoos/ http://www.tcj.com/more-shmoos/#respond Tue, 31 Jan 2017 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98340 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, it’s Joe McCulloch’s weekly update, featuring Gerald Jablonski.

And elsewhere:

Longtime cartoonist Dan Spiegle has passed away at the age of 96. He was the artist of innumerable Dell comic books and later Blackhawk and Crossfire.

The great Vanessa Davis is interviewed over at Paste.

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Unless the Paper Sows the Seed http://www.tcj.com/unless-the-paper-sows-the-seed/ http://www.tcj.com/unless-the-paper-sows-the-seed/#comments Mon, 30 Jan 2017 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98301 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, our minicomics columnist Rob Clough lists his favorite shortform comics of 2016.

The more I read, the less clear I am about the difference between mini-comics and other comics. Consider the output from Retrofit, for example: are these mini-comics, standard comics, or something else? How much does the length of a mini-comic impact this classification? I will use Kurt Wolfgang’s instructive slogan (“Mini-Comics: You Know ‘Em When You See ‘Em”) and present my top short-form comics of the year, be they self-published, published by someone else, or (in a few cases) appearing on the web. The usual caveats apply here, as I’ve not read a bunch of key short-form comics from 2016 yet (Ganges 5, the latest Uptight, King Cat 76, Frontier #12 and #13, , Your Black Friend, and minis from Simon Moreton, for example.)

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. The most recent guest on Comics Alternative is Miriam Libicki.

—Reviews & Commentary.
The New York Review of Books runs a lengthy excerpt from a Chris Ware essay on George Herriman and Michael Tisserand’s new biography of the artist.

Krazy Kat has been described as a parable of love, a metaphor for democracy, a “surrealistic” poem, unfolding over years and years. It is all of these, but so much more: it is a portrait of America, a self-portrait of Herriman, and, I believe, the first attempt to paint the full range of human consciousness in the language of the comic strip. Like the America it portrays, Herriman’s identity has been poised for a revision for many decades now. Michael Tisserand’s new biography Krazy does just that, clearing the shifting sands and shadows of Herriman’s ancestry, the discovery in the early 1970s of a birth certificate which described Herriman as “colored” sending up a flag among comics researchers and aficionados. Tisserand confirms what for years was hiding in plain sight in the tangled brush of Coconino County, Arizona, where Krazy Kat is supposedly set: Herriman, of mixed African-American ancestry, spent his entire adult life passing as white. He had been born in the African-American neighborhood of racially mixed, culturally polyglot 1880s New Orleans, but within a decade Herriman’s parents moved George and his three siblings to the small but growing town of Los Angeles to escape the increasing bigotry and racial animosity of postbellum Louisiana. The Herrimans melted into California life, and it was there that George, with brief professional spates in New York, would remain for the rest of his life.

—Misc. Hyperallergic has images of many of the pages and spreads from Françoise Mouly and Nadja Spiegelman’s Resist! anthology.

Inspired by recent political events, Bully has discontinued his currently running feature chronicling celebrity appearances in comics, and rebooted the year with a new series: defiance in comics.

—News. The New York Times announced that they will be discontinuing several of their bestseller lists, including the one dedicated to comics and graphic novels. Michael Cavna of the Washington Post (which doesn’t publish a comics bestseller list) writes about the decision and some of the reaction here. Abraham Riesman writes about the development for Vulture, getting quotes from Fantagraphics’s Eric Reynolds and Drawn & Quarterly publisher Peggy Burns — and bizarrely using a spread of 1970s Marvel covers as the story’s lead image.

Obviously the Times list provided a welcome marketing tool for smaller comics publishers, and in that sense, in which it becomes a bit harder to sell good comics, this is an indirect setback for the artform. But some online response from readers has seemed oddly personal and angry, as if the Times owes fans this validation. I think that anger is misplaced; the Times’ inept regular coverage of comics is far more offensive than the discontinuation of this list. (By the way, the open dirty secret of newspaper bestseller lists is that they aren’t exactly based on hard numbers. A great deal of what you could politely call “curation” goes on. So the list was never a reliable source of sales data in the first place.) The list’s cancellation is certainly not a positive development, but a sense of perspective is always useful.

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Mores the Worse http://www.tcj.com/mores-the-worse/ http://www.tcj.com/mores-the-worse/#respond Fri, 27 Jan 2017 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98273 Continue reading ]]> Jack Mendelsohn, the cartoonist of the great and short-lived comic strip Jacky’s Diary, has passed away. Mendelsohn had a varied and well-traveled career. I’ve amended my Art Out of Time biography of him. It’s here. 

Growing up in Brooklyn, Mendelsohn’s ambition was always to be a cartoonist. His father, Irving, was Winsor McCay’s film agent, and the young Mendelsohn visited McCay numerous times. Mendelsohn also visited his favorite local cartoonist, Stan Mac Govern, and received an original Silly Milly comic strip for his trouble. A high school dropout and Navy enlistee, Mendelsohn began his comics career after World War II as a freelance gag cartoonist for magazines including the Saturday Evening Post, and a script writer for dozens of funny animal, humor, and fantasy comic books, including Felix the Cat. Later, he wrote for MAD Magazine and its sister humor comic Panic. A restless, energetic young man, Mendelsohn moved to Mexico in 1951 and stayed for the better part of the decade, hatching Jacky’s Diary there as well.

Jack is remembered by Mark Evanier here and there are Facebook remembrances here.

That’s it, folks. See you next week.

 

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Dragged in the Dust http://www.tcj.com/dragged-in-the-dust/ http://www.tcj.com/dragged-in-the-dust/#comments Thu, 26 Jan 2017 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98245 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Keith Silva is back with a review of Luke Healy’s How to Survive in the North.

The first historical account Healy recalls focuses on an arctic expedition led by Vilhjalmur Stefansson in 1913. To say Stefansson ‘led’ the expedition is a kindness Healy barely cops to, ‘financed’ and then ‘abandoned’ halfway in comes closer to the telling. The hero of the 1913 narrative is Captain Robert Bartlett a/k/a ‘The Ice Master,’ if, as Healy points out, you trust Newfoundlanders. As stolid and deep as the wilderness around him, Bartlett is what’s expected in a story about old-timey explorers and the insurmountable odds they face.

Counter to Bartlett’s alpha male is Ada Blackjack, the hero of the second historical narrative. A native Alaskan woman, Blackjack signs on as a seamstress to a 1921 expedition to claim, as the leader of the expedition tells her, “a little spit called Wrangel Island” for Canada. Blackjack plays POSSLQ in this all-male expedition which includes (spoiler) a member of Stefansson’s 1913 expedition and a perpetual grump, Lorne Knight.

Healy’s introductions to Bartlett and Blackjack show an economy in storytelling to match his drawing. Within a couple of pages and a handful of panels, Healy demonstrates how these characters will use opposing strategies to survive. Bartlett commands. Blackjack demurs. Neither strategy is better or worse. Survival results from endurance, and the method means nothing. Nature endures; humans, most of the time, do not. The arctic doesn’t care for theories, thoughts, or emotions, only practicalities. The survival of these characters depends on their natures, what they bring with them. What they pack. By setting his comic in a harsh climate, Healy plays with ideas of nature vs. nurture or determinism vs. free will, God or nothing. Blackjack plays timid, but that’s her nurture not her nature. When it comes to these historical figures, Healy sides with fate. The how these people survived or died was on them. The cold (nature) of the arctic brings out something in a person, sharpens them, but it can’t hone what isn’t there. Nature needs an edge in want of a good grinding.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Angouleme’s Grand Prix has been awarded to Cosey.

—Reviews & Commentary. At the SAW blog, Josh Santospirito, who runs a comics convention in Tasmania, writes about what happened when he decided to entirely ignore men while planning the programming at this year’s show.

So – for 2016’s festival I chose to attempt to make up for the previous two festivals with a new tactic. I simply decided to ignore men. Suddenly – the process seemed far less stressful; with this simple but strict parameter I could just look at all the great female artists (and there are squillions in the comics/illustration world) and organise the events around each of their skills and strengths. Simply by choosing to focus on one gender, I suddenly seemed to have no problem whatsoever in programming. I applied this philosophy to the visual artists, but I still attempted to get 50:50 with the bands/musicians on stage during the festival.

Then – later on in the piece once I had the shape of a pretty good festival and some of the programming gaps became a bit obvious – I placed a couple of token males (including myself) into the program to make it “appear” more rounded.

For Vice, Andrew W.K. writes a likable but mostly substance-free celebration of comics.

What was most striking about it all was the unique mode of delivery and process. The comics told stories, but they weren’t exactly literature. It was definitely art, but it proudly defied classical artistic restrictions. The work was funny, but also dark, scary, unnerving, enlightened. These “adult comics” could do anything they wanted. It was all the best things combined, and yet entirely their own thing.

And the popular mythbusting site Snopes sifts the evidence regarding the most recent internet comics kerfuffle: whether or not Captain America co-creator Jack Kirby would personally punch a Nazi.

[A biography] also recounted Kirby’s response to a violent threat against him at his workplace:

On occasion the Timely office would get phone calls and letters from Nazi sympathizers threatening the creators of Captain America. Once, while Jack was in the Timely office, a call came from someone in the lobby. When Kirby answered, the caller threatened Jack with bodily harm if he showed his face. Kirby told the caller he would be right down, but by the time Jack reached street level, there was no one to be found.

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It Keeps Going http://www.tcj.com/98225-2/ http://www.tcj.com/98225-2/#respond Wed, 25 Jan 2017 13:00:40 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98225 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site we have Matthias Wivel on the recent reissue of Pushwagner’s Soft City.

Soft City thus is a natural extension of the portrait of the individual as a depersonalized unit in society as machine that has been a central narrative in critical discourse in the modern era. Walter Benjamin’s characterization of the person as an automaton, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Aldous Huxley’s clinical dystopia, the assembly lines and buzzing wheels and cogs of Charles Chaplin’s Modern Times, and of course George Orwell’s Big Brother, form the basis of Pushwagner’s vision, while his formal presentation is in the tradition of the socially engaged modernist woodcut novels of Frans Masereel, Otto Nückel and others, as well as the disillusioned counter-culture of the 70s, notably its compromised pop art.

It would all be smotheringly rote if it were not staged with such conviction. Symmetry and synchronicity are the guiding principles. The books many panoramic spreads are ordered symmetrically, with the straight lines and angles of oppression subversively rendered in the artist’s imprecise and unruled, shaky hand. Synchronicity provides the structure of the narrative – the actions we witness are repeated ad infinitum by countless families across the at times almost diagrammatic compositions. Guided by their mothers, the children wave like machines to their fathers. But here and there, subtly, small human deviations are suggested between individual figures.

Elsewhere:

The publishing event of this young and terrible year so far is The Lowbrow Reader issue 10. That’s right. This long-running zine, edited by TCJ-contributor Jay Ruttenberg, featuring illustrations by TCJ designer and secret weapon Mike Reddy has been examining the past and present of comedy since long before anyone thought it was cool. More importantly, it has published the great drawings of Gilbert Gottfried. Even more importantly, this latest issue if fantastic, and has Jay’s brilliant discursive essay on the unlikely connection between The Velvet Underground and Family Matters. Go forth and get it.

Over at the Village Voice the great Lauren Weinstein drew an account of Saturday’s march in Washington DC. 

An interview over here with Jim Woodring and his giant pen.

“As for how Trump threatens us, I would say that, like the anxious and fear-ridden families in my book, what is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe.” –Philip Roth.

 

 

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2100 http://www.tcj.com/2100-2/ http://www.tcj.com/2100-2/#respond Tue, 24 Jan 2017 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98170 Continue reading ]]> Joe McCulloch is here with his usual guide to the Week in Comics!, highlighting the most interesting-sounding releases new to comics stores. This week’s spotlight picks include new books by Joe Ollmann and Angelo Bioletto.

It’s an NBM/Papercutz release of a 1949-50 Italian serial — indeed, an officially licensed Disney story — in which Mickey Mouse journeys through Hell, as rendered in a very tight, lunchbox-ready Disney House Style by artist Angelo Bioletto. The Dante-riffing writer is one Guido Martina, working in a good deal of legitimate verse. However, it appears the English script adds a number of new, ‘modern’ references to the original comic, I guess so the book can more efficiently be sold to kids. Ugh!


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Tom Spurgeon has posted the final two of his holiday interviews, with First Second editorial director Mark Siegel:

I think I’ve found my legs somewhat as an editor. I’ve always known there are certain stages of a book. When you have a conversation over thumbnails, I feel I’m looking at the acting, and looking at the staging and even in a cinematic way I’m paying attention to clarity in terms of the action and the staging the angles… it’s not to try to make an homogenous style of art by any mean. I really do believe that it should read not just for the cognoscenti. It should be widely accessible. That’s part of the broadening of audiences. That’s one piece of it.

And writer Joe Casey:

It feels like it’s been a long time since I gave a shit about anyone “getting it.” [Spurgeon laughs] So long, in fact, that it’s tough to remember when I actually did. And, by having that attitude, I know I run the risk of missing out on certain connections that I’m sure other creators make with their readers. Anything that operates on a purely subtextual level in my work wouldn’t be something that I would ever expect a reader to get. Again, those things are in there mainly for my own amusement. Even when the commentary runs deep, it’s still personal to me and I have no expectations that anyone else is onboard. So, in terms of “fine lines…” there are none. Not for me, anyway.

The most recent guest on Process Party is Noah Van Sciver.

The most recent guest on RiYL is Ted Stearn.

The most recent guest on Comics Alternative is Joe Ollmann.

Tom Heintjes has reposted an interview with Mutts creator Patrick McDonnell about his work with children’s books.

Koom Kankesan talks to Seth.

I’m not actually one of those “nostalgia guys” who romanticize the past. I have no illusions about the past (well, not too many). I do not wish to live in 1920 or 1930 or any earlier time. I am repulsed by much of today’s culture but I don’t kid myself that things were any better in the past. Every era is fraught with problems and injustice and vulgarity.

So, yes, what I am interested in doing is constructing my own inner worlds. Sometimes, they are direct wish fulfillment (like my city of Dominion) and sometimes they are more fanciful (like the fake Canadiana of GNBCC). You nailed it with your understanding of my relationship to Canada. I wish to reinvent it for my own needs. I pick and chose what appeals to me and construct my own narrow picture. My Canada is pretty much a Canada that never existed. It’s a jigsaw puzzle in which I have left out a lot of pieces.

—Misc. And I’m pretty sure we haven’t yet noted that Gabrielle Bell has started a Patreon for her diary comics.

For as little as two dollars a month, you can read a wealth of my personal comics and keep tabs on my life, forever. Or until this free world collapses some time this year.

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Dump http://www.tcj.com/dump/ http://www.tcj.com/dump/#respond Mon, 23 Jan 2017 13:00:33 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98178 Continue reading ]]> Today on the site, Annie Mok reviews the new edition of Vanessa Davis’ contemporary classic, Spaniel Rage.

Originally published in 2005, Spaniel Rage presents the first collected cartooning efforts by Vanessa Davis, a Florida-born and LA-based cartoonist. The book contains diary comics 2003-04 from Davis’ life in NYC, a few anthology stories, and a new watercolored introduction by Davis. The pages feature a free-form panel layout that mirrors a scattered approach to narrative, in contrast to the more structured autobiographical stories in Davis’ later book for Drawn & Quarterly, Make Me a Woman. Often funny, often tinged with loss, Davis chronicles a life page by page. It’s a flawed book: some bits fall flat due to awkward drafting skills, and some don’t work because the jokes don’t connect. However, the charm of Davis’s project, one that seems to be one of teaching or re-teaching herself to draw, overrides any shortcomings this collection faces. “I didn’t know how to make comics,” she says in the introduction, “But I could draw one thing a day in my sketchbook.”

What a weekend we’ve had. 

Francoise Mouly’s Facebook page has a good round-up of Resist!-related photos. New York Magazine has a good roundup of all the amazing signs from Saturday’s global protests. 

Garry Trudeau appears to have predicted some of it!

Over in Canada, The Beguiling’s new location is profiled. 

And Ryan Holmberg has a symposium coming up that will explore nuclear-related manga and other issues. Here’s the info:

 

On February 10-11, Duke University will be hosting a two-day symposium titled “The Nuclear Imaginary in Transnational Perspective.”

An abstract and skeleton schedule can be found below. Further details, including location, time, and paper abstracts, can be found on the symposium’s facebook page. A low-res version of the poster can found here. If you plan on attending, please RSVP here.

For further information, please email jieun.cho@duke.edu or ryan.holmberg@duke.edu

While all of the papers will be presenting fairly unknown and important material in the history of pro- and anti-nuclear visual culture, we are truly lucky to have Leonard Rifas, an underground comix author turned activist cartoonist who published one of the first anti-nuclear power comics works in 1976 (All-Atomic Comics) and as a publisher issued one of the first English translations of manga in the form of Nakazawa Keiji’s Gen of Hiroshima (1980-81).

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Strange Days http://www.tcj.com/strange-days/ http://www.tcj.com/strange-days/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.tcj.com/?p=98148 Continue reading ]]> R.C. Harvey writes about George Herriman, and Michael Tisserand’s widely acclaimed biography of the artist, Krazy.

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

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

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

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


Meanwhile, elsewhere:


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

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

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

Rob Vollmar talks to Alan Moore.

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

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

Alex Wood talks to Robert Crumb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere:

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

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

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

AN IMAGINATION ARCHIVE

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

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

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

TS: Eighties, yeah.

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

TS: Really?

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

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

DM: Oh, yeah?

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

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

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

(laughter)

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

Painting by Ted Stearn, late 1980s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

TS: (Laughs, shakes head)

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

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

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

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The most recent guest on Process Party is Leela Corman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere:

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Comics Workbook, Juan Fernandez profiles Rachel Masilamani.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere:

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

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

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

Tom Gauld and Ben Katchor each offer cartoons for coping. 

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

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

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

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

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

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

Brian Heater’s RiYL podcast features Al Jaffee.

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

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

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

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

Rob Clough writes about Sarah Glidden’s Rolling Blackouts.

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

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

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

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More and around:

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

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

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

 

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