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Sounds Commie to Me

Chris Mautner writes about Lynda Barry’s new collection, The Greatest of Marlys.

If you were asking me (and I’m just going to assume that you already did, very quietly, to yourself just now) what the essential quality is for any worthwhile “young adult” author, I would say it’s first and foremost honesty. The ability to accurately convey what it’s like to be 7 or 12 or 15 without delving into sentimentality or cliche is a tougher skill than one might suppose, given by the plethora of bathetic or worse stories lining bookstore shelves these days.  

It would be reductive of me to put Lynda Barry in the YA camp – her work routinely transcends such narrow genre specifications – but she meets that standard easily. Few cartoonists are able to detail the various joys and bitter hurts that line the path to adulthood as well as she can, often in a voice that might not sound like our own, but certainly resembles someone you know or once knew.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews. RIYL checks in with married couple (and first-time professional collaborators) Miss Lasko-Gross and Kevin Colden.

Comics Alternative talks to Leela Corman.

—Commentary. Laura Andrea Garzón Garavito writes about what she calls the “new wave” of comics in Latin America.

Gary Groth, editor of Fantagraphics, publisher and critic, said in a conference held in Bogotá last year, he felt Colombia’s panorama looked pretty similar to the one he had seen in the United States in the 80’s, which was a time for alternate exploration of both markets and formats. That means thinking comics through various lenses, thinking audiences can be broader than imagined, not only kids or old-time series followers, but a whole spectrum of different ages, backgrounds, genders, and so on. In this scenario, underground comix hadn’t even seen Maus yet! Just like it happened here!

—Misc. New work by Dan O’Neill!

 

Lying There

Today on the site we have cartoonist J.R. Williams interviewing his old pal Peter Bagge about the new Complete Neat Stuff collection.  It’s a treat to read these guys chatting about Bagge’s early NYC days and the 1980s in Seattle.

You attended SVA for only three terms.  What did you come away with from your experiences there?  What sorts of things influenced your decision to drop out?

I dropped out mainly because I ran out of money. I needed a job — a FULL TIME job — to get by. But I didn’t miss the place, either. SVA made me take a lot of courses in subjects like painting, sculpture and photography, which mainly taught me that I didn’t want to be a painter, sculptor or photographer. Not that the teachers were all that inspiring. Most of them showed up late, hungover and eager to hit on their students. I had nothing but contempt for them. And the then huge sway of abstract and conceptual art dominated the school at the time, which was a great way for blowhards with no skills to make the rest of us feel like rubes. SVA — and the New York “fine art” world in general — was a total scam back then.

Once your decision to become a cartoonist had been made, how did you proceed, at first?  You said you didn’t really know (or socialize with) any other cartoonists at that point in time, and it seems that a few years would pass before you began to make connections with other like-minded artists.

Well, I started reading underground comics (especially R. Crumb’s) in earnest while at SVA, and decided “THIS is what I want to do.” But by then I was out of school and working day jobs. So I drew comics in my spare time, using tools like a crow-quill pen that I had no instruction in using, and, well…winging it. I drew a LOT, though. Obsessively, and naturally got better as a result, though I had a huge learning curve ahead of me. Comics are hard! Sure, “anyone” can make a comic strip (as many drunken accountants and dentists have informed me through the years), but to make a GOOD comic? I’d say dentistry is easier!

Annnnd elsewhere:

All humans should either run to a newsstand or keep checking Frieze.com, because Gary Panter has contributed a masterpiece of a 7-page comic using an entirely new coloring method that I’m not at liberty to disclose. Look closely at the comic and watch the patterning and the washes and you’ll see something that, as far as I know, has never been done in comics. Also, it’s an extremely funny and insightful strip drawn straight out, no penciling.

25years

It’s late August, people. That’s it for now!

 

I Like the Christian Life

Joe McCulloch is here with his usual guide to the Week in Comics!, looking at all the best-sounding comics new to stores. And because it’s a relatively quiet week at the stores, he’s kindly offered a bonus short essay on The Crusaders.

I dunno.

CrusadersCover0001

There’s a part of me that thinks “if your comic doesn’t have a cover like this, you should just go home.” I mean, holy crap – what’s even happening?! I can’t really describe the physics, or even the spatial relationships here, let alone the completely jarring and horrific juxtapositions of digital textures, but the fucking CHAOS of this image is fantastic. I want to see what’s inside even before I notice that old-fashioned box in the upper left corner, and I realize Chick Publications is at it again.

Meanwhile elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. The most recent Inkstuds features Kevin Czap.

—Reviews & Commentary. Rob Clough reviews Tom Gauld’s Mooncop and Lisa Hanawalt’s Hot Dog Taste Test.

Her first book, a collection of assorted short stories and other ephemera titled My Dirty Dumb Eyes, was not quite the Full Hanawalt experience that I had hoped for. It was still really out there and funny, to be sure, but it felt a little safer and a little more measured & restrained. That’s understandable, given that many of those pieces were assignments, rather than directly personal work. I was worried that her new book, Hot Dog Taste Test, might be similarly muted in content. Instead, despite the fact that most of it is a collection of work published in a food magazine, I found much of it to be not only Hanawalt’s sensibilities fully unleashed, but also to be remarkably personal and even poignant at times.

At Best American Poetry, Laura Orem considers the “naked Trump” statues in relation to other political caricatures.

I’ve been very interested in the debate about the Donald Trump statues. Some find them offensive as fat-shaming, transphobic, or simply in bad taste. Others find them hilariously apt. I collected these 2-D caricatures from history because I wanted to pin down what it is about the DT statues that causes such a strong reaction, as opposed to other unflattering caricatures of him that are all over the media.

—Misc. The New Yorker published a new strip by Art Spiegelman, as well as a short selection of strips by other cartoonists that he considers one-page graphic novels.

Steven Heller looks at Trump.

The Comics Studies Society plans to start publishing Inks again next year, and it looks to have a very strong lineup of talent.

 

Torque

Hi there, today we have Annie Mok with a review of Lynda Barry’s The Greatest of Marlys

Marlys continues D+Q’s reprint series of Barry’s entire output. The original edition, a floppy paperback from Sasquatch Books, gets an aesthetic update as well as a new comics introduction from Barry. The yellow brick of a best-of feels like a textbook, and thanks to the immersive nature of Barry’s comics, a reader can get lost for days in these semi-self-contained strips, picking up a few at a time at leisure.

The semi-autobiographical stories continues Barry’s juxtapositions of sweetness and horror in the lives of young people, but this group of strips lets a little more light in than usual (as seen in works like The Freddie Stories and Cruddy). One strip, “Who Are the Dogs?” goes down the list of dogs in Marlys’ neighborhood, each with wild, Muppet-y eyes.

Bleaker elements come through subtly, due to the child protagonists’ take on the situations. A strip called “Marlys’ Guide to Queers” ends with Marlys narrating, “If you see my Uncle John and Bill, please say I miss them and come back soon.” (My heart!)

Elsewhere:

Pam Butler takes a look at some rare Krazy Kat-related images and films.

Paul Gravett interviews Chinese cartoonist/illustrator Zao Dao.

Alex Dueben interviews Trina Robbins.

Frank Santoro’s  latest benefit auction for the Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency is a treasure box of Hernandez brothers artwork and ephemera.

 

Bird

Today on the site, Greg Hunter’s latest episode of Comic Book Decalogue puts the questions to MariNaomi.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The nominees for this year’s Ignatz Awards have been announced. (One of the nominated comics is one originally published on this site, the Cartoonist’s Diary contributed by Rina Ayuyang. Congratulations, Rina!)

—Mike Baehr profiles Leslie Stein for Bandcamp.

Stein has also been soliciting suggestions on Facebook for abstract paintings, and songs to interpret. “It’s such a fun exercise for me, and seems to make other people happy too. And at the same time, I’m learning about different music and communicating with people about something we love. I think I am also trying to have fun, and obviously my work is incredibly emotional, so those blend the joy and the pain.” For Stein, her work, whether abstract or narrative, is increasingly about emotional connection: “I’ve gotten some mail from strangers that thank me for sharing [my experiences], and then they share with me. A couple have made me cry. So lately, more than ever, there’s also been a desire to help people by putting out honest and caring work.”

—The Kansas City Star profiles Joshua Cotter.

“I don’t like to spoon-feed the reader,” says Cotter, who appears as a featured guest at this weekend’s Kansas City Comic Con. “Anything I read or watch that appeals to me the most is the work that makes the reader meet the author or director halfway. The reason I like (Stanley) Kubrick, for example, is he doesn’t explain everything. He doesn’t say, ‘This is happening. Now this is happening.’ ‘Nod Away’ draws the reader into the world and makes them become a part of it.”

—The latest guest on Inkstuds is Lawrence “Rawdog” Hubbard of Real Deal fame.

—Noel Murray writes about Peter Bagge and Neat Stuff.

For Bagge, the real turning point for him with Neat Stuff was the ninth issue, which was taken up entirely by one 30-page piece, “Hippy House”—an early Buddy Bradley adventure in which he starts gravitating away from his high school friends and hanging out with a local weirdo who likes the same kind of ’60s rock that Buddy does. In the story, Buddy is both completely obnoxious and painfully relatable. He represents everyone’s worst teenage self, at once awkward and cocksure, but he’s also striving throughout to figure out who he wants to be when his school years end. “I was revealing certain things about myself in that story that I was a bit self-conscious of,” Bagge admitted.

(“Hippy House” is one of the greatest comic-book stories ever created.)

—Paul Gravett interviews the Chinese cartoonist Zao Dao.

 

Another Spoon

Today on the site,Alex Dueben continues his look at Wimmens Comix with an interview with Nancy Burton.

As a younger person I have only a vague sense of the paper. Was The East Village Other political? Was it psychedelic?

The East Village Other had just started up and was very avant-guard and freethinking. In fact one of their top contributors later wrote a book exposing mind control. You might say people were thinking out of the box. Trina Robbins later acknowledged me as the first female underground cartoonist in New York, based on that work for The East Village Other.

Your strip was called “Gentle’s Tripout” or “Gentle’s Trip Out”? I’ve come across both.

Tripout is one word. 

Why was that the title?

Remember the slogan “Turn on, Tune in, Drop out?” “Tripout” is a play on “Drop out”

Did you sign the first strip “Panzika”? Or did that come later?

As I can best remember, I signed Gentle’s Tripout “Panzika” because that was my poet husband’s last name. “Hurricane Nancy” came later.

What was the first “Gentle’s Tripout” that you brought to EVO?

I don’t have an archive of The Gentle’s Tripout strip but I brought the first one I did to East Village Other as soon as it was done cause I thought it was a great idea. My belief at the time was Christ was gentle–that’s reason for the name–and my character was a gentle alien. In my way I was trying to say, have adventures and find you own truth.

Were you a big reader of comics then? Or as a kid?

I did read comics when I was young but my favorite images were pictures of cave paintings and Egyptian wall writings. The Sunday comics were great and I did love Little Lulu!

Elsewhere:

Columbus College of Art & Design is the latest art school to offer a comics program, which is especially good since it’s in comics hub Columbus, Ohio.

Michael Dooley covers Trina Robbins’ Dope comic reissue.

And happy anniversary to Floating World Comics.

 

Like a Dog

Today on the site, we have a piece by Robert Elder on the many comic book cameos of Ernest Hemingway.

Celebrity cameos aren’t new to comic books. Both Stephen Colbert and President Obama appeared alongside Spider-Man, and Eminem got a two-issues series with the Punisher. Orson Welles helped Superman foil a Martian invasion and John F. Kennedy helped the Man of Steel keep his secret identity.

While working on Hidden Hemingway, my book about the writer’s hometown archives, I fell into a deep rabbit hole: Ernest Hemingway appearances in comics. I found him battling fascists alongside Wolverine, playing cards with Harlan Ellison and guiding souls through purgatory in The Life After.

He’s appeared alongside Captain Marvel, Cerebus, Donald Duck, Lobo—even a Jazz Age Creeper. Hemingway casts a long shadow in literature, which extends into comic books. It’s really only in comics, however, where the Nobel Prize-winner gets treated with equal parts reverence, curiosity and parody.

But as author Tim O’Brien (The Things They Carried) has pointed it, there is no one Ernest Hemingway. In fact, comic books provide a more nuanced view of Hemingway than other forms of pop culture, like the movie Midnight in Paris.

In the 40-plus appearances I found across five languages (English, French, German, Spanish and Italian), Hemingway is often the hyper-masculine legend of Papa: bearded, boozed-up and ready to throw a punch. Just as often, comic book creators see past the bravado, to the sensitive artist looking for validation.

Here, in part one of a multi-part series: we explore Hemingway homages, appearances and doppelgangers in comics, from the divine to the ridiculous.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The Daniel Clowes auction for Frank Santoro’s comics school is ending today.

—Comics Creator News has a long, compelling, and outspoken interview with Trevor Von Eeden.

Unfortunately, the folks at DC Comics chose to play a very mean-spirited and ill-advised “prank” on me, shortly after I’d started drawing the series—one with tremendous repercussions on my life and career. Newbie editor Alan Gold (who took over the editorial chores starting with issue #2) and I were summoned to a meeting to discuss the book (I forget whose office it was)—where there was only one chair available, for only one of us to sit. I refused three invitations to sit down, since there was no way I was going to sit, and have my editor stand around like an uninvited guest in a meeting that concerned us both. Alan then decided to break the ice, and after my third refusal, moved to sit in the chair himself. It collapsed completely to the floor, where he was left sitting flat on his ass, with all four legs of the chair splayed out around him. After a pause of about half a second, he laughed uproariously. However, I didn’t find that joke intended to be played out at my expense the least bit funny—as I said, I took my job very seriously—nor did I find funny the fact that the meeting mysteriously evaporated after that, with no explanation nor apology given about the strangely collapsing chair, and without a single thing about THRILLER being discussed.

—And Ruben Bolling was a guest on the RIYL podcast.

 

Forgot Vacay!

Today on the site, Joe McCulloch brings us the news of the comics world release schedule.

Elsewhere:

I’m actually “on vacation” this week, but I forgot to tell Tim and I have wi-fi and the kid’s asleep, so I’ll be here today and Thursday, just for you!

Spend your money here: There is a new issue of the great and long-running zine Cometbus, and it’s all dedicated to comics in New York! Get it here.

Fun news: Ben Katchor will be on tour this fall for the very handsome reissue of his ground breaking (and still completely wonderful) Cheap Novelties.

Good times: There’s no one I’d rather hear from about Suicide Squad (actually the only person I want to hear from) than our friend Tucker Stone.

Lose a week here: The vast mini-comic online archive Poopsheet Foundation is now live and awesome.