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We All Tried

Today on the site we’re happy to feature an interview with Emily Flake, New Yorker cartoonist and author of Mama Tried and Lulu Eightball, by Richard Gehr.

GEHR: Do you get many editorial notes from The New Yorker?

FLAKE: I get notes every once in awhile. I am often told to make my people less fat.

GEHR: Interesting. I wonder if, say, Zach Kanin gets those.

FLAKE: I wonder if he does too! I think the justification there is whether or not the drawing is about a fat person. You might also ask whether or not a certain cartoon is about the people in it being non-white. I think sometimes a person in a cartoon can just be fat, or a woman, or black, or whatever! That might speak a little to the pandering question. Simply assuming that the cartoon norm is a thin, affluent white person is a structure that I think deserves to be questioned and altered when and where it can be.

GEHR: Which leads to the question of whether or not we’re living in hypersensitive times, too.

FLAKE: In some ways, yeah. But in other ways I feel like we have to be a little hypersensitive. I do a lot of eye rolling at things. But forty years ago I might have been eye rolling at things that have directly benefited me as a woman. 

GEHR: Such as?

FLAKE: Like the whole feminist movement of the sixties and seventies. So I feel like I have to watch myself if I’m looking at kids on campus agitating for something. Because my knee-jerk reaction is like, “Oh, you fucking babies! Get it together!” You know? But as someone who has directly benefited from cultural agitation, it’s a little more my duty to be like, alright, what are they upset about? I don’t like reactions that limit speech. I find trigger warnings and the like infantilizing, and I think they have a chilling effect on speech and expression, etcetera. There should always be room for people to vigorously disagree. But I am totally OK with buildings not being named after Woodrow Wilson anymore.

And Annie Mok reviews Carol Tyler’s Soldier’s Heart.

Carol Tyler’s Soldier’s Heart collects her trilogy You’ll Never Know, which tells the story of how her father’s PTSD from serving in WWII reverberated throughout three generations. The narrative jumps between “Dad’s Army Scrapbook and Tour of Duty Highlights” and Carol’s account of the time spent making the books. During the 8-year stretch, she worked as a substitute teacher, was a semi-single mother, and slept on a mat on the floor. She mentioned in a 2012 Comics Reporter interview that she got by during this time with food stamps. (The harsh economics of cartooning makes me wonder whose stories we’re losing to time and resources, especially as deep racial and gender biases remain intact within comics institutions, as the recent Angoulême Grand Prix news illustrates. By the way: fuck the Angoulême Grand Prix.)

Elsewhere:

-Bart Beaty ponders the relative importance of Angouleme itself.

-A reminder that the great Kevin Huizenga‘s Ganges 6 is available for pre-order, and of course there’s more Kevin H available if you follow the link.

 

Surprise

Frank Santoro is back this week with a column about Pittsburgh real estate and crowdfunding.

The rite of passage which is moving to a big city and “slumming it” is something we all have heard of or experienced. I did it. I moved to the big city thinking I’d never go back home to Pittsburgh. I never understood why the locals in the Tenderloin of SF or in NYC’s Little Italy talked to me the way they talked to me. I was too dumb and young and naive to understand that I was just passing through and they knew it. That rite of passage was important to me because I realized that I didn’t belong there. Trouble was, I didn’t really belong here at home either. I’d moved away and so no one knew my face and I was treated like locals here treat the transient university population: we ignore them. It wasn’t until people on my street saw me with my Mom that they put it together who I was and that I was back. It might sound corny, but it’s like my Godfather said, “I had to go travel around for awhile to realize that where I liked it best was right here. But I didn’t know it ’til I didn’t have it.”

And we also have the seventh episode of Greg Hunter’s Comic Book Decalogue podcast. This time, he talks to Inés Estrada talks about Amanda Vähämäki, Crumb, and Bryan Lee O’Malley, and then gives a short preview of 2016 in comics.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

The three finalists for the controversial Angoulême Grand Prix have been announced: Alan Moore, Hermann, and Claire Wendling. As Bart Beaty notes, both Moore and Hermann have previously said they will decline the award if they happen to win.

 

East West

Hi there, today Ryan Holmberg brings us thoughts on the early history of artist interviews in manga, and the first translation of a complete 1969 Garo interview between great Sasaki Maki and Seiichi Hayashi.

The Goal and Purpose of Manga

Sasaki: I had previously published “A Familiar Topic” (“Yoku aru Hanashi,” Garo, November 1966) and “An Unknown Star” (“Mishiranu hoshi,” Garo, February 1967), but I feel with “A Dream in Heaven” (“Tengoku de miru yume,” Garo, November 1967) that I reemerged reborn. That’s why I think of “A Dream in Heaven” as my first work.

Hayashi: I’ve made a living in animation, when all of sudden I wanted to start making manga. Maybe it’s that I wanted to say whatever it was that I had wanted to say. I wasn’t really thinking of what the goal or purpose of manga was. I don’t think that’s changed even now.

Sasaki: When manga is used for satire, manga is being used as a means. Manga isn’t the goal. It’s the means by which to create a tangible effect. Thus, after a certain amount of time has passed, that purpose comes to an end. I respect that kind of manga. At the same time, I also respect manga that is part of the wider field of using images (eizō). Right now, I’ve ended up putting more emphasis on the latter.

Hayashi: In my case, if you ask me why I make manga, it’s simply because there was something I wanted to draw so I drew it. If you force me to explain it, I think I’d say that drawing manga is a kind of “violence.” Giving “birth” to something is violent, right? If you asked me why I gave birth to something, I’m not sure I could answer that.

I’m looking forward to reading more about this smart-sounding exhibition of African American art, comics, illustration, and other printed material. The variety of mediums and genres and the intense amount of historical works are both really intriguing.

The British cartoonist and illustrator who went by the name Andy Dog has passed away, according to Paul Gravett on Facebook.

Forbes looks at the entertainment properties created by Jack Kirby, and gets into the Marvel settlement.

The great Peter Bagge has started a new comic strip over at Vice.

 

Married to Comics

Joe McCulloch is here this morning with the Week in Comics, his indispensable guide to the most interesting-sounding comics in stores. Spotlight picks this week include new titles by Chris Oliveros and Tommi Musturi.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:
Kayla E at Nat. Brut asked ten female and non-binary creators, including Carol Tyler, mickey z, Edie Fake, and Lauren Weinstein, to comment on the recent Angoulême Grand Prix controversy.

I created an iconic self portrait in the style of Queen Elizabeth I. It was an oil painting made with the most expensive and luscious pigments on Earth. In the royal balloon above the Queen’s (my) head, it says, “I am married to comics.” Elizabeth I once said that she was “married to England” as a way of creating the identity of Great Britain, which reminded me of my full commitment to the form, like nuns who become Brides of Christ. This painting, with all its symbolism, became my manifesto.

—Interviews & Profiles. Hillary Brown at Paste talks to Tom Hart about Rosalie Lightning, his memoir about the death of his daughter.

I wrote notes incessantly for five weeks after [Rosalie died]. I knew I would have to create a book, to help these emotions find form. I stopped taking notes when they began being repetitive, but also after the final incident detailed in the book. I felt, I had been presented with all the material to heal with. Then I had to go through the work of internalizing that healing. Drawing it took roughly three and a half years. I felt I was experiencing the aftermath again. It was hard, but it was my new reality. I couldn’t deny that reality. The work of drawing it was turning my face to it to acknowledge it.

Sam Thielman at The Guardian talks to Jim Woodring about his new book, Frank in the 3rd Dimension (which is pretty stunningly effective).

There’s just a lot of stuff I’ve decided not to do because either I don’t understand it or I can’t handle it. I don’t have much to do with sex in my work because it seems to me that sex takes everything out of the realm of thought and into the realm of passion and that’s not what I’m trying to depict. And I try to avoid things that are seriously disturbing.

I wrote that passage after I did a realistic charcoal drawing of my father standing at a workbench wearing a blood-spattered apron smashing up babies with a single-jack sledgehammer. I just did it to see if I could do it, and when it was done I showed it to my girlfriend at the time who was generally supportive of me, but when she saw that she just said, basically, “You’ve brought something of such unspeakable ugliness into the world, and I don’t know how you can justify it.” […] what she said resonated with me and I didn’t want to be the author of something that would make people feel so bad.

—Craft. Comics writer Kieron Gillen created a master post containing all of his advice on scripting comics.

Charlie Hebdo. Last week began another Charlie Hebdo controversy, this time over a cartoon that many interpreted as racist and anti-immigrant. Tom Spurgeon gathered up some of the original commentary and provided his own. Apparently, the version of the cartoon that was spread on Twitter and social media was missing a headline and partner images that changed the context of the cartoon, though most likely this won’t convince everyone. One of the most interesting responses I’ve seen came from the French media critic Dan Schneidermann, who wrote an open letter to Riss, the cartoonist behind the image, making the point that whatever Riss and Charlie Hebdo‘s point may have been, in the current situation, with Charlie‘s heightened profile, and the way its cartoons are now shared and read online, the magazine should adjust their approach if they don’t wish to be misunderstood.

 

Flying

Today on the site, Mike Dawson and Alex Robinson talk Jim Starlin’s Warlock.

And Aidan Koch finishes up her week with us. Thanks to Aidan!

Elsewhere:

Bill Griffith has been posting photographs related to his book, Invisible Ink, over on his Facebook page. It’s really worth a look — the story deepens — and if you haven’t read the book, the photos themselves are good enough to merit some attention.

Eleanor Davis gets a nice profile in Columbus. 

And either it’s new or I never noticed it before, but Tom DeHaven has posted notes on the final novel of his great fictional “Dugan” trilogy about a comic strip/book character.

 

Useless to a Reader

Today on the site, Frank Santoro remembers Tim Corrigan’s 1980s minicomics zine, Small Press Comics Explosion, and the lost world it came from. Looking back over its pages, he also finds an early appearance by a young Scott McCloud.)

According to The Minicomix Revolution 1969-1989 by Bruce Chrislip, Corrigan “soon started distributing SPCE through the direct market chain of comic book shops and the print run quickly increased from 200 copies to 2,000 copies.” Chrislip explains that Corrigan would review just about anything. Soon “it became a tabloid […] and an avalanche of hundreds of small press comix showed up in his mailbox. So much so that it would be impossible to do a complete history of every minicomic published from 1986 on. There were thousands of different issues. Some were fantastic, but many were crude first attempts by fledgling cartoonists.” (Emphasis in the original.)

It’s true. So much of it looks like dreck, and sounds worse when described in eloquently baroque micro-blocks of text. It was, it seems, the real full flowering of xerox machines becoming widely available, and SPCE documents that perfectly.

And then we also have Day Four of Aidan Koch’s week creating A Cartoonist’s Diary.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Amid the Angoulême Grand Prix controversy, another political controversy involving the festival seems to have been resolved. Over the past two years, organizers protested the involvement of the Israeli company Sodastream as a sponsor (partly because of a factory located in the occupied territories of Palestine), and gathered public support from artists including Alison Bechdel, Jaime Hernandez, Tardi, Lewis Trondheim, Kate Beaton, and others. This year, Sodastream seems to have ceased its involvement with Angoulême, and the protesters have released a celebratory press release.

In censorship news, Facebook removed a 2009 political cartoon critical of Israel drawn by Brazilian political cartoonist Carlos Latuff and temporarily suspended the account of the Palestinian news site which hosted it.

Two cartoonists involved in a Charlie Hebdo-related exhibition being held in Tel Aviv’s French Embassy have alleged that their work for the show has been censored, apparently because of their depictions of Muhammad.

—Interviews & Profiles. Brigid Alverson interviewed former D&Q publisher Chris Oliveros about his new graphic novel, The Envelope Manufacturer.


Why did you decide to self-publish ‘The Envelope Manufacturer’?

I thought it would be a conflict of interest if D+Q published it. Even though I am no longer the publisher, there still is that connection that spans decades, and so I felt that if I somehow joined the roster it would only be because I had the special key for the secret side entrance to get in.

And Artinfo interviews Matthew Thurber about his new Artcomic, art comics in general, and art critic Jerry Saltz.

Jerry Saltz is supposedly an art critic, but he has no opinions. In his essays he never takes a side, or really says anything besides “I’m Jerry Saltz, look at me.” His self-absorption makes him kind of useless to others, and useless to a reader. I think a critic should have some sort of logic, some kind of philosophy behind their writing. If you don’t agree with Clement Greenberg about the flatness of the picture plane – that’s okay, at least he has expressed an opinion that you can think about or argue with. With Saltz, it’s just “The new Whitney is great!!! Although maybe it’s not! Did I tell you I used to be a truck driver?”

 

Floor Protection

Hi there,

Today on the site we bring you day 3 of Aidan Koch’s diary. 

And Cynthia Rose reports on a major retrospective on the work of Claire Bretécher: 

The new retrospective of Claire Bretécher opened five days after the last Paris attacks. It was a moment when locals were longing to hear from two parts of the populace. One tribe, of course, was philosophers and professional thinkers. But the other group was les dessinateurs – the artists behind popular comics, caricatures and press cartoons.

Bretécher’s work helps explain their expectations. She is a virtuoso and a national treasure, an artist whose work explodes with style, wit – and creative complaining. Although both her visuals and storytelling are exceptional, Bretécher’s humour exceeds the sum of their parts. She is not someone who depicts “slices of life” nor does she create gags just to end in a burst of laughter. What interests her are the common threads of our existence and what she has to say is always present tense.

Elsewhere:

Here’s a nice write-up on White Boy over at the New York Review of Books.

Zainab Akhtar interviews Michael DeForge at Inkstuds.

Gil Roth interviews Molly Crabapple.

 

 

Today on the site, Joe McCulloch is here with his usual indispensable guide to the most interesting-sounding new comics in stores, and this week, he goes on to write about Hiroya Oku’s Inuyashiki.

Inuyashiki … hails from Kodansha’s biweekly seinen magazine Evening, home of the lattermost chapters to Yukito Kishiro’s Gunnm (“Battle Angel Alita” if you’re nasty), an MMA serial by Hiroki Endō of Eden: It’s an Endless World! and various prequel installments of the Shima Kōsaku salaryman soap opera. I think the magazine skews a little older in seinen terms, and I think Inuyashiki panders good and hard to that sort of demographic, presenting an aging man, disrespected by all, who is accidentally annihilated by powers from beyond the stars and hastily rebuilt using weapons technology fit to obliterate the Earth. However, the old man is a good man, and sets about defending the helpless from rapacious younger persons by embodying the qualities of courage, sacrifice and honor so often absent from our low and selfish contemporary age.

This is classic reactionary superhero stuff, but the way its mounted suggests a very particular association for English superhero readers. Avoiding any suggestion of costume or genre glamour in favor of an icily sensational ‘cinematic’ approach booming with wide splashes, Oku’s approach is remarkably close to that of the millennial Marvel comics associated with the executive tenure of Bill Jemas.

Also, we are proud to present Day Two of Aidan Koch’s week-long tenure producing our Cartoonist’s Diary feature. (If you missed it, don’t forget to start with Day One.)

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. The Montreal Gazette profiles former D&Q publisher Chris Oliveros, and also publishes a short preview of his self-published graphic novel, The Envelope Manufacturer.

Mind you, this is no typical self-publishing scenario. The author’s name is so strongly associated with D & Q that having it on the cover is practically its own imprimatur. It’s a connection Oliveros is clearly comfortable with, having maintained close ties since handing the company reins over to Peggy Burns and Tom Devlin.

“I still go the office about once a week, and that’s good, because a clean break after 25 years would have felt really strange.”

Alex Dueben talks to the legendary cartoonist and animator R.O. Blechman, who has a new book coming out this month.

I have an ongoing argument with Gene Deitch, the director [of The Juggler]. He thought that he had proposed Boris Karloff as the voiceover but I know that it was my idea because it was not my idea, it was the idea of William Goldman, my former classmate. He said, what about Boris Karloff doing the voiceover. Sorry, Gene Deitch. We differ there. But we’re going back more than a half century, so it’s understandable.

—A/V. The Comics Alternative podcast talks to Rosalie Lightning creator Tom Hart.

Françoise Mouly appeared on PRI to discuss The New Yorker‘s post-Charlie Hebdo cover.

On C-SPAN, Ann Telnaes and Signe Wilkinson also discuss that magazine and the anniversary of the attacks on it.

R. Crumb made an appearance on the American Routes radio show, in which he talks about some of his favorite music.

—Reviews & Commentary. For the Los Angeles Review of Books, Nick Francis Potter reviews Sam Alden’s New Construction in comics form.

For Vice, Nick Gazin published his top ten comics of 2015.

—David Bowie. He didn’t make comics, but comics meant a lot to him (Raw, Beano, and Viz all made his list of 100 favorite books), and he meant a lot to many cartoonists and comics readers, with his records making prominent cameo appearances in books from major artists like Charles Burns and Chester Brown, among others (Sean T. Collins asked cartoonists to sketch David Bowie at conventions several years ago, and posted the results on Flickr). I’ve seen it written that Bowie was one of our time’s “least relatable” stars, but the outpouring of grief over the last few days seems to disprove that. Bowie constantly took risks, but he didn’t made it look easy. He was inspirational for many reasons, but for me, that may be the most important.