BLOG

Options for Pat

On the site:

Rob Steibel on very early Jack Kirby work.

Years ago Greg put out a CD that had a PDF file featuring some of Jack’s very early comics work. Recently it looks like Greg has put out a 160-page book featuring much of that material called Comic Strip Kirbyfeaturing 375 examples of Jack’s newspaper syndicate work from 1937-39. I need to pick up a copy of that, but for today, let’s go old school: I thought it might be fun to look at a few of the comic strips collected on the Theakson Comic Strip Kirby CD which is an 80-page PDF file. I want to give you a taste of Jack’s early work, so if you want a more comprehensive look at it, I encourage you to pick up Greg’s books. In the introduction of the PDF, Greg writes:

These are Jack Kirby’s earliest published works. Most were taken from a scrapbook kept by Ma Kirby. While far from complete, this is the most comprehensive collection of his strip work ever produced. I’ve looked around for years, and these are the only copies I’ve ever seen, and now you can see them too!

If this scrapbook still exists (which I obviously hope still does) I hope at some point someone can take photographs or make scans of each page so we can see what the original faded piece of newsprint looks like. I hope someone has this scrapbook, and I hope it’s in a nice cool place for safe storage. It’s difficult to decide which comics to choose to highlight here, I’ll go ahead and pick about twenty that I think will give you a nice overview of Jack’s early work. Greg has a lot of Socko the Sea Dog strips in this collection as well, but I won’t look at those for now, maybe in the future I’ll do an article on that material.

Elsewhere:

Well, the big news is that Amazon has acquired Comixology. This means Amazon is now the biggest player in digital comics and gives them yet more leverage over the relevant publishers. I’m sure we’ll have links to commentary as it comes.

On the other hand, here’s an interview with Dame Darcy on Comixology. Two strange things in one day. One bad, one good.

Katie Skelly interviewed about her new project over at Robot 6.

Hey, Richard Sala is serializing a new story on Tumblr. Thanks for the reminder, Tom Spurgeon.

The panel excerpted here reminds me of Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley.

 

It Continues

Frank Santoro is on a brief hiatus, so instead of your usual Thursday Riff Raff column, we’ve got two reviews for you. First, Brandon Soderberg tackles Robin Bougie’s Sleazy Slice #7. Very little of that review is safely quotable on this family-friendly blog portion of the site, so don’t read this if you’re one of the youngest members of your family:

It probably doesn’t matter much to Sleazy Slice artist/editor Robin Bougie, who proudly categorizes his nervy work as “filth,” but his seven years-running porno comics anthology hasn’t ever really received the credit it deserves.

See, long before art-porn that’s as much porn as it is art got absorbed into the post-Tumblr alt-comix scene, Bougie had already handed pages of his anthology over to Josh Simmons (including The Furry Trap standout “Cockbone”), published rarely translated oddities from artist Shintaro Kago, and investigated bizarre fuckbook ephemera like a deeply offensive sixties curiosity titled, “Squaw Cunt.” Certainly, something like Thickness could not have made the game-changing entrance it did without the obnoxiously un-P.C. and oft-troubling groundwork already laid down by Sleazy Slice.

Our other review is from new contributor, the cartoonist Whit Taylor, who offers her thoughts on Simon Hanselmann’s “Life Zone”:

“Life Zone” revolves around four main characters: Meg, Mogg, Werewolf Jones, and Owl. Meg, a witch, and the only female in the group, is an insecure, self-conscious, and self-medicating witch who is unknowingly the object of the other three’s affection. She is one of those people who does not realize her true value. Mogg, her cat partner, is your “typical” stoner who puts minimal effort into everyday activities. He is nonchalant, easy-going, and self-assured. Werewolf Jones, their raucous neighbor, is in constant party mode, instigating debaucheries wherever he goes. He’s also an aggressive bully at times. The most markedly different character is housemate Owl, a neurotic, yet impressionable character who is easily persuaded to go along with the rest of the characters’ intoxicated escapades. One of the reoccurring comedic gags throughout the story is him being beat up in various situations, usually due to his misjudgment, self-righteousness, and bad luck.

Elsewhere:

—News. RIP Fred Kida. More on the site soon.

—Interviews & Profiles. Margaret Wappler at the Los Angeles Times has a profile of Mimi Pond. ["{Tom} Devlin speculates that Pond isn't as well known as she should be because her former works — illustrated books on style, and cartoons for magazines — didn't play into the collector mentality."]

Erstwhile TCJ podcaster Mike Dawson appeared on Make It Then Tell Everybody, and Tom Hart, the closest thing we have to a comics saint, appeared on Inkstuds.

—Reviews & Commentary. Brian Cremins has a valuable response to the controversial Walt Kelly portion of R. Fiore’s most recent column. ["As I read these remarks, I began to wonder, what would a 'context-conscious reading' of this sequence look like? And is Fiore correct? Would it reach a different conclusion than the one in Andrae’s introduction?"] Then Jeet Heer, who left insightful comments under both the Fiore and Cremins pieces, composed an essay-via-Twitter on it all. ["There's a good argument to be made that Kelly's intent in those early Pogo comics were progressive, but they smack of blackface now."]

Rob Clough reviews Jon Vermilyea’s Fata Morgana. ["Anthropomorphic slices of pizza drip cheese in a menacing and disturbing fashion, while anthropomorphic breakfast foods get into brutal fights."]

—Misc. Osamu Tezuka gets a Google exhibit.

—Funnies. Julia Wertz on dreams.

 

Hungry!

Today on the site Rob Clough looks at the work of Jeremy Baum.

Jeremy Baum’s work to date represents that of an artist with a distinct visual style who is still finding his way as a storyteller. His comics and illustrations all revolve around the same set of subverted genre themes, as fantasy, conspiracy, and science fiction tropes are blended with his particular pet images. Specifically, Baum likes to draw variations on a particular female figure, one with bulbous, fleshy qualities. His women have pendulous breasts, long faces, big eyes, and huge teeth. Their fingers are long and spidery. Their bodies are frequently made into figures from the Tarot or Hindu mythology. His women are fairies, dryads, aliens, and goddesses, and their motivations are frequently hard to fathom. His work is deliberately enigmatic, inviting the reader to dwell on the image without spelling out its meaning.

Elsewhere:

The best news of the week is that Ron Rege Jr. is offering a new mini comic, this one a “cover” of a 1940s Wonder Woman story. I’ve seen glimpses of this on Instagram and it looks just phenomenal. Don’t miss it.

If you’re in San Francisco and REALLY into typography, go see Norman Hathaway interview Victor Moscoso about Moscoso’s radical typographic work.

Cartoonist Leah Wishnia, interviewed.

I’ve never seen this letter from Art Spiegelman about the lettering for foreign editions of Maus.

Speaking of documents, Sean Howe points us to a recent internet discovery of a Spider-Man-like predecessor.

Kate Beaton has finished her most recent comic. It’s typically excellent.

Fast Company profiles the new regime at Archie.

 

Fore

Joe McCulloch would like to tell you about the highlights from this week’s newly available comics, including new work by Hayao Miyazaki and Dash Shaw, as well as a long, odd (in a good way) essay on a long, odd (in many ways) magazine full of Japanese-language golf comics he picked up this weekend in New York City.

Golf Comic itself purportedly dates back to 1985, or I’ve disinterred from the internet; if accurate, this would place its genesis in the midst of bubble economy extravagance, where it might have seemed a safe haven for sports manga specialists; while not quite the equivalent of a life sentence, drawing sports manga does build a certain skill set that can make an artist especially assignable to different sports serials, leading to a certain substrata of mangaka whose personal catalogs are highlighted by baseball, soccer – or sometimes mainly golf.

As you can imagine, this is a world far away from most American eyes in even the most ravenous periods of manga consumption. Years ago, however, ComiPress posted a rare English-language interview with one such practitioner: Seiichi Ikeuchi, a former assistant to the great ninja comics master Sanpei Shirato, and a true-blue golfing hobbyist who built himself over two decades’ worth of golf comics output. He cannily acknowledges that this is a connoisseur’s field; that most everyone reading — presumably even the newbies who’d make use of whatever entry-level instruction a magazine’s editors deem necessary — can tell if an artist is bullshitting them, and so the most challenging aspect of the craft is “communicating the techniques to the readers through the manga.”

He is, nonetheless, a stylist, as his present Golf Comic series attests.

Elsewhere:

—MoCCA Fest. The winners of the MoCCA Awards of Excellence included Alexandra Beguez, David Plunkert, Greg Kletsel, Luke Healy, and Jess Ruliffson. Lots of reports out there, of which I’ll just link to two: Joe McCulloch at the Comics Reporter, and Robyn Chapman at her own Tiny Report.

—Interviews & Talk. Tom Spurgeon talked to Zack Soto. Françoise Mouly checked in with Joost Swarte. Evan Dorkin gave two interviews, one to Jonah Weiland, and another to Comics Tavern. Alan Moore talked about Robert Anton Wilson.

—Reviews.
Richard Bruton writes about Luke Pearson’s latest Hilda book, and Illogical Volume reviews Stray Bullets.

 

Let’s Be Nice

Today on the site:

Ryan Holmberg brings it with this eye-opening examination of the work of Matsumoto Katsuji a pioneer of shōjo manga. Over the last half-decade Ryan has single-handedly upended the standard historical narrative of comics. I hope this achievement gets the recognition it and Ryan deserves.

First, some background. The subtitle of a catalogue of Matsumoto’s work from 2006, published to coincide with the first Yayoi show, sums up the artist’s reputation: The Illustrator who Invented Shōwa Cuteness. A more accurate tag might be: The Artist who Domesticated North American Cuteness in Japan. This is easy to see in Matsumoto’s most famous character, Kurukuru kurumi chan, which means something like: Little Dizzy Wizzy Chestnut. While better known through related merchandising (postcards, stickers, water decals, bookmarks, posters, postcards, figurines, stationery, paper dolls), Kurumi chan was the star of her own manga for thirty-five years, commencing in Shōjo no tomo in 1938. Her image metamorphosed dramatically over the years and across media, to the point where it is sometimes hard to recognize the various Kurumi chans as the same character or by the same artist.

Elsewhere:

It was MoCCA weekend for many, but not for me. I wish I coulda been there. I actually wanted to be there, but parental duties take priority. I’m sure Joe McCulloch will cover some highlights. So around the internet we go…

Edie Fake’s new work, explored.

Mimi Pond’s Culture Diary for The Paris Review.

Robert Andrew Parker is an unsung illustration ruler.

And Joost Swarte explains the Three Blind Mice.

 

Tomorrow Tomorrow

Today, Brian Nicholson reviews Brandon Graham’s Multiple Warheads collection. Here’s a sample:

In other scenes, the narration works to relay the science-fiction ideas and worldbuilding, which, while they may be of interest to Graham as a writer, would be difficult for him to convey visually. The grander the scope of the idea, the more easily it falls into the background. It is mentioned there are spaceships filled with people gone to fight a war with wolves; they explode in the atmosphere. What’s foregrounded, as the thread of a larger narrative is either lost or ignored, is not specifically sex, but being in love, driving around, taking in the sights, taking in meals. It’s a book about moving forward in time, moving through space, being a body. There are action sequences that focus on movement, orientations of people getting decapitated, where dead bodies and the recognizability of faces are used as markers to orient the characters, as they jump on top of cars stuck in traffic. There are also two-page spreads of fantastical landscapes, wide vistas. These emphasized aspects, of the sensory input of places, moving through them, is highlighted both as a pleasure of comics and as a pleasure of being alive. This approach lowers the stakes in terms of storytelling drama in order to more straightforwardly just be a comic that exists for the sake of sensory pleasure.

And today is the final day of Danica Novgorodoff and her Cartoonist’s Diary.

Elsewhere:

—Mike Lynch disputes a few of Ted Rall’s statements in that anti-New Yorker rant from earlier in the week. ["The challenge here is: do you use a Mankoff, a Rall or your own self as a tastemaker? Humor, they say, is in the eye of the beholder."]

—Gary Panter briefly profiles Shigeru Sugiura. ["As the Fifties ended, Sugiura abandoned kids’ comics for more peculiar ones — melding different styles and genres of cartoons, movies, and science fiction imagery into a potent new, confusing, even psychedelic brew."]

—The philosopher John Gray reviews Mark D. White’s The Virtues of Captain America. ["Sadly, the suggestion that Captain America embodies Aristotelian virtues verges on the absurd. That Aristotle assumed his account of the human good could be realised only by middle-aged, property-owning males is well known. What is more important, from the standpoint of White’s argument, is the absence in Aristotle’s thinking of any of the modern liberal ideals that Captain America embodies. Consider an idea such as personal autonomy. Certainly Aristotle believed that individuals are responsible for their actions; but there is nothing in him of the idea that they are the authors of their lives. Even the favoured few, in Aristotle’s account, model themselves on the same conception of human excellence."]

—Sarah Horrocks reviews Katie Skelly’s Operation Margarine.

—Jack Kirby’s heirs have appealed this summer’s Marvel ruling and attempting to take their case to the Supreme Court.

 

Dust in There

Today on the site:

R. Fiore returns with thoughts on Walt Kelly, racial caricatures, M.K. Brown, George Wunder and George Carlson. It’s a doozy. Here’s where it begins:

It’s my general policy not to comment on the textual front and back matter of comic strip collections, though it often irritates me. In the first place, next to nobody reads it. In the second place, for those few who do read it, it has next to no potential to spoil the book. You’re reading the book for comics. The supplemental material might slightly enhance the experience, but if not it’s merely forgotten. It is at most an appetizer, and most of the time I leave it for last lest it spoil my appetite. However, I found Thomas Andrae’s hors d’oeuvre to Walt Kelly’s Pogo The Complete Dell Comics: Volume One (Hermes Press) went down so poorly that I feel the need for a belch.

And Danica Novgorodoff presents day 4 of her diary.

Elsewhere:

TCJ-contributor Bill Kartalopolous wrote in to remind his forgetful editors to mention a ton of amazing events related to this week’s MoCCA fest. Here are his highlights:

Swarte + Speigelman in conversation, first US appearances by Frederic Coche, Brecht Vandenbroucke and Marion Fayolles, a talk on cartoonists’ participation in the 1913 Armory Show at the site of the 1913 Armory Show, Robert Williams interviewed by Carlo McCormick, Alison Bechdel, Drew Friedman, and more. Reserved seating for the Spiegelman/Swarte was snapped up in 18 hours, remaining seats are first come first served. Bechdel/Cruse tix went almost as quickly. Plus concurrent exhibits of Friedman, Swarte and Jeffrey Catherine Jones at the Society of Illustrators.

That sounds pretty great to me. Especially the Swarte, Williams and Coche parts. If I still had a social life I’d camp out and gorge myself on all of this. I’m thrilled that MoCCA has roared back to life wonderfully with Bill so engaged in programming and European guests and a very supportive Society of Illustrators. All the info is here and here’s photograph proof that Joost Swarte is indeed in NYC. That’s just good news, period.

Elsewhere:

The best news of the week for me is that Brian Chippendale has opened his very own print emporium. Go and snap up his work!

On that note, Trinie Dalton wrote a very flattering overview of my company PictureBox.

Tom Spurgeon on new online doings by Jeff Smith.

Maurice Sendak profiled by Stefan Kanfer.

And the great Milton Glaser in conversation with the also great Steve Heller:

 

Split Screen

Today we are publishing Rob Kirby’s review of the AK Summers memoir, Pregnant Butch. Here’s an excerpt:

Summers began drawing Pregnant Butch in 2005, two years after the birth of her son, and serialized it on the webcomics site ACT-I-VATE starting in 2012. She presents herself as Teek Thomasson, often drawing Teek to look like Hergé’s Tintin (because let’s face it, Tintin is one cool look for a butch lesbian). It’s not explained in great detail why Teek and her no-nonsense femme girlfriend, Vee, decide to get pregnant, but just about every other aspect of the experience is examined in intimate detail, all from the refreshingly unique perspective of “a neurotic bulldagger.”

Teek admits the word “pregnancy” has always made her feel squeamish and offers up alternatives: “Fetal Corpulence,” “Uterine Glut.” Her fantasies of that fetal corpulence endowing her with the “broad shoulders, slender hips and titlessness required to look good in suspenders” (suspenders being part of a “dramatic masculine costume” she covets) are quickly dashed. Worse still, the billowing trousers her expanded stomach require immediately become “clown pants.” Pregnancy is neither pretty nor handsome, though Teek is routinely mistaken for a guy throughout most of her term – a fat guy. She endures indignities other pregnant women of any stripe experience: being refused employee-only restroom facilities by a compassionless bookstore manager, shopping for a midwife among an extremely variable group of candidates, and putting up with a super-enthusiastic, super-annoying childbirth instructor/performance artist. “I just couldn’t stand this woman,” Teek tells us, and we fully understand.

And we have day three of Danica Novgorodoff’s week in the Cartoonist’s Diary chair. Today she ponders the appeal of leaving New York.

Elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary.
Ted Rall thinks the cartoons in The New Yorker are bad for everybody. [“'For nearly 90 years, the place to go for sophisticated, often cutting-edge humor has been The New Yorker magazine,' says Morley Safer.

"As is often the case, what everyone knows is not true."]

Rob Clough reviews R. Crumb: The Weirdo Years. ["If a reader unfamiliar with Robert Crumb's work were to ask for a single volume in order to get a sense of his best work, the new collection from Last Gasp, R.Crumb: The Weirdo Years would be my pick."]

Tom Spurgeon reviews Amanda Waller #1. ["Looking at it on my desk, I could not figure out why other than to test the market for a certain kind of pricing on a certain level of protagonist that a $4.95 one-shot starring this very bland character from DC's 2011 recent line-wide reboot would be a good idea."]

J. Caleb Mozzocco questions the cover credits used on the new Harlem Heavyweights book.

Paul Di Filippo reviews Darwyn Cooke’s latest Parker adaptation.

Ten years on, Andrew Hickey really likes Cerebus.

—Spending Opportunities.
Study Group Books has started crowdfunding/pre-ordering for its spring list.

—Interviews. The Wall Street Journal interviews the ubiquitous Bob Mankoff: