BLOG

Where Were You?

Morning! I guess the big thing in San Diego is over now. Tom Spurgeon has the best round-up of the news from the halls. As far as I can tell, the only interesting announcements made were about reprinting old comics: Zap, the EC line from our benefactors at FB and more Artist’s Editions from IDW (Wally Wood, John Romita, Will Eisner). I love old comics, but… any new comics? Anyone? My favorite news out of San Diego: Spidey-villian Rhys Ifans was drunk and hating America at the movie panel. Y’know, having been to Comic-Con only twice, I have to say, getting drunk and hating America is a not unreasonable reaction. Luckily, upcoming Cartoonist Diary entrant Brian Ralph will be bringing us all the dirt from his magical weekend at Comic-Con.

Annnnyhhoooow, what’s new on the site today? Let’s see… A brand new Frank Santoro travel-brand column.

And, as promised herewith my comics-oriented Tokyo picture-fest! OMG! Spent a week in Tokyo the other week, which was awesomely hot. Anyone who knows me knows that my first stop in Tokyo must always be to pay homage to King Terry. My liege. We had a productive few hours, taped a good interview and discussed things. When I last saw him he was getting a haircut at his favorite barbershop, just up the street from his studio.  A barbershop, I might add, that he has colonized and decorated like a gangsta-rap loving visual virus. 

And then off to see Yoshikazu Ebisu, who was kind enough to make time just before his museum exhibition.

He was kind enough to bring along some original art to show. I remain shocked at how clean the art is. Ebisu’s lines are sure and clean. Virtually no mistakes evident. Heta-uma, sure, but with a 19th century line.

Accompanying me was our own Ryan Holmberg, who lives in Tokyo right now. Ryan and I later went to see Kosei Ono, translator and manga gadfly since the 1960s. Kosei both wrote Incredible Hulk stories for manga and translated Maus. That’s a career.

Ryan turned me on to my new favorite manga series:

Another day I went to see Keiichi Tanaami, Japanese psychedelic graphics master and, apparently, occasional experimental manga maker, as with this unsanctioned “Wonder Woman” strip rom 1969.  

And rounding out the trip was a four-day stint at the Tokyo Art Book Fair, where I got to spend some quality time with Yuichi Yokoyama. This is how Yokoyama likes to have his picture taken with fans. Yes, that shirt is one-of-a-kind. 

We did a live a conversation together, during which Yokoyama drew on sheets of paper. At the end he put the stack of some 60-70 drawings on the floor as a gift. Minor pandemonium ensued. 

And that pretty much sums up my trip! Thank you, Tokyo!

 

Made It

I have promised much, and delivered little. But I swear (sort of) that Monday will bring some good pix and fun facts on this here blog. In the meantime, here’s the best I can do.

Today on the site: Rob Clough reviews the latest Harvey Pekar book.

And if you haven’t already read Sean Rogers’ epic Walt Simonson interview, you should. On that note, IDW has just announced its next “Artist’s Edition”: Wally Wood. It’ll present the best of Wood’s EC stories at their original size, in full color. That’s good news, and those originals are truly spectacular. Which reminds me, if you haven’t already, head over to Heritage Auctions to get a gander at the stunning original art for one of my favorite Wood stories, the vicious, scathing and sad “My Word”, published in 1975. And on my final IDW tip, I greatly enjoyed Howard Chaykin’s review of Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth over at the Los Angeles Review of Books. Chaykin draws a solid parallel to Phil Spector in his review:

To convey the irony and contradiction of the place that Alex Toth commands in popular culture in general and comics in particular, we might step away from the Orson Welles-Citizen Kane metaphor, and go instead to Phil Spector and the three-minute miracles of early rock ‘n’ roll that are his artistic and creative legacy. No one — at least no one I know — would ever mistake the lyrics of Spector’s best known material for anything but teenaged pap and drivel, while his orchestration, presentation, and arrangement of this junky doggerel never fails to elevate it to the level of unequivocal genius. I still get a goose pimpling shudder of delight at the first notes of the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” and The Crystals’s “Da Doo Ron Ron,” and it’s that same reflexive joy I experience at the sight of Alex Toth’s execution of the primitive, barely pulpy scripts that make up so huge a percentage of the work every cartoonist is asked to delineate.

The whole piece is worth reading, in the ever-worthwhile interest of reading one cartoonist on another.

And finally, I’d be remiss not to mention this, the latest from Frank Miller, now complete with an animated trailer. Should be interesting.

 

Away from There

As Day 1 of Comic-Con passes (check your Twitter feeds for news, fans!) we celebrate here at TCJ with… comics.

-Jeffrey Trexler continues his work on the end of the comics code with his latest piece, which looks at recent rulings:

Just a few months after the Comics Code met its less than grisly fate, the U.S. Supreme Court cited the anti-comics crusade of the 1950s as an example of misguided censorship. The Court’s citation of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in its decision to strike down a statute banning violent video games was a signal moment in the history of the organization and the wider comics community, as the country’s highest legal authority acknowledged that the movement giving rise to the Comics Code was a historic mistake.

And elsewhere:

-Favorite thing I missed (and from which I stole the featured image): Craig Fischer on versions of Moebius’ career at The Panelists. Great to read Craig poking at the mythology surrounding the man.

-Matt Seneca builds up a loooong piece on Geoff Johns and manages to throws in a Henry Darger comparison for good measure.

-And speaking of which, here’s Eddie Campbell on the literalism prevalent in today’s comics. It’s so nice to see the man blogging again. Such a welcome presence.

 

22 Hours Later…

I’m back from Tokyo. It took 22 hours, but I’m back. I’ll have photos, facts, and amusing anecdotes tomorrow. I will say this: It was hot. And I know from hot. It was like Arizona sun combined with swamp humidity. It was so not that I lost enough weight in one week to drop a belt size, despite nightly consumption of beer to kill the aforementioned heat. That’s hot. Other than that, and no wi-fi reception on my laptop (mysterious, but true!) the trip was amazing. I met manga and design legends. I asked King Terry about his portrayal of testicles and I browbeat a 75-year-old man about precisely when in 1967 he designed a specific poster. Good times, my friends. Good times.

Anyhow, I understand there’s some kind of comic book convention opening today! Must be a big deal or something.

In our little corner of the world we have:

-Mike Dawson interviewing Jason Lutes on Berlin and his career in general.

-A re-publication of Gary Groth’s 1990 interview with Joe Simon, since there’s a certain movie coming out… also look out for Simon’s new autobiography, which contains my favorite appraisal by one cartoonist of another, ever. It’s towards the end and about Bob Powell.

And that’s all for now. Substantial posting to return and continue throughout the week!

 

C.R.E.A.M.

Sean Rogers, who conducted our recent interview with Chester Brown, has now sat down with the artist Walt Simonson for a wide ranging discussion covering everything from Manhunter to the new Thor Artist’s Editions (not to mention his thoughts on his contemporaries, what it’s like to work on movie tie-ins, and Michael Moorcock).

As you all know, Dan is traveling right now, which prevents him from blogging. Joe McCulloch is traveling, too, but it hasn’t stopped him from bringing you the latest installment of This Week in Comics.

The biggest news in comics this week is probably Peter Laird’s announcement that he plans to end the Xeric grant, ostensibly due to the ease in which new cartoonists can self-publish on the web, or using web-based fundraisers.

Nicole Rudick interviews Paul Hornschemeier for the Paris Review website.

Don McGregor is selling art to fund the payment of some necessary medical bills.

Michael Dooley interviews the historian and cartoonist Trina Robbins.

And this bodes well: the critic James Wolcott will be attending Comic-Con this year. Which is no surprise, really — he’s a comic-book reader from way back.

 

The Top of the Slide

We’ve got a real treat for you this morning, an advance preview of what looks like a strong contender to be the manga reprint of the year: Gajo Sakamoto’s Tank Tankuro. Check it out.

Rob Clough reviews Gene Luen Yang and Thien Pham’s Level Up.

And in his latest column, Frank Santoro wonders if the art of cartooning is going to go the way of jazz.

Finally, for those of you interested in continuing to debate Sean T. Collins’s recent review: Black Eye editor Ryan Standfest and anthology contributors Jeet Heer and Onsmith appeared on the latest episode of Inkstuds to discuss the book, and black humor in general.

 

The Bottom of the Slide

Good morning. Today, Dan the great Paul Karasik reviews Joyce Farmer’s Special Exits:

People in comics tend to become symbols.

In Joyce Farmer’s powerful Special Exits the people are more people-like than I have encountered in comics in a long time.

Being a comics snob, I entered the book kicking and screaming.

And Shaenon Garrity’s column returns, this time covering the entire history of webcomics, from Dr. Fun to Kate Beaton:

Is this the future of webcomics: stick figures and screencaps that can fit to an iPhone? Maybe, but at the same time, good webcomics are better than ever. When I started drawing webcomics in 2000, my chicken-scratch drawings and barely-legible lettering represented some of the better effort in the field. I could never have imagined that work on the level of Danielle Corsetto’s raunchy lady strip Girls with Slingshots, Ursula Vernon’s fantasy graphic novel Digger, or Blaise Larmee’s haunting experimental comic 2001 would be representative of the medium.

Elsewhere:

The mysterious Pádraig Ó Méalóid turns in another of his seemingly endless series of interviews with Alan Moore, covering his upcoming League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book. Actually, it’s basically nothing but promotion, but Moore is such a good talker you end up not minding.

Comics Journal fan favorite Nick Gazin wrote a column for Vice again. Bug him over there for a while, will you?

And the Guardian has a short but sweet profile of the great writer Flannery O’Connor, focusing on her little-known work as a cartoonist. (via)

 

Downhill Racer

Dan is lost in Japan without internet access, apparently, and can’t contribute to the blog while he’s there—or so he told me in an e-mail very late last night. Hey, wait a minute! That doesn’t make sense. I think I’m getting played… Anyway, once more into the breach.

Ryan Holmberg does it again, turning in another essential entry in his “What Was Alternative Manga?” series. Everything you never knew you wanted to know about Japanese mid-century crime and pulp fiction—and their relation to manga.

Elsewhere:

Ken Quattro at the Comics Detective used a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain FBI material regarding their investigation of Lev Gleason, and his possible ties to the Communist party. And he lays it all out for us here. (Thanks, RB.)

Over at the Guardian, six big-name cartoonists—Peter Kuper, Bryan Talbot, Posy Simmonds, Ariel Schrag, Martin Rowson, and Lynda Barry—name and discuss their own personal favorite comics artists. Their comments are brief, but sometimes surprising. Rowson and Barry’s commentary in particular might be considered fighting words in some households.

Rob Clough writes a ginormous survey covering the entire range of Swedish comics published by Top Shelf a few years ago.

Finally, Matt Seneca attempts his version of a Tucker Stone special, writing rapid-fire on the latest superhero shenanigans.