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Monday Monday

Dan spent some time with Ben Jones last week, and interviewed the man in anticipation of tonight’s Cartoon Network premiere of Problem Solverz.

Our man in Scandinavia, Austin English, turns in his first review for the new CJ, looking at John Mejias’s Paping Teacher’s Edition.

Elsewhere:

Paul Gravett turns in an Angouleme report.

Tom Spurgeon interviews Wilfred Santiago.

Sammy Harkham interviewed by James Romberger.

Over at HiLobrow, our own Matt Seneca uses a panel from Weird Mystery Tales to explore Jack Kirby’s depiction of women. “He was never meant to draw the average action comic’s shrinking violet of a ‘gal.’”

HiLobrow seems to be upping their comics coverage in general, actually, and today also sees the first post in a week-long collaboration with 4CP’s John Hilgart.

 

Contracts, Contacts, Comments

Our header image is by Frank Robbins. His gestural inkwork in the 1970s looks better than ever these days. In its day, it couldn’t have been a stranger fit, but now… now it looks like something I’d publish. Ha! Of course I love the 1950s and ’60s work, but there’s something about the wild line and off-kilter perspectives that just does it for me here.

On the site today: Brandon Graham Day 5! Thank you Brandon for an excellent week together. I feel we’ve become closer, learned things about each other, and bonded in unexpected yet pleasurable ways. Wait, that was my week with my puppy. What were we talking about? Brandon! Tim and I have been thrilled to host Brandon, as we both admire his work and vision. Follow him some more over at Royal Boiler.

Your links, madam:

• I enjoyed this piece on Bernard Baily by Ken Quattro. The more in-depth, “how they lived” style pieces on cartoonists that appear, the richer the general history becomes. Baily is someone whose early work on The Spectre stands out for me for it’s hazy gloom.

* Daniel Best has multiple transcriptions of the parts of some of the depositions made public thus far in the ongoing Kirby v. Marvel case. These are text versions of the PDF documents available online at Justia. Following on that, Sean Howe focuses on the publication of Steve Gerber’s 1977 contract with Marvel for Howard the Duck. If that’s not enough Howard for you, click over to TCJ #40 and check out the Howard newspaper reprints from that issue.

* Related: New Steve Ditko book ready for shipping.

* Unrelated: The Dallas Observer takes a closer look at the Dark Knight Returns page being offered for sale by Heritage Auctions.

* Baseball and Comics Dept.: Huizenga, May, and Zettwoch each take on opening day over at Leon Beyond. Tom Spurgeon interviews Wilfred Santiago.

Have a good weekend.

 

The Sense That There Are Invisible Forces

New feature up today: Tara Sinn introduces (and interviews) the mysterious Japanese poster artist Aquirax Uno, and day four of Brandon Graham’s diary.

“My inspiration for these stories simply comes from the strangeness of life and the the sense that there are invisible forces behind things, and things happen for reasons we can’t fully understand.” Am I the only person who missed this brief but very well done video interview with Jim Woodring?

This one-question interview with Johnny Ryan kills my lonely fantasy that Prison Pit‘s plot was maybe, kind of, sort of a loose remake of Robert Sheckley’s The Status Civilization. I guess it was always kind of more obviously inspired by the story in the back of Real Deal #1, anyway. (Prison Pit fans who haven’t read that issue better get on it.)

A nice, and surprisingly informed, short tribute to Captain Marvel artist and former Journal columnist C.C. Beck appeared on The New Yorker‘s website yesterday.

Do you know anything about 1940s cartoonist Ann Roy? If so, current Journal columnist Ken Parille needs your help.

Another current Journal columnist, Jeet Heer, turned in a solid review of two recently reissued (and near canonical) comic histories for Publishers Weekly. I haven’t yet read the Jerry Robinson book, but I agree with Jeet about the value of Brian Walker’s collection.

Offhand, I can’t think of any epistolary comics, but it’s a great idea, with a lot of unexplored potential. Aidan Koch and Jaakko Pallasvuo are giving it a try right now.

We will review Jacques Tardi’s Arctic Marauder soon, I promise. In the meantime, Craig Fischer has a smart-as-always response to the book here.

Finally, Comics Alliance has gathered several videos from French television featuring the likes of Moebius, Hugo Pratt, and Joe Kubert in action.

 

Maximum Meat Flavor For Minimum Money

That’s right, I’m in Chicago for less than hours. Came out to see the Jim Nutt retrospective at the MCA, “Coming into Character.” Scandalously, it is not traveling outside of the city — through know fault of the show itself — amazingly (or actually not, if you’re familiar with recent programming decisions by other major museums), no other institution would take it. I’ll keep it simple: If you can, go see this show. It’s the best single-artist retrospective I’ve seen in a very very long time. Maybe since Dieter Roth at MoMA – PS1 in 2004. Watching Nutt tighten his focus to intensely rendered and detailed imagined portraits is riveting. These are paintings that can be looked at for hours — worlds of brushwork exist within each area of these images. Every mark builds on the next, and the intersecting planes and surfaces build to multiple crescendos. Nutt is a real modern master, and one whose early language in the 1960s was highly involved with flat, comic-strip/advertising rendering. He’s very far away from that now, though one can still see a bit of the diagramatic Gould grotesque in him if you squint just right.

Not that it’s all culture here — when I come to Chicago I roll with pal Ethan D’Ercole, who started me out with tacos, moved along to hot dogs, and finished off with deep dish pizza (the kind with the sauce on top, and, in a unique twist, a crust wrapped with carmelized cheese — delightful).

Anyhow, it’s a quick blog from me today, since I’m traveling and also in a food coma.

And your links:

* Amy Poodle on Batman Incorporated #4.
* This story is just sad, but obviously also infuriating and dangerous to the creators involved. Sad.
* This is fun: A bunch of prelim and promo art for Marvel’s Strange Tales II.
* Bob Powell: A damn fine journeyman. Here’s a 1944 war comic starring “The Spirit of ’76″.

On the site:

Tucker Stone on Jason Shiga’s latest.

And with that, kind people, I go back to digesting.

 

My Dinner without Andre

It is easy to pick a side in the long-running debate between Garfield Minus Garfield and the original Silent Garfield. The latter reveals a bleak hidden dimension to the original strip, and enlarges our understanding by offering a new way to read it. The former simply relies on a cheap gimmick that reveals nothing other than the banal observation that if you remove one character from a dialogue, the remaining figures will look foolish. Take Andre Gregory out of My Dinner with Andre and you’ll make Wallace Shawn look weird, too. So what? (I’d like to call dibs on that YouTube edit, by the way.) After all, it’s no surprise that Garfield Minus Garfield got official approval and a book, while Silent Garfield quietly disappeared.

These thoughts are prompted by the new popular “viral” comic-strip edit, 3eanuts. The idea here is simple, too. As the site says, “Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comics often conceal the existential despair of their world with a closing joke at the characters’ expense. With the last panel omitted, despair pervades all.” You could perform this trick with most stories too—lop off the ending of anything from Psycho to Romeo & Juliet or Goodfellas, and you’ll get a radically different tone and impression. So in a sense this is another facile experiment, but at least it illuminates something about how powerfully an artist’s editing choices affect the reader. (via)

Today on TCJ:

Don’t miss Jog’s latest column, Shaenon Garrity’s long-awaited return to the Journal with a review of the latest volume of Finder, and day two of Brandon Graham’s diary.

More links:

Philip Nel brings us Crockett Johnson’s first strip.

Jim (“Our Nixon”) Shooter is still blogging, and just put up a post about how he became editor-in-chief of Marvel while he was still in his twenties.

The comments thread after this typically terrific Glenn Kenny post on Taxi Driver sees various of his readers getting back into the old argument over whether the main character of Scorsese’s Raging Bull is “identifiable” — a debate that always seems to flare up around Scorsese and Coen Bros. films, and which also brings to mind last year’s back-and-forth on more or less the same topic regarding Daniel Clowes’s Wilson. Both sides of the character debate are represented well on the Kenny thread.

Joanne Siegel’s letter to the head of Time Warner from shortly before her death is a must read (Spurgeon explains), and very sad.

 

Monday Madness

First, some office work.

Earth people, send us your event listings. As you may have noticed, we are publishing event listings. We wish to fill them up. So, direct your listing news to: events@tcj.com.

We have uploaded issues 37 and 39-41 of ye ol’ TCJ. Only 260 more to go. Almost there! But these issues are chock full of goodness. Issue 40, for example, has an interview with a young-ish Jim Shooter, just a little while before he was branded “Our Nixon.” Kim Thompson, meanwhile, contributed a piece about Tom Sutton, and the great John Benson has an early (and very prescient) overview of Art Spiegelman’s work. TCJ and Tom Sutton: A long term love affair. Issue 39 has a long piece on the now-infamous 1978 DC Comics contraction, a lengthy report on the then-comatose underground comics scene, and in the reviews dept., we have Kim giving Marvel 1970s-era Kirby a tough talking to, while Groth takes on Superman vs Muhammed Ali. And then issue 41 breaks open the Steve Gerber controversy, with a report and an interview with the man himself. The archive is still free for a little longer.

And new content today and from the weekend. In his first piece (of many, we hope!) for us, Tom De Haven takes on the upcoming Gilbert Hernandez book; meanwhile Frank Santoro brings it for the third week in a row. His best layout piece yet. By the by, if, during the week you long for Frank, as Tim and I often do, you can click over to his Tumblr and check in on him.

And now, onto links.

Most of you have probably already seen this NY Times piece on Marvel’s publishing program. A little more business-y than I would’ve expected, the takeaway here seems to be that, uh, Marvel is trying… something, and that something is directed from the editors through the writers. The visuals in this visual medium aren’t mentioned much, and neither are any particular creative strategies. Me, I’m still waiting for that New Universe revival.

Via pal Dash Shaw we have two delights. First is this animated film by the great illustrator James McMullan, who taught Dash at SVA, along with a few other generations of other artists. His drawing lessons are actually online at the New York Times. His languid, elegant figures are just astonishingly well painted. More McMullan can be seen at Container List. Second, here’s an online exhibition of the Art of Akira, along with commentary.

Contributor Chris Mautner takes us to Comic Book College in the area of Frank Miller. This is a good start in some choppy waters. I’m glad Chris recommends The Dark Knight Strikes Again, which is my favorite Miller work, post-1990 division. Also, he reminded me that Miller actually wrote Robocop vs. Terminator. I can’t believe there’s not a movie of that already. I’d go see that. Thrice! Dapper Dan’s Movie Review would have a field day!

Finally, Harry Mendryk goes what we, around the “office” call “deep Santoro” with part one of an analysis of the Simon & Kirby colorists. And Joshua Glenn’s HiLobrow continues to focus on Kirby with this fine piece by Adam McGovern.

 

 

Potpourri

As Jog noted in his column this week, the final issue of Neonomicon just came out, so now I have to figure out whether or not it’s worth resurrecting the Comics Comics Comic-Book Club one more time, possibly in mutated form. Those of you who were reading along, stay tuned — I’ll figure something out.

Now, to the links:

Multiple birds killed with one stone in this brief review. A model of the short form.

Richard O’Connor digs up an old George Plimpton introduction to a Bill Plympton collection.

I suppose now that we’ve made the move to the Journal, I no longer am obligated to bring to your attention all news on Steve Gerber. But old habits die hard. Here’s a Scott Edelman interview with the writer. The audio’s a little poor, unfortunately, but Gerber is a good talker.

Carol Tyler is more charming when she gets purist about comics terminology than John Byrne is. Big claim, I know,

Speaking of Byrne, Roberto Batuel at the Comics Grid offers a short and perhaps slightly too reverential take on the infamous blank pages of Alpha Flight issue 6.

Normally I like to leave comic-book movie news to Dapper Dan, but just this once: the producers of the new live-action adaptation of Akira are reportedly hoping to cast white actors as the main characters (and change the location from “Neo Tokyo” to “New Manhattan”). Some are complaining, but they are probably forgetting how well Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla came out.

You’re probably seen word going around about the shirts Daniel Clowes designed for Stüssy. (Interview here.) They’re beautiful, as were the ones the Hernandez Bros did a while back, but I have to wonder: Am I the only one who would have trouble wearing a shirt with a Stüssy logo that big? I guess I’m just getting old.

For the Utne Reader, Joe Sacco goes to New Jersey.

 

On Top of Blueberry Hill

I’m here in St. Louis at Washington University on a fine spring day.

Naturally any trip to the Gateway City must include beers with Kevin Huizenga and Dan Zettwoch. Duh.

But the big news was a fine trip I took with Kevin to go see an archive of work by Harry Tuthill, of Bungle Family fame. And here is the thing, as evidenced in this archive, between 1924 and 1930 Tuthill hand-painted every single one of his Sunday pages. I don’t mean color guides — I mean fully painted pages. One after the other. The only thing we can figure is that he simply liked to do it, as stats couldn’t have been shot from the painted pages. That would have caused too much line distortion. Plenty of cartoonists hand-colored their pages, but usually (or maybe only) to give as gifts. I can’t think of anyone who did it seemingly just for themselves, with no obvious purpose in sight. If anyone knows different, please let me know.

Have a look:

And a close-up:

An excellent panel:

Here’s another:

These pieces are just stunningly beautiful, and the attention Tuthill paid to fashion is remarkable. He had a loose, calligraphic line — unfussy but in complete control. And, it turns out, a helluva way with color. Anyhow, more on this later. And yes, there’ll be a book in it sometime.

Ah, ok, since you asked, here’s one more:

And don’t forget:

Meanwhile, just a couple of links today, as I’m on the run:

* Matt Seneca on Dash Shaw at Robot 6.

* Not comics, but highly relevant: Artist Richard Prince lost a lawsuit over an appropriated photograph — the judge ruled that essentially the resultant artwork was not transformative, and thus not “fair use”. Faire use is always a tricky thing, and these days, as so much artwork is based on the digital or photographic manipulation of extant imagery, it’s getting trickier. And before I hear a word about Lichtenstein and Warhol, those works were obviously a whole other kettle of fish: painted and/or screened,  significantly altered, and recontextualized in scale and production. The Prince case is a mildly manipulated photograph of a photograph. Anyhow, it’s interesting and the article at the link is a thorough investigation.

Finally, hot new content today:

Ryan Holmberg digs in deep and comes up with revelatory ideas and facts about late 1960s manga. Get in there and read.