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Carny

In our ongoing attempt to shut down your brains with the sheer force of our content, we bring you yet more STUFF.

*Kim Deitch checks in with Part 3 of his memoir, this time covering the advent of television, some of his favorite programs, and a bit about music. If you aren’t reading this you are seriously missing out. Living legend, this guy.

*And Rob Clough delivers a thoughtful take on the work of Dave Kiersh.

On a personal note, kind readers, thanks to Tim (thanks meaning he once sold me the book for a buck) I have begun reading Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga in the order Moorcock arranged the stories a decade ago. I’m into it, people. I feel I might be going in deep on this one. The quantity of ideas and images he’s tossing out is pretty wonderful, as is the implicit meta-narrative of satire and the decline of the 20th century. I hit upon the stuff after years of reading it referenced by Moore, Simonson, etc. And it’s been a total treat. Reading it after my recent Moebius jag is also satisfying, as Moebius has a similarly fevered psychedelic imagination rooted in late 1960s counterculture and straight-up pulps.

Also: A no-prize to anyone who can actually describe what’s in (like “all drawings, no text” or “super long comic in French” or “a retelling of the Gospel of Mark”) the Moebius books Jog mentioned on Tuesday. Help us try to understand!

And, as we say, “elsewhere”:

-I am bummed that Tom Spurgeon is taking some time off from The Comics Reporter, but wish him a happy and relaxing time away from the world of the comics internet.

-Craig Fischer has an excellent piece up at The Panelists about his own shifting views of Gene Colan’s artwork.

-For Frank: The story of one man’s Trevor Von Eeden commission.

-And from pal Joshua Glenn comes this announcement:

HiLobrow is running a five-part series by Rob Steibel (who writes the Kirby Dynamics blog for the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center). The series takes a close look at the original artwork — and the margin notes by Kirby and Lee — from a single June 1967 Fantastic Four page. It’s a lot of fun to read these panels over Rob’s shoulder, and to compare them with the published panels. This exercise offers deep insights into the Kirby-Lee collaboration, and Rob is scrupulously fair to both parties.

The series thus far has been excellent. Go check it out.

 

Not That Far From Paradise

Today, we present our final preview for the upcoming issue 301 of The Comics Journal, a brief excerpt from Gary Groth’s interview with Robert Crumb, mostly concerned with his Genesis.

We also have Sean Michael Robinson’s review of Shigeru Mizuki’s Onward to Our Noble Deaths. I really liked this book.

Elsewhere:

Jeet Heer reviews Ben Katchor’s latest for the new Los Angeles Review of Books. Recommended all around.

In lieu of Dapper Dan’s missing Green Lantern review, I point you towards another critique of the film written by our own Joe McCulloch—and, uh, he seems less than impressed!

Two creator podcast interviews possibly worth noting: one with the inimitable Eddie Cambpell, and the other with Grant Morrison. I haven’t listened to either of these yet, but plan to do so over the holiday weekend. Campbell is on any thinking person’s short list of great comics talkers, and would probably be fun to listen to even if interviewed about his thoughts on dog grooming. Grant Morrison, on the other hand, is not entirely my cup of Kool-Aid, but in this one, he’s interviewed by the Mindless Ones, whose enthusiasm for the man and his work is dangerously contagious.

We don’t comment too often on DC and Marvel scheduling mishaps in this space (mostly because 95% of the rest of the comics internet seems devoted to nothing else), but every once in a while one of them makes a mistake so funny it’s impossible to look away. Chris Butcher explains.

Douglas Wolk has launched a new blog in which he promises to review every Judge Dredd book ever released. That’s too much Dredd for me.

Missed it: On Sunday, The New York Times ran an editorial by Brent Staples supporting Jack Kirby in his family’s ongoing copyright case with Marvel. Very little information in it will be new to readers of this site, but the fact that awareness of Kirby’s contributions has finally spread as far as the Times is somewhat heartening.

 

Teen Me

I spent my weekend editing articles about Garfield, Gene Colan, and the Reuben Awards. That’s right, I work for The Comics Journal. I’m in comics. Teen me would have been excited. Adult me whines.

You know who else is? R.C. Harvey. Today we bring you a lengthy profile by the Harv of Garf’s owner, Jim Davis. Not something you see so often, and I’m pleased to have it.

We also have Jog reporting on this week’s comic book store offerings, with a special focus on some recent and upcoming Moebius releases…

And the redoubtable Rob Clough brings in a review of a new book I also enjoyed, and which I hope gets a foothold in this crowded marketplace, The Next Day.

Elsewhere:

-Eddie Campbell writes on, and takes issue with parts of, the Spanish Wiki definition of the graphic novel.

-Tucker Stone reads a stack of comics so you don’t have to! Well, I kinda want to read Green Arrow now, but I’ll use my imagination.

-Dan Zettwoch can diagram anything, including how to grill a filet. He’s the ideal artist-dinner guest: cooking, drawing, and inevitably, telling a very good joke.

-And finally, in random but kinda awesome news, Ione Skye has made a short film called David Goldberg, based on a slice of Dan Clowes’ Ice Haven.

 

Whew

Okay, there’s a lot to go through this morning.

First, you are no doubt aware of the sad news that the great comic book artist Gene Colan passed away last week. Yesterday, we posted a comprehensive obituary for Colan, written for the site by Tom Field, and covering all stages of his seven-decade career in comics:

Gene Colan never would be mistaken for anything less than what he was: One of comics’ unique stylists. He wielded his pencil like a brush to capture the toned subtleties of action, emotion and lighting. He brought a cinematographer’s vision to comics storytelling, and his stories were instantly recognized by fans, treasured by scholars and appreciated enviously by even his most accomplished peers.

We have also republished a 2001 interview with Colan, conducted by Larry Rodman. If you read nothing else on the site this week, those two articles are still well worth your attention.

In his column this weekend, Frank Santoro takes a break from his explorations of color to recap his recent involvement in the Pittsburgh Biennial.

New to the site this morning, ace interlocutor Nicole Rudick delivers one of the best interviews I have ever encountered with one of comics’ most unique and essential creators, Jim Woodring.

When I was real little, I did drawings of the things I saw that scared me. I must have seen a mouse that got its head clawed off by a cat or something, because I had this recurring image of a headless animal, sometimes it was a big animal, like a bison. If I saw a bird or a bison I would imagine it with its head missing. Sometimes I would more than imagine it—I would see it and I would draw those things. I drew this little man made of electricity who was my persecutor. I would try to draw him in such a way that the drawing would have the intensity he had when I saw him. It was in his eyes. He had these blank eyes that scared me so much that I was almost sorry I when I captured them in a drawing. But then, at the same time, I was glad I did it, because it I felt like it showed that I was in control of the situation. I would just draw things that scared me. It upset my parents to no end. They really thought I was nuts, and it was the days before children were routinely sent off to psychologists or given drugs.. I’m sure if Ritalin and that stuff had been around, my folks would have gotten me on drugs as quickly as possible. Instead, they just despaired and withdrew from me.

Come to think of it, this is a must-read, too.

Finally, we have the second installment of Jeffrey Trexler’s ongoing look at what happened to the Comics Code. Okay, it’s all necessary material today. And we’re just getting started, so set aside from reading time this week. You’re going to need it.

Elsewhere on the internet:

The CBLDF has formed a coalition for the defense of an American comics reader facing criminal charges in Canada, because of various manga images found in the man’s computer files. Chris Butcher has more.

Blake Bell and Bryan Munn have both posted nice tributes to the aforementioned Gene Colan. (Bell takes slight issue with Field’s obituary, and it’s worth reading him for an alternative view.)

Gary Panter salutes the Japanese poster artist Tadanori Yokoo on his seventy-fifth birthday.

The A.V. Club takes you inside Fantagraphics headquarters in Seattle.

And finally, our own sometime reviewer Chris Mautner selects six pop songs about comic-book characters.

 

Gene Colan 1926-2011

The great cartoonist Gene Colan passed away last night. To read his 2001 conversation with Larry Rodman from The Comics Journal #231, click here. We’ll have a full obituary online over the weekend. Robert Boyd has written a smart appreciation.

 

 

Slowing Down

Do you feel the summer sun burning your neck? I do. It’s burning my brain, too. That said, this is a quick one, folks, because… my lord, isn’t there enough to read on this site already? C’mon!

Today we have A Dan Clowes Notebook by Mr. Jeet Heer:

From Lloyd Llewellyn to Mr. and Mrs. Ames, Clowes has often featured detectives in his stories, not to mention many amateur clue-hunters such as Clay Loudermilk  and David Boring. Another variation of this are the characters who are not quite detectives or clue-hunters but like to spy on other people: Random Walker, Violet, and Charles in Ice Haven are good examples.

And on the other end of the spectrum (well, sort of: A no-prize to the reader who can guess the link between Mike Allred and Dan Clowes without clicking through!) we have Nicholas Gazin on Mike Allred’s latest effort.

Elsewhere in the universe, here’s a nice profile of the great Canadian graphic artist Martin Vaughn-James.

And that’s all. Go outside!

 

Beginnings & Endings

Good morning. First, Kim Deitch’s amazing memoir-through-music continues today. If you skipped last week’s because the name Dorsey scared you, you’re missing out on something majorly entertaining, and enlightening. This time, he talks about his father (Gene Deitch), Alan Lomax, Jelly Roll Morton, and cowboy records.

My father’s interest in art had been long standing. He’d been a huge fan of Mickey Mouse growing up. By the time he was a teenager, he was putting out an amazing magazine called The Hollywood Star News. When I say amazing, I’m not kidding. It was produced on a hand cranked mimeograph machine. What’s that? Well, before photocopiers people could make cheap copies by typing onto wax sheets. Then you’d put the typed sheet onto a rotary mechanism filled with ink. Turn the barrel one revolution as you feed a piece of paper under it and you’d have a copy, in ink, of what was on the typed wax sheet. Keep turning as you feed more paper under the barrel and you’d get more copies. You could do at least quite a few hundred copies this way. You could also draw on the stencils and have crude illustrations, or not so crude in my father’s case. My old man, genius that he is, came up with a way to do four-color illustrations with good registration in The Hollywood Star News.

Elsewhere:

Eddie Campbell has republished an introductory essay he wrote about Batman and the Lew Sayre Schwartz on his blog, and added another afterthought here. (He of course wrote another tribute to Schwartz for this site earlier this week.)

Rob Clough has reposted his 2008 review of Bill Mauldin’s Willie & Joe: The WWII Years. It’s worth reading in conjunction with his recent piece on this site about that book’s sequel.

Tom Spurgeon reports on Bud Plant’s announced retirement. Above and beyond the many hours I am sure lots of readers of this site have spent browsing through his catalogs, Plant has had a major impact on the evolution of the comics business. Spurgeon talks about some of those reasons at his post. Also, I believe—and hope to be corrected if I am wrong—that by ordering large numbers of this magazine in its early days, Plant gave the Journal some important assistance when it was much needed.

I’ve been waiting for Charles Hatfield to weigh in on Chester Brown’s Paying for It. And now he finally has. A must-read even if you’ve had your fill of prostitution talk.

Finally, occasional comics writer Paul Di Filippo has tracked down what he believes may be the very first review of a science fiction book in the New York Times, from 1943. It is fascinating for how closely the reviewer ties the genre to comic books (the best stories are “a good deal more than True Comics for adults”, and the worst are “gibberish” which “may deserve a place in a volume like this as signs of an age that produced Superman”).

 

Lumpin Day

Well. It’s Wednesday and Dapper Dan still hasn’t seen Green Lantern. It’s not looking good, and Tim thus far has refused refused Dapper Dan’s requests for a “man date” to go see it together, even though I’ve promised to buy him nachos. So, you readers may have to live without a Dapper Dan special on this one.

On the site:

Today we present part one of Jeff Trexler’s investigation into what exactly became of the record of the Comics Magazine Association of America:

Understanding how the CMAA worked–and why it failed–can provide vital clues for helping today’s comics business adapt.

And Mike Dawson brings us TCJ Talkies focusing on four graduates from The Center for Cartoon StudiesLucy KnisleyMelissa MendesJoe Lambert, and Steve Seck. Here’s an aside: True story — I’ve had to cancel three different trips to CCA for various stupid reasons, entirely my fault, but James Sturm still talks to me. That’s what a nice man he is.

In the “man, they just don’t get it” department: One Robert Greenberger cold lifted Eddie Campbell’s heartfelt obituary yesterday, changed around a few words, added a quote, some sloppy analysis, and slapped his name in it. He even used the same art. There’s no excuse for swiping, Robert! We’re watching. Not all of you (we have limited resources). But some of you.

Anyhow, elsewhere:

Our fearless leader, Gary Groth, is interviewed over at CBR. He’s very kind to us, and has fine things to say, like this, about the DC renumbering, which pretty much explains why we can’t be bothered to cover it, though perversely I’d like to lock someone in a room and make them read it all and explain it to me:

I’m not even sure what that’s supposed to accomplish. It seems like a pitiful attempt to con more people into buying the same old shit. I probably shouldn’t be so cynical. I’m sure that some brilliant talent could breathe some life into this stuff. Like I said, I’m not one to talk. I haven’t read this stuff, but it just seems so completely uninteresting to me, and in a way, it’s idiomatically alien to me.

Over at the Mindless Ones, the, uh, ones are beginning a discussion of bullshit and John Constantine. So far, so good. This I can read.

Speaking of reading, I’m currently immersed in Stephen Bissette’s Teen Angels and New Mutants. It’s a phenomenal read. Really great, and the kind of book I always hope will be written about comics. Bissette wisely does not separate art and commerce, and is no bullshit about the complicated life of a comic book. Grant Morrison’s Supergods, on the other hand… let’s just say it takes a very uncomplicated view. Time permitting I hope to write about the two books in a single essay. Why? Because the culture is still interesting, even if the product is not.

Incidentally, back ’round to that complicated view. Many have linked to Brian Chippendale’s latest text, but my favorite bit is Brian questioning, via Twitter, various comics writers about the renumbering of X-Men. Jason Aaron, who Chippendale goes on to praise, says it’s the contents that count, not the number. And that’s fair, but I think Brian made a good point that the number does count — that it signifies both a reader-publisher bond and a chain link back through history. It’s also a kind of sign that the publisher doesn’t think you’re an idiot. Commerce and content are really inseparable, is one thing I think Brian drives home. That’s comics for you — and renumbering sends a signal to readers clear as day: Fuck you.