Right Out

Today on the site:

Bob Levin goes into Pop Wasteland #1.

“Having no talent is not enough,” said Gore Vidal about the underground theatrical troupe The Cockettes, following its New York City debut. Neither, it seemed, were bestiality, cannibalism, child abuse, necrophilia, perverted nuns, and several gross of severed penises. Or so Robin Levy concluded after finishing Pop Wasteland (Jon F. Allen and Tim S. Allen, eds. 2015), an anthology of cartoons and poetry, which encompassed all of the above, while leaving him unshaken and unstirred.

He distrusted collections of the previously unpublished anyway, which this was. Unless you paid cash money, or featured celebrated names around whom the less known wished to huddle, which this didn’t, they seemed likely shelters for the cast-off, stunted, misformed. And when you featured forty-four comix, of which forty were a page in length, you were unlikely to have netted artists who’d probed with depth of thought their subjects or themselves. The result came across as spasms of thought, quickly fleshed and spasmodically delivered.


New Yorkers: Go an see this remarkable, beautiful exhibition by Keith Mayerson. Masterful paintings hung as a narrative suite that defies conventional reading. I was blown away.

I'm not surprised by this article about a conflict of interest in the reporting of a very sensitive topic but it's sad nonetheless.

Michael J. Vasallo has been updating his Timely-Atlas comic strip blog post for months. Go and dive in.




Today, Mike Dawson's TCJ Talkies returns with a new episode. The guest this time is Isaac Cates, and they discuss David Mazzucchelli's massively acclaimed (and quietly controversial) graphic novel, Asterios Polyp.

Rob Clough is also here, with a review of the first two issues of the Austin-based anthology, Rough House, which includes a wide range of artists, including William Cardini, Sophie Roach, Kayla E., and Mack White.

Printed on a Risograph, this is anything-goes cartooning that draws from a variety of contemporary influences and comics movements. Not all the pieces are in color, and some of them use up to three different colors. There's not a coherent enough group aesthetic to see this anthology as anything more than a collection of stories by like-minded folks. Some of them are in the Fort Thunder mark-making school. Others seem directly influenced by underground comics. Others owe a debt to diarists and personal zine makers. Still others doodle in the style of Michael DeForge or the Marc Bell-copped Adventure Time aesthetic. This is one reason why I liked this anthology and deemed it worthy of close examination: Rough House represents an excellent overall snapshot of what an alt-comics anthology looks like in this age, especially with regard to the level of attention paid to production values and varying styles. You could hand this to a reader and they would quickly understand what alt-comics look like in 2015.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Human Rights Watch has released a report on the Malaysia security and "sedition" situation, paying particular attention to Zunar.

Retuers reports on new developments in the 2010 disappearance of Sri Lanka cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda.

I'm no fan of the Oatmeal, but I have to admit this was a pretty slick move by Matthew Inman.

—Interviews & Profiles. Olivia Snaije at The Guardian has posted a profile of Riad Sattouf.

Jonathan Wolfe at the New York Times profiles the Argentinian artist Liniers.

Patrick Kyle is profiled in the most recent issue of Forge.

—Reviews & Commentary. John Porcellino has written a response to the Noah Van Sciver advice-for-aspiring-cartoonists from earlier this week.

Roberta Smith writes briefly about Lynda Barry for the New York Times.

Anyone not yet sick of reading about the back and forth over Charlie Hebdo may want to read this new Guardian piece by the novelist Jonathan Coe, which starts as a riposte to Martin Amis's recent anti-Corbyn remarks before quickly turning to the Charlie controversy.

The Comics Grinder reviews Bill Griffith's Invisible Ink.

Abraham Riesman writes at Vulture about Warren Bernard's collection of WWII propaganda cartoons and comics.

—Misc. Annie Koyama posts on Facebook celebrating the tenth anniversary of the surgery that saved her life. There aren't that many people I know who are truly inspiring, but she's one of them.

Sean Howe on Stan Lee vs. the New Left.

—Not Comics. At the New York Review of Books, J. Hoberman reviews a New Museum show by the heavily comics-influenced artist Jim Shaw.

—Halloween. Study Group Comics has its annual Halloween Haunting collection of comics up.

The Daniel Clowes Tumblr has posted a print-ready Halloween mask based on his "Immortal, Invisible" story.

Jim Rugg has posted a Street Angel Halloween story.



Today Frank brings us news of his adventures at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival was, without a doubt, the most enjoyable festival I have ever been to. LICAF mixed the “high” and “low” together and blended it in with the general public in a way we can’t quite pull off in the States. The festival takes over all of Kendal, which is a beautiful small northwestern English town. Every cafe, bookshop, clothing store: they all have comic-book-related material on display and for sale. There was a bookstore window display with children’s drawings. One was of Batman and it read “Darwyn Cooke,” and the other was a cartooned version of Seth (!) drawn by a grade schooler in the same arrangement. I think that about sums up the show for me. Darwyn Cooke and Seth are completely at opposite ends of the spectrum in North America—and to see them presented together and also hanging out in the hotel bar together swapping stories (they’d never really talked much before despite being both from Ontario) is a testament to how different and special the Lakes Festival is, I think.


The amazing comics-related 1960s-70s underground mag Oz is now archived online. Dive in. 

Also comics related: A.O. Scott writes about early fandom, nostalgia and narrative over at the NYT.

Spending dept:

I highly recommend you order a copy of the new issue of Apology. Not only did I contribute a piece about Sam Gross, but there's a lengthy interview with the great Sally Cruikshank.

And also, for heaven's sake, order this collection of White Boy!  A real holy grail of expressive cartoon drawing.



Until the Last Drop of Ink

A lot of people are excited by New York Review Books' upcoming comics line, attempting to do the same thing for artists like Mark Beyer and Blutch that NYRB Classics has done in prose. Today, Dan talks to one of the imprint's two editors, Gabriel Winslow-Yost.

Dan Nadel: What's the big idea here? What territory are you trying to carve out that's not covered elsewhere?

Gabriel Winslow-Yost: The idea is simply that there are a lot of great comics out there that have sort of fallen by the wayside, as the years have gone by, or -- even worse -- that never made it into English at all, and that they deserve a wider audience. It's really just wrong that a book as amazing and unique as Agony is out of print, that only a single book by Blutch has ever been translated, and on and on. There are a ton of books like that, more even than we actually realized, when we started this project. So it's maybe not so much a specific chunk of the territory we're looking to make our own, but more that there are really excellent things scattered throughout the territory that haven't been covered, and we're going to wander around, picking them up and dusting them off and getting them back onto shelves.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Sadaf Ahsan at the National Post profiles Adrian Tomine upon the release of his Killing & Dying.

Ian Burrell at the Independent profiles Malaysian cartoonist Zunar on his visit to the UK, before he returns to his native county to face a sedition trial in which he may be sentenced to up to 43 years in prison for his cartoons.

The latest guest on Gil Roth's Virtual Memories is Dylan Horrocks.

—Reviews & Commentary.
For The Week, Adrian Tomine picks his six favorite comics story collections.

Noah Van Sciver gives tough advice to aspiring cartoonists.

Joe McCulloch, Chris Mautner, and Tom Spurgeon talk about Fantagraphics' pornographic comics imprint, Eros.

Thinking Halloween thoughts, RJ Casey appreciates Tom Neely.

—News. Emily Carroll won one of this year's British Fantasy Awards.

The New York Times has an in-depth story about various disputes among the staff of the post-massacre, post-cash infusion Charlie Hebdo.


Love and Acceptance

Today on the site Joe McCulloch brings the week in comics, and Bill Schelly has written a full obituary of longtime cartoonist Murphy Anderson. Here is a bit:

After graduating from high school in 1943, Anderson attended the University of North Carolina briefly, then went to New York to find work in the comics book industry He ended up being hired by Jack Byrne to work in the in-house art staff at Fiction House, publisher of popular titles Jumbo, Planet, Wings, Fight, et al. He worked alongside, and learned from, artists such as Bob Lubbers, Ruben Moriera, and Art Saaf. He particularly admired the work of Reed Crandall and named the Blackhawk artist as an influence. Anderson’s best known regular feature at Fiction House was Star Pirate, which he did from Planet Comics #33 to #51. To improve his knowledge of human anatomy, he took life drawing classes at the Art Students League. At this time, he both penciled and inked his comic book assignments.


Robyn Chapman has a report on the recent MICE comics fest.

Alex Dueben speaks with Jennifer Hayden. 

And Print magazine has a nice scroll through a Winsor McCay-illustrated book of note.


Thanks for Waiting

Today, Greg Hunter joins us with a fantastic interview with Jonathan Lethem about guest-editing this year's Best American Comics anthology:

In Bill [Kartalopoulos]’s foreword to this edition, he mentions paracomics—comics at a remove from the field—and the magnitude of that presence really does set this volume apart from the others. Of course, Chapter Five in particular ["You Might Even Hang Them on Your Wall"]. So I was curious how much your work on the collection left you wrestling with the orthodoxies of the form. If, for instance, you’d have a harder time defining comics now.

That’s a great question too. One thing I should say to set the ground for replying is that you, given your position and your continuous critical engagement—and Bill Kartalopoulos, because of his continuing work—are more saturated, more in touch with what the wider field looked like in the years leading up to this effort. And I really did my best to disclose this in my introduction. I think about comics a lot, and I’ve related to comics intensely since I’ve discovered them. I’ve tried to make them—I got to work for Marvel to write a borderline-mainstream comic—but I’m not even close to being a pretender to having a comprehensive critical take. I’m not Scott McCloud, as far as guest editors go. I don’t read comics broadly or systematically enough. I kind of use them for my own purposes—they’re a fuel and a fascination—but I just read so many more to put together this year’s compilation than I’d read in a long, long time. It’s almost left for you to tell me, or for other people to respond to the book and tell me how centered (or not centered) the result looks to them.

I was met with a tremendous amount of material here that messed with my expectations, and I was really excited to—I’ll just go down the list. I’m so excited that something like that Adam Buttrick work [“Misliving Ammended”] exists. It’s so familiar and so dislocating at the same time. It builds on everything I understand comics to be, but it just seems to be so free in its relation to the definition. There were enough pieces like that that I began to feel like I was really being schooled—that comics was bigger and a more radical field and context. As radical as I might ever have hoped, and it made home for all this incredible stuff. And that started to seem like the new center to me. Things that didn’t have some formal breakdown [or] some degree of paracomics—it’s like when rock ’n’ roll got feedback in it, and no song sounded as awake or alive if it didn’t have a little bit of feedback. I just felt like, “This is great. This is what comics want to become, and they’ve done it. Or they’re doing it.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Murphy Anderson, the longtime DC artist possibly best known for his work on Hawkman, has passed away. Mark Evanier seem to have been the first person to report his passing. We will have an obituary soon.

—Reviews & Commentary. Thomas Chatterton Williams at the New Republic writes about Riad Sattouf's Arab of the Future.

I missed this most recent Jesse Hamm essay on Alex Toth and realism vs cartooniness.

It's often interesting to hear from intelligent, extremely sophisticated readers who are unable to connect with the comics form. Rohan Maitzen had problems with Maus and Persepolis.

—Interviews & Profiles. ivan Brunetti briefly explains his most recent New Yorker cover.

Benoît Crucifix talks to Olivier Schrauwen.

The New York Times real estate section profiles atypical cartoonist Marisa Acocello Marchetta.


Getting On With It

Today on the site, Paul Tumey continues his look at the Northwest comics scene, presenting a chat with the filmmakers behind a new documentary on that subject. 

Back in 2011, filmmakers and documentarians Louise Amandes and Ron Austin set out to make a movie about artists in the Pacific Northwest who make comics.  They thought they were making a simple film about a beloved subject and then discovered they were in the middle of a cultural surge, firmly rooted in history.

Among many others, they filmed James Gill, Frank Young, David Lasky, Steve Willis, Pat Moriarty, Ellen Forney, Roberta Gregory, David Horsey, Brian Basset, Donna Barr, Jim Woodring, Gary Groth, Shannon Wheeler, Shary Flenniken, and Peter Bagge (to mention the top-billed folks on the film’s official poster).

On September 30, 2015, their ninety-minute documentary entitled Bezango, WA, premiered in Seattle and is making the rounds of various film festivals. It will soon be available on DVD.

Bezango, WA is a respectful film that refreshingly approaches the subject of making comics from the points of view of the artists involved. There are no animated “Pow!” sound effects or comic-book-like special effects. It’s the sort of approach you might expect to see in a documentary about people who make fine musical instruments: lots of craft, lots of love. We visit with artists drawing and inking comics with consummate patience and skill while they frankly discuss their lives and art.


Slow news day, heading into a busy weekend, so I leave you with our own Frank Santoro profiled in the UK.



Today, John Kelly is back with another guest Riff Raff column. This week, he reports from Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly's RAW discussion at CXC. He also contacted Jay Lynch to talk about the lost Lynch painting recently discovered on Roadside Antiques.

Lynch says that while he was a student at the Art Institute in the mid-'60s, there was a billboard across the street from the school that advertised the political campaign for a local sheriff. "It showed this guy and his wife and like eight kids. And the kids were holding a sign that said 'Woods For Sheriff' and you could see the billboard outside the window of the art class. So I painted it. But then I got carried away. I was just trying to kill time really, and I painted it for months. After a while you put it up in front of the class and the teacher critiques it. And so the teacher says, 'Well, what were you thinking when you did this?' And I gave this sort of long-winded speech about when certain things affect the brain it allows you to see the plasticity of your environment, blah, blah. After I got done with that, he said, 'Oh thank God. I thought you were taking LSD or something' and that got a big laugh."

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. At the Paris Review, Folio Club founding editor Robert Pranzatelli profiles the career of Moebius.

At Comics Tavern, Jon Vinson writes about Yoshihiro Tatsumi's Midnight Fishermen, the collection of his stories not published by Drawn & Quarterly.

Douglas Wolk reviews various books for the New York Times, including titles by Jason and Kate Beaton.

—Interviews & Profiles. Lorenzo Mattotti briefly discusses his latest New Yorker cover and the Syrian refugee crisis with Françoise Mouly.

Alex Deuben talks to Jessica Abel.

Derf Backderf was a guest on Gil Roth's Virtual Memories podcast.

—News. The winners of the Joe Shuster Awards have been announced.

—Misc. David Boswell: