PoMo Gobble

Today on the site Chris Mautner interviews the great Kate Beaton, covering her background, audience, and interests.

Mautner: At what point did you say, “This is what I’m going to pursue full time, I’m going to make an effort to become a cartoonist?”

Beaton: I started the website and then I had to leave the museum because they could only give me $13 an hour and 21 hours a week, and I was working as a maid on the side. So the time line here is: I graduated in 2005, I went to Fort McMurray for a year. And then I left Fort McMurray and I went to Victoria for a year. But my student loan hadn’t been paid off so I had to go back to Fort McMurray for another year. The comics took off in my second year at Fort McMurray, after I had left the museum. I was working in the oil sands. And every day was crappy. But then I would come home to my bunk and I was using the workplace computer/scanner thing to put my comics online, and I was drawing them on computer paper. I would come home and talk to my LiveJournal friends and I understood as time went forward that I was gathering an audience – not because I knew anything about website stats, because I still don’t get Google. I have no idea who reads my comics. You get mail. And the  Jeff Rowland said we’ll do a test with these two shirts, we’ll put them up.

Mautner: Which ones were they?

Beaton: They were the stick men ones. They were two stick men shirts that I drew in MS Paint. But they were funny. And one print of a comic that took off, Tesla. And so I had t-shirts and one print for sale on the Topatoco site, and they sold I don’t remember the numbers but it was clear that if I wanted to give it a shot, I could. And that’s when it became real. I paid my loan off, I saved $10,000 – I worked for a few more months and saved that much – and I went to Toronto and lived with Emily Horn. (She had moved from Victoria to Toronto at that point too.)

Mautner: And Toronto, of course, has a big cartooning scene.

Beaton: It does, yes. And so I met Ryan North, who has been immensely helpful. If my website breaks or I have any problems, I just call Ryan crying, and he’s super cheerful. That’s the thing, everybody has been … left to my own devices, I’m a careful person. I’m not the one who’s going to say, “I’ll take a risk and live on a dream,” because I didn’t go to art school. I’m not that type. Even though it was the thing I loved the most I was like, “Well, but I also need to make a living.” And I didn’t try to make it in comics until I had paid off my student loan and saved a pile of money, to make sure I wouldn’t starve. (laughs)

Mautner: Well, that’s the issue with comics isn’t it, balancing being able to do what you love – and with you of course you’ve got a comic that combines a lot of your interests –

Beaton: And at the time nobody really knew where webcomics were gonna go. There was still a weird pushback from the print industries about how legitimate they were. Which I never paid attention to because I didn’t give a shit about comics.


Comics-adjacent: One-time cartoonist, George Hansen fan, and PictureBox-published dude Joe Bradley gets the W Magazine treatment.

Speaking of Chicago artists, here's a link to the classic color issue of Bijou Funnies.

Writing about comics is even worse than doing comics. No shit.



Joe McCulloch is here with his weekly guide to the most interesting-sounding comics new to stores. This week, he spotlights new books by Robert Triptow and Anna Ehrlemark.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

Heidi MacDonald writes at Slate on the increasing number of comics artists taking animation gigs at Nickelodeon and Adult Swim.

At one point, she writes, "If anything, walking around shows like SPX, I’ve noticed something of an Adventure Time track among many of the small press comics now coming out: Where once young cartoonists overwhelmingly produced gloomy masculine self-absorption and misanthropy in the tradition of Daniel Clowes or Chris Ware, these days many booths feature fantasy epics with colorful characters and invented worlds heavy on the talking animals. It shouldn’t be surprising that up-and-coming cartoonists are absorbing the Adventure Time aesthetic. A 20-year-old making comics now could have been watching the show since she was 15, after all."

While I have no doubt that some of this is due to simple artistic influence, I think a more obvious, simple, and powerful explanation for the change in emphasis is that fun/cute/cuddly fantasy is where the money is (or appears to be).

Laura Sneddon profiles Kate Beaton for The Independent.

Vice cartoonists including Peter Bagge and Leslie Stein remember their worst Halloween costumes.

Françoise Mouly is a guest on the Virtual Memories podcast.

Laura Fraser tells the story of Conundrum Press.


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.