Hi there,

Today Anne Ishii brings us an essay about generational shifts in comics and publishing culture. I'm particularly proud of this one. Here's a bit:

When I suggested comics were shifting from navel-gazing and self-loathing to absurdist plot victories to my 27 year old business partner Graham Kolbeins (i.e. young), he countered with examples of the depressed characters in Simon Hanselman’s “Meg Mog and Owl” and mentioned the importance of critical reader feedback, including Hanselman’s criticism of Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit. I asked him if perhaps the Internet engendered flame wars at the expense of a real dialogue. He says, “I think we’re going through a normal negotiation of terminology but exacerbated by the Internet and the rapidity of change that technology brings. Sexual identity in particular had gotten so much more specific and profligate in its categories, and that’s exciting on the one hand for youth who are struggling to define themselves, but sometimes eye roll-worthy for older people still getting used to the LGBTQ standards.”

Such a dilemma raised by the young typically raises the ire of the older. There is no better case in point than magazine editorial obsession with an ironic person’s greatest bugaboo: political correctness.


This weekend if Comic Arts Br0oklyn, filled with dandy new things like the new Clowes, Puke Force, Crickets #5, Frank's new book, a new Comics Workbook, and so much more. Our own Naomi Fry is interviewing Dan Clowes on Sunday at noon.

Some links...

Amazon's first physical storefront is more about data gathering than selling, which makes perfect sense.

A documentary about Israeli comic books is on its way...

Writing about comics doesn't pay much (actually, writing on anything doesn't pay much) but Robert Hughes made bank back in the 80s.



John Kelly is filling in for Frank Santoro at Riff Raff again, this week delivering a story on the significant downsides that went along with the money and audience cartoonists could get working for Hugh Hefner. Kelly looks at the cases of Jack Cole, Jack Davis, Harvey Kurtzman, and others, and talked to people like Denis Kitchen, Skip Williamson, and Jay Lynch to get the story.

“Oh, man. It’s a good thing that I wasn’t working [directly] for the guy [Hefner],” says illustrator Bill Stout. Stout ... worked as an assistant for Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder on their long-running Playboy strip Little Annie Fanny in the early 1970s. “It would have been a short gig. I would have just bailed. Life’s too short.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Meg Lemke talked to Leslie Stein for the Paris Review.

Brady Dale at the Observer tracked down R. Sikoryak to ask him about his bizarre new project to adapt all of the iTunes terms and conditions into comics.

Alan Moore answered many readers' questions about books, magic, and politics at length last week for Goodreads.

David Burr Gerard talked to Ted Rall about his Snowden book for Guernica.

—Reviews & Commentary. Sarah Horrocks reviews Bitch Planet.

—Misc. The long-lost McDonald's/Burger King satire from the early Judge Dredd "Cursed Earth" storyline is finally coming back into print.

—Video. Here's Lisa Hanawalt at the XOXO FEstival:


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.