Moi Aussi

Today, Noah Van Sciver returns for the third day of his Cartoonist's Diary series, continuing his stories of life as a fellow at the Center for Cartoon Studies.

Also, the great cartoonist Eleanor Davis makes her TCJ debut (if you don't count her own Cartoonist's Diary series from last year), with a review of Kevin Czap's Fütchi Perf.

Why is it that art about good things is so often bad art? Most of the happy images we see day-to-day are selling something, or the artist is trying to pull a curtain across the ugly parts of life. Art showing flowers, babies, smiling families, and people in love is often inane or disingenuous, and the awful thing is that this bad artwork makes the happy stuff itself seem fake. As artists we can get scared of making art about the things that are most precious to us: we don't want to make something bad, and we don’t want those parts of ourselves to be vulnerable. So we make low-risk cynical sad little stories, and we stop trying to imagine a kinder world.

And finally, we are republishing Dennis Daniel's 1993 interview with Dennis Eichhorn, from issue 162.

DANIEL: Do you write with specific artists in mind?

EICHHORN: Oh yeah. Now that I’ve gotten into it, yeah, I’ll have a story and I’ll think, “Oh, J.R. Williams ought to do this one, this is perfect for him.” Or I’ll have a story that a lot of artists might hesitate to tackle and I’ll give that to Holly Tuttle because she can draw anything. Sure, you bet. There are some times, I’ll see somebody’s work and it will make me think of a story, so I’ll sit down and write it for them. I get portfolios from different artists, and sometimes I’ll look at it and it will just really ring a bell and I’ll have no trouble ... In fact, with Howard Chackowicz I wrote him five stories right away, and I’d never done that with an artist before. But other people, I’ll get their work and it just doesn’t do anything for me. I’m not saying they’re not talented, it just doesn’t inspire me to write a story. So I just shelve that and go on.

DANIEL: When you’re trying to think about experiences in your life that you want to turn into a comic book story, does it ever enter into your mind that a certain story may not be appropriate for public consumption?

EICHHORN: Well ... I try not to repress anything. There are a couple of stories that are real painful for me to deal with, and I don’t have the right perspective on them yet. And if I ever get it then I’ll include them. But I’m not really trying to make myself look good — I don’t think that I do. The only times that I’ll look good is when some artist will make me thin or give me a Peter Parker physique or something like that. I kind of shy away from the ones who do that. But that’s in terms of looks. In terms of behavior, it’s obvious that I was real troubled while I was growing up and into my adult years, and there’s no way I can avoid that so I try to include it — and it’s pithy stuff, and lot of the people are just as fucked up as I am, so they can identify with what I’m doing and the mistakes I made. It’s an exercise in anti-heroism. The really good biographical stories that I like are often that way: Charles Bukowski is such a great example of that. Henry Miller is another good example of that. They didn’t paint themselves as beautiful people. They were just real honest about what they did, and I find that real appealing.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. According to the Moscow Times, an exhibition of the work of cartoonists Dominique Goblet and Kai Pfeffer at the Nabokov Museum in St. Petersburg was shuttered and closed due to concerns over nudity in the images.

—Interviews & Profiles. Jaime Hernandez is a guest on the RIYL podcast.

Inkstuds talks to Sacha Mardou.

—Misc. The New York Times asked several artists, including Anders Nilsen, Cece Bell, Rutu Modan, and Jillian Tamaki, to create one-panel comics. The Times called this a "challenge," though most people would consider this to be one of the oldest and most traditional forms of cartooning... (Nilsen basically ignores the conceit, which the Times either didn't notice or didn't care about.)

Former TCJ editor Robert Boyd has started a podcast, and his first episode includes a report from CXC.

—Not Comics. Nicole Rudick interviews Karl Wirsum.


Sex War Sex Cars Sex

Tom Van Deusen does double duty for us today, first writing an obituary for the pioneering autobiographical comics writer Dennis Eichhorn, and then gathering a selection of tributes, from friends and collaborators including Pat Moriarty, Shary Flenniken, Mary Fleener, Noah Van Sciver, and others.

Noah is also continuing his week creating our Cartoonist's Diary feature, of course. His second entry is up here.

And as is true on every Tuesday, Joe McCulloch brings us his usual reliable guide to the Week in Comics, looking at all the most interesting-sounding new titles in stores. This week, he spotlights books from Adrian Tomine and Gilbert Hernandez & Darwyn Cooke.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Dennis Eichhorn. Sean Michael Hurley wrote about Eichhorn for the Seattle Stranger.

—News. Amnesty International reports that Iranian officials forced the imprisoned cartoonist Atena Farghadani to take a "virginity test."

—Interviews & Profiles. NPR talks to Berke Breathed about the rejuvenated Bloom County (and Terry LaBan talks about Breathed (via)).

The Riverfront Times talks to Sacha Mardou.

—Reviews & Commentary. Laila Lalami reviews Riad Sattouf's Arab of the Future.

—Misc. Inés Estrada gives a tour of her bookshelves.

Christopher Logue's "poster poems" sometimes significantly overlap with what we usually call comics.



Today, Greg Hunter is here with the fourth episode of Comic Book Decalogue, a double-header in which he puts questions to cartoonist Ed Luce of Wuvable Oaf Fame, and then to Raighne Hogan and Justin Skarhus from the publisher 2D Cloud, who are just finishing up a Kickstarter for their fall season this week.

Also, Noah Van Sciver joins us to create this week's Cartoonist's Diary, sharing his experiences in White River Junction, Vermont, as a fellow at the Center for Cartoon Studies.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary.
Luc Sante reviewed Richard McGuire's Here for the New York Times. It's a little late, but Sante's worth it.

John Porcellino writes about how the culture of SPX has changed.

What's clear is that it's no longer strictly what you would call an "Art Comics Show". (Was it ever? My memory fails me, but it did feel more like that in the past.)

Adrian Tomine explains his cover for this week's New Yorker.

William Cardini has advice for beginning cartoonists.

Annie Mok writes about some early queer comics.

—Interviews & Profiles. Gil Roth talks to Bill Griffith.

John Freeman talks to Michael DeForge.

Tavi Gevenson of Rookie talks to Adrian Tomine. So does Salon.

The Seattle Times talks to Alison Bechdel.

Inkstuds remembers Dennis Eichhorn.


Enter Here

Today you've got yours truly interviewing the fine gentlemen of Mould Map, Hugh Grant and Leon Sadler. Yes, this week is all about the Euro.

You present Europe as “in crisis”. The politics I get, but is it an aesthetic crisis too?

Hugh: Naomi Klein, Adbusters, Mark Fisher etc have all written that the problem with transgressive imagery and other radical artistic gestures is that the marketing strategies of big business are very good at hoovering up “edgy” imagery, and repackaging it to sell the very products or lifestyle that the original work was positioning itself as being against. In a different but closely related way you can see this happening with, for example, the design of clothes which convey a futuristic feeling, but have been made in a regressive manner in terms of inefficient material processes and exploitative labour conditions. All types of culture can use a futuristic aesthetic to channel new ideas about “progress” but if the invisible social, environmental and economic conditions underpinning the whole show remain unchanged then it’s just business as usual. So “futuristic” aesthetics are in crisis in this sense, which is really interesting from the point of view of a publication with a heavy sci-fi influence.

Leon: I like the angle of this question, but I think no. Is Europe in an aesthetic crisis? I think we are living through a global aesthetic crisis of boredom. No new aesthetic can be invented, or at least be around long enough for it to become an exciting thing. Our collective visual output is trapped in a loop, to find satisfaction we need to explore the most extreme imaginations we can find. Maybe it will lead to a state or worldwide aesthetic serenity, where we consider pure beauty in every style of glasses frame, every pile of rubble, every insect wing. Aesthetics are easy to market, but no-one wants to invest in imagination.


Dennis Eichhorn, longtime writer and author of the comic book series Real Stuff,has passed away. We'll have a full obituary soon. Here is Rob Clough on his most recent books.

Here's a good interview (with an unfortunate typo) with the great Mark Newgarden on some new damn comics of his.

Benjamin Marra talks OMWAT at Buzzfeed.

Kelly Sue DeConnick on NPR discussing Bitch Planet. 


All Good

Today on the site, Frank Santoro turns over Riff Raff to guest columnist John Kelly, who reports from this year's SPX and focuses specifically on two international guests in attendance, Dylan Horrocks and Joan Cornellà.

In a 2013 interview that ran on the website, Cornellà had this to say of interviews: "One day a guy wrote me a message on Facebook. He told me he was a fan interested to make an interview in a Starbucks. I acceded to met him and when I arrived there I found some kind of crazy ex convict trying to steal [sic] me with a fork."

While I would have loved to have spoken to him at length, and I had no plans to "steal him with a fork," Cornellà was very pleasant and we chatted off and on throughout the weekend. When he spotted a piece of paper I was carrying that had artwork by Drew Friedman on it, Cornellà asked me if I knew Friedman. I replied that I had known him for many years, had done a long interview with him for TCJ years ago, and had recently spent a day at Friedman’s house, interviewing him again.

“Tell him he’s my favorite cartoonist,” Cornellà said. “When I was just starting to draw comics I used to try and copy his work. I will show you next time.”

“You could have picked an easier artist to try and copy,” I said and he laughed.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Commentary. Julia Wertz wrote a post on online harassment. Anyone who hasn't read it yet should.

Dash Shaw writes about form. "In comic pages, form decisions are content decisions."

—Interviews & Profiles. Oliver Ristau and Shawn Starr talk to Blaise Larmee.

Henry Chamberlain talks to Jonathan Lethem about this year's volume of the Best American Comics.

Abraham Riesman visits Adrian Tomine in his studio.

—Misc. It's the twentieth anniversary of Conundrum Press.

Sean Howe shares a 1977 letter to Jimmy Page from the Ordo Templi Orientis that mentions the occult group's "personal ambassador" Steve Englehart (also a longtime Marvel writer).

—Video. Too many videos for you today.

Pat Moriarty on Serbian television promoting a documentary about the Seattle comics scene (via):

Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly interviewed by Jeff Smith for CXC (via):

More Art Spiegelman in Ohio, this time discussing his teenage fanzine:

Finally, Eleanor Davis's acceptance speech at this year's Ignatz Awards:


Don’t Think So

Hi there, today we have Hayley Campbell interviewing the great Jon Chandler, who has books out from Mould Map and Breakdown. Here's a bit:

Your stuff is so odd I don’t even know who to say it’s like. What comics were you into when you started drawing your own?

A childhood best pal and I got lost in a fantasy world for a few years and we used to draw the characters for that, but I didn’t draw comics much growing up. I wanted them to be perfect immediately, which is daft for a kid, but it was too frustrating. I preferred writing stories I think. A little while ago in my old man’s loft I found a Star Wars one I did, which managed to mention the Earth and God.

The comedian Nathaniel Metcalfe — who you and I both used to work with in the comics shop at different times — was once looking over my shoulder when I was logging in to a bank or something and I said, “guess my password.” And he said “Doomlord.” And he was right. It was a photo-strip in the relaunched eightiesEagle that my dad started buying for me and him, when I was four it must have been. Doomlord was a shape-shifting alien with human eyes peeping out and with a sinister grin on him. He had a ring he could vanish people with, after he’d sucked their minds out with his hands, and then he’d steal their identities. It was terrifying to me. I loved it very much. It was written by John Wagner and Alan Grant, a kind of updatedThe Day The Earth Stood Still, a lot about nuclear weapons of course.

As a teen I would go into the Ipswich comic shop and was trying to get into superhero comics but was really just forcing myself. Then I gravitated to the dark bit at the back of the shop where the alt stuff was kept. After the miles of surface you’d get in the X-Men books I fell down this other world like a really deep well. I bought Panter’s Jimbo and was outraged that some kid could draw that and get it published. The next week I went back and bought another one.

I got into Hup and Eightball and that became the kind of work I aspired to after university when I tried my hand at comics. But they were horrible because my energy was misplaced going that way. I got hundreds of the first one printed and then went to a Bristol comics fair with all of them, a total isolated Bambi, and sold hardly any, though Alan Grant bought one.

Elsewhere.... last night I went to the opening of Jim Shaw's retrospective at the New Museum here in NYC. Besides Jim's amazing work (and hey, he's a TCJ-contributor, too), you can catch a glimpse of work by as diverse a crowd as Steve Ditko, Jack Chick and Basil Wolverton enshrined in one of the galleries. Here's a bit from the NY Times. I wrote an essay for the catalog and took the opportunity to write at length about Wayne Boring. Here's an interview I did with Jim on this very site. So there's that.

Speaking of good things, the best thing DC Entertainment has published in who knows how long is this cover by Frank Miller, who, whatever else, is cartooning better than ever. Via Twitter, I was reminded of Sean T. Collins' excellent piece on Miller's last major art for DC, DK2. 

And more down the hatch, Dark Horse spent the most money on Moebius, I suppose, so they get the prize. I hope they don't fuck it up. Of course they will.


Good Sleep

Joe McCulloch goes all (or part) Memento on us in his latest guide to the Week in Comics! The last shall be first and all that. But he has his reasons, in this case, a particular Diamond policy ...

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

Amnesty International has expressed support for jailed Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani and her lawyer as her trial begins.

This is why you should be careful selling your comics through Craigslist.

Julia Wertz shared one of her personal experiences with online harassment on Twitter.

—Commentary. Chris Mautner and the aforementioned Joe McCulloch and Chris Mautner talk about this year's SPX.

—Interviews & Profiles. Gil Roth spoke to Scott McCloud on the Virtual Memories podcast.

Brooklyn magazine talks to Lucas Adams, one of the instigating forces behind a much-anticipated upcoming comics imprint, New York Review Comics.



Today on the site we have Doug Harvey on Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby on view at Cal State Northridge and curated by TCJ-contributor Charles Hatfield.

Assembling and mounting the first serious institutional retrospective exhibition in America examining the art of Jack Kirby is a task fraught with contradictions. On the one hand, Kirby is universally recognized within the comics community as one of the greatest innovators of the medium, the first comic book artist to achieve celebrity status, and the primary architect of the superhero mythology at the very center of contemporary human culture. As far as comic book aficionados go, you’re preaching to the choir.

If, on the other hand, you are a normal person, chances are you’ve never heard of Kirby. If I were writing this review for a mainstream magazine – even one devoted to the visual arts – I would be obliged to devote several paragraphs explaining the long and complex arc of Kirby’s career and its reflection in the evolution of the medium and industry — particularly his iconic role in the struggle for creative autonomy and artists’ intellectual property rights.

I would also have to flesh out the scope of Kirby’s vast output – the few people who could identify Kirby as the co-creator of the Marvel Universe would have no idea about his Golden Age collaborations with Joe Simon, their invention of the romance comic genre, or his wildly inventive post-Marvel tenure at DC. “Kamandi? What the hell’s a Kamandi?!”'

Elsewhere, an unusually busy comics weekend...

Frank Santoro calls our attention to the Emerging Cartoonist Award given at the first edition of Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, this past weekend. Katie Skelly (also a TCJ contributor) was the very deserving recipient of the award and a substantial $7000 cash prize. I have to say, the idea of a no-strings-attached cash prize based on merit in comics, judged by smart, knowledgeable people, is ground-breaking. In the video Tom Spurgeon says something about investing in the future of comics, which is a great way to think about helping to build an infrastructure inside (or next to) the business. This kind of thing is a major step forward, in my mind -- showing that, like the other arts, there can be unencumbered institutional support for advanced comics. Congrats to Tom and the CXC crew on doing something great for the medium.

Heather Benjamin is interviewed by VICE about her new book, Romantic Story.

Marc Bell and Anders Nilsen jam cartoon about their recent tour. Some good linework in them pages.

On a recent lecture jaunt, Paul Karasik came upon comics heaven. Take me there. The Wayne Boring drawing pictured is a dream come true. Also, holy shit, that Soglow table top!

And finally, another cartoonist on the road: John Porcellino on recent travels.