Kid. Scram.

Today on the site, Greg Hunter returns with the third episode of his podcast, Comic Book Decalogue. I hope you guys have been checking out this series; it's great. Today's episode poses ten questions to Yumi Sakugawa (I Think I Am In Friend-Love With You, Ikebana), who talks about meditation, Megahex, and linework as handwriting.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Kate Beaton has a new collection of Hark! A Vagrant out, and is doing lots of interviews. This one in The Guardian is particularly strong, and she also spoke to Autostraddle and Vulture.

Everyone's favorite comics person, Annie Koyama, shares five books from her collection.

John Semley at The Walrus looks behind the mask of Sex Criminals artist Chip Zdarsky.

—Misc. Michael Vassallo posts Sunday strips from the end of the famous 1962-'63 newspaper strike.

—Awards. Zunar has won the CPJ's International Press Freedom award.

Noelle Stevenson's Nimona has made the longlist for the National Book Awards in the young people's literature category, and is apparently the first webcomic to make it this far.


Up There

Hey, I'm back. Today, as per tradition, we have Joe McCulloch on the week ahead in comics.

Elsewhere, a few notes:

The publishing company 2D Cloud has launched a Kickstarter to help with its expansion. I like 2D Cloud very much, and in particular I like how the "brand" (for example, I have no clue who owns it) is less important than the books. That's refreshing nowadays. I remain skeptical about the viability of crowdfunding in the longterm, and lately have been wondering if the whole small publishing world is becoming overcrowded with books and imprints. How much can the market support? I know how finite it is, so... huh. We'll see. Anyhow, any company that published Mark Connery has my vote.

I admittedly have paid almost no attention (aside from Joe's article last week, which, in a pre-wedding fervor I admit to skimming) to Alan Moore's Electricomics, but here's a tour of it that intrigues me.

Here's a critique of Sunday night's Walt Disney documentary.



I'm not supposed to be here this morning, but Dan got married this weekend, so he gets a short reprieve from blogging. Today, we're happy to present for the first time a twenty-year-old, never-before-published interview with Daniel Clowes, originally conducted by Zack Carlson for the fanzine Meatnog. It's always interesting to read decades-old comics business talk:

CARLSON: Since you’re doing animation right now, has there ever been a point where you feel like you’ve done comics and you want to move on to something else?

CLOWES: I never get tired of what I’m doing. I’m always challenged. Comics are really difficult because you’re doing writing, storytelling, and you have to learn so many things that you’re just constantly improving.

I still have tons of stuff that I want to get done, but I get really frustrated with the business of comics, having to sell my stuff to superhero fans. There just aren’t stores for the type of comics that we do. There are alternative record stores that also sell comics, but they don’t really know how to actually sell them. It’s really irritating, and I’ve felt like quitting because of that. I hear stories of just … stupid comics selling millions of copies and that gets to me sometimes.

But the truth is that I’d probably keep doing it even if I only sold a hundred copies. I just wish I could reach the audience that I know is out there for this kind of thing. There has to be at least a hundred thousand people that would enjoy these types of comics, and they’re maybe getting to ten thousand.

CARLSON: But in the last couple years, your art has been able to reach more people, if not specifically Eightball. Even this music video —

CLOWES: That’s true. But somehow that doesn’t translate into people buying comics. People might see this Ramones video and like the artwork, but they’re never going to be in a comics store. Maybe if Eightball was sold in Waldenbooks at the mall, these people would run across it, but nobody but deviants go into comic-book stores. Certainly no girls will go in. People have to know about something and actually go in looking for it. It’s a real problem. It’s not something that’s gonna get picked up as an impulse buy. And the people who are going into comic shops mostly aren’t interested in Eightball or the other good comics that are being produced today. Sad, but true.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Rob Clough writes about Gabrielle Bell's autobiographical comics. J. Caleb Mozzocco writes about Ben Marra's Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T.

A collective of over 100 female comics creators has created a website addressing sexism in French comics. Most of their site is in French, but they have posted an English translation of their charter statement. (via Heidi MacDonald.)

—Interviews. Katie Skelly interviews Liz Suburbia.

—Crowdfunding. Artist/teacher/TCJ columnist Frank Santoro has launched an Indiegogo campaign to fun a new school for comics creators in Pittsburgh. Even if you don't contribute that's a fundraising pitch that no one should miss, and something that only Frank could've created.


Whole Lot of Preening Going On These Days, Not So Much Substance

Cynthia Rose is here with a report on "The Golden Age of Belgian Comics", an impressive exhibit of comics art from the Museum of Fine Arts in Liège now on display in France.

Their pages detail a comics revolution, the era when – led by Tintin – the ninth art forever changed leisure on the continent.

Its big names are the gods of this particular origin myth: Hergé (Tintin); Edgar P. Jacobs (Blake & Mortimer); André Franquin (Gaston Lagaffe and Idées Noires); Peyo (Les Schtroumpfs – the Smurfs); Maurice Tillieux (Gil Jourdan); Morris (Lucky Luke); Raymond Macherot (Chlorophylle and Sibylline); Didier Comès (Silence) and Willy Lambil (Les Tuniques Bleues).

Their tale is as unlikely as it is significant. Few of these artists had dreamed of working in anything like cartooning. Whether it was a life at sea, fine art or detective fiction, their first ambitions were a reaction to the Belgium where they grew up. Society there was mostly sober, parochial and largely Catholic. But then came the World War II, Occupation and Liberation – the first utterly traumatizing, the latter establishing a Euro-dependence on its "liberator."

From films to comics, cars to clothes, all of Europe felt the pull of post-War US style. But, within a decade, these artists managed to fuse it with a European and Francophone experience. Certainly the best of them – Hergé, Franquin, Morris, and Macherot – drew like geniuses. But it was really thanks to insight, intuition and sheer insouciance that they transformed modest genre stories into something all their own. They gave the European comic an architecture much of which remains with it today.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Paul Morton writes about Drawn & Quarterly's 25th anniversary for The Millions.

At Hyperallergic, Anthony Cuday writes about Kris Mukai and Aidan Koch, and pays a lot more attention to their art than most comics critics tend to do...

Loren Lynch writes about Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine de Landro's Bitch Planet for The Nation.

Rob Clough on minicomics.

—Interviews & Profiles. Karen O'Brien talks to Glenn Head. Head then writes about his own experiences with underground comics for CBS.

CBR talks to Alex Robinson.

—Misc. This story on cult author Dennis Cooper (who also co-created the experimental graphic novel Horror Hospital with Keith Mayerson) explains his attempt to create a "novel" formed from gifs. This strikes me as one possible path forward for comics, or at least it's not entirely unrelated.

—Crowdfunding. Longtime inker Bob Wiacek is in need of financial help after a bad fall.

The Women Write About Comics site is running an indiegogo campaign and is close to its goal.


Logging In

We had a little site outage yesterday, but we're back now. Note that yesterday brought us a great interview with Josh Simmons by Rob Kirby. Simmons is quietly producing a substantial body of work that burrows pretty deep into world-making in comics.

How have the reactions to Black River been so far?

Reactions seem pretty positive. Everyone talks about how depressing it is. I had thought it my most hopeful book, in a way, compared to most of my other work. But I’m not the best gauge for what my work is about, or what it’s doing, I suppose. I still get plenty of haters. I don’t understand at all when people call it gratuitous or “shock value” work. Or pointless. I always worry my stuff is, if anything, too obvious in its text or subtext or meaning or whatever. And people will have completely opposing reactions. One thing I heard was a reader thought that I was enjoying the violence too much. And another thought I was taking a kind of ethical stance, sort of wagging my finger in the reader’s face about how much they enjoy violence. Sometimes I want to take to the Internet and write a screed telling people how it is. But I think it’s best to just let people have their reactions. That’s part of the fun of art, right? And it’s nice there seem to be a fair amount of reviews online, and that people seem to be talking about it…

And today Mike Dawson chats with Dan Zettwoch and Rina Ayuyang about Linda Barry's The Freddie Stories.


Here's a nice obit for Marmaduke's Brad Anderson.

I'm intrigued by this Octobriana research and book.

Charles Hatfield walks us through his Jack Kirby exhibition:



Another Opens

Welcome back from Labor Day. Joe McCulloch is here with his usual guide to the week's most interesting-sounding new comics, but first he reviews the new comics app from Alan Moore & co., Electricomics.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Josh Bayer writes about Benjamin Marra's Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T.

Andrew Rilstone reviews selections from the entire run of Captain America, from 1941 to 2002, in three posts.

—Misc. The New Yorker has a preview of Cole Closser's Black Rat. I really enjoyed his previous book.

Tom Hart has posted a preview trailer of Rosalie Lightning.

—Interviews & Profiles. Will Wellington has a short interview with Michael DeForge.

William Cardini was a guest on Inkstuds.

Hannah Means Shannon talked to Alan Moore about Electricomics.


His Honor

And so it has come to pass that R.C. Harvey has written about the British comic strip Modest Blaise. Little known here but somewhat loved. Bob himself really digs it.

He calls her “Princess,” and that, it turns out, is the consummate expression, for him, of their relationship. She calls him “Willie love,” but that, for American readers, is misleading: they aren’t lovers. For readers in their native Britain, however, “love” here represents not fevered ardor but a kind of familial affection, and that is an almost complete description, to her, of their relationship.

To me, Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin are a literary pair that ranks with Damon and Phintias. Or Roland and Oliver. Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. But Modesty and Willie are a greater literary achievement than these more celebrated duos: they are more fully rounded, more human. Their personalities have depth and nuance. They live. For a potboiler pair, that’s a notable feat.


Details are a little sketchy in English, but it appears there's an effort to shut down a Stu Mead exhibition staged in Marseille, home to Mead's publisher (and comics/graphics stalwart) Le Dernier Cri. Most of this I'm getting from Facebook, though I did turn up this article on French Buzzfeed. I asked cartoonist/publisher/critic J.C. Menu about it and he wrote me the following:

  • Jean-Christophe Menu dear Dan, hello!
    Quite hard to explain quick but I'll try ...
    1) LE DERNIER CRi exposed since a few weeks Stu Mead & Reinhard Scheibner. Of course this is no boyscoot stuff.

    but no scout was supposed to go there... But DC exhibit such thing from 20 years. Thanks to Pakito Bolino who's the craziest french publisher, I hope you know.
    2) it happened rightist association (or maybe just one fascist guy) discovered the exhibition. Made a petition on line. Recolted 10.000 signatures. An enormours cabala against DC. Very grave.
    3) those fascists-rightists are going to demonstrate in front of DC office this week-end. The little LePen girl had took things in hand. (National Front, the third of the dinasty, vive la France) cause of course : "subventioned pedophilc art in the city" isgood pain...
    4) so they will come in Marseille offices. of course we care debordments skinheads, huge bullshit.
    5) It's time evolution badly and the main tihng I said in this texto is "NEVER CALL AGAIN DEGENERATE ART ". cause that's the point. And that's the point WE NOW HAVE TO FIGHT AND STOP
    7) No seven point. Said it all. Bye Dan !

I've asked around a bit, but so far not much more info. Anyone out there with more insight please comment below or send me an email.

And finally, it both warms my heart and chills me to the bone that by virtue of growing up on the comics culture I grew up on (1980s suburban) and the social media I have to interact with for this job, I will encounter something like the image below. I love to hate comics, and yet I also love to love comics. This is the conundrum embodied by, say, Paul Gulacy and, on the other side of the spectrum, Seth. That's right, they're not so far apart. The far-out, costume-wearing, persona-first thing. And so, gaze at the below and think about this name: KENNY FUCKIN' POWERS.



Killer Fish

Back from the Minnesota State Fair and ready to read about comics on the internet, which it looks like Dan didn't manage to break in my absence (this time). Rob Clough is here today with a review of The Cigar That Fell in Love With a Pipe by David Camus and Nick Abadzis, a historical fantasy romance featuring Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth:

The Cigar That Fell In Love With A Pipe is a hard book to pin down. At heart, it's an unconventional fairy tale romance, and as such, it owes everything to artist Nick Abadzis, who brings that fairy tale to life. Written by David Camus, this is a book whose imagery is visceral and funky: the smell of smoke, the feel of sweat from Cuban heat, the taste of salt from the ocean, the sound of Orson Welles' mellifluous voice, and of course the ways in which light and smoke play against each other. The book has a nested narrative structure, as what appears to be the beginning of the story of Welles receiving a box of cigars is actually almost the end of magical story of two spirits in love.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Berke Breathed's revival of Bloom County goes to Universal UClick, and is no longer a Facebook-only affair.

Wil Pfeifer remembers the late cartoonist and self-publisher Tim Corrigan.

—Reviews & Commentary. Abraham Reisman at Vulture reviews Glenn Head's Chicago.

Warren Peace enthuses about the work of Liz Suburbia.

Shawn Starr writes about Blaise Larmee's uncategorizable 3 Books.

Rob Clough on Glynnis Fawkes.

—Misc. Michael Dooley at Print shares the best vintage comics he found at Comic-Con this year.

It's a good time to revisit Spit and a Half.