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.


Puppet Knots

Today on the site I'm pleased that R. Fiore has returned to these hallowed pixels with a new column on a topic I can relate to: Snobbery!

I can’t really think of a better way to categorize my kind of comics reader than “comics snob.” By comics snob I mean the comics reader who, when introduced as a comics reader, instantly feels the urge to disavow any interest superhero comics. To the lay public this distinction will mean next to nothing. To the comics snob the superhero comic is the elephant in the room, who is your roommate, who happens to pay about 90% of the rent, and when you tell someone where you live they say, “Oh yeah, the Elephant House.” Any self-deprecating use of the term “snob” will open you up to charges of humblebragging, but the term comics snob carries with it a tacit admission that there’s something absurd about being a snob about comics. It’s the absurdity of saying, “I don’t read any of that superhero crap, what I like is Donald Duck.”

The problem for the comics snob referred to herein is the superhero comic that’s too good to ignore. The reference is facetious; good comics aren’t a problem for anyone. The problem is this: Ignoring mainstream comics is easy. Steadfast resistance is the line of least resistance. Once the comics snob concludes there are mainstream comics worth paying attention to, he faces the fact that they publish an awful lot of mainstream comics, and to truly have a sense of what’s happening in that part of the forest you’d have to look at a lot of trees. Lacking that kind of stamina all I can say about the state of mainstream comics based on the examples reviewed here is that an elephant sticks in the ground and is round like a pillar.

In fact, I’m uniquely unqualified to write about mainstream comics in any authoritative way. I stopped paying more than piecemeal attention at precisely the point where the X-Men had become the creative center of mainstream comics, a circumstance which in large part inspired me to get off the bus. In terms of modern mainstream comics history, this is like losing interest in the Bible when God decides that Adam needs a girlfriend.


Jessica Abel on the editing process.

Alex Dueben on artist Paul Johnson.

And finally, I've never seen this amazing video of Jack Kirby discussing his time in WWII.



The Magic


Today Joe is back, but he got waylaid with Comic Zenon and the comic book listing will come later today. Be patient.


Please go support Frank Santoro's efforts to expand his comic-making school. He has great stuff for sale and he's the heart of all that is good in comics.

An early fanzine publisher has passed away -- that generation was so important to the preservation of our history.

Underground cartoonist and painter The Pizz has passed away.

And big changes at the Marvel movie empire.


Broken Curls

Well, Tim's still away and I've kept my gripes to myself, so no trouble yet. I'm very pleased that Paul Tumey has rejoined us, and this time with a video piece about Clare Victor "Dwig" Dwiggins, a mostly forgotten cartoonist with a wonderfully spindly line.

For about the first third of his busy and active career, Clare Victor "Dwig" Dwiggins (1877-1958) employed an effervescent, dense and decorative visual style. He also drew numerous depictions of appealing and slightly screwy Gibson Girls, which tied in to his Bohemian take on life.

But, around 1913, something happened – and DWIG shifted. The sexy women and screwball exuberance of his work changed to a simpler, less dense, more abstract style. He became obsessed with dwelling in the idyllic past of his small town childhood growing up in the mid-west in the late 1800’s -- putting the names of his boyhood chums into his work, and disappearing into his studio for hours every day to live in simpler times.

Today, these indulgent and loving depictions of boyhood by Dwig can seem cloying and overly sentimental, but Dwig was sincere and authentic in this work. Perhaps one reason his later work fails to connect with many readers today is simply that we did not have the sorts of adventures he did -- digging up dead cats at moonlight to remove one's face with punk water, or tramping around the country with a pack of friends. If he were working today, perhaps Dwig would be turning out a comic strip version of "Freaks and Geeks."


Tom Spurgeon interviews Rob Goodin.

13 great R. Crumb drawings in honor of his 72nd birthday.

Not comics, but relevant: I love lists like this guide to Tarantino's influences/references. There's comics-relevant stuff in here, too.


Another Done

Today Glenn Head bids us farewell with the last day of his diary.


Ron Rege announced the availability of the second part of his mini comic series Continuing the Weaver Festival Phenomenon. Highly recommended.

Nick Gazin has a big comic book review round up over at Vice.

Hey, it's new Jon Chandler from Breakdown Press. Jon is also highly recommended.

And finally, today would have been Jack Kirby's 98th birthday. Tom Spurgeon has his usual epic image post.