Andy Douglas Day is a great director of his characters gestures and facial expressions. His narratives are essentially two-person comedy bits, and like Rick Altergott’s masterful humor comics, the climax of the joke is often in a throwaway detail paced panels before the ‘punchline.’ A shrug, a glance.
And yet stylistically Day couldn’t be farther away from Altergott. In fact, devotees of Altergott’s neo-Wally Wood renderings might be offended by the very comparison. You would have to be a philistine to call Day’s drawings crude, but I know there will be many philisitines saying exactly that when they encounter this tome.
Art Spiegelman's stained glass project for his high school alma mater will be open to the public for a one-time viewing on MoCCA-weekend. Tickets are here.
I think what’s interesting to consider is what Chester may have learned during those grid years and how he applied the skill of balancing the grid to his more organic approach. Ed the Happy Clown was a heroic, action-adventure story and it read like a Kirby monster comic, like a '70s Kirby grid. Quick, like a storyboard almost, but depicting moments a movie would not – it’s all timing – the way all the pieces, moments fit together. The grid accommodates the heroic and the banal moments all the same. It’s like a metronome.
Then, with issue 19 of YF, Chester switches to autobio and he now has the spacing to make the everyday seem heroic – look at the distortion in The Playboy! – it’s like KIRBY - yet Chester manages to be so spare and clear in tone. Chester’s work reduces so beautifully - The Little Man collection is smaller than the original comics but it looks fine (imagine reducing a current Marvel comic to book size) – so while mainstream work has gotten more clogged because of the format, Chester’s 5-inch by 5-inch squares are perfectly phrased notes, simple melodies strung together on a metronome that sound just right at any volume, any size.
And we also have Day 4 of Mike Dawson and his Cartoonist’s Diary. Today, Mike wonders exactly why he’s doing what he’s doing. Elsewhere:
—News. It has been announced that Robert Kanigher, Bill Mantlo, Jack Mendelsohn will receive the 2014 Bill Finger Award.
Michael Cavna wrote a really nice piece about the Bill Watterson/Richard Thompson exhibits at the Billy Ireland library, with quotes from the artists, one of the curators, and others.
Then Cavna did it again with a story on the changing role of Universal Uclick editor Lee Salem, which includes input from Watterson, Thompson, Garry Trudeau, and Lynn Johnston.
Today, Joe McCulloch has your guide to the Week in Comics, with spotlight picks from Bobby London and Alejandro Jodorowsky.
It is also day two of Mike Dawson's tenure at the Cartoonist's Diary column. This time, he tries to go outside.
—Commentary. Brigid Alverson noticed something odd about that New York Times story on comics apps that Dan linked to yesterday—it included a strong recommendation of an app that runs on pirated manga. ["There are more digital manga services on the horizon, but as long as serious outlets like The New York Times can’t (or won’t) make the distinction between a legitimate manga app and a bootleg app like Manga Rock, the publishers will continue to have an uphill climb."]
When retailer Brian Hibbs bought a second store, it came with around 75,000 back issues. Now he's making a go at selling them. ["So, my first job was to 'part the Red Sea,' and separate the wheat from the chaff, which meant physically going through all (approximately) 300 long boxes and seeing what was in each one."]
Ben Towle reports from the Bill Watterson/Richard Thompson ehxibition at the Billy Ireland library. ["One of the most interesting displays showed Watterson’s early strips he did for his college newspaper as well as some submissions to newspaper syndicates. Including a rejection letter was a nice touch. I was really, really curious about the middle strip here which appears to have been deliberately obscured with an overlaying piece of bristol board. Did Watterson not want it shown for some reason?"]
—Interviews. CBR talks to Mike Mignola on the 20th anniversary of Hellboy. ["With China, yeah, there's photo reference. But in between those photos, what happens? What goes on? There's nothing worse, for me anyway, than being a slave to photo reference. I did one story set in Japan and I had photo reference for the exterior of a house and for a great little cemetery and things like that, but I didn't know things like how the doors worked. I could've gotten this out of Akira Kurosawa movies. I could've studied the interiors from various films, but that seems like an awful lot of work. I always felt that if I'm drawing the real world, I need to get it right."]
The same site also talks to former DC publisher Paul Levitz. ["Years ago I wrote an article for The Comics Journal titled 'Call for Higher Criticism', and looking back at it I think it was very naïve and immature in many ways. The argument was that there’s more to talk about than if the Thing can beat the Hulk, but there was broader things to talk about. I’ve seen it evolve over the years, with an army of professors now bringing scholarly knowledge and wisdom to the field."]
—Reviews. Andrew Wilmot reviews Diane Obomsawin's On Loving Women. ["The collected stories feel strangely complete and incomplete at the same time; they’re first paragraphs to larger narratives the author has decided to leave off the table, choosing instead to focus on the discombobulating first steps of girls exploring their sexuality."]
J. Caleb Mozzocco reviews Sam Henderson's Scene But Not Heard. ["Most of the gags revolve around the rule-less physics of comic strips and cartoons, and, read all at once, this book seems like a grand symphonic performance of the unique possibilities for jokes in the comics medium."]
—Misc.This Susie Cagle story is more about freelancing than cartooning, but there's a reason everyone is linking to it. ["Almost eight years ago, a week after my 22nd birthday, I graduated with a master’s degree from Columbia’s journalism school. I didn’t know what having an Ivy League master’s degree in journalism meant, besides an overinflated sense of young self-worth and a collection of very expensive bills. I was about to find out: nothing."]
—Video. On this weekend's 60 Minutes, Morley Safer profiled The New Yorker's cartoon editor, Bob Mankoff, who has a new book out. A slew of the magazine's cartoonists (Gross, Chast, etc.) are also briefly featured.
Today on the site we're joined by Mike Dawson, this week's contributor to our Cartoonist's Diary feature, and the author of Troop 142, Freddie & Me, among other books. Mike was also the man behind TCJ Talkies, and the co-host of the late, great, Ink Panthers.
The story is set in the city of Eccenihilo, which my half-remembered Latin classes of long ago lead me to roughly translate as “Beholdnothing” (though my grammar is probably ropey). Tjoyas and de Crécy set the mood with a striking wordless sequence in an old cathedral, where a strange trio build a harp from the bones of dead animals, only to flee and hide when a mob arrives to hold a cockfight in the building. A dispute leads to one grotesque little fat man getting his head hacked off. The cops arrive and arrest everybody. Then the mutilated guy picks up his severed head and walks off.
It is about as clear a statement of intent as you can get.
Elsewhere: —Interviews. In conjunction with new exhibitions of their work, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library site has posted interviews with cartoonists Bill Watterson and Richard Thompson. (Watterson: "There’s so much other content available—instantly and all for free—that there’s no reason to stick around if you’re not immediately enthralled. We consume everything like potato chips now. In this environment, I suspect the cartoonist’s connection with readers is likely to be superficial and fleeting, unless he taps into some fervent special interest niche.")
Vulture interviews Ms. Marvel writer G. Willow Wilson. ("Well, I have never, ever before written any comic book where there was fan art before the book was even released. That has never happened to me. That really — that really floored me.")
Brian Cremins talks to academic Shiamin Kwa about Kevin Huizenga's recent visit to Bryn Mawr. ("The question about when did you become interested in comics bothers me, because I do sense that there is sometimes a weird distinction being made about liking comics—like it’s a kind of secret handshake that is indexed by memories of carrying a certain colored bag on Wednesday afternoons.")
—News. Keiji Nakazawa's four-decade-old Barefoot Gen continues to generate controversy, as the mayor of Izumisano asked for all copies to be removed from elementary and junior-high-school libraries. ("'I regret having cooperated with the collecting of the manga even if it was because of an instruction from the head of the education board,' one principal said. 'Why was only Gen targeted when there are other works that also contain discriminatory terms? I can only believe they were deliberately setting their sights on Gen.'") —Reviews & Commentary. Craig Fischer reviews Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky's Sex Criminals. ("In 1970s fandom, we used the term 'groundlevels' to describe comics that combined fan genres like science fiction and fantasy with adult visuals and subject matter(s). 'Groundlevel' refers to the middle position these comics occupied between the DC-Marvel 'mainstream' and the excesses of Crumbian undergrounds. Dave Sim’s Cerebus was one early groundlevel comic, Wendy and Richard Pini’s Elfquest another, and nowadays, when I look at the artistic and commercial renaissance at Image Comics, I see the rebirth of the groundlevel aesthetic.")
Edie Fake reviews Emelie Östergren's Runaway Dog. ("...an unexpectedly elegant, sparse narrative with drawings that shimmer with silliness and surrealism.")
Farel Dalrymple shares his recent comics reading. ("I don’t read many mainstream comic series. I usually wait until I hear about something that is good and read the trade when the library gets it.")
—Video. And we don't usually promote comic movies very often, at least since the glory days of Dapper Dan's Super-Reviews, but here are two for which I'll break my self-imposed rule. First, Alejandro Jodorowsky's Dune, which is of comics interest because many of the proposed concepts for the film later made their way into Jodorowsky's Incal-verse books.
Today, Robert Kirby reviews the new collection of MK Brown comics, Stranger Than Life. An excerpt:
Brown reveals a more serious side to White Girl in the masterful twelve-page “White Girl Dreams”, where White Girl has bizarre flights of fancy, imagining among other things, “soaring with others in the night, dancing though my face is someone else’s.” In it, Brown blends middle class ennui with surrealist tropes to create an ultimately rather poignant, fragmented portrait of a day-to-day existence suffocated by rules, traditions, and obligations, where the good, pleasurable flights of fancy are shunted off to some forgotten, subterranean part of the brain. White Girl yearns for those good dreams, telling us, “I always get the other kind.” The other kind are the ones in which an annoying “perfect stranger” comes home and regales her with endless obnoxious, husband-to-subservient-wife questions (“What’s for dinner? When do we? Why aren’t there any?” and so forth). She also tells us, understandably, "I hate this dream.” Without making any fuss, a feminist viewpoint clearly surfaces throughout the swirl of fantastical, kaleidoscopic imagery. It may indeed be that the dream White Girl hates is her actual life, a take that gives the piece its particular edge. Exploring the very nature of dreams vs. reality and what one makes of the difference, the story rewards multiple readings.
—Interviews & Profiles. Alex Dueben talks to Diane Obomsawin. ("When was it -- before I even knew I was attracted to women -- that I knew, unconsciously. It goes back very far, to the age of six or seven. Also I was curious about my friends and their stories. That was my question for them: What was your very first attraction?")
13th Dimension has a two-part interview with MikeMignola. ("I was listening to the 8 billionth comment about H.P. Lovecraft and I said, 'Yeah, that stuff is in there, but I think that the bigger, fundamental structure of the Hellboy stuff came from pulp magazine guys like Robert E. Howard and Manly Wade Wellman.'")
Noam Cohen at the New York Times has a brief profile of xkcd's Randall Munroe. ("Though the book won’t appear for six months, What If? quickly reached No. 2 on Amazon’s best-seller list on the strength of pre-orders, trailing only a history book from Rush Limbaugh.")
Whit Taylor interviewed Mike Dawson. ("This was the first time I've ever gone into writing a story with a publisher already in mind. [...] There were pros and cons to it.") —Reviews & Commentary. Old TCJ hand Jared Gardner reviews Julia Gfrörer, Isabel Greenberg, and Cole Closser. ("Here I want to focus on the recent debut work of three young cartoonists that are inspired not by the inward gaze but instead by myth, legend, and a pure, unadulterated love of visual storytelling as an end in itself.")
Jacob Covey discusses how his views on S. Clay Wilson changed while he helped design Patrick Rosenkranz's new book on the artist. ("His is not the art of an innocent kindergartner who draws fanciful anatomy in a surreal landscape but that of the self-realizing, hormone-raging, unclean middle-beast that is boys who are becoming men. He still draws like a kid, just not the kid we romanticize about. At a time when most of us become self-conscious and begin self-censoring Wilson did not.")
Illogical Volume reviews Über, Pretty Deadly, Three, and Zero. ("There’s a certain punitive/educational value in amplifying and expanding on the staggering brutality of our recent past, but the danger of reducing it to gory spectacle haunts every page of this comic.")
Richard Bruton reviews Alan Moore and Steve Parkhouse's The Bojeffries Saga. ("Funnier than the hilarious D.R. & Quinch? Definitely. Better than Watchmen? Oh yes. Better than V For Vendetta? Yep. Better than Miracleman? Without question. Better than From Hell? Hmm… depends on my mood, but right up there.")
While writing about the film criticism of Manny Farber, David Bordwell discusses Farber's work on comic strips, too. ("Silly Milly is drawn in typical McGovern style, as though by a wind current, and has a prehistoric animal for a hair-do, a very expressive, giant-size eye, and a perfectly oval profile. It is one of those comics with animated décor, like Smoky Stover, with adjoining family portraits shaking hands, and one that tries for laughs in every part of the box.")
—News. Rich Warren at the Chicago Tribune profiles the Billy Ireland library. ("Veneration isn't stretching it as a term to describe what visitors might feel in these galleries. When they first step inside, most visitors are stunned at the sheer size of the illustrations, which are matted, framed and hung like paintings — like the works of art they are.") Incidentally, I am looking forward to Frank's column this week.
—Funnies. Roz Chast previews her upcoming book in The New Yorker.
—Video. Via Robert Boyd, here's the trailer for a new documentary on the Hairy Who.
In this in-depth interview, Mort Walker talks about growing up during the Great Depression, serving in the military, developing risque versions of his characters for overseas publishers, founding a comics art museum housed in a concrete castle, raising 10 kids, and much more. Continue reading →