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It's a weird day out there, but if you're looking to hide from the world, we have some comics-related content to help with your denial.

First, Mark Newgarden is here with a photo tour of The Inkwell, a postwar NYC bar where everyone from Milton Caniff to Milt Gross to Otto Soglow drew on the walls.

Part of the mythos of the 20th-century newspaper cartoonist was the role of the deadline- haunted hollow-legged libertine, part workhorse/part fraternal drinking machine. Big-city newspaper art departments were notorious for their in-house tippling and impromptu frescoes. In a 1979 oral history, the radio producer Himan Brown (desperately seeking an audience with cartoonist Milt Gross) recalled his teenage impression of the New York World art department of the 1920s: “For me to describe the place these cartoonists worked in, in the old World building down on Park Row in Lower Manhattan, is really a nightmare in itself. These were tough hard-bitten men, an elite unto themselves. They sat side by side, doing the cartoons and comic strips that were so familiar, in this one smoke-ridden room, with spittoons and filthy dirty pictures on the wall. Pornography was invented by these guys.” These dual impulses naturally migrated to the local saloons after office hours.

Among these was The Inkwell, a now-forgotten postwar establishment that once catered to this particular elite. Located at 693 Third Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets on the East Side, “a few doors south” of the original Costello’s (which occupied number 699 until it relocated to East 44th street in 1973), The Inkwell was christened with a moist nod to the high-hat steak row eatery, The Pen and Pencil. Esquire described it as “a hangout for cartoonists and writers, actors and musicians, models and magazine editors.” Knife and Fork in New York, a period guidebook, described it as a “boothed gossipry for folk from near-by newspaper offices ” and went on to praise both the steaks and “big luscious porkchops, Southern-style.”

We also have Day Four of L. Nichols' Cartoonist's Diary. Today, it's camping in Big Sur.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Longtime Batman artist Norm Breyfogle has died. Anyone between, say, 30 and 45 who read superhero comics in their youth probably has fond memories of his work. The details of his death are still private, but he suffered a stroke in 2015, and used crowdfunding at the time to help pay his medical bills.

—Interviews & Profiles. Rolling Stone talks to Garry Trudeau.

Are you more concerned about the country than you were when you started Doonesbury, during the height of Vietnam and the Nixon administration?
It’s hard to measure degrees of concern. The country’s been at war for roughly half the 50 years I’ve been doing this. We’ve had endless scandals, crises. I can’t think of a year when I wasn’t concerned. My hair’s always on fire about some damn thing.

The Guardian profiles Liana Finck.

She may feel that her constant existential terror makes her a bit weird, but it seems there are enough like-minded souls out there to make her quite normal. (Her 200,000 followers on Instagram are devout enough that her biography states: “You may tattoo.”)

“All my weirdness around people is just weirdness about myself. I’ve always been self-conscious and shy, but I wonder if that can be your whole life. I might get used to all the things in the world and stop being anxious about them,” she says. She doesn’t sound very sure.

The most recent guest on Process Party is Josh Cotter, and the most recent guest on Comics Alternative is Tillie Walden.

—Reviews. Jenny Lawson at The New York Times reviews Finck's latest.

“Passing for Human” is a graphic work — Finck’s second, after her earlier “A Bintel Brief.” It is drawn in a straightforward pen-and-ink style but each simple drawing captures such raw emotion. It’s wonderfully intimate, like reading someone’s diary. And in a way that’s what it is. It tells the story of the artist’s search for her lost shadow. The first time I flipped through the book I wasn’t sure what that shadow represented: alienation, regret, creative angst, self-doubt? I read it again.

 

Dead Lies On Target

Today at The Comics Journal, we've got another early look at one of the fall's more anticipated titles: Britt Wilson's latest with Koyama, Ghost Queen. Get in on the hotness now, otherwise you can't condescend to latecomers.

If you'd been wondering why L. Nichols was putting himself through cross-country flights with small children, today you'll get your answer, the best answer of all: love. The latest chapter in his Cartoonist Diary awaits!

Today's Comics Journal review sees Martyn Pedler reviewing a hardcover comic release from a major comics publisher about Nazi Germany in the days prior to World War II, but no, it's not Berlin by Jason Lutes, which we reviewed yesterday. Instead, this is John Hendrix The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler, which has been collecting a whole laundry list of the kinds of pre-release accolades that make a big difference to traditional bookstores and libraries. It's an interesting prospect, the thought that this book--an easy on the eyes, sub-200 page hardcover pulsing with the simple stylistic constructs that often appeals to readers new to comics in part because they aren't really comics--has every potential of being talked about in the same breath with Lutes' massive, career-defining and defiant magnum opus despite the vast chasm of aesthetic weight and obvious bone-in effort that differentiates them, simply because of the timing of release and the ease of their pairing. Pedler gives it a fair assessment, at least.

In fact, the only real sense that The Faithful Spy is a book for young readers comes with Hendrix’s editorializing – like that word “chillingly”, above. After explaining Hitler’s plan to take over Germany and eradicate the Jewish people, Hendrix gives over a whole page to explain “These were horrid ideas.” Does he not trust his audience to see how horrific the Nazi regime was? Or is this just how we have to talk today when the fact that Nazis are bad seems distressingly up for debate once more? I’m not sure.

While i'm on the subject of Berlin, here's the ultimate throwback: our original review of the first issue, published back in 1996. (I was but a boy at the time, and my knowledge of comics geography went no further than Blüdhaven.) Written by Christopher Brayshaw, it includes choice bits of we'll-see-how-this-goes, but more than that, it's a beautiful snapshot of Jason's subtle experiments, and reading it again--knowing that neither critic nor creator would know how long the road had begun--is a real treat.

I find myself less interested in the story's characters than in Lutes' thoughtful play with different kinds of pacing. Coming after Jar of Fools' bravura pacing, this can't help but feel like a bit of a letdown. But Lutes' commitment to experimentation and to refining his storytelling techniques bodes well for his continued development as a cartoonist. I'm consequently willing to accept my minor reservations about Berlin for now, in return for the more innovative work that Lutes' present experiments promise in the future.

Over at Hyperallergic, Dominic Umile takes a look at Oliver Kugler's Escaping Wars and Waves, a collection of his illustrated profiles subtitled "Encounters with Syrian Refugees"

Kugler’s process yields peripheral cartoon-like spot illustrations, like those supporting street vendor Claudia’s story on Greece’s Kos Island, where tourism declines and refugees sleep on trashed cardboard. For Vian, whose imprisoned activist husband hasn’t met his infant son yet and whose glassy doll-eyes are trained on the reader, Kugler utilizes captions, oversized header type, and word balloons, too. While the work isn’t always labeled as such and is far more venturesome than what is being produced at mainstream comics publishers, Escapingowes as much to the tradition of comics and sequential art as it does to journalism.

Over at WWAC, Tony Wei Ling goes long on Carta Monir's Secure Connect. 

Monir is an amazing talent. As a cartoonist, she’s developed an instantly recognizable conceit that’s way more versatile than it seems on first blush. Her work is always, it seems, about how video games and computers work their way into you. But what each comic is about emotionally feels particular, never rehashed. In her body of published short works, she’s nailed the sweet, the grotesque, the bitter, and the mournful.

Over at The Nerdist, Michel Fiffe's latest experiment with getting that money intersected with getting that GI Joe. Click and ye shalt be found.

 

 

Ixnay

Irene Velentzas is here with a review of one of the most long-awaited conclusions in comics, the complete Berlin from Jason Lutes.

The inside cover of Jason Lutes’ compiled Berlin depicts a sprawling map of the city. The map underlies not only the crossroads Berlin and her peoples are certain to face over the course of this text, but also the entangled matrix of lives, political movements, class conflicts, and private struggles that form the living heartbeat of the multifaceted and ever-changing organism that is Berlin. Lute’s Berlin is a painstakingly made masterpiece, and its twenty-two-year construction has outlasted even the rise and fall of the Weimar Republic which it depicts. This carefully crafted omnibus is not only a fabricated nexus of interwoven lives – both historical and fictional – but a masterclass in the complexity of comics symbolism and composition. Lutes’ thoughtful and impactful storytelling is symbolically dense from the outset as a steam train chugs along the first three panels of the book. The train not only foreshadows the horrors of the Holocaust to come, but also the inevitable intertwined destinies of a progress-driven, war-torn nation and its citizens.

We also have Day Two of L. Nichols' Cartoonist's Diary.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Abrams is starting a new imprint, Megascope, dedicated to science fiction comics focused on people of color.

The name of the imprint is taken from a work of speculative fiction written in 1908 by the celebrated African American sociologist and NAACP founder W.E.B. Dubois. Dubois's Megascope, [director John] Jennings explained, is a fictional instrument that allows its viewers to see “undiscovered stories from our past. It’s a really interesting allegorical device.”

—Interviews & Profiles. Brett Sokol at the New York Times profiles the great Richard McGuire.

Mr. McGuire’s wheatpasting days are four decades behind him, well before he became known for creating magazine covers for The New Yorker, award-winning animation for PBS Kids, and “Here,” a graphic novel saluted by the New York Times critic Dwight Garner as one of the “very best” ever published. But for the first time in nearly 40 years, his handmade posters are receiving a loving excavation in “Art for the Street — New York 1978-1982,” two new solo exhibitions of his work, opening this weekend at the New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1 in Queens and on Sept. 27 at Alden Projects in Manhattan.

Gwynne Watkins at Vulture profiles Ramona Fradon.

Fradon couldn’t be nicer, but she has the canniness of a woman who survived the some of the nation’s hardest decades — and the pressures of an all-male industry — by her own wits. I confess to her that I’m only a casual comics reader; my husband is the one with a passion for superhero stories. “Could you explain that to me?” she asks with a smile. “I just do not understand the grown men who are so into comics.”

Surface has a very brief interview with Daniel Clowes.

Many were exultant when Sabrina, a graphic novel by 29-year-old cartoonist Nick Drnaso, made the longlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize for fiction, Britain’s most prestigious literary award. Daniel Clowes was not one of them.

“It seems like a strange leap to me,” he says. It’s not because he didn’t love the book—he thought it was great. He just thinks we’re talking apples and oranges. “[A graphic novel] is a whole different thing,” he says. “It feels uncomfortable as a form of recognition.”

The Daily Beast profiles Chelsea Cain.

For a short time, Cain became a symbol of the erupting culture wars in geek spaces—the kind that have since yielded the amorphous, anti-diversity harassment campaign known as “Comicsgate.”

At the time, however, the campaign against Cain had no name. And deleting her Twitter only seemed to make it worse. “There’s this really interesting misconception that misogynists have about free speech,” Cain recalls now. “They really were mad that I had left the conversation, because apparently if I were a real feminist, if I were really a strong woman, I would have stayed and let them shout at me. So that’s when it really escalated.”

Cain stayed off Twitter for three months, only once checking in on the hysteria. “I’ve seen some really terrible things,” she remembers. “The thing that really will always haunt me is this illustration of Mockingbird—and this was somebody with talent, like, it was drawn and inked, it looked professional: Mockingbird brutalized and raped, dead. Her costume all torn off, bloody, really violent. And she’s laying there, horribly murdered and bruised and it said, ‘Ask me about my feminist agenda.’”

The most recent guest on the Comics Alternative podcast is Jason Lutes, and the most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Ken Krimstein.

—Reviews & Commentary. For Bomb, Austin English raves about Julie Doucet's Dirty Plotte.

Doucet engaged comics as a place to think graphically, without triage of explanation. Familiar shapes and images (the human body, cluttered apartments) provide the theater for these clipped statements, a less austere setting than, say, poetry. In her early work, this nontraditional approach to comics (a medium often synonymous with narrative) feels rooted not in anger at the confines of cartooning but in an understanding of how powerful it can be on its own legs, no apologetic sprucing required. If cartooning is simply words and images, the artistic brazenness of early Dirty Plotte shows you can dispense with narrative and the three-act structure and what remains needn’t wear a cold and formalist mask.

Paul Buhle reviews Bill Schelly's memoir, Sense of Wonder.

Schelly is a self-described fan extraordinaire. Like hundreds of others, he began self-publishing as a teen, sending out his own mimeographed or, later, offset zines to others in the fold, mainly exchanging copies until he had built up enough readers to sell them. Some of those others, those whose names we are likely to recognize — Crumb springs to mind — went on from collecting, publishing, and distributing fan mags to becoming artists themselves. Schelly, who did plenty of his own drawing along the way, and at one point actually considered a comic-art career, decided that he had reached a dead end along those lines. Sagely, he turned to a series of jobs for various entities, including the federal government and the Seattle Counseling Service, an institution serving the city’s LGBT community. But he continued to write about comic books and film, and became a prolific and respected independent scholar.

Finally, the famously irascible Portuguese critic Domingos Isabelinho has published a list of his favorite 34 comics.

 

Strangers Can’t Be Disappointed

Today at The Comics Journal, we're launching our latest installment of Cartoonist's Diary--with L. Nichols, the cartoonist behind Flocks, a graphic memoir just published by Secret Acres. In his initial installment, L. gets on a cross country flight...with small children.

We've also got a return to these pages by the indefatigable Alex Dueben, who spoke with Eisner Award winning writer and editor Frederik Aldama about the work he's been doing over the last few years.

You’re a tenured professor and you have a lot of scholarly credentials; what has it been like watching comics studies be embraced by academia over the course of your career?

In 2000, I was hired by the University of Colorado, Boulder, as my first job. I knew for a fact that the books that were going to get me where I needed to go – associate and then full professor – would have to be pretty recognizable by senior scholars. That is, they would have to be on literature for the most part. So that’s what I did. I wrote those books. But I knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to write books on comics. That’s something that I’d always wanted to do, even as a graduate student. Once I was a full professor, I started writing these books. There are many other of my colleagues – usually senior scholars – across the country who are building comics studies into the robust discipline it is today.

As a result of all this work, we’re starting to see our PhD students and more junior colleagues writing dissertations as well as publishing articles and books on comics. While it’s a very different scene than the early 2000s, I still advise my PhD students to write a chapter on straight alphabetic literature to present when they give their job talk. Why? There will still people in the room who don’t think comics are worthy of study – and they will be voting on whether or not to give my student the job.

We’re in a transition moment. On the one hand, in our scholarship we have arrived. I just published an edited volume that I titled, Comics Studies Here and Now, to celebrate this arrival in terms of scholarship. At the same time that we’ve “arrived” there’s still some old guard scholars out there gatekeeping this scholarship. There’s a lot of anxiety among colleagues about our arrival, so our younger colleagues and students still need to tread carefully.

Our review for today is of Peter Kuper's recently published collection of Franz Kafka stories, Kafkaesque. Rich Barrett has the mic:

Usually, when adapting literary prose, comic creators are too slavish to the source material, unsure of what to cut from the sacred original text, resulting in paragraphs of narration that overpower the art. Kuper’s greatest feat here is how heroically he edits Kafka down, using just the right amount of words as captions to accompany his visuals. In being so concise, he stays true to form as a cartoonist without losing anything vital from the source material and keeping Kafka’s “voice” intact.

While linking to Batman Penis related content should have probably been just the once, Stephen Colbert's take on the situation includes criticism of DC's business practices and that dumb "for mature readers" tag they use, so whateves, let's keep this train rolling.

 

 

New Shoes

Greg Hunter's here today with the 32nd episode of his Comic Book Decalogue podcast. This month, he's talking to cartoonist and former TCJ podcaster Mike Dawson. They discuss discusses Boogie Nights, Oor Wullie, Eleanor Davis, and more.

We also have a review of Zep's Strange and Beautiful Sound, written by Nathan Chazan.

If a cartoonist strives to tell a mediocre story and is very successful in doing so, is the result of their labor a mediocre comic? This is a question I found myself returning to time and time again when reading A Strange and Beautiful Sound, a thoroughly unsurprising exercise in what might be called summer literature that nevertheless was pleasant to read. The artist, Zep, well known in Francophone Europe for his bestselling children’s serial Titeuf, has more recently taken to doing more mature graphic novels, and you can tell he means business...because all the colors are a muted monochrome and feature grown ups having conversations at tables. As an artist moving into his “please take me seriously” period, Zep’s interests are more low key than, say, a Craig Thompson behemoth, but then the Franco-Belgian comics scene has always been a little more chilled out than the American on the whole.[1] The tone that Zep strikes is pleasurable, yet it is an attitude that would occupy an entire shelf at Barnes & Noble if big bookstores actually sorted their comics section by tone.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. I rarely share news of comics convention guests, but this is different enough to be worth pointing out. The cartoonist behind the new Nancy, who uses the pseudonym Olivia Jaimes, is going to be at CXC.

“The CXC organizers went to great lengths so I’d feel comfortable at the event,” Jaimes told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs about her festival session. “The panel’s happening in a room that seats only about 40 people, and they’re coat-checking all phones and recording devices at the door.

“What I’m saying is: If you aren’t one of those 40 people and don’t want to be separated from your phone just to see me, don’t stress about it — I’m pretty boring in person,” she adds wryly. “But if you do jump through the hoops, I’ll be touched and honored to answer your questions [in this format]. As always, the right balance between connecting with fans and maintaining personal boundaries is my lodestar.”

—Interviews & Profiles. Alex Dueben talks to Summer Pierre.

It wasn’t until I returned to comics that poetry returned to its place. Poetry is a HUGE influence on my comics. It’s a brief and distilled form of life – something I try very hard to get right in my comics. I think cartoonists and poets have a lot in common and every time I get very ego driven and scared about “what it all means” all I have to do is read or listen to a poem and it drops me down to the small and immediate things of life. Music is more emotive to me – I am more taken away by music. Poetry keeps me in the present moment. It’s the red arrow I need on the map when I feel lost to tell me, “You are Here.”

Comics Workbook talks to Hannah K. Lee.

I like looking at packaging (fruit boxes and crates, foreign candy), flags, old and ornate rugs/textiles, pop music ephemera, Tumblr teens, fashion, clever logos, bad logos, old calligraphy, illuminated manuscripts, those kids’ Golden Books, I like to absorb and/or pick apart everything. When it comes to certain jobs that require a lot of research, I look at the design and illustration of that particular era and let that inform how it’ll turn out. For example, I just did a piece about the origins of ska, so I looked at a lot of 60’s album art coming out of Kingston.

The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Audrey Niffenegger.

 

Nice Beard, Creep

Today at The Comics Journal, we're pleased to welcome Ardo Omer back. In her latest interview, Ardo spoke with cartoonist Ming Doyle, who recently took on the unusual gig of stepping into Batman's shoes. 

First of all, I have to give complete credit to S.D. Perry and Matthew Manning who wrote and pitched it completely to Insight Editions. I was brought on after the fact and I agree, it’s a really interesting concept. It’s so fun to think—perhaps fun is the wrong word—but it makes a certain amount of sense to think that Bruce Wayne would be the kind of nerd who would just go so overboard on the idea of wanting to know all about his friends and their innards. That he would go to the lengths of keeping a hard copy of a Leonardo Da Vinci-esque art journal and even develop his skill of drawing to this point where he could illustrate it so intensely which I believe is the conceit of the entire endeavor. 

Personally, I was never necessarily interested in the anatomy of metahumans or superheroes per se because it hadn’t occurred to me. And again, that’s why the concept of the book is so striking to people. But in terms of just general anatomy, I went to art school and I think most artists struggle with anatomy at some point in their careers which is why when I took this job on, I was like, “challenge finally accepted.” I will do nothing but try and draw anatomy, and whether or not it’s bounded in reality, it has to look good or make sense. [Laughter] It was daunting but that’s what made me want to sign on to the book in the first place. I had absolutely never seen a project like this represented in the comics sphere before, you know?

Today's review comes to us from Jake Murel, and it's of Santiago García and David Rubin's take on Beowulf, which was brought to English readers via Image Comics. While Jake has kind words for much of the book, he was definitely stuck on one particular segment.

The sexual addition is not a problem in itself. The problem is that this addition is never made a part of the story in any way. If García and Rubin want to add this sexual nuance to the Grendel-Beowulf battle, that’s all well and good. But in taking creative liberties with an adaptation, any alteration should be justified, meaning it should be significant to the adaptation in some way. As it stands, Grendel climaxes onto Beowulf and the story moves on. Beowulf shares no similar sexual encounter with either monster or human, and the sexual occurrence never develops into any larger motif or theme. Grendel’s sexuality could be removed, and the story would not change. It’s an irrelevant addition.

And while that's all for us today, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the unusual connection to anatomy and penis drawings in another comic book related story, which you can find out more about at Bleeding Cool. Basically, they decided that yesterday, Wednesday July 19th in the year 2018, was the date when the world should see Bruce Wayne's penis, and see it they have, in multiple panels. As the comic is written by Brian Azzarello and features Batman, and these are two subjects that I've extensively written about in this thing that I now have to call a career, I feel that I should probably express more of a position on Batman's penis than my immediate reaction, which was to say "uhhh" and then go ask the guy in the office who likes Star Wars if he'd heard the news, and what did he think? He hadn't though. I was going to ask my wife what she thought but it didn't seem like proper Yom Kippur conversation. So--i'll report back. 

Over at Vogue--that's the first time I've linked to them, I believe--there's an extensive profile of Liana Finck, a cartoonist whose popularity has risen almost as exponentially as her talent over the last few years. We'll be speaking with her soon too, as part of the Passing For Human internet takeover.

If any of this seems strange, you're probably not among Finck's nearly 200,000 followers on Instagram, where a couple times a day she posts drawings that raise a magnifying glass to a culture roiling with toxic masculinity, misogynistic microaggressions, and boorish self-regard, all filtered through her own churning self-doubt and anxiety. Her style is spare beyond sketchy: naive stick figures that illustrate sharp social observations in just a few wiggly lines, simplistic charts and graphs that map out complex emotional states (she has a knack for seeing words and concepts in two-dimensional space, a byproduct, she says, of her synesthesia). If something is happening in Finck's life, there's a good chance she's working it out via cartoon—scroll through her feed and you'll notice a recent obsession with the politics of public seating areas—and doing so while parked at a cafe like the one where we've set up shop. (Why? "I really, really like people, and I'm also stressed out by people, so I think being around people who aren't talking to me is just ideal.") Her work trades less on humor—though sometimes she's very funny—than on a sort of existential gothic terror. Take, for example, one of my favorite posts, captioned "A Man Who Walked Around Me in a Circle," and depicting just that: in four slides, a menacing male stick figure circumrotates a wide-eyed, frozen female one, her unease escalating, until finally he barks: "Relax!"

And finally, here's a phenomenally art packed odyssey through drawings of machines by Jack Kirby and Geof Darrow. You can keep your Gerhard Richter in that fancy museum all to yourself. I got my huckleberry right here.

 

Adult Westerns

Today on the site, we have an excerpt from The Vagabond Valise, a new book from the Quebec-based cartoonist Siris.

We also have Edwin Turner's review of the first two issues of Anders Nilsen's Tongues.

There's a lot going on in the first two issues of Anders Nilsen's new graphic novel-in-progress Tongues. A black eagle plays chess with Prometheus before tearing out the chained god's liver. A young American ambles aimlessly through a Central Asian desert, a teddy bear strapped to his back. Stealing away from his lover's tower window, a youth morphs into a black swan and flies into the desert, where he consumes the tongue and throat of a murder victim sprawled in the sand. A little girl chats in Swahili about her assassination plans with a black chicken. (There are lots of black birds in Tongues). There's also some literal monkey business. It's all really beautiful stuff.

Like I said, there's a lot going on, but the comic never feels cramped nor frenetic. Nilsen's pace and perspective have a cinematic quality. Wide lens opening shots offer panorama views of a slightly surreal world. Tinged with a touch of mythic magic, Nilsen's mountains, deserts, and cities are a sliver removed from our own reality. Nilsen gives us bird's-eye views of this world, but we also get to see it from the ground up: a mercenary army on the move, a boy tripping and falling, lizards scuttling across the desert floor. Nilsen's clean, clear style depicts movement and perspective with a filmic quality that absorbs the reader's attention.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Alex Dueben talks to Ivan Brunetti at Smash Pages about his new children's book.

I didn’t have a definite plan to begin a second book when Wordplay came out, but I enjoyed the process of creating the first one, and Françoise encouraged me to submit another idea. I think I came up with the idea for 3×4 a couple of months after Wordplay came out. I figured that a book about numbers might make a fitting complement to a book about words, so that was the genesis of the idea, trying to make a logical pair. After an initial conversation with Françoise, I sketched out the book in very rough thumbnail form (this is what I do for pretty much every project), and then the process of editing began. As you might guess, this is something at which Françoise excels, so through a fair amount of back-and-forth, with her guidance I somehow got to a tighter thumbnail—not in terms of drawing, necessarily, but in terms of structure and flow. I like to have a solid skeleton to build upon, although I’m aware that projects inevitably morph and mutate as they progress (and this was no exception). It’s sort of a very slow coming into focus, refining it while drawing it.

At the New York Times, Ed Park reviews the third book in Jules Feiffer's noir trilogy, as well as Young Frances by Hartley Lin (Ethan Rilly).

The new American disorder is enough to make some of us contemplate Canadian citizenship, which might partly explain the shameless crush I have on the debut of the Montreal-based artist Hartley Lin. Funny and generous, YOUNG FRANCES (AdHouse, $19.95) is half coming-of-age story (female-friendship variety), half office novel. Lin’s line is both romantic and scrupulously composed, with precise framing that can recall a Wes Anderson tableau. The dialogue ranges from deadly accurate corporate jargon (“How long do you think you can survive without deliverables?”) to the kind of stuff you’d utter only to your closest friend (“People can get tapeworms in their brain, right?”). And Lin knows precisely when to let a few panels of premium Canadian silence sink in. (One character is shown reading — wait for it — Alice Munro.)

 

Burn or Jump

Today at The Comics Journal, we've got a couple of throwbacks for you. The first is the newest installment of Ice Cream For Bedwetters,  Tegan O'Neil's super-hero focused column, which takes a look at some old Wolverine comics from a very particular era in that character's history. Like that character (who is currently returning to the dead, thanks to Charles "A Lawyer" Soule), Tegan's got some changes planned.

I’m also inching closer to an end for what I’m doing here. Not this column, hopefully, but the specific project of this first year, a set of pieces written in a reflective mood, big on first-person pronouns and belly-button lint. The second year will be completely different. I get restless if I do the same thing for too long, I learned that from teaching.

This style has come in handy, however. You see, I underwent a change recently. It doesn’t really matter for the present purposes what that change was – we all change, after all, the experience of change is what’s universal. (Even if my change was a bit more drastic than most.) We’re all changing just by being alive and breathing the same blessed atmosphere. Not a novel observation but nonetheless a true one.

Our next throwback is to 2002--and to be more specific, to Ron Evry's original Comics Journal review of Jason Lutes' first collection of Berlin stories. In recognition of the recent conclusion of Jason's 20 year series (and to whet your appetite for our review of the now complete edition), we'll be pulling Berlin content from the archives for the next few weeks. In no small part, it will be because of paragraphs like these:

It seems a shame that an artist such as Jason Lutes cannot sell enough copies of this masterpiece to make producing it his full-time profession. It is obviously a life’s work, and hopefully will be enough of a commercial success for him to produce it for many more issues. The eighth issue of the comic book came out in December of 2000, and there hasn’t been another new one since. He has drawn an Ed Brubaker-written comic book called The Fall, also published by D&Q, which is diverting and intelligently done, but it isn’t Berlin. There are a projected 400 more pages to go in the series. If readers have to wait eight or nine more years to get them, then that is testimony to the fact that something is terribly wrong with the comic industry and needs fixing.

It can't all be old school material though, I hear you. And is there anything more 2018 than a hugely popular manga series spawning a tie-in series? If there is, I haven't heard of it! Thankfully, we've got just the cat for that bucket of slop: Alex Hoffman, who is here to pass judgment on My Hero Academia: Vigilantes #1. Today's Comics Journal review, now:

The premise of the comic is that the world is super powered - over time, humans started developing "Quirks" that give them unique powers, and these "Quirks" have become more and more common. Due to the rise of superpowers, superpowered crime is a major concern, and so the government has created a “Hero Licensing System” that allows people with Quirks to register with the government and fight crime as a job.

If you’re not completely immersed in Japanese comics, you’re probably thinking “Quirks sound a lot like the mutants in X-Men,” and you'd be right. The My Hero Academia universe is deeply indebted to modern American superhero comics, and it is clear that the series’ creator Kohei Horikoshi holds American superhero comics in high regard. But those influences are a sort of subtext for the original comic; the structure of My Hero Academia is based around the traditional Japanese school year and other Japanese constructs that make the series unique and not just a New Mutants knockoff.

We've got an interview with editor Frederick Luis Aldama coming to these digital pages very soon, but if you're in the mood for pregaming, head over to Comicosity for their dive into Tales From La Vida: A Latinx Comics Anthology.

As a whole, Latinx are a mix of bloodlines, religions, foods and more. This, sometimes discordant, mixture becomes more evident as you “zoom in” oo the country, family and finally individual. It is the internal and external culmination of years of forced and chosen assimilation. As diverse as we are, though, many of our stories share common themes, emotions, and life events. This commonality of experiences and diversity of being is laid bare in the pages of Tales from La Vida: A Latinx Comics Anthology. This new anthology is a collection of 80 comic book shorts by Latinx creators that visually share defining moments in their lives as a Latinx.

Didn't make it to SPX? Nor did I, friend. But never fear, they've already started uploading videos, and the first one is a 50 minute panel with Rebecca Sugar. You can keep this page bookmarked (if you didn't already bookmark it back in 2011) to get all the latest updates.

How much should I pay for a cassette tape of New Order's Power, Corruption & Lies? I'm having a hell of a time deciding.