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Today on the site, Greg Hunter interviews Peter Schilling Jr., the author of Carl Barks’ Duck, a new book on the Disney artist’s classic work. Here’s one exchange from it:

I’m glad you mentioned Barks’ framing of his stories as stage plays or novels, because you made a decision to put your own frame on the work, but at the same time, you do some biographical criticism of the work. You talk about his financial struggles, his divorces. How did you decide what from Barks’ life or from his stated views was most worth accounting for?

The one I thought was most worth accounting for was definitely his struggles with money. He had a real work ethic. It could have been driven by the fact that, I think at one point, he got eight-hundred dollars for one of his comics, which I think represented three one-hundredths of a dollar per comic sold. Ridiculous, even for the time. And work means a lot to the character of Donald Duck.

An early analysis that I was going to pursue was that Donald really does personify a lot of the things the American middle class were struggling with in the wake of World War II. We’ve got this American dream of having a job, having a house, living a life, and Donald has all these mishaps in going about his daily business. So it’s Carl Barks’ own struggles with work. Listing off Donald Duck’s jobs, they go to ridiculous extremes—he’s a falconer at one point. But then you have Carl Barks’ own list of jobs. It’s crazy too.

Yeah. I was not familiar with the chicken rearing.

And the weird thing is that with Barks being an egg farmer, there’s a ton of stories that include eggs. One I don’t talk about in the book is called “Omelet”, and it involves Donald having a chicken farm that produces this huge sea of eggs that he’s trying to hold up with a wall. For some reason, he has this chicken farm up on a hill, and millions of eggs descent on the town below, and the only way they can clean up is to burn the city, which will cook the eggs so they can haul ’em out and rebuild the town. It’s a really nicely laid-out story.

And yesterday, we published Rob Kirby’s review of the latest Michael Dowers-edited anthology, Treasury of Mini Comics Volume Two. Here’s how Rob starts:

In the introduction to the third and final volume of his tribute to the mini-comics art form, editor Michael Dowers traces the wide-ranging scope of the entire collection, which began with Newave!: The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s and Treasury of Mini Comics Volume One. He follows the form from little-known antecedents in the early half of the twentieth century to the ragged, pre-photocopier obscurities of the late sixties and seventies, on to the boom of the Reagan years and the Generation X era, up to today’s meticulously crafted, colorful art objects, sometimes risographed or featuring fancy silk-screened covers. Volume Two wraps up the trilogy with some quite sophisticated works, such as the full-color minis Spithouse #1 by Leah Wishnia and 5/4 by Nick Bertozzi, both light years from the unassuming work of earlier decades. Minis have come a long way, with their fascinating, previously secret histories still being revealed.

As with the prior installments, Volume Two has its peaks and valleys. Dowers states he wants the series to showcase a wide variety of comics, including “good art, mediocre art, and bad art,” clearly embracing the democratic, all-are-welcome ethos of important ’80s-era minis publisher Clay Geerdes (profiled in Newave!). The chronology of featured work is somewhat loose. Rather than following the ’80s-themed Newave! with work from the ’90s in Volume One and then comics from the ’00s and beyond in Volume Two (which I would have preferred, for the sake of clarity), he has opted to include comics of all eras in both Treasury books, which admittedly allows for on-the-spot comparing and contrasting of styles and content from different periods.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The Society of Illustrators has announced the winners of its second annual Comics and Cartoon Art Annual competition. Gold medalists include Bianca Gagnarelli, Lauren R. Weinstein, Roger Binyone, Olivier Schrauwen, Roger De Muth, and Maëlle Doliveux.

The CBLDF talks to Jarrett Dapier, the student who used the Freedom of Information Act to uncover Chicago Public Schools officials’ role in a classroom ban of Persepolis.

The Wall Street Journal reports on internal discord within the Charlie Hebdo staff on how to proceed editorially, post-massacre and post-massive cash infusion.

Editorial cartoonist Ann Telnaes writes about a planned cartoonists’ conference in France this April, which was cancelled due to security concerns.

—Interviews & Profiles. Mustard has published an enormous interview with Alan Moore on everything from movies to the effect of drugs on his work to magic.

—Comics History. At Print, Michael Dooley talks to our own R.C. Harvey about the work of the pioneering Black cartoonist and illustrator E. Simms Campbell.

Sean Kleefeld looks at Marvel’s practice of recoloring background characters to change their ethnicity in some of their reprints.

Shea Hennum at Paste writes about recent alternative manga publishing attempts from Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, PictureBox, etc.

—Reviews & Commentary. I believe we forgot to previously link to Paul Gravett’s annual survey of the best international comics of the past year (part one, part two).

Justin E.H. Smith has a strong essay defending satire in the Chronicle of Higher Education, worth reading even if you’re tired of reading essays on satire this year.

David Carter at The Beat looks at the declining fortunes of DC’s Vertigo line.

Marcus Farrajota introduces Portuguese comics.

 

Animal Camo

Today on the site: Mighty Matt Seneca on the new Jupiter’s Legacy.

LISTICLE: 10 Things About Jupiter’s Legacy #5

  1. Jupiter’s Legacy is for all intents and purposes an annual comic at this point. One issue came out in 2014, and issue #5 looks to be the only one we’ll get this year (though there’s a prequel miniseries in the pipeline, so uh, yay?). For my part, I don’t mind; the annual schedule is a pretty excellent one. Provided the work is good enough, a year is a perfect amount of time to fully digest everything put on display in a comic book – from each line of dialogue to the color choices being made in each panel on down – without the general plot outline completely slipping out of mind by the time the next installment drops. Prison Pit had a great run as an annual for a bit there. So did ACME Novelty Library.  John Pham’s Sublife and Epoxy are models for the format, and Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books have also favored it in recent years.  And now Jupiter’s Legacy(unintentionally, due to scheduling issues) joins the ranks. Being a pamphlet-format superhero comic it’s a bit of a sore thumb in the annual crowd, but since it’s the best superhero comic I’ll let it slide. The annual format makes every issue an event, and new issues of Jupiter’s Legacy are definitely that. Especially in this extra-sized fifth issue, there’s more than enough meat to satisfy until 2016 (aka the future). This is hardly the most plotty comic anyhow: the fun part of reading it is getting hyped over all the neat little bits Mark Millar and Frank Quitely insert to elevate their superheroes-fighting-back-against-a-world-taken-over-by-the-villains story above the reams of stuff with the same general idea going on. Especially now that Quitely seems to be completely done cutting corners on his backgrounds and Millar is structuring his installments as discreet acts rather than incremental “single issues”, this is a jewel of a comic, one in which just about every panel contains an individual idea worth interrogating. Following are some of the ones I thought were noteworthy.

Elsewhere:

Our own Paul Tumey will be in NYC on Tuesday night, March 3rd at Parsons for the weekly Comics and Picture-story Symposium presenting “Forgotten Funnies
Images of America in the Comics of Percy Winterbottom, Dwig, and Ving Fuller.”

Great piece on Heavy Metal in 1985 over here.

Sophie Yanow has an excellent comic strip up on The Nib. Speaking of online comics, Seth has one ongoing at The Walrus.

 

Big Top

Good morning. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from Bill Schelly’s forthcoming biography, Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America. In this section, Trump (Kurtzman’s attempt to out-do Mad with the help of Hugh Hefner’s money) has just failed, and Kurtzman and his collaborators are looking for their next move:

HAVING EXPERIENCED magazine interruptus, Kurtzman and his collaborators on Trump gathered in the brownstone to commiserate. The termination of the magazine had come with no warning. The others wanted to hear the details of Kurtzman’s conversation with Hefner. The news was still sinking in. “After we finished with Trump, we all sat around . . . and we were very unhappy that we were about to break up,” Kurtzman recalled. “And Arnold Roth, who is a dear, sweet fellow . . . was the only one who came up with an optimistic attitude.” He also came up with a large bottle of Scotch.

As they passed around the bottle, the mood lightened. They knew they could produce a terrific magazine if only they had a fair shot at it. They were proud of Trump and confident it would have done well. (This was before Kurtzman had the actual sales figures in hand.) Given the talent in the room—each of Kurtzman’s crew was destined to have a successful career—how could they fail, if only a publisher had the good sense to back them solidly? If Mad magazine became a publishing phenomenon, there was no good reason why they couldn’t produce a magazine that would sell as well or better.

“Quality will sell” was the refrain, but after getting burned by Hefner, seeking another publisher met with little enthusiasm. One can imagine a still-resilient Kurtzman saying, “All we need to do is get a magazine on the stands next to Mad, and we could all make a fortune.” As the supply of Scotch dwindled, someone said: “Let’s publish it ourselves!”

Outrageous as it sounded, publishing their own magazine would have many benefits. The group of six—Kurtzman, Elder, Davis, Jaffee, Roth and Chester—had gotten along well in their nine months together. They would have creative control, own the rights to their own work in the magazine and split all the profits. That meant they would benefit if the material was reprinted, possibly in the paperback format that was doing so well for Mad. They would also be able to keep their own original art. (Gaines had never returned the original pages.)

A publishing cooperative, with each participant owning part of the enterprise, had never been tried in comics. Some creators had owned their own companies, like Simon and Kirby with their short-lived Mainline Comics, but the writers and artists who worked for them received none of the benefits of ownership. With the formation of Humbug Publishing Co., Inc., the workers were rising up to take group ownership of an enterprise. It was agreed that the “six musketeers” would create the magazine and split the profits equally, even though the setup differed from being a purely cooperative effort. The individual members wouldn’t simply “do their own thing.” The operation was predicated on Harvey Kurtzman being the editor and guiding force. The others wouldn’t have entertained the idea except for their confidence in their charismatic leader’s talent and vision. (Kurtzman had learned at the Charles William Harvey Studio that someone needed to be at the top.) As John Benson once put it, Humbug could be more accurately called a “commune” than a “co-op.”


Meanwhile, elsewhere:


—Interviews & Profiles.
Alex Dueben talks to the webcartoonist Erika Moen at CBR, and to Finnish cartoonist JP Ahonen at The Beat.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette interviews historian Michael Barrier about his new book on Dell comics.

—Reviews & Commentary.
King-Cat creator John Porcellino names his favorite comics of 2014.

Will Wellington reviews Michael DeForge’s First Year Healthy.

Paul Mirek looks at an exhibit of Arab comics currently up in Providence.

Marc Singer covers the latest Grant Morrison Multiversity issue.

Rob Clough reviews the gay fantasy romance Fearful Hunter.

—News. ISIS has called for the murder of surviving Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Zineb el-Rhazoui. (via)

—Spending Opportunities. An interesting-looking new comics-related journal, Ley Lines, is offering subscriptions.

Melissa Mendes is crowdfunding her webcomic The Weight.

—Video. Here’s the trailer for a Barefoot Gen documentary:

 

We Are Adjusting

Today Joe McCulloch reports for duty and includes a side trip on the ever fascination Eric Stanton.

Elsewhere:

Charlie Hebo is returning to a weekly publishing schedule.

Hey, Frank Santoro is in town for this week’s Comics and Picture-story Symposium. He’ll be speaking at 7 pm sharp at Parsons.

Tickets are now on sale for what could be the final NYC performance of Art Spiegelman’s Wordless! at Columbia University’s Miller Theater on March 13th.

Ben Jones is interviewed over at The Hundreds.

Gary Panter on Tetsumi Kudo.

And Sammy Harkham has a store for selling his original art. Get in there.

 

Hello?

Today on the site, we present Mat Colgate’s interview with Tom Oldham, Simon Hacking, and Joe Kessler, three of the names behind the UK’s Breakdown Press, which publishes some of the most challenging and/or exciting comics coming out right now, including works by Connor Willumsen, Lando, Antoine Cosse, Inés Estrada, and our own Ryan Holmberg. Here’s an excerpt from the discussion:

How do you get hold of the stuff that you want to put out? You’re a bit more established now, so do people approach you, or do you approach them?

S: Everything we’re ever put out has begun with us approaching someone. It’s usually been someone that we like already. Antoine Cosse was a friend of a friend of ours who was putting out comics, so we asked him if he wanted to do something.

J: Me and Antoine met through sports. I went to a book launch of his and me and him were eyeing each other up. We didn’t really like each other because we’d played basketball together in Stoke Newington.

There aren’t many comics stories that involve sporting rivalries, to the best of my knowledge.

S: He’s not very tall either.

T: Is Antoine any good at basketball?

J: No, but he’s better than me at comics.

S: Connor Willumsen who does Treasure Island, we spotted his work online and emailed him. I get pessimistic about these things, I always think “He’s so good, surely he’s got a deal or something?” But Connor was like “yeah, I’d love to.” We couldn’t believe that he hadn’t been published before. He’d done mini-comics here and there and he’d done an issue of The Punisher which I’d seen people talking about, but there was all this amazing, weird stuff on his website. We didn’t meet him until six months after ‘Treasure Island’ had come out. Now we do get people approaching us by email with all kinds of stuff, but nothing that’s made us want to put it out. The reason we bonded in the first place was over quite specific types of comics, so it’s very particular stuff we go after.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Ng Suat Tong reviews Dylan Horrocks’s much-anticipated Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen.

Adam McGovern pays brief tribute to Dwayne McDuffie, and reviews Swifty Lang and Skuds McKinley’s Plunder.

Illogical Volume of the Mindless Ones reviews recent comics, including The Multiversity Guidebook.

Anya Ulinich reviews Nina Bunjevac’s Fatherland.

—Interviews & Profiles. Palestinian cartoonist Muhammad Sabaaneh talks to the The Independent about being suspended from his newspaper for drawing a (positive) cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad, and being imprisoned by Israel.

The Iranian cartoonist Mana Neyestani talks to the L.A. Times about his book An Iranian Metamorphosis, and being imprisoned for drawing a cartoon.

Darling Sleeper checks in with Melissa Mendes.

I missed this interview with Dan Perkins/Tom Tomorrow.

Al Jazeera profiles nine political cartoonists around the world facing challenges of various kinds due to their work.

 

Oh Good

Well la dee da. It’s Friday. Today on the site we have James Romberger interviewing Tonči Zonjić.

I first noticed Croatian cartoonist Tonči Zonjić only recently, when his work appeared in the Image comic Zero, which is written by Ales Kot and drawn by a different artist every issue. Among quite an interesting and eclectic group of artists, Zonjić’s cover and interior art for Zero #9 stand out as informed and moving expressions of the effects of warfare on the country of his origin.

I contacted Zonjić online and began to correspond with him; meanwhile I began tracking down his previous work in various comics. I found an early smattering of superhero work for DC and Marvel and he just completed his third storyline for Dark Horse’s Lobster Johnson. Done with co-writers Mike Mignola and John Arcudi and colored and lettered by the usual highly effective Mignolaverse team of Dave Stewart and Clem Robins respectively, “The Burning Hand”, “Get the Lobster”, and the one-shot “Caput Mortuum” all display Zonjić’s classic comics sequencing and concise drawing.

What really strikes me, though, is the elegant realism and assured, gripping storytelling of his two Image series with writer Nathan Edmondson about a renegade CIA analyst and his ghostly psychic remote-viewing guardian angel, Jake Ellis.

Elsewhere:

Here’s a nice write-up of an Alison Bechdel exhibition.

I didn’t know about this Chester Gould documentary, apparently airing (at least in Woodstock, NY) on Sunday.

Jack Hanley Gallery here in NYC has a nice show up of original George Carlson puzzle pages.

John Adcock on the 1920s Circulation magazine.

And hey, here’s more art and comics, this time with me, Chris Ware and Karl Wirsum blabbing about it:

 

 

 

Hello…

Today, we bring you an excerpt from Peter Schilling Jr.’s forthcoming book on the duck stories of Carl Barks, the second of the series of critical monographs being published by Uncivilized Books. (The first was Brian Evenson’s take on Ed the Happy Clown.) Here’s a sample:

Carl Barks consistently referred to “Lost in the Andes” as his finest work, but I would counter with “The Golden Helmet.” “Helmet,” with its almost zen-like appraisal of a peaceful life, its condemnation of greed and avarice (not to mention lawyers), a story that has humor but not too much, that actually takes itself somewhat seriously, is his finest effort, at the very least in terms of writing (though the art is brilliant as usual). Barks’ claimed that the gags in “Andes” were executed perfectly, the repeating jokes of the gum bubbles and the square eggs, etc., and this is true—but “Helmet,” whose themes run smoothly through this story, is less reliant on knee-slapping gags. “The Golden Helmet” isn’t just a story of adventure, a story of humor, or even bravery (though those traits exist here.) “The Golden Helmet” is Barks’ most somber effort, a story of evil, the evil that lurks in everyone. Even children.

Barks’ visual style in “The Golden Helmet” seems to also suggest that we’re in for a more sobering ride. Gone are the crazy splash panels of “Vacation Time” (or any of the other stories mentioned here, almost all of which have a bent panel or two at least). For the opening scene, as with the rest of this tale, there will be not one skewed panel. Splash panels vanish until twelve pages in, and even then there will be only four of them.

We also have Katie Skelly’s review of the art-world satire Wendy, by Walter Scott. Here’s a sample of that:

When the idealism of college short circuits after graduation, the question of how to use one’s potential becomes an existential crisis. It’s a crisis both self-important and preposterous enough to provide fertile ground for character development and disillusionment, as well for critical engagement with generational divides (see the television series Girls, films like The Graduate, etc.). What separates Walter Scott’s comic Wendy, serialized in Random House Canada’s literary digital magazine Hazlitt, is the backdrop of the contemporary art world, which its titular character never quite penetrates but believes herself to operate in nonetheless. We follow young artist Wendy as she sets out to define the parameters of just what to do with all the newfound freedom and agency of adulthood. Throughout her journey, she forges new friendships, fucks up, learns about herself, and ultimately figures out something about what she can (not should) be, even if it’s not wholly defined by the time we leave her.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Hillary Brown has a good talk with Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez. Sequential State talks to Katie Skelly. Comics Tavern talks to Marian Churchland.

Scott McCloud talks to Vulture and Comics Alliance.

June Thomas reports from the recent live appearance of Matt Groening and Lynda Barry.

Derf remembers the late David Carr.

—Reviews & Commentary. At The Smart Set, Stefany Anne Golberg writes about the “wordless novels” of Frans Masereel.

At the New Statesman, Yo Zushi reviews Scott McCloud, Richard McGuire, and Joe Sacco, and actually pays a bit of attention to form in the process, refreshingly so for a mainstream article.

Andy Oliver reviews the wrestling comics anthology Screwjob. Mark Frauenfelder plugs the new edition of Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book.

Zainab Akhtar applies the AV Club Primer concept to comics, with solid results. Her first subject is a good one, Fabien Vehlmann.

—News. The Tanzanian government shut down a 20-year-old newspaper, The EastAfrican, apparently largely on the basis of a political cartoon critical of the current president.

Police confiscated copies of Malaysian satirist Zunar’s new book prior to its launch event.

Jill Lepore’s Secret History of Wonder Woman has won the American History Book Prize.

Mac McClelland has a long and absorbing reported piece on the police response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris last month.

—Misc. Julia Wertz shares a great Roz Chast story.

Finally, this is really only comics-adjacent, but in this interview, writer Frederic Tuten (author of the novel Tintin in the New World) discusses the inspiration he derived from his longtime friend Roy Lichtenstein.

 

Kittens in a Basket

On the site: we are reprinting a 1988 panel about the viability of satire in editorial cartooning, featuring Jules Feiffer, Chuck Freund, Brad Holland, David Levine and Peter Steiner, which was originally published in TCJ #119:

PETER STEINER: […] Satire is an outlaw genre. Given the difficult choice between being a success and doing a really lethal piece of art, we are for the most part no different from the rest of society. We’re like court jesters. Now, it seems to me that being a court jester can be an honorable profession. Court jesters can be witty, intelligent, insightful, and funny. But they can’t be satirists if they want to keep their jobs. By the same token, we can’t be the uncompromising champions of virtue from our positions of privilege. We will always be compromised by our ambitions and our fear. Cartooning that sincerely attacks the folly of our age must come from elsewhere. [Applause] Would anyone like to respond?

DAVID LEVINE: When I talk to a group this large, my tendency is to revert to my old flaming liberal form and start out by saying “Comrades!” Something was said yesterday — I didn’t go to it, so I didn’t get the exact quotation, but it was said to you by your leader. Ronnie said, “You keep us here in Washington from taking ourselves seriously.” He thanked you for that. And I think the fact that you were all there, and were talked down to that way is essentially the problem: that you are keeping everybody from getting serious about it rather than fighting for a position on the editorial page, which is equal to the columnists and is not questioned by the editor. Until you reach that status, you’re really just the wagging of the tail by the editor. [Applause]

JULES FEIFFER: I’d like to second what David said. When cartoonists, editorial and otherwise, are not berating their status as second class citizens of the arts, they go around demonstrating why they continue to be and why they should be. It’s one thing to go as a group of adversarial artists to the White House to scope out the land, but to, as number of you did last time when you went to lunch at the White House, or as even more of you did yesterday when you were a part of the president’s act, and help take the heat off him. [See sidebar.] I think you’re doing yourselves and any seriousness you can be taken with, a grave offense. I see no point to it. The fact that you not only go, but that you’re glad to go, and you’re glad to have the invitation, and you’re thrilled by it, and you chuckle about it, shows to me a real problem with image and real problem with your sense of your own craft, and it embarrasses me, and I think it should embarrass you. [Applause]

Elsewhere:

Sad news that Brett Ewins has passed away. The 2000 AD and Johnny Nemo artist was hugely influential in British comics and, more recently, in the US due to renewed interest in his dynamic drawing mode and design chops.

I don’t think I’ve seen this production art for a David Mazzucchelli cover before.

This Wally Wood art I could look at for a long time.

And I leave you with this short video by CF. Long live good art.