Hagglers Welcome

Today we welcome cartoonist Kevin Huizenga to the site with the first of what we hope will be an ongoing series of reports from his cartooning life. This time it's all about the Autoptic festival in Minneapolis.


It's a stretch, but those interested in sequential narratives could do well to look at Jacob Lawrence's incredible Migration Series, now on view at MoMA and written about here.

I would have to look closer to really decide if I still like it (maybe not?), but the return of Bloom County, and now in color, really pings my 10-year-old self. And good for Breathed for just going for it and using the old person's platform to do so. Whatever!

I really want to read Dave Sim's Alex Raymond book, so this is good news, I guess? I really would like to read, generally speaking, an unvarnished account of Raymond's life...



This morning, Joe McCulloch got a little carried away with his usual Tuesday column and wrote so much about Japanese children's comics and games that he wasn't able to get his usual spotter's guide to new comics finished. If you look at it from the right angle, thi is a good thing, as Joe will add that sometime tonight, and that means we all get a double dose of McCulloch today.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Comics artist Alan Kupperberg has passed away from thymus cancer.

Last week, Matt Bors left his position at Medium, and took The Nib with him. There's an ongoing Kickstarter for a book collection with 300 pages of comics from The Nib's first incarnation.

—Interviews & Profiles. Maisie Skidmore interviews Drawn & Quarterly executive editor Tom Devlin.

For the Paris Review, I spoke to the cartoonist and academic Nick Sousanis about his recent book, Unflattening, and visual language.

Amanda Moon moderates a conversation with historian Ari Kelman and artist Jonathan Fetter-Vorm about their Civil War book, Battle Lines.

Both Brigid Alverson and Tom Spurgeon interview Guy Delcourt about the French publisher's recent announcement that it will begin selling translated titles through comiXology.

—Reviews & Commentary. Tom Spurgeon writes about this year's Comic-Con.

John Firehammer reviews Russ Manning's Tarzan.

David Brothers had a strong, well-argued response to recent remarks by Tom Brevoort regarding Marvel's hip hop cover variants, and the company's dearth of Black artists and writers.

Alex Witcher writes about a new biography of Al Hirschfeld.

Jeet Heer argues in The New Republic that superhero comics (and movies) should be for kids. I don't think I agree with the essentialist part of his argument, but I do agree that a lot of the stuff he's talking about truly does stink, so maybe it doesn't matter.


Donnie the Dweeb

Today on the site:

Matthias Wivel on L'Arabe du Futur:

In L’Arabe du Futur (‘The Arab of the Future’), the French-Syrian cartoonist Riad Sattouf remembers an errant childhood spent in France, as well as—and notably—the Libya of Muammar Gaddafi and the Syria of Hafiz al-Assad. His tone is mordantly critical, not just towards his egotistical idealist father who is the direct reason for the family’s various displacements, but more profoundly the culture he represents.

It is a great success in France, the first two volumes each having sold in excess of 200.000 copies and having received massive media coverage. The first volume furthermore won the award for best comic at this year’s Angoulême festival, and it has already been translated into several languages with an American edition due this Fall from Metropolitan Books.

And because of some tech trouble we posted Tim's stellar interview with Daniel Clowes a bit late on Friday. So don't forget to check it out.

So many of these stories have been reprinted in various books: Ghost WorldLike a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, etc. It’s interesting to revisit them in their original context, with the ads and the backup stories and the letters. It kind of changes the way you read it. 

Yeah. That was what Kim convinced me was the valid reason for doing it. I never looked at those comics after I finished them. I just stuck ‘em in my closet. To go back and kind of read through them you really get a sense of how the issues themselves were something very different than the stories that came out of them.

Were there any sort of things that you were really happy to revisit or surprised by or anything you’ve cringed at?

You know, luckily it’s all so old that I’m just beyond the cringe era. I find there’s about a ten-year window of cringing, and then it just become part of my juvenile work. You’re able to separate yourself at a certain point. I mean, there are certain things, certain drawings I look at and I know that at the time I knew that I should fix it and just didn’t have time. I regret any time I let some ridiculous, arbitrary deadline dictate the way that the artwork looks. Back in those days you had really no reason to get it out by a schedule [laughter] but Kim was always like, “We’ve got to get it out for the Dallas Fantasy Fair!” [Hodler laughs.] He always had these arbitrary deadlines and you’d go there and you’d sell twelve copies and think why did I cut all those corners to get it out for this? [Laughter.]

Do you miss the days of going to the Dallas Fantasy Fair? 

I kind of do. That was kind of the greatest comic convention, ’cause for some reason they would fly me, the Hernandez brothers, Peter Bagge, Robert Crumb, everybody that you wanted to know to Dallas, where there would be no fans [laughs] so we would just talk to each other. It was like being trapped. It was like the comic-book cruise I didn’t go on where you were trapped in a hotel. I don’t remember ever leaving the hotel the whole time when we were in Dallas.

Yeah, why would you?

Yeah, it was like 300 degrees outside and—Dallas.



Sincerest Form?

Today we have:

Rob Kirby on Shirtlifter #5

There is a wide variety of gay male comics to choose from these days: erotica, humor, sometimes a combination of the two, and an increasing selection of fantasy- and genre-based titles, not to mention idiosyncratic offerings like the “Disco Grindcore” romantic comedy of Ed Luce’s Wuvable Oaf series. Inhabiting its own little niche is the quiet, compelling realist drama of Steve MacIsaac’s Shirtlifter series, which combines literary qualities with explicit sexual content, and examines how contemporary gay men live their lives.

MacIsaac debuted Shirtlifter in 2006, after winning the Prism Queer Press grant. He went on to publish the second issue with the help of a Xeric grant in 2007. With the third issue released in 2008, he began serializing his graphic novel Unpacking, the concluding chapters of which make up the bulk of this fifth issue. (In the interest of full disclosure, Steve and I are friends and colleagues; he has contributed work to several recent queer comics anthologies I have edited.)


And elsewhere there is all this:

Publishers Weekly on Comic-Con.

Jamie Coville has published his annual round-up of audio from SDCC panels, etc.

Buzzfeed on the new Leah Hayes book.

This CAA decision regarding fair use is good news for comics scholars.

Finally, a belated congrats to Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor on their Eisner awards. Those guys are comic book lifers who really deserve recognition and success. Here's some more Ed.


Center Part

Chris Mautner returns to the site today with a review of one of the last still titles standing in the single-issue Kwality Komix game, Adrian Tomine's Optic Nerve #14.

Tomine has long trafficked in stories about shame, embarrassment, and awkward relationships, but never in quite so stellar a fashion as he does here.

Part of that is because of the way “Killing and Dying” is laid out. Tomine holds to a tight 20-panel grid and tries to keep his characters in midframe and in the center of these small panels as often as possible. This does two things. Firstly, it helps create a sense of constriction and claustrophobia, which is important in a story where characters are willingly and unwillingly humiliating themselves in front of others. Secondly, and perhaps somewhat conversely, it gives Tomine room to draw out the dialogue, allowing for awkward pauses, subtle changes in facial expression, and significant gestures, all of which goes a long way towards increasing our affection for and identification with these characters.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The Harvey Award nominations are in.

—Interviews & Profiles. Jezebel talks to Kate Beaton about her new children's book.

Sequential State interviews Kevin Czap and L. Nichols about the Ley Lines series of single-artist showcases.

Marc Maron talks to Bob Fingerman and Robert Kirkman.

Gil Roth interviews Tom Tomorrow (Dan Perkins).

—Reviews & Commentary. Colin Smith writes about the earliest Superman stories.

Warren Peace reviews Love & Rockets: New Stories #7.

Alexandra Molotkow reluctantly loves <em>Ghost World.

J.A. Micheline is not a fan of Mark Waid and J.G. Jones's Strange Fruit #1.

—Misc. Mental Floss looks at the bad blood between J. Edgar Hooover's FBI and Mad magazine.

Animation Resources brings you Basil Wolverton on cartoon sound effects, originally from the late, great Graphic Story Magazine.

Kevin Huizenga thinks out loud about narrative.

—Not Comics. Talking to the Associated Press, actor Jesse Eisenberg took a heel turn, comparing Comic-Con to genocide (and referring to journalists as pariahs), and a bunch of people pretended (or maybe really!) got upset. I love that some comic sites felt the need to tell their readers that Eisenberg was using hyperbole.


Bonus Deal

It's the week in comics from Joe McCulloch.


Tom Spurgeon lays out the news from Comic-Con.

An interview with Guy Delcourt about his company's recent digital initiative.

Good news for Seymour Chwast fans: He's opened a store.


Weekend Over

Today on the site, Alex Dueben returns to interview webcomics creator and CCS graduate Sophie Goldstein, author of the new graphic novel The Oven. Here is an excerpt:

In The Oven, I would argue that most of the story could have been set in the present and done in a realistic fashion with only a few changes.

It’s funny—I had the thumb-nailed script for the whole book and I asked Jason Lutes to take a look at it. He had some feedback and then he asked me, why is this science fiction at all? It doesn’t have to be. You could set this in the contemporary world.

I didn’t really have a good answer for that except that I like science fiction. It feels right to me. Once you set things in the real world you have limits—settings need to be accurate and plausible. I’m just not interested in that. I like to be able to make shit up.

For instance there’s a lot of drug use in the comic but instead of having the characters smoke pot or shoot heroin they’re eating these weird butterfly-like bugs. That, for me, was way more fun to draw and a much richer visual metaphor for the comic. I remember reading a Jason (the Norwegian cartoonist, not Lutes) comic where instead of having cars all the characters were peddling around on unicycles. For no real reason, he just didn’t want to draw cars, I assume. That’s just brilliant.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Of course the big news this weekend mostly came in the form of Star Wars rumors and superhero movie trailers at Comic-Con. The event also saw the announcement of the Eisner award winners. The Tamaki cousins' This One Summer won best graphic album, Saga and Lumberjanes did extremely well, Raina Telgemeier is having a very good year.

Berkeley Breathed announced on Facebook that he is going to be making new Bloom County strips.

—Interviews. Tom Spurgeon talks to Sammy Harkham about the Kramers Ergot announcement.

—Reviews & Commentary. Sheila Heti writes about Tove Jansson.

At the New York Times, Faith Erin Hicks has nothing but good things to say about Noelle Stevenson's Nimona.

—Misc. Lithub shares an early example of "terrible writing" by Daniel Clowes, along with his commentary on creating it.

Tips for serialized comics on Tumblr.


It’ll Come Around

Today on the site, Andre Molotiu examines a cartoon controversy around the confederate flag.

Two weeks ago, a little three-act drama was enacted in the world of online political cartooning. On Friday, June 26, just hours after the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell vs. Hodges was released, the Southern Poverty Law Center posted on Facebook a five-panel strip showing the Confederate flag coming down and a rainbow flag taking its place on the same pole. No artist was named, and the strip had as sole attribution Daryl Cagle’s website. On that day full of rainbow-colored profile pics, the post proved wildly popular: as of the evening of Monday, June 29, it had received 230,488 likes and 192,197 shares, mine among them. Facebook doesn’t seem to keep track of such things, but judging by my news feed, quite a few people set up the strip as their Facebook profile cover image. At the time, I went over to Daryl Cagle’s page to ask him who had drawn the strip, only to see that the question had already been asked and he had not answered it.


Here's a rarte interview with pioneering comics historian John Lent.

Vanity Fair profiles Kelly Sue DeConnick.

Charles Hatfield has announced a major Jack Kirby exhibition.

Department of me: Here's a nice summary of my panel discussion with members of the Hairy Who. And here I am blabbing on about more of the same. You can now see a good bit of the show online and my Hairy Who book itself will be in stores in September.