Beauty Is a Rare Thing

Today, Paul Buhle is here with a review of two Steve Lafler releases, Doggie Style: The Complete Dog Boy and Death in Oaxaca #1.

Steve Lafler is one of those too-late-for-Underground-Comix artists who nevertheless reflected the satirical affect of the 1970s in all its daffy and sometimes dopey energy. Too bad he was only 16 in 1979. On the other hand, he’s a still pretty young fellow practicing his art from Oaxaca, Mexico, in the twenty-first century.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Aidan Koch didn't just draw the cover for the new issue of The Paris Review, but also has a story inside. Here's a preview.

—Rina Ayuyang reads at the San Francisco Public Library:

—For those of you who do Facebook, Richard Sala remembers getting reviewed for his first comic in Heavy Metal thirty years ago.

—RIP Christopher Lee.

—RIP Ornette Coleman.


At Most

Today on the site:

Morten Harper brings us this profile of the prolific and dynamic cartoonist Bastien Vives, who you may remember from Frank Santoro singing his praises. I love the look of this work, though confess to still not having read any, just out of sheer laziness. I hope to get caught up this summer. Here's a bit:

I notice that you say "we" and "our". I understand that Last Man is made in the same way as an animated movie: you write the story, Balak does the storyboard before you and Michaël Sanlaville draw the pages. What does the series gain through this collaboration?

It was important for me to involve someone who is an expert at doing storyboards. French comics lacks this part, the staging of the story, normally it's just an author and a draftsman.

You've set up a "manga island" of tables with computers, monitors and digital drawing boards. Your collaboration seems to be very close, almost intense?

There is this notion that comic creators work in solitude. I've, however, always made comics together with others. At first my brother, then at art school and now here in Atelier Manjari. It's not only artistic collaboration, but the social value of being with other people that inspires me. We work on Wacom Cintiq digital drawing boards, and this immediate collaboration would be impossible if we drew on paper. We share files and work seamlessly on each other's pictures. I have to work in a much larger format than in print, and it is easy to scale the frames on screen. I also make many changes while I draw, and this is, of course, infinitely easier than on paper.

French publishers translate large quantites of manga, and the Japanese style has influenced severel domestic series. Still, Last Man is probably the first fullblood manga series made in France?

We do break away from the French tradition of one album in a year, which I think to the readers is quite unsatisfying, having to wait a whole year for just 40 new pages. The more frequent release schedule of Last Man would not be possible without the collaboration we've set up.


Best publishing news of the summer: Chester Brown bible comics (no, not those bible comics, other bible comics) coming next year from D&Q.

This event in Belgium sounds awesome. Here's Joost Swarte explaining a bit. Smart, exterior drawing is so nice to see.


Mickey Oven

It's all meanwhile, elsewhere today.

—Reviews & Commentary. Philip Nel has a terrific piece on Maurice Sendak, and what you can learn by reading his will.

At the New Republic, Jeet Heer writes about the recent Art Spiegelman piece on censorship and drawing Muhammad.

Rob Clough reviews Mike Dawson's Angie Bongiolatti.

—Misc. Quentin Blake has 7 rules for illustrators.

Annie Mok provides a guided tour of her bookshelves.

This Tumblr post and the comments thread following has a lot of advice on how to make money working a table at a comics convention.

—Crowdfunding. Fans of Chuck Forsman, Michel Fiffe, and/or Cliff Chiang might be interested in the rewards you can get from helping fund the Kickstarter of children's musician Miss Nina (spouse of former columnist Tucker Stone). Today's the last day.

Comics reviewer Zainab Akhtar is starting a Patreon to fund her writing.

—Interviews & Profiles. At the LARB, Laurie Winer talks to Fun Home musical writer Lisa Kron about the adaptation process, revealing some interesting thoughts on the original book.

Mark Frauenfelder interviewed Dan Clowes at Meltdown last Friday:


Large Desk

Today Joe McCulloch is here to provide comics nourishment for you and yours.


How was CAKE? How was it? Chicagoans, please report in.

Let's see... Alison Bechdel's Fun Home cleaned up at the Tony Awards.

This legal news about Tintin was pinging around the internet today. Here's a bit of context. 

Cat's outta the bag on the next Kramers Ergot, but I know that the cat will change moods and the bag will change colors. Here's a taste at least.

More future news... Brian Gibson, occasional cartoonist, great animator and Lightning Bolt-bassist has co-authored a game that'll debut on PlayStation next year. Also features graphics but Mr. Brinkman, This makes me want to get a PlayStation and learn how to play games.



Poke Cheese

Today on the site, Ken Parille looks at the first decade of Eightball.

It’s 1988. Daniel Clowes’s Lloyd Llewellyn series has come to an abrupt end, canceled by the publisher. And Clowes is relieved. Freed from churning out short comedic adventures featuring the same cast of characters, he’ll finally be able to develop a more personal and wide-ranging approach to comics. In the ’80s, prevailing wisdom held that a series needed to focus on a single character and maintain a consistent look. “The thought was,” Clowes recently observed,

that if you did stories in . . . different styles — if you combined the serious stuff with humorous stuff — that the result would be kind of discordant. But I also had the theory that if it was all by the same artist, and the artist was trying to be truthful or willing to let his unconscious or his intuition decide what was going to happen on the pages, then it would all kind of come together in a cohesive way. At least that was the theory.

His subversive theory was right. And the proof was Eightball, perhaps the most important American alternative comic to emerge from the twentieth century.

During its first decade, Eightball was a Mad magazine-esque free-wheeling anthology. A typical issue included five to seven short stories drawn in diverse styles, just as each Mad issue contained work by several artists with distinctive styles. Clowes moved effortlessly among genres such as autobiography, gag cartoon, and rant as well as fairy tale, short fiction, and cultural satire.


A new festival, with Tom Spurgeon as executive director, has been announced: Cartoon Crossroads Columbus.

Longtime cartoonist and staple of that long ago 80s/90s comics world Pat Moriarty is interviewed over here.

This story about Disney is truly beyond.

And Chicago's own CAKE is this weekend. Go find Anya Davidson and buy everything she has!


What’s Happening

Today on the site, Frank Santoro is back with another of his Riff Raff columns. This time, he writes about a new zine created by Jim Rugg, in which he apparently collages together various panels and images from old '80s black-and-white indie comics to create a new story:

The narrative is: kill, kill, kill. Antiheroes standing on rooftops surveying cities. At night. Speaking to themselves in poor grammar with lots of spelling errors. Deals with the devil. Equipment diagrams and editorial delusions of grandeur. Often on the same page. What Jim did was group certain generic genre moments together and then sequence them as one story. An antihero from one comic will appear early in the sequence and then reappear later and sort of comment on the action that’s taken place in between. The zine reads as one story if you let it, the one story that every B+W explosion comic seems to tell: This is my city and THEY have taken it away from me and I must fight to save myself and my loved ones and I must fight and why doesn’t she understand me but it doesn’t matter because I will fight and by destroying the world I will remake it for her and for us and she will see and THEY will suffer and this is the stark future so GET READY because NEXT MONTH the final BATTLE WILL BEGIN AGAIN!

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Now that you've read our own interview with Richard Sala from 1998, you might want to see what he's up to lately. Electric Literature talks to Sala here.

Chris Randle at Hazlitt has a good interview with Simon Hanselmann.

I'm late to this, but here is a conversation between Naoki Urasawa and Hisashi Eguchi about '70s and '80s manga.

Michalis Limnios talks to Bill Griffith.

—Reviews & Commentary. Rob Clough reviews a slew of new minicomics.

Publishers Weekly has a pretty solid list of recommended LGBTQ comics.

While writing about the Fun Home musical, Francine Prose also briefly comments upon Alison Bechdel's original graphic novel.

—Funnies. Boing Boing has an excerpt from the Drawn & Quarterly anniversary book, the first Joe Matt comic in a long time. (Commenters who have never Matt's work before are predictably bemused.)


No Goal

Today on the site:

We have a great 1998 interview with the also great Richard Sala, who remains a favorite of this site's editors. Here's a bit:

SULLIVAN: You talk about subtext and what’s behind things, yet it’s all done at the level of the images and the symbols, because you employ characters who are always two-dimensional. That is, if they’re not one-dimensional. You don’t seem interested in telling stories about people with varied sides to their personalities.

SALA: Well, to be honest, I’m not, you know, all that interested in characterization.

SULLIVAN: You say it like it’s a dirty word, like of course you hate characterization! Who wouldn’t hate characterization?

SALA: What I’m writing are fever dreams. One person thrashing about in a world he doesn’t understand. Don’t bother searching for anything resembling a folly-rounded character. Don’t bother looking for any situation that has anything to do with reality. In other words, characterization is subordinate to plot and atmosphere. I’ll sacrifice characterization in a second for atmosphere. I don’t care what the character had for breakfast.

I mean, these stories are basically extensions of my own personality. People used to ask me, “Why don’t you do autobiographical comics?” And I would say, “I’ve been doing them. These are my autobiographies.” That’s why I did that one comic as a joke, “All About Me” — it couldn’t be less about me.


Some very nice Tove Jansson paintings here.

Gil Roth interviews Lorenzo Mattotti.

Drew Friedman recounts his time at the NCS Awards.



Joe McCulloch is here as always this Tuesday morning, to guide you through the week's most interesting-sounding new comics releases. He also writes about some of the manga included in the new 25th-anniversary tribute book to Drawn & Quarterly.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The young Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani has been sentenced to over 12 years in prison for drawing a cartoon mocking some of her country's politicians over a vote on restricting birth control.

Over the weekend, Matt Bors made an official announcement about changes at The Nib. It is not entirely clear to me what these changes entail, other than a reduced staff, the cancellation of the regular weekly strips, and apparently a larger focus on "the network aspect" of the site. Does that mean more focus on contributions from unpaid volunteers?

—Reviews & Commentary. Alex Witt is not a fan of Ales Kot & Will Tempest's Material #1. Stephen Burt at the New York Times has mixed feelings about Scott McCloud's The Sculptor. The Herald Scotland is really into the 25th anniversary Drawn & Quarterly book.

Paul Berman writes about the protest against the Charlie Hebdo PEN award, and why France's most important anti-racism organization defends Charlie.

One of the PEN protesters, novelist Jennifer Cody Epstein, has since recanted, and written a letter explaining why.

Marc Singer writes about the G. Willow Wilson/Jill Lepore dustup.

—Interviews & Profiles.Alex Deuben talks to Ed Luce.

J. Caleb Mozzocco talks to Jillian Tamaki.

Ilan Stevens talks to Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Oliver Sava talks to Dustin Harbin.

—Misc. Ben Towle explains the Leroy Lettering Set -- which was used to create the lettering in the old EC comics.

Whoa — Aidan Koch did the cover to the new issue of The Paris Review?