BLOG

Door

Today on the site we have an excerpt from Brian Evenson’s forthcoming book on Ed the Happy Clown, to be published this year by Uncivilized Books.

The idea for this book started just a few days after Drawn & Quarterly’s 2012 re-release of Ed the Happy Clown. More specifically, it started when I picked up that book in the bookstore and noticed the subtitle:“a graphic-novel”. Chester Brown’s name was in all-caps, the title too was all-caps, which drew my attention to the fact that the subtitle seemed deliberately lowercase. Part of me felt this was simply just a matter of typography, a choice made to distinguish between title and subtitle. But another part of me believed—and still believes—that there are no accidents, and that it is these small, seemingly random choices that accumulate into the larger distinctions that end up shaping not only a book but an entire genre.

Standing there in Modern Times, I found myself wondering what made a ‘graphic-novel’ different from a ‘Graphic Novel’? It seemed a question of simple arithmetic: the subtraction of capitalization and the addition of a hyphen. The first gesture strips away a level of formatting, going against common title capitalization guidelines. The second adds a piece of formatting we wouldn’t expect to be there, a hyphen, and which isn’t there in any other use of the phrase “graphic novel” that I can remember. Both seem incredibly small things. But it is of such small things that greater effects are both built and sustained.

Elsewhere:

Tom Spurgeon interviews MK Brown about her great new book.

Here’s a great chat with Roz Chast.

British comics crew Decadence gets a spotlight.

And Eddie Campbell interviewed over at Robot 6.

 

The Magic Word

It’s always a pleasure to read R.C. Harvey, and today on the site he’s here with a column on Playboy cartoonist Eldon Dedini. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Gus Arriola, another supreme stylist whose Gordo comic strip was a stunning fiesta of design and color, counted Dedini his closest friend in a friendship of over fifty years that was grounded firmly in their mutual passion and respect for the visual art they practiced and in a unique camaraderie they shared, living in Carmel, California.

“Even his signature was a design,” Arriola once said. “—bold, succinct, an autograph as distinctive as the rich humor it identified. Simply, Dedini —much as one would say Bernini, Modigliani, Dali—Dedini—all those ending in -I appellations signifying high art. Few humorists can draw passably, if at all. Eldon was both an accomplished illustrator and a proven humorist. His pictorial and literary recording of international events and domestic culture through his award-winning years was always timely, always cogent and always remarkably funny.”

Quoted in the Monterey Herald’s front-page obituary for Dedini in January 2006, Lee Lorenz, cartoon editor at The New Yorker for many of the years Dedini’s cartoons were published therein, said: “While a million people can draw, very few can cartoon well. To be a cartoonist you have to be a stylist, and that’s not easy to come by. It transcends technique. And he was an excellent idea man. He had a wide-ranging imagination. He was tough to edit because he didn’t need much editing. I never asked him to redraw, which at The New Yorker is quite unusual. If 20th century cartooning is ever looked at seriously,” he concluded, “Eldon Dedini will be one of the outstanding figures of American comic art.”

We also are posting another of the late great Bhob Stewart’s pieces for The Comics Journal, his 1985 appreciation of Howard Nostrand. A sample:

As a humorist working in an Eisneresque mode, Nostrand was obviously given a high-voltage jolt by the early issues of Mad. One can almost see the gears and cogs clicking into place in his 23-year-old head. It was, we might say, good timing. The right talent in the right place at the right time: when Nostrand skipped out of the Powell studio in March 1952, he began his solo career in the very same season Kurtzman was hatching Mad #1 (Oct. 1952–Nov. 1952). Kurtzman’s original idea for Mad was to parody types of comic book stories (horror, SF, romance, sports, crime, etc.); his revamp of that concept into direct satires on specific radio/TV/comics/movies came later, with issues #3 through #8 making this transition throughout 1953. The revolutionary Mad feature of contemporary movie satires with recogniz­able caricatured likenesses, timed to coin­cide with the film’s general release nation­wide, did not happen until Mad #9 (Feb. 1954–March 1954) with “Hah! Noon!” — followed by others in 1954 (“From Eter­nity Back to Here,” “Wild Vi,” “Julius Caesar,” “Stalag 18”). After 30 years of Mad, it becomes almost impossible to explain why it was so exciting and so much fun in 1954. There just had never been anything like it. Opening an issue in a newsstand was like … was like …

Okay. Forget the analogies. Lemme put it this way: You’re in a small American town. Some people there have TV sets. You don’t. So you can’t even see Sid Caesar. Your high school reading assign­ment is deadly — Alexander Pope (1688–1744), right? The teacher calls him a satirist, but no one laughs. School’s out. You buy Mad #12 and read — in color — “From Eternity Back to Here.” You think about the Life photo of James Jones leaning on his manuscript, pages stacked almost to his own height. A month later From Here to Eternity — in black and white — arrives at the town’s only movie theater. After seeing it you reread the Mad parody to relish the specificities. So then you spend part of the summer reading the entire James Jones novel and wind up knowing Prewitt as if he were a personal friend. Then you reread the Mad parody again. See? There was more to Mad than Mad itself. Cultural reverb, that’s what it was. Can you dig it? Well, forget it, man, it can’t be explained. You had to be there.

Elsewhere:

—Interviews. Fader talks to Charles Forsman. Dan Berry interviewed Julia Wertz and Sarah Glidden. Steve Sunu talks to Evan Dorkin. Chris Sims talks to Tom Scioli and John Barber.

—Reviews & Commentary. James Guida at The New Yorker appreciates Tove Jansson. Ana Benaroya reviews Diane Obomsawin’s Loving Women. Mike Mignola appreciates Will Eisner. Tom Spurgeon reviews Forever Evil #6. Richard Metzger remembers Sean Kelly and Neal Adams’s Son-O’God Comics from National Lampoon.

—Misc. Fantagraphics has announced their fall 2014 books. Whit Taylor gives advice on cartooning while holding a day job.

—Digital. ComiXology announced yesterday that its security was breached, and that they recommend all account holders change their passwords.

 

Pizza Time

Today on the site:

Sarah Boxer on Woman Rebel.

Who would have thought that Margaret Sanger, the mother of American birth control, would one day have her story told in a drawing style that simultaneously recalls that of Cathy Guisewite (Cathy), R. Crumb (Mr. Natural), and Jack Cole (Plastic Man). Sounds, ungodly, doesn’t it? But such is the hysterical, intense, rubbery look of Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story, by Peter Bagge, best know for his Hate comics. In Woman Rebel, Sanger, though her story is definitely of the superhero variety, comes across visually as Mary Poppins on a bad day — red-haired, booted, angry, her shoulders stooped, her mouth a weird worm crawling across her face. (I’ve seen pictures of Sanger and this isn’t even close; she’s actually quite fetching.)

Elsewhere:

Francoise Mouly interviewed at Mutha.

Heidi MacDonald on the new Heavy Metal.

Frank’s friend Derf reports back from travels abroad.

Some of what’s not in the upcoming Alex Toth book.

A cartoon report of Al Jaffee at Columbia.

Mervyn Peake rules.

 

Sheet Music

Today, Rob Steibel uses his column to explore some of Jack Kirby’s ’70s pencil work.

And George Elkind reviews Jon Vermilyea’s Fata Morgana.

Elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary.
Illogical Volume reviews Harvey Pekar & Joseph Remnant, Ulli Lust, and others. Chris Mautner reflects on the scatological in comics from Johnny Ryan and Michael DeForge. Tom Spurgeon reviews the new collection of Henry comic books. In the you’ll-know-if-you-want-to-read-it category, Dave Sim responds in his own inimitable way to the misogyny allegations recently laid against Alan Moore.

—Profiles & Interviews.
Daily Life talks to Alison Bechdel. HiLobrow briefly celebrates Ronald Searle.

—News. Jen Sorenson won the Herblock Prize. Former DC publisher Paul Levitz has joined the board at Boom! The playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is the new chief creative officer at Archie. Image publisher Eric Stephenson won the 2014 appreciation award from retailers’ organization ComicsPRO. (If you read a lot of online comics discussion besides this site, you’re probably already heard of Stephenson’s controversial speech at the annual ComicsPRO meeting. Aaron Kashtan explores the speech in two posts.) Major Japanese publisher Kadokawa plans to introduce a new digital manga reader, including titles in English.

—Misc. Stanley Kubrick’s photos of New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno. Last Gasp is hosting a logo design contest. (Greg Irons drew the original.) A longtime 48-year-old comic-book collector is selling off most of his collection, and started a blog documenting the process.

—Ways to Spend Money. The Yeah Dude subscription drive Kickstarter is almost over, and as of this writing this-close to reaching its main fundraising goal. Space Face has announced a subscription drive. Inkstuds superfans might be interested in their Kickstarter to fund an American interview tour. A new Pigeon Press Gallery site is selling original art from Ivan Brunetti, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, and others.

—Historical Link of the Day.
In a 1987 Bullpen Bulletin for the ages, then Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter stands up for what he really believes in.

 

Family Tradition

Today on the site, Joe McCulloch brings it all back home.

Elsewhere in this world:

After reading Joe the most important thing for you to do is watch this (NSFW) Throbbing Gristle video made a long ago by the great and under-appreciated French artists Bruno Richard and Pascal Doury (seen in the US mostly in RAW).

Still have time? Fine. Here:

This guy’s view of contemporary comics is profoundly limited, but I like his analysis of mid-century realist comics technique.

Robert Boyd reminds us that great Canadian picture story The Cage has been reissued.

There’s lots of movement at Archie Comics.

This is a slightly random look at Charlton Comics.

There’s going to be a Frank Quitely documentary episode.

These images of Otomo posters installed for show are fantastic.

Our own Jacq Cohen enjoys a puff.

When I was a kid I used to be thrilled that Stan Lee was seemingly always meeting with a groovy French movie director named Alain Renais. Yeah baby. Alain Renais is dead now, but paper lives on.

If I was a cartoonist I’d be very very reluctant to publish in the same book as Ronald Searle. Anyway, here are images from a recent Searle exhibition and accompanying catalog.

 

Powwow

Today Rob Clough reviews the hard-to-describe comics project, Dog City #2:

Dog City is part anthology, part art object, part stunt, part value-added merchandise, and all comics. What makes it more than a stunt is the overall quality of the comics within, which range from good to excellent. The concept behind Dog City is to put a lot of different comics and art objects into the hands of readers without simply jamming them all into a single anthology. So it begins with a screenprinted box that has a couple of comics on it and inside of it, and tissue paper used for packing that also has images on it. There are beautiful, dog-related “art cards” (small prints) by Caitlin Rose Boyle, as well as a poster by Christina Lee and patches by Ian Richardson. While these are not relevant to the project’s status relating to comics, they are part of the overall aesthetic of hand-printed, tactile objects.

Editors Juan Fernandez, Luke Healy, and Simon Reinhardt are all students at the Center for Cartoon Studies who extended their reach a bit for this project. In addition to the above items, there are also eight minicomics, a minicomics anthology, and a magazine about comics. CCS is certainly represented, but not just by current students. Faculty member Steve Bissette, for example, reprinted and reformatted “Sand Papel”, a story he did for another CCS anthology called Tales of San Papel. Bissette hasn’t done many comics in recent years, but this one is very much in line with the sort of scratchy, gritty horror comics he did so well in the past. Reformatting the comic to landscape and keeping it to just two panels per page allowed the story to breathe a bit more and creep into the reader’s consciousness.

Elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary.
Rob Clough has also begun one of his occasional one-review-a-day months on his blog. Matt Leines reviews some vintage Paper Rad. Sarah Horrocks begins a multi-part essay on Inio Asano’s Nijigahara Holograph. Abhay Khosla writes about several newish releases. Then he looks into my brain.

—Interviews & Profiles. James Sturm celebrates Ed Koren. Xavier Guilbert has posted his TCAF interview with Tagame Gengoroh. I always enjoy the mini-biographies on HiLobrow. Here they tackle Milton Caniff. Dennis Kitchen talks Will Eisner.

—News. The National Cartoonists Society has announced its Cartoonist of the Year Reuben Award nominees.

—Misc. Gary Tyrrell writes about former web cartoonist John Campbell’s controversial Kickstarter essay (for lack of a better way to describe it). Jim McLaughlin writes about the financial side of the comics convention business.

 

Flash

Today on the site, Matthias Wivel reports on the Angouleme Grand Prix award process. and talks to Louis Trondheim about it.

Elsewhere:

Cincinatti has a fine stash of early Dr. Seuss cartoons, but they’re not on display.

Chris Mautner on Prison Pit and Ant Colony.

An interview with colorist Matthew Wilson.

The D&Q Blog on Beautiful Darkness, which Joe McCulloch wrote about here.

 

Looking

Frank Santoro’s back from France, and sharing the comics he got over there.

Elsewhere:

—Sean Howe has posted three snapshots (1, 2, 3) from what was reportedly the first museum exhibition of underground comic art, curated by Bhob Stewart. Michael Dooley at Print has a short appreciation of Stewart.

—Chris Butcher of TCAF and The Beguiling has a two-part interview at Guys With Pencils.

—Kristy Valenti found a great old Kim Thompson quote on what’s-wrong-with-comics, published in a 1983 issue of Heavy Metal.

—Rich Tommaso is selling original art.

—Bill Watterson drew a movie poster.

Alfred Le Petit caricatures.