Although many artists struggle with the comic page’s limitations as a static, silent surface, Morisi harmonizes with newsprint’s inert pulp essence. His peculiar genius lies in the way he seems to disrupt our desire to glide across a page. While it’s hard to talk about the specific effect that images have on us, many of his panels feel calming, almost a little hypnotic and “sculptural” to me, working against the animation that Seth rightly sees an important feature of narrative comics.
In fact, Morisi’s characters often resemble a drawing of a sculpture of a person, rather than a “direct” representation; and many of his horror comics feature sculptures in the panels’ backgrounds and margins.
First, we have the great Bob Levin here with us today, bringing the story of publisher Malcom Whyte to the masses. Everything Levin writes is worth reading.
Whyte had been an admirer of underground comix since the afternoon he had walked into Gary Arlington’s tiny store in San Francisco’s Mission District and been introduced to a tall, skinny fellow named Bob Crumb, who sold him a handful of first edition “ZAP” Number Ones for a quarter apiece. Whyte, as a married man with three children, who had been into, he recalls, “drinking martinis and not eating dope” had missed out on the early days of rock poster collecting, immediately recognized he was being invited into the ground floor of the latest exciting development in the graphic arts. He would stop by Arlington’s once-a-week, buy comix, meet artists, and acquire work from them. “They were interesting guys,” he says, “doing wonderful work, and I was in awe. I’d just go ga-ga.”
They were also artists whose choice of content had limited their audience and restricted their possibilities. By the mid-nineties, most of them worked in relative obscurity. Now, he hoped to bring them at least some of the attention and rewards they deserved.
—Interviews. The 2D Cloud site has a short talk with the pivotal former cartoonist (and new publisher) Julie Doucet. Make It Then Tell Everybody has a very worthwhile interview with Christopher Butcher, cofounder of TCAF. (I miss Butcher’s blog.)
Speaking of TCAF, here is video of the panel featuring Lynn Johnston and Kate Beaton:
—Misguided Editorials. This anti-self-publishing editorial in The Guardian is fascinating, not because I can’t follow the logic, but because its conclusions do not in any way match up with my own experiences with self-published zines and comics.
And probably the less said about Amity Shlaes’s slapdash National Review editorial calling for conservative graphic novels the better. I say that not because of her political stance, but because of her lazy ignorance: she seems entirely unaware of the many right-wing(ish) cartoonists, including pantheon figures from Chester Gould and Harold Gray to Steve Ditko and Chester Brown; she credits Edward Said as co-author of Joe Sacco’s Palestine; and thinks “manga” is a synonym for “fantasy,” which leads to bizarre nonsensical sentences like this: “This attitude, high-minded though it be, is itself a bit of a manga.” Readers of this site may enjoy her characterization of the cartoonists at White River Junction, though.
I’ve been following Julie Delporte’s comics work for a few years now. I enjoyed Journal, her first book. I like seeing fragments of her work floating around online. Her handmade graphic approach is very refreshing to me and I think her work often looks particularly striking online. Journal was good, but it became slightly repetitive as a comic book. Each entry had its own strengths and sometimes the pieces seemed to not hang together all that well to make a cohesive narrative. (I get that it wasn’t a narrative and that it is a diary–I’m just saying the book’s strength was not in its structure.)
So I was slightly hesitant to check out Delporte’s new book, Everywhere Antennas, only because I figured it would be another diary. Even when I was flipping through it at first it looks like a diary that is going to stick to a certain layout and a certain way of delivering information: one or two drawings floating amongst some text. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the “information delivery” varied from section to section. For the most part it is a diary; however, there is a part in the middle which utilizes more of a traditional comics approach. I like the tension between this section (that is rendered in gray) and the rest of the book (that is in color).
And some links:
Great cartoonist (Quadratino!) and design and illustrator Antonio Rubino spotlighted at 50 Watts.
TCJ-contributor Nicole Rudick on Karen Green’s poetry/art -blend book Bough Down.
This link made me think of Dash Shaw, though he’s not to blame for that.
Today, Matthew Thurber interviews the mysterious Carlos Gonzalez, creator of Slime Freak:
Tell me about what confusion means to you, and mystery. For instance, readers might never be able to get a clear picture of the whole story of Slime Freak. Does it matter?
Well, the majority of life is mysterious and confusing. There is rarely closure, as there often is in most stories and plot lines (my own included). Almost everything I encounter is in fragments. Most of the comics I read are from the quarter bin. I’m just jumping into some ragged issue of The Eternals, Dreadstar, whatever…
I like that. You don’t need to read every issue of my comic, or any other ones to appreciate a weird hand touching a door knob, or a swollen, exotic mask being applied to a damp face. That’s just good stuff, take it for what it is.
I hope people enjoy the journey they take with each issue, but whether it’s “clear” or “practical” is not a huge concern.
—Digital. The comics-centric publishing site Graphicly has been purchased by Blurb. Alan Moore is heavily involved in a newly announced digital comics app (which apparently will also offer an open-source platform for any cartoonists interested in using it) called Electricomics.
—Funnies. Cartoonist-turned-nude-selfie-artist Blaise Larmee is releasing his second graphic novel, and Study Group has a preview.
—Crowdfunding. I think we’ve neglected to mention the latest Steve Ditko Kickstarter. There’s also a new Robert Anton Wilson crowdfunding effort for a theatrical production which will feature Alan Moore.
Sam Alden is among the most gifted of the young cartoonists I’ve come across in recent years. He has already established a sizable, rabid fan base through his Tumblr and deservedly won the Promising New Talent nod at last year’s Ignatz Awards, amidst a strong list of nominees. The two stories featured in It Never Happened Again display Alden’s impressive strengths as a visual storyteller. They feature completely different settings and characters, but have in common protagonists in search of things ineffable—perhaps unattainable. Each story casts its own strange sort of spell, making for a very strong debut book.
You’ve probably already read about it on Twitter and Tumblr and the other comics sites out there, or maybe right on this page a few moments ago, but nevertheless, we are proud to announce that the title to this blog post will be Movies V Television: Dawn of Comics. I don’t want to reveal too many plot details (hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake!) but the basic premise is that those two great audience favorites, Movies and Television, are inherently superior to comics. Here’s the twist: now that they are featuring characters and situations associated with comics, they simultaneously herald the triumph of the comics form! The more movies and television borrow ideas from comics, and the more we divert our coverage of comics proper to movies and television featuring comics-associated properties, the more comics wins! And then, and again, I don’t want to get into details, but down the line, Movies and Television come into conflict and have a fight. This is a great comics tradition, and shows how the very best elements of comics can easily be transferred into other media.
There are rumors afloat that Video Games may appear in this blog post at some point, too. We may have some speculation regarding its possible box art costuming for you later on…
Frank Santoro is here today his latest Riff Raff column, which goes heavy on the grid.
A Japanese artist friend once looked at one of my “wordless” comics in a grid. He asked, “Which way do I read it?” because there was no clear motion sequenced out across the page. It was more of a collection of still landscapes. I said “any order” and he smiled.
And then Paul Buhle reviews a new book by Kevin Pyle and Scott Cunningham, Bad for You: Exposing the War on Fun!
For a book aimed at kids, this one is chock-full of information, but presented so well in comics (and also charts and info-graphics) that the details are destined to move easily, and usefully, into young minds. At least this (old) reviewer’s mind thinks so.
—Movies. I don’t see the new direction of this site so much as a reboot as a reimagining, and so let’s reimagine that the most important thing for a comics site to spend a lot of time discussing today is that a somewhat transparently cynical movie producer made “controversial” [i.e., "baiting in an entirely transparently way"] comments regarding a not-very-popular female superhero character, and then went on to associate comic-book fans with wholesome chastity, and that this performance achieved its goal and got a group of beleaguered and very righteous comics fans on the internet talking about his movies. (No links.) [ADDED FOR CLARITY: Obviously the sexist aspects of the comments are worthy of condemnation. On the other hand, getting bent out of shape over things like whether or not the Hulk and She-Hulk are cousins is playing right into his hand.]
—Misc. A New York Times report on the Tom Wolfe archives resurrects the time Wolfe appeared in a cameo with the Hulk. (More here.) Joe Alterio on Kim Deitch. Michael Dooley talks to the cartoonists (and more importantly for our purposes, storyboard artists) Aaron Sowd and Trevor Goring.
AYERS: I came out of the war, and I was going to art career school on 23rd Street, I think it was. It was the first skyscraper! There was 23 floors, on which the last floor … You took the elevator, it only went 22 stories. [Clancy laughs.] Then you walked up the last, and you got to the school. Now, it wasn’t till many years later when somebody — when I was at a show — he spoke to me, and said” “Oh, that’s nice. You get paid for doing that. Doing those drawings on airplanes.” [Casey laughs.]
I got a kick out of that, because it’s really a nice, modern building now. So that went along and it was mostly doing commercial drawings, which I wanted to do: but I kept hoping I would find somebody that would get me more into the comic strip line — for which, it turned out, I realized, there WAS none! Nobody was teaching how to write and draw comic-book stories.I read a poster on a subway wall, and Burne Hogarth was starting a school. It was the beginning of the School of Visual Arts.
I was about a month late. The school had already started in September, and I was about October. I got to be interviewed by Burne, which made me just thrilled! He was my big idol at that time! We got going, and he said something to the effect that, “Your samples have only comic book art. There’s much more to it than that.”
I said, “Yeah, but I don’t like the idea of drawing the same character week in and week out. I’d like to have it so I do a cowboy this week, and a soldier the next week, and like that.” He admired that.
He started a course in writing that started me learning to write, which I’d never touched before, the schematics of doing the story and writing it. It came along fine. We did great, and I think I was the first student in his school to get work at it.
As I’m going into my class for about the first evening, there’s a fellow and on his notebook is “Bache.” Bache is MY middle name. So that made me stop and talk to him. I got more interested, and then I found out he worked for Joe Shuster right nearby, and then would go to the school there, too … which is what I did for quite some time. I penciled Funnyman.
In this 1989 Comics Journal interview, Gary Groth picks Ralph Steadman’s brain on the topic of his growth as an artist, changing interests, loss of faith and times working with Hunter S. Thompson in a career-spanning conversation that always finds its way back to politics and all that’s wrong in the world. Continue reading →