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Frank Santoro is back and inaugurating a new series of columns on Risograph printing. He begins by interviewing the artist many credit with getting the recent trend started, Mickey Z:

Risograph. What is it? Where did it come from? Most of us comics makers never really even heard of risograph until 2009 or so. Recently, I was noting to a friend how much better looking most risograph printed comics look than most “print on demand” or even most offset printed comics—and how prevalent the use of risograph has become. We tried to think about the first risograph printed comic we saw–what it was and when it appeared. It was then that Providence-based comics maker Mickey Zacchilli’s name kept popping up. Many of the people I interviewed for this series mentioned Mickey’s comics printed with a risograph as an inspiration, and then they all seemed to have gone on their own risograph research and development program. So I decided to go to the source and asked the great Mickey Z to fill us in… what really happened? Read on below.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary.
At Slate, Isaac Butler reviews Joe Ollmann’s Abominable Mr. Seabrook.

Every nonfiction comic must find a way to tackle this tension between the need to tell a true story and render a personal work of art in both image and text. Art Spiegelman’s Maus and David B’s Epileptic do this through using frequent symbolism to make it clear we are not reading literal truth. Journalist Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza becomes an investigation into whether or not the truth of historical events is even knowable. Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home is organized as a series of chronologically scrambled, thematically linked episodes, as if the page is mimicking both obsessive research (which she draws herself doing) and the searching qualities of memory at the same time.

For The New York Times, Janine di Giovanni reviews three recent comics set in the Middle East, from Sarah Glidden, Riad Sattouf, and Loïc Dauvillier & Glen Chapron.

“If I locked you up, it was so you could taste hate,” Dr. Amin Jaafari’s captor says in the extraordinary graphic novel version of Yasmina Kadra’s “The Attack.” “Anything can happen if you scratch at someone’s self-esteem. Especially if they are feeling powerless.”

This is not just a simplified explanation of the complex motivations of a suicide bomber. These words, in a sense, exemplify the brutal cycle of the Middle East tragedy: Injustice leads to powerlessness, to frustration to rage, and finally to acts of violence that undercut any attempts at peace or reconciliation.

Ken Parille remembers Alvin Buenaventura.

When I’m reading a comic — especially some weak 1970s’ DC or Marvel book — I’ll often imagine Alvin watching over my shoulder, not at all happy with what he’s seeing. In a soft monotone voice he condemns me for wasting time on crap when there’s genuinely engaging, idiosyncratic work out there, waiting.

—Interviews & Profiles. Emil Ferris has drawn a short comics memoir for the Chicago Reader.

Ferris uses those early experiences as a loose backdrop in her stunning debut graphic novel, My Favorite Thing is Monsters. Set in 1960s Uptown, Monsters is told from the perspective of a 10-year-old’s diary as she attempts to solve the murder of her mysterious upstairs neighbor. The book, which is haunting, ambitious, and altogether remarkable, took Ferris more than a decade to complete. The story behind its creation is as astounding as the book itself.

A very brief excerpt of the book can be found at The New Yorker’s website, along with a quick introduction by Françoise Mouly and Genevieve Bormes.

On the eve of the publication of a work about the past, Ferris is surprised by its relevance to the present: “When I started on this—years and years ago—we were living in a different time,” she said. “I was wondering, Why am I doing this? I’m talking about the rise of fascism. I’m talking about racial inequality. I’m talking about the lack of representation for children who are lesbian and gay and trans.” She would ask herself, back then, “Is this just a history lesson that I’m making? I thought it’s good to be reminded that these are important topics.”

“Now, though, I’m a little astonished,” she said. “It has all come back.”

The most recent guest on Virtual Memories is Patrick McDonnell.

A new interview with Daniel Clowes:

—News. The artist Kurt Holley, known for comics he published under the name Kurt Wolfgang, was arrested last week for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend in Gainesville, Florida.

—Crowdfunding Requests. The family of artist Jeremy Treece is asking for help after a devastating series of health, employment, and housing issues.

Our hope is that this campaign will help our family move into a new home by February 28th, and help us find a decent used vehicle for getting the children to and from school and running errands, but also for helping Lisa (me) get to and from doctor appointments and making sure that I have the availability to accept interviews and possible job offers.
Why do we need help? Jeremy’s freelance income varies month to month and it had been my income that stablilized us- up until the point I lost my job. Our car had been a wreck from the beginning and is now being torn apart for scrap by a local salvage yard. The community we are living in has issued us an unexpected notice that they will “not be renewing” our lease, which is up as of February 28th; if we are not out by that date, legal action will be taken.

Ink Brick, the journal of comics poetry, has launched a Kickstarter.

In 2017, everyone knows that comics are a powerful medium for storytelling and beautiful artwork. But what other expressive possibilities are hidden in the form? What new things can we say with all the elements of the comics page—the panel arrangements, cartooning, word balloons and captions, lettering styles, and on and on? In short, what else can comics do?

We started Ink Brick to answer that question. We started it to create a home for this exciting form that most people still don’t know about, to create a community. We’ve now published six issues featuring over 100 creators from across the world. We’re getting more work than we know what to do with, and we need your help to expand our reach and embark on exciting new projects.

The great Sam Henderson has started a Patreon account.

I’ve been around professionally for about 25 years. I edit a comic called MAGIC WHISTLE. I had a regular comic for NICKELODEON magazine from 1993 to 2009. I’ve done work for NEW YORK PRESS, OBSERVER, COMICS JOURNAL, DC COMICS, CARTOON NETWORK, MEDIUM, DISNEY, AOL, was nominated for an Emmy for my writing on SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS in 2001, still write for the comic, have had several book collections, a development deal, yet despite all this I’m always broke. Last year I made, uh, let’s just say… less than you. Hoping this will be one of the things to change that.

 

All Inside

Today on the site we have cartoonist Julia Wertz interviewing her friend and peer Sarah Glidden about Glidden’s recent book, Rolling Blackouts. 

Comics journalism is kind of new, at least to the general public. What do you think of the state of it now, and who’s doing good stuff? Or stuff you like?

I think it’s great! With places like The Nib, which are devoted exclusively to comics journalism. Other websites—or even magazines—which aren’t traditionally into comics, but adding comics journalism. I think there’s a lot of people doing a lot of really good work, like Joe Sacco, who’s been doing this for so long. He’s great. And he’s done work for Harper’s, publications that aren’t prone to using comics. But there’s a lot of great new people too. I really like Sam Wallman’s work. He’s an Australian cartoonist. A lot of the stuff on The Nib I think is really interesting.

Is it still a small field? A couple of you working, or do you think it’s a lot bigger than people assume? I assume it’s small.

It’s pretty small, but comics journalism—there’s a range of stuff. Lisa does comics journalism: her restaurant reviews and her movie reviews. She’s done things like the visit to the toy show. That’s comics journalism, also. I actually use her work when I do classes. I use her work as an example of comics journalism too, because I want people to know it’s not just stories about refugees. The things that you traditionally think about are Joe Sacco-style comics journalism.

Right. Very political.

I mean, you do comics journalism. I think that, in that way, sometimes people forget that there’s more to comics journalism than The Nib. Anyone working in nonfiction—basically, the lines can blur between memoir and journalism. I think that’s where New Journalism that started in the 1970s and ’60s comes in. I think that’ lots of things can be comics journalism. I’d be interested to see more movie reviews in comics form, or just like, “Here I am, dropping in to the swap meet for a day, in a new place. What is it like?”

You think it’s more palatable, especially for younger people, to see a comic, versus seeing a textbook or an article?

I don’t know about palatable, but I think that maybe comics can make people take a second look at something. At the moment, we’re bombarded by text and photos all the time. So, drawing and images that are hand drawn are more rare. When you see a comic, maybe you’ll take notice and want to read it, just because it’s different. What will happen when there’s as many comics journalists out there as there are prose journalists, maybe then people won’t really be into it anymore. At the moment, it’s an exciting time, because it is still fairly new. I think people can pay attention.

Elsewhere:

Our own Chris Mautner writes about Gerald Jablonski’s new book.

 

Get Your Shovels

Today on the site, Paul Tumey shares a lecture on early food-themed comics.

When you think about it, food is a pretty ingenious topic for studying a popular art form. Eating is something we all do; it’s woven throughout cultures and histories. Viewing comics through the lens of something so ubiquitous and essential reveals a “living art” aspect to the medium. For example, an E.C. Segar 1933 Thimble Theatre Starring Popeye comic strip in which Wimpy salivates copiously over a juicy hamburger is something a reader in 2017 America can directly relate to because that food is still a part of our culture today. Wimpy would not be amusing today if his ardent passion for a hamburger with “pickles, lettuce and onions both” were instead, say, dancing the Lindy Hop. Because of its universality and direct route to our brains, hardwired to crave and consume edibles every day, food as a theme can help make a comic strip relevant to succeeding generations.

Aside from the timeless aspect, broadly surveying food themes in comics from 1865 to 1954 reveals a fascinating correlation with social movements, trends and history itself. For example, comics in the mid-1940s depicted wartime food shortages and ten years later, they skewered excessive consumerism, mirroring America’s own changes through World War Two and into the prosperous 1950s. Comics, it seems, have often reflected the times in which they were made. The great comics both reflect and comment upon the times, all the while entertaining us.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Juan Fernández reports from Angoulême.

Before we get into all dissecting and reflecting on this latest edition of the heavy weight championship of comics expos, Angoulême, let’s go for a stroll, take it easy and soak it all in. What do you say?

—Liam Otten talks to comics scholar Liam Otten.

Many comics scholars arrive through fandom. Does a more traditional academic background provide greater critical distance?

I don’t think so. There are debates about fan studies and whether fans can be rigorous scholars. But people who study high texts — Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, Toni Morrison — also have deep attachments.

I do think scholars of popular culture have a heightened sense of the need to defend their subjects. In some ways, it’s similar to black studies — which is why I’m interested in the nexus between African-American studies and fan studies. Certain kinds of fandom are like political commitments.

—At The New Yorker, Peter Schjeldahl writes about the art of Raymond Pettibon.

In his art, Pettibon only sometimes addresses topical politics, or topical anything, but he knows his archetypes, and it’s nice to have eschatological expertise on current events. How seriously to take it is an uncertainty that haunts all of Pettibon’s art, which is surveyed in “A Pen of All Work,” a retrospective at the New Museum of some seven hundred creations, mostly drawings with text. He has intrigued and befuddled a growing audience since the late nineteen-seventies, when he emerged, in Hermosa Beach, California, as a bookish surfer who made flyers and album covers for the punk band Black Flag (his older brother Greg Ginn was the founder and guitarist) and a flurry of zines. His fame took hold slowly, and it remains confined largely to fine-art circles. Seeing the show is like being lost in a foreign but strangely familiar city, where polyphonic disembodied voices whisper, yell, or sputter wit and wisdom that you’re rarely sure that you heard quite right.

 

Hey Eveybody…

Today on the site, Rachel Davies brings us our second review of the great Soft City. 

The first person represented in Soft City is a baby, wide eyes and all. The book begins with the baby trying to figure out “what’s happening” as it gazes out a window surrounded by hundreds of windows just like the family’s own. While we eventually lose the outline of the baby, and their overarching thoughts strung across the page, the outlandish grandiose of adult life seems as if its been processed and regurgitated by an infant. As the parents climb out of bed, they’re already occupying their simplistic roles within the binary—the mother thinks “I must look for the baby,” while the father insists simply, “I must shave.” Soft City presents a dizzying, infant-POV understanding of our places in the world that is at once intriguing, and rather depressing. Every family in their apartment complex has one wife and one child, supporting their family by occupying the same job at the same corporation, Soft Corp. It seems that the only person who has somewhat escaped this cycle is their boss, who works in a private office, phoning in to his wife and kid who are somewhere on a beach, as well as the family’s child, who seems hesitant about this lifestyle.

Elsewhere:

Here’s a very long history of Image Comics. 

Hey, it’s Dan Clowes on French radio. 

And it’s Noah Van Sciver on internet radio!

 

Kaboom

Joe McCulloch is here as usual with his guide to the Week in Comics! Spotlight picks this week include new books by Dominique Goblet and Ronald Wimberly.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. J. Hoberman writes about the cartoons of Gerhard Richter.

Before the blurry “photo paintings”—large images based on family snapshots or magazine ads—that would establish his preeminence, Gerhard Richter experimented with another form of Pop: cartoon drawings.

Shortly after the Berlin Wall went up and the painter defected, or as he would say “relocated,” from Dresden to the West, Richter drew a series of images featuring a single protagonist going through an abstract landscape. Recently discovered in a 1962 notebook, these have been published by his archives in a facsimile edition titled Comic Strip—a sparely beautiful book-object that, like Krazy Kat or Little Orphan Annie, has a central character or rather an expressive motif.

At Atlas Obscura, Lauren Young writes about the 19th century cartoonist Marie Duval.

In the late 1800s, London was swept up in the new craze of visual, satirical journalism. When Judy magazine, a twopenny serio-comic, debuted a red-nosed, lanky schemer named Ally Sloper who represented the poor working class of 19th-century England, it was one of the first recurring characters in comic history.

But credit for that character has long gone to the wrong person. Two people were responsible for Ally Sloper—and one of the creators has only recently been rediscovered by academics and comic fans.

New Yorker cartoonist David Sipress writes about maintaining sanity as an artist in the Trump era.

My own mental health has definitely taken a hit. From late last summer through early December, I drew a topical cartoon (the Daily Cartoon) five days a week for newyorker.com. I was forced to stay extremely well-informed in order to make jokes about the very stuff that was turning my head into a dark, scary place, and wreaking havoc on my digestive system. (It’s my habit to read or watch news during meals.) At night, I lay in bed, sleepless for hours, replaying the day’s events.

For The New Republic, Josephine Livingstone writes about a New York exhibition of the comics of Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb.

Best of all, perhaps, this exhibition lets the viewer see out of the eyes of one of Crumb’s women. The Crumb woman, maybe. Crumb’s comics are, to be frank, kind of sexist. He has also at times used racist imagery in his comics, to satirical but nonetheless unpleasant effect. The goddesses he manufactures are powerful but they’re not human. They’re iron buttocks, straining shirts. But Kominsky-Crumb is a person, and she draws through the experience of being desired by and desiring Robert Crumb. In this sense, the show is engaging and delightful but also, in a mutual kind of way, redemptive.

Bob Heer writes about some samples of the work of Dan Spiegle.

Frank Santoro is launching a video series of comics commentary:

Frank's Comics Corner #1 from Frank Santoro on Vimeo.

—Interviews & Profiles. Rivka Galchen profiles Mo Willems.

Last September, when I first met Willems, I had my three-year-old daughter with me. Willems, who is forty-eight, was wearing orange combat boots, black jeans, a black button-up shirt, and a dark floral blazer. He appeared to be about seven feet tall (though emotionless measurement says he is six feet two). My daughter has memorized much of Willems’s œuvre, an achievement that doesn’t greatly distinguish her from her peers. When Willems waved at her, she began to cry. “I understand,” he said. “It’s a big disappointment. The first of many.”

To promote the above-mentioned show, Paul Laster interviews Crumb and Kominsky-Crumb for Time Out New York.

When did you start working together?
RC: In 1972 we were living in the sticks. She had a little trailer and I lived in a cabin next door. She was laid up with a broken foot and was pissed at me because this other girlfriend had come to see me. So to placate her I said ,“Let’s draw a comic together.”

What was the reaction when you starting publishing them?
AKC: I’ve memorized some of the reader responses: “Maybe she’s a good lay, but keep her off the fucking page” and “Let her do the cooking; you do the cartooning.” It was a real boys’ club.

The most recent guest on Process Party is Joey Alison Sanders.

The most recent guest on Comics Alternative is Karl Stevens.

 

It Still Knows How to Pound

Today on the site, webcomics columnist Shaenon Garrity returns with the long-awaited second part of her Homestruck binge-read.

Mea culpa. I confess to you, my brothers and sisters, it’s been too long since Part 1 of my binge-read through Andrew Hussie’s juggernaut webcomic-cum-multimedia-phenomenon Homestuck.  My early cockiness was ill-founded. This is a long-ass webcomic that demands enormous dedication, which may explain why it attracts hardcore fans: cosplayers, shippers, epic fanfic authors and fanartists, and probably otherkin. There have to be people who believe they’re literally Homestuck characters, right? I’m disappointed with the Internet if this isn’t a thing.

This installment covers Act Five, which is at least as long as Acts One-Four put together and is in turn dwarfed by the even more massive Act Six. This is Zeno’s Webcomic: I’ve reached the halfway point several times now, only to find just as long a stretch still looming before me.  It defies Aristotelian logic, but so do most webcomics.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:


—Interviews & Profiles.
For the Irish Times, Una Mullally profiles Ralph Steadman.

One day in 1970 Ralph Steadman was out on a boat, covering the America’s Cup yacht race and feeling seasick. The illustrator’s companion on the waters off Rhode Island was the journalist Hunter S Thompson.

“Hunter was popping pills the whole time, and he was perfectly all right. I’d never had anything before. I said, ‘What are those things you keep eating?’ He said, ‘Well, they’re pills, Ralph.’ ‘What sort of pills?’ ‘Well, they’re psilocybin.’ ‘What’s that?’ ‘It just helps me through the day.’ ‘Would it be any good for seasickness?’ I said.

“This is where the phrase ‘Pay the ticket, take the ride’ comes from, because I took one. And, God, I’d never done drugs before or since. I don’t like them. I like wine, but not until seven o’clock at night. It’s all right as long as you know when to stop, like everything. The unfortunate thing with drugs is that once it’s in you it’s in you. Ain’t much you can do about it.”

For Rookie, Rachel Davies talks to Vanessa Davis.

I have this fine art background, and I’ve been inspired by a lot of design things. I love pattern making and beautiful images. When I was a younger artist, I wanted to master that. Before I wanted to be a cartoonist I wanted to be a textile designer, or a painter, or I wanted to be one of those people who mastered the way things looked. I figured I could because I was good at drawing, and I loved things that looked good. But I found that when I’m drawing comics, I’m working through a story. That’s something I fought against in my artwork for a long time because I didn’t realize I could combine those things. I didn’t realize I could combine my natural conversational storytelling, autobiographical instincts–which are probably stronger in me than my aesthetic ones. When I tried to be a designer or I tried to do beautiful things, just as beautiful things, they would fall short. They wouldn’t really do it, that isn’t where my skills lie. A lot of the stuff that you’ve seen that hasn’t been in books are things where I’m trying to work things out, [whether it’s] jokes, images, or how I draw. When I’m in the zone, I’m drawing from life, and I’m expressing a story. All the rest of the time I’m just grasping.

At the same site, Minna Gilligan talks to Hellen Jo.

As a medium, I adore comics because you, the artist and writer, are the master of the story, and because you have an intimate relationship with the reader. Comics are also so full of possibility—in terms of art, in terms of story—precisely because so much is up to you. There are no real rules, and if you are a DIY zinester, there are no bosses or editors or directors. You determine the outcome of your work. I also love that comics and zines are cheap and accessible, to both readers and creators. You want to make a zine? Sit down, draw it, print it out and staple it, and bam: You’re a cartoonist. The zine and comics communities are full of people who understand these facts, and it’s wonderful to meet and commiserate with other people who understand that holing yourself up in a dark room hunched over a desk like a dirty beast troll throughout the day and nighttime is a worthwhile and sometimes important pursuit.

—Misc. At the Paris Review, Joe Ollmann has posted the third and final installment of his comic explaining how he created his latest book.

 

Today on the site, Robert Kirby reviews the recent Spanish comics anthology Spanish Fever:

The talent roster in Spanish Fever ranges from well-known pros like Miguel Gallardo and Max, to newer artists like Ana Galvañ and Clara-Tanit Arqué. There’s a wide variety of narrative and visual styles, ranging from traditional underground comix to the ubiquitous European “big nose” style to work that would look at home in an American minicomic. In subject matter, the stories range from autobiographical, political, and quotidian to surreal and just flat-out weird. It’s an eclectic stew that comes together agreeably, making a good case for the vibrancy of the Spanish comics scene, though a few weaknesses keep it from being a truly top-notch compendium.

In his introduction, Eddie Campbell notes that the new Spanish comics all share the importance of authorial voice, i.e., that they feature characters that are pure expressions of the authors, beholden to no meddling publishers or corporations. Garcia’s forward to the collection extrapolates on this theme, offering a mini-history of Spain’s comics leading to its current artistic renaissance amid the country’s current economic crisis.

Elsewhere:

Lauren Weinstein’s wonderful strip, Normel Person, has a new installment — one of her best.

NPR reviews Mr. Seabrook. 

Daniel Clowes is having a rare solo show in Paris. Here’s the artwork on view. I love seeing Dan’s preliminaries, as nerdy as that is.

 

 

Renowned Creatures

Today on the site, we have a preview excerpt from the upcoming US edition of Dominique Goblet’s Pretending is Lying, which includes a short afterword by the book’s original editor, Jean-Christophe Menu.



Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. At Forbes, Rob Salkowitz profiles Emil Ferris, creator of the upcoming My Favorite Thing About Monsters, which looks to be a major book.

“I spent the last 20 years or so being a single mom, raising my daughter in Chicago,” said Ferris when we spoke by phone. The daughter of free-spirited artistic parents, Ferris grew up telling stories and drawing in her notebooks, much as her young protagonist Karen does in the book.

Fourteen years ago, her life took an unexpected turn. “I was bit by a mosquito, and a few weeks later, woke up paralyzed from the waist down, unable to speak and had lost the use of my right hand.” Ferris had contracted West Nile virus, and her sudden disability derailed her career doing commercial art and industrial design.

She spent her days at the Art Institute of Chicago, determined to power through her disability using the power of art. “I became so invigorated that I began to heal,” she said. “I got some facility in right hand and started to draw more, first digitally and then with pen and paper.”

For LARB, Leah Mirakhor talks to Riad Sattouf.

Is it true that you decided to begin your memoir after the Syrian uprising?

Yes, exactly. Because I had to help a part of my family still living in Homs. They wanted to come to France and were denied visas. So I had to go to the French administration and meet with people, incredible people, and I wanted to show how stupid they could be. But to be interesting, I decided I should tell the story from the beginning.

So there was almost a practical reason?

Yes, exactly. And also, because I’ve made two movies. My first movie in France was a huge success — French Kissers. And after this movie, I made another movie, Jacky in the Kingdom of Women. It was a complete failure. And after that, I had no more friends. My phone was no longer ringing. [Laughs.] It was incredible. So I told myself, “Okay, I have no more friends, my life is over, maybe everything is over for me.” And I asked myself, “What would you do before dying?” And I said I would write this story about my family and my childhood, and I started to make this book. So thanks, Jacky! [Laughs.]

As part of Black History Month, Allstate Insurance has produced a short video biography of Ariell Johnson, owner of Amalgam Comics in Philadelphia.

The most recent guest on Process Party is Sacha Mardou.

—News.
Adrian Tomine is offering a custom portrait to the person who offers the largest single donation to the ACLU by Friday. This follows similar offers by cartoonists such as Sarah Glidden, Emily Flake, Box Brown, Julia Wertz, and others. I believe those other offers were for last weekend only, but if anyone knows of similar charity drawing offers that are still available, please let me know via email or in the comments and we’ll pass them along.

After health issues and repeated brain surgeries, Bernie Wrightson and his wife has announced his retirement.

We have had to come to the sad conclusion that he is now effectively retired: he will produce no new art, and he is unable to attend conventions. Should this situation change I will happily announce it here.

He can still sign his name (in fact he was signing Kickstarter prints in the hospital!), and is otherwise pretty healthy and has good cognition. We expect to continue releasing signed prints, and offering occasional pieces of art for sale from the collection that remains. We both thank all of you for your continuing support and good wishes!

—Misc. At the Nib, Sarah Glidden has a comic about the vetting process for Syrian refugees.

In an interview about his reading habits at the New York Times, novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen speaks repeatedly about his love of comics, namechecking the Hernandez brothers, Alan Moore, Rumiko Takahashi, Osamu Tezuka, Adrian Tomine, and Gene Luen Yang, among others.

Comic books long ago predicted presidents like Donald Trump, in series like Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons’s “Give Me Liberty.”