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Today on the site, we are republishing another archival interview, this time Steve Ringgenberg's 1986 conversation with Marie Severin.

Thinking back on the EC period, who were the artists you liked best to color? I’m not asking you to name favorites, but who did you find the most interesting? And challenging?

Oh. The most challenging ones were Woody and Krigstein.

Why?

For two different reasons. With Krigstein you knew that there was a distinct design and plan in mind. And I didn’t color many of his. I think he colored his own. On some of it, like that one with the Nazi in the subway …

“Master Race.” I know on that story Krigstein chopped up the boards and spread out the word balloons so he could pace the storytelling according to his own instincts.

Yeah, right. I would only see the artwork at the tail end. I wasn’t involved in any of the black-and-white stuff at all. See, now some of the artwork is touched up in the ‘80s. We touched up art when I was on staff at Marvel. In those days, we had tremendous respect. And also we’d come in and that was it, unless there was something very, very wrong. You came in and that was it. Everybody was saying, “Oh, wonderful!” Woody was very satisfying, but you would sweat over his artwork.

Was he hard because of the delicacy of some of the figures?

Yes. I remember he did one on Tecumseh. And, Woody was very much like Kirby in that in one panel he would have three belts on a character and in the next panel he would have one belt on. Then it was across the other shoulder but you were looking at all this other glamorous stuff he was doing, so it didn’t bother you if the guy’s straps were all mixed up and he had a different gun. And of course, it wasn’t that important to Woody’s method of storytelling. But on somebody else’s method of storytelling, I’m more this way myself and so is John I believe. And I’ve never seen John mix anything up.

As far as his costuming details?

Yeah. I mean he’s so involved with that person, he’s that person, then he’s that dog, then he’s that archway; he never forgets what he’s doing. He’s building it.

Does John take a meticulous approach to what he’s doing?

I guess so.

I mean compared to other people.

Oh, gee, today? Look at guys like Bernie Wrightson. I was just looking at his Frankenstein book. I’ve got it. I’ve got to start throwing comic books out. And I’m saying “I can’t throw this away! Wonderful!” There’s so many today. ... A lot of them think they are. But, they’ll learn. Some guys start out picky. John started out picky. [Laughs.] He liked to have his weapons and all his boats and his tanks and everything just the way it was. He’s an illustrator.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. I don't think we've yet linked to ICv2's interview with Lion Forge CEO David Steward II.

What does Lion Forge look like in five years? What are your goals in terms of where you're headed?
From a direct market standpoint, we want to be either the third or fourth largest publisher in the next five years. I would like us, definitely, to be in the top five on the bookstore side of the market, as well. I'd like us to be a thought leader in terms of bringing new readers into the marketplace.

You know the numbers. Our general market growth, if you look at everything, is anemic right now, especially when you balance that against the popularity of the content itself and how it's been utilized by Hollywood and video games and everybody else.

Jezebel talks to Lisa Hanawalt.

Originally, Coyote was going to be a male character, and then you changed that. What made you decide to make the character female?

It’s weird, when I first started writing it, I was like, “he, he, he, Coyote Doggirl is a boy.” And then I started drawing it, and I don’t know when, but I thought, “Why am I defaulting to male? Is it because every Western I watch, except for maybe True Grit and that one with Sharon Stone, star men? And all the cartoons I grew up watching star male characters?” It’s weird how that becomes my default, even though I’m a woman, and you’d think I would be thinking about these things more all the time. So I threw a sports bra on top of her and made her a lady. But it’s weird that even I have to consciously think about decisions like that all the time.

Alex Dueben talks to comics scholar Bill Schelly about his memoir on fandom, Sense of Wonder.

I[Fandom's] very different. Nowadays, I don’t find fans – even my friends – interested in corresponding. In the old days, when long distance phone calls were prohibitively expensive, I corresponded with a number of fans, writing letters that were often two or three pages long. Today, even with email, peoples’ attention spans are shorter. And they want to talk on the phone, not write. Of course, blogs have replaced the old printed fanzines. That’s cool. And fans still get together at comicons. It’s still a place that’s accepting of all kinds of people, whether they be queer, or physically challenged, or what-have-you. The main thing, which I’m sure will never change, is its ongoing appreciation of comic art itself, whether in the form of modern graphic novels, or comics of the past in all the reprint editions. I don’t know how much interest still exists for the comics being turned out by Marvel and DC, but if it’s waned, there are plenty of other comics to read and enjoy.

The most recent guest on the RiYL podcast is Tony Millionaire.

—History. At the Daily Beast, Michael Tisserand writes about the relationship between heavyweight champion Jack Johnson and early cartoonist Tad Dorgan.

Their friendship began in 1901 and didn’t end until Dorgan died in 1929. Its greatest test came in 1910, when Johnson, then world heavyweight champion, was in a contest with a former champion to hold onto the crown. His opponent, Jim Jeffries, was white, and following Johnson’s victory, jubilant black fans would be attacked and even killed in cities across the country.

The victory in the boxing ring would also mark Johnson in the eyes of the law. Yet for Dorgan, watching from ringside as his smiling friend sent Jeffries into the ropes, it was a reminder of all the reasons why he admired this man, and why that morning he had delivered one of the most startling sports predictions ever offered in print:

“Jim Jeffries is through.”

—Commentary. The New York Review of Books excerpts Ryan Holmberg's afterword to Tadao Tsuge's Slum Wolf.

“World War II did not really end for the Japanese until 1952, and the years of war, defeat, and occupation left an indelible mark on those who lived through them,” writes the historian John Dower in Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II. This was certainly so for the manga artist Tadao Tsuge (born 1941), who made a gritty fantasy world out of post-surrender retrospection, filling his story-vignettes with landscapes and characters derived from the war’s ruins and the black markets and slums that flourished around them.

While Tadao’s work is a unique intervention into the literature of war memory, it also speaks to issues of class, geography, and the built environment. The artist’s apathy toward political organizing was overt. Nonetheless, his late Sixties and early Seventies comics were fairly close in spirit to the work of labor activists, anarchist writers, and photojournalists who were concerned about the neglected armies of men who manned the lower echelons of Japan’s booming construction, manufacturing, and energy industries, often via yakuza-mediated day-labor markets in big cities like Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka.

—RIP. Randy Weston.

 

Nation/Dalmatian

Today at TCJ, we're turning over the keys to Steve Ringgenberg and his obituary of Gary Friedrich, who passed away last week.

Our review of the day is Upgrade Soul, Ezra Claytan Daniels much anticipated graphic novel from Lion Forge. Leonard Pierce thinks the hype is real:

The Iowa native kicked off his career with the successful and unexpected series The Changers while living in Portland; he moved to Chicago following its success and has been a figure of great interest in the city’s arts community, focusing his attention from one medium to another – animation, music, film, music, and video, among others, always with intriguing results – before setting to work on Upgrade Soul, a project over a decade in the making that has finally made it into traditional graphic novel form after a long stretch as an immersive digital app. In some ways, the decision to release the book in a standard publishing format is a step back to more pedestrian means of production than we’re used to from Daniels, but the end result is a work of such profound impact and originality that it can’t be argued with.

Yesterday, we published a diamond from the archive: Ken Jones' 1987 interview with Russ Heath, at a time when Heath was preparing to leave the field of animation to return to comic books.

JONES: What made you decide to re-enter the comic book field?

HEATH: Number one, the money is a lot better than it used to be. That’s if the book sells well. Since I’ve been working almost exclusively in animation since 1978 a lot of new comic readers do not know my work. Going back to the ’70s, when I was doing war books, a lot of readers who read comics would not read them, the Vietnam conflict being so unpopular at the time. When the Shadow book comes out the readers who don’t know my work will say — “Who is this guy, Russ Heath?” And the ones who knew of my stuff will say, “My god, Russ Heath, is he still alive?” I hope working on a book this popular will lead to new recognition in a short time.

Steve Leiber shared an excellent anecdote about Heath alongside some very striking examples of Heath's incredible skill. I won't spoil it.

The past months have hit multiple comics professionals hard, as anyone with access to social media is well aware. But this extended reminiscence from Roy Thomas on his friendship with Gary Friedrich is in a class all its own. Bleeding Cool has the scoop.

In late 1965, ensconced at Marvel, I convinced Gary to come to New York to join me, partly to get him away from his drinking buddies in Missouri. It didn’t work, of course. Gary continued drinking more than was good for him for some years, but he was never a sullen or nasty drunk… it just wouldn’t do him any good, that’s all. I told him that we could work together on some comics, and convinced Dick Giordano at Charlton to give him a shot… but Gary took to comics writing like Donald Duck to water, and I never had to help him in that department. Matter of fact, when he went on his (2nd) honeymoon for a week and I tried writing a Charlton romance story to help him out, I froze up and couldn’t finish it. Gary had to complete it when he came back. Soon, though, when there was a vacancy at Marvel (probably after the very brief employment of a young playwright named Ron Whyte who thought a lot more of himself than I ever thought of him–or him of me), I had Gary take a Marvel writing test and he was soon employed on staff as well as doing freelance writing.

Anytime you can link to a nice meaty chunk of an obsessively organized dive, you link to that shit immediately: here's Claire Napier making the case that you should read the Valiant Comics. (All of the Valiant Comics, in fact).

Then, in 1997, came the real term two: the real Valiant at Acclaim Comics. Fabian Nicieza, coming off a brief stint at DC and some long years at Marvel, joined Valiant at Acclaim in 1996 as Editor in Chief and Senior Vice-President, and from 1997 oversaw absolute reboots of all remaining Valiant titles. Premises changed, and characters and character designs changed. They called it “VH2,” which retroactively termed the Shooter-defined Valiant history “VH1,” which is a stupid thing to do as that’s already a whole other thing. They did it anyway, which was “very Acclaim,” honestly.

 

Fire for Effect

Today's main feature is Michael Dean's extensive obituary on Marie Severin, who passed away this week.

Severin’s 1967 run on Doctor Strange continued until Strange Tales #160. She drew Incredible Hulk in Tales to Astonish from issue #92 to #101, including the crossover issue with the Submariner series, and went on to draw the Hulk in his own 1968 solo title, issues #102-105, as well as the 1968 Incredible Hulk annual #1. She was a mainstay artist for the entire 13-issue run of Not Brand Echh.

But these runs were exceptions. Severin was given no signature series and had no opportunity to create a series from scratch. Instead, throughout her career at Marvel and elsewhere, her talent, speed and energy were used to save her employers’ bacon. She was a go-to emergency responder whenever a regular artist unexpectedly left a job or missed a deadline. Whenever spot illustrations were needed for letters pages, fan-club materials or ads, Severin was brought in to do the job in a manner that was both quick and faithful to the house style established by Marvel’s more celebrated artists. She was a frequent inker and was Marvel’s head colorist until 1972, but most of her work was uncredited: roughing covers, fixing faces, redrawing panels, adding bridging sequences and making corrections to the art of the credited artists. She eventually came to fill John Romita’s role as cover designer, but was never offered Romita’s art-director title — a classic case of a female “hidden figure” whose contributions remained in the shadow of her male colleagues.

Along with Severin (and Russ Heath earlier), the longtime Marvel Comics writer Gary Friedrich passed away this week. We will publish an obituary on him in the coming days.

What a week! Our pal Karl Stevens closes it out with a reminder of the world's natural beauty, and how sometimes, you need some of that nature to fuck off so you can enjoy the beauty.

Meanwhile, we've got a review for you: Brenna Thummler's Sheets, from Lion Forge. The review is by longtime contributor Noah Berlatsky. His feelings on the book are mixed.

That self-reflexive shallowness is indicative of Thummler's graphic novel as a whole, for better and worse. Thummler is a young creator, but she's already gotten a number of high profile gigs, including drawings for the New York Times and Washington Post. Her skill, when utilized as here in the interest of an unambitious narrative, can come off as glib. But Thummler's also attuned to the limitations of the comics form in a way that adds resonance to a story about grief and loss. Sheets is a comic that doesn't quite connect, while also using comics as a metaphor for the things you wish you could touch, but can't.

In other news, the CBLDF and the SPX Festival has established a legal aid fund of $20,000 to assist the 11 individuals involved in the Cody Pickrodt defamation lawsuit previously covered by Alec Berry last week.

Wendy Pini is no stranger to a good interview, and this one with Women Write About Comics, conducted during the most recent San Diego Comic Con, is no exception.

Wendy: Well explain what you mean, politically incorrect. You mean because I told women to stand up for themselves? I’m not backing off of that position.

I was wondering if you had anymore thoughts now that the #MeToo movement is really taking off, and—

Wendy: The #MeToo movement is no joke; it’s absolutely real. I still I entirely advocate that women help each other in learning how to stand up to harassment and bullying. I still find that some women, for reasons I can’t figure out, if they are harassed by a guy or guys, they will just back up and get upset about it. Rather than… there’s nothing that turns a guy off more than a direct stare, and there are girls who haven’t learned the direct stare yet, and I advocate that they do.

Another rock solid interview subject? Lisa Hanawalt. She's over at Jezebel, talking all things Coyote Doggirl. And also this:

I am wondering, though, what you think of the bizarre fascination with all these young women who become obsessed with horses. I don’t know if you consciously thought of past representations of women and horses in media when you were writing this, but how did you incorporate that into the story?

I didn’t think about it too much, because I was just trying to think from my own perspective: what I think about when I’m riding a horse. But I feel like people who aren’t into horses have a tendency to sexualize that relationship because they don’t understand it, and they’re like, “Oh it’s definitely a sex thing, ‘cause women and horses.” But it’s way more complicated than that. Obviously, I don’t like horses because I want to fuck one; that’s just stupid. But I don’t know, there is something to little girls controlling this big, powerful beast that is so intuitive that it listens to them. You can sort of tell a horse all your secrets. And in some ways, I think it is a surrogate for a relationship. But it’s emotional; it’s not sexual.

I've never seen any of Sequart's documentaries, but they recently uploaded two of them to Youtube. Of the two, the Grant Morrison one is the more frequently talked about. 

 

Where I’ve Failed You

Today on the site, Frank M. Young is here with an article on Roy Crane's Buz Sawyer, and what he considers its surprisingly mature take on marriage.

Buz Sawyer offered Crane a new beginning and a grueling workload. In later years, Crane groused in later years about having to do a comic strip without assistance. His righthand man on Tubbs, Leslie Turner, stayed with the strip, which he continued through the end of the 1960s. Sawyer’s first full year is more of the same—brutal war narratives occasionally leavened with slapstick humor.

Its main character was no rootless soldier of fortune. John S. Sawyer had a small-town family background in Texas, and was a seemingly well-balanced, ideal red-blooded American boy. A college football hero, he had a wealthy girlfriend back home, Tot Winters, whom he seemed destined to marry. During a home visit in late 1944, Winters’ father takes Sawyer aside and intimates that he’ll have a cushy postwar job in the Winters underwear company.

Tot is arrogant and petulant. Her encounters with Buz never feel warm or welcoming. Buz feels obliged to marry Tot but has obvious misgivings about his future. On December 29, 1944, Christy Jameson literally rides into his life—on horseback—and begins one of comics’ few mature, reasonably realistic domestic relationships.

And Karl Stevens is here with Day Four of his Cartoonist's Diary. Today it's off to the beach.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. At Please Kill Me, Alan Bisbort interviews Bill Griffith.

My character Zippy was, in name and personality, a byproduct of photographs I saw from the old Barnum and Bailey Circus sideshow of a character they called “Zip the What Is It?” and sometimes Zip the Pinhead. Zip’s real name was William Henry Jackson or William Henry Johnson [1857-1926], depending on what source you cite. I prefer Jackson because that’s my name William Henry Jackson Griffith. I was named after my grandfather William Henry Jackson, who was a renowned photographer of Western landscapes. He was one of the top sideshow performers in the country. I found that out about Zip years later, looking through some books at [cartoonist] Kim Deitch’s house. Zip was a pretend pinhead. He was not a real pinhead. Back then being a “pinhead” was an expression meaning someone with nothing upstairs.

At HiLobrow, Adam McGovern talks to Eternity Girl writer Magdalene Visaggio.

HILOBROW: Eternity Girl is like reading a mandala. How did you harmonize the simultaneous actions, the grand patterns and granular details in these radial or dispersed compositions?

VISAGGIO: Anything about the visual composition of the page was largely Sonny [Liew]. Sonny was kind of notorious for ignoring stage directions and doing his own thing, and he was very much correct to do so; I was always real eager to see what he would do. The cover that he did for the second issue was sort of the introduction of that. I started writing things saying, “if you want to do something here like that, I think that would work.” But mostly he just did whatever he thought would elevate what was happening in the moment. Sonny is really an extraordinary artist, and he always found a way to make the page do more work than I was asking him to.

I previously missed this recent Breakdown Press interview with Jon Chandler.

Describe yourself with one word or short phrase
The UK’s most isolated cartoonist, so they say.
Is there a personally relevant quote or statement that you find agreeable?
“Waking, a half mat. Sleeping, one mat. Rule the nation, a fistful of rice”
“When we die, a fistful of ash… That’s all we are.”
Headless Sakon from Lone Wolf & Cub by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima.

—Misc. The mystery fiction site CrimeReads has an excerpt from Tadao Tsuge's Slum Wolf.

 

A Girdle with a Pouch

Today at TCJ, we've got Day Three of the Karl Stevens Cartoonist's Diary. In today's installment, Karl goes to a baseball game.

Elsewhere, the developments in the ongoing social media annoyance/terrorism campaign grouped under the term #comicsgate continues to showcase more of what seems like a near infinite supply of the same brand of knuckle-dragging stupidity that goes along with any campaign whose only real message is one of whining complaint. Be it a harassment campaign circling around Darwyn Cooke's widow, multiple con-artist-led crowdfunding campaigns for comics no one will ever enjoy, an endless cycle of arguments that demand one immerse themselves in never-ending strings of social media updates, unreadable blog posts & supremely boring youtube videos involving people who are indistinguishable from an eye-rolling 9-year-old simply so you can understand what in the fuck they're all talking about and, most recently, a guy sending a picture of his asshole to another guy he dislikes online. 

I agree with Tom on this one--there isn't much to say about the people involved in this particular subset of "the culture". Like the gamergaters that seem to have served as their inspiration, comicsgate is the last cry of a dying breed. They've already been replaced by the millions--not hundreds of thousands, millions--of children who have been reared on Raina, Yang & Kibuishi, by the tweens and teens who bleed Viz. They're going to be offensive, hateful, and annoying while they sink, but even the most lazy of searches of their hashtags sees each of their attempts at insurrection drowned out by a chorus of people who, while they occasionally seem to only marginally care about comics and art, at least recognize that racism and homophobia behaviors to be shamed. This has been coming for a while, this reckoning--and it will probably be a little bit louder, and a lot bit stupider, while people like Ethan Van Sciver and Richard Meyer bleed it for whatever money it has left.

For what it's worth? More power to them. The sooner those guys burn out the financial core of this dipshit movement, the better. None of this has resulted in better comics, better writing about comics, or any good jokes. It's just eaten up lives, time and talent that could've been spent doing absolutely anything else, while ensuring that a large portion of interesting people spent way too much time online being batted around by a firehose of annoyance. And no, just to be clear, I don't mean the recent string of second-tier superhero freelancers, end-of-career bloggers and Image pitchmen who have made copy and pasting empty platitudes their latest attempt to brand themselves in a more appealing fashion so they won't be swept out of the door with the creeps when all those aforementioned millions who are growing up on comics, manga & middle-grade fiction that actually treats them like human beings with lives of value start deciding what the next wave of art is supposed to look like. The interesting people are the critics who didn't try, the artists who walked away, and the collaborations between groups that couldn't happen because of the constant poisoning of the well that comes from being a part of an industry that waits until the last minute, every fucking time, to get off its ass and make a moral choice to tell these losers to go a long time ago. 

 

Dimensions of Time

Another big day on TCJ. First up, Cynthia Rose returns with an excellent and thorough look at the life and career of Peyo, best known as the creator of the Smurfs.

The Smurfs are global stars as big as Tintin. Like him, too, they're a merchandising miracle. Yet even Hergé told their author he should forget about doing comics. So how did a dreamer with no obvious talents end up fathering world-famous icons? That's the secret revealed in Peyo, currently on show in Paris.

The Smurfs were invented by Pierre "Peyo" Culliford (1928-1992). Though he was born outside Brussels, both his father and his grandfather were English. Their family tree had one exotic sprig – an 18th-century pirate by the name of Robert Culliford. But Pierre's own father, naturalized a Belgian, was thoroughly bourgeois. He installed his wife and three children in a spacious home, shared with not one but both sets of grandparents.

Pierre was the family's youngest son, initially known as "Pierrot." But an English cousin mispronounced this nickname into "Peyo." Peyo was a sociable child who loved sports and storytelling. Every Sunday, after lunch, he would stage a play for his family. These productions always had historic themes, inspired by Hergé's Tintin or the U.S. comics in Mickey and Robinson.

Yet there was something sinister in the Culliford home. Peyo's father was suffering from a mystery illness which, over several years, slowly paralysed him. One night when he was seven, Peyo was called to tell him goodbye. As the boy kissed his father's face, he realized it was cold.

He looked for solace in music, drawing, and the Boy Scouts. But while the Scout choir was happy to make him a soloist, Peyo's art teacher told him he had "no talent at all."

We also have the second day of Karl Stevens's tenure creating our Cartoonist's Diary. This installment features a terrible joke.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. This year's nominees for the Ignatz Award have been announced.

—Interviews & Profiles. For Smash Pages, Alex Dueben talks to Geof Darrow.

It’s nice to have an open horizon. I can do anything. Once I’ve committed myself, that fantasy goes away. I’m so easily distracted. I’d never seen Game of Thrones, but when my daughter was home from school this summer we started watching. I wanted to draw Game of Thrones. Then I saw John Wick and was like, I want to draw John Wick. Mad Max will be on and I want to draw Mad Max. That’s why I stay away from the Marvel movies. I’m afraid if I watch them I’ll want to draw Thor. If they’d let me. Once I start a comic I go, I wish I’d decided to do that John Wick idea instead. [laughs]

The most recent guest on the RiYL podcast is Ivan Brunetti.

—Reviews & Commentary. Over at Print, Michael Dooley writes about Hillary Chute's Why Comics? and reprints several passages from it.

“Comics shape time by arranging it in space on the page in panels, which are, essentially, boxes of time. … Panels are how the cartoonist gets to experiment with presenting time, with duration and motion. … McGuire multiplies and layers panels, each of which represents a different time frame, within the same space on every page, opening up dimensions of time. One page depicting 1949, which is about breaking as a general matter, features a spatialized smattering of verbal insults from the 1940s to the 1980s and also, terrifyingly, water pouring into the room’s window, suggesting a totally destructive natural disaster in the year 2111.”

 

Behind the Sly

Over the weekend, we published our obituary of Russ Heath, who passed away last week. It's an extensive, insightful piece on the artist, his career, and the choices that he made by Michael Dean.

If, for much of his career, Heath found himself recreating the Second World War over and over, it wasn’t so much because military conflict was his cup of tea, but because his style grew more out of the tradition of illustrating than that of cartooning. The war-comics genre was rooted in realistic details that were unnecessary in the world of Superman. Heath was able to capture those details so well that his comics actually undermined the glamour of war. In an essay written for the 1973 New York Comic Art Convention booklet, editor-writer Archie Goodwin wrote, “You believe Rock and Easy Company’s nightmare moments of battle. And believing those, you also believe the quiet and reflective ones when the madness of war is questioned or commented on. Russ Heath’s artwork has made it too damn real not to.”

That isn't all. Today, we'll share with you more on Heath, via an interview between him and Gary Groth that has never seen publication. Stemming from a conversation in 2008, the two get into Heath's work for Playboy, Warren, Blazing Combat and more, as well as a laundry list of artists that, along with Russ, shaped the American identity of comics. That's great and all, but I, like you, just want to know if Gary is going to follow up on the story told below about Al Jaffee.

What was your relationship with Al Jaffee?

I never met Jaffee up until that time, I don’t believe. And we became good friends, joking around, living in the same room in that apartment, or close to it. And I remember going out to his house one time on a weekend for a barbecue in the neighborhood and met all his neighbors. They all used to just wander around — one of them’s got ice cubes, one of them’s got meat, and they have a barbecue. And he took us out on his little motorboat.

I guess that marriage broke apart. He was hysterical. His lawn was about four or five inches long and his wife had been after him, so he goes down in the basement, disappears for a couple hours. Suddenly we hear this engine start up and the doors prop open to the basement, outdoor doors. And he comes out of there with the thing going full blast. He had taken a washing-machine motor out of his wife’s washing machine and grafted it into the thing and that’s how it was running.

Grafted it into a lawnmower?

Yeah. Took his regular lawnmower and made a power mower out of it. [Laughter.] I don’t know what the hell she did her wash with after that …

So it wasn’t a power mower to begin with?

No. Anyway, he was complaining that the mower didn’t work and so he went down and took the motor out of his wife’s washing machine, grafted the thing in there and came up with a thing running like crazy.

And created a power mower. I didn’t know he was that handy.

Well, ask him about it.

And the day isn't done there. Today begins a new five day stint of Cartoonist's Diary, this time with Karl Stevens. (We previously reviewed Karl's book The Winner back in May.) Today, he's dealing with his feelings about aging, by displacing them onto observations about a longtime friend. Relatable!

Finally, I'm no connoisseur of WTF moments in superhero comics, but I still feel disappointed in myself for not being aware of this particular moment in Green Lantern comics, because it sure would've been a fun one to have brought up way more often than necessary.

 

Not Too Much

Today on the site, Tegan O'Neil reviews Paige Braddock's Love Letters to Jane's World.

Suffice to say, Jane’s World was a bit of a trailblazer. When United Media picked up the strip in 2001 it was hailed as the first gay-themed work to receive distribution by a national media syndicate. The strip is far more humble in focus, if not execution, than such a consequential bit of trivia might have you believe. Jane’s World focuses on the love lives of its main cast with the same bald matter-of-factness that the residents of Apartment 3-G gather to discuss their fresh kills. That accounts for much of the charm. Braddock’s queer characters inhabit a world where their desires and needs are considered just as significant and just as worthy of fulfillment as anyone else’s. The unspoken premise remains that the strip and Braddock don’t and shouldn’t need to explain to their non-gay readers why or how they should care about gay people.

>If that seems obvious, imagine for a minute being gay and having literally every piece of mainstream media representation be ham-fisted tragedy porn written by people whose good intentions often mask the fact that they regard queer folk as exotic animals to be petted, pitied, and packed away to limbo once their Very Special Story Of Intolerance has been told. The joy at the heart of Jane’s World is the idea that there are actually places where gay people can just be themselves without having to justify their own existence to one another. That goes not just for the community inside the strip but the community of real-world readers who embraced the strip on account of seeing themselves reflected in its panels.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The Guardian profiles Lisa Hanawalt.

She describes Coyote Doggirl as a “revenge fantasy”: the story sees Coyote being pursued because she maims a man while he assaults her. “The scene where she’s getting assaulted – or nearly assaulted – is not that sexy. And I think sometimes when we see these things in movies, they’re very sexualised and the female body is shown as this treasure that’s being pillaged,” she says. “And it’s kind of gross.”

Despite Hanawalt’s interest in women having control over their own narratives, she never wants her work to be didactic. “I never set out to make overtly political work where the moral is very clear. I think it should always be a little muddled. Even in this book, [Coyote] gets revenge on the bad guys. It is very violent, when she lashes back at her attacker. But I don’t think violence is the right answer. I think it complicates things for her.” The book’s original ending was going to be a bloodbath, but she toned it down. “That kind of represents who I am, and what I believe about the world, a little better,” she says. “So I changed it.”

—Over at Smash Pages, Alex Dueben talks to Ariel Bordeaux about the comics she's posting on Facebook.

My friend and mentee Anna Sellheim, who I got to know when she chose me as her advisor at the Center for Cartoon Studies, was doing Hourly Comics Day. In one of her strips she mentioned me and wished that I would do more comics and texted it to me. I happened to be home with my son who was sick and I felt weirdly motivated by that. Okay, I’ll accept the challenge. [laughs] It was already noon by the time I got the text and she said, just write down a bunch of notes and draw the comics later, so I did them all later that night and the next day.

—And the Washington Post covers Art Spiegelman's MacDowell Medal win.

“The increased cultural prominence of comic art and its once-wayward practitioners can largely be laid at the feet of a single artist: Art Spiegelman,” Pulitzer-winning author and MacDowell Colony chair Michael Chabon (“The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”) said in a statement. Chabon and MacDowell Colony executives will present the medal.