Today, Frank Santoro returns to his Riff Raff column, after a few months traveling the world as an ambassador of comics. Now, he's back,and talking about his most recent trip, to the Entreviñetas Festival in Colombia:

I think, for me, what was most exciting about Entreviñetas was that the audience in Colombia seems hungry for comics—and are coming to the table with very few pre-conceived ideas as to what comics are and who they are supposed to be for. There were lots of younger people. During a panel discussion on the topic of what the “graphic novel” term means, a teenager asked, “Doesn’t graphic novel just mean 'more expensive?'” I had to laugh. It made me think about all the “Comics versus Art” discussions in the States over the last thirty years as somewhat meaningless. I mean, I guess if a kid in the U.S. asked the same question at a panel I might think the same thing—but listening to the question translated from Spanish into English into my earpiece, I just burst out laughing.

And Paul Tumey is here to talk about Patrick McDonnell, with a review of The Mutts Diaries. Tumey admires the strip, but is disappointed by the book:

Mutts, Patrick McDonnell’s sweet, smart comic strip has joyfully chased its tail across the funny page sections of newspapers and book collections for the last two decades. The strip, written and drawn by a cartoonist who co-wrote a deeply admiring biography of George Herriman (Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman, 1986), has functioned both as a daily treat and as a deconstructed, minimalist heir to Herriman and Krazy Kat.

Even though Patrick McDonnell's Mutts comic strip is sublimely designed to work on multiple levels, it comes perilously close to losing its charms in the dumb, exploitative packaging employed in The Mutts Diaries, a collection that Andrews McMeel Publishing has created to launch its AMP! Comics for Kids imprint (what amperage or amplifiers has to do with comics, I’m sure someone will let me know). The mid-sized, cheaply priced trade paperback is, as the accompanying press release informs us, “a collection tailored for middle-grade readers.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews. Oliver Sava conducted a super-enjoyable, lengthy interview with Simon Hanselmann.

Michael Cavna spoke to New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly about nominated for the Thurber Prize.

Alex Dueben talked to Charles Burns.

—Reviews & Commentary. MariNaomi, who recently put together the Cartoonists of Color database, has written an article for cartoonists who want to include characters of (a different) color into their work, and talked to artists like Keith Knight, Whit Taylor, and Elisha Lim about their own thoughts on the matter.

James Romberger reviews a slew of comics he found at SPX. Rob Clough looks at Koyama Press's new kids' comics.

—Kirby vs. Marvel. A few of the stronger analyses of the recent settlement and its implications so far (we will have our own soon) have come from Charles Hatfield, Alison Frankel at Reuters, and Kurt Busiek.

—History. Smithsonian magazine has another big article about Wonder Woman and William Moulton Marston written by Jill Lepore.

Phil Nel visits the home of Crockett Johnson.

Scholar Frank M. Young remembers researching comics history back in the days of microfilm.

—Misc. Finally, and for some of you maybe most importantly, Jack T. Chick has released an app.


The Judge

Well today we have Cynthia Rose on the work of Nine Antico, who will soon have her first English-language book out towards the end of the year.

Working with a novel-like accumulation of detail, Antico tells their stories using cinematic ploys. Her books move via close-ups and long shots, establishing frames and jump cuts. She also plays with narrative structures and often shifts our point of view, pulling back in order to reveal that things were not what they seemed. Although her characters are drawn realistically, sections of their faces, figures or surroundings are missing. She handles everything to do with her art, including the color, herself.

And Hazel Cills reviews Mis(h)adra.

“No way. This can’t be right,” Mis(h)adra’s protagonist, Isaac, wonders ominously in a flashback, “This is me?” It’s a scary question to contemplate for someone experiencing an epileptic seizure for the first time. Iasmin Omar Ata’s comic Mis(h)adra is a story about the daily life and struggles of Isaac, a college student who’s just trying to get through parties, midterms, and his struggles with epilepsy. 


Slow news day....

I saw bits of this, but this might be the first complete listing of the ICAF / OSU schedule. Sounds good.

As long as Gabrielle keeps making comics I'll keep linking to them. And this one is really good.

This Ryan Cecil Smith mini-comic sounds cool.



Today, Joe McCulloch is here with his usual buyer's guide for the Week in Comics, with spotlight picks from John Porcellino and Dash Shaw.

Sean T. Collins is here, too, with a review of Sophia Foster-Dimino's "Sex Fantasy". Here's an excerpt:

Her line is clear, clean, and precise, ideal for her geometric interpretations of the human face and figure. Her intrapanel layouts emphasize the diagonal, creating a sense of dynamism-in-stasis that largely abrogates the need for panel-to-panel continuity of motion or setting; she can draw what she needs to, and only what she needs to, to get her point across. She repeatedly nails gestures: A panel from issue #1 uses a pair of faces (one upturned and downturned), a blocked-black head of hair, hunched shoulders sloping down, long legs reaching up, and an arm the eye follows downward like a child on a slide to emphasize an outstretched hand gently proffering a much-needed tool as though it's a drawing of the Childlike Empress giving Bastian the grain of sand that is all that is left of Fantasia. Her clothing and prop designs are inventive and singular, yet observed and easy to parse and contextualize. It's hard to be this easy.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Spending Opportunities. Last Gasp is crowdfunding their fall publishing lineup. And Sparkplug Books has just a couple days left on its Kickstarter, and is just a couple thousand short right now. Both of those publishers are well deserving of your support.

—Reviews & Commentary.
David Ulin wrote about Porcellino's Hospital Suite at the LA Times. Ruben Bolling likes the John Severin EC collection. Bob Temuka reviews Gilbert Hernandez's Bumperhead.

—Profiles & Interviews.
Prominent book-world interview Robert Birnbaum talks to Roz Chast, and is surprised she's content to identify herself as a cartoonist.

Steven Heller has a profile of Richard McGuire and his upcoming Here at The Atlantic.

Tom Spurgeon interviews Dan Steffan, the comics retailer and filmmaker behind the new John Porcellino documentary.

—History. The New York Times published a bizarrely ahistorical article about New Yorker covers, acting like the shift to topical covers just happened rather than starting way back in the Tina Brown era. Spurgeon takes this in stride like Elliott Gould in The Long Goodbye ("It's okay with me"), and maybe that's a wise reaction, but this is really shockingly ignorant coming from the Times and I can't figure out how the editors let it by.

Finally, if you're Facebook-compliant, Eric Reynolds has your time machine to the Fantagraphics van from twenty years ago.


Surrogate Phone

Today Bob Levin visits us with one feature comprised of two book reviews, both on under-recognized cartoonists: R.L. Crab and Erik Nebel.

R.L. Crabb, an ex-newspaperman and rock band lyricist, the author of about 20 comix, and a contributor to a dozen others, is a word guy. Scablands, his latest, is available from the author (P.O. Box 313, Nevada City, CA 95959).

Crabb is writing in the present, but a spat of recent deaths has led him “to gather up the fragments of my life.” Most tellingly, his parents, who had been secretive about their life, had passed, leaving an unfillable hole in his and motivating his wish “to lea ve something of myself behind.” The result is an assemblage of stories, most of which occur in eastern Washington state 20 years ago but enlivened by rollicking recollections of the Bay Area, between 1984 and 1990, and Atlanta in 1973. Star-quality pizzaz is achieved by references to gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson, porn film moguls Jim and Artie Mitchell (none of whom actually appear), and that “shadowy figure of myth and legend,” the cartoonist Dan O’Neill, who does. Spiritual depth is provided through dippings into, extractions from, and reflections upon Drummers and Dreamers, the tale of Smowhala, a 19th century prophet among the Wanapuni Indians.

And George Elkind reviews The Bad-ventures of Bobo Backslack.


The big news is that, in something of a surprise, Marvel and the Kirby family have reached a settlement. The story, what little there is, is here. And Tom Spurgeon reacts. We will have our own coverage shortly. Here's a great tribute to Kirby's DC work of the 1970s via this post of Forever People original art.

In yet more art showcase news, here's Jamie Hewlett's uncollected and perhaps final comic strip series, Fireball.

Another nice comic over at The Nib, making great use of the screen scroll format.

Scroll into the comments of this Facebook post for some fine John Porcellino commentary. And look out for our forthcoming interview with John by Sarah Boxer.

Finally, hey, another Steve Ditko Kickstarter. I love Steve Ditko, but does it strike anyone else as odd that these publishing efforts rely on from-scratch crowd-funding each time? Usually a sound publishing model allows for future books to be planned. But hey, sound business and comics usually don't go together. Sadly.


That Oughtta Hold the Little Bastards

Today, Nicole Rudick is back with a review of Anya Davidson's School Spirits, which so far hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. (Rob Clough wrote about it for us this summer, if you want to compare notes.) Here's how Nicole begins her review:

Anya Davidson has described School Spirits as a book about female friendship. And it is: Oola and Garf are the Maggie and Hopey of death metal, best friends who weather the storms of high school, petty crime, and youthful infatuation together. Still, that’s a bit like saying Moby-Dick is a book about a whale. Their friendship, like all deep friendships, is foundational; it is a fact through which Davidson examines aspects of gender from a specifically female perspective. What’s refreshing about School Spirits, and what keeps it from feeling didactic, is that Davidson doesn’t try to tackle stereotypes head-on; it’s not the point of the book. Instead, the notion that gender isn’t represented by a set of characteristics is woven into the fabric of the story. It’s a given in all of Davidson’s work to date that typical male and female roles aren’t simply reversed or questioned but utterly dismantled.

School Spirits is divided into titled chapters, and the stories feel like interconnected vignettes. The book opens with Oona and Garf trying unsuccessfully to score tickets to a Hrothgar concert from a radio show, and then follows them through a day of school, hanging out with friends, perpetrating criminal mischief, and, finally, attending the Hrothgar concert. Oona and Garf are “weirdo girls,” as Davidson has described them; their appearances and behavior don’t hew to conventional notions of femininity. Oona resembles a gangly Tintin with a reverse quiff and spends a good part of the book on a wild, desperate tear through the city with a security guard hot on her heels. Garf is more sanguine than Oona, but resolute in her sense of self, as when she castigates her friend Inga for prioritizing her looks: “You’re a math genius, Inga,” she cries. “Stop trying to pretend you’re normal … You’re a freak like us!”

Also, today is sadly the final day of Kayla E.'s week running our Cartoonist's Diary feature. It's been one of the most inventive takes on the column yet, so I hope you haven't neglected reading it.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary.
At The Point, Merve Emre and Christian Nakarado write about the comics of David Mazzuchelli and Chris Ware from an architectural perspective.

Paul Gravett on the history of Jean-Claude Forest's Barbarella.

Laura Tanenbaum at Dissent writes about Alison Bechdel, motherhood, and psychoanalysis in the age of the memoir.

Domingos Isabelinho considers Chester Brown as a Gothic artist.

Dan's "What Nerve!" show gets a rave by The New York Times' Ken Johnson.

Brad Mackay writes about appearing in, and later watching, the new documentary about Seth, Seth's Dominion.

—Comics-Adjacent Books. Kevin Kelly picks out a fascinating-looking collection of drawings from the Soviet gulag created by a 1950s prison camp guard.

And somehow until I missed that there's a newly translated novel by the great Julio Cortázar, Fantomas versus the Multinational Vampires, in which he imagines his life as it intertwines with the plot of a (real) comic book.

MoCCA's moving to Chelsea.

On Monday, the Supreme Court is due to decide whether or not they will hear the Kirby v. Marvel case. [UPDATE: Now it's being reported that there has been a settlement agreement.]

—Misc. Nicole Rudick (again) makes an entertaining visit to Gary Panter's studio.

Zainab Akhtar gets a photo-tour of Sam Alden's comics collection.

Antonin Baudry (Weapons of Mass Diplomacy) is opening a bookstore in NYC's French embassy.

2D Cloud has another photo-heavy SPX report.

—Interviews. The New York Times catches up with Richard McGuire as his Here is put on exhibit at the Morgan.

Paddy Johnston talks at length with Ken Parille about The Daniel Clowes Reader.

Alex Dueben talks to Gilbert Hernandez about Bumperhead and the Eisners.

—Kim Thompson. Yesterday would have been his 58th birthday. Eric Reynold remembers him via a photograph. Marc Arsenault remembers him by way of an issue of Zero Zero they worked on together.

Anders Nilsen created a comic for the New York Times.


That’s What That Is

On the site:

Here's Richard Gehr on the excellent new Gilbert Hernandez book, Bumperhead. I love seeing Hernandez work in all his modes. I can't think of a more diverse and in the pocket cartoonist right now, and this is really an excellent book.

Gilbert Hernandez nails his title character’s emotional essence in the very first panel ofBumperhead, the prolific cartoonist’s hormonally overdriven anatomy of adolescence. Fatefully named and thoroughly pissed off, a preadolescent Bobby Numbly stares defiantly at the reader as childish taunts ­– “There’s a bump bump bumperhead here! Thumpin’ bumpin’ bumper! El Bumpo!” – join background clouds in a perfectly weighted composition filling two-thirds of the page. His tormentors are a couple of neighborhood boys in Oxnard, California – Los Bros Hernandez’s own hometown. Presumably less “semi-autobiographical” than last year’s bittersweet Marble Season, Bumperhead looks at sex, drugs, and rock with as much knowing sympathy as its predecessor explored childhood mysteries, obsessions, friendships, and disappointments.

Kayla E. visits us with Day 4 of Cartoon Diary.


This is an interesting interview with Kelly Sue Deconnick about her adaptation of the Barbarella translation for the new Humanoids edition of the classic graphic novel. It's always been a funny read for me -- verbose, tangled dialogue to my ears, but wonderful drawing and storytelling. I'm looking forward to reading it again.

I'm always poking around comic and illustration art auction sites. I see very interesting glimpses into visual culture and, sometimes, the sensibility of a collector. So this Ray Bradbury estate auction is pretty intriguing. It's everything from his art collection (including some very fine Foster and Capp originals) to his personal awards to his ties to his LPs. Take a trip. (via PT)

I love this story about the animator Frank Moser, maker of high velocity drawings.

And there's no more Marvel for Milo Manara.


Two-Way Radio

Oboy, R.C. Harvey on the late, great Edward Gorey! This should be fun:

Gorey’s 200-year-old house at 8 Strawberry Lane in Yarmouthport was built by a sea captain, Nathaniel Howes. A conventional two-story structure originally, it was modified by extensive alterations in Victorian times and gradually assumed a distinctive aspect all its own. Subsequent developments have only added to its unique appearance. With its flaking exterior paint and a vine that had invaded the premises through a crack in the wall, the place embodied its bachelor occupant’s eclectic enthusiasms and eccentricities. Its walls were festooned with bookshelves, which were jammed with books, videotapes, CDS, and cassettes; and the floors were littered with stacks of the same as well as finials of all description, occasional lobster floats, cat-clawed furniture, an old toilet with a tabletop, and a small commune of cats.

A compulsive collector and consumer of every aspect of the culture in which he was immersed, Gorey was a man of enormous erudition whose tastes and interests ranged from cultivated esoterica to trashy television, all passionately studied in an effort, he told [Stephen] Schiff, to “keep real life at bay.” In her book about Gorey, Karen Wilkin asserted that “he appears to have read everything and to have equal enthusiasm for classic Japanese novels, British satire, television reruns, animated cartoons, and movies both past and present, good and not so good.”

And Day Three of Kayla E.'s week making the Cartoonist's Diary. Hers are like no other Diaries we've run so far.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Misc. In 1947, Life magazine asked ten cartoonists (including Frank King, Chic Young, Milton Caniff, and Chester Gould) to close their eyes before drawing their own characters.

In the wake of the Spider-Woman controversy, Marvel has apparently decided to cancel several upcoming Milo Manara covers.

The winners of the 2014 Comics Workbook Composition Competition have been announced.

Ryan Sands has another strong SPX report.

—Interviews. Mark Voger at talks to Drew Friedman about his comics history/portraits book, Heroes of the Comics.

For Banned Books Week, Print's Michael Dooley talks to Keith Knight about his own experiences with censorship

Brian Cremins talks to Marnie Galloway.

Jillian Tamaki is a guest on Make It Then Tell Everybody.

—Reviews & Commentary. Ng Suat Tong writes about Luke Pearson's Hilda comics.


Goodbye Eric

Because he is unstoppable, Joe McCulloch is back with the week in comics. And Kayla E. returns with her second installment of her cartoonist's diary.


Lauren Weinstein has a great new comic strip online.

This is a fascinating conversation about the mechanics of independent publishing, as seen through the microcosm of small magazines. this kind of frank discussion of the economics of culture publishing. (via NR)

Oh goodness, this is quite a crew in the limo. Al Jaffee content inside.

This is a great set of original pages by Mort Meskin from 1950 or 1951. Stellar ink work and some truly odd perspectives on the fourth page.

Finally, here's a great 1961 early Seymour Chwast cover.