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Humpty Dumpty

Today on the site, French cartoonist Émilie Gleason and the American cartoonist Gina Wynbrandt, both of whom have upcoming books being published by 2d Cloud, interview each other. Here’s some of that:

Gina: Do you think the personality traits associated with your zodiac sign are an accurate representation of you?

Émilie: I’m a balance; this zodiac sign was the first excuse to justify my youth bipolar disorder. Now it’s like, “Mm, am I hungry? Am I not? Urrh, life!”

Gina: What’s your favorite French idiom or phrase that might not translate well in English?

Émilie: Well I always heard Anglophone people envy us the word dépayser. It is actually one of my favorites. Everybody once must have lived a dépaysement, when absolutely nothing looks like what you know, where you live, or like what you eat daily (on trips, or in jail, for example). Some people are in desperate search for the place that will break their routine; some others use this word to explain their homesickness.

Also, Rob Clough reviews Steve Lafler’s Death in Oaxaca #1. Here’s a sample of that:

It’s only fitting that a veteran of the ’80s black & white publishing boom should put out another standard-issue comic book in 2014. Steve Lafler, known primarily for his magazine-sized, surreal quasi-autobio series Dog Boy and his psychedelic anthropomorphic jazz series Bughouse, is back again. He’s kept his hand in comics, mostly by self-publishing, since Top Shelf published the final Bughouse volume. In many of his comics, Lafler has explored the relationship between life and death, of art and commerce and of purpose and aimlessness. The shifting nature of identity is another regular theme, especially plays on superhero costumes in real life being a form of drag. All of these themes are explored in his new series with Alternative Comics (themselves back from a along hiatus with a new publisher in Marc Arsenault), Death In Oaxaca.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Bart Croonenborghs reviews Paris Revisited, the latest collaboration of Schuiten and Peeters, and Andy Oliver looks at Noel Freibert’s Old Ground #1.

Dan Priepenring writes about Roz Chast’s new gallery show of painted eggs.

—Interviews & Profiles. The Seattle parenting website ParentMap interviews Megan Kelso.

The Jewish Review of Books has a nice profile of Joann Sfar.

—News. Roy Doty has passed away.

Dave Sim is reportedly recovering from surgery well.

According to a CBC report, a Winnipeg branch of Chapters temporarily removed Hergé’s Tintin in America from its shelves following a customer complaint about its depiction of Native Americans.

On the news that Comics Alliance writer Chris Sims had been hired to write an X-Men comic for Marvel, comics blogger/writer/editor Valerie D’Orazio has written a widely shared post claiming that Sims once engaged in and instigated online harassment against her, harassment intense enough that she was later diagnosed with PTSD. Sims does not dispute her account, and explained why he never apologized in a blog post of his own. He apologized more specifically and fully in his regular column. Comics Alliance, which has established itself as a prominent anti-harassment voice, released a
statement about the situation, alleging that this news broke because Sims and Comics Alliance have been targeted by anti-feminists associated with GamerGate. This struck some as irrelevant if the charges are true (as Sim admits), prompting former Comics Alliance editor Laura Hudson to weigh in in support of CA herself.

—The Funnies. Ronald Wimberly’s “Lighten Up” at The Nib.

 

Gene Jeans

Today on the site it’s Bob Levin on Inner City Romance.

The collected ICR takes a sustained, unflinching look at lower depth America through a variety of lenses. In issue one, three newly released convicts explore their post-prison options.

For two the choice is easy, sex and drugs; but the third is tempted by armed struggle. By ICR’s second issue (1972), Colwell had become part of the collective putting out the San Francisco Good Times, an underground newspaper. If the city had been ground zero for the counter-culture’s explosion, its Hall of Justice was where some of the most lethal fall-out was contained. Colwell served as his paper’s sketch artist for the criminal trials of members of AIM, the White Panther Party, and the Soledad Brothers. He also covered anti-war demonstrations which ended with the police firing tear gas or charging on horseback, swinging batons. And he authored a comic strip, written in verse, “Radical Rock,” about a neighborhood rallying against police violence, which, after the Times folded, he completed in his book. (While I found the verse to distract from, rather than enhance the drama, it did contain one compelling rhyme, which I doubt either Cole Porter or Bob Dylan could have managed: “bum their scene” and “Thorazine.”)

Elsewhere:

Always good news when a new Mineshaft comes out. Great covers on this one.

Paper Rad member Jacob Ciocci has a new way to show work online. Intriguing.

I dunno, I could read interview with Peter Max for a while. He’s a great huckster of our time.

More on Milestone comics by Noah Berlatsky.

 

Splash

When Tuesday rolls around, you know it’s time for Joe McCulloch’s guide to This Week in Comics! This entry highlights new titles from Julia Wertz and Kyle Starks.

We also have Greg Hunter’s review of the new relaunch of Howard the Duck, with writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Joe Quinones trying to fill the shoes of Steve Gerber and Frank Brunner/Gene Colan. Here’s Greg on how the title fits into the modern Marvel universe:

Several years ago, Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals collaborator Matt Fraction scripted a brief, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead-style run on Punisher War Journal in which the lead character prowled the fringes of whatever “event” storyline was taking place. A few years later, Jeff Parker and Kev Walker took a similar approach with Marvel’s Thunderbolts series, dispatching a band of super-convicts to fight the minor battles of recent major events. Howard 2015 suggests the limitations of this storytelling style. Howard’s as suited to it as any other Marvel character, but the new series arrives at a time when Marvel’s properties—always the contents of a shared universe—have been so thoroughly integrated as to contain Iron Man, Spider-Man, and a few thousand Rosencrantzes and Guildensterns. The first issue’s tagline reads, “Trapped in a world he’s grown accustomed to,”[3] but this world has also grown accustomed to a figure like Howard. His role as a witness to costumed absurdity has become increasingly common.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The Miami Herald reports on Xavier Bonilla, the Ecuadorian cartoonist who has been persecuted by his country’s government and who recently received a death threat from a person claiming to be a member of the Islamic State.

Dave Sim has checked into the hospital with stomach cramps

The longtime Mandrake the Magician cartoonist Fred Fredericks has passed away.

DC has cancelled a controversial variant cover for an upcoming issue of Batgirl, at the artist’s request, following many reader complaints. Ardo Omer explains some of the issues fans had with the artwork here. As with a few other recent controversies, whether or not you think the fan critiques are legitimate, it seems wrong to decry this move as censorship, as some have; this seems more like a corporation trying to please a book’s fan base.

—Reviews & Commentary. Tom Murphy writes about Dylan Horrocks’s Sam Zabel and the Magic Pencil.

Abhay Khosla writes about meta-superhero exhaustion by way of reviewing Multiversity: Mastermen and Supreme: Blue Rose.

Sophia Foster-Dimino initiated a Twitter discussion on the alleged unpopularity of autobio comics which attracted many cartoonists, and which has now been Storified. I remember when I used to “hate autobio” (even while I read a ton of it); it seems to me this is something people tend to say for reasons that aren’t always rational.

—Interviews & Profiles. The Beat talks to James Kochalka.

Black Girl in Media has an interview with Cheryl Lee, the blogger and Ormes Society founder.

—Funnies. Dane Martin has published many of his recent comics on Tumblr.

 

So Cute

Irwin Hasen, the Dondi and golden age comic book cartoonist, has passed way. Steve Ringgenberg has our obituary.

Hasen’s earlier experience depicting boxers would stand him in good stead when he teamed up with Batman co-creator Bill Finger to dream up Wildcat, a heavyweight boxing champ who moonlighted as a costumed hero, initially to clear his name after getting entangled with organized crime, and whose only superpower is the cat-like “nine lives” power he had bestowed on him by magic. He also possesses extreme strength and vigor even at an advanced age. Although he has no real superpowers, his toughness and boxing skills enabled him to survive many perils in the pages of Sensation Comics (debuting in issue #1 alongside Wonder Woman, eventually becoming the second-most popular feature in the title) and All-Star Comics, where he was a member of the Justice Society of America. Wildcat trained Batman, Black Canary, and even Superman in the pugilistic arts. Wildcat was Hasen’s best-known creation in comic books, though during this period, he also did stories starring The Green Lantern, succeeding original artist Martin Nodell.

We will publish a recent and candid interview with Gary Groth very soon.

And Doug Harvey reviews The Sculptor by Scott McCloud.

Having somehow acquired two university degrees in Painting and spending the subsequent 20 years as a professional artist, curator, and critic, I am as sensitive as the next artworld insider to the ways in which art schools, gallery scenes, and the state of contemporary art are depicted in popular narratives. They usually get it embarrassingly wrong.

The medium of comics seem particularly susceptible, riddled as it is with whining fanboys traumatized to learn in their art school foundation year that the drafting chops that kept them from being beat up since the third grade haven’t been considered relevant since 1837. Even brilliant social satirists like Dan Clowes and Chris Ware can miss the mark by aiming at straw men patched together from sitcom stereotypes anhat I approached The Sculptor, Scott McCloud’s first substantial foray into graphic narrative practice after decades devoted to graphic narrative theory, with his inescapable Understanding Comics and its sequels.

Elsewhere:

Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson remembers Hasen.

Sarah Boxer on the Charlie Hebdo – Charlie Brown connection.

Matt Groening and Lynda Barry take New York.

The David Boswell renaissance continues with a documentary.

 

Wolf Ticket

Today on the site, we present Shaun Clancy’s interview with former National Lampoon art director Michael Gross. Here’s a sample exchange:

CLANCY: But how did you land that National Lampoon job?

GROSS: Well, my assistant at Family Health was looking for a job—nice guy—and he got called up to Lampoon. He came to me and said, “You know, I got called up but I’m not right for it and they know I’m not right for it but you might be the right person to do this!” And I’d read their Time magazine parody and I said, “You know, I looked through the magazine and it’s a complete mess.” So my wife looked at it and she said, “Why would you want to work on that rag? This is terrible. I thought we were trying to get Esquire one day or, you know, Vogue! You were going to be a major player in the publishing world. This is a piece of shit.” [laughter] I said, “I think I know what I can do with that magazine.” So I applied. I went in for an interview. The story I tell is basically, Doug Kenney asked me—You gotta remember, Doug Kenney had just come out of college. So they didn’t know how to run a magazine! They were brilliant, but they didn’t even know what an art director did. And they hired an underground studio, because they thought, we’re not Mad so we’ll do the contemporary version which would be largely like underground comics. Now, I went in there and said, “No, no, no. You’re doing this all wrong. Matty Simmons, the publisher, was looking for a new art director because he couldn’t get advertisers with that look to the magazine. They wanted to be slick. That’s his only answer. So I was called in, and Doug Kenney was probably told they had to replace the art director but I’m not really sure and I sat with Kenney and I remember distinctly that they did a series of postage stamps.

I said, look at these stamps, you did these postage stamps. They’re very funny. But their drawings are by underground comic book artists on every stamp. I said, this is like Mad magazine, where they have Mort Drucker do every drawing. This is not the same. The way that this will pay off is if they look like real postage stamps. Then the humor is doubled. And they got that and that’s what I hoped. And that changed the magazine. It was a reflection of my vision.

Meanwhile, Elsewhere:

—News. Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? has won the National Book Critics Circle award for autobiography. The NBCC is one of publishing’s biggest prizes, and arguably has a stronger track record of consistently rewarding real achievement than either the Pulitzers or the National Book Awards.

Bernie Wrightson’s wife has posted an update on the artist’s post-brain-surgery health on Facebook.

Paul Gravett writes about recent comics auctions in the UK and France.

—Interviews & Profiles. Multiversity talks to Fantagraphics associate publisher Eric Reynolds about the parental complaint lodged in New Mexico against Gilbert Hernandez’s Palomar.

Abraham Riesman conducts an entertaining interview with Art Spiegelman and Philip Johnston about their Wordless! show, and discovers that Spiegelman has significantly softened on his anti-Kirby stance.

Ward Sutton talks to Warren Bernard and Bill Kartalopolous about the Alt-Weekly Comics show they curated for the Society of Illustrators in New York.

The Montreal Review of books has a short, funny conversation with Joe Ollmann.

Ginnis Tonk interviews romance-comics blogger Jacque Nodell.

Broken Frontier talks to James Kochalka about his new project.

—Reviews & Commentary.
Hyperallergic reviews the Victor Moscoso show up in NYC right now (which Dan co-curated).

Boing Boing has published another excerpt from Peter Schilling Jr.’s Carl Barks’ Duck.

Neil Cohn has presented new information on reading navigation in comics.

—Crowdfunding. Here are two projects worth highlighting for a moment. Hazil Newlevant has put together an already successfully funded Kickstarter for Chainmail Bikini, an “anthology of women gamers,” and Stefan Vogel is attempting to fund a graphic novel called The Illegalists, about a gang of anarchists in early twentieth-century France. Letterer Todd Klein makes a case for that project here.

 

Stippling

On the site:

Ryan Holmberg has written a comprehensive obituary of the great Yoshihiro Tatsumi. I’m grateful to Ryan for turning this around so quickly.

Tatsumi is famous as the artist who helped fashion a new style of manga known as “gekiga” (dramatic pictures), a term he coined in 1957. He played a major role in broadening the possibilities of the medium to accommodate mature-reader genres like mystery, action, and horror, oftentimes in 100-plus-page, single-story books that predate the advent of the “graphic novel” by many decades. Though there was hardly a genre Tatsumi didn’t try his hand at, he is best known for the stories he created in the late 60s and early 70s about the bleak lives and perversions of aging white-collar and low-level blue-collar workers. French and Spanish translations of these stories in the early 80s first introduced Tatsumi’s work to an outside audience. But the artist’s star took off like a comet only with new and expanded editions of this material in Japanese and English in 2004-05. A Drifting Life (2008-09), his massive 850-page autobiography in comics form, cemented Tatsumi’s reputation as one the comics medium’s most important artists. Late in life, Tatsumi was awarded three of the industry’s top awards: the Angouleme (2005), the Tezuka (2009), and the Eisner (2010).

Frank Santoro returns with some thoughts on a recent trip to NYC (I make a guest appearance) as well as the relationship between comics and music.

Something I like to think about a lot is how music influences the organization–or the arrangement–of my comics. All the elements are like an orchestra and I’m the conductor who also writes the arrangement and plays all the instruments. I felt all this intuitively for years. There really wasn’t any “science” to it–or so I thought until I began investigating the connection between what is intuitive and what is measured.

Dan Nadel called Fort Thunder “the antithesis of rules and restraint.” Leif Goldberg said “The Fort was really open but also had rules. There are always rules of some kind. Unwritten rules that guide you.”

Indeed. I’m not a musician but I listen to music all day, everyday (I’m slowly learning my way around a piano). I believe the music creates a sense of order which my thoughts and creative activity can “jump” into/onto at any moment. Basically it’s a daily diet of classical works and jazz (many jazz musicians don’t call it jazz anymore –like cartoonists may or may not use the term “comics”–it’s art–it’s music–’nuff said). The orchestration of classical and the improvisation of jazz truly fascinates me. It connects directly to my brain without translation. Music is the universal language. I can feel it even if I can’t play it. I know there are rules in music. For some they are unwritten and for some they are written. Regardless, there was a time when music did not have a notation system yet the rules still applied.

Elsewhere:

Diana Schutz is leaving Dark Horse after 25 years. She’s had a long and good career in comics, and talks about it to CBR. We profiled Schutz back in 2011.

Here’s an interview with Mad Magazine Art Director Sam Viviano.

And the great animator Jeff Hale, of Sesame Street, has passed away.

 

 

Gallery

We have continued to add tributes to the late Yoshihiro Tatsumi to our memorial post.

Rob Clough reviews the first three issues of the group anthology, Maple Key Comics. Here’s how he begins:

Maple Key Comics is a Mome/Shonen Jump style anthology, with each issue containing a single chapter of a longer serial (usually three to six chapters). Each issue also contains shorter, self-contained stories as well, from a mix of CCS grads, students, and others. Editor Joyana McDiarmid goes for a wide net in terms of genres, visual styles, and levels of polish. The serial nature of each issue can lead to some rockiness as a reading experience, but it’s also unearthed some real gems. Rather than evaluate each issue on their own, I’m going to review the first three issues together, while evaluating them artist-by-artist. Each issue features several serials, a few one-offs, and a “star artist” one-off feature.

Jon Chad (star artist, issue one). His “The Surena Grant” uses sci-fi as a horror vehicle, rather than as an expression of pure joy and learning as in his books for kids or as a celebration of genre excesses in Mezmer. Here, the horror of apathy permeates this story about a group of scientists who investigate the weird deaths of a local animal species, only to become victims of the same extreme apathy that overtook the animals. Chad’s detailed line, usually used to emphasize excess, is effective here because he understood that restraint was the order of the day for getting across the emotional punch of this story, both from a visual and narrative perspective.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Reporters With Borders spotlights eight cartoonists around the world who are being threatened or persecuted for their work. Cracked, in that ineffable Cracked prose style that you either hate or tolerate, spotlights five cartoonists who have died for their work.

A variety of groups supporting free expression, including the National Coalition Against Censorship and the CBLDF, have written a letter to the Rio Rancho school superintendent asking that Gilbert Hernandez’s Palomar be allowed to stay on shelves.

On Facebook, Al Plastino’s daughter, MaryAnn Plastino Charles, calls for DC to give her father credit for his creations, and asks for reader support.

—Reviews & Commentary. Rob Salkowitz reviews Todd Allen’s Economics of Digital Comics. Adam McGovern reviews Eric Stephenson & Simon Gane’s They’re Not Like Us.

J. Caleb Mozzocco looks at a few Julia Gfrörer pages.

—Interviews & Profiles. The Billy Ireland library previews a short excerpt from their new lengthy and rare interview with Bill Watterson. (Michael Cavna has more on the book that will include the whole thing.)

Paul Morton at The Millions talks to Scott McCloud. He’s a good talker, whatever you think (or don’t think) of The Sculptor.

Copra creator Michel Fiffe answers ten questions for Comics Tavern.

Bart Croonenborghs interviews Belgian artist Ben Gijsemans.

—Video. John Lewis just appeared on The Daily Show to support the new volume of March.

 

 

Private-Eye

Today on the site we begin a tribute post to the great Yoshihiro Tatsumi, who passed away over the weekend. Adrian Tomine, who brought Tatsumi to Drawn & Quarterly, begins, followed by Anne Ishii.

We also have Gary Groth’s 2006 interview with Tatsumi, the longest English-language interview with the cartoonist ever published.

GROTH: You were a manga publisher in the ’50s, so naturally, I want to know how that came about. Did that come after you moved to Tokyo? And what kind of manga did you publish? Gekiga, or Tezuka’s kind, or some other kind?

TATSUMI: After I moved to Tokyo, I was essentially out of work. So I started my own publishing company out of necessity, primarily so I could continue publishing my own work. As I said before, a person who was running a vegetable stand could start a publishing company, so it didn’t require very much capital, and it so happened that at the time I had a friend who moved out from Tokyo who had just sold his house, so he was willing to put up the kind of start-up costs for a publishing company. I started a publishing company to continue to publish my works for the rental comic-book industry. But eventually, there weren’t any comic-book rental stores, so obviously, there was no distribution route left for me to use. Then  I started to publish books that would be sold at regular retailers.

Maybe I didn’t touch on this, but the rental-books industry and the regular publishing industry had completely different systems set up. Different distributors. So I started to work with one of the major sales distributors, for publishing works in Tokyo, which also distributed all the mainstream publications. That meant I was publishing in larger numbers, but it also required more capital investment on my part. As they were publishing for mainstream distribution routes, and publishing in larger quantities, I could no longer afford to run the publishing business just by selling my own works. That’s when I started to ask other authors to contribute works. I would offer up collections of works by popular authors, other work that they had published in magazines. But this also meant because they were popular authors that I had to pay them quite a large sum of money for their works, so I went further and further into debt. I published books for about seven years. I went further and further into debt, and I was really at a point where I could not continue to run the business any more, but it was right around that time that the major comics magazines started to solicit work from me, like Shonen magazine and big comics. I think that in some ways those weeklies had seen the books that I was publishing and had evaluated them positively. So in the seven years, I published about 200 paperbacks, and of those, maybe 30 were my own works. And the rest were probably by about 20 different authors.

GROTH: The work of your own that you initially published for the rental market, was that gekiga?

TATSUMI: Yes, yes.

GROTH: Was that well received at the time?

TATSUMI: Well, the popularity of gekiga really declined along with the popularity of the rental comic-book business. So in those seven years that I was publishing, which mainly took part after the rental industry had started to collapse, most of the works I had published were not in the gekiga style.

GROTH: That you drew yourself?

TATSUMI: So now, my works were in the Gekiga style, but the majority of the works I published were by other authors, and so they encompassed works for kids that would be published in these weekly magazines for boys; there were also girls’ comics. So the majority of works were not gekiga, but my own work was.

And Joe McCulloch will entertain and inform you with his week in comics.

And elsewhere:

Sam Simon, who was crucial to the first few seasons of The Simpsons, has passed away.

Paul Gravett reports on the Sotheby’s comic art auction.

The New York times profiles a local comic book store owner.

Cartoonist/illustrator Liniers on his New Yorker cover.