Split Screen

Today we are publishing Rob Kirby's review of the AK Summers memoir, Pregnant Butch. Here's an excerpt:

Summers began drawing Pregnant Butch in 2005, two years after the birth of her son, and serialized it on the webcomics site ACT-I-VATE starting in 2012. She presents herself as Teek Thomasson, often drawing Teek to look like Hergé’s Tintin (because let’s face it, Tintin is one cool look for a butch lesbian). It’s not explained in great detail why Teek and her no-nonsense femme girlfriend, Vee, decide to get pregnant, but just about every other aspect of the experience is examined in intimate detail, all from the refreshingly unique perspective of “a neurotic bulldagger.”

Teek admits the word “pregnancy” has always made her feel squeamish and offers up alternatives: “Fetal Corpulence,” “Uterine Glut.” Her fantasies of that fetal corpulence endowing her with the “broad shoulders, slender hips and titlessness required to look good in suspenders” (suspenders being part of a “dramatic masculine costume” she covets) are quickly dashed. Worse still, the billowing trousers her expanded stomach require immediately become “clown pants.” Pregnancy is neither pretty nor handsome, though Teek is routinely mistaken for a guy throughout most of her term – a fat guy. She endures indignities other pregnant women of any stripe experience: being refused employee-only restroom facilities by a compassionless bookstore manager, shopping for a midwife among an extremely variable group of candidates, and putting up with a super-enthusiastic, super-annoying childbirth instructor/performance artist. "I just couldn't stand this woman," Teek tells us, and we fully understand.

And we have day three of Danica Novgorodoff's week in the Cartoonist's Diary chair. Today she ponders the appeal of leaving New York.


—Reviews & Commentary.
Ted Rall thinks the cartoons in The New Yorker are bad for everybody. [“'For nearly 90 years, the place to go for sophisticated, often cutting-edge humor has been The New Yorker magazine,' says Morley Safer.

"As is often the case, what everyone knows is not true."]

Rob Clough reviews R. Crumb: The Weirdo Years. ["If a reader unfamiliar with Robert Crumb's work were to ask for a single volume in order to get a sense of his best work, the new collection from Last Gasp, R.Crumb: The Weirdo Years would be my pick."]

Tom Spurgeon reviews Amanda Waller #1. ["Looking at it on my desk, I could not figure out why other than to test the market for a certain kind of pricing on a certain level of protagonist that a $4.95 one-shot starring this very bland character from DC's 2011 recent line-wide reboot would be a good idea."]

J. Caleb Mozzocco questions the cover credits used on the new Harlem Heavyweights book.

Paul Di Filippo reviews Darwyn Cooke's latest Parker adaptation.

Ten years on, Andrew Hickey really likes Cerebus.

—Spending Opportunities.
Study Group Books has started crowdfunding/pre-ordering for its spring list.

—Interviews. The Wall Street Journal interviews the ubiquitous Bob Mankoff:


Genius List

Today on the site:

Joe McCulloch brings us the week in comics.

And Danica Novgorodoff is here for the second day of her Cartoonist's Diary.


Tom Spurgeon has a good obituary of the great and influential fantasy artist David Trampier.

Ben Katchor, interviewed.

The New Yorker blog features Michael DeForge.

New York Magazine looks at some of the "weirdest" Batman covers.

And here's Fantagraphics on video at the Emerald City Comic-Con.


Sore Throat

Today, Joe McCulloch reviews the latest Alejandro Jodorowsky comic, a collaboration with Das Pastoras, Metabarons Genesis: Castaka:

An alterationist of myth and pulp alike, Jodorowsky is undoubtedly familiar with the seams binding the jidaigeki and the American western. As such, planet and narrative are soon literally invaded by representatives from Jodorowsky's shared universe, the missionary/conqueror Techno-Technos, whose metaphorical opening of “Japan” to the “west” turns on a dime into the disease-spreading influence of European colonists on natives of the Americas, who are soon decimated: recall the froggy conquistadors from The Holy Mountain.

Afterward, the true character of Castaka is revealed: it's another Jodorowsky western, with the grown stud, his warrior wife, and their two borderline-feral daughters becoming intergalactic Indian desperadoes, sacking wagon trains along the trail of stars for profit and revenge. It's hugely energetic stuff, writer and artist now working in perfect synch to render their protagonist as a veritable screaming-mad Klaus Kinski, his features permanently wrought with hot rage, eyes wild and dialogue tending toward “LAMENTABLE TRAITOR!” and other top-of-the-lungs exhortations whilst his growing girls exhibit departures from their writer's offhanded mytho-poetic gender essentialism: one becomes buxom like her mother, while the other is drawn as, basically, a slighter variant on Marvel Comics' Wolverine (on whom Das Pastoras has also worked), though both remain superior fighters, and ultimately conjoin their very bodies(!) to dissolve any distinction between "masculine" and "feminine" personality traits – which, given the eternally boyish outlook of the project's genre apparatus, means they capture a man's sperm before besting him in combat, and there is so much respect when he dies.

And we have another week of Cartoonist's Diary entries, this time from guest artist Danica Novgorodoff.


—Reviews and Commentary. Trina Robbins has posted a free PDF of her biography of golden age cartoonist Lily Renée.

Frank Young writes about rare Harvey Kurtzman and Basil Wolverton comics now available online.

Rob Clough has finished up his marathon of 31 reviews in 31 days.

—Interviews. Tom Spurgeon interviewed journalist Chris Arrant and cartoonist Cliff Chiang.

—News. Finalists for the Doug Wright Awards have been announced.

Saudi Arabia has banned The 99, leading to Op-Ed coverage at the Daily Beast.

Dave Sim says he is looking for writers and artists to recreate the original 25 issues of Cerebus for an "Ultimate" version of the series.

—Funnies. Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes collaborated on a new wordless comic up at the BBC News Magazine site. (There's a brief interview about the story here.)


Now on View

Today on the site:

Mike Dawson closes out his excellent Cartoonist's Diary.

And Austin English reviews Miss Hennipin by Andy Douglas Day.

Andy Douglas Day is a great director of his characters gestures and facial expressions. His narratives are essentially two-person comedy bits, and like Rick Altergott’s masterful humor comics, the climax of the joke is often in a throwaway detail paced panels before the ‘punchline.’ A shrug, a glance.

And yet stylistically Day couldn’t be farther away from Altergott. In fact, devotees of Altergott’s neo-Wally Wood renderings might be offended by the very comparison. You would have to be a philistine to call Day’s drawings crude, but I know there will be many philisitines saying exactly that when they encounter this tome.


Art Spiegelman's stained glass project for his high school alma mater will be open to the public for a one-time viewing on MoCCA-weekend. Tickets are here.


Dean Mullaney has announced that the second volume of Bobby London's Popeye works will include unpublished strips.

Tom Hart is the latest guest on Inkstuds.

Good lord, Now You're Logging has been reissued! Read Brad MacKay's piece about the book on this very site.

Beautiful Joseph Remnant strip here.

Melville House responds to the much-linked-to NY Times article on indie bookstores.



Today on the site, Frank Santoro is here with an old-school riff on Chester Brown’s Yummy Fur, inspired by a recent visit to CCS and discussion with some students there. Here’s a sample:

I think what’s interesting to consider is what Chester may have learned during those grid years and how he applied the skill of balancing the grid to his more organic approach. Ed the Happy Clown was a heroic, action-adventure story and it read like a Kirby monster comic, like a '70s Kirby grid. Quick, like a storyboard almost, but depicting moments a movie would not – it’s all timing – the way all the pieces, moments fit together. The grid accommodates the heroic and the banal moments all the same. It’s like a metronome.

Then, with issue 19 of YF, Chester switches to autobio and he now has the spacing to make the everyday seem heroic – look at the distortion in The Playboy! – it’s like KIRBY - yet Chester manages to be so spare and clear in tone. Chester’s work reduces so beautifully - The Little Man collection is smaller than the original comics but it looks fine (imagine reducing a current Marvel comic to book size) – so while mainstream work has gotten more clogged because of the format, Chester’s 5-inch by 5-inch squares are perfectly phrased notes, simple melodies strung together on a metronome that sound just right at any volume, any size.

And we also have Day 4 of Mike Dawson and his Cartoonist’s Diary. Today, Mike wonders exactly why he’s doing what he’s doing.


—News. It has been announced that Robert Kanigher, Bill Mantlo, Jack Mendelsohn will receive the 2014 Bill Finger Award.

Michael Cavna wrote a really nice piece about the Bill Watterson/Richard Thompson exhibits at the Billy Ireland library, with quotes from the artists, one of the curators, and others.

Then Cavna did it again with a story on the changing role of Universal Uclick editor Lee Salem, which includes input from Watterson, Thompson, Garry Trudeau, and Lynn Johnston.

—Misc. Unfinished pages from Jack Kirby’s aborted adaptation of The Prisoner are now online.

The online New Yorker has apparently begun running comic strips. The first one’s from Eleanor Davis.

—Interviews & Profiles. The New Straits Times briefly profiles Lat. talks to Pearls Before Swine cartoonist Stephan Pastis.

At The Beat, Padraig O Mealoid remembers the late Steve Moore.

Via Mike Lynch, here’s an hour-long Bob Andelman interview with Shannon Wheeler (that I haven’t watched yet myself):

—Reviews. Tom Spurgeon reviews Sascha Hommer’s Frontier #3. Matt Lamothe reviews Patrick Kyle’s Distance Mover.


Just Right

Today on the site:

Mike Dawson rolls in with Day 3 of his diary.


Gabe Fowler has announced that the next Comic Arts Brooklyn festival is on November 8th, 2014 at Mt. Carmel Church and a few satellite locations. The application is here.

And, bonus, here is the video from last year's City of Glass panel with Art Spiegelman, Paul Karasik, Paul Auster and David Mazzucchelli, moderated by Bill Kartalopoulos.

Also on the festival train is Secret Acres, with a fine news post.

And here are some fine cartoons by Charles Addams.





Today, Joe McCulloch has your guide to the Week in Comics, with spotlight picks from Bobby London and Alejandro Jodorowsky.

It is also day two of Mike Dawson's tenure at the Cartoonist's Diary column. This time, he tries to go outside.


—Commentary. Brigid Alverson noticed something odd about that New York Times story on comics apps that Dan linked to yesterday—it included a strong recommendation of an app that runs on pirated manga. ["There are more digital manga services on the horizon, but as long as serious outlets like The New York Times can’t (or won’t) make the distinction between a legitimate manga app and a bootleg app like Manga Rock, the publishers will continue to have an uphill climb."]

When retailer Brian Hibbs bought a second store, it came with around 75,000 back issues. Now he's making a go at selling them. ["So, my first job was to 'part the Red Sea,' and separate the wheat from the chaff, which meant physically going through all (approximately) 300 long boxes and seeing what was in each one."]

Ben Towle reports from the Bill Watterson/Richard Thompson ehxibition at the Billy Ireland library. ["One of the most interesting displays showed Watterson’s early strips he did for his college newspaper as well as some submissions to newspaper syndicates. Including a rejection letter was a nice touch. I was really, really curious about the middle strip here which appears to have been deliberately obscured with an overlaying piece of bristol board. Did Watterson not want it shown for some reason?"]

—Interviews. CBR talks to Mike Mignola on the 20th anniversary of Hellboy. ["With China, yeah, there's photo reference. But in between those photos, what happens? What goes on? There's nothing worse, for me anyway, than being a slave to photo reference. I did one story set in Japan and I had photo reference for the exterior of a house and for a great little cemetery and things like that, but I didn't know things like how the doors worked. I could've gotten this out of Akira Kurosawa movies. I could've studied the interiors from various films, but that seems like an awful lot of work. I always felt that if I'm drawing the real world, I need to get it right."]

The same site also talks to former DC publisher Paul Levitz. ["Years ago I wrote an article for The Comics Journal titled 'Call for Higher Criticism', and looking back at it I think it was very naïve and immature in many ways. The argument was that there’s more to talk about than if the Thing can beat the Hulk, but there was broader things to talk about. I’ve seen it evolve over the years, with an army of professors now bringing scholarly knowledge and wisdom to the field."]

Kurt Andersen has Gene Luen Yang on as a guest on Studio 360.

—Reviews. Andrew Wilmot reviews Diane Obomsawin's On Loving Women. ["The collected stories feel strangely complete and incomplete at the same time; they’re first paragraphs to larger narratives the author has decided to leave off the table, choosing instead to focus on the discombobulating first steps of girls exploring their sexuality."]

J. Caleb Mozzocco reviews Sam Henderson's Scene But Not Heard. ["Most of the gags revolve around the rule-less physics of comic strips and cartoons, and, read all at once, this book seems like a grand symphonic performance of the unique possibilities for jokes in the comics medium."]

—Misc. This Susie Cagle story is more about freelancing than cartooning, but there's a reason everyone is linking to it. ["Almost eight years ago, a week after my 22nd birthday, I graduated with a master’s degree from Columbia’s journalism school. I didn’t know what having an Ivy League master’s degree in journalism meant, besides an overinflated sense of young self-worth and a collection of very expensive bills. I was about to find out: nothing."]

Comic book club!

—Video. On this weekend's 60 Minutes, Morley Safer profiled The New Yorker's cartoon editor, Bob Mankoff, who has a new book out. A slew of the magazine's cartoonists (Gross, Chast, etc.) are also briefly featured.


Guys with Courage

Today on the site we're joined by Mike Dawson, this week's contributor to our Cartoonist's Diary feature, and the author of Troop 142, Freddie & Me, among other books. Mike was also the man behind TCJ Talkies, and the co-host of the late, great, Ink Panthers.

Ken Parille is also here to discuss innovation at DC Comics. in 1972.


TCJ-contributor Nicole Rudick on Matt Kish's illustrated Heart of Darkness.

Tom Spurgeon interviews Mimi Pond.

The NY Times has a fascinating story about the archives of the Famous Artists School.

The Times also covered comics apps.

Bob Andleman talks to Mort Walker.

Gil Roth talks to co-authors Nathan Fox and Sheila Keenan about their graphic novel Dogs of War.

Leon Sadler reminds us of an old way of life.

This Dr. Seuss film adaptation just popped up online:

And this Heinz (Yellow Submarine) Edelmann short remains completely amazing.