Come On

Today, Daniel Kalder is here with a review of Nicolas de Crécy and Alexios Tjoyas's Foligatto. A sample:

The story is set in the city of Eccenihilo, which my half-remembered Latin classes of long ago lead me to roughly translate as “Beholdnothing” (though my grammar is probably ropey). Tjoyas and de Crécy set the mood with a striking wordless sequence in an old cathedral, where a strange trio build a harp from the bones of dead animals, only to flee and hide when a mob arrives to hold a cockfight in the building. A dispute leads to one grotesque little fat man getting his head hacked off. The cops arrive and arrest everybody. Then the mutilated guy picks up his severed head and walks off.

It is about as clear a statement of intent as you can get.


In conjunction with new exhibitions of their work, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library site has posted interviews with cartoonists Bill Watterson and Richard Thompson. (Watterson: "There’s so much other content available—instantly and all for free—that there’s no reason to stick around if you’re not immediately enthralled. We consume everything like potato chips now. In this environment, I suspect the cartoonist’s connection with readers is likely to be superficial and fleeting, unless he taps into some fervent special interest niche.")

Vulture interviews Ms. Marvel writer G. Willow Wilson. ("Well, I have never, ever before written any comic book where there was fan art before the book was even released. That has never happened to me. That really — that really floored me.")

Brian Cremins talks to academic Shiamin Kwa about Kevin Huizenga's recent visit to Bryn Mawr. ("The question about when did you become interested in comics bothers me, because I do sense that there is sometimes a weird distinction being made about liking comics—like it’s a kind of secret handshake that is indexed by memories of carrying a certain colored bag on Wednesday afternoons.")

The Linework NW Tumblr has recently put up many short interviews with creators, including Ben Marra, Sam Alden, and Farel Dalrymple.

—News. Keiji Nakazawa's four-decade-old Barefoot Gen continues to generate controversy, as the mayor of Izumisano asked for all copies to be removed from elementary and junior-high-school libraries. ("'I regret having cooperated with the collecting of the manga even if it was because of an instruction from the head of the education board,' one principal said. 'Why was only Gen targeted when there are other works that also contain discriminatory terms? I can only believe they were deliberately setting their sights on Gen.'")

—Reviews & Commentary.
Craig Fischer reviews Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky's Sex Criminals. ("In 1970s fandom, we used the term 'groundlevels' to describe comics that combined fan genres like science fiction and fantasy with adult visuals and subject matter(s). 'Groundlevel' refers to the middle position these comics occupied between the DC-Marvel 'mainstream' and the excesses of Crumbian undergrounds. Dave Sim’s Cerebus was one early groundlevel comic, Wendy and Richard Pini’s Elfquest another, and nowadays, when I look at the artistic and commercial renaissance at Image Comics, I see the rebirth of the groundlevel aesthetic.")

Edie Fake reviews Emelie Östergren's Runaway Dog. (" unexpectedly elegant, sparse narrative with drawings that shimmer with silliness and surrealism.")

Farel Dalrymple shares his recent comics reading. ("I don’t read many mainstream comic series. I usually wait until I hear about something that is good and read the trade when the library gets it.")

—Funnies. Bob Sikoryak mashes up the Hellboy universe with various comic strips, including Thimble Theater, Garfield, and Dilbert.

—Video. And we don't usually promote comic movies very often, at least since the glory days of Dapper Dan's Super-Reviews, but here are two for which I'll break my self-imposed rule. First, Alejandro Jodorowsky's Dune, which is of comics interest because many of the proposed concepts for the film later made their way into Jodorowsky's Incal-verse books.

And then Dark Dungeons, as far as I am aware the first straight cinematic adaptation of one of the works of Jack T. Chick.


Not Going Any Further

Today on the site, Frank's back from various visits to comics institutions.


The comic book writer Steve Moore has passed away.

Glenn Bray interviewed about his new book by

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New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff's new book is reviewed in the New York Times.

Playboy interviewed Stan Lee, and got some interested blurbs out of him.



Back in Pieces

Today, Robert Kirby reviews the new collection of MK Brown comics, Stranger Than Life. An excerpt:

Brown reveals a more serious side to White Girl in the masterful twelve-page “White Girl Dreams”, where White Girl has bizarre flights of fancy, imagining among other things, “soaring with others in the night, dancing though my face is someone else’s.” In it, Brown blends middle class ennui with surrealist tropes to create an ultimately rather poignant, fragmented portrait of a day-to-day existence suffocated by rules, traditions, and obligations, where the good, pleasurable flights of fancy are shunted off to some forgotten, subterranean part of the brain. White Girl yearns for those good dreams, telling us, “I always get the other kind.” The other kind are the ones in which an annoying “perfect stranger” comes home and regales her with endless obnoxious, husband-to-subservient-wife questions (“What’s for dinner? When do we? Why aren’t there any?” and so forth). She also tells us, understandably, "I hate this dream.” Without making any fuss, a feminist viewpoint clearly surfaces throughout the swirl of fantastical, kaleidoscopic imagery. It may indeed be that the dream White Girl hates is her actual life, a take that gives the piece its particular edge. Exploring the very nature of dreams vs. reality and what one makes of the difference, the story rewards multiple readings.


—Interviews & Profiles. Alex Dueben talks to Diane Obomsawin. ("When was it -- before I even knew I was attracted to women -- that I knew, unconsciously. It goes back very far, to the age of six or seven. Also I was curious about my friends and their stories. That was my question for them: What was your very first attraction?")

13th Dimension has a two-part interview with Mike Mignola. ("I was listening to the 8 billionth comment about H.P. Lovecraft and I said, 'Yeah, that stuff is in there, but I think that the bigger, fundamental structure of the Hellboy stuff came from pulp magazine guys like Robert E. Howard and Manly Wade Wellman.'")

Noam Cohen at the New York Times has a brief profile of xkcd's Randall Munroe. ("Though the book won’t appear for six months, What If? quickly reached No. 2 on Amazon’s best-seller list on the strength of pre-orders, trailing only a history book from Rush Limbaugh.")

Whit Taylor interviewed Mike Dawson. ("This was the first time I've ever gone into writing a story with a publisher already in mind. [...] There were pros and cons to it.")

—Reviews & Commentary.
Old TCJ hand Jared Gardner reviews Julia Gfrörer, Isabel Greenberg, and Cole Closser. ("Here I want to focus on the recent debut work of three young cartoonists that are inspired not by the inward gaze but instead by myth, legend, and a pure, unadulterated love of visual storytelling as an end in itself.")

Jacob Covey discusses how his views on S. Clay Wilson changed while he helped design Patrick Rosenkranz's new book on the artist. ("His is not the art of an innocent kindergartner who draws fanciful anatomy in a surreal landscape but that of the self-realizing, hormone-raging, unclean middle-beast that is boys who are becoming men. He still draws like a kid, just not the kid we romanticize about. At a time when most of us become self-conscious and begin self-censoring Wilson did not.")

Illogical Volume reviews Über, Pretty Deadly, Three, and Zero. ("There’s a certain punitive/educational value in amplifying and expanding on the staggering brutality of our recent past, but the danger of reducing it to gory spectacle haunts every page of this comic.")

Richard Bruton reviews Alan Moore and Steve Parkhouse's The Bojeffries Saga. ("Funnier than the hilarious D.R. & Quinch? Definitely. Better than Watchmen? Oh yes. Better than V For Vendetta? Yep. Better than Miracleman? Without question. Better than From Hell? Hmm… depends on my mood, but right up there.")

While writing about the film criticism of Manny Farber, David Bordwell discusses Farber's work on comic strips, too. ("Silly Milly is drawn in typical McGovern style, as though by a wind current, and has a prehistoric animal for a hair-do, a very expressive, giant-size eye, and a perfectly oval profile. It is one of those comics with animated décor, like Smoky Stover, with adjoining family portraits shaking hands, and one that tries for laughs in every part of the box.")

—News. Rich Warren at the Chicago Tribune profiles the Billy Ireland library. ("Veneration isn't stretching it as a term to describe what visitors might feel in these galleries. When they first step inside, most visitors are stunned at the sheer size of the illustrations, which are matted, framed and hung like paintings — like the works of art they are.") Incidentally, I am looking forward to Frank's column this week.

—Funnies. Roz Chast previews her upcoming book in The New Yorker.

—Video. Via Robert Boyd, here's the trailer for a new documentary on the Hairy Who.


Audio Response

It's Tuesday so you know Joe McCulloch, esq. is here to plead his case.


A reaction to the Art Spiegelman exhibition at Hyperallergic.

David B. reviewed by Ng Suat Tong.

Kate Beaton's latest interview.

Hey, sounds like Shaky Kane has a new comic book coming out. That's always nice.


That Time of Year

It's National Avoid the Vomit in Midtown Day, which I am planning to celebrate by staying in and reading Paul Tumey's review of the new George Carlson retrospective, Perfect Nonsense. Here's a sample:

Of all the significant comic book artists of the twentieth century, George Carlson has been among the most magical and yet the most mysterious. Accomplished critics and historians including Harlan Ellison, Franklin Rosemont, Bill Blackbeard, Martin Williams, Ron Goulart, Martin Gardner, Gary Groth, Art Spiegelman, and Dan Nadel have championed George Carlson’s comic book stories. He’s been widely regarded as a master of Golden Age comic book art and graphic storytelling.

His imaginative, trippy work has been associated with various art and literary movements, including Surrealism, Dada, Art Deco, and Absurdist. Carlson’s stories have been compared to the works of literary masters Samuel Beckett and Eugène Ionesco. Miscellaneous reprints, all drawn from the 39 extraordinary comic book stories that originally appeared in Jingle Jangle Comics between 1942 and 1949 have kept the flame of interest in Carlson’s work alive over the last three decades.

Despite all this, information about the life and work of George Carlson, as well as any additional art beyond the Jingle Jangle stories, has been frustratingly skimpy.


—Lynn Johnston has donated a significant amount of her artwork to the Library and Archives of Canada.

—Andrew White interviews former TCJ podcaster Mike Dawson on the practicalities of being a cartoonist.

—Percy Crosby's 1918 collection, That Rookie from the 13th Squad.

—And Timely-Atlas historian Dr. Michael J. Vassallo on Menace.


Little Fellas


The tables are turned as Dominic Umile reviews Sam Henderson's most recent book.

Even as Scene But Not Heard is confined to rigid set of what’s usually 16 panels per page in this 6” X 9” book, Sam Henderson’s hilarious strip swirls and sputters uncontrollably, percolating with riotous energy and wordless pandemonium. The 128-page collection mines back issues ofNickelodeon Magazine, to which the New York-based cartoonist began contributing in 1993 under comics editor Anne Bernstein. Henderson’s work ran in the magazine until 2009, when the nationally distributed Viacom-owned kids publication abruptly folded. While he freelanced for Bernstein and subsequently for co-editors Chris Duffy and Dave Roman, the Scene But Not Heardcreator also snagged a full-time day job as a writer and storyboard director on the immensely popular television seriesSpongeBob SquarePants beginning in 2001 (Duffy would go on to helm the print comic property), and earned an Emmy nomination for his efforts. Sandwiched between contributions from Craig Thompson, Art Spiegelman, Ellen Forney, and more, Henderson’s Scene But Not Heard was the longest-running strip in Nickelodeon Magazine’s 159 issues.

Tove Jansson is the subject of a very good BBC profile.

If you're in Toronto this weekend this Seth/DeForge/Smyth/Heer event looks good.

FirstSecond has some advice on submitting manuscripts.

Nobrow, previewed.


Lift Your Head Out of the Muck and Shout Hurrah

Today, the cartoonist Sam Henderson is here with a review of a retrospective of the work of the mid-century gag cartoonist he says he's more often compared to than anyone else, Vip: The Mad World of Virgil Partch. Here's how Sam starts:

A doctor has his nurse hand him instruments to operate on a set of paper dolls. A man working out in a gym crashes through a wall when the springs on his weightlifting machine backfire. A man working in the basement says to his kid, “Run up and ask Mother to turn off the iron”—as a hot iron burns through the ceiling dangling by its cord. None of these descriptions do the work justice, or even make any sense when described. But the work is familiar to you, whether you know it or not.

One of those cartoonists whose works I spent my twenties tracking down in countless dusty old used-book bins, Virgil Franklin Partch a/k/a VIP has now had his work collected in Vip: The Mad World of Virgil Partch. It's one of many coffee-table books being printed now collecting rare out-of-print artifacts which, if I had known back then that they would be reprinted eventually, I might not have wasted all that time trying to find them.


—News. The South Carolina House of Representatives doubled down on their decision to cut funding to two colleges for recommending books with gay-themed subject matter (including Fun Home).

—Interviews. CBR talks to John Romita Jr. HuffpostLive talks to New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff.

—Misc. Michael Dooley at Print revisits the time when a Jonah Hex miniseries prompted Edgar and Johnny Winter to sue DC Comics. Dangerous Minds revisits the illustrations William Steig made for the controversial psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich. Paolo Patricio explains how to make panel grids fast.

—Reviews & Commentary. Dooley also alerted me to this website hosting a pdf of Ariel Dorfman & Armand Mattelart's classic 1970s critique of imperialistic content in Disney comic books, How to Read Donald Duck. Rob Clough continues his month of daily short reviews, and Tom Spurgeon seems to be similarly inspired lately. MariNaomi sort of reviews Diane Obomsawin's On Loving Women, in comics form.


Complaint Dept.

Today on the site: Shaenon Garrity looks at two web comics about Irish history.

I’ve said this many times before and I’ll say it many times again, but one of the joys of webcomics is their ability to cover every possible subject and fill every conceivable niche. Say, for example, you’re into early Irish literature and you want to read it in comics form. Webcomics are happy to help you out. At this very moment, in fact, there are at least two ongoing webcomics based on the Táin Bó Cúailnge, or Cattle Raid of Cooley, the central epic of the Ulster cycle: Patrick Brown’s The Cattle Raid of Cooley and M.K. Reed’s About a Bull . Thank you, webcomics! You’ve justified the existence of the Internet yet again!


This is an excellent profile of the important underground comic Tits & Clits.

David Mamet remembers his friend Shel Silverstein.

Great new R.O. Blechman image over here.

Love these illustrations for various 1960s editions of Don Quixote.

Aaron McGruder, of Boondocks-fame, has a new cartoon on the horizon.

A new director of the Smithsonian has been named, and he has a positive outlook on funding for the arts (scroll down).