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No Loss There

Today at the Comics Journal, we're spending our morning--and a healthy portion of our afternoon--drinking in Matt Seneca's epic column on the comics he found in France. You'll want to make sure you've got a fine relationship with a good comics importer for this one, friend.

In America, filling in a comic store's worth of shelves with anything besides every Batman trade inevitably becomes both a guessing game and a referendum on a proprietor's personal taste; the American comics industry just hasn't produced enough books that can be relied upon to sell over the long term for it to be anything else. France doesn't have the same problem, which is awesome! But the cloud hiding underneath the dazzling silver lining is that retail backed by a successful industry can become classic rock radio: a predictable parade of solid selections. 

What France has is better than what we have here (BD Fugue in Nice is an incredible store, FYI), but my meanderings on the Riviera felt a bit like a negative image of the shitty retail experiences I wrote about earlier this year.  Shopping for comics is fun, and one of the reasons why is how variable and random the experience is. It's not like going out to get office supplies! The same-y feeling I got from comic shopping in France wasn’t unpleasant - it was nice to see books that had something to recommend them enjoying unambiguous commercial success - but it was there. Nothing’s perfect, man - not when you’re engaging in late capitalism, but especially not when you’re buying comic books.

Our review of the day comes to us from industry stalwart, Ryan Carey. I couldn't remember the last time we reviewed some yaoi, and Ryan was happy to oblige. Coyote: how is that thing?

The tone Zariya establishes here is basically one of “YA minus the Y,” as we are introduced not so much to a pair of characters as caricatures, titular protagonist Coyote being shy, nervous, stand-offish, perhaps not entirely comfortable with his emerging sexuality, while the object of his affections from afar, piano player Marleen (I guess Coyote isn’t too introverted to avoid spending most of his nights hanging out in bars), is the stereotypical “dreamy” sort, all smooth confidence with just enough sensitivity to make him less out of reach than he at first appears. He’s Edward, only human, while Coyote is a lycanthrope Bella.

Did you catch Tim's not-so-subtle dig at me for linking to online comics? I sure did! In response, here's Kevin Huizenga's Instagram, which includes some recent hot fire, some pages from Emil Ferris next volume of Monsters, and Lauren Weinstein's latest Normel Person, which he should be linking to all the time, even on days when it is my turn to blog.

The best of list season is truly upon us, with a whole bunch of sites getting into the action. Meanwhile PW is shouting out the big books of Spring 2019, three of which are definitely pulsing with great Satanic power. But when it comes to best of lists, I, like Dominic Umile before me, have long since reserved my greatest excitement for this one: Adrian Curry's. It ain't comics (even if cartoonists do occasionally show up), but hey--we got a lot of those already.

 

Balance

We've got two reviews for you today. First, Tucker Stone himself writes about M.S. Harkness's Dxpx Dxxlxr.

A collection of minicomics by M.S. Harkness, D*P* D**L*R is aggressive, confident work by a cartoonist whose obvious affection for boldness and speed conceals a methodical structure and pacing. Comics that in other hands would have allowed for an exercise in crude mark-making so as to complement narrative tempo here play out with an eye towards broader legibility--this, more than other comics playing in the here-is-some-gnarly-shit-I'm-into genre, is a comic that won't seem foreign to a broader audience less willing to engage with obfuscation.

The three stories here all seem to be drawn from Harkness's life, or at least, from how Harkness chooses to present her life to others. (Harkness uses the same stand-in throughout, an angular character who also served as lead in her previous book, Tinderella.) Opening with a fast paced karaoke take on SZA that sees its protagonist tearing through enough life experiences to fill a whole shelf of comics from more sedate storytellers, this first tale features a bukkake sequence, a boot-removing assault as response to street-side cat-calling, a jail-bound musical, and a monster truck rally that makes it to outer space. Harkness shows no loyalty to any particular layout, going from one-page splashes to jam-packed micropanels, often toying with the style in which she depicts her lead. The flexibility allows for odd flourishes that give the story a wry humor that might not otherwise come across with the song lyrics that stand in for actual text.

Greg Hunter is here, too, with a review of Aubrey Sitterson and Chris Moreno's Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling.

Professional wrestling's relationship to the truth has long been a part of its appeal. Performers play heightened versions of themselves; matches have predetermined outcomes but take legitimate physical tolls; and the pleasure of suspended disbelief accompanies the thrill of an in-ring comeback or betrayal. Documenting the tradition’s history means contending with its layers of artifice—not just the competing accounts of various musclebound egomaniacs but also wrestling's stake in an embellished understanding of itself. So it's perhaps not just for brevity's sake that Aubrey Sitterson and Chris Moreno's new book settles for something short of history in its title. Their Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling recognizes wrestling’s complications but isn’t always a match for them, offering critical insights and fannish boosterism in equal parts.

Sitterson, the book's scripter, locates pro wrestling's origins in carnival athletic shows that crossed the country following the American Civil War, then follows its transformation into a worldwide phenomenon at the turn of the twentieth century. Here and elsewhere, Sitterson has a weakness for excessive bolding ("Catch wrestling allowed holds below the waist, mitigating the Russian Lion's power, but he proved indomitable and was soon recognized as the world champion in England"), and his constructions are often clunky ("Much like in the carnival days, it would seem there was too much money on the table not to start at least partially compromising legitimacy for entertainment."). Even so, he makes these pages count, exploring the shady inheritances of wrestling's carnival pedigree and explaining how the tradition came to optimize its entertainment value.

Any credible understanding of wrestling is an international understanding of wrestling, and here too, the book delivers. Before surveying more recent figures and trends, Sitterson devotes a chapter to Japan's wrestling culture, from its growth after World War II to the divergent histories of storied promotions All Japan Pro Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling. For the curious but uninitiated, Sitterson also clearly defines terms common to Japanese pro wrestling, e.g. "strong style" (a martial-arts-influenced tradition favoring strikes and kicks), and explains Japanese wrestling's less rigid face-heel (good guy-bad guy) binary.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. IDW president Greg Goldstein is stepping down, and being replaced by the returning Chris Ryall.

Ryall will step into his new position on December 10. Earlier this year Ryall left IDW, after 14 years, eventually taking a position at Skybound Entertainment, a comics and graphic novel imprint at Image Comics founded by Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman.

In a press release, Ryall said IDW is "where I’ve spent the majority of my career and I consider the company and its employees like family, so I am grateful for this amazing opportunity to return.”

—Reviews & Commentary. The annual Publishers Weekly critics poll has chosen Michael Kupperman's All the Answers as its comic of the year.

—Interviews & Profiles. At Smash Pages, Alex Dueben talks to Sophie Campbell.

You’ve drawn a lot of different kinds of work, but are those the kinds of stories you like reading and watching? Or just the ones you’re drawn to telling?

It depends. I usually don’t watch or read a lot of slice-of-life stories, I watch mostly horror movies and for shows my favorites are Grey’s Anatomy and The Flash, and when I read prose it’s almost always nonfiction (I read a lot of true crime stuff), and when it comes to comics I don’t see a lot of stories similar to how I write but I’d like to read more like that. I can’t think of any truly plotless slice-of-life comics off the top of my head.

Maybe Ariel Schrag’s old books, like Potential and Likewise, which I love, they’re slice-of-life-ish but also autobio so it’s not quite the same. So I guess to answer your question it’s for the most part the type of stories I’m drawn to telling, rather than the types I read or watch. Mostly I just like stuff with monsters and serial killers in it. [laughs]

Kriota Willberg talks to Ellen Forney.

One of my points in Marbles is (the discovery) that I am more creative stable. Stability is good for my creativity. Self-care and balance is a way to be more creative and innovative. Creativity is not necessarily fueled by mood swings. Passion doesn’t necessarily come from being off balance.

The most recent guest on the Comics Alternative podcast is Noah Van Sciver, and the most recent on Virtual Memories is Bill Kartalopoulos.

 

The Mumbler’s Rage

Today at The Comics Journal, R.C. Harvey returns to with the first in a series of columns looking at the relationship, the careers, and the fall of Al Capp and Ham Fisher. We hope you'll join us for the duration! It's rip-snorting--and here's how it starts:

The story of Al Capp and Ham Fisher, two cartooning geniuses, their rise to celebrity and their furious interactions with each other, is the stuff of epic adventure fiction, but here, it is fact.

At the peak of their careers, in the 1950s, they were superstars: Capp reached 90 million readers and earned $500,000 a year ($4 million in today’s dollars); Fisher, 100 million readers and $550,000 (over $4.5 million in today’s dollars).

Their creations were in movies and on stage.

Shamed by his colleagues at the height of his career, Fisher died by his own hand; Capp died in obscurity, disgraced by sensational news of his sexual scandals.

Today's review comes to us from Leonard Pierce, who leapt back into the trenches to review one of the multiple comics that Noah Van Sciver put out this year. It's One Dirty Tree, from Uncivilized Books. 

When you’re dealing with biographical comics, anything goes, as long as it feeds the story. Noah Van Sciver, probably best known for his sharp Fante Bukowski: Struggling Writer series, was raised Mormon in suburban New Jersey, a fact which, standing alone, gives his new book, One Dirty Tree, a strange cultural frisson to me. While intellectually, I’m aware that Mormons exist in every county, city, and practically every country, it’s hard for me to square the idea of this reserved, rule-bound, exceptionally fertile religion existing outside of my low desert youth, marked as it was there by a uniquely Western libertarianism and almost entirely absent of any kind of bohemianism. Such was not the case with Van Sciver’s family; his father was a temperamental but curiously artsy man who encouraged his kids to develop their individual talents and himself forsook the money he might have otherwise made as an attorney frittering away his time on an epic poem about his religion.

 

Whole Bunch of Sickness

Today on the site, Frank M. Young completes his two-part examination of the unfairly obscure midcentury cartoonist Cecil Jensen. This time, he focuses on the cartoonist's post-Elmo career, particularly in his Little Debbie strip.

With this change, Little Debbie became Bizarro Peanuts, or Little Debbie Minus Little Debbie. The adult Debbie teaches a quartet of preschoolers who bear an uncomfortable resemblance to Charles Schulz's mega-popular characters. Unlike Linus, Lucy or Schroeder, these kids are so out-there that it might be a willful satire. Jensen was entitled to say “what the hell?” and try anything at this point.

In place of Charlie Brown is George Green, a ball of neurotic uncertainty with huge glasses. Standing in for Lucy, Violet and Patty is the brutally frank and aggressive Matilda Jones. In the most out-there twist, twin boys collectively named Barney Jones speak and act as one.

[...]

Jensen had, arguably, been doing a Peanuts-like strip before Charles Schulz. By the time of Peanuts' October 2, 1950 debut, Little Debbie had been in all-kid mode for two years. Both strips show children acting unlike children and exposing the foibles of adult life. Where Schulz's strip feels restrained and college-educated, Jensen's seems the work of an autodidact—a man who has been exposed to the same intellectual ideas, but through his own study and observation rather than university courses.

Jensen's humor is brainy and earthy. Like E. C. Segar, he seems at home in a rowdier world. Thus, this late Peanuts homage/satire is darker, harsher, and wackier than Schulz ever was in his work. This was a fitting end-game for the strip. It started as a sort-of knock-off/parody of Li'l Abner, which went places Al Capp avoided. So why not bring down the curtain as it first rose? This 11th-hour new direction is bracingly funny, once the reader readjusts their expectations.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The Comics Alternative podcast talks to Conor Stechschulte.

—I don't link to online comics often, but Popula publishing new work by Ulli Lust is worth an exception.

—RIP. Pete Shelley.

 

Folded Limbs

Today at The Comics Journal, Frank Young goes back to the 1940's to take a look at Elmo in his first article on Cecil Johnson's unusual "enigma" of comics history.

Elmo was an odd fit for the Register and Tribune Syndicate, an Iowa-based concern that trafficked in America’s dullest strips. Jane Arden, Jack Armstrong, Ned Brant, Off the Record and other R&T features were popular—Arden was in hundreds of American papers. The syndicate was commercially successful, if artistically bankrupt, before Jensen showed up.

Bubbling over with eccentric characters and dialogue, Elmo also presages the laugh-out-loud novels of Charles Portis. Jensen would’ve been the perfect artist to illustrate Portis’ low-key novels such as The Dog of the South (1979) and Masters of Atlantis (1986), had time and space permitted. Jensen and Portis heed this golden rule: the nuttier the situation, the more deadpan the delivery.

Unlike Portis or Bob & Ray, Jensen’s comedic vision is quite dark. Elmo is a strip without one heroic character. Elmo is troubling. He’s too cheerful. Perhaps all those years of washing diapers at the orphanage, where he was raised, made something snap in his head. He is civil, polite and obliging, but he doesn’t function in a reassuring way. He may occasionally frown, or display anger, but most of the world’s good and bad bounces off him. He is a challenging choice for a protagonist.

Today's review comes to you from Martyn Pedler, and it's of one of the more warmly received super-hero revampings of recent vintage: The Immortal Hulk. It's early days, but he's on board for now:

It’s a canny take on the required immortality of corporate superheroes, making sense of all the deaths that never stick in ongoing continuity. Continuity that’s mostly dismissed here, with Banner’s casual narration saying “It was a complex situation. I'll spare you the fine details”. The Hulk’s status quo suits these kind of shifts. He has transformation in his gamma-infused DNA: man into monster, yeah, but also grey to green, dumb to smart, lone force of destruction to cuddly, collectable superhero. Ewing has fun with the last when one witness refuses to believe the Hulk’s all that bad. “Monster? Ol’ Jade Jaws? Come on, lady. He's a founding Avenger. He's been in movies.”

Over at Tumblr, the exodus of what made Tumblr exciting continues, with Liar Town USA posting their own "see ya later", which includes a mention of their next print publication. One hopes that many of the goodbye posts to come will include that kind of bittersweet conclusion.

Over at Image Comics, they're hosting their own piece of comics history. It's one of those oral history kind of articles, focused on the old Warren Ellis Forum, a place on the web where a whole bunch of people "got their start" as comics internet personalities, and where then able to see that turn into various kinds of careers. Hey!

 

The MRI of Love

Today, Kim Jooha returns with an article following up on her recent essay on what she calls the French Abstract Formalist comics movement, in which she focuses more closely on one of the associated artists, Sammy Stein.

Adieu is a zine made of sheets of wood. The cover shows a hand writing on a sheet of paper. There is a wooden shed. Inside, there is a sheet of paper with the word ‘adieu’ written on it, lying on a wooden table. Entering the basement cave through the wooden floor, we see a hand scratching the wall with a rock and the word ‘Adieu’ on the wall. Going down to another basement of the wooden structure, we see a hand with fire. In the end is the word ‘adieu,’ written on the wood, the zine itself.

We can read this as signifying the immortality of the material or nature (wood), contrasted to the mortality (‘adieu’ means goodbye) of the artifacts (the wooden structure). Humans keep producing the message again and again (‘adieu’ appears several times in different places). The cyclical nature of Adieu emphasizes this continuous struggle. The last page (the back cover) only shows the word ‘adieu,’ and it recalls the image of writing hands on the first page (the cover). Some of these messages persist, as we have the zine in our hands, in the same way that we appreciate and study the remains, ruins, and artifacts from the past in the museum. Stein’s oeuvre explores creating and studying art as constant human endeavor against the linear passage of time: the former for the present and the future, and the latter for the past.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Emily Lauer reports from the current Roz Chast exhibition.

The exhibit is designed to be fun. Rather than offering a comprehensive linear trajectory of Chast’s work to date, it is arranged by theme in one large room, subdivided, but offering multiple pathways through the material on display. Visitors are invited to wander, due not only to the arrangement of the material, but also because of the scarcity of wall text. What labels there are do not generally attempt to explain or guide, but rather simply offer titles, years, and materials. This is an exhibit designed to allow appreciation of Chast’s work, rather than an exhibit designed to teach visitors about Chast.

—BK Munn remembers Canadian cartoonist Murray Karn.

The 16-year old Karn parlayed this skill into a job with Cy Bell’s Bell Features comic book company in 1941, after answering a classified newspaper ad.

Bell Features was one of a small group of companies that sprang up to take advantage of the temporary ban on imports of “non-essential” goods from the U.S. during World War II as part of the War Exchange Conservation Act (WECA), and soon found themselves overwhelmed with the demand for homegrown versions of the superheroes and funny animals popular south of the border. Karn was assigned to illustrate the “Thunderfist” feature for Bell’s Active Comics title. The first issue of the comic debuted in February, 1942, and Karn would would draw twelve issues worth of the character’s stories for Active.

Created by writer E.T. Legault, Thunderfist was one of the first Canadian supermen to see print.

—RIP Andrei Bitov.

 

Somebody Has to Drink All This Blood

Today at The Comics Journal, we're looking back...at The Comics Journal? Hey, why not? It's still Stan Lee O'Clock right now, probably will be for a while longer. Back in 1995, the Journal reached out to a whole pack of talented folks--where else will you find a list that goes from Mary Fleener to Will Eisner?--about their take on Stan Lee. Whether it's a working relationship, a night out at dinner, or a stack of books, it's a really unique piece of work. Here, for example, is Spain Rodriguez.

His books were really a bell ringer, that comics were something to look at again. I never met the guy and I’ve seen him on TV a bunch of times, he seems like a big promoter of the stuff I like. Jack Kirby’s commentary in the interview with him that was in TCJ, one of the best things I ever read in the Journal, talking about how he walked into the room, and they were carrying out the furniture and Stan Lee was sitting on the chair crying, and he went over and comforted him and basically introduced his idea for the new line of comics. All those Marvel comics were the first bell that comics were coming back.

When the Comic Code came in, I just stopped reading comics; I didn’t even read the EC comics. The Comics Code was just such a humiliating cop-out, an injustice compared to William Gaines standing up before the Kefauver Committee. I like to think of myself in that tradition of comics, rather than the Goldwater tradition. Those Marvel comics, they seemed to have some kind of psychedelic subtext that’s kind of hard to pinpoint, but there was something about them. All the stuff that was going on around ’65 — everybody dropping acid — and reading those comics, they seemed to be giving us some kind of message and putting some kind of color into the world that wasn’t there before.

Today's review comes to us from Matt Seneca, and it's a big deal: Yuichi Yokoyama. Outdoors, an older Yokoyama title that's seeing rerelease via Breakdown Press, is here to take the stage. Here's Matt's opener:

If Yuichi Yokoyama isn't the best cartoonist currently working, he's on the list. I can't think of anyone else who combines such an iconic drawing style with such clarity of storytelling, or such ingenious use of the comics form with such forward-looking themes, or such an experimental edge with such bone-simple approachability. I see Yokoyama's influence everywhere in today's artsier comics, and I believe that in time he'll be seen as one of this period's leading practitioners of the form. Such being the case, any new offering of his work is a delight. Outdoors, newly translated for Breakdown Press by Ryan Holmberg, is a minor work, collating three shorter pieces made for the Japanese website Ecologue in 2009. But minor work from Yokoyama measures up favorably to the major work of most other names you can throw out there. Outdoors provides no shortage of mind-expanding pleasure while filling a gap in its creator's back catalog and allowing for a fuller understanding of his art's essential concerns. 

 

Stupidity Fuels My Work

Today on the site, Annie Mok interviews cartoonist Yumi Sakugawa, much of whose work deals with self-help, a genre that I've always been somewhat allergic to, but is obviously important to many people, and also one that seems to be growing rapidly within the comics medium.

I had a comic essay that I never finished that was supposed to go into the book [Fashion Forecasts] that explores my own intuitive process for choosing the right outfit. I see the daily choice of choosing your outfit as a mindful creative practice in honoring your own intuition and feelings and desires of that particular moment in time. I am looking for the right combination of colors, patterns, shapes, and textures intersecting with external factors (the weather, the season, the particular occasion the outfit is for, etc.) that creates a resonant "yes" in my heart--and sometimes it is a matter of the right lipstick shade or the right accessory that is the difference between a good outfit and a transcendent outfit. I don't necessarily always go out of my way to do this-- because I work from home, I oftentimes default to my daily uniform of tank top, loose pants, and a denim jacket--but some days and events or my own simple desire to put in the extra effort on a particular day call for calling in intuitive magic to summon the perfect outfit. It can be very personal and even spiritual-- to consciously choose the avatar you wish to present to the rest of the world. And because you begin to recognize the resonant "yes" in your heart when you wear the right outfit that gives you that feeling of wearing powerful energetic armor, then you begin to recognize that same resonant "yes" feeling in other aspects of your life--how you decorate your living space, how you create your artwork, who you spend time with you, how you spend your time, the experiences and activities and stories that really speak to your heart. And then all these little micro-moment decisions of resonance add up to you practicing powerful agency in how you wish to manifest your life, on your own terms, speaking to your own personal and sacred desires.

Tegan O'Neil is here with a review of another prominent genre of comics I'm usually allergic to, themed anthologies, this one Iron Circus's sci-fi collection, FTL, Y'ALL: Tales from the Age of the $200 Warp Drive.

One of the volume’s immediate pleasures is seeing how different artists respond to the visual challenge of designing the Enterprise on a Walking Dead budget. CB Webb literally has a kid climb into a clothes dryer and blast off, cramped accommodations to be sure but one that neatly illustrates the book’s premise. A refitted subway car with a glass biodome stuck to its ass (courtesy of Nathanial Wilson) is probably my favorite. If given the opportunity a lot of people in 2018 probably would take the certain shot of dying somewhere other than Earth, even jammed into a home appliance, to the certainty of living on a pretty shitty Earth (cf. the whole “It’s a weird time in the history of the republic” thing).

It’s that context that gives the best stories in FTL, Y’ALL their bite. These are about escape as much as exploration. The stories here aren’t set in any kind of shared universe, so some of the stories are set against grimmer backgrounds than others. Mulele Jarvis’ “Cabbage Island” is a good example: the woman who builds a tiny ship to Alpha Centauri is racing to stay one step ahead of both a fascist police state and ecological devastation. “Things could get better,” someone says, to which our heroine replies, “No, they won’t.”


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. At the New Yorker, Joan Acocella writes about the work of Edward Gorey.

The book artist Edward Gorey, when asked about his tastes in literature, would sometimes mention his mixed feelings about Thomas Mann: “I dutifully read ‘The Magic Mountain’ and felt as if I had t.b. for a year afterward.” As for Henry James: “Those endless sentences. I always pick up Henry James and I think, Oooh! This is wonderful! And then I will hear a little sound. And it’s the plug being pulled. . . . And the whole thing is going down the drain like the bathwater.” Why? Because, Gorey said, James (like Mann) explained too much: “I’m beginning to feel that if you create something, you’re killing a lot of other things. And the way I write, since I do leave out most of the connections, and very little is pinned down, I feel that I am doing a minimum of damage to other possibilities that might arise in a reader’s mind.” He thought that he might have adopted this way of working from Chinese and Japanese art, to which he was devoted, and which are famous for acts of brevity. Many Gorey books are little more than thirty pages long: a series of illustrations, one per page, accompanied, at the lower margin or on the facing page, by maybe two or three lines of text, sometimes verse, sometimes prose.

At the New York Times, Ed Park reviews Jason Lutes's Berlin and Olivier Schrauwen's Parallel Lives.

The dirty secret about graphic novels is how fast they read; it’s rare for one to require more than a day or two to finish. (“I hated the lifetime of pain and struggle it took to create a thing that anyone could read in an hour,” sighs the cartoonist in Matthew Klam’s novel “Who Is Rich?”) Strange as it sounds, one of the virtues of “Berlin” is how it resists completion. It took me weeks to get through, at times backtracking in order to clarify who was who, always returning at last to a greater appreciation of Lutes’s vision and humanity. In the last pages, the book pitches suddenly, violently forward through time, as though to meet us — an ending so electrifying that I gasped.

Among many other authors invited by the Guardian, Chris Ware names his favorite books of the year, which includes Slum Wolf and two others:

In Slum Wolf (New York Review Comics), translator Ryan Holmberg, one of the world’s finest comics writers, smoothes out the folds and expertly sets the historical scene so that readers (and graphic novelists like me) find they still have a whole lot to learn.

The Paris Review excerpts a piece by Matt Madden on Edmond Baoudoin.

[Baoudoin] came to cartooning relatively late in life—his first album (as the French call their bound comic books) wasn’t published until he was forty years old, in the early eighties. From his earliest works, Baudoin focused on autobiography, making him one of the first French cartoonists to explore this genre, which has gone on to become one of the most prominent features of European literary comics. At the same time, his art—already confident, with an inky expressionist manner reminiscent of his contemporaries Jacques Tardi and José Antonio Muñoz—evolved quickly into a daringly loose, calligraphic brush style that has made him one of the most respected and recognizable cartoonists in Europe.

—Interviews & Profiles. Also at the New Yorker, Françoise Mouly and Genevieve Bormes talk to Ronald Wimberley about LAAB.

I’m interested in Cedric J. Robinson’s idea of “racial capitalism,” looking at oppression not necessarily just pertaining to skin color but also through economic exploitation and the different strata in our society. It made me think, what is race but a narrative? It’s a narrative that comes together in various ways from different places … particularly how it relates to skin color. I’m interested in it because of how I feel. I have a visceral reaction, particularly in this moment, to the stories and the aesthetics that are really shaking our democracy to its foundation. Look at Trump—he’s literally just an aesthetic. He connects to people’s ideas and stories of who they are, how they view their own stories. That’s what Walter Benjamin and Brecht were talking about. Trump offers them a complete distraction from the reality of their life.

On CBS News, Garry Trudeau is interviewed by his wife Jane Pauley.

The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Summer Pierre.

—Misc. In anticipation of a retrospective series of Mario Ruspoli's work at the Metrograph in New York, Le CiNéMa Club is hosting a short documentary Ruspoli made about the French cartoonist (and secret filmmaker) Chaval. It will only be online until Thursday, so watch it soon if you're interested in mid-century French cartooning or film.