Joe McCulloch would like to tell you about the highlights from this week's newly available comics, including new work by Hayao Miyazaki and Dash Shaw, as well as a long, odd (in a good way) essay on a long, odd (in many ways) magazine full of Japanese-language golf comics he picked up this weekend in New York City.

Golf Comic itself purportedly dates back to 1985, or I’ve disinterred from the internet; if accurate, this would place its genesis in the midst of bubble economy extravagance, where it might have seemed a safe haven for sports manga specialists; while not quite the equivalent of a life sentence, drawing sports manga does build a certain skill set that can make an artist especially assignable to different sports serials, leading to a certain substrata of mangaka whose personal catalogs are highlighted by baseball, soccer – or sometimes mainly golf.

As you can imagine, this is a world far away from most American eyes in even the most ravenous periods of manga consumption. Years ago, however, ComiPress posted a rare English-language interview with one such practitioner: Seiichi Ikeuchi, a former assistant to the great ninja comics master Sanpei Shirato, and a true-blue golfing hobbyist who built himself over two decades’ worth of golf comics output. He cannily acknowledges that this is a connoisseur’s field; that most everyone reading — presumably even the newbies who’d make use of whatever entry-level instruction a magazine’s editors deem necessary — can tell if an artist is bullshitting them, and so the most challenging aspect of the craft is “communicating the techniques to the readers through the manga.”

He is, nonetheless, a stylist, as his present Golf Comic series attests.


—MoCCA Fest. The winners of the MoCCA Awards of Excellence included Alexandra Beguez, David Plunkert, Greg Kletsel, Luke Healy, and Jess Ruliffson. Lots of reports out there, of which I'll just link to two: Joe McCulloch at the Comics Reporter, and Robyn Chapman at her own Tiny Report.

—Interviews & Talk. Tom Spurgeon talked to Zack Soto. Françoise Mouly checked in with Joost Swarte. Evan Dorkin gave two interviews, one to Jonah Weiland, and another to Comics Tavern. Alan Moore talked about Robert Anton Wilson.

Richard Bruton writes about Luke Pearson's latest Hilda book, and Illogical Volume reviews Stray Bullets.


Let’s Be Nice

Today on the site:

Ryan Holmberg brings it with this eye-opening examination of the work of Matsumoto Katsuji a pioneer of shōjo manga. Over the last half-decade Ryan has single-handedly upended the standard historical narrative of comics. I hope this achievement gets the recognition it and Ryan deserves.

First, some background. The subtitle of a catalogue of Matsumoto’s work from 2006, published to coincide with the first Yayoi show, sums up the artist’s reputation: The Illustrator who Invented Shōwa Cuteness. A more accurate tag might be: The Artist who Domesticated North American Cuteness in Japan. This is easy to see in Matsumoto’s most famous character, Kurukuru kurumi chan, which means something like: Little Dizzy Wizzy Chestnut. While better known through related merchandising (postcards, stickers, water decals, bookmarks, posters, postcards, figurines, stationery, paper dolls), Kurumi chan was the star of her own manga for thirty-five years, commencing in Shōjo no tomo in 1938. Her image metamorphosed dramatically over the years and across media, to the point where it is sometimes hard to recognize the various Kurumi chans as the same character or by the same artist.


It was MoCCA weekend for many, but not for me. I wish I coulda been there. I actually wanted to be there, but parental duties take priority. I'm sure Joe McCulloch will cover some highlights. So around the internet we go...

Edie Fake's new work, explored.

Mimi Pond's Culture Diary for The Paris Review.

Robert Andrew Parker is an unsung illustration ruler.

And Joost Swarte explains the Three Blind Mice.


Tomorrow Tomorrow

Today, Brian Nicholson reviews Brandon Graham's Multiple Warheads collection. Here's a sample:

In other scenes, the narration works to relay the science-fiction ideas and worldbuilding, which, while they may be of interest to Graham as a writer, would be difficult for him to convey visually. The grander the scope of the idea, the more easily it falls into the background. It is mentioned there are spaceships filled with people gone to fight a war with wolves; they explode in the atmosphere. What's foregrounded, as the thread of a larger narrative is either lost or ignored, is not specifically sex, but being in love, driving around, taking in the sights, taking in meals. It's a book about moving forward in time, moving through space, being a body. There are action sequences that focus on movement, orientations of people getting decapitated, where dead bodies and the recognizability of faces are used as markers to orient the characters, as they jump on top of cars stuck in traffic. There are also two-page spreads of fantastical landscapes, wide vistas. These emphasized aspects, of the sensory input of places, moving through them, is highlighted both as a pleasure of comics and as a pleasure of being alive. This approach lowers the stakes in terms of storytelling drama in order to more straightforwardly just be a comic that exists for the sake of sensory pleasure.

And today is the final day of Danica Novgorodoff and her Cartoonist's Diary.


—Mike Lynch disputes a few of Ted Rall's statements in that anti-New Yorker rant from earlier in the week. ["The challenge here is: do you use a Mankoff, a Rall or your own self as a tastemaker? Humor, they say, is in the eye of the beholder."]

—Gary Panter briefly profiles Shigeru Sugiura. ["As the Fifties ended, Sugiura abandoned kids’ comics for more peculiar ones — melding different styles and genres of cartoons, movies, and science fiction imagery into a potent new, confusing, even psychedelic brew."]

—The philosopher John Gray reviews Mark D. White's The Virtues of Captain America. ["Sadly, the suggestion that Captain America embodies Aristotelian virtues verges on the absurd. That Aristotle assumed his account of the human good could be realised only by middle-aged, property-owning males is well known. What is more important, from the standpoint of White’s argument, is the absence in Aristotle’s thinking of any of the modern liberal ideals that Captain America embodies. Consider an idea such as personal autonomy. Certainly Aristotle believed that individuals are responsible for their actions; but there is nothing in him of the idea that they are the authors of their lives. Even the favoured few, in Aristotle’s account, model themselves on the same conception of human excellence."]

—Sarah Horrocks reviews Katie Skelly's Operation Margarine.

—Jack Kirby's heirs have appealed this summer's Marvel ruling and attempting to take their case to the Supreme Court.


Dust in There

Today on the site:

R. Fiore returns with thoughts on Walt Kelly, racial caricatures, M.K. Brown, George Wunder and George Carlson. It's a doozy. Here's where it begins:

It’s my general policy not to comment on the textual front and back matter of comic strip collections, though it often irritates me. In the first place, next to nobody reads it. In the second place, for those few who do read it, it has next to no potential to spoil the book. You’re reading the book for comics. The supplemental material might slightly enhance the experience, but if not it’s merely forgotten. It is at most an appetizer, and most of the time I leave it for last lest it spoil my appetite. However, I found Thomas Andrae’s hors d’oeuvre to Walt Kelly’s Pogo The Complete Dell Comics: Volume One (Hermes Press) went down so poorly that I feel the need for a belch.

And Danica Novgorodoff presents day 4 of her diary.


TCJ-contributor Bill Kartalopolous wrote in to remind his forgetful editors to mention a ton of amazing events related to this week's MoCCA fest. Here are his highlights:

Swarte + Speigelman in conversation, first US appearances by Frederic Coche, Brecht Vandenbroucke and Marion Fayolles, a talk on cartoonists' participation in the 1913 Armory Show at the site of the 1913 Armory Show, Robert Williams interviewed by Carlo McCormick, Alison Bechdel, Drew Friedman, and more. Reserved seating for the Spiegelman/Swarte was snapped up in 18 hours, remaining seats are first come first served. Bechdel/Cruse tix went almost as quickly. Plus concurrent exhibits of Friedman, Swarte and Jeffrey Catherine Jones at the Society of Illustrators.

That sounds pretty great to me. Especially the Swarte, Williams and Coche parts. If I still had a social life I'd camp out and gorge myself on all of this. I'm thrilled that MoCCA has roared back to life wonderfully with Bill so engaged in programming and European guests and a very supportive Society of Illustrators. All the info is here and here's photograph proof that Joost Swarte is indeed in NYC. That's just good news, period.


The best news of the week for me is that Brian Chippendale has opened his very own print emporium. Go and snap up his work!

On that note, Trinie Dalton wrote a very flattering overview of my company PictureBox.

Tom Spurgeon on new online doings by Jeff Smith.

Maurice Sendak profiled by Stefan Kanfer.

And the great Milton Glaser in conversation with the also great Steve Heller:


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.