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.


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 Doug Harvey.

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.