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).


Money Is Being Raised

Tuesday is Joe McCulloch day, in which he not only previews the most interesting-sounding new comics releases of hte week, but also writes a short essay on the autobiographical manga of Moyoko Anno:

This is not the Harvey Pekar tradition of American alternative comics, and I doubt it will appeal to those who value autobiographical comics primarily for their arrangements of unvarnished life. On the contrary, this is an extremely varnished life; H. Anno, in an afterword of sorts, advises that M. Anno would rearrange events to make them funnier, even allowing her husband to check the finished pages and suggest additional jokes and references. Indeed, the book’s English-exclusive annotations run a spectacular 30 pages, so dense are these vignettes with geek speak, at times venturing into Poto and Cabengo territory as H. Anno is depicted communicating in verbalized manga sound effects, apart from whole passages consisting of seemingly nothing but quotes and allusions to/from beloved anime and tokusatsu shows.


—News. Taiyo Matsumoto and Emily Carroll are the winners of the annual Slate/CCS Cartoonist Studio Prize.

—Giving & Spending Opportunities.
The eBay auction of original art to benefit Stan Sakai and his family's need for medical funds has begun. Lots of interesting artists on board, from Dave Berg to Mike Mignola. New art from additional artists will go up every week. Dave Sim has taken to Patreon to fund his Strange Death of Alex Raymond project. Steve Ditko has a Kickstarter.

—Interviews. The Billfold interviews newish New Yorker cartoonist Tom Toro. Salon briefly interviewed Chris Ware about modern education and Joseph Cornell. And here's Peter Bagge:

—Reviews & Commentary.
Darwyn Cooke suggests eight Will Eisner stories for neophytes. Chris Randle compares True Detective to Kerascoët's Beautiful Darkness. Kristian Williams thinks he sees feminism in Frank Miller comics. Tom Spurgeon reviews Lob & Rochette's Snow Piercer.



Today on the site we have an excerpt from Brian Evenson's forthcoming book on Ed the Happy Clown, to be published this year by Uncivilized Books.

The idea for this book started just a few days after Drawn & Quarterly’s 2012 re-release of Ed the Happy Clown. More specifically, it started when I picked up that book in the bookstore and noticed the subtitle:“a graphic-novel”. Chester Brown’s name was in all-caps, the title too was all-caps, which drew my attention to the fact that the subtitle seemed deliberately lowercase. Part of me felt this was simply just a matter of typography, a choice made to distinguish between title and subtitle. But another part of me believed—and still believes—that there are no accidents, and that it is these small, seemingly random choices that accumulate into the larger distinctions that end up shaping not only a book but an entire genre.

Standing there in Modern Times, I found myself wondering what made a ‘graphic-novel’ different from a ‘Graphic Novel’? It seemed a question of simple arithmetic: the subtraction of capitalization and the addition of a hyphen. The first gesture strips away a level of formatting, going against common title capitalization guidelines. The second adds a piece of formatting we wouldn’t expect to be there, a hyphen, and which isn’t there in any other use of the phrase “graphic novel” that I can remember. Both seem incredibly small things. But it is of such small things that greater effects are both built and sustained.


Tom Spurgeon interviews MK Brown about her great new book.

Here's a great chat with Roz Chast.

British comics crew Decadence gets a spotlight.

And Eddie Campbell interviewed over at Robot 6.


The Magic Word

It's always a pleasure to read R.C. Harvey, and today on the site he's here with a column on Playboy cartoonist Eldon Dedini. Here's a brief excerpt:

Gus Arriola, another supreme stylist whose Gordo comic strip was a stunning fiesta of design and color, counted Dedini his closest friend in a friendship of over fifty years that was grounded firmly in their mutual passion and respect for the visual art they practiced and in a unique camaraderie they shared, living in Carmel, California.

“Even his signature was a design,” Arriola once said. “—bold, succinct, an autograph as distinctive as the rich humor it identified. Simply, Dedini —much as one would say Bernini, Modigliani, Dali—Dedini—all those ending in -I appellations signifying high art. Few humorists can draw passably, if at all. Eldon was both an accomplished illustrator and a proven humorist. His pictorial and literary recording of international events and domestic culture through his award-winning years was always timely, always cogent and always remarkably funny.”

Quoted in the Monterey Herald’s front-page obituary for Dedini in January 2006, Lee Lorenz, cartoon editor at The New Yorker for many of the years Dedini’s cartoons were published therein, said: “While a million people can draw, very few can cartoon well. To be a cartoonist you have to be a stylist, and that’s not easy to come by. It transcends technique. And he was an excellent idea man. He had a wide-ranging imagination. He was tough to edit because he didn’t need much editing. I never asked him to redraw, which at The New Yorker is quite unusual. If 20th century cartooning is ever looked at seriously,” he concluded, “Eldon Dedini will be one of the outstanding figures of American comic art.”

We also are posting another of the late great Bhob Stewart's pieces for The Comics Journal, his 1985 appreciation of Howard Nostrand. A sample:

As a humorist working in an Eisneresque mode, Nostrand was obviously given a high-voltage jolt by the early issues of Mad. One can almost see the gears and cogs clicking into place in his 23-year-old head. It was, we might say, good timing. The right talent in the right place at the right time: when Nostrand skipped out of the Powell studio in March 1952, he began his solo career in the very same season Kurtzman was hatching Mad #1 (Oct. 1952–Nov. 1952). Kurtzman’s original idea for Mad was to parody types of comic book stories (horror, SF, romance, sports, crime, etc.); his revamp of that concept into direct satires on specific radio/TV/comics/movies came later, with issues #3 through #8 making this transition throughout 1953. The revolutionary Mad feature of contemporary movie satires with recogniz­able caricatured likenesses, timed to coin­cide with the film’s general release nation­wide, did not happen until Mad #9 (Feb. 1954–March 1954) with “Hah! Noon!” — followed by others in 1954 (“From Eter­nity Back to Here,” “Wild Vi,” “Julius Caesar,” “Stalag 18”). After 30 years of Mad, it becomes almost impossible to explain why it was so exciting and so much fun in 1954. There just had never been anything like it. Opening an issue in a newsstand was like … was like …

Okay. Forget the analogies. Lemme put it this way: You’re in a small American town. Some people there have TV sets. You don’t. So you can’t even see Sid Caesar. Your high school reading assign­ment is deadly — Alexander Pope (1688–1744), right? The teacher calls him a satirist, but no one laughs. School’s out. You buy Mad #12 and read — in color — “From Eternity Back to Here.” You think about the Life photo of James Jones leaning on his manuscript, pages stacked almost to his own height. A month later From Here to Eternity — in black and white — arrives at the town’s only movie theater. After seeing it you reread the Mad parody to relish the specificities. So then you spend part of the summer reading the entire James Jones novel and wind up knowing Prewitt as if he were a personal friend. Then you reread the Mad parody again. See? There was more to Mad than Mad itself. Cultural reverb, that’s what it was. Can you dig it? Well, forget it, man, it can’t be explained. You had to be there.


—Interviews. Fader talks to Charles Forsman. Dan Berry interviewed Julia Wertz and Sarah Glidden. Steve Sunu talks to Evan Dorkin. Chris Sims talks to Tom Scioli and John Barber.

—Reviews & Commentary. James Guida at The New Yorker appreciates Tove Jansson. Ana Benaroya reviews Diane Obomsawin's Loving Women. Mike Mignola appreciates Will Eisner. Tom Spurgeon reviews Forever Evil #6. Richard Metzger remembers Sean Kelly and Neal Adams's Son-O'God Comics from National Lampoon.

—Misc. Fantagraphics has announced their fall 2014 books. Whit Taylor gives advice on cartooning while holding a day job.

—Digital. ComiXology announced yesterday that its security was breached, and that they recommend all account holders change their passwords.


Pizza Time

Today on the site:

Sarah Boxer on Woman Rebel.

Who would have thought that Margaret Sanger, the mother of American birth control, would one day have her story told in a drawing style that simultaneously recalls that of Cathy Guisewite (Cathy), R. Crumb (Mr. Natural), and Jack Cole (Plastic Man). Sounds, ungodly, doesn’t it? But such is the hysterical, intense, rubbery look of Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story, by Peter Bagge, best know for his Hate comics. In Woman Rebel, Sanger, though her story is definitely of the superhero variety, comes across visually as Mary Poppins on a bad day — red-haired, booted, angry, her shoulders stooped, her mouth a weird worm crawling across her face. (I’ve seen pictures of Sanger and this isn’t even close; she’s actually quite fetching.)


Francoise Mouly interviewed at Mutha.

Heidi MacDonald on the new Heavy Metal.

Frank's friend Derf reports back from travels abroad.

Some of what's not in the upcoming Alex Toth book.

A cartoon report of Al Jaffee at Columbia.

Mervyn Peake rules.


Sheet Music

Today, Rob Steibel uses his column to explore some of Jack Kirby's '70s pencil work.

And George Elkind reviews Jon Vermilyea's Fata Morgana.


—Reviews & Commentary.
Illogical Volume reviews Harvey Pekar & Joseph Remnant, Ulli Lust, and others. Chris Mautner reflects on the scatological in comics from Johnny Ryan and Michael DeForge. Tom Spurgeon reviews the new collection of Henry comic books. In the you'll-know-if-you-want-to-read-it category, Dave Sim responds in his own inimitable way to the misogyny allegations recently laid against Alan Moore.

—Profiles & Interviews.
Daily Life talks to Alison Bechdel. HiLobrow briefly celebrates Ronald Searle.

—News. Jen Sorenson won the Herblock Prize. Former DC publisher Paul Levitz has joined the board at Boom! The playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is the new chief creative officer at Archie. Image publisher Eric Stephenson won the 2014 appreciation award from retailers' organization ComicsPRO. (If you read a lot of online comics discussion besides this site, you're probably already heard of Stephenson's controversial speech at the annual ComicsPRO meeting. Aaron Kashtan explores the speech in two posts.) Major Japanese publisher Kadokawa plans to introduce a new digital manga reader, including titles in English.

—Misc. Stanley Kubrick's photos of New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno. Last Gasp is hosting a logo design contest. (Greg Irons drew the original.) A longtime 48-year-old comic-book collector is selling off most of his collection, and started a blog documenting the process.

—Ways to Spend Money. The Yeah Dude subscription drive Kickstarter is almost over, and as of this writing this-close to reaching its main fundraising goal. Space Face has announced a subscription drive. Inkstuds superfans might be interested in their Kickstarter to fund an American interview tour. A new Pigeon Press Gallery site is selling original art from Ivan Brunetti, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, and others.

—Historical Link of the Day.
In a 1987 Bullpen Bulletin for the ages, then Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter stands up for what he really believes in.