Pun Intended

Dan is out of town, so I'm filling in today. Rob Kirby is here with a review of Brendan Leach's Iron Bound:

On a rainy night, two young gang members in black leather jackets, Eddie and Bento (aka Benny), are arguing on a bus traveling from Asbury Park to their hometown of Newark, New Jersey. Another young man seated in front of them unwisely asks them to "speak more softly." This prompts a vicious attack from the hair-trigger-tempered Benny, despite Eddie's attempts to rein him in. Blood is shed; Eddie and Benny are thrown off the bus and beat a hasty retreat. With this prologue, Brendan Leach ushers us back to 1961 and the criminal underworld of Newark's Iron Bound section. In this pitiless arena, any attempt to get ahead faces obstacle after obstacle, trust comes at a premium, and good intentions are likely not good enough. Iron Bound reads like a delicious amalgam of a vintage Jim Thompson crime noir novel with illustrations reminiscent of (mutant) Ben Katchor fused with a hint of Lynda Barry’s early punky-scrawly-scratchy style.


—Interviews. Whenever you start to think that mainstream media coverage of comics has greatly improved, you come across something like Metro's interview with Isabel Greenberg. Veteran newspaperman Chris Mautner shows how it's done talking to Brian Ralph. And Inkstuds plays host to Jess Johnson.

—Reviews & Commentary. Sean T. Collins writes about Sophie Franz's "Andy". Sean Kleefeld speculates on the first black comic-book hero.

—"News." Ulli Lust has a huge photo-blog post of her recent trip to the United States, in which many other cartoonists are featured. Rob Clough writes about the new comics show in Durham he's helping to set up. The Archie Comics/Nancy Silberkleit legal drama continues to provide copy for the New York tabloids. Jason T. Miles has revamped his Profanity Hill online store. MoCCA has announced their 2014 special guests, including Howard Cruse, Alison Bechdel, Fiona Staples, and Robert Williams.

—Misc. I love that Sean Howe's Marvel Comics Tumblr is still churning out great curiosities like this. Mike Lynch writes about the big comics movie of 1948.



Today Frank Santoro takes a look at comics press history by way of three magazines from the mid-1990s: Indy, Feature, and Destroy All Comics.


—News. Pioneering comics scholar Sol Davidson has passed away. Jeff Smith has joined the CBLDF's Board of Directors. In a move that tempts bloggers to make statements on what it means for the direct market's future, Dark Horse has dropped its distributor Diamond for Random House. In a move that tempts bloggers to resurrect old posts, after 63 years, the military newspaper Stars & Stripes has dropped Beetle Bailey, apparently for budgetary reasons.

—Reviews & Commentary. James Romberger reviews Dash Shaw's New School. Derek Royal and Tof Eklund discuss Dash Shaw's comics career to date. Kevin Huizenga reviews Seth's new Palookaville. Sarah Horrocks discusses the coloring of Brendan McCarthy. Rob Clough reviews the Chris Duffy-edited Fairy Tale Comics. And in The Caravan, Rakesh Khanna discusses Vishwajyoti Ghosh's This Side, That Side: Restorying Partition, as well as graphic novels in India more generally.

—Misc. Mark Waid gives advice to comic-book freelancers. Jim Rugg remixes Dan Clowes. And Time talks to Ed Piskor:


New Titles

Dominic Umile reviews Ramsey Beyer's Little Fish.

Ramsey Beyer's spirited, often warm chronicling of her real-life journey through her freshman year at college is as much driven by the familiar trappings of teenagedom as it is punk rock, against-the-grain sensibility. Little Fish: A Memoir From a Different Kind of Year is a mixed media affair, with Beyer employing an intimate DIY approach honed in her adolescent zine-making days as often as she does black and white comics art, melding list- and poetry-driven prose with personal comics. Humble as it may seem, Beyer's blend of rough, zine patchwork-styled pages and graphic memoir is marked by a bold perspective on diary comics and the graphic storytelling medium.


Tom Spurgeon briefly on health insurance.

Lovely sequence by Leslie Stein.

Tom Scioli talks to Ed Piskor.

CNN on Archie.

Craig Thompson on his contribution to Fairy Tale Comics

And Gary Panter at CCAD







Joe McCulloch is here on This Week in Comics!


—Interviews. The London Telegraph talks to Joe Sacco. USA Today talks to Ed Brubaker. Agenda talks to the KutiKuti collective. Bleeding Cool translates a Brazilian interview with Chris Ware.

—Reviews & Criticism. Paul Gravett writes about Marc-Antoine Mathieu. Brian Cremins writes about Bill Mauldin's Back Home. Rob Clough recounts Karl Stevens's Failure. Sarah Horrocks looks at Kyoko Okazaki's Helter Skelter.

—News. Stephen Bissette explains on Facebook about compensation (or the lack thereof) going to the creators of John Constantine from the new television series. An exchange between Darryl Ayo and Ormes Society founder Cheryl Lynn on the small number of black female cartoonists.

—Misc. Forbidden Planet has a gallery of new BCA Hall of Famer Leo Baxendale. Bully has begun a month-long celebration of Dell/Gold Key horror comics.


Gym Time

Robert Steibel is back with another installment of his column about Jack Kirby: Behind the Lines. Here he looks at pencils from Fantastic Four # 61.

I’d like to do a little group participation experiment with you first. Let’s go ahead and look at an enlarged scan of each Kirby penciled panel one-by-one in sequence (I broke one horizontal panel in half so each image has the same size). When Stan Lee received this entire 20-page story (plus the cover) this is how the art would have looked to him before he added text to Jack’s story – first Stan would read Jack’s entire book (looking at Jack’s art and referring to Jack’s directions in the margins to get the gist of the entire book) then in the next phase Lee would go back and add his own text to Kirby’s story. You can see when these photostats were made Lee had already completed that phase of the process – notice where Lee added empty word balloons. The letterer would have worked off a Lee type-written script and filled in those spots.

I encourage you to look at Jack’s artwork and read Jack’s notes for yourself; think about how you would add text to this imagery if you were the “Guest Editor of the Week” when this book was published in 1967. Or better yet, imagine Marvel is reprinting this material in 2014 and you won a contest and have been selected to add the captions to the story for a nice pile of money. Reflect on how long it takes you to come up with the captions for each panel, and you can compare your own ideas to Lee’s text later.


Tom Spurgeon on MIX 2013.

A good "where are they now" blog on the great Weirdo magazine.

Two from Chris Randle. First on Co-Mix by Art Spiegelman and then on the anniversary of Comic Book Confidential.

Denis Kitchen on Gweek.

Nobrow is opening a US office and has a mission statement.

And MTV Geek, which covered a good amount of comics, has closed its doors.



Gonna Get Better Some Time

Ryan Holmberg attempts to uncover the roots of the word "Garo", the title of perhaps the most important underground manga anthology:

Not ten years ago, manga and film scholar Yomota Inuhiko noted that it was regional dialect for kappa, a water imp who abducts children and horses and drowns them in the river.

Speaking with Japanese fans and scholars, it seems that many accept Yomota’s theory. I’m not sure why. While indeed “garo” can be found in books dealing with the kappa – it is derived from “kawa tarō,” River Tarō, the latter half a generic boy’s name – none such that I have seen were published prior to the naming of Garo in 1964. Of the major sources on the Japanese supernatural that would have been available to Shirato at the time – the writings of Inoue Enryō, Yanagita Kunio, Ishida Ei’ichirō – in none of them is that specific pronunciation for kappa to be found. Of course, it is always possible that Shirato heard it directly from someone from the countryside. Or perhaps from a colleague more versed in Japanese folklore, like Mizuki Shigeru. After all, Mizuki did publish an eight-volume rental kashihon series between 1961 and 1962 titled Sanpei the Kappa (Kappa no sanpei), about a human boy that looks like a kappa and as a result has serial run-ins with yōkai. Towards the end, his kappa stand-in is named “Kawa Tarō,” but no “garo.” The title of the manga might seem suggestive, but Sanpei is a common enough name for it to have nothing to do here with Shirato. And since Garo was Shirato’s magazine, not Mizuki’s, it seems to me highly unlikely that the former would title his greatest publishing venture after a creature that has (as far as I can recall) never made an appearance in his work. Shirato was greatly indebted to Japanese myth and folklore. But the cosmologies of ghosts and monsters are at best minor ones in his pantheon.


—As you're probably noticed from links on this blog and elsewhere, this week is "Banned Books Week". The CBLDF's Charles Brownstein talked about it with a radio show called Project Censored. And here is a map of post-war comic-book burnings in the United States.

—Reviews & Criticism. Comics of the Weak may be on a short hiatus, but Abhay Khosla's still thinking comics, and reviews a slew of them over at Savage Critics. Dave Coates has a profusely illustrated post on Pat Oliphant. Rob Clough takes on Jim Rugg and Supermag. Tom Spurgeon reviews Sam Gaskin's Goblins. This guy loves the Fantastic Four.

—Interviews. Dan Wagstaff talks to Luke Pearson. J. Caleb Mozzocco talks to Chris Duffy about his new fairy-tales anthology.

—Fantagraphics unearths an unmissable note from Kim Thompson to a printer.

—Sean Howe puts some recent Rob Liefeld tweets about Marvel in context.

—It's the last day of the Top Shelf $3 sale.


Unexpected Delays

Frank Santoro returns this week with a tour diary packed with adventures.


As usual, D&Q does travel reports in the very best way.

A new David Mazzucchelli short comic previewed over here.

TCJ-contributor Ken Parille's The Daniel Clowes Reader, reviewed.

More on Frederic Wertham from Michael Dooley at Print.

Apparently yesterday was National Comics Book Day.



Head Full of Snot

Today, we bring you Gary Groth's 1991 interview with with one of the truly great raconteur cartoonists, Arnold Roth. Here's one of many excellent exchanges:

ROTH: I wanted to do humor. I was frothing at the mouth to get in The New Yorker and they were very interested in what I had. An editor there went through my stuff, sort of giving me a critique. Finally, he said, “You know you keep making wise cracks. Are you sure you understand what I’m telling you?” I said, “Well, I think you’re telling me I should draw more like Cobean.” Sam Cobean was a terrific New Yorker cartoonist who had recently died in a car crash. He said, “You have to make up your mind if you want more than anything in the world to be a New Yorker cartoonist.” I said, “No, I want to screw and drink and smoke and cock around.” He looked at me and he was really serious. He repeated the question. I told him no and I never went back. That was the end of me, there.

GROTH: Why did you do that instead of giving him the “right” answer which would have been, “Yes, sir.”?

ROTH: I knew what their system was and I knew it was a system I didn’t like. I don’t like to do sketches. I don’t like to do things over and over. I don’t like it when they say things like, “If this guy’s finger was a little blunter, or this eye was straight …” I don’t work well under those circumstances. That doesn’t mean that I’m always right and they’re always wrong — but it’s my work. I have to make my mistakes my way, and when I make it good, make it good my way. Other people can work that system and they do terrific work. I would be miserable. I’d rather work in a grocery store — but I’d like to say where the cans go. [Laughter.]


—Lots of great-talker cartoonist interviews out right now, actually. Los Bros Hernandez talked to Bleeding Cool. Evan Dorkin & Peter Bagge talk to TMSIDK. I haven't read it yet, but Colleen Coover talked to Toucan.

—A truly enthusiastic Charles Hatfield is something to see. Here he enthuses about the upcoming anthology Cartozia Tales.

—Bart Croonenborghs compares Judge Dredd to Lt. Blueberry. Tom Spurgeon reviews Monster 2013 and Ullman & Brown's Old-Timey Hockey Tales.

—Only Tangentially Comics. The idea of "geek" or "nerd culture" may be the most purely corrosive force posed against us in the battle for truly relevant comics. Though their argument doesn't approach the idea from that angle, on the leftist journal Jacobin two writers are having a debate on the larger politics of geek culture.

—Not Comics. I missed this, but Lynda Barry reviewed Kathryn Davis's Duplex for The New York Times Book Review. She is as individual a critic as she is a cartoonist.