Forget It, Jake

Today, Ryan Holmberg continues his exploration of comics in India with an interview with Kailash Iyer, co-founder of Comix.India, an independent comics anthology.

Issue six came out last year. Will there be a seventh?

I don’t think so. The books aren’t selling well. Indie comics in general in India don’t have much of a market, and even within that context, Comix.India hasn’t sold much. We are not seeing a return on the investment of even the effort put into getting the books out. Secondly, we are having a problem with Pothi. The first two issues are out of print. Despite being a print-on-demand, you can’t order them anymore. I am not sure if it’s a printer issue or whether Pothi is no longer interested. If there is going to be another issue, my plan is to put it up as a free download. Since it’s not selling, you might as well give it away for free, so at least the contributors get exposure. I will check with Pothi again whether there is a chance that the books will be made available again. If there’s not, I want to release them as free pdfs, if the contributors are willing.

It seems that today, unlike when I first came to India five years ago, or even three years ago when I first read Comix.India, there are a number of groups doing indie comics, like Manta Ray in Bangalore, or the Pao Collective in Delhi. New artists potentially have other venues now.

Yes, artists and writers do have more options, but most of the Indian labels are still rather small, so they only have limited openings for unproven talent. I also believe most publishers source out and invite people to collaborate, rather than having open submissions, because most of them have a specific focus.


—The 2013 Harvey Award winners were announced this Saturday in Baltimore. Saga continues its streak this year. Robot 6, with which we share several writers, won an award, too. For some reason, the Harvey site hasn't yet published an official list of the recipients, but you can find them on their Twitter page.

Disney apparently won a legal battle with Stan Lee Media (not Stan Lee) over the rights to various Marvel characters.

—Steven Heller at Print interviews Peter Kuper, Noncanonical interviews Johnny Ryan, and Hillary Chute talks to Jules Feiffer.

—Rachel Cooke reviews Joe Sacco's The Great War, Bob Temuka reviews The Daniel Clowes Reader, and Abhay Khosla reviews a bunch of different comics.

—Sorta Comics. Edward Carey lists his ten favorite writer/illustrators, including such as Tove Jansson, William Blake, Maurice Sendak, and Edward Gorey, most of whom are cartoonists by one definition or another.

Penny Arcade is obviously a comic strip, but I'm not sure it makes sense to say that its regular Penny Arcade Expo is a comics convention. Still, this editorial by Rachel Edidin explaining why she will never return to the event is worth pointing out here. Really, some of the worst aspects of internet, video game, and comics culture all rolled up into one ball.

—History. Frank M. Young has another excellent post up on his Stanley Stories blog, this time exploring early work by Stan Lee which seems to be heavily influenced by John Stanley. Michael Vassallo has his own excellent post on Noel Sickles.


All Those Dollars

Today on the site Tucker Stone ushers us into September.


Heidi MacDonald and many commenters weigh in on our recent kerfuffle. Warning: I am mentioned. So's a book I published.

More on the recent Batwoman creator dispute.

My book of the week, Reggie-12, reviewed.

And our parent company, Fantagraphics, announced it will publish Don Rosa's stories of Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge and co.



Not Making Sense

Frank Santoro's here with a column on the formal properties of a forgotten John Buscema comic. It's the kind of Frank column that includes things like this:

The "correct" way to read this two-page spread, of course, follows the traditional left-to-right zigzag down the left-hand side of the spread and up to the right and back down. [But] I think they can be understood visually by reading them "incorrectly"--by beginning in the top left and then going across the center dividing line of the center.

Rob Clough is back, too, with a review of Gilbert Hernandez's Marble Season. Here's a bit of that:

Gilbert Hernandez's quasi-autobiographical Marble Season is a remarkable work of verisimilitude as well as a gift to his long-time fans. The snapshot he provides of his brothers and neighborhood friends growing up is filled with the kind of detail and emotional truths about how children relate to one another one would expect from the man behind Palomar. What's interesting in this book about the rituals and social interactions of about fifty years ago is how Hernandez subtly brings up the ways in which pop culture became a pervasive force that was unifying in some ways but also homogenizing. In the early '60s, every little kid was affected by the power of radio, TV, and comics. Even the cover suggests a Jack Kirby-esque clash between titans. The more widespread availability of TV, the dominance of rock music on the radio, and the new wellspring of popularity that comics enjoyed made negotiating one's cultural environment a dizzying feat.

Elsewhere, I'm finally starting to halfway get into the swing of things, link-wise:

—Michael Cavna at the Washington Post profiles living comic-strip legend Mort Walker for his 90th birthday.

—The film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum is always good on Robert Crumb, and he has recently posted his original review of the Terry Zwigoff coumentary. Bobsy at the Mindless Ones has a take on Crumb's Genesis that doesn't match up with mine (I wrote about it a million years ago in TCJ 301), but which is smart and certainly worth taking on board. The kill-your-father anti-Crumb wave of late among younger cartoonists and comics critics is very odd to me (it hardly seems to notice, let alone account for, vast swathes of his work, not to mention his deep influence on nearly every aspect of the medium) but I guess unsurprising. [I'm not really meaning to implicate Bobsy in that last sentence, by the way. It's simply a general observation. Poor writing on my part.]

—Chris Mautner reviews Reed Waller and Kate Worley's Omaha the Cat Dancer, Rob Clough reviews Jason's Lost Cat, and I guess Tom Spurgeon's going through one of his bursts of reviewing energy (not that I should talk) and he's got two new ones: Justice League 23 and Love and Rockets: The Covers. [That's a good thing.]

—The Economist's More Intelligent Life has a short but nice profile of Chris Ware, and the mothership visits Ralph Steadman's studio.

—Matt Bors has found a new fulltime gig.

—Frank Santoro's the latest guest on Tell Me Something I Don't Know.

—Jeffrey Gustafson, in an otherwise not entirely unreasonable essay, is the latest in a long, long line of comics fans to take offense at Alan Moore saying modern mainstream comics stink without offering any specific counter-examples. Wonder why that is? He also seems to think "Sturgeon's Law" is an actual law.


On the Road Again

Today on the site:

The "Anti-War" comics of Harvey Kurtzman by Bob Levin.

Kurtzman stood somewhat apart at EC. He considered horror comics “immoral.” (What he thought about the others was probably not much more positive.) His reputation today primarily rests upon his having created, edited and written the first twenty-four issues of the satiric humor comic MAD, whose impact on a generation used to the cozy cliches and platitudes of the Eisenhower Age was immeasurable. (After leaving EC, Kurtzman launched three unsuccessful humor mags, TrumpHumbug, and Help, before settling in at Playboy, where he created and wrote “Little Annie Fanny” for twenty-one years, providing stimulation of a different sort.) But before any of this, at EC, Kurtzman produced what have been recognized as the first “anti-war” war comics. With them, the novelist/ newspaper columnist Pete Hamill once wrote, Kurtzman “revolutionized the form…. (His) combat stories were hard, bleak, free of rah-rah patriotism. They were about men, not costumed superheroes.”


People, people, the great Brian Ralph is on tour for Reggie-12, which is a great oversized collection of the excellent comic strip. Go get the book. Go see Brian.

SEATTLE, WA: Saturday September 7th, 6pm

Fantagraphics Bookstore, 1201 South Vale St. (at Airport Way S.)

PORTLAND, OR: Sunday, September 8th, 6pm

Floating World, 400 NW Couch St.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA: Tuesday, September 10th, 6pm

Mission: Comics and Art, 3520 20th St. Suite B

LOS ANGELES, CA: Wednesday, September 11th, 7pm

The Secret Headquarters, 3817 W Sunset Blvd

BETHESDA, MD: Saturday September 14th and Sunday September 15th

Small Press Expo, Bethesda North Marriott Hotel, 5701 Marinelli Rd.


The Sequential Arts Workshop announces its low residency program.

Johanna Draper Carlson on Polly and Her Pals.

Evan Dorkin on some personal icons.

A visit to the Stan Lee Papers in Wyoming.

And interview with Gene Yang.

And finally, fittingly, an asteroid has been named for Alejandro Jodorowsky. Well alright.


Running Out of Lethal Injection Drugs

Well, I'm back from the wilds of Maine, and it seems like the site is more or less intact. I guess I missed another comments-thread tempest, but, without having had time to really look at the discussion closely, the arguments seem somehow less inherently divisive (with some obvious exceptions) and more like talking past each other (with other obvious exceptions). It would take more time and thought and close attention to respond as fully as I probably should, but the main issue at hand isn't going anywhere, and will and should be addressed on this site in the future. The overwhelmingly white demographics of North American independent comics creators, when mixed with a very strong tradition of intensely personal comics in which many of the most celebrated works deal in provocation and even deliberate rudeness, unsurprisingly leads to various artistic and social tensions, possibly irresolvable. One reason for hope might be found in noting how the typical depiction of women has changed in comics since the heyday of the undergrounds—sexism is clearly still a live issue, but things aren't what they used to be, and I have no doubt that the increased and increasing prevalence of female creators [and readers, editors, publishers, etc.] is a big part of that. Anyway, complicated issues here, and ones that likely aren't going away any time soon, with or without deliberate action—but deliberation rarely hurts.

Joe McCulloch is here, as he is every Tuesday morning, with his indispensable weekly report on the most interesting-looking new titles available in direct-market stores.

After having spent a week without access to the internet, I am way behind on links, but here are a few I noticed while I am catching up:

—Hayao Miyazaki has announced his retirement from feature film-making. His Nausicaä of the Vally of the Wind still seems to be to be one of the great achievements in comics.

—Jeet Heer's In Love with Art: Françoise Mouly’s Adventures in Comics with Art Spiegelman is previewed by Anne Kingston at Maclean's.

—Ellen Forney's Marbles is reviewed by John Crace at The Guardian, and Joe Ollmann's Science Fiction is reviewed by Rob Clough.

The Seattle Weekly has a short profile of Fantagraphics.

—Mark Waid has purchased a comics store.

—Kyle Baker has launched an online comic strip, and Derf has taken his long-running The City to the web.

—I liked this Frank Santoro post on changing tastes.

Saga continues its streak by taking home the Hugo.

—The important and influential science-fiction writer and editor Frederik Pohl has passed away at 93. Christopher Priest at The Guardian has an obituary.

—Dash Shaw speaks to the California College of the Arts:


Limited Production

Today on the site:

Paul Tumey reviews Society Is Nix: Gleeful Anarchy at the Dawn of the American Comic Strip 1895-1915.

The greatest value of a book like Society Is Nix is that it gives us the work of forgotten cartoonists of the past who were so different — and so good — that they shock us into meeting their work in the moment, without any cultural preconceptions.

For example, consider Kate Carew.

Born Mary Williams, she traveled in the 1880s from California to New York City where she landed a job as a writer-cartoonist with Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper, the New York World as a writer and cartoonist. Rewind that sentence. Think about it.

One of Kate Carew’s “Carewatures” – this time with John Barrymore and herself

A woman. Traveled across country (alone?) to the biggest, most vital city in the world at the time. Got a job on a paper run and staffed by men. Cartooned. She did all this in the 1880s through the early teens. American women got the right to vote in 1920. Got it? Okay, let’s go on.

Mary Williams adopted the name “Kate Carew” and wrote candid, witty interviews with luminaries of the day, including Mark Twain, Pablo Picasso, and the Wright Brothers. She adorned her interviews with her unique “Carewatures,” and often drew herself into the scene. Imagine Oprah Winfrey as a liberated woman caricaturist-interviewer in 1900 and you have an idea of who Kate Carew was.

Her sole comic strip was the splendidly idiosyncratic The Angel Child, which ran in the World’s color Sunday supplement from 1902 to 1905, and featured a spirited and independent little New York girl who is a forerunner of the famous Eloise.  A splendid example of The Angel Child can be found on page 99 of Society Is Nix: Gleeful Anarchy at the Dawn of the American Comic Strip 1895-1915, edited by Peter Maresca and published by Sunday Press (which is basically Peter Maresca).


More Jack Kirby -- Steven Brower on "The Myth of the Jolly King".

The End of the Fucking World, by Chuck Forsman, cartoonist and future TCJ-diarist, is getting the live action pilot treatment.

DragonCon co-founder Ed Kramer, dramatized in comic book form.

And Paul Karasik hits Vermont's CCS for a master class.




Is That a Shadow?

Hi there. Frank Santoro's column this week looks at two very different artists: Marc Bell and Jason Karns.

Elsewhere online:

Lauren Weinstein has a masterpiece of a comic on Mutha Magazine. She may be on vacation with my co-editor, but that's great work.

There was a lot of Jack Kirby birthday activity. Scott Dunbier shares a story. Chris Sims shows off a Kirby-character sketchbook. And Tom Spurgeon posts his annual array of great images.

Michael Cavna talks to Oni Hartstein.

Darryl Ayo Brathwaite answers a question posed by David Brothers.

And advice from Bill Watterson in comics form.


Sing That Song

Today on the site, Robert Steibel makes debuts a new monthly column devoted to the story texts Jack Kirby wrote on the margins of his pencil art. It's predictably epic.

For the last three years I’ve been doing a daily weblog about Jack Kirby called Kirby Dynamics which was my version of the Daily Show meets Saturday Night Live focused on the life and work of Jack Kirby — I covered news stories and analyzed the history while also trying to have fun along the way. For a bunch of reasons I decided to pull the plug on that project, but as we move towards Jack’s 100th birthday I still wanted to keep my toe in the water, so my thanks to the editors of The Comics Journal for giving me a chance to do a monthly column I’m calling “Jack Kirby: Behind The Lines.” It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to honor Jack’s career here at The Comics Journal. As long as comics are being written and drawn I’m sure TCJ will be at the vanguard of comics scholarship and comics journalism.  I’ll try not to ruin their website.

The reason I picked the over-used cliché “behind the lines” for this series is probably going to be pretty obvious. Each month I’m going to take a look at Jack Kirby original pencils and examples of Kirby original art — images that reveal information not in the final newsprint publications. I may also take a look at some scans of Jack’s pencils from the 70s and compare those to the printed books. Mainly I want to focus on Jack’s famous margin notes from his 1960s work so we can get a glimpse into the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee collaboration.

I’m also calling the column “behind the lines” because Jack literally fought behind enemy lines during the second world war. Jack served in the 3rd army, 5th division under General Geroge S. Patton. Here is a photo of Jack at basic training in Camp Stewart, Georgia, July, 1944.

Elsewhere online:

Speaking of Kirby, MTV Geek has a week devoted to his characters.

I can't resist this. (Sorry).

Shaenon Garrity on manga hits and misses (audio).

More audio: The Joe Shuster Awards from last weekend.

This Kickstarter campaign looks intriguing...