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...


Mensa Level

Well, Tim is on vacation this week so I'll try to steer this ship solo. Today on the site Joe McCulloch will regale you with tales of new comics along with a sure-footed digression.

Elsewhere on the internet:

An interview with British cartoonist Chris Reynolds.

Comics-related: The New Yorker rounds up vintage typography blogs.

Comics-related-more-or-less: This collection of reactions to a new Batman actor is pretty funny. Funny that's it serious, I mean.

USA Today on Top Shelf PR for John Lewis' book.

And some rules by Tom Spurgeon: Immortalized in comics.


Gallons to Go

Today on the site:

R.C. Harvey profiles and interviews longtime, multi-career cartoonist Dick Locher. Here's Locher on the beginning of his time with Dick Tracy:

Harvey: What did you do on the strip?

Locher: I did all the backgrounds. I was with him for four-and-a-half years, and in the last year, his wife Edna came to him and said, We’re going to Hawaii. And he said, No, I’m not. He never took a vacation.Never. He’d take a day off, but no vacation. She says, We’re going to Hawaii. And he says, No, we’re not.And she says, Dick’s going to put in the figures for you. And he said, No, he isn’t. [Laughter] He never let anyone touch the figures. And she insisted. So I did the figures while he was gone for a week. And he came back, and he looked at ’em like that [over his glasses], and he took a razor blade and scraped a lot of them off and said, Naw, that’s not right. But he didn’t scrape all of them off. He liked some of my drawings. And he let me do more and more. His brother did all the lettering. Ray. And I did all the backgrounds and helped with story. He used my story about Tracy stranded in the canyon with Professor Whitehall from Scotland Yard. He liked that story.

Harvey: Oh, was that the one where they were stranded on an island in a canyon with steep, unclimbable walls, right?

Locher: Yes. His theory, and I give him a lot of credit for this practice, was, Let’s put Tracy’s ass in jeopardy. And I said, Let’s have him on a deserted island. Good idea, he said—I haven’t done that before.How’ll we get him there? Well, I said, let’s have him on a plane with a hijacker who makes him jump. And he said, Fine. It was his idea to put Whitehall there. He’d been there for a long time and he’d lost weight.He was skinny, had a white beard, long white hair. Now, Gould says, how are we going to get him out of here? That was right about the time the U.S. Army was doing a lot of missile firing, so I said, Let’s have a wayward missile land in the canyon and the army will follow it, find Tracy, and take them out of there. So that’s what we did. It was fun. I was sitting on a cloud.


Tom Spurgeon talks to Daniel Clowes Reader-editor and TCJ-contributor Ken Parille.

Lisa Hanawalt interviewed about some funny logos.

And: Comic book pages photographed.



Today on the site Carter Scholz returns to review Dash Shaw's New School.

The most radically innovative feature of New School is its thick overlays of color that at times all but obscure the drawing and lettering underneath.  There is a definite vocabulary to these overlays.  They’re entirely absent from the New Jersey chapter, except for a dark blue/ochre mix used to signify Danny’s precognitive dreams.  (He dreams blockbuster movies yet to be released: Jurassic Park and X-Men.)  A variety of palettes and patterns occupy the other chapters, with less clear significance; sometimes they’re clearly reflective of Danny’s mood, but it’s hard to say why chapter 4, for instance, favors dots, plaids, and checkers.  In the last two chapters, photos are used, which creates a more direct counterpoint between the two layers of images.


The Secret Acres gang has a comprehensive Autoptic round-up.

The latest on the newest iteration of Wonder Woman.

And iPads and publishing visual books.