And in the comics world the big, sad news is that Jerry Robinson, longtime cartoonist, Batman artist, and tremendous advocate for creator’s rights and free speech has passed away at the age of 89. We will have a full obituary shortly. In the meantime, we’re pleased to re-present Gary Groth’s definitive interview with artist from 2004. Chris Mautner conducted a more recent interview in 2010 for TCJ. And here is Tom De Haven’s recent review of the reissue of Robinson’s The Comics.
For more on Robinson I recommend Christopher Irving’s profile at Graphic NYC, Alex Dueben’s 2010 interview at CBR, which covers the recent Jet Scott and The Comics reissues, and the NY Daily News obituary, which covers the highlights of the artist’s life.
In old-time-comic-book-companies-that-were-once-very-bad-still-are-and-we-shouldn’t-be-surprised news:
-Laura Hudson scores an interview with Marvel editors on the lack of female titles/creators at the company.
-And there’s a battle on at Archie over who gets to run that wholesome company. Somewhere Dan DeCarlo is smiling.
Today we have the fourth day of Shannon Wheeler’s entry into the Cartoonist’s Diary game, in which he tries to escape from New York, as well as Sean T. Collins’s review of Levon Jihanian’s Danger Country.
I don’t know how I missed this before, but legendary animator and cartoonist Gene Deitch has been posting a long series of memoirs, organized by different people he has known throughout his life. Like his son Kim, Gene Deitch has had a pretty amazing life, and knows how to tell a story. (The semi-recent “Deitch family” Journal issue is one of the best magazines you will ever read.)
Peter Blegvad, creator of the amazing comic strip Leviathan (another must read), created and appeared on a BBC radio play about memory loss last weekend, and there are only two more days in which you can listen to it for free online.
In that same post, Lynch mentions that Percy Crosby’s Skippy is one of the archival reprinting projects he’d most like to see published, and coincidentally, yesterday IDW announced they were going to do just that.
I haven’t listened to this yet, but Tucker Stone recruited two other Journal writers, Joe McCulloch and Matt Seneca, for a podcast in which, I guess, they talk about comics?
And finally, something else I haven’t been able to fully absorb yet — the Mindless Ones’ Doubtful Guest turns in a ginormous take on the current state of the direct market, and it looks to be the kind of lengthy link-heavy MO essay I like best from them.
Shannon Wheeler rolls up with Day 3 of his diary while Mike Dawson talks to Sarah Glidden over at TCJ Talkies.
Meanwhile, Josh Neufeld has a good and topical new comic up at Cartoon Movement about “two young Bahraini editorial cartoonists who found themselves on opposite sides of Bahrain’s short-lived Pearl Revolution”.
Writer Brian Wood posted some thoughts on the current market vis a vis digital distribution as experienced by a working professional in a few different areas of the market. He begins with:
Everyone I know loves comic shops. Everyone I know who makes comics, especially creator-owned comics, is hurting, financially. EVERYONE is bleeding, its a bad time. So to what extent does digital as a publishing format represent an additional revenue stream, one on top of print sales through shops, one that can ease some of the suffering?
Over in what seems like a world of abundance, Noel Murray at A/V Club has a lengthy review round-up of titles including Someday Funnies, The Definitive Flash Gordon And Jungle Jim, Vol. 1 and Lost in the Andes.
Top of the site today: Shannon Wheeler joins us for a week-long stint on Cartoonist’s Diary. Shannon most recently published Oil and Water (written by Steve Duin) with Fantagraphics. He is the author of I Thought You Would be Funnier and is well known for his character Too Much Coffee Man.
Well, The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival is all done. I was, as luck would have it, knocked out with the remainder of a bad cold, so it was all a bit of daze for me. But for everyone else all that’s left are back aches, hangovers and a lot of comics. It was packed and cheery, and I was happy to get to spend some time with Tom Spurgeon, Phoebe Gloeckner and a few other long distance travelers. Sightings and stories of Jack Davis were legion. He was like a visiting dignitary who turned normal people into quivering fans; myself included. We’ll have his conversation with Gary Groth and Drew Friedman on the site just as soon as we can. And of course I had the pleasure of launching Kramers Ergot 8.
Frank Santoro has filed a brief report already for which he mercilessly swiped my best pictures of the signing, so here’s a few others from the fest.
The rock show Friday night was jammed and a ton of fun. Here’s Gary, Devin and Ross tuning up. The next day Gary managed to draw excellent dinosaurs in copies of Kramers with his head down on the table.
Sammy Harkham and CF attempt “blue steel”.
Here’s a life TCJ (knights of the) round table: Chris Mautner, Joe McCulloch, Tim Hodler (with TCJ NJ-branch intern Ramona).
Today, we’ve got Sean T. Collins reviewing Matthew Thurber’s 1-800-Mice, a book he told me he had expected to dislike. But, like a certain special Somebody whose birthday is coming up, Thurber rarely plays to expectations, and certainly didn’t in this case.
The L.A. Weekly talks to Ben Jones, of Paper Rad and Problem Solverz fame, regarding his new gallery show. He’s into old video games, it seems.
I didn’t know until Alan Gardner pointed it out yesterday, but Lynn (For Better or Worse) Johnson has been posting a long series of video podcasts, often involving advice on making comic strips and the creative process.
Robin McConnell of Inkstuds has published the full-length transcript of his great interview with Geof Darrow from last winter. If you never listened to that (or even if you did) this is worth checking out. Darrow’s a unique figure. And it’s always rewarding to read written-out versions of old radio programs. It’s the way they were meant to be experienced. (I love you, Robin.)
Tucker Stone reviews a very early issue of The Comics Journal (#38, to be exact), and it’s really smart, and good good fun for longtime Journal fans (or foes). My favorite part is where Tucker claims not to enjoy it when “critics criticize other critics,” right in the middle of a lengthy post reviewing almost every page of criticism in a 33-year-old issue of TCJ. Maybe he just doesn’t like it when the other critics might argue back… Seriously, this is great, and I hope he writes a hundred more like it. (I love you, Tucker.)
Matt Seneca has posted the last twodays of his multi-part interview with cartoonist and would-be provocateur Blaise Larmee. These are smart guys (Seneca’s easily the best under-30 comics critic I can think of), and it’s worth reading, but by this point in the series, I’m beginning to get tired of the constant back-and-forth about whether or not comics are “cool”—especially since they seem to mean the word in the Fonzie sense, not the Marshall McLuhan one. I mean, imagine that Hitchcock and Truffaut (whose famous interview book I’m guessing is being referenced with “Larmee/Seneca”) had spent half their time together talking about whether or not movies were cool. But when Matt and Larmee’s talk veers in less conventionally teenaged directions, it gets much more interesting. (I love you, Matt.)
When I first came across Tom Spurgeon’s annual Holiday shopping guide a week back, it was completely blank, and apparently had been posted without having been written. And so I forgot to go back and check to see if “Mr. Focus” ever decided to write it. Turns out he eventually did, and it’s as mind-bogglingly wide-ranging as ever. I don’t really give comics-related gifts to anyone (my family and friends are too cool to be into comics), but this is still a great read every year, listing plenty of obscure and/or overlooked material, whether or not you use the guide for its ostensible purpose. (I love you, Tom.)
On the site today Sean T. Collins continues his column and introduces Noel Freibert, of Closed Caption Comics and numerous other crews. It’s been fun watching Noel develop his work these last buncha years.
Elsewhere in the web-verse:
I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that this weekend is the big damn Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, which I co-organize with Desert Island & Bill Kartalopolous. And speaking of which the legendary (I know, overused, but actually apt this time) Jack Davis will be interviewed by Gary Groth tonight at The Strand, 7 pm. Then he’ll have an art opening at Scott Eder Gallery on Friday, and on Saturday will be at the Fest. Davis takes NYC!
Just a few other links today, as it seemed a slow news moment or something. I found this list of Dr. Doom stories endearing. And, well, let’s go less links and more, “here’s some interesting stuff coming up”: This anthology looks good, and features work from personal fave Megan Kelso and TCJ writer Katie Haegele, too. Evan Dorkin announced yesterday that he’s going to be producing new work for Dark Horse Presents. I always like seeing Evan’s work, and am psyched to see his Mike and Cheese collection, too. Finally, straight outta Canada, Marc Bell compatriots Shayne Ehman and Seth Scriver are working on an animated film called Asphalt Watches and need some funding. Marc talked about the scene they’re all a part of in yesterday’s interview. Shayne and Seth say:
In 2000, we hitchhiked across Canada together. The animation captures our crazy journey, full of hilarious and amazing encounters. Using music and songs we make ourselves, alongside hand-drawn Flash animation, we tell the tale of making our way from a 7-11 near Chilliwack BC where a guy was hanging out with a knife in his belly… to meeting one of only “two real Santas” in the world outside Calgary… to barely escaping death near Regina SK. Our style is to turn real-life characters and settings into funny and poetic abstractions that depict the feeling and essence of what happened.
Sounds good to me! Anyhooooo, below is a preview. See ya this weekend, New Yorkers.
Sometimes I look at a work and won’t be too interested. The way I will respond is, “Well, they needed to throw a wrench in it.” They need to throw a wrench into what they’re doing, and maybe it would come out more interesting. The thing that I liked about doing collaborations is that someone is interfering with what you’re doing. I’ll be drawing something and then someone adds to it or they take it in a different direction or because it’s a different person, it’s kind of an interference. So I think that led me to try to interfere with myself in the way I’m working, like with drawing and collages and stuff, trying to create something more interesting by creating a bit of a problem that has to be solved.
Also on the site, Rob Clough reviews Melissa Mendes’s Freddy Stories.
Elsewhere, there are a lot of links, too many for any one person to read in one day. You will have to pick and choose. I will try to help you decide when I can.
Dept. of Drug Abuse. Everyone will want to read Justin Green’s thoughts on marijuana—comic strip included.
Dept. of Process & Comics History. Adrian Tomine talked to Comic Book Resources about the latest issue of Optic Nerve, an abandoned graphic novel, and learning to accept classic comic-strip techniques as valid for his own work.
Blaise Larmee continues to make gnomic replies to Matt Seneca’s questions in days two and three of their week’s worth of interviews. On Monday I said that this discussion would be catnip to some and provoke blank stares from others. Today, I have to admit that I have had both reactions to the talk, often within the space of a few sentences.
Dept. of Cartoonists on Video. Kate Beaton appeared on another Canadian internet video thing, and Drew Friedman showed somebody who calls himself “Mr. Media” how he draws. (I know I referred to Mr. Media the same way the last time I mentioned him, but it’s really hard not to be surprised all over again every time I am reminded.)
Dept. of Grant Morrison Worship. Grant Morrison maniacs who haven’t slavishly departed from the premises after he tried to pull a Pearl Harbor on us last summer will be interested in two Marc Singer-related items. Singer of course is a formerly very active comics blogger and academic who is now releasing a book called Grant Morrison: Combining the Worlds of Contemporary Comics. The Mindless Ones interview Singer at length about the book here, and Singer himself excerpts a section on his own site.
For those who aren’t yet Morrison maniacs but want to become one for some reason, Chris Mautner provides a guide to his entire oeuvre.
Dept. of Alan Moore Talking at Length. Moore talked to Fast Company about Harvey Pekar here (Top Shelf has more on the Moore/Pekar relationship), and his recent interview with The Independent has been republished entirely uncut here.
Dept. of Speaking of Uncut… Fantagraphics has published the complete R.C. Harvey essay on Pogo that was far too long to include in its entirety between the two covers of their recent Pogo collection (at least without losing some of the strip).
Dept. of Comics Internet Bashing. Tucker Stone goes on a tear near the end there, while Jones (O.O.T.J.B.) keeps things short and sweet.
Dept. of Pleasant Surprises. I’m going to steer clear of the comments thread underneath it so as not to ruin things, but Noah Berlatsky’s review of Ben Saunder’s Do Gods Wear Capes? is really good!