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Isle of the Cheetah

Today at The Comics Journal, we're taking a look at Nick Thorburn's Penguins, thanks to Nate Patrin. It's a doozy!

That might be part of why Penguins, the graphic novel debut by singer/musician Nick Thorburn (Islands; The Unicorns), initially seems to operate from a basis of familiar shorthand. During a brief phone conversation with Thorburn, I picked up on the notion that his artistic influences and technique share a common lexicon with the last few decades' worth of indie and alt comics. There's the usual suspects in Dan Clowes, Chris Ware, Joe Matt, and so forth, paralleling a teen-years interest in making DIY Xerox zines and following a childhood interest in the gag-driven simplicity of Archie comics. That's fairly unsurprising, given what emerges in Penguins -- a blend of juvenilia and melancholy that's grown into a default setting for a significant cohort that grew up in the same context.

To dig further down into what that common experience actually translates to on the page, then, takes more than just an interrogation of influences and comparisons. And if Penguins proves anything, it's that Thorburn has taken well to the narrative potential and visual simplicity of a mute, almost-faceless character going through physical mayhem in ways alternately (or concurrently) amusing and despairing. "I wanted to be as low-res as possible," Thorburn explained, "and have these characters that weren't quite human, weren't quite penguin, had no facial expressions, didn't speak… to me, having it be flattened like that made it all the more cruel." The old Mel Brooks line about the difference between tragedy ("when I cut my finger") and comedy ("when you fall into an open sewer and die") is blurred when the characters all look largely identical and it's unclear, save your own perspective and whatever mood strikes you at the moment, whether you're supposed to empathize with them or laugh at their misery.

Our review of the day comes from Ryan Carey, and it's of Becca Tobin's Understanding, which recently made its way into the world thanks to the Retrofit crew.

The relentless pursuit of diversion and distraction undertaken by Tobin’s protagonists can be an exhausting thing to witness, but it’s certainly never dull, narratively or visually : largely-borderless panels coalesce into intriguing page layouts that are never less than equal parts absolutely inventive yet intuitively easy to follow, while the characters themselves morph into unusual shapes and formations that are somehow consistently recognizable as being the same individuals that they were before. By and large they’re not doing anything you wouldn’t see in, say, your average Cathy strip, but Tobin (thankfully) disposes of that comic’s garden-variety neurosis and replaces it with explosions of vibrant color (okay, fair enough, except in the two-tone strips, but those are still quite effective in their own right) that reflect the deliberately, one could even argue aggressively, unconcerned outlook of the denizens of planet blob. Think of it, then, as Cathy with the consumerism dialed up to 11, then fed a couple hits of purple microdot.

Over at Popula, Lauren Weinstein's dropped her latest Normel Person. On Facebook, Mardou got into her home life.

Over at Talkhouse, Mudhoney's Mark Arm talks about the many side gigs he's taken on over the years, including a stint at Fantagraphics.

Over at Diamond, Craig Thompson's upcoming serialized comic series, Ginseng Roots, was discussed

 

Tummy Ache

Welcome back to the funny pages. This morning, R.C. Harvey returns with a look at the life and work of early comics master Art Young.

ABOUT THE SAME TIME as his marriage was dissolving, Young's political views were taking their final shape. In 1902, Young had returned to Wisconsin briefly to lend his pen to Robert La Follette's Progressive (Republican) campaign to be re-elected governor. But by 1905, Young had rejected the Republican politics of his heritage— including "all bourgeois institutions." And he had resolved never again to draw a cartoon whose ideas he didn't believe in.

Not all of Young’s cartoons were “political cartoons” in the current sense. He also drew cartoons that were simply humorous. And even his political cartoons were seldom of the modern sort, skewering politicians by name. Not at first. Instead, Young sent out barbed shafts aimed at general targets: bloated businessmen who ignored the plight of their workers. And it was for these that he declared his independence from any imposed point of view.

“I would no longer draw cartoons which illustrated somebody else’s will,” he wrote. “Henceforth it would be my own way of looking at things—right or wrong. I would figure things out for myself. If success came, well and good; but to win at the price of my freedom of thought—that kind of success was not for me. Though I perceived that much of life was compromise, in dealing with world affairs or with my own, I would have to sink or swim holding on to my own beliefs on questions of vital importance.”

In 1906, he graduated from Cooper Union where he had been taking courses in debate and public speaking. And in 1910, he realized that he belonged with the socialists "in their fight to destroy capitalism."

“Speakers for the Social Democratic party provided me with much food for thought,” Young wrote. “They attacked the whole capitalistic system, showed how its different units combined to exploit the producing masses to the nth degree, and how the press distorted or suppressed news to protect this system, of which it was a part.

“Listening to lectures on the class struggle (after I discovered that such a struggle had been going on for ages), I found that I had a great deal in common with the everyday workers. ... I was living in a world morally and spiritually diseased, and I was learning some of the reasons why.”

Matt Seneca is back, too, with a review of Shintaro Kago's Dementia 21.

For a mangaka whose work has just begun edging into official English translation, Shintaro Kago is in the rare and enviable position of needing little introduction. If you're reading about comics on the internet (you are), you've probably seen his art somewhere - that Flying Lotus album, old issues of Vice, random can't-unsee-it images on tumblr, or any one of numerous scanlations. It's actually somewhat surprising that Kago books haven't had a longtime presence in the comic stores of the West. I don't know that guro manga has a particularly large fandom here numbers wise, but it's certainly got a passionate one, and after Junji Ito and maybe Hideshi Hino, Kago is one of the idiom's biggest names. At its best (and especially when it's in color), his imagery transcends simple grossness for the truly uncanny, opening page- or screen-sized portals into a world that's impossible to get your head all the way around.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Gasoline Alley. This weekend saw the 100th anniversary of Gasoline Alley, which, at least in the original incarnation drawn and written by Frank King, is one of a small handful of works that could plausibly be held up as the greatest comic strip ever created. We've covered it many times in the Comics Journal, and today's a good day to look back at a few highlights, including R.C. Harvey's history of the strip's early years, a conversation with Jeet Heer about the recent Drawn & Quarterly reprint series, and Frank M. Young's review of a recent Sunday Press collection of Frank King work.

—News.
Abrams Books has cancelled a forthcoming book by Jack Gantos and Dave McKean called A Suicide Bomber Sits in the Library, after widespread criticism online.

The graphic novel, written by the Newbery medal-winning author Jack Gantos and illustrated by Sandman artist Dave McKean, follows a young, brown-skinned would-be terrorist. It was due to be released in May 2019.

“When a young boy enters a library wearing an explosive vest hidden underneath his lovely new red jacket, he has only one plan on his mind. But as he observes those around him becoming captivated by the books they are reading, the boy can’t help but question his reason for being there,” reads a description from its publisher, Abrams.

Comics publisher Zainab Akhtar described the comic on Twitter last week as dealing with “an illiterate brown Muslim boy who goes into a library with a suicide bomb only to start having second thoughts because people seem so into the world of books and if only he could read”.

“Because reading will help the ignorant brown Muslim boy question/renounce his beliefs, you see, in addition to being some vague kumbaya about how a specific interpretation of culture will save the barbarian,” she wrote.

—Interviews. On last week's episode of Behind the News, Doug Henwood interviewed Mark Dery about his new biography of Edward Gorey, Born to Be Posthumous. The most recent guest on the RiYL podcast is Tom Tomorrow.

—RIP. Nicolas Roeg

Bernardo Bertolucci

Ricky Jay

 

Grave Grove

Today at The Comics Journal, we've got our latest installment in Retail Therapy: and we're close to home on this one, with Larry Reid from the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery!

What do you wish more publishers knew about comics retail?

I don’t order through the customary “direct market” distribution channels.  I always thought that model was unsustainable – even when I worked as Marketing and Promotions Director for Fantagraphics in the early to mid-90s. There were about a half-dozen direct market distributors then; now there’s only one, so I suppose that assessment was correct. I have a great deal of respect for retailers that can work within that complex system. I’m reminded of the perils whenever I visit mainstream comics shops and find hundreds, if not thousands, of comic books in the discount bins.

In keeping with the theme, our review of the day is of Bastard, the latest book from the prolific Max de Radigues. J. Caleb Mozzocco has the score:

It’s an admirable level of restraint on the artist’s part, making literature out of what could so easily be a generic genre story, partially by choosing what to show and what not to, even if what doesn’t get shown also tends to be the stuff that would likely have been the most fun to draw.

Instead, we watch the pair live their lives on the road, surviving off fast food and diners, scamming the cops and authorities, fighting off rivals and accepting help only when desperate, sometimes from a friend who turns out to be an enemy, sometimes from a stranger who turns out to be a kindly ally. While it would be wrong to call this a coming of age story for Eugene, it does chronicle a sort of end of childhood, as the idyllic but tenuous life he shares with his mom starts to come to  a close, and a new chapter for them both begins.

Over at Vent Scene, they're digging into Josh Pettinger's Goiter and getting pretty aggro about auteur theory.

Over at Bleeding Cool, they've got the latest on another comics related lawsuit, which involves a bar that made a comic book about mixology, which is one of those words completely identified with an unlikeable subculture that, in a twist of fate that never fails to impress, is completely unaware of how unlikeable its members are and would be incredulous to discover that the world rolls its eyes every time they open their mouths to talk about bringing back mint juleps, or whatever.

Over at Comicosity, Mark Peters put together a Jack Kirby post about big drawings just because it made him feel better. I can totally rep for that.

The US holiday of eating and buying shit begins tomorrow: your Comics Journal returns on Monday!

 

Sea of Tapioca

Austin English is here with the latest installment of his column, in which he wrestles with the difficult-to-explain legacy of Stan Lee.

When Lee passed away last week, non-comics world friends reached out to me to express condolences. They knew I loved comics and that I'm interested in the history of the medium... Clearly, this was a loss, right? A melancholy day? When I responded by trying to explain what a strange and confounding figure Lee was, and that he didn't exactly create the characters the media was saying he did, I found myself at a loss to explain why. Lee wasn't standard, he didn't just take credit for something that he had nothing to do with, so it couldn't be explained in a black and white way. He did have a large role in what Marvel was (and is), much of it positive. Why was he not what he claimed to be? It wasn’t easy to summarize and it felt exhausting, even ridiculous, to try.

My genuine love for people like Kirby and Ditko made that confusion seem cruel, intentional, a lasting way to obscure the work of actual creativity in the collective consciousness—a comic-book-villain type of crime. To get at the subversion, one had to bring up the 'Marvel Method,' which no one with a passing interest in these things should be expected to understand (although journalists covering Lee's passing could certainly do a little research). The Method is an odd system to base a major media company on, and yet the strangeness of it, the counter-intuitiveness involved, served Lee well in regards to his legacy. I’m sure, at the outset, it was simply a way to produce comics faster and cheaper by letting the artists be cartoonists. But no one really understands what cartooning is, and so Lee becomes a figure in people’s minds, the idea of the absolute heights a comic book can contain. True embodiments of the forms potential, Wood or Everett, exist as cultural foot notes in comparison, as if André Derain is the first name and Matisse the second.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Françoise Mouly talks briefly to Roz Chast about her recent Thanksgiving cover for The New Yorker.

I grew up in an apartment in Brooklyn. My mental image bank is basically lamps, sofas, wallpaper, dishware, TVs and accessories, an infinite number of tchotchkes, books, household appliances. My nightmare is having to draw something like “the woods” from memory. Not enough tchotchkes.

At Civlized, Ben Hicks profiles the infamous Air Pirates.

...this certainly wasn’t the Mickey Mouse club. This was the 'Air Pirates'—the notorious group of underground cartoonists who took on one of the largest media corporations in history…and lost. Kind of.

It begins with a boy—Dan O’Neill, who, at 21, became one of the youngest syndicated cartoonists of all time with his strip "Odd Bodkins," which began its run in 1964. Over time, however, O’Neill’s sensibilities began to shift as he became more politically and socially involved in the emerging counterculture scene, leading to more pointed and subversive material in the strip. The audience, he told Civilized, loved it. The syndicate? Not so much. "There were three firings," he said. "By the last one I knew I was finished, so I thought I might as well try and get my copyright back."

He figured that if he engaged in copyright infringement, the syndicate would surrender the strip back to him out of fear of a lawsuit. So, he incorporated nearly 30 characters into the strip "before they brought the hammer down." It didn’t work. The paper let him go, but opted to retain the copyright anyway.

Mike Lynch points to a recent interview with Liza Donnelly:

—Misc. Lynch also found a speech by Signe Wilkinson.

And Ben Towle writes about the influence of Steve Ditko.

A large part of any artist’s legacy is their effect on the art and artists that follow them–their influence–and indeed the headline from that NY Times obituary refers to Ditko as the, “Influential Comic Book Artist.”

But here’s a curious thing: the word “influence” or “influential” appear five times in that article, but in every instance other than its use as a general accolade in the headline, they all refer to people who Ditko was influenced by–Ayn Rand, Mort Meskin–not anyone being influenced by Ditko.

Compare this, for example, to the NY Times obituary of Ditko’s contemporary, Jack Kirby, who died in 1994. In just the first few paragraphs there are specific mentions of things Kirby influenced–how superhero comics post-Kirby are different than superhero comics pre-Kirby. Indeed, Kirby’s aesthetic influence on superhero comics is as ubiquitous as it is self-evident. Grab any modern superhero comic off the rack at your local comics shop and you’re looking at something that’s been shaped by Kirby’s influence.

A casual flip through a few issues of a contemporary superhero comic, though, is unlikely to yield any sign of Ditko’s visual style. Why is this? I think, because despite the tremendous regard in which Ditko is held by most comics people (myself included) his stylistic influence–such as it is–falls outside the genre in which Ditko’s best-known work falls. If you want to see Steve Ditko’s stylistic influence on comics you need to look not at superhero comics, but at indie comics–specifically indie comics of the late 1990s.

 

Brand Force Trauma

Today at TCJ, it's time for the latest installment in Michel Fiffe's ongoing evaluation of his inspirations: The Fiffe Files. This month's chapter is on The Flash, as depicted by a motley crew led by Mike Baron and William Messner-Loebs. 

"Random weirdness" --! His Flash is definitely a weird read, but you gotta lock into it. You have to be open to unsentimental, almost disjointed storytelling. Baron packs the book with new concepts, but not in a flimsy way, like emptily sprinkling scenes with ideas to show how clever he can be. Baron actually tries to get in there and explore some of those ideas. Having Guice be the straight man who only draws what is required with no fluff, no fanfare, no oomph is a good balance.

Our review of the day comes via Jake Murel, and it's of Nora Krug's remarkable (and demanding) new book, Belonging. Is it a comic? A visual memoir? What does all that stuff mean, anyway? Jake's on it:

But her diverse assortment of visual material raises a question about Belonging’s connection to comics and the nature of comics writ large. In short, is Belonging a “comic?” The back cover—at least of my review copy—advertises the book as a “visual memoir,” a term I initially assumed to be a semantic device for distancing an essentially comic text from the supposed low-brow, commercial escapism often attributed to comics. But the more I read, the more I wondered whether this might be a valid distinction. Is Belonging distinct from comics, not because of its content, but its form? It utilizes few structural elements typically of comics, such as panels or word balloons. Krug includes several interstitial comic sequences throughout her book, but she tells the majority of her narrative through stylized, handwritten text accompanied by an array of images. Though every page contains some sort of image, nearly all of the pages are so text dense that the singular included image could be removed and not much would be lost in the reading experience. The images become little more than decorative illustrations, a feature that opposes what most cartoonists and comics scholars consider (good) comic art.

And that's not all--not by a long shoot. Dig in, because we've got a rock solid interview with Stan Lee, from 1968, which we originally published in Comics Journal #181. There's a whole lot of meat on this one, friend. Here's a taste.

WHITE: Well, you’re getting more competition all the time, of course. New companies keep coming into the superhero field all the time. There are the Tower people … and Harvey Comics … Those are the most flagrant imitators. How do you feel in general about the imitators?

LEE: I wish they would peddle their papers elsewhere. The flattery kick — we’ve gotten over that years ago. We realize that we are rather popular now. We appreciate it. But the thing that bothers me … corny as it may sound … We really are trying to make comics as good as comic can be made. We’re trying to elevate the medium. We’re trying to make them as respectable as possible. We … our goal is that someday an intelligent adult would not be embarrassed to walk down the street with a comic magazine. I don’t know whether we can ever bring this off, but it’s something to shoot for. At any rate, we try to do this. Now when other companies come out, and they try to make their books seem like our book as if they’re all in the same class, the same milieu … and yet the quality is inferior, the art is inferior, the writing is inferior, the plotting is inferior. I feel this does nothing but hurt us. The adults who don’t read comics, but who … whose youngsters try to convince them that comics are really pretty good. You know, who may read ours and like them, say “Why don’t you read one? They’re really good.” And the people who are uninitiated but who have heard about comic and might want to pick up one of those imitations, look at them and say, “Aw, I knew it That fellow who told me comics are good is really an idiot. They’re as bad as they ever were.” In this way, I think we can be hurt by imitators.

WHITE: The imitators make themselves look so much like your line that many readers may think they’ve gotten hold of a Marvel comic.

LEE: Exactly. Now … silly as this may sound, or hard to believe as it may sound, I wish our competitors did better books … If they put out books of comparable quality to ours. Now, I don’t like this to sound as if I’m an egomaniac, but I think you see what I mean. If … if I felt myself that the art and stories were as good as our books, I would be happier because I would feel that we’re all elevating the field … and we’re all going to benefit by it.

WHITE: It would put more pressure on you to get even better …

LEE: Right. But as it is, at this particular moment, I still think that we are doing the only somewhat significant work in this field. There’s the occasional exception.

That's a great fucking interview. Thanks, 1968 TCJ contributors!

Over at Women Write About Comics, Wendy Browne has the most detailed write-up on Library Journal's Virtual LibraryCon, which took place a few weeks ago. I also attended that event, and my main takeaway was that there's probably going to be a lot more of those types of online conventions to come--the structure and interface of the whole thing has a very clear appeal to a type of fan who is only becoming more and more common. 

Over at Popula, they continue to publish comics by a murderer's row of recognizable names, like Mimi Pond, Lauren Weinstein, Meghan Lands, Tom Hart & Trevor Alixopolus.

Over at the New York Daily News, they've got the latest update on the bribery trial involving an ex NYPD officer, who recently testified he got a gun permit for Ike Perlmutter in exchange for tickets to Marvel movie premieres. I love reading about this story and don't care how true it is or not: who doesn't want to read a screwed up news story about dumb nonsense that doesn't correlate to hyperclimate chaos or hardcore alt-right racism or anything other than some rich creep allegedly getting a gun permit he couldn't possibly need from some rando goon who isn't creative enough mentally to say "give me a lot of money" but instead says "I want to be the first in my circle of friends to see a Benedict Cumberbatch motion picture". There's so many awful, upsetting reasons people get in trouble and so many awful, upsetting people who get away with trouble: it's always a treat to see assholes being roasted in public for the dopey things that assholes do. 'Nuff said!

 

Ennui

Tegan O'Neil is here with an essay on Stan Lee, using his Thor comics as an entry point.

I picked up a volume of Tales of Asgard strips, from the original Lee & Kirby run recently. Those back-ups started about a year after Thor first debuted – if you’ve read the early run of Thor, it took a bit for the character to gel. He wasn’t unusual in the Marvel stable for that, and it’s certainly true that he gelled a lot faster than Ant-Man and the Hulk. The Asgard back-ups began with adaptations of the original Norse myths, which are pretty fucking metal even in Comics Code Approved form, and they’re interesting for being a rare example of Lee & Kirby collaborating on someone else’s story.

As you might expect Kirby takes to myth like a duck to water and much of the earliest episodes are spent giving him an opportunity to draw things like Ymir roaming the ancient frozen universe with only his cow buddy for milk and company (the cow isn’t named in the comics but her name is Auðumbla). That’s in the myths, and it’s in the Marvel universe, and Jack drew that primeval cow like a motherfucker. What Lee does is translate the stories into his invented Asgardian argot, the faux Shakespearian bombast that served as one of the character’s signatures until quite recently. One of the reasons that works for these characters in particular is that gods and goddesses by their very nature have outsized motivations and personalities. Adopting a bit of that old Shakespearian rag gives them a vocabulary to describe what are some very recognizable and familiar bits of human drama, such as: my dad doesn’t think I’m ever going to grow up and he doesn’t want to give me a chance, my brother’s an asshole, and I cannot turn around for five fucking minutes without having to worry about frost giants and me-damned Geirrodur the me-damned King of the Trolls.

Today is the grand finale of Marc Bell's Cartoonist's Diary. Thanks, Marc!

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Slate has another adapted excerpt from Mark Dery's new Edward Gorey biography.

Child abuse was Edward Gorey’s métier, in a manner of speaking. Gorey, who died in 2000 at 75, was the author and illustrator of a hundred or so little picture books whose pen-and-ink illustrations flawlessly counterfeit Victorian engravings and whose lugubriously amusing nonsense verse, equal parts Edward Lear and Samuel Beckett, spins black comedy from murder, mayhem, and existential malaise. Gorey’s books look at first glance like children’s books, or at least children’s books from the Victorian or Edwardian ages in which they’re often set, and his tongue-in-cheek takeoffs on children’s genres like the Puritan primer or the 19th-century morality tale make them sound like them, too. But as with Beckett’s absurdist tragicomedies, Gorey’s darkly droll tales touch—lightly—on weighty matters: the death of God, the meaning of life, and, always and everywhere, our impending mortality. Emblems of innocence and naïveté, children make perfect victims, as Gorey told the New Yorker. “It’s just so obvious,” he said. “They’re the easiest targets.”

No title epitomizes that point better than The Gashlycrumb Tinies, Gorey’s 1963 parody of abecedaria—ABC books—that uses the deaths of 26 mites as punchlines in life’s existential farce: “E is for Ernest who chocked on a peach/ F is for Fanny sucked dry by a leech … ” It’s Gorey’s best-known book, grist for hipster tattoos and for countless takeoffs, from Mad magazine’s recent “Ghastlygun Tinies,” a pitch-black commentary on school shootings, to a Game of Thrones spoof to the inevitable Harry Potter version (The Hogwarts Tinies) to a Game Over Tinies that casts video game characters like Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario Brothers in the roles of the doomed tots. A witheringly satirical version appeared during the 2016 presidential race, The Ghastlytrump Tinies, a nightmare vision of what would happen if Trump won the White House.

—And the latest guest on Inkstuds is Peter Bagge.

 

Marionettes

Today at The Comics Journal, we're pleased to share a new review from Matt Seneca. Last time, it was an elongated dip into Moebius--and now he's returned to these pages with a look at a different heavy hitter: Alberto Breccia!

Breccia's art just about demands cliche descriptors. It really is eye-popping. Constructed with dense gnarls of absolutely brutal, slashing brush marks, every panel manages to cohere into a piece of realistic cartooning in the Norman Rockwell mode, with faces, figures, and lighting that startle with their dead-eyed accuracy. Imagine the sober Alex Raymond of primetime Rip Kirby inked over by Bill Sienkiewicz at his most manic and you're close; but honestly, neither of those guys' best work speaks to pure drafting skills as finely honed as Breccia's. Again and again the panels' flair for expressionism carries them to the brink of what looks like chaos - ink and wite-out splatter across the pages, furiously scribbled (and gorgeously reproduced) brush marks envelop blank space with black, and texturing effects that Breccia employed toothbrushes and razorblades to achieve spackle across surfaces. Again and again that chaos reveals itself as tidily observed compositions of light and shade - a group of dry-brushed gouges resolves into a birch forest, an elaborately marked scribble into a wrought-iron sign and its shadow, obsessive masses of ink flecks into a herringbone pattern that recedes perfectly into the light source. 

We've also pulled another Stan Lee piece from the print archive--a brief recap of a panel appearance Temple University back in 1978 from Comics Journal #47.

Lee spoke with considerable candor on the subject of television shows based on Marvel characters. He opined that the Hulk series was more intelligently written than the Spider-Man series, but that the constant "message" every week might send the ratings into a nosedive. He felt that an occasional super-villain and fantastic situation would relieve the boredom of the stories told by TV writers.

And of course, today is Marc Bell's fourth installment of the Cartoonist Diary!

Over at Counterforce, Aug Stone interviewed Typex about his Andy Warhol graphic novel with SelfMadeHero.

Over at Time, Gord Hill was interviewed about the Antifa Comic Book.

Over at PopMatters, there's a review of Mickey Z's Space Academy 123.

Over at Chicago Reader, there's an all too brief excerpt from Anne Elizabeth Moore's interview with Julie Doucet surrounding the publication of Moore's Sweet Little Cunt, her in depth look at Doucet's comics work.

 

Remembering Stan Lee

Yesterday, this site's publisher Gary Groth wrote a quick note about Stan Lee.

Who —or what— was Stan Lee? Editor, hustler, hatchet man, corporate player, shill, writer, frustrated novelist, success, failure, catalyst, front man, self-parody, hack, exploiter, innovator. He was, probably, all of those things.

What he was, improbably enough, for at least one brief moment, and what he may have become if he had had the stomach for it, which he obviously didn’t, was a truth-teller.

Marc Bell is here with Day Three of his Cartoonist's Diary. Landlords and Halloween parties.

Finally, Annie Mok has a review of Kelsey Wroten's Crimes.

Crimes follows the creative and romantic exploits of Willa, a 30-year-old gay painter and barista, who has a crush on Bas, a 22-year-old poet who's dating Willa’s friend Simon. A meditation on grief, lust, point of view, and communication, the story begins with the death of someone close to Willa, with images of a coffin, and the internal monolog, “Putting people in boxes [...] and so begins my first year without you.” Confident brushwork, pacing, and writing marks this tale of loss and longing. The unruled borders underscore the sense of anxiety vibrating throughout the work.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Stan Lee. There has been an unsurprisingly and appropriately large outpouring of texts written in response to Lee's death, too many to include here. A few worth noting include Lee biographer Tom Spurgeon's initial thoughts, Jeet Heer's article at The New Republic, and Charles Hatfield's blog post.

Douglas Wolk collected some of Lee's cameos from Marvel comics, and Drew Friedman gathered the drawings of Lee he's made over the years.

—Etc. Vulture has the latest in a long line of articles about new Nancy cartoonist Olivia Jaimes.