Well, Tim and I were heartened to know so many of you missed us for the 7 or 8 hours the site was down. We didn’t know anyone was reading. Tim actually had me convinced that the current TCJ only appears on my screen in Brooklyn and one special, child-proof screen in New Jersey (not even in Tim’s house, but just somewhere in New Jersey!). I suspected he was lying, so I feel vindicated now and maybe I’ll tell my parents about this thing! They’ll be so proud of my new life in comics.
Anyhow, insert your transition here, on the site today:
-Dustin Harbin: Day 2. I’m really glad to have Dustin’s specific take on the Doug Wright Awards, and just glad to be working with him. The one time I went down to Heroes-Con in 2007 with Frank and Tim we really had a blast. Everyone did, including Brian Ralph, who may or may not have ever really recovered from it.
-Joe McCulloch heroically turns in yet another week in comics. The man is not human!
Oh, and what is that lead-in image, you might ask? Why it’s a Neal Adams drawing from The Cartoonist’s Cookbook, publishing in 1966. This tome, which has an intro from unsung early comics historian Stephen Becker, is pretty damn amazing, replete with, food memories and recipes by cartoonists famous and (now) obscure. Richard Gehr, of Know Your New Yorker Cartoonists fame, gave me a copy last night when we went to see Lee Lorenz play some damn fine jazz at Arthur’s last night. Yes, this Lee Lorenz. Blows a mean coronet.
Here’s Neal Adams, who talks lovingly about his wife cooking Chinese food.
And if this is not one of the best photos of a cartoonist, ever, then… well, then I guess I’m wrong.
Ladies and gents: Bill Holman!
The facing page has this priceless quote: “Holman says he never did an honest day’s work until he sold 96,000 gag cartoons.” And: “He has a reputation about money somewhat similar to Jack Benny’s”. Who’s Jack Benny? Oh! Min! Plop!
And elsewhere online:
Tom Spurgeon has your answers regarding the out/sold out/out status of TCJ 301, not to mention our brief outage yesterday, complemented by a photo of me giving my “intense dude” stare. That’s what I look like right now. OMG.
So that didn’t work. Sorry about the disruption this morning. Apparently the e-mails sent out to remind us to renew our domain name were sent to the inactive address of a person who no longer works at Fantagraphics. It seems to be all fixed now, though, and shouldn’t be a problem ever again. Though keep track of this date a year from now, and we’ll see.
[Bob] Beerbohm’s question hangs in the air: Why did no one know that Blackbeard had died? The man whose passion for collecting comic strips had launched hundreds of reprint projects slipped away without anyone knowing? “Why is that?”
And Frank Santoro posted his most recent Layout Workbook Sunday. This time, the topic was Asterios Polyp. (Have you been following along with this stuff? The sheer mass of evidence Frank has laid out so far is pretty impressive.)
Once I was teaching a class in my studio and I would randomly open Asterios Polyp to a spread and diagram it from the center out. The folks in the class practically fainted when they would see a random spread “line up” right in front of their eyes with a few twists of a compass. It’s fun! Try it at home!
Austin English reviews a book likely to be one of the year’s major releases, Lorenzo Mattotti’s Stigmata.
Often, in a comic, if the reader is unsure of how to react to a particular character’s physicality, it’s due to the poverty of the cartooning (or the imaginative breadth of the story). But with Stigmata, the portrayal of the main character is so sophisticated that it defies us to size him up.
Finally, Dustin Harbin is our newest diarist. He went to TCAF, and drew a week’s worth of cartoons about it. Entry one is up now.
Dustin isn’t the only one filling out their convention reports a little late, and it’s understandable if you’re TCAF’d out by now. All the same, two recent posts on the show are still worth a look: Dylan Williams’s (especially in light of the far less sanguine takehe offered after this year’s MoCCA and Stumptown festivals), and Tom Devlin’s, just because he may be the funniest tour guide in comics.
In Jeet Heer news, he reviewed Chester Brown’s Paying for It in the Toronto Globe and Mail, and does so from a personal angle.
* A fond farewell to Joyce Farmer! Here’s Day 5. Thanks, Joyce!
* Wrapping up our week of Chester Brown we have Scott Grammel’s 1990 interview with the artist in its entirety! Compare and contrast! Let’s look back for a second on our Chester-ness. We have: Sean Rogers’ interview; R. Fiore’s meditation; Naomi Fry’s essay; and Ed Park’s notes. Spend the weekend with ’em all!
Anyhow, by the time you read this I will have gone to the opening of Zap: Masters of Psychedelic Art, 1965-1974, curated by Gary Panter and Chris Byrne. Lucky for you went by the gallery on Wednesday to check in on it. Drawn from Glenn Bray’s collection, the show is what you think it is: a few dozen excellent examples of work from the Zap artists from the comic book itself and contemporaneous collections. There are full stories by Robert Williams, Gilbert Shelton, and R. Crumb, and enormous pages by S. Clay Wilson, Rick Griffin and Spain (two panoramic scenes by Spain are particularly striking), as well as a wonderful page by Moscoso — the first original of his from that period that I’ve ever seen. I gotta say, seeing a sequence of Williams pages in person made me remember what a phenomenal draftsman he is. The hot-rod honed precision rendering plus a phenomenal ability to work multiple figures on a single plane makes him look pretty damn great these days. Reproductions don’t really do justice the sheen of his pen line. Plus, the guy worked only slightly larger than reproduction-size. Jeezuz. Anyhow, it’s good to see these artifacts all gathered in one place. Some work better as “drawings” than others, but as a 360-degree view of that art, this is hard to beat. Plus, of course, I love that Panter, who has for the past few years been doing a sort of “my art history lineage” lecture, is curating this particular segment of his influence cloud. Seeing it through Gary’s eyes deepens the choices and the work itself.
The accompanying cover of ZAP comix number one which appeared in microscopic form as an item in the Electric Last Minute, the fold-out poster calendar that came free in every issue of EYE magazine back in the late sixties, blew my mind. It was familiar and foreign– backward-looking AND forward-looking. The tiny cover, pictured, reminded me of old Popeye comics or of the Nutt Brothers by Gene Ahearn, the last of the really old-timey looking comics in the newspaper. It was a year or so before I got my hands on a Zap, which by the way is a trademarked logo and the rights are shared by the aforementioned Zap group of artists, and I wasn’t disappointed. There was a high level of skill, experimentation and a rabid interest in pushing the limits of allowed content and social critique. Some of the artists I had seen before: Rick Griffin’s work had appeared in surf mags; I looked forward to Robert William’s complex and disturbing, hence exciting, ads for Ed Roth monster shirts in various hot rod mags; Wonder Wart Hog I had seen in hot rod cartoons magazines and in his own short lived magazine; plus, I had been magnetically drawn to the funny greeting card racks in drug stores by the commercial illustrations of Robert Crumb. Something amazing had happened! A bunch of edgy cartoonists that I was already watching had grown their hair out, formed an experimental drawing club, teamed up with more insane drawers and moved to San Francisco to be hippie cartoonists and poster artists. WOW! That premise was exciting enough, but when I finally got my hands on an issue of Zap I was ecstatically pleased to see that the drawing was of such a high, controlled, inventive, diverse order and that the disparate approaches, experiments and stylizations were somehow successfully fused into soupy collaborative drawings, just… well, it was a lot to consider.
Well anyhow, I’ll post some pix from the opening and such next week, I suppose. Should be a hoot. The catalog, by the way, is a mammoth affair: 14″ x 16″, 48 pages, showcasing the artwork larger than it’s ever been printed, I supposed. [PLUG ALERT!] In about a week PictureBox will be exclusively carrying the thing. It’s a run of 1000, so you’ll wanna get ’em while you can.
Now, onwards, to something else.
* Bleeding Cool gets a comment from Bill Sienkiewicz on a 2005 proposal for a Wonder Woman series he wanted to do with Frank Miller. As the world’s only human who prefers DK2 to the original, I would have liked to see that series. That reminds me, does anyone out there know if Sienkiewicz, who at one point shared a studio with Stan Drake, worked on the latter’s Kelly Green series? Kelly Green! Overlooked graphic novel of ’80s.
* Heidi MacDonald went to see Steranko, Simonson and Quesada talk and has a report.
Chester Brown Week continues today with a review from Naomi Fry:
What does good sex consist of, exactly, for a straight man? I’ll admit, in the spirit of full disclosure, that this might not the most apt question to be puzzling out in my current state as a bloated, fatigued, 39-weeks-along pregnant woman, but let’s give it a try anyway…
And Joyce Farmer is back with another diary entry. In this one, she reflects back on an earlier portion of her life:
Thus began my radicalization. I was astounded that I had to prove to the state that I was suicidal, when all I wanted was an abortion, clean and safe.
Ed Champion interviews Daniel Clowes for his popular podcast series.
Forbidden Planet reports on the wrap party for Alan Moore’s Dodgem Logic.
There are two recently published articles on race and superhero comics getting lots of attention on the internet this week. This one is better than the other.
The history of the “Bechdel” rule told through links.
Also, apparently one of Harvey Pekar’s final projects may be having publication problems, though it is difficult for me to see what exactly is going on, if anything.
Finally, here’s a couple of the better TCAF reports I’ve seen going around:
A nice one from Secret Acres. (And I agree with what they say—the new Koyama Press releases are impressive.)
* Jeet Heer’s appreciation of the the Doug Wright Award-winning Spotting Deer.
* Daniel Best has put together a kind of “Don Heck In His Own Words” from various interviews, which are not sourced on the site itself — hopefully he’ll add some sources soon in the interest of giving credit where credit is due. In any case, it’s a great read, as Heck, while somewhat of a hack (ok, more than somewhat) did have some bright spots and comes off as a smart and earnest guy. I especially like the grounded-ness of moments like this:
I used to like Iron Man in the beginning, because of the characterization I could get into. Like when I had Happy Hogan, and Pepper Potts. When I was doing Pepper, I was thinking of Schultzie, who was the secretary on the Bob Cummings Show. In other words, she was the girl who never quite got the date with the boss; he’s always watching all those good-looking girls. But they were characters, in a certain sense of the word. Happy Hogan was an ex-fighter. I think they were fun to do. They had personalities you couldn’t miss. I did the first Iron Man story. They have it listed that Jack Kirby did the breakdowns, but that’s not true. I did it all. They just didn’t bother to call me up and find out when they wrote up the credits. It doesn’t really matter. Jack Kirby created the costume, and he did the cover for the issue. In fact the second costume, the red and yellow one, was designed by Steve Ditko. I found it easier than drawing that bulky old thing.
* Tucker Stone digs into some recent comics and some shit-talking theory over at The Factual Opinion.
And now, kind people, my last bit about TCAF: Some blurry iPhone pix! Chris Ware actually explained to me that the new iPhone photo software is worse than the old, and so I’ll hold onto that as I reveal my poor photography skills.
Tom Scioli had a table behind me -- he was drawing this awesome picture of Thor for a chunk of Saturday.
Chris Ware, Brad "Mr. Doug Wright Awards" Mckay, and David Collier (in full uniform)
Tom Spurgeon had to lean very far back to get ALL of Michael Deforge's awesome pompadour in the shot.
The gorgeous, Seth-designed Doug Wright trophies.
Ware, Seth, Chester Brown, John Porcellino and Adrian Tomine, just before our panel Friday night.
Oh no, Tom Devlin is shouting at me to stop! I'm done! I'm done!
First, Chester Brown Week continues with a new column from the inimitable R. Fiore:
I like to imagine the Canadian Council for the Arts anticipating what that fine young fellow Chester Brown is going to follow Louis Riel with. Something about the Manitoba Schools Question, perhaps. Oh, it’s called Paying for It, eh? Well, that sounds more like the Klondike Gold Rush. Bit of a hackneyed subject, but the lad is bound to have found a novel approach . . .
Then Joyce Farmer continues her week of diary entries. Today‘s for the pen-and-ink enthusiasts, nothing but materials talk:
Crow quill pens are in a class by themselves, the nibs are round and the penholders are short and cut to accommodate the round nib. Anyone who masters crow quill is a genius and I give him or her my utter respect.
And of course, just like every other Tuesday, Joe “Jog” McCulloch brings you the week in new comics, with a little something extra for your reading pleasure:
I wasn’t planning on writing about my Free Comic Book Day experiences; frankly, I didn’t expect anything of note to happen.
Martin Wisse digs up an image of and information about an amazing-looking new comics museum in China.
I think Tom Spurgeon’s rambling convention reports may be my favorite recurring feature at the Comics Reporter. He went to TCAF this weekend, so I’m in luck.
Matt Seneca writes about some of his favorite comics that also work as criticism. He uses a definition of criticism broad enough to include straight-up parodies, but that’s okay with me—I try not to be a purist about such things. Anyway, he picks out a great, overlooked Spiegelman piece, and forgets all about Harvey Kurtzman, an oversight I hope will be corrected in a part two or three somewhere down the line.
Here‘s a super-short interview with Chris Ware from an apparently new Greek comics site. The intro’s in Greek, but the discussion itself is in English. The part about superheroes and science fiction is interesting, in light of the amazing science fiction story he created for Acme Novelty Library 19.
Finally, Matthias Wivel’s been blogging up a storm this week, republishing an Andreas Gregersen essay on Ice Haven and The Death Ray, as well as his own (relatively) negative take on Mister Wonderful, plus a brief appreciation of Dominique Goblet.
Before I dive into TCAF and such: We are pleased to begin our week of coverage of Chester Brown’s new book, Paying for It. Leading things off is an interview with Brown by Sean Rogers. Later in the week we’ll post Scott Grammel’s 1990 TCJ interview. Also on tap are pieces by R. Fiore, Naomi Fry, and Ed Park.
Anyhoooo, I’m just back from TCAF, where, fittingly enough, the fest was gripped by Chester Brown mania. The lines for his signings (he stands and then signs on a cardboard box) were as long as I’ve ever seen for anyone. The festival was, as usual, quite a lot of fun — well attended, brisk sales, and good vibes. Most of what I saw and did during TCAF was at night, as I was manning ye ol’ PictureBox table both days. But from what I can gather, the buzzy books included DeForge’s Lose #3, the Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse collection, Lucille by Ludovic Debeurme, and of course, Paying for It.
Upon landing on Friday I embarked on a high-powered TCJ meeting with Jeet Heer, during which we discussed such weighty topics as: the proper reproduction techniques for ben-day dots; “photo-realism” and the comic strip; and who’s right and who’s wrong. Many problems were solved. Then I moderated a conversation with Adrian Tomine, Seth, Chris Ware and Chester Brown. The room was packed and the artists were in great, chatty form. That night there were yet more high-powered TCJ tet-a-tets tête-à-têtes with Canadian correspondents like Sean Rogers and Chris Randle. I witnessed no dancing, per se, though Brecht Evans Evens as in attendance.
The Doug Wright Awards happened Saturday night. It was, as usual, an entertaining and enjoyable ceremony. Best book went to Bigfoot by Pascal Girard (best known, of course, as a TCJ diarist). Alex Fellows was given the Best Emerging Talent award for Spain and Morocco; and Michael DeForge is now a two-time DWA-winner, having received the Pigskin Peters Award (Given to non-traditional and avant-garde comics) for Spotting Dear, though surely his greatest honor will be as an upcoming TCJ diarist! The ceremony also included a witty, buoyant conversation between Seth and Reid Fleming cartoonist David Boswell, who was inducted into the Giants of the North Hall of Fame.
A few links for kicks:
-Your “1970s Marvel stars” beginnings and endings links:
*Dark Horse is canceling Jim Shooter’s much lamented reboots of Magnus: Robot Fighter, Turok: Son Of Stone, Doctor Solar: Man Of The Atom. I hope this means it’s finally time for C.F., Gary Panter, and Frank Santoro to have their shots.
We just received the following e-mail from Ryan Standfest, editor/publisher of Rotland Press + Comic Works:
Mr. Tom Neely reported this morning that while traveling across the border to Canada to attend this year’s TCAF, the five copies of the black humor comics anthology BLACK EYE that he was carrying with him to the festival were confiscated/seized by a customs agent on the grounds that the material in BLACK EYE was “obscene.”
According to Neely:
“… They took ’em. I tried to get them to just ship them back to me at home, but they said they were required to send it to Ottawa for review… if they found the material to be ‘obscene’ they would take ‘further action.’ I asked what ‘further action’ meant and he said they would just destroy them. Or there is a chance they might ship them back to me.
“It was the page of Onsmith’s gags that they first saw… I tried to tell them that it was ‘parody’ and ‘humor’ and the rest of the book had essays on the history of dark humor… the customs guy was really cool and understanding, but he said he just couldn’t let them through. I just hope ‘further action’ doesn’t involve being arrested the next time I try to cross the border.”
This freewheeling interview by Grass Green touches on Williamson’s early influences, his fellow underground cartoonists including Jay Lynch and Gilbert Shelton, and the trajectory of his own comics career. Continue reading →