Mighty Dollar

Today on the site:

Marc Sobel contributes a lengthy interview with Rutu Modan, author most recently of The Property.

SOBEL: Was it difficult to write a character that’s so much older than you?

MODAN: It was hell! <laughs> It was so difficult. Mostly because I didn’t know if I would be able to describe Regina the way I wanted her to be: a full, real person. I was used to looking at my grandmother only through her role in my life.

The writing was much, much harder than Exit Wounds, not only because the characters were more complex but also because the story takes place in Poland. Exit Wounds took place in Israel, and that is, needless to say, a background I am very familiar with. Poland, on the other hand, was a place that even compared to other countries, I didn’t know anything about. I didn’t even have a picture in my head about how it looks. This makes inventing the story quite difficult. And the Holocaust is a very complicated subject, too, to deal with in art. So much has been written about it already, and it is a subject that can easily lead you to melodrama.

SOBEL: Can you talk a bit about the research that went into the book?

MODAN: The first thing I did was open Wikipedia and read the history of Poland. I wanted to know more about the country, not just its Jewish history. I also read books and talked with people. I was living in England at the time when I started the research and my yoga teacher’s wife was from Poland, so I asked if I could interview her. She is in her 30s and she came from a small village near the Ukrainian border. I asked her to tell me about her life in Poland. She knew I was from Israel but she didn’t know anything about the book; I barely knew anything either at that point. I just told her that it was going to take place in Poland, but I didn’t tell her anything about the story or the theme. Literally five minutes after we started talking, she told me that her parents are living in the house that belonged to a Jewish family before the war and that they are really frightened that the Jews are going to come and take their home. I swear to you, I didn’t tell her anything. So that was when I knew that I had a good subject in my hand. <laughs> Because if there is a conflict, than there is drama, which means it can be a story.

Also I realized that, in a way, it’s similar to what happened in Israel between the Israelis and Palestinians. The history is different and it’s different circumstances, but the fact that the Jews were thrown out of their houses and then came to Israel and threw the Palestinians out of their houses… It’s the tragic repetition of history. Many Israelis don’t see the connection. They can fight for their house in Poland, but to think that they should give something to the Palestinians… they don’t make the connection.


Here's a piece by the reliably good Tim Marchman about the non-effect comic book movies have on comic book sales.

10 years of portraits for The Believer by Charles Burns will be on view at Adam Baumgold Gallery beginning Thursday evening.

Canadian cartoonists suggest some Canadian graphic novels right over here.

Paul Karasik has a comic online (and in print) about a Martha's Vineyard dock builder.

A reminder: Eisner Award voting is open now until June 12.

I enjoy the work done at the art center Creative Growth. Here's a video about a comics-related artist.


Weekend’s Over

I hope all of our United Statesian readers enjoyed their three-day weekends, and that our un-American readers understood why we were away. Today, we make it up to you with a strong entry from Joe McCulloch, detailing the Week in Comics' new releases, and exploring the connections between the Palme d'Or-winning lesbian graphic-novel adaptation Blue is the Warmest Color and the gay manga of Gengoroh Tagame.


—The Reuben Awards winners have been announced, with Rick Kirkman and Brian Crane taking top honors, and artists like Joann Sfar, Roz Chast, Brian Basset, Hilary Price, Jen Sorenson, Bernie Wrightson, and Chris Ware winning divisional prizes.

—Interviews. A longish talk with Shary Boyle at Hazlitt. Matt Madden's conversation with Blutch at CBR. And new TCJ reviewer/fan favorite Alex Dueben's talk with Lisa Hanawalt at the same site.

—The Guardian has published a small annotated selection of Posy Simmonds' sketchbook pages.

—Carol Lay has entered the crowdfunding ranks.

—Laura Sneddon writes in the New Statesman about the exploitation of comic-book creators.


The Answer is Still No

No Tucker this morning, but instead we present the Rick Veitch interview from  1995.


Good news: Dan Zettwoch built a rocket.

I always like that Sid Check.

More Ayn Rand from Darryl Cunningham.

And for your weekend thinking: Dusty and the Duke: A cultural choice.


A “Hand of God” Creation

Today we have two new reviews for you. First, Alex Dueben reviews Lucy Knisley's Relish, which disappoints him:

Lucy Knisley is a talented cartoonist, and Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, her new book out from First Second shows off her skills as an artist, which are considerable. However, the book demonstrates her failure as a writer on multiple levels. Relish seeks to be a memoir that is also a meditation on food and food culture and cooking, but it reveals almost nothing about Knisley, and while it demonstrates that she loves food, there is little evidence that Knisley knows much about food or food culture. Every time Knisley tries to make a larger sociological point beyond her own experiences, it’s unclear whether she’s simplifying the issues so that they’re impossible to understand or whether she simply doesn’t understand the issues she’s raised.

And then Robert Kirby reviews Kolor Klimax, an anthology of Nordic comics:

Klimax works well as both a follow-up and an expansion of the In the Shadow of the Northern Lights anthologies (2008 & 2010, Top Shelf), which were limited to Swedish cartoonists, and From Wonderland with Love (2009, Fantagraphics), which was devoted to Danish artists. Klimax adds artists from Finland and Norway to the talent roster. In his introduction, editor Matthias Wivel helpfully distinguishes some of the aesthetic traditions of the various countries. The Finns, for example, with less of a comics tradition to fall back on, tend to favor experimentation and creative freedom. Artists from Norway are often the opposite; their comics scene has sprung from more traditional, commercially-based roots. Meanwhile, the Swedish artists tend to create more reality-based and autobio work, while the Danes, skewing southward, have traditionally been more influenced by Franco-Belgian album comics and American comic strips. Whatever the countries’ aesthetic differences, their work melds together successfully; the result is a wide-ranging, vibrant collection that should be enjoyed by fans of the burgeoning European alt-comics scene as well as anyone with an art comics bent.


—CNN profiles Ali Ferzat.

—Matt Fraction has trouble getting people to believe him about Bob Kane's grave.

—Webcomics get the BuzzFeed treatment.

—Webcomics continue to get the Sean T. Collins treatment (every Wednesday).

—Alan Gardner notes that Lynn Johnson has posted a series of rejected For Better or Worse strips.

—The Glyph Comics Award winners have been announced.

—And I don't often point out crowdfunding projects on here, but this one started by Jack Kirby's grandson will surely be of interest to a lot of you, so there you go.


Hat Trick

Today on the site, we bring you R.O. Blechman's speech from the opening of his retrospective at the Norman Rockwell Museum. Here's how it starts:

If anybody had told me back in the 1940s that there would be a museum dedicated to Norman Rockwell, I would have thought it was a joke. A museum for a Saturday Evening Post illustrator? Impossible. And me in that museum? Sheer fantasy.

In 1947 I was graduating high school. For the Senior play I was cast as somebody called Alfred. I had only one line in the play. When an actor very proudly showed me a painting he had just done, I said— and here comes my line: “Gosh, that’s almost as good as a Norman Rockwell.” That brought down the house. And no wonder. Norman Rockwell was not considered a serious painter. As The New York Times once asked—this in a headline-- was he “a painter,” or “merely an illustrator”? That question answered itself.


—Interviews. Michael DeForge talks to Open Book Toronto. Peter Bagge talks to CBR. Mike Diana talks to the Miami New Times (via). And I'm pretty sure I posted this before, but I can't find it now, and someone e-mailed it to me: Paul Pope in his studio:

—TCAF. Former Heroes Con coordinator Dustin Harbin weighs in on the debate surrounding TCAF programming. Fantagraphics has another huge photo recap. And Brad Mackay has the video footage of David Collier's already legendary award acceptance speech.

—Misc. Dick Locher's retiring. Comics Alliance is winking? Robert Crumb is rushing the stage. The first review of Ivan Brunetti's Aesthetics I've seen in the wild.



Greetings from Chicago, where I've had the finest mole sauce of my life at Sol on Cicero. But that's no concern of yours. You just want to get to the good stuff: Joe McCulloch.


Following (coincidentally) on Tom Spurgeon's recent thoughts on comics fitness/lifestyles, here's Brian Wood on CrossFit.

I'm sorry to hear that the illustration blog Drawn! is no more.

Dustin Harbin has some thoughts on TCAF programming and how we place value on such things in comics.

Dash Shaw (known primarily as a TCJ-contributor) has some animation art he did with Frank Santoro up on eBay. Check it out.

Finally: True enough.




Everybody’s Talkin’ at Me

Today on the site we bring you the great R.C. Harvey with his latest column, a look at Harold Gray's Little Orphan Annie. Here's an excerpt:

Oddly enough perhaps, Little Orphan Annie reached the zenith of its popularity during the thirties. "Odd" because it was the decade of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the man who gave government a social conscience. FDR's mission ran in directions diametrically opposed to Gray's ideas of self-sufficiency. Under Roosevelt's tutelage, the down-trodden and the poor, the halt and the lame were encouraged to look to government for help rather than exhorted to help themselves by toiling determinedly and exercising tenaciously the principles of free enterprise. Gray's message was precisely the opposite—although it was as much an accident of his story as it was a matter of political conviction.

The best way for a little orphan girl to make her way in the world without being simply a weepy milksop is for her to be self-reliant. As a good story-teller, Gray knew that. Warbucks and the rest of Annie's entourage were natural outgrowths of this central notion. As Gray's exemplar, Warbucks could scarcely espouse self-reliance and free enterprise during the Roosevelt years without, at the same time, seeming to attack FDR's policies. And so Little Orphan Annie became the first nationally syndicated comic strip to be unabashedly, unrelievedly, "political."

Last Friday afternoon, as most of you probably are probably already aware, we posted a special report on the end of the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, checking in with the three founding partners, who told conflicting stories of the reasons for its ending.


—Lots of Interviews to Read and Watch.
Art Spiegelman & Françoise Mouly talk to the National Post. Mouly also talks to Hazlitt. Rutu Modan talks to the Jewish Journal. William Stout talks to Comic Book Resources. Lisa Hanawalt also talks to Hazlitt. Garry Trudeau talks to CNN. Ryan Sands talks to the Chemical Box.

—An Interview-Related Anecodote. From Anne Ishii, translating for Gengorah Tagame, talking to Butt magazine.

—So Many TCAF Reports. The official report from Brad Mackay. A report with a thousand photos from Robin "Inkstuds" McConnell. A short one from Brigid Alverson. A collection of TCAF-related videos at Forbidden Planet. And finally, an almost-as-long-as-War & Peace report from Tom Spurgeon, most of which is very positive, but part of which delves into the controversy this year over reportedly messy programming. TCAF Director Christopher Butcher responds to that part of Tom's report here.

—Awards. Steve Gerber and Don Rosa win the Bill Finger Award.

—Comics History.
The Billy Ireland museum finds early Jack T. Chick work, a Flinstones-esque gag strip. Paul Gravett writes about Crime Does Not Pay, which he considers America's greatest crime comic. Michael May at Robot 6 highlights a Mark Evanier blog post I meant (but forgot) to highlight myself, on Chaykin, Infantino, and the historical treatment of comic-book artists. Jerry Beck, Scott Shaw, & Chad Frye talk Carl Barks (via):

—And Finally, a Lot of Video. The Society of Illustrators has posted video from several of the panels held at this year's MoCCA festival. Here's the one with guest of honor Bill Griffith:



Tucker is here to blow those blues away.


You may have heard that the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival is no more. Tim will have a story shortly.

Let's see...

Looks like Oily Comics is going to publish a Josh Simmons book. That's a coup. An interview with Cecil Castellucci and one-time TCJ Diarist Sara Varon. A Groo review.

And I thought the news from Scott Eder Gallery of "Will Eisner's 'A Contract with God' and Other Images, an exhibition featuring original art, sketches and drawings from the title story" of the book was interesting. For one thing, I can't think of another show devoted to just a single comic book story. And also, I'm curious to see the process work. That is one of Eisner's better visual efforts.

Finally, enjoy your weekend with Stan and Jan Berenstain.