Hayley Campbell starts the week off with a review of David Hahn’s All Nighter.
Even when Frank’s taking it easy with his column, he manages to drop some knowledge about Gray Morrow and Carl Barks you couldn’t get from anyone else.
Sean T. Collins returned with the second installment of his “Say Hello” column on Friday, this time featuring the popular illustrator and web cartoonist Emily Carroll.
And Rob Clough reviewed the latest anthology in the Sunday series, which grew out of its editors’ time at the Center for Cartoon Studies.
Recent Journal interview subject Jim Woodring gives a young aspiring cartoonist some advice in a letter from 1993. (via)
So far, July has been a very good month for reading Gabrielle Bell’s comics online. (She’s going for one a day all month.)
Jeet Heer, take note: The Panelists dig up a fascinating quote from Walt Kelly regarding the use of racial caricature by cartoonists of his time.
Some people have trouble understanding the humor in New Yorker cartoons, others, well … have you ever had trouble getting the jokes in Beetle Bailey? Mort Walker explains what’s funny about selected strips in a series of videos.
The New York Timestalks to Jules Feiffer and others regarding The Dancer Films, an adaptation of selected strips from Feiffer’s long-running strip in the Voice. Will this movie break the Green Lantern box office curse, and make the world safe for comic book movies again?
R. Fiore’s Funnybook Roulette returns, with a classic-style roundup of reviews of recent-ish comics by Winshluss, Jean-Claude Carrierre, Pascal Girard, Jason Shiga, and Jeffrey Brown, among others. A sample:
No fair observer would deny that it takes more than one book to fully explore the absurdity of the Transformers concept.
We also bring you Katie Haegele’s review of It Is Almost That, an anthology of text-driven artworks (& art-driven texts) created by female artists. It begins:
It Is Almost That is not an anthology of comics. In fact, most of the work in the collection has no narrative in any traditional sense. But the 26 works collected here all use words and visual art and combine them, in some way, to tell a story. As editor Lisa Pearson writes in her afterword, “…texts do not always appear on pristine white fields; images are not illustrative and language does not explain; stories do not unfold in predictable ways—and yet every page is meant to be read.”
Finally, Darryl Ayo voices a frequently heard complaint about the unsatisfactory nature of many comics when read as individual issues. It’s difficult not to sympathize.
Two things come to mind in reaction to this. 1: DC recently (sort of) announced that they were going to start addressing the issue, by no longer padding out stories with filler to bring them up to collection-length. We’ll see if that actually happens. Padding may be a hard habit to break.
And 2: In an interview conducted by Matt Zoller Seitz, David Simon (co-creator of The Wire and Treme) responds to similar complaints about the perceived unsatisfactoriness of Treme episodes, and how that show’s writing staff writes with the eventual DVD set in mind, not weekly viewers:
The measure that I care about is not the episodic. I just don’t care about evaluating these things by episodes. It’s like I’m building a house, and you’re telling me, “I really like the stairwell, but I don’t like the balustrade.” Well, great, thanks, y’know? What do you think of the house? When you get to the end [of a season], did it feel like she got where she was supposed to go, and that she really experienced these eight months as an ordinary human being would? That’s the real challenge, because film is a shorthand for everything.
[…] I don’t care about the thrills you get in every episode. I want it to be resonant at the end, in a cumulative way. Eric feels the same way. We feel we’re writing a singular, elemental thing.
[We’re] writing the show for people who have a complete season DVD set in front of them, or who are watching the show via HBO On Demand, or who can otherwise absorb it all as a piece, and watch [the episodes] all in a row.
That being said, every Treme episode I’ve seen contains an enormous amount of narrative detail in comparison to your average issue of Flashpoint, so keep in mind that by bringing these two together, I’m comparing apples to ham sandwiches.
-Hayley Campbell wrote in to note that the great London comic book store Gosh! is moving after 25 years in the same spot, and too a bigger location, to boot, which the store is celebrating with some killer sounding events.
-Cartoonist Tim Hensley is putting elderly videos and music on his Tumblr. This is a must.
-Evan Dorkin discusses the process of securing a film version of his and Jill Thompson’s Beasts of Burden.
-I’m not sure what this is, but it seems intriguing.
Chris Mautner’s written another solid entry in his recurring Comics College feature, this time on the most essential cartoonist of them all, George Herriman. I endorse Mautner’s recommendations on this one.
The New York Times came up with the bright idea of commissioning the famous activist and former sex worker Annie Sprinkles to reviewPaying for It. It’s a fun, short read, but more interesting for sociological reasons than as a piece of criticism.
And finally, the nominations for this year’s Harvey Awards have been announced.
Okay, just like most of you, our pick-up trucks are all loaded with watermelon, Weber grills, and illegal fireworks, and we’re ready to head out to parts unknown to celebrate the birth of a nation, but we’ve got a few more items for you to read first. Independence Day means that we won’t be publishing on Monday, but that’s good news really, because if you didn’t notice, this week was really packed with great reading material. Use the extra day to catch up on whatever you missed. (And tune in to WKCR‘s annual all-day Armstrong festival for a soundtrack.)
This morning, our columnist R.C. Harvey offers a retort to the video re his Milton Caniff book that I posted a while back. Whatever controversy may still linger over its funniness or lack thereof, I can now feel confident that publicizing that video had at least one positive result. By the way, Dan wants to report that for the record, he has read the entire book: “It is very long, yet also very awesome.”
Dan wrote the other piece we have for you today, a review of one of the most anticipated books of the year, Peter Maresca’s latest oversize reprint anthology, Forgotten Fantasy: Sunday Comics 1900-1915. I can not wait to see this one.
On a sadder note, Thierry Martens, comics historian and former editor of Spirou, has passed away at the age of 69. Kim Thompson offers tribute.
The Asterix/brain injury controversy isn’t going anywhere! Jeff Albertson goes into great detail on the subject over at the Comics Grid. Actually, he provides some valuable context, and a needed reminder that whenever the media hypes up a scientific or academic study, there’s a very good chance there’s some serious misrepresentation going on.
Apparently, the Favorites zine, edited by the great Craig Fischer, and intended to raise money for Parkinson’s research on behalf of Team Cul De Sac, is now available for sale. Among its authors are several Journal favorites, including Rob Clough, Jeet Heer, Chris Mautner, Joe McCulloch, Frank Santoro, and Matthias Wivel.
And finally, Johanna Draper Carlson reports that Friends of Lulu is no more.
Fellow cartoonist Tibet borrowed Thierry Martens's distinctive look (and physique) for the villain in this "Ric Hochet" adventure.
I just read that Thierry Martens has died, at far too early an age: 69.
Martens was the first comics professional who was nice to me. He was the editor-in-chief of Spirou magazine during the time when I was reading it, and more than once he replied to my long, rambling, fannishly opinionated letters to the editor with long, friendly letters of his own. (Which was more than Stan Lee ever did. Or Roy Thomas, even.) I’m pretty sure I still have them somewhere. Perhaps he was intrigued by the oddness of an American Spirou reader who wrote him in flawless French. Or maybe he realized he was dealing with a kindred spirit. Little did he know that 40 years later I’d be publishing some of “his” cartoonists, such as Tillieux and Macherot.
No one would claim that Martens’s reign over Spirou (1968-1978) represented the magazine’s true peak — that distinction would belong to Yvan Delporte, who preceded him and oversaw Spirou‘s genuine Golden Age — but as a teenager with a choice among Spirou and the other Franco-Belgian weeklies, Spirou is the one I stuck with… so that ought to count for something. I think that within the limitations of that decade, as Spirou‘s great first-generation cartoonists tuckered out or moved on, to be replaced by inevitably lesser later generations, and as the Asterix-driven Pilote magazine became the standard-bearer in the field, and as weekly comics magazines in general began their irrevocable spiral into irrelevancy, Martens did about as good a job as anyone could have. And he clearly cared, and worked his ass off. Those are not bad qualities to be remembered for, especially if you get to add in “nice guy.”
Cementing his status as one of the good guys, Martens was also a tireless comics historian and archivist, and Spirou‘s frequent forays into classic reprints and cartoonist biographies (which certainly fueled my own early passion for such things) can all be directly credited to him.
In this 1979 interview, Len Wein talks about working for Marvel and DC, what it means for storytelling when fans instead of professional writers take over; balancing commercial considerations with creative ones; the origins of Swamp Thing; the thought process behind superhero team-ups like X-Men and The Defenders’ how he writes Batman, the Hulk, Spider-Man, Superman, and much more. Continue reading →