Well, folks, we're starting to close things out for the year here, but we've still got a few items in store for your 2011 reading year.
This morning, we present the great and inimitable Bob Levin's reflections on the one-of-a-kind "lost" anthology The Someday Funnies, which it probably wouldn't be too much to say he had some part in bringing to print, if only for revitalizing interest in the book through his great piece,“How Michel Chouquette (Almost) Assembled the Most Stupendous Comic Book in the World”, which you may remember from TCJ issue 299. Here, from Levin's new piece, is a brief explanation of just what he means by stupendous:
In 2004, it was suggested I write about Michel Choquette and The Someday Funnies, a veritable Lost Dutchman’s lode of comic history. The story, as it had come down over three decades, was that Choquette had been commissioned in December 1970 to produce a 20-page cartoon history of the 1960s for the May issue of Rolling Stone, and that he had tuned that into a contemplated several hundred-page book on which he spent nine years, receiving in the process contributions from William Burroughs, Salvador Dali, Stanley Kubrick, Federico Fellini, John Lennon, Frank Zappa, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Tom Wolfe, while squandering so many advances from so many competing publishers that he had made publication impossible. Then, the story spreaders said, he and the art he had collected vanished.
Our other offering this morning is my co-editor Dan's review of the same book.
On the site: Rob Clough on Papercutter 17.
Next up, a guest writer takes the wheel:
When Dan Nadel hit town it was an easy task to slip him a wipeout pill and slide him into the penetrator chair. After that pulling his thoughts out onto the chalkboard upload was as simple as peeling a banana. Today's Nadel brain reads smooth, a baby's bottom,
"I consider a parking ticket a badge of honer. In fact I am proud to have collected two of them whilst whisking about The City today before my trek north. North, where the ice giants live. North, where the water is clear, fresh, untouched by mongrel man. North, where Santa Claus greedily gobbles up the wishes and visions of youth, grown obese on the exchange of dreams for plastic, the exchange of hard earned cash for the unwanted sock/clock/pet rock. Out on the highway I commanded my Honda Not a Civic, sitting low, dancing past traffic jams like a mouse in the mall(food court). A cigarette lounges lazily on my lips. Just kidding hahaha. I don't smoke mom. But every travel writer knows that a cigarette is the portal to romance. The smoke a shield to block interaction, no, incarceration by the unworthy out to latch onto a man with a mission. The haze obscures the gaze and when you can't see past your nose you're left with nothing but the imagination to reveal a path. Me? I choose imagination over reality any day. I choose the untrod lands. Give me a freeway to Providence and I'll take the drainage ditch. In fact, that's why I spent half the day upside down dangling in the stern grip of the seatbelt, my small two door passenger car wedged within the calloused arms of a poplar tree off 95 not so far from Groton, Connecticut. A town with a name that sounds and smells like cheese. Sounds and smells define a man. I sound, I smell. I survive. Thank the gods no one stole the tape deck, I'm reaching for Slayer Decade of Decadence, no need to hear the sirens call my name."
-Brian Chippendale, live from the arm of the penetrator
Joe McCulloch, exhaust contrails still streaming off him from his recent Inkstuds appearance, delivers a look at the week in comics, as well as an extended take on the title he claims was the best superhero relaunch of 2011. His answer will probably surprise—not to say baffle—you.
And Sean T. Collins takes on the final issue of MOME.
One of my favorite regular events of the holiday season has begun: Tom Spurgeon's annual series of extended interviews with comics figures. Yesterday, he put up the first one, a long discussion with Art Spiegelman. Today he put up the second, talking to Tom Neely, Emily Nilsson, and Virginia Paine about the future of Sparkplug.
Paul Gravett presents a translation of his own French (!) essay on Joe Sacco.
Chris Pitzer celebrates nine years of publishing AdHouse. That is a hard number to believe!
Derik Badman gives us his short list of the best webcomics of 2011. He has very unusual and individual tastes, and these are probably all worth at least looking into.
Luc Sante has written a brilliant brief bio of the French crime author Jean-Patrick Manchette, best known to American comics readers for his collaborations with Jacques Tardi.
Finally, Spanish comics scholar Pepo Pérez takes the McLuhan/Baudrillard approach to analyzing Frank Miller's politics (not those of this year but of a decade ago).
Today we have a bit of c. 1995 Harv: A profile of cartoonist Betty Swords. And if that's not enough for you, click over to Mike Lynch's site to read Swords' profile of Virgil Partch, as printed in the 1962 issue of Pro Cartoonist & Gag Writer. Also onboard is Rob Clough's review of the anthology Gay Genius.
Speaking of history, here's a profile and a video of Irwin Hasen over at The New York Times. Not to far south of Hasen was artist Joe Brainard, who made his own kinda comic-based work.
In TCJ-related news, Tim, Joe McCulloch and Matt Seneca talked with Robin McConnell for nearly two hours on Robin's year-end Inkstuds. This is fine entertainment. And Jeet Heer writes about Herge.
Finally, Tom Spurgeon has an obituary of Eduardo Barreto.
It's been a bad couple of weeks for comic books. As I'm sure most readers of this site know by now, Joe Simon has died. Steve Ringgenberg has written an extensive obituary of the man for us:
If Joe Simon had only created Captain America back in 1940, he would still be a comic book legend. However, Simon’s career lasted for decades and encompassed the creation of dozens of memorable characters and thousands of pages of stories and art. Simon, both with and without his partner, Jack Kirby, was an innovative writer, editor and artist, responsible for some of the most influential characters and trends in comic book history. He was nothing if not versatile. Indeed, it’s impossible to consider Joe Simon’s career without looking at the entire history of the comics business, since he was there almost from the industry’s inception.
Also, Gary Groth interviewed Simon for the Journal in 1990:
GROTH: How did you see yourself? Did you see yourself as an artist, or was it more of a job that you were just lucky enough to get?
SIMON: Oh, no. We saw ourselves as artists. That’s all. Just artists.
GROTH: But even though you saw yourselves as artists, you didn’t think the work would really have any lasting value.
SIMON: No. We thought that the comic books were at the bottom of the heap. On the totem pole we were the lowest rung. Matter of fact, a friend of mine at an advertising agency once told me that. And the truth of the matter is that nobody remembers this guy any more, but everybody remembers someone like Kirby.
Today we have Kristy Valenti's interview with Tom Neely, author, most recently, of The Wolf.
And elsewhere, Bill Kartalopolous writes about The Death-Ray in the context of comic book-based publishing and film. Also on the Bill K. front, he alerted us to this Dutch documentary on comics which features a rare look into Jerry Moriarty's studio. Speaking of legendary cartoonists, here's a typically fun post from Drew Friedman on his time with Jack Davis at The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. We'll have a recording of Gary Groth and Drew's conversation with Davis very soon. And more legends ... Mike Lynch posted a bunch of Jerry Robinson-centric articles from the National Cartoonists Society newsletter.
In newer things news, there's now a complete look online at Brian Chippendale and Jungil Hong's current exhibition in Providence. And Deb Aoki previews her 25 most anticipated manga titles of 2012.
This morning we have a real treat for those of you who may have missed it in the print edition of the Journal a few years back (and also for those of you who haven't reread it for a while, for that matter): Gary Groth's 2006 evisceration of Eisner/Miller, a classic of the form.
Kevin Huizenga goes Santoro on us, and lets everyone in on the process he's developed over the years to help him lay out his comics. Very nice.
Over at Nerve, Grace Bello wrangles sex advice out of cartoonists Emily Flake, Rick Altergott, and Anders Nilsen. Very strange.
The A.V. Club has a nice if short interview with Mad legend Jack Davis.
The gang at Mindless Ones have thrown together a long, conversational group review of ten million comics, ostensibly focusing on DC's New 52 titles, but in effect covering just about everything.
Eddie Campbell continues his exploration of romance comics, this time including a look at EC's attempts at the genre. I have to object to his description of Al Feldstein's art though. "Wooden" I'll grant, but "charmless"? There's something very comfortable and calming about Feldstein's work, as if it was drawn by an old friend who makes up with energy what he lacks in craft. (I can't believe I'm defending Al Feldstein.)
Today we have Steve Ringgenberg's obituary of Jerry Robinson. And, as ever, Joe McCulloch brings us the week in comics.
And so let's go for a stroll: Evan Dorkin posted some awfully nice looking "sketch cards" he did for the CBLDF. Over at D&Q there's another preview of Guy Delisle's upcoming book, Jerusalem.
Somehow I missed this incredible post about a 1944 nurse story by Jack Cole... or is it? I couldn't begin to tell you why I like this photo so much -- three guys, one photo, an anonymous office. It's a good set up. And on the same nerdy tip, here's an article over at the venerable Mindless Ones about The Daleks. Just the right dose for me.
I've enjoyed Brian K. Vaughn's comics quite a bit in the past, so the news of a new series is intriguing. All the more so since he's taking it to Image, which seems a good choice for someone who wants to own something. Not comics, but same business model: David Berman, of Silver Jews, has begun posting the internal files of Gulas/Welch Wrestling Enterprises. Amazing.