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Center Part

Chris Mautner returns to the site today with a review of one of the last still titles standing in the single-issue Kwality Komix game, Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve #14.

Tomine has long trafficked in stories about shame, embarrassment, and awkward relationships, but never in quite so stellar a fashion as he does here.

Part of that is because of the way “Killing and Dying” is laid out. Tomine holds to a tight 20-panel grid and tries to keep his characters in midframe and in the center of these small panels as often as possible. This does two things. Firstly, it helps create a sense of constriction and claustrophobia, which is important in a story where characters are willingly and unwillingly humiliating themselves in front of others. Secondly, and perhaps somewhat conversely, it gives Tomine room to draw out the dialogue, allowing for awkward pauses, subtle changes in facial expression, and significant gestures, all of which goes a long way towards increasing our affection for and identification with these characters.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The Harvey Award nominations are in.

—Interviews & Profiles. Jezebel talks to Kate Beaton about her new children’s book.

Sequential State interviews Kevin Czap and L. Nichols about the Ley Lines series of single-artist showcases.

Marc Maron talks to Bob Fingerman and Robert Kirkman.

Gil Roth interviews Tom Tomorrow (Dan Perkins).

—Reviews & Commentary. Colin Smith writes about the earliest Superman stories.

Warren Peace reviews Love & Rockets: New Stories #7.

Alexandra Molotkow reluctantly loves <em>Ghost World.

J.A. Micheline is not a fan of Mark Waid and J.G. Jones’s Strange Fruit #1.

—Misc. Mental Floss looks at the bad blood between J. Edgar Hooover’s FBI and Mad magazine.

Animation Resources brings you Basil Wolverton on cartoon sound effects, originally from the late, great Graphic Story Magazine.

Kevin Huizenga thinks out loud about narrative.

—Not Comics. Talking to the Associated Press, actor Jesse Eisenberg took a heel turn, comparing Comic-Con to genocide (and referring to journalists as pariahs), and a bunch of people pretended (or maybe really!) got upset. I love that some comic sites felt the need to tell their readers that Eisenberg was using hyperbole.

 

Bonus Deal

It’s the week in comics from Joe McCulloch.

Elsewhere:

Tom Spurgeon lays out the news from Comic-Con.

An interview with Guy Delcourt about his company’s recent digital initiative.

Good news for Seymour Chwast fans: He’s opened a store.

 

Weekend Over

Today on the site, Alex Dueben returns to interview webcomics creator and CCS graduate Sophie Goldstein, author of the new graphic novel The Oven. Here is an excerpt:

In The Oven, I would argue that most of the story could have been set in the present and done in a realistic fashion with only a few changes.

It’s funny—I had the thumb-nailed script for the whole book and I asked Jason Lutes to take a look at it. He had some feedback and then he asked me, why is this science fiction at all? It doesn’t have to be. You could set this in the contemporary world.

I didn’t really have a good answer for that except that I like science fiction. It feels right to me. Once you set things in the real world you have limits—settings need to be accurate and plausible. I’m just not interested in that. I like to be able to make shit up.

For instance there’s a lot of drug use in the comic but instead of having the characters smoke pot or shoot heroin they’re eating these weird butterfly-like bugs. That, for me, was way more fun to draw and a much richer visual metaphor for the comic. I remember reading a Jason (the Norwegian cartoonist, not Lutes) comic where instead of having cars all the characters were peddling around on unicycles. For no real reason, he just didn’t want to draw cars, I assume. That’s just brilliant.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Of course the big news this weekend mostly came in the form of Star Wars rumors and superhero movie trailers at Comic-Con. The event also saw the announcement of the Eisner award winners. The Tamaki cousins’ This One Summer won best graphic album, Saga and Lumberjanes did extremely well, Raina Telgemeier is having a very good year.

Berkeley Breathed announced on Facebook that he is going to be making new Bloom County strips.

—Interviews. Tom Spurgeon talks to Sammy Harkham about the Kramers Ergot announcement.

—Reviews & Commentary. Sheila Heti writes about Tove Jansson.

At the New York Times, Faith Erin Hicks has nothing but good things to say about Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona.

—Misc. Lithub shares an early example of “terrible writing” by Daniel Clowes, along with his commentary on creating it.

Tips for serialized comics on Tumblr.

 

It’ll Come Around

Today on the site, Andre Molotiu examines a cartoon controversy around the confederate flag.

Two weeks ago, a little three-act drama was enacted in the world of online political cartooning. On Friday, June 26, just hours after the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell vs. Hodges was released, the Southern Poverty Law Center posted on Facebook a five-panel strip showing the Confederate flag coming down and a rainbow flag taking its place on the same pole. No artist was named, and the strip had as sole attribution Daryl Cagle’s caglecartons.com website. On that day full of rainbow-colored profile pics, the post proved wildly popular: as of the evening of Monday, June 29, it had received 230,488 likes and 192,197 shares, mine among them. Facebook doesn’t seem to keep track of such things, but judging by my news feed, quite a few people set up the strip as their Facebook profile cover image. At the time, I went over to Daryl Cagle’s page to ask him who had drawn the strip, only to see that the question had already been asked and he had not answered it.

Elsewhere:

Here’s a rarte interview with pioneering comics historian John Lent.

Vanity Fair profiles Kelly Sue DeConnick.

Charles Hatfield has announced a major Jack Kirby exhibition.

Department of me: Here’s a nice summary of my panel discussion with members of the Hairy Who. And here I am blabbing on about more of the same. You can now see a good bit of the show online and my Hairy Who book itself will be in stores in September.

 

World Don’t Deserve

Sorry about the delayed blog — technical difficulties. Yesterday, as you hopefully noticed, we published a great, feature-length Joe McCulloch review of Junji Ito’s Fragments of Horror. Here’s an excerpt, but really if you are at all interested in manga or horror, read the whole thing:

First, the elementary. Every story in this book deals with an encounter with a character who represents the horrific. Perhaps they are supernatural. Perhaps they are merely eccentric. Perhaps there is a scientific explanation for everything that happens, and the “character” is merely an expression of some fevered and guilt mind. What is important is that they are all blatant and disquieting impositions on the common expectation for order. Also, all of the horrific characters, i.e. those given primacy over supplemental ghouls or spirits or beasties or doodles, are depicted as female. They are a diverse lot, with vivid faces and unique bodily characteristics. In contrast — at least in the seven stories prepared for Nemuki+ — Itō draws the women among his protagonists as variations on a Standard Female Character, as if the same exhausted actress has been given different haircuts for individual shoots in which she is playing essentially the same role.

She always exists in proximity to a man, and that man always betrays her.

Twice, the woman is named Madoka, and the man is named Tomio. In “Futon”, the story that caused Itō and his editor such grief, Tomio is most often shown buried under the eponymous bedding, babbling to Madoka, the household’s sole provider, about dark spirits that only he can see. Four pages later, Madoka is seeing them too, menaced on her own futon by all manner of viral ghouls and infectious devils, purportedly led into the house by a nude witch with a curvy skin tail: Tomio’s extramarital lover! The heroine flees, returning a month later to find her man barely alive and fused to the bedding with hallucinogenic mold; as it turns out, the syphilitic sorceress was only a product of Tomio’s guilt over fucking (or just intending to fuck) a presumably non-diabolical partner – a misogynistic scapegoat at which he could point his finger while the rot of his infidelity tainted dear Madoka as well.

And today, we have a new episode of Mike Dawson’s TCJ Talkies podcast, this time featuring two great cartoonists, Tom Hart and Dylan Horrocks, discussing Joe Chiapetta’s Silly Daddy.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Delcourt just signed a major deal to bring translated comics to Comixology.

—Reviews & Commentary. For TNR, Jeet Heer writes about Chris Oliveros and Drawn & Quarterly.

Colin Smith reviews Kiki De Montparnasse.

Hillary Brown reviews Sylvie Rancourt’s Melody.

—Interviews & Profiles. Time magazine talks to Kate Beaton.

Priceonomics profiles Dan Piraro.

—Misc. The entire print run of ’70s punk magazine Slash is now online, and you can find a lot of early Gary Panter work inside.

The Paris Review on Stanley Mouse.

Trevor Alixopulos redraws Bob Lubbers.

Tom Tomorrow has a Kickstarter.

 

Pine Tree

Hi there, today it’s Tuesday and Joe’s day as well. Here’s the week in comics.

Today I am opening an exhibition in all three Mathew Marks Gallery spaces on 22nd st. here in New York, and tomorrow I’m interviewing the Hairy Who. Come on out.

In comics news, my hometown comic book store owner, very first employer, and conveyor of the Gospels of Rick Griffin and Dean Cornwell, get the profile celebration treatment.

Grant Morrison’s career gets even worse, as becomes the new editor of Heavy Metal, which would be funny and “out there” if it wasn’t also true. Everyone knows that Heavy Metal was only good for the French stuff and Richard Corben, and that’s all gone. It’s a pretty lousy brand, which I think the ad nicely exemplifies.

Paul Karasik has a new piece of comic strip reportage for you.

That is all!

 

Well, Look Here!

Today on the site, Ron Goulart has provided our official obituary for Leonard Starr, the creator of Mary Perkins, On Stage, who is also well-known for his continuation of Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie, his Kelly Green graphic novel series with Stan Drake, and the ’80s television show ThunderCats.

It was the ambition of many comic book artists to move up to a newspaper strip and several of his contemporaries had made the transition, among them Ken Ernst, Stan Drake and Dan Barry. Finally in 1957, after several earlier strip submissions to syndicates, he sold Mary Perkins, On Stage to the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate. The title of the strip alludes to two of the most popular radio soap operas of the time—Mary Noble, Backstage Wife and Ma Perkins. Starr had long been a theater buff and the new strip would deal with “the glamorous New York theater world.”

His style had changed, moving toward what has been called photographic realism. He was influenced by what Alex Raymond had done on Rip Kirby and what Dan Barry had done on the daily Flash Gordon in the early 1950s. Starr has been called “a man with a superlative ink line.” His staging of the events in the life of Mary Perkins as she conquers Broadway, TV, and the movies and finds love is very good and he alternated light continuities with some dark and unsettling ones. The National Cartoonist Society gave him the Best Story Strip Award in 1960 for On Stage and in 1965 a Reuben as Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year.

We also have Mark Connery’s short interview with Marc Bell (Shrimpy and Paul) about his new book, Stroppy.

Mark Connery: Hey Marco, so Stroppy is a very beautiful book, a real treat for the eyes, and also your first graphic novel. It’s also one of your easiest-to-read things. How long were you working on it? Was there a challenge in finding a groove to make the story move at the right pace?

Marc Bell: I was very slow to begin actual work on this book. I did want to make things clearer story-wise because I was sick of being talked about as the guy that makes no sense. I even read a few books about writing storyboards for films and TV to get myself going. I think it did end up clearer than my other works but it also seems it is very hard to escape this piling on in the narrative that usually happens with things I make. So, that’s how it goes! I suppose it took three years but only a third of that was making the actual book, drawing it.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. If you read the two reviews of the Airboy revival I posted to last week, you know there was a fair amount of controversy regarding the title’s portrayal of transgender women. Writer James Robinson has released a statement.

Tokyopop is planning to relaunch its manga publishing program. (In 2011, Sean Michael Robinson reported on Tokyopop’s closing, and some of the controversy surrounding it.)

—Reviews & Commentary. Brian Cremins reviews Keiler Roberts’s Miseryland.

Martin Dupuis has a long piece on Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Killing Joke.

Mike Sterling reflects on Rerun from Peanuts.

Andy Oliver writes about William Cardini’s Vortex.

—Misc. Have we already linked to Dame Darcy’s new Patreon?

Box Brown is having an original art sale.

 

Good Hang

Today we have:

The first installment of Greg Hunter’s new podcast, Comic Book Decalogue has arrived and it’s a doozy of a talk with Josh Simmons.

We also have an appreciation of the late Leonard Starr from Howard Chaykin.

Elsewhere:

Good interview with the inimitable Ben Jones over here.

Jessica Abel adds her voice to the growing dialogue about making a living in comics.

Nice interview with Marc Bell over here.

Here’s a review of the Harvey Kurtzman biography.

Here’s a great image gallery of work by Marvel comic book artist Billy  Graham.

We are now off for the long weekend. Have a good one.