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Blue Flowers

Today at TCJ, we'll turn the reins over to Daniel Best, who has delivered an extensive obituary on his friend, the comic book artist Norm Breyfogle.

Norm always had a temper. He was passionate about social justice and hated the way the Right would look down upon the Left, and the poor, with disdain and disgust. Norm would engage in debate with anyone and everyone, debates that turned into on-line fights. Norm couldn’t allow anyone to get the last word and it was one night when, while arguing yet again, he smashed his fist into his computer monitor. Instantly he felt a searing jolt up his arm and believed he’d been electrocuted. He could barely move and speak. He managed to call for an ambulance and was taken to the hospital where it was discovered that he’d suffered a serious stroke. Only the fact that he was in peak physical condition had saved him from being a fatality. But survival came at a cost – his left side was now paralyzed.

Today's review comes to us from Shea Hennum, who is here to talk Jesse McManus' most recent release, The Whistling Factory.

Jesse McManus comics are like a fever dream. That is, they are at once grotesque and lucid, operating with a world that exists in the coherent (if disorienting) shadow of our own. Combing the cutesy-macabre aesthetic of Al Columbia with the frenetic grotesquerie of a Ren & Stimpy close-up, The Whistling Factory is no different. Composed of stories of varying lengths, and brief, punchy interstices, the collection resists the coherence of something like a short story cycle without diffusing into the incoherence of the anthology format. Generically, it rejects comporting with anything that might be familiar, but it isn’t so scattershot that it cannot be encountered as a unified thing.

The latest defamation lawsuit: Richard Meyer, a youtuber behind the Diversity & Comics channel, has sued Mark Waid for defamation and tortious interference regarding incidents surrounding the cancellation of a graphic novel Meyer was working on with the publisher Antarctic Press. While Gina Gershon dominates the term "tortious interference", nobody has seen fit to put her explanation of that term from The Insider on Youtube. So here's the guy from Last Boy Scout showing you how to wait for it.

 

 

Late Day

Today, on the site, Mark Newgarden returns with his second photo tour to the old days of cartooning legend at The Inkwell in New York City.

Open for business at number 693 (between 43rd and 44th Streets) The Inkwell catered to an elite clientele of cartoonists, newspapermen, photographers, models, actors and all manner of other 20th-century media workers (plus thirsty curiosity seekers.) It was celebrated in its heyday for its pork chops, raucous Thursday night theme parties, and after hours jam sessions — but above for all its unique décor, courtesy of some of the greatest cartoonists of the era.

Robert Kirby is here, too, with a review of the most recent slate of Kuš! comics.

Portugal-based [Mariana] Pita delivers this funny tale featuring a childlike protagonist and her acerbic dog, presented in a dreamy mix of watercolors and colored pencils. Things begin with the girl seeing an online plea for giving blood: "Be a hero." This sounds like just the thing to her, so she leashes up her dog (though he tells her he has a game that night and needs to be home by a specific time) and sets out on the journey to the donor offices. Along the way, they stop and let the dog take care of his business (he helpfully cleans up after himself), figure out the subway route, observe the people around them (“So many thrashy people,” she comments), and stop for a snack. The amusing and occasionally snarky interplay between the two feels authentic (despite the fact that one of them is, you know, a dog). When they finally reach their destination, things don't go quite as planned, but the girl remains philosophical: “It’s ok, being a hero isn’t easy.” Pita judiciously anchors her very watery watercolors with colored pencils, with red (especially for the blood) being particularly effective. Her visuals, including the hand-drawn, cursive text, have a fresh, freewheeling feel, happily taking readers along with the protagonists on their journey. Day Tour could have come off as overly twee, but in Pita’s deft hands it’s an oddball charmer from start to finish.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The 2000AD stalwart and Judge Dredd co-creator Carlos Ezquerra has died of cancer.

Ezquerra, who lived in Andorra, began his career in British comics in 1973, after initially working on Spanish war and western comics. He found work on the war comic Battle Picture Weekly, drawing the adventures of the Dirty Dozen-inspired Rat Pack and later the strip Major Eazy, before editor and writer Pat Mills, who launched 2000AD in 1977, asked Ezquerra to come up with character designs for Judge Dredd.

Dredd’s helmet, knee-pads and eagle-motif shoulder decoration were instantly iconic, as were the cityscapes Ezquerra developed for Dredd’s beat, the sprawling, dystopian Mega-City One. Dredd debuted in the second issue of 2000AD, but was not drawn by Ezquerra, despite his crucial role in the character’s design. Ezquerra returned to drawing for Battle for a few months, then teamed up with original Dredd writer John Wagner to create what many fans consider the quintessential period of the character.

Archaeologists in Jordan have found ancient art that some scholars say resemble an early form of comics.

Painted on the walls inside a 2,000-year-old Roman-era tomb, Ariel David at Haaretz reports that there are nearly 260 figures featured in narrative scenes, with many speaking via comic-style speech bubbles.

—Reviews & Commentary. Chris Mautner reviews new books by Edie Fake and L. Nichols.

While at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Md., earlier this month, I attended a panel entitled “Trans Memoir.” During the program, a small group of transgender cartoonists talked about how comics provided them with a mode of self-expression in which they could delineate their best, ideal selves and talk about issues and emotions — often difficult to articulate — that come with being trans.

Two recent books from the small press publisher Secret Acres — Flocks by L. Nichols and Little Stranger by Edie Fake — underscore what those cartoonists were saying. Both books examine the struggles of being transgender and dealing with dysphoria, albeit from very different perspectives and sense of aesthetics.

—Interviews. The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Nora Krug.

 

The Exhausted Core

It's Friday at The Comics Journal, which means it's Friday everywhere: enjoy it. We're launching ourselves into the weekend with a nice long conversation with some folks who know how to have such things: Joe Casey and Ian MacEwan. They both got on the horn with Sean Witzke to talk about their new Image Comics collaboration, the action comic MCMLXXV. Take a look at the art heavy post, but drink in the words as well--after all, when's the last time you caught a conversation about Jademan?

Jademan feels like it's completely been forgotten as a type of comic, they're really unlike any other mode of comics storytelling. It's one of those things that feels like someone came up with it independent of influence.

MacEwan: Those art teams put so much effort into the smallest details, and in so many styles. It's bewildering how panels switch from line art to fully painted to elaborate color holds that turn into abstract color explosions. I love the use of speed lines as active foreground elements. And blending that with all the phantom strikes, it loses any sense of space but makes up for it in sheer roller coaster ride. It's really effective at capturing a martial arts fight a the way that interprets long-take kung fu film fights. And wuxia is such a distinct fantasy genre, with each move having a name and discipline and celestial correspondence.

The production of those books too are just nuts, I loved how the back of each issue were full of pictures of artists working in the Jademan "bullpen" at their super specific art jobs. And above it all there's "Tony" Wong Fuk-Long always posing in expensive suits in front of his lamborghini. He's more Hong Kong comics' answer to Phil Spector than Stan Lee. He's written multiple books about his own greatness, and gone to prison more than once for defrauding his company and his employees. And he's spent the last few years trying to build a billion dollar Hong Kong Comics amusement park!

That's not all, of course--today also sees the conclusion of L. Nichols week of Diary comics. Kids and the Santa Cruz boardwalk. What's not to love? 

And then there's today's Review, courtesy of Ryan Carey. This time around, Ryan is taking a look at Retrofit's The Prince, by Liam Cobb--and he cracked this one with some expectations. Were they met? Find out now.

The just-referenced cover sets the tone for the interior contents quite nicely, as Cobb employs a vaguely Mad Men-esque sensibility that could possibly best be described as “retro-futurism” to convey a briskly-told, emotionally-distant, decidedly vengeful version of an ostensibly simple yarn. His conceit of making the frog a mysterious, and possibly duplicitous, sudden arrival into the life of May, a neglected, financially well-to-do wife trapped in a loveless marriage with a typically philandering scoundrel of a husband adding a frisson of tension and unease to one of the most shop-worn plot skeletons you’d care to mention. It’s an intriguing enough wrinkle to keep you turning the pages, to be sure, but is it actually innovative?

And now you'll have to indulge me--or click away, I won't know the difference. This, right here, is one of the first two comic books I ever purchased with my own money--the conclusion of a three parter featuring "The Corrosive Man", a plot to steal an inheritance involving hobo murders, an evil criminal named "Kadaver" who wears a devil mask, and a rare panel of Batman shown bantering with cops after dawn at the site of a car accident. The comic was written by John Wagner & Alan Grant, although those names meant nothing to me at the time. The name that did mean something was Norm Breyfogle. Along with Jim Aparo, Breyfogle's work on Batman defined my understanding of comics for a healthy period of my initial reading simply because Norm Breyfogle and Jim Aparo were my complete understanding of comics. Things like The Far Side and Calvin & Hobbes (and Garfield & Heathcliff) existed alongside them, but when it came to extended narrative reading, the art of those two individuals defined the bulk of the medium. Even when other DC comics of the time--always featuring Batman--appeared, none appeared as frequently, or as consistently. If I were to actually research Breyfogle--something I've thought of doing, but honestly never expected the question to arise so tragically early--I think that what I would find is that his most conspicuous images are the ones were he went off model, if only because it was so incredibly, fantastically rare to see him break his pattern. Unlike Aparo, whose work was full of a constant, meaty heaviness and beautiful symmetry, Breyfogle's Batman was an acrobatic creation, a thing forever in motion, and it was that from the very beginning. He drew characters intoxicated with the possibility of grace and the body's movement--if one were to strip them of their clothes, they'd be the bodies of contortionists, gymnasts, figure skaters. His Commissioner Gordon was one whose mustache always seemed intent on eating his mouth, and there was no emotion more happily drawn than when a character could excitedly recognize something--a friend, a fact, a lesson, a thing. In Breyfogle comics, things happened that were sad--the death of Tim Drake's mother, delivered in flashback by a sorrowful Bruce Wayne--but it was always the moments of joy and excitement in between the heroics that resonated with the most emotion and reverence. The electricity of his style disguised their content--in anyone else's hands, Wagner & Grant's script for Detective Comics #589 would have been a bloody, dismal affair--but in Breyfogle's hands, danger feels a bit playful, death a giant misunderstanding. His passing was too soon, anyone's passing is. Worser still is the fashion in which he was treated on his way towards it. He deserved better, and the universality of that sentiment in no way lessens its validity.

 

One Question

It's a weird day out there, but if you're looking to hide from the world, we have some comics-related content to help with your denial.

First, Mark Newgarden is here with a photo tour of The Inkwell, a postwar NYC bar where everyone from Milton Caniff to Milt Gross to Otto Soglow drew on the walls.

Part of the mythos of the 20th-century newspaper cartoonist was the role of the deadline- haunted hollow-legged libertine, part workhorse/part fraternal drinking machine. Big-city newspaper art departments were notorious for their in-house tippling and impromptu frescoes. In a 1979 oral history, the radio producer Himan Brown (desperately seeking an audience with cartoonist Milt Gross) recalled his teenage impression of the New York World art department of the 1920s: “For me to describe the place these cartoonists worked in, in the old World building down on Park Row in Lower Manhattan, is really a nightmare in itself. These were tough hard-bitten men, an elite unto themselves. They sat side by side, doing the cartoons and comic strips that were so familiar, in this one smoke-ridden room, with spittoons and filthy dirty pictures on the wall. Pornography was invented by these guys.” These dual impulses naturally migrated to the local saloons after office hours.

Among these was The Inkwell, a now-forgotten postwar establishment that once catered to this particular elite. Located at 693 Third Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets on the East Side, “a few doors south” of the original Costello’s (which occupied number 699 until it relocated to East 44th street in 1973), The Inkwell was christened with a moist nod to the high-hat steak row eatery, The Pen and Pencil. Esquire described it as “a hangout for cartoonists and writers, actors and musicians, models and magazine editors.” Knife and Fork in New York, a period guidebook, described it as a “boothed gossipry for folk from near-by newspaper offices ” and went on to praise both the steaks and “big luscious porkchops, Southern-style.”

We also have Day Four of L. Nichols' Cartoonist's Diary. Today, it's camping in Big Sur.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Longtime Batman artist Norm Breyfogle has died. Anyone between, say, 30 and 45 who read superhero comics in their youth probably has fond memories of his work. The details of his death are still private, but he suffered a stroke in 2015, and used crowdfunding at the time to help pay his medical bills.

—Interviews & Profiles. Rolling Stone talks to Garry Trudeau.

Are you more concerned about the country than you were when you started Doonesbury, during the height of Vietnam and the Nixon administration?
It’s hard to measure degrees of concern. The country’s been at war for roughly half the 50 years I’ve been doing this. We’ve had endless scandals, crises. I can’t think of a year when I wasn’t concerned. My hair’s always on fire about some damn thing.

The Guardian profiles Liana Finck.

She may feel that her constant existential terror makes her a bit weird, but it seems there are enough like-minded souls out there to make her quite normal. (Her 200,000 followers on Instagram are devout enough that her biography states: “You may tattoo.”)

“All my weirdness around people is just weirdness about myself. I’ve always been self-conscious and shy, but I wonder if that can be your whole life. I might get used to all the things in the world and stop being anxious about them,” she says. She doesn’t sound very sure.

The most recent guest on Process Party is Josh Cotter, and the most recent guest on Comics Alternative is Tillie Walden.

—Reviews. Jenny Lawson at The New York Times reviews Finck's latest.

“Passing for Human” is a graphic work — Finck’s second, after her earlier “A Bintel Brief.” It is drawn in a straightforward pen-and-ink style but each simple drawing captures such raw emotion. It’s wonderfully intimate, like reading someone’s diary. And in a way that’s what it is. It tells the story of the artist’s search for her lost shadow. The first time I flipped through the book I wasn’t sure what that shadow represented: alienation, regret, creative angst, self-doubt? I read it again.

 

Dead Lies On Target

Today at The Comics Journal, we've got another early look at one of the fall's more anticipated titles: Britt Wilson's latest with Koyama, Ghost Queen. Get in on the hotness now, otherwise you can't condescend to latecomers.

If you'd been wondering why L. Nichols was putting himself through cross-country flights with small children, today you'll get your answer, the best answer of all: love. The latest chapter in his Cartoonist Diary awaits!

Today's Comics Journal review sees Martyn Pedler reviewing a hardcover comic release from a major comics publisher about Nazi Germany in the days prior to World War II, but no, it's not Berlin by Jason Lutes, which we reviewed yesterday. Instead, this is John Hendrix The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler, which has been collecting a whole laundry list of the kinds of pre-release accolades that make a big difference to traditional bookstores and libraries. It's an interesting prospect, the thought that this book--an easy on the eyes, sub-200 page hardcover pulsing with the simple stylistic constructs that often appeals to readers new to comics in part because they aren't really comics--has every potential of being talked about in the same breath with Lutes' massive, career-defining and defiant magnum opus despite the vast chasm of aesthetic weight and obvious bone-in effort that differentiates them, simply because of the timing of release and the ease of their pairing. Pedler gives it a fair assessment, at least.

In fact, the only real sense that The Faithful Spy is a book for young readers comes with Hendrix’s editorializing – like that word “chillingly”, above. After explaining Hitler’s plan to take over Germany and eradicate the Jewish people, Hendrix gives over a whole page to explain “These were horrid ideas.” Does he not trust his audience to see how horrific the Nazi regime was? Or is this just how we have to talk today when the fact that Nazis are bad seems distressingly up for debate once more? I’m not sure.

While i'm on the subject of Berlin, here's the ultimate throwback: our original review of the first issue, published back in 1996. (I was but a boy at the time, and my knowledge of comics geography went no further than Blüdhaven.) Written by Christopher Brayshaw, it includes choice bits of we'll-see-how-this-goes, but more than that, it's a beautiful snapshot of Jason's subtle experiments, and reading it again--knowing that neither critic nor creator would know how long the road had begun--is a real treat.

I find myself less interested in the story's characters than in Lutes' thoughtful play with different kinds of pacing. Coming after Jar of Fools' bravura pacing, this can't help but feel like a bit of a letdown. But Lutes' commitment to experimentation and to refining his storytelling techniques bodes well for his continued development as a cartoonist. I'm consequently willing to accept my minor reservations about Berlin for now, in return for the more innovative work that Lutes' present experiments promise in the future.

Over at Hyperallergic, Dominic Umile takes a look at Oliver Kugler's Escaping Wars and Waves, a collection of his illustrated profiles subtitled "Encounters with Syrian Refugees"

Kugler’s process yields peripheral cartoon-like spot illustrations, like those supporting street vendor Claudia’s story on Greece’s Kos Island, where tourism declines and refugees sleep on trashed cardboard. For Vian, whose imprisoned activist husband hasn’t met his infant son yet and whose glassy doll-eyes are trained on the reader, Kugler utilizes captions, oversized header type, and word balloons, too. While the work isn’t always labeled as such and is far more venturesome than what is being produced at mainstream comics publishers, Escapingowes as much to the tradition of comics and sequential art as it does to journalism.

Over at WWAC, Tony Wei Ling goes long on Carta Monir's Secure Connect. 

Monir is an amazing talent. As a cartoonist, she’s developed an instantly recognizable conceit that’s way more versatile than it seems on first blush. Her work is always, it seems, about how video games and computers work their way into you. But what each comic is about emotionally feels particular, never rehashed. In her body of published short works, she’s nailed the sweet, the grotesque, the bitter, and the mournful.

Over at The Nerdist, Michel Fiffe's latest experiment with getting that money intersected with getting that GI Joe. Click and ye shalt be found.

 

 

Ixnay

Irene Velentzas is here with a review of one of the most long-awaited conclusions in comics, the complete Berlin from Jason Lutes.

The inside cover of Jason Lutes’ compiled Berlin depicts a sprawling map of the city. The map underlies not only the crossroads Berlin and her peoples are certain to face over the course of this text, but also the entangled matrix of lives, political movements, class conflicts, and private struggles that form the living heartbeat of the multifaceted and ever-changing organism that is Berlin. Lute’s Berlin is a painstakingly made masterpiece, and its twenty-two-year construction has outlasted even the rise and fall of the Weimar Republic which it depicts. This carefully crafted omnibus is not only a fabricated nexus of interwoven lives – both historical and fictional – but a masterclass in the complexity of comics symbolism and composition. Lutes’ thoughtful and impactful storytelling is symbolically dense from the outset as a steam train chugs along the first three panels of the book. The train not only foreshadows the horrors of the Holocaust to come, but also the inevitable intertwined destinies of a progress-driven, war-torn nation and its citizens.

We also have Day Two of L. Nichols' Cartoonist's Diary.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Abrams is starting a new imprint, Megascope, dedicated to science fiction comics focused on people of color.

The name of the imprint is taken from a work of speculative fiction written in 1908 by the celebrated African American sociologist and NAACP founder W.E.B. Dubois. Dubois's Megascope, [director John] Jennings explained, is a fictional instrument that allows its viewers to see “undiscovered stories from our past. It’s a really interesting allegorical device.”

—Interviews & Profiles. Brett Sokol at the New York Times profiles the great Richard McGuire.

Mr. McGuire’s wheatpasting days are four decades behind him, well before he became known for creating magazine covers for The New Yorker, award-winning animation for PBS Kids, and “Here,” a graphic novel saluted by the New York Times critic Dwight Garner as one of the “very best” ever published. But for the first time in nearly 40 years, his handmade posters are receiving a loving excavation in “Art for the Street — New York 1978-1982,” two new solo exhibitions of his work, opening this weekend at the New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1 in Queens and on Sept. 27 at Alden Projects in Manhattan.

Gwynne Watkins at Vulture profiles Ramona Fradon.

Fradon couldn’t be nicer, but she has the canniness of a woman who survived the some of the nation’s hardest decades — and the pressures of an all-male industry — by her own wits. I confess to her that I’m only a casual comics reader; my husband is the one with a passion for superhero stories. “Could you explain that to me?” she asks with a smile. “I just do not understand the grown men who are so into comics.”

Surface has a very brief interview with Daniel Clowes.

Many were exultant when Sabrina, a graphic novel by 29-year-old cartoonist Nick Drnaso, made the longlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize for fiction, Britain’s most prestigious literary award. Daniel Clowes was not one of them.

“It seems like a strange leap to me,” he says. It’s not because he didn’t love the book—he thought it was great. He just thinks we’re talking apples and oranges. “[A graphic novel] is a whole different thing,” he says. “It feels uncomfortable as a form of recognition.”

The Daily Beast profiles Chelsea Cain.

For a short time, Cain became a symbol of the erupting culture wars in geek spaces—the kind that have since yielded the amorphous, anti-diversity harassment campaign known as “Comicsgate.”

At the time, however, the campaign against Cain had no name. And deleting her Twitter only seemed to make it worse. “There’s this really interesting misconception that misogynists have about free speech,” Cain recalls now. “They really were mad that I had left the conversation, because apparently if I were a real feminist, if I were really a strong woman, I would have stayed and let them shout at me. So that’s when it really escalated.”

Cain stayed off Twitter for three months, only once checking in on the hysteria. “I’ve seen some really terrible things,” she remembers. “The thing that really will always haunt me is this illustration of Mockingbird—and this was somebody with talent, like, it was drawn and inked, it looked professional: Mockingbird brutalized and raped, dead. Her costume all torn off, bloody, really violent. And she’s laying there, horribly murdered and bruised and it said, ‘Ask me about my feminist agenda.’”

The most recent guest on the Comics Alternative podcast is Jason Lutes, and the most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Ken Krimstein.

—Reviews & Commentary. For Bomb, Austin English raves about Julie Doucet's Dirty Plotte.

Doucet engaged comics as a place to think graphically, without triage of explanation. Familiar shapes and images (the human body, cluttered apartments) provide the theater for these clipped statements, a less austere setting than, say, poetry. In her early work, this nontraditional approach to comics (a medium often synonymous with narrative) feels rooted not in anger at the confines of cartooning but in an understanding of how powerful it can be on its own legs, no apologetic sprucing required. If cartooning is simply words and images, the artistic brazenness of early Dirty Plotte shows you can dispense with narrative and the three-act structure and what remains needn’t wear a cold and formalist mask.

Paul Buhle reviews Bill Schelly's memoir, Sense of Wonder.

Schelly is a self-described fan extraordinaire. Like hundreds of others, he began self-publishing as a teen, sending out his own mimeographed or, later, offset zines to others in the fold, mainly exchanging copies until he had built up enough readers to sell them. Some of those others, those whose names we are likely to recognize — Crumb springs to mind — went on from collecting, publishing, and distributing fan mags to becoming artists themselves. Schelly, who did plenty of his own drawing along the way, and at one point actually considered a comic-art career, decided that he had reached a dead end along those lines. Sagely, he turned to a series of jobs for various entities, including the federal government and the Seattle Counseling Service, an institution serving the city’s LGBT community. But he continued to write about comic books and film, and became a prolific and respected independent scholar.

Finally, the famously irascible Portuguese critic Domingos Isabelinho has published a list of his favorite 34 comics.

 

Strangers Can’t Be Disappointed

Today at The Comics Journal, we're launching our latest installment of Cartoonist's Diary--with L. Nichols, the cartoonist behind Flocks, a graphic memoir just published by Secret Acres. In his initial installment, L. gets on a cross country flight...with small children.

We've also got a return to these pages by the indefatigable Alex Dueben, who spoke with Eisner Award winning writer and editor Frederik Aldama about the work he's been doing over the last few years.

You’re a tenured professor and you have a lot of scholarly credentials; what has it been like watching comics studies be embraced by academia over the course of your career?

In 2000, I was hired by the University of Colorado, Boulder, as my first job. I knew for a fact that the books that were going to get me where I needed to go – associate and then full professor – would have to be pretty recognizable by senior scholars. That is, they would have to be on literature for the most part. So that’s what I did. I wrote those books. But I knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to write books on comics. That’s something that I’d always wanted to do, even as a graduate student. Once I was a full professor, I started writing these books. There are many other of my colleagues – usually senior scholars – across the country who are building comics studies into the robust discipline it is today.

As a result of all this work, we’re starting to see our PhD students and more junior colleagues writing dissertations as well as publishing articles and books on comics. While it’s a very different scene than the early 2000s, I still advise my PhD students to write a chapter on straight alphabetic literature to present when they give their job talk. Why? There will still people in the room who don’t think comics are worthy of study – and they will be voting on whether or not to give my student the job.

We’re in a transition moment. On the one hand, in our scholarship we have arrived. I just published an edited volume that I titled, Comics Studies Here and Now, to celebrate this arrival in terms of scholarship. At the same time that we’ve “arrived” there’s still some old guard scholars out there gatekeeping this scholarship. There’s a lot of anxiety among colleagues about our arrival, so our younger colleagues and students still need to tread carefully.

Our review for today is of Peter Kuper's recently published collection of Franz Kafka stories, Kafkaesque. Rich Barrett has the mic:

Usually, when adapting literary prose, comic creators are too slavish to the source material, unsure of what to cut from the sacred original text, resulting in paragraphs of narration that overpower the art. Kuper’s greatest feat here is how heroically he edits Kafka down, using just the right amount of words as captions to accompany his visuals. In being so concise, he stays true to form as a cartoonist without losing anything vital from the source material and keeping Kafka’s “voice” intact.

While linking to Batman Penis related content should have probably been just the once, Stephen Colbert's take on the situation includes criticism of DC's business practices and that dumb "for mature readers" tag they use, so whateves, let's keep this train rolling.

 

 

New Shoes

Greg Hunter's here today with the 32nd episode of his Comic Book Decalogue podcast. This month, he's talking to cartoonist and former TCJ podcaster Mike Dawson. They discuss discusses Boogie Nights, Oor Wullie, Eleanor Davis, and more.

We also have a review of Zep's Strange and Beautiful Sound, written by Nathan Chazan.

If a cartoonist strives to tell a mediocre story and is very successful in doing so, is the result of their labor a mediocre comic? This is a question I found myself returning to time and time again when reading A Strange and Beautiful Sound, a thoroughly unsurprising exercise in what might be called summer literature that nevertheless was pleasant to read. The artist, Zep, well known in Francophone Europe for his bestselling children’s serial Titeuf, has more recently taken to doing more mature graphic novels, and you can tell he means business...because all the colors are a muted monochrome and feature grown ups having conversations at tables. As an artist moving into his “please take me seriously” period, Zep’s interests are more low key than, say, a Craig Thompson behemoth, but then the Franco-Belgian comics scene has always been a little more chilled out than the American on the whole.[1] The tone that Zep strikes is pleasurable, yet it is an attitude that would occupy an entire shelf at Barnes & Noble if big bookstores actually sorted their comics section by tone.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. I rarely share news of comics convention guests, but this is different enough to be worth pointing out. The cartoonist behind the new Nancy, who uses the pseudonym Olivia Jaimes, is going to be at CXC.

“The CXC organizers went to great lengths so I’d feel comfortable at the event,” Jaimes told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs about her festival session. “The panel’s happening in a room that seats only about 40 people, and they’re coat-checking all phones and recording devices at the door.

“What I’m saying is: If you aren’t one of those 40 people and don’t want to be separated from your phone just to see me, don’t stress about it — I’m pretty boring in person,” she adds wryly. “But if you do jump through the hoops, I’ll be touched and honored to answer your questions [in this format]. As always, the right balance between connecting with fans and maintaining personal boundaries is my lodestar.”

—Interviews & Profiles. Alex Dueben talks to Summer Pierre.

It wasn’t until I returned to comics that poetry returned to its place. Poetry is a HUGE influence on my comics. It’s a brief and distilled form of life – something I try very hard to get right in my comics. I think cartoonists and poets have a lot in common and every time I get very ego driven and scared about “what it all means” all I have to do is read or listen to a poem and it drops me down to the small and immediate things of life. Music is more emotive to me – I am more taken away by music. Poetry keeps me in the present moment. It’s the red arrow I need on the map when I feel lost to tell me, “You are Here.”

Comics Workbook talks to Hannah K. Lee.

I like looking at packaging (fruit boxes and crates, foreign candy), flags, old and ornate rugs/textiles, pop music ephemera, Tumblr teens, fashion, clever logos, bad logos, old calligraphy, illuminated manuscripts, those kids’ Golden Books, I like to absorb and/or pick apart everything. When it comes to certain jobs that require a lot of research, I look at the design and illustration of that particular era and let that inform how it’ll turn out. For example, I just did a piece about the origins of ska, so I looked at a lot of 60’s album art coming out of Kingston.

The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Audrey Niffenegger.