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Don’t Believe The Gripe

Today we've got a special Friday surprise: Matt Seneca is here with a look at Barry Windsor Smith's Weapon X.

Maybe the biggest part of what makes superhero comics so unpalatable to the uninitiated (and vice versa) is how referential they are, how enamored every panel is not just with contributing to a larger construction, but with its consciousness of doing that. Part of this is simply good salesmanship, but I think it's more due to the fact that guys who make superhero comics really really love superhero comics. Like stoned stoners talking about getting stoned, they just can't resist bringing up that other time when, and the people who were there, and how much, and why. Reveling, stewing sweetly in their own juices. Weapon X feels very different. Here is a superhero comic that seems not just to dislike superhero comics but to truly hate them - coldly, furiously.

Today sees the fifth and final day of Ian Densford's Cartoonist Diary, which sees him exploring the natural world. Thanks for stopping by, Ian!

Over at The Smart Set, Chris Mautner takes explanation detail, getting into the meat of why Copra is a lot more than callback porn.

Fiffe is obsessed with depicting motion, breaking his battle sequences down so they seem like they’re moving in slow, “bullet time” or arranging them so everything appears to be frantically fast. He often distorts things to the point where the action breaks down to pure abstract shapes, only to reform once again into recognizable figures. His use of color is extraordinary.

Over at io9, Evan Narcisse spoke with Ann Nocenti at length and in detail about Seeds, her new comic with David Aja...and her work with John Romita Jr., which has become the Paul's Boutique of Daredevil runs.

Now, I think I bury it deeper. Back then, I always tried to show both sides. I never would say, “Here’s these eco-terrorists and they’re dumping oil to stop a corporation from dumping oil in a river.” I always tried to show both sides, and now I’m letting it seep in a really different kind of way. It’s all subtext. Like, there’s an animal rights angle coming up in the next issue [of The Seeds]. I did an animal rights story in Daredevil 30 years ago that was too heavy-handed, in my mind. I go back and read those comics and go like, “You know, you should have kicked some sand over those ideas, Annie.” Now I’m still trying to kick more sand over it, but they’re still things that obsess me.

Over at Your Chicken Enemy, you'll find Rob Clough reviewing Shit Is Real, Alisha Franz new book with Drawn & Quarterly.

Not only is the audience made privy to her every desire, Franz drowns the reader in layer upon layer of Selma's dream life. Fantasies, dreams, and hallucinations all blend together creating narrative callbacks that provide surprising levels of coherency and connectedness. All throughout the book, a sharp contrast is made between living the life of a primitive and living in the frequently alienating modern world. That distinction often becomes an absurd one and creates much of the book's outrageous humor. Being disconnected from the civilization of conspicuous consumption is not only a sign of weakness in Selma's imagination; it's a sign of being less than human.

If that isn't enough Chicken Enemy for you, the site's editor can be found over at Comics Bulletin, in a wide ranging and heartfelt conversation about why comics criticism is so important to him.

I initially started writing about small press comics around 2012 because I had discovered so many wonderful books, and I just wanted to talk about them with other people. To my dismay, I found myself having a hard time finding people with whom to have those conversations. So much around the genre is focused on superhero comics and very little bandwidth was given to these “shitty little stapled Xeroxed things” that were so intensely personal and heartfelt and beautiful. So I thought, maybe if I write about them, more people would read them, and then I could talk to people about them. I’m selfish like that.

 

 

The Best Revenge

Ian Densford is here with the fourth day of his Cartoonist's Diary.

And Rob Kirby has a review of Aron Nels Steinke's latest kids' comic, Mr. Wolf's Class.

em>Mr. Wolf’s Class, Aron Nels Steinke’s latest graphic novel for young readers, takes place on the first day of fourth grade, when everything is new and exciting and also nerve-wracking—for teachers and students alike. Steinke draws upon his experiences as an elementary educator, which lends authenticity to the story, and features delightfully anthropomorphized versions of himself (as a wolf, obviously) and the rest of the cast, adding an extra layer of cuteness and fun to the proceedings. Although the word “charming” will be (quite correctly) used to describe the book, its quiet championing of inclusivity and tolerance are seriously welcome in our current, scary political climate. It's a book that young children (and quite a number of adults) will find irresistible.

Steinke originally drew “Mr. Wolf” as an autobiographical webcomic for mature readers, presented in brief, generally one-page installments. In those strips, the antics of the kids were seen strictly through Mr. Wolf’s/Steinke's bemused, occasionally bewildered, but always appreciative eyes. The strip also explored the hard work and more-than-occasional angst involved in being responsible for teaching young children.

For Mr. Wolf's Class Steinke changes the focus, not only including but giving priority to the perspectives and experiences of the children.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. DC has canceled plans to publish a deluxe edition of the Binder/Beck Captain Marvel Monster Society of Evil comics. The publisher cited concerns over content, likely referring to racist caricatures in the comic.

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library shared details regarding its new Nicole Hollander collection.

[Hollander] is a Chicago native and one of our most important women cartoonists. Her long running strip Sylvia commented with acerbic wit on political, gender and social issues (plus what it is like to live with a cat) for over 30 years from the late 1970s until Hollander ‘retired’ Sylvia in 2012.

Nicole Hollander studied art at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and later at Boston University. For many years she ran a successful graphic design company in Chicago and it was as graphic design director for the feminist publication The Spokeswoman that she started to experiment with cartoons and the comic strip form.

—Interviews & Profiles. The New York Times talks to Jeff Smith about his recent transition to picture books.

It took me a while to get the hang of the difference between comics and picture books. I made a picture book a while ago called “Little Mouse Gets Ready,” about a mouse trying to get dressed, for Françoise Mouly, the publisher of Toon Books. The whole story appeared in my head like magic: being a kid and learning to dress, putting on the underwear, struggling with buttons and buttonholes, and the payoff at the end. It took less than two weeks to write, draw and ink that entire book. That’s never happened before and was actually pretty fun.

But “Smiley’s Dream Book” was harder. It was quite a few tries with my editors at Scholastic saying, “This is not a picture book, you just wrote a comic book.” The thing with a picture book is you don’t want to overload the pages with a lot of text. You want the idea to be very simple, but have a point. Finally, I got it. I will say that the kind of stories I wrote for the Bone characters when I was 9 are the kinds I’m doing now as picture books. And I still like to keep elements of comics in there, like they speak in word balloons.

The latest guest on Comics Alternative is Jules Feiffer.

—Commentary. The Independent marks the 80th anniversary of The Beano.

Bolstered by this multimedia success, The Beano’s last set of ABC figures recorded an almost 8 per cent rise; it now sells more than 37,500 copies a week, or 1.86 million copies a year. In a comic market which has dropped by approximately 10 per cent in the same period, these figures are somewhere in the region of miraculous, yet simple testimony to publishers DC Thomson’s knowledge of their market. “Online traffic has grown 900 per cent in the last year,” says Stirling. “Two million kids use the site, which is the number of kids who read the comic itself back in the 1950s.”

Such new technologies are a world away from what was available in 1938, when the Dundee-based newspaper and publishing company had already enjoyed much success with its line of adventure comics and two recent cartoon creations for the Sunday Post newspaper; the still-enduring Broons and Oor Wullie strips. Into this environment of near-guaranteed success, DC Thomson’s head of children’s publishing RD Low authorised a batch of new titles, including one which featured the adventurous ostrich Big Eggo on its cover.

—Misc. Comics critic and frequent TCJ contributor Rob Clough is asking for financial help.

 

Wednesday’s Satanic Children

Today at TCJ, we've got a big one--a new episode of Comic Decalogue. In this one, Greg Hunter talks with Lauren Weinstein. Don't delay!

After that, it's time to check in with Ian Densford for the third installment in his Cartoonist's Diary. Lots of death drawings: pretty frustrating business!

These past couple of weeks at TCJ have been pretty chaotic and overstuffed. If you haven't been able to hit the site every day, then congratulations on being super busy! While you're relaxing in the bath, pull up the latest TCJ email and drink in an update on all our most recent hot content!

 

 

Pitchfork

Today, Alex Dueben is here with an interview with the prominent Spanish cartoonist Rubén Pellejer, who is currently working on new Corto Maltese comics.

Tell me about Corto Maltese. What did Hugo Pratt’s comic mean to you?

There was a time when Pratt’s work was fundamental to my evolution as a cartoonist. He had qualities of many of the other American authors that I admired – Milton Caniff, Frank Robbins, Alex Toth, Noel Sickles, etc. – but he also had a simple style of line drawing that was visually very seductive.

Corto Maltese is a character complete with this same visual seduction but who also possesses great charisma. Pratt’s stories take you on a journey and make you feel like you’ve really lived the characters’ stories. That was a huge inspiration to me in my Dieter Lumpen stories.

How did you end up drawing the new series?

CONG SA is the company created by Pratt himself and his longtime colorist Patricia Zanotti. She was the one who contacted Juan Díaz Canales and asked him to write the script. Juan Díaz is a connoisseur of Pratt’s work, and he’s the one who recommended me as an artist to Patricia Zanotti. He told her about my character Dieter Lumpen, who was similar in ways to the character Corto Maltese. Juan Díaz called me up one day and offered me the job.

How do you approach drawing Corto Maltese?

In the beginning I used a very deliberate approach, by which I mean, “Which parts of Pratt’s character and drawing should I take into account, and which ones shouldn’t I?” I think that when it comes to working on the continuation of a series and not just a single book (where you can do an homage without any problem), you have to maintain some of Pratt’s elements and aspects of the character. That is essential. To do otherwise would be distancing oneself from the spirit of the work.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Françoise Mouly talks briefly to Tom Gauld.

Do you have key influences, in terms of your style?

One is the British illustrator William Heath Robinson. He’s particularly known in the U.K. for drawings of eccentric, overcomplicated machines: similar to Rube Goldberg’s contraptions but more beautifully drawn. He also drew brilliant cartoons that captured the absurdities of daily life with a lovely, clear line. I think he’d have drawn an amazing image of a crowded New York beach.

The most recent guest on Virtual Memories is David Lloyd.

—Commentary. Mike Peterson, who has begun writing his "Comic Strip of the Day" feature for The Daily Cartoonist, brings up an interesting but key point about the most recent Jeff Danziger controversy, in which the cartoonist apologized for his depiction of Sarah Huckabee Sanders: the cartoon never actually even ran.

—News. Anne Ishii has been named the new executive director of Philadelphia's Asian Arts Initiative.

 

Generational Electric

It's Monday at TCJ, and our friend and archaeologist Austin English returns for the latest installment of 10 Cent Museum. I think i'll let what he has put together speak for itself--it should be able to do that very well.

Today's review is from Aug Stone, who has returned to us with his take on Vera Brosgol's graphic novel for young readers, Be Prepared. Wait, did I say young readers? Because Aug is making the case that it's aimed at a wider audience than that!

It may be listed as being for Middle Grade and Young Teens, but Be Prepared will hit home with any adult who ever felt out of place growing up, which is to say, most of us. For Vera - as Brosgol explains in her Author’s Note, this is an autobiographical tale neatly fictionalized – that outsiderness stems from having moved to the United States from Russia at the age of five and not quite fitting in with all the other American kids.

And this week, we launch a new Cartoonist Diary with Ian Densford. Today, he introduces us to his love of Robert Stack, and all that love entails.

Barnes and Noble may have found itself a new crew of bosses, and they brought a pretty interesting record with them.

Rob Clough has a pretty illuminating blog post up on his experience as a former Eisner judge.

The New York Times put up an article covering the field of streaming services (and direct sales systems) that multiple comics publishers are experimenting with. The article also includes a frank discussion of the sales drops that have faced the comics business in the last year. 

 

Different Fish

It's been a big week at TCJ. Yesterday, Anders Nilsen contributed a graceful, moving, and intelligent piece about the process of helping to complete his friend Geneviève Castrée's final book.

Her lines are perfect, exquisite, and minute. She often worked at nearly the same size at which her work would be printed, which is to say: small. The level of detail is astounding. Her drawings are little wonders. The best artists are like great athletes in that they make what they do look easy. You watch Serena Williams play tennis or Luan Oliveira skate a ledge and it looks so fluid, it feels in your bones like, yes, of course, I could do that, too. And if you try, you find out that it’s a delusion, that it actually took ten thousand hours of practice. It took inhabiting a particular body and mind in a particular place and time in the world. It’s from tracing certain motions every day for years, weaving a path through and between the artists that inspired you as a kid and the colleagues who excite you as a working artist. That feeling of effortlessness is a smokescreen, and even, in a way, a raised middle finger, to the immense amount of time and luck that it takes to get that good. I felt this very keenly when, after Geneviève died of pancreatic cancer in 2016, I sat down to finish my friend’s last book myself. It looked easy. I could feel the movement in my bones. But actually getting it down on paper was far from simple.

Geneviève had been ill for about eighteen months when she died. I knew she was occupying herself with various small projects. She would tell people she wasn’t working, she said she didn’t want to answer the question. She’d say that she was focused on getting well. But every time I went to visit her at her home in Anacortes, Washington, there were little piles of drawings or embroideries on the table next to the couch, on which she spent her days. And it turned out that in the last several weeks that work became more focused. Two days before her death, she sent me a photo of an unfinished drawing for that book, with the accompanying text: “I don’t like to share things before they are finished, but here is what I am doing with my days (while not gasping for air).”

Tegan O'Neil is here with her latest column, this time about Steve Ditko's Shade the Changing Man.

Sanity is very much a binary choice in the original run of Shade the Changing Man. The story is almost Lovecraftian in terms of the attention paid to the sanity of its hero. The difference is, of course, that madness is inevitable in Lovecraft’s world – inevitable at least for any human who persists in seeking forbidden knowledge. Madness for Steve Ditko here appears to be a malady against which a superior specimen – aided by superior technology, in this instance – might somehow resist.

Why is this preoccupation with madness and sanity so important to this series? Shade is a paranoid book. Literally every member of the cast is suspicious of every other member of the cast, down to parents, children, and lovers. Everyone in the Meta – the rather faceless and indistinct alternate dimension that Shade calls home – is a cop of some kind, or a criminal, or a criminal masquerading as a cop. If you’re not actively working with the Metan government to stamp out crime then you are probably a criminal yourself, let’s just say.

The reader will search in vain for any sign on the part of the author that the obsessively carceral world of Meta is not in fact the oppressive dystopia it appears on first, second, and eighth blush. Every third word out of every character’s mouth is an accusation of treason – perhaps an exaggeration, but only just. The Metan Secret Service, of which Shade served as a member, doesn’t really appear to have a set remit other than the general homeland protection shtick. Business is paranoid hypernationalism without a specific focus besides its own perpetuation and business is very good.

Today also brings Austin Price's review of a new collection of Go Nagai's infamous semi-classic Devilman.

Nagai is after all the overgrown child best known for penning super-robot slugfests like Mazinger and impossibly horny magical girl series like Cutie Honey, a schlockmeister who mistakes wrathful rants about justice and peace delivered over tableaus of splatterhouse gore for the stuff of great insight and sexual comedy so crass it borders on the misogynistic for satire; it seemed telling to me that his most stalwart fans would defend what was dullest and ugliest in Crybaby as the product of Nagai’s genius alone.

What’s most striking upon actually reading the first half of the original Devilman (available in English for the first time in three decades after publisher Seven Seas fished it from the licensing hell Glenn Danzig’s vanity press Verotik's brutal mishandling once stranded it in; the second half will follow in October) is how wrong everyone – not just the fans, not just myself, but Yuasa and Okouchi, as well – got it.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The Jerusalem Post has fired its longtime cartoonist Ari Katz after he drew an Animal Farm-referencing cartoon of Netanyahu depicted as a pig.

The publication of the cartoon on Tuesday in the Jerusalem Report, a biweekly magazine published by the Jerusalem Post, was met with praise by some and anger by other social media users, with many objecting to his portrayal of the Likud politicians as pigs, which are perceived as among the most ritually impure animals in Judaism.

Following the uproar, the Jerusalem Post announced it would no longer work with Katz.

“Avi Katz is a cartoonist who worked as a freelancer at the Jerusalem Post and in accordance with editorial considerations, it was decided not to continue the relationship with him,” it said in a Hebrew-language statement.

—Reviews & Commentary. Comedy Central's Jim Jefferies Show recently broadcast a sequence interviewing and mocking a prolific anti-diversity-in-comics advocate (read: bigot). This set off a debate online between people who welcomed the critical attention as long-overdue and those who felt it only served to magnify the bigot's profile. It's a complicated, difficult-to-parse issue, especially in the wake of the 2016 election and the media's arguable complicity in it, and one that I am not at all confident I know how to answer correctly. I think many people may overrate the power of public mockery to marginalize hard-right politics. On the other hand, ignoring these figures is unlikely to make them go away. We have to figure this out.

Over at the New York Times Book Review, Hillary Chute reviews Ben Passmore.

The most prominent device of “Your Black Friend” is its conspicuous, insistent use of the intimate, accusatory “you” (“How you use him like an information desk for black people”; “When you forget yourself”). In this, as in many other aspects, it recalls Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen: An American Lyric,” which is also distinguished by its repeated “you” (as well as a focus on white friend failure, and the relationship between word and image). But Rankine’s “you” is largely an address to self while Passmore’s is an accusation that feels leveled at readers, pointing to their complicity. It is urgent and productively uncomfortable. “Your Black Friend” is not just a takedown: The narrator himself is vulnerable, as when he reveals that he feels personally mocked by his friend’s thoughtless “black” presentations, and that as a child he would suck his lips in to make them look thin like Leonardo DiCaprio’s.

—Misc. The Believer has posted its full archives online, including its very strong pre-2015 comics features, which were edited by Alvin Buenaventura.

 

Too Much

Alec Berry is proving his worth this week, returning to collaborate with Tucker Stone on a story about publisher Annie Koyama's decision to shutter Koyama Press by 2021.

Citing personal and professional reasons, Koyama did not characterize the coming closure as a lost financial fight, but as a return to an impetus. For more than a decade, the publisher also sponsored prominent and unknown artists anonymously, enabling specific projects she has mostly kept private. Now, she will expand and push this form of direct financial support without the responsibility of a press occupying most of her time.

“I will not tell the artists how to do anything,” Koyama said. “There are no strings attached. Once I decide to work with an artist, as I have always done with the press, I put enough trust in them and their project not to interfere. They don’t need my creative help, they need money.”

How this next venture will work is still being formulated. Though the projects she supports will not be owned by Koyama, recipients of these “micro-grants” will be expected to fulfill their end of the bargain, whether if be self-publishing the project, offering a performance, or whatever Koyama and the participating party agree to.

Additionally, the publisher expects to continue to pursue broader methods of support by hosting financial and business literary workshops and supplementing residencies. Her support will not be limited to cartoonists, either. Koyama recently supported a feature film and is already contributing support to projects with several fine artists.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Nick Drnaso's Sabrina continues to gather acclaim, and has become the first graphic novel named to the longlist for the Mann Booker Award.

The nomination marks a major breakthrough for the format.

Nick Drnaso’s “Sabrina,” a work that Zadie Smith called “the best book — in any medium — I have read about our current moment,” is the surprise name among the 13 finalists announced today.

It appears alongside Rachel Kushner’s “The Mars Room,” Sally Rooney’s much-hyped “Normal People” and Michael Ondaatje’s “Warlight.”

—Interviews & Profiles. The aforementioned Drnaso talks about the nomination with Abraham Riesman at Vulture.

...how did you feel?

It’s hard not to … It’s hard to convey it without seeming dismissive or ungrateful or something. But I kind of just glossed over the email. For whatever reason, the way I approach making art over the years has just kinda sapped any feeling of satisfaction or excitement I would have about something like that. And I don’t even mean that in such a negative way. I think I just have this wall built up of some kind of self-preservation thing where I don’t let stuff like that in too deeply.

In an unexpected development, the great saxophonist Wayne Shorter has a graphic novel coming out, and talks to Publishers Weekly about it.

Nothing is actually finished in life. In music, when someone stops writing a song, it’s not necessarily finished. The meaning goes on, more than the name, or the era, style and all that. That’s why I used the word Emanon - no name. The record itself is not a soundtrack for the graphic novel. It’s a panorama that always changes. When you keep listening to the music, the music might turn out to be the graphic novel, and the novel might turn out to be the music [laughs].

The most recent guest on the Comics Alternative podcast is Carol Tyler, and the most recent guest on Inkstuds is Paul Kirchner.

—Commentary. Liza Donnelly writes about the history of women cartoonists at The New Yorker.

From The New Yorker’s beginnings, cartoons have been an integral part of the publication, and, from the beginning, women have been drawing them. The first New Yorker cartoon created by a woman, Ethel Plummer, appeared in the première issue, on February 21, 1925. She, like many female contributors of the time, was classically trained, having attended art school to study painting and illustration. She was also active in the suffrage movement, and one can see the feminist perspective in her cartoon of an irreverent flapper. Another cartoonist, Barbara Shermund, drew in a breezier, more modern style, but, like Plummer, her ideas had a feminist bent. Mary Petty, another cartoonist, was self-taught; her drawings often ridiculed the upper classes with their dark tone and sarcastic humor. Perhaps the most famous of the women cartoonists in those early years was Helen Hokinson, whose every stroke of the pen inexplicably seemed to carry humor.

—Misc. Two comics about cartoonists' experiences in museums (to be almost insultingly reductive) have gone online this week, from Gabrielle Bell and Lauren Weinstein.

 

You Shall Know No Quarter

Today at TCJ, Alec Berry returns to us with an extended profile of David Brothers, who recently left a prominent position at Image Comics to join the San Francisco office of Viz as an editor.

On some Sunday morning I ask Brothers why he quit Image Comics. As the company’s branding manager, he held a desirable spot at a prominent publisher, assisting with book production; helping organize Image Expo; editing an in-house magazine (Image+); and hosting panels and events at conventions nationwide. But by the time December 2017 rolled through, after four and a half years, Brothers tweeted a GIF of Tupac throwing a peace sign into a camera lens. No explanation with it.

“Yeah, Portland sucks,” Brothers responds. “Portland is twee on a level I cannot take.”

Today's review sees the return of our stalwart German contingent of contributors, Oliver Ristau. He's here with a look at Alright, a recent release by the always intriguing Max Baitinger.

But what is Alright about? Once again relationships provide the basis for Baitinger's excursions into the things mankind is constantly struggling with, this time modern communication technology. They say a strong character cannot be bent, and remains true to itself and its shape over its entire life, but it's the opposite that's being depicted when Baitinger's characters try to stay in touch with the help of standardized interfaces – their bodies perform the oddest physical twists while being alone and on their own, only connected by devices forcing an autocratic presetting on consistently malleable personalities. The complementary words are stripped of any fillers, they evince an inborn inclination to submit one's self to an auguring stability and end the pressure of being exposed to an ever changing flow.

The sun is shining (somewhere), which means it's the right time to go over a random sampling of Trevor Von Eeden pages. If, like me, your collection of Thriller is in a box out of arm's reach, never fear: DC in the '80s has you covered with this enthusiastic sprint.

And: then there's us. Like Tim, I did not expect this site to win an Eisner award, and was actually sitting alone in the dark in a strange city, trying to catch up on some of the reviews that my recent move has put me far behind on editing when Jacq emailed us the good news. 

And you know what? It is good news. It's lovely news. I am someone who felt a real kinship for the Comics Journal when I first read it, which, I'm a little embarrassed to admit, was in 2001. I did not grow up in an environment where anyone read or spoke about comic books, and it wasn't until the early days of blogging and message boards that I actually had a conversation with another person about the things. None of my friends had an interest, my brother had stopped looking at Batman when he was 13--it was just something I did on my own. Reading The Journal--long, random articles about comics I had never heard of, which, upon tracking them down, didn't really like that much; weird, bile-filled arguments that I eventually realized were based on decades-old hurt feelings--TCJ didn't shape my taste, but it made me feel comfortable with my desire to take this whole silly thing--this "reading comics thing"--really seriously. And that's always been my guilty pleasure, that's always been the thing I get off on: taking the things I like overly seriously. It isn't a party conversation thing: I know nobody else wants to hear me talk about what I think about what happened to Jack Kirby, or why Jim Aparo's Batman has no real parallel, or how John Wagner's extended, real time run on Judge Dredd is a greater and more satisfying creative accomplishment than we give it credit for. Comics may have broken through in a very big way in the last few years, and super-hero continuity may be something that millions of people are conversant with, but talking about these things as if they "matter," or talking about ways to make them more ethically, or talking about how wild the last fifteen years has been in terms of who is making them, publishing them, sharing them, living off them, taking chances off them--those kinds of conversations are still things that the majority of the people roll their eyes at having. I'm not mad at them! I don't have any interest in how television is made, or poetry, or the machine of the art gallery world. I don't play video games or watch professional wrestling: I'm completely okay with people who dip in and out of comic books.

But that is not how I am wired. Finding The Journal was, for me, like finding an answer. It was (and thanks to Kristy & RJ, will be again) a place where you could go and rail, praise, explore and demand, and nobody ever stopped to ask you to calm down or get a grip. It's a place that took comics seriously, and when I found the site--the Dirk Deppey years--it was like a tree finding its other roots. It was how I found Joe McCulloch, always and forever our best critic, our finest mind, the model of clarity, curiosity and intelligence we are supposed to have for ourselves in life, not merely writing--and the one person, more than any other, who should have been honored alongside Dan, Tim, and I for his tireless efforts since the launch of this incarnation of the site. To have gone from reading those people, to meeting them as a fan, and to eventually join them during my time as a regular contributor, and to then return to the site as Tim's partner has been an experience that has been a real, genuine honor. I am grateful for this surprising vote of confidence at a time that, if I'm being honest, still feels extremely transitional to me. To those of you who voted for us--thank you. To those of you who didn't? Thank you too! Thank you for being somebody who cares enough about this stuff to have a fucking opinion about it. That's what this thing is supposed to be about. Thanks for giving us a shot.