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Eve Of The Fireball

Today, at TCJ, Matt Seneca is here with a look at Criminal #11, the most recent issue of Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips long-running company-hopper of a book. Check it out, then circle back here for more TCJ updating:

I was worried I'd be lost coming in so cold, but Brubaker's frequent, terse, and declarative narration pulls all the weight of situating readers comfortably in the middle of his story's action. This being said, it does have a puzzling tendency to switch back and forth between past and present tenses whether or not there's a flashback sequence going on, and if anything, Brubaker does his job too well. There's not much in this issue, at least, that indicates why its content exists as a comic and not a novel - a cardinal sin in my book, even if its creators still manage to put forth a pleasant read. It's even more confusing given that the whole point of Criminal as an enterprise is comic-izing a form whose prose existence is so robust. Each page is laid out in the three-tier/widescreen template that's been stale since the moment Darwyn Cooke finished codifying and perfecting it in New Frontier, and the interplay between words and pictures makes no attempt to move past Comics 101. Brubaker tells us some crooks change into phony security guard uniforms and Phillips shows us beefcakes buttoning shirts and donning ballcaps; Brubaker tells us they walk across the parking lot and there Phillips shows them going between cars, in the same two-shot framing as before. The substance of it does nothing to get your blood moving, even if it does a good job of proceeding apace.  

It's Christmas Eve! Regardless of whether or not you celebrate this, the apex of the world's one true religion (rampant hyper-consumption), the impact it has on one's ability to get to the grocery store is felt by all, provided you are lucky enough to live in a country that has grocery stores, provided as well that said country is not on fire. Let's assume then that if you've got time to read these TCJ blog entries--few and far between as they may be, then you're someone not feeling the impact of a collapsing economy, a terrifying political climate, freakish, life-decimating weather patterns, but are instead blessed with the free time to keep up with us over here at The Comics Journal as we clear the decks and prepare for 2020, a year which, by even the most optimistic accounts, is sure to be the most obnoxious one in recorded history. As well as the hottest? Probably.

This week, we'll be ladling out our Best of 2019 posts--one focusing on the comics that various contributors felt earned the name, and one where we look back on the pieces those contributors wrote. My feeling on these lists is that they're a good test of whether or not a house of criticism has done its job: namely, that your Best of Year list should be the least surprising thing you do all year, because every first-time-mention on that list is a book that should've been looked at earlier. It's a public report card, often reflecting an editor's failings, and while I'm not looking forward to it, I can't wait for other people to do so. Look for those pieces to go up on Thursday and Friday of this week. (There may be other surprises this week as well).

Last week was a syrupy one, as any week with a new Bob Levin should be. Monday, he took a classic Levin look at J.T. Dockery & Sexton Ming's Kenttucky Pussy, published by Ohio's own Nix Comix. I like that Nix guy, he's a good dude. Bad graphic design on those Nix comics though. Put that on the 2020 bucket list, Ken!

His relationship with Dockery had begun in one of those but-for-that moments which Goshkin treasured. He had acknowledged in-print the influence on his prose of the not-exactly-of-the-canon Nick Tosches, whose story “Spud Crazy” Dockery just happened to be adapting for a comic. Dockery and Goshkin had progressed into praising each other’s work in publications that reached audiences not much larger than those which filled Ming’s pubs. Now, an hour before typing that sentence, his daily doppio barely begun, Goshkin had read Tosches’s obit, in which he’d been quoted as saying “one of the rewards of being 50” was the right to wear leopard-skin loafers.

For Goshkin, 77 had meant eel-skin boots.

Everything connects.

Tuesday, Marc Sobel returned to The Book Nook, an Atlanta staple that should be the second place you go on any trip to the South, the first being Bizarro Wuxtry. He found and bought some old Steve Bissette as all good heroes should:

Bissette has long been a champion for sophisticating the horror genre in comics, but in these early works, he had a very different agenda. These stories were obviously geared toward Scholastic’s juvenile readership, however, for Bissette, they served a greater purpose than simply providing momentary diversions from the drudgery of schoolwork. Having grown up in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Bissette was a huge fan of science fiction and horror from a young age. In his Afterword in Fear Book, he recalls being inspired by everything from classic monster movies to the Mars Attacks! trading cards to Aurora model kits. As for comics, he mentioned Kirby’s Atlas books, the Warren magazines, various Charlton and ACG horror anthologies, and the seminal first issue of Ghost Stories by John Stanley, though undoubtedly this is an abbreviated list. However, as a young man in the ‘70s, he was frustrated with the deluge of graphic, adult-oriented bloodbaths which had come to dominate the horror genre. He lamented what he referred to as a dearth of “innocent horrors.” Thus, he viewed his work in Weird Worlds not just as a professional gig, but also as an opportunity to introduce “a new generation of young readers” to his beloved genre.

Wednesday, Austin Price took a nice long look at Taiyo Matsumoto's Cats of the Louvre, the latest affectionately received Matsumoto title to make it to English. Look for bonus Jog content in the comments section!

But if Cats is deeply preoccupied with death and critical of escapism it’s not lacking for humor, or for warmth; it’s hardly what might be described as grim. There’s something moony about Matsumoto’s approach to our inevitable end that removes it of its sting. This might be easily attributed to the prominence of the cats. Here as in life it’s the contrast between their cool remove, preening stylishness, and obvious foolishness that makes Matsumoto’s felines such a joy to follow; there’s an observed quality to their play, their fights, even the aforementioned frivolity they display in the face of death that captures so much of their appeal. Anyone who’s spent long enough around a pack of cats or even an afternoon (a Caturday?) browsing cat-themed videos on Youtube knows how arbitrary their moods, how particular their politics, how engaging their dramas can be, but we’ve so long emphasized the cuteness of these idiosyncrasies that we forget how bizarre they must seem to somebody on first encounter. Not Matsumoto, whose decision to emphasizes just how truly strange these animals are gifts the book an absurdity that mitigates against its more dour inclinations.

Over at Chimera Obscura, podcaster Gil Roth shared the audio of remarks made Tom Spurgeon's memorial service, which took place on December 14th in Columbus, Ohio. It was a moving event, well attended by Columbus friends, Spurgeon's family, and a healthy contingent of those who came to know him online. 

 

Mondaze

Our obituary of Tom Spurgeon is here, written by Michael Dean. Tom's loss is and will continue to be felt by us for a very long time. Hopefully some of the pieces we will be publishing this week will help readers and friends process their own grief. It is doing that for me. Last week's blog post will continue to serve as a "Collective Memory" of Tom Spurgeon related pieces for as long as those pieces arise.

Today, Edwin Turner reviews Chris Ware's Rusty Brown for us--and next week, we'll hear a different take on the book, that one from Tegan O'Neil. Today though, it's Turner time:

Rusty Brown is a sprawling story about memory and perception, about minor triumphs and chronic failures, about how our inner monologues might not match up to the reality around us. In Ware's world, life can be blurry, spotty, fragmented. His characters are so bound up in their own consciousnesses that they cannot see the bigger picture that frames them.

Appropriate to this theme, Ware frames his novel as a day of network television programming, beginning with the beautiful program "Snow" (aka "Our Science Minute"). The two-page chapter is a brief, simple meditation on snowflakes. Can we be so sure that no two are truly alike? the cursive-voiced narrator wonders. The final paragraph of "Snow" subtly announces one of Rusty Brown's major themes:

Like the growing rings of a tiny hexagonal tree, billions of water molecules spin around and around, each finding the closest, easiest, and most comfortable bond (just as people, who seek the companionship of like minds and bodies, cannot simply be thrown together and expect to thrive)...

The characters of Rusty Brown are stuck in miserable "easy" bonds; thrown together, they do not thrive.

Elsewhere, a review: Here's an Abhay Khosla review on Scott Snyder and Charles Soule's comic they did with Giuseppe Camuncoli  for Image Comics. Come for the part where Abhay describes a thing that sounds professional but lousy, but stay for the part where the comic ended and becomes a no-shit advertisement for DARPA.

Elsewhere, a review: Ryan Carey takes a look at Tad Martin, from Casanova Frankenstein. 

Elsewhere, a comic: Michael Kupperman showed up at Harpers with a comic reminding us that 1989 was a formidable year for cinema. 

Rambling: When I first started up with Tim here at TCJ, one idea I had--I probably should put quotation marks around the word idea there--was that we should have a week where we get the absolute best minds of comics criticism, including all the in retirement or no-longer-willing-to-talk-to-TCJ-types, the fun academics, maybe Jeet Heer and his sister, the whole wrecking crew, all to write about some old issue of Daredevil that I had just read for the first time. Tim didn't shoot the idea down--in my experience, that wasn't how Tim did things--but he did just look at me quietly for a second, which is always long enough for one to realize that the other person hates the idea you've just proposed, you don't look cool in the shirt you've asked them about, and that hairstyle is for somebody who has a different, better face. Then he just said--"Okay. Why, though?" 

I didn't have an answer to that question, so I moved on. I am reminded of this moment only now because Amy Garvey wrote about that exact issue of Daredevil for Women Write About Comics and while it is not everything I hoped it would be--simply because it is one single article, and my hope was for as many articles about this single issue as there are hot takes on impeachment hearings--Amy's work is the first step towards a utopian future, wherein the only super-hero comic we talk about is Daredevil #261. I want the good recaps from the recap factory, as much as I want the overly obsessive panel dissections where they draw Microsoft Paint arrows on stuff but the arrow goes in the wrong way. I want to inhale some misspelled ramble that discloses way too much personal information about the writer, I want the overly politicized readings that conclude in mangled quotes of Adorno, I want to hear from the kind of comic book critics who have rearranged their collection to be alphabetical by title, than writer, than artist, than given up. I want to read the wet boyz who are just gonna plagiarize Zainab Akhtar, because that will also mean there is a Zainab take on Daredevil #261 to plagiarize. I want to read those yokels who goes way overboard talking about who the colorist is, one of those writers who you can go through their entire catalog of reviews and see, time and time again, how they write the same sentences over and over again about how this color made them feel a certain way, how these same sentences always show up midway through the final third of the review, right before they insert the staple line about the lettering being "excellent". Does blue make you feel cold, you stupid piece of shit? I love you, you dumb fucking moron: but how did all the red make you feel? I want all the takes! Let Amy lead the way out of this depressed world, towards a world where every episode of Cartoonist Kayfabe is a 24 hour livestream of Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor talking about what Ann Nocenti meant to them, but only in the context of this single issue of Daredevil that has way too much of the Human Torch, the favorite super-hero of people who wish they could be served oatmeal instead of rice when they go to chain restaurants.

Tom, this isn't going to be as much fun anymore.

 

Collective Memory

Social media and text messages spread Wednesday evening announcing the passing of Tom Spurgeon, a former Comics Journal editor, the founder and overlord of The Comics Reporter, an excellent critic, a insightful interview, a fine writer, a smart, funny person. His brother Whit confirmed the terrible news on Facebook

There will be no small amount of remembrances of Tom, as there are many--myself included--who have been given platforms and audiences due to the attention he bestowed. For decades, Tom's attention to comics, the artists who create them, the critics who write about them and the fans who read them helped build an online infrastructure where this artform could be loved, discussed, worshipped, argued about, reviled, consumed, created, magnified. There are a handful of people who built a "comics internet" that was more than just places to talk about new products to be consumed. Tom was and has remained one of that handful. There was no part of comics that did not interest him, and yet he never stopped being his own person.

This is a bad day for comics, and every other time there has been one of those, heading over to the Comics Reporter and refreshing it until he had his own take on the badness helped put it all together. It is hard to believe that I won't ever get to do that again. 

[Links, will be updated, feel free to email editorial@tcj.com with yours]

Obituary at The Comics Reporter, by Douglas Wolk.

Obituary at the The Columbus Dispatch, by Erica Thompson.

Our obituary of Tom Spurgeon, by Michael Dean.

Obituary at The New York Times, by George Gene Gustines.

There will be a public memorial on December 14th at 5:00PM, at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. More information is here at Facebook.

A Special Five For Friday at The Comics Beat.

Brigid Alverson at Smash Pages.

Chris Arrant at Newsarama.

Bart Beaty at What Were Comics.

Benjamin Birdie at Multiversity.

David Bitterbaum at The Newest Rant.

Christopher Brayshaw at VanAnoydyne.

Ryan Carey at Four Color Apocalypse.

Henry Chamberlain at Comics Grinder.

Rob Clough at High-Low.

Sean T. Collins at Attention Deficit Disorderly.

Brian Cronin's obituary at CBR.

Oliver East at Patreon.

Warren Ellis at his site.

Erik at Disney Weirdness.

Mike Evanier at News From Me.

JP Fallavollita at Biff Bam Pop.

Brian Fies at The Fies Files.

Dan Gearino at his site.

Randall Golden at Midlife Crisis Crossover.

Milton Griepp at ICv2.

Simon Hanselmann's classic riff.

Dean Haspiel at Man Size.

Charles Hatfield at Kindercomics.

Glenn Hauman at ComicMix.

Christian Hoffer at Comics MNT.

Domingos Isabelinho at The Crib Sheet.

Rich Johnston's social media round-up at Bleeding Cool.

Sean Kleefeld at Kleefeld On Comics.

Austin Kleon at his site.

Joshua Leto at Medium.

Mike Lynch at Mike Lynch Cartoons.

Heidi MacDonald at Comics Beat.

Tim Midura at Comics Pit.

J. Caleb Mozzocco at Every Day Is Like Wednesday

Nick Mullins at nijomu.

Brian Nicholson at Longbox Coffin.

Nealalien at Nealalien.

Kim O'Connor at The Shallow Brigade.

Kelsey Painter at Word of the Nerd.

Ken Parille at Blog Flume.

Summer Pierre at Paper Pencil Life.

Chris Pitzer at Adhouse.

John Porcellino at Maybe Blogging Will Help.

Calvin Reid at Publishers Weekly.

Mike Rhode at Comics DC.

Gil Roth at Virtual Memories

Gil Roth's 2012 Conversation with Tom Spurgeon (with New Introduction) at Virtual Memories.

Brian Salvatore at Multiversity.

Brett Schenker at Graphic Policy.

Alex Schumacher at his site.

"Scoop" at Diamond's Previewsworld.

Alex Segura at The Sunday Longread.

Mark Seifert's obituary at Bleeding Cool.

Jeff Smith at Boneville.

Mike Sterling at Progressive Ruin.

Bob Temuka at The Tearoom of Despair.

Steve Thompson at Booksteve's Library.

Obituary at Tripwire.

Jay Yaws at Comics Now.

 

Travel Day

I'm sitting in the airport in Austin, trying to ignore the gnawing sensation that I've made many terrible mistakes, a sensation that has come about because I decided to spend the 4AM hour reading this long article about Michel Haneke's earlier films. Austin is a fun town, although there is a certain point where you get tired of seeing all the drawings of guitars on everything. I don't want to take a dump in a guitar, thank you! You can put my water in a cup!

Thankfully, the site can continue apace regardless of me and my feelings. Starting off, we've got an interview with Kelsey Wroten, thanks to our old pal Annie Mok. It's a good one, and I share Kelsey's desire for more speed-based acclaim for cartooning types. Has anyone topped Kyle Baker's Dick Tracy pace while maintaining legibility?

As far as other thematic inspiration goes, I was exploring the notoriety aspect of creative work. If a person is an athlete it is easy to understand why one is greater at any one thing. If a person is the fastest there's nothing to debate. Creative work is somehow devoid of those external markers. It's experiential. It's like instead of being the fastest, a work is on the racetrack of trying to make someone feel something, whatever that comes to mean. The work that does that best is given a prize. This all seems well and good, but it also plays into other factors, like market saliency, accessibility, audience, and zeitgeist to name a few, all having nothing to do with the content of the work at all. Caroline is a 4 on the Enneagram test. She needs external validation for her internal life, which is setting herself up to fail from the start.

Today's review is from Leonard Pierce. Leonard didn't ask to be the Monday critic anymore than Hillary asked to be the Friday closer, but it certainly has been nice having that system in place. Leonard's looking at Luke Healy's new book with Nobrow, Americana, about his experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. My sister hiked the Appalachian Trail a few years ago, and the main thing I remember was when she had to stop and go to an emergency room in the middle because she got this psychotic spider bite and walked around with what looked like a tennis ball of infected flesh stuck to her body. Around the same time her husband woke up with spiders inside his ears! Leonard doesn't focus on those kind of gross-out elements of Luke's book in his review, which is why Leonard is a pro.

Artistically, Americana is a quite lovely book; though Healy is not a traditional illustrator of nature, his skill in conveying both the glory and the tawdriness of wild places is effective and compelling. There are long passages of text, a device that I normally don’t care for and which I find disrupts the flow of comics as a visual medium, but Healy loads in a lot of background that would make the story unwieldy if it were drawn. I can’t say I’m happy about it, but to leave this important material out entirely would be a huge loss, so I’m more kindly disposed towards it than I ordinarily might be. One of the charms of the book is how it draws you in to the argot of the trail and the distinct characters of those who follow it, and Healy’s medium-shot caricatures of oddly nicknamed fellow travelers (Spreadsheet, Craftsman, Secret Squirrel, Centerfold) gives you a real sense of their personalities as the drop in and out of his long quest along the trails. It’s an absolute fish-hook of a read, burying itself in you right away; Healy meets with constant travails and setbacks and always presses on, and I found myself pushing forward with him on every page. Putting the book down seemed like a surrender.

Time to go home! By way of Detroit?

 

Jawbone

It's Tuesday here at TCJ central, and we're charging forward with our week, which will see me returning to my birth state of Texas for the second time this year. I know you don't care: but these intro sentences need something for a focus, buster. Yesterday, Katie Skelly filed a conversation with Kate Lacour, a cartoonist whose work I fondly remember being picked up in zine form by people who often thought they were getting something cute, only to discover they had entered the raw: as today, as forever, she did not disappoint.

It’s a strange thing, you know -- your pupil looks black because it’s a hole. Physiologically, it’s a dark tunnel filled with transparent jelly, and at the end of that are the nerves straight to your brain. You see with it, but you can’t see it, just the empty dark space. Light goes in, hits the fovea, and doesn’t come out, the same as a black hole. When you look into the center of your face, the center of your eye, you’re seeing the darkness inside your head. It’s spooky. You know it’s emptiness, but there’s an unshakeable feeling of presence.

So this piece relates to a single experience, the one time I did ketamine, which is a horse anesthetic, back when I was 16 or 17. I took a dose -- too much, as it turns out -- and was suddenly sliding down this black tunnel and then just complete obliteration. Absolutely without time or physicality, totally without self. And in that non-space, there was this presence, if I can call it that. Utterly without form or qualities, this deep substrate. It seemed to go on forever.

Today, we're welcoming Qiana Whitted to these august pages for a look at Hot Comb, a collection of comics by Ebony Flowers that Drawn & Quarterly put out earlier this year.

In Hot Comb, hair is the visual narrative’s barometer of the self. The eight interlocking black-and-white stories use the social, historical, and economic politics of hair to chart the different phases of African American girlhood and illustrate how ideas about racial identity, trauma, beauty, sexuality, and power pass from one generation to the next. Some of the stories appear to draw on Flowers’ personal experiences as the basis of character and conflict, while a few shorter pieces read like journal entries of conversations in which hair is the main provocation. In the salon or at the kitchen stove, the intimate relationships that develop in these black women-centered spaces are cultivated to safeguard and to equip mothers, sisters, and daughters against the dangers beyond.

Reviews? We got those too. So far this week, Leonard Pierce has swung by for a look at The Hard Tomorrow, which is another D&Q release--this one, by Eleanor Davis. Leonard was feeling this one, y'all:

Books sometimes come around at such a timely moment, and speak to you in such a precise way, that it’s almost alarming. The trick of speaking to one’s current moment is to make what you’re saying immediate and meaningful to your audience without making it so specific that it will seem dated within a short period of time, and seeing the main character of a book pick up her phone and smash likes for DSA chapters and extremely online leftists was so close to home I almost dropped The Hard Tomorrow in shock twenty pages in. 

And today, our pal Frank Young delivers his take on Brain Bats of Venus, the second volume in Greg Sadowski's much-appreciated retrospective look at Basil Wolverton. Frank's into it:

Sadowski’s compelling text makes keen use of Wolverton’s papers to tell his story. His tone is clear, level-headed and objective. The book’s hundreds of illustrations, many sourced from original art, show Wolverton trying different methods, including a short-lived detour into airbrushing. His working methods are seen via rough drafts, hand-written notes and story breakdowns. It’s a pity that no complete “Powerhouse Pepper” stories were included, but that is possibly due to rights issues. The reader gets an eclectic dose of Wolverton’s work over this decade. As with the first volume, I’ll often dip back into this one when I need a dose of homespun madness.

And that's it for the week so far! Thanks for sticking with us through the previous weeks of technical difficulties.

 

The Virility Of Contempt

It's been a tumultuous week at TCJ, and we're still hammering the kinks out right now. But we're not dead, and there's some excellent pieces coming on Guts, Paper Girls, Bradley of Him, Rusty Brown and...there's a LOT. There's a lot! And we're hustling to get it up and running.

 

Pressing Herkly

Today at TCJ, I'm pleased to share you with Mel Gillman's roundtable conversation with cartoonists Blue Dellinquanti & Dylan Edwards on the importance of LGBTQ speculative fiction

Blue Delliquanti: You don't realize how much RAM in your day-to-day processing system is taken up by just, like, justifying your existence. It's really interesting to see a character like yourself in a speculative world. I like to play in the same playground as Dylan, where I'm really interested in infrastructure.

Dylan Edwards: I think this bounces back to the concept of seeing yourself in media in the first place. If you had told me as a 12 year old that asexual was a thing you could be, that would have changed my life. One of the things that spec fic allows you to do is ask things like, what if society wasn't transphobic to begin with? What if trans people's humanity was just accepted as fact?

Earlier this week at TCJ, we welcomed Tim Hayes to the team. His first piece is a look at one of the latest additions to the world of comics reprints: Rebellion's restoration and re-release of the IPC Youth Group, a whole catalog of British comics ranging from the violent to the weird, with another stop on the way through weird violence.

Swimming in an ocean of British comics mostly unseen since the 1970s and 1980s can give you a nostalgia trip or the bends. The sentimental aspect, inevitable if you happen to have been reading some of this stuff the first time round, is less interesting now than the stylistic approaches of creators faced with a relentless weekly schedule of short four or five-page episodes, mostly in black and white. The baseline pace of the art is supersonic; the style is rough hewn and aggressive, plainly the work of human hands; and the plots look set to roll on for as long as the comic may last, all digression squeezed out by the density of the storytelling while definitive endings recede like the horizon. And notwithstanding the laudable resurrection of historical cartooning, it's a clash of original form and newfound function. Although Rebellion does not reveal sales figures, and the numbers for the Treasury imprint can only be guessed at, routes into 150-page slabs of 150-MPH black-and-white comics created for teenagers might not materialize for casual readers without some decent guidance and husbandry. Closing the loop between Judge Dredd and Dirty Harry via One-Eyed Jack is one thing; but what readership is out there keen to beat a path back to Dirty Harry? And how old are they?

Tim isn't the only new face 'round here--Simone Castaldi also filed his first piece with TCJ on Massimo Mattioli, whose recent passing blows a giant hole in the part of comics where our boundary pushing goes. If you haven't kept up with Mattioli--of which a scant amount is available in English--than Castaldi's article will serve just as well as an introduction as it does a fond remembrance.

Massimo Mattioli, Italian comic innovator and irreverent mixer of genres, styles, and cultural levels, passed away last month at age 75. He was a central figure in the movement that conjugated the pop language of comics with the highbrow world of contemporary arts in the late 1970s and 1980s. Since 1977, he was also a key member of the Cannibale group, a cluster of artists (including Andrea Pazienza and Stefano Tamburini, among others) tied to important magazines such as the eponymous Cannibale and Frigidaire. Known to English-speaking audiences mainly for his Squeak the Mouse saga, Mattioli’s artistic output is in fact tremendously vast and diverse, ranging from deceptively innocent children’s stories, published in Italian Catholic magazines such as Il Giornalino, to the sex-guts-and rockets yarns of his Frigidaire contributions. Mattioli’s career is also singular, in the context of Italian comics, because he was one of the very few Italian comic artists to make a name for himself abroad before actually establishing his career in his own country.

And on Monday, Cynthia Rose delivered her third piece in as many weeks--have you felt spoiled lately? Because you have been--on Edgar P. Jacobs Blake & Mortimer comics, which have seen renewed interest in the past few years. 

Jacobs died in 1987 at 83, having produced Blake and Mortimer only between 1946 and 1973. This legacy comprises eight tales and ten albums. Nine years after their author died, however, Dargaud brought back his duo. Since then, numerous pens have kept Blake and Mortimer going. The franchise attracted names like Bob De Moor, Ted Benoit, Teun Berserik, Jean Van Hamme and Peter Van Dongen. Now they are joined by megastar François Schuiten, who is a lifelong devotee of Jacobs' work. Schuiten is behind the new, eighty-page Blake and Mortimer tale Le Dernier Pharaon (The Last Pharaoh).

Le Dernier Pharaon is a tribute in story form that, as I write, has topped BD best-seller lists for seven weeks. Schuiten, who created Les Cités Obscures with Benoît Peeters, assembled a trio of collaborators for it: film director Jaco Van Dormael, writer Thomas Gunzig and the exceptional colourist Laurent Durieux. This quartet spent four years pondering Jacobs' question What does it mean, in one's own time, to save the world?

So far this week, we've had reviews from Brad Mackay on Nick Maandag's The Follies of Richard Wadsworth, Chris Mautner on AJ Dungo's In Waves, and Robert Kirby on the Diane Noomin-edited collection, Drawing Power. Today, cartoonist Patrick Kyle also tried his hand at the review game, with a look at Inés Estrada's Alienation.

Here's a lovely and welcomed update regarding Jeremy Sorese, by Jeremy Sorese, who recently returned home from the hospital. The fundraiser he describes in the letter is still active at GoFundMe.

Over at Smash Pages, Alex Dueben can be found speaking with Jorge J. Santos, the author of a new academic book about comics that and how they can engage with the legacy and meaning of the Civil Rights Movement. There's also some talk of the Hernandez Brothers, because they rule:

You teach Gilbert and Jaime in Latino literature? Which books do you use?

I have trouble imagining teaching that class without some Gilbert or Jaime Hernandez. I usually use Gilbert and the first Fantagraphics collection. I have a class on Junot Diaz and I use Poison River because he said that was the book that he has emulated the most in terms of what he wants to sound like and Gilbert is his biggest influence. The students are really receptive to it because it’s not plot oriented and the stories can be surreal. Gilbert Hernandez is like a Swiss Army Knife, he has so many interests that I can usually say that I have a list of topics I like to touch on and Gilbert will let me do four of these. Jaime I use less so. I don’t think I’ve taught Jaime successfully yet, but Gilbert’s a staple.

Over at Fleen, Gary Tyrrell has a long, personal look at the new Tillie Walden book, Are You Listening. It's not really a review, but it's an interesting, passionate piece of writing. Walden's work continues to impress me as much with the fervency with which its fans react to and describe it as I am by her skill at drawing. Despite my own misgivings about  Are You Listening, it's impossible to argue with the cultural impact her work continues to amass with each new release.

Your experience will be different; some of you will likely hate this book and you won’t be wrong. It’s a reflection our personal landscapes, which are no more stable than memory because we are each distinct and always changing. But if you want a book to challenge you — not just what you think about comics, or narrative, but what you think about you — then you will love it as I do, and we won’t be wrong.

SPX takes place this weekend, and you'll be expected to provide a hot take on...a poster that Chris Ware drew? Ha. Nope! If we're all going to play to form, then I'm going to spend the weekend reenacting my favorite cliche by reading this hardcover collection of Crossed comics by Garth Ennis that I skipped back when it was....ah shit, this some online crap that was illustrated by Mike Wolfer. Fuck!

Well, I hope you have a great show, imaginary reader! See you tomorrow for Ryan Flanders and reviews.

 

Country or Western

The week, she continues tearassing along. Have you kept up with us? It's a rhetorical device intended to keep you reading this blog entry.

Kurt Ankeny's Cartoonist's Diary made two more stops since we last spoke: on Wednesday, it tried to go swimming and today, it hung out with a teenager.

Wednesday, your very own Paul Tumey swung by with a look at the latest Tom Van Deusen comic, and he pulled out the big guns: references to Classical Philosophy!

The ancient Greek philosopher Hepatitis once wrote, “The purpose of truth is so that we may know ourselves and each other.” If that’s the case, then Tom Van Deusen’s Expelling My Truth, reveals nothing and everything. The choice of the malapropism “expelling” in the title is a prime example of Van Deusen’s deadpan wit. As with all good comedy, there’s a core of truth to the gag. The definition of “expelled” is to deprive someone of membership to an organization or a society. If you read enough Van Deusen, you’ll soon see one of the recurring themes running underneath the surface of his hilarious, off-kilter comics is that of not belonging; of being an outsider.

Today, Sean Witzke is here with a dive into William Gibson, whose decades long dream of having his vision of franchise expansion fulfilled by Dark Horse Comics and Johnnie Christmas via Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay.

Alien 3 has a certain reputation with different groups -- to David Fincher, it was a nightmare first production for the enfant terrible director, one he has since refused to be associated with because the studio will not restore his child autopsy scene, which even the biggest Gone Girl fan in the world would admit is a bit much. For movie dorks, it’s a movie you like to argue is better than whoever is tolerating listening to you remembers. For most people, it’s the one where Sigourney Weaver got head shaved. For losers, it’s the one where Newt dies off-camera and they get angry. I remember Alien 3 as the first rated R movie that had a very large toy push, meaning I was being sold ephemera related to a product I technically wasn’t supposed to see.

And then Marc Sobel returned to us with the first of a two-parter revealing what he managed to track down on a visit to the Book Nook, a store that got a whole bunch of my money (and all my old cassette tapes and a bunch of my CD's) when I was growing up. Sobel doesn't say that his column--whose focus is primarily the British comics anthology Trident--is a present for me, but that's okay, some guys have trouble talking about their feelings. Thanks Marc! I see you!

My tastes in comics are all over the map, but I have a special love for ‘80s and ‘90s British anthologies. There was such intense passion for the medium back then, and it went so much deeper than just 2000 A.D. and Warrior, or Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Grant Morrison. There were hundreds of talented creators publishing comics in series like Crisis, RevolverEscapeDeadlineA1, and Electric Soup.

Trident Comics, an offshoot of Neptune Distribution, a comics distributor based in Leicester, was a small press publisher in the late '80s, and this short-lived anthology was its flagship title. The series was edited by Martin Skidmore, who had previously edited the Fantasy Advertiser, a British adzine. If you think of these anthologies as a poker hand, Trident had a pair of aces: Bacchus by Eddie Campbell and St. Swithin’s Day by Grant Morrison and Paul Grist. But the series attracted a surprisingly large number of other well-known creators to its eight issues, including Neil Gaiman, Phil Elliott, John Ridgeway, Alan Davis, and Mark Millar.