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It's Tuesday, which means it's Joe McCulloch talking about the new comics day. This week, he's also takes a long look at the latest comic book from Stammerin' Steve Ditko:

Tucked away in the midst of all this meaningful mayhem is a six-page chiller that could have come straight out of The Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves, had that august forum abandoned the supernatural entirely for a hardcore focus on psychological distress. Nobody in American comics has ever mastered the art of people freaking the fuck out like Steve Ditko, and that's what we get in this Poe-like flyover of a thief who can't stop believing that all eyes are upon his guilty brow.

I tend to find these kinds of stories the most humanizing of Ditko's works; for all his invocation of the excellent potential of the human mind, the visceral kick of his art comes from his profound sensitivity to anxiety, obsession, self-loathing: the mess of human living in a damned fallen world. Looks at that guy's head *splitting in half* in panel 4 - is that a photocopier effect? Definitely it seems like a foreign technological incursion; all those broken sentences read otherwise like the collapse of language in the face of unutterable realizations, words transformed into marks in perfect parity with the lines that compose the bodies of every Ditko hero and villains. These are stories where everybody says what they mean, and... what they mean... is...

Well, you can read it, right? Can't you see? With your own eyes?

And again, we've added another round of tributes to the Spain Rodriguez post. If you haven't checked it out for a while, it's worth doing so. New contributors include Sharon Rudahl, Craig Fischer, Charles Dallas, and M.K. Brown.

Also, Fantagraphics has a post giving us all a sneak peek at the upcoming print issue of The Comics Journal, and it looks pretty amazing.

Elsewhere on the internet:

—Speaking of Steve Ditko, he's still corresponding with fans.

—Chris Ware is here to help you with your holiday shopping, both with a long list of his favorite gift books, and a blog post about the books he most enjoyed reading this year.

—Steven Weissman goes comics shopping with Mario Hernandez.

—And I haven't had a chance to listen to this yet, but it's got to be good on some level: Josh Simmons interviewed by Dean Haspiel.



Dan is unavailable to blog right now, so I'll be your replacement host this morning. Today on the site, our columnist Shaenon Garrity makes a long-awaited return with a new piece on three genres of webcomics that are surprisingly underproduced.

Around the time my webcomics reading list included one comic about two married female itinerant laborers in space, one about eighteenth-century Bavarian religious politics, one that was at the time devoted to drawing gag strips based on Nancy Drew book covers, and one with a holiday installment entitled “The Year Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas”, I started to suspect that Rule 34 had officially extended from pornography to webcomics, and there was now a webcomic on literally every subject conceivable to the human mind. That was two whole years ago.

And yet, despite all the thousands of comics knocking around in the tubes, some genres remain surprisingly underrepresented.

We have also continued to add new additions to our Spain Rodriguez tributes post, including a contribution from Kim Deitch.

Elsewhere on the internet:

Wired has a lengthy excerpt from Alan Moore's introductory essay for the Occupy Comics project.

—Sean Kleefeld has pulled out a bit from Sean Howe's Marvel Comics history worth remembering whenever the Pearl Harbor anniversary comes around.

—And I missed this earlier this year, and can't remember where I finally learned about it, but someone at Drawger has posted the entire contents of Frank Tashlin's How to Create Cartoons.


Express Train

A faulty alarm clock means this post is getting written fast, faster than any post has been written before. Expect cleanup soon, after I take a break to ride a train for a while...

Today on the site, Tucker Stone and Abhay Khosla take on the comics and news of the day in their usual over-the-top fashion.

—I guess some extramarital love letters of Charles Schulz are going on auction. I feel gross just reporting that, but I guess it's newsworthy on some level.

—How about something a bit less vampirish? Rob Clough draws attention to a new proposed project by comics journalist Dan Archer.

—Bob Heer reports that Steve Ditko has written an essay addressing the claims that Jack Kirby had a hand in creating Spider-Man.

—The Boston Phoenix has a long interview with Sean Howe about his Marvel Comics history.

—Kailyn Kent writes about "art vs. comics" anxiety she has found in recent discussions of Saul Steinberg.

—I haven't had a chance to read this yet, but am curious about any kind of academic article comparing an old Captain Marvel story to The Master.

—This video about selling all of your old comics & just getting it over with? Maybe, today this is sounding good.


Money in the Pocket

Well, so far here in Miami Art is winning against Comics. Last night I saw some fine Copleys and the best Picabia painting David Salle never painted. But not a back issue in sight. Where's a Frank Santoro when you need him? This is, in fact, seven years to the week that Frank and I flew on down to Miami and heard the alarming news that one artist friend had a stash of weed strapped to his scrotum. Alarming, but somehow not discouraging. Yes, in those halcyon days one could glimpse a Paper Rad skate ramp made from cardboard amidst the Miami glitterati. Also: People now dead that were then alive. Anyhow! I finished my installation this evening and I'm all set. So, on to the internets.

Today on the site we have a profile of John T. McCutcheon by R.C. Harvey. Harv! Tell us what you know:

Newspaper artists furnished all the illustrative material for the papers of the day. The halftone engraving process for reproducing photographs had been perfected in 1886, but it was not adapted successfully to the big rotary presses until the New York Tribune did it in 1897.  Until the turn of the century, newspaper sketch artists were graphic reporters, covering all the events that photographers were to cover later. McCutcheon drew pictures of everything. He illustrated major news events, often working from sketches made on-the-spot. A typical day might include a trial in the morning, a sporting event or crime scene or a local catastrophe in the afternoon, and an art show opening or a flood or fire in the evening. When not dashing from event to event with a pad of paper under his arm, he worked in the office, doing portraits of politicians and dignitaries, and decorations for a variety of columns and stories. At the beginning, he was more illustrator than cartoonist, and he also wrote occasional feature pieces and newsstories.

What else is happening? I don't really know, but here goes:

Sean Howe keeps delivering the goods. Here he is on Ms. Marvel.

I'm one of the only people I know who likes George Wunder. So I guess this is made for me. Wunder drew the oddest faces this side of Boody Rogers and did paintings of early American history for a book in the 1970s. Those are weird weird weird. I love them.

Slow links day? Maybe. I'm on the run, though, so I ask you to ponder George Wunder until the next one of these rolls around.



Eyes on the Back of Your Head

Today we have Rob Clough's review of Julia Wertz's latest book, The Infinite Wait, a very funny book which probably hasn't received enough attention. Here's how he opens it:

In a sense, the heart of each of the three short stories in Julia Wertz's memoir The Infinite Wait is the impact that discovering comics has had on her life. Ostensibly, the book is broken up into "Industry", a chronological account of her life as seen through her job history; "The Infinite Wait", her account of learning that she suffered from chronic systemic lupus; and "A Strange and Curious Place", a love letter to the first public library she haunted as a child. While each story can be read as discrete narratives, the truth is that this book is a sort of recapitulation and revisitation of the themes and events she explored in her first three books (The Fart Party Volumes 1 & 2; Drinking At The Movies). There's a deeper level of narrative, thematic and emotional complexity that becomes more apparent as one reads the book for a second time. Wertz doesn't exactly disown her earlier works in this book, but she goes into detail as to why each of them makes her uncomfortable from her current perspective.

We are still continuing to add new contributions to our page of Spain Rodriguez tributes. Since Monday, Art Spiegelman, Gary Groth, Noah Van Sciver, and Sam Henderson have joined the ranks. We are still waiting on a few more, so don't forget to check back in every now and again. We are also posting another short interview with Spain conducted by Gary in 2001, and regarding his then-unusual foray into the world of online comics.


—Speaking of comics that deserve more attention, Boing Boing has gathered a bunch of comics figures' recommendations for best-of-the-year lists. I don't agree with all of the choices, and think there are many titles that belong on those lists that didn't make it, but still ... there are a lot of decent or better comics coming out these days.

—Which leads us nicely to Ng Suat Tong's review of Mattotti and Zentner's Crackle of the Frost.

—Words Without Borders has a new webcomic from David B. and Hervé Tanquerelle.

—ICv2 has a two-part interview with the perennially underrated Aline Kominsky-Crumb.

—Finally, here's a new (to me) Tumblr devoted to terrible editorial cartoons. (via)


Gourmet Burger

I'm in Miami this week for the art fairs and, in particular, the NADA Art Fair, which is suddenly a family affair. If you're in Miami, come on by. Alas, I will not be trying to sell Real Deal back issues to contemporary art collectors, but I'll be hungry for some good comics talk. I can see you a Boody Rogers if you'll raise me a Dori Seda. Or you can always place your ace in the hole: Dick Ayers. Bring on the comic book gabbing. Maybe I'll finally get to the bottom of that comics vs. are conflict I hear so much about. I'll take a survey. Maybe I'll solve it while balancing 3 mojitos on my nose. Who knows.

Well anyway, all of this is to say two things:

1) If you know of some awesome back-issue joint in Miami Beach, let me know.

2) My blogging this week will be ever even worse than usual.

Ok, it's today:

In addition to the usual comic book opining, Joe McCulloch has some thoughts on Alan Moore's foray into short filmmaking.


The big news is that Karen Berger is resigning from her position as Executive Editor & Senior Vice President at DC's Vertigo imprint. She's made quite a legacy there. More details as they're available.

Here's CNN on manga artist Takehiko Inoue of Slam Dunk notoriety.

This looks interesting -- an iPad and/or PDF periodical of journalism in comics form called Symbolia. 

Steve Heller highlights a kind of hilariously modernist (thought though beautiful) design by the great Bradbury Thompson for the Famous Artists Schools 1963 annual report.

And best of all, here's Seth on the demise of Bazooka Joe.


Hi Rez Lo Rez

Today, Craig Fischer turns in an essay, "The Lives of Insects", reflecting on photography, comics, and Eddie Campbell. Here's an excerpt:

In many of his recent books, Campbell combines changes to his visual style with stories about the satisfactions and challenges of being an artist. Fate of the Artist is all about Campbell losing himself as a cartoonist, father and man; on the first full story page of the book, Campbell declares (in third person) that “the artist has come to despise his art, his self and his readers.” “You can all go to fuck,” he says to us while in bed, exhausted, lying in a pose that echoes Henry Wallis’ famous painting The Death of Chatterton (1856) and the rest of Fate is an assemblage of vignettes and narrative games that display the symptoms of Campbell’s mid-life crisis, including hypochondria and writer’s block. Fate ends with Campbell’s adaptation of an O. Henry short story, “The Confessions of a Humorist” (1903), where a successful humor writer, a twin for Campbell himself, grimly strip-mines his family and friends for ideas (“I became a harpy, a moloch, a vampire”). The humorist only finds peace when he quits writing and takes a new job as an accountant for a mortician, and it’s clear that Campbell wants a new job too: he’s tired of exploiting his family for material, tired of being a comic book auteur, tired of being.

The tributes to Spain Rodriguez continue to pour in. Some of the new contributors include Trina Robbins, Carol Tyler, Glenn Bray, Joe Sacco, Mary Fleener, Justin Green, R. Crumb, and Lorraine Chamberlain. More are still on the way, so stay tuned. We have also posted a Spain sketchbook selection originally published in The Comics Journal in 1992.

There are many, many links to get to, so here goes:

—First, two more sad deaths to report: Jeff Millar, the 70-year-old writer of Tank McNamara (and popular movie reviewer), and Josh Medors, who passed away from spinal cancer at the age of 36.

—Good interviews with interesting comics-related people include: Chris Ware at Rookie, Julia Wertz at the L.A. Times, David Hine at the Graphic Novel Reporter, and Paul Krassner at Print.

—Apparently, there will be no more Bazooka Joe comics.

—A former cartoonist turned neuroscientist is studying the effects of reading comics on the brain, and his work has been profiled in Discover.

—Jeff Trexler speculates about the possibility of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons regaining the copyright of Watchmen as early as next year.

—Printer problems led to the loss of many of Colleen Doran's negatives, and she is looking for help in restoring A Distant Soil.

—Sean Howe catches a nice bit of red-pencil work in Stan Lee's introduction to Origins of Marvel Comics.

—Laura Sneddon reports and adds her own thoughts to a discussion about gender-balance issues at this year's first installment of the British Comic Awards.

—At a formal event in Montreal, Alejandro Jodorowsky was given the title of "Grand Rectum."

Wired has an unsummarizable story up about Portland cartoonist Chad Essley and his relationship to the fugitive software mogul John McAfee, currently "sought for questioning in a Belizean murder case."

—Our own Joe McCulloch writes about the late director Tony Scott at film site Mubi, which naturally leads to a lot of Jack Kirby discussion.



Today on the site:

We will continue to post tributes to the late Spain Rodriguez as they come in. And Tucker, Abhay and Nate bring an extra-long version of the column. Tucker has many comics reviews and Abhay explains Grant Morrison for the un- (or just under-) initiated.

My favorite part of the “Grant Morrison Vs. The Word Aspiring” section was Morrison declaring, “I was even a guest on panels at comics conventions”, referring to a UK comic convention that took place somewhere between 1979 and 1982. We’ve all lived long enough where admitting you attended a comic convention in the UK between 1979 and 1982 is a strategy for winning an argument, and not character evidence being used against someone accused of interfering with preschoolers. Bam Pow.

See? You have your Friday all set now. Elsewhere:

-The Washington Post on Spain.

-Chris Ware gets the lengthy New York Review of Books treatment. Plus bonus Gore Vidal quote.

-The late 19th/early 20th century German magazine Jugend held many comic and illustration treasures. Here are some.

-Dan Zettwoch on holiday time.

-The latest episode of Comic Books Are Burning in Hell is up. Good news: Punisher is discussed.

-To play you into your weekend: It's The Hulk on drums.