Need More

Today, Rob Clough reviews Dan Zettwoch's long-awaited Birdseye Bristoe (which we previewed back in May). Here's an excerpt:

It’s telling that Dan Zettwoch’s full-length solo debut, Birdseye Bristoe, is touted on the cover as “An Inventions and How-To Book.” He’s never been an artist whose stories are driven by narrative. Instead, he likes to show his audience schematics, maps, instruction sheets, and cut-away drawings that nonetheless reveal something about the people who are building them. What’s odd about this book is that there is a narrative, but it’s almost entirely buried in an avalanche of diagrams that doubles as a tour of the non-town in which the story is set. If a reader is careful, he is provided with every clue as to what is happening and why, but Zettwoch gives nothing away for free, so to speak. As a result, it took me a couple of reads to figure out what was going on, beyond a simple collection of the usual clever Zettwoch drawings.


—Tom Spurgeon alerted the internet yesterday to Dylan Williams's recently posted Comics Art interview with Fred Guardineer (which includes excerpts from Guardineer's diary comics). I am grateful not only for seeing this material again, but also for being reminded of that Williams tribute site in general, which I had somehow lost track of, but is packed with excellent stuff, and well worth exploring.

—A lawyer named Bob Kohn opposed to the proposed Apple/e-books anti-trust settlement has recently filed an amicus brief explaining why, and done so in the form of a five-page comic. You can read that brief, and Kohn's story, here. I'm not sure I buy Kohn's reasons for doing this in comics form. He says he was asked to boil down a twenty-five-page prose argument to five pages, and couldn't see a way to get enough information in to five pages, but comics form helped, because pictures "tell a thousand words." Of course, nearly every one of the pictures he actually used is just one person sitting next to another, talking, so I'm not sure what information was being added visually here. But considering that the New York Times and Bloomberg have already reported on this, passed along his argument, and made his story go semi-viral, Kohn may have a larger point on comics' effectiveness. I doubt as many people would have read a more conventional brief.

—Danny Best has exhumed John Byrne's infamous courtroom testimony in the late-'90s Marvel vs. Marv Wolfman suit over Blade.


Doctor’s Orders

Hi there, today on the site we welcome new contributor Kim O'Connor, who writes about Gabrielle Bell's new book, The Voyeurs:

In Bell’s hands, comics are poetry’s cool little cousin, all slippery meanings, feats of peculiar punctuation, and the unfortunate tendency to namedrop the likes of Bertolt Brecht. She avoids the threat of pretension that’s implicit in all of those things with well-timed flashes of humor and a vague distaste for anything she can’t do on the Internet.

Elsewhere online...

-It's a Chris Ware-palooza this weekend, and just the start of the season of Building Stories.

-Heidi MacDonald covers a long and appalling instance of trolling.

-Kevin Huizenga makes a few notes about an architecture comic.

-Seneca and Witzke continue to discuss the DC series Solo, this time covering Damion Scott's installment.

-Here's a very fine Michael Kaluta / Carson of Venus narrative from 1974.

-Finally, from 2010 one of the last substantive Ray Bradbury interviews.



Welcome Back

We hope our North American readers enjoyed Labor Day, and that those of you overseas didn't mind too much the day off from comics reportage and criticism. We're back with Joe McCulloch and his weekly column—this time shining a spotlight on the immortal (so I'm told) Jack T. Chick.

Elsewhere on the internet:

—As Heidi MacDonald caught, WNYC has been posting audio from the 1954 Senate hearings on comic books and their purported links to juvenile delinquency. It's in two parts.

—Continuations & Conclusions. The second part of the Brandon Graham interview Dan linked to last week is now up, as our parts two and three of John Porcellino's materials & process posts.

Journal columnist Jared Gardner has reviewed Joe Sacco's Journalism, and (via Tom Spurgeon) the secret origin of another Journal columnist, Charles Hatfield, was recently revealed by his brother Scott, in two blog posts.

—Matthias Wivel writes on recent David B.

The Guardian has the first review of Charles Burns's The Hive I've seen in the wild.

—Gabrielle Bell appeared on a comedy podcast.

—Andrew Rilstone overthinks Superman as only he can.

—The Sean Howe Marvel Tumblr is the gift that keeps on giving.


A Case of the Labor Daze

Tucker Stone is back from vacation, but has been having some problems getting his internet connection to work, so his column will be in a little later than usual this morning. [UPDATE: It's here.]

In the meantime, MariNaomi has the last day of her Cartoonist's Diary, continuing her tour of the Galapagos Islands. Thanks, MariNaomi!

And Rob Clough has some very strong praise for a new anthology, Trubble Club #5, going so far as to dub it "the Sistine Chapel of jam comics."


—The great John Porcellino takes to his blog to share his materials and process, with a promise of more to come.

—Kevin Melrose at Robot 6 caught Dave Gibbons talking smack about the widely reviled font Comics Sans. Gibbons gets a pass on this, since apparently the font was at least partially based on Gibbons's lettering work on Watchmen, but generally, making jokes about Comics Sans is like mocking ... how do I put this without getting into trouble? It's way too easy, and very unnecessary, let's just say that.

—The Westfield Comics Blog interviews Crockett Johnson biographer Philip Nel and former Journal news-gatherer Eric Reynolds about the upcoming reprints of Johnson's Barnaby strip.

—Vice magazine has a profile of Real Deal Comics.

—And our own columnist Ryan Holmberg unearths an unpublished review of Andrei Molotiu's Abstract Comics he originally wrote for Art in America.


Like, Sick Sick Sick?

On the site:

The very funny cartoonist Sam Henderson drops in with the news that Comics Aren't Just For Eyes Anymore.

The one common ground all cartoonists have is a self-deprecating narcissism. We all take turns talking each other off building ledges. At the same time there’s a desire to be seen and liked by everyone. That’s why I’ve decided the best venue for my own work is through performed readings, with my comics projected on slides. However, I don’t have the same charisma a stand-up comic would. I don’t aspire to be on Saturday Night Live or in movies. At 43, I feel I’m too old to be “paying my dues.” I’m nervous talking to people one-on-one, but I don’t have the same fear getting up and talking in front of an audience. I could even be naked if I had to. (I have no idea what circumstances would require that, though.)

And MariNaomi continues her travels in Day 4 of her diary.


-Here's a preview of the great Seymour Chwast's adaptation of The Odyssey.

-Some beautiful Alberto Breccia work here.

-A solid Brandon Graham interview in which he ruminates a bit.

-Our own Sean T. Collins wrote a comic about cocaine psychosis and David Bowie. Check it out.

-Drawn & Quarterly loves Anders Nilsen, who boldly submitted his high school art for examination.

-Finally, I'm incredibly excited about this new Ron Rege Jr. book, Cartoon Utopia. Ron is one of our very best cartoonists and it's been too long since we've had new material from him.




If there's one complaint we here at hear more than any other, it's what happened to Dapper Dan's Super-Movies reviews? The answer, of course, is that Dan had a kid, which means he didn't spend a whole lot of the summer in theaters. But never fear, because the great R. Fiore has you covered, and uses his new Funnybook Roulette to pin down The Dark Knight Rises:

In thinking over my dissatisfaction with this particular moviegoing experience I am of two minds. On the one hand the leaden seriousness these superhero movies (and this “franchise” in particular) coat themselves in detracts from their enjoyability. On the other hand I can’t say for sure that their makers’ belief that this factor is a key element in their success with people other than me is wrong. I feel my position is further eroded by the fact that they did get me into the theater. As I am one of those people who will go to some of the superhero movies but not all of them, a key demographic for the success of one of these movies, it is difficult for me to argue that the strategy didn’t “work.”

MariNaomi continues her week in residence here as our Cartoon Diarist. Today: Cat scratch fever!


—Our own Chris Mautner takes to the pixels of Robot 6 to list and describe his six favorite Cul de Sac characters. If you know Chris, you know he does this with anything (six favorite Portuguese cartoonists, six favorite commenters, six favorite clerks at Pathmark, etc.), but usually he keeps his findings to himself, so this public disclosure is a rare privilege for you and me.

—I don't believe we've previously mentioned the fact that our own Sean T. Collins has ventured into the world of genuinely viral internet stardom for his recent comic-strip collaboration with Andrew White, but you can see in the Huffington Post that it's true.

—Pappy, one of the best internet excavators of old comics around, brings out an old Spirit story skewering Al Capp, Chester Gould, and Harold Gray, and speculates a bit about the motivation for its creation.

—James Romberger reviews a new book about the under-appreciated Marie Severin.

—It looks like the A.V. Club is taking their patented TV-recapping strategy and applying it to comic-book series, starting with The Walking Dead. I am still processing this.

—Graeme McMillan ponders what it means that Image is looked on as a great place for up-and-coming cartoonists to make their name, and as a great place for cartoonists to publish their creater-owned series after having made it, and wonders why anyone is going to DC and Marvel for work at all. Obviously the situation is more complicated than that (and less -- one obvious factor not mentioned in his piece: money), which McMillan acknowledges, but I do think he may be pointing to a real upcoming problems for the Big Two. If the Direct Market falters, what will DC and Marvel be able to offer their creators that the other smaller publishers won't?

—Finally, there are only a few days left for Floating World to raise the necessary funds for their planned experimental arts and comics festival in Portland, The Projects. Yay, Kickstarter! (I'm the nice one.)


Youthful Pages

I this last week of summer it's probably best if you stay inside and read comic books. Joe McCulloch is here to help you do that. And MariNaomi continues our most far-flung TCJ Diary in Ecuador.

And I've decided that today is British links day. That's right, my paltry handful of links will all relate to the land of the Queen. So:

-Remember the time Modesty Blaise was almost drawn by Handsome Frank Hampson? Me neither! In fact I have two unread Modest Blaise books on my shelf. Is it a good strip? I may never know.

-Whoah, I think Warren Ellis knows what I'm talking about.

-It's a profile of fans of the other Frank of British comics: Bellamy. Complete with some very nice, typically photo-realistic visuals.

-I love this "Stuff From Under the Stairs" Tumblr. Great British zines and comics magazines. It's just the kind of stuff I like sifting through, offering a enough of a glimpse to feel substantial but random enough to feel manageable. Here's a nice Hunt Emerson cover.

-And more buried 1980s: Some very handsome Paul Grist work for "girl's comic".

And that concludes this event. I hope to return to the kingdom soon.


Little Boy

Dan Nadel weighs in on the Dave Mazzucchelli Daredevil: Born Again Artist's Edition. It is frustrating how many great-looking but incredibly expensive comics are coming out these days.

MariNaomi is the latest artist to sit in our Cartoonist's Diary chair, and begins her week with a flight to Ecuador.

Frank Santoro has David Hockney on the brain, and is willing to share his thoughts.


—This weekend marked one of those rare occasions when a news event briefly captures the attention of the entire world, as they remember one of the greatest spectacles the world has ever known. I am talking of course of Rob Liefeld's Twitter feed. (I was away from the internet all weekend myself, actually, but this seems to be the only thing people are talking about now that I've returned.)

—Sadder news came with the announcement on the Cerebus Kickstarter page that a fire has destroyed many of the negatives for Dave Sim's High Society, delaying the digital edition of that book. It's been bad news for Sim fans all around considering that last week saw the final issue of Glamourpuss.

You may remember me linking to the Dave Sim fanblog A Moment of Cerebus a while back, when they first launched a rolling question-a-day interview with Sim they are calling "HARDtalk". Now they are looking for more questions to ask Sim, and requested that I pass along their desire to TCJ readers. If you have questions you'd like to ask him, feel free to leave your questions in the comments. Details are here.

—Robert Crumb continues to give short-take impressions of various public figures. This time around, he discusses Woody Allen, Charles Burns ("I'm not crazy about his stories, but I really like the art."), Philip K. Dick, Ward Kimball ("Kimball came to see me because he liked my work, he liked what I was doing."), Lincoln, Darwin, Hergé ("I much prefer Barks"), and Chris Ware ("You know, you kind of need to get a magnifying lens to read some of it, but that's okay, it's worth it."), among others.

—Finally, I've really been digging Simon Hanselmann's Truth Zone comics.