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Fixin’

Joe McCulloch is here as usual with his indispensable guide to the Week in Comics! Highlights this week include new titles by John Porcellino and Andrea Panzienza (which Joe calls "quite possibly the vital global comics release of the season").

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary.
Kate Beaton celebrates Meredith Gran's Octopus Pie.

That might sound grandiose, but in my mind, nothing tops the ten year run of Octopus Pie. And in the lifespan of what we call Webcomics, 2007-2017 is a granddaddy of a run, worthy of names like “pioneering,” “influential” and “groundbreaking” because in the space of those years, in this new medium, there was room to be those things without any hyperbole. The comics landscape of the past decade needed filling out and Meredith carved her space out with precision, showing a polish and drive and a talent from the beginning that set a high standard.

At the Los Angeles Review of Books, William Bradley reviews a new book about the political dimensions of young Frank Miller's work.

Many of us grew up certain that Miller was not only an artistic genius who changed the way people thought about Batman in the 1980s, but also a champion of artistic freedom and creators’ rights in an industry that had a history of not only censoring itself needlessly but also screwing over creators like Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Jack Kirby, and Steve Gerber. Later we were forced to ask ourselves: Had he changed in some way? Had we been wrong about him? Did the problem with his later work and attitudes cast a shadow on the earlier work that we had enjoyed so much?


—Interviews & Profiles.
For Wired, Emma Gray Ellis writes about the ultra-rightwing cartoonist Ben Garrison and his encounters with 4chan.

Former Breitbart editor and troll king Milo Yiannopoulos once called Garrison “the most trolled man in internet history.” (And considering Yiannopoulos has taken part in some of the largest, most vicious trolling campaigns in internet history, he ought to know.) But in 2009, when his career as an internet cartoonist began, Garrison was just a 52-year-old graphic artist with an obscure blog. "I was furious when the banks were bailed out, so I decided to draw a few protest cartoons," Garrison says. "But the Nazis didn't think I went far enough."

The most recent guest on RiYL is Frank Santoro, and the most recent guest on Process Party is Josh Bayer.

 

Corn and Ribs

Today on the site, R.C. Harvey looks at the curious cartoon history of the Boy's Life magazine mascot.

In another example of how far I can stray from the presumed topic, this time we start out with Pedro, the mailburro at Boys’ Life magazine back in the 1950s. And from there, we wander off into the surrounding landscape to a fare-thee-well, meeting Reamer Keller, Lowell Hess, Dik Browne and Tom Eaton on the way. 

Strolling leisurely through an antique mall one day last fall, I came upon a stack of Boys’ Life magazines. On top of the stack was the one with the cover that’s posted nearby. “Pedro,” I thought, murmuring the name of the magazine’s unofficial mascot, a donkey. Millions of other male Americans as well as I would recognize Pedro immediately. Officially, he was the “mailburro” of Boys’ Life, which was officially the magazine of the Boy Scouts, hence the vast circle of acquaintanceship with Pedro.

Elsewhere: 

Here's Dan Clowes' superb contribution to the new, magazine-sized Resist!

And a few visual announcements: next weekend my beloved Spoonbill is having a little zine fair in the shop. If you live in Brooklyn and haven't been to this iteration of Spoonbill & Sugartown, you're missing out.

And Kim Deitch recently posted this great and little-seen ad for his great Boulevard of Broken Dreams, published over a decade ago.

 

 

As It Was

Today on the site, Greg Hunter's always excellent Comic Book Decalogue returns, this time with an interview with the inimitable Matthew Thurber.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The winners of the Bill Finger Award, given to comics writers whose work has been under-recognized, have been announced. This year's winners are Bill Messner-Loebs and Jack Kirby. The Kirby selection is a little surprising but very hard to argue with.

—Rob Clough reports from this year's CAKE.

—Nick Sousanis writes about the comics biography he created about Columbia comics librarian Karen Green.

—Paul Constant reports on this year's Comics & Medicine Conference.

 

Folksy

Today on the site, Mark Fertig interviews Graham Chaffee about his new book, To Have & To Hold. 

You once described your graphic novels as “paper movies.” The narrative sensibilities in To Have and To Hold are often unmistakably cinematic—even the cover is reminiscent of a vintage movie poster. In what ways do films and filmmaking inform your process?

It’s more that I see the story like a movie in my head. I’m trying to draw the scenes the way I’d shoot them if I had a camera. I watch a lot of movies, but I don’t study specific scenes or shots or anything. This also means I don’t use a lot of narrative boxes or thought balloons—I’m a “show it, don’t say it” kind of guy. My characters run around and do stuff, and you gotta infer their motives and desires from their words and actions, because we’re not going inside their heads. This means a lot of the weight is carried by the actors—their gestures, body language, facial expressions, tone of voice and whatnot.

To Have and To Hold is a noir crime story in the classic sense. Does your fascination with noir come just from movies, or are there other sources—pulp fiction, true crime, or other comics and graphic novels?

Hmmm…Well, I read a ton of pulp fiction and detective stories. I love Cain and Thompson and Hammett and Chandler and all that crew—Christie, Sayers, Greene, Highsmith, Doyle—not to mention the Scandinavians... 

But Noir seems more a product of postwar cinema—and I think my noirish influences are more movie-oriented than bookish. I’m never thinking about books or authors when I’m trying to write or draw a scene; I’m definitely moving a camera around in my head.

Elsewhere:

A major exhibition on Garth Williams has opened, and it looks great. 

 

New Shoes

Okay, now Joe McCulloch is really here with his usual guide to the Week in Comics! Spotlight picks this week include new books by Yeon-sik Hong and the Sunday Press.

The focus this time around is on works by Rube Goldberg, notably the 1909-10 color Sunday iteration of his Foolish Questions feature, in which snappy retorts are offered in face of thoughtless queries; Al Jaffe did stuff like this later in MAD, along with innumerable comedians looking to puncture the inflated chumminess of passerby in hindsight from the mic. I always feel kind of bad for the dummies in these things; they're just trying to be sociable. It's hard sometimes.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. The Guardian profiles Jillian Tamaki.

Half Life is metaphorical of ageing, she ventures. “Not that I’m old, but you can already see, at 37, that the body starts changing in ways that feel very inevitable, and they link you to broader humanity – you think, ‘Oh yeah, that’s why old people are they way they are.’ It feels inevitable, like you’re joining some sort of weird club. But as we face ageing, we don’t want to do it with fear. Ageing is death, right? That’s why we all freak out about it, but we want to deal with it calmly. That’s what we all would like – you lose control over your body, and you’re doing it with a degree of grace.”

The women in Boundless are smart and self-aware, reflective and angry; diverse in age, race and body shape – but their characters seem almost interchangeable. “I feel like they are possibly conceptual,” Tamaki says. The stories [are about] a fantastical element, always butting up against reality. I wonder if the women are incidental. Maybe it’s the same woman at different times in her life, or something like that.”

The most recent guest on Virtual Memories is Arnie Levin, the most recent guest on the CBLDF podcast is Ed Luce, and the most recent guest on Inkstuds is Ben Sears.

—Misc. Michael Cavna writes about the recently announced inclusion of webcomics in the Library of Congress.

The first phase of the webcomics online collection will include nearly 40 titles, including such long-running works as Josh Lesnick’s “Girly” and Zach Weiner’s “Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.”

“Webcomics are an increasingly popular format utilized by contemporary creators in the field and often include material by artists not available elsewhere,” Megan Halsband, a librarian in the Serial and Government Publications Division, says in a statement.

Mark Evanier speculates about recent rumors that Mad magazine may be closing shop or otherwise making major changes.

Rumors abound that the magazine known as MAD — an institution that's been around exactly as long as I have — will soon cease publication. I'm pretty sure this is not so, though it is about to undergo some massive changes and no one is saying quite what they'll be. One biggie though is that its office of operations is shifting from New York, New York (across the street from where Stephen Colbert does his show) to Burbank, California (across the street from where Ellen DeGeneres does her show). With this migration will come a brand-new editorial staff consisting of…

Well, if the folks in charge of DC Comics have decided who the folks in charge of MAD will henceforth be, they've kept it a lot more secret than anything in the Trump White House. I don't know and no one currently involved in the production of MAD seems to know.

 

What Else to Do

Here in Brooklyn it's really turned to summer -- hot smelly NYC summer is upon us. I sat outside yesterday and enjoyed, at different ends of the day, sunshine, orange juice, and ribs. Life! Joe McCulloch also knows it's summer and later today will have the comic book news to prove it!

Elsewhere:

I'm enjoying The New Yorker's new-ish forays into comics... there's this new one, for example. Worth checking in on.

After his Facebook money and Howard Stern appearance I sorta lost track of one-time early oughts comics sensation David Choe. The publicity around his recent mural in NYC has brought scrutiny to his alleged sexual misconduct in recent years. Hyperallergic has published a pretty brave and scathing essay on the matter. 

On a related note, I was moved by this story. Of course we don't need to applaud the extremely wealthy for  good deed, but this is a nice example of the insane culture market actually doing something good.

 

Row Row Row Your Boat

Today on the site, Rob Clough reviews the latest comics biography by Peter Bagge, Fire!!

Since ending the regular run of his seminal series Hate!, Peter Bagge has been experimenting with all sorts of different genres. He wrote an all-ages series with Yeah! (drawn by Gilbert Hernandez), wrote and drew some of a hilarious comic about a conservative daily strip cartoonist and his "assistants" with Sweatshop, did an amusingly unsettling post-apocalyptic story with Apocalypse Nerd, crafted a Second Life satire called Other Lives (which dated very quickly), and another book that touched on identity and technology, Reset. None of them had a lot of commercial success, but Bagge hit on something with a backup feature in Apocalypse Nerd called Founding Fathers Funnies. It was an accurate yet highly irreverent take on the Founding Fathers of the United States, a subject he clearly found fascinating. He also clearly had a knack for zeroing in on certain details while creating a lively narrative.

That seemed to stem in part from his years of doing reportage and commentary for the libertarian magazine Reason. Despite whatever point of view he had going into a story, he always did a lot of research, was open to listening to the views of others (no matter how kooky), and brought a surprising amount of objectivity and empathy to the table. In other words, he did a far more effective and compelling job than most "real" journalists. Bagge is also far from being in lockstep with all of his party's platforms. His ability to bring both clarity and a strong narrative angle to events made Founding Fathers Funnies effective as a straightforward history and series of mini-biographies, and his no-bullshit sensibilities made it funny. Plus, there's the matter of his art. He never changes it one whit no matter the subject matter at hand.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Hogan's Alley has reprinted a speech Charles Schulz gave to the National Cartoonists Society in 1994, and also a 2010 interview with Cathy Guisewite.
—Caleb Orecchio writes about the recent Alan Moore collection, Brighter Than You Think.

Something I find very interesting about Moore is his awareness of the artist. He seems to know how to “use” an artist better than any writer I know of, which, to me, aids him in diversifying the types of stories he can tell. He uses them like a solo cartoonist might pick a color to evoke mood, or use a certain brush to evoke a certain era of comics’ past. Using an artist like Mark Beyer can help to abstract a story and give it a heightened sense of reality and playfulness, whereas using an artist like Stephen Bissette can help ground a story to real-life and make a comic more like a documentary. If you’re writing a story for Peter Bagge, the writing is funny and whimsical (Moore’s ability to write comedy is WAY under appreciated in my opinion); and you write strange stories of flight and fantasy for Rick Veitch.

 

Director

What a week. On it goes. Today on the site:

Robert Boyd reviews Pat Palermo's Galveston Diary series.

But for the past year, Palermo has been in Galveston, Texas, doing a year-long residency at the Galveston Artist Residency. The residency, which comes with an apartment and a large studio, has freed him up to do work in addition to continuing LIVE/WORK. Palermo gave himself a challenge: to draw and post a page of comics every day. That’s the kind of project you would expect to last a month or so before the artist gets tired of the grind. But Palermo has managed to do it every day since August 2016.

The pages are drawn in a small sketchbook in pencil, scanned, and published online. They have an immediacy that his more considered comics work lacks. He makes the most of his Brooklyn fish-out-of-water perspective, and the work paints a very particular portrait of the weirdness that is Galveston. But because it was also an eventful period in our county’s history, the world of politics takes on a great deal of importance as the daily comics diary progresses. Trump is elected and Palermo’s relates his crushing despair, anger, and his subsequent activism, surprisingly—considering his lack of local roots—in the realm of local politics, both municipal and state-level. That said, the strip continued to have a lot of autobiographical material, especially about Palermo’s encounters with Galveston’s barflies.

Elsewhere:

Chris Mautner has a persuasive and enticing review of Alan Moore's now complete Providence, which we've also covered on this site via Craig Fischer's examination. 

Michael Tisserand writes about the influence of Mark Twain on the work of George Herriman

And this weekend is the CAKE festival in Chicago, featuring lots of good guests and events.