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Heavyweights

On the site today: Frank Santoro talks tour swag. The endless tour swag. Swag!

And Sarah Boxer on Joe Sacco’s The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme, an Illustrated Panorama

In the history of comics, Sacco’s Great War lies somewhere between two other near-silent comic-like narratives:  the medieval Bayeux Tapestry, a 230-foot-long piece of embroidery showing the Norman Invasion of England in 1066 (which Sacco cites as an influence), and Building Stories, Chris Ware’s giant box of comic-book-like objects. But for sheer silence these two can’t compete with The Great War. After all, the Bayeux tapestry has embroidered captions that tell you what’s going on, and Chris Ware allows his characters occasional grunts and sniffs. Here Sacco, the cartoonist of human speech and argument, has banned all words.

Elsewhere:

No links today. Instead let me digress for a second.

It’s been a good autumn in New York for those interested in comics and comics-related art. There were shows by three Chicago masters: Gladys Nilsson, Karl Wirsum and Art Green; a small but potent show of Peter Saul paintings a A fine exhibition by Seth. And there is, of course, the terrific Art Spiegelman retrospective, about which more later. And now there’s an Ad Reinhardt show at David Zwirner (home also to R. Crumb and Raymond Pettibon). Yes, Ad Reinhardt, king of the all-black painting. An unlikely man to make comics. And yet there it is. The Reinhardt show is not just any exhibition though: It features a complete run of his comics work for P.M. (for which Crockett Johnson, among others, also drew) and ARTnews in the 1940s and ’50s. And to top it off, Zwirner has published an absolutely killer book of these comics: How to Look: Art Comics. Oversized, impeccably designed and printed, it’s my favorite surprise of the year. One of those books you dream of but never imagine really happening. It belongs with the recent Jess book, as well as the Joe Brainard Nancy book (both from Siglio Press), to a now-growing shelf of comics that exist outside both the comic and art narratives. An odd shaped history into which you might also throw the 1960s Hairy Who “comic books”, various works by Dieter Roth, a ton of books by Dorothy Iannone, and all sorts of other odds and ends. a

How to Look: Art Comics is an oversized hardcover with a superb essay by Robert Storr, none of which would matter if the comics weren’t so damn good. These are more like visual essays in the Peter Blegvad-sense than the newspaper comics of the time, but what else could they be, really? Each comics page is a collage of paste-up imagery and often-punning, always cunning, words, commenting on, well, art. From “The Insiders” to “How to Look at Iconography” to “How to Look at a Mural” (Guernica, of course), Reinhardt winkingly guides viewers through art as he knew it. Along the way there are many now-forgotten artists, critics, curators and galleries, and many still known. But trace-the-reference is only part of the fun. The elegance of Reinhardt’s compositions, the deftness with which he juxtaposes text and image, and his infrequent, but jarring use of hand-drawn cartooning make each strip a gem. This work should be brought into comics proper, and perhaps viewed as paradigmatic examples of the comic-as-diagram or the comics-as-explanation, much as Scott McCloud and Dan Zettwoch have used it. Anyhow, all of this is to say: Go out and see the show if you’re in NYC, and get the book in any case. It’s an education in art and cartooning.

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No, Seven

Today we should keep you busy. First, Bill Kartalopoulos has a report from the grand opening of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum last weekend:

This calendar year has seen no shortage of comics-related events and exhibitions, but the occasion most likely to have a long term impact for comics is the opening of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University this past weekend in Columbus, Ohio. The unveiling of the new dedicated museum and library space is the culmination of founding curator Lucy Shelton Caswell’s thirty-five-year vision and sets a new high water mark for comics-related institution building in North America. The ribbon-cutting of the new facility and the opening of its first exhibits was marked with a two-day academic conference, followed by a weekend of public events featuring artists including Matt Bors, Eddie Campbell, Jaime Hernandez, Gilbert Hernandez, Paul Pope, Jeff Smith, and many more. The event also served as the site of major announcements from the BICLM itself, as well as from other organizations represented there including the Center for Cartoon Studies and the International Comic Arts Forum (ICAF).

And then we have Ken Parille, with the second part of his column exploring the use of dialogue and narration in comics. Here’s a sample of that:

After Byrne’s super-villain introduces himself in 1986’s Superman #1, Lois Lane goes on the attack: “’Metallo’? You have got to be kidding. Where the heck did you pick up a cornball name like that?”

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The trope of a character calling a villain’s shtick “corny” pops up repeatedly in ‘Silver Age’ comics (c. 1956 -1970), particularly those scripted by Stan Lee, one of Byrne’s major influences:

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The Amazing Spider-Man #13 (1964). Dialogue by Stan Lee; Art/Plot by Steve Ditko.

If you know it’s corny, then why do it? Perhaps Byrne sees no other option: such names are part of the fantasy world he operates in. But admitting to foolishness rather than quietly playing along makes it worse — can you really write something corny and then act like you’re above it? I think “Metallo” is a solid villain name and needs no apology.


Elsewhere:


—Reviews & Commentary.
Timothy Callahan reviews three new comics and one old issue of Lloyd Llewellyn. Chris Mautner lays out six comics he found at Comics Art Brooklyn. Then James Romberger beats them all by reviewing eight comics from CAB. [UPDATE: I stupidly missed this extremely harsh takedown of the Art Spiegelman Co-Mix show written by Jed Perl at The New Republic.]

—Interviews & Profiles. Over at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Sarah Boxer has a great interview with Françoise Mouly. At one of The New Yorker’s blogs, Mouly herself presents an interview with Joe Sacco. Paul Gravett profiles Algerian cartoonist Sofiane Belaskri. Neil Gaiman talks about Sandman: Overture.

—News.
I can’t imagine people interested in the ongoing Brian Wood/sexism-in-the-comics-industry conversation haven’t seen most of these links already, but just in case, a second woman came forward with claims about Brian Wood, and a blogger has made a timeline of the controversy and its coverage.

Reports that filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki plans to make a samurai manga in his retirement have some visual confirmation now.

Finally, cartoonist and Yam Books publisher Rina Ayuyang has started an online art auction and book sale to raise funds for the victims of the Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan disaster in the Philippines. Participating artists include Kevin Huizenga, Dylan Horrocks, Vanessa Davis, Eleanor Davis, Jaime Hernandez, and more.

 

It’s a Six

It’s Tuesday so that means Joe McCulloch has stayed up late to deliver you the finest new releases of the week.

All around the internet:

A-J Aronstein on Daniel Clowes, with a diversion into comics criticism.

Bob Mankoff at The New Yorker issues a mea culpa and follows a nice history trail.

The great Michael Doret on working on a DC Comics history book logo.

Jonathan Rosenbaum has posted his introduction to the phenomenal new Peanuts Sunday strips collection.

Glen David Gold has posted a mini-essay on a stunning new Jack Kirby art acquisition.

Sit back and enjoy the Shigeru Sugiura mash-up video.

And here’s another damn video. This one of the new Ruppert and Mulot book, which must be ripped to be read.

 

Song & Dance

Today, Ryan Holmberg is back with a longer look at the comics rental libraries of Mumbai:

Upon publishing the interview with Leaping Windows Comics Café, I was informed by an elder Indian that rental bookstores – locally called “circulating libraries” – are not uncommon in Mumbai. There used to be more, I was told, but there are still some out in the suburbs, though they deal mainly in books in Hindi and Marathi (the local language) rather than in English.

Online searching turned up more than a dozen scattered across Greater Mumbai, some of which are actually in the heart of the city, near railway stations and major intersections. These latter seem to be mainly older businesses, hanging on since the 1950s and 60s. I am also told that, out in the suburbs, a number of “paper marts” – paper recycling shops – have begun doubling as lending libraries, redirecting not only junk books and magazines that come their way, but also cartons of cheap remainder books. I have heard – though I haven’t seen them – that there are book vans that show up in certain neighborhoods once every three days or so, with blinking LED lights and megaphones tootling jingles.

All of which is to say: borrowing books for a fee, beyond the familiar institutions of private and municipal libraries, is neither a new nor rare thing in Mumbai.


Elsewhere:


—News.
Responding to the recent online controversy Dan linked to last week, Brian Wood has released a statement. His accuser Tess Fowler responded soon after.

The opening of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum seems to have been a huge success, at least judging by reports. Sean Kleefeld has a three-part post on it.

Retailer/columnist Brian Hibbs has written an editorial on the disquiet he and many felt upon hearing about the Fantagraphics Kickstarter that quickly gets derailed into a rehearsal of an old Hibbs hobbyhorse regarding serialization vs. books. Matt Wilson at Comics Alliance wonders if the fundraiser was the start of a new trend and wonders if it’s workable.

The Autoptic festival in Minneapolis is having a crowdfundraiser of its own.

—Reviews & Criticism.
Robert Boyd reviews Jim Woodring, Gilbert Hernandez, and minicomics. Whit Taylor on Noah Van Sciver’s Saint Cole. Bilge Ebiri is disappointed by the new Bill Watterson documentary. Mary Kinney writes about the bewilderingly popular Homestuck. Erik Davis has a short & sharp appreciation of Alan Moore up at Hilobrow. Holland Cotter at the New York Times reviews the Art Spiegelman Co-Mix show at the Jewish Museum and calls for more museum comics exhibitions. (If you’re in the New York area, I strongly recommend attending that show.)

—Interviews.
David Samuels has a long, very good interview with Art Spiegelman at Tablet. The Atlantic talks to Alison Bechdel about her reaction to the Fun Home musical. Tom Spurgeon talks to Gene Luen Yang. The Allie Brosh/Hyperbole and a Half media juggernaught makes it The Hairpin

 

Tons

Today on the site: Shaenon Garrity has written an obituary of Joey Manley.

“He was that rare kind of person that comes along in the comic industry,” says Cat Garza, one of the first artists Manley recruited to Modern Tales and one of many for whom that business relationship developed into a permanent friendship. “The kind that publishes newcomers without thought to whether or not the work is lucrative, the kind that puts people together and builds connections.”

Dirk Tiede, another longtime Modern Tales artist, says, “He gave so many young, talented, yet previously unknown creators a chance and a voice in what has always been a difficult and sometimes hostile industry. He put a professional face on webcomics at a time when they were laughed at by the mainstream comics scene. He stood up for us.”

And we have a review by Daniel Kalder of The Strange World of Your Dreams.

And elsewhere:

Zainab Akhtar reviews a bunch of new comics.

D & Q previews a fetching new comic.

Heidi MacDonald on harassment and the comics industry.

Sheila Keenan and Nathan Fox talk about Dogs of War.

The cover of Mad #21: Dissected.

Oh, and no Tucker this week, but here’s a little Comic Books Are Burning in Hell: A special Neil Gaiman episode.

Finally, what I  have long waited for: A Wigglemuch Tumblr.

 

Don’t Look Now

We’ve got two columns for you this morning. First, R. Fiore, who contemplates Jeet Heer’s Françoise Mouly biography, In Love with Art. Here’s a snippet:

At this point is there any more important editor in periodical illustration than Françoise Mouly? With so many erstwhile venues for illustration being driven online, where any illustration is rendered into spot illustration, The New Yorker could be the big time all by itself. Unless Spiegelman comes into the office with her we have to assume this is an adventure without him. The New Yorker cover of the William Shawn era was essentially wallpaper, the perfect decoration for the better kind of dentist’s office. (Not least because it didn’t matter how old the magazine was.) The New Yorker cover of the Mouly era is not only more topical than it used to be, but is also frequently a one-image narrative. The ultimate Mouly-era narrative cover is Adrian Tomine’s November 8, 2004 cover: A young man and woman spot each other reading the same book in subway trains going in opposite directions, and not only have not encountered but will lose each other in a second’s time. (Though it would have been a hell of an advertisement for Chance Encounters classifieds if they had them.) The effect is to put the cartoonist at the center of the world of illustration.

And then Frank Santoro stops by to reflect on last weekend’s CAB show, and then very briefly interview Alex Schubert, the creator of Blobby Boys:

Frank: How was CAB?

Alex: Man, I was in a bad mood the whole time. I stayed in an Airbnb, and it was the fucking shittiest place I’ve ever seen. I opened the door, and the doorknob fell off. Broken glass and cigarette ashes everywhere. I’m not joking when I say that I cried a single tear.

Elsewhere:

—CAB Reports. There are too many of these to link to, but three that you might find interesting can be found by Mary Kinney, Andrew White, and Secret Acres (who have cleverly capitalized on their always-popular con report posts by sneaking in ads for their upcoming books). There’s also a comics-con exhibitor survey taking place right now at Devastator magazine, for those interested in participating.

—Miscellaneous. CBR interviews Trina Robbins about her latest (and apparently last) history of women in comics, Pretty in Ink. Richard Bruton reviews Oliver East’s Swear Down. Bill Everett biographer Blake Bell picks his ten favorite Everett covers. And not-comics but potentially interesting to those readers familiar with modern-day manga, James Polchin reviews an exhibition of Japanese Edo-period erotic art at the British Museum.

 

Preeeeesenting

Today on the site: Rob Clough reports on the MCAD and the Minneapolis comics scene.

I was excited to attend Autoptic this year in part because it gave me a chance to meet and sample the work of a number of cartoonists in the burgeoning Minneapolis scene. Certainly, I was already well aware of the work of cartoonists like Zak Sally, Anders Nilsen, Rob Kirby, JP Coovert, Max Mose, Tom Kaczynski, and Will Dinski. I’m also quite familiar with small publishers like 2D Cloud (helmed by Raighne Hogan and Justin Skarhus) and Grimalkin Press (run by Jordan Shiveley). It’s not a coincidence that most of these cartoonists were part of the show’s steering committee. I was most curious to delve into the work of lesser-known local artists, particular current and former students from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). Sally and Nilsen both teach at the school, which boasts about fifty students majoring in cartooning out of about seven hundred undergraduates.

And Sean Rogers reviews Rage of Poseiden by Anders Nilsen, also from Minneapolis.

To be curious about human life, but to abjure human actors: Nilsen revisits this technique in his latest book, Rage of Poseidon. Rather than birds, however, this time out the artist uses mythic figures to inquire into the peculiarities of human behavior. Nilsen culls his cast of characters from Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian traditions, but he endows these deities and patriarchs with all-too-human failings, and thrusts them into the contemporary world. So in these stories, Poseidon rages, God sulks, and Athena goes on a bender, while Jesus drives a pick-up and Bacchus holds court in Vegas. Where Nilsen’s birds were trivial creatures with weighty concerns, his gods are ponderous beings with trifling cares.

Elsewhere online:

The Atlantic talks to Alison Bechdel about the transformation of her book, Fun Home, into a musical.

Robert Boyd on some recent books from Drawn & Quarterly.

Publisher Ryan Sands talks to illustrator Sam Weber.

Here’s a nice interview with cartoonist/artist Leif Goldberg.

PW has a photo gallery from last weekend’s CAB, weirdly serious picture of me included.

It’s Paul Karasik’s current comics reading. In Italian.

The great Hayao Miyazaki is apparently drawing a samurai manga.

The Beat reports on the latest comic-related graphics on Uniqlo garments.

And finally, there’s another major comics show in Manhattan, this one of cartoons by the artist Ad Reinhardt. Here’s a walkthrough with the curator and teacher Robert Storr.

 

 

Entomology

Joe McCulloch has the highlights from the Week in Comics for you today, attached to an essay on two comics he picked up in Brooklyn last weekend.

Elsewhere:


—Reviews & Criticism.
Martin Wisse looks at Joe Keatinge & Ross Campbell’s Glory. Janean Patience continues his series on Matt Wagner’s Grendel. Richard Bruton on Isabel Greenberg’s Encyclopedia of Early Earth. Bob Temuka looks at the new Sandman. Wait, what decade is this?! Pádraig Ó Méalóid plumps for Lance Parkin’s new biograpy of Alan Moore, Magic Words. Finally, Ng Suat Tong entertainingly comes out against plumping in all forms, making his customary move of preceding one of his own brief reviews with a lengthy list and condemnation of other critical takes on the same subject. This time, it’s Michael DeForge. He definitely has a valid point or two: I was just coincidentally thinking myself the other day that there had been much less in-depth criticism of DeForge than you’d expect, given his stature; and the tendency for reviewers of all kinds to use language reminiscent of publicity blurbs has been rightly lamented for a century. That said, it is amusing to note that once again, Suat is undisturbed by imagery that literally every other human commentator finds gross, and then blithely assumes that their disgust must be feigned. Different strokes indeed. Anyway, I always enjoy and learn from Suat in myth-puncturing mode, no matter how clinically, narrowly he practices his iconoclasm.

—Interviews & Profiles.
Matt Bors, the preeminent political cartoonist of his generation (and about whom I expect a consensus-skewering examination from Ng Suat Tong any day now, gets a short tribute at Time magazine. Joseph Glass talks to Paul Pope. The New Yorker blog talks to Gene Luen Yang. Tom Spurgeon talks to Gary Groth about the Fantagraphics Kickstarter.

—Unclassified. On her blog, Alison Bechdel responds to the recent stories about four Swedish movie theaters instituting an official version of the Bechdel test.
—Miscellaneous.