A Day Like No Other

It is with red and brimming eyes that we must say goodbye to Dylan Horrocks today, who has turned in his fifth Cartoonist's Diary entry for us.

Tucker Stone seems a little out of sorts himself this morning, though for his own reasons (read: he spends too much time thinking about superhero comics). Experience his crackup in real time in the latest installment of Comics of the Weak.

And Matthew Thurber and Rebecca Bird team up to join our stable of reviewers, with a jointly written appraisal of Bill Griffith's mammoth retrospective, Lost and Found.

Elsewhere, new dad Dan Nadel has an article on David Shrigley for the Brooklyn Rail.

BK Munn entertainingly argues with the cover feature from the latest issue of Broken Pencil, which itself is an attempted take-down of "high-art" zines from the likes of people like Marc Bell and Amy Lockhart.

Brandon Graham always gives good interview.

Finally, and not really comics, the online reaction (shock, outrage, supreme umbrage) to this fan- and critic-baiting New York Times interview with The Wire creator David Simon reminds me more than a little of whining and hurt feelings that appear whenever Alan Moore gives a cranky interview dismissing dumb comic books. I don't think I will ever understand why people take these kinds of comments from artists personally. Simon got up peoples' noses by saying that it is impossible to accurately judge a television show's success until the whole thing can be seen. This is true. Critics get mad because what are they supposed to do? Wait five years before reviewing a series? What they are supposed to do is not care what David Simon thinks about them. You aren't writing for the artists, you're writing for yourself and your readers. And that goes double if you aren't even a critic. The only reason to care if Alan Moore thinks you're too dumb to read his comic is if you have a sneaking suspicion he may be right. In which case, go hit the library or take a class or something. Jeez.

Happy Pesach and/or Easter, et cetera.



Today, we bring you the long-awaited return of Jeet Heer! (May it be a harbinger of things to come.) Yes, our Canadian friend is back with a thorough and revealing look at the newly re-published and expanded edition of the first volume of The Complete Crumb Comics. Here's an excerpt:

The Complete Crumb Comics Volume One: The Early Years of Bitter Struggle, a 1987 book now republished in an expanded edition, gathers together the earliest surviving examples of the great cartoonist’s juvenilia taking him from age 14 or 15 to 18 years old. The high school scribbler that we meet in these pages is a very callow Crumb indeed: Crumb before he had sex, Crumb before he dropped acid, Crumb before he was adopted as a hero of the counterculture, Crumb before he honed his satirical stance on modern life, Crumb before he became the most radical, polarizing and influential cartoonist of the late 20th century. Yet in the lanky and awkward body of the teenage Crumb we can see the outlines of the substantial artist he would become.

Dylan Horrocks, the man from New Zealand, is back again, too, of course, with another day of a week in his life. This time around, he struggles with writing a book review. I wish he would stay and keep doing these diaries forever.

Over the barricades, life is stirring. First, the Eisner award nominations were announced yesterday. You can see the list here. Based on a fairly casual appraisal, it seems to be a relatively solid list as these things go, aside from a few exceedingly odd titles and names conspicuous by their absence (cough cough Love and Rockets). In any case, congratulations to all the nominees.

Terry Gilliam gave an interview to Vulture about a new Monty Python app (or something) and spent a surprising amount of its time talking about comics, from his problems with England ("The first thing that bothered me was that the English didn’t have a tradition of comic books here.") to superhero movies ("Irony comes to play here: I’m stuck in England while Hollywood is doing what I wanted to do 30 years ago. [...] But they’re becoming repetitive for me. I’m getting bored with them, frankly. I just want to see something different. What I loved about comic books is that comic books were outsider art, and so they could say and do things that were much more punchy. But that’s not what Marvel is up to at the moment.") to Moebius ("Extraordinary stuff! Beautiful looking, funny, sharp, sci-fi on a level that you really want to work at."), among other things.

In McSweeney's, Robb Fritz has a long essay about the meaning of Snoopy. (via)

Journal columnists news update: Tucker Stone reviewed Derf's My Friend Dahmer for Comixology, and Frank Santoro is selling pages from Kramers Ergot 8.

Robin (Inkstuds) McConnell has an Emerald City Comicon photo-report up if you didn't get enough from Tom Spurgeon's earlier this week.

And finally (and only tangentially comics-related): Chip Kidd talks book design at TED:



Slow Day

Dylan Horrocks is here with day three of Cartoonist's Diary. Today, he teaches a class, and ponders how many cartoonists there are whose work he's never read.

And Sean T. Collins reviews the most recent Jaime Hernandez Love & Rockets digest, Esperanza. An excerpt:

The central storyline of Esperanza's first half isn’t Izzy’s downfall at all, but Maggie’s struggle to account for the discrepancy between the woman she is now — a responsible professional with professional responsibilities, who likes to stay out of trouble, who maybe wants more out of her best-friend-with-benefits Hopey than the friendship and the benefits, and who can’t tell if that relationship is the exception or the rule with regards to her sexuality — and the girl she was when she first came to define herself as a person — a carefree hellion whose folie à deux with Hopey was, as best she could tell, the center of everyone’s universe.

Outside our compound walls: I don't know how I missed this earlier, but Journal columnist Craig Fischer recently started a blog, Fischer on Comix, which seems to be both a repository for older work needing a home and a few new posts as well. His recent essay on Taniguchi is a highlight.

It's also been a while since we've linked to Journal columnist Rob Clough's personal site. If you like the comics he reviews here, you really should bookmark or subscribe to Clough, because he's one of the few reviewers out there really devoted to consistently covering these small-run, obscure, and usually deserving works. He's been in a posting frenzy over the last few weeks, so there's lots there to read if you haven't visited in a while.

Finally, David Brothers has the visual proof of Marvel's priorities in terms of creator credit.


Ding Dong Daddy

Dylan Horrocks continues his week of Diaries for us. Today, he includes everything he drew during a single day, and dreams.

Joe McCulloch has the word on this week's comic books, plus a short look at David Hine and Shaky Kane.

And Rob Clough reviews the latest issue of the surprisingly under-discussed Mineshaft, still possibly the best-kept secret in comics.

Elsewhere, I'm a big fan of most everything Tom Spurgeon writes, but even if all he ever did was put together his signature, unending bullet-pointed convention reports, like the one he just made for the Emerald City Comicon, I'd be happy.

Finally, over at the Hooded Utilitarian, Ng Suat Tong is taking nominations for the best online comics criticism of the year so far, and also explains that last year's survey didn't happen mostly because of a lack of energy among the participants. (I was wondering what happened.) I served as a judge in Suat's survey for 2010, and although I wasn't completely enamored with all the winners, I found it to be an overall enjoyable experience. It makes sense to open nominations to everyone—if I recall correctly, that seemed to be the weakest link in the survey the year I participated: most of the judges' choices were obvious last-minute picks, often not-so-coincidentally published a few days before our nominations were due (and thus, easier to remember). Anyway, Suat runs a good survey, so if you enjoy this kind of thing, I recommend it.

Suat also offers a typically bleak (though not necessarily wrong) assessment of online comics criticism today, along with mostly kind words about this site. As Suat isn't one to mince words, the compliments are appreciated. He also worries that perhaps the online comics commentariat has grown too monolithic. I suppose he has a point. But six years ago, Dan, Frank, and I felt the same way, and started Comics Comics to do something about it. There's nothing stopping anyone else from doing the same thing now. It isn't exactly expensive to run a blog. And there are ten thousand people just waiting to link to or read something, anything intelligent about comics.


Shuffle Feet, Shuffle

First of all, congratulations are in order. Dan is now a new father, and the curse of fecundity continues. Welcome to the world, Henry!

And now, your daily comics reading: In his most recent column, Frank reviews new books from wunderkinds Michael DeForge, Jesse McManus, and Charles Forsman.

The great Dylan Horrocks has accepted our invitation to join our pantheon of contributors to A Cartoonist's Diary. His first entry is online today.

There's a really nice, substantial profile of Dan Clowes in the New York Times, coinciding with his first museum exhibition at the Oakland Museum.

And here's video footage of a recent interview Clowes gave at Kadist in San Francisco:

Slate has excerpted Art Spiegelman's introduction to a new book on the Garbage Pail Kids, in which he relates part of the story of their creation.

And here's Charles Burns talking for an hour-plus! (I haven't been able to watch this yet, but it's first on my to do list when I get some spare time.)


Our own Chris Mautner has a "Comics College" entry on Scott McCloud.

The graduating students at my alma mater (and Dan's, come to think of it) are underwhelmed to learn that a cartoonist has been chosen to be their commencement speaker. Normally, I'd consider that to be amusing news only to me and a very small group of others, but since Alan Gardner's writing about it, I guess the universe does revolve around me and my interests.

Per Mark Bode, thirty-five years after raising eyebrows with Wizards, a movie with a style and characters that seemed to closely ape Vaughn Bode's, Ralph Bakshi has called up and apologized.

Alan Moore's Neonomicon is the first graphic novel ever to be given a Bram Stoker Award. In his acceptance speech, he notes, rather interestingly for those who have read the book: "As is often the case when one’s work crosses personal boundaries, I spent a long time in fretful deliberation over Neonomicon and six months after finishing the work was still uncertain as to whether it was good or even publishable."

And finally, Andrei Molotiu takes (or follows) Jack Kirby to the art museum.



Hopefully, you've all gotten a chance to read Michael Dean's assessment of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art's accomplishments yesterday. Today, we have the promised supplementary feature: Dean's interview with Lawrence Klein, MoCCA's founder. Here's an excerpt:

DEAN: Do you ever feel frustrated with some decisions being made? Like, “Why is this thing being done that way?” or “Why didn’t they consult me about this?”

KLEIN: I don’t look at it like that, because I don’t want them consulting me! I don’t want to be bothered! [Laughs.] No, I want to give it a chance to grow and be what it is. Sure, there’s a time or two where I’ll say, “Huh, interesting decision. I’m not sure why they did it, but they must have felt that it was the right thing to do.” I haven’t seen anything outrageously crazy that would make me say, “I’ve got to step in and end this, or I’ve got to step in and take over.” But one of the things I tried to do with MoCCA was, in essence, to be a benevolent dictator. Listen to everybody and get everybody involved, but make the final decisions. To do what we did, at the time we did it, you needed focus. A strong focus. There were so many things that everybody wanted to do, but we couldn’t do everything. We wanted focus, and we wanted me to lead based on that focus. And that needed to happen.

And then, of course, we have the latest installment of Tucker Stone's Comics of the Weak column. Can you believe it was only three weeks ago he started doing this? I can. I'm still not used to getting up this early in the morning to edit.

Elsewhere, John Hilgart of 4CP fame has inaugurated a new column of his own over at HiLobrow, revealing the mysterious sources for his previous work.

Robert Boyd reviews Kramers Ergot 8.

Robert Birnbaum has a great, lengthy, meaty interview with Ben Katchor up at the Morning News.

David Chelsea has posted a part two for his post on perspective and Ivan Brunetti from last week.

And the Wright Awards nominations have been announced.


It’s Happening

Today on the site:

Michael Dean has written an extensive article on the history and current state of New York's MoCCA. Here's a taste:

The MoCCA festival has flourished and a series of varied educational programs sponsored by the museum continues to thrive. As for the museum itself, well, at least it’s still here, and that’s more than some comic-art museums can say. It hasn’t gone virtual the way Kevin Eastman’s Words and Pictures Museum did in 1999. And it hasn’t been absorbed by a university like Mort Walker’s Museum of Cartoon Art, now a resident of the Ohio State campus. But if MoCCA is a success story, it’s also a story of compromises and struggle. It’s a story that may have much to tell about the place of comics in the East Coast art world. Because, for better or worse, MoCCA is the high-water mark for the level of respectability that comic art has been able to carve out for itself in its home town.

On Friday we'll have a separate interview with the museum's founder, Lawrence Klein. Also up today is Austin English's review of the comic book Raw Power.


-Bart Beatty on the late comics-focused librarian and organizer Kristiina Kolehmainen.

-Paul Karasik has a report straight outta Dekalb, where his "Graphic Novel -Realism" exhibition is on display.

-There's a whole bundle of posts over at Blown Covers about the great Miguel Covarrubius, all drawn from The New Yorker archives.

-I always enjoy the work of J.H. Williams, and here he is breaking down his process for a Batwoman cover.

-Hey, Johnny Ryan has a new zine out. That can't be bad.

-And here's a preview of the forthcoming Dan Zettwoch book, Birdseye Bristoe. One can never have too much Zettwoch. I'm looking forward to this one.


Mo’ Art, Mo’ Problems

It's a great day for podcast fans, with Mike Dawson talking to Craig Thompson for the latest episode of TCJ Talkies. When his Habibi was released last fall, Thompson seemed to appear on every podcast produced, even those devoted to things other than comics, like fishing and plumbing, and so we decided to hold off until a bit later and see if it wouldn't make for a slightly fresher interview. Now we find out if that strategy worked.

Also, continuing the sex-in-webcomics theme started by Shaenon Garrity earlier this week, Sean T. Collins contributes a review of the anonymously produced q v i e t.

Elsewhere, Mahendra Singh has started his series of posts on the work of Moebius with a very technique-heavy look at Airtight Garage, which he provocatively links to the Goldberg Variations.

Graeme McMillan doesn't like the term "artcomix." What he may not realize is that no one likes the term artcomix. And that's true whether it's spelled as one word or two, with an x or an s. But the alternatives (such as "alternative comics") are pretty bad, too. And a shorthand way of differentiating between stuff created by artists who are trying and those who are merely fulfilling a commercial formula is often very helpful, at least for those of us who regularly write about comics, so this dilemma isn't going away very soon.

The anonymous fellow or lady behind that New Yorker cartoon critique Tumbler from a couple weeks ago explains the philosophy behind the site more here and here.

Chris Stigliano reviews the new Nancy collection.

Finally, I don't believe we've mentioned yet that Sparkplug Comic Books is holding a fundraiser to publish several new books. I know I just wrote last week that I tried not to link to these kinds of things, but this too seemed worth an exception.