Happy Monday. We're please to announce that we've begun a little partnership with The Rumpus. Thanks to Paul Madonna, The Rumpus will feature a couple of TCJ pieces every month. This doesn't really affect you if you're already reading this, but we're pleased and excited.
On this very site Craig Fischer brings you a beast of a post that takes a Skywald horror comic as its base and expands from there. Love it.
And in more internal news, Fantagraphics OGs Preston White and Mike Catron have returned to the fold. Tom Spurgeon has the lowdown and an interview with Mike. Welcome back, guys!
Ok, now we'll leave our own orbit and go... elsewhere:
Rub the Blood editors Ian Harker and Pat Aulisio got the Inkstuds treatment. I confess that I don't really understand the Rob Liefeld nostalgia thing, but one man's Paul Gulacy is another man's Rob Liefeld (and yes, it's only men), so, y'know, I get it in the abstract. Man.
And the pages from Rokuro Taniuchi's 1948 children's comic The Magic Underground Castle at 50 Watts is pure joy.
The great Tucker Stone reviews the latest mini-series from the Mignola-verse of Hellboy & Co., B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Russia. That title's a mouthful.
As are the titles of the upcoming Watchmen prequels. Like Dan, I don't have much interesting to say about this development. It's dumb and mean, but not surprising by any stretch. Eric Stephenson from Image said most of what needs saying, in a blog post that has seen much deserved traffic.
This is a good comics Tumblr. Great links pretty much every day.
This find from a Cerebus-related Tumblr is a real treasure. "I have to credit all the research that I did on Oscar Wilde for convincing me that I don't want to be like that [almost universally acknowledged as the greatest conversationalist of his day]. If I can end my life with a large body of completed works and a reputation as a cantankerous old hermit I'll consider my time well spent." It makes you wonder about paths not taken. If Dave Sim hadn't gotten interested in Wilde, he might have become one of the greatest raconteurs of our age! Actually there are a few things I'd dispute from Sim's comments. Wilde wrote far more than just "one really good play and one really good short novel"—even if he'd never written anything other than his essays, he'd probably still be read today. Also, I wonder about whether it really makes sense to value the written word over the experienced moment. Obviously the written word is better for us—we can read it. But surely it's not wise to only produce for posterity. The appropriate example here may be Ozymandias (not the character from Watchmen, which is apparently impossible to escape).
Our own Kristy Valenti writes about Chester Brown and Craig Thompson as purveyors of "Dick Lit" over at Comixology.
And Frank Santoro comic-book layout workshop hits Mission:Comics & Art tonight. A must-see if you're in the San Francisco area.
Today on the site we're lucky to feature an excerpt from an essay by Seth originally published in The Devil's Artisan, on designing The Collected Doug Wright.
In very sad news, the great Mike Kelley died on Tuesday. Mike wrote a phenomenal essay on Gary Panter for the monograph I edited, and most recently we co-curated an exhibition in L.A. He was a brilliant and generous man and one well-versed in everything from Bob Powell to the Art Ensemble of Chicago to Fluxus. This is barely related to comics, I know, but his influence on visual culture was, and will continue to be, massive, and you should know about his work and legacy. His studio and close friends released the following statement, which should be read. Then go out and look at his work.
“Our dear friend the artist Mike Kelley (born 1954 in Detroit) has passed away. Unstintingly passionate, habitually outspoken and immeasurably creative in every genre or material with which he took up—and that was most of them, from performance and sculpture to painting, installation and video, from experimental music to writing in a thousand voices—Mike was an irresistible force in contemporary art and the wider culture. For Mike, history existed only to be reconstructed, memory was selective, faulty and willful and life itself vibrant but often dysfunctional. We can hear him disagreeing with us. We cannot believe he is gone. But we know his legacy will continue to touch and challenge anyone who crosses its path. We will miss him. We will keep him with us.”
-Kelley Studio and Emi Fontana, Kourosh Larizadeh, Paul and Karen McCarthy, Fredrik Nilsen, Anita Pace, Jim Shaw, Mary Clare Stevens, Marnie Weber, John C. Welchman [for all Mike’s many friends near and far]
Elsewhere online, Peggy Burns has a great summation of her experience at Angouleme. Here's a fine piece on World War III magazine being displayed at MoMA. Oh, and this is an impressive 24-hour comic. Finally, the NY Times probably has the best coverage of the Watchmen debacle. It's sad and stupid and hardly worth commenting about because what should we expect from such a cynical company? We could expect better, but that's actually foolish at this point. It's outrageous but not surprising.
Matthias Wivel is here today with a final report on this year's Angoulême, which he believes to be one of the best festivals of the last decade ... though he also has some problems with its award system, among other things.
Also, Hayley Campbell reviews Moebius & Jodorowsky's Eye of the Cat.
Welcome to the last few days of January. Today we bring you R.C. Harvey on Martha Orr, and the connection between Apple Mary and Mary Worth.
Frank Santoro's going on tour, and is drawing the comics to prove it. (Plus, a bonus autobiographical strip at the end.)
And Matthias Wivel is reporting from Angoulême for us. You can read his thoughts on the Art Spiegelman retrospective here, and on a comics art exhibit Spiegelman curated (and that Matthias believes to be one of the best of its kind he's ever seen) here. And there's more on the way.
Award winners at the festival have been announced, including Guy Delisle, Jim Woodring, and Jean-Claude Denis.
Speaking of Matthias, if you're at interested in the ongoing debate about best practices in archival comics reproduction, you'll want to see the comments thread spawned by his recent review of Carl Barks. Gary Groth, Kim Thompson, R. Fiore, Jeet Heer, Michael Grabowski, and Domingos Isabelhino all make appearances, among others.
On the site today: Matt Seneca on C.F.'s Sediment.
And online... Tim is too modest to mention this, but luckily I am not: Lauren Weinstein's wonderful comics about pregnancy and motherhood were recently profiled on Babble.com. This is really insightful and touching work -- check it out. No good transition here, but an interview with Jim Woodring is always a good thing, and here's one over at The Believer. In less "fun" linkage news, Tom Spurgeon has a sensible take on the recent kerfuffle around piracy, comics and consumer attitudes. Eric Stephenson of Image Comics, also chimes in on sales and stores and such things. And finally, we scamper down the rabbit hole into super hero stuff for a second: Publishers Weekly has a new super hero-focused column by Matt White.
As an aside, the other day, out of nowhere, I received Katz, which appears to be a compete republication of Maus (in French) only with all the mice heads replaced by cat heads. I assume it's the same dialogue because the whole project is too lazy for it not to be. In any case, as a conceptual prank it's incredibly lame (I mean, everything from the appropriation to the switcheroo. I get it. It's just dumb) and that's kind of it. Not much more to say beyond that, since it's so transparent. I suspect the historical politics of it were of less interest to the author than the prankish, look-what-I-can-do aspect, but either way it's pretty gross. I'm all for giving the canon the occasional punch on the arm, but this is just silly. There's an ISBN (2-930356-84-7) and a web site. Otherwise it's anonymous.
Perennial TCJ All-Star R. Fiore is here this morning with another spin of Funnybook Roulette. This time his topic is Michel Choquette's semi-legendary Someday Funnies. A brief excerpt:
What’s particularly striking about Someday, and what probably wouldn’t be repeated today, is the role mainstream creators play in it. Potentially you could get something very interesting from the Garth Ennis/Grant Morrison/Warren Ellis generation of big company talents working off the reservation, but I doubt it would have the same attraction. The major difference is the absence of the Comics Code. The 1960s/1970s people clearly envy the freedom the underground cartoonists have, and jump at the chance to exercise it. [...] The contributions from the mainstream world are some of the most militant and radical in the book (other than from the foreigners, for whom Marx is definitely not Groucho), and they are better prepared to do work to order than the undergrounders.
It feels like I've linked to about a million Maurice Sendak interviews during the short life of this blog, but he keeps giving them, and he's amazing at them, so I'm not going to stop now. If you didn't see his appearance on Stephen Colbert, drop everything and watch it now:
[UPDATE: Part two is up now:]
There are a lot of big-time arguments and discussions going on in the comics internet world these days, most of which we've basically ignored here due to either lack of interest or out of a possibly ill-considered disinterest in peddling gossip as news. But it isn't all petty squabbling. Jason Thompson knows his stuff, for example, and his recent essay on the dire straits facing manga publishers not only in the States but in Japan deserves attention.
There's also been a lot of argument online recently about the economic uncertainties of Western cartooning, and the impact of online piracy upon it. Heidi MacDonald has perhaps done a service by gathering a whole host of recent controversial posts on this topic, though some of the linked-to posts aren't nearly as informed or well-reasoned as Thompson's, and the comments thread that follows is a good place to avoid if you've been feeling depressed lately. The subject at hand (and the arguments on both sides) deserve fuller attention than I can devote to them this morning. That being said, people seem to enjoy a ritual flame-war teeth-gnashing effigy-burning pity-party every now and again, and maybe they should, if only for catharsis. [UPDATE: Tom Spurgeon responds to Heidi's post here.]