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Frank’s back from France with a full report on all-things Frank and France and such matters.

Elsewhere in our little confined internet space:

Mike Dawson (come back to us, Mike) and Alex Robinson posted their final Ink Panthers episode.

Alex Dueben interviews Jed McGowan.

Mike Vosburg remembers working with Howard Chaykin.

This New Yorker article about Amazon.com is a must-read for those of us that are in the book business.

Comics Alliance announced the results of its Reader Choice Awards.

And hey, Modesty Blaise!

 

 

 

Brilliant Disguise

Today we introduce new contributor Greg Hunter and his review of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman: Death of the Family, in which he finds the critical response to the comic nearly as disturbing as the book itself:

Since at least Fredric Wertham’s accusation that the Caped Crusader and his Boy Wonder were sleeping together, Batman stories have lent themselves to queer readings. In interviews at the start of Grant Morrison’s multi-title Batman run, the writer even teased “the gay Batman” as an aspect of the series he hoped to revive. Perhaps Snyder sought to explore this feature of the character with the best intentions. But Death of the Family is more reactionary than radical, and Snyder has been the beneficiary of low expectations in the comics press.

The culture of superhero comics encourages repetition; Marvel and DC creators recycle tropes, story structures, and approaches to characterization. Inasmuch as readers approach these comics with certain expectations—to see the last-minute return of a believed-dead hero, the dissolution and reunion of a superteam, etc—this isn’t necessarily a problem. It’s something of a social compact. But the traditionalist character of these comics means creators often recycle the comics’ worst elements too. And in the case of Snyder and Capullo’s Joker, the comics press has signed off on this recycling process.

Elsewhere:

—Interviews.
David Brothers has taken over the Inkstuds podcast for the month of February, and has already posted three interviews, with cartoonists Jimmy Robinson and Whitney Taylor, and the scholar Qiana Whitted. A podcast called the Artist as Entrepreneur has posted an interview with publisher Annie Koyama.

—Reviews & Commentary. Impossible Books has a fun mini-appreciation of Laura Park. Bob Heer reviews the new collection of Alan Moore & Steve Parkhouse’s BoJeffries Saga.

—Funnies.
The New Yorker has a longish preview of Jules Feiffer’s upcoming graphic novel, Kill My Mother. This Noelle Stevenson comic on Tumblr about why she doesn’t like to shop at comics stores has struck a nerve. Evan Dorkin celebrates the comics press.

—News. Garry Trudeau is going on another Doonesbury hiatus, this time to work on his television show Alpha House. Tom Spurgeon has an obituary of Cambodian cartoonist Ung Bun Heang. Hic & Hoc has announced its 2014 lineup. The Autoptic Festival has announced its 2015 date.

—A/V. Charles Schulz gave a speech at UCLA in 1971 (via):

And here is the awards ceremony from this year’s Angoulême. American comics awards aren’t like this. Several English-language creators pop up, including presenter Dash Shaw, whose Tumblr I found this at.

 

Going Dark

It’s a new week of comics and Joe McCulloch will tell you about them, along with other things!

On the internet place:

Missed this, or maybe it’s new: A crowd-sourced list of friendly comic book stores. And a story of an unfriendly comic book store.

There’s a lot to look at in this photo of Charles Burns’ drawing table.

Roz Chast has updated her website, including these awesome textiles.

Jay Lynch pointed out this original art written by Lynch and Art Spiegelman.

A fascinating piece on early anime by Fred Patten.

 

 

 

Words and Pictures

Today, we present the great comics historian R. C. Harvey, and his obituary for the late Wee Pals creator, Morrie Turner. Here’s an excerpt:

Morrie met Charles Schulz at a gathering of California cartoonists, and they became friends. The civil rights movement was gathering momentum with sit-ins and marches in the South, and once while they were having lunch, Morrie asked Schulz why he didn’t have any black kids in Peanuts, and Schulz told Morrie he should create his own.

“I couldn’t participate in the marches in the South, and I felt I should,” Morrie later told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I was working and had a wife and kid. So I decided I would have my say with my pen.”

Right about then, Dick Gregory, comedian cum civil rights activist, came along and gave Morrie another nudge.

In 1962, Gregory had published a memoir, From the Back of the Bus, about his crusading adventures. (“Segregation is not all bad. Ever hear of a collision where the people in the back of the bus got hurt?”) The comedian was working on a continuation of this literary venture, a more overt autobiography, which in 1964 he would entitle Nigger (so that every time his mother hears the word, Gregory explained, she’d know her son’s book was being discussed and promoted). And a friend brought Gregory around to Morrie’s place to meet the cartoonist. The two spent the day “rapping” (as Morrie put it), and Gregory suggested that Morrie illustrate his book with cartoons and comic strips.

“It wasn’t the kind of cartoon that I was drawing then,” Morrie remembered when I talked at length with him last spring. “At the time,” he said, “I was doing all right with industrial cartoons. They weren’t making a lot of money, but I was having a lot of fun. Gregory wanted me to do some cartoons that related to black people, and I liked the idea because it was me. All the drawings and cartoons I’d done up to that point were not really me. They were something foreign to me. I would create cartoons about golf, but I knew nothing about golf. Never played the game at all. And medical cartoons, doctors, dentists—not me.”

The cartoons Morrie did for black magazines and newspapers like the Chicago Defender were more to his liking. “Some were very close to being editorial cartoons—very close,” Morrie said, “—but they were not. They were humorous, funny, and then I realized they were funny because they were editorial cartoons.”

But they still weren’t Morrie. Gregory’s proposal, which eventually came to nothing, started Morrie thinking. And just about then, Charlie Brown appeared in a Civil War cap. Morrie pondered: what if Charlie Brown were Black? And what if the cap were a Confederate cap? “Now that,” wrote Tom Carter in the Cartoon Club Newsletter, “was indeed a laugh—a child so naive he could sweep away generations of ill will with one innocent, ironic gesture.”


Elsewhere:


—Reviews & Commentary.
Nicholas Theisen has an interesting academic response to Hannah Miodrag’s Comics and Language. Dan Kois writes at length about Michel Rabagliati’s Paul comics. Bob Heer talks about Preacher, Omaha the Cat Dancer, Stokoe’s Godzilla, and Tom Gauld. Christopher Stigliano on Charles Rodrigues’s Ray and Joe. Shea Hennum reviews Dash Shaw’s New Jobs.

—News. Tom Spurgeon reports that DC no longer retains the media rights to Preacher, for which there was just announced a major television adaptation. He also has published his own Morrie Turner obituary. The Billy Ireland library has announced two big shows starting next month, featuring original art by Bill Watterson and Richard Thompson. Slate and CCS have announced the nominations to their annual Cartoonist Studio Prize. Brian Cremins reports back from a Samuel R. Delany appearance supporting Bread & Wine, the graphic memoir he created with Mia Wolff.

—Misc. Chris Ware was among the writers the New York Times asked to share the literature that taught them bout love. Occasional TCJ contributor Sean Michael Robinson got involved in a complicated, protracted discussion on a Cerebus printing snafu.

 

Moving Day

Today on the site:

Rob Clough on Matthew Thurber’s INFOMANIACS, which was my very last book via PictureBox.

Matthew Thurber’s INFOMANIACS is my choice for best comic of 2013. Thurber is perhaps the funniest cartoonist working today, though in more of a narrative sense rather than the gag-built work of cartoonists like Michael Kupperman, Lisa Hanawalt and Sam Henderson. That said, INFOMANIACS has a looser and sillier structure than his previous book, 1-800-MICE. The latter book, originally published in comics form, had the narrative structure of a serial, with multiple and intersecting plots that were pulled together ever tighter as the story went along. INFOMANIACS begins as a mostly improvised web comic, and its page-to-page structure reveals how Thurber tries to end each page or every couple of pages with a definitive gag and punchline. Thurber uses visual gags to some degree (simply the way he draws his characters is amusing), but he loves diving into puns, bon mots, and clever references that still manage to resonate with the story’s themes. Both books use deadpan descriptions of absurd ideas rooted in science and medicine. And while INFOMANIACS has the feel of a shaggy dog story (it doesn’t so much end as it just stops), it nevertheless gives a thorough airing of all the various aesthetic, cultural and political critiques that resonate throughout Thurber’s work.

Elsewhere:

Ng Suat Tong brings us the best online comics criticism of 2013.

Henriette Valium comics in Macedonian via Last Gasp.

Classic Mad covers by Norman Mingo.

Preacher is coming to television with a good team behind it.

Finally, Matt Madden and Jessica Abel’s photos from Angouleme.

 

Sure

Today we present the second part of my interview with the great Tim Hensley. This time, he talks a lot more about comics in general, as well as his own Wally Gropius, closed captioning, Alfred Hitchcock, serialization, and his latest project.

[Hensley:] You know, actually in general, a lot of times if I get confused about the process of writing something, I’m more interested in somebody who’s a novelist than reading about a cartoonist’s process, because at least with a novelist they’re used to the idea of failure and something that takes a long time [laughs]. Sometimes with comics they just wanna say like, oh, I’m prolific and there’s a lot of things, and everything’s going well.

[Hodler:] It’s interesting you say that because I feel like the prevailing stereotype these days about cartoonists is that they’re all, you know, lonely…

Like a self-loathing kind of thing, you mean?

Yeah, I feel like that’s normally what people say about modern cartoonists, that that’s the image that’s promulgated.

But that’s considered more what their expression is or what their work is about, more than it’s not that there’s a small amount of it [laughter]. You know, like, Joe Matt seems prolific to me.

It’s been a long time since Spent came out.

I’ve seen him around the city in the past and he said he was working on more comics.

Oh, that’s good.

Sometimes it seems likes he’s bragging that he’s not working. I don’t really know him at all.

I don’t know him well either but he does seem to make fun of himself in his comics, and get joy out of making himself look as bad as possible.

Yeah, I admire that [laughter].


Elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. For Open Letters Monthly, Joanna Scutts reviews Joe Sacco’s The Great War. Samantha Meier looks at the feminist context of Wimmen’s Comix.

—Interviews. J. Caleb Mozzocco talks to Michael DeForge about his new Ant Colony. On the anniversary of what would have been William S. Burroughs’s 100th birthday, James Reich talks to his artistic collaborator Malcolm Mc Neill.

—News. Chester Gould’s family has donated a collection of original Dick Tracy-related art to the Billy Ireland library. Also, Koyama Press has announced its fall 2014 lineup, including books by Renee French, Patrick Kyle, and Michael DeForge.

 

Back to the Snow

I left Tim home alone and came back to a buncha snow. L.A. remains my favorite city in these United States. I had a ball. Also, it’s warm there.

Today on the site, Graham Kolbeins premiers a short film about Edie Fake.

Rad-Queers-Edie-Fake02-1

The Chester Gould archive has been donated to Ohio State.

Lots of talking links today: Sean Howe speaks to The Nerdist. Evan Dorkin on Super Live Adventure. Paste interviews Matt Fraction.

Bob Fingerman previews an upcoming issue of Minimum Wage. Michael Cavna reviews Ant Colony.

 

Almost There

Tuesday means Joe McCulloch and his weekly guide to the most intriguing-looking new releases available through the comics direct market—plus, if you’re lucky, an enthusiastic mini-essay about a semi-obscure piece of comics history.

Elsewhere:

—Podcasts. For the 500th episode of Inkstuds, and Frank Santoro, Brandon Graham, and David Brothers are guests. Also, Gil Roth interviews comics historian/curator/etc. Paul Gravett.

—Misc. A fifth Paul Karasik report from Angoulême. Tim O’Shea selects and presents some pages from Dustin Harbin’s sketchbook. Dark Horse’s announcement of a volume to raise medical funds for Stan Sakai and his family reminded me that it’s probably not a bad idea to remind people about the ongoing CAPS-sponsored fundraiser for the same purpose.

—Archives.
And you might also be interested to know that in the past few weeks, two more years of TCJ back issues have been added to our online archives, which you can now subscribe to through a digital subscription.