Welcome to Tuesday. Or as I know it, the day after Passover, when I eat bread anyway.
On the site today: Pascal Girard's Cartoonist's Diary Day 2, this time starring Joe Ollman.
Now, onto the day's headlines...
This lengthy piece on The Atlantic about book publishing since 1984 does some great history and also entombs it.
Rosebud Archives is releasing a sequence of Percy Crosby's Skippy accompanied by an expose on Crosby's sad decline, which, at least in the press materials, is positioned as a mob/political takedown of a patriotic American. Should be interesting because of Crosby's notoriously right-wing politics and, more crucially, due to his overlooked, virtuosic talent.
Man of the moment George R.R. Martin on comic books. At the NY Times. Yes, I watched Game of Thrones on Sunday night because, well, I don't know why. I think I like Richard Corben's version more (sorry, Sean!).
Robert Boyd (an upcoming contributor to this site) is curating a two-person show in Houston featuring Marc Bell and Jim Woodring. It's a rather ingenious pairing -- two drawing and narrative based fantasists, both perfectionist draftsman driven to very different results.
Over on Facebook, Jay Lynch is posting some great artifacts, including this killer 1965 collaboration with Art Spiegelman.
And in truly odd comics news, did you know about this funky conflict with Dilbert's Scott Adams? Hard to ignore, given that he/it is a cultural phenomenon. Anyhow, Adams was caught posting on various forums posing as his own biggest fan, and he's since posted a response on his own web site. Check out the Gawker article first, follow the links to Adams' pretty funny postings, and then enjoy his angry response. Good times, entertainment lovers!
Good morning. First things first: The Strand has posted video of the Comics Journal panel that was held there on April 8th, in which Dan and I asked Gary Groth and Kim Deitch various questions. Here is part one:
Parts two through four (and related Strandicon videos) can be found here.
Lots of new stuff on the site. First, the latest installment of Frank Santoro's pretty amazing Layout Workbook series went up yesterday. If you haven't been following along, and are either an artist or anyone else interested in the formal side of cartooning, I couldn't more strongly recommend going back and starting from the beginning.
This morning, Ken Parille brings us a new interview with Ivan Brunetti, whose cult classic textbook Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice has just been republished.
Finally, Pascal Girard has graciously agreed to be the latest artist to contribute a "Cartoonist's Diary" to the site, and today brings his debut post. (This is the first delivered in cartoon form.)
It's been a tough day on the New Jersey Turnpike, so let's go to other news:
Tokyopop is closing down its manga line. Not long ago, this company and others like it were sometimes pointed to as the future of comics publishing. I suppose they still might be.
Which reminds me: By way of reviewing an excellent history of Italian comics, Craig Fischer points to one of the more lackluster categories of Eisner nominations. Whether or not you agree that it makes sense to add an academic writing award, good work is definitely going overlooked.
I bet you're wondering where Tim has been since Monday? Well, I'll tell you: Sunday night I was so worn down (read: horrifically hungover) from MoCCA (read: I sell 4 food) that I called ol' Tim and begged -- begged! -- him to handle Monday, and promised in return I'd take the rest of the week. He obliged, like the gentleman he is. And so, here we are friends, it's Friday and I've made it!
Here are some things of interest:
Why do I so enjoy this blog entry by Rob Liefeld about doing layouts for Mike Mignola? Dunno. Maybe because I used to love both artists, and it somehow reminds me that they were both, as Frank might say, on the same team once. Also, I can totally see a Sammy Harkham's drawing in that last panel on the right. That bike just scooting over the ground -- that's a classic cartooning lick -- I still enjoy Mignola, but I think I liked him most in this slightly more linear, less formal period.
* Our feature image comes courtesy of Hooray for Wally Wood. Never seen this painting before, and love how clearly it's swiped from a film still, but somehow tilted just wrong... like a statue on the verge of tilting...
* I always enjoy reading what Austin English has to say, and here he is at The Panelists.
* Rob Clough rounds up some recent web comics over at his own blog, High-Low.
* Panels for Primates seems like a web-based comics project worth checking in on. It's hosted by Act-i-Vate and has thus far included Rick Geary, Rich Tommaso and Colleen Coover, among others. It's free for viewing, but meant to encourage readers to donate to Primate Rescue Center.
* Finally, head on over to 50 Watts and dig into a lengthy sequence of images by the Danish artist Palle Neilsen from his 1959 book Orfeus og Eurydike. Neilsen was profiled in TCJ 244 by our own Matthias Wivel, so look for that if you get intrigued. Apparently his 1980s North American publication, Scenario, is available via used bookstores.
*On the site today: Hayley Campbell on Winschluss's Pinocchio.
*I just hope somehow Jim Shooter gets blamed even more for this. Just because that would increase his record.
*Everyone should be tuning in to The Comics Reporter to follow the L'Assocation news, since we've yet to get it together to cover the story. It's a big one, and Tom is hosting the best English-language coverage.
*There's another new Steve Ditko book coming out: Act 8 Making Lucky 13, Thirteen, Ditko's 32s. What a streak.
Every so often we'll present an oddity that comes across our desk; this email was passed on to us by one Gary Groth, an idealistic young "comics scholar" based in a ramshackle house in Seattle.
Dear Comics Scholar:
Matt and I would like to invite your contribution to a new anthology we are editing for ABC-CLIO called Icons of the American Comic Book. The project will include 100 entries spanning the breadth of comics culture, including the characters, creators, titles, and other facets that have achieved iconic status with the American consciousness. For your contribution, we can offer you an honorarium:
* $90 for each of the entries designated to run approximately 5,000 words * $50 for each of the entries designated to run approximately 2,750 words We are looking at an initial deadline of *August 1, 2011*.
Our aim with Icons of the American Comic Book will be to provide fresh insights into the significance of some of the most widely known and fascinating popular culture icons of the 20th and 21st centuries. Each entry will discuss the iconic significance of its subject and should be both more detailed and more entertaining than the conventional encyclopedia entry. More than simply character or creator biographies, the entries will provide in-depth explorations of the icons as products of and an influence upon American culture, informed by scholarly research.
Below is our list of entries (a strikethrough indicates an entry that is already assigned). If you are interested in contributing, please let us know what your primary as well as any secondary preferences would be, but do keep in mind that we will need your initial draft(s) by Aug. 1. Along with each entry you request include *a brief statement of your qualifications* to write on the subject.
Please respond off-List to [EMAIL REDACTED]
Our publishers have stipulated that we should consider our primary audience to be students doing research. To that end, each entry must include a bibliography and one (or more) sidebars of 50-300 words each. (These considerations must be included within the word counts.)
We’re also planning to invite some guest contributors to 1) read and comment on the draft entries, 2) contribute a sidebar, or 3) even collaborate on the entry itself on several key entries. For example, comic book writer and editor Mark Waid (/Superman: Birthright/) might be enticed to act as a consultant on the Superman entry. Each guest’s role will depend on your comfort and willingness to work in such an arrangement.
Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you soon,
Randy and Matt
Entries of approximately 5,000 words
Kane, Bob (and collaborators)
Siegel, Jerry & Shuster, Joe
Entries of approximately 2,750 words
Adams, Neal American Splendor Arkham Asylum Aquaman Black Panther Blade Bone Captain Marvel Classics Illustrated Clowes, Daniel Comic-Con International Contract with God, A Crime Does Not Pay Dark Horse Ditko, Steve Doctor Doom Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers Fanboy Fantagraphics Fantastic Four Flash From Hell Green Lantern Green Lantern & Green Arrow Gonick, Larry
good girls Heavy Metal Hellboy Hulk Image Comics Iron Man Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Katy Keene Killing Joke, The Kubert, Joe Kurtzman, Harvey Lex Luthor Little Lulu Mad Magneto Maus McCloud, Scott McFarlane, Todd Milestone Comics Miller, Frank MLJ/Archie Publications Morrison, Grant Mr. Natural Palestine Plastic Man Pogo Punisher, The RAW Richie Rich Robin Romance comics
Rorschach Ross, Alex Sacco, Joe Sandman Scott Pilgrim Sheena Sin City Sgt. Rock Spawn Steranko, James Supergirl Swamp Thing Tales from the Crypt Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Thing Uncle Scrooge Warren, Jim
Watchmen Wertham, Fredric Wizard Wolverine X-Men
The jokes just write themselves here. Nothing I can write would be sillier than the list itself. Fave entry: "Bob Kane (and collaborators)". Every so often I think, "gee, books on comics could never be as bad as they used to be", and then I'm reminded that in some ways it's worse because so few people have actually learned anything. It's like parallel universes exist. The future: We are fucked. Wizard, X-Men, (whiiinne: "no Yellow Kid?") Zap. Ka-Boom.
That line, spoken by one R. Gehr, was my favorite part of MoCCA. What does it refer to? Or Who? Who cares. It's just funny on 800 levels. Heidi MacDonald covers MoCCA here. My own report will appear... now! What is there to say? Let's see... Friday night was good at the Strand and Saturday night was drunken and fun at the TCJ launch party. Many people were there, including Boss Groth, a ton of artists (including Mazzucchelli, Burns, Girard, Evans, Ollmann, G. Bell, DeStefano, Stearn, Lewis, Newgarden, G. Wilson) many of our writers (among them: Rudick, Fry, Gehr, Howe, Gazin). And etc. We thank you all for coming out. And here are some pix:
The night began, as all cartoonist parties begin, with sitting: From left: Gary Lieb, Mark Newgarden, Charles Burns, Jacq Cohen; Standing at left: Richard Gehr.
Then of course there is some talking. Here Tucker Stone explains the difference between 1982 Brian Bolland inks and 1983 Brian Bolland inks. Tim is amused by the absurdity of it all.
Gahan Wilson to Gary Groth: "This is NOT how Hef used to do it!"
Three serious men: King Features' Brendan Burford, True Chubbo's Ray Sohn, and Seventeen's Mike Reddy.
Gabrielle Bell and Peggy Burns seem happy to see me. I am relieved by this.
And an atypical ending to a cartoonist party: Brecht Evans dancing in the back. I'm told Brecht had "the flu" the next day.
During the day I sold books. Overwhelming trends seemed to be a sense of exhaustion, questions about the viability of a medium filled with young professionals with no place to go, and a decent amount of low-stakes, "networking" thrown in. EH!
Other links for you:
On Facebook: Fluid, perfect, and according to the artist, unpublished early 1970s drawings by the great Victor Moscoso make the best argument yet for getting a Facebook account. Also the best argument yet for never letting an artist control his own monograph: They always leave the best stuff out.
Good article on hidden art in animation, because we all know animation is not art. "JK."
On the site for most of you:
Sean T. Collins talks to Daniel Clowes about Mr. Wonderful; a new column by R. Fiore on Jacques Tardi and Ayn Rand.
The most recent issue of Previews announced that the 22nd issue of Fantagraphics' flagship anthology MOME would be its last. Conceived initially as an incubator of sorts for a group of youngish cartoonists by editors Gary Groth and Eric Reynolds, it quickly mutated and also became a home for short work by established cartoonists, short translated work by European cartoonists, and eventually any number of bizarre one-offs. That initialstrategy was abandoned because many of the earliest contributors, including Jeffrey Brown, David Heatley, Anders Nilsen, and Gabrielle Bell, no longer needed the exposure or this particular publishing outlet.
As contributors started dropping out of particular volumes and then the anthology altogether, it became convenient to print short works of established artists like David B, Killoffer, Jim Woodring, Lewis Trondheim, and Gilbert Sheldon. As Groth dropped out of actively editing and curating the anthology, it took on more of Reynolds' more idiosyncratic tastes, culminating in the magnificent nineteenth issue, which featured the comics of Josh Simmons, Olivier Schrauwen, T Edward Bak, Gilbert Hernandez, Tim Lane, and others. During the course of the anthology's run, Reynolds went from being in charge of Fantagraphics' publicity to becoming the company's associate publisher. I briefly spoke to him regarding his decision to end his anthology's run.
Rob Clough: Why did you choose to end MOME with #22?
Eric Reynolds: I knew I was facing the end at some point soon, I just couldn't quite decide when. At first I was thinking 25, which seemed like a good, round number. But then I kept thinking about 22: it's a personally resonant number with me. Myself, my wife, and my sister all have birthdays on a 22, and my wife and I got married on one. My daughter was due on my birthday, and although she decided to come a day early and was born on a 21st, I consider her an honorary member of the '22 Club.' Anyway, once I got that idea in my head it just felt right.
RC: Why did you feel like you were facing the end? Were sales actively dropping or were they just flat?
ER: Just flat. It was breaking even or perhaps slightly better. Gary and Kim seemed happy to let me continue because they knew it was a labor of love, but I felt like I didn't want to let it get to a point where Fantagraphics was subsidizing MOME just for the sake of it. Like I said, it just felt right to do it now. I know how many books we publish, how narrow our margins are as a company, and as much as I love MOME, my first obligation is to Fantagraphics and I felt like this was the right move, right now.
RC: Was the time investment too great for you at this point? Or was it simply a matter of burnout after doing this for five years? (Or some combination thereof?)
ER: Not quite either, really. I wasn't burned out on MOME, but I was slightly frustrated by my own inability over the last year or two to be as proactive an editor as I'd like to be. So if anything, it was that I couldn't put more time into it. If I could work full time on MOME and put it out monthly, I would love that. It has never been a huge time investment for me, as a quarterly. I was pretty conscious from the get go of creating MOME as something that I could edit and put together without it becoming too much of an investment of my time, with the relatively consistent design template and a limited editorial voice.
RC: What has been the reaction of the artists you're currently publishing?
ER: They've all been great. I don't think I could take any pride in MOME if I didn't think most of the artists enjoyed the experience. Maybe they're just being nice, but I've been very flattered by the reactions I've received.
RC: How did they react when told the anthology was ending?
ER: They seemed bummed, but happy that it lasted as long as it did. They were all very kind, that's the best way I can put it. It made me feel good.
RC: Which of the serials running in MOME do you foresee being collected by Fantagraphics?
ER: Well, hopefully most of them.
RC: What's your take on MOME's legacy?
ER: That's not for me to say. I hope it has a shelf life beyond the present, but I am in no position to say. I hope my daughter can read it one day and see what her old man was once up to.
RC:MOME really seemed to hit its stride again recently; do you regret ending it now?
ER: Ha! Well, yes and no. Doing this last issue is bittersweet, it feels like the strongest issue to date for me, and does make me second-guess myself a bit. But really, I'm pretty comfortable with the decision. It just feels like the right time.
RC: How do you compare MOME to other alt-anthologies that had significant runs, like Zap, Arcade, Weirdo, Raw, D&Q, Non, and Kramers Ergot?
ER: I don't know. It seems absurd to me to compare it to something like Zap, Arcade, Weirdo, or Kramers, which all seemed like such perfect representations of the art comic zeitgeists of their time. I'm not sure MOME ever had the sheer focus of any of those anthologies. Which is fine, but different.
MoCCA did Dan in, so I'm stepping in to deliver the news.
First, we are publishing frequent Journal contributor Matthias Wivel's first story for the new site: an in-depth interview with the French artist Fabrice Neaud. I was not previously familiar with his work, which is not easy to find in translation here, but still found this to be a fascinating conversation. We hope you will too.
In other Journal news, the panel discussion at the Strand Friday night seemed to go well, or at least well enough. It's hard to tell from the microphone side of the table. But Gary and Kim Deitch were both in fine form, and the audience seemed happy. My favorite part came the first time it was mentioned aloud that Dan and I had taken over the website, when I could have sworn I saw a giant light bulb literally appear over Kim's head—he had apparently been too good-natured to ask what we were doing there earlier.
Several people inquired beforehand about the possibility of the panel being recorded, and they should rest easy, because by my count there were at least three devices capturing the whole thing for posterity. Thanks to all of you who attended.
Elsewhere on the internet:
Drawn & Quarterly had a limited supply of Chester Brown's instantly infamous Paying for It at the MoCCA Festival, and there are already three reviews online—from Tom Spurgeon and TCJ.com contributors Chris Mautner and Sean T. Collins—all worth reading later, or now if you can't wait for the actual book. Following the reaction to Brown's book may well end up being almost as much fun as the work itself—which, incidentally, it seems like I may have enjoyed more wholeheartedly than any of these three writers. (Why do I feel creepy saying so?) Then again, I haven't needed to take a publicly stance on the more polemic aspect of the book, which is the hard part. We'll have more coverage of Brown on the site closer to the book's release date.
Bhob Stewart investigates (with a little help from Jay Lynch) the possible origins of the term "Hoo-Hah!," a bit of slang frequent readers of early Mad will remember well. Was Harvey Kurtzman influenced by T.S. Eliot? Considering the mutual admiration society Eliot set up with Groucho Marx (one of the comedian's letters to the poet can be read online), I wouldn't put it past the realm of possibility.
Finally, via Tom Scioli, I learned of a Wired article that claims to have discovered a 1953 Otto Binder article that provided the secret inspiration for every nuclear-radiation-mutated superhero from Spider-Man to the X-Men. It's not true, unfortunately—the mutant superman has been around since at least the early '30s, when a writer named John Taine wrote a whole slew of "mutational romances." And Lewis Padgett's famous "Baldy" series of the 1940s, gathered in Mutant!, featured a race of persecuted bald telepaths, and provided an obvious reference for Professor X as well. But anyway.
Finally—Not (or at least only tangentially) Comics: Over at the great film site Mubi, our own Joe McCulloch writes about Frank Miller's The Spirit and Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch. Check it out.
The great Tim Kreider turns in an editorial/essay on the state of the cartooning profession. Despite a small amount of shared territory with a recent controversial Voice story (including a particular Ted Rall joke--it is a funny line, so I see why Rall likes to use it), this piece was written before that issue of the Voice was published. Not that it matters, since they're sufficiently different, but just so you know.
Also, Rob Clough contributes a review of the international survey anthology Gazeta.
Finally, of course, any Journal readers in the New York area tonight will want to come to the Strand bookstore, to see Gary Groth and Kim Deitch in discussion with Dan and myself about the magazine's history and legacy. It starts at seven, and comes after a full day of store appearances by cartoonists such as Ben Katchor, Jillian Tamaki, Pascal Girard, and Dash Shaw.
The 2011 Eisner Award nominations have been announced. It's going to take a little time to absorb the whole thing; there are definitely some good and deserving nominees in there, but a few surprising oversights as well. That's par for the course with awards all over, of course, but in comics, the whole thing sometimes seems especially perverse. More on this later, I am sure.
In news of more lasting importance, Bart Beaty sums up the latest state of the troubles at L'Association. Highly recommended.
Also on the Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon reflects further on the Voice non-payment issue.