A Glass House & a Pile of Rocks

Today, we've got Sean T. Collins reviewing Matthew Thurber's 1-800-Mice, a book he told me he had expected to dislike. But, like a certain special Somebody whose birthday is coming up, Thurber rarely plays to expectations, and certainly didn't in this case.


The L.A. Weekly talks to Ben Jones, of Paper Rad and Problem Solverz fame, regarding his new gallery show. He's into old video games, it seems.

Tintinologist Michael Farr picks five titles he'd suggest to people interested in the character. And only two of them were written by Hergé.

I didn't know until Alan Gardner pointed it out yesterday, but Lynn (For Better or Worse) Johnson has been posting a long series of video podcasts, often involving advice on making comic strips and the creative process.

Robin McConnell of Inkstuds has published the full-length transcript of his great interview with Geof Darrow from last winter. If you never listened to that (or even if you did) this is worth checking out. Darrow's a unique figure. And it's always rewarding to read written-out versions of old radio programs. It's the way they were meant to be experienced. (I love you, Robin.)

Tucker Stone reviews a very early issue of The Comics Journal (#38, to be exact), and it's really smart, and good good fun for longtime Journal fans (or foes). My favorite part is where Tucker claims not to enjoy it when "critics criticize other critics," right in the middle of a lengthy post reviewing almost every page of criticism in a 33-year-old issue of TCJ. Maybe he just doesn't like it when the other critics might argue back... Seriously, this is great, and I hope he writes a hundred more like it. (I love you, Tucker.)

Matt Seneca has posted the last two days of his multi-part interview with cartoonist and would-be provocateur Blaise Larmee. These are smart guys (Seneca's easily the best under-30 comics critic I can think of), and it's worth reading, but by this point in the series, I'm beginning to get tired of the constant back-and-forth about whether or not comics are "cool"—especially since they seem to mean the word in the Fonzie sense, not the Marshall McLuhan one. I mean, imagine that Hitchcock and Truffaut (whose famous interview book I'm guessing is being referenced with "Larmee/Seneca") had spent half their time together talking about whether or not movies were cool. But when Matt and Larmee's talk veers in less conventionally teenaged directions, it gets much more interesting. (I love you, Matt.)

When I first came across Tom Spurgeon's annual Holiday shopping guide a week back, it was completely blank, and apparently had been posted without having been written. And so I forgot to go back and check to see if "Mr. Focus" ever decided to write it. Turns out he eventually did, and it's as mind-bogglingly wide-ranging as ever. I don't really give comics-related gifts to anyone (my family and friends are too cool to be into comics), but this is still a great read every year, listing plenty of obscure and/or overlooked material, whether or not you use the guide for its ostensible purpose. (I love you, Tom.)


Escaping Chilliwack

And here we go:

On the site today Sean T. Collins continues his column and introduces Noel Freibert, of Closed Caption Comics and numerous other crews. It's been fun watching Noel develop his work these last buncha years.

Elsewhere in the web-verse:

I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that this weekend is the big damn Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, which I co-organize with Desert Island & Bill Kartalopolous. And speaking of which the legendary (I know, overused, but actually apt this time) Jack Davis will be interviewed by Gary Groth tonight at The Strand, 7 pm. Then he'll have an art opening at Scott Eder Gallery on Friday, and on Saturday will be at the Fest. Davis takes NYC!

Just a few other links today, as it seemed a slow news moment or something. I found this list of Dr. Doom stories endearing. And, well, let's go less links and more, "here's some interesting stuff coming up": This anthology looks good, and features work from personal fave Megan Kelso and TCJ writer Katie Haegele, too. Evan Dorkin announced yesterday that he's going to be producing new work for Dark Horse Presents. I always like seeing Evan's work, and am psyched to see his Mike and Cheese collection, too. Finally, straight outta Canada, Marc Bell compatriots Shayne Ehman and Seth Scriver are working on an animated film called Asphalt Watches and need some funding. Marc talked about the scene they're all a part of in yesterday's interview. Shayne and Seth say:

In 2000, we hitchhiked across Canada together. The animation captures our crazy journey, full of hilarious and amazing encounters. Using music and songs we make ourselves, alongside hand-drawn Flash animation, we tell the tale of making our way from a 7-11 near Chilliwack BC where a guy was hanging out with a knife in his belly... to meeting one of only "two real Santas" in the world outside Calgary... to barely escaping death near Regina SK. Our style is to turn real-life characters and settings into funny and poetic abstractions that depict the feeling and essence of what happened.

Sounds good to me! Anyhooooo, below is a preview. See ya this weekend, New Yorkers.


The Not-So-Great Game

We got a nice one for you today, Dan's interview with Mr. Hot Potatoe himself, Marc Bell. Here's an excerpt:

Sometimes I look at a work and won’t be too interested. The way I will respond is, “Well, they needed to throw a wrench in it.” They need to throw a wrench into what they’re doing, and maybe it would come out more interesting. The thing that I liked about doing collaborations is that someone is interfering with what you’re doing. I’ll be drawing something and then someone adds to it or they take it in a different direction or because it’s a different person, it’s kind of an interference. So I think that led me to try to interfere with myself in the way I’m working, like with drawing and collages and stuff, trying to create something more interesting by creating a bit of a problem that has to be solved.

Also on the site, Rob Clough reviews Melissa Mendes's Freddy Stories.

Elsewhere, there are a lot of links, too many for any one person to read in one day. You will have to pick and choose. I will try to help you decide when I can.

Dept. of Drug Abuse. Everyone will want to read Justin Green's thoughts on marijuana—comic strip included.

Dept. of Process & Comics History.
Adrian Tomine talked to Comic Book Resources about the latest issue of Optic Nerve, an abandoned graphic novel, and learning to accept classic comic-strip techniques as valid for his own work.

Blaise Larmee continues to make gnomic replies to Matt Seneca's questions in days two and three of their week's worth of interviews. On Monday I said that this discussion would be catnip to some and provoke blank stares from others. Today, I have to admit that I have had both reactions to the talk, often within the space of a few sentences.

Dept. of Cartoonists on Video.
Kate Beaton appeared on another Canadian internet video thing, and Drew Friedman showed somebody who calls himself "Mr. Media" how he draws. (I know I referred to Mr. Media the same way the last time I mentioned him, but it's really hard not to be surprised all over again every time I am reminded.)

Dept. of Grant Morrison Worship. Grant Morrison maniacs who haven't slavishly departed from the premises after he tried to pull a Pearl Harbor on us last summer will be interested in two Marc Singer-related items. Singer of course is a formerly very active comics blogger and academic who is now releasing a book called Grant Morrison: Combining the Worlds of Contemporary Comics. The Mindless Ones interview Singer at length about the book here, and Singer himself excerpts a section on his own site.

For those who aren't yet Morrison maniacs but want to become one for some reason, Chris Mautner provides a guide to his entire oeuvre.

Dept. of Alan Moore Talking at Length.
Moore talked to Fast Company about Harvey Pekar here (Top Shelf has more on the Moore/Pekar relationship), and his recent interview with The Independent has been republished entirely uncut here.

Dept. of Speaking of Uncut... Fantagraphics has published the complete R.C. Harvey essay on Pogo that was far too long to include in its entirety between the two covers of their recent Pogo collection (at least without losing some of the strip).

Dept. of Comics Internet Bashing. Tucker Stone goes on a tear near the end there, while Jones (O.O.T.J.B.) keeps things short and sweet.

Dept. of Pleasant Surprises.
I'm going to steer clear of the comments thread underneath it so as not to ruin things, but Noah Berlatsky's review of Ben Saunder's Do Gods Wear Capes? is really good!


It’s Today

Indeed it is. And like every Tuesday for the rest of your life, Joe McCulloch is telling you about this week in comics releases. He does this not because he wants to. No, he does it because he needs to. He can't help him. Joe is a great human comic reading machine.

Elsewhere in the comics world: Our own Frank Santoro, currently en route to NYC via the great Amtrak network, has announced another session of his comics correspondence course for March 2012. It's go time. Speaking of Frank, this blog seems plucked from his brain once upon a time. A chronicle of shitty 80s genre comics. Gotta love them. I know I do. You know else does? Jim Rugg. He has some fine holiday gift suggestions on his own blog! And James Romberger looks at Alex Toth's classic genre work of the 50s.

Some other fun things I've tripped over. Thanks to JH, I now can anticipate Dave Sim's next book. I remember Tim gave me Sim's collected letters (vol. 1) for my 30th birthday. I forgave him eventually, and now hope ol man Hodler will give me this tome for... Halloween 2012? Hanukah?

Finally, the great Spanish cartoonist Max has an exhibition up in Mexico. I love Max's transformation from new wave 80s dude to classic form-based artist these days.


Talking Turkey

Hello everyone, and I hope all our US readers survived the feasting and family. First up today comes a feature article on something you most likely weren't expecting to read about: Now You're Logging, an early graphic novel on the Canadian logging industry created by an outdoorsman and self-taught cartoonist. Brad Mackay has more.

And Frank Santoro's regular column plays host to Jacob Berendes's scene report from Providence, Rhode Island.


In anticipation of his on-stage interview with Mad legend Jack Davis this weekend, Drew Friedman presents an online gallery of the artist's work.

The Guardian, which seems to really be saturating their culture section with comics coverage lately, has two stories about comics and Occupy Wall Street: First, a not entirely coherent (but not necessarily wrong) essay by Ice Storm novelist Rick Moody, linking Frank Miller's work and political commentary to Hollywood propaganda, and second, a really surprisingly good short interview with Alan Moore about the prevalence of V for Vendetta masks at Occupy protests. (The enjoyability of the piece may be linked to the fact that he isn't asked for the five-millionth time to give his take on movies made from his books and/or current superhero comics.)

Here are outtakes from a profile of underground comics hero Spain Rodriguez.

Chip Kidd reviews a book about the Joker for the Wall Street Journal (and in a sidebar, gives a short list of his favorite books about Golden Age comics).

And finally, this will be catnip for some and provoke blank stares from others: Matt Seneca has just posted the first of a week's worth of posts reprinting an online conversation with the Young Lions cartoonist and internet personality Blaise Larmee.


Break Time

Well, it's almost that time and so we're taking a break. That's right, you won't have us to kick around or complain about for 4 whole days! Posting will resume, with a long sigh, on Monday November 28th.

Until then, "friends", we leave you with a fine interview with Anders Nilsen, as conducted by Hayley Campbell. Starting with his London tour stop, Hayley takes us through Anders' working process and then has him reflect on Big Questions as it happened via each cover of the series. And Sean T. Collins turns in a review of the latest installment of the always hilarious Tales Designed to Thrizzle.

Otherwise, well, I liked this analysis of Jack Cole's Playboy comics. No analysis needed of this awesome new Drew Friedman print.  I went to LA last week, but Chris Oliveros was there the week before me, and lived to tell the tale. And if he doesn't find LA, LA is gonna fine him. Ben Marra's Night Business is back for another issue. Finally, sending you off, Lisa Hanawalt's excellent Thanksgiving NY Times cartoon. Old medication. Perfect.

See you next week. Have a great holiday!



It's Tuesday, which means it's time for another edition of Joe McCulloch's This Week in Comics. In this installment, he starts things off with a mini-essay on a recent 2000 AD serial (in Judge Dredd Magazine, to be precise), Pat Mills and Clint Langley's American Reaper.

We also have a new webcomics column from Shaenon Garrity, an introduction to the works of longtime webcartoonist (and creator of Bruno, Little Dee, and Spacetrawler) Christopher Baldwin.

And Rob Clough reviews the comic book that's taken a lot of people by surprise this year, Ethan Rilly's Pope Hats #2.

Elsewhere on the internet:

1. Tom Spurgeon interviews Rich Tomasso, primarily about his (excellent) coloring for the new Carl Barks Library, but also covering his own recent cartooning.

2. In a terrific post, Paul Tumey and Frank Young gather a handful of examples of classic comic-book artists putting versions of themselves into their work, including Sheldon Mayer, Jack Cole, and Simon & Kirby.

3. Bob Layton announced on Facebook that the corporate atmosphere at Marvel has gotten so pervasive that he can no longer work for the company.

4. Evan Dorkin talks to the SF Weekly to promote his new Milk & Cheese collection.

5. Somehow I missed that Rick Altergott had started a new webcomic for Vice! As far as I am concerned, this is the big news of 2011 so far, folks.

6. Brad Mackay has an extensive obituary of Alvin Schwartz, the complicated man and comic-book writer who created Bizarro.

7. Book designer Peter Mendelsund has posted part two of his illustrated essay on the covers of Lolita that I linked to a while back.

8. Finally, I don't really know what this means, but since this recent bit of Occupy Wall Street-affiliated protest art features three cartoon characters, I figured I'd link to it and let you decide for yourselves.


Week’s Beginning

As you may have read elsewhere, cartoonists Tom Hart and Leela Corman's young daughter, Rosalie Lightning, passed away last week. Tom and Leela's friends have created a fund for " to help with everything Tom and Leela are facing in this terrible situation.  Just to be clear, this is not an ongoing charitable foundation; it is a bunch of Tom and Leela’s friends passing the cup around to help them surmount the short-term challenges arising from this tragedy." Jon Lewis provides more context here. The link to the paypal link is here. Tim and I ask that you please consider donating to the fund.

Anyhow, on the site now:

Frank Santoro recruited Tom K. to write a scene report on Minneapolis

Jason Leivian reviews the roll playing game Cave Evil

Craig Fischer returns with a new installment of his column, this time focusing on... focus.

And elsewhere:

-A nifty profile of Spain Rodriguez.

-A memoir of Joel Beck by our frequent Roger Brand commenter, Tom Conroy.

-Oft-told but now with a new wrinkle: When Roy Lichtenstein "met" William Overgard.

-Ed Wood sleaze paperbacks!