TG, etc.

Well ok, it's Friday. So here we are

Kim Deitch weighs in with Part 4 of his memoir, this one focusing on rock 'n roll.

And elsewhere:

-Pal Mike Reddy is posting nifty daily drawings on Annals of Americus. The link will take you to the index -- click on each entry to read a short story based on one of Mike's humorous dystopian images.

-Eddie Campbell continues his explorations into definitions and Spanish comics.

-It's always good to see new work from Frank Young and David Lasky -- they've announced a new graphic novel called Oregon Trail: The Road of Destiny, coming out this Fall.

-And TCJ-contributor Matt Seneca has a fun link dump, including scans of a rare English-language interview with Liberatore.


July Continues

R. Fiore's Funnybook Roulette returns, with a classic-style roundup of reviews of recent-ish comics by Winshluss, Jean-Claude Carrierre, Pascal Girard, Jason Shiga, and Jeffrey Brown, among others. A sample:

No fair observer would deny that it takes more than one book to fully explore the absurdity of the Transformers concept.

We also bring you Katie Haegele's review of It Is Almost That, an anthology of text-driven artworks (& art-driven texts) created by female artists. It begins:

It Is Almost That is not an anthology of comics. In fact, most of the work in the collection has no narrative in any traditional sense. But the 26 works collected here all use words and visual art and combine them, in some way, to tell a story. As editor Lisa Pearson writes in her afterword, “…texts do not always appear on pristine white fields; images are not illustrative and language does not explain; stories do not unfold in predictable ways—and yet every page is meant to be read.”


Hairy Green Eyeball brings jpegs of Wally Wood parodies of comic strips from Mad.

Finally, Darryl Ayo voices a frequently heard complaint about the unsatisfactory nature of many comics when read as individual issues. It's difficult not to sympathize.

Two things come to mind in reaction to this. 1: DC recently (sort of) announced that they were going to start addressing the issue, by no longer padding out stories with filler to bring them up to collection-length. We'll see if that actually happens. Padding may be a hard habit to break.

And 2: In an interview conducted by Matt Zoller Seitz, David Simon (co-creator of The Wire and Treme) responds to similar complaints about the perceived unsatisfactoriness of Treme episodes, and how that show's writing staff writes with the eventual DVD set in mind, not weekly viewers:

The measure that I care about is not the episodic. I just don't care about evaluating these things by episodes. It's like I'm building a house, and you're telling me, "I really like the stairwell, but I don't like the balustrade." Well, great, thanks, y'know? What do you think of the house? When you get to the end [of a season], did it feel like she got where she was supposed to go, and that she really experienced these eight months as an ordinary human being would? That's the real challenge, because film is a shorthand for everything.

[...] I don't care about the thrills you get in every episode. I want it to be resonant at the end, in a cumulative way. Eric feels the same way. We feel we're writing a singular, elemental thing.


[We're] writing the show for people who have a complete season DVD set in front of them, or who are watching the show via HBO On Demand, or who can otherwise absorb it all as a piece, and watch [the episodes] all in a row.

That being said, every Treme episode I've seen contains an enormous amount of narrative detail in comparison to your average issue of Flashpoint, so keep in mind that by bringing these two together, I'm comparing apples to ham sandwiches.


Summer Heat

Today on the site:

Mike Dawson's TCJ Talkies with Bob Fingerman.

-Chris Mautner reviews Lucille.

And around the spinning internet globe:

-Hayley Campbell wrote in to note that the great London comic book store Gosh! is moving after 25 years in the same spot, and too a bigger location, to boot, which the store is celebrating with some killer sounding events.

-Cartoonist Tim Hensley is putting elderly videos and music on his Tumblr. This is a must.

-Evan Dorkin discusses the process of securing a film version of his and Jill Thompson's Beasts of Burden.

-I'm not sure what this is, but it seems intriguing.


Back to Work

We're salving our fireworks wounds and recovering from a very long day in traffic this morning, so time is tight, but we've got some new content for you, too.

Chris Randle interviews the illustrator and Skim artist, Jillian Tamaki.

Frank Santoro gets a bit more informal in his latest column on color.

Joe McCulloch delivers his always invaluable column on the week in new comics.


Chris Mautner's written another solid entry in his recurring Comics College feature, this time on the most essential cartoonist of them all, George Herriman. I endorse Mautner's recommendations on this one.

The New York Times came up with the bright idea of commissioning the famous activist and former sex worker Annie Sprinkles to review Paying for It. It's a fun, short read, but more interesting for sociological reasons than as a piece of criticism.

And finally, the nominations for this year's Harvey Awards have been announced.


The Longest Weekend

Okay, just like most of you, our pick-up trucks are all loaded with watermelon, Weber grills, and illegal fireworks, and we're ready to head out to parts unknown to celebrate the birth of a nation, but we've got a few more items for you to read first. Independence Day means that we won't be publishing on Monday, but that's good news really, because if you didn't notice, this week was really packed with great reading material. Use the extra day to catch up on whatever you missed. (And tune in to WKCR's annual all-day Armstrong festival for a soundtrack.)

This morning, our columnist R.C. Harvey offers a retort to the video re his Milton Caniff book that I posted a while back. Whatever controversy may still linger over its funniness or lack thereof, I can now feel confident that publicizing that video had at least one positive result. By the way, Dan wants to report that for the record, he has read the entire book: "It is very long, yet also very awesome."

Dan wrote the other piece we have for you today, a review of one of the most anticipated books of the year, Peter Maresca's latest oversize reprint anthology, Forgotten Fantasy: Sunday Comics 1900-1915. I can not wait to see this one.

On a sadder note, Thierry Martens, comics historian and former editor of Spirou, has passed away at the age of 69. Kim Thompson offers tribute.


The Asterix/brain injury controversy isn't going anywhere! Jeff Albertson goes into great detail on the subject over at the Comics Grid. Actually, he provides some valuable context, and a needed reminder that whenever the media hypes up a scientific or academic study, there's a very good chance there's some serious misrepresentation going on.

Apparently, the Favorites zine, edited by the great Craig Fischer, and intended to raise money for Parkinson's research on behalf of Team Cul De Sac, is now available for sale. Among its authors are several Journal favorites, including Rob Clough, Jeet Heer, Chris Mautner, Joe McCulloch, Frank Santoro, and Matthias Wivel.

And finally, Johanna Draper Carlson reports that Friends of Lulu is no more.


Thierry Martens, R.I.P.

Fellow cartoonist Tibet borrowed Thierry Martens's distinctive look (and physique) for the villain in this "Ric Hochet" adventure.

I just read that Thierry Martens has died, at far too early an age: 69.

Martens was the first comics professional who was nice to me. He was the editor-in-chief of Spirou magazine during the time when I was reading it, and more than once he replied to my long, rambling, fannishly opinionated letters to the editor with long, friendly letters of his own. (Which was more than Stan Lee ever did. Or Roy Thomas, even.) I'm pretty sure I still have them somewhere. Perhaps he was intrigued by the oddness of an American Spirou reader who wrote him in flawless French. Or maybe he realized he was dealing with a kindred spirit. Little did he know that 40 years later I'd be publishing some of "his" cartoonists, such as Tillieux and Macherot.

No one would claim that Martens's reign over Spirou (1968-1978) represented the magazine's true peak -- that distinction would belong to Yvan Delporte, who preceded him and oversaw Spirou's genuine Golden Age -- but as a teenager with a choice among Spirou and the other Franco-Belgian weeklies, Spirou is the one I stuck with... so that ought to count for something. I think that within the limitations of that decade, as Spirou's great first-generation cartoonists tuckered out or moved on, to be replaced by inevitably lesser later generations, and as the Asterix-driven Pilote magazine became the standard-bearer in the field, and as weekly comics magazines in general began their irrevocable spiral into irrelevancy, Martens did about as good a job as anyone could have. And he clearly cared, and worked his ass off. Those are not bad qualities to be remembered for, especially if you get to add in "nice guy."

Cementing his status as one of the good guys, Martens was also a tireless comics historian and archivist, and Spirou's frequent forays into classic reprints and cartoonist biographies (which certainly fueled my own early passion for such things) can all be directly credited to him.

Rest in peace, Monsieur Martens.



In our ongoing attempt to shut down your brains with the sheer force of our content, we bring you yet more STUFF.

*Kim Deitch checks in with Part 3 of his memoir, this time covering the advent of television, some of his favorite programs, and a bit about music. If you aren't reading this you are seriously missing out. Living legend, this guy.

*And Rob Clough delivers a thoughtful take on the work of Dave Kiersh.

On a personal note, kind readers, thanks to Tim (thanks meaning he once sold me the book for a buck) I have begun reading Michael Moorcock's Elric saga in the order Moorcock arranged the stories a decade ago. I'm into it, people. I feel I might be going in deep on this one. The quantity of ideas and images he's tossing out is pretty wonderful, as is the implicit meta-narrative of satire and the decline of the 20th century. I hit upon the stuff after years of reading it referenced by Moore, Simonson, etc. And it's been a total treat. Reading it after my recent Moebius jag is also satisfying, as Moebius has a similarly fevered psychedelic imagination rooted in late 1960s counterculture and straight-up pulps.

Also: A no-prize to anyone who can actually describe what's in (like "all drawings, no text" or "super long comic in French" or "a retelling of the Gospel of Mark") the Moebius books Jog mentioned on Tuesday. Help us try to understand!

And, as we say, "elsewhere":

-I am bummed that Tom Spurgeon is taking some time off from The Comics Reporter, but wish him a happy and relaxing time away from the world of the comics internet.

-Craig Fischer has an excellent piece up at The Panelists about his own shifting views of Gene Colan's artwork.

-For Frank: The story of one man's Trevor Von Eeden commission.

-And from pal Joshua Glenn comes this announcement:

HiLobrow is running a five-part series by Rob Steibel (who writes the Kirby Dynamics blog for the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center). The series takes a close look at the original artwork — and the margin notes by Kirby and Lee — from a single June 1967 Fantastic Four page. It's a lot of fun to read these panels over Rob's shoulder, and to compare them with the published panels. This exercise offers deep insights into the Kirby-Lee collaboration, and Rob is scrupulously fair to both parties.

The series thus far has been excellent. Go check it out.


Not That Far From Paradise

Today, we present our final preview for the upcoming issue 301 of The Comics Journal, a brief excerpt from Gary Groth's interview with Robert Crumb, mostly concerned with his Genesis.

We also have Sean Michael Robinson's review of Shigeru Mizuki's Onward to Our Noble Deaths. I really liked this book.


Jeet Heer reviews Ben Katchor's latest for the new Los Angeles Review of Books. Recommended all around.

In lieu of Dapper Dan's missing Green Lantern review, I point you towards another critique of the film written by our own Joe McCulloch—and, uh, he seems less than impressed!

Two creator podcast interviews possibly worth noting: one with the inimitable Eddie Cambpell, and the other with Grant Morrison. I haven't listened to either of these yet, but plan to do so over the holiday weekend. Campbell is on any thinking person's short list of great comics talkers, and would probably be fun to listen to even if interviewed about his thoughts on dog grooming. Grant Morrison, on the other hand, is not entirely my cup of Kool-Aid, but in this one, he's interviewed by the Mindless Ones, whose enthusiasm for the man and his work is dangerously contagious.

We don't comment too often on DC and Marvel scheduling mishaps in this space (mostly because 95% of the rest of the comics internet seems devoted to nothing else), but every once in a while one of them makes a mistake so funny it's impossible to look away. Chris Butcher explains.

Douglas Wolk has launched a new blog in which he promises to review every Judge Dredd book ever released. That's too much Dredd for me.

Missed it: On Sunday, The New York Times ran an editorial by Brent Staples supporting Jack Kirby in his family's ongoing copyright case with Marvel. Very little information in it will be new to readers of this site, but the fact that awareness of Kirby's contributions has finally spread as far as the Times is somewhat heartening.