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Youth

Today on the site we have part one of Zak Sally’s interview with the great Peter Bagge.

This is something else I wanted to talk about, your whole generation of cartoonists—you know, the brothers Hernandez, Clowes, all those guys— the amazing thing to me is that the climate for comics was so different back then. In the lost interview we talked about what possible models you could have had for thinking I’m going to try my damnedest to make a living off of this, because there were virtually zero models for this outside superhero or genre stuff. And then for you it actually worked. I mean we talked about the fact that you found some old undergrounds, and you found a Crumb comic– and those were…

Well, to back up a bit, I fancied the idea of being a cartoonist since I was a kid. I mainly liked daily newspaper strips, all the funny stuff, and later MAD. But after a while, those two seemed less and less a realistic option for me. I saw the daily strips getting worse all the time. By the time I got out of high school I didn’t see anything in the daily papers that inspired me, or made me think, “This is a good direction for me.” The opposite was happening. And MAD was very much a closed shop, and locked into a tight formula, and I didn’t like MAD‘s competition much. So while I still fancied the idea of being a cartoonist, I didn’t know what to do with it.

Then, while I was in art school, I went into a record store that had a rack full of underground comics, and it was the solo comics by Robert Crumb, in particular, that floored me. What I loved about Robert Crumb’s solo comics was how he treated the traditional comic book format as a blank canvas, and just did whatever he wanted from cover to cover. It was all him: one guy inked it, one guy lettered it, and there were no ads for Twinkles or BB guns. It was just all him. And then there was what he did with it. I loved the way he drew, and I loved his sense of humor just as much as that I loved what he did format-wise. So as soon as I saw that, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do. And while Crumb was my favorite, I liked many of the other underground cartoonists, too: Gilbert Shelton and Bill Griffith, and a lot of others. Kim Deitch, Robert Armstrong, and Aline Crumb. Sadly, I also assumed that since their comics were so fantastic, they must all be millionaires.

Elsewhere:

The writer and SF contributor Iain Banks passed away.

The New York Times profiles Qatar-based cartoonist Khalid Albaih.

Joss Whedon said something about wanting more female superheroes and apparently it caused controversy.

I sometimes forget that Lewis Trondheim has a blog. That’s pretty nice.

I could look at this Jack Davis page for a long time.

Chris Mautner, what are you reading over there?

And Tom Spurgeon interviews CF, whose books I publish.

 

Luthor’s Secret Weapon

Shaenon Garrity returns with another batch of reviews of webcomics sent in for analysis. Here’s a bit of what she finds:

The characters in Cat Prentis communicate in sassy Buffy the Vampire Slayer-style dialogue, and the comic shows a big Buffy influence in general, from the premise of a super-powered teenage girl fighting demons to the bad guys’ habit of posing as human and then suddenly revealing evil crinkle-faces. Between that and the Shakespeare material, suggestive of Neil Gaiman’s take in Sandman, I can guess that the creators were teenagers at just about exactly the same time I was. Cat Prentis updates things with plot twists involving possessed classroom computers and iPhones, but this is still a very ’90s monster-fighting comic. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that.

Elsewhere:

—Calvin Reid and Heidi MacDonald have a comics-driven report from BEA.

—Heidi also put up a post stitching together a few creator interviews and Twitter discussions about their dissatisfaction with DC corporate decisions.

—Speaking of which, I’m really glad no one has put together a site like this about me.

—Interviews. Robot 6 talks to NPR blogger and Superman biographer Glen Weldon. Tom Spurgeon talks to cartoonist Ben Towle and writer/scholar Craig Fischer about their upcoming panel at HeroesCon.

—Criticism. David Ulin at the Los Angeles Times reviews Joe Ollmann’s Science Fiction. Sarah Horrocks reviews Suehiro Maruo’s Laughing Vampire. I keep meaning to link to the latest episode of Comic Books Are Burning in Hell, on Cynthia Copeland’s Good Riddance, which I think after a slightly shaky start turns into probably their best episode ever. I think partly because having a single topic allows them to approach it from many angles, and partly because the book lies a bit outside their usual hunting grounds, and leads them to fresher insights (though I did want to rap them all on the head at one time or another–gently and affectionately, of course. Come to think of it, an urge to rap heads is probably a good thing on a debate show.). Anyway, really great stuff.

—And Mike Lynch draws attention to a short Charles Addams documentary on YouTube:

 

Grabbed

Today on the site Sean T. Collins interviews Simon Hanselmann. Here he is on the characters he’s most associated with:

Meg, Mog & Owl, I’ve discovered, are not very well known in America. It’s British, from the Seventies. Huge in Australia. I adored them when I was learning to read. I recall drawing some comics in a mock Jan Pienkowski style in my teens.

My Megg, Mogg & Owl were kind of an accident. I drew a one-off thing of a witch and cat for a gallery show in 2008 and just kind of liked them and wanted to draw more. I was in the middle of my stupid graphic novel and needed an outlet for fun, quick stuff. I added “Owl” in as a roommate and it just kind of exploded and became my main focus. I love these characters. Sometimes I forget that those old kid’s books even exist. And there really are zero similarities beyond the names and the “classic grouping” of a witch and her familiars.

I do worry about the legal side of it sometimes. Are those extra “G”s enough? The fact that the characters are completely lacking in any similarities? Is that enough? I was stoned and I mashed together my life and a blurred, beloved memory from my childhood. Is that a crime?

Somebody wrote me up into that wiki entry about eight months ago, dubbed the comic a “pastiche.” I edited it out of the entry, paranoid it would ruin my book deal negotiations with a cease and desist order. I ended up signing a deal and they don’t seem to think it’s an issue. I guess as long as the title on the cover isn’t Megg, Mogg, & Owl there shouldn’t be a problem. It’s “art.” It’ll say: “for adults.” TW: many, many things.

Last year I did actually write a script to pitch to Cartoon Network with all the names changed. “Steven” kind of works for Owl but I could never nail the others. I really really don’t want to have to change the names. Not at this point. It would be so fucking weird.

Dammit, I want a TV show. Actual serious goal: Get a TV series picked up at some point in the future. It doesn’t seem impossible at all. Oddly realistic. Just work hard. Attention producers: live action. Lindsay Lohan as “Megg,” cat puppet voiced by Nick Bakay, Eddie Murphy in an Owl suit. Special guest Robert Downey Jr. as “Werewolf Jones.” Half bong jokes, half pit of despair and depression.

Elsewhere:

Brigid Alverson covers some recent graphic novels for teens.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian on the “triumph of queer comics“.

And Gilbert Hernandez interviewed on the CBC:

 

 

Into the Cornfield

Today we bring you a classic bit of Comics Journal “Blood & Thunder”, the much-discussed and hotly debated series of letters regarding James Kochalka’s “Craft is the Enemy” argument, which began in 1996 in issue #189, and continued through several issues, attracting disputants such as Jim Woodring and Scott McCloud. Here’s a famous bit from Woodring’s letter in issue #192:

Kochalka, you are wrong. Craft is control; it is the ability to create according to one’s intentions, not in spite of one’s limitations. Imagine saying that a writer doesn’t need to know how to write, or that an architect need not be concerned with “craft.” Well, I can imagine you saying it.

Was your point that craft without content is not great art? Well, no shit. Everyone knows that. Craft fairs not your cup of tea? Tut tut.

To describe Pollock and de Kooning as artists who were great despite a lack of craft is absurd. They may not have been great draughtsmen but they both had oodles of craft as painters, which is after all what they’re known for. Both men were obsessed with getting exactly the effects they wanted and they worked like demons to develop their particular crafts.

You say there is “no such thing” as good drawing. Wish it into the cornfield, Jimmy! I’ve got an idea; why don’t you re-draw the pictures of Heinrich Kley, preserving only the ideas. We’ll see what role craft plays then.

Thanks to Kristy Valenti for putting this all together.

Elsewhere:

—Awards news. The Joe Shuster nominations have been announced. No Straight Lines won a Lambda Literary Award. Michael Cavna talks to Reuben Award winner Brian Crane (Pickles).

—Interviews. Actually, there are a ton of good ones out right now, including The Telegraph‘s profile of Gilbert Hernandez, The Believer‘s discussion with Alan Moore, Michael Dooley’s talk with Peter Kuper, and Paul Gravett’s interview of Junko Mizuno.

—Criticism. Novelist and sometime TCJ contributor Tom De Haven has started a blog, and posted his Masters of American Comics essay on Winsor McCay. Comics Journal All-Star Bob Levin writes about EC and Al Williamson at the Broad Street Review.

 

Bridge Performance

It’s the day after Monday so that must mean Jog is here to set it right.
Elsewhere it’s a sloooow newsday:

Robin McConnell has posted a for-sale PDF version of his Inkstuds book.

Peter Kuper profiled.

And here’s a Kickstarter campaign and trailer for Very Semi-Serious, a documentary about New Yorker cartoonists.

 

Time Going About Its Immemorial Work

Today on the site, Craig Fischer writes about his complicated, changing feelings about Michel Rabagliati’s complicated, changing Paul stories:

Recently, after hearing that a new Paul book was on the way (Paul Joins the Scouts, forthcoming in English from Conundrum), I re-read all of Rabagliati’s books, and liked them much more. Optimism and simplicity do characterize his comics, but I discovered complexities there too, especially when I traced connections among the various books. Although each graphic novel stands alone, the entire Paul project is Rabagliati’s ongoing, thinly fictionalized autobiography, with each book focused on a particular period in his life. The Paul books all share the same chronology and many of the same characters, and across multiple volumes Rabagliati’s autobiography gradually assumes a greater density, closer to that of life itself. I’ll explore this density by talking about the organization of one individual Paul novel, Paul Goes Fishing, before sticking my toe into the deeper sea of networked motifs and narrative strategies in the series as a whole.

Elsewhere:

—For whatever reason, the New York Times has gone comics-crazy recently, running not only that kinda strange Karen Berger profile last week, but also Douglas Wolk’s notices for new books by Lucy Knisley, Ulli Lust, Jeremy Bastian, Michael DeForge, and Lisa Hanawalt; a Peter Keepnews review of Brad Ricca’s biography of Siegel & Shuster; and Deborah Solomon’s review of Victor Navasky’s Art of Controversy.

—The Rumpus has a dual profile of Victor Kerlow and Josh Burggraf; the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle has a profile of Noah Van Sciver; and Gengoroh Tagame was profiled twice, once at the Huffington Post (w/ video), and once by Chris Randle at Hazlitt.

—Rob Clough rounds up a bunch of recent minicomics.

—Chris Ware was the keynote speaker at the recent Denver Comic Con, and Hannah Means-Shannon reports on his speech.

—Townsquare Media has purchased Comics Alliance.

—Roz Chast, on art and death (via):

 

Book Day

Today on the site:

Tucker Stone has some choice words for you.

Elsewhere:

Tom Tomorrow has a catch-up post that is pretty fun to peruse.

Philip Nel and Eric Reynolds talk Barnaby on Inkstuds.

Here’s an interview with cartoonist Nina Bunjevac.

The New York Times profiles outgoing Vertigo chief Karen Berger. Tom Spurgeon has some thoughts on the profile itself.

And here’s a report on the ongoing Book Expo America over at The Beat.

 

Spiral Obsession

Today we bring you Steven Ringgenberg’s obituary for the recently departed Dan Adkins. An excerpt:

At the time of his death, he was mostly living on the proceeds of private commissions for comic art collectors, usually drawing characters he’d worked on in the past, such as Tower Comics’ Dynamo and the Iron Maiden, Vampirella, Batman, the Sub-Mariner, and so on. Like many old-time comics professionals, Adkins never managed to build up much in the way of savings or assets, though his art was highly regarded by comics fans, who voted him one of the 100 Best Comic Book Artists of all time.

Elsewhere:

—Yesterday also brought news of the death of Jack Vance, one of the twentieth century’s greatest prose fantasists. Here is Christopher Priest’s obituary for him. Vance’s association with comics was mostly limited to a small number of adaptations of his work, including at least one by Moebius, who was clearly highly influenced both by Vance’s visual descriptions and his depictions of bizarre social systems. A good profile of him ran in the New York Times Magazine in 2009.

—Publishers Weekly has a profile of Rutu Modan, the Chicago Tribune takes on Art Spiegelman, and the Herald-Tribune has a story about Nick Cardy, focusing on his WWII experience.

—Sampsonia Way has an interesting short interview with Iranian cartoonist Kianoush Ramezani.

—Criticism. Sarah Horrocks writes about the horror of Junji Ito’s Uzumaki, and William Leung has a two-part essay on Darwyn Cooke’s Before Watchmen books.

—Yesterday saw the release of Panel Nine’s Sequential comic-distribution app. Paul Gravett interviewed Sequential’s Russell Willis, and Robot 6 interviewed participating publisher Kenny Penman from Blank Slate.