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Tilt

Yesterday, we published Alec Berry's update on the ongoing Cody Pickrodt defamation case. A judge in the New York Supreme Court recently dismissed eight of the case's eleven defendants.

Almost sixty days after his review began, Judge Thomas Feinman of the New York State Supreme Court, Nassau County, chose to dismiss eight of the eleven defendants named in small-press publisher Cody Pickodt’s $2.5 million defamation lawsuit.

Laura Knetzger, Emma Louthan, Emi Gennis, Ben Passmore (cartoonists); Josh O’Neill (publisher); Rob Clough (critic); Jordan Shiveley and Tom Kaczynski/Uncivilized Books (publishers and cartoonists) are all, seemingly, free and clear.

Their lawyer, Aurore DeCarlo of C.A. Goldberg, said she doesn't know if Pickrodt, via his lawyer Joe Carbonaro of Carbonaro Law, will appeal the decision. She hasn’t received such notice. But she believes the statutes of limitations have passed for any additional civil lawsuits Pickrodt could file in states other than New York, and she knows for sure he cannot pursue new legal action there.

Carbonaro, in a brief statement offered to The Comics Journal, seemed to let the matter lie by providing some analysis of the judge’s decision. He then opted to look ahead, knowing three defendants still remain. They are Whit Taylor, Hazel Newlevant, and Morgan Pielli.

Daniel Elkin turned in a review of Julia Gfrörer's Vision.

In tight, thin lines that fill nine-panel grids, Julia Gfrörer’s comics explore the realms of horror and the erotic lives of women and finds, in the intersection of the two, a new sort of agency that borders on empowerment but is often subsumed in some darker truth -- that feminine sexuality and the procreative power of women are potent and raw forces that, having been confined and shamed by a male-dominated social order for so long, manifest as an assertory, supernatural agent of change.

Her latest 24 page, black and white mini-comic, Vision Part One, continues in this vein. Gfrörer pitches the plot as “a Victorian spinster escapes the demands of her invalid sister-in-law through a sexual relationship with a haunted mirror,” and by doing so firmly cements it in all of her themes: horror, the constraints inherent in the constructs imposed on womanhood, the desire to escape, and desire itself. The tension that Gfrörer creates by juxtaposing all of these ideas makes everything taut and tight, and her artwork only enhances this rigidity. At times, Gfrörer’s pages are overwhelming, images so dense with crosshatching that they become claustrophobic, seemingly straining to break out of the nine-panel grids in which she imprisons her work. Through these artistic choices, Gfrörer compels a reader to feel her storytelling as much as bear witness to it.

Today, Patrick Dunn talked to writer Vivek Shraya about her recent autobiographical comic, Death Threat.

Patrick Dunn: I want to start by asking you about these messages themselves. While awful in content, of course, they have this weirdly unique voice to them. What was it about them that made you want to turn them into a book?

Vivek Shraya: Well, as you’ve read and noted yourself, they’re not your typical kind of hate mail [laughs]. As a trans person, I get trolled on the internet like anyone else and I just mute that or block it. I don’t really engage. But there was something about the ways that these messages use cultural language, religious language, and familial language — like talking about my mom — that made them quite hard to ignore. I’m sort of forced to picture them in a way. Simultaneously, I’d been reading a lot of graphic novels, so when I pictured these letters, they were very illustrated and detailed. I think that it was the timing of the letters with reading graphic novels. I was like, “Oh, I think this is a comic book.”

What graphic novels were you reading at the time? What was on your mind?

I’m a huge Michael DeForge fan. It’s largely his work that I had been taking in. I think I had finished reading Sticks Angelica, but, before that I had read Big Kids, which I loved so much. He’s certainly a huge inspiration for me in terms of thinking about the world of graphic novels. To be honest, it’s not a world that I know particularly well or understood, even. You know, I come from a more literary background where there’s certain conventions that are ascribed to. Even as a pop musician, there are these limitations that you have to work with. But in graphic novels and comic books, especially the stuff that Michael’s doing, it seems like pure freedom in a lot of ways. So I think that’s what really excited me about the medium.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. This year's Doug Wright Awards were announced at TCAF last weekend. The winners include Hartley Lin, Ariane Dénommé, and Xiaoxiao Li.

—Reviews. Paul Morton reviewed Saul Steinberg's Labyrinth.

SAUL STEINBERG CALLED HIMSELF “a writer who draws.” Harold Rosenberg called him “a writer in pictures.” Critics compared him to Klee and Picasso, but reviews were just as likely to namedrop Joyce and Stendhal. He was friends with Nabokov as well as Saul Bellow, Primo Levi, William Gaddis, Donald Barthelme, John Hollander, Charles Simic, and Ian Frazier. Ulysses was his favorite novel. Nabokov’s essay on Gogol was his guidebook.

The tendency to think of Steinberg as a literary figure comes as much from his self-definition as it does from his identity as a New Yorker illustrator. His drawings would sometimes take up two-page spreads. Others would be wrapped by the text of a short story or a slice-of-life sketch. In this way they became another story to be read, one composed in an immigrant’s visual patois. (Steinberg grew up in Romania and studied in Italy before coming to the United States during World War II.) We read Steinberg’s wayward lines signifying nothing, his wispy depictions of Midwestern townscapes, his heavily inked Upper West Side partygoers. This approach raises questions. Is a Steinberg drawing a sentence in Lolita, a page in Ulysses, or one of Barthelme’s sit-down comic riffs? Are any of these images as thick and complete as a good paragraph? And if so, are we supposed to spend as much time studying every turn and every oddball gesture as we do rereading Lolita, intent on getting every joke in every word?

—Interviews. Martin Dupuis talks to designer Chip Kidd about Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns.

What’s your favorite page in TDKR and why?

Well, in the interest of full disclosure, I own the originals to pages 11 and 42 of Book 3–they are framed and on the wall of my apartment, and I look at them every day. And they are signed to me by Frank, so they have deep meaning for me.

Are there any details that stick out as interesting, or telling about Miller’s process in them when looking at the original art?

There are several things–first, the use of paste-up photostats. Especially on my page of issue #3. Dialogue that was added later– “That’s right, Joker,” “WASTE those bullets”, do not appear on the original, but the other dialogue does (‘Watch your language, son…”). The last two panels of that page are stats, as is some of the sound effects (BLAM!!), and who knows where the originals are, or why they changed, or from what.

 

Overload

Yesterday, we published the latest installment in Sloane Leong's series of interviews with her fellow residents at Angoulême's Maison des Auteurs. This week's subject is Pao-yen Ding.

I think that I admire different cartoonists every time, but I have always liked and influenced me. I think Umezu Kazuo, I like his anxiety and full of childlike plots, full of wrinkles. Strokes and naked bloody performances are my favorite elements, so the impact on my performance and content is great.

Why do you find that dreams are an important source of inspiration?

Although it is not always the case, sometimes people will do some impressive dreams. They can have feelings that they have never had in reality. For example, when I was a child, I was fascinated by UFO aliens. I always hope that I can witness the UFO in a day. And once it happened in a dream, I dreamed that I was experiencing an incredible UFO sight with the people around me. The huge aircraft and the dazzling light were in the sky for a long time. Of course, I don’t know that it is a dream now, and that I fully believe that the joy of the heart and the unbelievable atmosphere are not realized in reality. Of course, I will be disappointed when I wake up, but I will always remember that feeling. Since then, I have felt that dreams are incredible things. It seems that I can experience all kinds of feelings instead of reality, so I started to be interested in dreams. But in fact, boring dreams are still still the majority.

We also have Frank M. Young's review of Typex's comics biography of Andy Warhol.

Warhol focused on images that we tend to see through, due to their familiarity. There is no resonance to his early subjects. And that seems the point of Warhol’s work—his portraits broke away from representational complexity and reduced their subjects to silkscreened layers of casually applied color. At Warhol’s headquarters, appropriately named The Factory, his paintings were often the work of other people—supervised by the artist, but made with less input from him as the 1960s careened onward.

Typex tells Warhol’s story without hero worship or bias. Neither hagiography or warts-and-all expose, his Andy gets to the heart of the blank slate that Warhol appeared to be—an image he carefully cultivated, and one which baffled and/or annoyed his fellow artists. The artist/writer studied Warhol’s life and career from different viewpoints; the bibliography of works cited is long and varied. He joins events and figures in a satisfying way, and respects the reader’s intelligence. He seldom resorts to expositional dialogue—the bane of this type of book—and allows events to happen as part of the multilayered fabric of a high-profile social and artistic life.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Carolina Miranda interviews Jaime Hernandez.

What’s it like to check in with these characters every so often?
I have to admit that with Hopey changing so much, it was hard writing her into this new story. I didn’t really like her. I thought, I don’t like her as a person. I don’t like what she’s doing. I don’t like how her life turned out. She is one of those friends you’re disappointed in.

But I really like where Maggie goes. I like her because she screws up all the time. She wears her heart on her sleeve and I want you to know everything that she’s thinking. With Hopey, I don’t want you to know everything. There are certain characters, you don’t want to know what they’re thinking.

Amanda Hess profiles Lisa Hanawalt.

At 35, Hanawalt has created a whole universe of anthropomorphic characters with deeply human concerns and base animal instincts: alcoholic he-horses, anxious she-moose, dog-girls reeling from trauma and cat-women struggling to succeed in a cat-man’s world. Hanawalt began populating the universe through alternative comics, then in illustrated journalism for magazines like Lucky Peach, in three books she made for adults and one she illustrated for children, and as the production designer of “BoJack Horseman,” the oddly moving show about a washed-up and depressed sitcom star who is also a horse. Now, she has created her own animated series, “Tuca & Bertie,” which represents the summation of all of her weird, wild work.

Agueda Pacheco Flores talks to Simon Hanselmann.

How have people reacted [to your new exhibit]?

I overheard a few people, a couple of businessmen, [I was] sort of spying. He was like "Oh, I could never put this on my Instagram" and a lady he was with was like “Oh, I could. I love aliens."

There's no aliens in the show; there's a witch and and an owl, but I'll take that. That's at least a compliment.

How do you explain your art to those who regard comics as something for children?

I think they need to see the craft element in it. I don't think anyone can deny the craft in the comics. There's 170 pages on the wall that have all been meticulously hand-drawn and painted in an obsessive way. I spent 3,764 hours producing this work.

I had this [experience] trying to convey what it was when I did a

tour. Some of them did find it a bit repulsive. It ties in to the opioid crisis, it ties into housing crisis, homeless crisis. It's just about how people live. I think they did gain some perspective on what it's like for people.

Laura Kenins talked to Emily Carroll.

What is When I Arrived at the Castle about?
On its surface, the book is about a would-be vampire hunter infiltrating the castle of a vampire, only to become lost and beguiled in her serpentine lair. What it’s really about is my own creative process and a rough period of burnout I was going through at the time the book was written. It was drawn intuitively, without knowing exactly what it was or where it was going, plot-wise. I drew each page of this book entirely on its own, without knowing what the next one would be.

Alex Dueben talks to 2dcloud's Maggie Umber.

For 8+ years we paid our artists on time, but the risks took their toll. Nearly every book – even a lot of the mini-comics – cost us as much as buying a car. We want to continue 2dcloud in order to get our debts to cartoonists, publishers and creditors paid up and we want to push altcomics further into realms that no one else is venturing into. That being said, if this Kickstarter fails, we will scale down to a completely different company. We’re in water too deep to continue without support from loving readers!

—News. Lion Forge and Oni Press announced a merger, followed by a round of layoffs.

The consolidated publishing effort will be run out of Portland, Ore., where Oni is based. James Lucas Jones, publisher of Oni, will be president and publisher of the new enterprise. The merger was negotiated by Edward Hamati, the president of Polarity, a media company [Lion Forge cofounder David] Steward founded last year to help develop Lion Forge characters outside comics.

Nora Krug won this year's Lynd Ward Prize.

The Evens Journalism Prize was given to Cartoon Movement, and Takoua Ben Mohamed won the Encouragement Prize.

It seems like only yesterday that we learned the Chicago Reader had hired a new slate of excellent cartoonists to create weekly strips. Now they're already cancelled.

—Reviews & Commentary. Ed Park reviews new books by Mira Jacob and Bill Griffith.

As a Pratt student in the early ’60s, Griffith caught a late-night revival of “Freaks,” and was immediately drawn to Schlitzie. Attempts to render this vision came to naught, but years later, embedded in San Francisco’s underground comic scene, Griffith was inspired to cast a pinhead as one point in a romance-story parody; in the last panel, he gave him the name “Zippy.” Zippy became the titular star of a weekly strip in 1976, which was picked up a decade later for daily syndication, allowing Griffith to showcase his hero’s hyperverbal, free-associative riffs seven glorious times a week. The collected works read like a looking-glass version of “Doonesbury,” the same cultural and political inputs producing something wildly random and addictively funny. (Peak Zippiness for me remains 1985’s mind-blowing “Are We Having Fun Yet?,” with cameos by everyone from Officer Big Mac to Leona Helmsley.)

Adam Gopnik reviews a new biography of Dr. Seuss.

Unlike most of the great children’s book authors and illustrators — Edward Lear, Beatrix Potter — Geisel was not in any way an obsessive or driven visionary, a prisoner of childhood locked in his own imagery or mythology. Instead, he worked (and could have easily stayed in) advertising, animation and political cartooning — to all of which he was, you soon get the sense, more naturally inclined than to what he called, cheerfully, “brat books.” (He never had children of his own, nor seems to have liked other people’s much. “I like children in the same way that I like people,” was his tactful but giveaway standard answer.) Geisel/Seuss, it turns out, made a shrewd though far from cynical decision to write to, though never down to, an audience of children at a moment when that audience was becoming a market — and though his own values and imagination shaped the books he made, his choice to make those kinds of books in the first place turns out in part to have been a response to the new market for them.

Scott Cederlund writes about the latest Jaime Hernandez collection.

After the emotional rollercoaster of The Love Bunglers (reviewed here back in 2014,) Is This How You See Me is a bit more classically Love & Rockets, centered on the core Maggie/Hopey relationship that has anchored so much of the emotional heart of Jaime Hernandez’s work. This love affair has been one of the great romances of comics that even their own marriages to others cannot fully put this relationship to rest. Looking at Hernandez’s last handful of books (including The Love Bunglers and The Miseducation of Hopey Glass), there was the feeling that these two moved beyond each other. The great loves of the 1980s just didn’t or couldn’t survive into the 2000s as they maybe finally grew up beyond the need of the other one.

—Misc. Ivan Brunetti is auctioning off several pieces of original art, including preparatory art for a pair of New Yorker covers, and much more.

I'm not sure this experiment of saving all the links to the last day really worked...

 

Hump of Dirt

Today on the site, frequent contributor Kim Jooha inaugurates a new column. She begins with a look at the material side of comics, explored through the works of three cartoonists: Warren Craghead, Alexis Beauclair, and Erin Curry.

Letters including punctuation marks and images are scattered across all over the page just like creatures and things are in [Craghead's] "Backyard". Words are drawn, rather than written. To apprehend "Backyard", you need to “comb” through the “web” of words and drawings on the newspaper sheet sized page. The act of reading is physically analogous to sifting through a back yard.

And this is where touch, the second most crucial sense in comics, comes in. At the gallery, we glance at the artwork on the wall in the distance. In contrast, we physically touch and hold the comic. We can examine it more closely, thoroughly, and longer in any way we want. We can “listen” carefully to what the artwork says in private.

 

Bluh

Today on the site, Annie Mok returns with an interview she conducted with Sophie Yanow, about changing art styles, the dangers of navel-gazing memoir, and her webcomic, The Contradictions.

The Contradictions is autobiographical fiction and some characters are amalgams. I showed the nearly final draft of the work to some of the folks who appear (fictionalized) in the story and listened to their feedback. I'm not going to pretend this was easy, I was pretty nervous – it's like showing them your soft underbelly. Some people had requests and others actually asked not to see it at all, they didn’t want to influence the work and said they would trust me. Ultimately I don’t give these people 100% veto power but I take what they have to say very seriously. I strongly believe that our stories belong to multiple people, and it’s also important to own my perspective. But there is power in being the one with the platform and over time my platform has gotten larger, and so I continue to evaluate what it means to be the person telling my version of something. I try to keep it grounded in what it meant or means to me.

As a little aside, I also feel like I should say – a lot of autobiographical work is accused of being “navel-gazey,” but I don’t think the genre is any more navel-gazey than fiction. As far as I can tell we’re all writing about ourselves on some level. There is bad work across genres and it can manifest as navel-gazey anywhere.

We're starting a new blog strategy this week, so we'll be saving most links till Friday, and writing more thorough blogs during the week when the news demands it or the mood strikes.

 

Meet You At The Tower

Today at The Comics Journal, we're pleased to welcome back the third installment of Sloane Leong's interview series. This week, she's speaking with Glynnis Fawkes (who you'll certainly remember from her recent Cartoonist Diary) about the metric ton of projects that Fawkes has in the pipeline.

Right now I’m working on illustrations for a film about Black Holes—I haven’t done anything quite like it before. While at the MDA [Maison de Auteurs] I worked a little bit on 3 different projects: Charlotte Brontë Before Jane Eyre, a graphic biography that will be out this fall; new comics for Persephone’s Garden, an autobiographical collection that will also be out in the fall; and a thumbnail draft for my next book, a middle grade adventure set in late Bronze Age Greece and Egypt. I probably spent the most time on this last project, because I knew I could concentrate for continuous hours at the MDA—which is not usually possible at home. I also wanted to let the influence of European comics carry me away-- and try to make a European book by writing it there—that it would have daring drawing, hi-jinx and humor. (I suppose this is possible also in America!) At the library I found books by Europeans that have not been translated and that are very inspiring.

Today's review is of The Ballad of Sang, a new Oni title. Martyn Pedler walks us through:

Here’s how to tell if The Ballard of Sang is for you: at one point, the protagonist plucks out someone’s eye and squishes it in front of its owner with a smirk and a "SQWAP". Sang’s a mute assassin, just a boy, and his sword’s dripping blood by page two.

 

Catnaps

Today on the site, Irene Velentzas returns with a report from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s "Botticelli: Heroines + Heroes exhibit, which juxtaposes Renaissance art with new related work by cartoonist Karl Stevens.

Although the "Botticelli: Heroines + Heroes" exhibition offers placards of Botticelli’s history and work for visitors to peruse and better understand the context of the artwork, it does not offer any literature regarding Stevens’ work, or how the juxtaposition of the two artists re-informs and reimagines Botticelli’s work through a contemporary lens. A short video of Stevens detailing his artistic process in creating the exhibition’s companion pieces offers patrons a small glimpse into the relationship between the two artists’ work. In it, Stevens explains:

The connection that I felt towards Botticelli is that we’re both storytellers, and that’s something that a lot of old masters were, particularly in the Renaissance. That’s something that has been consistent throughout Western Art for a long time. And cartooning is sort of the last bastion of that. It’s like what’s going on in drawing right now is happening in cartooning.

In fact, this connection between traditional Italian artistic practice and comics art is implied by the very word cartoon. As comics scholar Hillary Chute writes in Graphic Women, the "word cartoon comes from the Italian word cartone, which means cardboard, and denotes a drawing for a picture or design intended to be transferred, historically to tapestry or to frescoes. Yet, when the printing press developed, cartoon came to mean any sketch that could be mass-produced.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Baker & Taylor has announced it will be shutting down its retail wholesaling program, which could represent a major blow to independent bookstores (and comics retailers).

When word of a possible Ingram acquisition of the B&T retail arm first surfaced, booksellers and publishers both expressed concern about being dependent on only one national wholesaler. Early bookseller reaction is in line with the comments they made previously.

ABA CEO Oren Teicher said Wednesday was "not a good day, calling B&T's decision "bad news for booksellers." He credited the "competitive wholesale environment" for playing a key role in the resurgence of indie bookstores over the past several years. With B&T gone, Teciher said, ABA intends to work as closely as we can with other industry partners to ensure that indie bookstores can continue to access inventory in as cost-effective and rapid a manner as possible to allow member stores to continue to serve their customers."

There's more reporting and analysis here.

B&T and Follett called the decision to exit the wholesale retail business "not an easy one. The retail market has become an increasingly difficult market in which to operate. Operating costs have continued to rise which, compounded with customers' expectations for same or next-day delivery, has put strong pressure on the supply chain and operating profit. The leadership at Baker & Taylor and Follett studied options that might help our retail performance and ultimately determined that the best course for Baker & Taylor would be to devote our resources to our public library and publisher services businesses."

—Interviews & Profiles. Kadia Goba profiles George Booth.

Now in his fifth decade as a contributing cartoonist at The New Yorker magazine, Booth claims Crown Heights as his home. The artist moved in with his daughter, Sarah Booth, 50, five years ago after a two-week hospital stay. For George Booth, the neighborhood goes unmatched, even compared to the small Missouri town of 75 people, with a single wooden sidewalk and one general store, where he spent his childhood.

“Well, if it’s any help to you, I’ve fallen in love with Brooklyn,” he said. “Other places don’t function as a whole unit,” adding that “everyone in Brooklyn knows what to do with themselves.”

That includes him, as is evident in watching him spend time at a Crown Heights favorite pastime: the block party. On hands and knees, using only a piece of chalk and the city as his canvas, Booth introduces a new generation to his drawings of rabbits, dogs, and even “rabbit-dogs.”

Nancy Powell interviews Michael DeForge.

Nancy Powell: Where did the idea for Leaving Richard’s Valley come from?

Michael DeForge: I’d been wanting to write about a cult for a while, since I kept circling around some of those ideas but never got around to it. I’ve always been very interested in the cult leaders who aren’t scam artists or bad faith actors from the get-go — the ones who start out well-intentioned and then have things get away from them. I also knew I wanted to do something set in Toronto and write about my own changing relationship with the city.

 

Spanners

Today at the Comics Journal, we've got the first installment in H.W. Thurston's new column, A Classical Education. What does a new-to-comics reader have to say about the books that are sitting on the shelf marked canon? Time to find out. In the debut, she's taking a look at Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns:

The purpose of this series is to close-read works that are generally considered to be classics of the comics form and hopefully help illuminate just that: what makes them so good. I’ve chosen the works that I have because they made me go Aha! They made me get what comics could do, why I was bothering with the medium in the first place. Perhaps more importantly, they made me get what comics even were. I came away from The Dark Knight Returns thinking that it was wrong to call it “literary.” It was something else. Something essentially and unapologetically comic-like. “Comic-ary.” The way that it was fluent and artistic was inextricable from the fact that it was expressed via this popular, visual idiom.

Our review of the day comes to you from Austin Price, who is taking a deep dive into Tsutomu Nihei's Abara. It's not the first time that Don Delillo has been namechecked at TCJ, and it better not be the last! He's the closest thing to a mascot we've got.

Despite that relevance – or perhaps because of it – there remains a dearth of works interested in tapping that same vein; seventy years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thirty years after the Cold War, artists of all stripe still seem preoccupied with the dread and the spectacle of the nuclear sublime. Popular culture at home and abroad remains redolent with imagery meant to recall mushroom clouds and nuclear fire or of scrappy survivors scrounging through post-nuclear deserts so barren it suggests the atomic holocaust has scrubbed them clean. Even the rare creator who can lay claim to peculiar eschatological sensibilities – artists like Katsuhiro Otomo, videogame directors like Yoko Taro -- draw their water from the same irradiated well. No matter how particular the vision offered by these creators is, each seems inescapably fascinated by worlds in the late stages of systems that have grown overripe to bursting and so arrogantly bent on harnessing godlike powers for martial superiority that apocalyptic conflagration has become inevitable. But there remains hope for the world, even if it can come only after a great leveling; the comfort of the nuclear sublime is that it at least offers the chance for a renewal, a rechanneling of those same cataclysmic energies that leveled the old one.

Our pal Abhay Khosla caught the latest in Otomo--yup, you read that right--popping up via a blog called Halcyon Realms. Dig in now, who knows when it'll come out in English. (Seriously, who does know. Does Joe know? Do you?)

Over at The Criterion, I found out that Enki Bilal--the man who invented chessboxing--is going to be on the jury for the next Cannes Film Festival. That's not the only comics adjacent business either: they'll also be screening The White Snake Enchantress.

Over at Comicosity, E.A. Sofia has an article on what it was like to enter comics via G. Willow Wilson and Sana Amanat's Ms. Marvel. It's a smart piece because it goes beyond the traditional why-I-liked-this-thing and into what the thing exposed her to, good & bad, historical and contemporary. I've read quite a few pieces on Ms. Marvel over the years that comic has been in existence--it's received as much coverage as Grant Morrison's work used to, many of those being "my first comic book articles"--but I don't think i've seen one that so clearly distillates the crash course in the Marvel economic/aesthetic system that reading that book provided. (It's outside of the scope of what Sofia was writing about, but it did leave me wondering--has any new super-hero launch been as successful as Ms. Marvel in the last however many years?)

 

Almanac

Today on the site, Brian Nicholson returns with a review of Daria Tessler's Cult of the Ibis.

There are different kinds of silence. There is peaceful quiet and there’s eerie stillness, and while the former is conducive to reading, the latter could mean listening too intently for what might soon intrude to pay attention to what’s before one’s eyes. A comic generally gets called “silent” when reading it entails following images alone, without any dialogue or narration providing guideposts of written language. While there are extended passages of The Cult of the Ibis where the story is told purely visually, there’s enough words in it that anyone translating it into another language would still have their work cut out for them. I see a different silence in it. It’s a signifier, referring to the earliest years of cinema, similar to the films of Guy Maddin that approximate a fever dream of forgotten history more than they attempt recreation or adaptation.

The plot contains a mixture of genres at home in early film: After a bank robbery goes wrong, the getaway driver is in possession of the stolen loot. Other criminals want this money back. However, before considering this possibility, the getaway driver, interested in the occult, sends away for a build-your-own-homunculus kit, after seeing an ad in a magazine The Modern Alchemist Monthly. In silent or early sound films, both crime stories and occult skulduggery would be a a likely premise for a fable of moral reckoning, but that’s not what happens here. Daria Tessler understands that the reason movies were made about these subjects as soon as movies existed is because magic and bank robbery are cool and interesting to think about, and there is no better way to meditate on a concept than the time-consuming process of making narrative images about it.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The cartoonist Musa Kart has once again been unjustly imprisoned by the Turkish government.

Word came though of an imminent order for arrest and so Musa and his colleagues have elected to surrender at a time and place of their own choosing, a typically dignified gesture. Before entering Kandıra he said:

“I believe people will see the injustice that is being done here. Several brave reporters have recently summarized what’s happening in Turkey: people who punch the leader of a major political party are permitted to go free while those who draw cartoons or report the news are put in prison. We look forward to the day when journalists need not make proclamations such as these in front of prison gates.”

As Tucker alluded to yesterday, the nominees for the 2019 Eisner Awards have been announced. Weird year!

D.D. Degg at the Daily Cartoonist covers the recent controversy over a cartoon published in the New York Times International Edition that struck many as anti-Semitic, as well as links to various commentators. Followup here.

The Guardian has an article about how the recent success of superhero movies hasn't translated into success for comic-book stores.

Dozens of closures have been reported across the UK and US over the last few months – including, in January, the end of St Mark’s Comics, once one of New York’s most venerable institutions. (It even appeared in Sex and the City.) Last year, comics website Bleeding Cool documented how 50 comic shops had closed in the previous year, in both the US and UK. And since June 2018, at least 21 shops in the US and 11 in the UK – including shops in Nottingham, Ramsgate and Tooting – have closed, with others likely going unreported.

While superheroes have never had a higher profile, the gap between cinema and comics has never been wider. The days when you could pick the latest issue of Spider-Man or Batman from the newsagent’s shelves are long gone. Last week, comic writer Ron Marz tweeted that, during a presentation to a school class, one girl raised her hand and asked him where she could actually buy comics.

—Reviews & Commentary. Mohini Gupta writes about the challenges of translating Asterix into Hindi.

“The first and immediate constraint,” [Puneet] Gupta said, “was fitting the Hindi translation into each speech bubble, despite Hindi being syntactically different from French, and also because of the maatras on the top, bottom and the side (in French, the accents are only on the top and bottom). Before translating the nuances into Hindi, we had to go into the etymology of the words, the idioms, the phraseology of the region in which the Asterix and Obelix find themselves.”

“As we went along”, explained [Dipa] Chaudhuri, “it became clear that we were translating not only from French to Hindi, but depending on the provenance of the protagonist, we were translating from Latin, and on occasion, German too...Negotiating between different registers of each language to establish the social hierarchy that binds the characters, was part of the task at hand.”

—Crowdfunding. Paul Karasik has launched a Patreon.

Matthew Thurber is raising money to make a film.

—RIP. John Singleton