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Um Tut Sut

The pioneering cartoonist, historian, and satirist Jay Lynch has passed away. Aside from being an incredibly funny, dextrous cartoonist, he was, as a teenager, an important part of mimeograph fandom, as an adult, the crucial part of the underground press, and later still, a longtime contributor to Topps bubblegum cards. His was truly a career and life in art that will never exist again. 

Our coverage of Jay Lynch’s life and times is in three parts:

-Patrick Rosenkranz has written an obituary.

-Gary Groth conducted the artist’s final interview (this will run in the next couple of days).

-And we’ve republished his long out-of-print 1987 TCJ interview.

Rest in peace, Jay.

 

The Waiting

Today on the site, Bob Levin reviews Turkish Trilogy, a Serbian collection of comics describing and mocking low-budget Turkish cinematic remakes of Star Wars and other blockbuster Hollywood films.

As I understand it, in the early 2000s, the American blogger Seanbaby posted online reviews of bootleg videos of grab-the-bucks (or lira) unauthorized Turkish remakes of hit Hollywood movies, including Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, and The Exorcist, which had been churned out at a level of excellence which made Plan 9 from Outer Space look like Citizen Kane. These reviews caught the eye of Wostok, a Serbian cartoonist/film maker, who had seen the same bootlegs. Unbeknownst to and unauthorized by Seanbaby, he then drafted comic book scripts based upon them and led workshops, from Macedonia to Slovenia, in which dozens of amateur cartoonists illustrated these scripts, which Wostok had printed in book form in Croatia, in runs of ten or twenty, ordering more each time he sold out his stock. One of these made its way, via the internet, to Berkeley and me.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. The Chicago Tribune profiles Emil Ferris.

Ferris boards the Purple Line “L” in Evanston, not far from her home, and glances around the train car and picks a seat that offers options, the widest, most expansive view of the largest variety of subjects. She places her cane against a railing. She drops her tote bag on the seat beside her and unfolds a sketchbook with her right hand and, in her left, grips a thicket of pens. She scans up and down the car, staring at her half-dozen fellow riders for a long second or two while simultaneously not quite gawking. She looks for interesting faces, for characters to insert into her work (after a tweak or two, for privacy).

The Fridge Door talks to Jessica Campbell.

I took a class in undergrad that used Janson’s History of Art (an edition that included women, thankfully) but countered it with essays like Linda Nochlin’s “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” Frankly, most of the blatant sexism that I have encountered in art has been in the comics world, where even last year, the largest (or second largest?) comics festival in the world gave out a lifetime achievement award that, of 30 nominees, included not a single woman. And, similar to Janson’s text, about 10 years ago in comics there was a touring exhibition and catalogue called The Masters of American Comics that was intended by its curator/editor to solidify a comics canon and included not a single woman artist. I remember watching a panel discussion with him where he said that there’s “never been a female Milt Caniff,” which was essentially the same as Janson saying that there’s never been a female Rembrandt or whatever. Yeah, OK, but there is a female Mary Cassatt, Artemisia Gentileschi, Frida Kahlo, etc.

Inkstuds interviews Rich Tommaso.

—News. After a decades-long tenure, Bob Mankoff is stepping down from his position as cartoons editor at The New Yorker.

New Yorker editor David Remnick announced yesterday that Mankoff will step down and that the magazine’s Emma Allen will inherit the post. Mankoff says that he’ll continue to contribute cartoons to the publication, and that he’ll keep working on the forthcoming book “The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons.”

 

Crew of 15

Today it’s part three of Frank Santoro’s Risograph series. This time he interviewed Ryan Cecil Smith.

Tell me about your current set up. What kind of machine(s) do you have?

I don’t have my own risograph, thankfully! Basically since 2010 or so I’ve used a risograph print shop in Japan called Retro Jam for all my color prints, and then after leaving Japan I’ve continued to use them for everything I make. I love working with them and I don’t want to change my process if I can help it. The tricky part, honestly, is the logistics of paying them and getting everything shipped to me in the US. But they do such good work, and I like working with them so much, that I’d rather figure it out than start working with someone else. And…well, it *might* be a good investment to buy a risograph for myself… but I don’t really have the space for it. I like my deal now.

Personally, I am fascinated with how risograph printing has changed the landscape around making color comics. Before risograph, as you know, the choices were expensive offset or expensive print on demand. And often dealing with those printers was difficult. The riso printers I have engaged are not faceless sales reps on the phone who have no experience making comics. So riso printers and their enthusiasm for the materials has reinvigorated the small press scene – which has drifted into “book publishing” (like giant offset press books) – and I was hoping you could speak to that?

Well, my print shop Retro Jam is kinda a mix between those two things. They are a big commercial shop with an official process and are quite strict about how they do things. They’re very professional, clear, and fast. Actually it took awhile for me to get used to this. But now, I like it! And, I think that if you only worked with them over email, they would be basically faceless and get the job done. However, thankfully I have gotten to know everyone at my print shop (they have a staff of 25 or so) and am happy to be friends and know that many of them are artists and designers, too. Which, of course, is clearly reflected in all of their website, print material, their workshop space, etc.

Elsewhere:

Lauren Weinstein remains our foremost chronicler of the new… reality. Here’s her latest.

Frank has announced the new semester of his correspondence course.

CF has announced the release of three new receipt-printer zines. Highly recommended. 

I didn’t know about this art director, Harris Lewine. Worth looking at this typography. 

 
 

The Dreaded Final Exams

Today, we bring you a new episode of Greg Hunter’s Comic Book Decalogue podcast, with the second half of his interview with Eddie Campbell, who discusses Jack Kirby’s place in the canon, Mary Perkins On Stage, and the hazards of autobiography.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. The most recent guest on Process Party is Jason Latour.

—News. After a parental complaint, an Oklahoma middle school library has pulled the Ariel Schrag-edited YA comics anthology Stuck in the Middle.

An Oklahoma middle school last week pulled the comic anthology Stuck in the Middle: Seventeen Comics from an Unpleasant Age off of shelves after one parent called it “trash” and complained of vulgarities, sexual references, and drug use in some of the stories. Although one egregiously biased local news report suggested that the book is permanently banned, an equally biased report from a competing station indicates that Mid-Del School District is following its challenge policy by forming a review committee to decide its fate.

—Reviews & Commentary. Jonathan Shapiro is disappointed by Edward Sorel’s graphic biography of Mary Astor.

Edward Sorel is the United States’s best political cartoonist. The proof is in his Richard Nixon.

A masterpiece of mordant wit and cruel accuracy, Sorel’s Nixon is less a human face than a poisonous pastry. It is a misshapen dough-face with beady eyes as dead as rancid prunes, a heavy black beard that could just as easily be poppy-seeds as rat turds, and a thrusting, penis-shaped batard of a nose. It not only looks like Nixon, but it also looks like Nixon’s unspeakable soul.

Alas, we don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.

Apostolis Doxiadis (Logicomix) explains what comics has in common with Brecht.

The graphic novel has strengths its cousins lack. Aristotle, in his Poetics, established the tradition of searching for the characteristics of a medium through its masterpieces (and it is worth noting that graphic novels are best understood as a medium, and not as a genre. A genre is defined by its content, a medium by its physical form). By Aristotle’s lights, the proper focus of this discussion would be Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Alan Moore’s Watchmen, which are in my view­ – but also that of many other lovers of the medium – the two best graphic novels ever produced. I am certain that neither could be outdone by a novel or a film trying to do the same job (and I’m not thinking here of the largely disappointing cinematic adaptation of the latter). And yet, Aristotle notwithstanding, Maus and Watchmen do not form good cases for comparison with other media – both are simply too atypical.

 

Off the Menu

Today on the site it’s Joe, still at the marathon, telling you about the new comics, including two pamphlets of, as we used to call them, the genre variety.

 

 

Tell Us Again About Monet, Grandpa

Today on the site, we have dueling review of the new Sunday Press collection, Dick Tracy: Colorful Cases of the 1930s. First up, Frank Young:

Peter Maresca’s books celebrate what I call the art of looking. Their generous page size and crisp full-color presentation invite us to regard comics as more than a diversion—something to vacuum down in between checking Facebook and binge-watching Westworld.

Via these lavish books, we get a window into the original impact the newspaper comics had on their eager readership. In this tabloid format, details abound from panels that are at least 200% larger than their prior reprinting in the early (and smaller than the present size) volumes of IDW’s ongoing Tracy reprint project, which shrunk Sunday strips shrunk to Kleenex size on a single 7” x 9” page. These dimensions hampered Dick Tracy. A magnifying glass is required to retrieve any information from these undersized images, and made me inclined to skip the Sunday strips altogether—a disservice to Chester Gould’s fascinating, endlessly eccentric work.

And then comes Paul Tumey:

For me, the first thrilling sense I got that the strip had slipped into the dreamlike territory it would fully embrace in the 1940s and beyond, comes in the climax to the first of the four complete cases, with Boris Arson, described by Garyn G. Roberts as the “premier rogue” of the 1930s Dick Tracy comics. A secret hideout is shown, hidden in an elaborate cave that resembles the secret lairs of James Bond villains to come along thirty years later. The entrance, a giant hallway, is guarded by unreal vicious striped big cats oddly called “wildcats” instead of tigers. “Man-killing Ozark wildcats,” to be exact.  A long sliding cage can be moved through the entrance, protecting those inside it from the wildcats. In this moment, the strip become hyper-obsessed and fetishistic, although I doubt Gould, himself would have approved of those terms. I think he was reaching into his imagination to tell a good story, something he succeeded at dozens―if not hundreds―of times.

The Sunday Press volume also offers a section or extremely rare pages from 1931-32 when the Dick Tracy Sundays squeezed a whole crime story in a single Sunday episode. In these first pages, Gould’s style shifts and grows weekly. For a brief while, these pages ran another Chester Gould creation, the single-tier topper, Cigarette Sadie, a gag strip I quite like about a nightclub cigarette girl.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Ruben Bolling (Tom the Dancing Bug) has won the Herblock Prize.

“I’m honored to win the award and so thankful to the Herblock Foundation,” the cartoonist told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “I’m also sad that it’s pretty much an award for satirizing, lampooning, parodying and railing against Trump throughout his rise to power.”

—Reviews & Commentary. The great Roger Angell remembers New Yorker cartoonist James Stevenson.

The cartoons were deftly drawn, gestural and vigorous—a man bolting out of a Broadway theatre with his date says, “Getting the hell out of here is worth the price of admission.” The drawing of some frogs on a lily pad that accompanied his Times obituary the other day shows him at full range. One of a pair of young frogs addressing a large elder frog asks, “Tell us again about Monet, Grandpa.” Nothing is missing: the young frogs are damp and innocent, the geezer frog plump and a bit tired, and the water and lily pads Impressionist. Jim’s cartoons roam freely but return again and again to pompous businessmen, critically but affectionately presented. An old poop, sitting up in bed, is reading a book titled “The Riot Act.” Another boss, self-importantly erect in his office chair, is sporting bunny slippers under the desk.

And Lee Lorenz introduces a selection of Stevenson’s cartoons.

Andrew Hickey writes about Judge Dredd.

I came across what may be the wrongest thing Grant Morrison (a man who I admire hugely as a writer, but who has made more than his share of wrong statements) has ever said:

at least Batman also has Bruce Wayne, giving him all of two dimensions. Dredd is just Dredd. I think the character is now as relevant to the new century as Dan Dare was to the 1970s.

Now, leaving aside the number of dimensions the characters have, and whether that makes them better or worse for stories (though I think Dredd, as written by John Wagner and a couple of other writers who get the character, a list which definitely doesn’t include Morrison, is a far more nuanced character than is usually believed), who could really believe that a fascist authoritarian police state which exercises seemingly unlimited violent power, in a world where the citizenry are regularly gripped by senseless, meaningless, obsessions which destroy thousands of lives for no good reason is irrelevant to the twenty-first century? Perhaps it’s the way in which the world is hugely overpopulated but humanity has destroyed most of it and clustered in crowded, angry, cities that is irrelevant?

Sheila Heti reviews Dominique Goblet’s Pretending Is Lying.

Though Goblet has written five others, this is her first book translated into English (she relettered every page). She uses charcoal, pencil and ink to employ a range of styles; splotches of yellow oil saturate the opening pages, which depict a visit to her estranged, alcoholic father, as if to express the mess they’re in. She renders a televised racecar crash with the blurry precision of a Gerhard Richter black-and-white photorealist painting — gorgeous panels that are violently interrupted along the bottom by Dominique’s mother shouting in angry letters, “Little brat! I’m going to tie you up!!!” Later, it’s darkly funny when she draws the phrase “that said” with elaborate curlicues, as her father mockingly imitates her fancy “university language.” “Thaaaaaat said . . . you’re not gonna come here and get stuck up with me!!”

R. Orion Martin write about Dad’s Weekend, from Pete Toms.

There’s a scene in the comic Dad’s Weekend, by Pete Toms, where the protagonist, Whitney, upon receiving a form to bail her mentally unsound father out of jail, says, “At least this will make a good cryptic Facebook post.” It’s a fitting encapsulation of the deep cynicism that runs through this bleak but funny comic, and of the ways this cynicism feels uniquely shaped by the internet.

In this 24-page comic, Whitney, a biracial woman in her twenties, visits her father, Manny, who has become obsessed with an Illuminati-tinged conspiracy about world domination by lizard people. During her visit, following the death of a close friend, Manny begins to spiral out of control.

Sophie Pinkham writes about Other Russias, the new collection by Victoria Lomasko.

In “Other Russias,” a new collection of graphic reportage by Victoria Lomasko, Russians from radically different walks of life come face to face for the first time. A stonemason and Orthodox activist named Sergei, shown with an icon hanging around his neck, announces, “The West wants to destroy the bold and beautiful Russian people.” On the opposite page sits Victor Mizin, a lecturer in political science at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. With a shot glass and a half-empty carafe of vodka on the table in front of him, Mizin complains, “Russians are shit. But me, I’m seventh-generation intelligentsia.” In real life, Sergei and Victor would never sit down together for a conversation, and yet, in Lomasko’s view, they are voices that need to be heard together in order to be fully understood.

—Misc. The New York Times has a video of James Sturm drawing live.

 

Off/On, Lights/Noise

Today on the site, Frank is back with the second part of this Risograph Workbook: An interview with Jesjit Gill of Colour Code Printing

What is your risograph origin story? When did you first encounter risograph? I assume you were interested in printmaking before you discovered riso printing.

I studied printmaking, primarily screenprinting, at OCAD in Toronto. After graduating I did a residency at AS220 in Providence, RI, where I got to learn how to use a small offset press. While I was there I visited Mickey Zacchilli and saw a riso for the first time. I think I had a vague idea of what they were but when I saw one working for the first time it blew me away. At that time it perfectly encapsulated what I loved about screenprinting and what I wanted to get out of offset printing, but it was so much easier to handle in terms of costs, materials, and space. As soon as I got home from the residency, I was on the lookout for a used riso and soon after I went splits on one with Patrick Kyle and Michael Deforge.

I’ve noticed risograph printers have “meet ups”, little fairs and conventions. I imagine it is like any other subculture – however this one interests me because of the direct connection to book making. It reminds me of zine culture and comics fandom in a way. Can you speak to how risograph printers are different than other printers beyond obvious differences in materials?

I think a large number of riso printers probably have some background in self publishing, printmaking, comics or whatever, experiences that give us an appreciation of the process and how accessible and easy it is to use. Riso is sometimes looked down on by other printers because of the way the ink dries, the resolution, the misregistration etc. but as artists and designers ourselves, we come to this medium with an understanding of it’s limitations and are eager to explore and push those limits.

Elsewhere: 

I’m opening a show tonight in Elmhurst, IL, just outside of Chicago. It’s called Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago.

Here’s the blurb: 

Elmhurst Art Museum proudly presents Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago, an examination of the intertwined histories of two of Chicago’s greatest exports: pinball and Imagist painting. Curated by Dan Nadel, this interactive exhibition invites guests to play pinball on Chicago-designed and built pinball machines from the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s—including machines manufactured by Elmhurst’s Gottlieb family—alongside paintings, sculptures and prints also made in Chicago in the same period. Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago will feature works by Roger Brown, Ed Flood, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, Christina Ramberg, Suellen Rocca, Barbara Rossi, Karl Wirsum and Ray Yoshida; pinball machines including Kings & Queens, Old Chicago, Fireball, Duotron, Gorgar, and Blackout, featuring art by the likes of Roy Parker, Gordon Morison, Dave Christensen, Doug Watson and Constantino Mitchell, who will also exhibit original pinball backglass paintings, some for games never produced. The exhibition will be on display from February 25 – May 7, 2017. 

Most of the world’s finest pinball machines were made in Chicago’s North Side factories, and many of those were manufactured by Elmhurst residents, the Gottlieb family, and designed and illustrated by local Chicago artists. As those machines reached the apex of pictorial and engineering ingenuity, the artists now known as the Imagists were finding their unique visual style with inspiration from many vernacular sources including the arcades and Riverview Park. Pinball provided inspiration with its high contrast coloration, absurd juxtapositions and ultra-flat forms. Pinball was but one inspiration for these artists, along with the city’s many color storefronts and the enormously popular Riverview Park. This exhibition also contains photographs of Chicago in those years, as recorded by some of these same artists. Kings & Queens is inspired by Imagist painter Ed Paschke’s 1982 pinball exhibition, Flip! Flash! Pinball Art!, at the Chicago Cultural Center, which featured a wide selection of pinball machines from previous three decades.

A selection of the imagist pieces featured in Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago are on loan courtesy of the Elmhurst College. The Elmhurst College Art Collection is a collection that focuses on artists working in Chicago between about 1950 and the present, with a special focus on the Imagists. The full collection is housed in the A.C. Buehler Library on the Elmhurst College campus.

Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago reveals a new view of both the city and some of its finest exports with major works on loan courtesy of private collectors and institutions including the Illinois State Museum, Elmhurst  College and the Roger Brown Study Collection.

Design by Ethan D’Ercole.

 

The Groin Vaults of Branson

Today on the site, we have Alex Dueben’s interview with French cartoonist Sandrine Revel.

What interested you in making a biography of Glenn Gould?

I’ve been dreaming of this for twenty years. I discovered Glenn Gould while learning to play the piano. What attracted me to him was his legend, his way of playing, his mystery, his need for solitude. He played for himself more than for others. A great personality for comics.

The first five pages of the book make it clear that this is not going to be a typical biography. I wonder if you could talk us through what you were thinking with those pages and why you wanted to start the book that way.

In these first few pages I wanted to set the tone. Embark the readers within the first few panels in the fantasy world of Gould. You discover the first panels like the first notes or measures of a prelude of Bach. We start the story inside the mind of Gould, which remains the thread of this graphic novel.

How do you typically work? When you’re writing, do you script the book out in detail? Did you work that way with this book?

When it’s just me, I don’t write a script. I know what I don’t want and what my intentions are. I write very little, the story is stashed in a corner of my mind. I draw a lot, I quickly put together the more important sequences and I compose adding links. Justifications, parallels. When in doubt, I try to redo a page, a sequence, I modulate a great deal before being sure of the result. My ideas come to me often while walking my dog in the forest. So as to be quick in execution, I work on a pen tablet. This tool allows me to be faster in the creation process.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Publisher Annie Koyama has donated a large collection of original art to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library in Ohio.

The L.A. Times Book Prize nominations have been announced, and the graphic novel category includes work by Nick Drnaso, Jason Shiga, Anna Haifish, Patrick Kyle, and Rokudenashiko. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell’s March was nominated in the young adult category.

—Interviews & Profiles. Sarah Moroz profiles Daniel Clowes for The Daily Beast.

His rich roster of characters double only vaguely as alter egos: “I don’t know that the events of their lives are necessarily mine,” he cautions. “They’re certainly not the wholeness of what I am. But there’s always some emotional resonance… I write out the things I’m thinking about all the time.” With Patience, released last year—billed as a science-fiction time-traveling love story—he wrestled with “my younger self and how I became myself now from this younger man.”

Max Morris talks to Matthew Thurber, and his controversial 2014 piece for this website comes up.

I feel more than ever that printed media contains autonomous power that is almost magical. All internet publication is embedded in and framed by another corporation. With print, as soon as it flies off the press it belongs, like the land, to “you and me”. The disturbing thing about social media is they change the terms of publication from one of total freedom, to one where you are being allowed to express yourself. Because they grant it… they can take it away. Social media echo chambers are destructive: look at what they have helped to do in terms of ripping our country in half, replacing everything with a simulation of reality. Is that what you mean by “a lot is changed”?

—Reviews & Commentary. Bill Boichel reviews Michael Tisserand’s Krazy.

Tisserand broadens the context of Herriman’s life further, to encompass large swaths of American history, society and culture, and in the process places Herriman’s life not only at the center of the history of comics, but at the crossroads of America itself at the dawn of the 20th century. While it has long been known that Herriman was born in New Orleans of mixed “Creole” heritage, with African as well as European forebears, the specifics had always been murky, at best – but no more! Tisserand, much of whose earlier writing focused on New Orleans, and who evidently knows his way around a variety of New Orleans archives, leveraged his preexistent knowledge, rolled up his sleeves and dug deep, tracing Herriman’s roots back to the 18th century as well as outlining much of his extended family history.