—Crowdfunding. Fans of Chuck Forsman, Michel Fiffe, and/or Cliff Chiang might be interested in the rewards you can get from helping fund the Kickstarter of children’s musician Miss Nina (spouse of former TCJ.com columnist Tucker Stone). Today’s the last day.
Cat’s outta the bag on the next Kramers Ergot, but I know that the cat will change moods and the bag will change colors. Here’s a taste at least.
More future news… Brian Gibson, occasional cartoonist, great animator and Lightning Bolt-bassist has co-authored a game that’ll debut on PlayStation next year. Also features graphics but Mr. Brinkman, This makes me want to get a PlayStation and learn how to play games.
Today on the site, Ken Parille looks at the first decade of Eightball.
It’s 1988. Daniel Clowes’s Lloyd Llewellyn series has come to an abrupt end, canceled by the publisher. And Clowes is relieved. Freed from churning out short comedic adventures featuring the same cast of characters, he’ll finally be able to develop a more personal and wide-ranging approach to comics. In the ’80s, prevailing wisdom held that a series needed to focus on a single character and maintain a consistent look. “The thought was,” Clowes recently observed,
that if you did stories in . . . different styles — if you combined the serious stuff with humorous stuff — that the result would be kind of discordant. But I also had the theory that if it was all by the same artist, and the artist was trying to be truthful or willing to let his unconscious or his intuition decide what was going to happen on the pages, then it would all kind of come together in a cohesive way. At least that was the theory.
His subversive theory was right. And the proof was Eightball, perhaps the most important American alternative comic to emerge from the twentieth century.
During its first decade, Eightball was a Mad magazine-esque free-wheeling anthology. A typical issue included five to seven short stories drawn in diverse styles, just as each Mad issue contained work by several artists with distinctive styles. Clowes moved effortlessly among genres such as autobiography, gag cartoon, and rant as well as fairy tale, short fiction, and cultural satire.
Today on the site, Frank Santoro is back with another of his Riff Raff columns. This time, he writes about a new zine created by Jim Rugg, in which he apparently collages together various panels and images from old ’80s black-and-white indie comics to create a new story:
The narrative is: kill, kill, kill. Antiheroes standing on rooftops surveying cities. At night. Speaking to themselves in poor grammar with lots of spelling errors. Deals with the devil. Equipment diagrams and editorial delusions of grandeur. Often on the same page. What Jim did was group certain generic genre moments together and then sequence them as one story. An antihero from one comic will appear early in the sequence and then reappear later and sort of comment on the action that’s taken place in between. The zine reads as one story if you let it, the one story that every B+W explosion comic seems to tell: This is my city and THEY have taken it away from me and I must fight to save myself and my loved ones and I must fight and why doesn’t she understand me but it doesn’t matter because I will fight and by destroying the world I will remake it for her and for us and she will see and THEY will suffer and this is the stark future so GET READY because NEXT MONTH the final BATTLE WILL BEGIN AGAIN!
We have a great 1998 interview with the also great Richard Sala, who remains a favorite of this site’s editors. Here’s a bit:
SULLIVAN: You talk about subtext and what’s behind things, yet it’s all done at the level of the images and the symbols, because you employ characters who are always two-dimensional. That is, if they’re not one-dimensional. You don’t seem interested in telling stories about people with varied sides to their personalities.
SALA: Well, to be honest, I’m not, you know, all that interested in characterization.
SULLIVAN: You say it like it’s a dirty word, like of course you hate characterization! Who wouldn’t hate characterization?
SALA: What I’m writing are fever dreams. One person thrashing about in a world he doesn’t understand. Don’t bother searching for anything resembling a folly-rounded character. Don’t bother looking for any situation that has anything to do with reality. In other words, characterization is subordinate to plot and atmosphere. I’ll sacrifice characterization in a second for atmosphere. I don’t care what the character had for breakfast.
I mean, these stories are basically extensions of my own personality. People used to ask me, “Why don’t you do autobiographical comics?” And I would say, “I’ve been doing them. These are my autobiographies.” That’s why I did that one comic as a joke, “All About Me” — it couldn’t be less about me.
Over the weekend, Matt Bors made an official announcement about changes at The Nib. It is not entirely clear to me what these changes entail, other than a reduced staff, the cancellation of the regular weekly strips, and apparently a larger focus on “the network aspect” of the site. Does that mean more focus on contributions from unpaid volunteers?
Paul: To start, I’d like to tell how this idea of discussing Garden with you came about. Tom, you and I are Facebook friends, and I posted a photo of one of my bookshelves. You made the comment: “Garden!” I was impressed that, out of all the great books on that shelf (Rube Goldberg,TinTin, Kliban, Tatsumi, etc.), you singled out the very one I would have mentioned if the situation were reversed. When I first read Yuichi Yokoyama’s Garden, about a year and half ago, I was dumbstruck. I didn’t think that it was possible for me to have a new experience reading comics – and yet, Garden was just that. As fresh as a spring flower. I have read it many times since, as well as some of Yokoyama’s other books and I have become convinced it is an important book – not just in comics, but in art and literature and culture. When we step through the break in the fence on the first page, it’s like sliding down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. After I read Garden, the world seemed different to me.
Michelle Robinson Brand, an early underground cartoonist and later a colorist for various comic book companies, has passed away. I haven’t seen anything other than Stephen Bissette’s Facebook thread, unfortunately. She seems like a fascinating person.
Douglas Wolk covers a bunch of recent comics for the NY Times.
Today, we have a new episode of Mike Dawson’s TCJ Talkies podcast. In this episode, he has two guests, Annie Mok and Kris Mukai, and they discuss two books: Michael DeForge’s Ant Colony and John Porcellino’s Hospital Suite.
—News. The Nib, the popular comics site edited by Matt Bors for Medium (and one of the few online gigs for cartoonists that regularly pay fair wages for comics work) is apparently undergoing some changes, according to blog posts such as this one by Nib cartoonist Ruben Bolling. My understanding is that an official announcement will be made in the very near future. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably report that my wife has occasionally sold work to The Nib.)
Earlier this week, Art Spiegelman posted a preview image of a cover he created for a special free-speech issue of The New Stateman, guest-edited by Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. Yesterday, Spiegelman announced on his Facebook page that he has decided to pull the cover from the issue, after the magazine’s regular editors decided not to run a Spiegelman strip on being a “First Amendment fundamentalist” (which has previously been published in The Nation).