Going to Sleep

Today on the site we bring you the fourth day of Jeremy Sorese’s diary.

And Frank Santoro and John Kelly report about last weekend’s CAB festival here in Brooklyn.

CAB is such a whirlwind of a show. Maybe it’s the New York City atmosphere. It all just goes by so fast. I barely get to see anyone or really visit with them for long. It was busy. Sales were solid. Same as usual even if it seemed like there were less people there than in previous years. I think there are so many comics festivals these days (curated and non-curated) that maybe the bloom is off the rose. Fine by me, as I dunno if I can add anymore shows to my already busy circuit season. CAB also represents the end of the season in many ways. SPX is the first big show of the season, the starting line in many ways and CAB is the finish line so to speak.


Michael Cavna writes about Veteran’s Day comics, including Warren Bernard’s excellent collection, Cartoons for Victory, which Warren will present at Desert Island on Nov. 19th.

Alex Dueben speaks with Ivan Velez Jr. 

Here’s a little known Star Wars comic written by Alan Moore.



Today is the third day of Jeremy Sorese’s week creating our Cartoonist’s Diary. This time, he goes to Lincoln Center and remembers Moonstruck.

I am excited to mention that we also have the TCJ debut of Sarah Horrocks, who has mixed feelings about Benjamin Marra’s Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T.. (Personally, I found Terror Assaulter to be a real return to form from Marra, and maybe his strangest and most effective comic since his first, Night Business. But despite most media outlets’ obsession with scores, thumbs, and stars, opinions are possibly the least important part of reviews.) Horrocks is worth reading:

Terror Assaulter is weird, and at times uncomfortable (particularly in terms of its extreme self-centeredness)–but in all of its discords the book creates an energy that infuses its anthemic punchlines with real force.

While it’s uncertain how a book that had merely depicted this weird world without commenting upon it would have been received within the current cultural climate, which is predisposed to decontextualize imagery to its most problematic aspects, the decision to filter these moments through a host of self-reflexive hipsterish jokes works against any effectiveness Terror Assaulter may have. If the strength of the book is how far into outrageous absurdity this white-male-supremacist vision can go, stopping repeatedly to inform the reader that “hey it’s just jokes” drains away a lot of that power.

We also have the debut of another reviewer, Eszter Szép, who writes about a comics biography of Rembrandt by the Dutch artist Typex. Here is an excerpt:

All biographies face the dilemma of having to balance between the way celebrities and talents of the past are remembered as outstanding geniuses and the monotony of the everyday and hard work they spent their lives in. Typex chose to overcome this problem by saying goodbye to chronology and focusing each chapter on a supporting character of Rembrandt’s life. In this way, and true to a man who painted more self-portraits of himself than anyone before (or since), we see the painter in the mirror of his wife and lovers, son and daughter. What we see is not necessary a nice picture. Stories of betrayal, debt, the plague, and greed, with some occasional lovemaking to cheer us up. Was Rembrandt really that impossible to live with? Yet the way in which this portrait of the artist is shown is truly unique: the visual style of the book is a true match and homage to the atmosphere and style of Rembrandt’s paintings. Some etchings and oil paintings are directly redrawn and contextualized by Typex, offering an interesting game for the reader and her best friend, the search engine, to look for, find, and identify these references. One of my favorites is the scene when the painter is sketching his wife in an idyllic forest setting (on page 81). Having escaped from their own wedding, the pair chooses the company of vine over boring relatives and without us noticing, the famous portraits of Saskia with crazy headwear are born. And in case you really haven’t noticed, go back to page 71 to check.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. At The Atlantic, Sarah Boxer defends Snoopy against his detractors.

Rachel Cooke at The Guardian is really into Adrian Tomine’s Killing & Dying.

Vulture excerpts Paul Levitz’s new book on Will Eisner.

Ng Suat Tong writes about some little-known Frank Frazetta art featuring extreme racial stereotypes that is part of an auction next month. (Shades of Norman Spinrad’s Iron Dream.)

—Interviews & Profiles. If you were annoyed or offended by the recent New York Observer interview with Robert Crumb, you weren’t the only one: so was Crumb. He claims to have been misquoted repeatedly, and asked a friend to post an explanation of what happened.

It’s hard to say how much the distortions and words put in my mouth by [interviewer Jacques] Hyzagi were deliberate. He taped the interview but as English is not his first language it’s possible that he simply misunderstood some things and put his own interpretation on them. That’s possible. He sent me a first draft which was so bad that I rewrote some of it but was reluctant to mess with it too much for fear of offending him. He was “pissed off” anyway, accused me of being “manipulative” and trying to “control my image.” He did leave in most of my rewrites but he also put some things back in that I had taken out and even added things and did not send me a final draft before going to press. I didn’t even know the article was out until a friend told me he read it on the Internet. I regret now that I didn’t just rewrite the whole thing. It was badly written. It’s still not very good.

Artinfo talks to Leslie Stein.



Today Joe McCulloch brings us the week in the life of a weekly comics consumer.

And Jeremy Sorese continues his diary.


Major NYC event tonight: Paul Tumey is presenting what promises to be a wonderful dive into comics history over at Ben Katchor’s Comics and Picture Story Symposium.

The New York Times reports on a commemorative newspaper insert that King Features, spearheaded by Brendan Burford, is producing.

Publishers Weekly rolls out their traditional early Best of 2015 list, and there’s not a single book on it that makes sense to me.

Here’s a fine new interview with R. Crumb, mostly about music.



Today on the site, Greg Hunter asks his traditional ten questions to the Kramers Ergot editor and Crickets creator Sammy Harkham.

Also, Jeremy Sorese, creator of the CAB debut Curveball, is creating our Cartoonist’s Diary this week. In the first installment, he contemplates some unfriendly neighbors.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

R. Sikoryak discusses his comics adaptation of the complete iTunes terms and conditions on CBC radio.

Aug Stone profiles Chaland.

Paul Krassner, editor of The Realist, writes about “the rise and fall” of National Lampoon.

It’s the last week for this Weakly Comics Kickstarter, an anthology featuring work by Gary Panter, Josh Bayer, and Benjamin Urkowitz, among others.



Hi there,

Today Anne Ishii brings us an essay about generational shifts in comics and publishing culture. I’m particularly proud of this one. Here’s a bit:

When I suggested comics were shifting from navel-gazing and self-loathing to absurdist plot victories to my 27 year old business partner Graham Kolbeins (i.e. young), he countered with examples of the depressed characters in Simon Hanselman’s “Meg Mog and Owl” and mentioned the importance of critical reader feedback, including Hanselman’s criticism of Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit. I asked him if perhaps the Internet engendered flame wars at the expense of a real dialogue. He says, “I think we’re going through a normal negotiation of terminology but exacerbated by the Internet and the rapidity of change that technology brings. Sexual identity in particular had gotten so much more specific and profligate in its categories, and that’s exciting on the one hand for youth who are struggling to define themselves, but sometimes eye roll-worthy for older people still getting used to the LGBTQ standards.”

Such a dilemma raised by the young typically raises the ire of the older. There is no better case in point than magazine editorial obsession with an ironic person’s greatest bugaboo: political correctness.


This weekend if Comic Arts Br0oklyn, filled with dandy new things like the new Clowes, Puke Force, Crickets #5, Frank’s new book, a new Comics Workbook, and so much more. Our own Naomi Fry is interviewing Dan Clowes on Sunday at noon.

Some links…

Amazon’s first physical storefront is more about data gathering than selling, which makes perfect sense.

A documentary about Israeli comic books is on its way

Writing about comics doesn’t pay much (actually, writing on anything doesn’t pay much) but Robert Hughes made bank back in the 80s.



John Kelly is filling in for Frank Santoro at Riff Raff again, this week delivering a story on the significant downsides that went along with the money and audience cartoonists could get working for Hugh Hefner. Kelly looks at the cases of Jack Cole, Jack Davis, Harvey Kurtzman, and others, and talked to people like Denis Kitchen, Skip Williamson, and Jay Lynch to get the story.

“Oh, man. It’s a good thing that I wasn’t working [directly] for the guy [Hefner],” says illustrator Bill Stout. Stout … worked as an assistant for Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder on their long-running Playboy strip Little Annie Fanny in the early 1970s. “It would have been a short gig. I would have just bailed. Life’s too short.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Meg Lemke talked to Leslie Stein for the Paris Review.

Brady Dale at the Observer tracked down R. Sikoryak to ask him about his bizarre new project to adapt all of the iTunes terms and conditions into comics.

Alan Moore answered many readers’ questions about books, magic, and politics at length last week for Goodreads.

David Burr Gerard talked to Ted Rall about his Snowden book for Guernica.

—Reviews & Commentary. Sarah Horrocks reviews Bitch Planet.

—Misc. The long-lost McDonald’s/Burger King satire from the early Judge Dredd “Cursed Earth” storyline is finally coming back into print.

—Video. Here’s Lisa Hanawalt at the XOXO FEstival:


PoMo Gobble

Today on the site Chris Mautner interviews the great Kate Beaton, covering her background, audience, and interests.

Mautner: At what point did you say, “This is what I’m going to pursue full time, I’m going to make an effort to become a cartoonist?”

Beaton: I started the website and then I had to leave the museum because they could only give me $13 an hour and 21 hours a week, and I was working as a maid on the side. So the time line here is: I graduated in 2005, I went to Fort McMurray for a year. And then I left Fort McMurray and I went to Victoria for a year. But my student loan hadn’t been paid off so I had to go back to Fort McMurray for another year. The comics took off in my second year at Fort McMurray, after I had left the museum. I was working in the oil sands. And every day was crappy. But then I would come home to my bunk and I was using the workplace computer/scanner thing to put my comics online, and I was drawing them on computer paper. I would come home and talk to my LiveJournal friends and I understood as time went forward that I was gathering an audience – not because I knew anything about website stats, because I still don’t get Google. I have no idea who reads my comics. You get mail. And the  Jeff Rowland said we’ll do a test with these two shirts, we’ll put them up.

Mautner: Which ones were they?

Beaton: They were the stick men ones. They were two stick men shirts that I drew in MS Paint. But they were funny. And one print of a comic that took off, Tesla. And so I had t-shirts and one print for sale on the Topatoco site, and they sold I don’t remember the numbers but it was clear that if I wanted to give it a shot, I could. And that’s when it became real. I paid my loan off, I saved $10,000 – I worked for a few more months and saved that much – and I went to Toronto and lived with Emily Horn. (She had moved from Victoria to Toronto at that point too.)

Mautner: And Toronto, of course, has a big cartooning scene.

Beaton: It does, yes. And so I met Ryan North, who has been immensely helpful. If my website breaks or I have any problems, I just call Ryan crying, and he’s super cheerful. That’s the thing, everybody has been … left to my own devices, I’m a careful person. I’m not the one who’s going to say, “I’ll take a risk and live on a dream,” because I didn’t go to art school. I’m not that type. Even though it was the thing I loved the most I was like, “Well, but I also need to make a living.” And I didn’t try to make it in comics until I had paid off my student loan and saved a pile of money, to make sure I wouldn’t starve. (laughs)

Mautner: Well, that’s the issue with comics isn’t it, balancing being able to do what you love – and with you of course you’ve got a comic that combines a lot of your interests –

Beaton: And at the time nobody really knew where webcomics were gonna go. There was still a weird pushback from the print industries about how legitimate they were. Which I never paid attention to because I didn’t give a shit about comics.


Comics-adjacent: One-time cartoonist, George Hansen fan, and PictureBox-published dude Joe Bradley gets the W Magazine treatment.

Speaking of Chicago artists, here’s a link to the classic color issue of Bijou Funnies.

Writing about comics is even worse than doing comics. No shit.



Joe McCulloch is here with his weekly guide to the most interesting-sounding comics new to stores. This week, he spotlights new books by Robert Triptow and Anna Ehrlemark.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

Heidi MacDonald writes at Slate on the increasing number of comics artists taking animation gigs at Nickelodeon and Adult Swim.

At one point, she writes, “If anything, walking around shows like SPX, I’ve noticed something of an Adventure Time track among many of the small press comics now coming out: Where once young cartoonists overwhelmingly produced gloomy masculine self-absorption and misanthropy in the tradition of Daniel Clowes or Chris Ware, these days many booths feature fantasy epics with colorful characters and invented worlds heavy on the talking animals. It shouldn’t be surprising that up-and-coming cartoonists are absorbing the Adventure Time aesthetic. A 20-year-old making comics now could have been watching the show since she was 15, after all.”

While I have no doubt that some of this is due to simple artistic influence, I think a more obvious, simple, and powerful explanation for the change in emphasis is that fun/cute/cuddly fantasy is where the money is (or appears to be).

Laura Sneddon profiles Kate Beaton for The Independent.

Vice cartoonists including Peter Bagge and Leslie Stein remember their worst Halloween costumes.

Françoise Mouly is a guest on the Virtual Memories podcast.

Laura Fraser tells the story of Conundrum Press.