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Mental Communication

Another installment of Ryan Holmberg’s perpetually rewarding column, What Was Alternative Manga?, is here, and this time around Ryan is writing about manga in India, by way of Bharath Murthy’s Comix India:

What hooked the manga scholar in me was Bharath’s “A form of writing: an essay on the comic,” a McCloudian intro to the medium and his own interests, published in Comix India no. 1. There’s a hefty segment on manga, and it wasn’t the usual. He had apparently been to Tokyo and met a few artists. I was curious. I arranged to meet him. He was giving a talk about manga in Delhi and asked me to piggyback with a lecture of my own. I interviewed him too, stupidly without a sound recorder. Now I am back in India, living in Mumbai – for “personal reasons” that do not include gurus or NGOs. I had to redo the interview.

Bharath presently lives in Pune, where he teaches at the venerable Film and Television Institute of India. On a recent weekend, I yanked myself away from writing and translation work, put myself on a train southbound, and holed up in Bharath’s pad until 2 AM with a litre of one of India’s finer scotches.

Oh, and I’m really excited about this week’s Cartoon Diarist, Joe Ollmann. Today he introduces himself and makes a few promises.

Elsewhere:

—The Harvey Award nominations are open.

—Criticism Department. Derik Badman comments on every comic he’s read in April, and includes information on what the mysterious Blaise Larmee has been up to for those who’ve been wondering. Domingos Isabelinho writes about Geneviève Castrée’s Pamplemoussi. Bill Morris writes about the new Herblock documentary. Glen Weldon writes about Superman’s dog Krypto.

—Interviews Department. Haaretz talks to Art Spiegelman. Tom Spurgeon talks to the writer and translator Anne Ishii. Forbidden Planet visits Karrie Fransman:

—Not Comics: A recent flap sparked by a Publishers Weekly interview with Claire Messud (see two perspectives here and here) has provoked a lot of discussion about the necessity (or not) of likeable characters in fiction. This can’t help but remind me of the critical response to Daniel Clowes’s Wilson a few years ago, and Clowes’s claim: “Likeable characters are for weak-minded narcissists.”

 

Daze

It’s been a long week. Gary Groth’s classic 1992 interview with Todd McFarlane will carry us into the weekend.

Elsewhere:

Tom Spurgeon carries on his convention travels at Stumptown.

Bill Kartalopolous on Eric Lambé’s Le Fils du Roi (Frémok, 2012),

Here’s an unusual recent Popeye story that never saw print.

Domingos Isabelinho on Pamplemoussi by Geneviève Castrée.

Finally, one of those lotsa covers, lotsa editions posts, this time for William S. Burroughs.

 

Ancient Sorceries

Today, Rob Clough reviews an anthology of comics from female Polish cartoonists, imaginatively titled Polish Female Comics: Double Portrait.

Elsewhere:

—Howard Chaykin wrote a candid remembrance of Carmine Infantino (“There was no greater animosity in that generation than the one that existed between Gil [Kane] and Carmine”) for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

—The Doug Wright Awards has started a series of posts introducing readers to their nine nominated artists. First up is Ethan Rilly.

—Brigid Alverson at Robot 6 talks to Darryl Cunningham.

—Paul Pope draws a short comic about his favorite books.

—Michel Fiffe picks out some of his favorite comic-book fight scenes.

—The satirical website and Twitter account That Comics Blogger has apparently decided to close up shop after the end of Comics Alliance, and offers up reasons why here.

 

Sort of Tickles

Tuesday morning means it’s Joe McCulloch morning, and he’s got your Week in Comics right here. Joe also delivers something of a eulogy to Comics Alliance, the popular website that was apparently shut down by its parent company AOL over the weekend. Robot 6 ran the first report, and The Verge has a little more information over here. The reasons for the shutdown aren’t clear yet, though CA-affiliated editors and writers have claimed via social media that the closure was not due to traffic or “performance.” Comics Alliance was never my go-to site, and it seemed to have lost some momentum over recent years, but it undoubtedly featured some talented writers (some of whom are also occasional contributors to this site) and was very important to a certain kind of comics fan, still emotionally attached to the popular superhero properties of their adolescence, but beginning to question some of DC and Marvel’s corporate decisions — the type of people who would invoke (and celebrate) the idea of “geek culture” in earnest. That’s not my bag but it is a lot of other people’s, so it’s a shame to see the site end so abruptly and unceremoniously.

—Andy Webster at the New York Times Book Review becomes the latest writer to review the new Al Capp biography.

—Michael Cavna at the Washington Post talks to Ruben Bolling about the multi-cartoonist political ad he put together last week.

—I’m pretty sure we haven’t yet linked to Frank Young and James Gill’s comic-book image site, Panels to Ponder. The Facebook incarnation of it is more active.

—A Moment of Cerebus digs up an old speech Dave Sim gave in 1995 to SCAD consisting of advice to young cartoonists. I think he’s wrong on the music thing.

—Not Comics: A 1938 rejection letter from Walt Disney to a young woman interested in becoming an animator. It’s easy to discount this as ancient history, but it is actually in living memory for some.

 

SandBox

Today we have Charles Hatfield on Gilbert Hernandez’s two new books, Marble Season and Julio’s Day.

This morning, over breakfast, I read Gilbert Hernandez’s new book Julio’s Day, which I had just gotten the day before.

This evening, before dinner, I read Gilbert Hernandez’s new book Marble Season, which I had found waiting for me on the dining room table when I got home.

Crossing the synapse between these two lit my head up, like fireworks. In the stretch between the two of them, in the distance but also consistency between 2001 and 2013, is fresh proof of Beto Hernandez’s fidgety talent, his rare mix of raw provocation and affirming humanism, toughness and tenderness of heart. When it comes to Beto, the lightning keeps striking, and if it doesn’t strike exactly the same place twice, it does testify to the same divided genius. To read two new books by Hernandez in a day—and both of them self-contained and freestanding, unlinked to the elaborate continuities that shape his signature projects, Love and Rockets and the “Fritz B-Movie” series—this, to me, is a gift.

Elsewhere:

Michael Dooley on Stan Mack.

This is one beautiful Alex Raymond image.

Here’s a process piece on the recent Lovecraft graphic novel reviewed here.

Padraig O Mealoid continues on the Alan Moore trail, this time with the end of Eclipse Comics and what happened to Miracleman.

Tom Spurgeon makes a case for the new Matt Bors book.

And here’s a new Comics Books Are Burning in Hell from McCulloch, Mautner and (almost) Stone.

 

 

 

Back to the Swamp

Today it’s Comics of the Weak time, and that means that Tucker Stone is talking Jupiter’s Legacy, and newssnarker Abhay Khosla is talking about whatever it is that’s been happening over the past few weeks…

And Rob Clough is here with a review of Jon Lewis’s True Swamp: Choose Your Poison, a book that’s been quietly influential on any number of important artists you wouldn’t expect. Here’s an excerpt:

The obvious touchstone comparison for True Swamp is Walt Kelly’s Pogo, and Lewis clearly drew inspiration from Kelly in terms of setting up a particular kind of swamp patois and creating a huge, broad cast of colorful characters. Where Lewis sharply differs is in the way he depicts these characters. This is a raw, nasty world where death is always at hand, yet there are small joys to be experienced every day. Love, sex, friendship, jealousy, knowledge, and religion are all important concerns, but they are experienced in ways unique to each animal. The animals have animal needs—food, survival, and sex (just like humans)—and Lewis enjoys playing up the cruder aspects for humorous effect.

Elsewhere:

—A double shot of your daily Gilbert Hernandez interviews, one from Hero Complex and one from L.A. Weekly.

—Other interviews. Tom Spurgeon talks to retailer and TCAF honcho Christopher Butcher, and Alex Carr talks to noteworthy prose writer (and recent comics scripter) China Miéville.

—Michael Barrier reveals a story of Carl Barks in peril as a child that may have influenced some of his later work.

—Alan Gardner writes about a recent controversial Daryl Cagle cartoon (or pair of cartoons, rather), in which Cagle appeared to sell two versions of the same cartoon by changing the punchline to reflect both sides of a political debate. This sparked some consternation, including even the usually so-even-keeled Ted Rall. Gardner’s relatively forgiving, but as you can see from the comments to his post, opinions differ.

—Finally, Tom Spurgeon delivers the MoCCA/SPACE report to end all comics convention reports.

 

Heavy Traffic

Today Robert Loss discusses Mark Beyer’s recent retrospective exhibition.

The temptation in looking back at this compelling exhibit, which the Urban Arts Space described as “the first in-depth retrospective” of Beyer’s work, is to search for a trajectory, a progression from one aesthetic or subject matter to another concurrent with the artist’s biography or history. Retrospectives encourage this, don’t they? Well, it was there if you wanted it. Following the exhibit’s route, you began in “With Text: 1975-2011,” starting with mainly black-and-white comics, including a wall of original Amy and Jordan comic strips, and proceeding to the commercial art of New Yorker covers and commissioned album art and posters, where words became images themselves, and his animated series The Adventures of Thomas and Nardo, where words were only spoken. You concluded in “Without Text: 1975-2012″ which was largely comprised of silkscreens and reverse paintings on plexiglas, absent of words or motion.

And yet, any argument the show might have made about the progression of Beyer’s work by dividing it into “With Text” and “Without Text” was leveraged by the fact that each section covered Beyer’s entire career. On the other hand, Beyer stopped publishing comics in the late 1990s and has returned to the form, so far as I know, only once.

Elsewhere:

David Brothers writes a nice appreciation of the excellent Johnny Wander. A new blog devoted to comic book mapping and explaining graphics.

Plus, new Ditko (60 years in) and old Kirby.

 

 

Can I Stop Being Worried Now?

Chris Mautner is here with a review of the inaugural volume of TwoMorrows’s history of U.S. comics, John Wells’s American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1960s. Here’s an excerpt:

This is the first entry in TwoMorrows’s extremely ambitious attempt to provide a comprehensive history of the American comic book industry in America. Running from the 1940s to today, the series proposes to detail all the “pivotal moments” that occurred both behind the scenes and within the comics themselves, with different authors tackling different eras.

Just glancing at that timeline, though, gave me pause. Why start at the 1940s? Why not begin earlier? I understand that TwoMorrows wants to focus solely on comic books, but even so, to ignore the first forty years of the newspaper comic strip, which, to put it mildly, laid most of the groundwork and influenced many if not all of the cartoonists that worked in the first few decades of the industry (to say nothing of the high aesthetics of the work being done during that period) seems problematic at best. Turning the book over in my hands I wondered: Is this going to be a thoughtful, engaging look at how the industry has changed over time, or just a fannish reminiscence of bygone years?


Elsewhere:

—Talk talk. Tom Gauld talks to NHPR, Gilbert Hernandez talks to The Portland Mercury, Liza Donnelly talks to Cartoon Movement, Blutch talks to Craig Thompson.

—Award fever.
Voting is now open for the Eisner Awards, with the ballot available here. Eisner judge Charles Hatfield addresses the recent controversy over Frank Santoro’s Before Watchmen comments. SAW has announced their latest round of micro-grant awardees. And the Doug Wright Awards has begun an auction of supervillain-related original art to help fund itself. Details are here, and the first item up for bid is the following piece from Seth.



—Critical commentary.
J. Ryan Strandal reviews the new Ben Katchor book for LARB, and Kailyn Kent writes about cinema, music, and comics for HU.

—Miskellaneous.
The terrible self-promoters over at Drawn & Quarterly get profiled by Huck magazine. A U.S. District judge has ruled that Superboy rights belong to DC. Ruben Bolling talks about organizing the following film, featuring an impressive group of cartoonists: