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A Poor Man’s Stone Temple Pilots

What we do in life echoes in eternity, so prepare for your eternity to echo with Matt Seneca's extensive review of Antoine Cossé's Showtime, which we excerpted here at The Journal just a few weeks ago. Here's the part of Matt's review where he distills a 176 page graphic novel into a bunch of seemingly contradictory influences in a way that makes those of us who are no longer jealous of him kiss our fingers like we just baked the perfect pizza pie.

Rather, it scans like a take on Yuichi Yokoyama's Travel reinterpreted through the hyperactive, goofball Continental sensibility of Olivier Schrauwen. Or maybe an issue of a Golden Age super-mystic comic like Dr. Fate crossed with the post-Tarantino sensibility of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. There's a lot going on here, in short, but through it all Cosse levitates comfortably above his influences and contemporaries to produce a work that feels like it could come only from him. 

Bonus points to those of you who understand his sports references without looking them up: i'm not a real man!

Elsewhere!

News. Kate Beaton's crowdfunding site for her sister's cancer treatment has hit its initial target and is now looking for further help with the intention of pursuing a cure in the United States. Kate has set up a Flickr page to better showcase the excellent and moving comics she's been putting together, collecting and pairing with family photos--I linked to this once, and am linking to it again. Moving, funny, peerless.

Interviews & Profiles. Jason Shiga stops by the Multiversity website to talk about Demon on the Comics Syllabus podcast. Shiga's a smart, funny creator and Demon is the second best graphic novel First Second has published (their best is Gus & His Gang)--this is a no brainer.

Reviews & Sundry. It's list season, so head on over to The Globe & Mail to check out Sean Roger's picks for best graphic novels of the year. For some dumb reason, Sean's editors label his picks as "Sean Roger's Favorite Comics" instead of just calling them the Best of the Year, which is the language they use for most of the other sections. 

Over at Kirkus, they've posted the one graphic novel list they will bother to come up with. In keeping with Kirkus tradition, it's the middle grade list, as the kids division of Kirkus is the only one aware that comics are still regularly published for human consumption.

At Sequential State, Alex Hoffman reckons with the difficulties inherent in publishing collections of long-running webcomics. While he uses a Star Wars example to make a point about comics--as close to a dealbreaker as it gets--that's just an editorial problem, sort of like the one he blames for a perceived rise of disappointing graphic novels.

Artists collecting their own work for Kickstarter may not have that kind of funding or institutional support, but it’s incumbent on any publisher printing these books to make these editorial decisions.  There are a lot of fine comics out there that could be good or great with an editor. And, let’s be frank. It’s clear that these are editorial considerations that are not happening, because M.F.K. vol. 1 exists as a book as it currently stands.

I went looking for reviews of the most recent issue of Savage Dragon, the long-running Image series that long ago became one of the oddest things Image publishes, after hearing from various retailers about the explicit depictions of sex that took place in the comic. Considering how far back that particular fetish of creator Erik Larsen goes, I didn't think that there would be much to it--but I suppose featuring enough sperm to fill an aquarium is worth some kind of prize. Most reviews seemed to take the story at face value, reckoning as much with the comic's XXX related content as with the weird meta-commentary within the story about its other narrative choice, which was the return of a character not seen since a Santa Claus related issue published back when the comic was in the double digits.

Generally speaking, I don't think you could really call the comic bad, but I do think you could dismiss it as such as an easy way to avoid the extraordinary weirdness of it--this being a comic where the creator decided to up the pornographic content as a test of his readers patience modeled on what he remembered Dave Sim having done in old issues of Cerberus, while defending himself in the letters page against Trump supporters furious with him for his depiction of their beloved President in previous issues, set during a story arc where the main character has been forced to move to Canada following the election, a Canada Larsen has decided will be depicted more realistically than the way he has spent the last couple of decades depicting Chicago. 

Oh, and the sex is, in part, motivated in part because the character finally got a vasectomy. There's a lot more information about said vasectomy, and the realistic implications, at the link above. Get your freak on, Larsen.

 

No Thought to Our Interests

Welcome back to the site. Today we've got a short excerpt from Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden's How to Read Nancy, the book my old co-editor Dan called the best book ever written on comics. I've read it now myself, and agree that it's at least the best book on comics I've personally read. As many of you probably already know, the book examines comics through the lens of one particular Ernie Bushmiller comic strip, broken down and analyzed from 44 different angles. There are also more than a dozen appendices in which they explore various contextual issues, and our excerpt today is Appendix 2, in which they focus primarily on the contingencies of publishing: paper stock, newspaper layouts, coloring, etc.

Compared to the images presented throughout this book, this version of the strip may look a little different. But it is essentially what most readers on August 8, 1959, saw when they scanned the comics page that morning. The drab, sour hue of cheap newsprint is a far cry from the crisp white paper that you hold in your hands. Made from coarse wood pulp (the entire log, bark and all, is utilized in its manufacture), newsprint absorbs printer’s ink like a thirsty sponge and the results stand in dramatic contrast to the printer’s ink that forms the letters of this sentence, which sits upon the surface of the slick coated stock so handsomely.

The strip above is neither quite black nor white (as the photostat camera saw Bushmiller’s Higgins ink lines on fresh three-ply Strathmore) but a combination of gray newsprint (soon cream, then yellow, now dun), imperfect ink coverage, and lurking phantom grays — the visual artifacts of the soaked-in mystery images on the reverse side of the thin newsprint sheet. Paper itself is evocative, and the varieties and grades used in the printing trade can affect the reader’s preconceptions, the reading itself, and the memory of that reading as well. Printed newsprint, in particular, carries a distinctive tactility and unique scent and, when especially well inked, may not completely dry for many years.

Typical mid-twentieth-century newspaper technology may have produced a daily record that was dependably legible, but never one that was particularly definitive when it came to reproducing photos of NASA space monkeys, ads for the brand-new Bic ballpoint pen — or comic strips. Nor was it ever expected to be. Yesterday’s newspaper has been synonymous with today’s toilet paper since the invention of the daily press. In comparison, twenty-first-century technology delivers imagery that is so pixel-accurate that it is not to be believed. So don’t believe it. In full disclosure, even the version of the strip presented in this book has been compromised. With the whereabouts of the original artwork for August 8, 1959’s Nancy currently unknown and no extant proof sheet available, we began our production work with the best available source material: a 1960 paperback reprint on a paper grade only slightly better than newsprint (see illustration above).

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. BuzzFeed has reported that five more women have come forward with accusations of misconduct by former DC editor Eddie Berganza.

The new accusations against Eddie Berganza, 53, follow a BuzzFeed News story that detailed how the company failed to discipline him, and even promoted him to executive editor, after a 2010 complaint to human resources. Berganza eventually was demoted in 2012 following allegations that he had forcibly kissed a woman at a comic convention that year. DC Comics, a subsidiary of Warner Bros., fired him on Nov. 13 after the BuzzFeed News story appeared.

But now five more women have told BuzzFeed News about their own experiences with Berganza. One says he forcibly kissed her, something he’d previously been accused of doing to a different woman in the 2010 complaint, and to the other one in 2012. Others now coming forward allege inappropriate touching, and one says Berganza told her she was "too pretty" to be interesting. If DC Comics had acted earlier to rein Berganza in, the women say, they might have been spared harassment and felt more comfortable pursuing careers at major comic publishers.

Nobuhiro Watsuki, best known for the Rurouni Kenshin manga series, was arrested by Tokyo police last week for possession of child pornography.

His charge is violation of the law against child prostitution and child pornography, and the police has sent the case to the public prosecutor's office.

According to the police investigation, Watsuki possessed several DVDs that included footage of naked girls in their early teens at his office in Tokyo in October. He has already admitted the charge and said, "I liked girls in the higher grades of elementary school to the second grade of junior high." During the investigation for another child pornography crime, the police learned that Watsuki purchased some DVDs of early teen girls. Then its youth guidance division searched his house and found about 100 child pornography DVDs.


—Interviews & Profiles.
Chris Hassan has interviewed the infamous former Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter about the current state of superhero comics.

Comics is completely unlike magazine publishing. It’s unlike book publishing. Comics have more in common with single malt scotch than they do with other kinds of publishing because it’s a relationship. It’s a relationship marketing business. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to see what happened to Spider-Man next month. I didn’t give a damn if the cover was foil-embossed–because it wasn’t. It’s all about them loving Spider-Man, the character of Spider-Man, wanting to know what’s going on with Spider-Man. If they miss an issue and they don’t care, you lost. So you have to understand, you’re building a relationship. Stan took it a step farther and created a relationship between the creators. Everyone felt Stan was their friend. Kids would send him childish confessions. “Am I a bad person because I did this or that.” When they’re involved, you win. When they’re not, I don’t care how many foil-embossed covers there are.

The latest guest on RiYL is Nicole Georges.

—Reviews & Commentary. For the Chicago Tribune, Michael Tisserand has reviewed Glenn Bray and Frank Young's book on Art Young, To Laugh That We May Not Weep.

Among the lesser-known outcomes of the trial of the eight suspects in Chicago’s Haymarket riots: How it helped launch one of our great cartoonists.

When the notorious trial got underway in June 1886, seated with the press was Art Young, then a 20-year-old illustrator originally from Orangeville, Ill. Young, assigned to cover the event for the Chicago Evening Mail, grabbed a chair at a table with other court reporters, near the defense attorneys. He sketched the proceedings and then hurried to the Evening Mail offices to engrave his lines onto chalk plates, which would be used for reproducing the images in the paper. His work received enough notice for him to move over to the Daily News. Then he landed a $50-per-week stint at the Chicago Tribune.

Young was enthusiastic about the move, later noting that the Tribune had installed an elevator and the Daily News had not. However, Young was soon dismissed by editor Robert Patterson. He never knew exactly why. “I have never asked an editor why he didn’t want my work; it would have been too much like asking a woman why she didn’t love me,” he later explained in his memoir.

Ray Davis writes about Eddie Campbell and The Lovely, Horrible Stuff.

The Lovely Horrible Stuff was published in 2012. Following on the full-color mysteries of The Fate of the Artist and the house-museum of Alec: The Years Have Pants, odd looking and oddly structured, marketed as a book "about money" but disconcertingly apolitical, it was, to reappropriate Jonathan Lethem's phrase, "very quietly received."

That doesn't mean it didn't land an impact here and there. It just meant landing in a soft place.

And now aw shit.

* * *

I have a similar soft spot for 1993's Graffiti Kitchen. After a decade of charming groove, Graffiti Kitchen was a "departure," as the critics say. The King Canute Crowd's scrappy Zip-a-Tone vanished along with grins, pratfalls, and pubbish inconsequence. Instead, Campbell scratched the page till it bled.

The departure was permanent. Starting with his next personal work, Campbell changed "Alec"'s genre, marital status, profession, homeland, and (before long) name. That new groove spooled over the next two decades and there at the end of the spool lies The Lovely Horrible Stuff.

 

There Is No Shortcut

Today at the Journal, we've got a look at Nobrow's latest volume of Geis, by Alexis Deacon. It'll be out in December--keep an eye out for an upcoming review. Like many of you, The Comics Journal will be taking Thursday and Friday off because we're still legally allowed to do so. On with the news!

ELSEWHERE

News. Sheila Barry, the publisher of Groundwood Books died of cancer last weekGroundwood is a Canadian publisher of exceptional children's books, as well as the award winning graphic novel work by Isabelle Arsenault--Jane, the Fox and Me is the one everybody knows (rightfully so, as it was selected as a New York Times Best Illustrated Book), but for my money, you can't do much better than Louis Undercover, a tremendous and affecting story about two young children grappling with their estranged father's alcoholism. I had the honor of sitting alongside Sheila on an ALA panel last year, and found her to be an inspiring advocate for graphic novels, illustration, and the artists who create them. Her passing is an irreplaceable loss.

Over at Hyperallergic, Jessica Campbell delivered a somewhat scattered (by design, I'd argue) comic about how she is responding to the daily revelations of sexual harassment and assault by men in power. It's a shotgun blast of emotion, but I'd bet that Campbell knows exactly what she is doing. 

We haven't talked about most of the Mark Millar related news that has been released over the last month, but I found the news that Kick-Ass--which is probably the most successful comic book published by Icon, the creator-owned Marvel Comics imprint that was expressly designed to keep big name writers from abandoning Marvel entirely--will now be published by the very publisher that Icon existed to keep them away from: Image Comics. Thankfully, Marvel has already figured out how to win back fans and creators: by imitating Marvel movies. 
Post-credit scenes, y'all!

Interviews & Profiles

This interview with Conor Stechschulte gets in deep, which is the best kind of interview. It was published in the lead up to his show in Italy, which is--well. Do you have a show in Italy? I don't!

I was wondering when someone was going to realize that the comics community didn't have their own version of Marie Forleo, those vaguely benevolent parasites who help maintain the power structure of teacher/student in the fallow years of a freelance lifestyle, apparently Jessica Abel was too, as she has taken on the role. Here's her take on how to fix your life, an interview done in part to promote a book of the same name.

If you clicked on the Mutha link above, hopefully you stayed there to catch up with this Gene Yang interview where he gets into his Reading Without Walls program. It's a worthy enterprise, and as Yang is someone who gets shit done, over and over again, it's always nice to get on board a success early.

Reviews & Sundry

The New York Times recommended eleven books this week, one of them the latest children's graphic novel by Argentinian super-star Liniers, another being the newest Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child. As the father of a small child and an avid fan of Reacher, I'm a fan of this list; as a fellow editor, I have no idea who else this list could possibly be for. Another list worth checking out is this NYPL one--there's a few graphic novels on there, but there should be more.

NPR on Body Music. I like to watch generalist publications grapple with books they clearly don't like, but want to find a way to praise nonetheless.

This isn't comics, but one of my favorite series on the internet is the ongoing "Movie Poster of the Week" column at Mubi. The latest installment takes a look at the way artists from around the world responded to Dreyer's classic Passion of Joan of Arc. It's such a simple, basic fascination--they had to interpret the movie or the idea of the movie, with an eye towards compelling an audience in their native lands to go see the movie. A problem, an art object and an audience--here's a list of the various solutions different artists came up with. Uniformity of design for ease of worldwide consumption is boring, stupid and yet may be unavoidable: but at least we can still look back and see individual vision in the recent past. 

Have a great holiday!

 

Color Wheel

Today on the site, Brian Nicholson reviews the latest from Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët, Satania.

The standard progression of horror stories, in which events become worse and worse, is often described as "a descent into hell." Such a descent is the literal plot of Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët's Satania. Kerascoët, a pseudonym for a married couple working collaboratively, have a style that betrays no surface ugliness, and so does not hint at the horror to come. They recently illustrated a children's book written by Malala. Their work is friendly and welcoming, bright with color. Through the lens they provide, it is easy enough to interpret what is happening as a fantasy narrative, a story of exploration, in which dangers might bring harm to peripheral characters, but will not make too caustic an impression upon the psyche of the reader.

Readers of Vehlmann and Kerascoët's previous collaboration Beautiful Darkness might be more prepared. There were a number of them; that book was a hit. Kerascoët's work is, as the book's title stated, beautiful. It functions typically, with cartooned characters moving inside of more realistic backgrounds. However, the linework on the figures remains lively, sketched out and improvisational, in a way found more often in the energy of storyboards than the labored-over end result most cartoonists working in an animation-derived style employ. The watercolors they employ then adds to the texture that defines the backgrounds' detail and keeps up with the spontaneity of the characters' acting. The cumulative effect grants a sense of depth to these worlds, and the darker aspects of Vehlmann's scripting do not subvert Kerascoët's skill set so much as excavate it. Beyond the foregrounded elements, another form of life is breathing, and there is a deeper meaning in play beyond the surface pleasures.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews. Gabriele di Fazio talks to Conor Stechschulte.

At the risk of over-explaining and squeezing out better and more interesting interpretations, I’d say that The Amateurs is an attempt to lampoon, ridicule and take apart (literally, haha) the idea of self-reliant, non-relational masculinity – the man who has all the answers. This is the character that Jim and Winston try to perform for the women in the book.

A huge influence on The Amateurs was the book Flesh of my Flesh by Kaja Silverman. She argues for replacing the Oedipus myth with the Orpheus myth with regards to gender – a story based on mortality rather than castration. She says our mortality allows us to relate to one another analogously, through our resemblances rather than metaphorically which always presumes a hierarchy. I was trying for a lot of these ideas and borrowed imagery from the Orpheus myth (i.e. the head washed up on the shore).

The most recent guest on RiYL is Trina Robbins.

—Reviews & Commentary. Ernie Bushmiller skeptic Thad Komorowski gives Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden's How to Read Nancy a positive review.

How to Read Nancy will inevitably be an important college text: its writing is engaging but never fannish, and breaks down the concepts of visual storytelling in a manner that will not turn off the average reader or student. I can easily see this becoming an alternative to Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics in many curriculums. That book has its virtues and will always be valuable, but I always thought it an awful idea for McCloud to do it as an actual comic book. Newgarden and Karasik lavishly illustrate the history and their thesis, and also understand that concepts need to be explained in words without distracting the reader with the authors’ own creative concept.

Caleb Orecchio revisits some of the coloring work Françoise Mouly did for Marvel in the '70s.

What a pleasant surprise to find her in the pages of some of my favorite, dumb back-issues. This is half the reason I love old newsprint comics, you never know what combination of creators you will find, and what the results will be. Françoise Mouly colors?! What a treat.

I like how she considered tone and value. Something that wasn’t necessarily regarded often within the machine of newsprint boy’s-adventure comics. I assume this was merely a “job” to her on a freelance basis; and the years that she worked being ’78 and ’79, I can’t help but muse that the capital for publishing RAW (first published in 1980) was acquired through Marvel paychecks. Though this may not (probably not) be strictly true, I emit an evil laugh when I consider this. Water into wine. Mwahahaha!

Finally, TCJ's own Joe McCulloch and Tucker Stone discuss CAB and comics with Tucker's four-year-old daughter.

 

The Fever of The Werewolf

It's time to welcome our newest columnist to the fold--Austin English is back, and with him is his column, 10 Cent Museum! Austin is a cartoonist living in New York, whose most recent book, Gulag Casual, was published in 2016 by 2d Cloud. He is currently at work on a follow up book, Meskin and Umezo, which will appear in 2019. He runs the publishing house Domino Books and has written for the Journal since 2001. His first column is on Feininger, the language of cartooning, and how being addicted to one language might just turn you into a singular, blinkered clown

ELSEWHERE

News. It was announced last week that CB Cebulski--a man who allegedly used social media to instruct wanna-be artists to bring Five Guys with them during NYCC portfolio submissions--would be taking over the role of Editor-in-Chief at Marvel Comics, following the mutual decision between Axel Alonso and Marvel that Axel should go somewhere else, forever. Cebulski's biggest legacy up to this point (besides calling himself a "foodie") is that he was one of the guys who figured out that, thanks to the spread of high speed internet, super-hero publishers could start hiring non-American artists at poverty level wages. (He was also had the wisdom to be alive and near the room where Brian K. Vaughan delivered Runaways, which was a comic you used to have to read, but will soon be able to watch on television, thank God.) Whether or not Cebulski's vast knowledge of places to order ramen noodles will help Marvel regain the luster it once had is a question no one has an answer to yet, but then again: who cares?

Reviews & Sundry. The Washington Post published Michael Cavna's list of the Best Graphic Novels of 2017He fell for Tom King's obvious attempt at virtue signaling, but Gabrielle Bell is on there too, so no big deal--we all have our blind spots. If I had to make one of these--wait, do I?--I'd probably include some of these books as well.

How many reviews of Henry King are there? Not enough for my taste. Comicsverse liked the book fine, rating it both with a 95% and the term "Morbid Fascination". I wonder what they would have said if the book got a 90%!

 

Flatiron

Today on the site, Frank Santoro returns with a new Riff Raff column, this time about his experience at the latest CAB festival.

I skipped the after party to go have dinner with my publisher, Serge Ewenczyk of Éditions çà et là. He came all the way from France to enjoy the show and to visit with his authors like me. We talked about the book I’m doing for him. And the show, of course. He said, “Everybody is doing Risograph now in the States. It all looks more or less the same to me.” I had to laugh. I could see his point. Lots of similar palettes and copycatting. I drove Serge to the subway and then I went on a walk with Aaron Cometbus through Prospect Park at midnight. Then finally back at my friends’ house where I was staying to have a celebratory drink and count the money I made that day at the show. Survey says: best CAB ever, saleswise.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The Paris Review has published the introduction Daniel Clowes wrote for the new edition of Nicole Claveloux's Green Hand.

I’ve been deeply in love with the work of Nicole Claveloux for close to forty years, which is strange because until the New York Review of Comics reissue of The Green Hand, I’d never actually read one of her stories. I don’t read French, but more to the point, it somehow seemed perilous to focus in any way on the text, as I feared it could only diminish the mysterious power of her images.

I first saw her name in Heavy Metal magazine when I was in high school and, soon after, through some miracle, managed to blunder across a French album of her work called La main verte. I remember standing in the mildewed chaos of Larry’s Comics in Chicago (RIP), transfixed by the beautiful, electrified colors—unlike any I’d seen before (or since). I took it home and obsessed over every panel, drawn into an intimate, immersive private dream world of deep and complicated emotions, an obsession that has only deepened over the years with the acquisition of further volumes of her work, thanks to French eBay and my NYRC editors.

—The well-regarded French television series Tac Au Tac is returning early next year.

Debuting in 1969, “Tac Au Tac” was a French series (with 12-14 minute episodes) hosted by series creator, Jean Frapat, in which comic artists would appear on TV to draw special challenges. Given a marker and a big pad of paper, they’d improvise often hilarious drawings either in cooperation with each other, or in an attempt to make the next person’s job harder.

If you’ve seen Mark Evanier’s “Quick Draw!” panel at San Diego Comic-Con, you’ll have the idea. It’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” for cartoonists. It’s not quite as rapid fire or fast-paced, but it flows well with a little tv editing.

The show lasted almost ten years, and resulted in some memorable episodes that belong in the annals of comics history. Imagine watching top artists of all time on your television as they draw things off the tops of their heads. It’s thrilling, especially considering that this was not a day and age when everyone had a video recorder in their pocket.

For Americans, a couple of episodes featured Neal Adams, Joe Kubert, and Moebius. Michael Kaluta and Bernie Wrightson did an episode. Steranko showed up for an episode filmed on a boat in New York City.

—Brian Nicholson writes about Shaky Kane and David Hine's Bulletproof Coffin.

The Bulletproof Coffin seems comfortable with being designated as trash, and is a pastiche of various comics, but they are all things that have historically been considered “good:” Its vision of superheroes is rooted in Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby, the approach to short stories with twists comes from EC horror comics, or 2000 AD, and the end result ends up feeling not far from early Vertigo stuff. All of these things had their own sense of humor about themselves, and all are out of fashion enough at this time for the new one-shot, 1000 Yard Stare, to come out and feel fresh and fun. There’s a sense of play, that still feels thought-through enough to be satisfying. It seems aware of all the gross aspects of the comics industry that inform the work in a way that makes it feel less gross than other works that are invested in a sort of performative naivete.

 

St. Augustine’s Shiny Wristwatch

Today at the Journal, we've got a fresh, meaty look at the latest work from Antoine Cossé, a cartoonist schooled in my favorite philosophy: make, make, make. While he's worked with a number of outlets, is preferred publisher is Breakdown Press--and the new book is called Showtime.

Elsewhere!

-News. A core part of Kate Beaton's endlessly appealing work has been the way in which she depicts her family members--it's a testimony to her skill as a cartoonist, yes, but also the grace with which she cares and listens to them. One of those family members--her sister Becky Beaton--has been struggling with cervical cancer since 2015. The family has asked for help online in managing the expenses they will incur in pursuing a cure within the United States.

Zanadu Comics will close this coming January. As someone who has directly experienced how incredibly dumb the commentary gets online around the closing of a comic book store, I'll keep it super simple: Zanadu was a wonderful store staffed by wonderful, intelligent, funny and hardworking people. I loved going there, and feel sorry that other people won't get to have that experience. 

-Interviews & Profiles. 

The Chicago Reader covered an online petition to get Eve Ewing--a poet and sociologist known on Twitter as Wikipedia Brown--hired by Marvel as the new writer for Invincible Iron Man, one of the many comics that Brian Michael Bendis was responsible for. The day after, a larger piece about Eve and the lack of black female comic book writers went up at Shondaland. While Eve's initial interest seemed to be driven mostly by her own amusement and how similarly she and the character style their haircut, the campaign seems to have taken off, especially over the last few days--which is also right around the time it was discovered by racist maniacs and horrified Marvel readers who might be taking themselves a bit too seriously. 

Another day, another Emil Ferris article--and this one is in American Libraries, a monthly magazine, which always makes it feel even more intense, because that's prime real estate. It only comes out once a month!

My first champion was a librarian at Gale Elementary School named Mrs. Eldridge. She started me competing in the Illinois History Day competitions, and I got to go down to Springfield. I joke about it, but it seemed that I would shake a governor’s hand, and he would be indicted two months later. It happened more than once.

Reviews & Sundry. I was delighted to discover that, not only is there a podcast completely dedicated to the best super-hero summer event comic of all time, but that said podcast already has 28 episodes online

You might think that Republicans and Democrats can't agree on anything, and if you were basing your opinion solely on social media, you'd be right. But in the real world, Democrats and Republicans all got together and universally agreed that all Federal websites should be mobile friendly. Imagine that!

 

 

Shutter Speed

Joe McCulloch is back again, with a review of Josh Simmons and Patrick Keck's unofficial Batman comic, Twilight of the Bat.

This is the second unauthorized Batman comic to be written by Josh Simmons, that unsparing specialist in physical, emotional and moral breakdown. The first one was a self-published minicomic printed in 2007 under the simple title of Batman and subsequently posted online; it depicted the caped crusader at his most ideologically severe, lecturing a disgusted Catwoman on how he's devised a magnificent means of permanently disfiguring criminals. Batman cannot ever kill, you see, so it's crucial that the superstitious and cowardly lot that is the criminal element be marked - to live forever with the shame of their transgressions, and to be shunned, then, by all the good people of society. On its own, this is not an original idea. Lee Falk's transitional superhero character and Batman predecessor the Phantom left the mark of a skull on the jaws of those villains he struck, while the yet-earlier pulp character the Spider stamped his brand upon the foes he felled, but Simmons' Batman is depicted with unusual intimacy: knees pressing against his chin as he curls up to dream of packed prisons and children getting blasted with fire-hoses, swooning ecstatically, high above a tottering riot of Gotham rooftops.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:


—Interviews & Profiles.
Chris Ware continues to promote his backbreaking new career retrospective, Monograph, which is more or less essential reading for his enthusiasts, and may be the only person alive to appear in the same week on both Charlie Rose and Inkstuds.

At Vulture, Abraham Riesman interviews Walking Dead co-creator Robert Kirkman about his new TV documentary series, Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics, focusing on the "really, really ugly history of the comic-book industry," specifically in regard to creators' rights. (Strangely, Tony Moore's name never comes up.)

Was it hard to get DC and Marvel to play ball, given that a lot of the episodes are pretty critical of them?
A little bit. DC seemed to cooperate a little more than Marvel did. We got access to [DC co-publisher] Jim Lee for the Image episode, which we’re very grateful for. They were very involved in the Milestone episode because they’re doing a Milestone relaunch. But, y’know, I think that a lot of the worst things that Marvel and DC have done in their history, hopefully, are behind them. I think that it’s different people at the helm at this point, and I think they recognize that. So, it wasn’t too terribly difficult. And it’s not like the people that work at DC don’t think that [Superman co-creators Jerry] Siegel and [Joe] Shuster were given the short end of the stick.

At Hyperallergic, Angelica Frey profiles the mysterious GG.

GG chose to publish pseudonymously, as she does not want her work and her art to be overshadowed by her personality or backstory. In fact, when she started seriously writing comics, she initially only wanted to publish online and anonymously. “I agree with Elena Ferrante, who’s stayed totally anonymous, that books don’t need their authors once they’re written — if the work has something to say, it will find the right people to hear and understand it without the author having to speak for it,” she elaborated to me. And indeed, despite GG’s austere and allegorical modes of storytelling, the theme of alienation in I’m Not Here resonates loud and clear.

And CBS Sunday Morning interviewed George Booth:


—Reviews & Commentary.
Simon Willis writes about a London exhibition of Tove Jansson for the NYRB.

The popularity of the Moomins spawned an empire of television shows, films, and theme parks, as well as all manner of merchandise from plastic toys to crockery.

But over time, Jansson came to feel exhausted by the Moomins and that their success had obscured her other ambitions as an artist. In 1978, she satirized her situation in a short story titled “The Cartoonist” about a man called Stein contracted to produce a daily strip, Blubby, which has generated a Moomin-like universe of commercial paraphernalia—“Blubby curtains, Blubby jelly, Blubby clocks and Blubby socks, Blubby shirts and Blubby shorts.” “Tell me something,” another cartoonist asks Stein. “Are you one of those people who are prevented from doing Great Art because they draw comic strips?” Stein denies it, but that was precisely Jansson’s fear.

At LARB, John W.W. Zeisser writes about Peter Bagge's Fire!!

Fire!! takes its name from the short-lived literary journal [Zora Neale] Hurston co-founded and edited with other Harlem Renaissance luminaries, including her roommate Richard Bruce Nugent, Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman, Countee Cullen, Gwendolyn Bennett, and several others.

Fire!!, which was meant as a shot across the bow of the respectable, middle-class black literary production favored by the likes of Alain Locke and W. E. B. Du Bois’s “talented tenth,” reflects Hurston’s idiosyncratic ideas and deep commitment to African-American cultural production. The journal set out to give voice to the “low” art of Harlem and address many of the taboo issues within the community, including homosexuality, interracial love, and racism. However, Hurston et al. only managed to produce one issue before their headquarters burned to the ground. As Bagge has Hurston say to Bruce Nugent upon hearing the news, “Pretty prophetic, huh?”

Yussef Cole uses the recent video game Cuphead to explore racialist caricature in early American animation and its echoes in contemporary art and culture.

After World War II, when the NAACP and other organizations ran campaigns criticizing explicitly racist caricatures in animation, the industry responded by simply ceasing to create black characters of any kind. In Christopher P. Lehman’s The Colored Cartoon he writes: “No theatrical cartoon studio created an alternative black image to the servile, crude, hyperactive clowns of the preceding half-century. The cartoon directors of the 1950s, many with animation careers dating back to the 1920s, had no experience in developing such a figure.” Studio MDHR, in interviews, is quick to point out that they avoided stereotypes in Cuphead; that they focused on “the technical, artistic merit, while leaving all the garbage behind.” The truth may be dirty, and often uncomfortable. But it’s preferable to offering up a bleached white past, while pretending nothing was lost in the process.

RIP Edward Herman.