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A Two Trick Pony

Today at the Journal, we've got Carta Monir's take on the critically acclaimed I'm Not Here, from Koyama Press. Will Carta take the party line, and greet gg's work with praise and admiration? You'll know soon enough.

I’m Not Here, published by Koyama Press, is the latest of gg’s otherworldly stories. Like all of her work, it seems heavily inspired by film, especially French New Wave cinema. And, like all of her work, it deserves and requires multiple, attentive reads. (I should note: if you’re the kind of person who cares about spoilers, I would advise you to buy the book and stop reading the review right here.)

Due to yesterday's technical issues, I'd point you to our collection of The Best Comics of 2017, which went up later than anticipated. I have a lot of affection for these sorts of omnibus collections of lists, and the Journal has a history of putting quite a few good ones together. That being said, I also have the undying fondness for lists constructed by brute force compromise amongst hysterically passionate people with very specific points of view, and what a tremendous disappointment it has been this past month to see all the other publications take what is, in essence, the easier softer way of list after list after list of individual tastes and timing. Make everybody talk to each other, I say! You think Tom King's Mister Miracle is better than Emil Ferris? Well shit man: I would love to hear that conversation. God, I'd like to just live in a world where that conversation would realistically happen, where a person who is fully in love with Mister Miracle #1 would be willing to debate with somebody who thinks My Favorite Thing Is Monsters without either one of them getting all worked up about it on a personal level. (And yes, I know there's some rinkydink podcasts out there where they talk about every single comic related thing that came out, but I'm not interested in the opinions of hyperconsumptive bozos who "read everything" any more than I am interested in the writings of people who feel the need to tell you the word count all the time.)

That being said, I don't know how to get what I want besides doing it on a podcast, where it could be an actual conversation, and God knows the world needs fewer of those. It's a great indicator, those kinds of conversations--do you really like something, and why do you like it? What do you think it's doing well? How long can that dog run, and how far? Being forced to talk about that to an audience who is going to catch your prejudices and question your basic assumptions, as opposed to the hyperbole one-upping that occurs when you're preaching to a choir--those conversations are how one can get to the meat of an individual's appreciation in a way that the more breezy echo chamber rarely can. It's also diametrically opposed to the way most of the conversations I see myself having on social media, where I tend to focus more heavily on the disagreements I have with people--one tends to find a lot of commonality when a conversation is actually that, instead of the simulacrum of it approached online. 

Oh well. My favorite comic I read this year was You & A Bike & A Road by Eleanor Davis, which I fell in love immediately after I read it and have gone back to multiple times this year. I find myself in various seasons of reading comics--my time writing for ComiXology and my own blog, when I felt an obligation to "keep up" with everything; my time in retail, when I felt I needed to "know" what was going on with single issue comics and trendsetting young artists to keep up with my customers and what they needed; my time in publishing, when I basically only read the books I worked directly on or that I was gifted by friends, so as to keep some of my life completely clear of comics. Eleanor's book comes from the tail end of that season, when I tended towards comics that would be a quiet respite from the books I worked on, from the online world that never seemed to stop making noise, and I identified with the way Davis used her bike trip to parcel out her life, to reclaim. The masochism of knee pain, the struggle to know when enough is enough, the rawness of being a powerless witness to suffering--these are all moments I can relate to emotionally, but there's something far deeper in Eleanor's actual cartooning that makes the book so impactful. It's something I have struggled to put my finger on, which is part of the reason I carried my copy with me from place to place, train to plane. Is it that the confidence of the line, the way it all seems so Steinbergian perfect? The way a smile or a tear verges on cartoonish exaggeration but always stops before it could go too far? Is it something more base, something where a part of me stupidly believes that I could put my feelings on the page the way she does, if I just would let myself go?

I don't know what it is in that book. It hurls you into the road, batters you with moments and emotions and time, most of all, it batters you with a constant reminder of the passage of time, and then it slaughters you with love, and then it ends too soon. It's such a lovely book. I read quite a few other things this year that were good, a few that were great, a handful that were total horseshit, a bunch of '80s super-hero comics, but that was the one I fell for. 2018 has a tough bar to clear.

 

 

 

Here She Comes Again

Happy New Year, and sorry for the delay. We had our traditional beginning-of-the-year tech issues, but things are now working again, and we have one of the most enjoyable posts of the year: a wide-ranging collection of best-of lists from many of the comics world's finest thinkers and makers, the Best Comics of 2017.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Austin Lanari was unimpressed by The Nib's farewell to 2017.

These comics are preloaded to be up their own asses. When it says "saying goodbye to 2017," given the tone and fairly constant POV of the majority of things on the site this year (nevermind the title of the column itself), I know when it says "goodbye to 2017" it doesn't mean qua calendar year. It means a personified 2017. 2017 the meme, the villain, that "took" from us and "gave" us Trump and what-have-you. As a thesis, this is immature, fit-for-twitter grandstanding that only serves to ensconce the material itself in meme-dom. It wears its irrelevancy on its sleeve and hardly makes for lasting or interesting art.

At The New Yorker, Peter Schjeldahl writes a new show featuring Käthe Kollwitz and Sue Coe.

As rendered by [Coe], rich men are beasts, cops are murderers, and butchers earn their name. She frankly traces her animus to a harrowing childhood, lived within earshot of a pig abattoir where, as she wrote in her book “Dead Meat” (1996), “slaughtering started at 4 a.m.” Her early friends included “radical lesbians who joined the marines, professional car thieves, drug addicts who died, a rock star, and one shorthand typist.” (She is a crackerjack writer.) A scholarship to the Chelsea School of Art, in London, when she was seventeen, delivered her from what she had assumed would be a working-class life. She studied illustration and, after moving to New York, in 1972, became a regular contributor to publications including the Times. The St. Etienne brochure aptly lists, as formative influences on her, “Daumier, Dix, Goya, Grosz and, of course, Kollwitz.” Debts to them all are apparent in her art, but only Otto Dix’s work really anticipates its ferocity.

At Mindless Ones, Andrew Hickey goes on at length about Crisis on Infinite Earths in a post that makes a nice companion piece (or counteargument?) to Tom K's new column for this site.

Crisis was a far more influential comic than it’s ever given credit for. When people talk about the big three comics that changed everything around 1985/86, they always mention Maus along with The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, but that mostly comes from superhero comics’ desperate wish for greater legitimacy. Maus is a great comic, of course, but it’s a great comic from the art comix tradition — Spiegelman had nothing to do with the changes that the US direct market was going through at that time, and Maus had minimal influence on anything in the “mainstream” comics world. It’s rather like saying that the most influential records of 1966/7 were Pet Sounds, Sgt Pepper, and Stockhausen’s Hymnen. Hymnen‘s great, and arguably better than the Beatles or the Beach Boys, but wasn’t doing the same thing. The same goes for Maus.

No, the real third comic to revolutionise the mainstream comics industry at that time was Crisis on Infinite Earths.

I don't think I've ever seen any "Top Ten" list of any kind ever get the kind of negative response Nick Gazin got for his post on Vice last week. If you managed to stay off the internet during the holiday season (and good for you), just type "Nick Gazin" or something similar into the Twitter search box, and you'll see what I mean.

Making a list of the top ten comics of 2017 was difficult since ten good comics didn’t get published this year. Even the AV Club, which is almost always right, made a top ten list that was mostly worthless garbage. To some the purpose of a list like this is to serve as a gift guide but that’s shameful to me. The reason for these lists is to discuss creative works that were made this year that have some lasting value, not to be a distraction or an advertisement.

—Interviews & Profiles. The latest episode of RiYL features Cecil Castellucci, and the latest episode of the Library of American Comics podcast features Corto Maltese translator Simone Castaldi.

 

Eternal Life

Today at the Journal, we've got Tegan O'Neil getting engaged with David Collier's most recent comic for Conundrum Press--and engaged she is! It's called Morton, and here's a taste:

What Collier chronicles throughout Morton is not just the speed with which technological and social changes can transform a society but the anxiety that exists at the very real chance of waking up and one day finding yourself on the other side of said technological and social changes. His book gets rejected by Drawn & Quarterly so he goes to a younger, hipper publisher where people are having fun and his reputation as an elder statesman in the field carries more weight than the fact that his wife babysat Oliveros’ brothers’ kids. He makes not one but three references to Woody Allen, the final of which places the recurrence in a revealing context: not really knowing whether or not its OK to like Woody Allen movies anymore after having grown up with them. John Morton (consciously in this context the “Gallant” to Collier’s “Goofus”) turned his back on Allen after it became public that he was dating his stepdaughter.

INSTEAD OF LEAVING.

Why not stay? Here's a comic about staying, courtesy of Michel Fiffe.

Have a great holiday if you're having one!

 

Almost There…

Craig Fischer is here again, and the clouds have lifted. Today, he returns with a long, close look at the end of Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows's Providence, which he believes is "Moore’s meta-meditation on the shape and nature of his comics career, written as he prepares to leave the medium."

Moore has been leaving comics for a long time. In an interview with Jon B. Cooke in Comic Book Artist #25 (2003), Moore discussed his plans to bring his America’s Best Comics line to an apocalyptic finish in late 2003 (although he left open the possibility of publishing future League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books through ABC/DC). After years of grueling deadlines, Moore wanted to move into more personal and less predictable art-making:

I’m reaching a point in my life where what I want is less security, less certainty. I don’t want to know what I’m doing in a month’s time, or at least I won’t do after this November or thereabouts. I might write another novel. I might write a grimoire. I might waste a lot of time getting back into drawing, doing some more pictures. I might want to do more performances and release more CDs. I might want to write a play. I might want to get into sculpture. I might want to do a lot of things that are not going to obviously have any commercial value, which people might not like. I want to have that freedom. (55)

Luckily, his retirement from comics hasn’t stuck: he’s written plenty since shutting down ABC, including two League adventures for Top Shelf/Knockabout (Century [2009-12], and the Janni Nemo trilogy [2013-15]) and various projects for Avatar (the Providence prequel/sequel Neonomicon [2010-2011], the first six issues of Crossed Plus One Hundred [2014-15], and of course Providence). It’s true, though, that most of Moore’s effort in the last decade has been devoted to non-comics projects like his counter-culture magazine Dodgem Logic (2010-11) and his massive novel Jerusalem (2016). Meanwhile, his disdain for American mainstream comics and the superhero genre has escalated, due undoubtedly to how DC has wrung every cent out of the Moore comics they own while trying to undermine the legacy of Watchmen with irrelevant prequels and integration into “continuity.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The Wexner Center for the Arts has posted the audio from Caitlin McGurk's interview with Chris Ware at this year's CXC, which Eric Reynolds called "one of the most thought-provoking, live cartoonist interviews I've ever had the privilege to attend."

—Henry Chamberlain interviewed the very smart Hillary Chute about her latest book, Why Comics?

I profile one creator, Harvey Pekar, who is an example of successful collaborative work. But I think you put it really well when you say that something is lost when you get too many hands working on the piece. In my thinking, and perhaps it comes from my background in literature and novels, is the intimacy of comics. I think it’s what you get from seeing one person’s vision: seeing the same hand that creates the images as well as the words. You get a real world-building happening on the page when it’s done by one person. I think there’s something unique about comics in that way. People sometimes call them auteurist comics, which I believe you touch upon in your review. When you think about it, the term “auteur” comes from film, the New Wave French cinema and people like Godard. But, even on a Godard film, there are many people working on that film whereas a cartoonist like Dan Clowes, it’s just him through and through, the whole thing. It’s really a purchase on a person’s aesthetic vision.

Incidentally, it's nice to see that Chute chose Jaime Hernandez to do the cover (as many wondered about at the time, neither he nor his brother Gilbert was invited to the pivotal Chicago comics symposium a few years back).

—Most of you have probably already seen the Atlantic story on new Marvel editor C.B. Cebulski and his use of the Akira Yoshida pseudonym, which includes, among other things, an updated apology from Cebulski:

I’m truly sorry for the pain, anger, and disappointment I caused over my poor choice of pseudonym. That was never my intention. Throughout my career in anime, manga, and comics, I’ve made it a point to listen and learn from my mistakes, which is exactly what I’ve been trying to do with this misstep. Building honest relationships with creators has always been important to me, and I’ve continued to do that in my new position. I’ve spoken with talent close to this issue, and have had candid and productive conversations about how we can improve the industry and build better stories, while being mindful of the voices behind them. My passion has always been about bringing the best talent from across the world to work on the best stories in the world, and I’m hopeful that fans and creators alike will join us in that continued mission.

I don't think this story is likely to end here.

 

Savor The Selections

Today at the Journal, we've got the first column from cartoonist and publisher, Tomasz Kaczynski--it's titled Event Horizon, and while it isn't going to be a textual analysis of the picture starring Laurence Fishburne, he has assured me that he will get to said film after he's finished covering the 80's comics in question.

Your second must read of the day is the inimitable Joe McCulloch on Shiver, the Junji Ito collection we posted an excerpt of last week. Besides being an excellent review of the book, Joe grapples with the mutanting nature that digital delivery--both legal and not--have had on Ito's work and how critics are left to interpret that work.

This is both good business, and maybe just good. I think having Itō himself front and center can counteract the phenomenon of his works merely existing as pluckable digital fruits, although the book's setup is admittedly not ideal to that end. For one thing, there's no explanation as to when any of these comics were originally published - I'm not blaming VIZ here, since the Japanese edition doesn't have any information like that either, and for all I know they might be contractually prohibited from adding editorial material to the original work, but it does limit the book's usefulness as a retrospective. Upon digging around, I was able to find a Japanese blog purporting to list the original publication dates of everything in the book down to the month, the information presumably coming from other Itō collections or the author's experience; the actual sources, though, are never disclosed. If this information is accepted as accurate, it is noteworthy that the selected stories are arranged in chronological order, starting in 1990 (three years after Itō's professional debut, and the first year he spent working on manga without a day job) and concluding in 2003, a year after the serialization of Gyo, one of the longform works that helped make Itō's name in western environs.

ELSEWHERE

I was elsewhere, via a plane. As such I didn't catch the comics news, but I did see these two lists that I found interesting. I also finished the book I was reading on the flight out and thought I'd buy a graphic novel at the airport. But it was impossible to do that, because the adult selection was totally insane DC garbage that I just refuse to spend money on, the fourth and seventh volumes of a handful of Image series that I can't imagine would have made sense, and some of those horrible "educational" titles that PRH creates by breaking the hands of high school students before forcing them to draw pictures of Eisenhower. In a way, that's actually kind of a good thing, not seeing any comics you care about in an airport--Hudson News has a 97% return rate, so most of those books are screwed--but I was in a spendy mood that probably isn't going to return. Anyway, here's the lists I liked. The CBC did a best Canadian comics & graphic novel list, and with the exception of Jeff Lemire (he's not going to stop churning that one thing he does out if people keep pretending they enjoyed it, CBC!), every book on that list is as stable as a table, to quote from the book I read way too fast on my flight out. The other list has only one graphic novel on it and no real blurb (although it does link to an interview), but I still thought it was worth linking to, because I'm 39 years old, which means I have been reading comics long enough to know that it is still a big deal that a graphic novel aimed at teenagers from a Big Five publisher dealing with queer issues came out and had the kind of response Spinning has had. It hasn't been taken on as a success with its LGBTQ as a crutch to overlook aesthetic shortcomings, it's been successful on its merits, soley. I'm glad that we can finally expect more out of comics than Greg Rucka's alcoholic lesbians & their struggles to be drawn competently.

 

Final Countdown

Today on the site, we have another anniversary-year piece, R.C. Harvey's column on the 60th anniversary of the hard-to-believe hit import from the UK, Andy Capp.

ON THE FACE OF IT, the Andy Capp comic strip ought to have failed the moment it arrived on these shores in 1963, continuing its six-year run in England. The strip’s eponymous protagonist is a good-for-nothing lout, a layabout with a passion for a pint, and for the attractive unescorted woman at the end of the bar. He’s a working-class man with no work and no desire to work. His entire unemployed life transpires between the neighborhood pub and the couch in the living room at home where he sleeps off his indulgence. He would be unfaithful to his long-suffering wife Florrie (Flo) if he weren’t so lazy. In his occasional active moments, he sometimes beats his wife, whose strength of character makes her the real star of the strip. In short, there is nothing likable about Andy Capp—and certainly nothing admirable.

[...]

Andy Capp is the creation of Reginald Smyth, who added a final -e to his last name by way of adopting a pen name. Smythe drew Andy Capp from his first published appearance in 1957, until he, Smythe, died in 1998, leaving a year’s worth of unpublished strips for his successor; he was that far ahead of his publication schedule. After the stockpile was exhausted, Andy Capp was continued by writer Roger Kettle and cartoonist Roger Mahoney. In about 2011, Kettle quit and was replaced by Lawrence Goldsmith and Sean Garnett, while Mahoney continues to draw the strip.

Smythe grew up in Northern England under conditions that made Andy Capp seem like a kindred soul if not an alter ego. “He was my best friend yet,” Smythe once said. Growing into manhood, Smythe was often jobless for long stretches, making him sympathetic to Andy’s situation (which, in Andy’s case, is self-inflicted by preference).

Born July 10, 1917, Smythe grew up in Hartlepool, County Durham. Although in a coal mining district, the town was a port, and Smythe’s father was a shipyard worker, who was often unemployed because demand for ships slacked off after the Great War, 1914-18. In consequence, the family was very poor. Smythe described himself as “a canvas shoes kid”: the only poorer class of youngster was barefoot. Richer kids had leather shoes or boots.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Jonathan Lethem picked How to Read Nancy as his book of the year for BOMB:

[It] is a sublime object, a book that’s simultaneously a sensual pleasure to handle; a genius compilation of technical interventions for would-be cartoonists, practical jokers, and literary critics; a bundle of belly-laughs as delightful as a new puppy; and a kind of ontological “mise en abyme” which threatens to topple your sense of reality if you gaze into it too sustainedly.

—Interviews & Profiles. Sarah Rose Sharp profiles Laura Park at an exhibition of her work.

When I met cartoonist Laura Park for a walk through her exhibition connected to her three-week residency at the Columbus Museum of Art, she had recently emigrated to France, together with her native French boyfriend.

“I did that both because I love him, but also I have some worries about what is happening here — like, healthcare, Korean War? Don’t know what’s happening,” said Park, whose comic narratives fluidly incorporate autobiographical daily chronicles, magical realism, memory, and exhaustively researched hidden histories. “It’s interesting, because my parents are immigrants, and when I told them I’m going to do this — I never thought of them as very optimistic, but they are,” said Park. “They’re like, ‘You’ll be fine.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t speak French,’ they’re like, ‘Eh, you’ll figure it out.’ And realizing that was their attitude when they came here — we’ll figure it out. Because in that stereotypical way, they’re kind of dark people, but I’m like, you’re optimistic!”

Tom Heintjes talks to Reed Tucker, author of the new DC vs Marvel book, Slugfest.

Heintjes: When you approached creators and company executives to talk about the rivalry, what kinds of reactions did you receive?

Tucker: It was mixed, honestly, as you might expect. When I started the project, I compiled a huge list of people I might want to talk to. It skewed more towards editors, company executives and writers, because I thought those people probably had a better grasp of what was going on inside the companies than, say, a freelance artist might. So I just started reaching out, emailing them or writing them actual paper letters. I also went to a couple comic cons and tried to meet some creators in person. Generally, people were pretty receptive. A couple people declined nicely. One or two were kind of nasty. More than a few just ignored me. Fair enough. I can understand that the topic might be somewhat touchy, but I thought and still think that you have to have your head buried in the sand to dismiss the rivalry or its effect on superheroes and contemporary pop culture. I think it’s a worthy topic for discussion, not something that’s simply petty or gossipy.

AJ Frost talks to Ed Piskor about his new Marvel project, X-Men: Grand Design.

And as much as I’ve read all the [X-Men] comics, I do not consider them to be infallible. I always had some idea about making them all work together as a unit. I can sell water to a whale, so I make it sound it so cool. A lot of people who know me know that I like X-Men and, very often, a girlfriend will try to relate in some way. When people ask me “What should I read? What comics should I read?”… I frankly can’t point them to any X-Men comics because no matter which one you give somebody, there’s so much baggage that comes along with it that can leave a casual reader in the dust. It occurred to me that there should be an X-Men comic that one can point to highlight all the cool stuff that the series has to offer.

The latest guest on the RiYL podcast is Janelle Hessig.

—Misc. Tom Spurgeon is asking people who are able to consider giving to Cartoon Crossroads Columbus.

 

In the Screaming, In the Godhead

Today at TCJ, we've got the latest installment in Ken Parille's Grid column. The subject at hand is the 20th anniversary of Ghost World, one of the seminal American graphic novels of the 90's, with a specific focus on the comic's use of dialog.

Like Maus, Ghost World was a revelation in part because its characters spoke like actual humans rather than the cardboard types that had long populated comic books. “For once in a comic,” the Post said of the graphic novel, “people are portrayed as they really talk and act.” Ghost World’s naturalistic, unfiltered dialogue was especially unusual for female characters, not only those in comics, but in film, television, and novels. Two decades later, readers are still drawn to the characters’ astute, acidic, and ever-relevant profanity-laced observations about the media, advertising, neo-Nazis, “pseudo-bohemian art-school losers,” and all forms of faddishness.

Then we've got a look at John Arcudi's Rumble #1, relaunched last week with new artist David Rubin. Geoff Lapid provides the requisite hot takes:

The story starts at the beginning, or at least somewhere near it, in a cave with an old man and his boy, sitting by a fire and paintings on the wall that tell the story of when the world was overrun with savage monsters. The old man explains that Rathraq was sent by the gods to end the violence with more violence, thus clearing a path for the early humans like them. We're treated to a few pages of brutality, where Rubin does his best Geof Darrow impression, but ends up giving us something that looks more like John K. making Conan comics. Which… isn't bad? Limbs are getting hacked off, monsters are getting stabbed dynamically, there are some fun texture patterns to evoke bloodstains-- it’s all very macho and stylized, and you get all the consequence-free saturday morning cartoon gore you need.

News. Mad had its last NYC party this past week, and Tom Richmond wrote about it, his history with the magazine, and what he thinks of the future. I hope to have more about Mad's transition to Burbank in the coming months, because I really like the comics Noah Van Sciver did about that unlucky bear.

This opinion piece about the supposed diversity problems at Marvel Comics is almost indistinguishable from any particular blowhard in an internet comments section, but I'm linking to it anyway, because for some reason it's being published by a subsidiary company of News Corp. It exemplifies one of the core disabilities at the heart of comics, which is that websites and publications with actual money and reach hire people who are little more than fans, and those people go on to dictate the sort of coverage that maintains a status quo of almost preternatural stupidity. Is it possible that Marvel's diversity choices have done something to their business? Sure. But this article doesn't examine that question with any level of serious inquiry. It merely states that the comics market is having a major financial crisis, talks about one particularly ugly bit of behavior on the part of a few bad actors at a comic book convention, trots out a bunch of dog whistle type phrases to amp up the two sides of a cultural argument, grabs a quote from Milton Griepp to make it appear justified, and tosses it out there on a finance site powered by the same billion dollar corporation that owns The Wall Street Journal. 

Reviews & Sundry. Tom Baker's review of I'm Not Here for Broken Frontier gets into that book's specificity of design, and how that specificity is used to compensate for the minimal dialog.

After the soft peach background of the cover, the rest of the book is all whites, greys and the occasional heavy black (for the eyes and hair of the characters, buildings in the dead of night, the darkness around the sights she captures in her camera’s lens), fading away further during flashbacks. An absence of colour is often said to signify an absence of feeling, and a book the main character reads suggests that “feeling is impossible if we feel today as we did yesterday; to feel today the same thing we felt yesterday is not to feel at all…”

 

Today's featured image is Chris Cooper from the film Money Train.
 

Arghggh

Today on the site, Cynthia Rose reports from the Paris comics festival, SoBD, which is run by Stripologie.

Almost any Parisian will tell you that comics and graphic novels are serious stuff. Here, the "BD" or bandes dessinées are not just in bookshops. They're all over the place: in train stations, supermarkets, museums and the news kiosks found on every street. During 2016, the country's residents bought more than eight-and-a-half million BD – so we're talking about 15.5 % of the whole French population. What's more, those statistics seem to be increasing.

This omnipresence, however, has a down side. With new volumes appearing weekly, few books get more than a fortnight on display. Blockbusters such as Asterix are different but, even for mainstream publishers, this poses a serious problem. When it comes to collectives, independents, and books about comics, that problem is a crisis – and it's one Amazon hasn't helped.

Parisian Renaud Chavannes is doing something about it. Chavannes, a journalist and digital entrepreneur, also authored Composition de la bande dessinée (Editions PLG). A thoughtful history and analysis of page layout, it took him a decade – and he wasn't prepared to see it simply appear and vanish. So he fought back by designing a shop of his own, an online boutique called Stripologie.com. Open for business since 2012, Stripologie sells books over the internet. But it's dedicated just to books about BD, to special editions and volumes on the history, art, and theory of comics.

And Frank Young has reviewed Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden's How to Read Nancy.

“You can’t teach genius,” my friend and colleague Glenn Bray quipped in a recent email exchange. As an after-school teacher of comics, cartooning, and storytelling, I must bow my head and agree. One out of 50 of the middle-school kids I teach has the bonafide comics bug—that burning desire to draw and tell sequential stories. The rest do their imitation Sonic the Hedgehogs, Wimpy Kids, and Bendys, despite my invitations to create new characters instead of expending their energy on fanfic.

Some of the subtleties of How to Read Nancy—and its wry humor—may be lost on the age-group I teach, but this book has the potential to inform and inspire, by example, the process of comics-making to anyone willing to lend an ear and focus. It’s the best thing to happen for comics in a long time.

To make comics, one must study comics—just as a filmmaker watches movies and a novelist reads other writers. No art exists in a vacuum. We get the occasional void-artist (Henry Darger, Fletcher Hanks, Rory Hayes) but they’re a rare exception. With its focus on the most mainstream cartoonist of the 20th century, authors/theorists Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden expose the self-evident truths hidden in plain sight in three panels of a comic strip that came and went in a blip in the summer of 1959.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Brian Nicholson has written recent posts about Gabrielle Bell and E.A. Bethea

Her pages are uniform, six square panels to a page. Most panels feature Gabrielle in them. The square is a stage, you generally see her full body, taking up most of the height of it. She is skinny, there is room enough for backgrounds and other characters. Room enough also for a good amount of text. Usually this is dialogue, sometimes it’s more caption-driven. Sometimes the captions will accompany a drawing where Gabrielle has thought balloons going as well: The captions relaying an after-the-fact storytelling, while her thought balloons convey her thoughts at the moment being depicted. The desire for ink on the page results in marks that seems like they are meant to delineate folds in fabric, but there are more of them then there would be folds on fabric. The overall effect is anti-glamorous.

—and his disinterest in recent superhero comics:

DC currently has an imprint edited by the singer of the emo band My Chemical Romance, that’s clearly designed to be something of a throwback to the early days of Vertigo. I love a lot of those comics: The Peter Milligan Shade The Changing Man, the Grant Morrison Doom Patrol. My interest in reading the revivals falls apart on flip-through. The difference between the nineties iterations and their contemporary revivals is that, if the older audience identified with the label “alternative,” the ideal audience for these Young Animal comics are people who would describe themselves as “adorkable.”

—At Vulture, Abraham Riesman interviews Charles Burns.

The series took about a decade to complete. When you started with your notebooks and sketchbooks, did you know what the last page would look like?
Probably not right at the beginning, but I had a core idea. I knew what that last page was gonna be for, let’s say, seven years. At the very beginning, we’re floundering around trying to find a way in to tell the story, and to tell it the way that feels right. There’s a lot of missteps. I did maybe three pages of like a first version, and I was writing it and drawing in the way that I had kinda worked previously, and I realized I had to step away from that.

—The latest guest on the CBLDF podcast is R. Sikoryak.