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New Record

Today on the site, Hazel Cills interviews Jillian Tamaki about the cartoonist/illustrator’s new book, SuperMutant Magic Academy.

You started SuperMutant Magic Academy as a web-comic back in 2010. What initially inspired you to create this comic?

There were a few things. I had actually done the Marvel Strange Tales comic, which is where they got indie cartoonists to do Spider-Man or characters in the Marvel Universe. And I don’t really know anything about that world but I asked them if there was a female superhero that everyone hates and everyone said, oh, Dazzler! She was totally a marketing tie-in with super lame powers, so I thought I’d do something with her. I did a comic with that and it was fine but it was my first foray into a superhero genre. She does end up beating up some villain but I was more interested in the fact that she had an older lover, you know what I mean? I was more interested in her day job than the fact that she had superpowers.

I think at that point Harry Potter was also winding down as well. I also think I had just finished Skim, which had been a big book, and I just wanted a project that was fast and immediate. So much of my work as an illustrator and someone who makes graphic novels it’s making it look nice and making it look perfect and publishable. I just wanted to give myself a project that could allow myself to practice writing and developing characters that didn’t have to look nice or pretty or anything like that.

Elsewhere:

The American Book Review has a comics-focused issue with fine writing by TCJ-contributors like Nicole Rudick and Matthew Thurber.

The Paris Review has a selection of illustrations by the recently passed author Gunter Grass.

Artist and teacher Micol Hebron has been tallying the male/female ratio on Artforum covers and it’s as one might expect.

And hey, Gary Panter and I will be talking about all things Hairy Who following the NYC premier of the truly excellent documentary Hairy Who & the Chicago Imagists. 7:30 pm at the Nitehawk in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This is really a phenomenal piece of scholarship and documentary filmmaking. Even a die-hard like me was blown away by the footage. Also, given the incredible important  to comics of Jim Nutt, Gladys Nilsson, Karl Wirsum and the rest of the gang, really I think the TCJ-readership will be fascinated.

nitehawk-square

 

High Adventure

Steven Ringgenberg has written our obituary for the well-loved artist Herb Trimpe. Here is how he begins:

Herbert W. (or “Happy Herb” as he was frequently identified in comic book credits) Trimpe died suddenly this week at the age of 75 from a heart attack while he was out jogging. Trimpe had not been ill, and his death was a shock to his family and army of fans. Trimpe, a long-time Marvel Comics artist began working for Marvel in the production department in the mid-’60s, and began drawing comics in 1967. He eventually found lasting fame as the penciller of <em>The Incredible Hulk</em> in an almost unbroken string of issues from #106-142, and #145-193, as well as drawing issues 204, 355, 393, and annuals #6, #12, (which he both penciled and inked), and #16. He earned latter-day fame (and became a much sought-after convention guest as a result) as the first artist to draw the Wolverine, a character who debuted in <em>Incredible Hulk</em> #180 as a villain and has since gone on to become one of the best-known and most popular Marvel Comics characters after being added to cast of the new X-Men during the Byrne-Claremont era, appearing in numerous miniseries, and becoming one of the stars of the many X-Men films, and even several solo film adventures.

 

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Sean Kleefeld also writes about Trimpe, focusing on how ageism may have affected his later career.

Paul Gravett looks at Dell Comics.

Sean T. Collins has a longish piece at the Observer on the “four worst kinds of television critics.” TV and comics are different games, obviously, but there’s enough overlap that his piece should be of interest to anyone who spends too much time reading about comics on the internet.

—News. According to posts on Tony Millionaire’s Facebook page, his Maakies strip has been dropped from the Baltimore City Paper, apparently due to a joke deemed offensive in his most recent strip.

—Interviews. Grace Bello conducted a solid, career-spanning interview with Françoise Mouly for Guernica.

—The Funnies. Dash Shaw’s “remastered” BodyWorld is now online in full.

Leela Corman has contributed a strong, affecting piece on the effects of PTSD to Nautilus.

—Not Comics. Splitsider looks at Ben Jones’s latest television project, Stone Quackers.

 

Hole in the Ground

Rob Clough’s latest High-Low column finds him exploring the relatively new publisher, Centrala:

Centrala is an interesting new publishing concern that’s part and parcel of the growing expansion of Baltic and Eastern European comics into English-speaking markets. Indeed, even though most of its artists are Polish, Centrala itself has an office in London and publishes books in both Polish and English. It’s also a key player in Ligatura, the annual art-comics festival in Poland. This edition of High-Low will survey Centrala’s early and recent output, which ranges from all-ages material to autobio to stuff that’s far stranger. While there’s a provincial quality to many of these books, they also frequently hit notes that will be familiar to fans of American and other European art comics.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Rob’s had a busy week in general, putting up two posts on his own blog about student work from Duke University, and the latest Jacques Tardi Jean-Patrick Manchette adaptation, Run Like Crazy, Run Like Hell.

Bart Beaty is also having a busy week. The Walrus has published an excerpt from his latest book, Twelve-Cent Archie. It’s titled “Betty Cooper Is a Psychopath”. He has also published another long post on his new group project, What Were Comics?, looking at an unusual paneling choice in an old issue of Jungle Stories.

Ken White has issues with Garry Trudeau’s recent speech on satire and Charlie Hebdo.

I almost never link to articles about superhero movies or TV shows, but Jeet Heer’s talking about the anti-gentrification subtext of Daredevil at The New Republic, and I miss the days when he was a more regular presence on this site.

Those of you who do Facebook might be interested in this discussion started by Stephen Bissette about cartoonists who feel excluded by conventions.

—Interviews & Profiles. Sean Nelson at The Stranger has a nice talk with Daniel Clowes on the 25th anniversary of Eightball, and the upcoming publication of its complete collection.

Paul Mavrides guests on Inkstuds.

Zainab Akhtar has asked Jesse Moynihan to give a guided photographic tour of his bookshelves.

 

Don’t You Understand—You’re Me!

Ken Parille is here today with another installment of his close-reading column. This time, he examines the work of Ivan Brunetti and Charles Schulz, in terms of “sentimental romance” and how time is indicated through backgrounds. Here’s a sample:

The over-sized head of Brunetti’s heroine recalls the art of one of his heroes: Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts. Both artists frequently return to images of solitude, examining the value (and danger) of self-reflection and self-absorption. The following Schulz strip belongs to a curious — to me at least — subset of Peanuts strips. While many feature a single location (a stone wall, living room, baseball diamond), others, like this one, portray a solitary character in a different setting in each of the comic’s panels. cb
This creates an interpretive quandary. Typically, we determine the approximate duration of a comics sequence by comparing it to reality: roughly how long, for example, would a given cartoon monologue or conversation last if it occurred in the real world? The flow of the dialogue in the above strip suggests a short passage of time, maybe less than ten seconds. Yet the shifting locations may complicate this approach. As Charlie Brown moves to a new location, he takes — off the page in the comic’s gutter — an invisible, undefined pause between each line of dialogue. Or perhaps Schulz leaves some of the character’s monologue un-narrated. Though we never hear it, as Charlie Brown walks from place to place — from panel to panel — he meditates aloud on ideas about punishment, adult-child relationships, and the inevitability of his own disciplining. (In many Peanuts strips, the only actions are walking and/or talking — and the walking here is off the page, until the final panel.)


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The well-liked artist Herb Trimpe, probably best known for his work for Marvel drawing the Hulk and co-creating Wolverine, passed away Monday night. We will have more here on the site soon. In the meantime, you should read the moving journal-like Times piece he wrote in 2000, about his attempt to reenter the real world after being fired by Marvel at 56. Tom Spurgeon has posted several of his representative Hulk covers and Bob Heer has chosen some less well-known personal work. Sean Howe has posted a photograph of Trimpe from the Marvel bullpen in 1970, and an excerpt from an interview with Trimpe, conducted in 2001, about his experiences at Ground Zero after the WTC attack.

—Interviews & Profiles. Bart Croonenborghs talks to Bastien Vivès about his new Last Man series.

Michael Cavna interviewed Raina Telgemeier and CBLDF exec director Charles Brownstein about the ALA list of most-challenged books. Cavna also asked 15 editorial cartoonists to respond to Garry Trudeau’s recent speech calling for “red lines” in satire.

 

Donc Je Ne Suis Plus!

It’s Tuesday, and as usual, Joe McCulloch is here to give you a guided preview of tomorrow’s best-sounding new comics releases.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles.
Michael Cavna at The Washington Post interviews 2015 NAACP History Maker Keith Knight.

—News. As you may have seen elsewhere, the American Library Association’s annual list of the ten most-challenged books this year includes three works of comics: Satrapi’s Persepolis, Vaughan & Staples’s Saga, and Telgemeier’s Drama.

—MoCCA. For those of you who like reading festival reports, here are a few early MoCCA ones from Heidi MacDonald, Conundrum Press, and Joe Ollmann.

—Reviews & Commentary. Joshua Glenn pays birthday tribute to Daniel Clowes.

Kenan Malik takes strong exception to the anti-Charlie Hebdo speech from Garry Trudeau.

Domingos Isabelinho writes about the Italian artist Stefano Ricci’s La storia dell’Orso.

Ken Parille has “translated” an excerpt of an obscure academic text describing a certain kind of comic-book critic the supposed authors call “The Anti-Nostalgic.”

 

Je Pense

Today on the site, Alex Dueben interviews Miss Lasko-Gross. Here’s how their talk begins:

How do you describe [your new book] Henni?

The adventures of a dangerously curious young girl/cat, who’s desire for truth exposes some truly unsavory secrets. Henni is forced to flee her insular village to avoid death by stoning and venture out into an unknown and hostile world. It’s a bit of a fairy tale as well as an allegory about the dangers of fundamentalism.

I was inspired by Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel to consider what life would be like in a world with an extreme paucity of natural resources. What direction would social evolution take with no domesticated animals, extremely limited metal and communication options. It’s a very post modern fantasy, instead of adding magical or romantic elements, I’ve subtracted many of the casual miracles which have driven our history.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

I was working on a pretty grim piece of non-fiction–about a friend of mine who was injured in an explosion–and started Henni as a side project for the House of Twelve Comixology app. I had only meant to do the bare minimum for the app, but as I worked the story began flowing and expanding into a complete book.

Graphic novels take years to complete, and there isn’t much sustainable money in it, so there’s really no reason to labor on anything you’re not passionate about. Henni is the kind of story I’ve always loved as a reader, kinetic, strange and full of juicy little surprises. So, basically, I abandoned the other project and threw myself into Henni with no regrets.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Funnies. Alison Bechdel has drawn and published online a “coda” to Fun Home, just as the Broadway adaptation is about to premiere.

—Interviews & Profiles. NJ.com talks to Kitchen Sink Press founder Denis Kitchen. Inkstuds talks to Lale Westvind.

—Reviews & Commentary. While accepting the George Polk Career Award, Garry Trudeau delivered a speech criticizing Charlie Hebdo.

For Artforum, Kaelin Wilson-Goldie has a long, somewhat complicated take on satire, caricature, and censorship in the cartooning cultures of both France and the Middle East.

Domingos Isabelinho was disappointed by Jan Baetens & Hugo Frey’s new The Graphic Novel: An Introduction, from Cambridge University Press.

For The Guardian, Rachel Cooke reviews Julie Birmant & Clément Oubrerie’s Pablo. At Broken Frontier, Tom Murphy looks at the first two issues of Ley Lines (featuring Annie Mok and Warren Craghead).

—News. Richard McGuire and Winston Rowntree have won the Slate Cartoonist Studio Prize.

 

Flummoxed Lummoxes

We’ve got two reviews for you this morning. First up is Bob Levin writing about the first three issues of Aaron Lange’s fairly scabrous-sounding Trim. Here’s a sample of Levin:

Since 2013, Lange has been on a comic-a-year jag with Trim (The Comix Company), a 28-page, five-and-a-half-by-eight-and-a-half-inch, color-covered, black-and-white of, to use his word, “transgressive” humor, which reads like a 3AM walk down a back alley, with windows you didn’t expect opening into shops you can’t quite believe were licensed, and from whose contents you slightly recoil, only to recognize enough relief at their public availability that, while stepping faster to flee, you stare more intently at each one. Then you turn around to check you weren’t mistaken. (Trim’s predecessor, Romp, reads like an alley you – unless your sensibility comes more sturdily carapaced than mine – step into, and then withdraw to spend twenty minutes scraping your shoe clean on the curb. Romp is an – okay, perhaps necessarily boundary-busting – exercise in its gleeful expression of effrontery; but I found it a positive for Lange’s maturation that, with Trim, his characters no longer discharge bodily fluids upon their sexual partners as tokens of their affections.)

Lange, though, still displays a uniquely configured, mind, capable of scooping from the cultural souk references to and “appreciations” of such figures as Damien Hirst, Georges Bataille, William Burroughs, Zoe Lund, Elliot Rodgers, and Slavoj Zizek, which, you have to admit, is quite a collection of cats to stuff into one sack. (Reading Lange, it helps to keep Wikipedia handy. Me, I knew two of those six, unassisted.)

Next we have Rob Clough’s review of the first two issues of Inkbrick, an anthology of comics-as-poetry. Here Rob goes:

The subgenre of comics-as-poetry has been exploding of late, with an anthology of that name being published a couple of years ago and several artists forming collectives such as Team Weird Comics as both a collaborative and motivational measure. Still, it wasn’t until the first issue of Inkbrick came out in 2014 that a regularly-scheduled publication devoted solely to comics-as-poetry emerged. Inkbrick casts a wide net on comics-as-poetry, including the sort of experimentation for its own sake that I feel falls outside of poetry as well as some instances of mere illustrated poems. For the most part, however, the submissions here are great examples of combining word and image in immersive and evocative ways as well as creating worlds both abstract and concrete.

The editors-in-chief are Alexander Rothman and Paul K. Tunis, with Gary Sullivan and Bianca Stone being listed as editors. Rothman’s own comics work has advanced quite a bit since he first began; he has moved beyond simply illustrating a poem and improved his line such that it can now carry the poetic narrative almost entirely on its own. His use of negative space in his poem “Keeping Time” helps create that sense of heat, of time clicking by slowly, while bees devour sugar from a nearby soda can as a hot summer day bursts open with rain.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Bart Beaty again at the What Were Comics? site with a strong post on the formal properties of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. I hope they can keep up the momentum there; it’s a very promising site.

Brian Nicholson writes about Devin Flynn’s Hawd Tales, and ponders the reviewer’s responsibilities when writing about an artist tackling tricky subject matter.

As previously mentioned in our comments section, DVD Talk has a review of the new digital “motion” version of Dave Sim’s High Society.

Rob Clough catches up to recent work by the prolific Noah Van Sciver.

—Interviews & Profiles. The New York Times profiles Alison Bechdel again, just as the Broadway version of her Fun Home is about to debut.

Heidi MacDonald talks to Comix Experience owner Brian Hibbs about his San Francisco store’s new graphic novel club and why he’s felt compelled to start it. (He attributes it to a minimum-wage hike.)

Darwyn Cooke continues to avoid (or be in denial about) the actual issue people have with his involvement in Before Watchmen.

—Publishing News. Koyama Press has announced their fall 2015 lineup; it’s typically very strong-looking.

 

Not Me

Today on the site Frank Santoro brings us up to date on the world of back issues.

Went to the dollar sale out at the secret spotMeJim Rugg and Jasen Lex. It was three different buildings. An old GC Murphy store, a VFW hall, and an old smallish storefront.

I’d never been in the VFW before. Despite the warm weather outside it was freezing inside because the place hadn’t been heated all winter. We only stayed for a few minutes. I found a Frazetta romance reprint.

Over at the main building we waded through the crowded aisles and dug for hours. Then Lex and I found a stash of coverless romances from the 1940s and 50s. It was like leafing through a dank basement if such a thing could be materialized as a pile of comic books. They just stank and little bits of dried newsprint would flake off all over us when we looked through one. But it was worth it. I scored a half dozen Simon and Kirby romances and a stack of really bizarre Charles Burns-esque looking material. I never see old cheap romances anymore ever. So I was fine with smelling like a sewer for them. 

Elsewhere:

Drawn & Quarterly previews its massive anniversary book.

Sammy Harkham announces pre-orders for his newest issue of Crickets. I have read chunks of this issue and it’s sure to be the best narrative comic you’ll read this year. Masterpiece level.

Michael Barrier’s DELL book, reviewed by Paul Gravett.

The NY Times on a spate of new, internationally-focused Pop art exhibitions, taking in oft-forgotten greats like Erro.

Finally, there is this great video by Lale Westvind for the stellar new Lightning Bolt record: