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C – M – C’

Today on the site, Sloane Leong returns with the latest of her series of interviews with fellow Angoulême residents. This time, she talks to Kathrine Avraam.

You have a very distinct textural style that's all very gestural. How did you develop it?

I always switch from analog to digital and the main reason is precisely in search of good graphics that goes with what I want to tell. The place of the texture thus becomes crucial in this game. Younger, I felt frustrated in front of any tool (charcoals, acrylics, pastels etc) and the idea that there are so many techniques of paintings that I do not know and that  I will never be able to control. Now my goal is to draw the best of all these two worlds, the spontaneity of analog and digital freedom. And then the role of the texture, unlike the line, is not descriptive but rather revealing! Revealing the emotional state to which I push my reader.

H.W. Thurston is here with her review of B. Mure's Terrible Means.

I feel somewhat guilty writing a lukewarm review of Terrible Means, and I’ve been trying to understand why. It is after all a professional, purchase-able comic, so to have an attack of taste or conscience on this front runs a risk of sounding condescending. But different artworks are offered up to the world with different attitudes and those attitudes affect the kind of criticism that feels appropriate. I’d never bust onto someone’s personal Instagram, or fan art blog and complain about how they’re taking pictures of their family and drawing their favorite characters and what about what I want to see, huh? There’s an understanding that those creations are the artist experimenting or expressing themselves, not things that are making a case for how good they are. They were created to be either enjoyed or ignored. By comparison, there are works that clearly have a goal, and invite you to judge them by their success at achieving it. I’d have no guilt about disparaging a given Netflix Original or Star Wars outing, because those things claim to be entertaining, and try to earn the mass-adoration (well, patronage) of their audiences. I might not think that judging those things is particularly worth my time, because trying to convince a major studio that their art is bad is like trying to earn the affection of someone who hates you. But I’d definitely feel allowed.

And AJ Dungo begins his week creating out Cartoonist's Diary.

We closed out last week with Steve Ringgenberg's obituary for the significant portrait painter and comics artist Everett Raymond Kinstler.

Everett Raymond Kinstler, who died on May 26 at the age of 92, occupied a unique position among all comics artists. No other artist went from drawing for the pulps and comic books to painting presidential portraits. And not just one or two, but eight presidents sat for him, including Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, both Bushes and Donald Trump. His paintings of Reagan and Ford are the official White House portraits. In addition to his presidential portraits, Kinstler went on to become the portrait painter of society’s elite, painting more than 1,200 portraits that ranged from depictions of astronauts, to captains of industry, to movie stars like John Wayne, James Cagney, Gene Hackman, Christopher Plummer, Clint Eastwood and Katharine Hepburn. Additionally, he painted such prominent public figures as Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, John D. Rockefeller III, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Harry Blackmun, plus six U.S. governors, four secretaries of state and the presidents of numerous educational institutions, including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Smith, Wellesley and many others. During his long career, Kinstler painted portraits of more than 50 cabinet officers, more than any other artist. He also turned his hand to painting portraits of authors like Ayn Rand, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams and Tom Wolfe.

Jake Murel reviewed Ali Fitzgerald's Drawn to Berlin.

Drawn to Berlin is Ali Fitzgerald’s first book-length comic. As a drawing instructor at one of Berlin’s bubble shelters during the height of the 2015 European refugee crisis, the social power of images is one of her central concerns. From German typography to caricatures circulated in anti-immigration propaganda to the self-portraits she drew for refugees passing through shelters, Fitzgerald recognizes the potential of images, and more specifically comics, as a force for good or ill everywhere. Her work tells not only her own story, but the stories of a displaced people longing for home. For Fitzgerald, then, the ethical dimension of comics, far from being some abstract philosophical or political question, is of deeply personal concern.

In fact, Fitzgerald records the personal struggle involved in crafting Drawn to Berlin. As a comic journalist, she finds herself torn between the desire to give voice to the voiceless and the fear she may inadvertently colonize already marginalized people by sensationalizing their lives as a “crisis comic.” Near the book’s end, Fitzgerald overtly addressees these worries when she tells an unnamed character, “I just...don’t want to colonize people’s stories,” to which her acquaintance responds, “But this is your story too, isn’t it?” This panel summarize not only a central tension in Drawn to Berlin, but the whole work’s genre-blending approach. Blending categories of graphic memoir, comics journalism, and historical overview, Fitzgerald records her own life alongside the lives of those she seeks to help as well as the life of the city in which they live. For her, none of these stories can be considered in isolation, like a panel in the comics sequence.

And on Friday, Melanie Gillman completed their two-week residency creating our Cartoonist's Diary.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—At the Spectator, Hermione Lee talks to Posy Simmonds.

Starting with Gemma Bovery, her witty update of Flaubert in 1999, her graphic novels came out just as the genre itself was becoming increasingly respected — culminating in the first Man Booker prize longlist nomination for a graphic novel last year (Sabrina, by Nick Drnaso). Simmonds acknowledges how far the genre has come. Women, she says, were ‘accused of muscling in on a scene that was male, particularly the superhero scene in the US, but now there’s a whole generation of women who are completely uninhibited and drawing just as themselves…. Still,’ she grins, ‘people think you’re probably drawing bears in pinnies. You’re often asked, “And do you ever do any proper writing?”’

—RIP. Roky Erickson

 

Four to Go

Today on the site, Austin English returns with a piece in which he asks nine different cartoonists the same twenty questions, about their methods, their philosophies, their materials, and their working spaces.

7. Do you read a lot of comics? Are you someone who reads comics and then gets excited to make more comics, or is your passion for making comics not linked to any particular love for other comics?

I read less than I ever have these days. When I was working almost full time on comics, I was definitely reading more. I was also going to fests more then which exposed me to great new books. I’ve been out of the circuit the last couple years dealing with other ventures and projects. I really appreciate comics but they’re rarely where I’m pulling my motivation or inspiration from.

8. Do you make comics for a living? If not, how do you support yourself, and how does this relate to your comics-making process?

I haven’t produced a new book in a while so basically am not making any income from comics at the moment. That’s not to say though I don’t use narrative formats in other work or am not selling work that relates to my history and context within comics. I do live on my art, of which I’d say there are significant connections between all of my practices.

9. Do other art forms often seem more attractive to you?

I don’t think I could only do one practice ever. I like to be stimulated by different contexts and ways of thinking. I need comics, I also need to make installations and work in spaces. I’m attracted to the image of being a painter and a writer in a very classical romantic way, but I also recognize that’s not not what I do.

We have posted Day Eight and Day Nine of Melanie Gillman's Cartoonist's Diary.

And yesterday, we posted the latest installment of our Retail Therapy column, this time featuring responses from Wayne McNeil, the owner of Generation X in Dallas-Fort Worth.

What do you wish more publishers knew about comics retail?

The lack of information makes it really difficult to make decisions. Too many "Whole New Era" and "Everything Changes" as a way to hint that SOMETHING is happening. And then when the event turns out to be minor then the decisions become even more difficult for next time. Plus, telling stores that a big event (like a marriage) was going to happen and then pulling it back makes the STORES look stupid, not the publishers. Finally, having multiple event books every year means fewer and fewer people care about any one "event."

I would also like to see consistent placement of issue numbers and barcodes. Trying to ring up a customer and having to continually hunt the front and back of each comic for each barcode is time consuming. And having issue numbers in wildly inconsistent places on the cover frustrates many customers who are trying to fill in their collection.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Comics Workbook has an interview with Niall Breen.

KUNV Las Vegas talks to Charles Hatfield about his book on Jack Kirby.

The most recent guest on Inkstuds is Eric Kostiuk Williams.

 

Ribs Hangover

This week, Melanie Gillman sets a record by being the first cartoonist to follow up one week of a Cartoonist's Diary with a second week. Here are Day Six and Day Seven.

Nicholas Burman is here, too, with an interview with the British comics writer Mary Talbot.

In your comics you've gone from writing about yourself (alongside a historical figure), a fictional figure, and a biography. What, if any, differences did you apply to the writing process when piecing these stories together? Were you asking yourself any ethical questions around portraying the story of Louise Michel, for example?

While I was working on what became Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, I was moved by the tragedy of Lucia Joyce’s story and I was keen to write about that in some way. For a long time I saw my own little story solely as a means to explicate hers. It shocked me that Lucia seems to have been a kind of casualty of modernism. Her father is this stellar modernist figure, with ‘advanced’ views about marriage and so on, yet the Joyces had pretty bourgeois notions about women and these eventually crushed the life out of Lucia. It was only when I could see that my idea of presenting two parallel lives was working well that I finally overcame my diffidence about memoir writing. Once I started to work on the two interweaving plot lines I could see how it would work as a single story. Then I was completely comfortable with the memoir aspect. I did ponder the birth scene quite a lot before adding it, though. I had to do masses of research into Lucia’s life. The final section about her was painful to write. In fact, I found I was starting to well up with tears every time I read through that part. I took it as a good sign, as far as the book was concerned; if it affected me so much, then surely it would do something for readers. Writing about my own past was a different matter. Obviously it’s familiar to me and the most recent event recounted (my mother’s death) was thirty years ago. The next two books seemed more straightforward, presumably because they were far less personal. I do recall that, in the case of The Red Virgin, I had to think very carefully about how to represent the ghastly ‘Bloody Week’ massacre, to neither sensationalize nor downplay. I think I got the tone about right. Conversely, with Sally Heathcote: Suffragette I wanted to make a prison force-feeding scene as gruesome as possible, so that the reader would appreciate what an appalling procedure it was.

We also have Oliver Ristau's review of Zac Thompson and Arjuna Susini's The Replacer.

The Replacer is a comic book – or as Aftershock's bureau of public relation affairs calls it, a “64-Page Graphic Novella” – that deeply immerses the reader into the daily affairs evolving around a medical patient's history proceeding from a vascular cerebral incident. So the subhead placed beneath a cover that's imitating the outlook of an old VHS tape shouldn't read, “Home is where the horror is” but “People taking care of you is where the horror is.”

Its topic is basically similar to the recently released Dementia 21 by Shintaro Kago, who also visited the area of taking care of others, but for Kago the chosen subject matter of elderly care management offered an opportunity to stage a black comedy, not a journey through the monstrous challenges for one caught in the treadmill of continuous care – though sometimes grim truths can't be suppressed, hence Dementia 21's jungle war episode, in which protégés turn into perfidious booby traps.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. For the London Evening Standard, Susannah Butter profiles Posy Simmonds.

Simmonds doesn’t usually show anyone her sketches. “A French journalist recently asked me what my motivation was,” she says, amused. “I just do it.” But she has recently returned to her archives in the lead-up to a retrospective of her work at the House of Illustration in King’s Cross. It will include her childhood creations, cartoon strips for The Guardian and illustrations from her children’s books such The Chocolate Wedding and Fred, which became an Oscar-nominated film.

She shows me how Bovery evolved from photos of Princess Diana, who Simmonds drew from all angles “to bring her to life”. Simmonds double-checked that all movements were realistic by looking in the mirror. “I rather liked the way Princess Di looked under her fringe, that gave me the idea for Gemma’s face,” she says.

Rob Clough interviews Whit Taylor.

I was considered “artistic” in elementary school. And I remember one day these folks came to our school to assess for artistic ability. I took some sort of “drawing test” and they concluded that I had no technical ability but was good as a freehand drawer. Being judged that early stuck with me and probably charted much of the course of my art career. I took an art class in high school and didn’t continue because I didn’t like my art teacher (she wasn’t particularly nice). I pretty much stopped drawing in high school and focused my attention on stage crew/musicals, sports, and playing music.

When I got to college, I took a studio foundation course at Brown, as well as screenwriting and some film classes. At the time, I wanted to make socio-cultural documentaries. I wanted to get into RISD courses because my school had an arrangement with them, but those classes were almost impossible to get into, so I never took any. During my studio foundation course though, we were required to go to a talk at RISD, where I saw Roz Chast speak. That was a game changer for me. Harvey Pekar also came to visit Brown to talk about the American Splendor movie. I met him and talked with him a bit too and he encouraged me to make comics. After those experiences, I started drawing again.

—Reviews & Commentary. Brian Nicholson reviews the first issue of Dash Shaw's Clue: Candlestick.

This comic is insane. In adapting a game about psychology, it’s about this simplified and transparent version of the same. Formally, it then becomes about depicting thought processes, essentially. Shaw has a long-time interest in comics and the language of depicting the invisible, so we get a more heightened version of that. From the first page, it’s working at a very high level to create a visual language to describe how perception works. There’s this sort of meta awareness of itself and what it’s doing and the need to explain that that then transfers to the reader. I texted multiple people while reading this comic to say how good it was, as I could barely believe it, could only understand it by communicating it to others.

[In the interests of disclosure, I should say that I contributed a short ancillary essay to this issue.]

 

Five to Go

Today, on the site we have a new installment in Sloane Leong's series of interviews she's been conducting with fellow residents of Angoulême's Maison des Auteurs. This week, the subject is Pam-Pam Liu.

You’ve drawn very raw autobio comics about yourself and your family. What is the process behind choosing what to share publicly? Do you worry that the people you depict will read them and possibly get offended? How does drawing these comics affect you?

I was studying in London in 2012 when the paper was about autobiographical comics, and I was addicted to: James Kochalka and Harvey Pekar.

Of course, watching other people's works is completely different from the feeling of hands-on records. I began to record life in the form of pictures and cartoons. The life at that time was very boring. I just wanted to give myself a small goal of daily creation. But after a few days after starting this project, I found a thief when I went home. A lot of things have been stolen. From then on, I discovered that the mystery of life and time is that it is impossible to master. As long as you wait quietly, there will always be some small things that can be recorded in life, whether it is boring or a major piece, when they are assembled into a visual form, they have different meanings.

I don't know if it is the difference between Eastern and Western cultures. From the beginning of my work on the Internet to record life, there are many Western readers who use "honest" to describe my work. For my work, this is a brand new. The point of view, because this is the way I create things in my perspective. And, very importantly, readers won't know if my work is completely honest.

Melanie Gillman delivers Day Four and Day Five of their Cartoonist's Diary.

We also have an excerpt from artist (and TCJ columnist) Austin English's work-in-progress, "Meskin and Umezo".

Also, Tegan O'Neil reviews Maia Kababe's Gender Queer.

Something about being non-binary which you might not really get unless you are, in fact, also non-binary: there’s not just one way to be non-binary, but as many different ways to be non-binary as there are non-binary people. Other than sharing the general sensation of being outside the gender binary - hence the “non,” naturally - the ways in which we conceptualize, discuss, and present ourselves as non-binary are perforce bespoke. The precedents for our lives are those we find along the way: hidden, eccentric, and eclectic. There were no non-binary celebrities when I was a kid. Before just a few years ago I had never even heard of “non-binary.” I discovered the word not that long before I discovered it applied to me, in the grand scheme of things.

The sensation of catching up late seems fairly common, at least. Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer approaches the subject with an eye towards the lay reader. The story begins with Kobabe’s childhood and advances methodically through eir life, showing step by step the ways in which the author discovered for eirself that conventional gender just wasn’t going to work. No one is born knowing this stuff, after all, especially given the cultural amnesia that hovers around all queer subjects. It makes sense for Kobabe to think that e might be a trans man, and many of the signs of eir’s early investigations point in that direction. But for various and sundry reasons its not quite right - close but no cigar, as they say. “My deepest emotional relationships have always been with women,” e says, “did that mean I was a lesbian? But my sexual fantasies involved two male partners. Was I a gay boy trapped in a girl’s body? The knowledge of a third option slept like a seed under the soil.”  

And Frank M. Young reviewed the second volume of Jacque Tardi's I, René Tardi, Prisoner of War in Stalag IIB.

An element of resigned fatalism shrouds both volumes of this work—it’s serie noire-worthy in its bleakness and frankness. Often, while reading both books, I was reminded of the great French films of the period just after the war ended. Working without censorial restraint, filmmakers such as Jacques Becker, Henri-Georges Clouzot, and Robert Bresson expressed a grim vision of an immoral world. Perhaps the wartime experience of French prisoners-of-war (and those who struggled to survive during the German occupation of France) hard-wired this outlook into the culture’s films and novels. Jacques Tardi (and his father) deliver a comics narrative that is black to its core—yet defiantly composed of a blunt optimism. The books’ beleaguered, abused, starved, and diseased POWs stoically endure privation. They may bitch about it when things get ridiculously bad, but their response to much of the worst of mankind is a hard-nosed shrug.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The local-newspaper chain GateHouse Media has announced a round of layoffs, including cartoonists Nate Beeler and Rick McKee.

—Crowdfunding. We're into the final two weeks of the 2dcloud Kickstarter.

—Reviews & Commentary. Tom Spurgeon previews Frank Santoro's Pittsburgh.

It's beautiful: in the artist's always assured approach to color, in the meticulous, old newspaper strip like scene-setting (Captain Easy could brawl across these working-class yards and street corners with aplomb) and the heartbreaking depiction of people made unhappy by the inevitable damage from of a lifetime of resentment locking glacier-like into place. Santoro himself is a character, a child and then a young man attracted to seeing his own life as a continuity of narratives that were building and shifting and falling apart before he was born. Santoro plays it with admirable restraint, bruises rather than bullet-holes but 1000 instances of that yellowing skin. He's as doomed as they are. We're as doomed as he is.

 

Treacle

Today on the site, Kim Jooha takes a look at the dialectical foundations of comics in her latest column.

Many fundamental elements of comics constitute dialectic relationships. Dialectic means that opposite or conflicting relations that result in a new form: thesis x antithesis → synthesis.

For example, comics typically consist of words and pictures. The actions upon them, reading and seeing, are both executed by the eye. This leads to conflict and makes the relationship dialectic.

Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan

A dialectic related to reading and seeing is that between page and panel. When reading comics, first you ‘see the whole page’ and then you 'read the panel.’ Here, the page is the whole, while the panel is the part. We can see this dialectic working on the pages of Jimmy Corrigan.

Also, Melanie Gillman brought in Day Two and Three of their Cartoonist's Diary.

And yesterday, we published Alex Dueben's interview with Paige Braddock of Jane's World.

Jane’s World started in 1991 as a single-panel comic, do I have that right?

It was called See Jane. I was trying to play with this idea of not having a set cast of characters. It was just random thoughts, standalone gags – and I found I’m not very good at that. Some of them were okay, but I think my strength is more in characters in conversation with each other. The humor came out through character interplay. I had these three or four characters who kept showing up more often. That’s when it changed from a single panel to a comic strip with a regular cast of characters.

So you were making Jane’s World the comic strip for a few years before it launched online on whatever GoComics was then.

I pitched it to some syndicates and of course the storyline back then wasn’t overtly gay but it seemed too gay to conservative newspaper editors. I just started publishing it online in 1995. That was about five years before comics.com which then got taken over by GoComics. I like to say I had a webcomic back when people didn’t really know what the web was. [laughs] 1995 was like the dark ages.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. At The Guardian, Jonathan Jones (who appears to enjoy riling up comics fans, based on his previous comics-focused pieces), tears apart a new manga exhibition at the British Museum.

Manga can be translated as “pictures run riot” and that is a beautiful description of these late 19th-century masterpieces. The trouble is that, on the evidence of this very odd exhibition, a lot of the riotousness has gone out of Japan’s graphic art since the 1880s. Today’s manga comics may be hugely popular in Japan and have a growing worldwide fanbase, but, as art, they don’t come near the verve and audacity of Kyōsai or Yoshitoshi.

Next to Yoshitoshi the curators display Inoue Takehiko’s manga series Vagabond, a martial arts adventure story about a swordsman called Miyamoto Musashi. We’re supposed to see a connection – and a curator who showed me round presented it as a comparison of equals – but, artistically, the images from Vagabond are internationalised and all too familiar. The hero looks like a Jedi knight and, with their slick style, these could easily be production drawings for the next Star Wars film.

Brian Nicholson writes about a selection of comics he's recently purchased from the bargain bin.

The New World by Ales Kot and Tradd Moore. Credit where it’s due, this was not only a lot better than the last comic by Ales Kot I read, it was maybe the best thing I pulled out of a bargain bin. This is largely due to Tradd Moore’s art. His art is slick, sort of in the vein of James Harvey. There’s this sort of HD sheen to it I assume comes from working digitally, where the characters don’t lose definition as they’re drawn smaller. This cartoonishness stops the book and its overt politics from lapsing into pretentiousness or didacticism. It does make the book feel very cute, where even as the narrative seems like it’s copying Transmetropolitan it feels like it’s for younger millennials or Gen Z. For a book taking place in the future, the young protagonists sure do relate to their parents in a very 2018 way, and it kind of feels like YA. It seems as if the author’s optimism about the future comes from certain trends among current youth, though in turn I find the protagonists annoying.

Chelsey Johnson pays homage to Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For.

I first encountered Dykes to Watch Out For in the mid-Nineties in the Oberlin College library. Alison Bechdel’s comic strip was still ongoing then, periodically collected and published in horizontal paperback books with bright covers. I flipped through them in the stacks, but as with real live dykes, I was too intimidated to check one out and bring it home. I had a massive case of imposter syndrome regarding my sexuality. Just because I wanted to be queer didn’t mean I was, right? I mean, I also wanted to be a writer. I had once wanted to be a jockey. I had wanted to be a singer. I had wanted to be all kinds of things there was no guarantee I had the mettle or capacity for. So I paged through these books fascinated by the stories they told about a group of queer women (and a man or two) who are friends and lovers and exes, and also a bit despondent about how far that was from my life. Bechdel herself had attended this school, but most of my friends there were straight or at best heteroflexible; it wasn’t until I graduated and left that I truly joined the gays.

—Interviews. The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Nina Bunjevac.

 

Revoir

Today on the site, we start a week with Melanie Gillman contributing to our ever-popular Cartoonist's Diary feature.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The NCS Fest took place this weekend, and this year's Reuben Awards were announced, including Cartoonist of the Year Stephan Pastis.

At the Washington Post, Michael Cavna writes about the show's attempts to be more inclusive.

—Reviews & Commentary. Luc Sante writes about the comic-adjacent phenomenon of European fotonovelas.

Fotonovela, fumetti, roman-photo—the terms betray the fact that the form never got much traction in the Anglo-Saxon realm. There is no word for it in English, exactly. You could say “photo-comics,” but you’d risk being misunderstood. These narratives, often but not always romantic, are conveyed by means of photographs arrayed in panels on a page, with running text often in talk balloons. Their impact has been almost entirely restricted to countries that speak Spanish, Italian, or French; their readership is overwhelmingly female, at least in Europe. Their history formally begins in 1947 in Italy, in the magazine Grand Hotel, soon followed by its French sibling, Nous Deux; both magazines still exist. Fotonovelas flourished in the fifties and early sixties (into the eighties in Latin America), then began a slow decline that still refuses to yield to extinction.

—Interviews & Profiles. Alex Dueben talks to Mariko Tamaki.

I’ve always wanted to write a girl meets girl story. All the stories like that that I’ve read are about finding that perfect love, that first love. But I’m such a realist, it turned into an anti-Cinderella story. Writing this, I thought about the course of relationships, what happens AFTER the glass slipper (so to speak) and that just seemed like an interesting story, the story of things that aren’t “meant to be” or don’t work out, and how a relationship NOT working is something that can go on for a very long time. Like that can be a relationship, a not-working, not-healthy situation. Hopefully that’s not the only story you get, but it’s A story a lot of people have experienced.

The most recent guest on the RiYL podcast is Mort Gerberg.

—Misc. I think we forgot to link to this very funny Matthew Thurber comic at The New Yorker, which seems to have been inspired in part by the great interview Austin English conducted with him for this site.

 

CandleGoat

Today at TCJ, we're closing out a busy week with the latest installment in Sloane Leong's interview series. This Friday, she's speaking with Vincent Kings about his work--which includes oil painting, one of the least forgiving of comics tools. 

What was the inspiration for this story?

Mostly it was getting at all the questions that I was asking myself as a kid in art school, like what is the role of art? How is it useful? I went into art school with kind of a big chip on my shoulder, like: ‘No this is important I swear. This is a worthy thing for an eighteen-year-old to pursue!’ I’m less that way now I think, but that was the impetus - to come up with the most - I dunno-  urgent way to pose the question and heighten the stakes. It’s an autobiographical comic in disguise.

Our review of the day comes to you from Alex Hoffman. He's here with a look at Guillaume Singelin's PTSD, a recent release from First Second. From PEOW to Macmillan: how'd that turn out?

The art of PTSD is the overwhelming reason to read it, and the source of my affection for the comic. I love how this book looks. Singelin can DRAW, and some of these pages are a visual delight. PTSD calls to mind authors like Katsuhiro Otomo and Masamune Shiro, whose “crunchy” style of illustration is clearly an influence for Singelin. The busyness of the art and the character design gives me the sense that Singelin’s style is influenced just as much by Rob Liefeld as either of these Japanese greats, and ultimately I think that’s a good thing. These cartoonists set the ground level for PTSD in terms of style, modified heavily by Singelin towards the cute and cartoonish. But the clear comics influences of PTSDalso reveal its true nature; a vapid, boring slog. What made Akira and Appleseed good wasn’t just the drawing. The stories were interesting, the characters complex, the themes resonant. All of that is missing in PTSD.

As mentioned above, it's been a big week, with Alec Berry's update on the major developments in the Cody Pickrodt lawsuit, our interview with Vivek Shraya and Marc Sobel's deep dive into the evergreen subject that is Alex Toth talking shit. I was pleased we could welcome Daniel Elkin aboard for his first TCJ review (of Julia Gfrorer's latest horror comic, Vision), and it's never a bad look to have Martyn Pedler talking Adhouse

Over at Smash Pages, Alex Dueben continues to put together a body of interview coverage that puts every website that doesn't work with him to shame. This time around, he's talking to Mariko Tamaki. Before that, he spoke with Blue Delliquanti. Before before that, it was Ben Nadler. We'll have more from Alex next week, and at some point, plan to staple him to a wall so no one else can have him.

Outside in the greater comics world, the fallout from the Oni/Lion Forge merger continued to garner pretty lousy publicity in the world of comics news websites while getting the softest possible coverage from more mainstream facing sites--to say nothing of the piece that announced the merger, written by the media's softest pedaler we've got, George Gene Gustines. (In George's defense, he can't be expected to have known that the Lion Forge/Oni merger would have resulted in a bunch of young people losing their jobs--after all, it's not like Lion Forge had fired a whole bunch of young people all at once just a few months ago...oh wait, that's exactly what they did. Well, i'm sure he'll update his press release professionally published newspaper article soon, after he gets down regurgitating Bill Jemas' LinkedIn profile and telling the world how much money super-hero movies have made. Did you see Endgame? Sexy Grimace was so mad!)

Over at Down The Tubes, they've put together a solid couple of tributes to artist Jordi Longarón, who passed away recently. Here's a bunch of war covers, and here's a larger collection of his work, as well as their obituary.

Pat Mills, who has been lucky enough to be in physical proximity to John Wagner on more than one occasion has some very pointed comments--and very specific details--about the nature of royalty payments in relation to his work with Rebellion, with The Horned God being used as the example. Mills plans to talk in more detail about this subject in an upcoming book.

We'll see you next week. This weekend, i'm going to visit the gym where they turned Henry Cavill into Superman to see if I can't figure why my parents still don't love me after all that I've accomplished. Wish me luck!

 

 

Screen Time

Today on the site, Marc Sobel returns with a new installment of his Strip Mine column, in which he concludes his "Bijou Funnies" series.

Welcome back, fellow longbox junkies! In our last installment of the Strip Mine, I teased that I hadn’t gotten to “the good stuff” yet, so, without further ado, here’s the epic conclusion to “Bijou Funnies.” 

Marvel Fanfare #10 (August 1983)
By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the great George Pérez’s retirement due to health reasons. Here’s the announcement from Comic Shop News, which, since I am not much of a Twitterer, is where I first heard about it. 

It’s impossible to put into words how much enjoyment I’ve gotten out of Pérez’s work throughout my life. I’m not sure I love him enough to binge my way through 200+ issues of Teen Titans, but if I were building a Mount Rushmore of my favorite ‘80s and ‘90s superhero artists, he and John Byrne would be locks. Of course, Pérez was so prolific, there’s plenty of his stuff that I haven’t read, but the sweet spot for me is his ‘80s DC work. His Wonder Woman run remains the definitive version of that iconic character, and Crisis on Infinite Earths and The History of the DC Universe are both sumptuous visual feasts I revisit often.

Yesterday, we published Martyn Pedlar's review of Matt Lesniewski's The Freak.

There was an odd digression in a recent article about an artificial-intelligence algorithm generating images to stimulate the part of a monkey’s brain used to recognise faces. “Visual neurons, it seems, like exaggeration,” it read. “In previous studies, [the scientist’s] team showed that face-selective cells will respond more strongly to caricatures than to actual faces.”

Comics are brimming with caricatured faces, of course. Beady eyes, slits for mouths, upside-down 7s for noses. We have no problem responding to them as human, even though their proportions are often strained, distorted, or monstrous. What makes one of these faces ugly – Bernie Wrightson’s monster from Frankenstein, Frank Miller’s Marv from Sin City – and what’s just business-as-usual comic book exaggeration?

The hero of Matt Lesniewski’s graphic novel The Freak has an asymmetrical head: a wide chin, a pointed skull, a thin knot of hair on top. “To many,” the narration goes, “he’s the ugliest man to have walked the planet.” His story begins as he decides to travel to an unnamed city to see if he’ll be treated differently, but immediately he’s surrounded by a crowd, shrieking: “Oh my – that man is revolting!” and “His mere presence decreases the value of this great city” and “I can’t stand the sight of someone so disgusting!” He’s beaten almost to death and his shovel is stolen. It’s his only possession, used for his grave-digging, and he’s determined to get it back.

We also published an excerpt from Joakim Dresher's Motel Universe.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Stan Lee's ex-manager Keya Morgan has been charged with elder abuse.

[L.A. County District Attorney] Jackie Lacey’s crew has hit the Spider-Man and Avengers co-creator’s former business manager with elder abuse charges. Keya Morgan is facing one felony count of false imprisonment of an elder adult, three felony counts of theft, embezzlement, and forgery or fraud against an elder adult, along with an initial elder abuse misdemeanor count.

Morgan took control of Lee’s business affairs and personal life in February 2018 and allegedly isolated the Black Panther co-creator, who died on November 12 last year, from family and friends. Morgan also embezzled or misappropriated $5 million of assets, according to documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in 2018.

—The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Seth.

“There’s a quality of keeping art private that represents a sort of power. I wonder, if I was independently wealthy, would I keep all my artwork to myself and not release any of it.”

—William Nerrico writes about Gilbert Hernandez's Errata Stigmata.

In the page shown here, lifted from the original comic, Hernandez focuses (pardon the pun) on the connection between seeing and being: the ocular and the existential. In the last panel, the one I have dreams about, a dislocated, disembodied eye explodes with viscera across a mutantly giant television screen with Errata mutely witnessing.

I have gone on to to write numerous articles and soon, three books on Latinas/os and Visual Culture, and I think all of them come back to that panel — the young orphaned witness with her face, unseen, to the screen.