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Bring On Dredd

Today at TCJ, we've got some deep dive theorizing, courtesy of R.C. Harvey. This time around, Harvey's Hare Tonic column is taking on one of comics great unanswered (and unanswerable) questions: "Who Invented Milton Caniff's Most Famous Character?" That character is, of course, The Dragon Lady, the pirate that launched tens and thousands of lazy, offensive stereotypes, whose name is mostly regarded now as insulting shorthand for whenever a man feels threatened by a woman. Where did she come from? Harvey's on the case.

Speaking of cases, the legal world has once again found its way to comics. Legal watch! 

*Gerard Jones, who wrote a bunch of DC Comics back in the day, was sentenced to six years in federal prison for the possession of child pornography. 

*Although I have not been successful with getting IDW's help setting up interviews with their artists since taking on this co-editorship with Tim, I have been able to read weeks of press releases about what had seemed like a never-ending series of musical chairs in their upper corporate positions: and now it seems that some of that might have been a prelude to what Bleeding Cool is referring to as a #MeToo lawsuit. First came an article confirming that Lisa Bloom--a lawyer who has been on both sides of multiple high profile celebrity lawsuits, including ones involving sexual harassment--had been hired by a former IDW employee, and then yesterday Bleeding Cool claimed that "close sources" alleged the allegations are being focused on Publishing President & Publisher Greg Goldstein, one of the few IDW executives who hadn't spent the past month updating their LinkedIn profile. 

*The above tweet seems to be, so far, the only public mention of a rumored defamation lawsuit brought by cartoonist Cody Pickrodt against multiple figures in the comics scene, including TCJ contributors, well known publishers, cartoonists and others, all of whom are allegedly being accused of defaming Mr. Pickrodt last year, when a swell of condemnations regarding the cartoonist began circulating on Twitter. The condemnations--some of which are still readable by simply searching for Pickrodt's name--are not at all dissimilar from the sort of language that surrounds multiple other cases of alleged sexual harassment, but if this lawsuit is real, that would be a bit of a twist. TCJ has reached out to multiple individuals reportedly involved in the above events, but as of yet, none have responded. More, as they say, to come.

(Except for the Gerard Jones thing, that one is a done deal.)

 

The Bronos Quartert

Today at TCJ, we're pleased to welcome the always on point Irene Velentzas back these digital pages, with her look at Marguerite Dabaie's The Hookah Girl. 

Dabaie's work manages not to take itself too seriously despite covering difficult issues. Dabaie’s gentle hand and delightful humor makes her collection incredibly robust. Her style shifts from that of a detailed woven tapestry to a simplistic comic math equation. She adopts whimsical narrative vehicles like game boards and paper dolls, shaping them to fit her narrative style. Dabaie’s initially controversial chapter “Should/Am” speaks to the dangers of caricaturing a culture by caricaturing that very culture. “Should/Am” displays the Arab woman as a number of stereotypes, showing how controversial and disparate such projections onto the female Arab are. Using the cut-out paper-doll template as a visual motif, Dabaie simultaneously suggests that such views of Arab women as humble and holy mothers, strong revolutionaries, and tantalizing sexual seductresses are as flimsy and two-dimensional as the paper itself. However, this same motif underlies her own cultural concern that Arab women are culturally secondary to men – a familial problem she struggles with in trying to assert her own identity as an artist and facing fears of inconsequentiality and failure.

Over at SyFy, you'll find one of those oral history pieces on The Death of Superman story arc: something tells me you'll know if you're the target audience for this one. I am, and even though I grimaced a little bit when the panel countdown lead up got referred to as a "subtle" piece of design, it's a pretty entertaining look at a moment in pop culture that has no chance of ever being recreated.

Over at Conundrum, they're announcing deals like they're going out of style: but deals never go out style.

At Women Write About Comics, you'll find an all-too-brief interview with long time web cartoonist Stan Stanley. I'm 100% in the tank for people younger than I am, even as I know they, at best, want me dead and possibly on fire, but there's a decent portion of my interest that is dedicated to finding out what happens to an artist after they've been clocking the hours for a while--when being the trendsetter wears off, when the news cycle moves along--and this conversation fits the bill nicely.

The New Yorker is the place to go if you'd like to see an excerpt of Lisa Hanawalt's upcoming Coyote Doggirl, which drops next week.

 

Nothing Behind The Eyes

Today at the Comics Journal, AJ McGuire is here to spread the gospel of Now, making for the sort of back-to-back Eric Reynolds related content that feeds conspiracies. 

The comics in Now do look different than the ones in Mome, but the difference has more to do with the changes in taste of the new generation of cartoonists than in any editorial direction. Dan Clowes and other 90’s alternative cartoonists’ influence were felt all across Mome, but they're practically non-existent in Now. Both thematically and stylistically the influence of the big Alternative cartoonists has receded as a dominant force. A comic in Mome like Paul Hornschiemier’s “Life With Mr Dangerous”, with its listless protagonist muddling her way through bad relationships, a dead-end job, and self-loathing felt like a relic on a recent re-read. It’s likely that no cartoonists with work in Now would list Peter Bagge as an influence, but he was clearly a major one for Kurt Wolfgang’s comics in Mome, with their rubbery armed characters getting into mischief and lazing about. There is little self-loathing in any of Now’s comics, and Now issues #1 - #3 might contain the least amount of cross-hatching of any non-genre comics anthology series published in the last 40 years. The one thing Now is best at is showing exactly how much the comics canon has been blown open in the last ten years.

Elsewhere, the organizers of CAKE would like up-and-coming artists who could use some financial assistance in putting together a mini-comic to apply for the organization's Cupcake Award. The information on how to do that is right here, as well as the submission guidelines.

2dcloud is about to put out Leif Goldberg's Lost in the Fun Zone, so now is a good a time as any to watch this short video and get amped.

 

 

His Brother’s Corpse

Today at TCJ, a week of absence begins: the absence of Tim Hodler, that is! He's off on vacation somewhere with his family, worshipping Satan or whatever, I wasn't actually paying attention. It's you and me all week. Traditionally, Tim going out of town and leaving Dan the reins all week meant chaos reigned--amongst other examples, Dan on his own resulted in "sell your boots", which, if you're old enough to remember what that means...well, you should probably get a life. So should I! I doubt the same thing will happen this week, but I'll give it a shot.

Our opener piece today is a six thousand word doozy: and it actually features Tim, so consider it your methadone. You may remember that a recent announcement regarding Amazon's latest move into original comics content was met with derision by Fantagraphics associate publisher Eric Reynolds via Twitter--well, Tim got ahold of Eric and unpacked that derision. There's  a lot to chew on:

But what that’s hiding in your view is an attempt to take over the market and become a monopoly. Am I right about that’s what you’re saying basically?

I guess so, basically! For the last twenty years people have been complaining about Diamond having a monopoly on the direct market, and what we’re looking at here is Amazon having a monopoly on the entire retail economy of our country [laughter], if not globally. So it’s like, you know, let’s have some perspective about that, right?

At least know what you’re doing.

Yeah, at least just know what you’re dealing with. I think I am approaching it from a moral point of view, but I’m not even necessarily advocating smash the state or whatever, I’m just saying let’s just be up front about this and acknowledge that I can’t just compliment comiXology for publishing a couple of comic books when I know that there are these broader ramifications. And I feel like I have a semi-unique vantage point on it, by being a publisher that has worked with Amazon literally from day one, in the city of Seattle.

Today's review comes to you from Tegan O'Neil, who is here with a look at David B's latest, Hasib & the Queen of Serpents, from nbm. As Tegan puts it, it's another exercise in perfection: 

You could blow up a page of Hasib and the Queen of Serpents – any page, it really doesn’t matter – on an overhead projector and conduct a line-by-line audit if you so desired. What does this line do? Is everything in order? Ah, I see, it is precisely this width for exactly this length, everything appears to be in order. What a wonderful index finger!

Over at Inkstuds, there's a fine episode up featuring Sloane Leong, who you may know from right here, but are as likely, if not more so, to know her from her excellent comics.

This brief piece about Elfquest shout-outs by Claire Napier is a solid piece of theorizing, as well as a startling reminder that there was more than one issue of Norm Breyfogle's Prime.

There's only one way to celebrate Bob McLeod's birthday, which is to look at pictures of old super-hero comics he inked over at Diversions of the Groovy Kind. 

 

Remember the Maine

Today on the site, Rob Clough reviews Soviet Daughter, a hybrid memoir/biography by Julia Alekseyeva about her Russian-born great-grandmother.

The subject of Julia Alekseyeva's biographical comic Soviet Daughter, her great-grandmother Lola, left her life savings to her great-granddaughter. However, Alekseyeva's real inheritance was Lola's memoir, which she instructed her family not to read until she died. Khinya "Lola" Ignatovskaya was born in 1910 and lived through the Soviet revolution in her native Kiev. A first-person memoir of an average citizen who lived through the twentieth century and beyond (she died at the age of a hundred) is interesting enough on its own, but a memoir of Soviet Russia from the point of view of a Jewish woman is especially fascinating. Alekseyeva ties Lola's narrative to hers, bluntly stating that she never felt close to any family members except her great-grandmother. She weaves autobiographical interludes between chapters of Lola's story, creating a tapestry that unites the narratives of two kindred spirits.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The Harvey Award nominations have been announced. They've drastically slimmed down and revamped their award categories, somewhat bafflingly including a movie & television award. It's disingenuous of me to say baffling, as the reason is obvious: they envy the cultural currency of superhero movies, and don't have confidence in their own medium.

—Interviews & Profiles. NPR's All Things Considered continues to talk to cartoonists. This week, it's Thi Bui.

"I'd heard a lot of the stories growing up, and the stories were pretty heavy, and I would often hear them at times when I wasn't ready, so I had this kind of heaviness that I grew up with, and I wanted to make sense of the stories." Bui says she struggled with those stories of war and trauma and hardship, that they cast a shadow over her life. Then she had a son, and that experience shifted the way she approached The Best We Could Do. "I think that maybe if I had done it as not a parent, I might have been happy to just dwell in my trauma, but with a baby in hand, I was really concerned with not passing on that trauma myself, and so I needed to filter stuff out so I could pass on something cleaner."

—Reviews & Commentary. Dominic Umile wrote a short report of the Sue Coe exhibition currently on view at PS1 in New York.

Coe, “who has worked at the juncture of art and activism to expose injustices and abuses of power,” has been to approximately 40 slaughterhouses around the world, arranging reporting trips through contacts in the meat industry. At the PS1 show, the drawings and paintings that stem from this project are expectedly nightmarish, rife with dark and ghastly scenes of assembly line carnage. Animal innards are strewn about, and each depiction of the dungeon-like settings is spattered with black, blood-like pools of Rembrandt printer’s ink. Steel drums in her large-scale canvas Slaughterhouse, Tucson (1989) brim with severed pigs’ heads. Pencil roughs of New York City’s meatpacking district, Abu Dhabi, and slaughterhouses in Detroit accompany the finished Porkopolis pieces at the museum, and Coe includes quotes from floor workers in observational notes jotted beneath the paintings.

Tablet has published an oddly formatted, mostly negative dialogue/review of Michael Kupperman's All the Answers.

One problem is that Kupperman never really got the goods. Even before Joel, the father, was overrun by senility, he was a terrible interview, repressed and reticent and terrified of introspection. Kupperman the author gives himself a lot of grief for betraying his father by writing this book, but the truth is that he’s a model of filial piety. When writing about his father and grandmother, he basically sticks to what he knows or what he can reasonably surmise. Which is a gracious thing to do, but it keeps him, and his readers, far from the terror at the heart of his story. Especially given that his father is too far gone to read this book, Kupperman could have ventured imaginatively into his father’s psyche, rooted around in there, and returned to draw some pretty scary scenes.

Over at HiLobrow, Gary Panter shares his enthusiasm for The Outer Limits.

The first interdimensional swell-headed alien to appear was David McCallum, who played Illya Kuryakin, a very hip blond heartthrob, on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. It was thrilling and odd to see the ultimate cool spy-show dude appear with a giant brain, extended fingers, shiny star-man skin and the pained glistening expression of a misunderstood creature — out of its element, come to town to wreak physics-modifying havoc. I was so excited and did see a few more episodes, but my favorite shows seemed to always coincide with church service times, so that I could only see the first couple minutes of something like The Outer Limits before being whisked off to The Angry God Show. Damn!

 

High on Liar

Today at TCJ, Brian Nicholson is here with a review of Alex Graham's Angloid, one of Kilgore's most recent releases.

This visual language feels like a direct communication method, in the manner of the "letter from a friend" feeling you get from a certain type of zine, but also seems to contain a degree of objective distance, which seems related to the Be-Ings' observational perspective. The comedic tone is closer to what you see in screwball comedy than the essayistic intimacy that defines the sense of humor you normally get from people writing about themselves. The voice is neither self-righteous nor self-deprecating. It never feels like Alex Graham is trying to score points of sympathy with the reader for the way people mistreat her theoretical stand-in. There's a sequence where a boy Angloid dates plays in a rock band with lyrics that can be interpreted as misogynist, lamenting a girl with "daddy issues," but the book never highlights this as villainous: If you see it that way, there's a joke there, but the neutrality of the storytelling seems to understand why a dude that dates Angloid might have reason to be wary and judgmental.

We at the Comics Journal support this man in his efforts.

Over at Manga Tokyo, there's a brief piece about manga piracy that claims the practice is responsible for 1.3 trillion yen in damages. 11 billion USD?

CNN ran a piece on Dubai's only spot to get Funko Pops. Here that piece is!

 

 

Awake at Night

Today on the site, Frank M. Young digs deep into comics history, as is his wont, to explore one of the many lesser-known careers in comics that are probably even more revealing than the more famous ones all fans already know by heart.

Born in 1924 in Springfield, Illinois, Dean Miller was an eager artist from early childhood. His cartooning career began at age 16 in the Houston, Texas area where he grew up. World War II interrupted his comics work; he spent four years in the Air Force, where he was stationed in Fort Myers and Miami, Florida. He was a gunnery instructor and taught aboard a B-52 bomber. There, he developed a love for boxing.

After WWII, Miller moved to Chicago, where he found work grinding prescription lenses for eye-glasses—a trade he learned from his father, who was an ophthalmologist. Around this time, he also considered a career as a minister. These work options were dropped when he was hired by the Chicago Tribune to continue Merkel’s strip.

At age 24, Miller was perhaps the youngest syndicated cartoonist in America. A photograph taken at the Trib’s 1948 Christmas party shows Miller beaming with youthful confidence, his slight frame dwarfed in a big-shouldered, double-breasted suit coat. He points backward to a Christmas tree decorated with original drawings by the Tribune cartoonists. A Chester Gould drawing of Dick Tracy hangs over Miller’s head.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. ProPublica has a story on Marvel chairman Ike Perlmutter's unofficial role essentially running the VA for the Trump administration.

If the bureaucracy resists the trio’s wishes, Perlmutter has a powerful ally: The President of the United States. Trump and Perlmutter regularly talk on the phone and dine together when the president visits Mar-a-Lago. “On any veterans issue, the first person the president calls is Ike,” another former official said. Former administration officials say that VA leaders who were at odds with the Mar-A-Lago Crowd were pushed out or passed over. Included, those officials say, were the secretary (whose ethical lapses also played a role), deputy secretary, chief of staff, acting under secretary for health, deputy under secretary for health, chief information officer, and the director of electronic health records modernization.

Roz Chast has won a Visionary Woman Award from Moore College.

—Interviews & Profiles. Emil Ferris was a recent guest on NPR's All Things Considered.

Born into a family of artists, Ferris loved to draw — her school notebooks were full of doodles and stories, just like Karen's. As an adult, she worked as a housekeeper to make ends meet when her illustration work wasn't enough. She says that as a single mother, she often brought her young daughter along to the houses she cleaned, "and then we would talk about stories. That was something we did together to keep the magic in us, because that kind of work is really hard on you."

On the occasion of the new David Wojnarowicz exhibit at the Whitney, Steve Brower reviews the show and talks to James Romberger about the book they collaborated on.

David was very serious and focused, but he was also kind and funny. He had suffered a lot and this continued to his death, but I’ve never met a more empathetic individual. You wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of his anger, though.

How did Seven Miles A Second come about?

We had spoken about comics, which influenced his visual symbology, but he didn’t consider himself to be much of a draftsman and in fact, his earlier work is a bit unrefined. He had a sharp learning curve though and got a lot better very quickly. After we closed our gallery in 1987, before “graphic novels” existed, we began talking about the comic and worked out a 3-part structure for what is really a graphic novella. He respected my abilities in graphic storytelling and allowed me to edit his raw text to craft a narrative that conformed to our agreed-upon structure from a pile of typed autobiographical fragments, overheard monologues and dream journals.

Barnes & Noble interviewed Scott McCloud on the 25th anniversary of Understanding Comics.

Thinking back to 1993, I’m curious about the reception to Understanding Comics—from comics experts on the one hand, and from the broader art world on the other. I’d imagine that different camps had very different things to say.

Comics experts gave it a mostly warm reception at the beginning, but then the various debates started and have never really stopped; which is how it should be. I haven’t been directly engaged in a lot of those debates; I like to let the book speak for itself; but the last few years have been interesting. I might dive back in a bit more soon.

Smithsonian Magazine takes a look at the revamped Nancy, which continues to get more press coverage than any legacy strip I can remember, interviewing new artist Olivia Jaimes, as well as Mark Newgarden and Paul Karasik.

“Before I even got approached, I’d kind of become an old-school Nancy fanatic. It’s so clean,” Jaimes says, who was approached by the strip’s owners because of her previous comics work (done under her real name) and her known love for the history of Nancy. “It was so ahead of its time. Some of these panels were written in the 1930s and are still funny today. My affection for this old comic strip kind of leaked out of my pores.” That affection is what drew the publishers of Nancy, Andrews McMeel Syndication, to Jaimes and made her the first woman to draw Nancy. “Plenty of men have written young girl characters for a long time, and that is demonstrably fine,” Jaimes says. “But there are definitely parts of girlhood that I really haven’t seen reflected.”

The most recent guest on Virtual Memories is Bill Plympton.

—Reviews & Commentary. At The New Republic, Josephine Livingstone writes about Nick Drnaso's Sabrina.

There are a lot of pages without any words on them in Sabrina. No commentary, no thought bubbles.
The story that plays out across its 204 pages is simple, brief even. But the book takes its length from its pacing. Nick Drnaso moves his story at the speed of ordinary human life. In the real world, it takes about six panels to get ready for bed, and nobody talks while they do it. Events both small (conversations) and large (tragedies) do occur, but so do the many interstitial hours we spend alone, driving or just thinking. In this sense Drnaso’s scenes play out like the opposite of an old-school comic. In the work of Aline Kominsky Crumb, say, life is sped up and boiled down and whipped into crackling humor. But Drnaso takes it slowly, and that’s what makes it feel like a novel.

At New Politics, Kent Worcester writes about a slate of politically oriented comics, including Hypercapitalism, The Young C.L.R. James, and Prisoner 155.

Agustín Comotto is a gifted cartoonist and children’s book illustrator whose latest book tells the story of the Ukrainian-born Simón Radowitzky (1891-1956). Radowitzky was an anarchist of the “propaganda of the deed” variety who spent twenty-one years in a penal colony for using a homemade bomb to kill the Chief of the Argentine Federal Police, and his secretary, in 1909. Pardoned in 1930, Radowitzky marched off to Spain, where he fought alongside other anarchists during the Spanish Civil War. At the time of his death, he was working in a toy factory in Mexico. In his foreword, Stuart Christie describes Radowitzky as “a committed humanist imbued with a deep sense of justice who never expressed regret for the two lives he took.” While it may be an exaggeration to describe Prisoner 155 as “comparable to Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis,” Comotto’s pages are engaging, and anyone with an interest in early twentieth-century anarchism will be intrigued.

 

Release

Today at TCJ, Keith Silva is here to talk about a certain 80's mini-series from a couple of first-timers that may not be on your radar, but should be: Dakota North.

To say Dakota North was an outlier is a disservice to outliers. The moment Ms. North starts stylin’ is when the ground began to shift under comics—Dakota North #3 comes out the same month as Batman: The Dark Knight #4 and Watchmen #1. Now, it would be an act of hubris and hyperbole to say two neophyte creators like Thomases and Salmons (even with a wily vet like Hama at the helm) would come close to equaling the murder’s row of Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Lyn Varley, Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins. Proximity to greatness does not make something great, and Dakota North is not on par with the craft, canniness and inventiveness of those 80s masterpieces. And yet what Dakota North lacks in artistic pedigree it makes up for in chutzpah, idiosyncrasy and how it outdistances its peers in representation and female agency. So subtle is it in its subversion, representation and agency it almost passes as insignificant, almost. What Dakota North wanted was be seen as an equal in her world and the world writ large. She was a disruption of the status quo and way ahead of her time, perhaps even today.

Over at Women Write About Comics, Rosie Knight has a rundown of some of the titles Silver Sprocket has coming this summer

Over at Comicosity, there's an excellent interview with cartoonist Eliana Falcón, who talks about how she managed the demands of survival while cartooning over the last year in Puerto Rico and what impact that has had on her main project, Cosmic Fish.

I should never get started on the subject of advance info, but this time I can't resist: I should not have to rely on text messages from freelance contributors to find out that David Quinn, the once and future Faust king, will soon publish his first picture book. Get your shit together, Penguin Random House. No one in this melting nightmare of a country is more pumped about this book than this editor right here. As many, many men who fit my demographic particulars have said before and will say again until they bury us under the cemetery: don't you know who the fuck I am?

Over at The Believer, they're knee deep in victory laps over the recent website relaunch. Beyond the pages of comics content--from people like Ben Passmore, Leela Corman, Michael Kuppmerman, to say nothing of the bittersweet archive of what Alvin Buenaventura put together for the magazine over the years--the Believer's interview archive is a legitimate gold mine of cartoonists in conversation. Pick an over the top metaphor, they all are gonna work--there is a ton of great shit on that site.