Today, John Kelly is back with another guest Riff Raff column. This week, he reports from Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly’s RAW discussion at CXC. He also contacted Jay Lynch to talk about the lost Lynch painting recently discovered on Roadside Antiques.

Lynch says that while he was a student at the Art Institute in the mid-’60s, there was a billboard across the street from the school that advertised the political campaign for a local sheriff. “It showed this guy and his wife and like eight kids. And the kids were holding a sign that said ‘Woods For Sheriff’ and you could see the billboard outside the window of the art class. So I painted it. But then I got carried away. I was just trying to kill time really, and I painted it for months. After a while you put it up in front of the class and the teacher critiques it. And so the teacher says, ‘Well, what were you thinking when you did this?’ And I gave this sort of long-winded speech about when certain things affect the brain it allows you to see the plasticity of your environment, blah, blah. After I got done with that, he said, ‘Oh thank God. I thought you were taking LSD or something’ and that got a big laugh.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. At the Paris Review, Folio Club founding editor Robert Pranzatelli profiles the career of Moebius.

At Comics Tavern, Jon Vinson writes about Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s Midnight Fishermen, the collection of his stories not published by Drawn & Quarterly.

Douglas Wolk reviews various books for the New York Times, including titles by Jason and Kate Beaton.

—Interviews & Profiles. Lorenzo Mattotti briefly discusses his latest New Yorker cover and the Syrian refugee crisis with Françoise Mouly.

Alex Deuben talks to Jessica Abel.

Derf Backderf was a guest on Gil Roth’s Virtual Memories podcast.

—News. The winners of the Joe Shuster Awards have been announced.

—Misc. David Boswell:


Brisket and Green Sauce

That’s right, I’m back, and the best thing about the Frankfurt experience is the brisket with that fine fine green sauce. And the veal. Not to mention the beer. The nice, easy beer. Oh sure I saw some books, too, but who needs books? I saw a nice Edgar Jacobs sketchbook collection, which is one of those kinds of books I used to buy but just can’t anymore. Then again, it is nice seeing that insane precision in pencil form. Of course. Otherwise, gee, I dunno, I was holding down the DAP booth selling enormous quantities of books to Chinese wholesalers. Go figure.

Anyhow, here we are at Wednesday and Alex Dueben has brought us an interview with old school inker Tom Palmer, which gets into the kind of technique talk I so love.

You mentioned that Jack Kamen always inked with a brush. Were you using a brush to ink?

I inked with a dip pen, it was a Hunt 102 Crow Quill, and I used a Koh-i-noor Rapidograph pen, which had a one line thickness, to rule straight lines or ellipses with guides, a very mechanical line but needed in an advertising art studio. Used a brush to fill in black areas but never to strictly ink with, I would paint with a brush but never ink with one.

Jack was very particular about his Winsor & Newton Series 7 #2 brushes and once they lost a point he would pass them on to me. He would ink straight lines with a brush using a bridge he had bought. I was always fascinated how much he did with a brush.

As you said, Gene Colan penciled differently than a lot of other artists. The two of you worked together a lot over the years. Why do you think you worked so well together? What did you do with his pencils that others did not?

Gene Colan was the first comic book penciller I ever inked, and since I didn’t have anything to compare to, I did my best to interpret his gray tone artwork into line art. I would open up his shadows with crosshatching or zip-a-tone screens, something other than just black, Gene had a lot going on in his pencils especially the shadows, I just brought it out.

I’m a bit out of the loop, but near as I can tell the biggest news of the week is the official announcement of the New York Review of Books Comics line. I’ve known it was in the works for a while, and I’m pleased as punch that it’s come to fruition with a strong, eclectic line-up of books and Gabriel Winslow-Yost is a strong comics critic in his own right. This is a fine new context and a nice way to start a different conversation about the medium. Here’s the first season of books and, what the hell, here’s the press release below.

New York Review Books is pleased to announce New York Review Comics, a new series of books at the union of art and literature. Comics has been one of our liveliest art forms for over a century, but many of its greatest works are no longer available, or have never appeared in English. In the tradition of NYRB Classics, NYRC will present new editions and new translations of some of those overlooked gems—unique, powerful, and surprising books that will appeal both to longtime comics fans and to the newly curious.
NYRC will publish comics of all sorts, from intimate memoirs to absurdist gags, lyrical graphic novels to dizzying experiments, united in their affirmation of the strange and wonderful things that only comics can do. Some will be in paperback, some in hardcover, and trim sizes will vary.The series will begin on March 22, 2016 with Mark Beyer’s Agony, a darkly humorous depiction of urban despair originally published in 1987, now with an introduction by super-fan Colson Whitehead. This will be followed by the beautiful historical saga Peplum, by the acclaimed French cartoonist Blutch, in a new translation by Edward Gauvin (April 19); and Almost Completely Baxter, a judicious collection of new and selected work by the beloved, inimitably hilarious artist Glen Baxter (May 24).
It will continue in Fall 2016 with Soft City, a majestically surreal tour of an office dystopia by Norwegian pop artist Pushwagner, drawn and then lost in the early 1970s, with a new introduction by Chris Ware; Belgian artist Dominique Goblet’s searing experimental memoir Pretending Is Lying, translated from the French by Sophie Yanow—Goblet’s first book to appear in English; and What Am I Doing Here?, a long out-of-print collection by postwar America’s forgotten master of the existential gag, Abner Dean.NYRC is co-edited by Gabriel Winslow-Yost, an assistant editor at The New York Review of Books who has written on comics, video games, and other subjects for The New York Review, The New Yorker, and n+1, and Lucas Adams, a cartoonist who has drawn for The Believer, Mental FlossThe Toast, and Atlas Obscura, was recently named as one of Brooklyn Magazine’s “30 Under 30,” and is a former intern at New York Review Books.

Got all that? Good.

Frank Santoro would have you know that his new book with Breakdown Press is available, in advance of publication, via his crowdfunder. Go forth!

Otherwise, tune in to this video by cartoonist Ben Jones:



The Devil Rides Again

Dan is still in Frankfurt, but I have returned from a weekend deep in the cold, dark Pine Barrens of New Jersey to bring you more comics talk.

Today on the site, Ryan Holmberg is back with another installment of his essential manga history column. This time, he responds briefly to a Japanese scholar who cast doubt on some of his earlier work, specifically Holmberg’s claim that Osamu Tezuka seems to have been inspired by pre-1945 American comics.

When I first presented my research on New Treasure Island at a lecture at Gakushuin University in Tokyo in July 2012, Ono Kōsei (who knows his American comics as deeply as his manga) voiced similar doubts, and I suspect that there are others who feel the same, at least in Japan. So visual evidence aside, it is an issue I need to address. Presently, I only have bits and pieces of circumstantial evidence and tangential hard evidence. I want to present them before you, as a way of asking if anyone has further thoughts or information on the matter, particularly from a non-Japan perspective. If you are not familiar with Tezuka’s relationship to American comics or with the visual evidence of Gottfredson, Barks, and Hannah’s influence on New Treasure Island, I urge you to first read the essays listed above. Assuming that you do have a basic grasp of the art history, I am going to limit discussion to questions that are necessary to respond to Watanabe’s claims.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews. At The New Yorker, Françoise Mouly and Mina Kaneko talk to Bill Griffith about his new memoir, Invisible Ink, and also share an excerpt.

Following Luc Sante’s review of Here last week, Richard McGuire appears on the New York Times Book Review podcast.

At The Beat, Alex Deuben interviews Maggie Thrash about her recent comics memoir, Honor Girl. I haven’t had a chance to read that yet, but my wife loved it and I plan to soon.

—Misc. Robert Boyd writes about buying original art from Jaime Hernandez, Sammy Harkham, and Dylan Horrocks.

—Funnies. For the New York Times Book Review, Chris Ware writes an essay in comics form about why he loves comics. (It’s probably easier to read this in print form than online, if you can still manage to find a copy of yesterday’s Times.)


The End?

Today, Rob Clough returns with his latest High-Low column, and this one is huge, a long collection of reviews of twenty different recent(ish) comics anthologies. Here’s an excerpt from his writing on one:

Insect Bath, edited by Jason T. Miles. Distributed by the Profanity Hill collective, this comic has a visceral but cerebral approach that is truly unsettling. This is a horror anthology done in what I refer to as the “immersive” style of comics. It’s a style that makes its decorative aspects part of its narrative, creates its own visual logic and demands active reader interaction. It’s not a passive form of storytelling that gently leads the reader across the page, but rather a style that’s murky and works only on its own terms. It’s not surprising that Miles planned to do this anthology with the late Dylan Williams, because Williams’ Sparkplug Comic Books was a champion of this style. Miles’ own strip in the anthology acts as a story of primordial ooze, birth and rebirth, as well as a howl against the void. There are also stories conflating sexual discomfort with body horror and madness from like Zach Hazard Vaupen and Alex Delaney.

More challenging is Juliacks’ suffocating story about bodies being manipulated, thrown against walls, played as puppets, drowned and defecated upon; the denseness of her line and the near-poetic nature of her decorative text create a powerfully oppressive atmosphere. Contrast that to Noel Freibert and Sammy Harkham, who turn everyday experiences into lethal, terrifying, but ultimately inexplicable events; this is the horror of nihilism.

We also present the fifth and final entry of Noah Van Sciver’s Cartoonist’s Diary, finishing up his chronicle of a week spent as a CCS fellow. Thanks, Noah!

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

Alvin Buenaventura writes on Facebook about a Daniel Clowes drawing of a grown-up Sluggo.

—Retailer/blogger Mike Sterling shares some info on Meat Nog, the ’90s zine that was originally supposed to include the “lost” Daniel Clowes interview we recently published.

For the CBC, Hope Nicholson chooses seven indigenous comics creators that should be more widely known.

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have announced a new scholarship for teenage editorial cartoonists.


Continuity Concerns

Today on the site, Frank Santoro and John Kelly tag team again on Frank’s Riff Raff column, jointly reporting from this year’s inaugural Cartoon Crossroads Columbus show. Frank calls it:

Easily the best comics show simply because of its connection to the vast history book of cartooning that is Columbus, Ohio.

I like to tell people who’ll listen: Billy Ireland, Charles Landon (the originator of the correspondence course for cartooning in 1903), Noel Sickles (who corrected course homework for Landon), and Milton Caniff are all from Ohio. These four (more or less) set the foundation of North American and European Cartooning. Everyone from Barks to Crane to Gottfredson took Landon’s course; Sickles and Caniff influenced about everyone else. Ohio. If you didn’t know, now you know. Much of cartooning’s rich history is centered in Columbus, Ohio.

It is also day four of Noah Van Sciver’s week contributing our Cartoonist’s Diary, coming to you straight from White River Junction, Vermont, where he seems very happy.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

Adam Schatz at The New Yorker has a nice, long profile of Riad Sattouf and his new book, Arab of the Future. (If you missed it, Matthias Wivel wrote about the same book for us back in July.)

Grace Bello at Publishers Weekly visits with Adrian Tomine.

Jacques Hyzagi talks to Robert Crumb for a New York Observer story that the paper itself is calling “sprawling” and “lurid.” (Drew Friedman drew the cover illustration.)


Moi Aussi

Today, Noah Van Sciver returns for the third day of his Cartoonist’s Diary series, continuing his stories of life as a fellow at the Center for Cartoon Studies.

Also, the great cartoonist Eleanor Davis makes her TCJ debut (if you don’t count her own Cartoonist’s Diary series from last year), with a review of Kevin Czap’s Fütchi Perf.

Why is it that art about good things is so often bad art? Most of the happy images we see day-to-day are selling something, or the artist is trying to pull a curtain across the ugly parts of life. Art showing flowers, babies, smiling families, and people in love is often inane or disingenuous, and the awful thing is that this bad artwork makes the happy stuff itself seem fake. As artists we can get scared of making art about the things that are most precious to us: we don’t want to make something bad, and we don’t want those parts of ourselves to be vulnerable. So we make low-risk cynical sad little stories, and we stop trying to imagine a kinder world.

And finally, we are republishing Dennis Daniel’s 1993 interview with Dennis Eichhorn, from issue 162.

DANIEL: Do you write with specific artists in mind?

EICHHORN: Oh yeah. Now that I’ve gotten into it, yeah, I’ll have a story and I’ll think, “Oh, J.R. Williams ought to do this one, this is perfect for him.” Or I’ll have a story that a lot of artists might hesitate to tackle and I’ll give that to Holly Tuttle because she can draw anything. Sure, you bet. There are some times, I’ll see somebody’s work and it will make me think of a story, so I’ll sit down and write it for them. I get portfolios from different artists, and sometimes I’ll look at it and it will just really ring a bell and I’ll have no trouble … In fact, with Howard Chackowicz I wrote him five stories right away, and I’d never done that with an artist before. But other people, I’ll get their work and it just doesn’t do anything for me. I’m not saying they’re not talented, it just doesn’t inspire me to write a story. So I just shelve that and go on.

DANIEL: When you’re trying to think about experiences in your life that you want to turn into a comic book story, does it ever enter into your mind that a certain story may not be appropriate for public consumption?

EICHHORN: Well … I try not to repress anything. There are a couple of stories that are real painful for me to deal with, and I don’t have the right perspective on them yet. And if I ever get it then I’ll include them. But I’m not really trying to make myself look good — I don’t think that I do. The only times that I’ll look good is when some artist will make me thin or give me a Peter Parker physique or something like that. I kind of shy away from the ones who do that. But that’s in terms of looks. In terms of behavior, it’s obvious that I was real troubled while I was growing up and into my adult years, and there’s no way I can avoid that so I try to include it — and it’s pithy stuff, and lot of the people are just as fucked up as I am, so they can identify with what I’m doing and the mistakes I made. It’s an exercise in anti-heroism. The really good biographical stories that I like are often that way: Charles Bukowski is such a great example of that. Henry Miller is another good example of that. They didn’t paint themselves as beautiful people. They were just real honest about what they did, and I find that real appealing.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. According to the Moscow Times, an exhibition of the work of cartoonists Dominique Goblet and Kai Pfeffer at the Nabokov Museum in St. Petersburg was shuttered and closed due to concerns over nudity in the images.

—Interviews & Profiles. Jaime Hernandez is a guest on the RIYL podcast.

Inkstuds talks to Sacha Mardou.

—Misc. The New York Times asked several artists, including Anders Nilsen, Cece Bell, Rutu Modan, and Jillian Tamaki, to create one-panel comics. The Times called this a “challenge,” though most people would consider this to be one of the oldest and most traditional forms of cartooning… (Nilsen basically ignores the conceit, which the Times either didn’t notice or didn’t care about.)

Former TCJ editor Robert Boyd has started a podcast, and his first episode includes a report from CXC.

—Not Comics. Nicole Rudick interviews Karl Wirsum.


Sex War Sex Cars Sex

Tom Van Deusen does double duty for us today, first writing an obituary for the pioneering autobiographical comics writer Dennis Eichhorn, and then gathering a selection of tributes, from friends and collaborators including Pat Moriarty, Shary Flenniken, Mary Fleener, Noah Van Sciver, and others.

Noah is also continuing his week creating our Cartoonist’s Diary feature, of course. His second entry is up here.

And as is true on every Tuesday, Joe McCulloch brings us his usual reliable guide to the Week in Comics, looking at all the most interesting-sounding new titles in stores. This week, he spotlights books from Adrian Tomine and Gilbert Hernandez & Darwyn Cooke.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Dennis Eichhorn. Sean Michael Hurley wrote about Eichhorn for the Seattle Stranger.

—News. Amnesty International reports that Iranian officials forced the imprisoned cartoonist Atena Farghadani to take a “virginity test.”

—Interviews & Profiles. NPR talks to Berke Breathed about the rejuvenated Bloom County (and Terry LaBan talks about Breathed (via)).

The Riverfront Times talks to Sacha Mardou.

—Reviews & Commentary. Laila Lalami reviews Riad Sattouf’s Arab of the Future.

—Misc. Inés Estrada gives a tour of her bookshelves.

Christopher Logue’s “poster poems” sometimes significantly overlap with what we usually call comics.



Today, Greg Hunter is here with the fourth episode of Comic Book Decalogue, a double-header in which he puts questions to cartoonist Ed Luce of Wuvable Oaf Fame, and then to Raighne Hogan and Justin Skarhus from the publisher 2D Cloud, who are just finishing up a Kickstarter for their fall season this week.

Also, Noah Van Sciver joins us to create this week’s Cartoonist’s Diary, sharing his experiences in White River Junction, Vermont, as a fellow at the Center for Cartoon Studies.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary.
Luc Sante reviewed Richard McGuire’s Here for the New York Times. It’s a little late, but Sante’s worth it.

John Porcellino writes about how the culture of SPX has changed.

What’s clear is that it’s no longer strictly what you would call an “Art Comics Show”. (Was it ever? My memory fails me, but it did feel more like that in the past.)

Adrian Tomine explains his cover for this week’s New Yorker.

William Cardini has advice for beginning cartoonists.

Annie Mok writes about some early queer comics.

—Interviews & Profiles. Gil Roth talks to Bill Griffith.

John Freeman talks to Michael DeForge.

Tavi Gevenson of Rookie talks to Adrian Tomine. So does Salon.

The Seattle Times talks to Alison Bechdel.

Inkstuds remembers Dennis Eichhorn.