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Long Days Wait

Today on the site, I bring you my chat with Anya Davidson about all things Band for Life, as well as art and life and such topics that sprang to mind. Go out a buy everything you can by Anya. Here’s a bit from the interview:

I somehow don’t think Guntit is actually based on your own bands (or maybe….), but the member do fit some rock archetypes. Are you a reader of rock bios? If so, which is your fave?

The name Guntit is taken from a real band. Lale Westvind, Thomas Toye and Laura Perez Harris were all living in New York (Lale’s since moved to Philly) and they started a band. When I heard they were called Guntit I was like “that’s the best band name ever.” You know, the reason most of us start cartooning is we’re in grade school and we draw our teachers boning or something and our classmates think it’s hilarious so we keep at it. I wanted to make Lale, Tom and Laura chuckle, because they’re some of the coolest people on the planet, so I drew this proto Band For Life Strip and that’s how it started. But all the characters are fictional in the sense that they’re 95% me, a sprinkle of my friends and a sprinkle of observation out in the world. As far as band bios, yeah, I read Come as You Are, the Story of Nirvana when I was a kid and that was a big deal, and Confusion is Next, the Sonic Youth Story. Get in the Van, the Rollins one, is great. I read White Line Fever, by Lemmy, while I was on tour once. That’s a great one for reading in the car cause the type is huge. And Patti Smith’s memoirs. I don’t know if I have a favorite, although the Nirvana one turned me on to a lot of other music. I did very consciously set up a rivalry between Annimal, the drummer in my book, and Linda, the frontwoman. I’ve always hated the Rolling Stones, but I find the rivalry between Richards and Jagger really entertaining in a camp way. So I sprinkled some of that in. But it’s just a fact that bands have conflict. I don’t know if collaboration can exist without conflict.

Elsewhere:

Philip Guston’s masterful Nixon cartoons are going on view in NYC.

Alex Dueben interviews Paul Kirchner.

Fest news: Trendsetting festival TCAF is now working with the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival.

 

[sic]

Joe McCulloch is here with his usual guide to the Week in Comics, highlighting the most interesting-sounding books new to stores. This week, his Halloween-appropriate spotlight picks include new titles by Julia Gfrörer and Rick Geary.

Rarely do I encounter a perfect All Souls’ Day comic, but Julia Gfrörer is a rare talent – wholly committed to a completely distinct vision and just going for it over and over again.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Dilbert creator Scott Adams talks to Michael Cavna about his Donald Trump boosterism and “Master Persuader” theories. (I so wish Kim Thompson were still here, so he and Gary could do a part II of this epic argument.)

“My speaking career ended because of this,” the Bay Area-based cartoonist said of his once-lucrative side business.

Although his book sales have stayed healthy, Adams said that many off-put readers now view “Dilbert” through more critical glasses, which has affected his licensing sales. All told, Adams said, his income has dipped precipitously.

Yet the Reuben Award-winner says he regrets none of it.

Xavier Guilbert talks to Sammy Harkham.

I mean, I’m always looking at stuff. I’m seeing stuff from Japan, I like a lot of the older comics, but with Kramers, I realize there’s a certain thing that I go for. I like work that regardless of the decade that it’s made in, feels very relevant today. So it fits in aesthetically with everything else. So — with the stuff we’ve reprinted in the past, because we’ve also did Marc Smeets. So when we reprint something, it’s important to me that for the person flipping through, it all feels cohesive, you know ? Sometimes, there’s works that I like, that I’m like — argh, I don’t think that Kramers is the right place for this. Maybe I can help get it published as its own book, or do something with it. But for Kramers, it has to hit this sort of sweet spot of a very particular kind of comic.

A Case for Pencils talks to Best American Comics series editor Bill Kartalopoulos.

In general, my job is to consider all of the comics that come to us through our open submission process and to keep my eyes open and reach out to artists and publishers to make sure we’re getting all of the work that we should be seeing and considering. I end up with countless piles of comics in many forms: graphic novels from large publishers, small hand-stapled zines self-published by artists, comics published online, and pretty much anything else you can think of. We’ll take anything as long as it’s previously published (in print or online) within the past year and is by a North American artist (which includes Canada and Mexico). I consider all of these works and select a pool of about 120 comics to send to each year’s Guest Editor, who then chooses the approximately thirty pieces that will go into the final volume.

The Hollywood Reporter talks to Frank Miller about Batman movies and his desire to create a Superman book exploring his Jewish roots.

When you tell a superhero story you tell it in broad strokes. You don’t sneak you message in. I would love to see the visuals of Superman facing a Panzer tank and the emotional release of him smashing a place like [the] Buchenwald [concentration camp].

The Arkansas International talks to NYR Comics editor Gabriel Winslow-Yost.

I do think there’s sometimes been a tendency, when non-comics publishers approach comics, to focus on books that do recognizably “serious” things: nonfiction comics on worthy subjects, and graphic novels with elaborate literary structures and characters. It’s a way of saying that hey, comics can do it too — they’re real books! And plenty of really good comics fall into those categories, including some that we’ll be doing. But I think that what’s most interesting and exciting about comics is not how they can do what prose novels or journalism already do, but that they can do things no other medium can: how they form something unique and powerful, with its own possibilities to be explored.

The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Jim Woodring.

The most recent guest on Process Party is Matt Furie.

—News. Tim Pilcher has written The Guardian’s obituary of Steve Dillon.

When asked “What do you like to draw?”, the comic artist Steve Dillon would reply: “A good story.” That retort explains why he was considered one of the best exponents of his craft, both by fans and by fellow creators. “I’m not one of these artists into drawing giant robots or soldiers or big-titted women,” he said. “Because, for me, it’s all about the story … The acting side of comics is quite important to me. The facial expressions, how they interact and all that sort of thing.”

Lynda Barry has been chosen as the University of Wisconsin’s first recipient of the Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art.

—Commentary. Christian Heymans writes about the scandalous manga of Go Nagai.

The economic development and the social and political upheavals profoundly changed the Japanese way of life and the manga industry had to adapt. The Dankai generation, the baby boomers, who constituted the main readership of the school-life themed manga in the post-war period, and who had now grown up, were receiving more pocket money or their first salaries. The moralistic stories and good-mannered heroes of their childhoods no longer suited the tastes of these teenagers and young adults. Manga publishers did not want to lose these readers whose expectations they still had to meet. Elements that were once considered taboo (sex, violence, scatology) were introduced one by one in humoristic manga as well as action and adventure stories in order to accommodate this masculine readership.

 

Today on the site we have Gary Groth returning to these hallowed pixels to bring us the latest drawings by Brooklyn’s own Jonah Kingstein — a pen and ink master of outrage. At age 94 he’s unleashed his powers upon Donald Trump. Gary interviewed the artist as well.

Elsewhere:

darcy-copy

This is the run-up week to not just next week’s election, but also Comic Arts Brooklyn, which this year proudly features the great Dame Darcy, as well the debuts of Charles Burns’ new book from Le Dernier Cri — a collection of 180 pages of his “Free Shit” zines, as well as Richard McGuire’s new book, Sequential Drawings. The fest itself is free and runs from 11am to 7pm at Mt. Carmel Gymnasium, 12 Havemeyer Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with several related satellite events that kick of Thursday night at Desert Island, so check out the web site for info. Tom Spurgeon interviewed Gabe Fowler about the show here.

In other fest news: Here is Connor Willumsen’s Lakes International Comics Art Festival report. 

 

Father Figures

Today on the site, Rob Clough reports from this year’s meeting of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, held in Durham, North Carolina.

During the opening reception, show co-organizer J.P. Trostle said, “Wow, North Carolina is hell-bent on making this one of the most interesting and timely conventions we’ve ever had.” Trostle was referring not just to the passage of the odious anti-trans law HB2, but also to yet another victim of police violence, this time in nearby Charlotte. Indeed, there was some internal debate within the AAEC as to whether the festival should be held in Durham, given HB2, but it was decided that an organization whose purpose is to make pointed political commentary would be an ideal match for this controversy.

What interested me most about this festival was what factors went into it being considered a success. Editorial cartooning jobs have been shrinking steadily for years as newspapers fold and budgets decree that such posts are luxuries for the survivors. Of course, people have been shoveling dirt on the relevancy of political cartoons as early as the founding of the organization, and yet it continues to adapt and persevere. From the heydey of alt-weeklies in the ’80s to the movement to the web and multimedia platforms in the last few decades, editorial cartooning’s ability to provoke with a stark image is still powerful and threatening, a fact reinforced when one considers the fate of many such cartoonists around the globe.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Chelsea Cain, the Mockingbird writer who left Twitter to escape a flood of online abuse, writes about the experience on her blog.

My husband and our 11-year-old daughter were downstairs watching an episode of Buffy, and I was sitting up here in my home office, blocking some of these people, responding to some of them. Strangers, yelling at me because I wrote a comic book that they didn’t like, and because I was a woman. And I got a text from my 11-year-old daughter. “I love you,” she wrote.
And I just thought, what am I doing? Why am I up here engaging with mean strangers, who couldn’t care less about me, when the two people I love most in the world are downstairs?
I posted a comment about how I was done with Twitter. And I went downstairs.

Jeet Heer reflects on the work of Jack T. Chick, soliciting opinions from cartoonists including Kim Deitch, Sammy Harkham, Dustin Harbin, and Mary Fleener. Jeet ultimately compares Chick to Leni Riefenstahl, which seems a little overblown. Chick was undoubtedly interesting, but I don’t think his talent or influence as a cartoonist approaches Riefenstahl’s in film. Still, a good piece well worth reading.

Mary Fleener, an alternative cartoonist from San Diego, has a more personal grudge against Chick. “In the summer of 1971 I was having a mad, ‘love the one you’re with,’ affair with this guy named Jim,” Fleener wrote to me. “We’d make huge salads, and then walk all night in the hills above Malaga Cove in Palos Verdes, then come back to his house, where his parents were never home, and I’d read his Tarot cards, and we’d smoke pot, and had the best time. We really had an ‘open relationship’ with no ties, no expectations, and it was working … we were happy! Then he went to Hawaii for 3 weeks and came back a Born Again Christian, and told me we were finished, and as a parting gift, handed me a Chick tract that told the story of ‘Maria’ who was into astrology and how she was gonna burn in hell, or something like that.”

Art Spiegelman writes in The New Yorker about the painter Si Lewin.

I first met Si when he was a spirited and elfin ninety-four-year-old who still spent most of his waking hours painting—as he had since childhood. I’d stumbled onto his book “The Parade,” from 1957, while researching wordless picture stories—obscure precursors of today’s graphic novels that briefly flourished between the two World Wars. “The Parade,” obscure even by this genre’s standards, was drawn shortly after the Second World War, but was conceived while Lewen, a Polish Jewish refugee from Germany, was a member of an élite force of native German-speaking G.I.s who were in Buchenwald right after it was liberated.


—Interviews & Profiles.
Jess Nevins has dug up a 1944 interview with Lev Gleason.

Philippe Leblanc interviews Anya Davidson.

I think it’s hard to capture the energy of a musical performance on the page. One of my primary concerns as a cartoonist is to make work that’s lively and captures motion really well. Having a free flowing line is important. I don’t want my work to look stiff. So I try to draw panels with a lot of movement in them. Another way is with colour. I’m also fascinated by the power dynamics in rock and funk music. The showmanship in those genres, the costumes, the poses, are so iconic and evocative. It’s something I try to capture as well. I’ve watched so many performance of the Plasmatics, and Wendy O Williams, their front woman, is just really owning these strong images of female empowerment. Same with the funk singer Betty Davis. She’s always dressed in these outrageous futuristic sci-fi outfits and she’s this tall statuesque woman. She just looks like a goddess.

—Misc. The aforementioned Rob Clough has launched a Patreon to help support his comics reviews.

I’ve been writing comics criticism for fifteen years now, in places like Savant, The Comics Journal, Cicada, Sequart, Foxing Quarterly, Sequential Magazine and the Poopsheet Foundation. Of course, my home base for a decade has been my own High-Low site: http://highlowcomics.blogspot.com I’ve been providing criticism about comics from across the alternative/indy spectrum, including shedding light on new artists, short-run minicomics, YA comics, and of course the major releases from Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, etc. Anyone who’s been following my blog for the past six months has seen that I’ve been adding reviews five days a week.

Now I’d like to make the time and effort that goes into that work a little more sustainable.

 

Car Sitting

Hi there,

Today on the site, Josselin Moneyron talks to Kuš!’s David Schilter, along with his co-editor on the recent “manga” issue, Berliac.

Josselin: The title “Gaijin Mangaka”, which has a very vague literal meaning, makes clever use of how these Japanese words have acquired a more specific meaning once extracted from their original cultural setting. Is it a term sometimes used by some of these artists to try and define their sensibility?

David: It took us a while to come up with a summarizing title, and it was a challenge to not choose something plain silly. First we even thought, we could give the artists a theme, but then we just wanted to leave the contents completely to them. At one time I came up with the idea of “Foreign Manga”. Google helped me to translate it to “Gaijin”. Berliac uses “Gaijin Gekiga” as his header on his website, so with slight adjustments we got our title. Though Berliac said “Gaijin” is often used as derogative term, so we did have some slight reservations.

Berliac: My Japanese friends explained to me that the term Gaijin was “extracted from its original cultural setting”, in which it had racist connotations, by foreigners living in Japan to refer to themselves. So, I don’t know about the other artists, but when it comes to defining my own work, I don’t have any reservations, quite the opposite, I gladly see myself as an outsider, and make it an identity factor in my own work. One of the nicest “fan mail” I’ve ever received was from Japan, from a man saying he could certainly trace Yoshiharu Tsuge’s influence in my work, but at the same time he enjoyed learning about my own cultural background and experiences. Isn’t this a bit like immigrating? I learn your visual grammar as fluently as possible, to tell you about myself, to connect, and I learn about your own culture in the process.

Elsewhere:

The writer Chelsea Cain, recently of the Marvel comic book Mockingbird, becomes the latest female creative to quit Twitter after persistent harassment.

Aidan Koch reports back from LICAF on her experience there with Comics Workbook.

Ben Katchor on Virtual Memories.

Steve Dillon remembered at Hyperallergic.

Charles Burns’ show at Galerie Martel is viewable in its entirety. I think this is all unpublished work — fascinating stuff here. It’s reaching deep into his and our history. I love it.

 

Getting Even

Today on the site, the great cartoonist Joyce Farmer remembers her late colleague, the pioneering writer and comics publisher, Lyn Chevli, who co-founded the first comic written, drawn, and published entirely by women.

When Lyn Chevli moved to California with her mother and two small children in 1961, she never looked back. She had a bachelor’s degree in art from Skidmore College, but she didn’t like to draw, preferring instead to make silver jewelry and exquisite bronze sculptures using her beloved welding torch. With her then-husband, Dennis Madison, she started the renowned bookstore/art gallery, Fahrenheit 451, in Dana Point, California, then moved the business to Laguna Beach in 1968. The store carried a mix of new-age literature, including early underground comix.

Lyn became disturbed by the clever but bizarre and androcentric stories in the early undergrounds, especially Zap Comix, and decided to produce a feminist comic book that would match the Zaps in anarchic content, but from a woman’s point of view.

After selling the bookstore in 1972, she enlisted the help of another local artist — me — and together we set out to “get even.” Abandoning our first impulse to slice and separate body parts from our male cartoon subjects, we created antic stories and illustrations based on our own experiences of menstruation, birth control, chin hair, motherhood, lack of privacy, and society’s skewed attitudes toward all women of that era. Both of us had been involved in birth control and pregnancy counseling for the Laguna Beach Free Clinic for several years, and that experience informed our work, bringing forth a sense of empowerment and a sex-positive atmosphere for women, though we didn’t quite understand what we were doing at the time.

Joe McCulloch is back today with his usual guide to the Week in Comics, exploring all the best-sounding releases new to stores. His spotlight picks this week include new books by Moebius and Ronald Wimberly.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Misc. Drew Friedman shares an excerpt from his book, More Heroes of the Comics: a short biography of Orrin C. Evans, the publisher of All-Negro Comics.

In the early ’30s, he landed a job as a general assignment reporter, for the 100-percent-white-staffed Philadelphia Record. Evans was not always readily accepted as a journalist. Meeting with re- porters after his son was kidnapped in 1932, Charles Lindbergh refused to start the press conference until Evans was removed from the room. Evans’ wartime exposé of racial segregation in the Armed Forces resulted in death threats.

Will Forte writes about how he got his start by drawing cartoons.

I sent them to a college buddy of mine (Matt Rice) who had recently become a literary agent. He started sending them around to people. One of these people was a manager (Julie Darmody) who showed them to a producer (Joel Gallen). And the next thing I knew, I had my first professional writing job for the Jenny McCarthy sketch show on MTV. Once that show was over, the cartoons got me my second writing job at The Late Show with David Letterman. To this day, one of the most exciting things I’ve ever heard was that my hero, David Letterman, had seen and liked my dumb little cartoon book. And just like that, I was a working writer and it was all because of the cartoons.

—A/V. On the third episode of Process Party, Mike Dawson and Zack Soto talk to Derf.

The latest RIYL features an interview with Tom Tomorrow.

If you enjoyed Joe McCulloch’s obituary of Jack T. Chick yesterday, you might want to listen to this 2013 podcast he recorded about the same artist.

 

Comics in zer Deutsch?

I’m back from the Frankfurt Book Fair. There are still books, don’t worry. I saw Joost Swarte from afar, but that was as close as I got to comics, really.

Today on the site:

Jack Chick, the mystery man of religious tracts, has passed away. Joe McCulloch has written our obituary.

Joe has also written about the artist extensively here and here and here and here!

The best long form take on Chick (and one of the best texts about comics, period) is by Daniel Raeburn. He’s kindly posted a PDF here.

And more:

Garth Ennis pays tribute to his late collaborator Steve Dillon. 

Chris Mautner writes eloquently about Ta-Nehisi Coates’ current run on Black Panther.

Also, The Economist discusses comics journalism.

 

Archie’s Black Book

Today on the site, we are posting the Comics Journal’s 1992 interview with the late, great Jack Davis, conducted by Lee Wochner.

WOCHNER: If I shoot some names at you, maybe you can give me some profiles about what you remember of them. Bill Gaines…

DAVIS: Bill was always just a very generous person. He was a big guy. I think he’s kind of shy, but he’s his own man. He’s full of a lot of love for people. He’s just a very giving person, and he’s a good businessman, and I respect him an awful lot. If it hadn’t been for him, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now. I might be somewhere else, of course, but I like where I am now and I owe it all to Bill. There’s a certain chemistry we all had with the horror bit. He enjoyed the horror bit, he enjoys his humor, and he enjoys having a good time… and it’s a family thing. I think that when people come in from the outside, be it a writer or an artist, it’s pretty much a compliment because he’s the one who says, “OK, bring him.”

WOCHNER: Al Feldstein…

DAVIS: Al is the guy who gave me my first job and I think he’s a very good editor. He makes sure that everything runs right, that deadlines are met, and he’s put me on the carpet quite a few times for being late, and I’ve never had that from anyone else. I’ll be late sometimes, but Al really used to chew me out, and I needed it. I think, also, he was a genuinely good man, but he was concerned about MAD and running everything right, and he did it that way, and expected in return that you do a good job and not lay back. Every time I’d bring something in, he’d say, “Well, you didn’t knock yourself out on this,” and I didn’t — sometimes I would, and that would make me mad, but that’s an editor, and that’s his job.

Rob Clough is here today too, with a review of Peter Kuper’s Ruins.

In many respects, Ruins is a fictionalization and recapitulation of Peter Kuper’s 2010 book Diario de Oaxaca, which was a highly elaborate sketchbook diary of his time living in Mexico around 2006. Oaxaca is well known as a tourist center that draws in a lot of ex-pats because of its unique charms and focus on the arts. Cartoonists like Steve Lafler and Carrie McNinch have also spent time living there. During Kuper’s tenure, Oaxaca’s annual teacher’s strike for higher wages turned into a brutal military crackdown, and Kuper captured that with his drawings. He also became fascinated by the insect life he observed and was interested in capturing all aspects of living in the town without romanticizing them. Still, his love of Oaxaca despite (and mostly because of) its quirks was obvious when reading the book. Kuper is one of the founders of the politically charged anthology World War III Illustrated, and awareness of the social justice ramifications of what he saw came naturally to him. That said, it was surprising to see that both in his diary and in the fictionalized Ruins, he never examines his own role as an ex-pat and what effect he had had on Oaxaca, be it positive or negative.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Steve Dillon, the British artist who co-created Preacher, has passed away at the age of 54, reportedly due to a rupture appendix.

Mr. Dillon was a legend among comic-book fans and considered a master of his craft by colleagues. Known for a deeply expressive, often humorous style that leapt off the page, he created characters that could communicate volumes with a single expression.

His “pages were as fluid as camerawork, as efficient and composed as theater,” the novelist and comic-book writer Warren Ellis, a fan of Mr. Dillon’s work, said in an interview. “Everything breathed.”

—For Paste, Shea Hennum interviews Anya Davidson.

I don’t think I’ve seen many people talking about purposefully choosing certain coloring methods. How do you make that decision about what’s best for the project?

I think most sane people stick with one coloring method. I’m always wanting to experiment. But I just feel it out. I have a vibe in mind that I want to convey. Like my book Lovers in the Garden is set in ‘70s New York, and it’s kind of a novella, so I thought that would be a good project to try a combination of different types of markers and colored pencils. It has kind of a gritty vibe, and it’s shorter and the original pages are smaller, so I had the luxury of going all out on the hand coloring. If I want something to look slicker, I color it digitally. I’m still working it all out. I probably always will be.

—The film critic David Bordwell writes at length about Archie comics, prompted by a recent reading of Bart Beaty’s Twelve Cent Archie.

Hergé liked to keep his scene’s space clear and consistent, modifying it slightly with “cut-ins” and “pans.” [Harry] Lucey, like other American comics artists, freely changes angle and even character arrangement to create variety and to point up dialogue. In one pair of panels, the change of angle is bold, slicing off half of Archie’s face to give greater emphasis to Betty’s angry arm-thrust and Ronnie’s reaction on the far right.

—Dash Shaw: