R to L

We've got the first day of a new Cartoonist's Diary today, in which Austin cartoonist Billy Burkert quits his job.

We also present Greg Hunter's review of a recent Michel Fiffe collection, Zegas.

Some frustrations are universal. Banging your head against a wall means banging your head against a wall, even if beyond that wall you’ll find various supernatural entities. These are the circumstances of Emily Zegas, 25, and her 30-year-old brother, Boston. They live together in their late parents’ house, with a sprawling metropolis not far away. Both places are sites of growing pains and weird occurrences. Michel Fiffe originally published Zegas as a single-creator anthology from 2009 to 2012. Fantagraphics’ recent collection covers the Emily and Boston stories from that run, a series of thoughtful, inventive comics about camaraderie—or even codependence—between siblings and the process of making a life for yourself.

Emily and Boston have familiar dilemmas—heartbreak, job hunts—but experience moments of the fantastic on the regular. Ortega, their local “Street Mayor,” materializes out of nothingness and checks the siblings’ IDs with his floating head. Emily tackles a thief by the coat, and a skinless mass of heads and organs shoots out of the coat’s collar. The siblings treat these moments with ambivalence; when the weird appears, it’s more of an inconvenience than a revelation. The comics don’t necessarily reward an urge to understand the setting of Zegas either. Fiffe does most of his world-building by way of allusion, privileging the feeling of living in the place.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Jesse Crumb, the 49-year-old artist and son of Robert Crumb, has reportedly died in a car accident. He can be seen in the following clip from Terry Zwigoff's documentary:

—Interiews & Profiles.
Deadline Hollywood has interviewed Dash Shaw.

What inspired you to make My Entire High School as your first feature?

I had done a comic with the same title many years ago, and the premise of that comic was that it combined the two opposing schools of comics when I was a teenager. There were tons of autobio comics in the ‘90s—that was most of alternative comics, and they were kind of mundane stories. Then, boy’s adventure comics, superhero comics.

It was just a very short comic that smashed those things together. It was this one character who would have the same name as the creator, and it would be their warped perspective in an adventure setting.

Guernica has a conversation with Eli Valley.

Guernica: Diaspora Boy takes its name from a series of comics you wrote starring Israel Man, a virile superhero, and his sidekick Diaspora Boy, a sickened cretin. Can you explain the premise of the comic?

Eli Valley: It’s a satire of Zionist attitudes towards diaspora Jews since the inception of Zionist thought. Zionism imbibed a lot of anti-Semitic ideology and caricature, which took the form of the self-hatred and denigration of the diaspora. Some claim this all dissipated after a couple of decades once the state of Israel was normalized. But that’s just not true—look at statesmen and cultural Zionists to this day, and the hatred of diaspora Jews persists. It becomes more pronounced when directed at progressive Jews today, given the off-the-brink extremism of the Israeli government.

Diaspora Boy himself is the embodiment of that kind of caricature. Zionist ideologues have called this comic self-hating, which is just playing into the very caricature that I’m satirizing. It’s funny how they always take the bait. Diaspora Boy just portrays the viewpoint of those Zionists who think diaspora Jews are “doomed.”

The most recent guest on RiYL is Chris Ware.

—Reviews & Commentary. Over at Comics Workbook, Sally Ingraham looks into several online sources for African comics.

I recently found a new database that I’ve been digging into – the Africa Cartoons: Encyclopedia of African Political Cartooning. It is being built by Tejumola Olaniyan, who is the Louise Durham Mead professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is originally from Nigeria, and his interests in African diaspora have led him write numerous books on music, literature, drama, and cultural identity. Somehow these interests also condensed into the desire to build this database, which lists 180 cartoonists from many African countries, and aims to represent the entire continent eventually.


The Feed Zone of the Bomb Cyclone

Today at the Journal, you'll find two excellent pieces of writing to prepare you for the weekend. Gear up first for a superbly detailed obituary on Annie Goetzinger by Cynthia Rose:

Goetzinger's lasting importance resides not in her style or politics – it derives from her very existence and example. When there was only a handful of women to watch, she showed what could come of painstaking research and careful choices. For her, the key to retrieving any past was always a person, an individual with a specific imagination. She helped win us access to worlds as different as those of Chloe Cruchaudet's Mauvais Genre (2013), Agnes Maupré's Chevalier d'Eon (2014), Penelope Bagieu's California Dreamin' (2015), Virginie Augustin and Hubert's Monsieur Désire? (2016), and Isadora by Julie Birmant and Clément Oubrerie (2017).

Catch your breath. Now, take a look a, Tegan O'Neil's detailed examination of Sugar Town, the latest comic from Hazel Newlevant.

The virtue in a book like Hazel Newlevant’s Sugar Town lies in the ability of a cartoonist like Newlevant to illustrate the interior processes native to a social relationship which many if not most readers may never experience or even approve. Rather than explain polyamory with charts and graphs and blockquotes from The Ethical Slut Newlevant shows the reader precisely what the process entails – and more important than the “what,” the “how” of how the participants conceptualize themselves as ethical actors within nontraditional relationships.

That may very well be the most vital aspect of the book in terms of illustrating just how these relationship mechanics work: Newlevant is preoccupied above all in ensuring that all her romantic entanglements are ethical. That forms the motor for the book’s major conflict, an internal struggle within the protagonist (also named Hazel, coincidentally!) to make sure that her own actions are always within the bounds of informed consent for all parties. This requires, as you can imagine, a great deal of work.

Elsewhere? I don't know. Did you read any good blogging yesterday? I didn't. I didn't try, though, which is sort of on me. Snow didn't keep me from work, but playing in the snow definitely kept me from using my free time to trawl blogs. I did read the first issue of Sunday, by Olivier Schrauwen. It's an extremely funny comic, almost 60 pages long, printed in pink and blue, and it consists of a man getting up in the morning and, amongst other things, masturbating, trying to figure out what to text his significant other, getting a song stuck in his head, taking a bath and procrastinating on a freelance gig. My favorite part is when he mildly injures his groin because he thinks that doing a James Brown split is easy. 

Schrauwen's comics, like Kevin Huizenga's and most Image Comics, don't tend to hold up well when they're discussed purely in plot terms. In the first case, it's because what happens is less important than the way the artist uses cartooning to manipulate the way that the communication of ideas function between audience and narrative, and in the second case, because most Image Comics have dumb plots that make you feel embarrassed that you've read them when you hear those plots said aloud. Schrauwen's work doesn't sound that exciting when listed it as I did above--and it shouldn't. The acts that his main character (yet another of Schrauwen's supposed family members, this one is named Thibault Schrauwen) takes are as routine as it gets, and while Schrauwen gets the jokes in, it's mostly within a realistic context. What makes Sunday such an engaging piece of work is the way Schrauwen's transitions create constant moments of goofineess, the way he takes an endlessly banal series of situations--a man climbing the stairs, for example--and ladles them with comedy simply by the moments in time he chooses to draw. The joke is just the simple silliness of regular life, the way a solitary man in a robe looks as he strides around his morning, trying to remember lyrics, or trying to entertain a cat. It's in the way he cuts an average orgasm against another man engulfing a pastry. Over and over, Sunday is the comedy of regular life, but done in such a succinct, direct fashion that it in no way reads as cruel, or laboriously produced, or overwrought. Look at the plain faced smile on that cover--it's just a guy ready to attack the day. But first, he's got about a hundred boring things to do. I feel ya, Thibault.



Today Austin English returns with the second installment of his new comics-theory column, and this time he takes two seemingly incongruous examples -- the final strips of George Herriman's Krazy Kat and Mort Weisinger's Silver Age Superman stories -- to illustrate the particular strengths of comics.

The last published Krazy Kat strip appeared on June 25th, 1944. When Herriman passed away on April 25th of that same year, he was working on an unfinished pair of daily strips. But Sunday strips are drawn in advance, so the June 25th strip is the final communication from (in my opinion) the world's greatest cartoonist.

The final three Sunday strips have a lot to say, about the strip itself and about living in general. I think a close read of them might illuminate something that seems to be obscure about Herriman. Krazy Kat holds much more than people grudgingly give it credit for. Its importance doesn't lie in the 'eternal love triangle' literary device of Krazy, Ignatz, and Pup (the only aspect of the strip major media outlets bother to write about---hey, it's an easy subject to fill a paragraph with before going on to explain how unpopular the comic was in its time). Nor is it proper to end discussion of the strip by saying it's 'beautifully designed!' which I hear a lot when people profess to not understanding the strips appeal but halfheartedly try their best to find something in it to connect with. Both of these common reads on Krazy Kat miss the forest for the trees.

Also, for those readers interested in the "consensus" results of our Best Comics of 2017 lists, I calculated the results (counting comics given an "honorable mention" with half a vote), and got the following list:

1. My Favorite Thing is Monsters, Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)
2. Songy of Paradise, Gary Panter (Fantagraphics)
3. You & a Bike & a Road, Eleanor Davis (Koyama Press)
4. Anti-Gone, Connor Willumsen (Koyama Press)
5. Crickets #6, Sammy Harkham (self-published)
6. (tie) The Best We Could Do, Thi Bui (Abrams)
6. (tie) Hostage, Guy Delisle (Drawn & Quarterly)
8. (tie) Everything is Flammable, Gabrielle Bell (Uncivilized Books)
8. (tie) Pope Hats #5, Ethan Rilly (AdHouse)
10. (tie) How to Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels, Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden (Fantagraphics)
10. (tie) Monograph, Chris Ware (Rizzoli)

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. For the second time in less than two months, the tiny independent comics publisher 2dcloud has announced via tweet that they are cutting ties with one of their artists for alleged sexual misconduct, this time Blaise Larmee. In November, 2dcloud dissolved their publishing relationship with Andy Burkholder, accusing him of sexual assault. Larmee was more than just an artist for the company, serving pivotal roles there, first as marketing director and then as creative director. 2dcloud claims in their tweet that Larmee behaved "in a way that is inconsistent with our values" and alludes to "inappropriate or predatory behavior." Neither 2dcloud nor Burkholder responded to a request for comment last November. 2dcloud prides itself on being a "community-focused" publisher, and we will soon see if the community finds the vague-tweet-and-shrug approach adequate.

—Reviews & Commentary. At NYRB, Sarah Boxer writes about Chris Ware's Monograph.

Monograph contains multitudes: lists of books Ware has made; New Yorker magazine covers he’s drawn; pages of other cartoonists’ books (Krazy Kat and Gasoline Alley) that he has designed; printing files for his own books (including some for his best-known and saddest work, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth); instruction sheets for cutting and folding his toy models; fake old-timey ads that he has mocked up; pages from his illustrated datebooks; life drawings from his college days; sketches and photographs of people he’s known, cities he’s loved, and kitchens he has drawn in; pictures of toys and contraptions he has created, including a wooden book dispenser that he used to fill with tiny comics and a zoetrope that he built because “I knew I’d never be able to afford to buy one.”

And The Rumpus has excerpted an upcoming book-length study of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home written by Genevieve Hudson.

Queer experiences have largely been overlooked by mainstream narratives, so it is up to us to save our stories. It is up to us to figure out how to hand them down to history. We tell our stories by drawing, singing, writing, filming, and fucking, and there is something tender and fierce about the community that grows out of that. Just as Bruce would gaze with pride at his walnut bookshelf, we can gaze at our stories, sitting beside each other. By expanding access to an archive of queer possibility, we can broaden our understanding of what a person can be.

What I’m trying to get at is that there is something significant and shared about being queer. There’s a kind of education in queerness you don’t need a formal degree to attain. It is constructed on the stage, in paragraphs, on the stereo, and in the streets. It doesn’t necessarily come to you. You have to find it. Sooner or later, we start searching for our histories. We start to look out as a way to look in. We start to engage with our archive.

—Interviews & Podcasts. The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Dave McKean.

The cartoonist and occasional TCJ contributor Anya Davidson has launched a new arts podcast called Mindkiller.


A Two Trick Pony

Today at the Journal, we've got Carta Monir's take on the critically acclaimed I'm Not Here, from Koyama Press. Will Carta take the party line, and greet gg's work with praise and admiration? You'll know soon enough.

I’m Not Here, published by Koyama Press, is the latest of gg’s otherworldly stories. Like all of her work, it seems heavily inspired by film, especially French New Wave cinema. And, like all of her work, it deserves and requires multiple, attentive reads. (I should note: if you’re the kind of person who cares about spoilers, I would advise you to buy the book and stop reading the review right here.)

Due to yesterday's technical issues, I'd point you to our collection of The Best Comics of 2017, which went up later than anticipated. I have a lot of affection for these sorts of omnibus collections of lists, and the Journal has a history of putting quite a few good ones together. That being said, I also have the undying fondness for lists constructed by brute force compromise amongst hysterically passionate people with very specific points of view, and what a tremendous disappointment it has been this past month to see all the other publications take what is, in essence, the easier softer way of list after list after list of individual tastes and timing. Make everybody talk to each other, I say! You think Tom King's Mister Miracle is better than Emil Ferris? Well shit man: I would love to hear that conversation. God, I'd like to just live in a world where that conversation would realistically happen, where a person who is fully in love with Mister Miracle #1 would be willing to debate with somebody who thinks My Favorite Thing Is Monsters without either one of them getting all worked up about it on a personal level. (And yes, I know there's some rinkydink podcasts out there where they talk about every single comic related thing that came out, but I'm not interested in the opinions of hyperconsumptive bozos who "read everything" any more than I am interested in the writings of people who feel the need to tell you the word count all the time.)

That being said, I don't know how to get what I want besides doing it on a podcast, where it could be an actual conversation, and God knows the world needs fewer of those. It's a great indicator, those kinds of conversations--do you really like something, and why do you like it? What do you think it's doing well? How long can that dog run, and how far? Being forced to talk about that to an audience who is going to catch your prejudices and question your basic assumptions, as opposed to the hyperbole one-upping that occurs when you're preaching to a choir--those conversations are how one can get to the meat of an individual's appreciation in a way that the more breezy echo chamber rarely can. It's also diametrically opposed to the way most of the conversations I see myself having on social media, where I tend to focus more heavily on the disagreements I have with people--one tends to find a lot of commonality when a conversation is actually that, instead of the simulacrum of it approached online. 

Oh well. My favorite comic I read this year was You & A Bike & A Road by Eleanor Davis, which I fell in love immediately after I read it and have gone back to multiple times this year. I find myself in various seasons of reading comics--my time writing for ComiXology and my own blog, when I felt an obligation to "keep up" with everything; my time in retail, when I felt I needed to "know" what was going on with single issue comics and trendsetting young artists to keep up with my customers and what they needed; my time in publishing, when I basically only read the books I worked directly on or that I was gifted by friends, so as to keep some of my life completely clear of comics. Eleanor's book comes from the tail end of that season, when I tended towards comics that would be a quiet respite from the books I worked on, from the online world that never seemed to stop making noise, and I identified with the way Davis used her bike trip to parcel out her life, to reclaim. The masochism of knee pain, the struggle to know when enough is enough, the rawness of being a powerless witness to suffering--these are all moments I can relate to emotionally, but there's something far deeper in Eleanor's actual cartooning that makes the book so impactful. It's something I have struggled to put my finger on, which is part of the reason I carried my copy with me from place to place, train to plane. Is it that the confidence of the line, the way it all seems so Steinbergian perfect? The way a smile or a tear verges on cartoonish exaggeration but always stops before it could go too far? Is it something more base, something where a part of me stupidly believes that I could put my feelings on the page the way she does, if I just would let myself go?

I don't know what it is in that book. It hurls you into the road, batters you with moments and emotions and time, most of all, it batters you with a constant reminder of the passage of time, and then it slaughters you with love, and then it ends too soon. It's such a lovely book. I read quite a few other things this year that were good, a few that were great, a handful that were total horseshit, a bunch of '80s super-hero comics, but that was the one I fell for. 2018 has a tough bar to clear.




Here She Comes Again

Happy New Year, and sorry for the delay. We had our traditional beginning-of-the-year tech issues, but things are now working again, and we have one of the most enjoyable posts of the year: a wide-ranging collection of best-of lists from many of the comics world's finest thinkers and makers, the Best Comics of 2017.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Austin Lanari was unimpressed by The Nib's farewell to 2017.

These comics are preloaded to be up their own asses. When it says "saying goodbye to 2017," given the tone and fairly constant POV of the majority of things on the site this year (nevermind the title of the column itself), I know when it says "goodbye to 2017" it doesn't mean qua calendar year. It means a personified 2017. 2017 the meme, the villain, that "took" from us and "gave" us Trump and what-have-you. As a thesis, this is immature, fit-for-twitter grandstanding that only serves to ensconce the material itself in meme-dom. It wears its irrelevancy on its sleeve and hardly makes for lasting or interesting art.

At The New Yorker, Peter Schjeldahl writes a new show featuring Käthe Kollwitz and Sue Coe.

As rendered by [Coe], rich men are beasts, cops are murderers, and butchers earn their name. She frankly traces her animus to a harrowing childhood, lived within earshot of a pig abattoir where, as she wrote in her book “Dead Meat” (1996), “slaughtering started at 4 a.m.” Her early friends included “radical lesbians who joined the marines, professional car thieves, drug addicts who died, a rock star, and one shorthand typist.” (She is a crackerjack writer.) A scholarship to the Chelsea School of Art, in London, when she was seventeen, delivered her from what she had assumed would be a working-class life. She studied illustration and, after moving to New York, in 1972, became a regular contributor to publications including the Times. The St. Etienne brochure aptly lists, as formative influences on her, “Daumier, Dix, Goya, Grosz and, of course, Kollwitz.” Debts to them all are apparent in her art, but only Otto Dix’s work really anticipates its ferocity.

At Mindless Ones, Andrew Hickey goes on at length about Crisis on Infinite Earths in a post that makes a nice companion piece (or counteargument?) to Tom K's new column for this site.

Crisis was a far more influential comic than it’s ever given credit for. When people talk about the big three comics that changed everything around 1985/86, they always mention Maus along with The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, but that mostly comes from superhero comics’ desperate wish for greater legitimacy. Maus is a great comic, of course, but it’s a great comic from the art comix tradition — Spiegelman had nothing to do with the changes that the US direct market was going through at that time, and Maus had minimal influence on anything in the “mainstream” comics world. It’s rather like saying that the most influential records of 1966/7 were Pet Sounds, Sgt Pepper, and Stockhausen’s Hymnen. Hymnen‘s great, and arguably better than the Beatles or the Beach Boys, but wasn’t doing the same thing. The same goes for Maus.

No, the real third comic to revolutionise the mainstream comics industry at that time was Crisis on Infinite Earths.

I don't think I've ever seen any "Top Ten" list of any kind ever get the kind of negative response Nick Gazin got for his post on Vice last week. If you managed to stay off the internet during the holiday season (and good for you), just type "Nick Gazin" or something similar into the Twitter search box, and you'll see what I mean.

Making a list of the top ten comics of 2017 was difficult since ten good comics didn’t get published this year. Even the AV Club, which is almost always right, made a top ten list that was mostly worthless garbage. To some the purpose of a list like this is to serve as a gift guide but that’s shameful to me. The reason for these lists is to discuss creative works that were made this year that have some lasting value, not to be a distraction or an advertisement.

—Interviews & Profiles. The latest episode of RiYL features Cecil Castellucci, and the latest episode of the Library of American Comics podcast features Corto Maltese translator Simone Castaldi.


Eternal Life

Today at the Journal, we've got Tegan O'Neil getting engaged with David Collier's most recent comic for Conundrum Press--and engaged she is! It's called Morton, and here's a taste:

What Collier chronicles throughout Morton is not just the speed with which technological and social changes can transform a society but the anxiety that exists at the very real chance of waking up and one day finding yourself on the other side of said technological and social changes. His book gets rejected by Drawn & Quarterly so he goes to a younger, hipper publisher where people are having fun and his reputation as an elder statesman in the field carries more weight than the fact that his wife babysat Oliveros’ brothers’ kids. He makes not one but three references to Woody Allen, the final of which places the recurrence in a revealing context: not really knowing whether or not its OK to like Woody Allen movies anymore after having grown up with them. John Morton (consciously in this context the “Gallant” to Collier’s “Goofus”) turned his back on Allen after it became public that he was dating his stepdaughter.


Why not stay? Here's a comic about staying, courtesy of Michel Fiffe.

Have a great holiday if you're having one!


Almost There…

Craig Fischer is here again, and the clouds have lifted. Today, he returns with a long, close look at the end of Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows's Providence, which he believes is "Moore’s meta-meditation on the shape and nature of his comics career, written as he prepares to leave the medium."

Moore has been leaving comics for a long time. In an interview with Jon B. Cooke in Comic Book Artist #25 (2003), Moore discussed his plans to bring his America’s Best Comics line to an apocalyptic finish in late 2003 (although he left open the possibility of publishing future League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books through ABC/DC). After years of grueling deadlines, Moore wanted to move into more personal and less predictable art-making:

I’m reaching a point in my life where what I want is less security, less certainty. I don’t want to know what I’m doing in a month’s time, or at least I won’t do after this November or thereabouts. I might write another novel. I might write a grimoire. I might waste a lot of time getting back into drawing, doing some more pictures. I might want to do more performances and release more CDs. I might want to write a play. I might want to get into sculpture. I might want to do a lot of things that are not going to obviously have any commercial value, which people might not like. I want to have that freedom. (55)

Luckily, his retirement from comics hasn’t stuck: he’s written plenty since shutting down ABC, including two League adventures for Top Shelf/Knockabout (Century [2009-12], and the Janni Nemo trilogy [2013-15]) and various projects for Avatar (the Providence prequel/sequel Neonomicon [2010-2011], the first six issues of Crossed Plus One Hundred [2014-15], and of course Providence). It’s true, though, that most of Moore’s effort in the last decade has been devoted to non-comics projects like his counter-culture magazine Dodgem Logic (2010-11) and his massive novel Jerusalem (2016). Meanwhile, his disdain for American mainstream comics and the superhero genre has escalated, due undoubtedly to how DC has wrung every cent out of the Moore comics they own while trying to undermine the legacy of Watchmen with irrelevant prequels and integration into “continuity.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The Wexner Center for the Arts has posted the audio from Caitlin McGurk's interview with Chris Ware at this year's CXC, which Eric Reynolds called "one of the most thought-provoking, live cartoonist interviews I've ever had the privilege to attend."

—Henry Chamberlain interviewed the very smart Hillary Chute about her latest book, Why Comics?

I profile one creator, Harvey Pekar, who is an example of successful collaborative work. But I think you put it really well when you say that something is lost when you get too many hands working on the piece. In my thinking, and perhaps it comes from my background in literature and novels, is the intimacy of comics. I think it’s what you get from seeing one person’s vision: seeing the same hand that creates the images as well as the words. You get a real world-building happening on the page when it’s done by one person. I think there’s something unique about comics in that way. People sometimes call them auteurist comics, which I believe you touch upon in your review. When you think about it, the term “auteur” comes from film, the New Wave French cinema and people like Godard. But, even on a Godard film, there are many people working on that film whereas a cartoonist like Dan Clowes, it’s just him through and through, the whole thing. It’s really a purchase on a person’s aesthetic vision.

Incidentally, it's nice to see that Chute chose Jaime Hernandez to do the cover (as many wondered about at the time, neither he nor his brother Gilbert was invited to the pivotal Chicago comics symposium a few years back).

—Most of you have probably already seen the Atlantic story on new Marvel editor C.B. Cebulski and his use of the Akira Yoshida pseudonym, which includes, among other things, an updated apology from Cebulski:

I’m truly sorry for the pain, anger, and disappointment I caused over my poor choice of pseudonym. That was never my intention. Throughout my career in anime, manga, and comics, I’ve made it a point to listen and learn from my mistakes, which is exactly what I’ve been trying to do with this misstep. Building honest relationships with creators has always been important to me, and I’ve continued to do that in my new position. I’ve spoken with talent close to this issue, and have had candid and productive conversations about how we can improve the industry and build better stories, while being mindful of the voices behind them. My passion has always been about bringing the best talent from across the world to work on the best stories in the world, and I’m hopeful that fans and creators alike will join us in that continued mission.

I don't think this story is likely to end here.


Savor The Selections

Today at the Journal, we've got the first column from cartoonist and publisher, Tomasz Kaczynski--it's titled Event Horizon, and while it isn't going to be a textual analysis of the picture starring Laurence Fishburne, he has assured me that he will get to said film after he's finished covering the 80's comics in question.

Your second must read of the day is the inimitable Joe McCulloch on Shiver, the Junji Ito collection we posted an excerpt of last week. Besides being an excellent review of the book, Joe grapples with the mutanting nature that digital delivery--both legal and not--have had on Ito's work and how critics are left to interpret that work.

This is both good business, and maybe just good. I think having Itō himself front and center can counteract the phenomenon of his works merely existing as pluckable digital fruits, although the book's setup is admittedly not ideal to that end. For one thing, there's no explanation as to when any of these comics were originally published - I'm not blaming VIZ here, since the Japanese edition doesn't have any information like that either, and for all I know they might be contractually prohibited from adding editorial material to the original work, but it does limit the book's usefulness as a retrospective. Upon digging around, I was able to find a Japanese blog purporting to list the original publication dates of everything in the book down to the month, the information presumably coming from other Itō collections or the author's experience; the actual sources, though, are never disclosed. If this information is accepted as accurate, it is noteworthy that the selected stories are arranged in chronological order, starting in 1990 (three years after Itō's professional debut, and the first year he spent working on manga without a day job) and concluding in 2003, a year after the serialization of Gyo, one of the longform works that helped make Itō's name in western environs.


I was elsewhere, via a plane. As such I didn't catch the comics news, but I did see these two lists that I found interesting. I also finished the book I was reading on the flight out and thought I'd buy a graphic novel at the airport. But it was impossible to do that, because the adult selection was totally insane DC garbage that I just refuse to spend money on, the fourth and seventh volumes of a handful of Image series that I can't imagine would have made sense, and some of those horrible "educational" titles that PRH creates by breaking the hands of high school students before forcing them to draw pictures of Eisenhower. In a way, that's actually kind of a good thing, not seeing any comics you care about in an airport--Hudson News has a 97% return rate, so most of those books are screwed--but I was in a spendy mood that probably isn't going to return. Anyway, here's the lists I liked. The CBC did a best Canadian comics & graphic novel list, and with the exception of Jeff Lemire (he's not going to stop churning that one thing he does out if people keep pretending they enjoyed it, CBC!), every book on that list is as stable as a table, to quote from the book I read way too fast on my flight out. The other list has only one graphic novel on it and no real blurb (although it does link to an interview), but I still thought it was worth linking to, because I'm 39 years old, which means I have been reading comics long enough to know that it is still a big deal that a graphic novel aimed at teenagers from a Big Five publisher dealing with queer issues came out and had the kind of response Spinning has had. It hasn't been taken on as a success with its LGBTQ as a crutch to overlook aesthetic shortcomings, it's been successful on its merits, soley. I'm glad that we can finally expect more out of comics than Greg Rucka's alcoholic lesbians & their struggles to be drawn competently.