Duplo, But For Aristocrats

By coming to today's Journal, you've hit the trifecta. First up, it's time for the latest installment in Billy Burkert's Cartoonist Diary. Was quitting his job the right call? Will we find out before Friday's conclusion? Only one way to find out.

And in other deep questions of the day, Tegan's latest column is here! In this installment of Ice Cream For Bedwetters, we get her take on Valiant's attempt to take their media empire to the next level. Things aren't looking good!

Here’s the thing about Valiant: Valiant as it exists in 2018 is really only half a company. These characters – the hundreds of characters who make up the fictional firmament of the Valiant Comics Universe, long may it wave – are a group of IP without any real desperate need to exist in comics form. And I say that because Ninjak vs the Valiant Universe #1 acts as a kind of negative advertisement, influencing me not to purchase more Valiant Comics but to question the very existence of Valiant Comics. I’ve never read a promotional comic that did a worse job of selling its product.

Trifecta means three, and here's the proof: Rich Barrett's debut for The Journal, with a review of Paper Girls: Book OneHere, Barrett grapples with the question of who the Brian K Vaughan/Cliff Chiang series is aimed at, and whether it lands.

With young adult fiction dominating the bookstore market, it’s tempting to label this as YA but it actually doesn’t fit cleanly into that category. Although the protagonists are pre-teens, the tone of the story and some of its subject matter is written with violence and language that, while not unlike what you might hear in an ‘80s film, may not fly with parents who supervise what their pre-teens are reading. Also, a general rule of thumb is that kids prefer to read about older kids, so the age of these characters might be disqualifying for consideration by some teenagers. In fact Paper Girls reads like what it actually is – a trade paperback collection of an ongoing Image Comic – more than it does, say, a Scholastic or First Second YA graphic novel. It’s written for adults who grew up in the ‘80s, grok Dr. Who-level complexities in time travel paradoxes and are in for the long-haul on a multi-year read.

Sorry for the delay in blog posting--i'm in another time zone that doesn't have snow. A revelation in the making!


Above the Ridgeline

Today on the site, Alex Dueben interviews Terry Nantier about four decades at the helm of NBM.

It was in the 1980s that things started to take off, as you said, and NBM started publishing Corto Maltese and collecting Terry and the Pirates.

We started publishing Terry and the Pirates about ’82 or so and that our first real substantial success. We created this library. We were the first to do real library-worthy editions of a classic comic strip and that worked very very well. I’m very proud of that. We pioneered in quite a number of ways.

How do you think things have changed?

Well, they’ve changed for the most part positively. There was a real growth of acceptance for graphic novels that started with Maus, but there was a period after, a lull where you almost got the impression that the literati were viewing Maus as possibly the exception that confirms the rule in their minds. Which was obviously unfortunately. When a lot of others comics came out, Persepolis and others, a lot of exceptional work was just more and more proof that comics were a lot more than people understood them to be and could be a lot more. We also had generations of young readers coming in that didn’t need to be convinced of this. Unfortunately my generation, the baby boom generation, accepted this only to a certain degree, but not a really substantial one. It was really Gen X that started accepting this. This is a tremendous achievement for comics, that had been really downtrodden for so long and looked down on. Just seeing that, but within that a further acceptance of European comics doing a lot in that regard to develop and further this mode of expression and this art form. It’s tremendous vindication for the vision I had all along.

We also have Day Three of Billy Burkert's Cartoonist's Diary.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. London's Daily Mail has published a story alleging that an unnamed nursing company has accused Stan Lee of repeated sexual harassment against their employees. Through his lawyer, the 95-year-old Lee has denied all charges, and claims he is the victim of a shakedown. The Daily Mail has credibility problems, to put it mildly, and has a long history of publishing false or extremely misleading stories, so it is probably wise to approach this story with caution until more legitimate reporting sources look into it.

—Reviews & Commentary.
At The Atlantic Monthly, Shaan Amin writes about "the dark side" of the popular Indian educational comics series, Amar Chitra Katha.

ACK was the first major indigenous comic-book series to sell within India, and its success also heralded the development of a broader domestic comics industry. ACK’s first successors were primarily Western-inspired action and adventure series, but by the 1990s Indian institutions like Diamond Comics and Raj Comics were publishing mysteries, funnies, and science-fiction works. Even within this crowded field, ACK remained beloved and novel for both its edutainment value and its role as the grandfather of an industry.

And yet, since its debut in 1967, ACK has also helped supply impressionable generations of middle-class children a vision of “immortal” Indian identity wedded to prejudiced norms. ACK’s writing and illustrative team (led by Pai as the primary “storyteller”) constructed a legendary past for India by tying masculinity, Hinduism, fair skin, and high caste to authority, excellence, and virtue. On top of that, his comics often erased non-Hindu subjects from India’s historic and religious fabric. Consequently, ACK reinforced many of the most problematic tenets of Hindu nationalism—tenets that partially drive the platform of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, currently under fire domestically and internationally for policies and rhetoric targeting religious minorities and lower castes.

At the Huffington Post, a media-studies professor named Vamsee Juluri disputes Amin's account.

This is not the first time this complaint has been made against the Amar Chitra Katha series, and I believe there are at least two academic books on the subject. While there is much that one might debate about the narratives and their depiction of “authority, excellence and virtue,” I will for the moment focus on the evidence, or lack thereof, for some of the very broad claims made by the author about the diversity of representations in the series.

—Interviews. The most recent guests at Virtual Memories are Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden.


Rider of the Glue

Today at the Journal, we've got the second day of Billy Burkert's Cartoonist Diary: straight out of Texas, he is.

That's not all though--we've also got a review from Leonard Pierce, his first of what I hope will be many for The Journal. Leonard's debut piece for TCJ is on the most recent graphic novel from Chuck Forsman, Slasher

How do we talk about violence in a world so saturated with violence that it takes a body count in the dozens to even make the news? How do we discuss the psychology of violence at a time when the villains of our culture are expected to be calculating psychopaths, and even the heroes are imbued with more than a hint of sociopathy? And, more to the point, how do we portray violent behavior and the way it is formed in comics, whose entire existence for the last century or so has depended on violence as a crucial part of its storytelling language, and even in their more adventurous experiments of late, have run the portrayals of serial killers and lonely brutes so far into the ground they’ve formed their own artistic substratum?

We've covered a lot of Forsman related stuff since I've come aboard, but I'm still wondering: are the people who ask questions about how to make it in the industry keeping abreast of what Chuck has been doing lately? Are they aware of the obstacles that have been placed in his path, and how he has managed dealing with them? I'm supposed to go and speak to another class of art students about how to find a career in cartooning in March, and the more I reminiscence over the choices that he's made in the years that I've known him, the more I think that my best course of action would be to recap the last 36 months of Chuck's choices. Make lots of stuff (and finish the stuff you started making), experiment with as many different delivery systems as possible, maintain professional relationships with multiple publishers, travel to different places and talk to different people, help out as many artists as you can while still making your own work, work with young people who are hungry and smart (but never treat them like sycophants). Anyway. Making it happen.


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.