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Today on the site, we bring you an interview with the late Jay Lynch by Gary Groth, conducted in the last few months of Lynch’s life. It allows a glimpse into a life led in multiple areas of cultures and small publishing, and the kind of knowledge that only a certain kind of cartoonist of a certain generation has access to.

GG: Well, one thing you have said was that when you worked for The Seed, and by the way, was that an anarchist periodical?

JL: It started as such, but it kind of evolved into one of those permission-seeking “legalize marijuana” kind of papers. And that never interested me, that attitude.

GG: Why would that not interest you? I mean, would you not want to see marijuana legalized?

JL: I would. But the way to do it isn’t to beg for it. The way to do it is to just, everybody smoke marijuana and if that happens all of a sudden it will be legal.

GG: So you’re opposed to the strategy.

JL: Yeah. Well, it started as a … There were surrealist papers in Chicago, and it started off as a spinoff of those. But then it evolved into a political thing.

GG: Now I think you mentioned that you ran afoul of their political doctrine, where they rejected work by you because it was not politically pure. Did you experience a lot of that? You said at one point that hippies don’t have a sense of humor.

JL: With The Seed, yeah. Once I ran a cover with a man thinking of a woman wearing a brassiere, a pointy brassiere. And that was sexist to them. But it ran in the Madison-Milwaukee Bugle-Americanas the cover, they printed in. But The Seed lost all of my art and all of Crumb’s art, and when they printed it they’d print it in purple ink, so you couldn’t really reproduce from what they’d printed. It was kind of … If a free press and the free exchange of ideas is the goal, it wasn’t that. It was: “This is sexist. This is not good for the revolution.”

GG: Have you become more sympathetic to that point of view, sexism and racism as unpalatable sources of humor? How do you feel about that?

JL: Well I think what he did wasn’t really racist, but it was a mockery of racism. And I think it’s good what we did, because there was a reverse discrimination type thing going on. When I worked for Renewal [magazine], we ran a — Jerry Farber was the guy’s name — article called “Student as Nigger,” which compared college students protesting against the war to Negroes working within the system during protests in the ’50s. So for the illustration to that I drew a guy that was split in half, and one half was a student wearing a tweed jacket with patches and carrying schoolbooks and having a beard — all the clichés of what was a student then. The other half was a plantation Negro holding a watermelon, and that was the analogy that was in the article. But even the editor of Renewal at the time made me change the whole watermelon-carrying half to a Negro with a black suit on, like Sidney Poitier. So there was a taboo, but it meant that all black people had to be Sidney Poitier. Like there was a big outcry against Amos ’n’ Andy, but really Amos ’n’ Andy is just The Honeymooners but they’re black. It’s not like the janitor Lightnin’ represents all characters in the thing, any more than Ed Norton represents all white men. So as a reaction to the overly sensitive depiction of blacks in the liberal media, I think that’s what I did and that’s what Angelfood McSpade kind of was.

Elsewhere:

Here’s more Jay Lynch.

Historian (and author of Lynch’s TCJ obituary) Patrick Rosenkranz:

A lengthy clip related to his fanzine collaborator, Don Doehler:

 

Wham

As is usual on Tuesdays, Joe McCulloch is here with his usual indispensable guide to the Week in Comics, listing and commenting upon the best-sounding comics new to stores. This week’s spotlight picks include new books by MariNaomi and Kazuto Tatsuta.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Eleanor Davis writes about her recent experience with citizen lobbying.

Previously, citizen lobbying had felt impossible to me; but after making a hundred phone calls and speaking up at rallies and commission meetings, it didn’t seem like such a big deal. I realized that just because people who disagree with me might tell me I am wrong or confused, it doesn’t actually mean I am wrong or confused. I realized I don’t think it’s wrong to irritate people or waste their time when they are actively trying to dismantle or deport everything I love about my country. I realized that whenever I wasn’t busy fighting for what I believed in, I was busy feeling very, very bad.

Hazel Cills writes about the Raymond Pettibon exhibit up in NYC.

While many still see Pettibon as the unofficial creative director of hardcore, the irony is that even as he was creating this aesthetic back in the ’70s, he was often simultaneously critiquing it. “I mean, what the fuck is a battle to punk rockers? Against long hair?” he later recalled in an interview with BOMB Magazine in 1999. “Jesus. It’s a really decadent mockery, when you think of it.” A plaque at the New Museum exhibition inside a display case of Black Flag flyers assures visitors that “most of his actual illustrations of punks were less than flattering,” and notes for the record that Pettibon’s visuals were usually not made by collaborating with the musicians. At the time, hardcore punk was a hypermasculine scene; loud, angry at seemingly everything, and ready to pummel each other in the pit, its true believers were a direct counter to the long-haired, peace-and-love hippie culture of the previous decade. Yet Pettibon’s cover art for Black Flag’s 1981 Six Pack EP depicts a man cowering in the corner, blood all over the floor, as if to mysteriously warn fans about the dangers of attending one of their shows.

At Savage Critics, Abhay Khosla has a huge multipart review of Marvel’s Civil War II.

At this point, the question of whether or not Bendis has written a “good comic” is especially meaningless. They made a Netflix show of one of his comics that won a fucking Peabody, and he got to go to the Peabody’s (!). This life’s a game, and that dude’s played the game well, man. (And I think he’s deserved his success– he worked very hard for it, anyways.)

So now that he’s had this whole career, whether one comic is good or not doesn’t seem all that Life-or-Death. But what strikes me as interesting is you can now see this entire career of him exploring and reexploring particular themes and go “oh how does this fit into that“…

More specifically, Bendis’s career-long obsession is characters negotiating situations where the Old Systems don’t work anymore– characters either choosing to redefine themselves because of their exhaustion with the old status quo, or having new status quos thrust upon them.

Neil Gaiman writes about Will Eisner.

I bought my first copy of The Spirit in 1975, in a basement comics shop in south London. I saw it hanging on a wall and knew that, whatever it was, I wanted it. I would have been about 14. Reading it on the train home, I had no idea that the stories I was reading were 30 years old. They were fresher and smarter than anything I’d seen in comics – stories that somehow managed to leave out everything that wasn’t the story, while telling wonderful tales of beautiful women and unfortunate men, of human fallibility and of occasional redemption, stories through which the Spirit would wander, bemused and often beaten up, a McGuffin in a mask and hat. I loved The Spirit then. I loved the choices that Will made, the confidence, the way the art and the story meshed. I read those stories and I wanted to write comics, too.

—News. Vanessa Davis has won The Paris Review‘s Terry Southern Prize.

This year’s Southern Prize will be presented by the filmmaker Todd Solondz to Vanessa Davis for her series “Summer Hours,” a comic in eight parts that began last June on the Daily.

—Interviews. Betsy Gomez talks to Ariel Schrag about the recent school challenge to her Stuck in the Middle anthology.

I’ve read a lot of middle-grade and young adult prose fiction, and I know that Stuck in the Middle is fairly tame compared to much of what is currently available in school libraries. Many books written for middle school-aged kids tackle similar subjects and use realistic language and scenarios. Stuck in the Middle is targeted because, being a graphic novel, it’s visual and the content is more immediately recognized. For instance, if a parent has a problem with their child reading about someone being bullied, they would have to spend more time reading through the prose of a novel to find the objectionable section, whereas opening up a comic to a drawing of a kid calling another kid a name can be recognized instantly. Comics also have a history of being considered “low brow” or “corrupting,” so despite the high caliber of the artists and work in Stuck in the Middle, people sometimes bring this prejudice to the book.

The most recent guest on Process Party is Joe Decie.

—Misc. 2dcloud has launched a Kickstarter to crowdfund their spring 2017 lineup, which includes new work by Maggie Umber and Sarah Ferrick and the Sean T. Collins/Julia Gfrörer-edited issue of Mirror Mirror.

We’ve been using Kickstarter as a mechanism for pre-orders and curated book bundles since 2010. This is our 9th Kickstarter, and it’s how we keep the lights on. We’re selling these book at less than retail cost and giving you a closer connection with us as a label and with our authors. Which we think is cool. Help us bring these works into the world

Chester Brown and Dave Sim have been arguing about prostitution and misogyny and petitions again.

According to Dave [Sim, he never considered me his friend, and] this was his reason for hanging out with me regularly:

“I [thought] it was worth maintaining communication for the sake of Canadian Cartooning Posterity.”

He wasn’t my friend, he was fraternizing with me for the sake of Canadian Cartooning Posterity? Perhaps that’s so, but I do remember Dave saying that he was my friend. Perhaps he was using the word ironically. At the time I assumed he was sincere because he certainly acted like a friend. I was sincere in being Dave’s friend. I genuinely like the guy.

Kevin Huizenga higlights a disturbingly plausible passage about how comics conquered the world from Jarrett Kobek’s I Hate the Internet.

—Not Comics. At Hyperallergic, Rob Colvin writes about “Like Art,” and how art has been influenced by social media. It would be interesting to consider whether comics has been similarly affected.

It is art that looks very much like art you’ve already seen, that you know very well, and that you already like. […] It’s “the look for less,” with no greater aesthetic aspirations. It lives for heart taps, thumbs-up clicks, and space on people’s walls — digital or brick-and-mortar.

 

Um Tut Sut

The pioneering cartoonist, historian, and satirist Jay Lynch has passed away. Aside from being an incredibly funny, dextrous cartoonist, he was, as a teenager, an important part of mimeograph fandom, as an adult, the crucial part of the underground press, and later still, a longtime contributor to Topps bubblegum cards. His was truly a career and life in art that will never exist again. 

Our coverage of Jay Lynch’s life and times is in three parts:

-Patrick Rosenkranz has written an obituary.

-Gary Groth conducted the artist’s final interview (this will run in the next couple of days).

-And we’ve republished his long out-of-print 1987 TCJ interview.

Rest in peace, Jay.

 

The Waiting

Today on the site, Bob Levin reviews Turkish Trilogy, a Serbian collection of comics describing and mocking low-budget Turkish cinematic remakes of Star Wars and other blockbuster Hollywood films.

As I understand it, in the early 2000s, the American blogger Seanbaby posted online reviews of bootleg videos of grab-the-bucks (or lira) unauthorized Turkish remakes of hit Hollywood movies, including Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, and The Exorcist, which had been churned out at a level of excellence which made Plan 9 from Outer Space look like Citizen Kane. These reviews caught the eye of Wostok, a Serbian cartoonist/film maker, who had seen the same bootlegs. Unbeknownst to and unauthorized by Seanbaby, he then drafted comic book scripts based upon them and led workshops, from Macedonia to Slovenia, in which dozens of amateur cartoonists illustrated these scripts, which Wostok had printed in book form in Croatia, in runs of ten or twenty, ordering more each time he sold out his stock. One of these made its way, via the internet, to Berkeley and me.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. The Chicago Tribune profiles Emil Ferris.

Ferris boards the Purple Line “L” in Evanston, not far from her home, and glances around the train car and picks a seat that offers options, the widest, most expansive view of the largest variety of subjects. She places her cane against a railing. She drops her tote bag on the seat beside her and unfolds a sketchbook with her right hand and, in her left, grips a thicket of pens. She scans up and down the car, staring at her half-dozen fellow riders for a long second or two while simultaneously not quite gawking. She looks for interesting faces, for characters to insert into her work (after a tweak or two, for privacy).

The Fridge Door talks to Jessica Campbell.

I took a class in undergrad that used Janson’s History of Art (an edition that included women, thankfully) but countered it with essays like Linda Nochlin’s “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” Frankly, most of the blatant sexism that I have encountered in art has been in the comics world, where even last year, the largest (or second largest?) comics festival in the world gave out a lifetime achievement award that, of 30 nominees, included not a single woman. And, similar to Janson’s text, about 10 years ago in comics there was a touring exhibition and catalogue called The Masters of American Comics that was intended by its curator/editor to solidify a comics canon and included not a single woman artist. I remember watching a panel discussion with him where he said that there’s “never been a female Milt Caniff,” which was essentially the same as Janson saying that there’s never been a female Rembrandt or whatever. Yeah, OK, but there is a female Mary Cassatt, Artemisia Gentileschi, Frida Kahlo, etc.

Inkstuds interviews Rich Tommaso.

—News. After a decades-long tenure, Bob Mankoff is stepping down from his position as cartoons editor at The New Yorker.

New Yorker editor David Remnick announced yesterday that Mankoff will step down and that the magazine’s Emma Allen will inherit the post. Mankoff says that he’ll continue to contribute cartoons to the publication, and that he’ll keep working on the forthcoming book “The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons.”

 

Crew of 15

Today it’s part three of Frank Santoro’s Risograph series. This time he interviewed Ryan Cecil Smith.

Tell me about your current set up. What kind of machine(s) do you have?

I don’t have my own risograph, thankfully! Basically since 2010 or so I’ve used a risograph print shop in Japan called Retro Jam for all my color prints, and then after leaving Japan I’ve continued to use them for everything I make. I love working with them and I don’t want to change my process if I can help it. The tricky part, honestly, is the logistics of paying them and getting everything shipped to me in the US. But they do such good work, and I like working with them so much, that I’d rather figure it out than start working with someone else. And…well, it *might* be a good investment to buy a risograph for myself… but I don’t really have the space for it. I like my deal now.

Personally, I am fascinated with how risograph printing has changed the landscape around making color comics. Before risograph, as you know, the choices were expensive offset or expensive print on demand. And often dealing with those printers was difficult. The riso printers I have engaged are not faceless sales reps on the phone who have no experience making comics. So riso printers and their enthusiasm for the materials has reinvigorated the small press scene – which has drifted into “book publishing” (like giant offset press books) – and I was hoping you could speak to that?

Well, my print shop Retro Jam is kinda a mix between those two things. They are a big commercial shop with an official process and are quite strict about how they do things. They’re very professional, clear, and fast. Actually it took awhile for me to get used to this. But now, I like it! And, I think that if you only worked with them over email, they would be basically faceless and get the job done. However, thankfully I have gotten to know everyone at my print shop (they have a staff of 25 or so) and am happy to be friends and know that many of them are artists and designers, too. Which, of course, is clearly reflected in all of their website, print material, their workshop space, etc.

Elsewhere:

Lauren Weinstein remains our foremost chronicler of the new… reality. Here’s her latest.

Frank has announced the new semester of his correspondence course.

CF has announced the release of three new receipt-printer zines. Highly recommended. 

I didn’t know about this art director, Harris Lewine. Worth looking at this typography. 

 
 

The Dreaded Final Exams

Today, we bring you a new episode of Greg Hunter’s Comic Book Decalogue podcast, with the second half of his interview with Eddie Campbell, who discusses Jack Kirby’s place in the canon, Mary Perkins On Stage, and the hazards of autobiography.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. The most recent guest on Process Party is Jason Latour.

—News. After a parental complaint, an Oklahoma middle school library has pulled the Ariel Schrag-edited YA comics anthology Stuck in the Middle.

An Oklahoma middle school last week pulled the comic anthology Stuck in the Middle: Seventeen Comics from an Unpleasant Age off of shelves after one parent called it “trash” and complained of vulgarities, sexual references, and drug use in some of the stories. Although one egregiously biased local news report suggested that the book is permanently banned, an equally biased report from a competing station indicates that Mid-Del School District is following its challenge policy by forming a review committee to decide its fate.

—Reviews & Commentary. Jonathan Shapiro is disappointed by Edward Sorel’s graphic biography of Mary Astor.

Edward Sorel is the United States’s best political cartoonist. The proof is in his Richard Nixon.

A masterpiece of mordant wit and cruel accuracy, Sorel’s Nixon is less a human face than a poisonous pastry. It is a misshapen dough-face with beady eyes as dead as rancid prunes, a heavy black beard that could just as easily be poppy-seeds as rat turds, and a thrusting, penis-shaped batard of a nose. It not only looks like Nixon, but it also looks like Nixon’s unspeakable soul.

Alas, we don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.

Apostolis Doxiadis (Logicomix) explains what comics has in common with Brecht.

The graphic novel has strengths its cousins lack. Aristotle, in his Poetics, established the tradition of searching for the characteristics of a medium through its masterpieces (and it is worth noting that graphic novels are best understood as a medium, and not as a genre. A genre is defined by its content, a medium by its physical form). By Aristotle’s lights, the proper focus of this discussion would be Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Alan Moore’s Watchmen, which are in my view­ – but also that of many other lovers of the medium – the two best graphic novels ever produced. I am certain that neither could be outdone by a novel or a film trying to do the same job (and I’m not thinking here of the largely disappointing cinematic adaptation of the latter). And yet, Aristotle notwithstanding, Maus and Watchmen do not form good cases for comparison with other media – both are simply too atypical.

 

Off the Menu

Today on the site it’s Joe, still at the marathon, telling you about the new comics, including two pamphlets of, as we used to call them, the genre variety.

 

 

Tell Us Again About Monet, Grandpa

Today on the site, we have dueling review of the new Sunday Press collection, Dick Tracy: Colorful Cases of the 1930s. First up, Frank Young:

Peter Maresca’s books celebrate what I call the art of looking. Their generous page size and crisp full-color presentation invite us to regard comics as more than a diversion—something to vacuum down in between checking Facebook and binge-watching Westworld.

Via these lavish books, we get a window into the original impact the newspaper comics had on their eager readership. In this tabloid format, details abound from panels that are at least 200% larger than their prior reprinting in the early (and smaller than the present size) volumes of IDW’s ongoing Tracy reprint project, which shrunk Sunday strips shrunk to Kleenex size on a single 7” x 9” page. These dimensions hampered Dick Tracy. A magnifying glass is required to retrieve any information from these undersized images, and made me inclined to skip the Sunday strips altogether—a disservice to Chester Gould’s fascinating, endlessly eccentric work.

And then comes Paul Tumey:

For me, the first thrilling sense I got that the strip had slipped into the dreamlike territory it would fully embrace in the 1940s and beyond, comes in the climax to the first of the four complete cases, with Boris Arson, described by Garyn G. Roberts as the “premier rogue” of the 1930s Dick Tracy comics. A secret hideout is shown, hidden in an elaborate cave that resembles the secret lairs of James Bond villains to come along thirty years later. The entrance, a giant hallway, is guarded by unreal vicious striped big cats oddly called “wildcats” instead of tigers. “Man-killing Ozark wildcats,” to be exact.  A long sliding cage can be moved through the entrance, protecting those inside it from the wildcats. In this moment, the strip become hyper-obsessed and fetishistic, although I doubt Gould, himself would have approved of those terms. I think he was reaching into his imagination to tell a good story, something he succeeded at dozens―if not hundreds―of times.

The Sunday Press volume also offers a section or extremely rare pages from 1931-32 when the Dick Tracy Sundays squeezed a whole crime story in a single Sunday episode. In these first pages, Gould’s style shifts and grows weekly. For a brief while, these pages ran another Chester Gould creation, the single-tier topper, Cigarette Sadie, a gag strip I quite like about a nightclub cigarette girl.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Ruben Bolling (Tom the Dancing Bug) has won the Herblock Prize.

“I’m honored to win the award and so thankful to the Herblock Foundation,” the cartoonist told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “I’m also sad that it’s pretty much an award for satirizing, lampooning, parodying and railing against Trump throughout his rise to power.”

—Reviews & Commentary. The great Roger Angell remembers New Yorker cartoonist James Stevenson.

The cartoons were deftly drawn, gestural and vigorous—a man bolting out of a Broadway theatre with his date says, “Getting the hell out of here is worth the price of admission.” The drawing of some frogs on a lily pad that accompanied his Times obituary the other day shows him at full range. One of a pair of young frogs addressing a large elder frog asks, “Tell us again about Monet, Grandpa.” Nothing is missing: the young frogs are damp and innocent, the geezer frog plump and a bit tired, and the water and lily pads Impressionist. Jim’s cartoons roam freely but return again and again to pompous businessmen, critically but affectionately presented. An old poop, sitting up in bed, is reading a book titled “The Riot Act.” Another boss, self-importantly erect in his office chair, is sporting bunny slippers under the desk.

And Lee Lorenz introduces a selection of Stevenson’s cartoons.

Andrew Hickey writes about Judge Dredd.

I came across what may be the wrongest thing Grant Morrison (a man who I admire hugely as a writer, but who has made more than his share of wrong statements) has ever said:

at least Batman also has Bruce Wayne, giving him all of two dimensions. Dredd is just Dredd. I think the character is now as relevant to the new century as Dan Dare was to the 1970s.

Now, leaving aside the number of dimensions the characters have, and whether that makes them better or worse for stories (though I think Dredd, as written by John Wagner and a couple of other writers who get the character, a list which definitely doesn’t include Morrison, is a far more nuanced character than is usually believed), who could really believe that a fascist authoritarian police state which exercises seemingly unlimited violent power, in a world where the citizenry are regularly gripped by senseless, meaningless, obsessions which destroy thousands of lives for no good reason is irrelevant to the twenty-first century? Perhaps it’s the way in which the world is hugely overpopulated but humanity has destroyed most of it and clustered in crowded, angry, cities that is irrelevant?

Sheila Heti reviews Dominique Goblet’s Pretending Is Lying.

Though Goblet has written five others, this is her first book translated into English (she relettered every page). She uses charcoal, pencil and ink to employ a range of styles; splotches of yellow oil saturate the opening pages, which depict a visit to her estranged, alcoholic father, as if to express the mess they’re in. She renders a televised racecar crash with the blurry precision of a Gerhard Richter black-and-white photorealist painting — gorgeous panels that are violently interrupted along the bottom by Dominique’s mother shouting in angry letters, “Little brat! I’m going to tie you up!!!” Later, it’s darkly funny when she draws the phrase “that said” with elaborate curlicues, as her father mockingly imitates her fancy “university language.” “Thaaaaaat said . . . you’re not gonna come here and get stuck up with me!!”

R. Orion Martin write about Dad’s Weekend, from Pete Toms.

There’s a scene in the comic Dad’s Weekend, by Pete Toms, where the protagonist, Whitney, upon receiving a form to bail her mentally unsound father out of jail, says, “At least this will make a good cryptic Facebook post.” It’s a fitting encapsulation of the deep cynicism that runs through this bleak but funny comic, and of the ways this cynicism feels uniquely shaped by the internet.

In this 24-page comic, Whitney, a biracial woman in her twenties, visits her father, Manny, who has become obsessed with an Illuminati-tinged conspiracy about world domination by lizard people. During her visit, following the death of a close friend, Manny begins to spiral out of control.

Sophie Pinkham writes about Other Russias, the new collection by Victoria Lomasko.

In “Other Russias,” a new collection of graphic reportage by Victoria Lomasko, Russians from radically different walks of life come face to face for the first time. A stonemason and Orthodox activist named Sergei, shown with an icon hanging around his neck, announces, “The West wants to destroy the bold and beautiful Russian people.” On the opposite page sits Victor Mizin, a lecturer in political science at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. With a shot glass and a half-empty carafe of vodka on the table in front of him, Mizin complains, “Russians are shit. But me, I’m seventh-generation intelligentsia.” In real life, Sergei and Victor would never sit down together for a conversation, and yet, in Lomasko’s view, they are voices that need to be heard together in order to be fully understood.

—Misc. The New York Times has a video of James Sturm drawing live.