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Required By Law

Today, we have Shaenon Garrity’s latest column, which this time around is a lot more personal than usual, chronicling her history with Joey Manley’s recently shuttered Modern Tales webcomics site:

Joey had a plan for making money. By 2001 he’d begun talking to cartoonists, sometimes over email, sometimes in person. He’d made contact with an eclectic group of webcartoonists in Chicago and was wooing small-press creators in the Bay Area, taking them out to dinner and talking Internet. His plan: a subscription-based webcomics site. Maybe 30 artists, ongoing serials, a monthly or annual fee to read the archives, with the profits split between the artists based on number of hits. In the spirit of old pulp magazines like Amazing Stories and Weird Tales, it would be called Modern Tales.

Meanwhile, Joey was educating himself about webcomics. He set up a podcast, Digital Comics Talk, and a comics review site, Talk About Comics (which continued for many years in various forms, eventually morphed into Graphic Novel Review, and finally passed away peacefully in its sleep). He hung out on message boards. In a corner of the online world that was, back then, small enough that you could be Known pretty easily, he was starting to be Known.

I don’t know how Joey found my comic Narbonic, probably through the Bay Area indie crowd, but at some point it made it to the bottom of his list and he emailed me. He recruited me all sneaky-like. I know, because I kept the email.

Also, we have Dominic Umile’s review of Ian Culbard’s adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s Case of Charles Dexter Ward:

Action-packed comics don’t often owe to depictions of characters sifting through moldy correspondence, deciphering archaic language, and unlocking mantras typically reserved for cellars or graveyards. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is largely driven by words, but Ian Culbard — evidently also prone to unearthing dusty texts — has adapted several novels for the comics medium and nabbed the British Fantasy Award for Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness (2010), so he knows well how to move the author to a stylish visual format. There’s lots of talk here, yellowed newspaper cut-ins, and letter reading, each set on black pages. Culbard’s slope-chinned cast wears angular-cornered overcoats and facial expressions styled with minimal line work. They’re dead ringers for the affluent, early 20th century Brit zombies he drew for The New Deadwardians (2012), perpetually serious figures who mull documents and converse in the tall, plush chairs preferred by the era’s upper class. But within these dialogues and rigorous literary exploration lie an urgency and a textured work of horror.

Elsewhere:

—Eisner Awards judge Charles Hatfield reflects on the nominating process, which sounds like it was a very positive experience.

—Michael Cavna (also an Eisner judge this year) interviews Ben Katchor.

—Buried at the bottom of this promotional blog post is the news that Chester Brown has apparently rewritten all of the text and dialogue in The Playboy for a new paperback edition. He’s sort of becoming the Henry James of sex comics.

—Alan Moore talks at length about Nemo: Heart of Ice and his upcoming Lovecraft series Providence with his favorite interlocutor, the man whose name must be copied and pasted to be spelled correctly, Padraig O Mealoid. Also, video has emerged of an old Moore performance of his hard-to-find CIA conspiracy book Brought to Light.

—Image publisher Eric Stephenson talks the Saga/Apple/comiXology controversy, and the line’s upcoming schedule, with CBR.

Journal columnist Craig Fischer talks about the overlap between comics and rock poster art.

—Not Comics: An interview with J. David Spurlock, the co-author of a new collection of Margaret Brundage art. Brundage may not have been a cartoonist herself, but her pulp magazine covers were a huge influence on early comic-book imagery.

—Apparently, there’s a long Les Coleman essay on Mark Beyer in the most recent issue of Raw Vision.

 

Happy Colony

Today on the site Naomi Fry interviews Geneviève Castrée on her book, her process and life, generally.

Yeah, a lot of your earlier work was more metaphorical and fantastical, less realistic.

I feel that I’m done doing more fantastical things. Who knows, maybe in ten years I’ll be singing a different tune. But it’s weird, because as I was making this book based on reality, I’ve encountered people who’ve said, oh, I wish there was more fantastical elements in this. And I personally feel there’s enough fantasy out there, there are enough beautiful landscapes. In the past, I think there were two factors in making those kinds of fantastical comics. The first factor was mainly that I was terrified, because I felt I still was under this impression that whatever happened at my house when I was a kid was nobody’s business but my own. And the second factor was that I was lazy [Laughs.] My default mechanism was to draw landscapes that were more from my imagination, and that’s kind of easy to draw, because you can make your pencil go and not have to look at anything. And for this book, because I wanted it to be as close to reality as possible, I had to find images, and I had to think of what kind of tree there would be in this or that geographical place, and in some cases look at photographs too, and I personally feel a lot more complete now that I’ve done that, as an artist I feel that I can do this! I can pull it off! And I just feel like a grownup about it. Also I care way more than I used to about facts, I think that all stories deserve to be from… even if I’m making stories that are not autobiographical, that are totally coming from my head, I like the idea that there would be these facts that could anchor it to a specific place in the world.

It’s a slow news day. Here are a few morsels:

The 2013 Eisner Awards have been announced. We’re pleased to be nominated for Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism.

Here’s Neil Gaiman on digital publishing.

It’s always a good day when a new Stanley Stories post appears. This one on stories published in 1946.

And the under-new-ownership Alternative Comics announced a whole slew of releases centered mostly around the publisher’s core cartoonists, a lot of whom really have been missing from the last handful of years of the publishing boom. More news, the best of the day, really: It’s Reggie-12.

 

 

 

The Scum of the Earth, I Believe?

It’s Tuesday again, which means it’s Joe McCulloch’s guided tour of the Week in Comics, along with his thoughts on Yoshikazu Yasuhiko.

Elsewhere:

—Department of Politics. Over at Hazlitt, TCJ columnist Jeet Heer reviews Victor Navasky’s new book on political cartoons, The Art of Controversy, by way of Hitler’s cartoon problem. Paul Gravett examines Margaret Thatcher’s influence on British comics. And Françoise Mouly and Toon Books have started an “Agitprop” section on the Toon Books Tumblr. (Here’s Sue Coe on animal farming.)

—Department of Interviews.
Gil Roth, who I had the pleasure of meeting at MoCCA, just posted the first “live” episode of his Virtual Memories podcast, with special guest Ben Katchor. Alex Dueben at Suicide Girls talks to Ann Nocenti, who has had an interesting career. Michael Cavna talks to internet celebrity and Simon’s Cat creator Simon Tofield.

Mark Waid remembers Carmine Infantino for the L.A. Times.

Ars Technica reports on the final outcome of that strange, lengthy The Oatmeal/FunnyJunk legal battle from last summer. Apparently, Charles Carreon is out $46,000.

—D.B. Dowd talks about what he calls the cinematic narrative problem.

—Bryan Munn reviews Julie Delporte’s Journal.

—Steven Heller has a gallery of Mexican caricaturist Miguel Covarrubias.

 

What Started It

John Hilgart returns to the site with an interview with Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta on their new Starstruck push.

Elaine – This book will have 80 new pages of very detailed sequential art that will need to be drawn, inked and lettered. Our basic goal is $44,000. That would allow Michael to finish the black and white artwork, me to finish the script and layout, pay for the lettering and print signed and numbered, hardback books and mail them. Plus, other incentives.

If we can get $69,000, the whole 140 pages will get new, fully painted, digital color. If we make what we need for the color, the painting can start right away on some of the many finished pages, while Michael is drawing new ones.

We’re hoping to finish the work by end of December of this year. Then we’re allowing a couple of months to get the books printed.

I used to love going to the previous iteration of this comic-con.

Here are five things being thought about by comics people that Tom Spurgeon knows (guest appearance by yours truly).

Joanna Draper Carlson on the ComiXology/Saga controversy.

And these are particularly fine looking comics by Sam Alden (via Jordan Crane).

 

Taco Night

Tucker Stone’s been doing a lot of laundry lately, and watching a lot of Mexican television in consequence—experience which colors his latest review column deeply:

I wouldn’t say I look forward to these shows, because I keep bringing things to read, assuming this is the week I’ll fight the temptation to stare, but it didn’t take very many trips before I started to respect these shows, a whole lot more than I would have expected to. They’re well-made entertainments, built around very base, very broad concerns: sex, money, violence, family. The people in the fictional stories are trying to get ahead, with some relying on hard work, and others relying on trickery. Love seems important, although loyalty is what they talk about most. The game and talk show hybrid relies more heavily on schtick, with the humor usually coming via very feminine fat men; the women give it to you straight, while dressed just on the classy side of risque. I don’t respect these shows as art, but they don’t want me to. They just want me to pay attention, and while my own ignorance keeps me a bit removed, they’re incredibly successful at doing that.

And elsewhere on the internet, I’m not having much luck. Sometimes, there’s a lot of news, sometimes there’s a little.

—Chris Ware’s Building Stories won the 2013 Lynd Ward Prize, with Lili Carré’s Heads or Tails and Theo ELlsworth’s Understanding Monster also picking up honors.

Elaine Lee talks to The Beat about her Kickstarter-supported Starstruck project.

—The Secret Acres team honors tradition by delivering another of their lengthy annual must-read MoCCA Fest reports. This year, they were on the steering committee, so it’s particularly interesting.

—And Frank Thorne is still out there, making magic.

 

What About Me?

Today Sean T. Collins reviews Jordan Speer’s Operation Vaporizer

“Operation Vaporizer” is a short sharp shock of a war/sci-fi/horror comic, narrated by a veteran reminiscing about his time with a top-secret unit that tested an experimental telepathic weapon in the jungles of Vietnam. The Full Metal Jacket-style slang (“I was in The Shit”) and the dingy green and red-orange palette root the thing to the period, providing a solid platform for diving out into the Weird.

Elsewhere:

Peggy Burns brings attention to a worthy Kickstarter campaign: Portland’s Reading Frenzy, which is an excellent store and all around resource for small press publishing.

I’m still waiting for the hobo revival. So’s Sam Henderson. I always have time for T.S. Sullivant. And some fine Moebius here.

More MoCCA coverage with a report from the “Art as Profession” panel. Everyone knows it’s no kinda profession, but read on.

TCJ-contributor Michel Fiffe’s three issue compendium of his series, Copra, reviewed.

And finally, Cerebus, widescreen.

 

 

The Rest of You Are Fired

This morning on the site we feature the return of Bob Levin, and his look at Chris Ware’s Building Stories. Now based on Twitter conversations from a few months ago, I know a lot of you will immediately begin complaining that everyone has already read enough about that book, but (1) you haven’t, not really, (2) get used to it, because books like this (ambitious and largely successful) tend to get talked about for a long time, and (3) Bob Levin is allowed to write about anything he wants. Here is a very brief excerpt, especially designed to annoy a certain kind of person:

The second day I slit the cellophane wrapper.

Elsewhere:

—The longtime New Yorker cartoonist Ed Fisher has died at the age of 86. That magazine’s cartoon editor Bob Mankoff announced the news on his blog. The New York Times has an obituary here. Mike Lynch and Michael Maslin offer their own thoughts on the artist.

Apple has reportedly decided not to offer Saga #12 to iPhone and iPad users due to two pages in the issue featuring somewhat distorted images of gay sex. Series writer Brian K. Vaughn responded by declining to change the images in question, and directing readers to other outlets (and the CBLDF). You can see one of the images in question below.

[UPDATE: ComiXology has issued a new statement today, contradicting earlier reports. I find this all somewhat confusing, and don’t understand how to reconcile comiXology implicitly confirming the original story with this new information, but there it is. You can read the statement here.]

—The Doug Wright Awards have announced the members of the 2013 jury, including Julie Delporte, Pascal Girard, Jonathan Goldstein, Joe Ollmann, and Natalia Yanchak.

—Paul Gravett profiles Belgian cartoonist/architect François Schuiten.

—And then there are lots of reviews. Richard Samuel West reviews the recent Thomas Nast biography, Craig Fischer reviews Jim Rugg’s Supermag, Tom Spurgeon reviews the new Tom Gauld collection, Christopher Stigliano reviews Sidney Smith’s The Gumps: The Saga of Mary Gold, and Chris Mautner reviews a whole bunch of stuff.

 

Man, Chimp

Today on the site:

The Seattle home office uncovered some bits left out of the published Groth/Infantino interview. Of particular note is Infantino’s take on C.C. Beck, as well as his departure from DC Comics. Also from 1996, a TCJ article on a Kirby/Infantino controversy.

And Joe McCulloch rounds it out with his week in comics.

Elsewhere:

MoCCA Fest returned this year. It was vastly smoother, well organized, and altogether pleasant. Here is one roundup and another.

And here’s a manga business overview. Oh, here’s some wondering after Vertigo.

Finally, a recommendation: The Harvey Kurtzman exhibition at the Society of Illustrators in NYC is excellent. I’ve seen Kurtzman originals before, but to see so many covers, and, best of all, a full set of rough breakdowns for an EC war story, was an unusual treat. Kurtzman’s pencils have all the gestural verve I always felt in his brushwork, but it’s that much more immediate here. The Bill Griffith exhibition upstairs is smaller but full of excellent work, both single drawings and complete strips, from throughout Griffith’s career. Like Kurtzman, Griffith is both a master satirist and a highly skilled artist devoted to his craft. It shows in the work.