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A Few Innocuously Drawn Charred Limbs

The megacorporate gods are displeased, and have silenced Tucker Stone’s home internet capabilities once again, so unfortunately his “Comics of the Weak” column will not be appearing at its normal time. With any luck, Tucker will be able to get something in later today tonight, so stay tuned…

On the other hand, we have the final triumphant day of John Porcellino’s five-day diary of his time in Gainesville, Florida, teaching a seminar at SAW. Thanks, John!

Elsewhere:

—The Hooded Utilitarian has republished some vintage Comics Journal invective in the form of Ng Suat Tong’s infamous 2003 takedown, “EC Comics and the Chimera of Memory”, as well as the critical back-and-forth between Ng and Blood & Thunder veteran R. Fiore that later ensued.

I think there’s more to EC’s admittedly uneven science fiction, crime, and horror comics than Ng does, and believe that the MAD and Kurtzman war material fully deserve their canonical status, but Ng’s essay (especially when paired with its epistolary aftermath) is in its own way a weird kind of classic, vividly memorable nearly a decade later, and still capable of provoking fruitful argument. It’s also wrongheaded and tendentious, which doesn’t at all mean he doesn’t land a few successful body blows on the indisputably flawed corpus behind the EC legend. But not only does he repeatedly ignore historical context and make several more-than-dubious assertions (such as his claim that Bernie Krigstein “had neither the desire nor capabilities to develop”), he also avoids almost all discussion of formal concerns, a pretty grievous flaw in this particular argument. I don’t agree with everything in Fiore’s response either, but I think he largely has Ng’s number. The tell is Ng’s clearly rattled response, full of bluster and unconvincing accusations (I’m sure an older, wiser Ng could do much better now) — my favorite moment comes when he tries to downplay Fiore’s point about the realism of Kurtzman’s war comics by saying that the aftermath of a napalm attack in Frontline Combat is only shown by “no more than a few innocuously drawn charred limbs.” Yeah, geez, charred limbs, big deal—what a cop out.

Ng doesn’t mention it, but there’s also an American soldier in that panel, standing over the carnage and exclaiming, “What a mess!” Which is more or less what I affectionately say now about this whole kerfuffle, which I would have happily published again today if it had been submitted (albeit with a bit of editorial back-and-forth first to fill in logical holes and sharpen the points); whatever merits there may be to particular arguments expressed here, it raises important questions worth tackling.

—SAW has announced their micro-grant winners.

—Joe Sacco is interviewed at the popular literary weblog, The Millions.

—Douglas Wolk reviews Gabrielle Bell’s The Voyeurs for Print.

—Tom Spurgeon interviews SPX executive director Warren Bernard, who has perhaps the greatest comics collection I’ve ever seen — and I’ve seen a lot of impressive comics collections.

—I don’t think Spurgeon is wrong to be dismayed by the comments thread in the Sandra Fluke cartoon he discusses here, but I do think it’s always a mistake to make any generalizations about the wider state of things or the effectiveness of arguments based only on the narrow, self-selecting band of humanity driven to fight it out in comments threads. But I make that same mistake all the time, so I sympathize.

The Onion has a story about a religious cartoon sure to please many.

—Nicholson Baker is a big Tintin fan.

—When Jack Kirby was 14, he wanted to draw cartoons for The New Yorker. Here‘s one of his rejected submissions.

—This review of the new Judge Dredd movie is only 35 words and one comics panel long, but it makes me feel like I’ve seen the film already. Though to be fair I felt like that before I read the review, too.

—In further not-exactly-comics news, they’re making Fun Home into a musical.

 

Croissants

Good morning. Today on the site we have R.C. Harvey’s account of Chic Young and Blondie, the classic (and still-running) comic strip, which includes this choice bit:

Before Blondie debuted, it enjoyed a legendary promotional campaign that began (as Walker tells us) when newspaper editors around the country were sent an announcement of the engagement of Dagwood Bumstead to Blondie Boopadoop. This was followed by a letter from the Bumstead attorney, who alleged the engagement announcement was “a pure fabrication of fancy, if not a malicious attempt on the part of this Miss Blondie Boopadoop.” After which came a handwritten note from Blondie herself, protesting her innocence and saying she’d soon arrive to explain “in person.” She also said she was sending her luggage on ahead: “When you get it, hold it for me and don’t peek inside.”

A few days later, a cardboard suitcase was delivered to editors’ offices, with a note from Blondie, admonishing: “Don’t peek into it.” It being a blatant promotion, everyone peeked. The suitcase contained women’s clothing—for a paper doll. Next, as promised, Blondie herself arrived—a cut-out paper doll in her lingerie. With a note: “Here I am, just like I told you I’d be. Only, please, Mr. Editor, put some clothes on me quick. I sent them on ahead, you remember my pink bag. I’m so embarrassed! Blondie.”

And John Porcellino rolls on with Day 4 of his diary.

Elsewhere in the world it’s video time:

Big congrats to artists and TCJ-contributors Dash Shaw and Frank Santoro on this gorgeous and moving music video or Sigur Ros.

And check out this new ongoing web series, featuring some serious Ron Rege visuals: We Can Do It!

Oh, it’s the unlikely but heartwarming Dennis Fujitake week over at Michel Fiffe’s place.

And lastly, remember the time Jim Starlin took acid and road an elevator? No? Luckily Sean Howe does.

 

The Build Up

Today is day three of the great John Porcellino’s Cartoonist’s Diary. This time, he goes looking for gators.

Also, Rob Clough reviews the first issue of an all-woman British anthology, The Strumpet.

Elsewhere:

—In the Gary Panter department, James Romberger conducts a really nice, sharp interview with him for Publishers Weekly, and Jason Sack has a much shorter, but also nice interview with him at Comics Bulletin. On top of all that, Matthias Wivel, once (and future?) European correspondent here at the Journal, and supreme ruler of the Metabunker, translates and republishes a 2005 review of Jimbo’s Purgatory as the first an installment of his “Comics of the Decade.”

—If you want to ask Dave Sim questions (and considering all the recent events surrounding him, who wouldn’t?), don’t forget to take the opportunity we presented to you a few weeks ago, and leave a question in the comments here.

—In very welcome news, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum has announced a new Dylan Williams Collection of small press and self-published comics.

—Top Shelf just launched their annual $3 sale. I don’t generally like linking to those kinds of things, but there are so many potential good deals at that it seems a shame to let self-imposed, inconsistent principles get in the way.

—I missed this Alison Bechdel interview on getting old published at Jezebel last week. It doesn’t look like the Bechdel interview onslaught that began this spring is slowing down much at all. So it’s nice that she’s such a good talker.

—The Rumpus interviews former Get Your War On cartoonist David Rees, one of the iconic webcartoonists.

—For Cul de Sac‘s fifth anniversary, Richard Thompson published a few early strips from before he figured things out.

—It’s a fast-moving story, but apparently the sedition charges against Aseem Trivedi will be dropped. He is out on bail already.

—Nick Gazin talks to Johnny Ryan about his attempt to pitch an animated series with Dave Cooper.

—Robert Boyd reminds us all that Lynda Barry is currently selling original art real cheap on Etsy.

—This post on the New Yorker/Facebook “Nipplegate” incident is being linked to everywhere else on the internet, so I guess I should too. I’m doing it out of a sense of duty, not enthusiasm, though. (I do like Karen Sneider’s cartoon.)

—Stephen Bissette teases some very interesting sounding Steve Ditko/Eric Stanton revelations in his review of the new Craig Yoe Ditko collection.

 

For Shame

It’s Tuesday so your uncle Joe has some words for you. And John Porcellino rolls into Day 2 of his Diary.

Elsewhere in the world:

-TCJ-contributor Nicole Rudick on the artist Jess over at The Paris Review.

-The international cartoon news is the story of political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi in India.

-A comparison between two versions of The Little Engine That Could.

-Tim’s old Comic Books Changed Their Lives is back, here, with this story about Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett.

-The great John Pham opened a show, with Rob Sato, at Giant Robot 2 in Los Angeles. Nicholas Gazin has the report.

-And finally, Renee French has started a weekly comic strip over at Study Group.

 

 

Oh Boy

Today’s a doozy, starting with the great Joshua Glenn (forever beloved for the late, lamented Hermenaut) on the long-awaited arrival of Gary Panter’s Dal Tokyo collection. Here’s an excerpt:

The weekly strip first appeared in the L.A. Reader back in the liminal year 1983—the final year, that is to say, of the Seventies, which began in 1974. The postindustrial era had arrived, and Panter gave us a future scenario in which nothing is created except graffiti, and everyone is in search of spare parts: mechanical and bodily. Like the abandoned highways and buildings of Dal Tokyo, the strip’s four-panel format is a hollowed-out shell—to be repurposed, misused, and abused however the squatter-artist sees fit. Some weeks, Panter uses his four panels to tell a serialized, Flash Gordon-type adventure; other weeks, he spreads a single scene or image or explosion across the entire frame; and in recent years, the chaotic action of the strip has subverted the very idea of a linear, delimited format. There is a desultory plot to Dal Tokyo: one as meandering and bemused, and as liable to follow a minor character right out of the scene for a long spell, as a Richard Linklater movie. “I’ve just got way too many leads to follow up,” Panter has explained, “and I’m happily chasing them in all directions.”

We also have the debut of a new artist in our Cartoonist’s Diary feature, the legendary John Porcellino! Day one chronicles a road trip from the top of Illinois to Gainesville, Florida. What would he be doing there?

And finally, as the more diligent Comics Journal readers already discovered this weekend, Frank Santoro published another installment of his “New Talent Showcase”, this time reviewing comics by Derik Badman, Clara Bessijelle, and A. Degen.

Elsewhere:

—The most obvious big news this weekend was the announcement of this year’s Harvey Award recipients. Kate Beaton and Daredevil cleaned up their respective categories. Congratulations to the winners.

—Ken Quattro has unearthed a lengthy 1953 conversation between Joe Kubert, William Gaines, and Al Feldstein regarding the creation of 3D comics.

—Least predictable development yet? Today marks the online debut of new installments of Wendy & Richard Pini’s Elfquest, at one of the world’s most popular sites, Boing Boing. (As mentioned before on this site, the entire print run of previous Elfquest comics is available for free.)

—Frank Young continues to do valuable work, digging up the rarest John Stanley comics in existence. This time, it’s possibly his strangest, Linda Lark, Registered Nurse.

—Douglas Wolk discusses Judge Dredd with superhero academic Ben Saunders.

—Rob Clough previews seven publishers you might want to seek out at this year’s SPX, which takes place this weekend in Bethesda. As previously noted, this year’s panels and guest slate look pretty amazing.

 

You Needa

It’s the end of the another week. We made it! Tucker Stone and co. want to sing you into the weekend.

Elsewhere:

Tucker and fellow TCJ galley workers Joe McCulloch, Matt Seneca and Chris Mautner talk about comics even MORE with their voices! I have yet to listen to this installment (I like to wait until I have a long car ride or need to pass the time while I’m trying to read comics) but apparently it covers my favorite mini comics in a while, End of the Fucking World. That’s a fine comic. I like Forsman’s lean and elegant style, and reading it in little chunks has been satisfying. It’s not easy making the couple-on-the-run plot interesting, but Forsman omits a lot, which lets readers fill in the gaps and engage with the implied ambiguities. Annnyyyhooo…

Elsewhere, I have some Dapper Dan Super Movie news! This is a trailer for a Metal Hurlant series that never happened. I know one man in Brooklyn who shed a little tear when he saw this. And, yes! A Wonder Woman series. I want to be able to turn on my TV and only see superheroes. Then we will gradually turn this site into an episode recap orgy. Elsewhere in the mountaintops of entertainment, here are some “poorly translated” James Bond comics. Fine likeness, though.

Finally: I love Tomi Ungerer’s work. What a genius. Here’s a profile. This weekend he’ll be in Toronto at Little Island Comics.

 

 

Need More

Today, Rob Clough reviews Dan Zettwoch’s long-awaited Birdseye Bristoe (which we previewed back in May). Here’s an excerpt:

It’s telling that Dan Zettwoch’s full-length solo debut, Birdseye Bristoe, is touted on the cover as “An Inventions and How-To Book.” He’s never been an artist whose stories are driven by narrative. Instead, he likes to show his audience schematics, maps, instruction sheets, and cut-away drawings that nonetheless reveal something about the people who are building them. What’s odd about this book is that there is a narrative, but it’s almost entirely buried in an avalanche of diagrams that doubles as a tour of the non-town in which the story is set. If a reader is careful, he is provided with every clue as to what is happening and why, but Zettwoch gives nothing away for free, so to speak. As a result, it took me a couple of reads to figure out what was going on, beyond a simple collection of the usual clever Zettwoch drawings.

Elsewhere:

—Tom Spurgeon alerted the internet yesterday to Dylan Williams’s recently posted Comics Art interview with Fred Guardineer (which includes excerpts from Guardineer’s diary comics). I am grateful not only for seeing this material again, but also for being reminded of that Williams tribute site in general, which I had somehow lost track of, but is packed with excellent stuff, and well worth exploring.

—A lawyer named Bob Kohn opposed to the proposed Apple/e-books anti-trust settlement has recently filed an amicus brief explaining why, and done so in the form of a five-page comic. You can read that brief, and Kohn’s story, here. I’m not sure I buy Kohn’s reasons for doing this in comics form. He says he was asked to boil down a twenty-five-page prose argument to five pages, and couldn’t see a way to get enough information in to five pages, but comics form helped, because pictures “tell a thousand words.” Of course, nearly every one of the pictures he actually used is just one person sitting next to another, talking, so I’m not sure what information was being added visually here. But considering that the New York Times and Bloomberg have already reported on this, passed along his argument, and made his story go semi-viral, Kohn may have a larger point on comics’ effectiveness. I doubt as many people would have read a more conventional brief.

—Danny Best has exhumed John Byrne’s infamous courtroom testimony in the late-’90s Marvel vs. Marv Wolfman suit over Blade.

 

Doctor’s Orders

Hi there, today on the site we welcome new contributor Kim O’Connor, who writes about Gabrielle Bell’s new book, The Voyeurs:

In Bell’s hands, comics are poetry’s cool little cousin, all slippery meanings, feats of peculiar punctuation, and the unfortunate tendency to namedrop the likes of Bertolt Brecht. She avoids the threat of pretension that’s implicit in all of those things with well-timed flashes of humor and a vague distaste for anything she can’t do on the Internet.

Elsewhere online…

-It’s a Chris Ware-palooza this weekend, and just the start of the season of Building Stories.

-Heidi MacDonald covers a long and appalling instance of trolling.

-Kevin Huizenga makes a few notes about an architecture comic.

-Seneca and Witzke continue to discuss the DC series Solo, this time covering Damion Scott’s installment.

-Here’s a very fine Michael Kaluta / Carson of Venus narrative from 1974.

-Finally, from 2010 one of the last substantive Ray Bradbury interviews.