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Toss ‘n’ Turn

Today we have Sean Michael Robinson’s lengthy interview with David Lasky, the veteran alternative comics artist who just put out his debut graphic novel, The Carter Family (which he created in collaboration with Frank Young). Lasky discusses many things, from his plans to write comics about bread delivery to his multiple attempts to do justice to James Joyce in comics form. He also talks a little about why it took him so long to put out a full-length book:

When it’s a minicomic you can take certain risks and there’s no danger. It’s a low-budget operation. But when it becomes a book some publisher is putting up a lot of money and then it’s out there in bookstores and libraries and it’s representing alternative comics to the world. And if it’s not a very good book, I cringe. “Oh, why did they put that out?” I’m not saying that my peers put out a lot of bad books. I think there’s a lot of great books. But if I put out a book I want it to be my best thing possible. So I have had publishers express interest, but … partly I wasn’t ready, partly I felt they were maybe just overeager, or maybe were gonna put out something that wasn’t my best material.

Elsewhere:

—Adrian Tomine’s been on a roll lately, media-wise (and here on the blog), but it’s all good stuff. He talked again to The New Yorker about how he creates cover images for the magazine, and I missed earlier this great episode of Too Much Information, which features a very good audio interview with Tomine about surviving superstorms. (It also features another guest telling an incredible (in both senses of the word) story about the teenaged Mitt Romney meeting Guy Debord in Paris, 1968.)

—I said I was done reading BCGF reports, and that’s mostly true, but I’d be remiss not to mention at least two more, from Robert Boyd and Rina Ayuyang, two supersmart comics people who had very different experiences.

—I am also going to steal Tom Spurgeon’s link to a story I unfortunately missed myself last week, to Tablet‘s article about Paul Reinman. Read it.

—Finally, is it necessary for someone here at TCJ.com to address the recent cosplay “controversy?” I hope not, because it’s really obvious who the cretins are in that back-and-forth, and I don’t feel like dealing with it. You don’t see a lot of cosplay related to the kinds of comics we mostly cover, anyway, though the way things to go with The Young People™, I’m sure that will change sooner than I expect. There will probably be a lot of “sexy” Tux Dog outfits at the BCGF of 2020.

 

The Well

Today we have R. Fiore on Sean Howe’s book, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. Fiore lived through a chunk of this story as a critic for TCJ. Here he is:

Howe’s story has four phases: (1) The Golden Eggs Are Laid, and Now They Belong to the Farmer; (2) Stan’s Not Here; (3) It’s Jim Shooter’s Universe, We Just Live in It; and (4) Strip Mining. Though the first phase is the most creative period in the history of Marvel Comics, it’s actually the least interesting part of Marvel Comics. This is in the first place because it is not Untold but told many times, and in the second place because there was actually very little human interaction. After the purge the Goodman comics operation was reduced to little more than Stan Lee in a bleak corner of the office, far from the window and close to the draft. The comics were produced by a handful of stalwart, high output freelancers led by Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, who might come into the office once a week to discuss new assignments. In shifting their focus from monsters to men of steel they were, in true Magazine Management fashion, imitating a DC’s semi-successful initiative of reviving costumed characters.

Elsewhere:

Here’s a fine interview with Jim Woodring on the subject of visions.

Timothy Callahan writes about 11 comics he brought back from BCGF.

Wow, this is really gorgeous skeleton-inflected Milton Glaser work.

A very unusual story involving the cartoonist Paul Reinman. Via.

Not comics: This is a good Philip Roth fantasy.

 

Don’t Want to Talk About It

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s Joe McCulloch day, and this week his column‘s a doozy, featuring copious images from and commentary on three untranslated manga magazines Joe bought while in New York recently.

I love Big Comic. Established in 1968, it’s among the oldest seinen manga anthologies still going today, 300+ pages for ¥300, delivered every two weeks to a particularized audience of guys facing, experiencing, or at least contemplating middle age. “Comics for Men” means ‘old souls only,’ and that credo often seems to extend to the contributors, many of whom have known many decades of service to Japan’s storied comics industry. This aspect helps me maintain perspective as a non-Japanese reader; half the fun of ‘reading’ untranslated manga for me is pouring over the internet for elusive bits of information on semi-familiar titles, validating that yes – that’s the guy I thought it was, the mangaka everybody used to talk about in North America, who seemed to drop off the face of the Earth. He’s still working, still knowing a circulation of maybe half a million… but foreign appeal is a capricious thing.

He also previews the week’s new releases, of course.

The reason Joe was in NYC isn’t hard to guess: he was here for the BCGF. Unexpected family obligations meant I couldn’t go this year, but from all accounts, it went pretty great. Fantagraphics has a photo report here, and Tom Spurgeon turns in his traditional recap here. I’m sure many other reports are on their way, but honestly, I don’t want to read anything about the show, which you can safely put down to sour grapes.

In the course of his column, Joe also discusses the horror manga artists Junjo Ito, who is also the focus of a recent post by Noah Berlatsky.

And Jeet Heer writes a really nice tribute to the beloved Toronto comic store The Beguiling for the National Post on the occasion of the store’s 25th anniversary.

Okay, and otherwise, it’s interview city lately. Here are a bunch of cartoonists worth listening to:

Quentin Blake at Metro.

Gabrielle Bell at the Paris Review.

Ethan Rilly at Robot 6.

Maurice Sendak at The Believer. (missed this one.)

—Adrian Tomine for the Los Angeles Review of Books:

 

Substitute Pepperoni

It’s been a weekend all right. BCGF 2012 went off without a hitch and now it’s all over but the blogging.

Today on the site:

Cartoonist, writer and educator Paul Karasik pens a 14-part review of Chris Ware’s Building Stories. I loved publishing Paul on TCJ. He is the very first cartoonist I ever interviewed, way back in The Ganzfeld 1. Here’s a sample thought from the review:

Real Estate ad:

This 14-story charmer is built to exacting standards. Solidly constructed by master craftsman yet luxurious and appealing. Many distinctive features. Easy access to visual cortex. Some TLC needed. Must be seen to be believed.

Patrick Rosenkranz, the foremost chronicler of underground comics, recently visited S. Clay Wilson and has a report on the artist’s condition, as well as some thoughts on Wilson’s art and context.

Wilson’s favorite word is still “No!” He used to be a motor mouth but now he’s mostly monosyllabic. After a long life dedicated to being the baddest boy in comix, he’s become a grand old man, but he’s no longer in his right mind. He used to be able to out-talk, out-booze, out-cuss, out-draw, and outrage almost anyone but he doesn’t drink, smoke, snort or draw dirty pictures any more. He doesn’t walk much either and seldom leaves the house, and only in a wheelchair. He used to start each day answering a stack of correspondence with a variety of pens, rubber stamps and assorted collage materials, and then spend each day listening to talk radio while diligently drawing comics and commissions in his small home studio. Now he watches movies on TV while lying on the couch or in his hospital bed.

And in comic book link news…

An essay by Emily Cooke about writers she calls “The semiautobiographers”, including Alison Bechdel. (via KH)

All of these writers — the new semiautobiographers, you might call them —  reject privacy and propriety for openness and provocation. In their novels-from-life they aim for a synthesis of the personal and the intellectual on the one hand, and the fictional and the nonfictional on the other.

In related news, the complete Shazam live action series is on DVD and here’s a substitute for ever having to watch it (or an enticement to watch it, depending…)

 More artwork from the Joe Simon estate, including a really beautiful Mort Meskin page.

And finally, here’s preview for the English language release of Joann Sfar’s The Rabbi’s Cat animated film.

http://vimeo.com/52961473

 

Hangover

Good morning, friends. Tucker Stone got too toasted during all the NYC-based comics parties revolving around BCGF to write his column this week. But Rob Clough steps up to the plate with a review of the intriguing Solipsistic Pop #4. Here’s a clip:

Editor and artist Tom Humberstone has made each new volume of his anthology Solipsistic Pop ever more complex, beautiful, and formally interesting. It is a formalist’s funhouse in the vein of a Chris Ware, Jordan Crane, or Richard McGuire. To be sure, there’s plenty of narrative and emotional content to be found here as well (as there also is in the work of Ware, Crane, and McGuire, of course), but the artists in this anthology run with this issue’s theme (“Maps”) and take it all the way. Funded by an Indiegogo campaign, Humberstone spared no expense in making the whole package look just right.

I say “package” quite literally, because there are any number of intricate parts that make up this anthology. SP4 comes in a blue folder with comics on the front, back, and inside, depicting the prologue, key, and epilogue to John Miers’ story, “It Is Always Too Late To Save Krypton”.

Elsewhere:

—Over at CBR, our own Chris Mautner talks to Sammy Harkham about his recent collection, Everything Together.

—Paging Matthias Wivel: New Yorker cartoonist Bruce Edward Kaplan talks to Fast Company about how he got started at the magazine and how he makes the actual cartoons.

—Michael Silverblatt at KCRW’s Bookworm is an excellent interviewer, so his discussion with Chris Ware is probably worth listening to even if you have overdosed on Building Stories hype.

—Jon Lewis, whose hardcover collection of True Swamp is debuting this weekend, just reposted an interview with him from last year that ran in Decibel magazine.

—Paul Gravett writes about the German cartoonist Line Hoven, who Blank Slate will be bringing out in English translation soon.

 

Snowy

Well, on we march. Today Michael Dean breaks the story of Al Feldstein and the Harvey Kurtzman estates taking actions to reclaim the copyrights to some of their work:

The Journal has learned that legendary EC writer/editor Al Feldstein and the estate of Mad editor/cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman have filed notices to reclaim the copyrights on their work. Feldstein confirmed the filing and told the Journal he has already reached a settlement with the William M. Gaines Agency, which owns all the EC horror, science-fiction and crime properties that Feldstein worked on as editor and writer in the early 1950s. Those titles include the classic Crypt of Terror, Vault of Horror, Tales from the Crypt, Haunt of Fear, Weird Fantasy and Weird Science. Gaines agency administrator Dorothy Crouch confirmed the agency has reached an agreement with Feldstein, but declined to comment further.

And Katie Haegele reviews Ron Regé Jr.’s highly anticipated new book, The Cartoon Utopia. I’ve been waiting for this one for years and I’m thrilled to see one of our very best cartoonists in peak form.

The comics in his new, almost literally dizzying book, The Cartoon Utopia, are packed with visual detail and collect his thoughts on magic in some of its many incarnations: astrology, the occult, sex magic, the “alchemy” of love relationships and other hermetic principles, and communion with animals. It opens with a short introduction by Maja D’Aoust, the self-described White Witch of L.A. who had Regé as a student in her “Magic School” lectures. In it, she describes the otherworldly sense of coincidence that swirled around the group of artists and musicians that took her class during this time.

Elsewhere:

Frieze on recent exhibitions of comics, including the Daniel Clowes retrospective.

Picture story maker and designer Bruno Munari as an art director.

A vintage Mort Weisinger article on Superman.

And The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, which I co-organize, really picks up steam today with, among other events, a couple exhibition openings, a film screening and a conversation about French comics.

 

 

Four More

I imagine that comics won’t be foremost in most people’s lives today, but that won’t stop us. The invaluable R.C. Harvey is back with a column on H.T. Webster, once known as “the Mark Twain of the drawing board.” Here’s a snippet:

Webster participated enthusiastically in the social life of his professional milieu, joining other cartoonists (including [Clare] Briggs, once the latter arrived in the city) and writers, actors, and illustrators in the after-hours convivialities that commenced near the offices of the New York World and continued at the Players or Dutch Treat clubhouses. He went angling whenever he could get away and never passed up an annual invitation to join a banker friend fly fishing in his private Canadian stream. And on weekends, he regularly convened with friends in a hotel room at the old Waldorf-Astoria for a ferociously dedicated poker game that began on Friday evening and didn’t end until Sunday morning. The concentration at these contests was so intense that on one occasion when Webster chomped on broken glass in the lettuce on the food tray that had been sent up, he spit out the shards without comment rather than disrupt the game.

Elsewhere, there are a few comics-related things you might want to distract yourself with, including:

Chris Ware, with a lengthy audio interview conducted by Ed Champion at the Bat Segundo Show.

—Did Dan link to this piece by Adrian Tomine on creating his first New Yorker cover last week? Either way, it’s worth drawing attention to again.

—Mark Dery reviews a few new(ish) Edward Gorey publications.

—Political reporter Dave Weigel reviews the Sean Howe Marvel book.

—Philip Nel writes about a stage adaptation of Barnaby.

—The Art of Reading has a nice short post on queer theory and Bechdel’s Fun Home.

—Christopher Stigliano previews the upcoming Al Capp biography. (Stigliano shares Capp’s politics more or less, so it’s an interesting perspective.)

—And Pappy shares a couple of very late ACG stories most likely written by one of my top five favorite commercial-comics writers, Richard E. Hughes.

 

Something to Do Today

Well, there’s one large thing occupying a lot of attention today and tomorrow, and I hope it’s not comics. But who knows, maybe there’ll be a good Garfield comic strip about it. If you’re stateside, please go vote and then come back and read Joe McCulloch’s opinions on comics. Think of it as a palette cleanser.

Or perhaps you need a few more distractions from issues of all kinds. Here are some:

Adrian Tomine talks about his new (and great) New Yorker cover. I really enjoyed his handsome recent book, New York Drawings, which showcased his nuanced observations of the emotional life of the city.

Congrats to my BCGF co-organizer Bill Kartalopolous on the first book from his Rebus Press, debuting this weekend in Brooklyn.

Happy 25th anniversary The Beguiling, the best comic store in North America.

Tim O’Shea checks in with Renee French about her ongoing project, Bjornstrand, a chunk of which PictureBox published in September.

Finally, hey, it’s an E.P. Jacobs graphic biography!