NASO: So we talked a bit about your first work, the New Talent Showcase, and how you went to New York and sold that. But you didn’t really get comics work until 15 years later. So what happened?
COOKE: Well, like I said, back in that time there was no FedEx or e-mail or FTP sites or anything like that, so it quickly became apparent that I could not really make a living doing comics unless I was New York-adjacent. That led to art direction and design and that was something I pursued wholeheartedly for several years. What happened was, in my very early 30s, I finally took stock. You slow down a bit and go, “What the hell am I doing, why am I doing it, and is it what I want to do?” The answers to these questions did not make me very happy. I was doing advertising, and I wanted to do more with what I had. I had a lot of different avenues open to me, I suppose, at that point. Looking back at when I’d last been really happy, before life complicates your life, I had to go back to those summers when I was a kid, thinking, “I’m going to be a comic-book artist.
So I thought, “You know what? This is probably my last chance to take a shot at this. I was worn out from the work I’d been doing and the way I’d been carrying on, so I took a break and that’s when I put the pitch for [Batman] Ego together. So this would be like ’94. I go to a Chicago convention. Again, like I said, in my life when I’ve wanted to do something I’ll just do it and then take it wherever I gotta take it to show people, and figure it out from there. So I get down to the show, and of course, this was the year of the big Image boom. So I’m the last thing in the world anybody wants to actually buy, a guy who draws like Alex Toth! I couldn’t have picked a worse time.
NASO: Yes … Liefeld you are not [laughter].
COOKE: Oh hey, I can remember at that show, I was in line with a girl who was a colorist, I was just chatting her up and hanging in the line, the line was for Will Portacio and he was doing portfolio reviews. He looked at my work and he [laughter] was trying to explain to me how to do the kind of work they do. It was a bad year for me to be out there with that stuff.
Siné is a self-made political activist, whose very strong opinions are forged out of rage, integrity, instinct, and also a natural-born allergy to every kind of authority, whether it comes from the police, the army, the boss, the church or the State. His first spontaneous political involvement is in favor of the Algerian independence, and against his own French government. His style is a change from “funny little cartoons.” He is aggressive and violent; condemns, mocks and ridicules president De Gaulle, the army and France's colonialism, while supporting the armed resistance of the Algerian people. His pride is to be hated by a growing number of L'Express readers. [...]
May 1968 in the streets of Paris, Siné smells the scent of the revolution he was expecting, during the student uprisings. Against police brutality, but also because traditional newspapers, parties and trade unions are too shallow for his enthusiasm, he decides to create a new journal, L'Enragé, to support the revolution. L'Enragé becomes a university for cartoonists later to become famous in Charlie Hebdo (Cabu, Gébé, Reiser, Wolinski, Willem) but, then again, he is too radical for his time and the journal folds after only twelve issues. Original editions of Siné Massacre or L'Enragé are available on eBay, but the publisher who would make a book out of them today would deserve a Pulitzer Prize, or an honor medal for courage! Although he briefly collaborates with them in the 1970s, Siné refuses to join his friends in the satirical newspapers Charlie Hebdo or Hara-Kiri, which he finds funny but ugly, and not political enough.
—News. Early Saturday morning, the highly regarded cartoonist and designer Darwyn Cooke passed away after a battle with cancer (shortly after his illness was publicly revealed last Friday). Here is the obituary in the Los Angeles Times. There have been many tributes online, including one from TCJ contributor Tucker Stone, who also reprints an interview he conducted with Cooke. Tom Spurgeon gathered an enormous collection of Cooke images. We will have fuller coverage soon.
DC Entertainment strives to foster a culture of inclusion, fairness and respect. While we cannot comment on specific personnel matters, DC takes allegations of discrimination and harassment very seriously, promptly investigates reports of misconduct and disciplines those who violate our standards and policies.
As part of our ongoing effort to provide an equitable working environment, we are reviewing our policies, expanding employee training on the topic and working with internal and external resources to ensure that these policies and procedures are respected and reinforced across the company.
I find that when I'm talking in front of my son, I find that I try to say what I really feel rather than some version of myself I would've had in my 20s where I had some pose that was just, "I want to be contrary." ... I want him to know what I actually really feel and what are my real values. And you find yourself kind of [thinking], Do I believe in this? Is this an actual opinion of mine, or is this just some masked thing I'm trying to put out to the world?
I found it was very profound in that way. I sort of became more myself in a certain way.
this is a project i have been knocking around in my head and note/ planning form for somewhere around 15 years. i have always known that the time and effort needed to actually do this book justice would take a concerted and sustained effort on my part that is well beyond my "normal" practice (i.e get it done whenever you can, fitting in work time between work that actually pays the bills). i feel like that's the single largest factor that has kept me from attacking this project, over the years: "when and how am i gonna find the time to do this right?"
Today on the site, in honor of Friday the 13th, Bob Levin brings us an account of the scariest EC artist, Graham Ingels originally written for the never-published catalog for an EC exhibition opening today. I gotta say, with Wally Wood and Johnny Craig (and everyone has their little canon), Ingels continues to astonish me. The sheer weirdness of his drawing is organic and exceptional -- really can't be approximated. It's just a few steps beyond what anyone would consciously decide to do. Here's Bob:
Gaines would call Ingels “Mr. Horror.”Stephen King saluted him in his short story “The Boogeyman,” for his ability to “draw every god-awful thing in the world – and some out of it.”The cartoonist Jim Woodring once considered Ingels’ work “the product of a diseased mind or something”And me, in retrospect, I fingered him as “The Little Richard of Comics.”I mean, when rock’n’roll came in, if you were in a car, with your parents, and the radio station you’d selected eruptedwith “A-wop-boppa-loo-mop.A-wop-bam-boom,” your taste – your intelligence – your entire way of being became suspect.Same with Ingels and comics.His work caught you the most evil-eyed, purse-mouthed grief.
In Ingels’ world men were weak or avaricious, imbecilic or maniacal, and women sluts or hags.They populated fetid swamps, decaying mansions, moldering dungeons.Their bodies drooped and distended; their features melted and dissolved; their muscles strained agonizingly; their limbs angled impossibly.Every part of them reflected horror.They bore bony, elongated, clawed fingers,over-sized, over-sharp teeth, lust-filled, hate-filled eyes.They were regularly buried in the rain, and, from the mud, repeatedly arose, rotting, drooling, seeking revenge.
The elements scourged Ingels’ panels.Blackness enveloped them. Their word balloons bore jagged edges or dripped.The lines which enclosed them, instead of imposing order, wavered.Hands groped beyond them; phones dangled past them; The Old Witch’s warted chin drooped over their edge.Faces spun within them: on one side in one; straight up in the next; on the opposite side in the third.Long shot alternated with close-up.Points-of-view shifted, from floor to ceiling.The viewer lost hold on the ordinary.There was no solidarity, no consistency, no principle to cling to.Everything decomposed – like those corpses seeking revenge.
—News. The controversial anarchist French cartoonist Siné died late last week. We will have an obituary soon. Michael Dooley has a piece on him at Print, including samples of his work.
Back in 1955, while still in his twenties, he’d already received France’s Black Humor award, Le Grand Prix de l’humour noir, for his stunning, Saul Steinberg-inspired “Complainte sans Paroles” collection. A few years later, L’Express began running, and occasionally rejecting, his controversial political cartoons and commentary. A lifelong provocateur, Siné’s support of the Algerians during their war of liberation against France during that time regularly raised the hackles of the newspaper’s readers. His milder, pun-filled cat books earned him widespread public popularity, and his other books include a biographical series titled Ma Vie, Mon Oeuvre, Mon Cul! (My Life, My Work, My Ass!). He was a Charlie Hebdo regular from the early 1980s until 2008, when a piece that could be viewed as either satiric or anti-Semitic, and which was potentially libelous—and for which he refused to apologize—led to his dismissal. He did, however, file, and win, a wrongful termination suit against his former employer.
—Interviews & Profiles. The National Post profiles Annie Koyama.
“Annie took a real chance on me,” says Michael DeForge, a comic artist who has been publishing with Koyama since she flagged him down at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) in 2008. At the time, he had only a few self-published mini-comics to his name, but with Koyama’s belief in his work, DeForge was able to find an audience.
For the Los Angeles Review of Books, occasional TCJ contributor Daniel Kalder talks to Alejandro Jodorowsky about his career.
One of my favorite comics is Son of the Gun, the series you did with Georges Bess about Juan Solo, the South American mob enforcer with a tail.
That is the boy who died. That was my son who died. Really?
Yes, the main character. I used photos of him to make this character. I’d never done this. I had wanted to make a movie, but when he died I didn’t do it. Son of the Gun definitely reads and feels like a movie.
Yes it was, but when he died, I did it as a comic.
For CBR, Gilbert Hernandez talks about collaborating with Darwyn Cooke on The Twilight Children.
A lot of times when people collaborate who have their own careers separately collaborate there's a lot of head butting. We were head-less. [Laughs] We basically just let it happen. Let it happen the script, let the art happen, he just let himself do it. That worked really well. We'd like to do another project together later on where he writes and I draw, so we'll see about that.
Mia Nakaji Monnier interviews MariNaomi about her new memoir for The Millions, and among other things, discusses why her mother doesn't read her work:
She’s never done drugs, or — she’s just coming from such a different place. And she’s my mom. So I would tell her these really horrible parts of the stories to distract her because she’s also very curious, and I knew that at some point she wouldn’t be able to resist. So one of the first things I told her was, “I wrote about my first blowjob. The guy didn’t wash himself, Mom. Do you really want to read that? I drew flies around his penis, Mom. Do you really want to read that?” And she’s like, “No, no, I’m never reading it.” I even tested them out a little, thinking maybe I’d show them a couple of comics and see if they could handle it. There’s a story about when I mooned a little kid, and my mom read that and she said, [gasp!], and I said, “Okay, that’s it! If that shocks you, we’re done.”
I did get a job doing production art for Fantagraphics just before they moved to Seattle from California. This is all the pre-digital before-computers production, using a darkroom and a stat camera to turn glossy photos into halftones, literally pasting up magazine pages on boards, and so on. I had been working on medical magazines and car magazines during most of the 1980s, so the work for Fantagraphics was not much different. When I was working for them in Seattle, I think Kim or Gary suggested I try a comic book. Naughty Bits was going to be just a short lived collection of stories but Bitchy Bitch turned into a character and took over the series. It ran for 40 issues and I am sure I could have gone on much more with it.
Frank Santoro talks to Noah Van Sciver at this year's PIX:
—Reviews & Commentary. John Porcellino writes about clearing most of his convention schedule for the year.
The amount of time and travel that artists are expected to endure to make the convention rounds is untenable. Cons are (can be) fun, and it’s still a blast to meet your fans and friends face to face. I personally still get a kick out of standing behind a table covered in comics and seeing what happens. But the toll this is taking on cartoonists is very real. For me to attend DINK (a one and a half day show) required a day of prep time, two days of travel, doing the show, two more days of travel, and then two days to overcome the lack of sleep and food. Even if I do well at a show the amount of money I make could usually be made up by staying home and doing a few pieces of commissioned artwork. The truth is driving cross country to sell a $5 comic to someone is pretty much the most inefficient method of comics distribution there is.
Mark Evanier tells a few anecdotes about his personal experiences with B. Kliban, including an ill-fated television series.
I ran into B. the first day of the con and he greeted me warmly. I told him I was working on the TV show based on his characters. He said, "What TV show based on my characters?" I told him all about the project. He knew nothing about any such deal and ran off to his hotel room to call…well, someone — his agent or his lawyer or his publisher or…I don't know who he called.
COPRA is a comic that the SUICIDE SQUAD, by virtue of existing in the DC Universe can never be because it is a comic fundamentally suspicious of, derisive of, dismissive of the underlying message of superhero comics: that power can be used responsibily [sic], that our world has space for heroes, that violence can solves problems. COPRA is so intoxicated by comic’s [sic] formal properties that perhaps the fact its content isn’t so peppy can easily be overlooked, ignored. COPRA has cheap genre thrills, but plays them like a black comedy– unburdened by a DC universe context that makes no sense i.e. that the kind of power let loose within COPRA can co-exist with a moral universe.
Rob Kirby: Jen, as long as we’ve been friends and as long as I’ve followed your work prior to that, I still don’t really know your cartoonist origin story. That seems as good a place to start as any, so how about it?
Jennifer Camper: I never decided to become a cartoonist. I sort of fell into it and just continued. From early childhood I played with all kinds of art forms, including comics and illustrated stories. In school, I made comics and illustrated stories as class assignments, or for the school paper, and sometimes just to entertain my friends and myself. My family encouraged this. I was reading underground comics in my teens, and discovered Mary Wings and Roberta Gregory’s dyke comics. After that, I found Wimmen’s Comix, Tits & Clits, Lee Marrs’ Pudge, Girl Blimp, and Gay Comix. I never doubted that there was room for my own voice in comics.
Next, I drew comics and illustrations for Gay Community News in Boston. Following that, I submitted comics to Gay Comix, and met Howard Cruse, who generously tutored so many of us in the craft and business of comics. I also published comics and illustrations in Wimmen’s Comix, Young Lust, Real Girl,Sojourner (Boston feminist paper), and On Our Backs (lesbian erotica magazine).
After a while, I created a self-syndicated, bi-weekly comic, Camper, that ran in a number of queer and feminist newspapers and magazines in the US and Canada. Those comics were eventually collected in my first book, Rude Girls and Dangerous Women (Laugh Lines Press, 1994).
Having these outlets gave me deadlines and assignments, and an audience. Of course, there was little money paid for these comics, but the queer press and alternative comics had a vocal readership. I was thrilled to get feedback for my work – both pro and con. Most of these publications were printed on cheap paper, so I developed my high-contrast, black and white drawing style, which reproduces well, even with low-quality printing production.
Joe McCulloch, thank god, is back from vacation, but is feeling a little under the weather, so we'll be posting his usual guide to the Week in Comics! later tonight. In the meantime, here's a brief taste of what he's working on, a review of the new Cinema Purgatorio anthology, which provides an excellent excuse for Joe to explore the sweet world of his beloved Avatar Press.
A few weeks ago, the website FairPageRates.com disseminated the results of a 127-person sample size poll concerning payment for professional work in the comic book industry. Amid various comments concerning the undesirability of working for high-profile 'indie' publishers such as BOOM!, Zenescope and Bluewater/Storm Entertainment, there is a brief and telling mention of Avatar Press:
This is understandable. Established in the latter half of the 1990s, the age of the industry crash, as a veritable fallout shelter for sexually-driven 'bad girl' comics, Avatar quickly seized on the possibility of recruiting name writers tested in mainstream genre comics and allowing them leeway to publish aggressive and extreme content. Today, they are known mainly for one of those projects: the comprehensively violent pseudo-zombie series Crossed, a going concern since 2008 and still trademark & copyright Mr. Garth Ennis, whose name you will also be seeing on the Preacher television show soon enough. This, more than anything, has cemented Avatar's identity as "a downmarket gorehound press" per Tim last week, though the same publisher is also behind the industry news/gossip site Bleeding Cool, and maintains a side-specialty in sexy girl comics via an imprint, Boundless.
Meanwhile, elsewhere: —Interviews & Profiles. I haven't listened to this yet, but was excited to wake up this morning and discover that my favorite (non-TCJ-affiliated) comics podcast, Rina Ayuyang and Thien Pham's Comix Claptrap, has returned after a two-year-long hiatus, and their first guest is Tim Hensley.
Guest host Sean Ford takes the reins at Inkstuds to interview Malachi Ward.
You’ve probably heard of Japanese artist known as Rokudenashiko (“good for nothing girl”), who was arrested in 2014 for sending the 3-D data of her genitals to patrons of her successful crowdfunding campaign to create a vagina-shaped kayak.
The Society of Illustrators has posted video of Ryan Sands talking to Rebecca Sugar:
—Reviews & Commentary. Ng Suat Tong isn't particularly fond of screenwriter/internet-punching-bag Max Landis's Superman: American Alien.
My first impression on reading Superman: American Alien was that it seemed like a decently written television series. The kind you might find on a small cable channel littered with demographically targeted YA themes about young powerful people grappling with their powers.
It's nice to see Ng writing again so much recently.
—News. Longtime Farm News cartoonist Rick Friday was fired from his position after he published a cartoon mildly criticizing Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, and John Deere.
After the cartoon was published last Friday, Mr. Friday said he was told in an email from an editor the next day that the cartoon would be his last for Farm News because a seed company had withdrawn its advertising in protest.
Mariko and Jillian Tamaki's This One Summer has been banned from a Minnesota public school district's library after a single parental complaint.
Henning School District has no policy addressing selection or reconsideration of library materials. The school district was contacted when we couldn’t find any policies online, the superintendent said that there is no policy but there is a procedure in place where a parent can complain to the principal and the principal will decide what to do. No consultation with the librarian is required. No consultation of professional reviews is required. The book doesn’t even need to be read in its entirety.
Finally, Oni Press has announced that they are starting a new imprint devoted to educational sex comics, starting with Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan's Oh Joy Sex Toy.
[EDITED TO ADD: This post was written on very little sleep this morning, and included a few errors—one typo and a mistaken description of Oni Press. Both have been corrected, but my apologies.]
From Caricature to Poster takes youback to a lost moment. In the fin de siècle poster boom, it’s quite a surprise: ads and promotions created entirely by caricaturists. The story of how this happened is quirky – but it’s as real as that of Lautrec’s Moulin Rouge or Mucha’s Sarah Bernhardt. You can see it now at Museum of Decorative Art in Paris.
Along with Art Nouveau, French poster art created the defining graphics of la Belle Époque. The posters also changed design and typography. Yet no sooner had they bloomed than their industry lost its leaders and, as their art degenerated, so did its commercial power. Panicked, the ad men at its helm sought replacements – and, rapidly, found them in a thriving French humor press. For a brief moment, this offbeat pairing flourished. Then, because of World War I, it was forgotten.
Whether they made pornographic pamphlets or best-selling weeklies, caricaturists had always served as their own promoters. But suddenly letting them loose on corsets, breath mints and bicycle tires? This was a dare whose irreverent results resuscitated an industry. Yet the show does not center on why the posters worked. Instead, out of their tiny history, it delivers something bigger: an important look at the legacy of Philipon’s pen.
This is the founding myth of French caricature. It was created November 14, 1831, when the editor Charles Philipon went on trial in Paris. Philipon, then 29, ran a year-old weekly by the name of La Caricature. There, his team there was one-of-a-kind, with graphic stars like Paul Gavarni, Honoré Daumier, J.J. Grandville and Traviés de Villers. (Balzac was another enthusiastic contributor). The journal was notorious for its provocations and, by that November date, Philipon had been subject to eleven prosecutions. This time, his drawings were charged with “outrage against the person of the King”.
I had no idea author Philip Pullman was releasing a graphic novel in 2017. Looks intriguing.
Today, Ryan Holmberg is here with a new column on the complicated role of Nakashima Kiyoshi at the intersection of art and power in Japan's Nuclear culture. If you don't know who Nakashima is, read on!
The other day, for the first time in my life, I was personally offended by kawaii. I have found it silly, gross, frivolous, and stupid on many occasions, but never offensive.
“Wouldn’t you like to have this cute little puppy dog hanging in your house? It’s an image of the artist’s own puppy dog. Wouldn’t you love to share it with your family?” said the beseeching salesman to the old lady in the third floor gallery at Maruzen Bookstore in Nihonbashi.
I was heading back to the subway station after a coffee with a Los Angeles director about a documentary he is making about ninja and pop culture, when I chanced upon a sign outside Maruzen advertising Nakashima Kiyoshi’s print show. This is an artist that recently crossed my radar for reasons explained below, but in whose work I would otherwise not be interested in the least. I popped into the show hoping I might learn something about him, not expecting that that something would be that he’s a weasel.
And we also have the final day of Sara Lautman's week contributing our Cartoonist's Diary. Thanks, Sara!
Meanwhile, elsewhere: —History.The New Yorker posts an excerpt from Michael Maslin's new biography of Peter Arno.
In those earliest months, there were a number of happy accidents that pushed the magazine toward lasting acceptance by the readership [editor Harold] Ross sought to cultivate. One of them occurred the day, in the spring of 1926, when Philip Wylie spied some drawings of a pair of older women in Arno’s portfolio. Arno hadn’t intended to submit the drawings of the women—they were just sketches he’d been fooling around with. According to Wylie, Arno “rather self-consciously and reluctantly” brought the drawings out of his portfolio. Wylie passed the sketches to Ross, who initially found them “too rough,” but took them home and showed them to his wife, Jane Grant. She found them delightful. The sisters—christened Pansy Smiff and Mrs. Abagail Flusser, or the Whoops Sisters—were introduced in the pages of the magazine in April of 1926. They were not just sweet little old ladies—they were naughty, boisterous, grinning “wink wink, nudge nudge” sweet little old ladies; their language laced with double entendres. As often as not, the captions contained the word “Whoops!”
“Gado and Zunar remind us how fragile this liberty remains in Africa and in Asia as well as in other regions of the world. Through their commitment towards open and transparent societies, Gado and Zunar, who have received threats in their countries of origin and can no longer practice their profession, confront us with our responsibility to preserve freedom of expression and act in order to support the combat of those who cannot express themselves through their art”, declared [Kofi] Annan.
—Money. TCJ regular Rob Clough is faced with some extreme medical bills and looking for help.
It’s slapstick Looney Tunes violence gone ballistic (a man gets his arm ripped off and then stabbed WITH it). Almost to the point of being able to read it as a cyclical commentary of how comics had become plagued with gritty hyper violent stories after the influence of Miller’s late eighties work. It’s almost as if Miller and Darrow are addressing this by going all the way with it as a marker for and end point. You want to play this game, here is as far as it can get pushed in commercial comics – now move on and bring it somewhere new.