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Dry

Today brings us the second installment of Ron Goulart’s column of correspondence with great cartoonists of the past. This week, his subject is Sheldon Mayer, of Sugar and Spike and Scribbly fame. Here’s an excerpt:

Always an editor at heart, Mayer would give me advice for Gil [Kane], mostly about his interpretation of my copy. Then we’d get to talking about his days with M.C. Gaines and DC. He’d talk about staff members, about the ones who gave him a pain in the ass, about some long-ago secrets. A few times, about ten minutes after hanging up, he’d call back and say, “About that business I was talking about, don’t use it in any of your books. I don’t want to jeopardize my pension.”

We also have Sean T. Collins’s review of Guy Delisle’s Jerusalem, about which his feelings are mixed:

Delisle is not Joe Sacco, as a joke near the end of the book drives home, and he’s not out to tell a “story” in either the sense of a storyteller or a reporter. His M.O. is to record his life when that life is placed in an unfamiliar and (to put it midly) politically problematic environment, under the assumption that the result of that recording will provide a useful window on the interaction between the personal and the political. That’s all well and good when you’re in such underreported environments as North Korea, China’s designated Special Economic Zones, or Burma. But unlike those sealed-off locales, Jerusalem (even the out-of-sight out-of-mind Palestinian areas) is arguably the most reported-on location on the planet, as befits its centrality to the current Ocenania/Eurasia/Eastasia arrangement of fanatical Islam, Judaism, and Christianity as they attempt to draft the rest of us into their divinely ordained assaults on one another. As such, unless you’re as much of a tyro to the entire topic as Delisle portrays himself to be — not realizing Yom Kippur is anything other than a war, or that Gaza residents can’t leave, and so on and so on — you need a reason to revisit this material that you can’t get anywhere else.

And then of course there’s Frank Santoro’s Sunday column. This week he went into “blind item”-mode.

Elsewhere …

—The Swedish Supreme Court has ruled that certain Japanese manga depicting children in sexual situations are not child pornography, reversing the earlier conviction of a translator in that country.

—Coincidentally (but not unrelatedly), Neal Gaiman writes a defense of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, after a reader wrote in expressing qualms about supporting figures like Christopher Handley, an American manga collector convicted of possessing “obscene” manga depicting children in sexual situations.

—To keep this pornographic comics ball rolling, Stephen Bissette continues his illustrated exploration of early gay-themed sex comics and other Tijuana Bibles.

—Ed Champion has a long audio interview with Alison Bechdel, and I believe we neglected to link to MariNaomi’s earlier illustrated interview with Bechdel for The Rumpus.

—You of course have already heard of Ray Bradbury‘s death. Michael Dooley has collected images from the EC Comics work based on his writing.

—Trevor Von Eeden has disowned the art to at least two issues of the 1990s series Black Canary, due to what he regarded as editorial interference. Daniel Best has posted scans of his original artwork next to the finished pages here so you can judge for yourself.

—Finally, Grant Morrison was given an award.

 

Serious!

It’s the end of a long week here in sunny Carroll Gardens. This weekend I plan to go to Frank’s comic book sale, where you can tell me which version of TCJ was better than this one, and why. What better way to spend a beautiful Saturday than inside a sweaty inferno of back issues? No kidding!

You know who doesn’t kid around? Tucker Stone. He is a serious, intense man. And he has words he’d like you to read now. These words will be about numerous new comics about which the less said the better.

Elsewhere, things are, as Tim mentioned yesterday, quiet.

-Great cartoonists Dan Zettwoch and Kevin Huizenga are making a couple of appearances in support of their excellent new books Birdseye Bristoe and Gloriana. One of them today in Chicago! Go see these guys.

-If you need just a little more Tucker to carry you through the weekend, then check out his podcast with Joe McCulloch and Matt Seneca. I listened to the whole thing! This week it’s all about Otomo and Kidd.

I really enjoyed Chip Kidd’s Batman: Death by Design. The story was wonderfully structured — a kind of architectural whodunnit designed like a deco building: Elegant, with a bunch of surprises, some wonderfully strange moments, and loopy personal touches. Naturally it’s also an awfully attractive object. Worth tracking down.

-This is a cute comic book store/Ray Bradbury anecdote.

-Evan Dorkin tells us about the time he almost published a Rocketeer story.

That’s it. See you at the con!

 

Lull

Today, we present Eric Buckler’s interview with the Swiss cartoonist Frederik Peeters, probably best known for his graphic HIV memoir, Blue Pills. An excerpt:

I’m not the author in Sandcastle. I see it more like metaphysical fairy tale if you like. The reader is not much involved as in Blue Pills, where you live things through the main character point of view. In Sandcastle, you’re more like a distant spectator. Blue Pills talks about two persons, Sandcastle talks about the whole world. But you could say that the aspects that appealed to me in the Sandcastle script, the deterioration of the flesh, time, what we do with our lives, why and who you desire and love, couple as an antidote to loneliness, etc., are already present in Blue Pills. But I guess they’re present in all my books, because they’re present in my head.

Elsewhere, comics links are fairly light today.

—Dept. of Interviews. The National Post has a short interview with Gabriella Giandelli, the Gainseville Sun talked to Tom Hart (about SAW), and, for those who like to read between the lines, Robot 6 has a q&a with Dave Gibbons.

—Ng Suat Tong has a long post analyzing the original art from Howard Chaykin’s Time².

—Letterer Todd Klein has posted the first leg of a “tour” of DC’s production offices, circa 1979.

 

Hungry Hippo

Today on the site we bring you another pearl from the archive: Alan Moore interviewed by Gary Groth in 1987. This one’s about Moore’s decision to cease working for DC Comics amidst the ratings controversy of the day. What’s interesting here is how thoughtful and articulate Moore is on his moral and ethical concerns. And that will more or less conclude our Before Watchmen coverage. Although! I will say I found this article at Hooded Utilitarian particularly silly, even by the high standards of silliness set by this whole debate. The author for some reason includes me in a list of writers (“us”?) who somehow maintain a moral high ground because of the artists involved in these comics. Let me be clear: The list and corresponding argument makes no sense, in that, (a) I’ve never stated a moral position on BW and nor do I intend to; (b) the idea that different artists that the writer thinks are closer to my taste would make the project more or less palatable, is a serious misreading of the whole issue; and (c) I don’t think the writers on that list would agree on a whole lot when it comes down to it. That’s all. Sermon over. And no, I won’t be responding in comments my excitable little trolls.

On a happier site note, we have Rob Clough on beloved former TCJ-podcaster Mike Dawson’s Troop 142.

Elsewhere:

Frank Santoro is in NYC. I know this because I saw him (twice!) and he’s texting me with greater frequency. We even went to the comic book store together. He’s having another comic book sale at his palatial West Village studio in a building that should be seen regardless of what you may buy. Anyhow, the sale is on again this Saturday, June 16th. Don’t miss it. For less than the cost of a sandwich you can be entertained by Frank AND take home a really good (or “good”) comic.

MORE New York news… Friday is the final day for exhibitors to apply to The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, which I co-organize and exercise my terrifying moral high ground upon.

But it’s not only about New York, I’m told. One Tom Devlin continued his comic book world tour with a stop in Oslo involving stilts, Canadians, non-Canadians, and, yes, nudity.

And finally, this dive into personal and comic book history is mind-boggling and lovely.

 

Recovery Proceeds

Today is Tuesday, and that means Joe McCulloch has your Week in Comics! New Sacco, new oversize reprints, new this, new that.

We also have Sean T. Collins’s review of Jean-Pierre Filiu and David B.’s history of U.S./Middle East relations, Best of Enemies. An excerpt:

[David B.] is one of contemporary comics’ true visionaries, the speaker of a visual language of his own devising. Despite personal, cultural, and surface-visual connections (all that high-contrast black-and-white) that might make it look otherwise, as an image-maker he has much more in common with, say, Jack Kirby than with Marjane Satrapi. This gives everyone and everything he depicts a hyperreal aura, and in Best of Enemies he goes full-throttle on it. The headdress of an imperious ambassador becomes a globe the pirate ships whose attacks he permit circumnavigate. A stand-in for the WWII-era British government becomes a three-faced Janus-like figure, issuing contradictory proclamations about the future of the region out of every mouth. The chronically bedridden Mossadegh becomes a disembodied set of pajamas, wielding a scimitar against the floating Sauron-like eyes of British spies and provocateurs. America’s chief goon in Iran, spymaster Kermit Roosevelt, is a virtual gremlin, his rictus-like grin affixed to his diminutive frame as he hides beneath a blanket to conduct clandestine meetings with the Shah. Bought-off officials open their jaws like Hungry Hungry Hippos to swallow American dollars. Even as familiar a figure as FDR himself has his eyebrows transformed into a cigarette to demonstrate the gravity of his banning smoking while negotiating with the Saudis.

Elsewhere there are many comics-related things worth your time, if you’re so inclined. For example…

—Jeet Heer takes to the Globe and Mail to report on what made superheroes gay even before recent developments.

—Derik Badman points out a recent essay by comics scholar Hannah Miodrag on literary comics. I haven’t read it, but based on his description, she seems to be using an argument similar to the one I used to make a lot over on Comics Comics over the past few years—it’s not theme and subject matter that makes a comic “literary,” but rather the use of text itself. It’s the definition that makes the most sense to me, and one that avoids the problems that come along with the more standard one.

—Tom Heintjes has a roundtable with several people carrying on the family business, in this case comic strips, including Brian and Greg Walker, Jeff Keane, and Mason Mastroianni.

—Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows’s Neonomicon has been challenged and pulled from a South Carolina library. I don’t think any books should be off-limits for libraries, and hope that it is restored soon. But that book… it’s not hard to imagine that presumably unprepared mother’s reaction.

—Paul Pope links to his own 1996 interview with art theorist Rudolf Arnheim, which I plan to read post-haste.

—Two unusual reviews of Before Watchmen, from the Mindless Ones-affiliated Andrew Hickey, and from Alan Moore biographer Lance Parkin, reporting in from an alternate dimension.

—Not comics. Via Sean Howe, the secret history of Lisa Lyon, the bodybuilder used by Frank Miller as a model for his Elektra character, and her “connections to Robert Mapplethorpe, voodoo, Arnold Schwarzenegger, PCP, Huey Newton, cocaine, Jack Nicholson, and Day of the Dolphin.”

 

Rest Home

Today on the site:

Shaenon Garrity has the fist installment of her Webcomics Capsule Reviews, in which she writes about the many and various webcomics sent in by readers of this very site. And yesterday Frank Santoro wrote about his comic book blowout sale and promises more to come.

It was a slow news weekend, but herewith some links:

-Kate Beaton’s Walrus cover is very nice.

-Comics-related: A Peter Blake pop music-themed retrospective.

-John Buscema covers are fun.

-And the latest “What Are You Reading” over at Robot 6 includes cartoonist and TCJ-contributor Matthew Thurber writing about Ron Rege and Frank Stack.

Ok, more later in the week!

 

Drip Drip Drip

Today, Tucker Stone and his pal Abhay Khosla take you on another wonder-filled journey through the funhouse world of genre comics, with a particular interest in the internet reaction to the corporate announcement that one of the many DC Comics characters named Green Lantern is about to be revealed as gay.

And Sara Varon offers the last day of her week in the Cartoonist’s Diary chair. Thanks, Sara!

I’m sick, and have been all week, so the rest of this blog post will be a bit bare bones, but here’s the news.

—Paul Gravett has a nice Posy Simmonds profile up on his site.

—Bill Kartalopoulos reviews Clowes, Krazy Kat, and Rory Hayes for Print.

—Christopher Allen has an amusing Freudian reading of the latest Darwyn Cooke cover. (Related.)

—Jim Woodring’s thoughts on “Bimbo’s Initiation” won’t be news to anyone who read our interview with him last year, but it’s a great cartoon to revisit.

—Rob Clough tackles the influence of movies on cartoonists from a different angle, namely how his screenwriting career has affected Daniel Clowes’s approach to comics.

—Domingos Isabelinho looks at M.S. Bastian and Isabelle L.’s Bastokalypse.

—Bad news for independent publishers up North: the Literary Press Group was just denied funding by the Canadian government.

—The Archie Comics executive suit/soap opera has ended (for now) with a settlement.

—Finally, propaganda comics from 1950s Communist China.

 

Lofty Heights

On the site today:

Ryan Holmberg continues his march into history with a look at the great cartoonist Sugiura Shigeru (you can read translated comics of his in The Ganzfeld 4 and 5, as well as Raw 7) and his pre-WWII sources. NOTE: Ryan is looking for your help in identifying some of these sources — please comment!

The history of comedy is a notoriously nebulous and difficult subject. Especially when the laughs are half in a foreign tradition. At any rate, it’s more than I can handle competently just now. So what I put together instead was a “visual essay” on Sugiura and Shin Seinen’s cartoons. What follows on the next pages is the result of combing the magazine from 1929 to 1937, at which point it turned strongly pro-war and increasingly anti-Western. This period overlaps with Sugiura’s debut (1932) and early work for Kōdansha’s major youth periodicals (particularly Shōnen Club, Shōjo Club, and the Picture Book series beginning in 1937) as well as his occasional work for Shin Seinen’s junior edition, Shin Shōnen, as well as Shōnen Shōjo Tankai, published by the same Hakubunkan. Some of the comparisons I make are specific, with exact cases of swiping. Others are more general. You can tell me if you find them convincing or not.

Sara Varon takes through another day of her excellent visual diary.

The major news everywhere else is the passing of Ray Bradbury. The NY Times has a fine obituary.

Elsewhere around the internet… there is the good news that Drawn & Quarterly will release Shigeru Mizuki’s classic Kitaro material. Mizuki is a first class cartoonist — I can’t wait.

More good news — a new comic at Study Group by a young cartoonist I know very little about Sean T. Collins profiled, but whose work I’ve really enjoyed – Julia Gfrorer.

Excellent cartoonist, late of Conan, Becky Cloonan is interviewed about a recent self-publishing effort over at The Beat.

Daniel Best has a 1975 Jim Steranko interview with some fine nuggets, like this one on Frank Robbins…

I know Frank; he’s a terrific artist, but for some reason he doesn’t seem to have the fan following that he warrants. But believe me when I tell you that there are very few artists who have the cinematic approach of Robbins, especially in his Johnny Hazard strip. I collect Robbins stuff, the forties right on through. His cinematic approach is incredible. Even more perhaps than Milton Caniff, even though he works in that Caniff or Sickles style. I think he deserves more credit than most fans give him. Sometimes fans think a lot of little lines makes good artwork, but it doesn’t. He’s a guy who really knows how to tell a story. Maybe like you I’ve been disappointed with his comic book work, but you have to remember you can’t turn out a masterpiece in a week.

And finally: Vintage Ogden Whitney (I’d never heard of this one) and vintage Daniel Clowes. Together at last.