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Still Be

Today on the site, Bill Kartalopoulos brings us an interview with Geoffrey Hayes, who passed away suddenly last week. 

BK: What were the kinds of children’s books at the time in the sixties that would have served as some kind of model?

GH: Well, it started out, I think, when we were kids. The books that we had that I think really inspired me the most were the Little Golden Books. Even though I had read a lot of other things. I read the classics like Charlotte’s Web and Doctor Doolittle and all of those kinds of books. The ones, I would say, because they had such bright illustrations, were the Golden Books that were the most inspiring.

And then as I got into high school I became aware of Maurice Sendak, and I’m trying to think who else at that time I really liked. I had always liked Garth Williams and… I think those were the two main illustrators, but there were other illustrators that I gravitated toward and liked.

BK: Thinking about Williams and Sendak, that’s kind of two models in the sense that, from what I know of Williams’s work, he was mainly illustrating text by other people, whereas Sendak, although he started out drawing books written by others he quickly moved over to writing and drawing his own picture books. Did you think that one or the other was going to be a more likely career or path for you?

GH: Even at that time I think Sendak illustrated more books by other authors than he wrote himself. I would say that how I differed from the two of them is I definitely knew I had a lot of stories to tell and the writing became as important to me as the art. So in that sense I would probably say somebody like Carl Barks was more of an influence in the sense of someone who just had a very fertile imagination, and who told his own stories as well as illustrated them.

BK: Now, I assume that while you were looking for work and while Rory was starting to get published, you were keeping tabs on what he was doing and what was happening in San Francisco in the underground comix?

GH: Yes, yes, definitely. Especially in those days… When he went right back to San Francisco and he had his first comic published, yes, I was very aware. And then I actually ended up coming back to San Francisco myself for a couple of years, so I was with him. Not necessarily living with him, but we were together right when his career was really starting to take off.

Elsewhere:

Here’s a preview of a new book of drawings by Jodorowsky. It’s raining Jodorowsky art suddenly. 

 

Only Developments

Joe McCulloch is here as always this Tuesday with his usual indispensable guide to the Week in Comics! His spotlight picks this time include new titles by David Hine & Shaky Kane and Elise Gravel. He also has some unkind words for the New York Times Magazine’s all-comics issue.

Predominantly, it’s the stories that hold prominence in these comics, and I’m not convinced that becoming comics does them many favors. Take Enemies Among Us (drastically reformatted for the online version, fyi), in which Marvel/DC/Archie veteran Francesco Francavilla draws a tale of WWII-era intrigue centered around ferreting out (German) terrorists who’ve slipped into NYC’s immigrant community. This is a very hotly politicized topic, no doubt disinterred from 2002 for the purposes of new relevancy, but while prose could at least theoretically tease out nuance from the account, what emerges from out under the lacquer of Francavilla’s four pages of backlit noir illustration is nothing more trying than a warm bath of civic flattery – one of the terrorists maybe becomes “affected” by the city life (no conclusions), and turns in the rest of them, his reward deportation over execution. I [heart] NYC too, but these tiny vignettes playing at resonance aren’t helped by the translation to comics, and ‘comics’ is helped even less. This is not a testament to comics’ sophistication, of its parity with nonfiction in prose; this is comics as a novelty act, rightfully dismissed the week after so that real work ostensibly can begin again.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews. The most recent guest on Process Party is Katie Skelly.

—Commentary. The Ignorant Bliss podcast posted an episode with various critics and comics figures (J. A. Micheline, Darryl Ayo Brathwaite, Cheryl Lynn Eaton, Jonathan W. Gray, and Ronald Wimberly) discussing the controversial cover for Island #15.

So when the last issue of the anthology comic Island was released and people saw the cover by the artist Dilraj Mann of a black woman rendered all in absolute black with red lipstick and door knocker earrings hit the internet it caused quite a stir. … So I gathered some voices from the online debate and some others we knew to have a conversation about his cover, art, editorial practices in comics and voices of black women within the comic industry.

—Misc. Ethan Rilly has contributed a guest post to the AdHouse blog on the occasion of the upcoming release of Pope Hats #5.

Whenever I’m pushing into the final stretch of a project I get oddly superstitious. Every day I need to wear the same shoes, same watch, eat the same shitty snacks. Weird random stuff. And then there’s a list of normal human tasks that I have to keep on the back burner. It’s an extreme, productivity-based version of “Let’s not jinx this.”

 

Adding More

It’s been a long few days. On the site:

Eleanor Davis interviews Jillian Tamaki:

ED: What story of yours have you found people respond to the most strongly? And what was your response to their response?

JT: Well, obviously the strongest reaction I have had to A Book has been This One Summer, which is a collaboration. [This One Summer, by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, was the ALA’s most challenged book of 2016 – ED]. It’s interesting, for the interviews for Boundless thus far, people have wanted to discuss “The ClairFree System.” Which is slightly surprising.

ED: I experience the clearest emotional arc reading it. Not intellectual clarity, but emotional, with the conditional intimacy of the final moment.

JT: I’m trying to think of their “reaction” though. I feel like they want to hear me talk about it. It feels very mysterious and strange to them, I guess? It’s not a typical image-text pairing. I mean, it’s about The Economy, which I think about constantly.

ED: I read that comic as both a feminist critique, and defense, of Capitalism. I LOVED it, obviously.

 JT: I had forgotten: that story was sparked by learning that some of my friends in my hometown had gotten into what they called a “Skin cult.” Which is maybe a pyramid scheme? You made commissions off of selling to your friends. But on the other hand, it just seemed like Mary Kay or Avon for the millennial set. And it was bizarre because I was like, oh, I remember Avon and these suburban selling-parties when I was a kid. But now I’m on the flip, the adult, and the moms needed CASH.

Elsewhere in comics-land:

Geoffrey Hayes, cartoonist, illustrator, and brother/collaborator of Rory Hayes has passed away.

Last week Drawn & Quarterly announced a book by the cartoonist Berliac. There was an immediate reaction online, as cartoonists and readers pointed to public statements about transgender people made by the cartoonist, some aggressively aimed at artist and TCJ-contributor Sarah Horrocks, who unpacked her interactions and thoughts on Twitter. After two days of research and thinking, D&Q, which like many small publishers, is based on fairly intimate relationships with its authors, no longer felt it could support Berliac given his behavior. The company’s statement is here. Berliac’s statement is on Facebook. 

The New York Times Magazine this week was given over to cartoonists, most notably David Mazzucchelli, Sammy Harkham and Kevin Huizenga, who drew versions of stories taken from the Metro Desk of the paper.

And finally, Robert Storr writes about Raymond Pettibon at NYRB.

 

Dog

Today on the site, Alex Wong talks to Guy Delisle about his latest book, Hostage.

From that conversation, how did it take another decade and a half for this project to reach its conclusion?

I did a first version actually a while back of 12 pages which I showed my editor. He was very excited, but then I had work, and I was only working on comic books on the side at the time. A few years later, I came back to it and I didn’t like the first version of the book anymore. I kept postponing it. I went to North Korea. I had a kid in 2003. We went to Burma. I was always postponing it, and I needed to travel to France to talk to Christophe. I think I must have been afraid to work on this book because it was something else who had to talk about their story. It was a different process. And then, suddenly, I wasn’t traveling anymore and I realized it had been 15 years. I still had the recordings I did with him in 2002, and I worked with that. I’d phone Christophe once in awhile for small details. He would read the pages as I was doing them. I didn’t want any surprises, bad surprises, for him when the book finally came out. I wanted him involved in the process so it could be as close to the real story as possible.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary.
The sf novelist Charlie Jane Anders writes about Wonder Woman comics.

For all their problems and dated elements, those early Wonder Woman comics have a poetry that sticks in my mind all these years later. In Marston’s telling, the Amazons were tricked by Hercules and his men, who enslaved them until they were saved by the goddess Aphrodite. The bracelets that all the Amazons wear, including Wonder Woman, are a reminder that they have been subjugated before, and that this must never happen again. So when Wonder Woman does her famous trick of deflecting bullets with her bracelets, she’s using the symbol of remembrance of slavery to defend herself. But meanwhile, if any man chains her bracelets together, she loses her superpowers.

Sam Ombiri reviews Joe Daly’s undersung epic, Highbone Theater.

The dialogue is so natural, and the way Daly guides you through what’s being said seems like it’s collaborating with life. It’s so mundane that it becomes all too real. It seems like it’s way more dense than it is really, because of the size of the book, but it’s so rhythmic, and it sucks the reader in so that you barely even notice that you’re flipping the pages. You start it, and you keep going, and you don’t feel the big obligation to take note of anything. Or that may be inaccurate, since you are supposed to, as a reader, take note of what’s happening in the narrative. I didn’t catch so much that the colored pages were adding an extra meaning to the atmosphere changing, other than, something’s up, tonally and design wise. Color is the equivalent of sound design.

It isn’t about comics, but Martin Scorsese’s editorial in the Times Literary Supplement on the overvaluation of single images when discussing cinema is obviously easily applicable to them.

It’s also important to remember that most of these images are actually sequences of images: Peter O’Toole blowing out the match followed by the sun rising over the desert, the baby carriage rolling down the steps amid the chaos and brutality of the attack by the Cossacks. And beyond that, each separate cinematic image is comprised of a succession of still frames that creates the impression of motion. They are recordings of instants in time. But the moment you put them together, something else happens. Every time I get back into the editing room, I feel the wonder of it. One image is joined with another image, and a third phantom event happens in the mind’s eye – perhaps an image, perhaps a thought, perhaps a sensation. Something occurs, something absolutely unique to this particular combination or collision of moving images. And if you take a frame away from one or add a couple of frames to the other, the image in the mind’s eye changes.

—Interviews & Profiles. Laura Knetzger is the latest guest on Inkstuds.

—Misc. Lynda Barry writes about becoming a character in Jeff Keane’s Family Circus.

I was a kid growing up in a troubled household. We didn’t have books in the house but we did have the daily paper and I remember picking out Family Circus before I could really read.

There was something about the life on the other side of that circle that looked pretty good. For kids like me there was a map and a compass hidden in Family Circus. The parents in that comic strip really loved their children. Their home was stable. It put that image in my head and I kept it.

—Crowdfunding. Hazel Newlevant, Whit Taylor, and Ø.K. Fox have co-edited an anthology of abortion-rights-related stories called Comics for Choice, featuring 60 contributors. They are crowdfunding via indiegogo now, with the proceeds going to charity.

Cartoonists and illustrators have teamed up with activists, historians, and reproductive justice experts to create comics about their diverse personal stories, the history of abortion, the current politics, and more. Proceeds will be donated to the National Network of Abortion Funds. Together with 70 member funds around the country, NNAF works to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access, so that everyone can have full reproductive choice.

 

Gold Peak

It’s June! Can you believe it? I cannot. Today on the site: 

Rob Clough reviews Sunburning by Keiler Roberts.

Keiler Roberts’ newest volume of loosely assembled memoir strips, Sunburning, is a more assured, confident, and cohesive collection than her prior work. While Roberts displayed a distinct authorial voice, a refreshing lack of fussiness with her blunt and direct pencil drawings, and a powder-dry sense of humor in her past comics, everything comes into tighter focus in this book. She tackles all of her usual topics: life as a working mother and artist; the continued growth and delightful agency of her daughter, Xia; her relationship with her husband Scott, her parents, and others in her life; how she deals with being bipolar as well as other various neurological and chiropractric ailments; and general observations about life.

Elsewhere:

I continue to be amazed by the drawings of Susan Te Kahurangi King, who is opening a show in London now.

Here’s a profile of the very influential illustrator Bernie Fuchs.

And here’s a link to the latest Steve Ditko Kickstarter.

 

 

New York Moonlight

Today on the site, we present Rina Ayuyang’s interview with Eric Haven, the creator of Tales to Demolish and the upcoming collection, Vague Tales.

After three issues of Angryman, I learned the hard truth: I’d never make a living in the comic business. I gave it everything I had, even quit my day job at the sake factory in order to fully commit to the art. But when I received the royalty check for the first issue – the princely sum of $100 – I realized my folly. In addition, seeing my comics out in the world started to fill me with dread. All I could see were the mistakes and the awfulness.

I stopped trying to produce comics for publishers at that point. Instead, I made mini-comics. That way I could still make terrible comics, and nobody but a few friends would see them. I could spend time flailing around and experimenting without fear of judgment. It was almost 10 years of mini-comics making before Tales to Demolish came out.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The National Cartoonists Society announced the winners of the annual Reuben Awards. Among others, Ann Telnaes won outstanding cartoonist of the year, and Lynda Barry won the Milton Caniff lifetime achievement award.

The Montreal webcartoonist Sophie Labelle was forced to cancel a promotional event and go into hiding after a series of transphobic threats.

“This kind of thing happens to any trans person who’s visible and trying to raise awareness of trans issues,” Labelle, 29, said by phone from an undisclosed location on Friday. “In this case, the organizers had received threats that people would come and disrupt the event, so we decided to be on the safe side.”

Something used with particular virulence against Labelle has been the practice of doxxing. One of those cyberspeak words that is rapidly entering the general vernacular, it refers, in Labelle’s words, to “having personal information leaked with the purpose of undermining somebody. In the past I have exposed some of the groups that have been posting threats on my Facebook page, and Facebook has deleted most of them, and I think that’s what made it escalate to the point where they doxxed me and published my home address. They hacked into my website to get that information.”

—Commentary. Chris Ware writes about Saul Steinberg.

As a cartoonist myself, I am dismayed that there’s little in the show I can steal, the crossover in the Venn diagram of the image-as-itself versus as-what-it-represents being depressingly slim. I am painfully aware that in comics, stories generally kill the image. But Steinberg’s images grow and even live on the page; somewhere in the viewing of a Steinberg drawing the reader follows not only his line, but also his line of thought. Describing himself as “a writer who draws,” Steinberg could just as easily be considered an artist who wrote; as my fellow cartoonist Lynda Barry puts it, his “drawing went not from his mind to his hand but rather from his hand to his mind.” Or as Steinberg himself declared at the beginning of a 1968 television interview, “[my hand explains] to myself what goes on in my mind.”

The UK cartoonist Hannah Berry writes about her decision to leave comics (or at least graphic novels) due to financial considerations.

To make a graphic novel takes me three years of blinkered, fanatical dedication, and I realised while working on Livestock that I just can’t do it again. I’m done. I’m out. And from quiet talks with many other graphic novelists, ones whose books you know and love, I can tell you that I’m far from being the only one.

This is the problem with making graphic novels in the UK today, and it’s one we need to address: the numbers do not add up.

Douglas Wolk reviews a slew of new books for the NYT Book Review’s Summer Reading issue, including comics by Emil Ferris, Jason Shiga, Gabrielle Bell, Igort, Guy Delisle, and Jillian Tamaki.

If Tamaki (the illustrator of the Book Review’s By the Book feature) has a favorite storytelling strategy, it seems to be dreaming up some kind of odd artifact of mass culture and then examining the way people react to it. “Body Pods” concerns a cult movie adored by some of the narrator’s friends, and their reactions as its stars begin to die. “Darla!” is an oral history of a (nonexistent) short-lived pornographic sitcom from the ’90s. (“It was a different time,” the narrator deadpans. “You could never make something like it now.”) And the Borgesian “1. Jenny” begins by imagining a “mirror Facebook” whose users’ profiles begin to diverge from their real-world counterparts,’ and goes on to follow one woman’s obsession with her alternate self’s love life.

—Interviews & Profiles. The Millions talked to James Sturm about a new edition of his 2001 book, The Golem’s Mighty Swing.

Most of the book’s Jewish characters are immigrants or first-generation Americans — they fled from pogroms, hostile empires, and emerging nations. They desperately wanted to believe in the ideals of America. For the team’s black player, Henry Bell, his view of America is far different — his family came to America in chains. A baseball story set in the 1920s is especially susceptible to evoking that rose-tinted strain of American nostalgia. I did want the book to challenge this view. I keep coming back to the present political moment and this creepy notion of “making America great again.” Talk about rose-tinted glasses! Who was it great for? And if so, on whose backs was that “greatness” generated?

Pedro Moura interviews comics scholar Maaheen Ahmed about her new book, Openness of Comics: Generating Meaning within Flexible Structures.

I did indeed deliberately avoid titles that had already been well analyzed, but I also wanted to try and get a more transcultural perspective on comics by including works from different regions and genres. Since I also wanted to better understand the rise and establishment of the graphic novel phenomenon, I thought it might be more productive to start with Eisner’s Contract with God which can be said to bridge the more mainstream idea of comics and the basic implication of a graphic novel as being a novel. This was also the reasoning behind including Pratt’s long, novel-like Corto Maltese adventure, The Ballad of the Salt Sea as a European counterpart to Eisner’s graphic novel to start the next section.

I did indeed want to include more works (e.g. Aristophane’s Faune from 1995 and only recently re-issued by Frémok, to name only one of the many fascinating, experimental comics published in Belgium). Their absence however is due to more practical concerns of space (since the analyses are kept descriptive in order to provide a well-rounded ‘picture’ of each comic) and structure (of the book itself). I would’ve also liked to include a much larger section on the relationship between (experimental) comics and artists’ books – so much still needs to be done in that area!

The CBLDF podcast speaks to Gilbert Hernandez, Virtual Memories talks to Seth, and Process Party talks to John Porcellino.

 

Actually Kind Of

Today on the site, Joe McCulloch brings us the week in comics, with a special focus on Steve Ditko’s latest.

Elsewhere:

Our parent company Fantagraphics has announced a new comics anthology called Now

The cartoonist Maggie Umber wrote a very frank account of the end of her marriage and the toll publishing can take on a relationship.

 

 

Used in Media

Today on the site:

Rob Clough looks at Study Group Comics through the prism of genre comics. 

The website of Study Group Comic Books has a button on their menu bar labeled “Genres.” It speaks volumes about the publishing mission of Zack Soto—the choices range from familiar genres like “Fantasy,” “Horror,” and “Crime” to “Abstractions” and “Trippy.” No alternative comics publisher is as explicit in its interest in genre comics as Study Group, both on the website and in paper form. Soto is also the rare publisher that still releases single-issue comics as part of a larger series as opposed to focusing on full-length books. Soto exhibits a voracious appetite for absorbing and understanding comics of all kinds, and that’s also reflected in the Study Group Magazine that he publishes with editor Milo George and art director Francois Vigneault.

Study Group is far from the only alternative comics publisher that deals with genre, but they focus on them more than any other. That said, their output look less like the sort of genre comics one might see from larger publishers and more like the kind of gritty, idiosyncratic comics associated with minicomics scenes like Providence in the late 1990s. Manga and other genre influences like EC horror comics can be widely seen in some Study Group releases. Let’s take a look at their output from the last couple of years.

 

The longtime Spirou-contributor Pierre Seron has died. 

Comics-related: Jane Mai and An Nguyen discuss “Lolita Fashion”

Not comics: “The Berlin Painter” offers some visuals that we could learn from.