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Years and Years Ago

Today we bring you the tangled tale of the invention of that now utterly outmoded icon of patriotism, Uncle Sam. RC Harvey brings you the goods.

“Uncle Sam” meaning the United States appeared in newspapers from 1813 to 1815; in 1816, he appeared in a book in that symbolic role. By the 1820s, “Uncle Sam” was often being used as a term for the United States. The Sam Wilson connection seems a little shaky to me, but Congress passed a resolution in 1961 that recognized “Uncle Sam” Wilson as the namesake of the national symbol.

The visual representation of Uncle Sam, a tall man with a white goatee wearing a top hat, swallow-tail coat and striped trousers, evolved from pictures of an earlier symbolic figure—Brother Jonathan.

Until the Civil War, goateed and top-hatted Brother Jonathan in striped pants often stood for the United States even though the cartoon character initially represented just New England. The term Brother Jonathan originated across the Atlantic during the English Civil War (1642-1651) between the Parliamentarians (“Roundheads”) and the Royalists (“Cavaliers”) as a somewhat derogatory name for the Puritan Roundheads, and then the name was also applied to the New England colonists, who were also mostly Puritans who also supported the Parliamentarians in the mother country. By this route, Brother Jonathan became a stock character that good naturedly lampooned Yankee acquisitiveness and other crafty peculiarities attributed to citizens of the region. 

Elsewhere:

I always like to see more Jim Flora. 

Little Orphan Annie and Banned Books Week.

 

 

Choose Your Own Apocalypse

Today on the site, Alex Wong talks to Tillie Walden about her new memoir, Spinning, her relationship with figure skating (the book’s subject), the importance of representation in the comics industry, and her affinity for Studio Ghibli movies.


Have your parents read Spinning and what’s been the feedback and conversations you’ve had?

I get that question a lot. I get a lot of questions about how people in my world have reacted to the book, and I always have the same answer, which is, that is between me and the people in my life. As a memoirist, people are very eager to hear more about my story. There’s a lot of my story that I’m willing to talk about, but I have to draw clear lines to keep some of my life to myself, because so many people think that just because you’re a memoirist, you’re a very public person. In reality, I think I’m a pretty private person, and I control what I let out about myself, and in this book, I obviously let out a lot.

There is often this expectation from people that when you do something personal, they just expect you to be an open book.

I find that a lot of people expect it to be a continuing conversation, and in my mind, it’s like, no, everything I had to say about my life and my story is in that book. Outside of that, sure, there’s tidbits I’d be happy to talk about, but no, it’s not a continuing conversation. That book is it. That’s what I’m putting out, the rest of my life is for me and my loved ones.

I always use Instagram as an example. People can share personal things on there, but they’re not there to have a conversation about those moments.

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by like-sharing, especially with social media. You really have to control your own flow of information.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Rebecca Shuh talks to Eli Valley (Diaspora Boy) about making political comics in the Trump era.

RS: You talk in the book about backlash you got at different points for the comics. Do you have any memorable stories about an incidence of that backlash?
EV: There were so many. The main one that changed a lot of things for me was the one where I positioned Abe Foxman as an anti-semite. I talk a lot about how he waged this war on The Forward until they stopped running me. The Forward didn’t want to make an immediate cut because they didn’t want to make it look like they were bowing to McCarthyite pressure, so they did a slow, don’t accept his pitches, we’ll take a smattering, but it’s over. I was able to get in three or four over the course of the next year, I don’t remember exactly how many, but…it really left me…it wasn’t a great experience.

—News. Ramón Esono Ebalé, a political cartoonist in Equatorial Guinea, was arrested two weeks ago and remains detained without charges today.

Human rights advocates initially feared that authorities intended to charge Ebalé with criminal defamation for his often-lewd caricatures of Equatorial Guinea’s dictator Obiang, who has ruled the small country on the west coast of central Africa since 1979, earning a reputation for brutal repression of journalists, dissidents, and political activists. In recent years the crackdown has also spread to artistic domains including theater and popular music. Reports that they instead appear to be drumming up charges of money laundering against him are likely even worse news for Ebalé, who could be sentenced to many years in prison.


—Misc.
Best American Comics series editor Bill Kartalopoulos has published the list of “notable comics” that came out during the period covered by the latest volume. This is always a reliable, thorough guide to noteworthy work.

 

Even the Losers

The country/world is going to shit, and I’m pretty sad about Tom Petty’s passing. I saw him play in July and it was a great, rave-up style concert. Just phenomenal. 

And today on the site, we have Annie Mok interviewing Iasmin Omar Ata’s on her debut graphic novel Mis(h)adra.

MOK: So the story follows Isaac, this young man who’s in college, and you said the story is semi-autobiographical? How would you categorize it as, what’s its relation to your life story?

ATA: It’s very similar. Pretty much everything that’s happened in the book, with some exceptions and rearranging has happened to me. This is all sort of a re-versioning and in my own way a processing of these events that have happened to me. Some details are changed, and some characters represent people but aren’t real people in my life, represent concepts and things I’ve interacted with. It’s just in the avatar as Isaac.

MOK: What was it like to go with Isaac and to kind of repurpose your life into this other purpose.

ATA: I’m not actually very good at talking about myself directly, so it was really hard for me to try and figure out a way to process all this stuff through art. I felt that to have it go through a character who isn’t quite me, is very similar, in that way I was able to distance myself. Get a perspective on events that I was writing, not be 100% in my own head to have a character that was representative of me. Look at things in a new light. That was helpful to recontextualize things I was going through, but also help me get comfortable writing about things that happened to me. Because it wasn’t just my face looking right at the reader, it gave me a safer or more comfortable place.

Elsewhere:

Roz Chast on NPR yesterday.

 

Beam Forming

Today on the site, Greg Hunter reviews the latest from Jeff Lemire, Roughneck.

In Roughneck, the latest graphic novel from Jeff Lemire, violence begets violence, the sins of the father are visited upon the son, and various other truisms apply. Lemire has returned to rural Ontario, but he’s visiting harsher places than those found in Essex County, his series of understated, beautifully rendered portraits of working-class life. Few of Lemire’s stories in the years since Essex have had the same poignancy, and while the environs of Roughneck are dingier, the book doesn’t cut as deep. Lemire’s lead, Derek Ouelette, is an ex-hockey player and a small-down nuisance. He spends his days drinking and fighting until the reappearance of his sister, an Oxycontin addict with an abusive partner, forces him to face his demons. The book is well intentioned but obvious; it has the ambition of a great work but a fixation on familiar tropes.

Roughneck seeks to examine the effects of violence—how it travels down generations, how violence directed outward also impacts oneself. Derek’s father pushed a toxic notion of manhood on Derek the youth, encouraging an aggressive streak that eventually caused the end of Derek’s NHL career. Derek spends his life after hockey being provoked and lashing out, again and again. It’s worthwhile subject matter, and the book would be a welcome addition to the literature of masculinities—especially given Lemire’s parallel career as a writer of superhero books, a comics tradition that tends to depict violence without so much ambivalence. But from beginning to end, Roughneck is too formulaic to shake up anyone’s preconceptions.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Buried in the Paris Review’s weekly staff picks, Nicole Rudick reviews Patrick Kyle’s Everywhere Disappeared.

In some stories, Kyle marries geometric precision with surrealist accumulation (and occasional painterly marks), meaning that those panels are disordered with orderly elements. That appealing chaos creates a unique architecture within and between pages and gives an elasticity to the way the narratives progress. Often, those narratives involve circularity or refraction: one story proposes the idea of art as “a communicative invention used to encourage the layman to feel” and then offers a white painting that allows one “to look into nothing and forget.”

At Comics Workbook, Bill Boichel reviews John Hankiewicz’s Education.

A tour de force of comics formalism, John Hankiewicz’s graphic novel, Education is a bolt from the blue. Hankiewicz’s comics work is perilously difficult to describe, but we’re going to take a moment to get our thoughts in order here at Copacetic… and make an attempt to back up our encouragement to any and all takers to tackle the challenge proferred by Education, through highlighting its artistic virtues, as it is a work that will offer rewards more than commensurate with the efforts made to come to terms with it.

At LARB, Nathan Scott McNamara writes about Brigitte Findakly & Lewis Trondheim’s Poppies of Iraq.

The rich effect of Poppies of Iraq, written and co-illustrated by Findakly and her husband Lewis Trondheim, comes from the manner in which the sweet and domestic rests alongside horror. The book is packed with reminiscences that are part wholesome — playing on ancient monuments and going on class field trips — but that are scorched by political violence. ISIS soldiers destroyed those ancient monuments with dynamite and bulldozers. On some of those field trips, students were persuaded to publicly cry for dead generals, or to salute new ones. In 1964, Findakly’s nine-year-old brother and his classmates were taken by bus to see the hanging dead bodies of Baathist militiamen.

—Interviews & Profiles. Xavier Guilbert talks to Ed Piskor.

I’m really fascinated by just the stories of actual human beings, who do amazing and interesting things. That excites me. It’s kinda hard to stay in the drawing chair all day, grinding away, making these pages, so I’m a constant junkie for inspiration : I need it, every day, I need to see that there are people out there doing really, really cool things. These works that I made with Harvey Pekar, I would consider those to be some kind of informal art school, or comic-book-making school that I went through. In fact, Macedonia, I would call that like a “army book camp”, because after — I did some American Splendor stuff, and Harvey asked me if I wanted to do a bigger work. I said “absolutely,” then he kinda explained that it was Macedonia, and I thought it was going to be about like Alexander the Great conquering the world, or whatever. And he’s like : “no, it’s about the geopolitical destabilization of the Balkan region, and its relationship with the ethnic minorities, etc.” So I was just like : “Okay, I’ll draw that. Sure.” I learned a lot from the way that he paces his stories, the way that he structures the stories, and I do not see him as infallible, and I saw flaws in the structure, so I wanted to — very often, you could learn what not to do from somebody as well, you know.

Shea Fitzpatrick talks to Kim Jooha of 2dcloud (and sometimes TCJ).

After I joined 2dcloud, and after I started thinking about asking artists [to publish with us], I realized that a lot of artists I want to contact don’t have enough material for hundreds of pages of books or graphic novels. And lots of great publishers, like Koyoma or Fanta or us, are focusing on publishing books, not zines. Also, some of [the artists] I like, but I think their next works would be better. They’re in their growth. I was trying to contact this artist, [and I thought], maybe I should contact this artist when their really great work comes up next year or month, because this artist has been getting better. But at the same time, I worried, what if this person leaves comics? That’s happened so many times before, and so many artists I discovered recently left comics a year or so ago, and I didn’t want that to happen. That’s the reason why I wrote that Instagram post.

The most recent guest on Virtual Memories is Shannon Wheeler.

 

Let the Poison Out

Tim has told me at least once, but it feels like more than once, though it’s probably just once: Let the poison out. And I infer his meaning to be: just say the bad thing you need to say so that it doesn’t poison you. Now, of course, Tim is a nice man and isn’t encouraging bad behavior. I, as many of you know, am not as nice a man as Tim. And so: I lay on my couch on Tuesday, home from work with a nasty cold, and read Last Girl Standing, the new memoir by Trina Robbins, the longtime artist and advocate for female cartoonists.  I’d looked forward to this for a while, because, while I’ve found her to be a sloppy historian (at best) and a mediocre cartoonist (ditto), she is a “figure” in comics: A survivor who carved out a place for herself in a medium and a business that was and (a few pockets of the biz aside) remains inhospitable to anyone who is not white and male. Surviving is not nothing.

But this book is, I’m actually sad to report, barely a book at all. More like a loosely ordered collection of memories that haven’t been interrogated and display a startling lack of self-awareness, There is information here, but it’s buried and mostly lacking dates. Some figures appear without explanation (Fascinating cartoonists like Sharon Rudahl, Lee Mars, Willy Mendes, et al, come in and out, but we never know anything about their backgrounds or existence outside of passing in front of the author’s eyes) while others are given far too much time (pages are dedicated to Robbins’ affair with Jim Morrison, which reads not like her “friend” Eve Babitz consciously fucking her way to fun and writing beautifully about it, but rather like someone who was lost and just getting fucked). There was so much room to go into the chronological details of Robbins’ publishing career, but instead just five pages are devoted to Wimmen’s Comix. Fewer still to It Ain’t Me Babe and other fairly legendary titles. That’s less space than is given to Jim Morrison, and fewer than to making clothes for celebs on the Sunset Strip. And none of this would be a big deal in a book by a different author, except that lots and lots of people made groovy clothes and fucked rock stars. That part of Robbins’ story is categorically generic and dull. But very, very few women had solo underground comics and edited anthologies in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 

There is much score-settling here, all of which makes Robbins look petty. There is a list (seriously), of all the men Robbins could have, but did not, “sleep with.” There is a desultory mention (and reprinting) of Robbins’ brief career in nude modeling for men’s magazines. There is a bizarre recounting of her 40 year-long non-friendship with cartoonist Diane Noomin, which culminates in a cringe-inducing confrontation; much saber rattling at Aline Kominsky-Crumb; a raw and vicious chapter on her relationship with Kim Deitch; and an accounting of every time Roger Brand slighted her. Roger Brand! And there is a steady drum beat for every time Robbins was not included in various anthologies. Good lord. What’s lacking entirely is any serious reflection on Robbins’ life in the medium, or those of her colleagues. It’s just list after list; lament after lament. 

I mentioned all of this to a friend and realized that Robbins’ book is essentially like a TCJ message board thread, or a Dave Sim editorial. So, read that way — as the ramblings of someone you’re stuck in an elevator with — it’s grotesque fun! As a memoir by someone who lived through and participated in underground comics, it’s a startling disappointment. This book is just inconceivably sloppy. It reads like an unfinished book proposal that someone accidentally printed. Ironically, but perhaps not coincidentally, this is not dissimilar to what happened with the recent S. Clay Wilson book. There is art throughout the book, placed in proximity to the text it refers to, but no dates or captions, so we are left to puzzle out when/where/why any given thing was made/published/printed. The front cover photo is pixelated and then printed in reverse in the interior of the book. There is no bibliography or even a modest list of the books Robbins has published. There is no timeline. What a missed opportunity this is. As the baby boom generation gets older, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to chronicle their history. And in this case, all it would have taken is a dogged editor to take some time and ask details, dates, etc. And short of getting all of that, said editor should have saved Robbins the humiliation of this book and simply not published it. But so it goes in comics. Still. 

For a sunnier view of the book, here’s Paul Buhle’s review.

That’s what I have for the day. Have a great weekend!

 

Who Knows?

Today on the site, Annie Mok interviews Sofia Foster-Dimino.

ANNIE MOK: The title Sex Fantasy seems a little bit like a feint, because the book is kind of about sex and kind of not about sex.

SOPHIA FOSTER-DIMINO: Yeah, for real [laughs].

MOK: How did you come to this title?

FOSTER-DIMINO: When I picked the title, I didn’t even know I was gonna make it a series. But I wanted something that was striking and intriguing, and maybe a little misleading. People who have read my work closely and have followed along with the whole series are like, of course it is about sex fantasies for sure, even the non-explicit ones. And there are undercurrents of that, like issue 5 is about two women going on a date for maybe the second or third time, so there’s tension and then issue 8 is sort of this intense sexualized dominant-submissive dynamic between two people in a grocery store. And then in the last issue, I wanted to full-on address the concept of sex fantasies, so that’s probably the most direct take on the concept. For the other ones, that are more subtle, I wanted to explore ideas about self-expression and identity. How people change the way they conceive of themselves whether they’re alone or with people they trust, people they just met or people they know really well… So those pressures can change how we see ourselves, which ties into those sex fantasies. The idea of a sex fantasy is you’re imagining a person who you might not know very well and what they’re like and how they get along with you, but you’re also imagining a more perfect embodiment of yourself, a scenario where you can be the person that you truly want to be.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Hugh Hefner, the Playboy founder and failed cartoonist, died yesterday at 91. Through his magazine and various other ventures, he published many of the best comics artists of the last century, including Jack Cole, Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Jules Feiffer, Art Spiegelman, Gahan Wilson, B. Kliban, and many others, though few of them did their best work under his patronage. It’s an undeniably important but contested legacy. The New York Times obituary is here.

As a child, Mr. Hefner spent hours writing horror stories and drawing cartoons. At Steinmetz High School, he said, “I reinvented myself” as the suave, breezy “Hef,” newspaper cartoonist and party-loving leader of what he called “our gang.” At the University of Illinois, after serving in the Army, he edited the humor magazine and started a photo feature called “Co-ed of the Month.”

[…]

Meanwhile he was plotting his own magazine, which was to be, among other things, a vehicle for his slightly randy cartoons. The first issue of Playboy was financed with $600 of his own money and several thousand more in borrowed funds, including $1,000 from his mother. But his biggest asset was a nude calendar photograph of Marilyn Monroe. He had bought the rights for $500.

—Interviews & Profiles.At du9, Xavier Guilbert interviews Simon Hanselmann.

You know, I’m still learning, I still feel like a terrible cartoonist. A few months ago, I had a big artistic crisis, and just thought all the Megg, Mogg and Owl was shit and just like garbage. But you know now I am back to thinking like “it’s okay, it’s fun”. But I think that’s death for an artist when you say : “yeah, this is awesome, I’m the best, you know, this is perfect.” You always need to grow and change and try to be better.
I should point out, I don’t use tumblr anymore, really. Tumblr’s garbage now, it really is — tumblr’s dead. I use Instagram, that’s much better, everyone migrated to Instagram. I feel guilty that I don’t update my tumblr much anymore. But you know, it was a good tool, and Instagram now is a good tool for just, like you said, throwing out sketches and different shit. I like to try and post something everyday, if I can, just to keep people interested. A long time ago, American cartoonist Sammy Harkham told me just this : you’ve gotta take every interview, keep on getting shit out there, keep in the public eye, because otherwise people will just forget about you (laugh). So there’s that paranoia in me that just has to keep producing, I have to keep putting this out. And I make a living from this now, I used to scrap birdshit out of aircraft hangars and work at McDonald’s — I don’t want to do that anymore, I’m very selfish and I just wanna draw comics all day. I wanna do what I wanna do, and the rest of the world can just fuck off (laugh). So, you know. You just have to keep pushing it, you can’t be lazy. If you wanna be successful, you can’t be lazy. This applies to anything, just like being an electrician, or being in the Navy or whatever. If you wanna have success, you have to work hard, you can’t fuck around.

WBUR talks to comics scholar A. David Lewis about Muslims in superhero comics.

There have been many, going as far back as our research finds to 1944, a character who’s dear to me, Kismet, Man of Fate, first appeared in Bomber Comics, No. 1 in 1944. He has slight, small premonitions of the future, and he uses that to fight Nazis in wartime France.

This is your good Muslim, and you get the sense that absolutely no Muslims were involved in the writing or illustrating of this character, not surprising, this was 1940s New York.

The Deconstructing Comics podcast talks to Derf Backderf.

—Reviews & Commentary. In a review of three recent books on Korea, Charles Montgomery writes about Yeon-Sik Hong’s Uncomfortably Happily.

The artwork, which the back cover describes as ranging “from the gently pastoral to the surreal and harrowing,” has similarities to that of Lynda Barry in its simple depiction of people and Shigeru Mizuki in its mix of realistic and impressionist elements in the landscape and background. The translation, by Californian cartoonist Hellen Jo, is perfect for the cartoon format. Uncomfortably Happily is clever, charming, and worth a look if you are interested in a droll family story, graphic novels, or an introduction to a wide range of Korean modern culture in a primarily visual format.

—Not Exactly Comics. At 4Columns, Ed Halter writes about the pornographic art of former underground cartoonist and filmmaker Mike Kuchar.

Here, in a show simply titled Drawings by Mike!, are twenty-two neatly framed ink-and-felt-tip-pen cartoons of tousle-haired Caucasian bohunks engaged in a variety of joyously, nakedly homoerotic situations: skinny dipping, crotch grabbing, pec rubbing, tit sucking. Their bare asses are, without exception, spheric and shiny, like the juiciest apple you’d ever hope to bite. Their sparkling eyes appear glazed over, staring into daydreams even as the men lick and paw at one another’s brawny bodies. Their expressive dicks are thick and veiny: some half-tumescent flesh-tubes flop lazily downward; others stab at the air, yearning toward some object of desire, dribbling semen like a salivating predator.

And J. Hoberman writes about a show featuring Peter Saul’s new paintings about Trump.

Saul, now eighty-three, has been categorized as a political pop artist and a proto-punk neo-surrealist, although he has as much in common with the grotesque Mad magazine cartoonist Basil Wolverton as with any American painters. He’s done Nixon and Reagan (both as governor and president) as well as George W. With candy colors placed in the service of gross physical distortion and blandly offensive savagery—crucifixions are common, the electric chair is a frequent prop—his unnaturally festive work would scarcely seem out of place on the wall of a Venice Beach tattoo emporium. “Not to be shocking means to agree to be furniture,” he once said. Still, Saul’s portraits of Trump are relatively naturalistic—though the impossible settings in which the president is placed are not.

—Misc. New York readers of this site might want to go to Desert Island tonight for the release party of Mirror Mirror II, the anthology edited by two frequent TCJ contributors, Julia Gfrörer and Sean T. Collins. Several artists from the book, from Aidan Koch to Al Columbia, will be signing.

 

Some Guys

Today on the site, Alex Wong interviews Brigitte Findakly and Lewis Trondheim about their collaborative book, Poppies of Iraq.

 

In the book, you convey very well the overall experience of growing up as an Orthodox Christian in Iraq. How would you describe that experience now that you’ve had a chance to reflect on it?

Brigitte Findakly: I didn’t think about it. I just grew up thinking I was a normal little girl. Life in Mosul was very calm. Our neighbours were our best friends and they were Muslim. When there was a coup d’etat, the only perceptible consequence was that we wouldn’t have to go to school the next day. I never saw hangings, dead bodies or any sort of war scene. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to make this book, to show that Iraq in the 1960s was different from the place we’ve heard about on the news for so many years.

There’s a lot in the book about the history of Iraq juxtaposed against your own experiences living there.

I learned Mesopotamian history in school by heart. For the book, I really wanted to juxtapose my family’s personal history with the larger sweeping headlines from political and historical events. I was hesitant to delve too far into the past. I wanted to stay in my area, beginning in the 1950s. I would have loved to be able to talk about other older facets of history in Iraq. I think Americans would see a different side of the country if they knew that it was the birthplace of beer (Not Budweiser, of course, but just beer in general).

I especially loved the “In Iraq” interludes in the book where we get to learn about traditions and customs of the country.

Brigitte Findakly: Those pages gave us the chance to talk about the culture of Iraq and things that were true to most people who grew up there. It was important to me that this could be seen as a history of many of the millions of Iraqis who exist, and that I wasn’t just telling my story.

There are social customs in Iraq that are specific and different from many other cultures. Specifically, you mentioned in the book about marriages and relationships, that 95 percent of marriages in Iraq are arranged. Did that shape the way you approached relationships at all growing up?

My parents did not have an arranged marriage so I knew I wouldn’t end up in one, even before we left for France. I think my parents were much braver than I was when it came to this. I am and have always been puzzled that my family continues to believe in the practice of arranged marriages. I’ve become pretty fatalistic about this position, though of course everyone is certain their way of being is the right and only way.

Elsewhere:

Hey, the CXC festival starts tomorrow. That’s a thing I’d like to attend sometime. 

Sometimes I get excited about some new comics release. Such is the case with D&Q’s upcoming Anna & Froga collection. These comics are so sturdy and enjoyable.

Great book over here.

 

You Varmint

Today on the site, Greg Hunter returns with the latest episode of the greatest comics podcast available, Comic Book Decalogue. This time, his guest is Gina Wynbrandt, and Someone Please Have Sex with Me creator talks Phoebe Gloeckner, Truth Zone, Chewing Gum, and more.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Steven Heller interviews Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden about their long-awaited and highly anticipated book, How to Read Nancy.

You have an incredibly smart way of deconstructing the comic by breaking down the three panels into major themes like Gag, Last Panel, Dialog, each character (Nancy and Sluggo) and many, many more attributes and props, then you define each into Context, Text and Moral. How does this deconstruction work? Why does it work?
Some people like to take apart car engines. Some people like to take apart strands of DNA. We like to take apart the Saturday, Aug. 8, 1959 episode of Nancy.

Where did this insane quest begin? We originally met as students of Art Spiegelman at SVA in the early 1980s. Through our continued association with Art and RAW magazine we were exposed to a mind-altering frame-by-frame deconstruction / analysis of Frank Capra’s Meet John Doe by experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs—that literally lasted for weeks. This event provided the impetus for our original short essay in Brian Walker’s essential 1988 book The Best of Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy. Decades later, as our essay found its way into comics curriculums around the globe, we decided it was time to take a look at how much was left in that randomly chosen strip to deconstruct. And we wanted to learn more about the man behind the work.

For du9, Mola Lontes talks to the Swedish cartoonist Max Andersson.

I was a socially inept and shy teenager, compensating by drawing, living in my own world a lot. I went to high school in a small town on the Swedish mainland, where anything out of the ordinary was treated with suspicion or outright contempt. As soon as I could, at eighteen, I moved on my own to Stockholm and got a job in a hospital. When I worked in the hospital at 18, I was mainly in the cancer ward, where I had to deal a lot with death. Often patients died alone, with no relatives or friends present, and it was part of my job to keep them company. Afterwards I took care of the corpses, cleaning them and preparing them for autopsies or transportation. It was all very physical and practical, no big mystery at all. Mostly through my interest in punk and post-punk music I met people who were involved in bands and alternative culture in general. I soon learned to embrace my own “strangeness” instead of struggling unsuccessfully to fit into the norm, and ever since then I’ve been quite happy with myself.

The most recent guests on the Virtual Memories podcast are the political cartoonists Ann Telnaes and Matt Wuerker.