I’m in LA again. This time for a schizophrenic week of first launching the Odd Future book, Golf Wang, and then opening the Destroy All Monsters exhibition, Return of the Repressed. The former is “just” a book, the latter a 150-piece show I’ve been working on with Mike Kelley for a while now. It’s gonna be a busy week. The only comics I think I’ll will be whatever Ben Jones has lying around his guest room, though DAM member Jim Shaw has made some fine ass comics in his time.
Anyhow, let’s see… on the site today:
Joe McCulloch gives us a nice week in comics complete with a look at the Kirby strip in Someday Funnies.
Good morning, everyone. Today we are very proud to publish Zippy the Pinhead creator Bill Griffith’s tribute to the late Bil Keane:
… I also remember Bil Keane’s talk to the assembled crowd. It was flavored by what his generation would call “pretty salty language.” For the creator of such a family-friendly strip, his comments were a surprise–and a pleasant one. I began to realize these “old-timers” were not at all like the characters in their G-rated comics; they were people like me. Well, sort of.
Also, Sean T. Collins turns in a review of Megan Kelso’s re-released Queen of the Black Black.
Speaking of Keane, Jeet Heer passes along this short profile of the man from a 2006 issue of the Tucson Citizen, which is sad but well worth reading.
At Robot 6, Kevin Melrose highlights another heartbreaking story, an insurance magazine profile describing the late-life plight of longtime comic-book writer Bill Mantlo, now in a nursing home, and never really fully recovered from the hit-and-run that injured him two decades ago.
Kate Beaton was featured on a CTV news story last week. There’s always something pleasantly surreal about seeing cartoonists on television.
A cartoon Miller posted on his site last year: "Krypto-Fascist"
And of course, the big comics-related news going around the internet this weekend was the reaction to Frank Miller’s pathetic commentary on the Occupy Wall Street movement. (A choice bit of Miller’s wordplay: “HAH! Some ‘movement’, except if the word ‘bowel’ is attached.”) In one of those rare moments where I strongly disagree with him, Tom Spurgeon wrote a brief post calling the whole thing “deeply silly” and basically seeming to imply that Miller’s words were better left undiscussed. (Though it’s possible I’m misreading him, and Spurgeon just finds the whole situation distasteful, a position it’s hard to argue against.) In any case, all of this sort of thing is fair game in my book. And while individual cases of embarrassing statements from major creators might disappoint me (not this time—while a lot of his early work still holds up well, I gave up on Miller years ago), overall, it’s good to know more about where they’re coming from. Kim Thompson wrote Spurgeon a letter taking strident issue with him about a different matter, Tom’s characterization of Miller’s politics. And if you haven’t yet had your fill of the matter, the writer David Brin has used this occasion to publish a long explanation of everything he thinks is wrong (historically and politically) with Miller’s 300.
It seems to me what PS represented something Eisner pursued throughout his career, the opportunity to create comics for an adult readership. Indeed, during most of its run it must have been nearly the only such opportunity in the comic book format outside of Little Annie Fanny, and as such is another tribute to Eisner’s savvy.
Today Ken Parille stops by with the latest installment of his column, this time gathering some thoughts inspired by the recent republication of Dan Clowes’s The Death-Ray.
A brief excerpt:
This comic displays Steve Ditko’s crucial influence on the young Clowes, who was fascinated by Ditko-drawn and plotted Spider-Man issues. This influence has been at work throughout Clowes’s career, though often buried in his current ‘aesthetic unconscious’ in ways not always instantly recognizable. Both artists share an obsession with heroic and un-heroic action, frailty and ugliness, revenge and violence. According to Clowes, he has even turned into a Ditko character!: “Now I resemble The Vulture from the early Steve Ditko Spider-Man comics” (from Ghost World: Special Edition).
As you no doubt have heard, it was announced yesterday that Bil Keane, the Family Circus creator, passed away Tuesday at the age of 89. Here’s the New York Times obituary. Lynda Barry posted a brief tribute to the cartoonist on her website—and had already been outspoken about her feelings for his work in interviews and comics during the last few years. Mike Lynch gathers Keane-related art from the National Cartoonists Society here. We plan to publish more on Keane in the near future.
Elsewhere, the 2011 top ten lists are starting to appear. Here’s one at Amazon, and another at Publishers Weekly. Both of them seem to be doing their best to spread the love around and make sure as many publishers and genres as possible are represented, a goal that some would argue can conflict with listing the actual best books. But who goes to those places for recommendations anyway? I hope Martí’s The Cabbie starts showing up on some of the lists that haven’t appeared yet, but that might be asking for too much…
And plans are underway to turn Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home into a stage musical. I really want to make a Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark joke, but some part of me would hate myself if I succumbed.
Finally, and this is only very tangentially related to comics, the novelist and occasional comic-book writer Jonathan Lethem has written a much-discussed critique of the New Yorker critic James Wood, arguing more or less that Wood is a poseur and a snob whose literary judgements can’t be trusted when discussing any fiction that can’t be placed within a narrow band of genre. In other words, and to put it extremely simply, Lethem thinks that one reason (and maybe the main reason) Wood doesn’t like his books is because his characters read comic books and take them seriously. I haven’t read Fortress of Solitude, and so can’t speak to the particular subject of his essay, but based on the many other Wood reviews I have read, Lethem seems broadly correct in his analysis.
UPDATE: Oh, and I forgot this link! Robert Crumb talks to Vice about a rejected cover for The New Yorker, and his strained relationship with the magazine since.
Whoah, running late this morning so this’ll be more or less a place holder. I’m cheating, I know. Sorry!
But! It’s a good day at TCJ. We are debuting a new column by Charles Hatfield called KinderComics, all about comics for children. We’re really happy to have Charles aboard and his ideas for upcoming topics are very exciting.
And the great Tom De Haven is back with a review of the first volume of the new Carl Barks Donald Duck reprint series.
Today we bring you the conclusion of Matthias Wivel’s outstanding, confusion-clearing report on the crisis at L’Association. (Here’s part one.) A few behind-the-web tech snags delayed us from posting this as early as we’d wanted, but I think you’ll find that it’s worth the wait.
Also, Joe McCulloch brings you his traditional weekly roundup of new comics, with a prefatory piece on religious propagandists Jack T. Chick and Fred Carter.
Also, thanks to James, we’re proud to “publish” this fine work by CCS student and archivist Cole Closser: A comic strip essay on Charles Forbell’s Naughty Pete (the whole run of which can be found in Pete Maresca’s Forgotten Fantasy).
And finally, I was saddened to learn of the death of comics historian Les Daniels, whose 1971 book, Comix: A History of the Comic Book in America, was one of those library staples that indoctrinated many of us. He was also something of an official historian for Marvel and DC. I really know nothing more about him than what’s on Wikipedia. I hope more details are pending, and I assume perhaps his editors at Abrams or Chronicle will chime in.
Thompson was also just interviewed over at the A.V. Club, and Abhay Khosla had a funny reaction to one of Thompson’s more dubious claims featured in it.
One of the most frequent topics of discussion regarding Habibi is the question of its use of Orientalist tropes, and whether or not the book furthers racial and cultural stereotypes. Comics has been in the stereotype business for a long time of course, as the never-ending arguments over Hergé’s early Tintin albums demonstrate. This week, a Belgian judge ruled that Tintin in the Congo (easily the most controversial of these books) is not racist. David Brothers had a funny reaction to some of the judge’s more dubious claims.
The book designer Peter Mendelsund has an excellent post up regarding cover design choices, using various attempts at Lolita as examples, and in passing covers a lot of ground that will likely be interesting to any cartoonist.
Finally, three quick links: 1) Chris Mautner interviews Kevin Huizenga, 2) Chris Butcher talks about non-superhero comics, and 3) Chris Duffy and comics-editing colleagues from the late, lamented Nickelodeon magazine have launched a comics iPad app aimed at kids and featuring several of their cartoonists they used to work with in print.