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Rest Time

Today on the site:

Ryan Holmberg delves into occupation-era Japan and some things that got lost.

When I first started using the Prange, I was asked to watch a tutorial video about the collection. There were some clips from the Occupation period. One of them shows a Japanese boy and a Japanese man, if I remember correctly, reading an American comic book while sitting on the curb. The footage, I am told, came from the National Archives, also located in College Park. I have not bothered yet to hunt it down, though some day I will. The Prange has an amazing collection of press photographs, and I assumed that they must have similar images. But the curators could recall no such item, and within the subject categories under which the photographs are listed, there is no entry for comic books. Look at any twelve manga in the Prange collection and you are likely to find concrete evidence of the influence of American comics. But how great it would be to have an image of Japanese actually reading them!

Elsewhere:

Art Spiegelman’s WORDLESS! is coming to Chicago. I regret having to miss it in NYC. Don’t be like me.

A comics reprint fantasy football list over at The Comics Reporter.

The LA Review of Books on that new Alan Moore biography.

Tom Scioli on Larry Hama’s G.I. Joe.

The Chicago Tribune has a brief comics roundup.

I will be in LA this week and part of next, so Tim’s taking over. Go easy on him.

 

Smug Complacency

Rob Clough has read Renee French’s Hagelbarger and That Nightmare Goat, and wants to tell you about it.

It has the cadence of a children’s book as opposed to a comic. The left-hand side of the page has text, and the right-hand pages have wordless images. The story’s main protagonist is an amorphous blob creature named Hagelbarger, who spends his day building nests for creatures both above and below water. He gives a special stick teeming with benign luminescent swimming creatures to some underwater snakes in their nest. French quickly establishes Hagelbarger as a positive force who derives satisfaction from creating and helping others. The book’s looming monstrous presence is That Nightmare Goat. The odd use of “that” as a demonstrative adjective here conjures up more wholesome associations like That Darn Cat or That Girl, but the protruding, dangling tongue of the Goat is somewhere between obscene and simply disturbing. That Nightmare Goat’s dead glassy eyes belie its status as a wisecracking, profane character who nonetheless is a ruthless predator. Meanwhile, Hagelbarger and his friends Hap and Tiffo are cute but also faintly unsettling, as they don’t fit into any status of creature I’ve ever seen. They are simply oblong, bulbous creatures with bulging eyes and teeth that are drawn with a level of naturalistic detail that make them look strange and unpleasant in comparison to the smooth, white, and non-threatening way things are drawn early in the book.


Elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Quill & Quire explores the career of Seth. I didn’t know until reading Richard Evans’s obituary of art historian Frank Whitford that Whitford made a serious attempt at becoming a cartoonist. Alexandra Korcz interviews Matt Madden. The New York Times interviews Vishwajyoti Ghosh. Tim O’Shea interviews Brendan McCarthy. Forbidden Planet talks to comics critic Douglas Wolk about his first published Judge Dredd comic. Tim O’Neil interviews Abhay Khosla.

—News & Misc.
If I understand correctly, today is the first day to register for the SPX exhibitor lottery. Jackie Estrada has started a Kickstarter for a comics photo-history book.

—Reviews & Commentary. The only kind of writing about comics more confused, glib, and ignorantly self-satisfied than fan criticism is that written by newspaper art critics. John Porcellino shares his favorite comic of 2013. Samantha Meier looks at woman-centric comics anthologies. Larry Vossler reviews Zak Sally and Simon Hanselmann.

 

Remember What I Said Last Night?

Today on the site:

Well, Frank went to see Kevin Huizenga, and guess what they taaaaalked about?

I drove to Kevin Huizenga’s house because I was going stir crazy in my own house. The fact that Kevin lives 10 hours away didn’t seem like that big of a deal. Lots of snow and ice in between our two houses. I saw two tractor trailer trucks jackknifed by the side of the road. It was worth it though. Hanging out with Kevin always warms my heart.

I dug through Kevin’s library and found these gems. I haven’t seen many of the comics pictured below in over ten years. They just disappeared off the face of the Earth into collections like Kevin’s. These are the types of original editions that I never see anywhere for sale ever. Except on eBay, I guess. Please enjoy.

Please note: If you have a substantial mini comic collection and live within 10 hours of Frank he may show up on your doorstep.

Elsewhere:

Lilli Carré has been announced as the winner of this year’s Columbus Museum of Art and Thurber House residency program. It’s nice to see comics have some infrastructure for programs like this.

Looks like Jack Kirby’s Captain Victory is getting another launch, this time with a good roster of artists. Happy to see some of these guys working on Kirby ideas. Could be interesting. Or at the very least, very pretty. This kind of reminds me of when guys like Matt Wagner and Guy Davis went to work for DC and Dark Horse. In a good way.

A whole bunch of people on their “desert island” graphic novels.

And Paul Gravett is curating a very cool sounding exhibition at The British Library later this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots of Snow on the Ground

Nicole Rudick is back on the site, with a review of Julia Gfrörer’s Black Is the Color:

Water and time are the basic elements of the story in Black Is the Color, which involves a young sailor, named Warren, set adrift in the ocean in a small boat. Starving and alone (his likewise marooned compatriot dies quickly and is dispatched overboard), he is visited periodically by a mermaid, who provides him with companionable conversation and sex. Warren’s moments in the boat take up roughly a third of the book and are concentrated in two long sections, set, as the rest of the book is, in a six-panel grid. Many of these pages contain little or no dialogue and show Warren alone in the boat or being comforted by the mermaid, Eulalia; these particular pages draw out the passing of time, slowing it and pitting the finiteness of human life against the perpetuity of the ocean. (Gfrörer’s sense of pacing is superb—her panels advance patiently, so that the dread of her endings has the controlled pluck of a Twlight Zone episode.) Eulalia is Warren’s only reprieve from these interminable stretches: she helps carve out brief moments of humanity for him. In one such instance, she encourages him to relate the tale of his first tryst with another sailor. “What was it like?” she asks, and he tips his head back and closes his eyes thoughtfully, as though imagining himself in that moment. Over the next three panels, Gfrörer subtly alters Warren’s expressions as he moves through the memory, before concluding, with a painful, faraway look, “It was sweet.”


Elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Stephen Bissette reviews the new Miracleman reprint, and wonders why Marvel can’t always do right by their backlist creators. Rick Marshall looks back at 1934, the birth of the adventure comic. Chris Randle reviews Michael DeForge’s Ant Colony. Andrew White has two quick but solid reviews of horror comics by Julia Gfrörer & Sean T. Collins and Sam Alden. Greg Baldino reviews two feminist/LGBT anthologies, The Big Feminist But and Anything That Loves. The Tove Jansson biography (and a recently published memoir) were both reviewed at The Guardian and the Financial Times. Dana Jennings at the Times recommends various newspaper strip reprints. Sean Kleefeld writes about Jay Jackson’s Speed Jaxon.

—News & Misc. Variety reports that a new team has purchased Heavy Metal from Kevin Eastman. The Shuster heirs were denied a rehearing. Retrofit is having a 2014 subscription drive. Tim O’Neil’s blog is ten years old.

—Interviews & Profiles. Alex Dueben talks to Jim Woodring about Fran. The Rumpus talks to Tom Motley. Ana Merino profiled Paul Gravett, and Richard Graham interviewed him, and both their stories are here. Michael DeForge and Shary Boyle both appear on a recent Hazlitt podcast. Somehow I missed this video of a conversation between Zak Sally and the late Dylan Williams:

 

Not Very Observant

We’re back from the long weekend here.

Patrick Rosenkranz has written the obituary for the crucial underground figure Gary Arlington.

Gary Arlington started what might have been the world’s first comic book shop in San Francisco’s Mission District in 1968. The San Francisco Comic Book Company began inauspiciously in a small storefront on 23rd Street, where he offered duplicate copies of his EC Comics collection for sale. By a twist of fate, the store became ground central for the explosion of underground comix that began that same year with the publication of Zap Comix #1 by an unknown artist named Robert Crumb. Arlington soon began to sell Zapalong with his vintage comics and new Marvel and DC titles.

And it’s Tuesday so, as I write this, one Joe McCulloch of Pennsylvania is frantically writing the week in comics.

Elsewhere:

Well, Marjane Satrapi has directed a Ryan Reynolds movie about a guy who takes killing commands from his cats. That’s sort of awesome.

The Washington Post on Bill Finger. Tom Spurgeon interviews Ron Marz.

Chris Mautner interviews Kevin Scalzo.

Comics about the Civil Rights movement. 

A couple year-end lists…. Forbidden Planet and Jared Gardner.

 

His and Hers

Today on the site: A classic Gary Groth interview with one the great post-WWII illustrators, Ed Sorel. How I love Ed Sorel’s work. What a great talker. Reading this interview is a perfect demonstration of why understanding the aesthetic history and context of your chosen medium is so important.

GROTH:Let me ask you about a few cartoonists, and ask you what you think of them. Pat Oliphant?

SOREL: The best political/editorial cartoonist around, and I envy him because he has more imitators than I do.

GROTH:[Laughs.]Steadman?

SOREL: The most miraculous of all. What he does is the most amazing to me. I have his Da Vinci book, which I’m sure you’ve seen. Now, how he did that, I don’t know. Just absolutely gorgeous. I mean, if we were living in any other age except this one he would be internationally celebrated, I think. I can’t speak too highly of him. And he writes well, too.

GROTH:And as you know he speaks well. He’s funny. Do you know Gerald Scarfe’s work?

SOREL: Yeah. Scarfe interests me less than Steadman. I’ve seen stuff by him that I admire. It just doesn’t interest me that much.

GROTH:How about an old-timer like Herb Block?

SOREL: Well, I certainly admire his thinking, his ideas are simply grand. Many of his cartoons are like icons now. He had one drawing during the ’50s, when Eisenhower was avoiding any confrontation with Joe McCarthy, and he had Eisenhower wearing a scabbard and pulling a feather out, instead of a sword, and Eisenhower is stating, “Have a care, sir!” That is such a brilliant concept. But his drawing doesn’t interest me as much as Oliphant’s.

GROTH:Or Feiffer.

SOREL: Just brilliant, just brilliant. He’s doing it every week. I do the Nation thing once every three weeks, and I feel like I’m running dry all the time.

GROTH:What about old newspaper cartoonists, like Winsor McCay?

SOREL: Winsor McCay. It’s like liking movies that everybody else likes. Everybody loves Winsor McCay and recognizes his genius. It’s more fun liking Cliff Sterrett. There are some examples of his work in theSmithsonian Collection of Comic Strips. Those were the best art deco strips I’ve ever seen, and nobody writes monographs about Cliff Sterrett, although I might. Incidentally, I write monographs on cartoonists for American Heritage — I’ve done one on Claire Briggs and one on Auerbach-Levy. Of course, Billy DeBeck is just incredible. Just incredible.

GROTH:What about Walt Kelly?

SOREL: No. [Laughs.] Aesthetically, to me, he’s ugly. This has nothing to do with the thinking which is very witty, but I don’t understand how somebody that witty can do drawings that ugly. [Laughter.] Overworked. I guess we get back to the spontaneity of it. Billy De Beck, of course, had to trace, because there is almost no way to do a comic strip without tracing, but Billy De Beck’s stuff has marvelous spontaneity, as does Claire Briggs. But not Walt Kelly. Who else?

Elsewhere:

Jonny Negron, who I published, has been shamelessly ripped-off by a group of animators for a French band. It is not a tribute (as they say), but rather blatant theft perpetuated by a well-funded organization. Shameful and illegal behavior.

A short talk with Eddie Campbell.

Steve Heller looks at an early booklet for commercial design education. There are numerous such things for illustration and cartooning.

Finally, spend your weekend gazing at these Richard Powers covers.

 

Clutter

Today, Frank Santoro explores the work of his friend and comics mentor Bill Boichel:

BEM was Bill’s first comic-book shop. It was called “The Store” really. BEM was named after the Gilbert Hernandez story of the same name that ran in issue one of Love and Rockets. So, BEM, or “bug-eyed monster,” was the machine that ran the store. The store’s early logos said, “Coming to Grips with the Machinery.” It meant the machinery of art and commerce together–comic books. It was high concept for a comic book store in a rundown post-industrial Rust Belt neighborhood like Wilkinsburg, just outside the city limits of Pittsburgh, PA. Somehow it all worked. Like a machine.

[...]

Boichel also made a ton of fliers for the store–check those out here. And he made a ton of variations on his store’s logo–check those out here. So, it seemed really natural when he started making these wacky mini-comics. He’d make the comic at his desk and then print it up in the basement on the xerox machine and then give it away or sell it upstairs on the new comics rack. It was a way for Bill to be fully in the “machine” that was BEM. It was also a way for Bill to produce art like a machine. All of the comics Bill made at this time are credited to BEM which was, of course, the name of the store.

And Paul Buhle reviews the new collection of Gilbert Shelton’s Wonder Wart-Hog:

Shelton’s famed Texas-style characters, the Freak Brothers, were unique, and their Austin-ness was little grasped elsewhere in the country. But Shelton was also unique in his story-telling genius. Because the sense of opposition to the existing society was so unquestioned in the underground genre, satire often overwhelmed the storylines. The dopey ambience of the protagonists, frequently stoned-out, didn’t help either.


Elsewhere:

—Interviews. du9 talks to James Sturm and Rich Tommaso. Underwire talks to comiXology’s David Steinberg. Art Spiegelman talks about his new show. The CCS blog interviews TCJ columnist Rob Clough. Anne Ishii and Graham Kolbeins discuss their Massive gay manga project.

—Reviews & Commentary. Chris Mautner reviews Dennis Eichhorn’s Real Good Stuff. Sean Rogers has expanded his excellent top 5 of 2013 list to a top 20. Atomic Books is posting various “best of 2013″ lists from people like Liz Prince, J.T. Dockery, Box Brown, Kelly Froh, etc.

—Giving Opportunities. There’s one week left for the Sequential Artists Workshop fundraising campaign.

—History. 2014 is the centennial year for Tove Jansson, so expect a lot of coverage of the Moomin creator for a while. The Guardian reviews a new Jansson biography. Zak Sally continues to document the story of La Mano. Mindy Kaling was a cartoonist in college.

—The Funnies. Julia Wertz has a long autobio comics/prose piece on Narrative.ly. And I can’t believe I forgot about Peter Maresca’s “Origins of the Sunday Comics” feature at GoComics. (via)

 

Hurry!

Today on the site Chris Mautner interviews Paul Pope.

MAUTNER: Listening to you talk I get the feeling that you’ve had a very valuable relationships with your editors. 

POPE: Yeah, by far.

MAUTNER: Is that something you look for now? Can you talk a little bit about what you’ve gained? There are plenty of cartoonists that just want to be left alone to do their own thing.

I did that also. The first seven years of my career was working as a self-publisher. The only input I got was letters from readers. There was no editor on THB. There was no editor on the Ballad of Doctor Richardson or any of that stuff. The first time I had an editor was when I worked on the One-Trick Rip-Offwith Bob Schreck and then subsequently Batman Year 100. I was getting a lot of complaints from people before that, where they’d say, “Oh the drawings are good, but the stories are kind of light” or “They don’t go anywhere.” That was frustrating because I wasn’t trained as a novelist or a storywriter. I was trained first as an artist working in different disciplines whether it’s art history or studio art. And then as a printer, where I was doing everything from working in a commercial printing house doing web-set printing, printing magazines and menus and things like that. So working with editors was the first time I had to get muscular, in terms of writing.

MAUTNER: But you feel like those relationships have helped you as a writer and storyteller?

POPE: Yeah. I think I would take it a step beyond that and say it’s more primal to have [that] rapport. Your editor is like your Virgil. You need to be able to have a guide or at least a companion when you walk through Hell. With Mark Seigel at First Second, we’re taking it to a different level, where we just got off a multi-city [tour]. We’ve been on the road together, we go to bed at the same time, we get up at the same time, we’ve eaten every meal together, we’re on trains and planes and automobiles together – we’re pretty much together constantly on this junket. Now that Book One’s done we took a train back from DC a couple days ago and we spent the entire time thumbnailing out [what] I need to get done when I get back from Toronto. In a sense, it’s sort of like a creative marriage. He’s a coach, he’s a cheerleader, he’s a taskmaster, he’s a friend and a sounding board. I think ideally that’s the most harmonious relationship between the editor and the artist.

Elsewhere:

Michael Dooley on banned comics.

There’s a comics round-up over at the AV Club.

Eleanor Davis has a pie blog.

The Beatles in comics.

And Batman in the funny papers.