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TMI

Today on the site, Greg Hunter reviews Rebekka Dunlap’s Dream Tube.

A determined reader could attempt a game of spot-the-influence on every page of Dream Tube, not because the stories read as derivative but because Dunlap appears to have synthesized work from so many different places. A piece like “Brooklyn Witch Tweets” offers up some applied ligne claire work, character designs and reaction shots that recall manga, and the occasional use of a severe, page-flattening perspective popular within contemporary indie comics. There’s enough happening, and enough elements cohering, to certify Dunlap as a globally-attuned cartoonist, even if “Brooklyn Witch Tweets” finds its satirical targets close to the artist’s doorstep.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. First, the nominations for the Harvey Awards were announced, and bizarre doesn’t begin to cover it. The Harveys have suffered from obvious ballot-stuffing for years. If they don’t fix their nomination process soon, the award’s reputation may become tainted beyond possibility of repair—if that’s not already happened.

Rick Friday, the Farm News cartoonist controversially fired earlier this year for drawing a cartoon criticizing Monsanto and other agricultural companies, has gotten his job back.

Friday said at first, he did not want to go back to Farm News but decided to return to show his supporters truth cannot be censored.

“I am doing the right thing, because if I wouldn’t have went back, then those people that tried to censor me, they would basically have been successful in what they tried to do in the beginning,” Friday said. “I’m not going to change. I have no need to change.”

—Interviews & Profiles. Adam Popescu at Playboy profiles Dan Clowes. This is probably the first time he’s been compared to Dennis Rodman.

On the second floor of a green craftsman house in the East Bay city of Piedmont, Daniel Clowes’s work space is a study in organized chaos. Pencils, erasers, pens, T squares, tape, scissors, ink, virgin paper. The blinds are closed. A desk supporting an old Apple sits on one side of the room, a drafting table on the other. Clowes kicks up his feet. A flyswatter hangs an arm’s length away.

“There’s nothing worse than trying to draw and having bugs flying around,” he explains, his voice cracking an octave, a raspy cough erupting. “Sorry, I’m just getting over a cold. Jesus, I sound like a chain-smoker.”

Rachel Davies interviews Julia Gfrörer.

The way I make comics is influenced a lot by the effect of cheap photocopies, and I don’t really obstruct the artifacts of that process – if you compare, for example, this image from Dark Age that was scanned from the original drawing with the same image as it appears in the zine, you can see how blotchy all the fine lines have become. I think that’s beautiful. You can see how it struggled to exist. To me there’s a sense of urgency in handmade things. I make zines because I believe in the Cheap Art Manifesto – I believe part of my calling is to make artwork that is more than an object of commerce.

The latest guest on Virtual Memories is underground veteran Paul Mavrides.

My parents thought comics lowered your intelligence and ruined your chances in life. They were absolutely right, as it turned out.

Comics Alternative talks to Rich Tommaso.
—Reviews & Commentary. At LARB, Tahneer Oksman reviews the latest Julie Doucet, in the process recounting her career to date.

Each Doucet collection is full of surprises, reflecting the artist’s investment in materiality, language, and experimenting with media and form in unexpected ways. Lady Pep, which was published in 2004 by Drawn & Quarterly’s Petits Livres imprint, is built, as Doucet’s notes explain, upon a “movement for the promotion of slowness.” The book includes a fold-out mail order catalog for “pack-O-fun” scrap projects; prints of photographed handmade objects, such as a “Big nose” box; and sketches of anonymous individuals inked in Doucet’s expressively lissome hand.

At The Smart Set, Chris Mautner writes about the recent Captain America and DC Rebirth controversies.

DC/Warner Bros. has doubled down on this effrontery in recent years by releasing first the tone-deaf Zack Snyder film adaptation [of Watchmen] and then a series of staggeringly awful and utterly unnecessary prequels bearing the Before Watchmen sobriquet. And now there’s Rebirth. Having Watchmen integrated with the DC universe might be an attempt by the creators to make some sort of statement on the series’s influence — good and ill — on modern comics. Or it might be a cynical attempt by the publisher to squeeze every last ounce of interest and goodwill from that particular stone. Either way it’s a gross disregard for both the original work and the people that made it, a reminder that everything in this industry comes down to feeding the fleeting thrill and grasping for the short-term dollar.

In a widely shared Tumblr post, Ronald Wimberly argues that cartoonists should no longer draw test pages for DC, Marvel, etc., without getting paid fr their labor.

If you’re Marvel or DC or a company, like BOOM, that profits off large licenses, you should pay for samples from prospective contractors. The hours that an artist spends making a sample are bankable hours; it’s work. By not paying for that sample art, these corporations are offsetting the cost of their R&D on labor. Artists shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden of a corporation’s R&D.

—Misc. It’s time again for Gabrielle Bell’s annual July Diary.

This year I’ve set the parameter for myself of no penciling, no erasing, no revising, no redrawing, no editing. It still isn’t exactly a diary though. If it were really a diary, I’d be exposing all my ugly secrets, my inappropriate crushes, the people I hate and all kinds of incriminating and compromising information about everyone I know. I’d love to do that but it took me so long to get the friends I’ve got and I’d like to keep them. You could call this a journal but I don’t like that word either…it sounds too much like “journaling.” At this point it’s an experiment and I’ll figure out what it is in the future hindsight.

 

Loose Limbed

To celebrate our nation, Joe McCulloch has dipped into his vacation and scooped out a glorious week in comics.

Elsewhere:

I read Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 4 this weekend, and it’s the best one yet. Ed Piskor is a master cartoonist. No doubt about it. The amount of detail he packs into pages without every slowing down the narrative is pretty astounding. Plus, the whole thing has impeccable comic timing. I want to write some more on this, but had to just get that out there. If you haven’t tried this series, jump on it now. Love.

HHFT4

Note: Not actual cover, alas. But close.

And… Allow me for a moment to pay tribute to this Jon Severin page for Cracked, 1970. Severin was so good at humor because he was the ultimate straight man cartoonist. Everything looked pretty square about his work — which of course it had been. Like Elder, Severin killed it in the details. As a kid, and still, I love this stuff because it’s doesn’t telegraph wacky. Of course I love them both, but a bit of difference is nice. It’s like the difference between Jerry Lewis (below by Bob Oksner, 1968) and Dean Martin, I guess.

Cracked-1970-Severin

Ok, I have a two-part reason for showing the Lewis page below. Of course it happens to go with my two-second analogy above but, uh, look at those chalk board drawings! Jerry Lewis does a chalk talk in a comic book. Love it. I’ve been reminded multiple times, somewhat randomly, of Rudolf Steiner’s chalkboard drawings, and this, in its “educational” setting, somehow brings that back in too. Yippee!

oksner1968

Still more:

In the interest of staying sane and reasonably upbeat, I’m going to mostly use this space to muse about comics rather than find links. Tim is better at links than I am anyway. But here’s a link:

The great Matthew Thurber would like you to know that:

 The wonderful science-fiction social satire feature film, BUGS, made by Toronto conceptual art luminaries, Life of a Craphead, is having several screenings next week in New York! Please attend if you can!

More info:

BUGS websiteBUGS trailerParsons Screening July 6Spectacle screenings July 7.

BUGS-COLOR

 

Props

Today on the site, Rob Kirby interviews MariNaomi about her latest book, Turning Japanese.

What are some of the responses that have been particularly memorable to you?

Well, people who have had similar experiences reaching out to me, that’s been great—especially because I wasn’t sure anyone would. A number of people, from several different cultural backgrounds, talked with me about trying to learn a new language and how fatiguing that is; and there have been people of mixed race who have related to the stuff dealing with being alienated from your motherland.

Have you heard from many women who have worked at hostess bars?

A few… but I can’t really talk about that—there’s some delicate and even really awful stuff there. But I will say that having talked to other people that had jobs in this industry that I had a very benign, vanilla experience compared to others.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. James Kochalka answers ten questions.

When I was a teenager, a guy I knew in another state paid me to take his secret girlfriend to his High School Prom. His secret girlfriend was his official girlfriend’s best friend… and he couldn’t take them both. So.. my date was the secret girlfriend… but then his real girlfriend was like SO into me. Anyhow, I got paid $200 for that.

Newsarama talks to Tom Scioli about the end of GI Joe vs Transformers.

The approach to storytelling in the G.I. Joe comic was very different than what I was used to – it was a lot of vehicular combat seen from a distance, and now that’s part of my tool kit.

It was interesting to read a comic that had such a high turnover of characters, and how it dealt with that, how some characters wound up sticking around. It’s clear in any ensemble book there are characters who are favorites of the writer, even if they’re not always the favorites of the fans. I tried to keep a balance of who I wanted to see as a fan, and who as a creator I wanted to spend time with.

—Reviews & Commentary. Robert Boyd writes about recent comics from Matt Madden and Bob Fingerman.

When I first read Drawn Onward, I didn’t realize that it was a reversible story. It wasn’t until I got to the end of the comic did I realize that it had to be reread backwards. Unlike The Upside Downs, you don’t turn Drawn Onward upside down–you just read the panels in reverse order.

Ann Telnaes writes about the influence of social media on editorial cartooning.

I stood frozen in front of my computer, watching my Twitter feed roll like a slot machine reel. My editorial cartoon criticizing then-presidential candidate Ted Cruz for his decision to have his 7-year-old daughter read from the script of a political attack ad had just been published online by The Washington Post, and four days of continuous emails, tweets, and comments had begun.

—News. A widow of one of the Charlie Hebdo staffers killed last year has sued the magazine, alleging that the publication has reneged on promises to compensate victims’ families.

Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez’s Love & Rockets is returning to its original magazine-sized format.

“Over the past few years, Gilbert and Jaime had each casually mentioned more than once that it might be fun to try their hand at a regular comic book series again after a decade of creating the new annual every year,” said Fantagraphics Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds. “Gilbert joked at one point that he would simply love to be able to draw more covers — with he and Jaime trading covers, he was only creating one new L&R cover every two years! We agreed that something needed to be done about this, and we’re very excited to return L&R to its comic book roots.”

The family of deceased British comics writer Alan Mitchell is asking for financial help to cover his funeral costs.

Our father was born into a solidly working class family and would have been proud to state that fact. He died at the age of 55, sooner than any of us could have possibly expected.

As such, there were no preparations made for his death. We do not have the liquid assets to hand to pay for the entirety of the funeral costs, which are in excess of £10,000.

 

Lines and Color

Today Annie Mok reviews Compass South.

Compass South is a YA adventure graphic novel, a genre I’m happy to see revived in comics. While the story shows its influences to a distracting degree (Tintin, et al), it’s an entertaining, suspenseful tale, albeit with a bit of a slow start. Author-illustrator Hope Larson writes, coming off the heels of her well-received comics adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, and the star cartoonist and illustrator Rebecca Mock draws (credited with the possibly demeaning billing of “Illustrations by”). It follows Dickensian adolescent twins Alex (disguising himself as “Samuel”) and Cleopatra (becoming Patrick, a boy), who “fink” on a pirate, and then disguise themselves as a rich man’s lost twins to try to get some money. The gender play is handled subtly, with the story suggesting that Patrick is more comfortable presenting as a boy.

Elsewhere:

This looks like a good show in Basel, Switzerland, of Aline and Robert Crumb’s collaborative work.  I think it’s probably hard for people in retrospect to appreciate how radical a cartoonist Aline Kominsky was when she began. If you look at that work, and look at everything around it in comics, there’s just no precedent. Rory Hayes was “crude” but nevertheless working within established EC genres in one way or another. Aline was just off on her own, channeling other modes of modern drawing into cartoon form. And that’s just the form. The content was a whole other kind of break from convention. Amazing, amazing work.

Whatever it looks like (and I don’t much care), I’m disappointed that George Lucas’s proposed museum for narrative art didn’t find a home in Chicago. It would have been a great resource for the city’s cartooning community, given the substantial holdings of, well… no one really knows, but rumored major holdings of Herriman, Foster, Wyeth, Rockwell and lord knows what else. Lucas has been a major collector of comic art since the 1970s. I hope it lands somewhere! Here’s a summary of the various battles/cock-ups along the way.

 

Night School

As usual, Tuesday brings us Joe McCulloch’s always handy guide to the Week in Comics, pointing out the most interesting-sounding comics new to stores. This week, his spotlight picks include new works by Gary Northfield and Tom Scioli.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—People Asking for Help. The cartoonist and publisher Zack Soto and his wife Krista are raising funds to help with their son’s genetic retinal disease.

It’s been about a month since we learned about Caspian’s diagnosis. We’ve been holding it pretty close to the vest because we were still processing ourselves but also because we didn’t want to have to talk about it all the time. Caspian is an incredible, inquisitive, sweet, super smart, musical being. In talking about it all the time it becomes more about his diagnosis and less about him. It’s about him. It’s about how can we make his life as awesome as it can be. It’s about how can we help him reach his full potential and not let this disease be an obstacle.

Linda Medley of Castle Waiting has started a Patreon.

Several years ago I was diagnosed with severe cervical spondylosis as well as carpal tunnel syndrome, and took some time off from creating artwork to rest, and adapt to new modes of working. Although my convalescence took longer than anticipated, I’m currently hard at work on Castle Waiting Volume 3 and hope to have the first 150-page installment ready for publication next year…but I’ll need your financial help to be able to continue working on it.

Joyce Brabner is raising money to create a “comixcast” from this year’s Republican convention.

A “comixcast” is a live feed of political comics and YouTube videos, in this case live from the Republican National Convention here in Cleveland by people who detest everything Donald Trump stands for. Yup, activists with pens and brushes mightier than his decayed sound bites.

—Interviews. On the new episode of Inkstuds, guest host Sean Ford talks to Gabby Schulz.

 

Today’s News

Today on Greg Hunter’s Comic Book Decalogue our host talks to Dean Haspiel about “the dual impacts of Jack Kirby and Prince, as well as his new serial, The Red Hook.”

Elsewhere:

 

Hard to compete with Brexit. Here are some light amusements for your Monday… Love and Rockets is returning to comic book form in a new series to be released a few times a year.

Jessica Campbell remains very funny.

I ran across this Charles Rodrigues gag on Heritage and it just cracks me up. Simple, classic non-sequitour joke.  It doesn’t need this level of skillful inky drawing — the oddball darkness that was this cartoonist’s trade. I love the depth of space, the care put into the references, and the sack-like shapes of the janitors. Just great. Published in Cracked, apparently, mid-1970s. Fantagraphics has published a couple of Rodrigues collections. 
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Gags

Today on the site, we have Chris Mautner’s review of the limited-edition release of Tim Hensley’s Sir Alfred No. 3, a comics sort-of biography of Alfred Hitchcock, and the final product of the late Alvin Buenaventura’s Pigeon Press, now being distributed by Fantagraphics.

With its above-average size and slapstick gag format, Sir Alfred evokes both the movie magazines and the humor-based comic books of mid-20th century America, especially titles that drew on established celebrities, like The Adventures of Bob Hope. Even the title is a sly wink to periodicals past, a teasing suggestion of an ongoing Hitchcock series, though, of course, no first or second issue exists.

Hensley’s biggest aesthetic influence here, though, is John Stanley, with Hitchcock drawn to resemble a middle-aged Tubby. It works better than you would imagine — there always was a cartoonish aspect to Hitchcock’s public persona, right down to the anecdote (shared in the comic) that he wore identical basic black suits for most of his career.

Along the way, however, Hensley takes a moment or two to ape cartoonists such as Robert Ripley, Milt Gross, Don Martin, and Jaime Hernandez. Hensley has proven himself to be a formidable mimic, and perhaps most impressively, he uses this talent not to show off as much as to underscore the comic’s theme (or service the gag at hand).

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The hardest-working interviewer on the comics internet, Alex Dueben, talks to Simon Hanselmann for The Beat.

Dueben: You mentioned the last time we spoke that you had years of stories in mind and that you saw this as a long term project. Is that still your plan or has your approach changed?

Hanselmann: Oh yeah, that’s the plan. I’m Love and Rockets-ing this shit. I have piles and piles of outlines for future episodes. It takes so long to paint all these pages. I’m very far ahead in terms of mapping and planning. All other plans for comics that aren’t Megg and Mogg based have gone out the window. I just want to draw Megg and Mogg. I love them. Forever and always.

—Etelka Lehoczky writes about Lisa Hanwalt’s Hot Dog Taste Test for NPR.

Hot Dog Taste Test overflows with colorful oddities. Hanawalt, who’s the production designer and producer of the Netflix cartoon BoJack Horseman, draws yuppie songbirds, bananas worn as shoes, a neurotic toucan, “a pinch of stir-fried dirt,” the latest trends in menstrual huts, sexualized kiwi birds and an array of otters in lavender swimsuits and matching caps. She reflects endlessly on how to violate food taboos in the weirdest way possible, even musing on the greatest food taboo of all: The matter of when and how it comes out the other end. She designs a straw toilet (so people grossed out by public restrooms can sit on nests instead) and depicts herself peeing.

—Maria Russo writes about James Sturm’s wordless children’s book Birdsong for the New York Times.

We learn in an afterword that Sturm, the author of the Adventures in Cartooning< series as well as the “Ape and Armadillo” picture books, was inspired by the Japanese tradition of kamishibai, or “paper theater.” Building on a Buddhist practice of telling stories using picture scrolls, performers in the 1920s would bicycle from village to village with wooden boxes holding stacks of images from stories inspired by the silent films of the West. As they rotated through the images, the performers provided dialogue and sound effects to enthralled children — then sold them candy.

—Mike Lynch has resurrected a 1961 guide to gag cartooning, How to Create 1000 Gags a Year.

006

Huh.

 

Don’t Change a Thing

Today on the site, it’s Richard Gehr on Michael Maslin’s recent Peter Arno biography. Richard of course is the author of the fantastic book about New Yorker cartoonists, I Only Read it for the Cartoons. Here’s a bit of the review:

Beginning with his first New Yorker drawing in the magazine’s eighteenth issue (dated June 20, 1925), Peter Arno would manifest Ross’s ideal of a magazine that would celebrate the new postwar freedoms of the Jazz Age while gently mocking upper-class pretensions. In Arno, he found an artist who embodied both guises – artist and aristocrat – in one brilliant, handsome, and self-contradictory package.

In the first book-length biography of Peter Arno, New Yorker cartoonist – and invaluable New Yorker cartoonists blogger – Michael Maslin delivers a meticulously researched account of the enigmatic, and often angry, Arno. In fact, what appears at first glance to be a throwaway subtitle – “The Mad, Mad World of THE NEW YORKER’s Greatest Cartoonist” – hints at the gas that fueled the dapper drawer’s particular genius. As he told Joseph Mitchell in 1937, “You don’t do good work of this sort unless you’re mad at something.”

Elsewhere:

Dave Sim’s Cerebus is apparently returning in a new comic book series. Which reminds me that I was reminded at, appropriately enough, the Kramers Ergot signing last week of this splendiferous comments thread between Kim Thompson and Dave Sim here at TCJ in 2012. The last of the great threads? Perhaps so. Oh, and I did really enjoy the Kramers signing last week at Desert Island. Got to see people I hadn’t seen in a while. Was happy to see such a nice turnout, got new comics from Kevin H., Frank, and via Sammy, Jon Pham (Thanks all). Caught up with Sean Collins, who I hadn’t seen in at least a year. A nice time followed by a good dinner the next night with Sammy and Kevin, in fine form. Vague enough for you?

That’s all I have, folks. These days I’m really hung up (still!) on Alex Raymond and Wally Wood. I’m blocked! I just love thinking about all those lines filling up those forms. I think it’s like counting grains of sand. Meditative.