Jeet Heer is back with a nice, typically penetrating essay on the Toronto cartoonist Nick Maandag, focusing primarily on his recent Facility Integrity, which concerns a business so concerned with productivity that its management begins restricting employee bathroom time. Here’s a sample:
Facility Integrity is rich in treats. Maandag does a pitch perfect parody of the jargon found in the corporate world: the bullying bluster of the CEO addressing cronies, the slippery euphemism of memos, the gung-ho pep talk of a shareholder’s meeting (“In the fourth quarter we prioritized our pursuables, pursued our priorities, penetrated our eligibles, and rammed our desirables!”)
The ritualized social interactions within the corporate hierarchy are examined with anthropological coolness: the CEO Mr. Aswype is not just a nastily domineering but also a figure of pathos because he is cut off from any frank and honest communication with other human beings. His underlings are mostly apple-polishers but one of them (Bobby Dextrose) is also being groomed for leadership, so acts like the cock of the walk. A middle-manager peeps over a cubicle divider, embarrassed at explaining the new policy limiting the period employees will be allowed to defecate. The employees (nicely described as “associates” – a common bit of corporate blather) hate their job but their resistance takes the form of futile fantasy (buying lottery tickets) or inept attempts to work around the rules. In sum, we’re giving a harrowing picture of a hellish social structure almost without hope (it is notable that the one figure who does fight back is an outsider, an immigrant from an unknown land with no ties to his fellow workers).
—Reviews & Commentary. Hillary Chute reviews Julie Doucet’s great New York Diary for Artforum. Chris Mautner has a very strong, on-point review of the collected Witzend. He’s right that it’s extremely uneven, quality-wise, but there’s something fascinating about it on a historical level: some of the very greatest comic-book artists of its time, finally creating comics without any commercial restrictions and allowed to follow their ambitions wherever they lead, and they mostly came up with variations on classic genre adventure cliches… It’s not so far from there to some of the “creator-driven” works praised so highly these days.
Also, Dominic Umile writes about Dan Mazur & Alexander Danner’s new comics history. Mark Frauenfelder on Glenn Bray’s Blighted Eye. Seo Kim pays tribute to Graham Falk.
Paul Constant thinks that the Nerd World Order may have made the San Diego Comic-Con irrelevant. David Brothers is still enthusiastic.
—Misc. Alison Bechdel is one of many to appear in this video supporting Palestinian rights.
NPR remembers Jackie Ormes.
The Wall Street Journal looks at NYC restaurant choking posters created by cartoonists & illustrators like Alex Holden and Meghan Turbitt.
This listicle of Jim Davis trivia is pretty silly, but I don’t think I ever heard the Charles Schulz/Garfield story before.
—Interviews. Beck Cloonan discusses her early career with the AV Club. Off Life talks to Annie Koyama. Kevin O’Neill talks about the time his artwork was declared unfit by the Comics Code with CBR.
I’m not normally a fan of listening to podcasts of live events, but the Inkstuds special at Meltdown with Bryan Lee O’Malley, Jaime Hernandez, Tom Herpich, and Pendleton Ward is pretty charming, as unpolished and dude-heavy as it may be.
—Giving Opportunities. I’ve previously mentioned Root Hog or Die, the documentary in the works on John Porcellino, but I don’t think I’ve linked to its Kickstarter. Some nice incentives there.