Puppet Knots

Today on the site I’m pleased that R. Fiore has returned to these hallowed pixels with a new column on a topic I can relate to: Snobbery!

I can’t really think of a better way to categorize my kind of comics reader than “comics snob.” By comics snob I mean the comics reader who, when introduced as a comics reader, instantly feels the urge to disavow any interest superhero comics. To the lay public this distinction will mean next to nothing. To the comics snob the superhero comic is the elephant in the room, who is your roommate, who happens to pay about 90% of the rent, and when you tell someone where you live they say, “Oh yeah, the Elephant House.” Any self-deprecating use of the term “snob” will open you up to charges of humblebragging, but the term comics snob carries with it a tacit admission that there’s something absurd about being a snob about comics. It’s the absurdity of saying, “I don’t read any of that superhero crap, what I like is Donald Duck.”

The problem for the comics snob referred to herein is the superhero comic that’s too good to ignore. The reference is facetious; good comics aren’t a problem for anyone. The problem is this: Ignoring mainstream comics is easy. Steadfast resistance is the line of least resistance. Once the comics snob concludes there are mainstream comics worth paying attention to, he faces the fact that they publish an awful lot of mainstream comics, and to truly have a sense of what’s happening in that part of the forest you’d have to look at a lot of trees. Lacking that kind of stamina all I can say about the state of mainstream comics based on the examples reviewed here is that an elephant sticks in the ground and is round like a pillar.

In fact, I’m uniquely unqualified to write about mainstream comics in any authoritative way. I stopped paying more than piecemeal attention at precisely the point where the X-Men had become the creative center of mainstream comics, a circumstance which in large part inspired me to get off the bus. In terms of modern mainstream comics history, this is like losing interest in the Bible when God decides that Adam needs a girlfriend.


Jessica Abel on the editing process.

Alex Dueben on artist Paul Johnson.

And finally, I’ve never seen this amazing video of Jack Kirby discussing his time in WWII.



The Magic


Today Joe is back, but he got waylaid with Comic Zenon and the comic book listing will come later today. Be patient.


Please go support Frank Santoro’s efforts to expand his comic-making school. He has great stuff for sale and he’s the heart of all that is good in comics.

An early fanzine publisher has passed away — that generation was so important to the preservation of our history.

Underground cartoonist and painter The Pizz has passed away.

And big changes at the Marvel movie empire.


Broken Curls

Well, Tim’s still away and I’ve kept my gripes to myself, so no trouble yet. I’m very pleased that Paul Tumey has rejoined us, and this time with a video piece about Clare Victor “Dwig” Dwiggins, a mostly forgotten cartoonist with a wonderfully spindly line.

For about the first third of his busy and active career, Clare Victor “Dwig” Dwiggins (1877-1958) employed an effervescent, dense and decorative visual style. He also drew numerous depictions of appealing and slightly screwy Gibson Girls, which tied in to his Bohemian take on life.

But, around 1913, something happened – and DWIG shifted. The sexy women and screwball exuberance of his work changed to a simpler, less dense, more abstract style. He became obsessed with dwelling in the idyllic past of his small town childhood growing up in the mid-west in the late 1800’s — putting the names of his boyhood chums into his work, and disappearing into his studio for hours every day to live in simpler times.

Today, these indulgent and loving depictions of boyhood by Dwig can seem cloying and overly sentimental, but Dwig was sincere and authentic in this work. Perhaps one reason his later work fails to connect with many readers today is simply that we did not have the sorts of adventures he did — digging up dead cats at moonlight to remove one’s face with punk water, or tramping around the country with a pack of friends. If he were working today, perhaps Dwig would be turning out a comic strip version of “Freaks and Geeks.”


Tom Spurgeon interviews Rob Goodin.

13 great R. Crumb drawings in honor of his 72nd birthday.

Not comics, but relevant: I love lists like this guide to Tarantino’s influences/references. There’s comics-relevant stuff in here, too.


Another Done

Today Glenn Head bids us farewell with the last day of his diary.


Ron Rege announced the availability of the second part of his mini comic series Continuing the Weaver Festival Phenomenon. Highly recommended.

Nick Gazin has a big comic book review round up over at Vice.

Hey, it’s new Jon Chandler from Breakdown Press. Jon is also highly recommended.

And finally, today would have been Jack Kirby’s 98th birthday. Tom Spurgeon has his usual epic image post.


Ta Da

Well, Tim has gone on vacation for a week, so hold on the furniture around here — traditionally I somehow go off the rails right about now.

Today Caitlin McGurk and John Porcellino discuss I Never Liked You and Summer of Love with Mike Dawson.

And Glenn Head checks in for day four of his diary.


Very sad comics biz news: Bergen Street Comics, my local store and home to TCJ contributors Tucker Stone and Matt Seneca, has announced it is closing. I really enjoyed that store — everyone did a great job there. Excellent selection, neighborhood-oriented, and very friendly. Everything you could want in a comic book store in 2015, really. My best wishes to everyone there.

Hey, I haven’t seen this yet: Mould Map 4 coming soon!

And here now, and hopefully in stores everywhere is The Complete Hairy Who Publications. Go out and get it. I’m extremely proud of it.


The Tantrum

Today on the site Glenn Head joins us for another installment of his good life diary.


Congrats to Roz Chast on her continuing run of amazing-ness.

I always thought Founding Fathers Funnies was some of Peter Bagge’s best stuff. Now it’s being collected. Hurrah.

Here’s a handy list of literary magazines with CIA connections.

The late illustrator David McLimans is profiled by Steve Heller.




Joe McCulloch has his usual guide to your Week in Comics!, with spotlight picks including a children’s graphic novel from Craig Thompson and a superhero-ish manga called One-Punch Man.

And Glenn Head is back with day two of his week contributing our Cartoonist’s Diary feature. In this entry, he remembers learning from his father in 1968 what it means to be rich.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Guernica talks to Gilbert Hernandez:

[Luba has] mellowed with age. I’ve seen that most people change as they get older. At a certain age, people start to explore different areas of their personalities. So I did that with Luba; I decided to make her as complex as I could. A lot of her rage had come from defensiveness. She’s the same person now, but she doesn’t have the outbursts that she used to. Although those [scenes] were probably really enjoyable for the reader, I had to move on. That’s difficult, because she’s probably the best-written character I’ve created.

The Lady Collective website interviews publisher Annie Koyama about life in her twenties:

My first job when I was of legal working age was in a women’s clothing store in a suburban mall. I certainly didn’t fit in as the store sold spongy, synthetic clothing to middle-aged women. Customers would pee in the dressing room wastebaskets and I’d have to take the wastebaskets downstairs down a long, dark corridor to get to the washrooms. I was making some of my own clothing at that time so needless to say, I never used my employee discount.

Adrian Tomine on his new New Yorker cover:

I think it’s kind of beautiful and hilarious to see people eating their organic kale and quinoa salads while gazing across the opaque, fetid water.

—News. You may have seen some online reaction to this story about a few incoming Duke freshmen declining to read Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. I think those students are making the wrong choice, myself, and hope they change their minds, but it is worth noting, I think, that this isn’t a book that’s part of their curriculum — it’s intended to be optional — so I’m not sure this is actually worth much consternation. Students finding an excuse to avoid optional summer reading is a pretty dog-bites-man story.

—Not Comics. Kate Beaton picks her ten favorite “warrior princesses” from history.

—Misc. Frank Santoro wants to buy the house next door and turn it into a comics school. Read his explanation here.


What’s the Right Fight

Today on the site:

Cartoonist Glenn Head joins us for a diary this week. His new book, Chicago, is out now.

A significant Jack Kirby exhibition is opening today. Co-curator Charles Hatfield spoke to Tom Spurgeon about it yesterday and here’s a preview.

I liked this birthday wish to Ernie Bushmiller.

And finally, Wired has everything you need to know about hijacking of the Hugo Awards for science fiction.