Comic book veteran and the last surviving artist to have been published in Action Comics #1, Sheldon Moldoff, has passed away. We’ll have his TCJ interview and an obituary online later this week.
Tom Spurgeon (him again!) has a great interview with Charles Hatfield about his book Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby. TCJ is working on a roundtable discussion of Hatfield’s excellent work.
And finally, a handful of mid-1980s video interviews with comic book artists have popped up on YouTube, courtesy of an organization called Big City D2D. Particularly noteworthy is the Marie Severin piece in which she talks about creating characters and is extremely funny, to boot.
Say a fond farewell to Emily Flake, whose final diary entry is up today. Thanks, Emily.
And now to links, almost all of which turn out to revolve around political questions, coincidentally enough.
First, Brandon Graham gives good interview. In this one, he speaks (as a sometime comics porn creator himself) about what comic books get wrong about sex.
Speaking of what comic books get wrong about sex, Tom Spurgeon pulled out a recent Newsarama interview with Catwoman writer Judd Winick in which the former Real World star pulled a Nigel Tufnel and acted as if the reason people were up in arms about his run on the title is because it was too “sexy.” Well, maybe he was acting—Tom expresses justifiable amazement at Winick’s ability to remove the nuance of this discussion. Based solely upon the utter insipidity of all the Winick work I’ve read, I’d say it’s an open question whether he’s cynically and intentionally pretending not to understand the underlying issues, or that he’s just actually not smart enough to get it. Of course, I guess it could be a combination of the two.
This is old (in internet time) but still relevant.
Matt Seneca has an essay on Crepax’s Valentina, possibly his favorite comic of all time. (Incidentally, for at least the first hour of that Inkstuds roundtable I linked to the other day, the main subject Matt, Joe McCulloch, and Tucker Stone discuss is European erotic comics and the portrayal of rape therein. That kind of work is not my bag, but it’s an interesting if uncomfortable talk nonetheless.)
James Romberger writes about the male perspective, too, in a roundup of brief reviews of comics by Alex Toth, Adrian Tomine, Joost Swarte, and Jim Steranko, among others. He also slams Chester Brown’s Paying for It hard, ultimately finding the whole thing “fucking depressing.” I don’t dispute many of James’s points, but Brown’s book has only grown in my estimation over the past year— it truly supports multiple valid perspectives on what it’s up to in a way that only the best art does. Try finding a non-risible interpretation of the Catwoman comic mentioned earlier.
And then of course there’s the way comics portray race. The Forbidden Planet blog alerts us to an impassioned take on the recent Tintin in the Congo written by the novelist China Miéville, arguing on the side of Bienvenue Mbutu Mondondo instead of Hergé’s publishers. It’s worth reading, if for no other reason then that intelligent arguments from Mondondo’s point of view have gotten precious little attention. (Incidentally, in the course of his essay, Miéville links to a lengthy series of blog posts denouncing Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s use of the “golliwog” character in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.)
And there’s lots of video for you to watch on a lazy Friday afternoon:
This may or may not be news: The 1987 documentary The Masters of Comic Book Art is now on YouTube in its entirety. I suggest skipping to the 20 minute mark to listen to Steve Ditko explain Mr. A. I forgot about this section, and I really enjoyed listening to his voice. Moebius is at the 38 minute mark. This is just a pretty fine glimpse at these artists in the flesh. It’s also so very funny to think how different the canon was.
Mike Dawson’s got a new episode of TCJ Talkies up, this time interviewing the cartoonist Box Brown about starting up his own publishing venture, Retrofit.
And Emily Flake is in day three of her Cartoonist’s Diary week. Now it’s exercise time.
Three of our regular contributors—Joe McCulloch, Matt Seneca, and Tucker Stone—have appeared on the Inkstuds radio show to talk about comics for three hours. I haven’t been able to listen to this yet, but with that lineup I’m sure it’s fantastic.
Speaking of podcasts, I don’t think we’ve mentioned yet that Comix Claptrap is back, and has a good interview with Tom Hart about starting up SAW in Gainesville.
Bill Kartalopoulos reviewed the latest Kramers Ergot anthology over at Print, and Brad Mackay reviewedSomeday Funnies over at the Globe and Mail.
Fan blogger Colin Smith has an interesting post about reading Seth’s It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken and realizing that at lot of the biases and prejudices he’d always attributed to Seth weren’t actually in evidence.
Okay, I guess this is settled then. Things like that make me depressed about comics’ position in the world. Then I remember that every other art form tends to get the same belittling treatment (Arthur beats Macbeth as our greatest literary king!), and the depression becomes more general.
Today on the site: Emily Flake’s week-long diary continues as cartoon-submission time rolls around at The New Yorker. And the irrepressible Joe McCulloch brings us his week in comics.
Elsewhere… Jan Berenstain, of The Berenstain Bears, passed away. The Forbidden Planet blog pays tribute to Brett Ewins. And two from Comics Alliance: Douglas Wolk on the great Gilbert Hernandez book, Birdlandand a round-up of last weekend’s announcements from Image Comics, which is becoming a go-to place for well-done and creative (and creator-owned) genre material. I don’t think many people would have predicted Black Kiss 2 back in 1994. Huh.
Eric Buckler interviewed Wilfred Santiago, of 21 and Pop Life. Here’s an excerpt:
I have worked in the industry non-stop since the 1990s, to varying degrees of failure. It went from “no way do I want to write” to “let’s give it a shot” to actually doing it. Unlike working with someone else’s script, there’s no linear method when I work on my own. That is to say I write while I ‘toon, and I ‘toon while I write. So the most important step is editing–what’s left on the page before going to the printer and into the sweaty hands of readers. I do believe writing has improved my cartooning. I don’t think it’s an accident that some of the best cartoonists are writers. I’m not putting myself in that group but I strive for it.
Brandon Soderberg reviews the first issue of the new Bulletproof Coffin mini-series.
Emily Flake reports for duty on her first day as our latest cartoonist diarist. Things start well, with a trip to the dentist.
And yesterday, in his latest column, Frank explained how he got home after his lengthy west coast tour.
Elsewhere, John Porcellino names some of his favorite comics of 2011. I always like it when people save these lists for late winter/early spring (see Rob Clough’s on this site from the other week).
The Guardian has a nice profile of Tomi Ungerer, and gallery of some of his art. I’m hoping this is a sign that, as with Maurice Sendak over the past year, we are suddenly due for a million interviews with him.
Future Shocks collects some of Moore’s earliest humor work from 2000 A.D. (the magazine, not the year). Most of the stories are short, just a couple of pages, but some combine to make up a longer, ludicrous arc. Though they date from the early eighties, they feel like they belong to an earlier era: the humor is a little like the early Mad — oddball and mocking — often mixed with the morbid twist-ending of old E.C. comics.
And elsewhere on internet… Tom Spurgeon offers a modest proposal that we writers-about-comics link creator’s names to their creations when writing about whatever the latest iteration of those properties. It’s a good idea, and one that can build the idea of those linkages to, one hopes, will highlight the debt we owe to those artists.
Last but not least, fave local comic shop and culture producer Desert Island is celebrating its 4th anniversary tonight with a blowout party from 7 to 9 pm. On the docket: Beer and 20% of everything. 540 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn NY 11211.
It is such a pleasure when a new R.C. Harvey column comes in. Today, we bring you his thoughts on the primary artists behind Barney Google: Billy DeBeck, Fred Lasswell, and John Rose. A short sample:
Barney’s eyes stayed the same size for as long as he appeared in the strip, but the rest of him didn’t. When the strip started, he was as tall as his wife, but he shortly started losing altitude, and by 1921, Barney was a gnomish wart, a scrunched-down jot of his former tittle, a pipsqueak mote of a homunculus—a perfect comic runt of a character who looked as outlandishly funny as his obsessions were fanatical.
And there are way too many things worth linking to recently for some reason. I’m not going to get to them all, but here goes.
On Tuesday I mentioned going to the Met to examine portraits of George Washington. I also went to visit the “Infinite Jest” exhibit of caricatures there, which I recommend to anyone in the New York area over the next week. David Bromwich has a well-considered review in the New York Review of Books, and my wife stole a blog post idea from me about it here.
In a recently posted letter to his employer, Al Hirschfeld, one of the few 20th century caricaturists in the show (and Bromwich is right when he says the selection gets pretty shaky post-1800), demonstrates how to ask for a raise.
Devlin Thompson finds a Chris Ware anecdote regarding Battlestar Galactica glasses that is too strange not to be true.
Michael Dooley posts some great Alan Takemoto images from the forgotten Japanese American underground Gidra.
Rob Clough takes mild issue with Sean T. Collins’s review on this website of Ryan Standfest’s Black Eye.
Matt Seneca likes it when Roy Crane draws women getting spanked and men getting punched.
Kate Beaton’s Tumblr post q&a of advice to aspiring cartoonists has been deservedly getting a lot of link attention elsewhere, but on the off chance you haven’t read it yet, you should.
Via Forbidden Planet, here are video interviews of Joe Sacco and Craig Thompson being interviewed at Angoulême.
For Hero Complex, Neal Adams pays tribute to Kirby, Lee, and Ditko.