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Transit

Ok people, stick with us, Tim’s on vacation this week and I’m traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles to New York. So… we’ll keep it brief.

On the site:

Frank Santoro posts a Pittsburgh overview, including a scene report by guest writer Ed Piskor, a gag cartoon (weekly) by Michael DeForge, and a startling Storeyville original printing discovery. Frank is also looking for an intern in New Mexico, so, kind people, click over and dive into Frank’s world.

And

Craig Fischer joins us with his new monthly column Monsters Eat Critics. We’re thrilled to have him onboard, and here’s a taste of his first paragraph:

I hope that “Monsters Eat Critics” sounds like the title of a Z-grade science-fiction movie, because I plan to write about genre comics, including science-fiction comics, rather than the alt-, art- and mini-comics so ably covered by other TCJ critics. Let me make clear, though, that I’ll be saying little about contemporary superhero comics, because I’m bored by the ones I’ve read and have nothing to express about them beyond a shrug and an annoyance that hype like “The New 52″ gets so much attention, even negative attention, on comics blogs. Even though future columns will discuss creators who simultaneously labored in and transcended the superhero genre—we’ll trot Kirby out for obligatory analysis, if only to rile Pat Ford—I don’t care about superheroes or the superhero-driven business of American mainstream comics. I’m looking for art in other genres, and I’ll begin with one of the most artistically accomplished genre comics of the last ten years, Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto (2003-2009).

See ya soon!

 

TGIF

All right, let’s get ready for the weekend with a new review by Rob Clough of The Collected John G. Miller. I have to admit, I don’t think I’d ever heard of Miller before, but Rob’s piece really makes me want to check him out.

Elsewhere: In an editorial that reflects an obvious love and knowledge of comics history unusual for a newspaper columnist, Samira Ahmed at the Guardian argues that as Albert Uderzo retires, Asterix should be allowed to do so as well.

The excellent book designer Peter Mendelsund interviews Chip Kidd about his working space, for the “From the Desk of…” series.

Gahan Wilson deserves a statue. I haven’t yet read this interview with him, but I plan to do so as soon as I get a chance today.

Kate Beaton fans have a lot to read and listen to today.

Tom Spurgeon has a solid-as-usual review of the recent Alex Toth anthology Setting the Standard. My mother isn’t really a big comics reader. I mean, she reads the funny pages in the paper, but that’s basically it. I don’t know what it means, but the last time she came to visit, she picked up this Toth book from the coffee table and tore through it in a couple days. (She was also a big fan of Benjamin Marra’s Incredibly Fantastic Adventures of Maureen Dowd.) Go figure.

Flavorwire has a good interview with Daniel Clowes regarding The Death-Ray.

 

Meet Us Out There

Today on the site we have an interview by our own Frank Santoro with cartoonist Jesse Moynihan, whose handsome new book, Forming, has just been released from Nobrow (via Adhouse here in the U.S.). Frank writes:

Jesse Moynihan is a force. Storyboard artist, writer, cartoonist, webcartoonist, blogger — he’s everywhere. Jesse will be at APE in San Francisco on October 1st and 2nd. Go say hi and buy something from him.

On the subject of APE, I’ll be there this weekend with PictureBox and Matthew Thurber, who I’ll be chatting with publicly Saturday at 1 pm. At 3 pm that same day (phew) I’ll be moderating a discussion with Daniel Clowes and Adrian Tomine. And tonight the New York Art Book Fair opens. So you’re in luck on both coasts.

And speaking of Clowes, here’s a good interview with him on the occasion of the new edition of Death-Ray.

The Wall Street Journal has a nice story up about Toon Books and the great illustrator Hilary Knight.

Nick Gazin has a new column up over at Vice, with yet more about Monsieur Clowes.

Bhob Stewart has a good anecdote about working with inker Syd Shores on one of his last jobs, featuring the underrated Wally Wood-style artist Wayne Howard. A fine trifecta.

It’s always a good moment when there’s a new True Swamp comic strip.

Colleen Doran’s character designs for Betty and Veronica. Very cool. Via.

 

Juiced

Today on the site, big content week continues with a long interview that Gavin Lees conducted with the sui generis Scottish art team Metaphrog.

Also, Sean T. Collins reviews Prison Pit: Book Three, the latest release from our last interview subject, Johnny Ryan.

Elsewhere, Rob Clough presents his thoughts on the latest issue of Love and Rockets.

And David Brothers and Graeme McMillan offer the first two substantial reviews of Frank Miller’s Holy Terror I’ve yet seen. They’re both tremendously negative takes, but probably because of the book’s subject matter, they avoid the yuk-yukking of most Miller-bashing. I expect a lot more of this kind of thing.

Also, interesting that this and Habibi are coming out on the same week, and so close after the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. It’s hard not to compare them as long-gestating responses to those events, even if they are only (in the case of Habibi) indirectly so.

 

To the Coast

Today on the site:

As usual, Jog brings us the week in comics as only he can see it.

And elsewhere around:

-The great Italian cartoonist Sergio Bonelli (Tex, Dylan Dog) has passed away. We’ll have further coverage soon.

-Tom Spurgeon reviewed Ludovic Debeurme’s Lucille and wrote an excellent obituary of Jack Adler.

-Harry Mendryk posts a note that The Simon and Kirby Library: Crime is on its way, and has some nice looking pix to as well.

-Eddie Campbell points us to an archive of the (unknown to me) 1980s small press duo Biff.

-Tim O’Shea interviews Michael Kupperman over at Robot 6 about his new book Mark Twain’s Autobiography 1910-2010.

-

 

 

The Days Are Packed

Good morning, & welcome to another week of comics talk.

First, Ken Parille performs another comic-book dissection, and this time his laboratory frog is the spearhead of DC’s bold new 52 initiative, Justice League #1. As Ken put it elsewhere: “Normally I write about comics I like and try to explain what’s interesting about them. This time I take a different approach.”

An energized Frank Santoro’s back to layouts, and comparing two of his favorites: Gilbert Hernandez and CF.

And Chris Ware has just released a comic story available to be read only on the iPad. I haven’t read it yet, but Sean T. Collins has, and he has a review for you right over here.

Elsewhere:

Michael Dooley allows Percy Crosby’s daughter a platform to discuss her father’s views on politics, peanut butter, and organized crime.

The Paris Review posts a report from the Friars Club release party of Drew Friedman’s latest collection of old Jewish comedian portraits.

Brendan Burford has good taste.

Jacque Nodell talked with Jim Steranko about his only romance comic, and reprints the color guides.

And finally, don’t forget that the Dylan Williams Divine Invasion art auction is still going on. There is some beautiful work for sale. [Jason T. Miles is running another eBay benefit auction for Williams's family, too.]

 

Making Friends

A big day on the site today, with enough reading material to carry you through the weekend and well into next week!

First we have Jesse Pearson’s riveting (if I do say so myself) interview with Johnny Ryan, in which we learn more than I ever thought possible about the cartoonist. This is a must. Jesse begins:

There has never been an alternative comics artist who makes work that’s more divisive than Johnny Ryan’s. Shit, piss, farts, dicks, and pussies are his vanilla material. When he really gets rolling, he’ll deal in rape, murder, genocide, 9-11, AIDS, baby fucking, and the end of the world. The style of art in his humor comics—all cute and cartoonish—both undercuts and ramps up the disturbance factor. It’s dizzying.

And it gets even better from there.

And then we have Kim Deitch’s eleventh installment of his memoir, in which he swerves into opera and gardening:

Our place had a nice bay window with plenty of sun, and for a period Sally had gotten into growing all kinds of different things. One day she took a shot at germinating some pot seeds from my current stash. I wasn’t relying on pot to draw all that much anymore, but I was still smoking the stuff. Well, that particular experiment was a roaring success and I soon took it over. It seemed to have awakened a latent farmer within me.

Well, friends, what more could you want? I will not direct you anywhere else — I refuse — because this should be enough! And it is!

 

The Castle of Incoherence

1. After speculating about how Disney is going to respond to working with the anarchic and unprofessional employees of Marvel (i.e. “small talents with big egos”), Jim Shooter posts his contracts from Marvel in 2002 and DC in 2007. (via)

2. The much-missed Jeet Heer emerged briefly from the chaos of new fatherhood and several large projects to e-mail me a link to this appearance from another Journal fan favorite:

Heer also wrote this recent review of Michael Kupperman’s new Mark Twain book.

3. Are old-fashioned maps (the kind with sea monsters and dragons) comics? Not really, but it may be hard for some to pinpoint exactly why when confronted with a few of the images in this short illustrated history of them.

4. Brian Chippendale takes on the New 52 at DC, reviewing the new Justice League and Animal Man titles, as well as various Marvel, independent, and manga titles.

5. Finally, there’s something of a debate going on right now regarding the coherence (or lack of same) of the action scenes in recent blockbuster films. Jim Emerson started it off with this excellent video essay critiquing a chase sequence from The Dark Knight.

In the Cut, Part I: Shots in the Dark (Knight) from Jim Emerson on Vimeo.

A.D. Jameson defends the scene here, claiming that Christopher Nolan and his collaborators are trying a new and visceral approach to cinematic action that doesn’t rely on narrative coherence.

All of that is interesting but not obviously related to comics. Except that it reminded me of many of Frank Santoro’s arguments over the years (here’s one) regarding the disappearance of the “classical” (for lack of a better word) cartooning style that was notable for its clarity, and was once evident in the work of everyone from the masterful Milton Caniff to the perennial critical whipping boy Don Heck. Nowadays, American action comics are almost all just big explosions, pointless decapitations, and impossible-to-parse (or believe) battle royale splash pages. Drawn in “photo-realistic” style, of course, so as to denote seriousness (not unlike how Nolan is supposed to be presenting a new “realism” in superhero films).

I don’t have a coherent theory as to why this is so, beyond a general coarsening of the culture. Or at least the culture of this particular kind of action story. The normal thumb-sucking answer is to blame it on video games, but you don’t actually see the same incoherence in your typical Xbox boss fight, so I don’t think that’s it, unless video games have simply spurred filmmakers and cartoonists to desperation due to lost market share. Further investigation is required.