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Shuffle Feet, Shuffle

First of all, congratulations are in order. Dan is now a new father, and the TCJ.com curse of fecundity continues. Welcome to the world, Henry!

And now, your daily comics reading: In his most recent column, Frank reviews new books from wunderkinds Michael DeForge, Jesse McManus, and Charles Forsman.

The great Dylan Horrocks has accepted our invitation to join our pantheon of contributors to A Cartoonist’s Diary. His first entry is online today.

There’s a really nice, substantial profile of Dan Clowes in the New York Times, coinciding with his first museum exhibition at the Oakland Museum.

And here’s video footage of a recent interview Clowes gave at Kadist in San Francisco:

Slate has excerpted Art Spiegelman’s introduction to a new book on the Garbage Pail Kids, in which he relates part of the story of their creation.

And here’s Charles Burns talking for an hour-plus! (I haven’t been able to watch this yet, but it’s first on my to do list when I get some spare time.)

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Our own Chris Mautner has a “Comics College” entry on Scott McCloud.

The graduating students at my alma mater (and Dan’s, come to think of it) are underwhelmed to learn that a cartoonist has been chosen to be their commencement speaker. Normally, I’d consider that to be amusing news only to me and a very small group of others, but since Alan Gardner’s writing about it, I guess the universe does revolve around me and my interests.

Per Mark Bode, thirty-five years after raising eyebrows with Wizards, a movie with a style and characters that seemed to closely ape Vaughn Bode’s, Ralph Bakshi has called up and apologized.

Alan Moore’s Neonomicon is the first graphic novel ever to be given a Bram Stoker Award. In his acceptance speech, he notes, rather interestingly for those who have read the book: “As is often the case when one’s work crosses personal boundaries, I spent a long time in fretful deliberation over Neonomicon and six months after finishing the work was still uncertain as to whether it was good or even publishable.”

And finally, Andrei Molotiu takes (or follows) Jack Kirby to the art museum.

 

Sputtering

Hopefully, you’ve all gotten a chance to read Michael Dean’s assessment of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art’s accomplishments yesterday. Today, we have the promised supplementary feature: Dean’s interview with Lawrence Klein, MoCCA’s founder. Here’s an excerpt:

DEAN: Do you ever feel frustrated with some decisions being made? Like, “Why is this thing being done that way?” or “Why didn’t they consult me about this?”

KLEIN: I don’t look at it like that, because I don’t want them consulting me! I don’t want to be bothered! [Laughs.] No, I want to give it a chance to grow and be what it is. Sure, there’s a time or two where I’ll say, “Huh, interesting decision. I’m not sure why they did it, but they must have felt that it was the right thing to do.” I haven’t seen anything outrageously crazy that would make me say, “I’ve got to step in and end this, or I’ve got to step in and take over.” But one of the things I tried to do with MoCCA was, in essence, to be a benevolent dictator. Listen to everybody and get everybody involved, but make the final decisions. To do what we did, at the time we did it, you needed focus. A strong focus. There were so many things that everybody wanted to do, but we couldn’t do everything. We wanted focus, and we wanted me to lead based on that focus. And that needed to happen.

And then, of course, we have the latest installment of Tucker Stone’s Comics of the Weak column. Can you believe it was only three weeks ago he started doing this? I can. I’m still not used to getting up this early in the morning to edit.

Elsewhere, John Hilgart of 4CP fame has inaugurated a new column of his own over at HiLobrow, revealing the mysterious sources for his previous work.

Robert Boyd reviews Kramers Ergot 8.

Robert Birnbaum has a great, lengthy, meaty interview with Ben Katchor up at the Morning News.

David Chelsea has posted a part two for his post on perspective and Ivan Brunetti from last week.

And the Wright Awards nominations have been announced.

 

It’s Happening

Today on the site:

Michael Dean has written an extensive article on the history and current state of New York’s MoCCA. Here’s a taste:

The MoCCA festival has flourished and a series of varied educational programs sponsored by the museum continues to thrive. As for the museum itself, well, at least it’s still here, and that’s more than some comic-art museums can say. It hasn’t gone virtual the way Kevin Eastman’s Words and Pictures Museum did in 1999. And it hasn’t been absorbed by a university like Mort Walker’s Museum of Cartoon Art, now a resident of the Ohio State campus. But if MoCCA is a success story, it’s also a story of compromises and struggle. It’s a story that may have much to tell about the place of comics in the East Coast art world. Because, for better or worse, MoCCA is the high-water mark for the level of respectability that comic art has been able to carve out for itself in its home town.

On Friday we’ll have a separate interview with the museum’s founder, Lawrence Klein. Also up today is Austin English’s review of the comic book Raw Power.

Elsewhere:

-Bart Beatty on the late comics-focused librarian and organizer Kristiina Kolehmainen.

-Paul Karasik has a report straight outta Dekalb, where his “Graphic Novel -Realism” exhibition is on display.

-There’s a whole bundle of posts over at Blown Covers about the great Miguel Covarrubius, all drawn from The New Yorker archives.

-I always enjoy the work of J.H. Williams, and here he is breaking down his process for a Batwoman cover.

-Hey, Johnny Ryan has a new zine out. That can’t be bad.

-And here’s a preview of the forthcoming Dan Zettwoch book, Birdseye Bristoe. One can never have too much Zettwoch. I’m looking forward to this one.

 

Mo’ Art, Mo’ Problems

It’s a great day for podcast fans, with Mike Dawson talking to Craig Thompson for the latest episode of TCJ Talkies. When his Habibi was released last fall, Thompson seemed to appear on every podcast produced, even those devoted to things other than comics, like fishing and plumbing, and so we decided to hold off until a bit later and see if it wouldn’t make for a slightly fresher interview. Now we find out if that strategy worked.

Also, continuing the sex-in-webcomics theme started by Shaenon Garrity earlier this week, Sean T. Collins contributes a review of the anonymously produced q v i e t.

Elsewhere, Mahendra Singh has started his series of posts on the work of Moebius with a very technique-heavy look at Airtight Garage, which he provocatively links to the Goldberg Variations.

Graeme McMillan doesn’t like the term “artcomix.” What he may not realize is that no one likes the term artcomix. And that’s true whether it’s spelled as one word or two, with an x or an s. But the alternatives (such as “alternative comics”) are pretty bad, too. And a shorthand way of differentiating between stuff created by artists who are trying and those who are merely fulfilling a commercial formula is often very helpful, at least for those of us who regularly write about comics, so this dilemma isn’t going away very soon.

The anonymous fellow or lady behind that New Yorker cartoon critique Tumbler from a couple weeks ago explains the philosophy behind the site more here and here.

Chris Stigliano reviews the new Nancy collection.

Finally, I don’t believe we’ve mentioned yet that Sparkplug Comic Books is holding a fundraiser to publish several new books. I know I just wrote last week that I tried not to link to these kinds of things, but this too seemed worth an exception.

 

This Glittery One is Done

On the site: Jog brings us the Week. I wish Jog did this for all my weekly intake: Food, entertainment, humans. Etc. And we’re pleased to re-present Bob Levin’s 2008 interview with S. Clay Wilson. A real TCJ highlight from the last handful of years. Also, Bob added the following note, which we should all pay attention to:

A few months after this interview took place, Wilson sustained disabling brain injuries requiring special care. Contributions maybe sent to Wilson’s Special Needs Trust, PO Box 14854, San Francisco, CA 94114.

[UPDATE FROM TIM: Here's a link to the online home of the trust.]

Elsewhere:

Drawn & Quarterly’s Tom Devlin, Pascal Girard, Matt Forsythe visited a school in Montreal and Tom wrote up a typically entertaining report.

Hey, Kate Beaton has a great new comic up that is far into new territory.

Frank Young reports news about his David Lasky-drawn graphic novel that many of us will be excited about: “I just turned in the last color pages for our long-in-progress graphic novel Carter Family Comics: Don’t Forget This Song!”

Shit My New Yorker Cartoons Says continues apace, with a read through of this week’s issue.

-More of my deranged interest in E.R. Burroughs: A John Carter story maybe drawn by his son, John Coleman Burroughs.

-Apparently before it was scuttled the Akira movie produced some decent looking storyboards.

-I’ve never seen this very nice Howard Chaykin story from the 1970s…

 

 

 

Early Rising

In his column yesterday, Frank Santoro reviewed a selection of new comics, both with staples and without, from Julie Delporte, Dane Martin, Jack Hayden, Aidan Koch, and Mardou.

Dan Nadel enthuses about the latest Wally Wood “Artist’s Edition” from IDW:

It is easily one of the best books of comic art ever produced. It’s like the first Little Nemo book that Pete Maresca produced: An entirely new way to look at a comic art great; it’s also one of the finest books of drawings I’ve ever seen.

And Shaenon Garrity returns with another webcomics column, this time focusing in on the world of online smut:

We may be seeing a renaissance of high-end webcomic raunch, comparable to the era in print comics when titles like Omaha the Cat Dancer, ambitious indie comics that just happened to feature a lot of sex and nudity, were taken as seriously as Cerebus. (In retrospect, Omaha is starting to look like the better comic.) The new indie smut is witty, cheerfully explicit, gorgeously drawn, and takes advantage of the ever-widening audience on the Web.

In other news, Justin Green reports some sad news regarding underground legend S. Clay Wilson’s health, and explains how interested parties can help.

[UPDATE: Here's a link to the online home of the S. Clay Wilson trust.]

In two new posts, the R. Crumb website has posted several more of the artist’s short and sometimes surprising takes on various figures, ranging from George Herriman (“I admire Herriman’s stuff, but you know I’m not as crazy about him as some people. You know, that kind of funny, little esoteric thing he does in Krazy Kat, it doesn’t grab me that deeply.”) and the Beatles (“Some of the last stuff they did, you know, it kind of gets dark, and that’s more interesting to me, the last stuff they did before they broke up.”) to Jim Morrison (“He just seemed like a kind of puffy-looking, overweight guy who was burned-out from too many drugs. He just sat in the corner kind of mumbling.”) and Garry Trudeau (“I could never read one of his strips to the end. Those sleepy-eyed characters, I just found the drawing style so annoying I couldn’t even read it.”).

David Chelsea analyzes the use of perspective in Ivan Brunetti’s recent New Yorker cover.

 

Gliberzarian

Today on the site we mark the one week anniversary of Tucker Stone’s column. Tucker, your bonus is coming via carrier pigeon direct to your rooftop cage.

Elsewhere online we have all sorts of things. Here’s James Romberger on Jaime Hernandez. And, why, here is a lengthy timeline of the Neil Gaiman-Todd McFarlane lawsuits. In other British news, here’s a preview of artwork from a new Brendan McCarthy-drawn 2000 AD serial. I enjoyed this collection of fanzine work from the late writer Bill Dubay. Other enjoyments came by way of this brief article about an apparently baffling New Yorker cartoon and this Justin Green 2-pager. And finally, Tom Spurgeon has an obituary of comic strip artist Fran Matera.

 

Truth, Justice, and the Comic Book Way

Today we have a really substantial column from R.C. Harvey on Johnny Hart, B.C., and religion in the comic strips. Here’s an excerpt:

Berke Breathed gave Hart’s slam a creditable value. “The good news about Hart’s Islam-is-poo strip,” Breathed said, “is that at least you know a real human has shown up for work with his strip. The paper is littered with cartoonists too—well, deceased—to actually participate in their own strip. It’s a pity because there’s a rather agitated bunch of very alive cartoonists that are waiting for their space to show us what a little passionate cartooning can be. The other side of the Affaire Hart is his disowning of his gag. This is the part where he insults his audience, which he might want to avoid. I’m all for bigotry in the public square [but] for people to respond accordingly, they need to own it. Either Johnny is fibbing or he needs to get back in touch with his inner Id. …”

[...]

Every time B.C. was dropped by newspaper editors hesitant of offending one religion or another, the issue of freedom of expression was conjured up again. If Garry Trudeau is permitted to exercise his religion—“the secular religion of politics” as one wag put it—why can’t Hart do the same with his religion? By way of edging up to an answer, the Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten took some B.C. strips around for Trudeau to look at. Trudeau looked at them and laughed.

“Please tell me this is not controversial,” Trudeau said. “What’s the problem—that, God forbid, Hart still believes in God? These are good,” he continued. “What’s important is that he still honors his first obligation, which is to entertain. If he wants to stimulate people into thinking about the nature of faith, more power to him.” Agreeing with the wag quoted above, Trudeau concluded: “Hart is writing about his values as much as I am writing about mine.”

We also have Sean T. Collins reviewing Jillian Tamaki’s webcomic, SuperMutant Magic Academy.

We rarely mention specific ongoing Kickstarters on this blog, at least for comic-book fundraising, mostly because once you’ve opened those doors, it’s hard to establish a consistent and fair policy about who gets the nod and who doesn’t. But I was sorely tempted to break my self-assigned rule when I heard about Ted May’s upcoming Injury 4—luckily for my integrity, before I decided to post it, May made his goal, and now it’s just happy publishing news. (Another interesting sounding project: Dylan Horrocks and Karl Stevens collaborating on The American Dream.)

Also worth a look: Dean Haspiel on coming to terms with his place in the comics industry, and ultimately being happier outside it; Robin McConnell’s road trip to Portland with Brandon Graham, with cameos from such as Zack Soto, Mike Allred, and Craig Thompson; Gary Panter on painter Yayoi Kusama; and Matt Seneca writing about an early, expressive Chris Ware page.

Finally, it’s always a good idea to take newspaper articles regarding science with enormous quantities of salt, but this New York Times article suggesting that the brain treats experiences read about in books in the same way as experiences actually lived couldn’t help but make me wonder how that would shape a person with a really restricted literary diet: someone who reads nothing but superhero comics, say. (It probably helps that I’m re-reading Don Quixote right now.) People often express wonder about the propensity for superhero fans to ignore the ethics of supporting companies against creators’ rights, based on the comic books’ repeated references to responsibility and doing the right thing, but when you think about it, there’s very little actual ethical content in most superhero comics: the good guys are the good guys and the bad guys are the bad guys, and very little short of the willingness to commit straight-up murder separates the two in terms of behavior. They both generally live outside the law and destroy a lot of public property, you know?