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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?

 

Rainy Day

Today on the site we have a special treat: An interview with Bill Griffith by Gary Panter; topics include: love, footwear, and scariness. Goodness ensues. If you stop and think about Griffith’s influence on Panter’s work, a bunch of things about the way the latter artist deals with dialogue and observation snap into place.

Elsewhere on the wild internet:

-Bryan Lee O’Malley has a thoughtful and empathetic post up in response to the perennial “how do I break into the biz” question. One interesting thing about for me is that how it’s such a different narrative than that of cartoonists a generation older, i.e. the Web, manga, etc.

-Our own Frank Santoro is posting some very nice drawings of his home environment.

-You had me at “George Cruikshank had a nephew, Percy Cruikshank, son of Robert Cruikshank, who signed himself ‘George Cruikshank Junior.'”

-Cartoonist and TCJ-contributor Jim Rugg has a nifty looking artshow opening in a week.

-I’m also an easy mark for all things Mort Walker. Here’s a scan of an early profile of the cartoonist. Should you ever wonder what to get me for my birthday, always think “Mort”.

-And finally, in the ongoing “How’d that Corto Maltese book get so fucked up?” saga, let me trace a few threads for you:

1) The fine people at Big Planet Comics explain, with visual aids, what they saw as wrong with the book as published by Rizzoli (and apparently in a few countries). I agree!

2) Then the designer of the book, Chris McDonnell, in a post that defended his own design and typography but not the actual book production, notes “I asked for the original format pages and better quality line art files but the files that we ultimately used were the only option for files provided by the licensor or the estate (I don’t know who) for this project.” Well, that explains something. The files as-supplied weren’t very good. Why? Well, Rizzoli released a statement :

Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea was originally printed in the Italian comics magazine Sgt. Kirk, in 1967, and later in the French magazine Pif gadget in the early 1970s. Hugo Pratt collected the strips, had them colored, and published them in an oversized volume in 1978. In 1985, the colors were revamped in collaboration with Patrizia Zanotti.  In 1994, Hugo Pratt reworked the size of the strip to three rows of panels per page.  This new, smaller, more manageable graphic novel format was done to appeal to new Corto fans in the Italian market.

Universe/Rizzoli took the changes that Pratt himself made in the 1994 edition and reprinted this reworked format. We made no changes to Hugo Pratt’s 1994 version.

There have been other English editions of Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea, but the Pratt estate wanted a fresh translation from Pratt’s original Italian text. Harvill Press published an edition of Ballad of the Salt Sea in the oversized format and in the original black and white. The translation for that edition was made from a French translation of the original Italian text. The NBM edition of Ballad of the Salt Sea also contained a translation twice removed from the original Italian.

We worked directly with Patrizia Zanotti and the Hugo Pratt estate on this project, they were fully involved, and we had their support and approval during every step of the process: from the much-improved direct translation from the original Italian; to using art that came from the Hugo Pratt estate via their European publisher; to reviewing multiple rounds of color proofs.

So what’s the lesson here? Dunno. Estates don’t always know best? Usually the original way something is drawn is best? Don’t go to press with lo-res files even if someone says it’s OK? The point is that it’s a badly done book, which is a shame. Not much more to be done, as the estate clearly doesn’t know or care about proper digital production. So, it is what it is, maaaan.

 

Now and Forever

Joe McCulloch really been on a roll lately, and continues it this morning with a column about Chantal Montellier, and the English-language translation of her adaptation of Kafka’s The Trial. Her collaborator on the project was none other than David Zane Mairowitz, who many of you probably know previously wrote the text for Robert Crumb’s Kafka book. So there’s plenty of low-hanging fruit to work with, which Joe picks easily before moving to the higher branches where he likes to climb and forage. He also brings news of what comic books will be coming out this week.

Elsewhere on the interweb, Greg Hunter at Big Other reviews Kramers Ergot 8, and Richard Baez reviews Olivier Schrauwen’s The Man Who Grew His Beard. (That second book is one of the titles that got away from us last year, assigned for a review that never got written — that’s the way it goes sometimes, but this is a great book so it’s more regrettable than usual.)

Also, Mahendra Singh announces a series of posts on Moebius’s pen technique that I really hope he produces, Alan Gardern notes a new way to read cartoons from the great B. Kliban, and an anonymous critic has started a Tumblr devoted to criticizing the cartoons in The New Yorker. I don’t find all of his (her?) criticisms very convincing — especially many of the suggestions about what would make the cartoons funnier — but a lot of the insights are spot-on, and it’s a brilliant idea for a site overall, one I’m surprised hasn’t been done before. Unless it has. Send in the link(s) if so, please.

 

Country Fried

Today on the site we have a little round-up of recent books I’ve read. And Rob Clough reviews Kmart Shoes.

And elsewhere: Tom Spurgeon has a fine interview with cartoonist Ruben Bolling; Inkstuds goes on tour and reports back with pix. David Apatoff remembers illustrator-reporter Franklin McMahon; TCJ contributors Chris Mautner and Joe McCulloch list six English-language Moebius books to start with; Tom Conroy, avid commenter on Roger Brand, has a nice reminiscence of artist Doug Wildey; Matt Seneca interviews Michael DeForge about his latest comic.

Your old comic of the day: A good episode of Man ‘O Metal by H.G. Peter. I featured this strip in Art in Time but I think I remain its only fan. H.G. Peter was great and (still) under-appreciated, perhaps because he was overshadowed by Wonder Woman, which he drew for nearly two decades.

 

Suicide is Painless

You’ve probably heard tell of how doctors in war zones typically resort to gallows humor, madcap pranks, and hand-built gin stills to cope with the squalor and waste they encounter each day in their jobs. Well, that goes double for those who live and work in today’s comic shop, and Tucker Stone, the Trapper John of the Wednesday crowd, brings his column to the Journal to help our readers make the pain go away. And don’t worry, detractors, if Tucker gets out of line, we’ll replace him with a gentler B.J. Hunnicut type. (To answer the unspoken question: Fiore’s Hawkeye, obviously. Major Burns I will leave to the readers’ imaginations.)

I can’t think of a M*A*S*H character to assign to Charles Hatfield, so I’ll drop this painfully strained metaphor now, before things go too far. In any case, he has written a great and thorough review of the first two issues of Prophet, the new Brandon Graham/Simon Roy sf comic that’s been getting so much acclaim lately.

Elsewhere, Ben Katchor has a new strip up at Metropolis Magazine. I don’t like to link to webcomics too often (where would I stop?) but I’ll make an exception in Katchor’s case.

Garry Trudeau talks to Double X about the recent controversy revolving around Doonesbury‘s abortion-related strips.

The CBLDF has announced the withdrawal of all criminal charges against Ryan Matheson in the Canadian manga case that began in 2010.

Daniel Best brings an update on Brett Ewins’s health and legal situation, and how any concerned may be able to help.

Tom Spurgeon wants nominations of people in the comics world who deserve more recognition.

And not-exactly-comics: Filmmaker Ralph Bakshi gets interviewed for the 35th anniversary of Wizards.

 

Bluzzard

On the site today:

Sean T. Collins interviews cartoonist Jonny Negron (conflict alert: I’m publishing his book in September), who says of the influence of manga on his work:

It wasn’t until I was a teenager that it became much more popular. Part of the fascination for me in seeing that stuff was that it was really not like anything I’d seen before, especially in comics. Everyone’s androgynous-looking, it’s a lot more sexual, there was nudity. Everything was more adult-like, even the kids’ stuff.

Elsewhere:

-Top o’ the heap goes to Brian Chippendale who has posted a mammoth essay on Marvel, royalties, rights, and titles. He pretty much covers all the bases here.

-Former TCJ-editor Milo George on a fill-in issue of Daredevil.

-I’ve been seeing bits of this Kevin Nowlan Man-Thing graphic novel for a long time now and now it seems to have a publication date. Good news. Nowlan’s a perpetually underrated cartoonist and his process-oriented blog is a treat.

-Brandon Graham draws a tribute to Moebius.

-Oh a post of Dan Adkins SF covers and illustrations. Very nice. Always liked his work with and without Wally Wood. It’s a smoothly generic style.

-Pal Paul Karasik has an exhibition coming up called Graphic Novel Realism at The Northern Illinois Unversity Art Museum in DeKalb, IL.

-I just recently read the first two issues of The Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred. Here’s writer David Hine on some musical influences.