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The Arcana of It All

Today, we are proud to present Rob Clough’s exhaustive interview with Matthew Thurber, the artist behind 1-800-MICE, What Kind of Magic Spell to Use?, and Ambergris. Here’s an excerpt from when Rob asked him about his recent collaboration with Benjamin Marra for the Smoke Signal anthology:

That pairing was actually Gabe Fowler’s idea. He matched us up together [and] he proposed the idea and he proposed the movie. I was like, “Oh no, I can’t–I’m gonna hate Transformers. Maybe I can do it on something else.” So I went and saw Super 8 and I was like, “Oh that was pretty good, but it wasn’t so stupid that you could really satirize it.” Then I finally saw Transformers, and I was like, “Holy shit!”

And later, discussing the themes behind 1-800-MICE:

We’re all part of the ecosystem with all the animals and plants and all the man-made stuff. If you try to think of the big picture, it’s overwhelming and scary. I guess that’s why my book is ultimately—underneath all the funny stuff— about being non-didactic, that we’re all part of the ecosystems. Different characters in the book are aware of different aspects of it. Even the people who are trying to control it think they’re doing the right thing. Aunty Lakeford really believes that if she proves that the banjo’s origins are in Africa, then that will help, that’s gonna help.

And elsewhere on the great internet:

Edward Sorel is profiled by local news channel NY1. Sorel: “They wanted me to do a cover about how the press was treating Nixon unfairly. I said that’s too much. I’ll sell out, but there are limits.” (via)

Our columnist Jared Gardner has a new book just out called Projections: Comics and the History of Twenty-First Century Storytelling. Henry Jenkins has just posted the first installment of a multi-part interview with Gardner here. Another excerpt:

I don’t think this book would have made any sense to write had it not been for what we affectionately call the golden age of comics reprints, a period of publishing that has seen long-lost newspaper comics and comic books returned to print. I am fortunate to have daily access to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum here at Ohio State, but until recently without such privileged access extensive reading in historical comics was virtually impossible. Of the comics I focus on extensively in the early chapters in the book–Happy Hooligan, Mutt & Jeff, Krazy Kat, Superman, Spider-Man, R. Crumb’s underground comix, etc.–almost all are now available in accessible reprint editions. The big exceptions here were Sidney Smith’s The Gumps and Ed Wheelan’s Minute Movies, pioneering serial strips from the 1920s, but I am now working with the Library of American Comics to get one and possibly both into an affordable reprint edition in the near future.

Art Spiegelman appeared on BBC Radio 4 earlier this week.

Someone calling himself Mr. Media has interviewed Bill Griffith. (I know I’ve mentioned Lost & Found several times here already, but it’s good–you should read it!)

And apparently, like so many other literary luminaries, Douglas Adams first saw his words in print after writing a letter to the editor about comics.

 

Smart Warming

Today: Bob Levin returns to us with a piece on Yiddishkeit the book and the culture. As usual, you get more than you think and learn more than you know.

And elsewhere, good people:

Pal and Professor at Washington University Douglas Dowd has begun a new publication called Spartan Holiday, which I enjoyed very much. It’s a picture story travelogue, elegantly blending drawing, type and image in the finest Pushpin Graphic tradition. This issues finds Doug in China, drawing as he goes. Good stuff and great to see this tradition being revived as a regular thing. Speaking of St. Louis, there’s a whole lotta Zettwoch in this photo preview of Dan’s upcoming book Birdseye Bristoe. I bet Dan, being a fellow Dan, likes these Gene Ahern comics, too. Nice to see Paul Tumey inaugurate a new blog.

Oh my goodness, there are no women in this comic book store reality show! Can you believe it? I mean, Kevin Smith’s movies are so much about understanding between genders! I am shocked! And in more heartwarming news, Alan Moore did what sounds like a cool video chat in support of Harvey Pekar.

 

Odds & Ends

I kind of feel like after Craig Fischer’s column on horror comics from yesterday, we don’t need to publish anything else this week. At the very least, I don’t want it to fall through the cracks, so give it a read soon if you haven’t done so already.

New today, we have the usual Joe McCulloch Tuesday feature: This Week in Comics!, this time featuring a bit on the top about ’00s Joe Kubert. Joe also made a guest appearance this week over at Douglas Wolk’s Judge Dredd site, in which the two discuss everything from Garth Ennis to comic-book ethics to Before Watchmen. (There’s some overlap.)

We also have Rob Clough’s review of Sharon Lintz’s Pornhounds 2.

Elsewhere, Michael Chabon is mining comic-book history in his fiction again, and has a story in this week’s New Yorker that is partly based on the relationship between Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

At the Brooklyn Rail, Bill Kartalopoulos has a typically well-informed and informative review of the new Joost Swarte collection.

And the mysterious Illogical Volume of the Mindless Ones has a complicated response to Grant Morrison’s Batman comics (and his recent dubious statements about Siegel & Shuster). Of course, it’s unclear if complicated responses are what Morrison deserves—though as Joe M. pointed out over at Wolk’s place, Morrison is the only DC creator we know of (besides Kevin Smith, ha ha) to have publicly turned down working on Before Watchmen. So at least there’s that.

 

Yo Yo Yo Yo

Happy Monday. We’re please to announce that we’ve begun a little partnership with The Rumpus. Thanks to Paul Madonna, The Rumpus will feature a couple of TCJ pieces every month. This doesn’t really affect you if you’re already reading this, but we’re pleased and excited.

On this very site Craig Fischer brings you a beast of a post that takes a Skywald horror comic as its base and expands from there. Love it.

And in more internal news, Fantagraphics OGs Preston White and Mike Catron have returned to the fold. Tom Spurgeon has the lowdown and an interview with Mike. Welcome back, guys!

Ok, now we’ll leave our own orbit and go… elsewhere:

Some “living my life” posts to link to here… Paul Karasik doing it up in AngoulemeJessica Abel on moving to France and making career choices, Lynda Barry on what we remember, and Kyle Baker on the creative life.

Rub the Blood editors Ian Harker and Pat Aulisio got the Inkstuds treatment. I confess that I don’t really understand the Rob Liefeld nostalgia thing, but one man’s Paul Gulacy is another man’s Rob Liefeld (and yes, it’s only men), so, y’know, I get it in the abstract. Man.

And the pages from Rokuro Taniuchi’s 1948 children’s comic The Magic Underground Castle at 50 Watts is pure joy.


 

Everything Is All Right

The great Tucker Stone reviews the latest mini-series from the Mignola-verse of Hellboy & Co., B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: Russia. That title’s a mouthful.

As are the titles of the upcoming Watchmen prequels. Like Dan, I don’t have much interesting to say about this development. It’s dumb and mean, but not surprising by any stretch. Eric Stephenson from Image said most of what needs saying, in a blog post that has seen much deserved traffic.

This is a good comics Tumblr. Great links pretty much every day.

This find from a Cerebus-related Tumblr is a real treasure. “I have to credit all the research that I did on Oscar Wilde for convincing me that I don’t want to be like that [almost universally acknowledged as the greatest conversationalist of his day]. If I can end my life with a large body of completed works and a reputation as a cantankerous old hermit I’ll consider my time well spent.” It makes you wonder about paths not taken. If Dave Sim hadn’t gotten interested in Wilde, he might have become one of the greatest raconteurs of our age! Actually there are a few things I’d dispute from Sim’s comments. Wilde wrote far more than just “one really good play and one really good short novel”—even if he’d never written anything other than his essays, he’d probably still be read today. Also, I wonder about whether it really makes sense to value the written word over the experienced moment. Obviously the written word is better for us—we can read it. But surely it’s not wise to only produce for posterity. The appropriate example here may be Ozymandias (not the character from Watchmen, which is apparently impossible to escape).

Our own Kristy Valenti writes about Chester Brown and Craig Thompson as purveyors of “Dick Lit” over at Comixology.

And Frank Santoro comic-book layout workshop hits Mission:Comics & Art tonight. A must-see if you’re in the San Francisco area.

 

Worth It

Today on the site we’re lucky to feature an excerpt from an essay by Seth originally published in The Devil’s Artisan, on designing The Collected Doug Wright.

In very sad news, the great Mike Kelley died on Tuesday. Mike wrote a phenomenal essay on Gary Panter for the monograph I edited, and most recently we co-curated an exhibition in L.A. He was a brilliant and generous man and one well-versed in everything from Bob Powell to the Art Ensemble of Chicago to Fluxus. This is barely related to comics, I know, but his influence on visual culture was, and will continue to be, massive, and you should know about his work and legacy. His studio and close friends released the following statement, which should be read. Then go out and look at his work.

“Our dear friend the artist Mike Kelley (born 1954 in Detroit) has passed away. Unstintingly passionate, habitually outspoken and immeasurably creative in every genre or material with which he took up—and that was most of them, from performance and sculpture to painting, installation and video, from experimental music to writing in a thousand voices—Mike was an irresistible force in contemporary art and the wider culture. For Mike, history existed only to be reconstructed, memory was selective, faulty and willful and life itself vibrant but often dysfunctional. We can hear him disagreeing with us. We cannot believe he is gone. But we know his legacy will continue to touch and challenge anyone who crosses its path. We will miss him. We will keep him with us.”

-Kelley Studio and Emi Fontana, Kourosh Larizadeh, Paul and Karen McCarthy, Fredrik Nilsen, Anita Pace, Jim Shaw, Mary Clare Stevens, Marnie Weber, John C. Welchman [for all Mike’s many friends near and far]

Elsewhere online, Peggy Burns has a great summation of her experience at Angouleme. Here’s a fine piece on World War III magazine being displayed at MoMA. Oh, and this is an impressive 24-hour comic. Finally, the NY Times probably has the best coverage of the Watchmen debacle. It’s sad and stupid and hardly worth commenting about because what should we expect from such a cynical company? We could expect better, but that’s actually foolish at this point. It’s outrageous but not surprising.

 

The Boulevard of Broken Links

Matthias Wivel is here today with a final report on this year’s Angoulême, which he believes to be one of the best festivals of the last decade … though he also has some problems with its award system, among other things.

Also, Hayley Campbell reviews Moebius & Jodorowsky’s Eye of the Cat.

Spiegelman arrives at Angoulême:

(via Bhob Stewart)

Over at the Comics Grid, Peter Wilkins responds to our own Craig Fischer’s recent column on Urasawa’s Pluto and doubling.

Tucker Stone has a way with leftovers.

And Alex Cox makes a plea for your support of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

 

On to the Next

Today on the site: Joe McCulloch brings the week in comics and Chris Mautner reviews Government Issue.

Elsewhere: The Beat brings an Angouleme round-up, and here’s Tom Scioli on French TV. Meanwhile, we have The LA Review of Books on MetaMaus. And a how-to for Mould Map. And congrats to Tom Hart on his Sequential Artists Workshop opening.

And: A sign the Mayans were right. The collected Amethyst is on its way.