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Gaining

Today on the site:

Joe McCulloch has his weekly words of wisdom;Noah Van Sciver joins us for Day 2 of his diary; and Sean T. Collins reviews Sophie Yanow’s In Situ.

Elsewhere:

More on Joe Kubert today: Tom Spurgeon has a lengthy obituary and a still growing link round-up. And here’s a great romance comic from 1949.

-The Ignatz Awards nominees were announced.

-Josh Simmons made a movie. It will scare you.

-I didn’t know about this upcoming Kyle Baker/Image project. Via.

-And Paul Tumey has a typically excellent post up about Milt Gross.

 

Sad Day

We have sad news for you this morning, as the seemingly universally well-liked cartoonist Joe Kubert has passed away. Kubert’s biographer Bill Schelly has written the artist and Kubert School founder’s obituary for us. An excerpt:

Born Yosaif Kubert on September 18, 1926, in what was then southern Poland (now Ukraine), his family emigrated to America when he was an infant. The Kuberts settled in a Jewish ghetto in Brooklyn known as East New York. Inspired by the colorful Sunday newspaper strips, Kubert decided at an early age that he wanted to be a cartoonist, and by 1939 he was working in the comic book production shop of Harry “A” Chesler in Manhattan.

Kubert received his only formal art training at the High School of Music and Art in New York City, a school for artistically gifted youths. Most of his training was “on the job” from such legendary comic book artists as Mort Meskin, Charles Biro, Irv Novick and others. At 14, Kubert was assisting on “The Spirit” in Will Eisner’s studio in Stamford, Connecticut.

There are many memorials to the man already posted, and more to come. Mark Evanier and Stephen Bissette have two of the more substantial up right now, and Tom Spurgeon has collected just about everything in his usual “Collective Memory” feature.

This is also the first day on the site for our latest Cartoon Diarist, Noah Van Sciver. Entry one is here.

And Sean Michael Robinson reviews Shigeru Mizuki’s NonNonBa.

Elsewhere:

—I know I promised to weigh in on Dan’s controversial Kickstarter/SP7 blog post, but it seems to me that at this point, more or less everything to be said on the matter has been said. I finally did find a comic that more or less perfectly encapsulates my views on the whole thing, though.

(I actually do have an opinion, but it’s a boring one: Dan’s thoughts on the historical problems evident in that Kickstarter pitch were right on, but it would have been a more effective example if he could point to the finished product. Some of the rhetoric was over the top, but obviously so, because it was meant to be funny. The “comix” paragraph should have been cut. That people often “look like schmucks” in their Kickstarter pitches shouldn’t be a controversial position. Otherwise, I have no real problem with crowdfunding other than to think it’s worth exploring options before starting one, and it does seem like it’s become a bit overdone. I don’t feel so strongly enough to write a rant about it, though. And I think that’s it.)

Finally, Matt Bors discovers a crowdfunding campaign bound to give anyone pause.

—Curator Sara Duke gives a short online tour of the Library of Congress’s I’m sure amazing cartoon collection.

—Marc Tyler Nobleman appeared on the NPR radio show All Things Considered to discuss his new book arguing that Bill Finger deserves more credit as Batman’s co-creator.

—Abhay Khosla has one of his typically insane comics reviews up, this time of Brandon Graham’s Prophet.

—Paul Gravett looks at the under-loved comics publisher, ACG. Its most popular character, Herbie, of course deserves all the attention he gets, but there are lots of little-known gems in that company’s back catalog, and man are they easy to get cheap in back issues. Wait, what am I complaining about?

 

Accent Fingers

It’s Friday morning, so why not dive into the weekend arm in arm with Tucker Stone and friends? This week it’s new comics (natch) and the excellent duo of Garfield and Rob Liefeld.

Elsewhere online:

I didn’t know that the band The Teardrop Explodes took its name from a line of dialogue in a Daredevil comic. Here the band, the Daredevil team and others remember how it all happened.

Another new one — a Tumblr devoted to comics Australia and New Zealand — great Stanley Pitt work here.

Sean Witzke and Matt Seneca continue their duet on the series Solo, this time it’s Paul Pope’s turn.

Should you need more Tucker in your life, along with Jog and Mautner, here’s the latest Comic Books Are Burning in Hell. It’s mostly about Garth Ennis, so you can expect a high degree of passion.

Hey, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez are going on a proper tour in September. Good news.

Finally, as proof of my continued cliquishness and editorial malfeasance, I present you with the news that erstwhile columnist Frank Santoro is having yet another comic book sale tomorrow, this time with sales assistants Ben Marra, Jonny Negron, Lala Albert and Aidan Koch.

Enjoy the break.

 

Moving Forward

Today, we bring you Michael Dean’s report on the Society of Illustration’s recent purchase of MoCCA. An excerpt:

Asked who approached whom, [MoCCA President Ellen] Abramowitz told the Journal, “They approached us about eight months ago just about shared memberships and things like that and we had a few friendly meetings. Then, our lease was coming due for renewal at the end of July. I thought, ‘MoCCA needs to go to the next level. If these are our goals and I don’t see them happening and I can’t do this with one person, do we really want to sign a new lease at this location?’ Our debt wasn’t high. What hurt us was we had rent. I called them [in late June] and proposed the transfer and they very quickly said yes. They agreed to everything we wanted and even things we didn’t ask for. Some [MoCCA] trustees were initially upset, but it was a unanimous vote by the board.”

And my wife forgot to buy new coffee yesterday, and I’m not about to try and address anything more complicated than that without caffeine.

Here are a few links:

—Tom Spurgeon is trying to start a conversation about crowdfunding, and Anne Hambrock compares Kickstarter to Indiegogo from a practical standpoint (without getting into the more controversial areas).

—Matt Madden drew a much-linked-to six-panel history of American comics to illustrate an essay on the same by academic Paul Lopes. The article is a more-or-less solid bit of history, though little of it will be new to Journal readers, and he makes a few questionable assertions (such as his claim that manga saved the American graphic novel in the 2000s).

—Cecil Adams at the Straight Dope tracked down the first person to use the letter “Z” to indicate snoring during sleep—it was a cartoonist, as you might expect, considering the fact that I’m mentioning it here. (via)

—Steven Heller briefly interviews Blab editor Monte Beauchamp.

—And Noah Van Sciver provides a “Directors Commentary” to the Forbidden Planet blog.

 

High Noon

Today on the site Craig Fischer returns to excellent column, Monsters Eat Critics, and an examination of Jonah Hex, which includes meditations on Westerns generally, plot structures and torture porn. Here’s a bit:

My biggest problem with All Star Western, however, is Gray and Palmiotti’s recalibration of the Western’s civilization/wilderness dialectic. In Hex #63, Jonah Hex is untamed, yet still bound by a personal code of honor, and he’s also the character we connect with the most. Hex appears in almost every scene of the comic; we are given access to his intimate memories of Aaron’s death, and we share his desire to stop Loco. I don’t think our identification with Hex is total; he brutally slits the throats of Loco’s men, he follows his father’s example by torturing Loco (and cutting out his eyes), and at moments like these some readers might put up some psychic barriers between Hex and their own emotions and sensibilities. We do have a strong sense of Hex’s status as a loner, however, and over the course of Gray and Palmiotti’s original series we come to know Hex as a character whose allegiances to both wilderness and civilization are mercurial and complex. Hex emulates the elegiac, conflicted gunslingers in earlier Western fiction and film, and Hex benefits from its dialogue with these predecessors.

And Rob Clough reviews Leela Corman’s graphic novel, Unterzakhn:

If there’s a villain to be found in Leela Corman’s return to comics, Unterzakhn, it’s hypocrisy. While this story of twin Jewish girls growing up in New York’s Lower East Side in the early 20th century is also about the art of survival and the arbitrary nature of what determines who lives and who dies, it’s really a celebration of human kindness in the face of the abyss and a condemnation of arbitrary, rules-based ethics systems. Corman jumps forward and back in time to tell the story of Esther and Fanya Feinberg, their father Isaac, and their mother Minna.

Elsewhere online:

One of my all-time favorite comic strips, Zissy and Rita, now has a web site featuring all their adventures. Zissy and Rita, how do I love thee? This is one of those hilarious masterpieces that scratches an itch (or a whole rash) that you didn’t know you had.

Illogical Volume has a post up on Mindless Ones about the recent Sean Rogers/Flex Mentallo piece over here.

Daniel Best has posted a fascinating article about Jerry Siegel’s life as an enlisted man in WWII.

And Tom Spurgeon has some thoughts on the late critic Robert Hughes.

 

 

 

Did I Miss Anything?

Looks like I picked a good week to go on vacation—have the last ten days been the most contentious in the site’s history during our tenure or does it just appear that way when you return only half-aware and see all the comments and cross-talk at once? (I don’t have enough patience or curiosity to find out whatever was going on on Twitter and Facebook a week ago, or I’m sure it would seem even more overwhelming.) Anyway, I didn’t have time to do much more than skim Dan’s post on SP7/Kickstarter shortly before my departure, and I spent my flight wondering what kind of reaction it might stir up. Now I know. On one level, the whole thing seems like a classic molehill-sized mountain, but the issues involved (and the discussion it spawned) deserve more than a day’s reflection before comment from me, especially considering just how much talk from other thinkers, both smart and dumb, has already been offered. Other than in the comments of this site (ha), some of the most even-keeled commentary on the controversy has come from Sean T. Collins, Secret Acres, and Tom Spurgeon. I will probably have more to say on this (and maybe on subsequent dustups on the site) in the near future, but those are good places to go in the meantime.

Other than that elephant in the room, the main topic of today is, of course, Joe McCulloch’s usual Tuesday column on the Week in Comics.

Link-wise, I’m a bit out of date, obviously, and will try not to be too redundant, but here’s what I’ve got for you so far:

—Drew Friedman recounts every kid’s dream, an adolescent visit to the offices of MAD magazine in 1974.

—Gary Groth talks to Chris Mautner at Robot 6 about this magazine’s recently announced partnership with Alexander Street Press.

—The University of Chicago has finally begun posting video of some of the panels from its acclaimed Hillary Chute-organized “Comics: Philosophy & Practice” conference. Links to the videos will be posted here, and so far include Art Spiegelman’s talk with the great academic W.J.T. Mitchell and a group panel featuring Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Justin Green, Carol Tyler, and Phoebe Gloeckner.

The Wall Street Journal has a report on the MoCCA/Society of Illustrators move.

—Leela Corman is interviewed at The Millions.

—Domingos Isabelhino writes on Marco Mendes.

Muddy Colors has video of the late, great Moebius drawing in 2010. (via)

 

Pants Optional

Welcome to the new week.

Today on the site:

The great Richard Gehr returns with a brand new Know Your New Yorker Cartoonist, this time featuring the most excellent Arnie Levin. Here’s a choice morsel:

GEHR: Did you have any relationship with your father?

LEVIN: When I went to get a passport, they ask me, “What’s your father’s name?” I said, “Ernest.” And the gal said to me, “No, it’s not.” I said, “Yes, it is!” She said, “No. That’s not what’s here.” So I called my mother and aunt to ask if Dad had any other names. Nothing. We were there all day calling people. I was getting desperate because we were gonna take a trip and I needed a passport. Then the gal asked me, “What borough did you live in?” I said the Bronx, She said no. I said, “This is impossible!” and asked her what she had down for his name. She said, “E.” [Laughter] I said, “E?” “Yes. E. Lawrence Levin.” She suddenly wants to get literary!

And of course, if you follow the site 24/7 you’d know that Frank Santoro posted a column yesterday detailing some of his current obsessions:

  currently obsessed with old issues of Optic Nerve. They look really really good and the stories hold up. The graphic design of the individual comics is great. And I really like Adrian’s “stage blocking” when he composes scenes. There is a very real sense of space in his comics. People in the landscape, in chairs, cars – all feel real and drawn and observed. Very hard to do without relying on photo refs. Tomine has a super developed sense of timing. I also like how he uses the “set” of the room or landscape to show physical as well as emotional distance from each other. Like a good cinematographer.

That should really quench your comics thirst, but if you’re like me, and you find yourself parched for comics, here’s a little more:

-Paul Gravett on comics history books.

-An entire Tumblr devoted to absurd images of Lupin III.

-Al Williamson and Joe Simon do a collaborative dance.

-A fine new Kate Beaton comic.

-More New Yorker cartooning: Bruce Eric Kaplan, who wrote the Seinfeld New Yorker cartoon bit, interviewed on that very subject.

-And not comics, but surely picture stories: The late Chris Marker once made a really excellent CD-ROM, which is now online. (via Jog)

 

 

 

It’s a Hit

Another week done gone, huh? And into the weekend for all of us. I’m feeling a little jaunty about it. But not to worry, Tucker Stone and co. are here to leave you with some feelings about the medium you love and cherish.

Elsewhere, the big, rumored-about news is that MoCCA has announced via press release that it will “transfer its assets” to the Society of Illustrators. This apparently includes “its permanent art collection and the MoCCA Fest name”. Also, from the PR:

The Society will continue and expand MoCCA’s mission in a number of ways: staging MoCCA Fest in its current location, dedicating a gallery in the Society building to MoCCA’s Permanent Collection, continuing MoCCA programming, and curating a special exhibition of works from MoCCA’s Permanent Collection in their Hall of Fame Gallery (on display March 5-May 4), which will run in conjunction with a major exhibit, “The Comic Art of Harvey Kurtzman,” curated by graphic designer and comics-anthology editor Monte Beauchamp. There will be extensive arts programming around both of these exhibits, including lectures, workshops, film and music series. Current MoCCA memberships will be honored at the Society of Illustrators.

I think it’s a bit of shame to place comics under the umbrella of illustration (though I love the latter), if only because it only just recently crawled out from under said umbrella and I prefer the medium stand on its own. Then again, as above, their histories are well intermingled, so a smart curator could do some interesting shows working deep in the Society stacks. I’ll be very curious how the Society handles comics, and also how it handles the current (very controversial) MoCCA board/staff. I’ll refrain from reading too much into the PR. We’ll have full coverage early next week.

And in other places online: It’s TCJ-contributors run amuck, writing for other publications like they haven’t a care in the world, throwing words hither and yon with great flair.

Here’s our Northern friend Jeet Heer on Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant to See for the LA Review of Books:

Mouly’s new collection Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant to See, documents the Brown era and beyond, and shows how she gave the public face of The New Yorker a make-over, turning out covers that are much livelier and more timely while also skirting at the edge of good taste, and occasionally getting reined in by the magazine’s governing code of propriety. What does a cultural agitator do when she’s put in charge of the covers of a venerable publication, one that, in recent decades, has had a tropism towards stuffiness? One predictable innovation was recruiting a cohort of artists from Raw, including Burns, Richard McGuire, Robert Crumb, and Jacques de Loustal. Eventually, Mouly also brought on a wider array of cartoonists from outside the Raw orbit, like Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine, and Seth. These artists brought the inventiveness and élan of contemporary narrative cartooning to The New Yorker.

Here’s that Tucker Stone again, co-opting Joe McCulloch (patron saint of the unreadable-yet-intriguing), Matt (handsome man) Seneca, and Chris (wise & stable) Mautner with their gold darned podcast.

Oh heavens, here’s Sean T. Collins telling you about Batman books for Rolling Stone!

And, beneath that handsome cover there will be some comics in this year’s Best American Comics. Here is a list of them.

Finally, despite my intense love for his work, I did not know that Seymour (my fantasy football league illustrator/designer of choice for my life) Chwast had a column over at Print. Now you know, too.