—Reviews & Commentary. Yesterday, Dan linked to one of the two Peanuts essays going around online this week. Here's the other one, by Kevin Wong at Kotaku, arguing that Peanuts got ruined when Snoopy started fighting the Red Baron and light whimsy became the main focus. That's an old, popular argument -- I remember a big cover feature in the New York Press making the same claim at length some fifteen years ago or so. The opposing critical side argues that people place too much emphasis on the "dark" elements of Schulz's work because dark subject matter is irrationally considered more adult and sophisticated. Of course, in actual fact both sides are wrong/right, and Peanuts contains multitudes, and did so from beginning to end. There's light whimsical humor from the very earliest strips. Wong mentions the following strip from 1995 (long past the beginning of the Joe Cool era), but dismisses it only on the basis that it's not a "fully-formed joke." Well, it made me laugh out loud when I opened to it in the latest Complete Peanuts volume.
Anyway, it's not hard to cherry-pick weaker or stronger strips from any era to make your case. But arguing that Peanuts isn't good in later years because Snoopy doesn't act like a real dog seems a little beside the point.
More importantly: it's obviously all right to prefer one era or tone over another. (In fact, my particular taste in Peanuts isn't that far off from Wong's, though I'm much more impressed with Schulz's consistency.) But one of the great strengths of the daily newspaper strip is its flexibility. Schulz knew exactly what he was doing.
I don't believe we've linked to the relaunched Trouble with Comics site yet. Here's a post where the members discuss the concept of the "perfect comic shop" that demonstrates the site's strengths nicely.
I am trying to figure out the ways to approach the one Silver Age artist scheduled, Ramona Fradon, who is a new idol of mine and won’t appear until Friday. As I wander the periphery dedicated to the art that inspired the Comic-Con originally, I realize that the things I once bargain hunted through, old comic books and original art, had inflated faster than the real estate in my gentrifying neighborhood. Silver age comics that were seven dollars twenty years ago are now priced at $700. I feel lucky to have collected a bit in the old days, and realize that the seemingly expensive reprints I now hunger for are a bargain. This inflation is probably tied to the appearance of auction houses that, as far as I know, are as rigged as those in the art world I normally inhabit. The real reason may be tied into the new world of post-reality economics, in which inflation has nothing to do with rising wages and stock prices have no relation to the productivity of the companies whose stock is being traded. It mostly seems to relate to a world of excess wealth searching endlessly for an investment that pays higher than interest rates, usually that forgetting most such investments are risky anomalies followed by crashes. Some of that excess cash seems to be ending up in the old comics market.
And we are excited to welcome Rina Ayuyang, as she begins her week contributing our Cartoonist's Diary.
—Reviews & Commentary. Paul Constant has found a weekly home over at the Seattle Review of Books.
Welcome to the end of the week. Today we have two of my faves -- Keith McCulloch in conversation with Kevin Hooyman, who has just released his new book, Conditions on the Ground. Two old pals from back 1990s Providence. Both great storytellers.
KM: It seems the comics fan is more righteous than other fans. They would pay.
KH: Yes. I guess so. And everyone is supporting each other. It can be a problem. When I go walking around the comic shows I will see people I only sort of know and I HAVE to buy their comic. Like I went to buy this one comic I wanted, from this girl whose stuff I liked, and she was sold out, and the guy at the table next to her was like Hey I remember you and I had just tried to buy her comic so I’m obviously shopping, and my immediate response was like Oh i gotta buy yours .
KM: How much was it?
KH: Oh they’re all like five or ten dollars. I have to. I don’t know why. Especially if i just sold a bunch, just take the cash around and buy stuff. It’s just support. It’s good. It works. Because it’s all people who don’t have much money buying comics from each other, kinda just telling each other to keep going… you’d like some stuff. There’s good people. There’s some energy in the comics world right now I think. Kids are really into it. “Kids” again. But this time really kids — under 25. deeply into it.
KM: Where are they all?
KH: They’re all over. It’s international. They’re at these fairs — they’re at home on their computers. They’re making comics. Or they’re in these little DIY cities like Richmond or Providence or… they’re all over.
KM: How do you find out about em?
KH: Well I find out about them, and I’m not saying this is the right way to do it or anything, through Tumblr. I think that’s a comics scene. Unless theres a bigger one somewhere else. But I stumbled onto the Tumblr scene. That’s almost like a community because everyone is just posting. It’d pretty great because people just post the latest shit they drew. Everyone’s pushing each other in a way… there are some people I follow on Tumblr that are super productive that I really admire and feel pushed by. To see people cranking out thirty pages in a month.
The Seattle Weekly has named Ellen Forney best cartoonist in Seattle.
The 2015 Kirby4Heroes campaign to raise funds for cartoonists in need has launched, and the LA Times has a story about it. The group is run by Jack Kirby's granddaughter, Jillian Kirby, and her goal this year is $20,000.
His first published effort in a freelance illustration career, however, was earlier, for Lariat Magazine, a cowboy pulp.
“Soglow had never been out of New York,” reported the King Features promotional booklet Famous Artists and Writers, “but his cowboys were real authentic.”
Soglow once said he found his first job by thumbing the telephone directory and writing down the names of all the publications. Said he: “I took a handful of drawings and started to call on publishing houses. I started at the Battery and worked my way uptown from there. The following day, I started from the street I left off the previous day.”
When he got to 34th Street, he landed a job for a publisher of cheap pulp magazines (perhaps Lariat Magazine). “I received seven dollars for my first published drawing,” he recalled for Jerry Robinson inThe Comics. “From then on, I decided to become a cartoonist.”
By 1925, when Soglow joined the art staff at the New York World, he had abandoned illustration in favor of cartooning. At the World for about a year, he produced a series of satiric comic strips; he also continued to freelance, contributing cartoons to Life, Judge, The New Yorker, Collier’s, and other leading magazines. On October 11, 1928, he married Anna Rosen; they had one daughter, Tona (whose name was composed of the last two letters of her parents’ names).
The Safari Festival in London is coming up next week, and here's a bit about its organizers, Breakdown Press.
Joe McCulloch has your weekly guide to the most interesting-sounding new comics in stores, plus some thoughts on Dragon Ball Z.
The nostalgia I felt watching the film had really nothing to do with anime or manga; I'd never even watched Dragon Ball Z on television. No, what struck me was how much this movie felt like an old Marvel superhero comics Annual, cramming a whole bunch of characters together for a 'big' (yet somehow also low-stakes) story set in active continuity but not especially effective thereupon.