Today, Greg Hunter is here with a review of the latest issue of Ethan Rilly's Pope Hats, which sounds like a significant departure from earlier installments.

The new issue may initially disappoint readers who were expecting further adventures of Frances and Vickie; it’s centered not around a cast of characters but around a set of themes. (Although issues one through three also included some standalone vignettes, they read as peripheral to the Frances and Vicki pages.) Rilly maintains the neat classicism of his linework, but he’s a cartoonist with new preoccupations. His gentle looks at millennial malaise are absent. Instead, Rilly turns toward cases of outright alienation. Issue four is not as fun as previous installments—it’s a demanding work, by comparison—but the comic is also earnest and engrossing.

Although Rilly’s Frances character works on the margins of her profession, assisting a series of high-powered attorneys as an entry-level law clerk, the earlier issues of Pope Hats present her as a thoroughly relatable figure—someone who reminds you of, if not yourself, than a friend or a neighbor. But Pope Hats #4 belongs to some real outsiders. “The Hollow” is a science-fiction story featuring a mid-level space surveyor, a smartest-guy-in-the-room type who underperforms and clashes with his coworkers. Rilly manages to both follow this character and also create distance between the surveyor and the reader, employing a slightly queasy yellow palette and a series of claustrophobic grids (about sixteen panels per page, on average).

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Chris Ware wrote a short essay on the video game Minecraft, to go along with his latest New Yorker cover. This cover inspired a lot of very negative reactions on social media, which fascinates me, especially now that Ware has revealed more of the thinking behind the image. Ware's work almost always attracts a larger-than-average number of detractors (as well as unusual amounts of praise, of course), much of which is either obvious kill-your-daddy stuff or stems from transparent jealousy, but some of which seems to stem from genuine antipathy to his subject matter and approach. Even some people who generally seem to enjoy Ware's work have reacted badly to Ware's recent covers for The New Yorker, all of which feature what would seem to be characteristic seasonal New Yorker cover scenes, only with a lot more smartphone usage. What interests me about the negative reactions is not so much their content—critics have called these covers "trite" and "obvious"—so much as their vehemence, and the apparent assumptions that underpin them. I get why people would react to these with indifference; I'm having a harder time understanding the outright hostility and anger.

An increasingly common critical error in recent years has been the confusion of artistic depiction with the artist's approval. In this case, however, the detractors seem certain that Ware's depictions are always meant as disapproval. Ware's essay, which is at least ambivalent about Minecraft, and even fairly positive about the game ("If architecture somehow mirrors the spaces we carve in our memories and make in our minds, then something pretty interesting is going on here"), shows that assumption to be wrong, at least in this particular case.

We have all had it beaten into our heads not to put too much stock into artists' intentions, so set that aside for now. The point is that the cover image shows a scene that everyone agrees does happen all the time. "Trite," "boring," "Luddite," "technophobic," etc.: these are the common attacks on Ware's New Yorker covers. One thing I haven't heard said about them is that they are inaccurate or unrealistic. Kids do play Minecraft on sunny days. Parents do watch their children's talent shows through their smartphone cameras. Families (not mine) do spend Thanksgiving in front of the television. If Ware's cover showed the two girls playing outside with a ball instead of playing video games on a computer, it would have been just as common and well-rehearsed an image as the one he actually drew -- actually, it would have been a scene depicted far more often over the centuries. People might not have liked that more traditional and Rockwell-esque cover very much, but my guess is the responses would have been more in the line of bored shrugs than angry Facebook rants. For some reason, this particular topic is one that some people really don't want to see explored. This is a scene that it seems some believe should simply not be depicted, no matter how objectively. I wonder why.

Leela Jacinto reviews Riad Sattouf's Arab of the Future.

—Interviews & Profiles. Jules Feiffer talks to The Wall Street Journal.

Alex Dueben speaks to Peggy Burns about her new role at D&Q, among other things.

I don't know why this Greek blues site keeps talking to prominent cartoonists, but I'm glad they are -- here's Gary Panter.

Alexander Lu talks to Brandon Graham.

Joe Matt is more Joe Matt than ever in his 10-question interview with the Comics Tavern.

Vice talks to Nina Bunjevac.

Michael Hill of the Kirby Museum has gathered many quotes from Jack Kirby interviews in an attempt to show that the stances Kirby took in his famous TCJ interview were consistently held.


Investment Potential

Today on the site we have Mike Dawson's TCJ Talkies with guest Box Brown discussing The Cute Manifesto, BORB, and other sundry items.


Yesterday Tim linked to a post about supposed disinterest in "fine art" among the under-40 set. I can't remember if I'm supposed to care who Michael Lind is, but the article is pretty dumb. There is more writing about art and exhibiting of art now than in any other time in history, much of it done by people under 40! Art News, Hyperallergic, Paper Monument, artist's book fairs all over the place, a zillion little publishers of art stuff, galleries in every nook and cranny of Brooklyn, etc. etc. It's fucking endless right now. The real question is: Where's it all gonna go when the money runs out?

TCJ-contributor Craig Fischer is co-hosting a great sounding panel this weekend at Heroes Con. Go forth and enjoy it!

ccs-poster (3) (1)



Early Edition

Joe McCulloch is here as usual this fine Tuesday morning, with a guide to the most interesting-sounding new comics releases of the week.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The nominees for Canada's Joe Schuster Awards have been announced.

The CBLDF has a report explaining the recent protest by a 20-year-old California college student over the inclusion in a course of four graphic novels she and her family deem "pornography" and "garbage": Fun Home, Persepolis, and volumes of Y the Last Man and The Sandman.

Michael Cavna at the Washington Post shares some of the results of the #Draw4Atena campaign.

—Reviews & Commentary. Robert Boyd has comics on the mind again lately, with reviews of Bill Schelly's Harvey Kurtzman biography and the first print issue of Kayla E.'s Nat. Brut.

Sequential State reviews Josh Simmons's harrowing Black River.

Neil Cohn writes about a study that seems to show that the supposed universality of cartoon images is just that: supposed.

—Not Comics. Michael Lind wonders why no one under 40 cares about fine art—did capitalism kill it? I am posting this mostly to see if Dan likes it, is annoyed by it, both, or neither.


Why Wait?

Today on the site we have Bob Levin reviewing The Adventures of Tad Martin, #Sick Sick Six.

The first story in the comic The Adventures of Tad Martin, #Sick Sick Six (Teenage Dinosaur and Profanity Hill. 2015), by Casanova Frankenstein, “the artist, formally (sic) known as Al Frank,” is entitled “Tad Martin Vs. Popeye Rape-Whistle in The Secrets of Corpse-Fucking.” The publisher believed me the perfect person to review it. One week later, a journal editor had the same idea. I was flattered by the attention. At the same time, I thought, How the hell did Creative Writing 101a get me here?

Actually TM 6 had no character named Popeye Rape-Whistle. No corpse was fucked, and no secrets about corpse-schtupping were revealed. The whole title seemed to have been a marketing decision. Which did not make me feel any more ready for the trip Frankenstein’s pages promised. I was, after all, a guy who had swallowed his publisher’s defense of the omission of the word “Pornographers” from my title Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers, Pirates &... by arguing it might scare off shoppers in Walmart.


The New York Times has a major feature on Drawn & Quarterly which rightly celebrates its ongoing championing of women in comics. Also included is a list of suggested reading which looks about right to me.

All hail one of my favorite Chicagoans, Anya Davidson, who has at last opened an online store. Go forth. Anya's man dude Lane Milburn has started serializing his new comic. Somewhere deep in Chi-town the internet cables are sizzling.


I plan to write a lot more about this soon, but may I recommend a few things I've been reading? Yes? Thank you.

-Stroppy by Marc Bell. We will have much more coverage soon, but jeez, people, go get this book. I love this book. Marc's visual voice is unmistakable, beautifully (and I mean, like, sharp inhale beautiful) rendered and so damn funny in the finest Edward Lear/EC Segar way.

-Comics For Nothing by Noel Freibert. On the other end of the spectrum, a gorgeously printed book of drawings that weave and flap in the breeze, making comic book panels into active elements. Close to a dance performance.

-Qviet by Andy Burkholder. Cartoon drawing as an act of daydream searching -- reminds me of Saul Steinberg in some ways. Very funny about sex and physical identity.

-Salz and Pfeffer by Emilie Gleason. Another very "free" comic, in the sense that it seems  unbeholden to any particular genre -- but it is very much about cartoons and the dopey culture of it all. Funny, very nicely drawn and immersive.

-Melody by Sylvia Rancourt: Holy moly, this is a mini-revelation. A masterclass in cartooning as urgent communication. We'll have more soon.

That's all. More later.


Beauty Is a Rare Thing

Today, Paul Buhle is here with a review of two Steve Lafler releases, Doggie Style: The Complete Dog Boy and Death in Oaxaca #1.

Steve Lafler is one of those too-late-for-Underground-Comix artists who nevertheless reflected the satirical affect of the 1970s in all its daffy and sometimes dopey energy. Too bad he was only 16 in 1979. On the other hand, he’s a still pretty young fellow practicing his art from Oaxaca, Mexico, in the twenty-first century.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Aidan Koch didn't just draw the cover for the new issue of The Paris Review, but also has a story inside. Here's a preview.

—Rina Ayuyang reads at the San Francisco Public Library:

—For those of you who do Facebook, Richard Sala remembers getting reviewed for his first comic in Heavy Metal thirty years ago.

—RIP Christopher Lee.

—RIP Ornette Coleman.


At Most

Today on the site:

Morten Harper brings us this profile of the prolific and dynamic cartoonist Bastien Vives, who you may remember from Frank Santoro singing his praises. I love the look of this work, though confess to still not having read any, just out of sheer laziness. I hope to get caught up this summer. Here's a bit:

I notice that you say "we" and "our". I understand that Last Man is made in the same way as an animated movie: you write the story, Balak does the storyboard before you and Michaël Sanlaville draw the pages. What does the series gain through this collaboration?

It was important for me to involve someone who is an expert at doing storyboards. French comics lacks this part, the staging of the story, normally it's just an author and a draftsman.

You've set up a "manga island" of tables with computers, monitors and digital drawing boards. Your collaboration seems to be very close, almost intense?

There is this notion that comic creators work in solitude. I've, however, always made comics together with others. At first my brother, then at art school and now here in Atelier Manjari. It's not only artistic collaboration, but the social value of being with other people that inspires me. We work on Wacom Cintiq digital drawing boards, and this immediate collaboration would be impossible if we drew on paper. We share files and work seamlessly on each other's pictures. I have to work in a much larger format than in print, and it is easy to scale the frames on screen. I also make many changes while I draw, and this is, of course, infinitely easier than on paper.

French publishers translate large quantites of manga, and the Japanese style has influenced severel domestic series. Still, Last Man is probably the first fullblood manga series made in France?

We do break away from the French tradition of one album in a year, which I think to the readers is quite unsatisfying, having to wait a whole year for just 40 new pages. The more frequent release schedule of Last Man would not be possible without the collaboration we've set up.


Best publishing news of the summer: Chester Brown bible comics (no, not those bible comics, other bible comics) coming next year from D&Q.

This event in Belgium sounds awesome. Here's Joost Swarte explaining a bit. Smart, exterior drawing is so nice to see.


Mickey Oven

It's all meanwhile, elsewhere today.

—Reviews & Commentary. Philip Nel has a terrific piece on Maurice Sendak, and what you can learn by reading his will.

At the New Republic, Jeet Heer writes about the recent Art Spiegelman piece on censorship and drawing Muhammad.

Rob Clough reviews Mike Dawson's Angie Bongiolatti.

—Misc. Quentin Blake has 7 rules for illustrators.

Annie Mok provides a guided tour of her bookshelves.

This Tumblr post and the comments thread following has a lot of advice on how to make money working a table at a comics convention.

—Crowdfunding. Fans of Chuck Forsman, Michel Fiffe, and/or Cliff Chiang might be interested in the rewards you can get from helping fund the Kickstarter of children's musician Miss Nina (spouse of former columnist Tucker Stone). Today's the last day.

Comics reviewer Zainab Akhtar is starting a Patreon to fund her writing.

—Interviews & Profiles. At the LARB, Laurie Winer talks to Fun Home musical writer Lisa Kron about the adaptation process, revealing some interesting thoughts on the original book.

Mark Frauenfelder interviewed Dan Clowes at Meltdown last Friday:


Large Desk

Today Joe McCulloch is here to provide comics nourishment for you and yours.


How was CAKE? How was it? Chicagoans, please report in.

Let's see... Alison Bechdel's Fun Home cleaned up at the Tony Awards.

This legal news about Tintin was pinging around the internet today. Here's a bit of context. 

Cat's outta the bag on the next Kramers Ergot, but I know that the cat will change moods and the bag will change colors. Here's a taste at least.

More future news... Brian Gibson, occasional cartoonist, great animator and Lightning Bolt-bassist has co-authored a game that'll debut on PlayStation next year. Also features graphics but Mr. Brinkman, This makes me want to get a PlayStation and learn how to play games.