Don’t Think So

Hi there, today we have Hayley Campbell interviewing the great Jon Chandler, who has books out from Mould Map and Breakdown. Here's a bit:

Your stuff is so odd I don’t even know who to say it’s like. What comics were you into when you started drawing your own?

A childhood best pal and I got lost in a fantasy world for a few years and we used to draw the characters for that, but I didn’t draw comics much growing up. I wanted them to be perfect immediately, which is daft for a kid, but it was too frustrating. I preferred writing stories I think. A little while ago in my old man’s loft I found a Star Wars one I did, which managed to mention the Earth and God.

The comedian Nathaniel Metcalfe — who you and I both used to work with in the comics shop at different times — was once looking over my shoulder when I was logging in to a bank or something and I said, “guess my password.” And he said “Doomlord.” And he was right. It was a photo-strip in the relaunched eightiesEagle that my dad started buying for me and him, when I was four it must have been. Doomlord was a shape-shifting alien with human eyes peeping out and with a sinister grin on him. He had a ring he could vanish people with, after he’d sucked their minds out with his hands, and then he’d steal their identities. It was terrifying to me. I loved it very much. It was written by John Wagner and Alan Grant, a kind of updatedThe Day The Earth Stood Still, a lot about nuclear weapons of course.

As a teen I would go into the Ipswich comic shop and was trying to get into superhero comics but was really just forcing myself. Then I gravitated to the dark bit at the back of the shop where the alt stuff was kept. After the miles of surface you’d get in the X-Men books I fell down this other world like a really deep well. I bought Panter’s Jimbo and was outraged that some kid could draw that and get it published. The next week I went back and bought another one.

I got into Hup and Eightball and that became the kind of work I aspired to after university when I tried my hand at comics. But they were horrible because my energy was misplaced going that way. I got hundreds of the first one printed and then went to a Bristol comics fair with all of them, a total isolated Bambi, and sold hardly any, though Alan Grant bought one.

Elsewhere.... last night I went to the opening of Jim Shaw's retrospective at the New Museum here in NYC. Besides Jim's amazing work (and hey, he's a TCJ-contributor, too), you can catch a glimpse of work by as diverse a crowd as Steve Ditko, Jack Chick and Basil Wolverton enshrined in one of the galleries. Here's a bit from the NY Times. I wrote an essay for the catalog and took the opportunity to write at length about Wayne Boring. Here's an interview I did with Jim on this very site. So there's that.

Speaking of good things, the best thing DC Entertainment has published in who knows how long is this cover by Frank Miller, who, whatever else, is cartooning better than ever. Via Twitter, I was reminded of Sean T. Collins' excellent piece on Miller's last major art for DC, DK2. 

And more down the hatch, Dark Horse spent the most money on Moebius, I suppose, so they get the prize. I hope they don't fuck it up. Of course they will.


Good Sleep

Joe McCulloch goes all (or part) Memento on us in his latest guide to the Week in Comics! The last shall be first and all that. But he has his reasons, in this case, a particular Diamond policy ...

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

Amnesty International has expressed support for jailed Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani and her lawyer as her trial begins.

This is why you should be careful selling your comics through Craigslist.

Julia Wertz shared one of her personal experiences with online harassment on Twitter.

—Commentary. Chris Mautner and the aforementioned Joe McCulloch and Chris Mautner talk about this year's SPX.

—Interviews & Profiles. Gil Roth spoke to Scott McCloud on the Virtual Memories podcast.

Brooklyn magazine talks to Lucas Adams, one of the instigating forces behind a much-anticipated upcoming comics imprint, New York Review Comics.



Today on the site we have Doug Harvey on Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby on view at Cal State Northridge and curated by TCJ-contributor Charles Hatfield.

Assembling and mounting the first serious institutional retrospective exhibition in America examining the art of Jack Kirby is a task fraught with contradictions. On the one hand, Kirby is universally recognized within the comics community as one of the greatest innovators of the medium, the first comic book artist to achieve celebrity status, and the primary architect of the superhero mythology at the very center of contemporary human culture. As far as comic book aficionados go, you’re preaching to the choir.

If, on the other hand, you are a normal person, chances are you’ve never heard of Kirby. If I were writing this review for a mainstream magazine – even one devoted to the visual arts – I would be obliged to devote several paragraphs explaining the long and complex arc of Kirby’s career and its reflection in the evolution of the medium and industry — particularly his iconic role in the struggle for creative autonomy and artists’ intellectual property rights.

I would also have to flesh out the scope of Kirby’s vast output – the few people who could identify Kirby as the co-creator of the Marvel Universe would have no idea about his Golden Age collaborations with Joe Simon, their invention of the romance comic genre, or his wildly inventive post-Marvel tenure at DC. “Kamandi? What the hell’s a Kamandi?!”'

Elsewhere, an unusually busy comics weekend...

Frank Santoro calls our attention to the Emerging Cartoonist Award given at the first edition of Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, this past weekend. Katie Skelly (also a TCJ contributor) was the very deserving recipient of the award and a substantial $7000 cash prize. I have to say, the idea of a no-strings-attached cash prize based on merit in comics, judged by smart, knowledgeable people, is ground-breaking. In the video Tom Spurgeon says something about investing in the future of comics, which is a great way to think about helping to build an infrastructure inside (or next to) the business. This kind of thing is a major step forward, in my mind -- showing that, like the other arts, there can be unencumbered institutional support for advanced comics. Congrats to Tom and the CXC crew on doing something great for the medium.

Heather Benjamin is interviewed by VICE about her new book, Romantic Story.

Marc Bell and Anders Nilsen jam cartoon about their recent tour. Some good linework in them pages.

On a recent lecture jaunt, Paul Karasik came upon comics heaven. Take me there. The Wayne Boring drawing pictured is a dream come true. Also, holy shit, that Soglow table top!

And finally, another cartoonist on the road: John Porcellino on recent travels.


Coffee Time

Matthias Wivel is here with a review of the giant Drawn and Quarterly 25th anniversary anthology:

Today, when you're ingesting the latest whirl of supremely controlled, cold-as-ice pages from Michael DeForge, or finding yourself having lost forty-five minutes cracking up knowingly while scrolling down Kate Beaton's Tumblr, it may hit you how strangely natural this feels. You might also look in the mirror and catch a fleck of gray hair, and then perhaps experience a residual sense of alienation.

Because, yes, it has been about twenty-five years since those heady days of comics suddenly—again—appearing like they were all promise. Yes, there had always been great comics and much ground had been broken in previous decades, but there was a crackle in the air in the early nineties. A sense, when you opened a new comic, not so much of a blank slate, but rather that those clear lines, those scruffy hatch marks were composed fractally of unrealized potential. At that moment, everything seemed (theoretically) possible. Precariously, but exhilaratingly so.

And yes, Chris Oliveros' Drawn and Quarterly was there, somewhere near the center of this breaking kaleidoscope. A fledgling publisher in hip Montréal, sufficiently shrewd—and lucky—to launch out with a handful of the finest cartoonists of their generation: Julie Doucet, Chester Brown, Seth, and Joe Matt. It may be obvious today, but the gauntlet they threw in the face of comics was radical at the time: a look at real life.

It did garner the publisher a reputation among reactionaries for publishing exclusively navel-gazing autobiography, which it took more than a decade to shake, but that was less due to any real predictability in their publishing line than it was to the shock of the new. Autobiography and other reality-based approaches to comics became the natural locus of the quiet explosion of tradition that was happening in comics.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Yesterday, Janelle Asselin published a report on harassment and assault allegations against Dark Horse editor Scott Allie. In particular, writer Joe Harris stepped forward to claim Allie both groped him inappropriately and bit him at a party during this year's San Diego Comic-Con. An unnamed witness backed up his account. Allie has since issued an apology for his behavior. Dark Horse CEO Mike Richardson has also issued a statement on the situation.

—Reviews & Commentary. Howard Chaykin, Gary Groth, Mike Catron, Larry Hama, and a bunch of other people discuss the work and legacy of Wally Wood.

Bart Croonenberghs writes about Philippe Druillet's 6 Voyages of Lone Sloane.

—Misc. The New York Times visits with Betty Tokar Jankovich, a onetime girlfriend of Bob Montana and apparent model for Betty from the Archie comics.



Today we have Annie Mok reviewing two new Michael DeForge books.

Transformations and power imbalances guide DeForge through Lose #7, the new issue of his one-person anthology comic; and Dressing, a collection of shorts and a successor to his 2013 collection Very Casual. Both come from DeForge’s regular publisher Koyama Press, and the crisp printing comes as a relief after the fuzzy image quality on DeForge’s Lose collectionA Body Beneath. Dressing sports textured cream paper in a pink hardcover, looking like an answer to DeForge’s precious salmon-colored D+Q book First Year Healthy. Its small size comes with the drawback of unnecessarily tiny text, but one story in the letter-sized Lose shares the same problem.

And elsewhere:

Jeet Heer has written a great article, with extensive new research, about Roy Crane's ties to the US military.

In a really smart and prescient movie move, The Lucas Museum has acquired the original art for R. Crumb's Genesis.

Comics related: The great cartoon-inflected painter Nicole Eisenman has been awarded a MacArthur "Genius" Grant. Here's a good interview with her.



Today, R.C. Harvey is here with an exhaustive report on this summer's Ted Rall/Los Angeles Times/LAPD controversy.

To say that political cartoonist Ted Rall is provocative is much like saying the Empire State Building is a pretty tall building or Mount Everest is quite a big hill. Rall often is, simply and unabashedly, extreme and outrageous, caustic sarcasm oozing from every panel of his cartoons. I usually agree with him—although at somewhat fewer decibels per utterance. And when his ire is aroused, as it has been lately, he can exaggerate the situation that irks him—he is, after all, a cartoonist—and maybe even stretch the truth a tad. So when he first began claiming that he’d been “fired” by the Los Angeles Times for spurious reasons, I paused before climbing on his bandwagon. For one thing, he couldn’t be “fired”: he freelances with the Times, contributing both cartoons and opinion columns.

It soon developed that not only had the Times resolved not to use any of Rall’s submissions in future (effectively “firing” him), but the paper announced its decision to the world on its website, a suspicious act on its face: Why would a newspaper feel compelled to make a public proclamation that it was no longer going to use the contributions of a freelancer? When a writer makes factual errors as the Times says Rall did, isn’t the usual journalistic practice to issue a correction? But the Times went far beyond this, and the extreme to which the paper went is highly suspicious. Why make such a public big deal about it?

The Times announcement continued, justifying its decision to drop Rall by claiming that a recent Rall column played fast and loose with the facts, thereby smearing his professional integrity as a reporter and commentator. And that, like the announcement itself, seemed a little extreme. Not only was the Times “firing” Rall in public, but it was sabotaging his reputation so he wouldn’t be able to find work anywhere else.

This is serious stuff. Deadly serious. No wonder Rall was pissed.

I have a different perspective on these events than Harvey does, largely because despite listening to Rall's "enhanced" audiotape multiple times, I have never been able to hear many of the key things Rall says are there. But Harvey's account is still well worth reading; there are important issues involved, and the facts at the bottom of the story are murky.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

Chip Zdarsky has refused to accept a Special Award for Humor from the Harvey Awards, arguing that it makes no sense for only him to be nominated for the award, considering Sex Criminals writer Matt Fraction's contributions.

In Playboy, Noah Berlatsky exaggerates the merits of Randall Munroe's XKCD, which is a good enough strip that it doesn't really need the hyperbole. (Not that overstating things online is a crime.)

Rob Clough reviews the latest volumes of the Complete Peanuts, as that project nears its end.

This Friday will see the opening, at the Turchin Center of the Arts in Boon, NC, of "At the Junction of Words & Pictures", an exhibition celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Center for Carton Studies curated by TCJ columnist Craig Fischer. Featured artists include Ariel Bordeaux, Chester Brown, Charles Burns, Sophie Goldstein, Kevin Huizenga, James Sturm, and Sophie Yanow, among many others.

Gabe Fowler of Desert Island:


Dealing with Hair

Today Joe brings us the week in and the week out.


Goodbye to Bergen Street Comics. 

Local news dept: This cracked me up.

Finally, here I am this past summer talking Hairy Who with most of the HW themselves...


Foxy Grandpa

Today, Dan writes about a slew of comics he's read recently, including work by Aidan Koch, Anya Davidson, Benjamin Marra, Heather Benjamin, S. Clay Wilson, and Hugo Pratt, among others. Here's an excerpt, in which he reviews the new anthology, Lagon:

I was one of the lucky 400 who got this limited edition risograph comics anthology. I was excited. It is ironic then, that it would appear at same time as Mould Map 4, which makes Lagon irrelevant. For all its bluster (from the intro: “In the depths of the ocean, under the blue Lagon, an island was waiting to rise to the surface.” Guess what’s on the island guys? Comics!) and preciousness the book is basically a rehash of Mould Map #3 and various issues of Kramer’s Ergot, right down to the obligatory historical piece (Fletcher Hanks, guys!). What’s odd about this lavish production is that it’s filled with imitators of other people in the actual book. CF, Negron, Yokoyama — their influences dominate to an almost hysterical degree. Like, what the fuck? Or as Jeff the Drunk would say, Chelllllllo?! I guess what I’m looking for now in a comic (since you asked) is strangeness or authenticity. Give me one or the other or both (Koch, Benjamin, Davidson, Marra, Chandler below all have it in spades). In any case, Lagon is not strange or even unusual. It feels like a luxury good and thus like the end of something. It’s co-sponsored by by Agnes B., whose other offenses include Harmony Korine’s career. I don’t want art that has been digested already. Obviously I’m not being fair to it. Everyone worked hard, etc. But if you’re gonna do it, don’t fuck around with bullshit. On the other hand, man, this one contributor, Alexis Beauclair, is really excellent. He or she has taken the lessons of Yokoyama and Schrauwen and made a lot of fascinating comics in which you kind of activate them by touch. It’s hard to explain. Check it out. Better than you think.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

The Harvey Awards were given out at the Baltimore Comic-Con.

Michael Lorah at CBR talks to Adrian Tomine about his upcoming collection.

Mark Medley at the Toronto Globe & Mail profiles Kate Beaton.

—Comics Enriched Their Lives! #135:
In this lost and only recently published book review of Alfed North Whitehead, T.S. Eliot takes his title metaphor from the funny pages.