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Dog Whistle

Today at TCJ, we've got a dive into John Martz latest book with Koyama Press: Evie and The Truth About Witches. Careful what you wish for, Evie.

Our review of the day comes to you from Aug Stone, who has returned from the latest Nobrow sated

This is the first book of Nobrow’s ‘Gamayun Tales’ by Alexander Utkin. Gamayun is a playful and elegant “magical human-faced bird from Slavic mythology”, her love of having an audience for these stories evident as she keeps popping in along the way, providing links as we travel from battlefield to forest to the Copper, Silver, and Golden Realms. But the titular “King Of Birds” is of course the eagle, who needs nursing back to health after the aforementioned great battle. Enter the merchant and his wife, the most European-looking of anything in this book. Perhaps it’s the presence of so much gold mixed with talking creatures that puts one in mind of lysergic scenes conjured by Carlos Castaneda. The avian royalty certainly bear some resemblance to Aztec art – and the female fowl share the fluidity of Hanco Kolk’s Single leading ladies – though this goes to show how these stories are connected deep within the world consciousness.

The latest installment in Comicosity's Cómix Latinx interview series is up, with Lion Forge's Desiree Rodriguez dropping in.

I can’t say there was a single point in time when I was like, “yes I’m going to make comics my career” because there wasn’t. It was a slow-going process, a lot of learning, a lot of work, and a bit of luck. Joe Illidge gave me my first job as his part-time assistant working at Lion Forge on the Catalyst Prime line. I was honestly shocked. I always tell people that when he called me I thought we were going to talk about Batman and instead he offered me a job! Now I’ve been at Lion Forge for two years, working full time, editing my own books, I’ve been blessed really.

In keeping with the editorial theme, Women Write About Comics profiled Ari Yarwood, the editor behind the Limerence Press imprint at Oni Books.

In terms of the sex education aspect of the imprint, Yarwood explains that she had to make a choice when she was younger as to whether or not she’d become an editor or a sex educator. Limerence is almost like the best of both worlds for her; however, she does her best to “defer to folks who have more lived experience, expertise, and time spent in sex education when dealing with nonfiction,” in addition to the research she puts in herself.

The Jason Lutes Berlin coverage expands, with this profile at Pop Matters serving as the latest installment

"I started this book in 1996 based on this desire to know about history but also understanding that these forces were still present -- all over the world, but in the States even at the time I knew there were several hundred white supremacist organizations around the country. Seeing day-to-day racism and things like that in North American culture was just part of the way I understood the world. So looking back at history and seeing these same forces at work, like xenophobia and scapegoating… Things are hard for some people so they want to blame somebody else. Instead of taking responsibility for themselves for their difficulties they want to point the finger at other people and feel more powerful and more control by subjecting others to whatever controls they can manage. I think there's this basic underlying human capacity for those things, which has always been with us."

Don't ask me how I feel about Cable. I've already written and rewritten six different obituaries, all of which are too sincere and personal to share with you animals. Look, I knew watching the wifi guy break the company's publishing arm wasn't going to be particularly fun, but still--I had no idea how annoying it was going to be. Fucking Cable, man? What a buncha jerks. I hate everything about this illustration.

 

Overbrimming

Another full day at TCJ. First, Austin English returns with another provocative installment of his regular column. This time, after first revisiting an old artistic dispute between André Breton and Leon Trotsky, he argues against the comics world's preference for clarity.

It's exhausting to assert that William Blake's Jerusalem is a brilliant comic, even though such a statement is necessary and true. 'Why is this work not in the comics canon!' is a battle that feels laborious to even consider, mainly because the merits of such a work are so strong and the world cartooning has created around itself is so foreign to Jerusalem’s properties. The gap between the two feels like a hopelessly tattered and beyond repair bridge. Why bother? Energy is, pragmatically, better spent elsewhere. Still, one wonders why we don't see more comics work in the tradition of Blake, and instead see quite a bit of cartooning that, more or less, resembles Ben Garrison:

Ben Garrison, 2018

It would be disingenuous to argue that outside approaches to traditional cartooning are discouraged in 2018. In fact, they are more welcome than at any other time in comics history, as artists of all disciplines and concerns make comics for engaged readerships of all kinds. But when I think of how comics asserts itself outside of the underground, Garrison is closer to the norm than may be comfortable to admit.

Scott Bateman, The Nib, Test Your Kavanaugh-ledge, The Nib, 2018

The Nib, The Believer, The New Yorker, and most mainstream publishers that work with comics, while often publishing beautiful and innovative work, do not deviate from the same rule that their spiritual arch-nemesis Garrison holds dear: clarity. Some artists make transcendent work for these publications, mastering and making wide leaps within the realm of clear communication, the brilliant work of Liana Finck serving as a noteworthy example. And Garrison himself, while espousing ideas that most readers of this site find counter to their core values, makes thrilling work, precisely because it elicits such strong rejection.

Sean Rogers has also returned to these digital pages, with a review of the long-awaited English translation of Jacques Tardi's I, René Tardi, Prisoner of War in Stalag IIB.

A difficult task: to tell a story in which there is no forward progress, no momentum, just drudgery and suffering. In a remote Nazi stalag with no hope of escape on the horizon, no possibility of rebellion, misery and ceaseless repetition are the only traits that distinguish each day. For Jacques Tardi, these are the qualities he must convey, to capture anything of his father’s internment during the Second World War: defeat, privation, punishing monotony. The artist’s byword, repeated again and again in his Comics Journal interview about his new book, and often in his father’s narration therein, is “bitterness.”

René Tardi had much to be bitter about, thanks to the nearly five years he spent in Stalag IIB, sixty miles south of the Baltic Sea, in what was then Pomerania, following his capture in the French defeat of 1940. “His youth had been confiscated,” writes his son in the foreword to the welcome new translation of 2012’s I, René Tardi, Prisoner of War in Stalag IIB, a “visual reconstruction” of his father’s military experience. (The second volume, 2014’s “My Return Home,” will appear in English early next year; Casterman lists a third volume in French this winter.) A professional soldier well before the war began, Rene endures the ignominy of a quick surrender in the early going of I, René Tardi, while the bulk of the book tolls out his years of bondage, hunger, and disgrace in the miserable German camp to which he is exiled.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Yesterday, it was announced that not only will Amazon affiliate comiXology be a sponsor of this weekend's Small Press Expo in Bethesda, it will also be both exhibiting and passing out free copies of one of its new line of print-on-demand comics.

ComiXology will sponsor both programming tracks and workshops at the upcoming event, which runs at the Marriott North Bethesda Hotel & Conference Center this Saturday and Sunday. Additionally, it will be giving away print editions of Hit Reblog and a limited edition poster for the book, with a signing for the book scheduled for Friday Sept. 14 at 7pm for SPX exhibitors, guests and volunteers. Megan Kearney, the book’s writer/artist attending the show and tabling all weekend.

It is difficult to understand how one of only two trillion-dollar companies in the world could possibly fit within any possible definition of "small press," but I suppose there's something wrong with me for caring... In any case, Eric Reynolds seems pretty prescient right now.

This year's Joe Shuster Award winners have been announced.

—Interviews & Profiles. GoComics talks to Olivia Jaimes about Nancy.

How do you feel about the media attention that the reboot of Nancy has generated?

Grateful and humbled, which is a boring answer but true. Mostly, I try to pretend it doesn't exist, or I risk becoming incredibly full of myself.

How about the reaction among Nancy fans? Have you had much interaction with them since April? Do you pay much attention to their comments (we love your Aug. 19 strip about the "exact right temperature to leave a nice comment")?

I get a very filtered version of the general sentiment from my friends, but otherwise try to avoid all comments and will tuck and roll out of the room the moment somebody starts to bring them up.

This doesn't mean I don't appreciate having fans (I DEFINITELY DO); it's just that, if I read too many nice things, I really will become way too pleased with myself and comics production will grind to a halt while I preen at myself in the mirror. Meanwhile, whenever I read a single unkind thing, I'm bitter about it for the next six weeks. So it's really more efficient for me to pretend only my editor and my parents are reading these, and then occasionally hear that "people liked the one yesterday" from my mom.

At The Cut, Heather Havrilesky profiles Lisa Hanawalt.

I met Hanawalt at ShadowMachine in Hollywood, a playful but posh animation studio featuring a giant cut-out of BoJack and a sound room that’s shaped like a big silver metal helmet. As amiable young creative types meandered through the halls, Hanawalt’s very nice assistant brought me an icy-cold grapefruit LaCroix; then I was led to Hanawalt’s office in the back, which she shares with her dog, Indiana Jones, a charming medium-sized brown mutt with very nice manners. “I think she’s just what dogs look like when they have sex indiscriminately for a lot of generations,” Hanawalt told me in what I would soon discover is her typical low-key funny way of dropping punch lines into everyday conversation. Anxious to find a little suffering in this sunny picture, I asked Hanawalt if it was hard to go from the independent work of creating illustrated freelance pieces for the Hairpin and Lucky Peach to working with the self-proclaimed busy and important human beings of Los Angeles.

For The New Yorker, Françoise Mouly talks briefly to Chris Ware about his latest New Yorker cover, and looks back at the previous covers in his first-day-of-school series.

Five years—only five years!—since I was helping my daughter into a bike seat to take her to second grade, and now I could barely kiss the top of her head, though she could now kiss my wife’s. It’s cliché and it’s sentimental but it’s true: parents, when your child asks, “Will you play with me?”—do. Because one day they really will stop asking, just like you did.

Entertainment Weekly spoke to Dave Gibbons.

Do you have any closing thoughts about Watchmen’s legacy and how it’s influenced comics for better or worse over the years?
[Laughs] It is amazing to me that after all this time there is still interest in it. Alan and I thought we’d have a mildly successful series that would have its end and go into the remainder bin and that would be the end of it. The fact it’s kept on for so long and hasn’t been out of print is amazing. If it worked to the detriment of comics at all, it might be the “grim and gritty” approach was taken by other people in the business to mean “ah this is how you must make comics.” So there was a decade of grim, gritty, and nihilistic comics, which wasn’t what we intended at all. In fact, if we’d done anything after Watchmen, we would have done something like Shazam, something with a lighter, more humorous fable feeling to it rather than something dark and grim. I do apologize to the comic-reading public for all that misery.

The Comics Alternative podcast interviews Keiler Roberts.

—Commentary. At JSTOR Daily, Matthew Wills writes about how Walt Kelly's Pogo was frequently censored.

Senator Joe McCarthy’s appearance in the strip in 1953, as a malicious wildcat named Simple J. Malarkey, was a particular “hot potato.” In October of 1954—just before the actual McCarthy would be censured by the Senate—Malarkey made another appearance. This time, the editor of the Providence Bulletin told Kelly that if Malarkey’s face appeared in the strip again, the paper would drop the strip.

Kelly finessed this by introducing a character from Providence, giving Malarkey the line “nobody from Providence should see me!” before he pulls an empty bait bag over his head. This had the double effect of getting rid of Malarkey’s face and making him look like a Klan member. “Now we find we are kidded” the Bulletin’s editor admitted, moving the strip to the op-ed page, where satire was evidently permitted.

Finally, the New York Review of Books has published an autobiographical essay by Tsuge Tadao.

My comics have been turned into a movie. It’s titled Vagabond Plain.

The script and the direction are both by veteran director Teruo Ishii. Officially, I am “author of the original story.” But to be honest, I feel a bit guilty about receiving that honor. Upon reading the script, my initial reactions were “?” and “ … ” and also some “!!” My crude and naked stories had been dolled up and transformed into something bold and wonderful.

The script was super fun. Director Ishii had laced together a number of my short and medium-length stories, then embellished them with his own wild-spirited sections, to spin a yarn that is truly bizarre. I hesitate to call myself the original author precisely because I am so impressed with Ishii’s additions. His parts are the overall narrative’s true jewels. Had the script followed my manga faithfully, the resulting movie would surely have been too bleak. It’s presumptuous of me to think this, but I wonder if Ishii consciously set out to combat the darkness of my work.

 

Praying for a Nightmare

Welcome to Monday at TCJ, where we're pleased to share the first installment of the Fiffe Files. Longtime internet denizens will remember previous installments of articles like these at The Beat, Factual Opinion, and Fiffe's own Patreon: Well, now they're here! This month is Michel's dive into Walt Simonson's Fantastic Four. Read it on the biggest screen possible.

That's not all! Today's review is David Small's new graphic novel, Home After Dark. Nathan Chazan took on the 416-page opus and, the first line of his review is "One sequence in Home After Dark is truly compelling."

Only one? Yikes!

Over at Diversions of the Groovy Kind, they've thrown together one of those super-specific focused posts that always draw my attention: Behold, the opening page of every comic purchased by our author in August 1979.

TCJ Contributor Sarah Horrocks has a preview of her next comic up... at Bleeding Cool, I guess because British people work there and she's going to debut it at a UK comic show? 

Over at Broken Frontier, Robin Enrico takes a look at one of the many comics Noah Van Sciver is putting out this year: One Dirty Tree, his upcoming memoir from Uncivilized Books.

 

Cough Cough

Today on the site, Rob Clough reviews Taneka Stotts's Eisner-winning anthology Elements: Fire.

The anthology is successful on a number of levels, but its surface aesthetics are one of the most significant. In a book with 23 different stories and a wide variety of visual approaches, Stotts cleverly uses a single spot color (red, for fire, of course) in a book that's otherwise black and white. Sometimes red is used with overwhelming force in the course of a story and other times there are simply wisps and hints of the color. This smart editorial decision gives each story a common visual language, unlike anthologies where every single story look the same, both in terms of subject matter and technique. That was one of the biggest problems I had with the old Flight anthology series.

While some of the artists in the book work in animation, this anthology is also unlike Flight in that the focus is much more on the stories than the visuals. This is an anthology by cartoonists (some of whom happen to be animators), rather than an anthology by animators dabbling in cartooning. Elements: Fire has a nice rhythm thanks to its stories being around ten pages apiece, with some exceptions. Stotts follows some of the longer stories with two-pagers as a sort of aesthetic palate cleanser before transitioning back to longer stories. Stotts arranges the stories such that no two stories that looked alike follow each other. For example, Kou Chen's slowly-paced, naturalistic story about two tribes merging in fire to survive is followed by the cartoony, frenetic story from Maddi Gonzalez about a young witch. The former story is notable for its gray wash and subtle use of reds until the very end, while the latter is pretty much drowning in red thanks to its young firestarters.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The annual Comics Workbook Composition Competition winners have been announced.

—Brian Fies reviews a new book about Mort Walker. Jason Whiten, the author of said book, has posted several blog posts about Walker this week, including one about a 1964 comic book in which Beetle Bailey fights the Cold War in West Berlin.

—RIP Burt Reynolds.

 

Our Darling Koi

Today at The Comics Journal, we're pleased to break up the last few weeks of bad news with some good: after twenty years, Jason Lutes monumental Berlin project sees publication this week from Drawn & Quarterly. He spoke with Josh Kramer about what it was like to commit so hard to something, the man he became over the decades of work he put into it, how he grapples with cultural appropriation, and what he thinks about when he watches the news.

I had some highfalutin ideas about what I was going to get across, what I was going to "lay down." And I also wanted to explore as much of the kind of spectrum of human experience as possible using this medium. One of my goals was to see what I could do with comics. How do you convey emotion? How do you convey something like the sense of taste or smell? How do you tackle these sensory things? Every medium has its own challenges as far as those things go. And I was really curious about what I could do with comics. The conscious part was this weird combination of, "here are some big themes I want to address and here is the formal stuff I want to tackle with this medium."

And then I got, you know, 24 pages in and thankfully, once I was in that story and I had these characters and I was paying attention to them as characters, those bigger ideas just kinda dropped away. And I was just dealing with the people. So any time I wrote a scene I would just imagine being each of the characters in that scene and imagine how they would interact with one another. And then I would look after I drew, I would look at the actual, physical space they were in. Sometimes that would trigger the next part of the story. Even though I was drawing everything and thinking of everything myself, I wanted it to be a kind of lively and active environment where I could pay attention to anything I wanted to. And in the beginning of the book there's this scene with a police officer in a traffic tower.  The first traffic light in Europe. And that just came out of me actually drawing that. I drew that street scene and I drew that traffic tower and after I drew it I thought, "Well, who's in that?" So I had a little one-page digression where we go in there and pay attention to that guy and that couldn't have happened if I hadn't drawn the physical space and then considered my relationship to it or the relationship of the characters to it.

And we've also got a classy coincidence, if your definition of classy involves the artist Simon Bisley: two different reviewers, one book. It's TMNT Bodycount, newly re-released by IDW, and we've got the words from Matt Seneca AND J. Caleb Mozzocco. And yes: it's that J. Caleb Mozzocco, who is joining the squad in the most traditional of fashions--being inadvertently tacked into a stunt simply because he picked the one random old Simon Bisley comic to submit to us the same day that I asked Matt Seneca to write about because I thought it was high time Matt read a Turtle book. Welcome aboard, Caleb! And yes: next time we doubleteam, it'll be on a book that deserves the scrutiny. 

[Okay, i'm not going to keep that promise.]

Over at Dustin Harbin's place, he's posted yet another touching and succinct diary comic--this one is on his neighbor, Bea.

 

Structure

Today on the site, we are republishing another archival interview, this time Steve Ringgenberg's 1986 conversation with Marie Severin.

Thinking back on the EC period, who were the artists you liked best to color? I’m not asking you to name favorites, but who did you find the most interesting? And challenging?

Oh. The most challenging ones were Woody and Krigstein.

Why?

For two different reasons. With Krigstein you knew that there was a distinct design and plan in mind. And I didn’t color many of his. I think he colored his own. On some of it, like that one with the Nazi in the subway …

“Master Race.” I know on that story Krigstein chopped up the boards and spread out the word balloons so he could pace the storytelling according to his own instincts.

Yeah, right. I would only see the artwork at the tail end. I wasn’t involved in any of the black-and-white stuff at all. See, now some of the artwork is touched up in the ‘80s. We touched up art when I was on staff at Marvel. In those days, we had tremendous respect. And also we’d come in and that was it, unless there was something very, very wrong. You came in and that was it. Everybody was saying, “Oh, wonderful!” Woody was very satisfying, but you would sweat over his artwork.

Was he hard because of the delicacy of some of the figures?

Yes. I remember he did one on Tecumseh. And, Woody was very much like Kirby in that in one panel he would have three belts on a character and in the next panel he would have one belt on. Then it was across the other shoulder but you were looking at all this other glamorous stuff he was doing, so it didn’t bother you if the guy’s straps were all mixed up and he had a different gun. And of course, it wasn’t that important to Woody’s method of storytelling. But on somebody else’s method of storytelling, I’m more this way myself and so is John I believe. And I’ve never seen John mix anything up.

As far as his costuming details?

Yeah. I mean he’s so involved with that person, he’s that person, then he’s that dog, then he’s that archway; he never forgets what he’s doing. He’s building it.

Does John take a meticulous approach to what he’s doing?

I guess so.

I mean compared to other people.

Oh, gee, today? Look at guys like Bernie Wrightson. I was just looking at his Frankenstein book. I’ve got it. I’ve got to start throwing comic books out. And I’m saying “I can’t throw this away! Wonderful!” There’s so many today. ... A lot of them think they are. But, they’ll learn. Some guys start out picky. John started out picky. [Laughs.] He liked to have his weapons and all his boats and his tanks and everything just the way it was. He’s an illustrator.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. I don't think we've yet linked to ICv2's interview with Lion Forge CEO David Steward II.

What does Lion Forge look like in five years? What are your goals in terms of where you're headed?
From a direct market standpoint, we want to be either the third or fourth largest publisher in the next five years. I would like us, definitely, to be in the top five on the bookstore side of the market, as well. I'd like us to be a thought leader in terms of bringing new readers into the marketplace.

You know the numbers. Our general market growth, if you look at everything, is anemic right now, especially when you balance that against the popularity of the content itself and how it's been utilized by Hollywood and video games and everybody else.

Jezebel talks to Lisa Hanawalt.

Originally, Coyote was going to be a male character, and then you changed that. What made you decide to make the character female?

It’s weird, when I first started writing it, I was like, “he, he, he, Coyote Doggirl is a boy.” And then I started drawing it, and I don’t know when, but I thought, “Why am I defaulting to male? Is it because every Western I watch, except for maybe True Grit and that one with Sharon Stone, star men? And all the cartoons I grew up watching star male characters?” It’s weird how that becomes my default, even though I’m a woman, and you’d think I would be thinking about these things more all the time. So I threw a sports bra on top of her and made her a lady. But it’s weird that even I have to consciously think about decisions like that all the time.

Alex Dueben talks to comics scholar Bill Schelly about his memoir on fandom, Sense of Wonder.

I[Fandom's] very different. Nowadays, I don’t find fans – even my friends – interested in corresponding. In the old days, when long distance phone calls were prohibitively expensive, I corresponded with a number of fans, writing letters that were often two or three pages long. Today, even with email, peoples’ attention spans are shorter. And they want to talk on the phone, not write. Of course, blogs have replaced the old printed fanzines. That’s cool. And fans still get together at comicons. It’s still a place that’s accepting of all kinds of people, whether they be queer, or physically challenged, or what-have-you. The main thing, which I’m sure will never change, is its ongoing appreciation of comic art itself, whether in the form of modern graphic novels, or comics of the past in all the reprint editions. I don’t know how much interest still exists for the comics being turned out by Marvel and DC, but if it’s waned, there are plenty of other comics to read and enjoy.

The most recent guest on the RiYL podcast is Tony Millionaire.

—History. At the Daily Beast, Michael Tisserand writes about the relationship between heavyweight champion Jack Johnson and early cartoonist Tad Dorgan.

Their friendship began in 1901 and didn’t end until Dorgan died in 1929. Its greatest test came in 1910, when Johnson, then world heavyweight champion, was in a contest with a former champion to hold onto the crown. His opponent, Jim Jeffries, was white, and following Johnson’s victory, jubilant black fans would be attacked and even killed in cities across the country.

The victory in the boxing ring would also mark Johnson in the eyes of the law. Yet for Dorgan, watching from ringside as his smiling friend sent Jeffries into the ropes, it was a reminder of all the reasons why he admired this man, and why that morning he had delivered one of the most startling sports predictions ever offered in print:

“Jim Jeffries is through.”

—Commentary. The New York Review of Books excerpts Ryan Holmberg's afterword to Tadao Tsuge's Slum Wolf.

“World War II did not really end for the Japanese until 1952, and the years of war, defeat, and occupation left an indelible mark on those who lived through them,” writes the historian John Dower in Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II. This was certainly so for the manga artist Tadao Tsuge (born 1941), who made a gritty fantasy world out of post-surrender retrospection, filling his story-vignettes with landscapes and characters derived from the war’s ruins and the black markets and slums that flourished around them.

While Tadao’s work is a unique intervention into the literature of war memory, it also speaks to issues of class, geography, and the built environment. The artist’s apathy toward political organizing was overt. Nonetheless, his late Sixties and early Seventies comics were fairly close in spirit to the work of labor activists, anarchist writers, and photojournalists who were concerned about the neglected armies of men who manned the lower echelons of Japan’s booming construction, manufacturing, and energy industries, often via yakuza-mediated day-labor markets in big cities like Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka.

—RIP. Randy Weston.

 

Nation/Dalmatian

Today at TCJ, we're turning over the keys to Steve Ringgenberg and his obituary of Gary Friedrich, who passed away last week.

Our review of the day is Upgrade Soul, Ezra Claytan Daniels much anticipated graphic novel from Lion Forge. Leonard Pierce thinks the hype is real:

The Iowa native kicked off his career with the successful and unexpected series The Changers while living in Portland; he moved to Chicago following its success and has been a figure of great interest in the city’s arts community, focusing his attention from one medium to another – animation, music, film, music, and video, among others, always with intriguing results – before setting to work on Upgrade Soul, a project over a decade in the making that has finally made it into traditional graphic novel form after a long stretch as an immersive digital app. In some ways, the decision to release the book in a standard publishing format is a step back to more pedestrian means of production than we’re used to from Daniels, but the end result is a work of such profound impact and originality that it can’t be argued with.

Yesterday, we published a diamond from the archive: Ken Jones' 1987 interview with Russ Heath, at a time when Heath was preparing to leave the field of animation to return to comic books.

JONES: What made you decide to re-enter the comic book field?

HEATH: Number one, the money is a lot better than it used to be. That’s if the book sells well. Since I’ve been working almost exclusively in animation since 1978 a lot of new comic readers do not know my work. Going back to the ’70s, when I was doing war books, a lot of readers who read comics would not read them, the Vietnam conflict being so unpopular at the time. When the Shadow book comes out the readers who don’t know my work will say — “Who is this guy, Russ Heath?” And the ones who knew of my stuff will say, “My god, Russ Heath, is he still alive?” I hope working on a book this popular will lead to new recognition in a short time.

Steve Leiber shared an excellent anecdote about Heath alongside some very striking examples of Heath's incredible skill. I won't spoil it.

The past months have hit multiple comics professionals hard, as anyone with access to social media is well aware. But this extended reminiscence from Roy Thomas on his friendship with Gary Friedrich is in a class all its own. Bleeding Cool has the scoop.

In late 1965, ensconced at Marvel, I convinced Gary to come to New York to join me, partly to get him away from his drinking buddies in Missouri. It didn’t work, of course. Gary continued drinking more than was good for him for some years, but he was never a sullen or nasty drunk… it just wouldn’t do him any good, that’s all. I told him that we could work together on some comics, and convinced Dick Giordano at Charlton to give him a shot… but Gary took to comics writing like Donald Duck to water, and I never had to help him in that department. Matter of fact, when he went on his (2nd) honeymoon for a week and I tried writing a Charlton romance story to help him out, I froze up and couldn’t finish it. Gary had to complete it when he came back. Soon, though, when there was a vacancy at Marvel (probably after the very brief employment of a young playwright named Ron Whyte who thought a lot more of himself than I ever thought of him–or him of me), I had Gary take a Marvel writing test and he was soon employed on staff as well as doing freelance writing.

Anytime you can link to a nice meaty chunk of an obsessively organized dive, you link to that shit immediately: here's Claire Napier making the case that you should read the Valiant Comics. (All of the Valiant Comics, in fact).

Then, in 1997, came the real term two: the real Valiant at Acclaim Comics. Fabian Nicieza, coming off a brief stint at DC and some long years at Marvel, joined Valiant at Acclaim in 1996 as Editor in Chief and Senior Vice-President, and from 1997 oversaw absolute reboots of all remaining Valiant titles. Premises changed, and characters and character designs changed. They called it “VH2,” which retroactively termed the Shooter-defined Valiant history “VH1,” which is a stupid thing to do as that’s already a whole other thing. They did it anyway, which was “very Acclaim,” honestly.

 

Fire for Effect

Today's main feature is Michael Dean's extensive obituary on Marie Severin, who passed away this week.

Severin’s 1967 run on Doctor Strange continued until Strange Tales #160. She drew Incredible Hulk in Tales to Astonish from issue #92 to #101, including the crossover issue with the Submariner series, and went on to draw the Hulk in his own 1968 solo title, issues #102-105, as well as the 1968 Incredible Hulk annual #1. She was a mainstay artist for the entire 13-issue run of Not Brand Echh.

But these runs were exceptions. Severin was given no signature series and had no opportunity to create a series from scratch. Instead, throughout her career at Marvel and elsewhere, her talent, speed and energy were used to save her employers’ bacon. She was a go-to emergency responder whenever a regular artist unexpectedly left a job or missed a deadline. Whenever spot illustrations were needed for letters pages, fan-club materials or ads, Severin was brought in to do the job in a manner that was both quick and faithful to the house style established by Marvel’s more celebrated artists. She was a frequent inker and was Marvel’s head colorist until 1972, but most of her work was uncredited: roughing covers, fixing faces, redrawing panels, adding bridging sequences and making corrections to the art of the credited artists. She eventually came to fill John Romita’s role as cover designer, but was never offered Romita’s art-director title — a classic case of a female “hidden figure” whose contributions remained in the shadow of her male colleagues.

Along with Severin (and Russ Heath earlier), the longtime Marvel Comics writer Gary Friedrich passed away this week. We will publish an obituary on him in the coming days.

What a week! Our pal Karl Stevens closes it out with a reminder of the world's natural beauty, and how sometimes, you need some of that nature to fuck off so you can enjoy the beauty.

Meanwhile, we've got a review for you: Brenna Thummler's Sheets, from Lion Forge. The review is by longtime contributor Noah Berlatsky. His feelings on the book are mixed.

That self-reflexive shallowness is indicative of Thummler's graphic novel as a whole, for better and worse. Thummler is a young creator, but she's already gotten a number of high profile gigs, including drawings for the New York Times and Washington Post. Her skill, when utilized as here in the interest of an unambitious narrative, can come off as glib. But Thummler's also attuned to the limitations of the comics form in a way that adds resonance to a story about grief and loss. Sheets is a comic that doesn't quite connect, while also using comics as a metaphor for the things you wish you could touch, but can't.

In other news, the CBLDF and the SPX Festival has established a legal aid fund of $20,000 to assist the 11 individuals involved in the Cody Pickrodt defamation lawsuit previously covered by Alec Berry last week.

Wendy Pini is no stranger to a good interview, and this one with Women Write About Comics, conducted during the most recent San Diego Comic Con, is no exception.

Wendy: Well explain what you mean, politically incorrect. You mean because I told women to stand up for themselves? I’m not backing off of that position.

I was wondering if you had anymore thoughts now that the #MeToo movement is really taking off, and—

Wendy: The #MeToo movement is no joke; it’s absolutely real. I still I entirely advocate that women help each other in learning how to stand up to harassment and bullying. I still find that some women, for reasons I can’t figure out, if they are harassed by a guy or guys, they will just back up and get upset about it. Rather than… there’s nothing that turns a guy off more than a direct stare, and there are girls who haven’t learned the direct stare yet, and I advocate that they do.

Another rock solid interview subject? Lisa Hanawalt. She's over at Jezebel, talking all things Coyote Doggirl. And also this:

I am wondering, though, what you think of the bizarre fascination with all these young women who become obsessed with horses. I don’t know if you consciously thought of past representations of women and horses in media when you were writing this, but how did you incorporate that into the story?

I didn’t think about it too much, because I was just trying to think from my own perspective: what I think about when I’m riding a horse. But I feel like people who aren’t into horses have a tendency to sexualize that relationship because they don’t understand it, and they’re like, “Oh it’s definitely a sex thing, ‘cause women and horses.” But it’s way more complicated than that. Obviously, I don’t like horses because I want to fuck one; that’s just stupid. But I don’t know, there is something to little girls controlling this big, powerful beast that is so intuitive that it listens to them. You can sort of tell a horse all your secrets. And in some ways, I think it is a surrogate for a relationship. But it’s emotional; it’s not sexual.

I've never seen any of Sequart's documentaries, but they recently uploaded two of them to Youtube. Of the two, the Grant Morrison one is the more frequently talked about.