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Magical World Link

Today on the site, our friend Joe McCulloch would like to mention some comic books, including the latest issues of Ganges and Berlin.

Elsewhere:

The excellent Heather Benjamin gives a good long interview over at the Vans web site.

On Sunday my wife and I had the distinct pleasure of babysitting for Dash Shaw and Jane Samborski. That is one cute and well-mannered baby. I love babies. Though my son is only five, having a baby strapped to my chest was still pretty novel. We strolled around the neighborhood. I talked to her about bricks. Old people looked kindly at me again. We tried to teach her the cha-cha. We got all the fun with none of the trouble. Who knew that her father once took shrooms and watched anime and  has now written about it in a public forum. Sigh. 

What else… Simon Hanselmann’s new zine, Portraits, arrived in the mail. I like that Simon is chronicling the mostly-inane comics subculture that he’s a part of, partly because he’s getting at various “issues” that have been around whatever-we-call-this-comics-world for a while (and which used to be discussed on members-only message boards), like (not) Nobrow’s alleged behavior or the intentional misreading of Robert Crumb. And partly because he tells familiar anecdotes (creepy festival organizers; self-aggrandizing hacks) but doesn’t spare himself. His earlier Truth Zone comics were like talk show panels… here it’s more anecdote and story-based. I like seeing this kind of thing because, well, few people are keeping track of what’s going on now. I would like to see it to cut deeper, to not spare his friends for a gags, and, as he did in TZ, name names, which is something really only artists can get away with. It’s refreshing. 

 

 

Another Game

Today on the site, Dash Shaw reports on his selections for the great Metrograph theater store in NYC. The Metrograph is hosting Dash’s film, My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea, this weekend. 

The animated movie I wrote and directed, My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea, opens this weekend in New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto. The Metrograph theater in New York let me decorate their walls with original artwork from the film, and I also curated their small upstairs bookstore, which carries rare DVDs, film-related books, and issues of Cahiers du Cinéma. They asked me to pick books and DVDs that felt related to my movie, or that a cinema-going audience would be interested in. Here are some of the things I selected, and why.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed is a German animated film by Lotte Reiniger done in cut-out silhouettes against color fields. Made in 1926, it’s likely the first feature-length animated film. Although it’s well known, I’m always surprised how few people have actually seen it. Reiniger’s silhouette work was a key inspiration for Kara Walker. This movie is the perfect embodiment of “independent cinema”—the means/budget is tied to the aesthetic. It’s more powerful because it’s minimal. This is truly an “auteur” movie, much more so than the larger-scale collaborative films of the French New Wave that defined the term. The silhouette sequence in High School Sinking is an homage to this movie.

 

Elsewhere:

Here’s a look at the growing Pittsburgh comics world from the perspectives of longtime mainstream comic book store Phantom of the Attic Comics and Tom Scioli.

The Doug Wright Award nominees have been announced.

Interesting looking word/picture book Playground of My Mind is discussed at Hyperallergic.

 

Not with a Whimper

Today marks the TCJ debut of cartoonist and writer Sloane Leong, who reviews Josceline Fenton’s webcomic, Hemlock.

While many of the main cast members, including Baba Yaga and her three servants, hail directly from old folklore and communicate with some of the lyrical syntax of their traditional origins, Lumi and Tristan provide a more contemporary entry point for readers with their modernized witty language. Tristan’s constant anxiety and Lumi’s melancholic but outspoken personality combine into a charming rapport that complements the comic’s unhurried pace. Slow pacing and indulgent, unnecessary scenes are a common pitfall in webcomics, given that they’re frequently created and updated in real time, without time to reassess and edit, and often with little or no buffer. Hemlock doesn’t stagger but keeps a steady, measured pace. Still, the lack of intensity and unchanging tempo make for a sometimes tedious narrative simmer. This pace is no doubt intentional on Fenton’s, mirroring the storybook mood of Lumi’s wistful but tense and long-lived life.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News.
Mariko and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer has topped the latest ALA list of most-frequently banned and challenged books.

“I think there is clearly a general theme relating to sexuality that certain people are uncomfortable with in books for young people,” Mariko Tamaki told the National Post by email.

“So if your book contains any mention of sexuality, it’s likely to end up in this list.”

[ALA representative James] LaRue chalked up This One Summer’s detractors to being “Velcro parents” — a kind of supercharged version of the helicopter parent.

“I think it falls back into this terrible fear that many parents have that their children are growing up,” he said.

—Interviews & Profiles. The Fandor movie site talks to Dash Shaw.

If I do want to place myself somewhere, it’s with cartoonists who make animation. I don’t want to compare myself to him, because I think he’s the greatest ever, but I’d pick something like the first Astro Boy series created by [Osamu] Tezuka. That’s a case where he was a comic-book artist who wanted to make animation. He relied on his skills as a cartoonist to make cinema. You don’t need to know that to enjoy his work, but for me, it was definitely inspiring. I got a Fandor subscription because they had those kind of unusual animators, and I’m a million times more inspired by that than any animation in TV or contemporary movies. I basically just watched those kinds of avant-garde shorts and anime made before 1990.

DW talks to Guy Delisle about his latest book, Hostage.

We wanted the book to be an immersive experience for the reader. I wanted to enter [kidnaping victim] Christophe [André]’s mind and, and to the best of my ability, recreate what he went through. I guess I wanted to know what I would have done or felt if I had been in his situation.

The most recent guest on Inkstuds is Jonah Kinigstein.

 

News from West

Hi there, today on the site is RJ Casey’s interview with Carel Moiseiwitsch, who is known to comics audiences for her work in Twisted Sisters, Wimmen’s Comix, and Weirdo, among other publications. 

In Twisted Sisters 2, you have a story called “Impasse”. The story is set in Morocco …

Yes, I spent quite a long time in Morocco. I was very influenced by the French bande dessinée after I spent some time in Paris. I loved the French cartoonists’ work and thought their drawings were so incredible. I was very influenced by the French graphic artists. Someone said to me, “Why don’t you just do an autobiographical piece, since you never do that.” I used to just find stories and newspapers and things like that. But I thought, OK then, so I did that one.

Was that story done with etching or some sort of stamp-making?

I was using scratchboard with razors.

That style seemed to be way more popular amongst artist in the ’80s and ‘90s than it is now. You did it so well, and Penny Van Horn, but you don’t see it too much anymore.

Right. It’s seemed to have fallen out of style. One of the reasons I don’t use that style anymore is because I can’t get the good scratchboard anymore. I used to get that from England and it was really good. I can’t get the right ink because it’s all acrylic based now. It just doesn’t look right, so I had to give it up and I was really good at it. I tried looking for all the materials in England. I tried ordering it. It never worked, so I just gave up. It needs to come back! It’s a good medium.

In “Impasse”, the story’s all about anxiety and issues regarding commitment. Are these things that you still deal with or suffer from?

Good question. That certainly is true of me. I finally met the guy who is able to withstand my anxiety and I’m still with him. [Laughs] He’s a very brave man.

Does this anxiety stem from art or …

Just life in general. The art scene has contributed to it though, especially in Vancouver. I just couldn’t stand it. And I’m also always involved politically, so sometimes I get a lot of harassment for that. I still do my own work, but I stopped trying to show it and just stopped … just stopped.

Did you ever feel like you were part of an art scene? Or always outside those scenes?

I was somewhat involved. Not that involved, but somewhat. I really liked that I was welcomed to comics. And those women and guys, I liked them. It was really fun to get involved, because I felt a bit rejected after trying to make it in Vancouver. In London, when I lived there again, I started to get somewhere, but my son became ill, so I came back to help him. I lost that momentum. I’m really just a loner, though. An outsider.

Elsewhere:

I don’t usually link to PR, but Moebius news is a little different for me, so here’s some good news.

Glen Weldon on Cathy Malkasian’s Eartha.

And congrats to our contributor and friend, Dash Shaw, on a string of premiers for his excellent film My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea. Check this site for dates in a city near you. 

 

Bomb Squad

Joe McCulloch is here as usual with his indispensable guide to the Week in Comics, highlighting the most interesting-sounding releases new to stores. Spotlight picks this week include new titles by Anna Hafisch and Eric Kostiuk Williams.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart has been indicted for “helping an armed terrorist organization while not being a member,” and faces up to 29 years in prison for his anti-Erdogan cartoons.

His work is often critical of Erdoğan’s increasingly authoritarian regime, but also of Fethullah Gülen, the alleged leader of last summer’s attempted coup, and of terrorism and extremism in Turkey overall. The substance of his work belies the government’s contention that he’s a Gülen Movement or PKK stooge.

Jim Morin of the Miami Herald has won this year’s Pulitzer for editorial cartooning.

Marvel continues its PR hot streak with the news that Indonesian artist Ardian Syaf planted coded references that have been commonly interpreted as having anti-Christian and anti-Semitic connotations. Marvel has said that it will remove the artwork from future printings of the comic, and that some form of disciplinary action will take place.

—Interviews & Profiles. For Archinect, Julia Ingalls talks to Ben Katchor.

“The strips are kind of written in a half-dream state,” Ben tells me over the phone. “I’m not fully asleep when I’m writing them, but I’m somewhere in between. A lot of them have this free-associative kind of quality as when I’m in a dream, but then I’m awake and I can edit them, make them coherent in some way.”

Tom Spurgeon talks to Jim Blanchard.

I rarely read comics nowadays. Occasionally I’ll re-read an old R. Crumb comic or Kirby-era Fantastic Four reprint or something like that. But, I’m not drawn to them, so I don’t really have any needs to be served by the comics industry. I see Fantagraphics’ output when I visit their wonderful store in Georgetown, but that’s about it. Most of the modern “indy/alternative” comics I see from the U.S.A. don’t engage me. Too self-conscious and niceity-nice. There are a few exceptions. It seems like comics in America stopped evolving around the same time rock music did in the ’80s and ’90s, but I’m out of the loop so I could be wrong. To me, the last great comics generation was the group that came up in the early-mid ’80s: Clowes, Bagge, Kaz, Friedman, Hernandez Bros., Burns — all with amazing, unique artistic chops and all on a par with the best of the previous generations’ cartoonists.

New podcasts include Frank Stack at RiYL and Gabby Schulz at Comics Alternative.

—Reviews & Commentary. LARB has been running a lot of comics writing lately, including Brad Prager’s review of Pushwagner’s Soft City

DAWN BREAKS over a modern apartment complex in the very first pages of Hariton Pushwagner’s dystopian graphic novel Soft City. The sun peers back at the reader from a single eye at its center. Its hundreds of fine, radiating lines call to mind a wild mane, the strands of which resemble heads of hair in William Blake’s work — paintings such as The Ancient of Days (1794), or any of a number of plates from The Book of Urizen, published in that same year. Pushwagner’s eye of providence invokes an array of eschatological meanings. The divine watches us with an organ akin to our own.

and Lily Hoang’s review of Emil Ferris’s My Favorite Thing is Monsters.

Ferris’s genre-bending narrative is part horror story, part noir. Karen makes herself into a detective — donning a trench coat and hat to fulfill the stereotype — when her upstairs neighbor Anka is found dead. Although there is no explicit evidence of foul play, Karen devotes her time to searching for clues that might support her suspicion that Anka was murdered. As an amateur sleuth, Karen patches together a retrospective narrative of Anka’s enigmatic life.

 

What will it take.

Today on the site, Richard Elder returns with part 3 of his examination of Ernest Hemingway appearances in comics. 

When the Comics Journal ran the first two parts of this series (which you can read here and here), we asked for readers to help us find other appearances of Ernest Hemingway in comics history. They didn’t disappoint.

The first two parts chronicled the author’s colorful appearances in Superman, Shade: The Changing Man, Cerebus and 40+ other appearances. In the selections below, readers directed us to Hemingway references, adaptations and homages across the comics publishing landscape.

Samurai Crusader (1996)
Reader Phil Rippke pointed out Hemingway’s appearance as the sidekick in Samurai Crusader, a manga series by writer Hiroi Oji and artist Ryoichi Ikegami (Crying Freeman and Mai, The Psychic Girl).

“The titular character is visiting Europe and meets the burly, two-fisted adventurer Hemingway and together they try to foil a plot to start a World War. Viz translated it into English and published a three volume series from the 90s,” Rippke wrote. “It’s definitely worth tracking down.”

Elsewhere:

Drew Friedman writes about his New York Observer encounters with presidential son-in-law  Jared Kusher. The fun of this piece is so much in Friedman’s particular “who me” wise-ass tone in his prose. 

Tom Spurgeon interviews longtime Washington state illustrator/cartoonist Jim Blanchard. 

Not-comics: Raconteur Glenn O’Brien passed away on Friday. He was influential in art, style and prose, and had long career in publishing (Interview, High Times, etc) and writing (Artforum, GQ), as well as a prolific life in advertising. Worth reading about to think about if you find valuable what he represented.

 

Clean-Up

Dash Shaw wrote a “filmmaker’s letter” for Landmark Theatres about how he created the original comic story that became My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea (and includes a pdf of the comic).

When I was a high school student, in the nineties, there were two main schools of comic books: autobio comics on one end and adventure comics on the other. I liked both of them. The idea behind this short story was to combine these two opposing schools; so I had a character named Dash, and it was based on real feelings and experiences, but it was thrown into a boy’s adventure-style action comic. Whatever’s true in it has been warped to favor the main character’s perspective, which is often how autobio stories are. It’s also a joke about how most stories are; like how we know Indiana Jones is George Lucas’ fantasy, and it’s based on his real interest in archaeology and history, but it’d be sort of sad and pathetic if he just named the character “George Lucas.”

RJ Casey wrote about contemporary sports art (with a look back at cartoonist Willard Mullin) for The Classical.

Mullin acolytes and understudies carried this style forward in the 1950, ’60s, and ’70s. Murray Olderman penciled and shaded photo-realistic renderings mostly of football and tennis players. He then filled the frame with highly-stylized gags full of stats and jokes. He was—is now, in his late 90s—a polished polymath and pioneer in the field, an original whose only critique is that he maybe slummed it up in caricature work a bit. Olderman more than made up for that with his productivity and in the fact that he was also an accomplished journalist in his own right; he had a hand in creating the MVP trophy in many of the professional sports leagues.

For The Guardian, JA Micheline writes about Marvel, diversity, and the company’s self-inflicted wounds.

Marvel is a business, but it’s a business that attempts to sell comics to a demographic that has demonstrated a categorical, historical (and ultimately violent) disinterest in anything that is not built explicitly for them, rather than seeking to expand by making concerted efforts to entice other people into the fold. Marvel is certainly subject to the demands of capitalism, but it sets its attempts at inclusivity up for failure when it continues to push white men as its “real audience” and makes them the metric for success.

The Doug Wright Awards have announced that Katherine Collins will their 2017 Hall of Fame inductee.

Collins is the creator of Neil the Horse, one of the handful of comic book series published during the 1980s in English Canada. The book was a whimsical throwback to the world of pre-World War II cartooning and popular culture, starring the titular Neil, a rubber-limbed horse drawn in an Ub Iwerks style, in a series of fantasy adventures alongside his best friends, a cigar-smoking cat and a sexy animated marionette, trying to make it as song-and-dance hoofers in the world of musical comedy.

The Comics Alternative podcast interviews Peter Bagge.

 

Big Opinion of Himself

It’s another day here in New York. Today on the site, Irene Velentzas reviews Jeff Lemire’s Roughneck. 

The story begins effortlessly with the simplicity of Lemire’s inside cover page, a single image that adeptly introduces the remainder of the text. With such images Lemire demonstrates his candid ability to say so much with so little. A sparse tree, off-centred, standing in a bank of snow, alone in the dead of winter. The tree is naked and vulnerable, it stands prey to and yet against the elements, it reveals no answers. How big is it? A towering tree, a young sapling? It’s impossible to know. It is simultaneously natural and unnatural in its composition. It conveys, ever before the first question of the text “That him?”, the inscrutability, the barrenness, the isolation of Derek Ouellette. Asking the reader to come along on a journey through Pimitamon’s barren landscape and Derek’s mind to find beauty in the wild and stubborn nature at the heart of this man and the environment that shapes him.

Links:

Jonathan Chandler has a fine online comic over here.

The Baffler looks at Iron First and finds some pathways to a larger and sadder thing. Think pieces like this don’t interest me that much, but this one’s alright. The Marvel diversity story (summary here) is likewise not that interesting in the sense that expecting entities with a history of questionable racial/sexual/economic politics to act in some way progressive is like hoping Fox News will do the same. It’s just not built that way. I would like for that not to be the case, because kids love superheroes and there should be more diversity there. But until the current craven white guys are not in power there, it’s gonna be a slog, and I suggest reading something else entirely. I’m actually a little surprised that Disney wants to endure so much bad PR again and again. At some point they’ll look at the tiny blip on their balance sheet and think, “gee, we should step into the 21st century”. But that’s a long shot.