Too Big to Purport to Digest

Rob Clough has written our obituary for Geneviève Castrée, who died tragically young. It includes thoughts from several of her friends and colleagues, including former D&Q publisher Chris Oliveros:

There's an emotional intensity that permeates her work, and it's so powerful that it's sometimes easy to overlook the fact that on a technical level she could draw like nobody's business. Her fragile, sometimes broken characters live in landscapes anchored by realistically drawn, solid, and permanent objects: apartment buildings, lush forests and vegetation, snow-capped mountains, intricately-detailed drawings of cars. Everything was so delicate and refined.

This is all really, really hard for me to write, in part because I still can't get used to using the past tense in regards to Genevieve. She was so young and she had so much to offer, and I always had a deep faith in her abilities, and had no doubt that her best work was still ahead of her. There are so many levels of tragedy when someone as exuberant and talented as her dies at the prime of life, but I can't help thinking of the immediate heartbreak for her husband Phil and their baby, Agathe, and how Genevieve will never live to see her daughter growing up. It all seems so terribly cruel and unfair.

Our post of remembrances now includes a short comic by Diane Obamsawin.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The New Yorker cartoonist Michael Crawford has also passed away, unexpectedly, a tragically short time after marrying fellow cartoonist Carolita Johnson. Michael Maslin has written an appreciation.

I think of Crawford’s hundreds of contributions to the New Yorker: his odd energetically layered wash or marker drawings with au courant captions; his other art: the paintings of mobsters and the Kennedy assassination. I think of his sidling in and out of parties, chin up, checking out the scene (he rode a motor scooter for a while and would show up at events holding onto his helmet, ready to bolt, and jump back on his two-wheeler and vroom into the night). In any conversation his eyes never fixed on me for more than a half-second. They were wandering around, looking here there and everywhere; he wasn’t really here with me, he was somewhere way way over there. A social attention span like mercury, unless — so I’ve heard — he was painting.

—Vanessa Davis is drawing comics for The Paris Review. Her first is about learning of Castrée's death.



Today on the site, Anders Nilsen remembers his friend Geneviève Castree. This will be the first of a few remembrances of the recently passed and much beloved artist.


Michael Cavna at The Washington Post recommends some summer comics.

Tom Spurgeon reports on this year's HeroesCon.

And Robert Beatty, whose book Floodgate Companion is due out in September from Floating World, discusses digital techniques on his Tumblr. Below is a neat trailer for the book.




Today on the site, Joe McCulloch brings his usual guide to the Week in Comics!, spotlighting the most interesting-sounding new releases to the direct market (this time including a manga biography of Tezuka and a new book by Boulet). As is his wont, he starts off with a short essay on the merits of Yo-Kai Watch.

Some have speculated that Yo-Kai Watch is a little too Japanese to entirely click overseas. I think it may be a little too perversely personal. What games like Pokémon GO leave as amusing subtext -- that invisible beasties are lurking around wherever you go, probably watching you as you pee -- Yo-Kai Watch makes gleefully explicit. Not only are there invisible beings everywhere in Yo-Kai Watch, but the supernatural powers manifest from their distinct personalities have a direct effect on YOUR psychological state. There are yōkai that make you quarrelsome. There are yōkai that make you depressed. Or happy. Or prone to spending money on useless junk. The chosen few, however, can use the "Yo-Kai Watch" to make the invisible visible, and negotiate with these creatures - thereby perfecting the psychology of society at large. Basically, it is a fable of the regimented roles people are expected to play in Japanese society, which is why the protagonists are children: they can run and play and navigate the roles of society, not yet old enough to face the expectations of fitting in.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The Blerd Gurl writes about diversity at Marvel.

As most of you in the comic book world know, this week Marvel announced that Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man will be replaced with a young African-American girl named Riri Williams. I applaud Marvel’s efforts to give another black female character her own comic. Riri joins the ranks of Lunella Lafayette of Moongirl and Devil Dinosaur and Anwen Bakian as Nova along with veteran Storm of the X Men as black female characters recently having their own comic book series. However, I am not as excited as I originally was when I first heard the news, as there are no black women involved with the creation or shaping of this character.

This is going to be a bit long, but I ask you to hear me out.

—Jason Zinoman at the New York Times writes about The American Bystander.

The American Bystander, whose second issue came out last week and which can be ordered online, does not just belong to the tradition of defunct magazines like The National Lampoon and Spy. Its nostalgic, lightly witty style evokes influences that have been dead even longer, like the raconteur Jean Shepherd and the sophisticated stylist Robert Benchley. In an era when so much comedy is boisterous and engaged with the world, The American Bystander’s humor is understated and escapist, steering clear of topicality and political jokes. The only time the new issue mentions Donald J. Trump is to illustrate how 30 years of satire have failed to diminish him. Internet headlines may boast about political satirists destroying and eviscerating their subjects, but this magazine has different ambitions, and while they may seem more modest, don’t be fooled. Call it comedy for comedy’s sake.

—And Bill Boichel responds to a recent post by Tom Spurgeon.

The books chosen in the lists that Tom references are simply indicative of the broadening and shifting of the variety, options and tastes now on offer in entertainment comics. These books are simply the Archie, Richie Rich, Dennis the Menace, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Superman, Batman, Tarzan, Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, Bugs Bunny, etc. of today: a variety of entertainment for different tastes and interests whose primary motive is being successful: generating sales and profits, revenue for the publishers and income for their creators...


Too Short

Geneviève Elverum died on Saturday. Her husband, Phil Elverum, announced her passing. I knew Geneviève a bit over the years. Of course I admired her immense talent, but also found her extremely warm, kind and humble, yet quite clearly driven by and for her art. She did nothing halfway, so her releases were like little events, and looking back now I see that she was with me through much of my adulthood -- her poetic, empathic comics offering both revelation and solace. Geneviève will be greatly missed by all of us. Go out and read her comics. They are very, very special. You can buy her most recent book, Susceptible, here. Please keep her family in your thoughts and give as you can to their fundraising efforts.

You can read Naomi Fry's interview with her here. Rob Clough reviewed Susceptible here.

Around the internet, The NY Times excerpted a short comic here. Tom Spurgeon's interview is here. Drawn & Quarterly's 2013 appreciation is here.

TCJ will have an obituary soon and we will post tributes as they come in.

Thank you, Geneviève.


Mask of Creation, 2007

%22Tout Seul dans la Forêt en Plein Jour, Avez-Vous Peur- Cover%22 2007

Tout Seul dans la Forêt en Plein Jour, Avez-Vous Peur, (cover) 2007


Weener, 2007



Ron Goulart's back with another entry in his series of columns on Connecticut cartoonists. This time, the profiled artists include Klaus Nordling, Harry Sahle, Tony DiPreta and, in Connecticut for a brief stay, Alex Kotzky.

Once Everett “Busy” Arnold had moved Quality Comics from Manhattan to Stamford, CT, a small cadre of cartoonists began migrating to the Nutmeg State.

In a previous installment of this series we talked about two of the best known, Jack Cole and Gill Fox. This time our crew consists of Klaus Nordling, Harry Sahle, Tony DiPretta, and, in Connecticut for a brief stay, Alex Kotzky.

Although a cartoonist for most of his adult life, Nordling was only active in newsstand comic books for little more than a decade. He is best remembered as the artist of the definitive version of Lady Luck that he drew from 1942 until 1950. The sexy green-masked crime fighter began life in the weekly 16-page The Spirit comic book insert that appeared in a select list of Sunday newspapers, starting on June 2nd of 1940. Chuck Mazoujian, one of the Eisner shop artists, was the first to draw the feature, and when he left, Nick Cardy (alias Nick Viscardi) got the job. He also wrote it and his continuities were a bit lighter. He handled the feature from June of 1941 until February of 1942 and then went into the service. Arnold, by the way, also produced The Spirit booklets.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. The headline to this Chicagoist interview with Gina Wynbrandt is admirably straightforward.

Women who are gross or aren’t conventionally attractive are not often featured as main characters. Female protagonists, even if they’re just normal or average, have to also be objects of desire. I enjoy subverting that by characterizing myself as unfuckable in various ways.

Michael Maslin talks to gag cartoon writer Helene Parsons.

For me, the idea/words come first. Absolutely. I spend a lot of time reading articles, books, magazines and jotting down phrases. Let’s say I want to write gags about cooking. I’ll go through cookbooks and write down words like, coffee cake, assemble my ingredients, light the oven, stir frequently, throw something together. I’m very accident-prone in the kitchen so I can easily write about culinary disasters. I can see the humor in trying to put a meal together. The idea always comes first. The drawing is secondary.

I just caught up with this excellent episode of Theory of Everything from a few months ago, in which Benjamen Walker talks to biographer Jim Elledge about new information that's come to light about comics-adjacent artist Henry Darger.

The latest guest on RIYL is Punk Magazine's John Holmstrom.

—News. The estimable tiny publisher 2dcloud is holding a Kickstarter to help fund their spring lineup, which includes books by the aforementioned Wynbrandt, plus MariNaomi, Will Dinski, and Powerpaola.

Frank Santoro has launched the annual Comics Workbook Composition Competition.


Jet Plane

Today on the site, R.C. Harvey and Ann Telnaes report on the latter cartoonist's recent experiences with hate speech and social media.

Ann Telnaes, editorial cartoonist for the Washington Post and a person I am delighted and proud to call “friend,” discussed recently the implications for her profession of the social media reactions to the notorious “Ted Cruz monkey children” cartoon she drew last December. Her article, which appeared at the Columbia Journalism Review website on June 29, 2016, appears below. As background, I’m reprinting forthwith the report I filed in my online magazine, Rants & Raves, Opus 347, last winter; here it is:

Cruz Makes a Monkey of Himself

A week or so before Christmas, Republicon prez candidate Ted Cruz released a self-glorifying tv campaign ad in which the Texas senator and his wife sit on the family couch while attentive, loving father Ted reads Christmas stories to his two daughters, ages 5 and 7, from books with such parody titles asHow Obamacare Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Underemployed Reindeer and The Grinch Who Lost Her E-mails. At various intervals during the ad, viewers are  invited to send in donations to obtain their very own copies of the books.

At the end of the bedtime reading, the older of the two daughters speaks up, gesturing and pointing and turning her head dramatically from left to right and back again and again, calling Hillary a grinch and attacking her about her e-mail server. The words she speaks are clearly not her own: she’s reciting lines written for her (perhaps by her doting father?). Hers is a Shirley Temple imitation, but, as one viewer reported, the girl looks more like she’s auditioning to be the next Money Boo Boo.

A few days later—on December 22—the Washington Post’s Ann Telnaes, a Pulitzer-winning cartoonist, posted the cartoon displayed hereabouts, depicting candidate Cruz as that old time entertainer, the sidewalk organ grinder, whose monkeys are trained to dance in tune with the music the organ grinder grinds out—a virtuoso image of precisely what Cruz does in the tv ad.


Intruder, the two-year-old Seattle comics newspaper, is coming to an end.

The great cartoonist Michael Crawford, of New Yorker fame, could use your help.

This is the best online ad I've ever seen for a festival. Kudos SPX and Jim Woodring.



Today on the site, Greg Hunter reviews Rebekka Dunlap's Dream Tube.

A determined reader could attempt a game of spot-the-influence on every page of Dream Tube, not because the stories read as derivative but because Dunlap appears to have synthesized work from so many different places. A piece like “Brooklyn Witch Tweets” offers up some applied ligne claire work, character designs and reaction shots that recall manga, and the occasional use of a severe, page-flattening perspective popular within contemporary indie comics. There’s enough happening, and enough elements cohering, to certify Dunlap as a globally-attuned cartoonist, even if “Brooklyn Witch Tweets” finds its satirical targets close to the artist’s doorstep.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. First, the nominations for the Harvey Awards were announced, and bizarre doesn't begin to cover it. The Harveys have suffered from obvious ballot-stuffing for years. If they don't fix their nomination process soon, the award's reputation may become tainted beyond possibility of repair—if that's not already happened.

Rick Friday, the Farm News cartoonist controversially fired earlier this year for drawing a cartoon criticizing Monsanto and other agricultural companies, has gotten his job back.

Friday said at first, he did not want to go back to Farm News but decided to return to show his supporters truth cannot be censored.

“I am doing the right thing, because if I wouldn't have went back, then those people that tried to censor me, they would basically have been successful in what they tried to do in the beginning,” Friday said. “I'm not going to change. I have no need to change.”

—Interviews & Profiles. Adam Popescu at Playboy profiles Dan Clowes. This is probably the first time he's been compared to Dennis Rodman.

On the second floor of a green craftsman house in the East Bay city of Piedmont, Daniel Clowes’s work space is a study in organized chaos. Pencils, erasers, pens, T squares, tape, scissors, ink, virgin paper. The blinds are closed. A desk supporting an old Apple sits on one side of the room, a drafting table on the other. Clowes kicks up his feet. A flyswatter hangs an arm’s length away.

“There’s nothing worse than trying to draw and having bugs flying around,” he explains, his voice cracking an octave, a raspy cough erupting. “Sorry, I’m just getting over a cold. Jesus, I sound like a chain-smoker.”

Rachel Davies interviews Julia Gfrörer.

The way I make comics is influenced a lot by the effect of cheap photocopies, and I don't really obstruct the artifacts of that process – if you compare, for example, this image from Dark Age that was scanned from the original drawing with the same image as it appears in the zine, you can see how blotchy all the fine lines have become. I think that's beautiful. You can see how it struggled to exist. To me there's a sense of urgency in handmade things. I make zines because I believe in the Cheap Art Manifesto – I believe part of my calling is to make artwork that is more than an object of commerce.

The latest guest on Virtual Memories is underground veteran Paul Mavrides.

My parents thought comics lowered your intelligence and ruined your chances in life. They were absolutely right, as it turned out.

Comics Alternative talks to Rich Tommaso.
—Reviews & Commentary. At LARB, Tahneer Oksman reviews the latest Julie Doucet, in the process recounting her career to date.

Each Doucet collection is full of surprises, reflecting the artist’s investment in materiality, language, and experimenting with media and form in unexpected ways. Lady Pep, which was published in 2004 by Drawn & Quarterly’s Petits Livres imprint, is built, as Doucet’s notes explain, upon a “movement for the promotion of slowness.” The book includes a fold-out mail order catalog for “pack-O-fun” scrap projects; prints of photographed handmade objects, such as a “Big nose” box; and sketches of anonymous individuals inked in Doucet’s expressively lissome hand.

At The Smart Set, Chris Mautner writes about the recent Captain America and DC Rebirth controversies.

DC/Warner Bros. has doubled down on this effrontery in recent years by releasing first the tone-deaf Zack Snyder film adaptation [of Watchmen] and then a series of staggeringly awful and utterly unnecessary prequels bearing the Before Watchmen sobriquet. And now there’s Rebirth. Having Watchmen integrated with the DC universe might be an attempt by the creators to make some sort of statement on the series’s influence — good and ill — on modern comics. Or it might be a cynical attempt by the publisher to squeeze every last ounce of interest and goodwill from that particular stone. Either way it’s a gross disregard for both the original work and the people that made it, a reminder that everything in this industry comes down to feeding the fleeting thrill and grasping for the short-term dollar.

In a widely shared Tumblr post, Ronald Wimberly argues that cartoonists should no longer draw test pages for DC, Marvel, etc., without getting paid fr their labor.

If you’re Marvel or DC or a company, like BOOM, that profits off large licenses, you should pay for samples from prospective contractors. The hours that an artist spends making a sample are bankable hours; it’s work. By not paying for that sample art, these corporations are offsetting the cost of their R&D on labor. Artists shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden of a corporation’s R&D.

—Misc. It's time again for Gabrielle Bell's annual July Diary.

This year I’ve set the parameter for myself of no penciling, no erasing, no revising, no redrawing, no editing. It still isn’t exactly a diary though. If it were really a diary, I’d be exposing all my ugly secrets, my inappropriate crushes, the people I hate and all kinds of incriminating and compromising information about everyone I know. I’d love to do that but it took me so long to get the friends I’ve got and I’d like to keep them. You could call this a journal but I don’t like that word either…it sounds too much like “journaling.” At this point it’s an experiment and I’ll figure out what it is in the future hindsight.


Loose Limbed

To celebrate our nation, Joe McCulloch has dipped into his vacation and scooped out a glorious week in comics.


I read Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 4 this weekend, and it's the best one yet. Ed Piskor is a master cartoonist. No doubt about it. The amount of detail he packs into pages without every slowing down the narrative is pretty astounding. Plus, the whole thing has impeccable comic timing. I want to write some more on this, but had to just get that out there. If you haven't tried this series, jump on it now. Love.


Note: Not actual cover, alas. But close.

And... Allow me for a moment to pay tribute to this Jon Severin page for Cracked, 1970. Severin was so good at humor because he was the ultimate straight man cartoonist. Everything looked pretty square about his work -- which of course it had been. Like Elder, Severin killed it in the details. As a kid, and still, I love this stuff because it's doesn't telegraph wacky. Of course I love them both, but a bit of difference is nice. It's like the difference between Jerry Lewis (below by Bob Oksner, 1968) and Dean Martin, I guess.


Ok, I have a two-part reason for showing the Lewis page below. Of course it happens to go with my two-second analogy above but, uh, look at those chalk board drawings! Jerry Lewis does a chalk talk in a comic book. Love it. I've been reminded multiple times, somewhat randomly, of Rudolf Steiner's chalkboard drawings, and this, in its "educational" setting, somehow brings that back in too. Yippee!


Still more:

In the interest of staying sane and reasonably upbeat, I'm going to mostly use this space to muse about comics rather than find links. Tim is better at links than I am anyway. But here's a link:

The great Matthew Thurber would like you to know that:

 The wonderful science-fiction social satire feature film, BUGS, made by Toronto conceptual art luminaries, Life of a Craphead, is having several screenings next week in New York! Please attend if you can!

More info:

BUGS websiteBUGS trailerParsons Screening July 6Spectacle screenings July 7.