Elbows and Knees

Today on the site we begin our tributes to the late Richard Thompson, with kind and eloquent words from Warren Bernard and Craig Fischer. With more to come.

And we present Jim Woodring's 2000 interview with the late Jack Davis.

WOODRING: Did you get a lot of fan mail while you were working at EC?

DAVIS: I don’t know why it is, but once your name is in print or in magazines, either people want to be a correspondent or fan, or write letters back and forth. I would get some letters, and I’d take them home and read them and maybe answer some, but if you start doing that, then you’ve got a correspondence going, and I didn’t have time to do it so it kind of petered out. But I still get letters and I appreciate them very much. I try to answer every one of them.

WOODRING: One of the reasons I was asking you about the horror strips, because there is, as you say, always sort of an element of tongue-in-cheek quality to them. Even the real scary ones kind of have a nice bouncy quality of your drawing. But I’m sure you remember Graham Ingels’ work.

DAVIS: Yeah.

WOODRING: I imagine that his horror comics were more frightening than anyone else’s?

DAVIS: I think so. It was really scary. It was kind of an old-fashioned type of telling it, like I said a ghost story. He really had that feel for it. Al Feldstein established the three characters. There was the Old Witch, and the Vault Keeper, and the Crypt Keeper. Everybody kind of had a way of drawing it. I think Johnny Craig drew the Vault Keeper. His was always clean, but to me it was never scary. It was beautifully drawn, but it was never scary. It wasn’t hairy or ugly. My stuff was ugly and not great. But Graham Ingels was an artist.

WOODRING: I used to look at his comics when I was a kid, and to me they almost looked like the product of a diseased mind or something.

DAVIS: [Laughs] Yeah. I never really got to meet him very much unless we happened to be in the office delivering work at the same time. He was a very quiet fellow. I was very quiet, too. I was pretty shy. I don’t know, all of that went out the window. [Woodring laughs.] But I think we were impressed with the people that fed us.


Our pal and valued contributor Tucker Stone (and friends) reflects on his site The Factual Opinion a decade on.

Hillary Chute went to Comic-Con and reports back for Artforum.

As if last week couldn't be any worse for comics, a Pearls Before Swine comic was pulled from newspapers. 

And our friends at Breakdown Press in London would like to tell you about the upcoming Safari Festival 2016. Dig it:

Date: Saturday, 27th of August

Time: 11am - 6pm

Venue: Protein Studios, 31 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EY


Exhibiting:  .

Simon HanselmannFantagraphics BooksJoan CornellaAnna Haifisch Alexis BeauclairAlly Russell, Anti Ghost Studio (Babak GanjeiRob Flowers), Becca TobinBergen Street Comics PressBreakdown Press (Joe KesslerAntoine CosséRichard ShortAlexander TuckerZoë Taylor, JMKE), Brigid DeaconComic Book Slumber PartyComics WorkbookCrumb CabinDecadence Comics (Lando, Stathis Tsemberlidis, Emix Regulus), Dilraj MannDisinfotainment (Mark Pawson)Donya ToddEleni KalorkotiEsther McManusEvan AndroutsopoulosEyeball ComixFamicon Express (Leon Sadler, Stefan Sadler, Jon Chandler),Feminist LibraryGabriel Corbera, L'Institut SérigraphiqueIrkus M. ZeberioHope Not HateJack TeagleJazz Dad BooksJoseph P KellyKrent AbleKus!Landfill EditionsLaura CallaghanLizzy StewartLuke StewartMatt SwanMatthew PettitOne Beat ZinesOOMK ZineOtto PressRetrofit ComicsSammy SteinShaky Kane, Silica Burn (Will TempestLiam CobbTom Kemp), Simon MoretonTakayo AikyamaTreasure FleetVincent FritzWai Wai PangWill Sweeney.

Tickets: Free Entry

Facebook Event:


Missed Ones

It's the end of a long week for comics. We've posted an obituary for the great Jack Davis and tributes to him are still coming in. Next week we'll have coverage of the beloved Richard Thompson.

Elsewhere, more like this:

The National Cartoonists Society remembers Jack Davis.

Remembrances of Richard Thompson by Michael Rhode and John Martz.

Cartoonist John Kerschbaum could use some help in a trying time.

And it's good to see some positive news: Drawn & Quarterly's winter releases. 


The Worst Year

Yesterday was a terrible day for comics, as two immensely gifted and beloved artists passed away.

First came the news of the death of Richard Thompson, creator of Cul de Sac, probably one of the last truly great newspaper strips, and one begun after many people no longer believed that to be an achievable feat. Thompson was only 58 years old. We will be publishing an obituary and tributes to him soon. In the meantime, here is the notice that was run in the Washington Post, and here is the coverage from WUSA.

R.C. Harvey wrote about Thompson's work for us in 2012.

In the age of the emerging stick figure, it is refreshing—invigorating—to see actual drawing skill lauded so loudly. But Thompson’s talent doesn’t end with his drawing ability: his lines, interesting and sublime in their simplicity and complexity, merely visualize the world he has created in Cul de Sac, which Cavna describes as “a sly, whimsical skip through suburban life with Alice Otterloop, her friends Beni and Dill, elder brother Petey and her classmates at Blisshaven Academy preschool. It’s all about sidewalk discoveries, childhood invention, parents and other authority figures who are one step behind the children’s antics. At summoning our early years, Watterson says, ‘The strip depicts all kinds of moments than ring true.’”

[Pat] Oliphant says: “Thompson actually sounds like the kids he draws in that amazing strip. What a gift that is, to write the way you talk. No strain, no presumption—just simple, wry storytelling with characters you can care about and love. When did you last see that in comics strips? Not since Calvin and his tiger rode off into the sunset. You would never suspect it by looking at him, but behind the quiet, mild-mannered Richard Thompson exterior lurks the real Richard Thompson. I know he would hate to be termed a genius, but that is exactly what he is.”

You may also want to watch this short documentary, The Art of Richard Thompson:

The Art of Richard Thompson from GVI on Vimeo.

Another cartooning legend also died yesterday, Jack Davis, veteran of EC Comics, Mad magazine, and the illustrator of countless movie posters. It would be difficult to overstate the affection for him in the cartooning world. Davis was 91 years old. We will be publishing an obituary for him soon. Here is the first one published, from local radio station WGAU, here is a remembrance from Mark Evanier, and here is an obituary from the BBC.

We have begun gathering old and new tributes to Davis, starting with contributions from Drew Friedman, Gary Panter, Peter Bagge, and Joe Kubert. Here's Panter:

My favorite works by Jack Davis are his various monsters, standing solo like the door sized Frankenstein poster sold in monster magazines, or clumped in wretch piles of scratching,  drooling, leaky, hairy, fly blown, boil plagued and wart encrusted werewolves, vampires, lackeys, hoodlums, degenerates and brainless tools. He was really good at organizing a picture-- a hard thing to do when the picture has many elements. Jack Davis was continually spewing out crowd scenes of scheming teeming denizens to sell anything--movies, bathroom products, sporting goods-- a true commercial artist knocking the crap out but most often knocking the crap out of the park into a very identifiable place of personal expression. 

But I loved his monsters best--on bubble gum stickers, trading cards, and comic books. I am still looking for Yak Yak number two. I was completely smitten by Yak Yak one and took it on family vacation to a relative's quarter horse farm in Louisiana. I wasn't interested in horses, but was interested in Jack Davis's beatniks and environs. The comic mysteriously disappeared on the trip, though it was never out of my sight for long. I suspect conspiracy to trash theYak Yak #1 and an an adult, an arrested development adult, I found another copy of it. Hooray for Jack Davis the scribbliest form generator.

In 2012, we published a discussion between Davis, Gary Groth, and Drew Friedman, which you can listen to here.

Much more to come.


Norwegian Life

Today we have Ron Goulart on the Connecticut clan of Mort Walker and co. Here's a bit on the great Dik Browne:

As hinted at earlier, Browne was a colorful fellow and Richard Marschall says, “The stories about Dik Browne are so many that the books of the world could not hold them….Heywood Broun was described as looking like an unmade bed; Browne has been compared as an unmade bed with Heywood Broun sleeping in it….Browne was dressed in a typical unkempt and absent-minded way one morning and his wife, Joan, said good-bye with0: ‘I hope you get lost; I’d love to describe you to the police!’”

Stan Drake, friend and fellow golfer, said, “Dik Browne stories have become part of the passing parade. Entire golf tournament dinners have been taken over by Dik Browne stories….The night he was held up in an alley and fumblingly produced so much junk from his pockets that the robber walked away cursing... The night he was accosted by a prostitute and thought she was an old friend’s wife… it could go on for hours…and has.” Browne now and then joined the group of cartoonists and writers I sat in on. I was impressed by the way he was always discovering some new fact or idea that most everybody else had already discovered. And how he could discourse and speculate on it.

His magnum opus and greatest success was Hagar the Horrible and that will be dealt with in the next part of this essay. Along with such Walker enterprises as Boner’s Ark, Mrs. Fritsz’s Flats and Gamin and Patches.  Plus artists and writers like The Walker Boys, Bob Gustafson and Frank Johnson.


Go read Peggy Burns' wonderful speeches from the Eisner Awards. Congrats to all of D&Q.

So this is my new favorite comics web site: the BD collection in Angouleme. So many images, so much new information for me.

A rare thing: Arnold Roth process post, for Humbug no less!

Comics by great cartoonists occurring online is awesome. I could read Vanessa Davis comics all day long. Confident, funny, outward looking work. And Gabrielle Bell is our very own internal astronaut of the nervous system.  Here's her latest.


Depressing Days

As always on Tuesday, Joe McCulloch is here with his usual guide to the Week in Comics!, spotlighting all the most interesting-sounding comics new to stores. His highlights this week include comics by Leiji Matsumoto and Jacques de Loustal with Jerome Charyn.

Does Leiji Matsumoto need much introduction? Maybe! Some of you will doubtlessly be familiar with Space Battleship Yamato (aka "Star Blazers"), an animated television series he co-created in the 1970s. Others will know of Space Pirate Captain Harlock, a comics/animation manly honor saga he created shortly after. Or maybe you read some of his war comics in Frederik L. Schodt's seminal Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics, or watched Daft Punk's Interstella 5555, the music video film created in his visual style, or even snapped up VIZ's editions of some of his Galaxy Express 999 comics in the '90s and early '00s - the last time, despite Matsumoto's visibility, that his manga appeared in English.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—For the New York Times Book Review, Lynda Barry draws Johanna Spyri's Heidi meeting Stephen King's Carrie.

—Brian Azzarello seems charming.

—Comics Alternative interviews John Porcellino.

—Phil Nel reports from Comic-Con.


Safe and Under

Today on the site, Alex Dueben interviews Michael Zulli. Zulli is remembered for his work on Puma Blues and various Neil Gaiman projects.

I have to admit that before this collection was published, I had never read The Puma Blues, or even heard of it. Though I was too young to have read them when they were originally published.

I don’t blame you, actually. Those days were the wild west of comics, really. There was a lot of very good things that happened and a lot of weird things that happened. I can’t say bad necessarily, but weird. At that point in history there was more than one distributor in the United States. People were self-publishing or there were small press imprints that were producing a whole variety of different things. It was the beginnings of what I saw as potentially a quite interesting period in the medium. The birth pains of growing up. Of course it didn’t work out that way. [laughs] One by one they all toppled and well now there is a comics industry in North America. At the time it seemed like it was possible really to really stretch or even burn the envelope entirely to get to a new place where the medium itself–which is always been creative and vital and largely misunderstood as a junk culture–could grow up and flourish and entertain any segment of society that it wished to.

It was on that premise that Stephen and I originally got together as completely and utterly void entities, really. On the day we approached Dave [Sim] at a small local comic shop in the area, we had eight pages of Puma drawn and basically done. At the time we were thinking the best place to go would be one of the smaller independent publishers. Back then a lot of them would have a main feature and then an eight page backup story that might change from month to month. We thought our best chances were to get into doing eight pages every two weeks for one of these things. When [Dave Sim] said, can you do twenty pages plus a cover a month I opened my mouth and said, yeah. From there it was a done deal. We both walked away looking at each other like, what are we going to do? The only training I ever had in comics was, believe it or not, I’d gone to the local bookstore and bought How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way. [laughs] Which was a complete disaster, but I did learn a few things that I found technically appropriately. To this day I still cannot draw a comics page with blue pencil. I tried but I just hated the damn thing. The learning curve was daunting to say the least.


The big news of course is mostly from Comic-Con. The Washington Post has your Eisner Award winners and a bit of publishing news from D&Q as well.  Tom Spurgeon has his daily thoughts on the con.

The New York Times profiles the team behind Bojack Horseman, including Lisa Hanawalt. 

The Quietus talks to Sammy Harkham about Kramers Ergot.

And finally, perhaps the best publishing news is that there's going to be another Jerry Moriarty book sometime in the future, as described in this video by the artist himself.:



Today we present the prolific New Yorker cartoonist Emily Flake's interview with the inimitable Glen Baxter, who has recently released a collection of his work through New York Review Comics.

I was really blown away by the collages of Max Ernst: spooky, haunting, absurd. All these old steel engravings from the Victorian era with a magisterial authority subverted by the artist. THIS is what I wanted to do — but Ernst had already done it, so how to proceed?

[...] I had been collecting loads of old children's adventure stories, partly because they were inexpensive and had beautiful color covers. I did this by trawling boot fairs (yard sales) and picked them up for a song because nobody else wanted them. Max Ernst did exactly the same thing with the steel engravings, picking them up at flea markets in Paris for next to nothing.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. The San Francisco Gate profiles Maxon Crumb.

Judging by his appearance in "Crumb," Terry Zwigoff's 1995 documentary about an artistic and deeply troubled family, Maxon Crumb didn't seem long for this world. The younger brother of underground cartoonist Robert Crumb was filmed in his seedy hotel room, sitting on a bed of nails and begging for money on San Francisco sidewalks. He looked haunted, spiritually ransacked -- done in by the family abuse that drove his oldest brother, Charles, to suicide.

Twelve years later, Maxon Crumb still resides in the same Sixth Street dump, and still maintains an extreme spartan diet -- "only plant food" -- and an ascetic spiritual practice that includes long, holy-man treks to Bolinas Ridge, where he sits in lotus position for 12 hours at a time. But in the years since "Crumb" was released, he is no longer dependent on government assistance and has stopped panhandling and started supporting himself with his art. His paintings -- more intricate, surreal and disturbing than Robert's antic work -- sell for as much as $3,200; his ink drawings go for $1,200.

—News. The CBLDF has gathered and summarized recent news on the post-coup media crackdown in Turkey, including a banned issue of the satirical magazine LeMan.

Unsurprisingly based on Erdoğan’s past record, the crackdown has also deeply affected the press: 34 journalists had their credentials revoked, and the satirical magazine Leman was yesterday prevented from printing a special post-coup edition with a cover cartoon suggesting that the government deliberately pitted civilians against the military plotters.

—Reviews & Commentary. Tom Spurgeon's been running new reviews all week, including this take on Tim Hensley's Sir Alfred No. 3.

I don't think I've enjoyed a comic in some time as much as I took pleasure in Tim Hensley's beautiful, accretive biography of Alfred Hitchcock, Sir Alfred No. 3, built from casual anecdotes and ridiculous stories from the director's colorful public profile along with whatever racy filmmaking storie fit the same general tone. Hensley's style isn't as perfectly suited to the kind of biographical comic he's aping here as it was to the teenager books being examined in Wally Gropius, but his flat, colorful art is beautiful, and the whole project evinces a kind strange sumptuous based on presentation and style that stands in constant, funny contrast to the sheer squirrelly nature of every single character moment as revealed.

—Misc. Letters of Note has published a pretty charming exchange of correspondence between Alan Moore and a nine-year-old fan.

The first book I saw was V for Vendetta which has a brilliant storyline and is very cool when he blows up Parliament. I also love his awesome mask. Watchmen was the second, so far the best book I have ever seen - Rorschach is my favourite character, then Dr. Manhattan, lastly the Comedian. I like the way he uses a flamethrower as a cigar lighter and a smiley face for a badge. My third favourite was the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I like the way it’s more like a book because it has lots of writing in it and I also like the things that they have collected. All in all you are the best author in human history. Please write back.


Earth Crack

Hi there,

Today Cynthia Rose brings us an interview with Steffen Kverneland, whose graphic biography of Edvard Munch has been a hit internationally.

Once you decided to tackle Munch, where did you begin?

One thing was for sure – I did not want to do a linear, strictly chronological, cribbed-to-death biography. That’s a terrible structure, probably the worst you can choose. It’s highly predictable, it obliges you to include a ridiculous amount of boring transitional scenes – and it always ends with the death.

It’s puzzling to think of now but the key scene for me, this scene I was longing to draw, came from this story about a party at the villa of a poet, Richard Dehmel. It’s where Munch’s buddy Stachu Prszybyszewsky finally goes nuts. He takes off all his clothes, goes out to the woodshed in the middle of a winter’s night and starts posing as Satan (Munch, page 128-130). It was as if this fairly unknown anecdote, hilarious but also shocking, was simply beckoning me to make its comic adaptation. This was not part of the Myth of the Holy Genius Munch as we all knew it.

This Polish writer – a heavy drinker, a Satanist and a sexoholic – who was a close friend of Munch’s, he really intrigued me. So, of course, did Strindberg who I also looked forward to drawing and learning more about. Plus there were the women, like the mysterious Dagny Juel. She marries Przybyszewsky and gets shot to death at the age of 33. What was her story? I already knew that, during those feverish years in Berlin, Munch made practically all of his best-known works. That was when he became the Munch we know today.


The most important link of the day (week?) is this interview with Mike Kuchar, who of course is the late George Kuchar's brother. Mike is, as George was, a cartoonist, and very much a pioneer in early queer comics in the 1970s. These drawings, which are much more recent, are just amazing, visceral things. Everything Frazetta wished he could be. Sammy should publish some in Kramers Ergot. And someone should do a book! I was planning to back in 2012-2013, but then I decided not to publish more books, so that was that. Anyhow, check him out: Mike Kuchar. And dig the connections to Arcade, Crumb, and Wally Wood. All my favorite things. Gee willickers.

San Diego Comicon is happening this week, I guess? Tom Spurgeon has a few thoughts over here, and Michael Dooley tells us about the women nominated for Eisner Awards this year.