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A Light Day

This morning on the site we have Jeet Heer’s interview with the important animator and cartoonist, R. O. Blechman.

But before you get to that, there’s some important news on the print front for the Journal, namely, that the legendarily elusive issue 301 is finally about to ship, and is available for pre-order now. As I’ve actually held a copy in my own hands, I can vouch for the physical existence of the issue. Very soon, you will see for yourself. Here’s a video with more proof:

And here’s some interior photos.

Elsewhere:

The late, great Bill Blackbeard wrote a memoir of his experiences with comic-strip preservation in 2003 for the International Journal of Comic Art, which has just republished it.

In a much-linked piece for the Guardian, the political cartoonist Steve Bell reflects on his own thirty-year career with the paper.

And here’s a video for that:

In response to to Frank Santoro’s many writings on color, Ed Piskor posts an old-school color chart.

 

Here We Go

It’s the mid-week break:

On the site today we bring you:

-Mike Dawson talks to cartoonist and educator Jessica Abel via TCJ Talkies.

-Hayley Campbell reviews Victor Kerlow’s Small Victories, starting with the envelope it arrived in.

-Sophie Yanow’s interview with Brecht Evens on his work and geography. Here’s a taste of what I think is a fine contextualization of Evens:

Evens is hesitant to call himself a part of a “scene,” citing his international outlook. However, this outlook seems to characterize a group of young, upcoming Belgian cartoonists, whose work is cross-pollinated by many art forms and locales: Evens’ former classmate and friend Brecht Vandenbroucke has found an international presence online and in various publications through the likes of England’s Nobrow Press and the Latvian anthology KUS!

And elsewhere:

Tom Spurgeon contributes a thoughtful obituary of the French comics giant Paul Gillon, and provides a link to a fine appreciation, to boot. I can’t figure out how Tom writes these things so well and so fast.

TCJ contributor Chris Mautner scoops us with this incisive interview with Dave McKean on the artist’s new book, Celluloid. We’ll have a review soon, just you wait. I’ve read and puzzled over the book. I’m curious what readers will make of it.

The New York Times on Paying for It, or as Jeet wrote to me, “The NY Times referred to Chester Brown as looking like ‘a praying mantis with testicles.’ That has to be the first reference in the Times to a cartoonist’s genitals.” I hope it’s not the last!

I’m very pleased a book is being planned about the great Don Donahue. There aren’t really any comparable figures, and he sure was involved in a lot of important culture outside of comics.

Over on his own site (sniff, we miss you), Dustin Harbin expands on his thoughts about comic book awards, sparked by his Cartoonist’s Diary stint last week. The comments here have some good back and forth.

The New Yorker has a video up of someone you never hear much about — Tom Bachtell, who does the Talk of the Town spot illustrations. It’s a pleasant diversion and insight into a very specific craft.

And, just for kicks, here’s an article I enjoyed about the Warhol market at New York magazine.

 

The Morning News

Good morning. Today we present an obituary of the much-admired artist Jeffrey Jones, as well as Joe McCulloch’s latest column on the week in comics.

Elsewhere:

Jean-Christophe Menu, outspoken co-founder of the prominent French publisher L’Association, has apparently left the company. Tom Spurgeon and Bart Beaty have the available information and a bit of analysis here and here.

Robert Crumb gives a weird interview to his own website, in which he briefly comments in sometimes surprising ways on various public figures, such as Andy Warhol, Stanley Kubrick, Obama, Bob Dylan, and Tommy James and the Shondells (he’s a fan!).

Bill Rechin, creator of the comic strip Crock, has passed away.

The eminent British comics critic Paul Gravett picked his top five political graphic novels for CNN. None of them are bad books, but a few of them don’t strike me as very political, except in the broadest sense.

Our own Rob Clough writes about the minicomics of Susie Cagle.

Sometimes I read Tucker Stone’s column and I am so so glad that I have no idea what he’s talking about.

 

We Survived

Nice to see all of you.

So, on the site today:

* Ken Parille writes on Jack Kirby and Chris Ware:

As allegorical fantasies, Kirby’s galactic operas were as interested in 1970s America as in imaginary goings-on in deep space. Yet Kirby’s greatest theme was even closer to home: his own power, his imagination, and his process of creation.

* And in that spirit, we present the complete text of Gary Groth’s 1989 interview with Jack Kirby. This was quite controversial at the time of its publication, with many complaining that Gary had let Kirby talk too much, and make overreaching claims. But to my mind, it’s a fascinating record of the artist in twilight, weary of his battles and fed up with getting so little credit. If he overreached in places, one can hardly blame him. In any case, here it is, and it’s worth reading in light of this summer’s movies.

Elsewhere:

Interesting exhibition opening this week curated by William F. Wu: Marvels and Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in American Comics, 1942-1986. The curator notes:

I themed the collection around a set of eight Asian archetypes — the ones that remain most iconic and resonant with perceptions of Asian Americans even today… The archetypes are obviously negative ones, given the timespan of the archive. But their repeated appearances in the comics ends up being an amazing launchpad from which to explore the historical pressures and precedents that led to their inception.

Jeffrey Catherine Jones’ passing has been noted several places. The best piece I’ve seen is Tom Spurgeon’s, in which he examines the larger context for Jones’ life and work. Here’s Tom on the “Studio” period:

The legacy of that much talent doing what was collectively very good work at a point of almost monolithic and degrading corporate influence over the kind of art they wanted to do has provided The Studio with a legacy that can be embraced even by those that didn’t particularly care for the artists’ output.

And David Apatoff takes a close look at a single painting.

 

One More Day

I heard from this guy on the subway that May 21 is the day the Y2K bug finally strikes. I may be a pessimist but I don’t think our new robot rulers are gonna let us spend much time sitting around reading about comic books (was Monday’s outage a preliminary attack?), so get your kicks in now. We’ll all be working in the coltan mines soon.

Some ways to while away your final hours:

Dustin Harbin says goodbye to the Doug Wright Awards with one last diary entry. It has been fun to see the rolling waves of pleasure and argument getting started after each entry went up.

And Richard “Know Your New Yorker Cartoonists” Gehr weighs in with a review of Leslie Stein’s new Eye of the Majestic Creature.

Oh, and did we forget to mention that issue 301 made New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix? It did.

Elsewhere on the internet:

A great profile of Richard Thompson from the Washington Post. (Bill Watterson alert.)

Video footage has arisen from the 2010 APE interview Dan Clowes gave to Dan Nadel. (One of the reasons I like this interview is that before the show, Frank Santoro and I send Dan our most shameless comics-fan questions, and then he actually asked most of them.) [via]

TCAF has been getting all the glory, but Eric Reynolds went to the Swedish SPX festival in Stockholm, along with former TCJ.com diarist Vanessa Davis, Gabrielle Bell, Trevor Alixopulos, Dash Shaw, Brent Warnock, and many others. Check out his photos here.

Tom Devlin, Chris Oliveros, and John Porcellino took a trip with Chester Brown to visit his childhood environs. Tom Devlin Chris Oliveros has the photos (and their comic-panel equivalents from Brown’s work) in a great post over here.

Joakim Gunnarsson didn’t like the reproductions used in the recent Buz Sawyer book, and explains why here. The book’s editor, Rick Norwood, shows up in the comments to defend himself.

Conflict of interest alert: Sammy Harkham announces the next edition of Kramers Ergot, and Dan’s his new publisher:

Mondo (Alamo Drafthouse) is releasing a limited-edition screen print of Chris Ware’s poster for the film Uncle Boonmee, going on sale this morning.

Finally—and “not comics”—an item for those into hand-wringing discussions about criticism only: This post about the lack of negative jazz criticism is really interesting for the way it corresponds (and doesn’t) with the state of comics criticism. (It was more interesting before that site switched to TypePad last night and lost all its comments in the process.)

 

Jeffrey Catherine Jones, 1944-2011

We’ve just learned that painter and cartoonist Jeffrey Jones has passed away. According to a post on the artist’s Facebook page:

JEFFREY CATHERINE JONES passed away today, Thursday May 19, 2011 at 4:00 am surrounded by family. Jeffrey suffered from severe emphysema and bronchitis as well as hardening of the arteries around the heart. Jeffrey’s dear friend Robert Wiener reported that there was a no resuscitation order as Jeffrey was weak from from being severely under weight and had no reserves with which to fight. In accord with Jeffrey’s wishes Jeffrey will be cremated. We have yet to hear details for a memorial service. Jeffrey was one of the greatest talents and sweetest souls we have ever been blessed to know. Rest in Peace, dear friend.

We’ll have a formal obituary online as soon as possible. For a brief biography, click over here. My favorite work of Jones’ remains the comic strip Idyll.

 

Twittering Away the Day

Oh it’s been busy here.

On the site today:

*Dustin Harbin’s suddenly, semi-controversial reportage about the Doug Wright Awards returns with Day 4.

*More Canada! More! Jeet Heer’s new column is online and it’s about Paying for It. Deal with it! We’re not giving up until we set a record for the most coverage on any web site about a comic book about prostitution. Stay with us, people!

In related news, cartoonist Sammy Harkham took some time away from the telephone to do some tweeting about Paying for It. Here’s my favorite part, but really, there’s so much more. Some people can tweet. I’m not one of them, but Sammy has found a higher calling here. A real kibbitzer, this guy.

In non-Canadian news, here are a couple of very interesting things:

-Here’s a conversation about repro techniques in the new Buz Sawyer book between writer Joakim Gunnarsson and the book’s editor, Rick Norwood. This is a good peek behind the curtain about how decisions are made in relation to the material available. (via JT)

-Over at Vice, Nicholas Gazin has posted another good column, including brief interviews with Peter Bagge and, uh, yours truly. And he’s gone weekly. Beware!

-And finally, this is an incredibly well researched article (thanks, SH) about Orrin C. Evans, a writer and publisher who was responsible for the first African-American comic book, All-Negro Comics. Completely new, fresh territory mined here:

All Negro Comics # 1 is a good read. More thought went into the stories than I can briefly recap. Ace Harlem works as a detective story, the dialog is realistic and the incidentals of the story, the root doctor and the juke box playing ‘Open the Door Richard’ reflect the culture of the creators, as do Sugarfoot and Hep Chicks. Lion Man, a character surprisingly like Lee and Kirby’s Black Panther, is a well thought out concept, born with a secret laboratory and a pesky junior sidekick and ready for some good ol pulpy jungle action. The book reads and looks pretty much the same as a Fox, Iger or Chesler book of the same time period.

Go check it out.

Oh, and does anyone have a copy of this? Seriously. I didn’t know existed until Sean Howe pointed it out.

 

Community-Building Exercise

Lining up for comic book reviews

These have been trying times. It is probably not too much to compare our recent internet problem’s effect on readers as akin to that of the Great Depression on our ancestors. Reports continue to trickle in from loyal followers, anxious about the missing hours of TCJ.com. Some people—you may know them—are still unable to access their site from their computers, or at least are unable to do so while sitting at their work cubicles. For some, despair has begun to set in.

But like those Depression survivors, TCJ.com readers are showing a surprising, even inspiring resilience. At first, the messages we received were ones of dismay, even panic, but as time went on, something strange began to happen: across the globe, people who were joined together by nothing more than a shared interest in a minor art form began gathering into groups, sharing laptops and iPhones, and excitedly reading favorite stories from the site to each other. According to reports, TCJ.com reading parties have started sprouting up spontaneously in homes, bars, churches, and community centers across the country. Will “bowling alone” finally become a thing of the past? Who knows? But if you know someone unable to read TCJ.com on their own computer, why not invite them over to share in the fun?

Such as:

The third installment of Ryan Holmberg’s epic and essential “What Was Alternative Manga?” column. Today’s topic is Takao Saito and the “Gekiga Factory.” There’s nowhere else you can learn this stuff in English.

The hardest working man in comics reviewing, Rob Clough, talks about Melvin Monster: Volume 3.

And Dustin Harbin’s latest diary comic!

Also, there is news on the print Comics Journal front, along with a big back-issue sale. Here’s Mike Baehr with the word:

We are victims of our own success! Demand for The Comics Journal #301 is greater than we estimated and advance orders for the issue exceeded what we printed, so we have gone immediately back to press for a second printing. Since we couldn’t fill all the orders from the first printing and didn’t want to short any one segment of the market — comics stores, bookstores, subscribers — we decided to wait until we receive the second shipment before releasing the book, resulting in a 3-4 week delay, pushing the release to early July. It’s been delayed so long already, what’s another month? The lucky dozens who have managed to buy advance copies from us at MoCCA and TCAF will tell you, it’s worth the wait!

This also gives you some extra time to get on board with a money-saving 3-issue subscription, which also gets you access to the online TCJ back-issue archives at TCJ.com!

And speaking of back issues, to help the wait for the new issue pass a little bit faster, save up to 50% off all TCJ back issues, Special Editions and Library editions through next Wednesday, May 25 2011!

Go here for more information.

Elsewhere on the internet, the aforementioned Rob Clough’s efforts can not be contained within this site. He’s got a slew of reviews up on his own blog, including takes on Joe Ollmann and Pascal Girard, Aaron Cockle, Colleen Frakes, Joe Daly, Steve Seck, and minicomics out of the Center for Cartoon Studies.

I forgot to link to this rather perverse Mother’s Day webcomic written by Paul Slade, drawn by Hans Rickheit, and based upon one of the great David Attenborough’s nature stories.

1-800-Mice cartoonist Matthew Thurber will want to know about this: apparently, you can now read the entirety of Elfquest for free online.

Via Tom Spurgeon comes links to two recent stories about the first manga books restricted under the new Japanese legal situation.

Via everyone, there’s finally a trailer for the upcoming animated Tintin film. Attention Dapper Dan.

I really am going to stop posting TCAF reports, but I’ll put in one more, just because Kevin Czap has written the one thing I’ve been missing this time around: an old-fashioned haul report.

Finally, the US government is now recognizing video games as a legitimate art form, allowing them to be eligible for NEA grants. I couldn’t remember offhand, but maybe some of you readers can: has a cartoonist or graphic novel ever been awarded funding from the NEA?