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The Longest Weekend

Okay, just like most of you, our pick-up trucks are all loaded with watermelon, Weber grills, and illegal fireworks, and we’re ready to head out to parts unknown to celebrate the birth of a nation, but we’ve got a few more items for you to read first. Independence Day means that we won’t be publishing on Monday, but that’s good news really, because if you didn’t notice, this week was really packed with great reading material. Use the extra day to catch up on whatever you missed. (And tune in to WKCR‘s annual all-day Armstrong festival for a soundtrack.)

This morning, our columnist R.C. Harvey offers a retort to the video re his Milton Caniff book that I posted a while back. Whatever controversy may still linger over its funniness or lack thereof, I can now feel confident that publicizing that video had at least one positive result. By the way, Dan wants to report that for the record, he has read the entire book: “It is very long, yet also very awesome.”

Dan wrote the other piece we have for you today, a review of one of the most anticipated books of the year, Peter Maresca’s latest oversize reprint anthology, Forgotten Fantasy: Sunday Comics 1900-1915. I can not wait to see this one.

On a sadder note, Thierry Martens, comics historian and former editor of Spirou, has passed away at the age of 69. Kim Thompson offers tribute.

Elsewhere:

The Asterix/brain injury controversy isn’t going anywhere! Jeff Albertson goes into great detail on the subject over at the Comics Grid. Actually, he provides some valuable context, and a needed reminder that whenever the media hypes up a scientific or academic study, there’s a very good chance there’s some serious misrepresentation going on.

Apparently, the Favorites zine, edited by the great Craig Fischer, and intended to raise money for Parkinson’s research on behalf of Team Cul De Sac, is now available for sale. Among its authors are several Journal favorites, including Rob Clough, Jeet Heer, Chris Mautner, Joe McCulloch, Frank Santoro, and Matthias Wivel.

And finally, Johanna Draper Carlson reports that Friends of Lulu is no more.

 

Thierry Martens, R.I.P.

Fellow cartoonist Tibet borrowed Thierry Martens's distinctive look (and physique) for the villain in this "Ric Hochet" adventure.

I just read that Thierry Martens has died, at far too early an age: 69.

Martens was the first comics professional who was nice to me. He was the editor-in-chief of Spirou magazine during the time when I was reading it, and more than once he replied to my long, rambling, fannishly opinionated letters to the editor with long, friendly letters of his own. (Which was more than Stan Lee ever did. Or Roy Thomas, even.) I’m pretty sure I still have them somewhere. Perhaps he was intrigued by the oddness of an American Spirou reader who wrote him in flawless French. Or maybe he realized he was dealing with a kindred spirit. Little did he know that 40 years later I’d be publishing some of “his” cartoonists, such as Tillieux and Macherot.

No one would claim that Martens’s reign over Spirou (1968-1978) represented the magazine’s true peak — that distinction would belong to Yvan Delporte, who preceded him and oversaw Spirou‘s genuine Golden Age — but as a teenager with a choice among Spirou and the other Franco-Belgian weeklies, Spirou is the one I stuck with… so that ought to count for something. I think that within the limitations of that decade, as Spirou‘s great first-generation cartoonists tuckered out or moved on, to be replaced by inevitably lesser later generations, and as the Asterix-driven Pilote magazine became the standard-bearer in the field, and as weekly comics magazines in general began their irrevocable spiral into irrelevancy, Martens did about as good a job as anyone could have. And he clearly cared, and worked his ass off. Those are not bad qualities to be remembered for, especially if you get to add in “nice guy.”

Cementing his status as one of the good guys, Martens was also a tireless comics historian and archivist, and Spirou‘s frequent forays into classic reprints and cartoonist biographies (which certainly fueled my own early passion for such things) can all be directly credited to him.

Rest in peace, Monsieur Martens.

 

Carny

In our ongoing attempt to shut down your brains with the sheer force of our content, we bring you yet more STUFF.

*Kim Deitch checks in with Part 3 of his memoir, this time covering the advent of television, some of his favorite programs, and a bit about music. If you aren’t reading this you are seriously missing out. Living legend, this guy.

*And Rob Clough delivers a thoughtful take on the work of Dave Kiersh.

On a personal note, kind readers, thanks to Tim (thanks meaning he once sold me the book for a buck) I have begun reading Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga in the order Moorcock arranged the stories a decade ago. I’m into it, people. I feel I might be going in deep on this one. The quantity of ideas and images he’s tossing out is pretty wonderful, as is the implicit meta-narrative of satire and the decline of the 20th century. I hit upon the stuff after years of reading it referenced by Moore, Simonson, etc. And it’s been a total treat. Reading it after my recent Moebius jag is also satisfying, as Moebius has a similarly fevered psychedelic imagination rooted in late 1960s counterculture and straight-up pulps.

Also: A no-prize to anyone who can actually describe what’s in (like “all drawings, no text” or “super long comic in French” or “a retelling of the Gospel of Mark”) the Moebius books Jog mentioned on Tuesday. Help us try to understand!

And, as we say, “elsewhere”:

-I am bummed that Tom Spurgeon is taking some time off from The Comics Reporter, but wish him a happy and relaxing time away from the world of the comics internet.

-Craig Fischer has an excellent piece up at The Panelists about his own shifting views of Gene Colan’s artwork.

-For Frank: The story of one man’s Trevor Von Eeden commission.

-And from pal Joshua Glenn comes this announcement:

HiLobrow is running a five-part series by Rob Steibel (who writes the Kirby Dynamics blog for the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center). The series takes a close look at the original artwork — and the margin notes by Kirby and Lee — from a single June 1967 Fantastic Four page. It’s a lot of fun to read these panels over Rob’s shoulder, and to compare them with the published panels. This exercise offers deep insights into the Kirby-Lee collaboration, and Rob is scrupulously fair to both parties.

The series thus far has been excellent. Go check it out.

 

Not That Far From Paradise

Today, we present our final preview for the upcoming issue 301 of The Comics Journal, a brief excerpt from Gary Groth’s interview with Robert Crumb, mostly concerned with his Genesis.

We also have Sean Michael Robinson’s review of Shigeru Mizuki’s Onward to Our Noble Deaths. I really liked this book.

Elsewhere:

Jeet Heer reviews Ben Katchor’s latest for the new Los Angeles Review of Books. Recommended all around.

In lieu of Dapper Dan’s missing Green Lantern review, I point you towards another critique of the film written by our own Joe McCulloch—and, uh, he seems less than impressed!

Two creator podcast interviews possibly worth noting: one with the inimitable Eddie Cambpell, and the other with Grant Morrison. I haven’t listened to either of these yet, but plan to do so over the holiday weekend. Campbell is on any thinking person’s short list of great comics talkers, and would probably be fun to listen to even if interviewed about his thoughts on dog grooming. Grant Morrison, on the other hand, is not entirely my cup of Kool-Aid, but in this one, he’s interviewed by the Mindless Ones, whose enthusiasm for the man and his work is dangerously contagious.

We don’t comment too often on DC and Marvel scheduling mishaps in this space (mostly because 95% of the rest of the comics internet seems devoted to nothing else), but every once in a while one of them makes a mistake so funny it’s impossible to look away. Chris Butcher explains.

Douglas Wolk has launched a new blog in which he promises to review every Judge Dredd book ever released. That’s too much Dredd for me.

Missed it: On Sunday, The New York Times ran an editorial by Brent Staples supporting Jack Kirby in his family’s ongoing copyright case with Marvel. Very little information in it will be new to readers of this site, but the fact that awareness of Kirby’s contributions has finally spread as far as the Times is somewhat heartening.

 

Teen Me

I spent my weekend editing articles about Garfield, Gene Colan, and the Reuben Awards. That’s right, I work for The Comics Journal. I’m in comics. Teen me would have been excited. Adult me whines.

You know who else is? R.C. Harvey. Today we bring you a lengthy profile by the Harv of Garf’s owner, Jim Davis. Not something you see so often, and I’m pleased to have it.

We also have Jog reporting on this week’s comic book store offerings, with a special focus on some recent and upcoming Moebius releases…

And the redoubtable Rob Clough brings in a review of a new book I also enjoyed, and which I hope gets a foothold in this crowded marketplace, The Next Day.

Elsewhere:

-Eddie Campbell writes on, and takes issue with parts of, the Spanish Wiki definition of the graphic novel.

-Tucker Stone reads a stack of comics so you don’t have to! Well, I kinda want to read Green Arrow now, but I’ll use my imagination.

-Dan Zettwoch can diagram anything, including how to grill a filet. He’s the ideal artist-dinner guest: cooking, drawing, and inevitably, telling a very good joke.

-And finally, in random but kinda awesome news, Ione Skye has made a short film called David Goldberg, based on a slice of Dan Clowes’ Ice Haven.

 

Whew

Okay, there’s a lot to go through this morning.

First, you are no doubt aware of the sad news that the great comic book artist Gene Colan passed away last week. Yesterday, we posted a comprehensive obituary for Colan, written for the site by Tom Field, and covering all stages of his seven-decade career in comics:

Gene Colan never would be mistaken for anything less than what he was: One of comics’ unique stylists. He wielded his pencil like a brush to capture the toned subtleties of action, emotion and lighting. He brought a cinematographer’s vision to comics storytelling, and his stories were instantly recognized by fans, treasured by scholars and appreciated enviously by even his most accomplished peers.

We have also republished a 2001 interview with Colan, conducted by Larry Rodman. If you read nothing else on the site this week, those two articles are still well worth your attention.

In his column this weekend, Frank Santoro takes a break from his explorations of color to recap his recent involvement in the Pittsburgh Biennial.

New to the site this morning, ace interlocutor Nicole Rudick delivers one of the best interviews I have ever encountered with one of comics’ most unique and essential creators, Jim Woodring.

When I was real little, I did drawings of the things I saw that scared me. I must have seen a mouse that got its head clawed off by a cat or something, because I had this recurring image of a headless animal, sometimes it was a big animal, like a bison. If I saw a bird or a bison I would imagine it with its head missing. Sometimes I would more than imagine it—I would see it and I would draw those things. I drew this little man made of electricity who was my persecutor. I would try to draw him in such a way that the drawing would have the intensity he had when I saw him. It was in his eyes. He had these blank eyes that scared me so much that I was almost sorry I when I captured them in a drawing. But then, at the same time, I was glad I did it, because it I felt like it showed that I was in control of the situation. I would just draw things that scared me. It upset my parents to no end. They really thought I was nuts, and it was the days before children were routinely sent off to psychologists or given drugs.. I’m sure if Ritalin and that stuff had been around, my folks would have gotten me on drugs as quickly as possible. Instead, they just despaired and withdrew from me.

Come to think of it, this is a must-read, too.

Finally, we have the second installment of Jeffrey Trexler’s ongoing look at what happened to the Comics Code. Okay, it’s all necessary material today. And we’re just getting started, so set aside from reading time this week. You’re going to need it.

Elsewhere on the internet:

The CBLDF has formed a coalition for the defense of an American comics reader facing criminal charges in Canada, because of various manga images found in the man’s computer files. Chris Butcher has more.

Blake Bell and Bryan Munn have both posted nice tributes to the aforementioned Gene Colan. (Bell takes slight issue with Field’s obituary, and it’s worth reading him for an alternative view.)

Gary Panter salutes the Japanese poster artist Tadanori Yokoo on his seventy-fifth birthday.

The A.V. Club takes you inside Fantagraphics headquarters in Seattle.

And finally, our own sometime reviewer Chris Mautner selects six pop songs about comic-book characters.

 

Gene Colan 1926-2011

The great cartoonist Gene Colan passed away last night. To read his 2001 conversation with Larry Rodman from The Comics Journal #231, click here. We’ll have a full obituary online over the weekend. Robert Boyd has written a smart appreciation.

 

 

Slowing Down

Do you feel the summer sun burning your neck? I do. It’s burning my brain, too. That said, this is a quick one, folks, because… my lord, isn’t there enough to read on this site already? C’mon!

Today we have A Dan Clowes Notebook by Mr. Jeet Heer:

From Lloyd Llewellyn to Mr. and Mrs. Ames, Clowes has often featured detectives in his stories, not to mention many amateur clue-hunters such as Clay Loudermilk  and David Boring. Another variation of this are the characters who are not quite detectives or clue-hunters but like to spy on other people: Random Walker, Violet, and Charles in Ice Haven are good examples.

And on the other end of the spectrum (well, sort of: A no-prize to the reader who can guess the link between Mike Allred and Dan Clowes without clicking through!) we have Nicholas Gazin on Mike Allred’s latest effort.

Elsewhere in the universe, here’s a nice profile of the great Canadian graphic artist Martin Vaughn-James.

And that’s all. Go outside!