Today, Frank Santoro explores the work of his friend and comics mentor Bill Boichel:
BEM was Bill’s first comic-book shop. It was called “The Store” really. BEM was named after the Gilbert Hernandez story of the same name that ran in issue one of Love and Rockets. So, BEM, or “bug-eyed monster,” was the machine that ran the store. The store’s early logos said, “Coming to Grips with the Machinery.” It meant the machinery of art and commerce together–comic books. It was high concept for a comic book store in a rundown post-industrial Rust Belt neighborhood like Wilkinsburg, just outside the city limits of Pittsburgh, PA. Somehow it all worked. Like a machine.
Boichel also made a ton of fliers for the store–check those out here. And he made a ton of variations on his store’s logo–check those out here. So, it seemed really natural when he started making these wacky mini-comics. He’d make the comic at his desk and then print it up in the basement on the xerox machine and then give it away or sell it upstairs on the new comics rack. It was a way for Bill to be fully in the “machine” that was BEM. It was also a way for Bill to produce art like a machine. All of the comics Bill made at this time are credited to BEM which was, of course, the name of the store.
And Paul Buhle reviews the new collection of Gilbert Shelton’s Wonder Wart-Hog:
Shelton’s famed Texas-style characters, the Freak Brothers, were unique, and their Austin-ness was little grasped elsewhere in the country. But Shelton was also unique in his story-telling genius. Because the sense of opposition to the existing society was so unquestioned in the underground genre, satire often overwhelmed the storylines. The dopey ambience of the protagonists, frequently stoned-out, didn’t help either.
—Interviews. du9 talks to James Sturm and Rich Tommaso. Underwire talks to comiXology’s David Steinberg. Art Spiegelman talks about his new show. The CCS blog interviews TCJ columnist Rob Clough. Anne Ishii and Graham Kolbeins discuss their Massive gay manga project.
—Reviews & Commentary. Chris Mautner reviews Dennis Eichhorn’s Real Good Stuff. Sean Rogers has expanded his excellent top 5 of 2013 list to a top 20. Atomic Books is posting various “best of 2013” lists from people like Liz Prince, J.T. Dockery, Box Brown, Kelly Froh, etc.
—Giving Opportunities. There’s one week left for the Sequential Artists Workshop fundraising campaign.
—History. 2014 is the centennial year for Tove Jansson, so expect a lot of coverage of the Moomin creator for a while. The Guardian reviews a new Jansson biography. Zak Sally continues to document the story of La Mano. Mindy Kaling was a cartoonist in college.