This week in TCJ, we've kicked things off with a classic monster interview with a stone cold master: Everett Raymond Kinstler, whose career stretches from pulp covers through to US Presidents, with a stopover at Hawkman. If you're at all familiar with my preferences regarding interview subjects, you may know that I love to hear about what goes into working on Hawkman, a character I have absolutely no real affection for nor nostalgic connection to, and yet nonetheless remain fascinated with hi: however, this is the third time an interview with a Hawk-related creator came along where the interviewer refused to engage with the aforementioned Hawk-related creator about what it's like working the Katar beat. In his defense, I didn't actually speak to Steven Brower prior to his conversation with Kinstler, and would have lacked the courage to even make the request--but I can certainly grouse about it now and I believe Kinstler wouldn't have minded a bit as he has dealt with far more difficult individuals than I. Here he is, recapping his first meeting with James Montgomery Flagg:
So I got up and here was this guy, he looked big to me, he wasn’t that tall, but he was maybe 6’1” or 6’2”, a great shock of white hair, heavy brows, and I remember he was wearing a navy blue shirt, with red suspenders, and he said, “Come on, let me see your work, it probably stinks.” Made me feel great, as a 17-year-old, and he looked through the work and I remember he said to me, I have reason to remember this of course, “Well, I see so much crap these days. And Mayor LaGuardia believes they can make art in the school programs, all they do is produce mediocrity.” He started to look, he said, “Young fella, you’re doomed to be an illustrator. Or doomed to be an artist.” And then he asked me about Mr. DuMond, he kind of settled down, and then talked about Mr. DuMond and he told me he studied with him 50 years ago.
Today, we've got an official statement from Robin McConnell on the future of Inkstuds. Robin's decade plus time at Inkstuds has produced hours of interviews with many of the creators and critics featured both here and in our print edition.
This week, we'll be running some non-fiction comics--but this time, they aren't part of our traditional Cartoonist Diary series. Instead, it's Elizabeth Beier's look at various panels from the recent Queers & Comics Conference, hosted at NYC's School of Visual Arts. So far, she's given us her notes on Magdalene Visaggio's conversation with Justin Hall, and today she's recapping another conversation, this one between Nicole Georges and Mariko Tamaki. Stay tuned for two more installments, arriving on Thursday and Friday.
Our first review of the week comes courtesy of Robert Kirby. He's here with his take on How I Tried To Be A Good Person, by Ulli Lust. Those of you with access to Tim and my email accounts will be aware that more people wanted to review How I Tried To Be A Good Person than any other title so far this year! Here's some Kirby Krackle on Lust for ya:
Her follow-up, How I Tried to be a Good Person, begins a few years after Today. Lust appears more settled, yet no less driven to live according to her own lights, come what may. A thread running strongly throughout both books is the allure of wresting oneself from societal conventions—and the often-heavy costs of doing so. Lust is determined to live her truth, even occasionally putting herself in physical danger. At other times, she’s left contemplating the line between self-actualization and selfishness. Lust relates all this in an uncompromisingly frank manner, with anthropological detail. It’s a rich narrative.
And of course, last week was a full house as well. We delivered a giant look at Polish cartoonist Przemysław Trusciński's TRUST album. Only days later, ICv2 published a galley of overly serious actors dressed up in his Witcher designs. Coincidence, or excellent advance planning and trend-forecasting? (Spoiler alert: anything that distracts Henry Cavill from recording voice-overs for the Synder cut is a waste of time.)
We also celebrated the return of Alex Dueben, who was here talking to J.M. DeMatteis about all things Moonshadow. (The only thing Alex loves more than Moonshadow is apologizing to DeMatteis about his love for Moonshadow. I would do the same if I was talking to Keith Giffen about the 5YL--two sides same coin.)
As I think I’ve said in our previous conversations, I think this is one of the great comics. Period. But I will admit that re-reading it again for this interview, I found myself sometimes thinking, it’s a very wordy book.
You have no idea how much copy I cut out of that book! I’d write a page and then start slicing and dicing. That said, comics aren’t one thing or another. They’re anything we want them to be. And with Moonshadow—and a number of other projects I’ve done over the years—I wanted to explore the line between prose and comics.
There are some people who say that comics should be “movies on paper.” And they can be that. But they can also be a thousand other things. Want to do three of four pages that are essentially illustrated prose and then shift into more typical, or perhaps even wordless, comics? Why not? Don’t let the format lead you, let the story lead you.
The other big return we had last week (along with Alex and Rob Clough) was Tegan O'Neil's surprise return to her super-hero column, Ice Cream For Bedwetters, which had run its official last installment a few weeks prior. In this follow up, Tegan used an oversized collection of bad Spawn spin-off comics to talk about the dawn of Image Comics. And RUNE! (Stick around for the comments, where Don Simpson shows up with enough sauce to make the whole thing a sundae.)
Malibu was Image’s original publisher, until the money materialized and the founders realized they had no need for middlemen. In their absence Malibu rolled out a new superhero line, too, this time with a bunch of guys you remembered from the 70s and 80s. Which was also a pretty good marketing gimmick for the time, if we’re being completely honest. And, before we go any further, it bears stating for the record that there was good stuff under the Ultraverse banner. A lot of seasoned pros doing very confident but rarely phenomenal work.
Except for Rune, which was one of the very best comics of the decade, and you only don’t think that because you haven’t read Barry Windsor-Smith’s ode to the naked lavender space vampire who likes ripping people in half with his bare fucking hands. I mean, Rune should be a household name. If people know who Spider-Man: Noir is, then by god they should know about Rune -
Other recent reviews included Josh Kramer's take on Cannabis, the latest in Box Brown's attempts to get paid for drawing about all the things he's interested in. Personally, i'm looking forward to future installments where Box really drills into the sort of mundane middle aged things that fascinate me. A whole comic where you keep pretending you've seen TV shows just so your younger coworkers will include you in conversations? A stack of sequential art devoted to how proud you feel when you don't take your phone with you to the bathroom? Here for it, big guy.
Last week also saw Oliver Ristau deliver review coverage on Diabolical Summer, one of the many European graphic novels that IDW
publishes makes physically available on a frequent basis. As part of shout out summer, Oliver has included a dig at a random Grant Morrison comic in the middle of his review as an attempt to lure Marc Singer out for a legit take on that GMoz Green Lantern comic that nobody I pay attention to has ever talked about with more than a cursory nod. Here's hoping!
As someone who enjoyed every cigarette he ever smoked right up until he stopped, it's great to see that John Constantine covers have returned to their original glory, featuring close-ups on the character lighting up a smoke. I can still remember that old 90's SPIN article where Trent Reznor kept talking about drinking protein shakes and thinking: man, growing up must suck. Don't go changing, Hellblazer!
Fleet Foxes. Get the hell out of here, Fleet Foxes.
Sophie Campbell's a very talented cartoonist, but I have to admit that my first thought when I heard there was a female turtle entering the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe was: agh, i hope that doesn't mean the turtles are gonna start fucking, nobody wants to see the turtles fucking. Unless they get Zulli back, of course. If they're gonna get sex into the Turtleverse, it's gotta be 100% serious, all the time. (THE HAND)