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Fashionable Contrasts

It’s Tuesday, which means Joe McCulloch is here with his regular guide to the Week in Comics.

Also, if it’s been a while since you checked in with our collection of tributes to Kim Thompson, you’ll want to take another look at it soon. New additions have continued to roll in, most recently from Kim’s Fantagraphics colleagues Jason T. Miles and Kristy Valenti, as well as an essay-length remembrance from Gary Groth.

I’ve sketched the highlights of Kim’s “career” (he would understand and appreciate the quotation marks — neither of us thought of this as a “career”), but it barely scratches the surface — it’s impossible to adequately convey his devotion to specific projects and to the goals of the company generally, the all-nighters we pulled to get books to the printer, the tens of thousands of hours hunched over typewriters and computer keyboards and manuscripts, his above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty proofreading. What I’d like to do, though, is to offer a few words about something I’m uniquely qualified to talk about: the intersection between our personal and professional lives.

As a publisher of cartooning, Fantagraphics Books was an outgrowth of The Comics Journal, so a polemical chip-on-the-shoulder was built into its DNA. As recently as the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, the whole notion that comics was a bona fide art form was still alien not just to the culture at large, but even to the fan sub-culture, most of which inhabited this bland, gray area between a connoisseurial love of great cartooning and the worship of pure drek (often both at the same time). The only way to break this critical complacency, I thought —and it may not have been the most effective strategy (because it was less a strategy than a compulsion)— was to confront the artistic status quo head-on with the best criticism we could muster — and Kim was right there with me in this Quixotic endeavor, as his reviews of Ronin, Detectives, Inc., The Death of Captain Marvel, and other books attest. Without this zeal, I don’t think we could’ve made a difference.

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Elsewhere, lots of catching up to do:

—The long nightmare surrounding Dragon Con and Edward Kramer is apparently over. (Context here.)

—If you read the two-part Peter Bagge/Zak Sally discussion we ran a few months back, you recall how much of it had to do with the difficult economics of comics publishing today. Sally is now releasing the second volume of his Sammy the Mouse series, and talks a lot more about all of that in his announcement, in which he suggests ordering the book direct.

—Longish Reviews. Occasional Journal contributor Sean Rogers has a typically excellent piece on Michael DeForge at the Globe & Mail, and Michael Kammen writes about Victor Navasky’s The Art of Controversy for LARB. (I think I have to read this book.)

—Frequent Journal contributor Chris Mautner has a roundup of recent books from Hic & Hoc. So does Rob Clough. Sarrah Horrock writes about Jiro Matsumoto. Impossible Mike writes about Gengoroh Tagame.

—Whenever I link to Bleeding Cool, I seem to get at least one irritated e-mail from readers, but they’ve got a couple fun recent posts up, including one on the time S. Clay Wilson worked for Marvel, and another on Jim Steranko’s colorful Twitter account. (Gary’s eventual essay-length tribute to Steranko will be a sight to see.)

—As with most (all?) art forms, the history of comics is perhaps most efficiently grasped as the history of the technologies involved with its production. Pioneering underground artist Justin Green is figuring out how the current technological changes affect his work in a brief blog post here.

—Robert Boyd has an excellent piece on the sad end of Domy Books in Houston.

—British sf author Alastair Reynolds remembers growing up on Eagle.

—And finally, Gary Larson on 20/20 in 1986 (via):


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