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Filling In

MoCCA did Dan in, so I’m stepping in to deliver the news.

First, we are publishing frequent Journal contributor Matthias Wivel’s first story for the new site: an in-depth interview with the French artist Fabrice Neaud. I was not previously familiar with his work, which is not easy to find in translation here, but still found this to be a fascinating conversation. We hope you will too.

In other Journal news, the panel discussion at the Strand Friday night seemed to go well, or at least well enough. It’s hard to tell from the microphone side of the table. But Gary and Kim Deitch were both in fine form, and the audience seemed happy. My favorite part came the first time it was mentioned aloud that Dan and I had taken over the website, when I could have sworn I saw a giant light bulb literally appear over Kim’s head—he had apparently been too good-natured to ask what we were doing there earlier.

Several people inquired beforehand about the possibility of the panel being recorded, and they should rest easy, because by my count there were at least three devices capturing the whole thing for posterity. Thanks to all of you who attended.

Elsewhere on the internet:

Drawn & Quarterly had a limited supply of Chester Brown’s instantly infamous Paying for It at the MoCCA Festival, and there are already three reviews online—from Tom Spurgeon and TCJ.com contributors Chris Mautner and Sean T. Collins—all worth reading later, or now if you can’t wait for the actual book. Following the reaction to Brown’s book may well end up being almost as much fun as the work itself—which, incidentally, it seems like I may have enjoyed more wholeheartedly than any of these three writers. (Why do I feel creepy saying so?) Then again, I haven’t needed to take a publicly stance on the more polemic aspect of the book, which is the hard part. We’ll have more coverage of Brown on the site closer to the book’s release date.

Bhob Stewart investigates (with a little help from Jay Lynch) the possible origins of the term “Hoo-Hah!,” a bit of slang frequent readers of early Mad will remember well. Was Harvey Kurtzman influenced by T.S. Eliot? Considering the mutual admiration society Eliot set up with Groucho Marx (one of the comedian’s letters to the poet can be read online), I wouldn’t put it past the realm of possibility.

Finally, via Tom Scioli, I learned of a Wired article that claims to have discovered a 1953 Otto Binder article that provided the secret inspiration for every nuclear-radiation-mutated superhero from Spider-Man to the X-Men. It’s not true, unfortunately—the mutant superman has been around since at least the early ’30s, when a writer named John Taine wrote a whole slew of “mutational romances.” And Lewis Padgett’s famous “Baldy” series of the 1940s, gathered in Mutant!, featured a race of persecuted bald telepaths, and provided an obvious reference for Professor X as well. But anyway.

Finally—Not (or at least only tangentially) Comics: Over at the great film site Mubi, our own Joe McCulloch writes about Frank Miller’s The Spirit and Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch. Check it out.


8 Responses to Filling In

  1. PaulSlade says:

    So, did Journal 301 show up at Mocca as promised? And, if so, what did people think of it?

  2. patford says:

    If TCJ301 is anything like I expect it to be (and it will be, I have no doubt) FB ought to repackage the Crumb content, add any other Genesis related material Crumb might have left over (including the "false-start" satire he's mentioned), and reissue the whole as a hardcover.

  3. Tim Hodler says:

    I don't think (& certainly didn't mean to imply) that you took a polemical stance yourself — only that you had to weigh in on Brown's polemical stance. Which to mind you did when you explained why it wasn't easy to accept his arguments.

    But I loved your review, and none of this is meant as a criticism — far from it.

    By the way, could you share your opinions on sex work now? Now that you mention it, I would like to know just about everyone's opinion about it (except that weird guy in the front row during all panel discussions). Maybe that makes me weird, too.

  4. spurgeonsofmuncie says:

    I couldn't disagree more that any kind of response is required of anyone writing about a work, either in this case or generally, although I realize that some folks may think less of any piece that doesn't engage a work on those levels. Those kinds of strictures don't seem logical to me — or fruitful, even. Heck, I think you can make a stronger argument that any response to Paying For It needs to be in comics form before it needs to engage X, Y, Z issues in A, B, C ways. And as the former's obviously silly I think the latter's silly, too.

    I'll catch you guys up next time (first time) we meet as to my deep and personal opinions on the sex work stuff. It's faaascinating. (No it's not.)

    And thanks, Tim.

  5. JeetHeer2 says:

    Just to clarify: I thought Tom's review was really smart and incisive. So if he doesn't want to tackle the politics of the book head on, that's fine. But someone (not Tom, if he doesn't want to) should take "Paying For It" seriously not just as a comic by a major cartoonist but also a book with a radical political message — that message is worth trying to evaluate (along with, of course, the sort of formalist evaluation of the book that Tom did so well).

  6. patford says:

    The reader of any work of fiction should do himself, and the author the favor of not begrudging the author his choice of subject matter, his approach, and his intent.
    You'll see people critical of Ditko's recent work because they can't relate to his philosophy (I can't relate to it either, but Ditko isn't running for office), or complaining they don't like Wilson because they can't relate to Wilson (as if Clowes intends then to).
    Tom's review was reassuring in a way, because he told the reader he wasn't inclined to be interested in the subject matter, and still liked the book very much. That's a strong endorsement.
    I'm split on the idea a reviewer should disclose his personal bias when reviewing an issue oriented work of fiction.
    It's always obvious to thinly veiled when a reviewer has a bone to pick with the author of a work, so I'm not sure any disclosure is necessary.
    What's worse is when a reviewer sets up false constructions about a work, and bases a review on flaming those straw-men.
    Something like, "The book isn't any good because the author isn't doing what I think he should do, and the reason his work doesn't fit my narrow area of taste is the author is lazy."

  7. steven samuels says:

    “You’ll see people critical of Ditko’s recent work because they can’t relate to his philosophy ”

    As Groth’s TCJ review from some years back will attest, people with be critical of Ditko’s work because he can’t write worth a damn. Sure he can draw, his visuals are interesting, but comics involve using both words and images. The use of the former in his case is highly deficient.

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