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Today on the site, Frank Santoro returns with a new Riff Raff column, this time about his experience at the latest CAB festival.

I skipped the after party to go have dinner with my publisher, Serge Ewenczyk of Éditions çà et là. He came all the way from France to enjoy the show and to visit with his authors like me. We talked about the book I’m doing for him. And the show, of course. He said, “Everybody is doing Risograph now in the States. It all looks more or less the same to me.” I had to laugh. I could see his point. Lots of similar palettes and copycatting. I drove Serge to the subway and then I went on a walk with Aaron Cometbus through Prospect Park at midnight. Then finally back at my friends’ house where I was staying to have a celebratory drink and count the money I made that day at the show. Survey says: best CAB ever, saleswise.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The Paris Review has published the introduction Daniel Clowes wrote for the new edition of Nicole Claveloux’s Green Hand.

I’ve been deeply in love with the work of Nicole Claveloux for close to forty years, which is strange because until the New York Review of Comics reissue of The Green Hand, I’d never actually read one of her stories. I don’t read French, but more to the point, it somehow seemed perilous to focus in any way on the text, as I feared it could only diminish the mysterious power of her images.

I first saw her name in Heavy Metal magazine when I was in high school and, soon after, through some miracle, managed to blunder across a French album of her work called La main verte. I remember standing in the mildewed chaos of Larry’s Comics in Chicago (RIP), transfixed by the beautiful, electrified colors—unlike any I’d seen before (or since). I took it home and obsessed over every panel, drawn into an intimate, immersive private dream world of deep and complicated emotions, an obsession that has only deepened over the years with the acquisition of further volumes of her work, thanks to French eBay and my NYRC editors.

—The well-regarded French television series Tac Au Tac is returning early next year.

Debuting in 1969, “Tac Au Tac” was a French series (with 12-14 minute episodes) hosted by series creator, Jean Frapat, in which comic artists would appear on TV to draw special challenges. Given a marker and a big pad of paper, they’d improvise often hilarious drawings either in cooperation with each other, or in an attempt to make the next person’s job harder.

If you’ve seen Mark Evanier’s “Quick Draw!” panel at San Diego Comic-Con, you’ll have the idea. It’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” for cartoonists. It’s not quite as rapid fire or fast-paced, but it flows well with a little tv editing.

The show lasted almost ten years, and resulted in some memorable episodes that belong in the annals of comics history. Imagine watching top artists of all time on your television as they draw things off the tops of their heads. It’s thrilling, especially considering that this was not a day and age when everyone had a video recorder in their pocket.

For Americans, a couple of episodes featured Neal Adams, Joe Kubert, and Moebius. Michael Kaluta and Bernie Wrightson did an episode. Steranko showed up for an episode filmed on a boat in New York City.

—Brian Nicholson writes about Shaky Kane and David Hine’s Bulletproof Coffin.

The Bulletproof Coffin seems comfortable with being designated as trash, and is a pastiche of various comics, but they are all things that have historically been considered “good:” Its vision of superheroes is rooted in Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby, the approach to short stories with twists comes from EC horror comics, or 2000 AD, and the end result ends up feeling not far from early Vertigo stuff. All of these things had their own sense of humor about themselves, and all are out of fashion enough at this time for the new one-shot, 1000 Yard Stare, to come out and feel fresh and fun. There’s a sense of play, that still feels thought-through enough to be satisfying. It seems aware of all the gross aspects of the comics industry that inform the work in a way that makes it feel less gross than other works that are invested in a sort of performative naivete.


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