Though it is Tuesday, Joe McCulloch is not here. We understand that he is trapped somewhere in America without internet. This is every man's nightmare.

Luckily we instead have Kristy Valenti's Women and Autobio Comics Roundtable with Raina Telgemeier, Megan Kelso and Ellen Forney.

VALENTI: One thing I’d like to talk about — and this is a word you’ve all used — accessibility, and style. Do you think, in general, women cartoon more accessibly?


 KELSO: Well, I don’t know if I can answer that fully, but one thing that I think about is that, when you see little kids with drawing and writing, it does seem like young girls are far more concerned with what their handwriting looks like than little boys. And, young boys that grow up to be cartoonists may be the exception to that. [Laughter.] In elementary school, it was almost like there was this competition to have the most beautiful, perfect, girly handwriting. And I’ve often wondered if that is connected somehow to the sort of comics and the approach to comics that women take as they become cartoonists. I think you could argue, women’s or girls’ fine motor skills often tend to develop more quickly than boys’, and so they are able to form, you know, uniform, attractive letters faster. And often — just what I’ve observed with my daughter too — a lot of girls seem a lot more interested in drawing early on than boys. But then, another generalization that I’m willing to hazard is that guys tend to be more interested in virtuosity, often, than communication.

I wonder if the stereotype of the male cartoonist with the absolutely diamond, precise style — like Charles Burns is the perfect example, clearly he developed this virtuosic approach to comics that is really separate from the drive to communicate. Because, as we’ve all established, comics work as a form of communication in a variety of drawing styles. And that you don’t have to draw in this almost machine-made perfection of the Hernandez brothers, or Charles Burns, or Chris Ware, in order to communicate, and I do wonder if that accounts to some degree to differences you see in the way men and women draw. This is a generalization, but women just being a little less concerned with virtuosity.

FORNEY: One thing that that makes me think of is Phoebe Gloeckner, because her comics work is kind of rough, you know? Bodies are distorted. And then you see her medical illustrations, or the pieces of art that she does that are kind of … just that she does in that style, are like really precise.

TELGEMEIER: Yeah, they’re totally virtuosic.

FORNEY: Exactly. And so, I imagine that that’s a choice that either comes intuitively, or she made a conscious decision to have that difference in the presentation of her narratives.

The Wall Street Journal looks at DC Entertainment.

TCJ-contributor Dominic Umile on Gabrielle Bell's upcoming book.

A nice local profile of Jason Lutes.

The Guardian published a weekend comics supplement. It's reviewed here.

Not comics: A reminder -- Robert Weaver was a wonderful and now mostly forgotten illustrator. His lines are casually electric, and very few other illustrators were as adept at blending realist figuration with abstract areas of space. Check him out. We ran a piece about him last year.

Not comics: Remember index magazine? Here's a little refresher. I still can't decide if I liked it or not.

9 Responses to Legit?

  1. B. Johnson Smitty says:

    “Charles Burns is the perfect example, clearly he developed this virtuosic approach to comics that is really separate from the drive to communicate”

    That is some middle-school-level ignorance right there. Burns’s style is as much a part of what he’s communicating as any of the stories he tells; style and form are inseparable in the best art. Of course, it’s a lot easier to draw cutesy big eyed wuvvable characters all the time, regardless of whatever content you’re trying to get across, isn’t it?

    As for Gloeckner, her comics drawing is every bit as virtuoso – perhaps even moreso – than her medical illos or other commercial work. Unlike all these fluffy “wimmen” cartoonists resentful of the “Old Boy Cartoonists Networks” and their hateful traditions and talents, she actually has chops and knows how and when to manipulate her style; she’s not just illustrating cookbook memoirs, etc.

  2. Kristy Valenti says:

    You are missing Kelso’s point, which she is quite careful to qualify as a generalization, and to point out stereotypes. (Apparently, you have no trepidation in regards to this particular logical fallacy.)

    She isn’t saying that virtuosity doesn’t communicate; she is saying that you can communicate without being virtuostic.

    I will give you a very simple example. If you’ve ever played the game Pictionary, drawing beautifully can actually hinder your ability to get your concept across quickly.

    Phoebe Gloeckner is a a great example to illustrate her point, because Gloeckner clearly has virtuosity at her disposal. But, she modifies her style for different idioms — it’s like she’s able to speak different “languages.”

  3. B. Johnson Smitty says:

    Never played Pictionary. I have no interest in games. But yeah, the idea that exquisite drawing isn’t necessary for communication in comics has been discussed now for about… 65 years? Schulz, Toth, Crane and many who followed are perfect examples of this — and they are the best cartoonists who ever lived. Most of their stories were junk, of course, but so is all the YA-influenced genre-lite escapist stuff on the racks, and the mindnumbingly prosaic indie nothingness that passes for autobio (Julie Doucet would eat these girls for lunch.)

    I’ll get to the point: Why do so many women cartoonists (and web “cartoonists” of any gender) draw in such a similarly bland and cutsey style? This isn’t a style based on knowledgeable reduction or careful design; it’s a vomitorious melange of greeting cards, inane anime and – ugh – “friendliness.”

  4. Kit says:

    so many women cartoonists


  5. Index was just not very good, a relief to let one’s self come to that conclusion.

  6. Kristine says:

    I think he (and we know it’s a guy) means “so many cartoonists”, or perhaps “so many women cartoonists, male cartoonists, gender-queer cartoonists, old/young/white/black/latina/asian/other/mainstream/outsider/coastal/midwestern etc. cartoonists”…
    Point on shitty, bland, cutesy art is correct, of course.
    p.s. Pictionary is fun, and fun is good. If you have not tried these things, you should.

  7. Dustin says:


  8. B. Johnson Smitty says:

    Cool, me too. Let’s get together and talk shop.

  9. DanClowesStoleMyRocketship says:

    You’ll be a star one day.

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