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Nite Laffs

Today, Greg Hunter is here with a review of the Jillian Tamaki issue of Youth in Decline's excellent artist-spotlight series, Frontier:

Although Youth in Decline’s Frontier series is an artist-showcase anthology, with each issue a standalone story, Tamaki’s “SexCoven” complements Emily Carroll’s story in issue six. These books are forming constellations in their own right. Carroll traced the origin and growth of a bloody urban legend—a study in pre-Internet virality. Tamaki’s entry covers various points in the history of a sound file—“a wordless, six-hour atonal drone”—that induces hallucinatory sensations in its listeners and inspires cult-like behavior. The paths of the sounds are Tamaki’s subject, and her comic presents the experiences of some individual listeners without reducing the story to any one incident. (The comic does eventually foreground the account of one particular listener, but in a manner that further expands the scope of the story.) While arranging these different plot points, Tamaki also finds a balance between coherence and uncertainty—the lack of information—that makes “SexCoven” a satisfying suspense comic.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, I have a bit of catching up to do:

—News. Adam Zyglis of the Buffalo News won the Pulitzer Prize last week.

Ty Templeton writes about recovering from a massive heart attack.

—Interviews & Profiles. Chris Randle talks to the aforementioned Jillian Tamaki for The Guardian, and focuses on the new collection of her teen strip, SuperMutant Magic Academy:

“I’m totally fascinated by the interior versus the exterior,” Tamaki said. “That’s why I think it connects with that time in your life where it’s just a monsoon happening inside, and everything is fucking going crazy, but from the outside you’re just a zitty teenager. Other people are left to put the pieces together, what you’re presenting versus what is reality, what you think it means and what it actually looks like.” Or, she added, your base desire crashing against your intellectual structures. “Wanting to be kissed is the most natural thing in the world.”

Jed Oelbaum talks to Françoise Mouly for Good:

[It’s] a good message to have, to make people realize how much images matter. Images tend to be dismissed by many people, like, ‘it’s just a cartoon,’ or ‘it’s just a picture.’ As if that was something lesser than other kinds of information. My understanding and contention in everything that I’ve experienced is that when it’s done well, a cartoon can actually be not a reduction, but a summation and a distillation of complex ideas. And because they need to be read and interpreted in a specific way by readers, they can open up many doors.

—Reviews & Commentary. Matt Cheney writes about the 20th anniversary of Howard Cruse's Stuck Rubber Baby:

I've had a weird relationship with Stuck Rubber Baby over the course of its lifetime: I looked through it when it was first published and decided it wasn't for me; I read the whole book sometimes in the early 2000's and liked it but didn't really engage with it; I recently read it very carefully and closely, which led to something like awe. (The last time I had as powerful a reading experience was when I read J.M. Ledgard's Submergence over a year ago.)

Michael Barrier writes about the decline in Walt Kelly fandom and Peter Schilling's recent book on Carl Barks:

When I wrote about Donald's mutability in Funnybooks, I invoked Montaigne ("Each man bears the entire form of man's estate"), but I wonder if what John Keats called Shakespeare's "negative capability" might be even more to the point.

What Keats meant by that phrase, as far as anyone can tell, is that Shakespeare left no traces of himself in his characters; that is, the characters are not assertions of the writer's ego but have independent existence. Barks did something similar, the difference being, of course, that all of the highly varied characters that held center stage in his best stories were called "Donald Duck" (and looked like Donald Duck, too). I don't think it will do to describe Donald as an "actor," as Schilling does; that would mean there is a single "real" Donald at the heart of all those performances, and what makes the stories so good is that there isn't one. Donald is "real" in those stories, to be sure, but differently each time.

Charlie Hebdo & Satire. Garry Trudeau appeared on Meet the Press this weekend, to defend his recent speech attacking the French satirical magazine whose staff members were shot to death earlier this year.

In response, Ruben Bolling of Tom the Dancing Bug posted a series of tweets expressing disappointment in Trudeau.

Last week, in the Washington Post, Ann Telnaes also argued against Trudeau's speech.

For Al Jazeera, Jordan Fraade argues that the "punch-down" theory misunderstands satire, and often backfires:

The second problem with punch theory is that it also leads to the silencing of satirists themselves. The most famous example is Bassem Youssef, the Egyptian satirist who has fiercely mocked every Egyptian government since the 2011 revolution. Youssef was arrested in 2013 on the charge of “insulting Islam,” part of Mohammed Morsi’s broader crackdown on political dissent. During his tenure, Morsi was careful to stress tentative support for free speech. But as he famously said during a speech to the United Nations, sacrilege was different, “an organized campaign against Islamic sanctities.” The reasoning is remarkably familiar: In order for satire to deserve protection, it must punch in the right direction, which Youssef failed to do.

The Independent has published an excerpt from a book Charlie Hebdo editor Charb was working on before he was killed, about Islamophobia and racism.

—Funnies.
There are a lot of good and/or promising cartoonists sharing work on the new zcomx site.

And Carol Tyler has started a Beatles blog, apparently including excerpts from the book she is currently drawing.


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