Question Time

First of all, an announcement that may be of interest to those of you who live in the New York area, or who plan to visit the city during this year's MoCCA Festival. The Journal will be participating in an all-day event at the famous Strand bookstore on April 8th:

STRANDICON presents a Celebration of The Comics Journal: A Conversation with Gary Groth, Kim Deitch, Tim Hodler and Dan Nadel

April 8: 7:00PM – 8:00PM

The Comics Journal has been the leading voice in comics criticism for nearly four decades. It launched its first full-fledged website in March 2011, and in celebration its editors, Tim Hodler and Dan Nadel, will lead a discussion on the history of the magazine and the medium of comics criticism with founding editor Gary Groth and longtime cartoonist and TCJ interviewee Kim Deitch.

The bookstore will feature artist appearances and signings by throughout the day. More information here.


And now on to random links. The weird thing about doing this every other day is that it tends to mean that a portion of the links are a little out of date, at least in internet time. (What's that, you say? I should share links I find with Dan? I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that.) But maybe that's okay. These links may not be brand new, but they are tried and tested, each one worthy of clicking. Or at least that's the hope. Anyway...

*In Bible scholarship news, according to Discovery, new evidence has come to light supporting the idea that the Old Testament may have been edited to remove traces of a female god. Interesting in light of some of the similar scholarship Robert Crumb relied upon while creating his version of Genesis. (via)

*Here's a review I never expected to see: the often astonishing novelist William T. Vollmann writes about the Library of America's recent Lynd Ward collection in the latest Bookforum. Unlike the typical literary type slumming in the cartoon world, he even manages to take the form seriously enough to think out loud about how it works: "Graphic novels sometimes require of us the willingness to see and remember without comprehending right away."

*Luc Sante also wrote about the collection, in Harper's. I let my subscription to that magazine lapse, so I can't read it until I pick up a copy, but Sante's always worth reading.

*It's hard to believe that Chris Ware's daughter is already old enough to be writing record reviews—if you haven't clicked on the many links to Clara Ware's take on Tiny Tim for Roctober (complete with illustration and afterword from her father), you really should. (via)

*Eddie Campbell's one of the greatest talkers in comics -- and just might be interviewer-proof. Matthias Wivel's no slouch in his own right, and their resulting conversation is predictably solid.

*Journal columnist Sean T. Collins points us to an interview with Phoebe Gloeckner, which contains a lot of new information on just what she's up to in Mexico over the last several years.

*I remember seeing this once. I thought it was a dream.

*Hans Rickheit would like your help.

*A short radio interview with New Yorker cartoonist Ed Koren. (Thanks, LP.)

*Finally, another story that's been going around, but that you might not have read yet. You have to, though. I won't ruin it by telling you anything beforehand. Just make sure you get far enough to understand about the frogs. (Thanks, ER.)

21 Responses to Question Time

  1. Shannon_Smith says:

    Ah Asherah. The great thing about the Bible, as Crumb's Genesis proves, is that so few people read it that all you need to do to get some publicity for controversial ideas or "new evidence" is point out something that is already there in the Bible. Asherah is in the temple in the Bible as late as Solomon. Plenty of Hebrews cling to Baal for a long time as well. It was a traveling, assimilating melting pot religion. I don't think you have to suppose that male writers intentionally wrote anything out. The temple got destroyed and the Jews were sent into exile. Ya might just lose a few things when that happens. I can't find files that were on my laptop just three months ago.

  2. Boring Tech Issues Dept.: There's a missing image on p. 11 of the Moscoso interview, due to some mangled HTML:

    Loving the new so far.

  3. patford says:

    The talk at The Strand could be of interest even to many of us living outside the New York area; so why not post a link to a video or recording?
    Of course Crumb he's right, he's always right.

  4. Here's the Strand's YouTube channel, maybe there'll be something there …

  5. JeetHeer2 says:

    "I don't think you have to suppose that male writers intentionally wrote anything out." No, that's not quite right. Outside of fundamentalist and literalist circles, it's widely accepted among Biblical scholars that the books of the Bible are based on a much larger pre-existing body of sacred texts, and that these texts were over the centuries ruthlessly edited to fit various ideological and theological agendas. This is especially true of Genesis, which is a mishmash of competing texts spliced together. The degree of intentionality in the editing of the Bible is very strong, especially when it comes to matters pertaining to non-monotheistic religions (i.e., the various sky gods, fertility gods, and demi-gods of the ancient world).

  6. JeetHeer2 says:

    Of cours there was the accidental editing caused by stuff getting lost and mistranslated, but there was also a process of editing, always with intent. This is not a "conspiracy angle" created "in the past several years." The idea of the Bible as an edited text is the mainstream view of Biblical scholars for the last 2 centuries (i.e., since the dawn of modern textual and philological analysis). Your argument is not with me, it is with the whole modern enterprise of Biblical scholarship, outside of fundamentalist and literalist circles.

  7. Shannon_Smith says:

    Yeah. A lot of my beef is with these alleged scholars that seek to profit off these Bible controversies with books and articles like, hey did you know Jesus had brothers and sisters???!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, yeah, they are right there in the Bible. And now with this one, hey the Hebrews had a female god too!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, yeah, the Asherah poles are right there in the Holy of Holies, the most important part of the temple, yeah, right there in the Bible. If I believed for one second that the average person had a long enough attention span to actually look this stuff up themselves it probably would not bother me as much. But, having worked in a bookstore as long as I did, I know that is not the case.

  8. JeetHeer2 says:

    I agree that there is a lot of vulger, popularized stuff out there — what we could call the Da Vinci Code genre. But from the link Tim provided, it seems like this particular theory is being put forward by a credible scholar, as were the works that Crumb relied on. They were a bit fringe in the sense that not everyone accepts them, but they were based on close readings of the textual and archeological evidence by scholars who had the relevant language skills.

  9. patford says:

    Crumb told the humorous story of his editor at Norton calling to inform him of an error the editor had spotted in Crumb's book. The editor explained Crumb had included two versions of the creation myth which contradicted one another in the order of events.
    It's always a gigantic mistake to underestimate Crumb.

  10. patford says:

    One of the interesting things about the interviews Crumb gave to promote the book was how clearly he explained his intent.
    While various people (who are all free to create their own version) complained that Crumb didn't approach the book in the way they would have liked him to, Crumb had thought very carefully about a large number of different ways he could deal with the subject.
    Crumb had thought of and dismissed other avenues, and had decided he wanted in essence to push the text in peoples faces. His thought was most people either had never read the full text at all, or had never read it closely. He settled on the idea of an illustration job reasoning the pictures might draw people into a closer examination of the full text.
    And Crumb wanted people to examine that text closely because he thought it might open some eyes as to just how "crazy" the ancient text is.
    Putting on my urim and thurim specs and reading from the unpublished leaves of TCJ #301 I can almost see Crumb saying, "People call my a cynic, but I guess I underestimated the density of many people, because I see many people commenting on the book still haven't read the text, ah well, back to pornography."

  11. Shannon_Smith says:

    I can't wait to get my copy of 301. During the whole process of Crumb's Genesis coming out and being reviewed and promoted, I kind of got the impression that Crumb was a little disappointed that people did not come after him with more venom and vigor. Like he got himself ready for the fight but the other fighter never showed up. I thought a lot of what he had in the after word/appendix thing was sort of like, before you crucify me… It might have been better if he had never said a word and never been a part of all the question and answer sessions. Just let it speak for itself and wait for reaction. But, there is the whole business of selling books to think of.

  12. patford says:

    In one of the interviews Crumb said he had to restrain himself from including a massive appendix.
    Your point is a valid one, and the book might have worked better in the specific way you mention if it were standing there naked.
    In that case I'd have wanted a later annotated edition where Crumb went over the whole thing and added notes and commentary.
    I can't see him doint that at this point, but maybe a similar book could be created just from his existing comments?

  13. Shannon_Smith says:

    I like the appendix. I'm glad it's there. Just wondering what if. Maybe 301 will satisfy the desire for additional commentary. I've thought from the start that it would take years to get a handle on what kind of impact Crumb's Genesis will have.

  14. ChanceFiveash says:

    I had no idea Roctober was still around (even if only blog form). I use to order the 'zine back in the 90's. They always had wonderful offbeat articles. It's also where I saw Ivan Brunetti's rejected NANCY strips. Thanks for the link.

  15. ChanceFiveash says:

    Btw, I just read Clara Ware's review. That's pretty darn adorable.

  16. JeetHeer2 says:

    Shannon: I think your instincts are right to say that "it will take years to get a handle on what kind of impact Crumb's Genesis will have." In my essay in TCJ 301 I try to explain why that is: I think it's partially because both Genesis and Crumb's way of adapting the book require slow careful reading — you have to keep asking yourself what the words mean and what Crumb is trying to bring out about the story. The pace of the book goes against the modern habit of quickly gliding over a book. But Crumb's Genesis is a book that will, I think, last because there is a lot in it to return to. Also, as you correctly noted above, people don't really read the Bible, so they don't quite have a sense of what Crumb's illustrations are saying.

  17. rodrigobaeza says:

    Oh, somehow related (but maybe not as easy to fix quickly): any chance of adding the missing pages to the archived issue #31 (pages 4 to 6)? Thanks!

  18. Dan Nadel says:

    Thanks — we're working on it.

  19. steven samuels says:

    Crumb had thought very carefully about a large number of different ways he could deal with the subject.

    If only he had put as much thought into the sexual subject matter and racial tropes that he’s used throughout the years. Really, when you get down to it many of the stories in his problematic artistic career veer closer to plain self-indulgence rather than the result of someone who’s really struggled and worked out the troubles in his mind. An old argument, to be sure, but still a quite valid one.

  20. steven samuels says:

    *Luc Sante also wrote about the collection, in Harper’s. I let my subscription to that magazine lapse, so I can’t read it until I pick up a copy, but Sante’s always worth reading.

    It is a pretty good article. It never would’ve occurred to me that Murnau’s Sunrise and Sam Gross’s He Done Her Wrong shared a common inspiration. I do question his high estimation of the latter work, however. Maybe it’s the case that Gross was sending up Lynd Ward’s book. I just can’t help think that Sante is overestimating Gross’s intent to satirize. Gross may have been sending up Ward and slapstick itself. But as far as the latter goes, he was wallowing in it as much as he was sending it up. He Done Her Wrong is as trite as the objects of his derision. Another work praised simply because its old.

  21. steven samuels says:

    I meant Milt Gross!

    Double D’oh!!!

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