We’ve got the first day of a new Cartoonist’s Diary today, in which Austin cartoonist Billy Burkert quits his job.
We also present Greg Hunter’s review of a recent Michel Fiffe collection, Zegas.
Some frustrations are universal. Banging your head against a wall means banging your head against a wall, even if beyond that wall you’ll find various supernatural entities. These are the circumstances of Emily Zegas, 25, and her 30-year-old brother, Boston. They live together in their late parents’ house, with a sprawling metropolis not far away. Both places are sites of growing pains and weird occurrences. Michel Fiffe originally published Zegas as a single-creator anthology from 2009 to 2012. Fantagraphics’ recent collection covers the Emily and Boston stories from that run, a series of thoughtful, inventive comics about camaraderie—or even codependence—between siblings and the process of making a life for yourself.
Emily and Boston have familiar dilemmas—heartbreak, job hunts—but experience moments of the fantastic on the regular. Ortega, their local “Street Mayor,” materializes out of nothingness and checks the siblings’ IDs with his floating head. Emily tackles a thief by the coat, and a skinless mass of heads and organs shoots out of the coat’s collar. The siblings treat these moments with ambivalence; when the weird appears, it’s more of an inconvenience than a revelation. The comics don’t necessarily reward an urge to understand the setting of Zegas either. Fiffe does most of his world-building by way of allusion, privileging the feeling of living in the place.
—News. Jesse Crumb, the 49-year-old artist and son of Robert Crumb, has reportedly died in a car accident. He can be seen in the following clip from Terry Zwigoff’s documentary:
—Interiews & Profiles. Deadline Hollywood has interviewed Dash Shaw.
What inspired you to make My Entire High School as your first feature?
I had done a comic with the same title many years ago, and the premise of that comic was that it combined the two opposing schools of comics when I was a teenager. There were tons of autobio comics in the ‘90s—that was most of alternative comics, and they were kind of mundane stories. Then, boy’s adventure comics, superhero comics.
It was just a very short comic that smashed those things together. It was this one character who would have the same name as the creator, and it would be their warped perspective in an adventure setting.
Guernica has a conversation with Eli Valley.
Guernica: Diaspora Boy takes its name from a series of comics you wrote starring Israel Man, a virile superhero, and his sidekick Diaspora Boy, a sickened cretin. Can you explain the premise of the comic?
Eli Valley: It’s a satire of Zionist attitudes towards diaspora Jews since the inception of Zionist thought. Zionism imbibed a lot of anti-Semitic ideology and caricature, which took the form of the self-hatred and denigration of the diaspora. Some claim this all dissipated after a couple of decades once the state of Israel was normalized. But that’s just not true—look at statesmen and cultural Zionists to this day, and the hatred of diaspora Jews persists. It becomes more pronounced when directed at progressive Jews today, given the off-the-brink extremism of the Israeli government.
Diaspora Boy himself is the embodiment of that kind of caricature. Zionist ideologues have called this comic self-hating, which is just playing into the very caricature that I’m satirizing. It’s funny how they always take the bait. Diaspora Boy just portrays the viewpoint of those Zionists who think diaspora Jews are “doomed.”
The most recent guest on RiYL is Chris Ware.
—Reviews & Commentary. Over at Comics Workbook, Sally Ingraham looks into several online sources for African comics.
I recently found a new database that I’ve been digging into – the Africa Cartoons: Encyclopedia of African Political Cartooning. It is being built by Tejumola Olaniyan, who is the Louise Durham Mead professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is originally from Nigeria, and his interests in African diaspora have led him write numerous books on music, literature, drama, and cultural identity. Somehow these interests also condensed into the desire to build this database, which lists 180 cartoonists from many African countries, and aims to represent the entire continent eventually.