Today at the Journal, we're pleased to be walking neck deep in a sea of Koyama Press titles. To start things off here at this abbreviated week of TCJ, we've got a review of the new Alex Degen graphic novel, courtesy of Oliver Ristau.
Though Alex Degen's comics are crowded with weird superheroes, poorly wrapped mummies and giant self-improving automatons – as well as lots of statues, which are often smashed to pieces – piles of dead bodies appear, too, sometimes covered in blood, and serve as a reminder for parts of Darger's work.
And most important, there's an ongoing absence of words. Degen once stated in an interview, “I believe in the power of this form, the silent comic, and am trying to get better at conveying complex feelings and concepts with it. Because when it connects it seems to connect with readers on a deep level.”
Did you have a three day weekend? I did. But you know who rarely takes three day weekends? Colorists! They work like animals. They're crazy for the stuff, that work stuff! Ben Towle agrees, which is why he's here with an interview with one of those colorists, Walter. You've probably come across his work before. Here's a bit on how he got started in the ashes of retail:
How did you become interested in specifically the coloring part of comics-making?
Well I had a comics shop back in the mid '90s when a big comics distributor company (Capital, I think) went bankrupt. We were collateral damage and the shop closed. I nearly lost everything. So after my shop closed I had to find a new job. I wanted to go back to drawing (I was an art student for years before the shop), but realized I stopped too long to get at a level where I could make a living from my art. I was a big fan of Steve Oliff’s work on Akira and read an article showing his process that got me really curious. The whole comics industry has turned to computer coloring but it was nearly nonexistent in France at the time. Coloring was still mostly done by hand on a separate paper sheet with the art printed in blue, so I decided to become a computer colorist, took a loan to buy a computer, and learned Photoshop with a friend who already knew the software.
Meanwhile, over at Vice--sure?--Tara Booth has a rock solid comic called Trying To Be Positive that I quite liked.
People! Stop describing your comics as dumb when you are trying to hype them. Why add another barrier to the buying public?
— Annie Koyama (@AnnieKoyama) May 27, 2018