Today we are pleased to bring you “Jovial” Jeet Heer’s lengthy and considered review of Spain Rodriguez’s latest collection, Cruisin’ with the Hound. It’s really great to have Jeet back and writing for us semi-regularly. Here’s an excerpt:
Several times in this book, Spain alludes to EC comics as the taproot inspiration for comics. While Crumb internalized storytelling lessons from Carl Barks, John Stanley, and Harvey Kurtzman, all of whom were masters of integrating visuals and text for story that had a headlong rush, Spain was shaped by the clunky text-heavy mode found in EC horror and science fiction comics (what I like to call the “picto-fiction” tradition). The strength of these comics often came from the power of single images of violence and decay, and the stern morality of revenge found in the story (vengeance continues to be a Spain obsession with many of his characters curling their lips in anticipation of exacting retribution). The weakness of the picto-fiction tradition is that the images rarely flow easily from panel to panel as they did the works of Barks, Stanley, and Kurtzman.
Many of the traits of the picto-fiction mode show up in Spain, notably captions which fill-in readers on information missing from the pictures and relatively static images that require time to decipher. Still, because he controls both the writing and drawing, Spain manages to avoid the major pitfalls of picto-fiction, notably the heavy redundancy that the EC stories possessed with pictures simply repeating the information already provided by the captions.
—Jeet is also an expert link-spotter, and pointed me to the second part of Kevin Plummer’s wonderful profile of the Canadian cartoonist Jimmy Frise.
—After some tech problems that temporarily shut down his site over the weekend, Tom Spurgeon is back with a vengeance. I am especially glad to see him reviewing so much again. We’ve already linked to a few of his “Comics I Read In Series Form In The 1980s” pieces, I believe, but I particularly liked his new one on Miller & Seinkiewicz’s Elektra: Assassin, and this review of the new Ed the Happy Clown collection.
—Spurgeon also has analysis of the recent speculation/belief that Walking Dead #100 is set to become the single biggest-selling issue in July, beating all of the titles released by the so-called “Big Two.” Whether or not that happens, Spurgeon’s thoughts are worth reading. (Perhaps fittingly, the situation in general can’t help but remind me of Kim Thompson’s still relevant 1999 pseudo-manifesto, “More Crap Is What We Need”.)
—Your Alison Bechdel Interview of the Day comes from The Advocate.
—Does anyone in the world think the second image in this comparison looks better?
—Tim Kreider talks to the Good Man Project in support of his new essay collection.