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Spliced at the Bottom of the Sea

Frank Santoro's back with another Riff Raff column this morning, this time chronicling his time teaching a comics class in Denmark this summer. Apparently, Denmark didn't agree with him quite as well as Colombia did:

People laughed at me everywhere I went. Schoolchildren ran away when I approached. I guess I do look like Bob from Twin Peaks some days. The airline lost my luggage though, so maybe that was it. I was wearing the same clothes from the flight when I met the students and faculty on the second day I was there. And I was jetlagged. Going from the States to Europe is the worst jetlag to cure. Takes days. After the orientation one of the students asked me if I was okay. I went to my little room and slept it off.

My luggage arrived on the third day, thankfully. The director of the graphic storytelling program, Peter Drying-Olsen, told me that there may be a curse on American cartoonists who come to teach there, because Paul Karasik and Matt Madden had also had their luggage lost. At least I was in good company.

And we have Sean T. Collins' review of Céline Loup's Honey.

Honey is set among a group of worker bees on a mission to collect pollen outside their hive that brings them into contact with other, rival species, namely butterflies and wasps. And simply on the "huh, what a good idea" level, this is Loup's most striking and entertaining innovation: They're pretty much just human women. The stripes on the jumpers worn as uniforms by the bees are as much of a nod in the direction of insectoid features as Loup gives them -- no wings, no antennae, no stingers. The wasps are a bit creepier, more stylized, but this broadcasts their villainy, not their bug-ness; their sleek black bodysuits, wrap-around shades, tight black ponytails, and towering height make them look like the Terminator. Only the butterflies retain any characteristics of their real-world counterparts, but their gossamer wings are joined with long serpent tails that end in a fish's tail-fin, which together with their bare breasts and their fangs evokes a mermaid, a siren, a harpy; the bees seem to see them as animals, and they look the part. Like a bizarro Maus -- Art Spiegelman gave his characters animal heads but in every way intended them to be seen as people; Loup draws her characters as people but intends them to be anthropomorphized animals -- Honey is pushing at the boundaries of the funny-animal form. Quite independently of whatever else is going on in either of these comics, watching artists roll up their sleeves and say "okay, let's see what else this thing can do" before tackling a genre is an entertaining proposition.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews. Al Jaffee and Drew Friedman were on the Leonard Lopate radio show yesterday (hear it here) to discuss Friedman's Heroes of the Comics.

—Reviews & Commentary.
Boing Boing has excerpted Bill Watterson's foreword to a collection of cartoons from Puck.

Rob Clough is looking at comics related to political activism this week, with Peter Kuper, Ethan Heitner, Kevin Pyle, and Greg Farrell covered so far.

—Misc. Bill Kartalopoulos has posted the contents list from the new edition of Best American Comics, along with a list of notable comics from the year covered.

I believe we have neglected to mention that Gabe Fowler has announced the extremely impressive guest list for this year's CAB, as well as the fact that the festival is adding a second day, which will apparently be reserved for talks and interviews.

Speaking of conventions, Martin Wisse has an interesting response to the Chris Butcher post about convention culture I mentioned on the blog earlier this week, calling out for more fan-run conventions and wondering if "perhaps the dismal state of mainstream comics cons is due to the dismal state of the (supposedly mainstream) superhero comic."

Just one week left for the Last Gasp Kickstarter.


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