Today on the site, Aug Stone interviews the Dutch comics legend Joost Swarte, who is launching his first magazine in 40 years at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
AUG STONE: Where did the idea for Scratches come from?
JOOST SWARTE: Well… (laughs) I must dig in my memories. I always have liked the idea of doing a magazine again. I started Modern Papier when I was 22. It was my first magazine, a small underground publication. We did a print run of about 1000-1500. Artist friends joined in, Peter Pontiac and people from the Dutch underground who were involved with the magazine Tante Leny Presenteert. And then in 1973 there was a publisher who wanted to reach a younger audience so I proposed to make Cocktail Comics, a magazine presenting the new generation of Dutch comics artists. It wasn’t too much of a commercial success although all the artists were paid a professional rate and that was already far better than with the smaller underground publications. And we had the same freedom as with the underground publications, so that was quite good. But then I got a lot of attention from friends and publishers to publish my work so I left the whole magazine idea aside. Until two years ago, when the new publishing house Scratch was founded in Amsterdam and they asked me to be an advisor.
At about the same time I heard of the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is the biggest in the world. The guests of honour at their 2016 Fair are the Low Countries, Holland and the Belgians, with whom we share our language. And I thought it’s a good idea to not only present the literature of our countries at the Book Fair but also the comics. So I started to talk with people from the literary funds in Holland and in Flanders. And they got interested and supported this idea. That was the start of the magazine. It’s intended to give an international podium to Dutch and Flemish comics artists. We’re doing it in English with the hope that they will also have future publishers abroad.
—Interviews & Profiles. The NPR Illustration blog talks to Daniel Clowes.
LA: Your new book Patience deals with time travel as a way to fix your life. If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give 20 year old Daniel? Would you change anything?
DC: I thought about that a lot working on this book because this book really is about the dialogue between the older version of a person and the younger innocent naive version of that person. But I don’t know, I think things sort of fell into place in this miraculous way in my life, so I would hate to upset that. And anyway I would hate to say, “Don’t do that, that’s stupid!” because that might have been the fulcrum that everything hinged on that allowed me to be still drawing comics at 55 years old.
I just remember what an awful person I was, and everybody is, when they’re in their early twenties. They just don’t know how self focused they are. Maybe it’s just because I’m reflecting on how I was at that age, but I was so incredibly living in my own head, completely unaware of how much of an effect I have on other people. It was just all about my own tortured soul at that young age, and it’s hard to look back on your early work and not see that and think, “Oh come on man, get over that.”
For The New Yorker, Sarah Larson talks to Ward Sutton about the new collection from The Onion's great political cartoonist, Stan Kelly.
Articles have been written about how it’s hard to tell whether the Kelly cartoons are a parody or not. “There are people who take it at face value, even though it’s in the Onion, which always surprises me,” Sutton told me. “On Facebook, someone posted a Kelly cartoon that was saying that vegetarians were the inhumane ones, because they were stabbing cattle farmers in the back,” he said. “People were just indignant about it.”
—Reviews & Commentary. For Time, Matt Furie writes about his attempt to reclaim Pepe.
I have a stack of Pepe fan art sent to me by school children. Moms write me to say how much their kid loves Pepe. Kids write me to ask how his name is pronounced (Peep? Pee-pee? Pep-pay?). As the copyright owner, I was licensing a bunch of things like indie video games, card games; making official clothes, a plush toy; and I was excited by my plans for the future. I was thinking, Memes rule!
—Misc. I always forget Chris Ware's Heavy Metal days.