Warped Marionettes

Today on the site, Hayley Campbell returns after a too-long absence to interview Tom Gauld, the cartoonist behind the new graphic novel, Goliath. Here's Gauld on adapting the Bible:

I don’t have a religious faith, but I’m interested in the Bible because the stories are such well-known, common parts of our culture. A few years ago I did a version of the story of Noah (for Kramers Ergot 7) and I liked that I could rely on the reader’s knowledge of the story, and play with their expectations. That story was one of the things which led me to do Goliath. I didn’t want my book to be anti-religious, or even to paint David as a fraud or a villain, but the God (or maybe just strong religious faith) which makes David so powerful is definitely not there for Goliath.

We also have a review from the indefatigable Sean T. Collins, who reports in on the latest release from the Closed Caption Comics group, Molly Colleen O'Connell's Difficult Loves:

O’Connell’s weapons of choice are perspective and detail, throwing enough conflicting examples of both at you at once to make each turn of the page a “wait, what?” experience. Her characters limbs elongate at odd points so that you’re never sure exactly how large their bodies are in relation to their environments — is this some weird, deliberately inconsistent use of foreshortening, or are they just built like warped marionettes?

Elsewhere on the internets...

—Okay, easily the link of the week comes from Gene Deitch, who writes at length (and with copious illustrations, videos, and archival evidence) about his experiences adapting Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are into a short animated film.

—Your Alison Bechdel link of the day comes from Ng Suat Tong, who focuses in on the psychoanalytic content of Are You My Mother?, which is sounding more and more fascinating as the reviews come in. As Dan mentioned yesterday, our own coverage will be coming soon.

—Nick Gazin interviews Diana Schutz about working with Milo Manara in his latest Vice column. (He also falls for that Jack Kirby Spider-Man image hoax, so caveat lector.)

—I missed it on Monday, but the great Bob Levin wrote about his heart attack for the Broad Street Review.

—I also missed the Chicago Tribune's excellent coverage of last weekend's "Comics: Philosophy & Practice" conference.

—The outrage of the moment just over came when McSweeney's announced a cartoonist contest, which would award a $500 prize to the winner, in exchange for two cartoons a month. This sparked something of a revolt online, mainly from cartoonists concerned about what they perceived as exploitation, which eventually led to McSweeney's apologizing and canceling the contest. This seems worth mentioning after the fact, if only for taking note of changing comics-community standards, and the force an internet-focused protest can have, at least when aimed at a smaller, community-minded organization.

—Finally, there's apparently some kind of TV and tabloid frenzy going on over the fact that a few characters at DC and Marvel are about to be revealed as either gay and/or getting married while gay. I wonder how many times those companies can get PR mileage out of this kind of thing; it feels like they've already done this multiple times, but the media's obviously still buying. In the meantime, someone should tell the New York Times about Maurice Vellekoop.

10 Responses to Warped Marionettes

  1. Dennis C says:

    More Hayley Campell! More I say!

  2. Dennis C says:


    My enthusiasm for a new Hayley Campbell article apparently shuts down my spelling capabilities…

  3. I was really annoyed about the cartoonists whingeing about the $500. It wasn’t the point of the thing. McSweeney’s don’t pay their online writers anything and yet they (I) still send them stuff because people go there and read McSweeney’s and see your name. McSweeney’s didn’t say the strip had to be a new strip or even give a theme you had to stick to: you could send them something you’d already done as long as you hadn’t plastered it all over the internet already. The good thing about McSweeney’s is you can send them the shit that wouldn’t fit anywhere else in the world and people see it. After a thing I wrote went up on their site I was asked by DC if I’d ever thought of doing comics and “hey, why don’t you pitch us something?” (I don’t want to write comics and DC’s current mess is beside the point, I’m just saying that people see it and it’s better than keeping this stuff hidden on a hard-drive in your bedroom).

    Fucking nerds, man.

  4. Could not agree with you more Hayley. I know a couple of cartoonists who are trying to start out and just looking to get their name out there and where very excited to enter, and didn’t even care about the prize money, shame a few people had to ruin it.

  5. Kevin Huizenga says:

    The Tribune story says “emphatic doodle” where it should say “empathic.”

  6. Tim Hodler says:

    I thought it was “empathetic.”

    I like your version, though.

  7. Brian Moore says:

    I think it’s the combination of phrasing it as a contest, McSweeney’s own name recognition, and offering *any money at all* that fuels the discontent.

    Nobody expects McSweeney’s to be swimming in cash — contrast with the similar New York Times kerfuffle from awhile back, also a “contest” and with a negligible payout. But once you offer a sum (and require a certain amount of work), you’re moving the perceived transaction out of the world of ego-boosting/brand-building/club-joining/whatever and into the world of business. The calculators come out.

    (If they’d offered nothing, there would be a different kind of grousing.This is cartooning we’re talking about, there has to be a certain amount of complaining.)

    So, the association with McSweeney’s is the real value here. Cartoonists want to get their work in there. But arranging it as a “contest” + small payout + required amount of work puts too much power on McSweeney’s end of the deal. Instead of feeling invited to the Algonquin Round Table, the cartoonist feels like she *might* get to sit down, but only if she buses the table afterward.

    A corollary to that: if McSweeney’s is a publication of some cultural value, why aren’t they commissioning (or inviting, if they’re broke) cartoonists they like to do work for them? Why a contest? So in this case their name recognition works against them.

    Anyway, that’s my take on the whole thing.

  8. Kevin Huizenga says:


  9. MAD de la Rosa says:

    I thought it was “homeopathic.”

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