Welcome Back

Joe McCulloch is here to inaugurate the new year with a new installment of his invaluable column examining the Week in Comics! His breakout picks this time include new works by John Porcellino and Dan Méndez Moore. He also writes a bit about Chantal Montellier:

Another January has dawned, which means that it's time to revisit the great year of 2016 and all of the comics we've missed. For instance, did you know that a new translation of work by Chantal Montellier is now available? Maybe not, since it isn't in print - only through the Europe Comics digital portal can you obtain Lara Vergnaud's English edition of 2011's Marie Curie: The Radium Fairy, a split-format educational album pairing a 24-page illustrated timeline of the titular scientific icon by Renaud Huynh of the Musée Curie with a 20-page color comic by Montellier. It's the comic with which we will concern ourselves, accepting for now that these biographical projects seem to be the only avenue by which Montellier is allowed into English anymore; indeed, we may even find contentment in our reading 2008’s Franz Kafka’s The Trial: A Graphic Novel, an English original authored with David Zane Mairowitz, that Montellier does unusually interesting work with flatly declarative or pedagogical books.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—A/V: The Process Party podcast has an end of the year episode featuring many guests discussing their favorite comics of 2016, including the aforementioned Joe McCulloch, plus artists including Josh Bayer, Leela Corman, Sophia Foster-Dimino, Sarah Glidden, Sammy Harkham, Jim Rugg, Josh Simmons, and Gina Wynbrandt.

The RiYL podcast has recently interviewed both Dame Darcy and MariNaomi.

Virtual Memories talks to George Herriman biographer Michael Tisserand.

—Interviews & Profiles.
Tom Spurgeon has posted his annual series of holiday interviews, including such guests this year as Tony Millionaire, Sammy Harkham, and TCJ contributor RJ Casey.

—Reviews & Commentary.
For Deadspin, Tom Scocca writes about the final joke of Momma creator Mel Lazarus.

For nearly 35 years, Mell Lazarus knew exactly how the end would go for Momma. In 1982, when the cartoonist began dating Sally Mitchell, who would become his second wife, he confided to her that he had already decided what the final installment of his comic strip would be, and he told her the idea.

Lazarus did not share the idea with the comics syndicate, Mitchell recalled in a phone conversation, nor with his daughters, nor even with his brother, Herb, who was his best friend.

“We never talked about it again,” Mitchell said, “but I always had it.”

For LARB, Osvaldo Oyola writes about Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreze's Black Panther.

Coates seems committed to doing for his readers what his professors did for him, disabusing them of a “weaponized history.” In the slowly (sometimes too slowly) building story that first appeared in four issues of the comic book and is now collected in the first trade paperback collection of Coates’s Black Panther — the first part of a 12-issue arc entitled A Nation Under Our Feet — Coates breaks “the comforting myths of Africa, of America, and everywhere” as they exist in the Marvel Universe through a critical investigation of the title character’s African nation of Wakanda.

John Porcellino picks his favorite comics of 2015.

They say that timing is everything, and in this age of nanosecond attention spans and constantly refreshing newsfeeds that's more true than ever. So it's with great delight that I present here a brief and certainly incomplete list of Some of My Favorite Comics of 2015.

Every year more and more cool comics are released in droves, and every year I have less time to read them. But I buy them, and they stack up in boxes and overflowing shelves waiting for that moment when I can retire from the daily grind and sit down and read all those DeForge books. And mark my words, friends -- That day shall come.

30 Responses to Welcome Back

  1. Robert Stanley Martin says:

    Re: this comment.

    If Dan wants to call me a troll and so forth, that’s his business. But I take exception to having my professional background misrepresented. I’ve worked as an editor and agent in book publishing going back over a dozen years, and the claim that I “have no experience in the field” is an outright falsehood.

    Please remove the statement. Thank you.

  2. Matt Seneca says:


  3. Dan Nadel says:

    Oh Robert, what are we going to do with you? I can’t find even a hint of evidence that you have ever been involved in book publishing. Maybe you were! If you were, please post a link to something for verification purposes. I would love to be wrong, if only to finally be able to see what you have done besides online trolling. This is the first big comics story of 2017!

  4. Dan Nadel says:

    Also, if indeed RSM has or had a publishing career, is that enough of a rip in the space-time continuum for Matt Seneca to come back to writing about comics?

  5. Robert Stanley Martin says:

    I guess you could always try Google, Dan.

  6. Dan Nadel says:

    Ha! I did. There’s no trace on Google. The mystery deepens. A free copy of, uh, um, Blubber #2 to the first person who can find a trace of RSM having a career!

  7. sammy says:

    where am I supposed to post about WE TOLD YOU SO now? there is way more to discuss: jim woodring’s ego, Colin Upton drug running for Larry Reid, Dennis Worden, Groth’s stunted juvenile glee in being a grown man who likes to play with fire crackers! We need the TCJ Messageboard back up ASAP. I am starting a petition.

  8. Tucker Stone says:

    Happy New Year!!!

  9. Dan Nadel says:

    SAMMY: If you really want to rant about We Told You So, please do so! I guess? Just do it right here. Fresh-like. The floor is yours. Or I can record you in person when I’m in your house this weekend! We can finally show our families what wastes we truly are.

  10. Eric Reynolds says:

    Sammy is gonna be so pissed when he hears about Frank Thorne’s extended disquisition on anal sex that I cut from the book.

  11. sammy says:

    eric, you fuck.

  12. Dan Nadel says:

    Rob, if that’s the same RSM, you get a Blubber #2!

  13. Groth says:

    R. Bronstein deserves an entire set of Blubbers.

    “When people wanted something done, they said, ‘Robert can do it.'”

    Sounds like our RSM to me!

  14. Skrillexfan says:


    I wasn’t aware Robert Stanley Martin had posted on this site before

    I’m 23 years old. I was wrong to criticize you for criticizing him

  15. Robert Stanley Martin says:

    Golly gee, such a scandal.

    You didn’t make much of an effort, Dan. My most conspicuous work in book publishing is probably from running the foreign-language reference and textbook department at Hippocrene Books between 2004 and 2006. These links showcase some of that work:

    Link 1.

    Link 2.

    Link 3.

    Oh, and Gary, I grant this is quite belated, but the design and prepress contractor you recommended to me for the children’s dictionaries didn’t work out. She was very irresponsible. Robert Gerson, whom Kenneth Smith referred me to after that debacle, was much better. We were able to put together an excellent design template for the series.

    Dan, if you’re curious about the complexity of the editorial work that went into putting together these various projects, feel free to email. I’ll walk you through the processes from acquisitions through backlist management. The editorial challenges of a book at PictureBox are nothing compared to the demands of one of these volumes. It might do you good to learn some humility. I know from experience that these books will teach it.

    Oh, and Dan, one last thing. Colin Turner at Last Gasp tells me that Crumb handles all permissions for the work by him they publish. So perhaps he is dealing directly with them (and Fantagraphics) in the non-exclusive manner you were speculating was the case. And I seem to remember Crumb objecting to the insistence on exclusivity by New York publishers in one of the interviews Gary did. The advance W. W. Norton paid him for Genesis probably got him past his distaste, as they are all but certainly publishing the book on an exclusive basis, and I know they are handling all permissions.

    That said, the kind of non-exclusivity arrangement you describe is highly unusual. Boutique presses are probably the only publishers willing to do it at all, and even then it’s an exception to how they deal with authors. For example, I’m sure Fantagraphics insists on exclusivity with most of the books they publish.

    ‘Bye now.

  16. Dan Nadel says:

    Oh Robert, I had no idea you considered that publishing experience! You old dog, you! Sadder than ever. Bye for now.

  17. Robert Stanley Martin says:

    An inability to apologize, accompanied by gaslighting. My.

  18. Groth says:

    I was following Stanley Martin’s forensic attempts over a half dozen posts here to expose Pekargate with the usual mix of bemusement and repugnance that his on-line trolling always elicits. As a rule, I try not to waste my time responding to his tedious provocations, but I feel duty-bound to at least debunk his various assertions, which aren’t based on fact or even remotely plausible. I don’t want some innocent soul to chance upon his fulminations years hence and believe any of it. Martin is like a particularly incontinent stray who wanders around the internet neighborhood causing mischief and leaving messes that one has to trail behind with a plastic bag at the ready.

    But before I clean up Martin’s mess, let me compliment Sammy Harkham: His single paragraph about the book was one of the most insightful things I’ve read about it because it captured exactly the way I felt at the time (or shortly afterward when I could reflect on it). I’m glad the book conveyed that to readers sensitive enough to pick up on it. You nailed it.

    As for my anecdote about Pekar’s involvement in The Complete Crumb Comics and Martin’s Alternate Universe version of events:

    The only thing “off” about the Pekar anecdote is in Martin’s head. It happened exactly as I described it. His speculation as to why it couldn’t possibly have happened that way is filled with false premises and ignorant assertions.

    Sammy fell into the Martin trap of arguing against a misstatement of fact. Contrary to what Martin argues, Crumb co-owns the material he did with Pekar, and he merely wanted Pekar to sign off on its inclusion in the Complete Crumb. In order for Pekar to be the sole owner, Crumb would have had to sign a work-for-hire contract or an agreement that ceded his rights. He did not. In the event, he and Pekar are equal owners of the work. (Incomplete or erroneous copyright registrations are not conclusive; the work is copyrighted Pekar in the Bob ‘N’ Harvey book and copyrighted to both of them in The Complete Crumb. In the absence of a contract between them stipulating otherwise, the copyright notice in The Complete Crumb is correct.)

    There is no reason Martin would necessarily know any of this, but, then again, it’s none of his —or anyone else’s— business, so why go off speculating about something he knows nothing about?

    Although the industry norm is exclusive contractual arrangements, there are exceptions and it should be fairly obvious that Crumb has licensed the comics he originally did for a variety of publishers throughout his career to other publishers on a non-exclusive basis with certain caveats (Crumb’s Weirdo work appeared in the Complete Crumb as well as a collection by Last Gasp) that are too insidery to go into— but, again, this is no one’s business, so what’s the point of speculating about something he knows nothing about? All to “prove” that my recollection about Pekar’s intransigence and the eventual resolution was wrong? My recollections are not always accurate — one of the things I like most about it is the Rashomon dimension of conflicting memories— but in this instance, it is precisely the way I remember it and the way Crumb remembers it.

    Martin’s speculation about Hup is also, not surprisingly, wrong; we would include this series in any forthcoming Complete Crumb volumes —it’s called Complete for a reason— just as we included all his Weirdo work. The same work can co-exist in different formats, just as so much of Crumb’s work does. (We are also planning to release collections of Mystic Funnies and Art & Beauty in due time, by the way.)

    This performance makes Martin’s admonishment to Nadel that “It might do you good to learn some humility” hilariously ironic. And I did love Martin’s invitation to Dan to e-mail him so he could describe how tough it was to put together a book.. That sounds generous, even collegial — until you realize it’s completely insane. Imagine the joys of Stanley Martin “walk[ing] you through the processes of…backlist management.” The mind reels.

    It’s worth noting that the first person to jump on a thread in response to an excerpt from Fantagraphics’ oral history is a compulsive and habitual Fantagraphics/Groth hater.

  19. Robert Stanley Martin says:

    I wasn’t really looking to argue this matter any further. But for all this sturm-and-drang, my point that Crumb has no legal standing as far as ownership of the American Splendor material is concerned still holds. Pekar’s status as the sole legal author will stand until the copyright registrations for the work have been changed to reflect a co-ownership situation. Any claim of co-ownership on Crumb’s part is strictly theoretical until those actions are taken.

    My second point, that there was a likely business conflict with Four Wall Eight Windows, has not been addressed. Gary, I guess you could settle all of this by printing the letter you would have secured from 4W8W prior to publishing the American Splendor material in The Complete Crumb. That letter is going to say one of two things. The first is that 4W8W grants permission. The second is that 4W8W has no conflict with you publishing the material, and they will not challenge your doing so.

    The third possibility is that you never bothered to contact them, which means you’re an ignorant, reckless amateur who’s all but begging to get sued for infringement.

    So come on, Gary. Go for the win here. Let’s see the letter that demonstrates your competence and shows my read of this situation is wrong.

    And then you can go back to sneering at the FB employees you injured with your unsafe workplace practices. And who you ripped off by sleazily using a salary designation to circumvent minimum-wage and overtime laws.

  20. sammy says:


  21. R. Fiore says:

    Keeping in mind that Robert Stanley Martin’s idea of an ideal employer is Stan Lee . . .

  22. Dan Nadel says:

    C’mon, Gary, let’s see your MMMS membership card as well! Also, Gary I’m gonna need to see your certificate of ownership for The Comics Journal, because I’m about to turn over all rights to Peter David. I would love to know all the things RSM ignorantly speculates about that aren’t related to comics. What else is in that brain?

  23. Ilse Thompson says:

    I have a very clear memory of these events. CCC 13 was my first project as a new editor at Fantagraphics and I had a ringside seat. Not only was it surreal to find myself in the middle of a dispute (albeit minor and quickly resolved) between Fantagrtaphics and Pekar, I was privy to the conversations and negotiations, because how I proceeded with my job depended on it. Crumb wanted to have Pekar’s blessing, which Crumb was able to get. He simply called Pekar; they hashed it out, and we got the green light. When Crumb told Gary it was a go, Gary wrote a memo saying just that: Crumb spoke to Pekar and got his permission to use the material. I kept that memo in my files, and it came in handy when, after the book was printed, Pekar forgot he had given permission. (I’m pretty sure I still have that memo in a box in the basement.) Four Walls Eight Windows was not involved in any permissions. You’d think that if they had a proprietary interest, they would have made a stink after the book came out. Wait, maybe they never found out!

    I’ve often been on the receiving end of weird conspiracy theorists who pick apart and try to debunk the most innocuous aspects of my personal experiences or my motives. The thing that sucks so much about them is that these people compel a response. They compel you to explain yourself to them about something they made up. And even while you’re responding, you know it’s never going to satisfy them, because they’re too invested in scratching some deep, neurotic itch. I get that this guy here is needling Gary, not me. But it needles me, and it’s clear that Gary wasted too much time writing this response (any time is too much time) – and he had to, which I suspect is the motivation behind this kind of officious panty sniffing. So, I want to corroborate his version of events. I was there.

  24. Groth says:

    Martin- You latched on to what amounts to a footnote of a footnote and tried to prove that what I said couldn’t possibly be true by way of conjectural circumstantial evidence based on your own faulty knowledge of the specifics combined with your innate vindictiveness and a petty grudge you’ve been harboring for years, and only succeeded in making yourself look like an ass. Does anyone in your life take you seriously?

  25. Robert Stanley Martin says:

    Ms. Thompson–

    I don’t mean any disrespect to you. However, from everything you’ve said, you’ve gotten all your information about this from Gary. All you are doing is corroborating that this is what he has told you. There is nothing in your account that indicates direct knowledge of Pekar authorizing anything. I have talked to Joyce Brabner about this, and while she wouldn’t go into specifics, she says your and Gary’s accounts are “largely untrue.” I don’t for a moment think you’re lying. I think you’ve been duped.

    If Pekar did authorize use, there would have been written correspondence to that effect. It doesn’t sound like you ever saw a letter from him. If there was no letter, nothing was authorized. Verbal authorizations aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. If Gary was handling communications with Pekar, he would have known to ask if there was an outstanding deal with another publisher. He would have known about Four Walls Eight Windows, and he would have known to conduct proper due diligence and to get a letter from them stating they had no problem with FB publishing the material. From what you’re saying, you never saw anything from them, either. It doesn’t sound like there was any authorization before the book was published.

    The worst-case scenario is that when confronted when Pekar’s refusal, Gary, with his infinite self-righteousness, decided Pekar was being unethical. He thought this was applicable, and then lied to you about the authorization to keep things running smoothly. After the book was published, he found out he was wrong and had to pay a settlement to resolve things.

    Whatever the reason, the treatment of Pekar in this book is a petty, vindictive effort to piss on his grave. It is payback, and a passing misunderstanding just isn’t enough to prompt something like this, even for someone as spiteful as Gary. I feel really bad for you, because I think you’ve been made an unwitting accomplice to Gary’s ugliness.

    For my part, I started by pointing out something that struck me as discordant. The copyright situation was being misrepresented, and there was no reference to the concurrent deal Pekar had with 4W8W. It’s blown up to what it is now because I was confronted and repeatedly. It’s not in my nature to walk away from a fight. That’s a bad habit. I should really try to keep from falling into it here, as it’s apparent that my comments are doing more to drive traffic to this site than any of the articles being published.


    My only question for you is this: How much did it cost to settle things?

  26. Matt Seneca says:

    this dude is hilarious! Best fan fiction I’ve ever read. I hope this heah bout goes the full 15 rounds

  27. Ilse Thompson says:

    Mr. Martin, I appreciate your generosity of spirit in making such an enormous allowance for my naïveté. I’m also grateful to you for interpreting for me the circumstances and conversations I participated in, but clearly did not realize were staged, all in cunning anticipation of having to answer to you, in the comments section of a blog, 20 years later.

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