As is usual on Tuesdays, Joe McCulloch is here with his usual indispensable guide to the Week in Comics, listing and commenting upon the best-sounding comics new to stores. This week's spotlight picks include new books by MariNaomi and Kazuto Tatsuta.
—Reviews & Commentary. Eleanor Davis writes about her recent experience with citizen lobbying.
Previously, citizen lobbying had felt impossible to me; but after making a hundred phone calls and speaking up at rallies and commission meetings, it didn’t seem like such a big deal. I realized that just because people who disagree with me might tell me I am wrong or confused, it doesn’t actually mean I am wrong or confused. I realized I don’t think it’s wrong to irritate people or waste their time when they are actively trying to dismantle or deport everything I love about my country. I realized that whenever I wasn’t busy fighting for what I believed in, I was busy feeling very, very bad.
Hazel Cills writes about the Raymond Pettibon exhibit up in NYC.
While many still see Pettibon as the unofficial creative director of hardcore, the irony is that even as he was creating this aesthetic back in the '70s, he was often simultaneously critiquing it. "I mean, what the fuck is a battle to punk rockers? Against long hair?" he later recalled in an interview with BOMB Magazine in 1999. "Jesus. It’s a really decadent mockery, when you think of it." A plaque at the New Museum exhibition inside a display case of Black Flag flyers assures visitors that "most of his actual illustrations of punks were less than flattering," and notes for the record that Pettibon's visuals were usually not made by collaborating with the musicians. At the time, hardcore punk was a hypermasculine scene; loud, angry at seemingly everything, and ready to pummel each other in the pit, its true believers were a direct counter to the long-haired, peace-and-love hippie culture of the previous decade. Yet Pettibon's cover art for Black Flag's 1981 Six Pack EP depicts a man cowering in the corner, blood all over the floor, as if to mysteriously warn fans about the dangers of attending one of their shows.
At this point, the question of whether or not Bendis has written a “good comic” is especially meaningless. They made a Netflix show of one of his comics that won a fucking Peabody, and he got to go to the Peabody’s (!). This life’s a game, and that dude’s played the game well, man. (And I think he’s deserved his success– he worked very hard for it, anyways.)
So now that he’s had this whole career, whether one comic is good or not doesn’t seem all that Life-or-Death. But what strikes me as interesting is you can now see this entire career of him exploring and reexploring particular themes and go “oh how does this fit into that“…
More specifically, Bendis’s career-long obsession is characters negotiating situations where the Old Systems don’t work anymore– characters either choosing to redefine themselves because of their exhaustion with the old status quo, or having new status quos thrust upon them.
Neil Gaiman writes about Will Eisner.
I bought my first copy of The Spirit in 1975, in a basement comics shop in south London. I saw it hanging on a wall and knew that, whatever it was, I wanted it. I would have been about 14. Reading it on the train home, I had no idea that the stories I was reading were 30 years old. They were fresher and smarter than anything I’d seen in comics – stories that somehow managed to leave out everything that wasn’t the story, while telling wonderful tales of beautiful women and unfortunate men, of human fallibility and of occasional redemption, stories through which the Spirit would wander, bemused and often beaten up, a McGuffin in a mask and hat. I loved The Spirit then. I loved the choices that Will made, the confidence, the way the art and the story meshed. I read those stories and I wanted to write comics, too.
—News. Vanessa Davis has won The Paris Review's Terry Southern Prize.
This year’s Southern Prize will be presented by the filmmaker Todd Solondz to Vanessa Davis for her series “Summer Hours,” a comic in eight parts that began last June on the Daily.
—Interviews. Betsy Gomez talks to Ariel Schrag about the recent school challenge to her Stuck in the Middle anthology.
I’ve read a lot of middle-grade and young adult prose fiction, and I know that Stuck in the Middle is fairly tame compared to much of what is currently available in school libraries. Many books written for middle school-aged kids tackle similar subjects and use realistic language and scenarios. Stuck in the Middle is targeted because, being a graphic novel, it’s visual and the content is more immediately recognized. For instance, if a parent has a problem with their child reading about someone being bullied, they would have to spend more time reading through the prose of a novel to find the objectionable section, whereas opening up a comic to a drawing of a kid calling another kid a name can be recognized instantly. Comics also have a history of being considered “low brow” or “corrupting,” so despite the high caliber of the artists and work in Stuck in the Middle, people sometimes bring this prejudice to the book.
The most recent guest on Process Party is Joe Decie.
—Misc. 2dcloud has launched a Kickstarter to crowdfund their spring 2017 lineup, which includes new work by Maggie Umber and Sarah Ferrick and the Sean T. Collins/Julia Gfrörer-edited issue of Mirror Mirror.
We've been using Kickstarter as a mechanism for pre-orders and curated book bundles since 2010. This is our 9th Kickstarter, and it's how we keep the lights on. We're selling these book at less than retail cost and giving you a closer connection with us as a label and with our authors. Which we think is cool. Help us bring these works into the world
Chester Brown and Dave Sim have been arguing about prostitution and misogyny and petitions again.
According to Dave [Sim, he never considered me his friend, and] this was his reason for hanging out with me regularly:
"I [thought] it was worth maintaining communication for the sake of Canadian Cartooning Posterity."
He wasn’t my friend, he was fraternizing with me for the sake of Canadian Cartooning Posterity? Perhaps that’s so, but I do remember Dave saying that he was my friend. Perhaps he was using the word ironically. At the time I assumed he was sincere because he certainly acted like a friend. I was sincere in being Dave's friend. I genuinely like the guy.
Kevin Huizenga higlights a disturbingly plausible passage about how comics conquered the world from Jarrett Kobek's I Hate the Internet.
—Not Comics. At Hyperallergic, Rob Colvin writes about "Like Art," and how art has been influenced by social media. It would be interesting to consider whether comics has been similarly affected.
It is art that looks very much like art you’ve already seen, that you know very well, and that you already like. [...] It’s “the look for less,” with no greater aesthetic aspirations. It lives for heart taps, thumbs-up clicks, and space on people’s walls — digital or brick-and-mortar.