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Today on the site, Monica Johnson explores Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang's Paper Girls.

Since its debut last fall much has been written about Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang’s sci-fi, retro, coming-of-age comic Paper Girls—the charming nostalgia of its 1980s setting and steady doses of pop culture, Chiang’s seductively bold graphics with coloring reminiscent of both Le Clic cameras and jelly bracelets, and the originality of Vaughan’s time-traveling narrative. To clarify: Paper Girls is a comic about girls on bikes who deliver “the paper”—girls with paper routes. Admittedly, I am one of the many who love this comic. And yet I’m distracted by something that I haven’t been able to reconcile since I noticed it. The covers of both issue #1 and the first collected book—which came out in April and compiles issues 1 through 5—feature striking illustrations of the title characters: Erin, Mac, KJ, and Tiffany. Four twelve-year-old girls. In stark contrast, the inside covers lists the creators of the comic: Vaughan, Chiang, Matt Wilson, and Jared K. Fletcher. Four adult men. Even though in every last review I’ve read Paper Girls is repeatedly described as “War of the Worlds meets Stand By Me,” no one is writing about how four adult men came to create a successful comic book about four young girls.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:


—News.
The family of Geneviève Elverum, better known to comics readers as Geneviève Castrée (see our 2013 interview with her here), is asking for financial help to deal with her inoperable stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Please consider helping out, or at least reading and sharing her request.

We are asking the world to please donate money to us. Treatment is ongoing. Nobody in our household has been able to work for over a year. Geneviève has not made any new work. Phil has not made any music or been able to perform or do anything. Life is 100% occupied by this humongous medical battle (plus the already overwhelming reality of raising a baby with less than 2 fully available parents). We don't know what the future holds and how long this uncertainty will last. In any case, the amount we've spent over the last year alone has left us in a precarious financial position as a family.

—Reviews & Commentary. Ng Suat Tong writes about Blutch's Peplum.

Is there any suggestion that Blutch’s Peplum is inspired by the Satyricon of Petronius apart from the fact that the author has told us so?

There is the presence of the protagonist’s young male lover, Giton, as well as the licentious poet Eumolpus (both unnamed in the comic but central figures in Petronius’ work). There are also at least two instances where Petronius’ Satyricon is “quoted” if not wholly then at least in part.

Yet the comic is fixed in a strange but plausible landscape; it is less earthy, less strange and altogether less theatrical and decadent then the book and Fellini’s film. Both the original and film versions of Satyricon are filled with the rank physical reality of sex, not the curious delusion which Blutch’s protagonist engages with throughout.

Douglas Wolk reviews a slew of recent books for the New York Times, including titles by Sonny Liew, Chester Brown, and the aforementioned Blutch.

[Brown's] evenhanded pace of four small panels on each page keeps the tone understated, and he gets a lot of comedic mileage out of rendering biblical dialogue into modern vernacular. (Jesus, on being told that he should be anointed, replies, “I don’t know — I’m not into ceremonies.”) But Brown zeros in on the human drama in each story — his images of David silently regarding Bathsheba make very clear the way power flows between them — and his visual craftsmanship is as sharp as it’s ever been. Brown’s drawing on the book’s front cover alludes to the historiated initials of illuminated manuscripts, even as it presents the Bible as a clitoris.

Bill Griffith shares his ten rules for cartoonists.

1. Cartoon Characters have souls.

Tim O'Neil writes at length about DC's Rebirth.

The calculation was made – and it’s probably a correct one – that anyone still pissed over DC’s treatment of Alan Moore left the building a long time ago. Before Watchmen met an underwhelming response in the marketplace, being a decent selling book with minimal impact in collected form, as opposed to the sales juggernaut they could have expected given the strength of the Watchmen brand name. But even if it underwhelmed, it still fulfilled the company’s secondary purpose: it normalized the kind of creative theft that would have been unimaginable with another generation of creators. A stink was raised, battle lines were drawn, certain creators (some of whom are no longer with us) permanently soiled their reputations through association with a project that was being conducted against the express wishes of the guy who wrote the damn thing in the first place. When pulling a Band-Aid, it is best to do so quickly. It hurts a lot at first and then you forget about it. Before Watchmen was the figurative Band-Aid. Anyone still pissed about Moore’s treatment, and therefore morally bound to withdraw their support from the company, has already done so. Everyone else moved on.

Shea Hennum writes about the history of sex in comics.

The Tijuana Bibles of the early 20th century were produced in secret by anonymous or unknown authors, but they reflected—and how!—the common patriarchal objectification of their time. Women were treated similarly in the underground comix of the 1960s, which were mostly produced by straight men, and, as journalist and lecturer Paula Kamen writes, “[t]he sexual revolution of the 1960s [ . . . ] was a boon for many men, who now had access to more women’s bodies and made the rules about what exactly took place in bed.”


—Interviews & Profiles.
Chris Anthony Diaz speaks to Tim Hensley.

This week a bird built a nest in a crossbeam of our landing and was incessantly tapping on the window above the front door from dawn till dusk. My wife said the bird sees its reflection in the glass and taps at it because it thinks it’s an enemy.

I was thinking, “Oh, that must be where ‘bird brain’ comes from,” but then realized it isn’t so different with my comics. I’m probably compulsively attacking myself to protect some transitory whorl of twigs. Or maybe I’m just trying to break the glass to see what’s inside.

Alex Dueben interviews Mike Mignola.

As a reader, I’m a short story guy. I draw comics, but I’m trying to create a body of work that reflects more the literature I’m interested in, rather than to try to create a traditional comic book series. If this was running in Weird Tales magazine, the old pulp magazine, it would run as a series of short stories, the way Conan or any of those series characters ran. That was the model more than any kind of comic book series model.

And the latest guest on the RIYL podcast is R.O. Blechman.


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