Manifestations of Destiny

Today, Kristy Valenti is here with a look at Will Eisner's forgotten (until now) 1978 humor misfire, Star Jaws:

1978 was a big year for Will Eisner. He invented… that thing where you take a massive pop culture hit, and lazily sort of mash it up with another massive pop culture hit. (He didn’t really invent that. Or the graphic novel.)

sharkStar Jaws is a bunch of black-and-white, one-page “gags” about space and giant fish, squarely aimed at kids-those-days (looks like Scholastic distributed it, or helped), packaged in a mass market paperback. It was created during Eisner’s American Visuals Corporation period, when he was contracted to do PS Magazine and other commercial art projects. Keith Diaczun and Barry Caldwell assisted.

The “jokes” are often-incoherent placeholders for “cop writing a ticket” or “the teen wrecked the car” one-liners. The drawings themselves aren’t funny either; gag cartooning is not in Eisner’s range. What Eisner does manage to catch is a bit of the texture of 1975’s gritty, water-dappled Jaws, the “dirty spaceship” look of 1977’s Star Wars (which was partially inspired by Eisner’s junior, Wallace Wood).

We also have a new episode of Mike Dawson's TCJ Talkies. This time, he talks to Sam Alden and Sophia Foster-Dimino about two comics by the mysterious cartoonist known only as GG.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Alex Dueben interviews Arab of the Future creator Riad Sattouf.

Inkstuds talks to Terror Assaulter: O.M.W.O.T.'s Ben Marra.

—Reviews & Commentary. For the L.A. Times, Caroline A. Miranda spotlights five "comics artists to watch" found in the most recent volume of Best American Comics: Matthew Thurber, Henriette Valium, Gina Wynbrandt, David Sandlin, and Andy Burkholder.

TCJ's own Rob Kirby presents his picks for the thirty best comics (and comics-adjacent things) of 2015.

For Vulture, Abraham Riesman chooses his ten best graphic novels of 2015.

Michael Cavna previews the forthcoming "posthumous manifesto" written by murdered Charlie Hebdo editor Charb.

Jon Vinson looks back at Josh Simmons' notorious Batman minicomic.

Ta-Nehisi Coates continues to write about his experience on Black Panther:

The black diaspora is terra incognita for much of the world. [...] I would not have always considered this an advantage. When I first started writing, I was anxious that I would be pigeon-holed into the “race-beat.” Eventually I realized that the “race beat” was actually the “humanity beat,” and that questions about “racism” are really questions about the exercise of power. Perhaps more importantly I realized that “race” was an essential thread of American society, and questions about race were questions about the very nature of the Western world. I wasn’t pigeon-holed, I’d fallen into a gold-mine. America is the most powerful country in the world. You simply can’t understand how it got that way without understanding “race.”