Hello again,

Today on the site:

Paul Tumey on comics as a self-aware form of art:

Perhaps comics tend to be self-aware because the very act of making a comic requires intense focus on the building blocks of the form. Anyone who has sat down to create a comic knows there is a surprisingly complex decision tree that must be worked out.

It can go something like this: What’s my story? How do I break it down into little pieces? How many pages? How many panels per page? Will they all be the same size and shape, or different? Will I tell the story with narration, or dialogue, or a mixture of both? How is it going to be printed? What size should I draw it at? Will I use a computer to letter or color, or touch up the art? Which of the hundreds of drawing tools available should I use? That’s just for starters. The list can go on and on.

Part of the greatness of a particular comic has to do not with how well the artist can draw, but with how thoughtfully and creatively they have worked with the formal elements. As with artists in other mediums, accomplished and dedicated comics artists assemble their own unique combinations of these building blocks – and that’s called style.



It was a very busy weekend for east coast publishing: The Brooklyn Book Fair, The NY Art Book Fair, and SPX. The biggest news came out of SPX with an historic Ignatz awards sweep by all female cartoonists. Your winners are below in bold:

Outstanding Artist

  • Emily Carroll – Through The Woods
  • Ed Luce – Wuvable Oaf
  • Roman Muradov – (In a Sense) Lost and Found
  • Jillian Tamaki – SuperMutant Magic Academy
  • Noah Van Sciver – Saint Cole
  • Drawn and Quarterly, 25 Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels, edited by Tom Devlin, Chris Oliveros, Peggy Burns, Tracy Hurren, and Julia Pohl-Miranda
  • An Entity Observes All Things by Box Brown
  • How To Be Happy by Eleanor Davis
  • Pope Hats #4 by Ethan Rilly
  • SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

Outstanding Graphic Novel

  • Beauty by Kerascoët and Hubert
  • The Oven by Sophie Goldstein
  • Rav by Mickey Zacchilli
  • Saint Cole by Noah Van Sciver
  • Wendy by Walter Scott

Outstanding Story

  • Doctors by Dash Shaw
  • “Me As a Baby” from Lose #6 by Michael DeForge
  • “Nature Lessons” from The Late Child and Other Animals by Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger
  • "Sex Coven” from Frontier #7 by Jillian Tamaki
  • Weeping Flower, Grows in Darkness by Kris Mukai

Promising New Talent

  • M. Dean – K.M. & R.P. & MCMLXXI (1971)
  • Sophia Foster-DiminoSphincter; Sex Fantasy
  • Dakota McFadzean – Don’t Get Eaten by Anything
  • Jane Mai – Soft
  • Gina Wynbrandt – Big Pussy

Outstanding Series

  • Dumb by Georgia Webber
  • Frontier edited by Ryan Sands
  • March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
  • Pope Hats by Ethan Rilly
  • Sex Fantasy by Sophia Foster-Dimino

Outstanding Comic

  • Borb by Jason Little
  • The Nature of Nature by Disa Wallander
  • The Oven by Sophie Goldstein
  • Pope Hats #4 by Ethan Rilly
  • Weeping Flower, Grows in Darkness by Kris Mukai

Outstanding Minicomic

  • Devil’s Slice of Life by Patrick Crotty
  • Epoxy 5 by John Pham
  • King Cat #75 by John Porcellino
  • Sex Fantasy #4 by Sophia Foster-Dimino
  • Whalen: A Reckoning by Audry

Outstanding Online Comic

Many of these works and authors have been covered here at TCJ, including: Sophie Goldstein's interview appeared here a couple months back. Sex Fantasy was reviewed by Sean T. Collins last year, and Sean also interviewed Emily Carroll a few years back. Jillian Tamaki was interviewed by Hazel Cills last Spring; and Eleanor Davis published my all-time-favorite Cartoonist's Diary here last summer.

I'll have some New York Art Book Fair thoughts later, but more importantly this weekend I read Mould Map 4. It's the most urgent, bracing and shocking comic book-thing I've read in long while. It's new. Finally. No anthology has been his new and important since Kramer's #4. It's in control of its own identity, aesthetic and politics. It is entirely concerned with Europe in crisis, and the comics address this, but never didactically. More like flurries of articulately expressed visual howls. As with the last issue, it's almost claustrophobically colorful, with an emphasis on high-gloss screen-like visuals. The design blends early 21st century Dutch protest graphics and "bad" digital FX pharmaceutical advertisements. It successfully included a few historical pieces which serve to contextualize Mould Map itself, including an authoritative English-language history of the late 1970s and early '80s radical Italian comics scene around Frigidaire. As for the comics. It's the "Euro-Zone issue, so it's an all European group of contributors. There are no imitators here and no one from any dominant lit European cartooning tradition. None of the L'Asso preciousness or the Belgian twee -- more like trash cartooning from The Beano and comparable humor and adventure kids mags. And that's just natural, not referenced. There's not a drive to be "artistic" but rather, artful. I happily imagine this work to be (ironically, but truly) unable to assimilate. The authentic cartooning of this group is merged with a radical awareness of the economic and political crises around it. Reading it this weekend, after weeks of the refugee crisis... it's just incredible. Incredibly powerful and jolting. There is no more important book of comics in sight. Not even close.