One Question

It's a weird day out there, but if you're looking to hide from the world, we have some comics-related content to help with your denial.

First, Mark Newgarden is here with a photo tour of The Inkwell, a postwar NYC bar where everyone from Milton Caniff to Milt Gross to Otto Soglow drew on the walls.

Part of the mythos of the 20th-century newspaper cartoonist was the role of the deadline- haunted hollow-legged libertine, part workhorse/part fraternal drinking machine. Big-city newspaper art departments were notorious for their in-house tippling and impromptu frescoes. In a 1979 oral history, the radio producer Himan Brown (desperately seeking an audience with cartoonist Milt Gross) recalled his teenage impression of the New York World art department of the 1920s: “For me to describe the place these cartoonists worked in, in the old World building down on Park Row in Lower Manhattan, is really a nightmare in itself. These were tough hard-bitten men, an elite unto themselves. They sat side by side, doing the cartoons and comic strips that were so familiar, in this one smoke-ridden room, with spittoons and filthy dirty pictures on the wall. Pornography was invented by these guys.” These dual impulses naturally migrated to the local saloons after office hours.

Among these was The Inkwell, a now-forgotten postwar establishment that once catered to this particular elite. Located at 693 Third Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets on the East Side, “a few doors south” of the original Costello’s (which occupied number 699 until it relocated to East 44th street in 1973), The Inkwell was christened with a moist nod to the high-hat steak row eatery, The Pen and Pencil. Esquire described it as “a hangout for cartoonists and writers, actors and musicians, models and magazine editors.” Knife and Fork in New York, a period guidebook, described it as a “boothed gossipry for folk from near-by newspaper offices ” and went on to praise both the steaks and “big luscious porkchops, Southern-style.”

We also have Day Four of L. Nichols' Cartoonist's Diary. Today, it's camping in Big Sur.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Longtime Batman artist Norm Breyfogle has died. Anyone between, say, 30 and 45 who read superhero comics in their youth probably has fond memories of his work. The details of his death are still private, but he suffered a stroke in 2015, and used crowdfunding at the time to help pay his medical bills.

—Interviews & Profiles. Rolling Stone talks to Garry Trudeau.

Are you more concerned about the country than you were when you started Doonesbury, during the height of Vietnam and the Nixon administration?
It’s hard to measure degrees of concern. The country’s been at war for roughly half the 50 years I’ve been doing this. We’ve had endless scandals, crises. I can’t think of a year when I wasn’t concerned. My hair’s always on fire about some damn thing.

The Guardian profiles Liana Finck.

She may feel that her constant existential terror makes her a bit weird, but it seems there are enough like-minded souls out there to make her quite normal. (Her 200,000 followers on Instagram are devout enough that her biography states: “You may tattoo.”)

“All my weirdness around people is just weirdness about myself. I’ve always been self-conscious and shy, but I wonder if that can be your whole life. I might get used to all the things in the world and stop being anxious about them,” she says. She doesn’t sound very sure.

The most recent guest on Process Party is Josh Cotter, and the most recent guest on Comics Alternative is Tillie Walden.

—Reviews. Jenny Lawson at The New York Times reviews Finck's latest.

“Passing for Human” is a graphic work — Finck’s second, after her earlier “A Bintel Brief.” It is drawn in a straightforward pen-and-ink style but each simple drawing captures such raw emotion. It’s wonderfully intimate, like reading someone’s diary. And in a way that’s what it is. It tells the story of the artist’s search for her lost shadow. The first time I flipped through the book I wasn’t sure what that shadow represented: alienation, regret, creative angst, self-doubt? I read it again.

Dead Lies On Target

Today at The Comics Journal, we've got another early look at one of the fall's more anticipated titles: Britt Wilson's latest with Koyama, Ghost Queen. Get in on the hotness now, otherwise you can't condescend to latecomers.

If you'd been wondering why L. Nichols was putting himself through cross-country flights with small children, today you'll get your answer, the best answer of all: love. The latest chapter in his Cartoonist Diary awaits!

Today's Comics Journal review sees Martyn Pedler reviewing a hardcover comic release from a major comics publisher about Nazi Germany in the days prior to World War II, but no, it's not Berlin by Jason Lutes, which we reviewed yesterday. Instead, this is John Hendrix The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler, which has been collecting a whole laundry list of the kinds of pre-release accolades that make a big difference to traditional bookstores and libraries. It's an interesting prospect, the thought that this book--an easy on the eyes, sub-200 page hardcover pulsing with the simple stylistic constructs that often appeals to readers new to comics in part because they aren't really comics--has every potential of being talked about in the same breath with Lutes' massive, career-defining and defiant magnum opus despite the vast chasm of aesthetic weight and obvious bone-in effort that differentiates them, simply because of the timing of release and the ease of their pairing. Pedler gives it a fair assessment, at least.

In fact, the only real sense that The Faithful Spy is a book for young readers comes with Hendrix’s editorializing – like that word “chillingly”, above. After explaining Hitler’s plan to take over Germany and eradicate the Jewish people, Hendrix gives over a whole page to explain “These were horrid ideas.” Does he not trust his audience to see how horrific the Nazi regime was? Or is this just how we have to talk today when the fact that Nazis are bad seems distressingly up for debate once more? I’m not sure.

While i'm on the subject of Berlin, here's the ultimate throwback: our original review of the first issue, published back in 1996. (I was but a boy at the time, and my knowledge of comics geography went no further than Blüdhaven.) Written by Christopher Brayshaw, it includes choice bits of we'll-see-how-this-goes, but more than that, it's a beautiful snapshot of Jason's subtle experiments, and reading it again--knowing that neither critic nor creator would know how long the road had begun--is a real treat.

I find myself less interested in the story's characters than in Lutes' thoughtful play with different kinds of pacing. Coming after Jar of Fools' bravura pacing, this can't help but feel like a bit of a letdown. But Lutes' commitment to experimentation and to refining his storytelling techniques bodes well for his continued development as a cartoonist. I'm consequently willing to accept my minor reservations about Berlin for now, in return for the more innovative work that Lutes' present experiments promise in the future.

Over at Hyperallergic, Dominic Umile takes a look at Oliver Kugler's Escaping Wars and Waves, a collection of his illustrated profiles subtitled "Encounters with Syrian Refugees"

Kugler’s process yields peripheral cartoon-like spot illustrations, like those supporting street vendor Claudia’s story on Greece’s Kos Island, where tourism declines and refugees sleep on trashed cardboard. For Vian, whose imprisoned activist husband hasn’t met his infant son yet and whose glassy doll-eyes are trained on the reader, Kugler utilizes captions, oversized header type, and word balloons, too. While the work isn’t always labeled as such and is far more venturesome than what is being produced at mainstream comics publishers, Escapingowes as much to the tradition of comics and sequential art as it does to journalism.

Over at WWAC, Tony Wei Ling goes long on Carta Monir's Secure Connect. 

Monir is an amazing talent. As a cartoonist, she’s developed an instantly recognizable conceit that’s way more versatile than it seems on first blush. Her work is always, it seems, about how video games and computers work their way into you. But what each comic is about emotionally feels particular, never rehashed. In her body of published short works, she’s nailed the sweet, the grotesque, the bitter, and the mournful.

Over at The Nerdist, Michel Fiffe's latest experiment with getting that money intersected with getting that GI Joe. Click and ye shalt be found.

 

Ixnay

Irene Velentzas is here with a review of one of the most long-awaited conclusions in comics, the complete Berlin from Jason Lutes.

The inside cover of Jason Lutes’ compiled Berlin depicts a sprawling map of the city. The map underlies not only the crossroads Berlin and her peoples are certain to face over the course of this text, but also the entangled matrix of lives, political movements, class conflicts, and private struggles that form the living heartbeat of the multifaceted and ever-changing organism that is Berlin. Lute’s Berlin is a painstakingly made masterpiece, and its twenty-two-year construction has outlasted even the rise and fall of the Weimar Republic which it depicts. This carefully crafted omnibus is not only a fabricated nexus of interwoven lives – both historical and fictional – but a masterclass in the complexity of comics symbolism and composition. Lutes’ thoughtful and impactful storytelling is symbolically dense from the outset as a steam train chugs along the first three panels of the book. The train not only foreshadows the horrors of the Holocaust to come, but also the inevitable intertwined destinies of a progress-driven, war-torn nation and its citizens.

We also have Day Two of L. Nichols' Cartoonist's Diary.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Abrams is starting a new imprint, Megascope, dedicated to science fiction comics focused on people of color.

The name of the imprint is taken from a work of speculative fiction written in 1908 by the celebrated African American sociologist and NAACP founder W.E.B. Dubois. Dubois's Megascope, [director John] Jennings explained, is a fictional instrument that allows its viewers to see “undiscovered stories from our past. It’s a really interesting allegorical device.”

—Interviews & Profiles. Brett Sokol at the New York Times profiles the great Richard McGuire.

Mr. McGuire’s wheatpasting days are four decades behind him, well before he became known for creating magazine covers for The New Yorker, award-winning animation for PBS Kids, and “Here,” a graphic novel saluted by the New York Times critic Dwight Garner as one of the “very best” ever published. But for the first time in nearly 40 years, his handmade posters are receiving a loving excavation in “Art for the Street — New York 1978-1982,” two new solo exhibitions of his work, opening this weekend at the New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1 in Queens and on Sept. 27 at Alden Projects in Manhattan.

Gwynne Watkins at Vulture profiles Ramona Fradon.

Fradon couldn’t be nicer, but she has the canniness of a woman who survived the some of the nation’s hardest decades — and the pressures of an all-male industry — by her own wits. I confess to her that I’m only a casual comics reader; my husband is the one with a passion for superhero stories. “Could you explain that to me?” she asks with a smile. “I just do not understand the grown men who are so into comics.”

Surface has a very brief interview with Daniel Clowes.

Many were exultant when Sabrina, a graphic novel by 29-year-old cartoonist Nick Drnaso, made the longlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize for fiction, Britain’s most prestigious literary award. Daniel Clowes was not one of them.

“It seems like a strange leap to me,” he says. It’s not because he didn’t love the book—he thought it was great. He just thinks we’re talking apples and oranges. “[A graphic novel] is a whole different thing,” he says. “It feels uncomfortable as a form of recognition.”

The Daily Beast profiles Chelsea Cain.

For a short time, Cain became a symbol of the erupting culture wars in geek spaces—the kind that have since yielded the amorphous, anti-diversity harassment campaign known as “Comicsgate.”

At the time, however, the campaign against Cain had no name. And deleting her Twitter only seemed to make it worse. “There’s this really interesting misconception that misogynists have about free speech,” Cain recalls now. “They really were mad that I had left the conversation, because apparently if I were a real feminist, if I were really a strong woman, I would have stayed and let them shout at me. So that’s when it really escalated.”

Cain stayed off Twitter for three months, only once checking in on the hysteria. “I’ve seen some really terrible things,” she remembers. “The thing that really will always haunt me is this illustration of Mockingbird—and this was somebody with talent, like, it was drawn and inked, it looked professional: Mockingbird brutalized and raped, dead. Her costume all torn off, bloody, really violent. And she’s laying there, horribly murdered and bruised and it said, ‘Ask me about my feminist agenda.’”

The most recent guest on the Comics Alternative podcast is Jason Lutes, and the most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Ken Krimstein.

—Reviews & Commentary. For Bomb, Austin English raves about Julie Doucet's Dirty Plotte.

Doucet engaged comics as a place to think graphically, without triage of explanation. Familiar shapes and images (the human body, cluttered apartments) provide the theater for these clipped statements, a less austere setting than, say, poetry. In her early work, this nontraditional approach to comics (a medium often synonymous with narrative) feels rooted not in anger at the confines of cartooning but in an understanding of how powerful it can be on its own legs, no apologetic sprucing required. If cartooning is simply words and images, the artistic brazenness of early Dirty Plotte shows you can dispense with narrative and the three-act structure and what remains needn’t wear a cold and formalist mask.

Paul Buhle reviews Bill Schelly's memoir, Sense of Wonder.

Schelly is a self-described fan extraordinaire. Like hundreds of others, he began self-publishing as a teen, sending out his own mimeographed or, later, offset zines to others in the fold, mainly exchanging copies until he had built up enough readers to sell them. Some of those others, those whose names we are likely to recognize — Crumb springs to mind — went on from collecting, publishing, and distributing fan mags to becoming artists themselves. Schelly, who did plenty of his own drawing along the way, and at one point actually considered a comic-art career, decided that he had reached a dead end along those lines. Sagely, he turned to a series of jobs for various entities, including the federal government and the Seattle Counseling Service, an institution serving the city’s LGBT community. But he continued to write about comic books and film, and became a prolific and respected independent scholar.

Finally, the famously irascible Portuguese critic Domingos Isabelinho has published a list of his favorite 34 comics.

Strangers Can’t Be Disappointed

Today at The Comics Journal, we're launching our latest installment of Cartoonist's Diary--with L. Nichols, the cartoonist behind Flocks, a graphic memoir just published by Secret Acres. In his initial installment, L. gets on a cross country flight...with small children.

We've also got a return to these pages by the indefatigable Alex Dueben, who spoke with Eisner Award winning writer and editor Frederik Aldama about the work he's been doing over the last few years.

You’re a tenured professor and you have a lot of scholarly credentials; what has it been like watching comics studies be embraced by academia over the course of your career?

In 2000, I was hired by the University of Colorado, Boulder, as my first job. I knew for a fact that the books that were going to get me where I needed to go – associate and then full professor – would have to be pretty recognizable by senior scholars. That is, they would have to be on literature for the most part. So that’s what I did. I wrote those books. But I knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to write books on comics. That’s something that I’d always wanted to do, even as a graduate student. Once I was a full professor, I started writing these books. There are many other of my colleagues – usually senior scholars – across the country who are building comics studies into the robust discipline it is today.

As a result of all this work, we’re starting to see our PhD students and more junior colleagues writing dissertations as well as publishing articles and books on comics. While it’s a very different scene than the early 2000s, I still advise my PhD students to write a chapter on straight alphabetic literature to present when they give their job talk. Why? There will still people in the room who don’t think comics are worthy of study – and they will be voting on whether or not to give my student the job.

We’re in a transition moment. On the one hand, in our scholarship we have arrived. I just published an edited volume that I titled, Comics Studies Here and Now, to celebrate this arrival in terms of scholarship. At the same time that we’ve “arrived” there’s still some old guard scholars out there gatekeeping this scholarship. There’s a lot of anxiety among colleagues about our arrival, so our younger colleagues and students still need to tread carefully.

Our review for today is of Peter Kuper's recently published collection of Franz Kafka stories, Kafkaesque. Rich Barrett has the mic:

Usually, when adapting literary prose, comic creators are too slavish to the source material, unsure of what to cut from the sacred original text, resulting in paragraphs of narration that overpower the art. Kuper’s greatest feat here is how heroically he edits Kafka down, using just the right amount of words as captions to accompany his visuals. In being so concise, he stays true to form as a cartoonist without losing anything vital from the source material and keeping Kafka’s “voice” intact.

While linking to Batman Penis related content should have probably been just the once, Stephen Colbert's take on the situation includes criticism of DC's business practices and that dumb "for mature readers" tag they use, so whateves, let's keep this train rolling.

 

New Shoes

Greg Hunter's here today with the 32nd episode of his Comic Book Decalogue podcast. This month, he's talking to cartoonist and former TCJ podcaster Mike Dawson. They discuss discusses Boogie Nights, Oor Wullie, Eleanor Davis, and more.

We also have a review of Zep's Strange and Beautiful Sound, written by Helen Chazan.

If a cartoonist strives to tell a mediocre story and is very successful in doing so, is the result of their labor a mediocre comic? This is a question I found myself returning to time and time again when reading A Strange and Beautiful Sound, a thoroughly unsurprising exercise in what might be called summer literature that nevertheless was pleasant to read. The artist, Zep, well known in Francophone Europe for his bestselling children’s serial Titeuf, has more recently taken to doing more mature graphic novels, and you can tell he means business...because all the colors are a muted monochrome and feature grown ups having conversations at tables. As an artist moving into his “please take me seriously” period, Zep’s interests are more low key than, say, a Craig Thompson behemoth, but then the Franco-Belgian comics scene has always been a little more chilled out than the American on the whole.[1] The tone that Zep strikes is pleasurable, yet it is an attitude that would occupy an entire shelf at Barnes & Noble if big bookstores actually sorted their comics section by tone.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. I rarely share news of comics convention guests, but this is different enough to be worth pointing out. The cartoonist behind the new Nancy, who uses the pseudonym Olivia Jaimes, is going to be at CXC.

“The CXC organizers went to great lengths so I’d feel comfortable at the event,” Jaimes told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs about her festival session. “The panel’s happening in a room that seats only about 40 people, and they’re coat-checking all phones and recording devices at the door.

“What I’m saying is: If you aren’t one of those 40 people and don’t want to be separated from your phone just to see me, don’t stress about it — I’m pretty boring in person,” she adds wryly. “But if you do jump through the hoops, I’ll be touched and honored to answer your questions [in this format]. As always, the right balance between connecting with fans and maintaining personal boundaries is my lodestar.”

—Interviews & Profiles. Alex Dueben talks to Summer Pierre.

It wasn’t until I returned to comics that poetry returned to its place. Poetry is a HUGE influence on my comics. It’s a brief and distilled form of life – something I try very hard to get right in my comics. I think cartoonists and poets have a lot in common and every time I get very ego driven and scared about “what it all means” all I have to do is read or listen to a poem and it drops me down to the small and immediate things of life. Music is more emotive to me – I am more taken away by music. Poetry keeps me in the present moment. It’s the red arrow I need on the map when I feel lost to tell me, “You are Here.”

Comics Workbook talks to Hannah K. Lee.

I like looking at packaging (fruit boxes and crates, foreign candy), flags, old and ornate rugs/textiles, pop music ephemera, Tumblr teens, fashion, clever logos, bad logos, old calligraphy, illuminated manuscripts, those kids’ Golden Books, I like to absorb and/or pick apart everything. When it comes to certain jobs that require a lot of research, I look at the design and illustration of that particular era and let that inform how it’ll turn out. For example, I just did a piece about the origins of ska, so I looked at a lot of 60’s album art coming out of Kingston.

The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Audrey Niffenegger.

Nice Beard, Creep

Today at The Comics Journal, we're pleased to welcome Ardo Omer back. In her latest interview, Ardo spoke with cartoonist Ming Doyle, who recently took on the unusual gig of stepping into Batman's shoes. 

First of all, I have to give complete credit to S.D. Perry and Matthew Manning who wrote and pitched it completely to Insight Editions. I was brought on after the fact and I agree, it’s a really interesting concept. It’s so fun to think—perhaps fun is the wrong word—but it makes a certain amount of sense to think that Bruce Wayne would be the kind of nerd who would just go so overboard on the idea of wanting to know all about his friends and their innards. That he would go to the lengths of keeping a hard copy of a Leonardo Da Vinci-esque art journal and even develop his skill of drawing to this point where he could illustrate it so intensely which I believe is the conceit of the entire endeavor. 

Personally, I was never necessarily interested in the anatomy of metahumans or superheroes per se because it hadn’t occurred to me. And again, that’s why the concept of the book is so striking to people. But in terms of just general anatomy, I went to art school and I think most artists struggle with anatomy at some point in their careers which is why when I took this job on, I was like, “challenge finally accepted.” I will do nothing but try and draw anatomy, and whether or not it’s bounded in reality, it has to look good or make sense. [Laughter] It was daunting but that’s what made me want to sign on to the book in the first place. I had absolutely never seen a project like this represented in the comics sphere before, you know?

Today's review comes to us from Jake Murel, and it's of Santiago García and David Rubin's take on Beowulf, which was brought to English readers via Image Comics. While Jake has kind words for much of the book, he was definitely stuck on one particular segment.

The sexual addition is not a problem in itself. The problem is that this addition is never made a part of the story in any way. If García and Rubin want to add this sexual nuance to the Grendel-Beowulf battle, that’s all well and good. But in taking creative liberties with an adaptation, any alteration should be justified, meaning it should be significant to the adaptation in some way. As it stands, Grendel climaxes onto Beowulf and the story moves on. Beowulf shares no similar sexual encounter with either monster or human, and the sexual occurrence never develops into any larger motif or theme. Grendel’s sexuality could be removed, and the story would not change. It’s an irrelevant addition.

And while that's all for us today, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the unusual connection to anatomy and penis drawings in another comic book related story, which you can find out more about at Bleeding Cool. Basically, they decided that yesterday, Wednesday July 19th in the year 2018, was the date when the world should see Bruce Wayne's penis, and see it they have, in multiple panels. As the comic is written by Brian Azzarello and features Batman, and these are two subjects that I've extensively written about in this thing that I now have to call a career, I feel that I should probably express more of a position on Batman's penis than my immediate reaction, which was to say "uhhh" and then go ask the guy in the office who likes Star Wars if he'd heard the news, and what did he think? He hadn't though. I was going to ask my wife what she thought but it didn't seem like proper Yom Kippur conversation. So--i'll report back. 

Over at Vogue--that's the first time I've linked to them, I believe--there's an extensive profile of Liana Finck, a cartoonist whose popularity has risen almost as exponentially as her talent over the last few years. We'll be speaking with her soon too, as part of the Passing For Human internet takeover.

If any of this seems strange, you're probably not among Finck's nearly 200,000 followers on Instagram, where a couple times a day she posts drawings that raise a magnifying glass to a culture roiling with toxic masculinity, misogynistic microaggressions, and boorish self-regard, all filtered through her own churning self-doubt and anxiety. Her style is spare beyond sketchy: naive stick figures that illustrate sharp social observations in just a few wiggly lines, simplistic charts and graphs that map out complex emotional states (she has a knack for seeing words and concepts in two-dimensional space, a byproduct, she says, of her synesthesia). If something is happening in Finck's life, there's a good chance she's working it out via cartoon—scroll through her feed and you'll notice a recent obsession with the politics of public seating areas—and doing so while parked at a cafe like the one where we've set up shop. (Why? "I really, really like people, and I'm also stressed out by people, so I think being around people who aren't talking to me is just ideal.") Her work trades less on humor—though sometimes she's very funny—than on a sort of existential gothic terror. Take, for example, one of my favorite posts, captioned "A Man Who Walked Around Me in a Circle," and depicting just that: in four slides, a menacing male stick figure circumrotates a wide-eyed, frozen female one, her unease escalating, until finally he barks: "Relax!"

And finally, here's a phenomenally art packed odyssey through drawings of machines by Jack Kirby and Geof Darrow. You can keep your Gerhard Richter in that fancy museum all to yourself. I got my huckleberry right here.

Adult Westerns

Today on the site, we have an excerpt from The Vagabond Valise, a new book from the Quebec-based cartoonist Siris.

We also have Edwin Turner's review of the first two issues of Anders Nilsen's Tongues.

There's a lot going on in the first two issues of Anders Nilsen's new graphic novel-in-progress Tongues. A black eagle plays chess with Prometheus before tearing out the chained god's liver. A young American ambles aimlessly through a Central Asian desert, a teddy bear strapped to his back. Stealing away from his lover's tower window, a youth morphs into a black swan and flies into the desert, where he consumes the tongue and throat of a murder victim sprawled in the sand. A little girl chats in Swahili about her assassination plans with a black chicken. (There are lots of black birds in Tongues). There's also some literal monkey business. It's all really beautiful stuff.

Like I said, there's a lot going on, but the comic never feels cramped nor frenetic. Nilsen's pace and perspective have a cinematic quality. Wide lens opening shots offer panorama views of a slightly surreal world. Tinged with a touch of mythic magic, Nilsen's mountains, deserts, and cities are a sliver removed from our own reality. Nilsen gives us bird's-eye views of this world, but we also get to see it from the ground up: a mercenary army on the move, a boy tripping and falling, lizards scuttling across the desert floor. Nilsen's clean, clear style depicts movement and perspective with a filmic quality that absorbs the reader's attention.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Alex Dueben talks to Ivan Brunetti at Smash Pages about his new children's book.

I didn’t have a definite plan to begin a second book when Wordplay came out, but I enjoyed the process of creating the first one, and Françoise encouraged me to submit another idea. I think I came up with the idea for 3×4 a couple of months after Wordplay came out. I figured that a book about numbers might make a fitting complement to a book about words, so that was the genesis of the idea, trying to make a logical pair. After an initial conversation with Françoise, I sketched out the book in very rough thumbnail form (this is what I do for pretty much every project), and then the process of editing began. As you might guess, this is something at which Françoise excels, so through a fair amount of back-and-forth, with her guidance I somehow got to a tighter thumbnail—not in terms of drawing, necessarily, but in terms of structure and flow. I like to have a solid skeleton to build upon, although I’m aware that projects inevitably morph and mutate as they progress (and this was no exception). It’s sort of a very slow coming into focus, refining it while drawing it.

At the New York Times, Ed Park reviews the third book in Jules Feiffer's noir trilogy, as well as Young Frances by Hartley Lin (Ethan Rilly).

The new American disorder is enough to make some of us contemplate Canadian citizenship, which might partly explain the shameless crush I have on the debut of the Montreal-based artist Hartley Lin. Funny and generous, YOUNG FRANCES (AdHouse, $19.95) is half coming-of-age story (female-friendship variety), half office novel. Lin’s line is both romantic and scrupulously composed, with precise framing that can recall a Wes Anderson tableau. The dialogue ranges from deadly accurate corporate jargon (“How long do you think you can survive without deliverables?”) to the kind of stuff you’d utter only to your closest friend (“People can get tapeworms in their brain, right?”). And Lin knows precisely when to let a few panels of premium Canadian silence sink in. (One character is shown reading — wait for it — Alice Munro.)

Burn or Jump

Today at The Comics Journal, we've got a couple of throwbacks for you. The first is the newest installment of Ice Cream For Bedwetters,  Tegan O'Neil's super-hero focused column, which takes a look at some old Wolverine comics from a very particular era in that character's history. Like that character (who is currently returning to the dead, thanks to Charles "A Lawyer" Soule), Tegan's got some changes planned.

I’m also inching closer to an end for what I’m doing here. Not this column, hopefully, but the specific project of this first year, a set of pieces written in a reflective mood, big on first-person pronouns and belly-button lint. The second year will be completely different. I get restless if I do the same thing for too long, I learned that from teaching.

This style has come in handy, however. You see, I underwent a change recently. It doesn’t really matter for the present purposes what that change was – we all change, after all, the experience of change is what’s universal. (Even if my change was a bit more drastic than most.) We’re all changing just by being alive and breathing the same blessed atmosphere. Not a novel observation but nonetheless a true one.

Our next throwback is to 2002--and to be more specific, to Ron Evry's original Comics Journal review of Jason Lutes' first collection of Berlin stories. In recognition of the recent conclusion of Jason's 20 year series (and to whet your appetite for our review of the now complete edition), we'll be pulling Berlin content from the archives for the next few weeks. In no small part, it will be because of paragraphs like these:

It seems a shame that an artist such as Jason Lutes cannot sell enough copies of this masterpiece to make producing it his full-time profession. It is obviously a life’s work, and hopefully will be enough of a commercial success for him to produce it for many more issues. The eighth issue of the comic book came out in December of 2000, and there hasn’t been another new one since. He has drawn an Ed Brubaker-written comic book called The Fall, also published by D&Q, which is diverting and intelligently done, but it isn’t Berlin. There are a projected 400 more pages to go in the series. If readers have to wait eight or nine more years to get them, then that is testimony to the fact that something is terribly wrong with the comic industry and needs fixing.

It can't all be old school material though, I hear you. And is there anything more 2018 than a hugely popular manga series spawning a tie-in series? If there is, I haven't heard of it! Thankfully, we've got just the cat for that bucket of slop: Alex Hoffman, who is here to pass judgment on My Hero Academia: Vigilantes #1. Today's Comics Journal review, now:

The premise of the comic is that the world is super powered - over time, humans started developing "Quirks" that give them unique powers, and these "Quirks" have become more and more common. Due to the rise of superpowers, superpowered crime is a major concern, and so the government has created a “Hero Licensing System” that allows people with Quirks to register with the government and fight crime as a job.

If you’re not completely immersed in Japanese comics, you’re probably thinking “Quirks sound a lot like the mutants in X-Men,” and you'd be right. The My Hero Academia universe is deeply indebted to modern American superhero comics, and it is clear that the series’ creator Kohei Horikoshi holds American superhero comics in high regard. But those influences are a sort of subtext for the original comic; the structure of My Hero Academia is based around the traditional Japanese school year and other Japanese constructs that make the series unique and not just a New Mutants knockoff.

We've got an interview with editor Frederick Luis Aldama coming to these digital pages very soon, but if you're in the mood for pregaming, head over to Comicosity for their dive into Tales From La Vida: A Latinx Comics Anthology.

As a whole, Latinx are a mix of bloodlines, religions, foods and more. This, sometimes discordant, mixture becomes more evident as you “zoom in” oo the country, family and finally individual. It is the internal and external culmination of years of forced and chosen assimilation. As diverse as we are, though, many of our stories share common themes, emotions, and life events. This commonality of experiences and diversity of being is laid bare in the pages of Tales from La Vida: A Latinx Comics Anthology. This new anthology is a collection of 80 comic book shorts by Latinx creators that visually share defining moments in their lives as a Latinx.

Didn't make it to SPX? Nor did I, friend. But never fear, they've already started uploading videos, and the first one is a 50 minute panel with Rebecca Sugar. You can keep this page bookmarked (if you didn't already bookmark it back in 2011) to get all the latest updates.

How much should I pay for a cassette tape of New Order's Power, Corruption & Lies? I'm having a hell of a time deciding.

Nap Time

Today on the site, TCJ legend Joe McCulloch returns with an interview with one of the greatest living cartoonists, Jim Woodring. As usual with Woodring, things get into deep water pretty quickly.

Virtually every other thing I've done besides Frank has been consciously constructed, but with Frank, it was a matter of listening to this silent voice and writing down the scenarios it fed me. I mean, I know the Unifactor is a part of me, but it really seems to me to be a separate entity that provides concepts, characters and events which I write down as they come. The important ideas, the ones essential to the story, have a kind of charge to them-- I usually say they "fluoresce” as a simile, because they seem to me to be lit by an invisible source. I would compile these glowing ideas as they came and when that was done I had a bare-bones storyline that I just needed to flesh out and draw, the meaning of which was as mysterious to me as it was to anyone else. It was the easiest work I ever did.

After I had gotten a few pages into Poochytown, I had a really terrible idea which I mistook for a really great one, which is that Frank ought to have a life partner, a mate. The Poochytown story had come so easily that I was a little suspicious of it. It all just came in two or three sittings without any major structural editing required. I was looking at the prospect of drawing 100 pages of a comic which looked kind of weak and tedious to me, and I just persuaded myself that I should drop the original storyline and have Frank find true love.

And so I broke with precedent and started writing that story, and the Unifactor stopped cooperating with me. It took me almost a year to hammer out even a workable story, and I should have grabbed the old clue train and gone back to the original story; but I stubbornly forged ahead. When I had that finally worked out and was preparing to draw it, the Unifactor came back into my life and made some heavy modifications to the storyline, all of which I liked better than what I had come up with.

Shea Hennum is here, too, with a review of Flocks by L. Nichols.

A memoir, Flocks emphasizes Nichols’ relationships with various flocks—communities of people that share some moral scheme and attempt to impose it on even the most reluctant of members. These include the religious communities of his youth, the secular communities of his college years, and the queer communities that he moves in and out of throughout his life. Nichols is a trans man assigned female at birth—a fact that motivates a lot of the tension in his life. At first, he is confused about his sexuality, attracted, as he is, to both men and women. He isn’t sure what to make of these desires—where they come from or what to do about them. For a time, he believes himself to be a lesbian, which causes some internal friction when his desire and the moral beliefs he has been inculcated into are at odds. This friction is exacerbated by his fellow congregates’ stances on homosexuality, and ultimately his religious community ends up causing him a great deal of turmoil. This turmoil is quelled somewhat by the community he finds at M.I.T., but those communities come with baggage of their own, moral prescriptions of their own. Nichols seeks some resolution in these seemingly-open secular communities, but they cannot give him the answers he longs for. This results in an inward turn, a search for the problematic kernel within himself that he can excise and feel better. This takes the form of periods of deep depression, of self-medication and self-harm. By the book’s end, however, Nichols has come to understand himself better and his conclusion to this story gestures towards a happier, more fruitful future.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. This weekend's SPX brought with it the announcement of this year's Ignatz Award winners. Richie Pope, Eleanor Davis, and Sophia Foster-Dimino took three of the top prizes.

The first trial date for Pepe the Frog creator Matt Furie's lawsuit against Infowars and Free Speech Systems has been set for next July.

Furie sued [Alex] Jones’ two companies in March, alleging copyright infringement and seeking unspecified damages. He also seeks a permanent injunction barring unauthorized use of the image by assorted factions of the racist “alt-right.”

Furie has said he sued because he’s “dismayed by Pepe’s association with white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and the alt-right,” including unauthorized use of the image by President Donald Trump and his supporters, including Alex Jones.

—Interviews & Profiles. Over at Paste, Hillary Brown also talks to Woodring.

The Los Angeles of my youth was a confluence of post-war triumphalism, a tech boom, the ascendency of youth culture, television, transistor radios, beatniks, surfers, hotrodders, air travel in jets, MAD, Muhammad Ali, The Beatles, going to the moon, optimism and exuberance. Gas was cheap, like 17 cents a gallon; for a dollar you and your pals could hop into the old Dodge and drive to the beach, the mountains, the desert, Hollywood. So there was this tremendous atmosphere of freedom, and plenty, and the clear understanding that you were living in a golden age of music, humor and culture in general. I grew up seeing the world through that lens.

Of course it was also a horrible time in many ways. The Cold War paranoia thing was really awful…it bent me for life. I grew up in Burbank and Glendale. Both were lily-white at the time, especially Glendale, which at one point had a sundown law. If I saw a Black person on the streets of Glendale I knew they worked for someone there or were just passing through. Institutionalized racism was a relentless sour note that contaminated everything.

At Smash Pages, Alex Dueben talks to Carol Tyler.

The last section of the book, in red ink on notebook paper, is a reproduction of the booklet you made in 1965.

Exactly. I couldn’t just make a copy cause I had written back to back and the ink showed through from the front to the back, so I just wrote it over. It was great because I started thinking about the concert. I read it over and over I was playing all kinds of Beatles songs. I was a nutcase. I was in my 13-year-old mind, and I just banged that out. It was so much fun. [laughs]

You did those pages on notebook paper, but the rest of the book is on your dad’s old stationary.

From their old plumbing business. [laughs] My mom was not going to allow us to buy new stuff. Ever. We had to reuse and reuse.

Adrian Tomine drew the latest New Yorker cover, and talked briefly to Françoise Mouly about it.

Sometimes a cover image will just appear in my mind, fully formed. In other cases, I’ll have the vaguest semblance of an idea but no sense of how to turn it into a cover. Those movie-set trailers are a good example of this. I’d drawn them in my sketchbook a long time ago, and I knew they were an ubiquitous, specific part of New York life, but I didn't have a story beyond that. Then, a few years ago, I decided to try my hand at screenwriting, and in a particular moment of frustration and despair this image popped into my mind. The apron on the back of the chair was a spur-of-the-moment addition while I was sketching, and I think that was the last piece I was looking for.

The latest guest on the Comics Alternative podcast is Summer Pierre.

The Phase

Today at the Comics Journal, Alec Berry has everything you need to know about what went into the $20,000 fund created by SPX to assist the 11 comic book professionals named in the Cody Pickrodt defamation lawsuit we covered a few weeks ago.

On Monday, August 27 Warren Bernard, executive director of the Small Press Expo, emailed a receipt to 11 different inboxes. A retainer of $4,750 was paid to the New York law firm C.A. Goldberg, PLLC — the same firm that represented actress Paz de la Huerta in 2017 after she accused Harvey Weinstein of rape. He wanted the recipients to know. The responses arrived soon after. They conveyed relief and thanks. It had been understood this assistance was coming, yet it was a different thing when it actually arrived. The receipt meant the matter was no longer insurmountable.

The retainer was the first expense made from a $20,000 special fund created and administered by SPX with consultation from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. The aim of it is to help 11 members of the comic book community mount a legal reply to a $2.5 million defamation lawsuit filed in early August by small-press comics publisher Cody Pickrodt. In October 2017, he was accused of rape, sexual harassment, anti-Semitic remarks, and withholding royalty payments by cartoonists Whit Taylor, Laura Knetzger, Emma Louthan and Emi Gennis. Their stories were shared online via a Google Document, and the remaining defendants - cartoonists Ben Passmore, Hazel Newlevant, Tom Kaczynski, Jordan Shiveley, and Morgan Pielli; publisher Josh O’Neill; and comics critic Rob Clough - used social media to voice support for those coming forward and to denounce Pickrodt. Kaczynski’s business, Uncivilized Books, is also listed in Pickrodt’s complaint.

Following the announcement of the lawsuit, multiple parties linked to a partially truncated TCJ story from 2006 about the CBLDF's Executive Director, Charles Brownstein. We have republished the article in full, along with a new introduction by the author, Michael Dean.

Today's review is by Jason Michelitch. He's here to take a look at Perdy, the new graphic novel from Kickily and Image Comics.

Image now appears to be trying to make European comics art a more integral part of their publishing identity -- a recent promotional article on their website touts an Image-published "European Art Invasion," and while anyone not in Image's marketing department might crinkle their nose at the subtitle, "Channeling New Aesthetics Across the Atlantic," to say nothing of the article's clear implication that Image is on the cutting edge of integrating the legacy of Moebius et al. into the fabric of American comics, it's nevertheless a net positive for Image to be providing a new outlet for both original work and translations from abroad.

I Mean You

Today on the site, new co-editor of the print TCJ RJ Casey writes in to state his unhappiness with comiXology's plans to exhibit at this weekend's Small Press Expo.

At SPX, Amazon will be premiering a new comic in their line of comiXology Originals called Hit Reblog: Comics That Caught Fire. This comic, which looks slopped together specifically for this show, is purposefully showcasing Amazon’s new print-on-demand technology for the small-press crowd. A free poster and volume of the comic will be given to everyone attending and there is an exclusive signing just for exhibitors. This is an overt play to get you onboard and consider their POD tech for your future comics releases. Not happy with the downfall of our country’s entire retail sector, Amazon now wants in on that little zipper bag full of singles you keep under the table at conventions.

ComiXology Originals and Hit Reblog is doing what the tech industry almost always does — taking something that already exists and making it worse. What are they doing that is so innovative? Printing webcomics on glossy paper. Amazon wants to be your publisher, printer, distributor, and, most likely, editor. But consider the repercussions. The erasure of these services will decimate what little industry we even have. This is not to mention the hit on artistic freedom and intent. I’ve held a comiXology Originals comic in my hand and can assuredly attest that Amazon’s cookie-cutter mechanisms and printing knowhow cannot replicate the electricity of Lale Westvind, the human touch of Eleanor Davis, or the vulnerability of Xia Gordon. They won’t include things that make small press books unique, like the patch on the cover of Noel Freibert’s Spine, or the all-black-everything pages of Mirror Mirror II, or the amusing bells and whistles that adorn all Perfectly Acceptable Press publications.

Annie Mok is here, too, with a review of Jérôme Ruillier's The Strange.

Opening up The Strange, I wished there was more context given to the reader, but perhaps that is part of the point: you are thrust into a world that may be confusing and difficult to navigate, just as the protagonist is. Jérôme Ruillier draws the protagonist as a bulky dog with a vacant stare, maybe made that way from trauma, living in a a beautiful but oppressive world rendered in red and gray. The story begins with the dog speaking in first-person, explaining that he and his family have "decided to leave," without saying where they were leaving from. Ruillier juts you into the narrative sharply, with the dog, using money borrowed from friends and family, procuring papers from a "fixer."

The story then transitions to one of multiple perspectives: a crow watches him; a bus driver notices him and his coat, that "he wasn't from here." It is not made clear where "here" is, and the detail seems not too important. A "strange" becomes another name for an undocumented immigrant. The story seems to take place in Europe but of course it parallels the situation with ICE in the US right now. One protestor of the detention of a strange tells a cop, "Why do we have to break up the family?" Things turn more difficult for the unnamed "strange.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The Harvey Awards have announced some of this year's winners, including their Hall of Fame inductees.

—Interviews & Profiles. Gabrielle Bell gives some pretty great, no-bullshit answers here:

WSWD: Comics is an art form that can require many years’ worth of work to make something that can be consumed in 15 minutes. Do you ever find the trade-off of time invested against the limited return to be frustrating?

Bell: I think that’s a false equivalency. If a comic I write takes 15 minutes to read and it’s a story of some meaning, perhaps that many more people will read it. So each person who reads it expands its reach and its impact beyond that individual 15 minutes.

WSWD: So you take some pride or solace in being able to reach a larger audience with a short, clearly formed idea.

Bell: Well, I’m not in the business of trying to make pride or solace. I make comics. That’s my job, and it takes the time it takes.

Rob McMonigal talks to the great Carol Tyler.

When I was thirteen, the nuns said, any time you have anything of any value or importance, you should make a little booklet about it. So of course I made my Vatican 2 booklet, I made one of being in the 8th grade, and then of course I had tickets to see the Beatles so you bet I was going to make a booklet about that, which I did.

I went to the concert. I wrote down the song list. When I got home, I dutifully wrote down all the things I could remember, all the details. I kept thinking “I’m going to make this booklet, I have to remember as much as I can.”Details like what were vendors like, some of the people I saw—it was like doing the Con here. Something phenomenal. I went home and I made a nice construction paper cover for it and stapled it onto my nice booklet. And like a spaz, I put it in a plastic bag, and I kept it for years.

The BoJack Horseman-related Lisa Hanawalt publicity blitz continues with a short Molly Lambert profile for The New Yorker.

“BoJack Horseman” is the love foal of the writer and creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Hanawalt, whose comics provided the inspiration for BoJack’s look. Bob-Waksberg, who is thirty-four, is the self-described “son of two professional Jews.” He wears glasses and is balding, and has some beard stubble and a charming gap-toothed smile. His mother and grandmother, Ellen Bob and Shirley Bob, co-owned a Jewish book-and-gift store called Bob & Bob. Hanawalt has dirty blond hair and looks like John Singer Sargent’s “Madame X” in sportswear. She is an artist who started drawing comics at “the age of six or seven.” Their friendship took off in high school, in Palo Alto, when Bob-Waksberg cast Hanawalt in a play called “The Family Continues,” which Hanawalt describes as “a super-surreal play in which I had to pretend to give birth onstage and stuff.”

The most recent guest on Process Party is Kickliy.

—Misc. Tim Hensley writes about the French publication of Sir Alfred.

When I was 14, I took French as an elective in junior high school. My teacher was named Madame Field, unrelated to the plural mall cookie magnate. I vaguely remember conjugating three basic verbs and learning about Guy, pronounced the same as Indian clarified butter, who appeared in sample conversations always seeming to have plans to go skiing.

Dog Whistle

Today at TCJ, we've got a dive into John Martz latest book with Koyama Press: Evie and The Truth About Witches. Careful what you wish for, Evie.

Our review of the day comes to you from Aug Stone, who has returned from the latest Nobrow sated

This is the first book of Nobrow’s ‘Gamayun Tales’ by Alexander Utkin. Gamayun is a playful and elegant “magical human-faced bird from Slavic mythology”, her love of having an audience for these stories evident as she keeps popping in along the way, providing links as we travel from battlefield to forest to the Copper, Silver, and Golden Realms. But the titular “King Of Birds” is of course the eagle, who needs nursing back to health after the aforementioned great battle. Enter the merchant and his wife, the most European-looking of anything in this book. Perhaps it’s the presence of so much gold mixed with talking creatures that puts one in mind of lysergic scenes conjured by Carlos Castaneda. The avian royalty certainly bear some resemblance to Aztec art – and the female fowl share the fluidity of Hanco Kolk’s Single leading ladies – though this goes to show how these stories are connected deep within the world consciousness.

The latest installment in Comicosity's Cómix Latinx interview series is up, with Lion Forge's Desiree Rodriguez dropping in.

I can’t say there was a single point in time when I was like, “yes I’m going to make comics my career” because there wasn’t. It was a slow-going process, a lot of learning, a lot of work, and a bit of luck. Joe Illidge gave me my first job as his part-time assistant working at Lion Forge on the Catalyst Prime line. I was honestly shocked. I always tell people that when he called me I thought we were going to talk about Batman and instead he offered me a job! Now I’ve been at Lion Forge for two years, working full time, editing my own books, I’ve been blessed really.

In keeping with the editorial theme, Women Write About Comics profiled Ari Yarwood, the editor behind the Limerence Press imprint at Oni Books.

In terms of the sex education aspect of the imprint, Yarwood explains that she had to make a choice when she was younger as to whether or not she’d become an editor or a sex educator. Limerence is almost like the best of both worlds for her; however, she does her best to “defer to folks who have more lived experience, expertise, and time spent in sex education when dealing with nonfiction,” in addition to the research she puts in herself.

The Jason Lutes Berlin coverage expands, with this profile at Pop Matters serving as the latest installment

"I started this book in 1996 based on this desire to know about history but also understanding that these forces were still present -- all over the world, but in the States even at the time I knew there were several hundred white supremacist organizations around the country. Seeing day-to-day racism and things like that in North American culture was just part of the way I understood the world. So looking back at history and seeing these same forces at work, like xenophobia and scapegoating… Things are hard for some people so they want to blame somebody else. Instead of taking responsibility for themselves for their difficulties they want to point the finger at other people and feel more powerful and more control by subjecting others to whatever controls they can manage. I think there's this basic underlying human capacity for those things, which has always been with us."

Don't ask me how I feel about Cable. I've already written and rewritten six different obituaries, all of which are too sincere and personal to share with you animals. Look, I knew watching the wifi guy break the company's publishing arm wasn't going to be particularly fun, but still--I had no idea how annoying it was going to be. Fucking Cable, man? What a buncha jerks. I hate everything about this illustration.

Overbrimming

Another full day at TCJ. First, Austin English returns with another provocative installment of his regular column. This time, after first revisiting an old artistic dispute between André Breton and Leon Trotsky, he argues against the comics world's preference for clarity.

It's exhausting to assert that William Blake's Jerusalem is a brilliant comic, even though such a statement is necessary and true. 'Why is this work not in the comics canon!' is a battle that feels laborious to even consider, mainly because the merits of such a work are so strong and the world cartooning has created around itself is so foreign to Jerusalem’s properties. The gap between the two feels like a hopelessly tattered and beyond repair bridge. Why bother? Energy is, pragmatically, better spent elsewhere. Still, one wonders why we don't see more comics work in the tradition of Blake, and instead see quite a bit of cartooning that, more or less, resembles Ben Garrison:

Ben Garrison, 2018

It would be disingenuous to argue that outside approaches to traditional cartooning are discouraged in 2018. In fact, they are more welcome than at any other time in comics history, as artists of all disciplines and concerns make comics for engaged readerships of all kinds. But when I think of how comics asserts itself outside of the underground, Garrison is closer to the norm than may be comfortable to admit.

Scott Bateman, The Nib, Test Your Kavanaugh-ledge, The Nib, 2018

The Nib, The Believer, The New Yorker, and most mainstream publishers that work with comics, while often publishing beautiful and innovative work, do not deviate from the same rule that their spiritual arch-nemesis Garrison holds dear: clarity. Some artists make transcendent work for these publications, mastering and making wide leaps within the realm of clear communication, the brilliant work of Liana Finck serving as a noteworthy example. And Garrison himself, while espousing ideas that most readers of this site find counter to their core values, makes thrilling work, precisely because it elicits such strong rejection.

Sean Rogers has also returned to these digital pages, with a review of the long-awaited English translation of Jacques Tardi's I, René Tardi, Prisoner of War in Stalag IIB.

A difficult task: to tell a story in which there is no forward progress, no momentum, just drudgery and suffering. In a remote Nazi stalag with no hope of escape on the horizon, no possibility of rebellion, misery and ceaseless repetition are the only traits that distinguish each day. For Jacques Tardi, these are the qualities he must convey, to capture anything of his father’s internment during the Second World War: defeat, privation, punishing monotony. The artist’s byword, repeated again and again in his Comics Journal interview about his new book, and often in his father’s narration therein, is “bitterness.”

René Tardi had much to be bitter about, thanks to the nearly five years he spent in Stalag IIB, sixty miles south of the Baltic Sea, in what was then Pomerania, following his capture in the French defeat of 1940. “His youth had been confiscated,” writes his son in the foreword to the welcome new translation of 2012’s I, René Tardi, Prisoner of War in Stalag IIB, a “visual reconstruction” of his father’s military experience. (The second volume, 2014’s “My Return Home,” will appear in English early next year; Casterman lists a third volume in French this winter.) A professional soldier well before the war began, Rene endures the ignominy of a quick surrender in the early going of I, René Tardi, while the bulk of the book tolls out his years of bondage, hunger, and disgrace in the miserable German camp to which he is exiled.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Yesterday, it was announced that not only will Amazon affiliate comiXology be a sponsor of this weekend's Small Press Expo in Bethesda, it will also be both exhibiting and passing out free copies of one of its new line of print-on-demand comics.

ComiXology will sponsor both programming tracks and workshops at the upcoming event, which runs at the Marriott North Bethesda Hotel & Conference Center this Saturday and Sunday. Additionally, it will be giving away print editions of Hit Reblog and a limited edition poster for the book, with a signing for the book scheduled for Friday Sept. 14 at 7pm for SPX exhibitors, guests and volunteers. Megan Kearney, the book’s writer/artist attending the show and tabling all weekend.

It is difficult to understand how one of only two trillion-dollar companies in the world could possibly fit within any possible definition of "small press," but I suppose there's something wrong with me for caring... In any case, Eric Reynolds seems pretty prescient right now.

This year's Joe Shuster Award winners have been announced.

—Interviews & Profiles. GoComics talks to Olivia Jaimes about Nancy.

How do you feel about the media attention that the reboot of Nancy has generated?

Grateful and humbled, which is a boring answer but true. Mostly, I try to pretend it doesn't exist, or I risk becoming incredibly full of myself.

How about the reaction among Nancy fans? Have you had much interaction with them since April? Do you pay much attention to their comments (we love your Aug. 19 strip about the "exact right temperature to leave a nice comment")?

I get a very filtered version of the general sentiment from my friends, but otherwise try to avoid all comments and will tuck and roll out of the room the moment somebody starts to bring them up.

This doesn't mean I don't appreciate having fans (I DEFINITELY DO); it's just that, if I read too many nice things, I really will become way too pleased with myself and comics production will grind to a halt while I preen at myself in the mirror. Meanwhile, whenever I read a single unkind thing, I'm bitter about it for the next six weeks. So it's really more efficient for me to pretend only my editor and my parents are reading these, and then occasionally hear that "people liked the one yesterday" from my mom.

At The Cut, Heather Havrilesky profiles Lisa Hanawalt.

I met Hanawalt at ShadowMachine in Hollywood, a playful but posh animation studio featuring a giant cut-out of BoJack and a sound room that’s shaped like a big silver metal helmet. As amiable young creative types meandered through the halls, Hanawalt’s very nice assistant brought me an icy-cold grapefruit LaCroix; then I was led to Hanawalt’s office in the back, which she shares with her dog, Indiana Jones, a charming medium-sized brown mutt with very nice manners. “I think she’s just what dogs look like when they have sex indiscriminately for a lot of generations,” Hanawalt told me in what I would soon discover is her typical low-key funny way of dropping punch lines into everyday conversation. Anxious to find a little suffering in this sunny picture, I asked Hanawalt if it was hard to go from the independent work of creating illustrated freelance pieces for the Hairpin and Lucky Peach to working with the self-proclaimed busy and important human beings of Los Angeles.

For The New Yorker, Françoise Mouly talks briefly to Chris Ware about his latest New Yorker cover, and looks back at the previous covers in his first-day-of-school series.

Five years—only five years!—since I was helping my daughter into a bike seat to take her to second grade, and now I could barely kiss the top of her head, though she could now kiss my wife’s. It’s cliché and it’s sentimental but it’s true: parents, when your child asks, “Will you play with me?”—do. Because one day they really will stop asking, just like you did.

Entertainment Weekly spoke to Dave Gibbons.

Do you have any closing thoughts about Watchmen’s legacy and how it’s influenced comics for better or worse over the years?
[Laughs] It is amazing to me that after all this time there is still interest in it. Alan and I thought we’d have a mildly successful series that would have its end and go into the remainder bin and that would be the end of it. The fact it’s kept on for so long and hasn’t been out of print is amazing. If it worked to the detriment of comics at all, it might be the “grim and gritty” approach was taken by other people in the business to mean “ah this is how you must make comics.” So there was a decade of grim, gritty, and nihilistic comics, which wasn’t what we intended at all. In fact, if we’d done anything after Watchmen, we would have done something like Shazam, something with a lighter, more humorous fable feeling to it rather than something dark and grim. I do apologize to the comic-reading public for all that misery.

The Comics Alternative podcast interviews Keiler Roberts.

—Commentary. At JSTOR Daily, Matthew Wills writes about how Walt Kelly's Pogo was frequently censored.

Senator Joe McCarthy’s appearance in the strip in 1953, as a malicious wildcat named Simple J. Malarkey, was a particular “hot potato.” In October of 1954—just before the actual McCarthy would be censured by the Senate—Malarkey made another appearance. This time, the editor of the Providence Bulletin told Kelly that if Malarkey’s face appeared in the strip again, the paper would drop the strip.

Kelly finessed this by introducing a character from Providence, giving Malarkey the line “nobody from Providence should see me!” before he pulls an empty bait bag over his head. This had the double effect of getting rid of Malarkey’s face and making him look like a Klan member. “Now we find we are kidded” the Bulletin’s editor admitted, moving the strip to the op-ed page, where satire was evidently permitted.

Finally, the New York Review of Books has published an autobiographical essay by Tsuge Tadao.

My comics have been turned into a movie. It’s titled Vagabond Plain.

The script and the direction are both by veteran director Teruo Ishii. Officially, I am “author of the original story.” But to be honest, I feel a bit guilty about receiving that honor. Upon reading the script, my initial reactions were “?” and “ … ” and also some “!!” My crude and naked stories had been dolled up and transformed into something bold and wonderful.

The script was super fun. Director Ishii had laced together a number of my short and medium-length stories, then embellished them with his own wild-spirited sections, to spin a yarn that is truly bizarre. I hesitate to call myself the original author precisely because I am so impressed with Ishii’s additions. His parts are the overall narrative’s true jewels. Had the script followed my manga faithfully, the resulting movie would surely have been too bleak. It’s presumptuous of me to think this, but I wonder if Ishii consciously set out to combat the darkness of my work.

Praying for a Nightmare

Welcome to Monday at TCJ, where we're pleased to share the first installment of the Fiffe Files. Longtime internet denizens will remember previous installments of articles like these at The Beat, Factual Opinion, and Fiffe's own Patreon: Well, now they're here! This month is Michel's dive into Walt Simonson's Fantastic Four. Read it on the biggest screen possible.

That's not all! Today's review is David Small's new graphic novel, Home After Dark. Helen Chazan took on the 416-page opus and, the first line of his review is "One sequence in Home After Dark is truly compelling."

Only one? Yikes!

Over at Diversions of the Groovy Kind, they've thrown together one of those super-specific focused posts that always draw my attention: Behold, the opening page of every comic purchased by our author in August 1979.

TCJ Contributor Sarah Horrocks has a preview of her next comic up... at Bleeding Cool, I guess because British people work there and she's going to debut it at a UK comic show? 

Over at Broken Frontier, Robin Enrico takes a look at one of the many comics Noah Van Sciver is putting out this year: One Dirty Tree, his upcoming memoir from Uncivilized Books.

Cough Cough

Today on the site, Rob Clough reviews Taneka Stotts's Eisner-winning anthology Elements: Fire.

The anthology is successful on a number of levels, but its surface aesthetics are one of the most significant. In a book with 23 different stories and a wide variety of visual approaches, Stotts cleverly uses a single spot color (red, for fire, of course) in a book that's otherwise black and white. Sometimes red is used with overwhelming force in the course of a story and other times there are simply wisps and hints of the color. This smart editorial decision gives each story a common visual language, unlike anthologies where every single story look the same, both in terms of subject matter and technique. That was one of the biggest problems I had with the old Flight anthology series.

While some of the artists in the book work in animation, this anthology is also unlike Flight in that the focus is much more on the stories than the visuals. This is an anthology by cartoonists (some of whom happen to be animators), rather than an anthology by animators dabbling in cartooning. Elements: Fire has a nice rhythm thanks to its stories being around ten pages apiece, with some exceptions. Stotts follows some of the longer stories with two-pagers as a sort of aesthetic palate cleanser before transitioning back to longer stories. Stotts arranges the stories such that no two stories that looked alike follow each other. For example, Kou Chen's slowly-paced, naturalistic story about two tribes merging in fire to survive is followed by the cartoony, frenetic story from Maddi Gonzalez about a young witch. The former story is notable for its gray wash and subtle use of reds until the very end, while the latter is pretty much drowning in red thanks to its young firestarters.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The annual Comics Workbook Composition Competition winners have been announced.

—Brian Fies reviews a new book about Mort Walker. Jason Whiten, the author of said book, has posted several blog posts about Walker this week, including one about a 1964 comic book in which Beetle Bailey fights the Cold War in West Berlin.

—RIP Burt Reynolds.

Our Darling Koi

Today at The Comics Journal, we're pleased to break up the last few weeks of bad news with some good: after twenty years, Jason Lutes monumental Berlin project sees publication this week from Drawn & Quarterly. He spoke with Josh Kramer about what it was like to commit so hard to something, the man he became over the decades of work he put into it, how he grapples with cultural appropriation, and what he thinks about when he watches the news.

I had some highfalutin ideas about what I was going to get across, what I was going to "lay down." And I also wanted to explore as much of the kind of spectrum of human experience as possible using this medium. One of my goals was to see what I could do with comics. How do you convey emotion? How do you convey something like the sense of taste or smell? How do you tackle these sensory things? Every medium has its own challenges as far as those things go. And I was really curious about what I could do with comics. The conscious part was this weird combination of, "here are some big themes I want to address and here is the formal stuff I want to tackle with this medium."

And then I got, you know, 24 pages in and thankfully, once I was in that story and I had these characters and I was paying attention to them as characters, those bigger ideas just kinda dropped away. And I was just dealing with the people. So any time I wrote a scene I would just imagine being each of the characters in that scene and imagine how they would interact with one another. And then I would look after I drew, I would look at the actual, physical space they were in. Sometimes that would trigger the next part of the story. Even though I was drawing everything and thinking of everything myself, I wanted it to be a kind of lively and active environment where I could pay attention to anything I wanted to. And in the beginning of the book there's this scene with a police officer in a traffic tower.  The first traffic light in Europe. And that just came out of me actually drawing that. I drew that street scene and I drew that traffic tower and after I drew it I thought, "Well, who's in that?" So I had a little one-page digression where we go in there and pay attention to that guy and that couldn't have happened if I hadn't drawn the physical space and then considered my relationship to it or the relationship of the characters to it.

And we've also got a classy coincidence, if your definition of classy involves the artist Simon Bisley: two different reviewers, one book. It's TMNT Bodycount, newly re-released by IDW, and we've got the words from Matt Seneca AND J. Caleb Mozzocco. And yes: it's that J. Caleb Mozzocco, who is joining the squad in the most traditional of fashions--being inadvertently tacked into a stunt simply because he picked the one random old Simon Bisley comic to submit to us the same day that I asked Matt Seneca to write about because I thought it was high time Matt read a Turtle book. Welcome aboard, Caleb! And yes: next time we doubleteam, it'll be on a book that deserves the scrutiny. 

[Okay, i'm not going to keep that promise.]

Over at Dustin Harbin's place, he's posted yet another touching and succinct diary comic--this one is on his neighbor, Bea.

Structure

Today on the site, we are republishing another archival interview, this time Steve Ringgenberg's 1986 conversation with Marie Severin.

Thinking back on the EC period, who were the artists you liked best to color? I’m not asking you to name favorites, but who did you find the most interesting? And challenging?

Oh. The most challenging ones were Woody and Krigstein.

Why?

For two different reasons. With Krigstein you knew that there was a distinct design and plan in mind. And I didn’t color many of his. I think he colored his own. On some of it, like that one with the Nazi in the subway …

“Master Race.” I know on that story Krigstein chopped up the boards and spread out the word balloons so he could pace the storytelling according to his own instincts.

Yeah, right. I would only see the artwork at the tail end. I wasn’t involved in any of the black-and-white stuff at all. See, now some of the artwork is touched up in the ‘80s. We touched up art when I was on staff at Marvel. In those days, we had tremendous respect. And also we’d come in and that was it, unless there was something very, very wrong. You came in and that was it. Everybody was saying, “Oh, wonderful!” Woody was very satisfying, but you would sweat over his artwork.

Was he hard because of the delicacy of some of the figures?

Yes. I remember he did one on Tecumseh. And, Woody was very much like Kirby in that in one panel he would have three belts on a character and in the next panel he would have one belt on. Then it was across the other shoulder but you were looking at all this other glamorous stuff he was doing, so it didn’t bother you if the guy’s straps were all mixed up and he had a different gun. And of course, it wasn’t that important to Woody’s method of storytelling. But on somebody else’s method of storytelling, I’m more this way myself and so is John I believe. And I’ve never seen John mix anything up.

As far as his costuming details?

Yeah. I mean he’s so involved with that person, he’s that person, then he’s that dog, then he’s that archway; he never forgets what he’s doing. He’s building it.

Does John take a meticulous approach to what he’s doing?

I guess so.

I mean compared to other people.

Oh, gee, today? Look at guys like Bernie Wrightson. I was just looking at his Frankenstein book. I’ve got it. I’ve got to start throwing comic books out. And I’m saying “I can’t throw this away! Wonderful!” There’s so many today. ... A lot of them think they are. But, they’ll learn. Some guys start out picky. John started out picky. [Laughs.] He liked to have his weapons and all his boats and his tanks and everything just the way it was. He’s an illustrator.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. I don't think we've yet linked to ICv2's interview with Lion Forge CEO David Steward II.

What does Lion Forge look like in five years? What are your goals in terms of where you're headed?
From a direct market standpoint, we want to be either the third or fourth largest publisher in the next five years. I would like us, definitely, to be in the top five on the bookstore side of the market, as well. I'd like us to be a thought leader in terms of bringing new readers into the marketplace.

You know the numbers. Our general market growth, if you look at everything, is anemic right now, especially when you balance that against the popularity of the content itself and how it's been utilized by Hollywood and video games and everybody else.

Jezebel talks to Lisa Hanawalt.

Originally, Coyote was going to be a male character, and then you changed that. What made you decide to make the character female?

It’s weird, when I first started writing it, I was like, “he, he, he, Coyote Doggirl is a boy.” And then I started drawing it, and I don’t know when, but I thought, “Why am I defaulting to male? Is it because every Western I watch, except for maybe True Grit and that one with Sharon Stone, star men? And all the cartoons I grew up watching star male characters?” It’s weird how that becomes my default, even though I’m a woman, and you’d think I would be thinking about these things more all the time. So I threw a sports bra on top of her and made her a lady. But it’s weird that even I have to consciously think about decisions like that all the time.

Alex Dueben talks to comics scholar Bill Schelly about his memoir on fandom, Sense of Wonder.

I[Fandom's] very different. Nowadays, I don’t find fans – even my friends – interested in corresponding. In the old days, when long distance phone calls were prohibitively expensive, I corresponded with a number of fans, writing letters that were often two or three pages long. Today, even with email, peoples’ attention spans are shorter. And they want to talk on the phone, not write. Of course, blogs have replaced the old printed fanzines. That’s cool. And fans still get together at comicons. It’s still a place that’s accepting of all kinds of people, whether they be queer, or physically challenged, or what-have-you. The main thing, which I’m sure will never change, is its ongoing appreciation of comic art itself, whether in the form of modern graphic novels, or comics of the past in all the reprint editions. I don’t know how much interest still exists for the comics being turned out by Marvel and DC, but if it’s waned, there are plenty of other comics to read and enjoy.

The most recent guest on the RiYL podcast is Tony Millionaire.

—History. At the Daily Beast, Michael Tisserand writes about the relationship between heavyweight champion Jack Johnson and early cartoonist Tad Dorgan.

Their friendship began in 1901 and didn’t end until Dorgan died in 1929. Its greatest test came in 1910, when Johnson, then world heavyweight champion, was in a contest with a former champion to hold onto the crown. His opponent, Jim Jeffries, was white, and following Johnson’s victory, jubilant black fans would be attacked and even killed in cities across the country.

The victory in the boxing ring would also mark Johnson in the eyes of the law. Yet for Dorgan, watching from ringside as his smiling friend sent Jeffries into the ropes, it was a reminder of all the reasons why he admired this man, and why that morning he had delivered one of the most startling sports predictions ever offered in print:

“Jim Jeffries is through.”

—Commentary. The New York Review of Books excerpts Ryan Holmberg's afterword to Tadao Tsuge's Slum Wolf.

“World War II did not really end for the Japanese until 1952, and the years of war, defeat, and occupation left an indelible mark on those who lived through them,” writes the historian John Dower in Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II. This was certainly so for the manga artist Tadao Tsuge (born 1941), who made a gritty fantasy world out of post-surrender retrospection, filling his story-vignettes with landscapes and characters derived from the war’s ruins and the black markets and slums that flourished around them.

While Tadao’s work is a unique intervention into the literature of war memory, it also speaks to issues of class, geography, and the built environment. The artist’s apathy toward political organizing was overt. Nonetheless, his late Sixties and early Seventies comics were fairly close in spirit to the work of labor activists, anarchist writers, and photojournalists who were concerned about the neglected armies of men who manned the lower echelons of Japan’s booming construction, manufacturing, and energy industries, often via yakuza-mediated day-labor markets in big cities like Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka.

—RIP. Randy Weston.

Nation/Dalmatian

Today at TCJ, we're turning over the keys to Steve Ringgenberg and his obituary of Gary Friedrich, who passed away last week.

Our review of the day is Upgrade Soul, Ezra Claytan Daniels much anticipated graphic novel from Lion Forge. Leonard Pierce thinks the hype is real:

The Iowa native kicked off his career with the successful and unexpected series The Changers while living in Portland; he moved to Chicago following its success and has been a figure of great interest in the city’s arts community, focusing his attention from one medium to another – animation, music, film, music, and video, among others, always with intriguing results – before setting to work on Upgrade Soul, a project over a decade in the making that has finally made it into traditional graphic novel form after a long stretch as an immersive digital app. In some ways, the decision to release the book in a standard publishing format is a step back to more pedestrian means of production than we’re used to from Daniels, but the end result is a work of such profound impact and originality that it can’t be argued with.

Yesterday, we published a diamond from the archive: Ken Jones' 1987 interview with Russ Heath, at a time when Heath was preparing to leave the field of animation to return to comic books.

JONES: What made you decide to re-enter the comic book field?

HEATH: Number one, the money is a lot better than it used to be. That’s if the book sells well. Since I’ve been working almost exclusively in animation since 1978 a lot of new comic readers do not know my work. Going back to the ’70s, when I was doing war books, a lot of readers who read comics would not read them, the Vietnam conflict being so unpopular at the time. When the Shadow book comes out the readers who don’t know my work will say — “Who is this guy, Russ Heath?” And the ones who knew of my stuff will say, “My god, Russ Heath, is he still alive?” I hope working on a book this popular will lead to new recognition in a short time.

Steve Leiber shared an excellent anecdote about Heath alongside some very striking examples of Heath's incredible skill. I won't spoil it.

The past months have hit multiple comics professionals hard, as anyone with access to social media is well aware. But this extended reminiscence from Roy Thomas on his friendship with Gary Friedrich is in a class all its own. Bleeding Cool has the scoop.

In late 1965, ensconced at Marvel, I convinced Gary to come to New York to join me, partly to get him away from his drinking buddies in Missouri. It didn’t work, of course. Gary continued drinking more than was good for him for some years, but he was never a sullen or nasty drunk… it just wouldn’t do him any good, that’s all. I told him that we could work together on some comics, and convinced Dick Giordano at Charlton to give him a shot… but Gary took to comics writing like Donald Duck to water, and I never had to help him in that department. Matter of fact, when he went on his (2nd) honeymoon for a week and I tried writing a Charlton romance story to help him out, I froze up and couldn’t finish it. Gary had to complete it when he came back. Soon, though, when there was a vacancy at Marvel (probably after the very brief employment of a young playwright named Ron Whyte who thought a lot more of himself than I ever thought of him–or him of me), I had Gary take a Marvel writing test and he was soon employed on staff as well as doing freelance writing.

Anytime you can link to a nice meaty chunk of an obsessively organized dive, you link to that shit immediately: here's Claire Napier making the case that you should read the Valiant Comics. (All of the Valiant Comics, in fact).

Then, in 1997, came the real term two: the real Valiant at Acclaim Comics. Fabian Nicieza, coming off a brief stint at DC and some long years at Marvel, joined Valiant at Acclaim in 1996 as Editor in Chief and Senior Vice-President, and from 1997 oversaw absolute reboots of all remaining Valiant titles. Premises changed, and characters and character designs changed. They called it “VH2,” which retroactively termed the Shooter-defined Valiant history “VH1,” which is a stupid thing to do as that’s already a whole other thing. They did it anyway, which was “very Acclaim,” honestly.

Fire for Effect

Today's main feature is Michael Dean's extensive obituary on Marie Severin, who passed away this week.

Severin’s 1967 run on Doctor Strange continued until Strange Tales #160. She drew Incredible Hulk in Tales to Astonish from issue #92 to #101, including the crossover issue with the Submariner series, and went on to draw the Hulk in his own 1968 solo title, issues #102-105, as well as the 1968 Incredible Hulk annual #1. She was a mainstay artist for the entire 13-issue run of Not Brand Echh.

But these runs were exceptions. Severin was given no signature series and had no opportunity to create a series from scratch. Instead, throughout her career at Marvel and elsewhere, her talent, speed and energy were used to save her employers’ bacon. She was a go-to emergency responder whenever a regular artist unexpectedly left a job or missed a deadline. Whenever spot illustrations were needed for letters pages, fan-club materials or ads, Severin was brought in to do the job in a manner that was both quick and faithful to the house style established by Marvel’s more celebrated artists. She was a frequent inker and was Marvel’s head colorist until 1972, but most of her work was uncredited: roughing covers, fixing faces, redrawing panels, adding bridging sequences and making corrections to the art of the credited artists. She eventually came to fill John Romita’s role as cover designer, but was never offered Romita’s art-director title — a classic case of a female “hidden figure” whose contributions remained in the shadow of her male colleagues.

Along with Severin (and Russ Heath earlier), the longtime Marvel Comics writer Gary Friedrich passed away this week. We will publish an obituary on him in the coming days.

What a week! Our pal Karl Stevens closes it out with a reminder of the world's natural beauty, and how sometimes, you need some of that nature to fuck off so you can enjoy the beauty.

Meanwhile, we've got a review for you: Brenna Thummler's Sheets, from Lion Forge. The review is by longtime contributor Noah Berlatsky. His feelings on the book are mixed.

That self-reflexive shallowness is indicative of Thummler's graphic novel as a whole, for better and worse. Thummler is a young creator, but she's already gotten a number of high profile gigs, including drawings for the New York Times and Washington Post. Her skill, when utilized as here in the interest of an unambitious narrative, can come off as glib. But Thummler's also attuned to the limitations of the comics form in a way that adds resonance to a story about grief and loss. Sheets is a comic that doesn't quite connect, while also using comics as a metaphor for the things you wish you could touch, but can't.

In other news, the CBLDF and the SPX Festival has established a legal aid fund of $20,000 to assist the 11 individuals involved in the Cody Pickrodt defamation lawsuit previously covered by Alec Berry last week.

Wendy Pini is no stranger to a good interview, and this one with Women Write About Comics, conducted during the most recent San Diego Comic Con, is no exception.

Wendy: Well explain what you mean, politically incorrect. You mean because I told women to stand up for themselves? I’m not backing off of that position.

I was wondering if you had anymore thoughts now that the #MeToo movement is really taking off, and—

Wendy: The #MeToo movement is no joke; it’s absolutely real. I still I entirely advocate that women help each other in learning how to stand up to harassment and bullying. I still find that some women, for reasons I can’t figure out, if they are harassed by a guy or guys, they will just back up and get upset about it. Rather than… there’s nothing that turns a guy off more than a direct stare, and there are girls who haven’t learned the direct stare yet, and I advocate that they do.

Another rock solid interview subject? Lisa Hanawalt. She's over at Jezebel, talking all things Coyote Doggirl. And also this:

I am wondering, though, what you think of the bizarre fascination with all these young women who become obsessed with horses. I don’t know if you consciously thought of past representations of women and horses in media when you were writing this, but how did you incorporate that into the story?

I didn’t think about it too much, because I was just trying to think from my own perspective: what I think about when I’m riding a horse. But I feel like people who aren’t into horses have a tendency to sexualize that relationship because they don’t understand it, and they’re like, “Oh it’s definitely a sex thing, ‘cause women and horses.” But it’s way more complicated than that. Obviously, I don’t like horses because I want to fuck one; that’s just stupid. But I don’t know, there is something to little girls controlling this big, powerful beast that is so intuitive that it listens to them. You can sort of tell a horse all your secrets. And in some ways, I think it is a surrogate for a relationship. But it’s emotional; it’s not sexual.

I've never seen any of Sequart's documentaries, but they recently uploaded two of them to Youtube. Of the two, the Grant Morrison one is the more frequently talked about. 

Where I’ve Failed You

Today on the site, Frank M. Young is here with an article on Roy Crane's Buz Sawyer, and what he considers its surprisingly mature take on marriage.

Buz Sawyer offered Crane a new beginning and a grueling workload. In later years, Crane groused in later years about having to do a comic strip without assistance. His righthand man on Tubbs, Leslie Turner, stayed with the strip, which he continued through the end of the 1960s. Sawyer’s first full year is more of the same—brutal war narratives occasionally leavened with slapstick humor.

Its main character was no rootless soldier of fortune. John S. Sawyer had a small-town family background in Texas, and was a seemingly well-balanced, ideal red-blooded American boy. A college football hero, he had a wealthy girlfriend back home, Tot Winters, whom he seemed destined to marry. During a home visit in late 1944, Winters’ father takes Sawyer aside and intimates that he’ll have a cushy postwar job in the Winters underwear company.

Tot is arrogant and petulant. Her encounters with Buz never feel warm or welcoming. Buz feels obliged to marry Tot but has obvious misgivings about his future. On December 29, 1944, Christy Jameson literally rides into his life—on horseback—and begins one of comics’ few mature, reasonably realistic domestic relationships.

And Karl Stevens is here with Day Four of his Cartoonist's Diary. Today it's off to the beach.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. At Please Kill Me, Alan Bisbort interviews Bill Griffith.

My character Zippy was, in name and personality, a byproduct of photographs I saw from the old Barnum and Bailey Circus sideshow of a character they called “Zip the What Is It?” and sometimes Zip the Pinhead. Zip’s real name was William Henry Jackson or William Henry Johnson [1857-1926], depending on what source you cite. I prefer Jackson because that’s my name William Henry Jackson Griffith. I was named after my grandfather William Henry Jackson, who was a renowned photographer of Western landscapes. He was one of the top sideshow performers in the country. I found that out about Zip years later, looking through some books at [cartoonist] Kim Deitch’s house. Zip was a pretend pinhead. He was not a real pinhead. Back then being a “pinhead” was an expression meaning someone with nothing upstairs.

At HiLobrow, Adam McGovern talks to Eternity Girl writer Magdalene Visaggio.

HILOBROW: Eternity Girl is like reading a mandala. How did you harmonize the simultaneous actions, the grand patterns and granular details in these radial or dispersed compositions?

VISAGGIO: Anything about the visual composition of the page was largely Sonny [Liew]. Sonny was kind of notorious for ignoring stage directions and doing his own thing, and he was very much correct to do so; I was always real eager to see what he would do. The cover that he did for the second issue was sort of the introduction of that. I started writing things saying, “if you want to do something here like that, I think that would work.” But mostly he just did whatever he thought would elevate what was happening in the moment. Sonny is really an extraordinary artist, and he always found a way to make the page do more work than I was asking him to.

I previously missed this recent Breakdown Press interview with Jon Chandler.

Describe yourself with one word or short phrase
The UK’s most isolated cartoonist, so they say.
Is there a personally relevant quote or statement that you find agreeable?
“Waking, a half mat. Sleeping, one mat. Rule the nation, a fistful of rice”
“When we die, a fistful of ash… That’s all we are.”
Headless Sakon from Lone Wolf & Cub by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima.

—Misc. The mystery fiction site CrimeReads has an excerpt from Tadao Tsuge's Slum Wolf.

A Girdle with a Pouch

Today at TCJ, we've got Day Three of the Karl Stevens Cartoonist's Diary. In today's installment, Karl goes to a baseball game.

Elsewhere, the developments in the ongoing social media annoyance/terrorism campaign grouped under the term #comicsgate continues to showcase more of what seems like a near infinite supply of the same brand of knuckle-dragging stupidity that goes along with any campaign whose only real message is one of whining complaint. Be it a harassment campaign circling around Darwyn Cooke's widow, multiple con-artist-led crowdfunding campaigns for comics no one will ever enjoy, an endless cycle of arguments that demand one immerse themselves in never-ending strings of social media updates, unreadable blog posts & supremely boring youtube videos involving people who are indistinguishable from an eye-rolling 9-year-old simply so you can understand what in the fuck they're all talking about and, most recently, a guy sending a picture of his asshole to another guy he dislikes online. 

I agree with Tom on this one--there isn't much to say about the people involved in this particular subset of "the culture". Like the gamergaters that seem to have served as their inspiration, comicsgate is the last cry of a dying breed. They've already been replaced by the millions--not hundreds of thousands, millions--of children who have been reared on Raina, Yang & Kibuishi, by the tweens and teens who bleed Viz. They're going to be offensive, hateful, and annoying while they sink, but even the most lazy of searches of their hashtags sees each of their attempts at insurrection drowned out by a chorus of people who, while they occasionally seem to only marginally care about comics and art, at least recognize that racism and homophobia behaviors to be shamed. This has been coming for a while, this reckoning--and it will probably be a little bit louder, and a lot bit stupider, while people like Ethan Van Sciver and Richard Meyer bleed it for whatever money it has left.

For what it's worth? More power to them. The sooner those guys burn out the financial core of this dipshit movement, the better. None of this has resulted in better comics, better writing about comics, or any good jokes. It's just eaten up lives, time and talent that could've been spent doing absolutely anything else, while ensuring that a large portion of interesting people spent way too much time online being batted around by a firehose of annoyance. And no, just to be clear, I don't mean the recent string of second-tier superhero freelancers, end-of-career bloggers and Image pitchmen who have made copy and pasting empty platitudes their latest attempt to brand themselves in a more appealing fashion so they won't be swept out of the door with the creeps when all those aforementioned millions who are growing up on comics, manga & middle-grade fiction that actually treats them like human beings with lives of value start deciding what the next wave of art is supposed to look like. The interesting people are the critics who didn't try, the artists who walked away, and the collaborations between groups that couldn't happen because of the constant poisoning of the well that comes from being a part of an industry that waits until the last minute, every fucking time, to get off its ass and make a moral choice to tell these losers to go a long time ago. 

Dimensions of Time

Another big day on TCJ. First up, Cynthia Rose returns with an excellent and thorough look at the life and career of Peyo, best known as the creator of the Smurfs.

The Smurfs are global stars as big as Tintin. Like him, too, they're a merchandising miracle. Yet even Hergé told their author he should forget about doing comics. So how did a dreamer with no obvious talents end up fathering world-famous icons? That's the secret revealed in Peyo, currently on show in Paris.

The Smurfs were invented by Pierre "Peyo" Culliford (1928-1992). Though he was born outside Brussels, both his father and his grandfather were English. Their family tree had one exotic sprig – an 18th-century pirate by the name of Robert Culliford. But Pierre's own father, naturalized a Belgian, was thoroughly bourgeois. He installed his wife and three children in a spacious home, shared with not one but both sets of grandparents.

Pierre was the family's youngest son, initially known as "Pierrot." But an English cousin mispronounced this nickname into "Peyo." Peyo was a sociable child who loved sports and storytelling. Every Sunday, after lunch, he would stage a play for his family. These productions always had historic themes, inspired by Hergé's Tintin or the U.S. comics in Mickey and Robinson.

Yet there was something sinister in the Culliford home. Peyo's father was suffering from a mystery illness which, over several years, slowly paralysed him. One night when he was seven, Peyo was called to tell him goodbye. As the boy kissed his father's face, he realized it was cold.

He looked for solace in music, drawing, and the Boy Scouts. But while the Scout choir was happy to make him a soloist, Peyo's art teacher told him he had "no talent at all."

We also have the second day of Karl Stevens's tenure creating our Cartoonist's Diary. This installment features a terrible joke.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. This year's nominees for the Ignatz Award have been announced.

—Interviews & Profiles. For Smash Pages, Alex Dueben talks to Geof Darrow.

It’s nice to have an open horizon. I can do anything. Once I’ve committed myself, that fantasy goes away. I’m so easily distracted. I’d never seen Game of Thrones, but when my daughter was home from school this summer we started watching. I wanted to draw Game of Thrones. Then I saw John Wick and was like, I want to draw John Wick. Mad Max will be on and I want to draw Mad Max. That’s why I stay away from the Marvel movies. I’m afraid if I watch them I’ll want to draw Thor. If they’d let me. Once I start a comic I go, I wish I’d decided to do that John Wick idea instead. [laughs]

The most recent guest on the RiYL podcast is Ivan Brunetti.

—Reviews & Commentary. Over at Print, Michael Dooley writes about Hillary Chute's Why Comics? and reprints several passages from it.

“Comics shape time by arranging it in space on the page in panels, which are, essentially, boxes of time. … Panels are how the cartoonist gets to experiment with presenting time, with duration and motion. … McGuire multiplies and layers panels, each of which represents a different time frame, within the same space on every page, opening up dimensions of time. One page depicting 1949, which is about breaking as a general matter, features a spatialized smattering of verbal insults from the 1940s to the 1980s and also, terrifyingly, water pouring into the room’s window, suggesting a totally destructive natural disaster in the year 2111.”

Behind the Sly

Over the weekend, we published our obituary of Russ Heath, who passed away last week. It's an extensive, insightful piece on the artist, his career, and the choices that he made by Michael Dean.

If, for much of his career, Heath found himself recreating the Second World War over and over, it wasn’t so much because military conflict was his cup of tea, but because his style grew more out of the tradition of illustrating than that of cartooning. The war-comics genre was rooted in realistic details that were unnecessary in the world of Superman. Heath was able to capture those details so well that his comics actually undermined the glamour of war. In an essay written for the 1973 New York Comic Art Convention booklet, editor-writer Archie Goodwin wrote, “You believe Rock and Easy Company’s nightmare moments of battle. And believing those, you also believe the quiet and reflective ones when the madness of war is questioned or commented on. Russ Heath’s artwork has made it too damn real not to.”

That isn't all. Today, we'll share with you more on Heath, via an interview between him and Gary Groth that has never seen publication. Stemming from a conversation in 2008, the two get into Heath's work for Playboy, Warren, Blazing Combat and more, as well as a laundry list of artists that, along with Russ, shaped the American identity of comics. That's great and all, but I, like you, just want to know if Gary is going to follow up on the story told below about Al Jaffee.

What was your relationship with Al Jaffee?

I never met Jaffee up until that time, I don’t believe. And we became good friends, joking around, living in the same room in that apartment, or close to it. And I remember going out to his house one time on a weekend for a barbecue in the neighborhood and met all his neighbors. They all used to just wander around — one of them’s got ice cubes, one of them’s got meat, and they have a barbecue. And he took us out on his little motorboat.

I guess that marriage broke apart. He was hysterical. His lawn was about four or five inches long and his wife had been after him, so he goes down in the basement, disappears for a couple hours. Suddenly we hear this engine start up and the doors prop open to the basement, outdoor doors. And he comes out of there with the thing going full blast. He had taken a washing-machine motor out of his wife’s washing machine and grafted it into the thing and that’s how it was running.

Grafted it into a lawnmower?

Yeah. Took his regular lawnmower and made a power mower out of it. [Laughter.] I don’t know what the hell she did her wash with after that …

So it wasn’t a power mower to begin with?

No. Anyway, he was complaining that the mower didn’t work and so he went down and took the motor out of his wife’s washing machine, grafted the thing in there and came up with a thing running like crazy.

And created a power mower. I didn’t know he was that handy.

Well, ask him about it.

And the day isn't done there. Today begins a new five day stint of Cartoonist's Diary, this time with Karl Stevens. (We previously reviewed Karl's book The Winner back in May.) Today, he's dealing with his feelings about aging, by displacing them onto observations about a longtime friend. Relatable!

Finally, I'm no connoisseur of WTF moments in superhero comics, but I still feel disappointed in myself for not being aware of this particular moment in Green Lantern comics, because it sure would've been a fun one to have brought up way more often than necessary.

Not Too Much

Today on the site, Tegan O'Neil reviews Paige Braddock's Love Letters to Jane's World.

Suffice to say, Jane’s World was a bit of a trailblazer. When United Media picked up the strip in 2001 it was hailed as the first gay-themed work to receive distribution by a national media syndicate. The strip is far more humble in focus, if not execution, than such a consequential bit of trivia might have you believe. Jane’s World focuses on the love lives of its main cast with the same bald matter-of-factness that the residents of Apartment 3-G gather to discuss their fresh kills. That accounts for much of the charm. Braddock’s queer characters inhabit a world where their desires and needs are considered just as significant and just as worthy of fulfillment as anyone else’s. The unspoken premise remains that the strip and Braddock don’t and shouldn’t need to explain to their non-gay readers why or how they should care about gay people.

>If that seems obvious, imagine for a minute being gay and having literally every piece of mainstream media representation be ham-fisted tragedy porn written by people whose good intentions often mask the fact that they regard queer folk as exotic animals to be petted, pitied, and packed away to limbo once their Very Special Story Of Intolerance has been told. The joy at the heart of Jane’s World is the idea that there are actually places where gay people can just be themselves without having to justify their own existence to one another. That goes not just for the community inside the strip but the community of real-world readers who embraced the strip on account of seeing themselves reflected in its panels.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The Guardian profiles Lisa Hanawalt.

She describes Coyote Doggirl as a “revenge fantasy”: the story sees Coyote being pursued because she maims a man while he assaults her. “The scene where she’s getting assaulted – or nearly assaulted – is not that sexy. And I think sometimes when we see these things in movies, they’re very sexualised and the female body is shown as this treasure that’s being pillaged,” she says. “And it’s kind of gross.”

Despite Hanawalt’s interest in women having control over their own narratives, she never wants her work to be didactic. “I never set out to make overtly political work where the moral is very clear. I think it should always be a little muddled. Even in this book, [Coyote] gets revenge on the bad guys. It is very violent, when she lashes back at her attacker. But I don’t think violence is the right answer. I think it complicates things for her.” The book’s original ending was going to be a bloodbath, but she toned it down. “That kind of represents who I am, and what I believe about the world, a little better,” she says. “So I changed it.”

—Over at Smash Pages, Alex Dueben talks to Ariel Bordeaux about the comics she's posting on Facebook.

My friend and mentee Anna Sellheim, who I got to know when she chose me as her advisor at the Center for Cartoon Studies, was doing Hourly Comics Day. In one of her strips she mentioned me and wished that I would do more comics and texted it to me. I happened to be home with my son who was sick and I felt weirdly motivated by that. Okay, I’ll accept the challenge. [laughs] It was already noon by the time I got the text and she said, just write down a bunch of notes and draw the comics later, so I did them all later that night and the next day.

—And the Washington Post covers Art Spiegelman's MacDowell Medal win.

“The increased cultural prominence of comic art and its once-wayward practitioners can largely be laid at the feet of a single artist: Art Spiegelman,” Pulitzer-winning author and MacDowell Colony chair Michael Chabon (“The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”) said in a statement. Chabon and MacDowell Colony executives will present the medal.