A Few Simple Tips

Another big day on TCJ. First, Paul Tumey writes a tribute and remembrance for Mark Campos, the Seattle minicomics artist. He also includes memories of Campos written by many of his friends in and around the comics world, including Roberta Gregory, Kelly Froh, David Lasky, Tom Hart, and many others. Whether or not you know Mark Campos's name or work, I highly recommend reading this and learning why he mattered to so many people.

Although he remained on the fringes of comics publishing, appearing almost exclusively in the small press, Mark Campos was a crucial figure in the Seattle comics scene. From the mid-1980s, he participated in various groups which included many notable comics creators, including Jim Woodring, Lynda Barry, Peter Bagge, Jason Lutes, Tom Hart, Ellen Forney, David Lasky, and Megan Kelso. As Campos himself once put it, he was a part of “the Seattle wing of the alternative comix movement.” Many Seattle creators (myself included) received warm welcomes and gentle ushering into the Seattle comics scene from the soft-voiced, kind-hearted cartoonist. Campos even worked at print shops, where he helped midwife many a comic book by others into publication.

Mark Campos possessed the talent to gain success with a much broader audience. Cartoonist Steve Willis has written, “In all my years of meeting comix artists there are two people who I consider to be master writers in the medium: Matt Groening and Mark Campos.” In his remembrance below, Willis observes that Campos was ahead of his time, a more artful creator in the Newwave Comix movement and Seattle comics scene of the 1980s and 1990s, likening Campos to “a Shakespearian actor in a Wild West boomtown.” In his chronicle of the first decades of the small press comix movement, The Minicomix Revolution 1969-1989, Bruce Chrislip wrote: “Mark Campos is among the greatest writers in comix.” David Lasky has called Campos’ comics “the hidden gems of comicdom.”

We also present the final day of this week's excellent Cartoonist's Diary by Tom McHenry.

And then Tegan O'Neil is here with a review of Rich Tommaso's Spy Seal: The Corten-Steel Phoenix.

I will be completely honest, I did not intend to like Spy Seal: The Corten-Steel Phoenix! That the book won me over is a testament to the skill of its creator.

Why didn’t I think I was going to like the book? Well, here’s where I make my own shameful confession that I’m sure will see me permanently blackballed from the Journal: I’m just not that big into Hergé. So when I saw the cover to Spy Seal I groaned, and although I’m not completely certain I think it was even an audible and not an internal groan. A Tintin pastiche? There are few things within the realm of comic books that hold less inherent interest for me.

Now, as the critic in this instance I think it’s only right and proper for me to frontload my prejudices. That’s part of the story, after all: right off the bat the book starts off with a demerit for me because I never read Tintin as a kid. And the problem with that is actually fairly common in comics: let’s call it the problem of secondhand nostalgia.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—RIP Mark E. Smith

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzJgUa-f424

How We Must Raze This Son

Today at the Comics Journal, we've got a collection of doozies for ya. First up, you'll find Day Four of Tom McHenry's Cartoonist Diary. While it's Day Four for Tom, he's only up to Part Two of Carlos. Will he manage to complete the entire miniseries before we run out of Diary entries? You'll have to come back on Friday to find out!

Bling blong! Time to move on to the next thing to link to. What's that, you say? Why, it's an excerpt from Matthew Pettit's upcoming comic ParadiseCheck it out! Got it in your system? Great! Then move on and read this interview with Matthew. All in one place! Pretty convenient, if you ask me.

Meanwhile, you can find plenty of original reporting on the big announcement of the week: Richard Corben is the fifth American to win the Grand Prix at Angoulême. I'll just have to content myself by posting some of my favorite images. Here goes!


Low-Life

The site is jam-packed today. First, an interview with the magazine editor and former Prince Valiant writer Cullen Murphy, who recently wrote a memoir of growing up in Connecticut, surrounded by prominent cartoonists (including his father).

You took over writing the strip when [Hal] Foster retired and you have this great account about sending him a story idea and how he tore it apart and explained how comics work and how the strip worked. I was reminded of that famous story of Stephen Sondheim sending Oscar Hammerstein a musical he wrote as an adolescent and how Hammerstein tore it apart and gave him a master class in how a musical worked. Foster seems to have given you a similar master class.

It was. It was on the porch of the Homestead Inn, in Greenwich. There are some things you don’t forget. The conversation could easily have stopped with the words “no good.” In Sondheim’s case, as you know, he went on to become a very close friend of Oscar Hammerstein’s and he took the lesson seriously. I did too. That conversation was such an eye opener because it stripped away the superficialities of the work and went down right into the engine. You need to see how this works. You can put the body on later, you can paint it whatever color you want, but you have to know how the engine of the thing works. I took his advice very seriously. It was so clarifying to have him explain it. The minute it was explained, then of course you think, Oh right, why didn’t I see that? Most people just don’t see these things because they’re not doing it and it doesn’t occur to them to look at the innards in the way in which a practitioner sees them. What strikes me now in retrospect is that Hal was able to explain things so clearly. By that point he’d doing comic strips for fifty years. Some things that are second nature to you are in fact hard to explain, but he was able to explain it.

How did it work when he retired and you took over writing the strip?

I had started sending story ideas to Hal that were just narrative story ideas—written out as if they were extended plot summaries. That was in the early '70s, probably 1972. I was still in college. And Hal began to use them as the basis for continuities in the strip. Then there came a moment when I decided to try my hand at doing them the way he did them, breaking things down into descriptions and text. That was when we had that meeting at the Homestead and he told me that I had not mastered the trick. That would have been in ‘74-75. I kept doing it and got better at it and he began using them in Prince Valiant. I think it was ‘79 when he gave up the writing of the strip altogether and I took over as the writer. As to what happened in the background, I really don’t know. There came a point where Hal sold the strip to King Features, and so King Features would have had a hand in it. By that time I’d been working with Hal sufficiently that I was a pretty good candidate to take it over. Especially because I could work easily with my dad.

Also, Leonard Pierce reviews the latest Larry Gonick book, a collaboration with Tim Kasser called Hypercapitalism.

The degree to which you are already aware of the failures of capitalism is likely to the degree to which you are already one of its beneficiaries. So you may not need to be told that you’re fucked, but maybe it can’t hurt to find out exactly how fucked you are, and why; if that’s the case, you might find yourself reading Hypercapitalism: The Modern Economy, Its Values, and How to Change Them, the latest effort by edu-cartoonist Larry Gonick (best known for his Cartoon History of the Universe), this time in collaboration with fellow academic Tim Kasser. The book is divided into two sections—the first identifying the history, theory, and effects of capitalism on our stricken age, and the second a series of suggestions about what we might do about it.

The first part is better than the second, albeit more depressing. The nature of capitalism is a pretty ugly one, after all, and provides no lack of material for even the most casual historian. Unfortunately, ‘casual historian’ is exactly what Kasser is, and it shows in a number of ways; important developments are glossed over, sins of omission abound, and what is explicit is implicit while what should be text is subtext. Put simply, Kasser and Gonick have approached the problem of runaway capitalism from a reformist’s perspective, and the result is an often toothless and ineffectual attack on what is literally a life-or-death problem. There is little here that questions the idea that our current system is anything but rational and inevitable; it gives only the slightest analysis of issues like incorporation and imperialism, despite their centrality to the issue; and the labor theory of value—inescapably important to any understanding of the nature of capitalism—is referenced with a hand-wave in a single panel.

Finally, we have Day Three of Tom McHenry's Cartoonist's Diary.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. For Vulture, Abraham Riesman profiles Christopher Priest.

Priest is nothing if not candid about his own career and the industry as a whole. In interviews and copious self-published essays, he speaks fiercely about injustices in comics, naming names and pointing fingers at people responsible for failures he thinks have been undeservedly ascribed to him. You might say that’s just a case of his being, to use his words, an asshole, but he’s frank about his own shortcomings and poor decisions. Still, he sees his predicament as part of a larger pattern. “When I read these self-congratulatory histories of Marvel and DC, they completely omit not just me but other persons of color or firsts,” he tells me. “Who was the first woman editor? Who was the first woman penciler? And I think part of it is that the people who were assembling these histories of it just didn’t think it was important. But these things do count, and they really do matter.”

The latest guest on Process Party is Jason T. Miles.

—Reviews & Commentary. Aaron Peck writes about the comics-adjacent artist Gus Bofa.

Bofa himself has become as obscure as the shadowy figures that populate his drawings. Some of that can be attributed to the fact that toward the end of his life, when he could have consolidated his reputation, he withdrew from public life and became a virtual recluse. Another is the marginal place that a book illustrator receives in literary history. He has enjoyed a minor revival in France, where his books are now collectors’ items, particularly because of his influence on bande dessiné. In 2000, thirty-two years after his death, an exhibition about his collaborations with Mac Orlan was mounted at Musée de l’Abbaye de Sainte Croix at Les Sables d’Olonne, in western France. Throughout the last decade, Éditions Cornélius has reprinted a number of his books and published a biography of him by Emmanuel Pollaud-Dulian in 2013. Although, at first glance, Bofa’s work exists in the tidal zone between the French political cartoons of the nineteenth century and the bande dessiné of the twentieth, on closer scrutiny it has more affinity with modernist literature, a characteristic apparent in his collaborations with Mac Orlan, which also foreground a less examined aspect in Bofa’s work. Since his revival in France, Bofa’s influence on French illustration has been well documented; less has been written about his significance in the history of French literature.

—RIP. Hugh Masekela.

Ursula K. Le Guin

Today In Scowl Merchants

Today at the Journal, we've got a big, honking look at John Pham's J + K, which is currently only available to people "in the know". Now that Frank's let the secret out, will there be a run? Get yourself speculating like it's a Chromium Summer: 

J+K retains the Pham look we know, just with the volume on 11. It seems to me that he took his printed strips and scanned them and touched them up to loomore consistent than the slightly inconsistent riso comic magazines. Like every color is amped up and right on the money. No mis-registration of the printing or streaking or digital effects that look like mistakes. Very smooth and very nice. And simply gorgeous bigfoot cartoony drawing. His approach here, by his own account, channels Suiho Nagawa’s aesthetic by unifying or harmonizing, the color and the line. The lines are made by overprinting colors. Not by a traditional, single “blackline.” So the lines which contain the colors have different values or different sounds, if you will. The effect being one of a warm gauzy magic hour firmly rooted in cartoon symbolism. Meaning it just works on your eyes and brain in a way “blackline” based comics do not.

And in today's installment of his Cartoonist Diary, Tom McHenry makes me feel bad that I'm re-reading this old book about budgeting. He says that isn't what he intended, but I don't believe him. You shouldn't either!

One of the things I like to do when the world all just seems like a lot of horseshit is look at Alcatena's comics and wonder what it would be like to see the world through his eyes. 

Well, him and Bart Sears.

Terrestrial Devil Fish

Today on the site, RJ Casey interviews the popular New Yorker cartoonist (and former SNL writer) Zach Kanin.

You used to be the assistant cartoon editor at The New Yorker.

That’s right.

What did that job entail?

That mainly was managing the Cartoon Caption Contest, which was fairly new when I started. I think the contest started a year before I got there. I also had to do data entry and stuff like that for the cartoons in the process of getting them through. There were about one thousand original submissions a week for the regular cartoons. About five hundred from the regular stable of New Yorker cartoonists and about another five hundred from the slush pile. I had to go through them and pick which ones to bring to Bob Mankoff, the editor.

Most of my week, though, was going through eight to 14,000 captions for the Cartoon Caption Contest.

[Laughs] Is there a science to that?

Yeah, there are tricks. I put them all on a spreadsheet and would search for things. I would search for “fuck” and “shit” and things that they wouldn’t publish. I could eliminate all those immediately.

OK.

I would also always start out by searching for the word “Geico.” There were always about five hundred submissions that were like, “Good news. Now you’re getting a better deal through Geico.” [Laughter] So many Geico jokes. I was like, “We’re not going to do that!” Searching for swears or for Geico would immediately take about a thousand out of the running for the contest.

We also have Day One of a new Cartoonist's Diary. This week's Cartoonist is Tom McHenry.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. DC continues to antagonize Alan Moore and his collaborators, this time incorporating his character Promethea into a comic without seeking permission or even notifying Moore or co-creator JH Williams III. (Moore created Promethea for WildStorm, after he had announced his intention never to work with DC again. A few years later, DC purchased WildStorm.)

—Reviews & Commentary. Huib van Opstal writes about The Daily Graphic, an early heavily illustrated New York City newspaper.

In New York City, some forty years later in 1873, The Daily Graphic with a page height of 56 cm (22 inch) was seriously larger in size, featured poster-like full front-page art and more large pictures inside, all done in a single black — and supplied the daily news with it in letterpress. Technically half of it originated from stone, half of it originated from metal. Something it kept up for over sixteen years in 5,129 daily issues. A truly daily myriorama. Over the sixteen years of its existence — a respectable number of years which at least points to some success — nothing is known about circulation numbers, or the volume of the paper’s printing plant. At the very beginning, the month before it started, The Chicago Tribune, in its New York Letter of 13 Feb, 1873, reported: ‘they can make their journal pay with a daily circulation of ten thousand, though they expect one much larger.’

A press run of up to 10,000 copies per day in the early 1870s for a New York newspaper was modest. (The number may have been mentioned by outsiders to belittle the enterprise.) A drop in the ocean compared to the daily circulation numbers papers would have towards the end of the century — when the printers and presses of editor-publishers like Pulitzer and Hearst managed to produce hundreds of thousands of sensational newspapers a day, tons of it — and sensationally illustrated too. Thanks to the latest modern presses, and thanks to the Daily Graphic’s inspiration.

Rather than just steal Sally Ingraham's Library of Congress and Phoebe Gloeckner links from her post on Comics Workbook last week, let me just direct you to it.

Yes Means No, Maybe Means Never

Today at the Journal, Tegan checks in with her take on Days of Hate, a new Image series from Danijel Žeželj & Aleš Kot. Things get political because they have to. And then some!

I keep circling around like a falcon in the proverbial gyre to try and get my arms around this comic. I spend all day watching the news and reading the news and listening to the news and discussing the news – everything is bad, yes, but more importantly things feel very desperate. There’s something in the air, I don’t know whether it’s even good or bad, but – if you’re trapped on the inside here in Fortress America it feels like we’re stuck in the middle reel. We’ve had tons of exposition. Every conflict is established. Everything is always happening and nothing changes. Tension keeps ratcheting ever skyward on every side and nothing changes. It’s the strangest feeling. We’re stuck in the Dragonball-Z of governmental crises.

Next week, we'll have an interview with Aleš about the series. But that's not all we've got for you today. Prepare yourself for the weekend with Paul Tumey's latest installment of Framed!, which includes a detailed look at To Laugh That We May Not Weep: The Life and Times of Art Young. 

This is, after, all, work by a cartoonist who went to hell, artistically speaking, not just once, but three times! This is the guy who experienced what for many would be hell on earth, being put on trial for sedition (twice!) with the possibility of years of imprisonment. Undaunted, or perhaps just worn out from drawing his thousands of cartoons, Young famously dozed off in the courtroom during one of these trials. Whether or not you agree with Young’s politics, who could argue with the sad-beautiful reflections found in his gentle work? Art Young’s cartoons are some of the most complex, some of the richest, most original, most refined, most personal art I’ve ever experienced. To Laugh gives us the chance to have that experience. By presenting this work in a beautifully designed compilation, we can finally linger over it, take it in, and expand our understanding of what cartoons can do, and perhaps should do.

From there, Paul goes on to commit multiple cardinal sins of list-making, including praising a book of criticism (HISS) and then concluding his list with trying to convince you that a book written by the She-Hulk guy was better than Judge Dredd: Every Empire Falls, which is so absurd that when I contacted Charles Soule (my wife's godfather and a close personal friend), and he told me I was legally allowed to edit that part out of Paul's list! (Charles Soule is a lawyer, as well as the guy who they made write the Old Man Logan comic.) I would have made those edits but I got so caught up in re-reading Every Empire Falls--the second best comic to have been released in 2017--that I stopped feeling angry and just felt sad.

Fatality Factor 79%

Today on the site, Greg Hunter returns with a new episode of Comic Book Decalogue. This time, he spoke to the cartoonist and editor Rob Kirby in an episode recorded live. In it, the man behind What's Your Sign, Girl? and The Shirley Jackson Project discusses Eric Orner, Lynda Barry, Peanuts, and more.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. This year's Eisner Awards judges have chosen Carol Kalish and Jackie Ormes for the Eisner Hall of Fame, and announced the other nominees for the honor.

At Vulture, Abraham Riesman talks to the people behind indie publishers including Lion Forge, Emet, and Iron Circus.

David Steward II and Carl Reed aren’t impressed with the mainstream’s slow crawl into the 21st century. Both African-American men, they’re co-founders of Lion Forge Comics, an upstart publisher that recently launched its own superhero universe starring and created almost entirely by people who aren’t white males. Sitting in a pan-Latin steakhouse in Hell’s Kitchen, they calmly express their disdain for the big boys on the block.

“When they do diversity, it’s all almost …” Steward says, trailing off.

“Reactionary,” Reed finishes from across the table.

Steward nods and adds, “It’s almost kind of an advertising gimmick of sorts. They take Thor and make female Thor, but female Thor is going to go away, you know? If you’re really going to invest in that at that level, then it needs to be a new character with its own origin that you’re going to push and pull and really get behind.”


—Interviews & Profiles.
The most recent guest on Inkstuds is Zach Hazard Vaupen, and the most recent cartoonist guest on Virtual Memories is Seymour Chwast.

—Reviews & Commentary. Alan Moore pays tribute to the recently deceased UK comics artist Jim Baikie.

Developing that strip [Skizz for 2000AD] with Jim was an education into his meticulously thought-through processes: the work that went into the look – and to a great degree the basic conception of the character – was all Jim’s. It was him that decided to depict Earth’s first contacted extra-terrestrial species as a kind of highly-evolved marsupial, reasoning that this would make the entity look alien enough while still allowing it to appear biologically feasible. And then he placed that fantastical creature into a sharply-realised contemporary Birmingham, where even the background faces are full of human character, and somehow made it work.

When I began work for DC Comics, having Jim as the artist on my otherwise-unpromising Vigilante two-parter turned a job that I wasn’t enjoying very much into a pleasure. Several years later we found ourselves working together again, this time for Image Comics and its various splinter-companies, most memorably on Supreme, where I remember Jim contributing to a riotous comedic short piece that played with the most ludicrous and fondly-remembered tropes of early 1960s superhero comics, and gave Jim a chance to indulge his extreme fondness for Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder’s anarchic and demented Mad extravaganzas. Thinking about it, it seems very likely that the fun Jim and I had with that brief outing was what led, with the demise of Supreme‘s publisher and our subsequent involvement with the fledgling America’s Best Comics line, to Jim being the perfect choice for our Mad-inflected patriotic superhero parody in Tomorrow Stories, the to-my-mind underappreciated First American.

The Third Can

Today, the Journal is proud to unleash the first in Sloane Leong's onslaught of 2018. In this month's installment of Comics Dragnet, she grapples with the internet, and the comics it provides. She also delivers a love letter to Bitch Planet, but it's the Frank Booth kind of love letter. (The best kind of love letters.)

BP feels like it’s trying to teach you something, and so its characters are elliptic feminist effigies in the shape of women and not flawed, compelling characters you can fall in love with. It’s applesauce feminism dressed up in faux-exploitation. I wish it would go back and assess its source material: raw, brutal images, passion, and ugly, ridiculous honesty.

Sloane's only competition for your time can't actually be found at the Journal, but at Facebook, where Tom Devlin showed up with his detective skills and impeccable memory of Chris Ware related factoids to make the case that, in a 1989 issue of Home Boy Magazine, a young skateboarder named Greg Neal gave an interview wherein he pretended to have created Ware's old Daily Texan's comic strips. Home Boy Magazine--it breaks my heart that this will probably be the only time I will be writing that title down, professionally--even reproduces some of Neal's "art", which is, even to an eye as untrained as my own, clearly Chris Ware's work. Home Boy only ran for seven issues, but the three individuals most closely associated with it (the Master Cluster) went on to do a few more magazines, like Dirt and Grand Royal. One of the three--all of whom should have done their due diligence when it came time to edit the Greg Neal interview--you'll probably recognize.

Winter Cleaning

Today on the site, Alex Dueben is here with an interview of John Shableski and Illya Kowalchuk, two of the organizers of the new Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards.

So where did this idea of an award start and what were those conversations like?

Illya Kowalchuk: Actually, before the first Denver Comic Con (2012) we wanted to host comic awards that were more focused on literary merit than on the individual technical aspects of comics. One of the great things about comics is that all of those different talented creators come together-the story, art, and lettering all comes together to tell one synthetic story. We didn’t see an award out there that was honoring that. Unfortunately, in 2012 we just didn’t have the bandwidth because we were all volunteers trying to put the show together-make sure the lights stayed on. Over the years, the show grew rapidly and we had to make sure that logistics and operations were successful. This past year we have been doing a lot of thinking about how we want to move forward and what other ways we can have an impact on the industry. And as fans, we want to see the content that we’ve grown up loving be honored. We felt like this was a good time for a few reasons.

There’s this synchronicity that’s happening across academia, library sciences, education, bookselling and comic creation. We’ve arrived at a tipping point where people recognize the educational value of comics and graphic novels. They’re outselling other forms of books, accepted in classrooms, and valued in libraries and corporate offices. The momentum is picking up. When Bruce [MacIntosh - Director of DCC Programming] and I met John Shableski about eighteen months ago, we all recognized that synchronicity. John crosses a lot of industries-comics, education, bookselling, and library sciences. He validated what we had been seeing on our own and we all came together and agreed: this is the time to do this.

We also have a review of Julie Maroh's Body Music, written by Jason Michelitch.

When one hears that Julie Maroh's new book is titled Body Music (Corps Sonores), it is perhaps inevitable to move from the suggestion of rhythmically moving flesh to thoughts of her debut work, the sexually frank romance-tragedy Blue is the Warmest Color (Le bleu est une coleur chaude).  Specifically, one might think of the Palm D'Or-winning film adaptation of the same name*, which secured fifteen minutes of infamy for containing a long sex scene in which the lesbian lovemaking of Maroh's book is revisualized through a heavy screen of heterosexual pornographic conventions.  The phrase "Body Music" would seem to promise further ventures into the sensual.  After reading the book, however, the title takes on the character of a sly joke on the prurient interest that her earlier work is now inescapably saddled with.  Though Maroh returns to the themes of sex, love, and LGBTQ representation, her latest work is a very different kind of book from Blue is the Warmest Color -- in some ways, it is a book that seems to be trying to be different, to break away.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—2dcloud.
Because of various stories that have been shared and published over the past few days on social media and on comics news sites, I feel obligated to say a little bit about what happened, if only to clarify a few apparent misunderstandings.

Nearly two weeks ago, the small publisher 2dcloud announced, via Twitter, that they were cutting ties with their creative director, Blaise Larmee, due to "predatory" behavior on Larmee's part that was "inconsistent with [their] values." As I wrote then in a blog post, this was the second time in less than two months that the company had announced that they were cutting ties with an artist or associate for misconduct. In November, they revealed, again solely via Twitter, that they were canceling their plan to publish a third book by the cartoonist Andy Burkholder, who they said had been accused of sexual assault. I attempted to reach both Burkholder and 2dcloud for comment, and neither replied. After the January announcement, which also included a second tweet saying that they had destroyed all copies of one of Larmee's titles, 3 Books, I again reached out for comment, both to Larmee and to 2dcloud.

This time, around two hours after I wrote the January 4 blog post suggesting that the comics community may feel like it deserved a less opaque explanation of what was going on at the company, 2dcloud cofounder Raighne Hogan told me via email that he agreed the questions I had sent him should be addressed to some extent, and that he would get back to me soon. Here are the questions I had sent him:

1. There has been speculation that this primarily involves some of the chats Larmee included in 3 Books. If you can say, is that accurate? And is that the entirety of the problem, or are there allegations of other misbehavior?

2. When did 2dcloud learn of the allegations against Larmee?

3. Does 2dcloud have a written policy regarding sexual misconduct?

4. 2dcloud is a very small company and this has happened twice in the last two months. How did this happen? Has 2dcloud been adequately vigilant?

5. "Predatory behavior" is a very serious and also vague accusation to make -- without naming or identifying victims, isn't there a responsibility to identify behavior that others should be aware of?

6. Your twitter account indicated that you are pulping all copies of 3 Books, which seems like a very serious and unusual step to take. Why? Is there material in the book that is illegal or immoral to distribute?

7. If so, what steps did 2dcloud take to make sure the material in the book was proper to publish before contracting?

8. As a publisher that touts its ties with the community, don't you have a special responsibility to be open and transparent to that same community about what mistakes you may have made and what steps you are taking to make sure such incidents don't happen again?

I still believe those are all legitimate questions (though I would have written them more gracefully if I had known that I would later feel obligated to share them verbatim online). Depending on how Hogan/2dcloud responded, I planned to then ask more questions, if any seemed appropriate or necessary. (Note regarding question 5: I knew already that 2dcloud would probably respond that the privacy of the victims made a more explicit explanation of Larmee's actions impossible to give, but I wanted to share their reasoning on this with TCJ readers who may not have been aware of their position.) Larmee himself never wrote me back.

Nearly two weeks went by. I wanted to allow Hogan all the time he and his company needed to formulate their answers and/or a statement. I was planning to contact him sometime this weekend to see if they had made any progress, but had no intention of publishing any more on the story until they were ready. However, on Friday, the former co-editor of this site, Dan Nadel, wrote several tweets in which he forcefully criticized 2dcloud for publicly raising funds without having clearly explained what had happened with Burkholder and Larmee. I didn't see any of this until after Dan had already deleted the tweets, though they remained online for some time in the form of a screenshot of them which was shared online by someone else, and which 2dcloud and others retweeted. (That screenshot seem to have been deleted as of this morning.) Because Dan's tweets and TCJ have been linked multiple times over the weekend by various people I feel obligated to make it clear that I and TCJ had nothing to do with his tweets. Dan is no longer an editor of TCJ. I had no awareness of his tweets beforehand. Dan does not check in with me before writing on Twitter, and if he had done so in this case, I would have recommended that he not publish them.

On Sunday night, 2dcloud released a public statement, in which they announced that in a move that has apparently been in the works for some time, Raighne Hogan will be stepping down, and that Kim Jooha will be the new publisher. They also say that they will be donating 10% of the profits from Burkholder's and Larmee's books (which, except for 3 Books, are still on sale on the 2dcloud website) to RAINN. To various extents, they address many though not all of the questions I sent them in early January. I recommend reading their statement and thinking about it for yourself. In any case, it is an important first step.

I would like to end this on a positive note. I like 2dcloud. We have written about many of their books and projects on this site. Until recently, I have had nothing but pleasant interactions with Hogan, 2dcloud co-founder Maggie Umber, and Kim Jooha, who has written several times for this site and has been one of my favorite recent contributors. It is clear that the company has made some mistakes, and that those mistakes may have been fairly serious. But I attribute those errors to understandable confusion and inexperience, not anything nefarious. I believe that more openness and transparency regarding this incident will not only be good for 2dcloud, which because of its small size and funding model relies on the goodwill and trust of the comics community, but also for that community at large. I believe that an increase in transparency will lead to productive conversations, and that it may help prevent similar mistakes in the future.

TGIF

Today on the site, Alex Wong returns to catch up with Jason Shiga, who talks about his residency at Angoulême, his most ambitious book yet, and the importance of Asian representation.

My dad was a cartoonist and an animator while he was living in Japan. He always encouraged me as a kid to pursue my art. There’s the stereotype of Asian parents pushing their kids into engineering or whatever, but my parents were never overbearing like that. They were always extremely supportive of my comics career. It’s something that I feel is a part of me, it’s a part of my blood. My half-sister, who grew up in Japan, also works in comics as well. She’s an assistant for a Shojo title that comes out of Nagoya. I feel like it’s this funny connection that runs in my blood.

As for the Asian American experiences, you probably remember as a kid, if there was an Asian character on television you would get really excited. For me, there was this TV show called Ohara with Pat Morita. It was some stupid cop show, but the lead was Pat Morita, and at that time, it was just so rare to see Asian people represented on TV. He was probably literally the only Asian face you could see on TV at the time. I would run into the kitchen every time he was on TV and said, “Mom, there’s an Asian man on TV, you gotta look!!” It was really exciting. It’s better now and it’s better in mediums like comics, but I still feel like white faces are the default when it comes to Hollywood. But I guess one of the nice things about comics is that there’s no producer who says my characters have to look white in order for the comic to be successful.

And Billy Burkert finishes up his week as our Cartoon Diarist.

Duplo, But For Aristocrats

By coming to today's Journal, you've hit the trifecta. First up, it's time for the latest installment in Billy Burkert's Cartoonist Diary. Was quitting his job the right call? Will we find out before Friday's conclusion? Only one way to find out.

And in other deep questions of the day, Tegan's latest column is here! In this installment of Ice Cream For Bedwetters, we get her take on Valiant's attempt to take their media empire to the next level. Things aren't looking good!

Here’s the thing about Valiant: Valiant as it exists in 2018 is really only half a company. These characters – the hundreds of characters who make up the fictional firmament of the Valiant Comics Universe, long may it wave – are a group of IP without any real desperate need to exist in comics form. And I say that because Ninjak vs the Valiant Universe #1 acts as a kind of negative advertisement, influencing me not to purchase more Valiant Comics but to question the very existence of Valiant Comics. I’ve never read a promotional comic that did a worse job of selling its product.

Trifecta means three, and here's the proof: Rich Barrett's debut for The Journal, with a review of Paper Girls: Book OneHere, Barrett grapples with the question of who the Brian K Vaughan/Cliff Chiang series is aimed at, and whether it lands.

With young adult fiction dominating the bookstore market, it’s tempting to label this as YA but it actually doesn’t fit cleanly into that category. Although the protagonists are pre-teens, the tone of the story and some of its subject matter is written with violence and language that, while not unlike what you might hear in an ‘80s film, may not fly with parents who supervise what their pre-teens are reading. Also, a general rule of thumb is that kids prefer to read about older kids, so the age of these characters might be disqualifying for consideration by some teenagers. In fact Paper Girls reads like what it actually is – a trade paperback collection of an ongoing Image Comic – more than it does, say, a Scholastic or First Second YA graphic novel. It’s written for adults who grew up in the ‘80s, grok Dr. Who-level complexities in time travel paradoxes and are in for the long-haul on a multi-year read.

Sorry for the delay in blog posting--i'm in another time zone that doesn't have snow. A revelation in the making!

Above the Ridgeline

Today on the site, Alex Dueben interviews Terry Nantier about four decades at the helm of NBM.


It was in the 1980s that things started to take off, as you said, and NBM started publishing Corto Maltese and collecting Terry and the Pirates.

We started publishing Terry and the Pirates about ’82 or so and that our first real substantial success. We created this library. We were the first to do real library-worthy editions of a classic comic strip and that worked very very well. I’m very proud of that. We pioneered in quite a number of ways.

How do you think things have changed?

Well, they’ve changed for the most part positively. There was a real growth of acceptance for graphic novels that started with Maus, but there was a period after, a lull where you almost got the impression that the literati were viewing Maus as possibly the exception that confirms the rule in their minds. Which was obviously unfortunately. When a lot of others comics came out, Persepolis and others, a lot of exceptional work was just more and more proof that comics were a lot more than people understood them to be and could be a lot more. We also had generations of young readers coming in that didn’t need to be convinced of this. Unfortunately my generation, the baby boom generation, accepted this only to a certain degree, but not a really substantial one. It was really Gen X that started accepting this. This is a tremendous achievement for comics, that had been really downtrodden for so long and looked down on. Just seeing that, but within that a further acceptance of European comics doing a lot in that regard to develop and further this mode of expression and this art form. It’s tremendous vindication for the vision I had all along.

We also have Day Three of Billy Burkert's Cartoonist's Diary.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. London's Daily Mail has published a story alleging that an unnamed nursing company has accused Stan Lee of repeated sexual harassment against their employees. Through his lawyer, the 95-year-old Lee has denied all charges, and claims he is the victim of a shakedown. The Daily Mail has credibility problems, to put it mildly, and has a long history of publishing false or extremely misleading stories, so it is probably wise to approach this story with caution until more legitimate reporting sources look into it.

—Reviews & Commentary.
At The Atlantic Monthly, Shaan Amin writes about "the dark side" of the popular Indian educational comics series, Amar Chitra Katha.

ACK was the first major indigenous comic-book series to sell within India, and its success also heralded the development of a broader domestic comics industry. ACK’s first successors were primarily Western-inspired action and adventure series, but by the 1990s Indian institutions like Diamond Comics and Raj Comics were publishing mysteries, funnies, and science-fiction works. Even within this crowded field, ACK remained beloved and novel for both its edutainment value and its role as the grandfather of an industry.

And yet, since its debut in 1967, ACK has also helped supply impressionable generations of middle-class children a vision of “immortal” Indian identity wedded to prejudiced norms. ACK’s writing and illustrative team (led by Pai as the primary “storyteller”) constructed a legendary past for India by tying masculinity, Hinduism, fair skin, and high caste to authority, excellence, and virtue. On top of that, his comics often erased non-Hindu subjects from India’s historic and religious fabric. Consequently, ACK reinforced many of the most problematic tenets of Hindu nationalism—tenets that partially drive the platform of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, currently under fire domestically and internationally for policies and rhetoric targeting religious minorities and lower castes.

At the Huffington Post, a media-studies professor named Vamsee Juluri disputes Amin's account.

This is not the first time this complaint has been made against the Amar Chitra Katha series, and I believe there are at least two academic books on the subject. While there is much that one might debate about the narratives and their depiction of “authority, excellence and virtue,” I will for the moment focus on the evidence, or lack thereof, for some of the very broad claims made by the author about the diversity of representations in the series.

—Interviews. The most recent guests at Virtual Memories are Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden.

Rider of the Glue

Today at the Journal, we've got the second day of Billy Burkert's Cartoonist Diary: straight out of Texas, he is.

That's not all though--we've also got a review from Leonard Pierce, his first of what I hope will be many for The Journal. Leonard's debut piece for TCJ is on the most recent graphic novel from Chuck Forsman, Slasher

How do we talk about violence in a world so saturated with violence that it takes a body count in the dozens to even make the news? How do we discuss the psychology of violence at a time when the villains of our culture are expected to be calculating psychopaths, and even the heroes are imbued with more than a hint of sociopathy? And, more to the point, how do we portray violent behavior and the way it is formed in comics, whose entire existence for the last century or so has depended on violence as a crucial part of its storytelling language, and even in their more adventurous experiments of late, have run the portrayals of serial killers and lonely brutes so far into the ground they’ve formed their own artistic substratum?

We've covered a lot of Forsman related stuff since I've come aboard, but I'm still wondering: are the people who ask questions about how to make it in the industry keeping abreast of what Chuck has been doing lately? Are they aware of the obstacles that have been placed in his path, and how he has managed dealing with them? I'm supposed to go and speak to another class of art students about how to find a career in cartooning in March, and the more I reminiscence over the choices that he's made in the years that I've known him, the more I think that my best course of action would be to recap the last 36 months of Chuck's choices. Make lots of stuff (and finish the stuff you started making), experiment with as many different delivery systems as possible, maintain professional relationships with multiple publishers, travel to different places and talk to different people, help out as many artists as you can while still making your own work, work with young people who are hungry and smart (but never treat them like sycophants). Anyway. Making it happen.

R to L

We've got the first day of a new Cartoonist's Diary today, in which Austin cartoonist Billy Burkert quits his job.

We also present Greg Hunter's review of a recent Michel Fiffe collection, Zegas.

Some frustrations are universal. Banging your head against a wall means banging your head against a wall, even if beyond that wall you’ll find various supernatural entities. These are the circumstances of Emily Zegas, 25, and her 30-year-old brother, Boston. They live together in their late parents’ house, with a sprawling metropolis not far away. Both places are sites of growing pains and weird occurrences. Michel Fiffe originally published Zegas as a single-creator anthology from 2009 to 2012. Fantagraphics’ recent collection covers the Emily and Boston stories from that run, a series of thoughtful, inventive comics about camaraderie—or even codependence—between siblings and the process of making a life for yourself.

Emily and Boston have familiar dilemmas—heartbreak, job hunts—but experience moments of the fantastic on the regular. Ortega, their local “Street Mayor,” materializes out of nothingness and checks the siblings’ IDs with his floating head. Emily tackles a thief by the coat, and a skinless mass of heads and organs shoots out of the coat’s collar. The siblings treat these moments with ambivalence; when the weird appears, it’s more of an inconvenience than a revelation. The comics don’t necessarily reward an urge to understand the setting of Zegas either. Fiffe does most of his world-building by way of allusion, privileging the feeling of living in the place.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Jesse Crumb, the 49-year-old artist and son of Robert Crumb, has reportedly died in a car accident. He can be seen in the following clip from Terry Zwigoff's documentary:



—Interiews & Profiles.
Deadline Hollywood has interviewed Dash Shaw.


What inspired you to make My Entire High School as your first feature?

I had done a comic with the same title many years ago, and the premise of that comic was that it combined the two opposing schools of comics when I was a teenager. There were tons of autobio comics in the ‘90s—that was most of alternative comics, and they were kind of mundane stories. Then, boy’s adventure comics, superhero comics.

It was just a very short comic that smashed those things together. It was this one character who would have the same name as the creator, and it would be their warped perspective in an adventure setting.

Guernica has a conversation with Eli Valley.

Guernica: Diaspora Boy takes its name from a series of comics you wrote starring Israel Man, a virile superhero, and his sidekick Diaspora Boy, a sickened cretin. Can you explain the premise of the comic?

Eli Valley: It’s a satire of Zionist attitudes towards diaspora Jews since the inception of Zionist thought. Zionism imbibed a lot of anti-Semitic ideology and caricature, which took the form of the self-hatred and denigration of the diaspora. Some claim this all dissipated after a couple of decades once the state of Israel was normalized. But that’s just not true—look at statesmen and cultural Zionists to this day, and the hatred of diaspora Jews persists. It becomes more pronounced when directed at progressive Jews today, given the off-the-brink extremism of the Israeli government.

Diaspora Boy himself is the embodiment of that kind of caricature. Zionist ideologues have called this comic self-hating, which is just playing into the very caricature that I’m satirizing. It’s funny how they always take the bait. Diaspora Boy just portrays the viewpoint of those Zionists who think diaspora Jews are “doomed.”

The most recent guest on RiYL is Chris Ware.

—Reviews & Commentary. Over at Comics Workbook, Sally Ingraham looks into several online sources for African comics.

I recently found a new database that I’ve been digging into – the Africa Cartoons: Encyclopedia of African Political Cartooning. It is being built by Tejumola Olaniyan, who is the Louise Durham Mead professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is originally from Nigeria, and his interests in African diaspora have led him write numerous books on music, literature, drama, and cultural identity. Somehow these interests also condensed into the desire to build this database, which lists 180 cartoonists from many African countries, and aims to represent the entire continent eventually.

The Feed Zone of the Bomb Cyclone

Today at the Journal, you'll find two excellent pieces of writing to prepare you for the weekend. Gear up first for a superbly detailed obituary on Annie Goetzinger by Cynthia Rose:

Goetzinger's lasting importance resides not in her style or politics – it derives from her very existence and example. When there was only a handful of women to watch, she showed what could come of painstaking research and careful choices. For her, the key to retrieving any past was always a person, an individual with a specific imagination. She helped win us access to worlds as different as those of Chloe Cruchaudet's Mauvais Genre (2013), Agnes Maupré's Chevalier d'Eon (2014), Penelope Bagieu's California Dreamin' (2015), Virginie Augustin and Hubert's Monsieur Désire? (2016), and Isadora by Julie Birmant and Clément Oubrerie (2017).

Catch your breath. Now, take a look a, Tegan O'Neil's detailed examination of Sugar Town, the latest comic from Hazel Newlevant.

The virtue in a book like Hazel Newlevant’s Sugar Town lies in the ability of a cartoonist like Newlevant to illustrate the interior processes native to a social relationship which many if not most readers may never experience or even approve. Rather than explain polyamory with charts and graphs and blockquotes from The Ethical Slut Newlevant shows the reader precisely what the process entails – and more important than the “what,” the “how” of how the participants conceptualize themselves as ethical actors within nontraditional relationships.

That may very well be the most vital aspect of the book in terms of illustrating just how these relationship mechanics work: Newlevant is preoccupied above all in ensuring that all her romantic entanglements are ethical. That forms the motor for the book’s major conflict, an internal struggle within the protagonist (also named Hazel, coincidentally!) to make sure that her own actions are always within the bounds of informed consent for all parties. This requires, as you can imagine, a great deal of work.

Elsewhere? I don't know. Did you read any good blogging yesterday? I didn't. I didn't try, though, which is sort of on me. Snow didn't keep me from work, but playing in the snow definitely kept me from using my free time to trawl blogs. I did read the first issue of Sunday, by Olivier Schrauwen. It's an extremely funny comic, almost 60 pages long, printed in pink and blue, and it consists of a man getting up in the morning and, amongst other things, masturbating, trying to figure out what to text his significant other, getting a song stuck in his head, taking a bath and procrastinating on a freelance gig. My favorite part is when he mildly injures his groin because he thinks that doing a James Brown split is easy. 

Schrauwen's comics, like Kevin Huizenga's and most Image Comics, don't tend to hold up well when they're discussed purely in plot terms. In the first case, it's because what happens is less important than the way the artist uses cartooning to manipulate the way that the communication of ideas function between audience and narrative, and in the second case, because most Image Comics have dumb plots that make you feel embarrassed that you've read them when you hear those plots said aloud. Schrauwen's work doesn't sound that exciting when listed it as I did above--and it shouldn't. The acts that his main character (yet another of Schrauwen's supposed family members, this one is named Thibault Schrauwen) takes are as routine as it gets, and while Schrauwen gets the jokes in, it's mostly within a realistic context. What makes Sunday such an engaging piece of work is the way Schrauwen's transitions create constant moments of goofineess, the way he takes an endlessly banal series of situations--a man climbing the stairs, for example--and ladles them with comedy simply by the moments in time he chooses to draw. The joke is just the simple silliness of regular life, the way a solitary man in a robe looks as he strides around his morning, trying to remember lyrics, or trying to entertain a cat. It's in the way he cuts an average orgasm against another man engulfing a pastry. Over and over, Sunday is the comedy of regular life, but done in such a succinct, direct fashion that it in no way reads as cruel, or laboriously produced, or overwrought. Look at the plain faced smile on that cover--it's just a guy ready to attack the day. But first, he's got about a hundred boring things to do. I feel ya, Thibault.

Askance

Today Austin English returns with the second installment of his new comics-theory column, and this time he takes two seemingly incongruous examples -- the final strips of George Herriman's Krazy Kat and Mort Weisinger's Silver Age Superman stories -- to illustrate the particular strengths of comics.

The last published Krazy Kat strip appeared on June 25th, 1944. When Herriman passed away on April 25th of that same year, he was working on an unfinished pair of daily strips. But Sunday strips are drawn in advance, so the June 25th strip is the final communication from (in my opinion) the world's greatest cartoonist.

The final three Sunday strips have a lot to say, about the strip itself and about living in general. I think a close read of them might illuminate something that seems to be obscure about Herriman. Krazy Kat holds much more than people grudgingly give it credit for. Its importance doesn't lie in the 'eternal love triangle' literary device of Krazy, Ignatz, and Pup (the only aspect of the strip major media outlets bother to write about---hey, it's an easy subject to fill a paragraph with before going on to explain how unpopular the comic was in its time). Nor is it proper to end discussion of the strip by saying it's 'beautifully designed!' which I hear a lot when people profess to not understanding the strips appeal but halfheartedly try their best to find something in it to connect with. Both of these common reads on Krazy Kat miss the forest for the trees.

Also, for those readers interested in the "consensus" results of our Best Comics of 2017 lists, I calculated the results (counting comics given an "honorable mention" with half a vote), and got the following list:

1. My Favorite Thing is Monsters, Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)
2. Songy of Paradise, Gary Panter (Fantagraphics)
3. You & a Bike & a Road, Eleanor Davis (Koyama Press)
4. Anti-Gone, Connor Willumsen (Koyama Press)
5. Crickets #6, Sammy Harkham (self-published)
6. (tie) The Best We Could Do, Thi Bui (Abrams)
6. (tie) Hostage, Guy Delisle (Drawn & Quarterly)
8. (tie) Everything is Flammable, Gabrielle Bell (Uncivilized Books)
8. (tie) Pope Hats #5, Ethan Rilly (AdHouse)
10. (tie) How to Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels, Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden (Fantagraphics)
10. (tie) Monograph, Chris Ware (Rizzoli)

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. For the second time in less than two months, the tiny independent comics publisher 2dcloud has announced via tweet that they are cutting ties with one of their artists for alleged sexual misconduct, this time Blaise Larmee. In November, 2dcloud dissolved their publishing relationship with Andy Burkholder, accusing him of sexual assault. Larmee was more than just an artist for the company, serving pivotal roles there, first as marketing director and then as creative director. 2dcloud claims in their tweet that Larmee behaved "in a way that is inconsistent with our values" and alludes to "inappropriate or predatory behavior." Neither 2dcloud nor Burkholder responded to a request for comment last November. 2dcloud prides itself on being a "community-focused" publisher, and we will soon see if the community finds the vague-tweet-and-shrug approach adequate.

—Reviews & Commentary. At NYRB, Sarah Boxer writes about Chris Ware's Monograph.

Monograph contains multitudes: lists of books Ware has made; New Yorker magazine covers he’s drawn; pages of other cartoonists’ books (Krazy Kat and Gasoline Alley) that he has designed; printing files for his own books (including some for his best-known and saddest work, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth); instruction sheets for cutting and folding his toy models; fake old-timey ads that he has mocked up; pages from his illustrated datebooks; life drawings from his college days; sketches and photographs of people he’s known, cities he’s loved, and kitchens he has drawn in; pictures of toys and contraptions he has created, including a wooden book dispenser that he used to fill with tiny comics and a zoetrope that he built because “I knew I’d never be able to afford to buy one.”

And The Rumpus has excerpted an upcoming book-length study of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home written by Genevieve Hudson.

Queer experiences have largely been overlooked by mainstream narratives, so it is up to us to save our stories. It is up to us to figure out how to hand them down to history. We tell our stories by drawing, singing, writing, filming, and fucking, and there is something tender and fierce about the community that grows out of that. Just as Bruce would gaze with pride at his walnut bookshelf, we can gaze at our stories, sitting beside each other. By expanding access to an archive of queer possibility, we can broaden our understanding of what a person can be.

What I’m trying to get at is that there is something significant and shared about being queer. There’s a kind of education in queerness you don’t need a formal degree to attain. It is constructed on the stage, in paragraphs, on the stereo, and in the streets. It doesn’t necessarily come to you. You have to find it. Sooner or later, we start searching for our histories. We start to look out as a way to look in. We start to engage with our archive.

—Interviews & Podcasts. The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Dave McKean.

The cartoonist and occasional TCJ contributor Anya Davidson has launched a new arts podcast called Mindkiller.

A Two Trick Pony

Today at the Journal, we've got Carta Monir's take on the critically acclaimed I'm Not Here, from Koyama Press. Will Carta take the party line, and greet gg's work with praise and admiration? You'll know soon enough.

I’m Not Here, published by Koyama Press, is the latest of gg’s otherworldly stories. Like all of her work, it seems heavily inspired by film, especially French New Wave cinema. And, like all of her work, it deserves and requires multiple, attentive reads. (I should note: if you’re the kind of person who cares about spoilers, I would advise you to buy the book and stop reading the review right here.)

Due to yesterday's technical issues, I'd point you to our collection of The Best Comics of 2017, which went up later than anticipated. I have a lot of affection for these sorts of omnibus collections of lists, and the Journal has a history of putting quite a few good ones together. That being said, I also have the undying fondness for lists constructed by brute force compromise amongst hysterically passionate people with very specific points of view, and what a tremendous disappointment it has been this past month to see all the other publications take what is, in essence, the easier softer way of list after list after list of individual tastes and timing. Make everybody talk to each other, I say! You think Tom King's Mister Miracle is better than Emil Ferris? Well shit man: I would love to hear that conversation. God, I'd like to just live in a world where that conversation would realistically happen, where a person who is fully in love with Mister Miracle #1 would be willing to debate with somebody who thinks My Favorite Thing Is Monsters without either one of them getting all worked up about it on a personal level. (And yes, I know there's some rinkydink podcasts out there where they talk about every single comic related thing that came out, but I'm not interested in the opinions of hyperconsumptive bozos who "read everything" any more than I am interested in the writings of people who feel the need to tell you the word count all the time.)

That being said, I don't know how to get what I want besides doing it on a podcast, where it could be an actual conversation, and God knows the world needs fewer of those. It's a great indicator, those kinds of conversations--do you really like something, and why do you like it? What do you think it's doing well? How long can that dog run, and how far? Being forced to talk about that to an audience who is going to catch your prejudices and question your basic assumptions, as opposed to the hyperbole one-upping that occurs when you're preaching to a choir--those conversations are how one can get to the meat of an individual's appreciation in a way that the more breezy echo chamber rarely can. It's also diametrically opposed to the way most of the conversations I see myself having on social media, where I tend to focus more heavily on the disagreements I have with people--one tends to find a lot of commonality when a conversation is actually that, instead of the simulacrum of it approached online. 

Oh well. My favorite comic I read this year was You & A Bike & A Road by Eleanor Davis, which I fell in love immediately after I read it and have gone back to multiple times this year. I find myself in various seasons of reading comics--my time writing for ComiXology and my own blog, when I felt an obligation to "keep up" with everything; my time in retail, when I felt I needed to "know" what was going on with single issue comics and trendsetting young artists to keep up with my customers and what they needed; my time in publishing, when I basically only read the books I worked directly on or that I was gifted by friends, so as to keep some of my life completely clear of comics. Eleanor's book comes from the tail end of that season, when I tended towards comics that would be a quiet respite from the books I worked on, from the online world that never seemed to stop making noise, and I identified with the way Davis used her bike trip to parcel out her life, to reclaim. The masochism of knee pain, the struggle to know when enough is enough, the rawness of being a powerless witness to suffering--these are all moments I can relate to emotionally, but there's something far deeper in Eleanor's actual cartooning that makes the book so impactful. It's something I have struggled to put my finger on, which is part of the reason I carried my copy with me from place to place, train to plane. Is it that the confidence of the line, the way it all seems so Steinbergian perfect? The way a smile or a tear verges on cartoonish exaggeration but always stops before it could go too far? Is it something more base, something where a part of me stupidly believes that I could put my feelings on the page the way she does, if I just would let myself go?

I don't know what it is in that book. It hurls you into the road, batters you with moments and emotions and time, most of all, it batters you with a constant reminder of the passage of time, and then it slaughters you with love, and then it ends too soon. It's such a lovely book. I read quite a few other things this year that were good, a few that were great, a handful that were total horseshit, a bunch of '80s super-hero comics, but that was the one I fell for. 2018 has a tough bar to clear.

 

 

Here She Comes Again

Happy New Year, and sorry for the delay. We had our traditional beginning-of-the-year tech issues, but things are now working again, and we have one of the most enjoyable posts of the year: a wide-ranging collection of best-of lists from many of the comics world's finest thinkers and makers, the Best Comics of 2017.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Austin Lanari was unimpressed by The Nib's farewell to 2017.

These comics are preloaded to be up their own asses. When it says "saying goodbye to 2017," given the tone and fairly constant POV of the majority of things on the site this year (nevermind the title of the column itself), I know when it says "goodbye to 2017" it doesn't mean qua calendar year. It means a personified 2017. 2017 the meme, the villain, that "took" from us and "gave" us Trump and what-have-you. As a thesis, this is immature, fit-for-twitter grandstanding that only serves to ensconce the material itself in meme-dom. It wears its irrelevancy on its sleeve and hardly makes for lasting or interesting art.

At The New Yorker, Peter Schjeldahl writes a new show featuring Käthe Kollwitz and Sue Coe.

As rendered by [Coe], rich men are beasts, cops are murderers, and butchers earn their name. She frankly traces her animus to a harrowing childhood, lived within earshot of a pig abattoir where, as she wrote in her book “Dead Meat” (1996), “slaughtering started at 4 a.m.” Her early friends included “radical lesbians who joined the marines, professional car thieves, drug addicts who died, a rock star, and one shorthand typist.” (She is a crackerjack writer.) A scholarship to the Chelsea School of Art, in London, when she was seventeen, delivered her from what she had assumed would be a working-class life. She studied illustration and, after moving to New York, in 1972, became a regular contributor to publications including the Times. The St. Etienne brochure aptly lists, as formative influences on her, “Daumier, Dix, Goya, Grosz and, of course, Kollwitz.” Debts to them all are apparent in her art, but only Otto Dix’s work really anticipates its ferocity.

At Mindless Ones, Andrew Hickey goes on at length about Crisis on Infinite Earths in a post that makes a nice companion piece (or counteargument?) to Tom K's new column for this site.

Crisis was a far more influential comic than it’s ever given credit for. When people talk about the big three comics that changed everything around 1985/86, they always mention Maus along with The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, but that mostly comes from superhero comics’ desperate wish for greater legitimacy. Maus is a great comic, of course, but it’s a great comic from the art comix tradition — Spiegelman had nothing to do with the changes that the US direct market was going through at that time, and Maus had minimal influence on anything in the “mainstream” comics world. It’s rather like saying that the most influential records of 1966/7 were Pet Sounds, Sgt Pepper, and Stockhausen’s Hymnen. Hymnen‘s great, and arguably better than the Beatles or the Beach Boys, but wasn’t doing the same thing. The same goes for Maus.

No, the real third comic to revolutionise the mainstream comics industry at that time was Crisis on Infinite Earths.

I don't think I've ever seen any "Top Ten" list of any kind ever get the kind of negative response Nick Gazin got for his post on Vice last week. If you managed to stay off the internet during the holiday season (and good for you), just type "Nick Gazin" or something similar into the Twitter search box, and you'll see what I mean.

Making a list of the top ten comics of 2017 was difficult since ten good comics didn’t get published this year. Even the AV Club, which is almost always right, made a top ten list that was mostly worthless garbage. To some the purpose of a list like this is to serve as a gift guide but that’s shameful to me. The reason for these lists is to discuss creative works that were made this year that have some lasting value, not to be a distraction or an advertisement.

—Interviews & Profiles. The latest episode of RiYL features Cecil Castellucci, and the latest episode of the Library of American Comics podcast features Corto Maltese translator Simone Castaldi.

Eternal Life

Today at the Journal, we've got Tegan O'Neil getting engaged with David Collier's most recent comic for Conundrum Press--and engaged she is! It's called Morton, and here's a taste:

What Collier chronicles throughout Morton is not just the speed with which technological and social changes can transform a society but the anxiety that exists at the very real chance of waking up and one day finding yourself on the other side of said technological and social changes. His book gets rejected by Drawn & Quarterly so he goes to a younger, hipper publisher where people are having fun and his reputation as an elder statesman in the field carries more weight than the fact that his wife babysat Oliveros’ brothers’ kids. He makes not one but three references to Woody Allen, the final of which places the recurrence in a revealing context: not really knowing whether or not its OK to like Woody Allen movies anymore after having grown up with them. John Morton (consciously in this context the “Gallant” to Collier’s “Goofus”) turned his back on Allen after it became public that he was dating his stepdaughter.

INSTEAD OF LEAVING.

Why not stay? Here's a comic about staying, courtesy of Michel Fiffe.

Have a great holiday if you're having one!

Almost There…

Craig Fischer is here again, and the clouds have lifted. Today, he returns with a long, close look at the end of Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows's Providence, which he believes is "Moore’s meta-meditation on the shape and nature of his comics career, written as he prepares to leave the medium."

Moore has been leaving comics for a long time. In an interview with Jon B. Cooke in Comic Book Artist #25 (2003), Moore discussed his plans to bring his America’s Best Comics line to an apocalyptic finish in late 2003 (although he left open the possibility of publishing future League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books through ABC/DC). After years of grueling deadlines, Moore wanted to move into more personal and less predictable art-making:

I’m reaching a point in my life where what I want is less security, less certainty. I don’t want to know what I’m doing in a month’s time, or at least I won’t do after this November or thereabouts. I might write another novel. I might write a grimoire. I might waste a lot of time getting back into drawing, doing some more pictures. I might want to do more performances and release more CDs. I might want to write a play. I might want to get into sculpture. I might want to do a lot of things that are not going to obviously have any commercial value, which people might not like. I want to have that freedom. (55)

Luckily, his retirement from comics hasn’t stuck: he’s written plenty since shutting down ABC, including two League adventures for Top Shelf/Knockabout (Century [2009-12], and the Janni Nemo trilogy [2013-15]) and various projects for Avatar (the Providence prequel/sequel Neonomicon [2010-2011], the first six issues of Crossed Plus One Hundred [2014-15], and of course Providence). It’s true, though, that most of Moore’s effort in the last decade has been devoted to non-comics projects like his counter-culture magazine Dodgem Logic (2010-11) and his massive novel Jerusalem (2016). Meanwhile, his disdain for American mainstream comics and the superhero genre has escalated, due undoubtedly to how DC has wrung every cent out of the Moore comics they own while trying to undermine the legacy of Watchmen with irrelevant prequels and integration into “continuity.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The Wexner Center for the Arts has posted the audio from Caitlin McGurk's interview with Chris Ware at this year's CXC, which Eric Reynolds called "one of the most thought-provoking, live cartoonist interviews I've ever had the privilege to attend."

—Henry Chamberlain interviewed the very smart Hillary Chute about her latest book, Why Comics?

I profile one creator, Harvey Pekar, who is an example of successful collaborative work. But I think you put it really well when you say that something is lost when you get too many hands working on the piece. In my thinking, and perhaps it comes from my background in literature and novels, is the intimacy of comics. I think it’s what you get from seeing one person’s vision: seeing the same hand that creates the images as well as the words. You get a real world-building happening on the page when it’s done by one person. I think there’s something unique about comics in that way. People sometimes call them auteurist comics, which I believe you touch upon in your review. When you think about it, the term “auteur” comes from film, the New Wave French cinema and people like Godard. But, even on a Godard film, there are many people working on that film whereas a cartoonist like Dan Clowes, it’s just him through and through, the whole thing. It’s really a purchase on a person’s aesthetic vision.

Incidentally, it's nice to see that Chute chose Jaime Hernandez to do the cover (as many wondered about at the time, neither he nor his brother Gilbert was invited to the pivotal Chicago comics symposium a few years back).

—Most of you have probably already seen the Atlantic story on new Marvel editor C.B. Cebulski and his use of the Akira Yoshida pseudonym, which includes, among other things, an updated apology from Cebulski:

I’m truly sorry for the pain, anger, and disappointment I caused over my poor choice of pseudonym. That was never my intention. Throughout my career in anime, manga, and comics, I’ve made it a point to listen and learn from my mistakes, which is exactly what I’ve been trying to do with this misstep. Building honest relationships with creators has always been important to me, and I’ve continued to do that in my new position. I’ve spoken with talent close to this issue, and have had candid and productive conversations about how we can improve the industry and build better stories, while being mindful of the voices behind them. My passion has always been about bringing the best talent from across the world to work on the best stories in the world, and I’m hopeful that fans and creators alike will join us in that continued mission.

I don't think this story is likely to end here.

Savor The Selections

Today at the Journal, we've got the first column from cartoonist and publisher, Tomasz Kaczynski--it's titled Event Horizon, and while it isn't going to be a textual analysis of the picture starring Laurence Fishburne, he has assured me that he will get to said film after he's finished covering the 80's comics in question.

Your second must read of the day is the inimitable Joe McCulloch on Shiver, the Junji Ito collection we posted an excerpt of last week. Besides being an excellent review of the book, Joe grapples with the mutanting nature that digital delivery--both legal and not--have had on Ito's work and how critics are left to interpret that work.

This is both good business, and maybe just good. I think having Itō himself front and center can counteract the phenomenon of his works merely existing as pluckable digital fruits, although the book's setup is admittedly not ideal to that end. For one thing, there's no explanation as to when any of these comics were originally published - I'm not blaming VIZ here, since the Japanese edition doesn't have any information like that either, and for all I know they might be contractually prohibited from adding editorial material to the original work, but it does limit the book's usefulness as a retrospective. Upon digging around, I was able to find a Japanese blog purporting to list the original publication dates of everything in the book down to the month, the information presumably coming from other Itō collections or the author's experience; the actual sources, though, are never disclosed. If this information is accepted as accurate, it is noteworthy that the selected stories are arranged in chronological order, starting in 1990 (three years after Itō's professional debut, and the first year he spent working on manga without a day job) and concluding in 2003, a year after the serialization of Gyo, one of the longform works that helped make Itō's name in western environs.

ELSEWHERE

I was elsewhere, via a plane. As such I didn't catch the comics news, but I did see these two lists that I found interesting. I also finished the book I was reading on the flight out and thought I'd buy a graphic novel at the airport. But it was impossible to do that, because the adult selection was totally insane DC garbage that I just refuse to spend money on, the fourth and seventh volumes of a handful of Image series that I can't imagine would have made sense, and some of those horrible "educational" titles that PRH creates by breaking the hands of high school students before forcing them to draw pictures of Eisenhower. In a way, that's actually kind of a good thing, not seeing any comics you care about in an airport--Hudson News has a 97% return rate, so most of those books are screwed--but I was in a spendy mood that probably isn't going to return. Anyway, here's the lists I liked. The CBC did a best Canadian comics & graphic novel list, and with the exception of Jeff Lemire (he's not going to stop churning that one thing he does out if people keep pretending they enjoyed it, CBC!), every book on that list is as stable as a table, to quote from the book I read way too fast on my flight out. The other list has only one graphic novel on it and no real blurb (although it does link to an interview), but I still thought it was worth linking to, because I'm 39 years old, which means I have been reading comics long enough to know that it is still a big deal that a graphic novel aimed at teenagers from a Big Five publisher dealing with queer issues came out and had the kind of response Spinning has had. It hasn't been taken on as a success with its LGBTQ as a crutch to overlook aesthetic shortcomings, it's been successful on its merits, soley. I'm glad that we can finally expect more out of comics than Greg Rucka's alcoholic lesbians & their struggles to be drawn competently.

Final Countdown

Today on the site, we have another anniversary-year piece, R.C. Harvey's column on the 60th anniversary of the hard-to-believe hit import from the UK, Andy Capp.

ON THE FACE OF IT, the Andy Capp comic strip ought to have failed the moment it arrived on these shores in 1963, continuing its six-year run in England. The strip’s eponymous protagonist is a good-for-nothing lout, a layabout with a passion for a pint, and for the attractive unescorted woman at the end of the bar. He’s a working-class man with no work and no desire to work. His entire unemployed life transpires between the neighborhood pub and the couch in the living room at home where he sleeps off his indulgence. He would be unfaithful to his long-suffering wife Florrie (Flo) if he weren’t so lazy. In his occasional active moments, he sometimes beats his wife, whose strength of character makes her the real star of the strip. In short, there is nothing likable about Andy Capp—and certainly nothing admirable.

[...]

Andy Capp is the creation of Reginald Smyth, who added a final -e to his last name by way of adopting a pen name. Smythe drew Andy Capp from his first published appearance in 1957, until he, Smythe, died in 1998, leaving a year’s worth of unpublished strips for his successor; he was that far ahead of his publication schedule. After the stockpile was exhausted, Andy Capp was continued by writer Roger Kettle and cartoonist Roger Mahoney. In about 2011, Kettle quit and was replaced by Lawrence Goldsmith and Sean Garnett, while Mahoney continues to draw the strip.

Smythe grew up in Northern England under conditions that made Andy Capp seem like a kindred soul if not an alter ego. “He was my best friend yet,” Smythe once said. Growing into manhood, Smythe was often jobless for long stretches, making him sympathetic to Andy’s situation (which, in Andy’s case, is self-inflicted by preference).

Born July 10, 1917, Smythe grew up in Hartlepool, County Durham. Although in a coal mining district, the town was a port, and Smythe’s father was a shipyard worker, who was often unemployed because demand for ships slacked off after the Great War, 1914-18. In consequence, the family was very poor. Smythe described himself as “a canvas shoes kid”: the only poorer class of youngster was barefoot. Richer kids had leather shoes or boots.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Jonathan Lethem picked How to Read Nancy as his book of the year for BOMB:

[It] is a sublime object, a book that’s simultaneously a sensual pleasure to handle; a genius compilation of technical interventions for would-be cartoonists, practical jokers, and literary critics; a bundle of belly-laughs as delightful as a new puppy; and a kind of ontological “mise en abyme” which threatens to topple your sense of reality if you gaze into it too sustainedly.

—Interviews & Profiles. Sarah Rose Sharp profiles Laura Park at an exhibition of her work.

When I met cartoonist Laura Park for a walk through her exhibition connected to her three-week residency at the Columbus Museum of Art, she had recently emigrated to France, together with her native French boyfriend.

“I did that both because I love him, but also I have some worries about what is happening here — like, healthcare, Korean War? Don’t know what’s happening,” said Park, whose comic narratives fluidly incorporate autobiographical daily chronicles, magical realism, memory, and exhaustively researched hidden histories. “It’s interesting, because my parents are immigrants, and when I told them I’m going to do this — I never thought of them as very optimistic, but they are,” said Park. “They’re like, ‘You’ll be fine.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t speak French,’ they’re like, ‘Eh, you’ll figure it out.’ And realizing that was their attitude when they came here — we’ll figure it out. Because in that stereotypical way, they’re kind of dark people, but I’m like, you’re optimistic!”

Tom Heintjes talks to Reed Tucker, author of the new DC vs Marvel book, Slugfest.

Heintjes: When you approached creators and company executives to talk about the rivalry, what kinds of reactions did you receive?

Tucker: It was mixed, honestly, as you might expect. When I started the project, I compiled a huge list of people I might want to talk to. It skewed more towards editors, company executives and writers, because I thought those people probably had a better grasp of what was going on inside the companies than, say, a freelance artist might. So I just started reaching out, emailing them or writing them actual paper letters. I also went to a couple comic cons and tried to meet some creators in person. Generally, people were pretty receptive. A couple people declined nicely. One or two were kind of nasty. More than a few just ignored me. Fair enough. I can understand that the topic might be somewhat touchy, but I thought and still think that you have to have your head buried in the sand to dismiss the rivalry or its effect on superheroes and contemporary pop culture. I think it’s a worthy topic for discussion, not something that’s simply petty or gossipy.

AJ Frost talks to Ed Piskor about his new Marvel project, X-Men: Grand Design.

And as much as I’ve read all the [X-Men] comics, I do not consider them to be infallible. I always had some idea about making them all work together as a unit. I can sell water to a whale, so I make it sound it so cool. A lot of people who know me know that I like X-Men and, very often, a girlfriend will try to relate in some way. When people ask me “What should I read? What comics should I read?”… I frankly can’t point them to any X-Men comics because no matter which one you give somebody, there’s so much baggage that comes along with it that can leave a casual reader in the dust. It occurred to me that there should be an X-Men comic that one can point to highlight all the cool stuff that the series has to offer.

The latest guest on the RiYL podcast is Janelle Hessig.

—Misc. Tom Spurgeon is asking people who are able to consider giving to Cartoon Crossroads Columbus.

In the Screaming, In the Godhead

Today at TCJ, we've got the latest installment in Ken Parille's Grid column. The subject at hand is the 20th anniversary of Ghost World, one of the seminal American graphic novels of the 90's, with a specific focus on the comic's use of dialog.

Like Maus, Ghost World was a revelation in part because its characters spoke like actual humans rather than the cardboard types that had long populated comic books. “For once in a comic,” the Post said of the graphic novel, “people are portrayed as they really talk and act.” Ghost World’s naturalistic, unfiltered dialogue was especially unusual for female characters, not only those in comics, but in film, television, and novels. Two decades later, readers are still drawn to the characters’ astute, acidic, and ever-relevant profanity-laced observations about the media, advertising, neo-Nazis, “pseudo-bohemian art-school losers,” and all forms of faddishness.

Then we've got a look at John Arcudi's Rumble #1, relaunched last week with new artist David Rubin. Geoff Lapid provides the requisite hot takes:

The story starts at the beginning, or at least somewhere near it, in a cave with an old man and his boy, sitting by a fire and paintings on the wall that tell the story of when the world was overrun with savage monsters. The old man explains that Rathraq was sent by the gods to end the violence with more violence, thus clearing a path for the early humans like them. We're treated to a few pages of brutality, where Rubin does his best Geof Darrow impression, but ends up giving us something that looks more like John K. making Conan comics. Which… isn't bad? Limbs are getting hacked off, monsters are getting stabbed dynamically, there are some fun texture patterns to evoke bloodstains-- it’s all very macho and stylized, and you get all the consequence-free saturday morning cartoon gore you need.

News. Mad had its last NYC party this past week, and Tom Richmond wrote about it, his history with the magazine, and what he thinks of the future. I hope to have more about Mad's transition to Burbank in the coming months, because I really like the comics Noah Van Sciver did about that unlucky bear.

This opinion piece about the supposed diversity problems at Marvel Comics is almost indistinguishable from any particular blowhard in an internet comments section, but I'm linking to it anyway, because for some reason it's being published by a subsidiary company of News Corp. It exemplifies one of the core disabilities at the heart of comics, which is that websites and publications with actual money and reach hire people who are little more than fans, and those people go on to dictate the sort of coverage that maintains a status quo of almost preternatural stupidity. Is it possible that Marvel's diversity choices have done something to their business? Sure. But this article doesn't examine that question with any level of serious inquiry. It merely states that the comics market is having a major financial crisis, talks about one particularly ugly bit of behavior on the part of a few bad actors at a comic book convention, trots out a bunch of dog whistle type phrases to amp up the two sides of a cultural argument, grabs a quote from Milton Griepp to make it appear justified, and tosses it out there on a finance site powered by the same billion dollar corporation that owns The Wall Street Journal. 

Reviews & Sundry. Tom Baker's review of I'm Not Here for Broken Frontier gets into that book's specificity of design, and how that specificity is used to compensate for the minimal dialog.

After the soft peach background of the cover, the rest of the book is all whites, greys and the occasional heavy black (for the eyes and hair of the characters, buildings in the dead of night, the darkness around the sights she captures in her camera’s lens), fading away further during flashbacks. An absence of colour is often said to signify an absence of feeling, and a book the main character reads suggests that “feeling is impossible if we feel today as we did yesterday; to feel today the same thing we felt yesterday is not to feel at all…”

 

Today's featured image is Chris Cooper from the film Money Train.

Arghggh

Today on the site, Cynthia Rose reports from the Paris comics festival, SoBD, which is run by Stripologie.

Almost any Parisian will tell you that comics and graphic novels are serious stuff. Here, the "BD" or bandes dessinées are not just in bookshops. They're all over the place: in train stations, supermarkets, museums and the news kiosks found on every street. During 2016, the country's residents bought more than eight-and-a-half million BD – so we're talking about 15.5 % of the whole French population. What's more, those statistics seem to be increasing.

This omnipresence, however, has a down side. With new volumes appearing weekly, few books get more than a fortnight on display. Blockbusters such as Asterix are different but, even for mainstream publishers, this poses a serious problem. When it comes to collectives, independents, and books about comics, that problem is a crisis – and it's one Amazon hasn't helped.

Parisian Renaud Chavannes is doing something about it. Chavannes, a journalist and digital entrepreneur, also authored Composition de la bande dessinée (Editions PLG). A thoughtful history and analysis of page layout, it took him a decade – and he wasn't prepared to see it simply appear and vanish. So he fought back by designing a shop of his own, an online boutique called Stripologie.com. Open for business since 2012, Stripologie sells books over the internet. But it's dedicated just to books about BD, to special editions and volumes on the history, art, and theory of comics.

And Frank Young has reviewed Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden's How to Read Nancy.

“You can’t teach genius,” my friend and colleague Glenn Bray quipped in a recent email exchange. As an after-school teacher of comics, cartooning, and storytelling, I must bow my head and agree. One out of 50 of the middle-school kids I teach has the bonafide comics bug—that burning desire to draw and tell sequential stories. The rest do their imitation Sonic the Hedgehogs, Wimpy Kids, and Bendys, despite my invitations to create new characters instead of expending their energy on fanfic.

Some of the subtleties of How to Read Nancy—and its wry humor—may be lost on the age-group I teach, but this book has the potential to inform and inspire, by example, the process of comics-making to anyone willing to lend an ear and focus. It’s the best thing to happen for comics in a long time.

To make comics, one must study comics—just as a filmmaker watches movies and a novelist reads other writers. No art exists in a vacuum. We get the occasional void-artist (Henry Darger, Fletcher Hanks, Rory Hayes) but they’re a rare exception. With its focus on the most mainstream cartoonist of the 20th century, authors/theorists Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden expose the self-evident truths hidden in plain sight in three panels of a comic strip that came and went in a blip in the summer of 1959.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Brian Nicholson has written recent posts about Gabrielle Bell and E.A. Bethea

Her pages are uniform, six square panels to a page. Most panels feature Gabrielle in them. The square is a stage, you generally see her full body, taking up most of the height of it. She is skinny, there is room enough for backgrounds and other characters. Room enough also for a good amount of text. Usually this is dialogue, sometimes it’s more caption-driven. Sometimes the captions will accompany a drawing where Gabrielle has thought balloons going as well: The captions relaying an after-the-fact storytelling, while her thought balloons convey her thoughts at the moment being depicted. The desire for ink on the page results in marks that seems like they are meant to delineate folds in fabric, but there are more of them then there would be folds on fabric. The overall effect is anti-glamorous.

—and his disinterest in recent superhero comics:

DC currently has an imprint edited by the singer of the emo band My Chemical Romance, that’s clearly designed to be something of a throwback to the early days of Vertigo. I love a lot of those comics: The Peter Milligan Shade The Changing Man, the Grant Morrison Doom Patrol. My interest in reading the revivals falls apart on flip-through. The difference between the nineties iterations and their contemporary revivals is that, if the older audience identified with the label “alternative,” the ideal audience for these Young Animal comics are people who would describe themselves as “adorkable.”

—At Vulture, Abraham Riesman interviews Charles Burns.

The series took about a decade to complete. When you started with your notebooks and sketchbooks, did you know what the last page would look like?
Probably not right at the beginning, but I had a core idea. I knew what that last page was gonna be for, let’s say, seven years. At the very beginning, we’re floundering around trying to find a way in to tell the story, and to tell it the way that feels right. There’s a lot of missteps. I did maybe three pages of like a first version, and I was writing it and drawing in the way that I had kinda worked previously, and I realized I had to step away from that.

—The latest guest on the CBLDF podcast is R. Sikoryak.