We Are The Children of Dog

Today on the Journal, we've got a preview of the next Junji Ito book. Then next week we'll have a review of it. You see how this thing is starting to work? Yeah you do.

ELSEWHERE!

News. We here at The Journal didn't have time to get into the nature of Patreon's recent fee changes and the vocal outcry that followed in its wake before Patreon announced that they weren't going to change the fee structure after all. They're still going to have to do something--you know, to make that money--but what that is will be determined at a later, unspecified, date.

Reviews & Sundry. While Scott Adams stopped being a joke worth making a long time ago, I'm a sucker for didn't-see-that-coming thinkpieces on comics from publications that don't normally do them, and this Awl piece on Dilbert doesn't disappoint.

Somewhere along the way, Scott Adams became incapable of seeing the world clearly. He cannot see that he has made the antagonist of his cartoon the protagonist. He cannot see that some of the reasons that he thought Trump would be a good president—i.e., could become a thorough expert on any geopolitical subject after an hour-long briefing—are some of the exact same barbs that he launched at management culture in the legacy-building peak of his satire. He cannot see the irony in suddenly yoking his reputation to a man whose signature move—before, during, and probably after his presidency—is abusing and then firing his own employees.

One can't, in good conscience, mention Dilbert with throwing out a plug for this old back and forth between Kim Thompson & the rest of the world regarding Dilbert--so here that very plug is

There's only 145 of us reading the Noah Van Sciver's serialization of Fante Bukowski comics on Twitter at the time of this writing, which means there's only 145 people keeping up with some Mech-level funny. You know what to do.

I hadn't seen all these fake comic covers by Alex Degen before, maybe you have, but you didn't tell me about them, so nice job being a friend.

Slash

Today on the site, Frank Santoro is writing about the latest book by Lala Albert:

If Lala Albert's previous book, Janus, was about drawing people and interiors of the real world, and the "interiors of the self," then this book is about not drawing people or interiors. It is not about artificial interiors or artificial people. It is a book of exteriors, of the natural world of trees, and birds, and life free of artifice. It is a book of "nature" drawings and one which uses an avatar of a tiny elf-like humanoid to guide the reader through this wordless graphic novel.

I must admit, I am not usually a fan of stories or comic books which feature supernatural elves or faeries. While Wet Earth is more like a television nature show which just happens to have elves in it, I had to suspend my disbelief by imagining that this was the next chapter of Janus. At the end of Janus, the protagonist looks at a seashell and speaks to it. I imagined the protagonist fell asleep and dreamed Wet Earth, and by doing that I could get over the elves frolicking around with the animals and birds and insects in the beautifully rendered Wet Earth.

And then Tegan O'Neil is here to talk about "the Latest Hit Comic from Image," Shirtless Bear-Fighter!, which I am happy to say I haven't read.

Shirtless Bear Fighter bored me. It bored me because not only have I seen the movies and TV shows that gave rise to the action movie formula that the book exploits, but I’ve seen the parodies of same, and the parodies of the parodies, and the neo-classical reclamation projects that recycle the hoariest old clichés as sincere homage. Shirtless Bear Fighter embraces the formula with a cheek that borders on arrogance. They’re not really doing anything with these old forms, they’re not making any kind of clever point. They’re literally just giving us the same old story with winking ciphers, and expect the audience’s respect for the trappings of parody to cover up the fact that it really is just a bog-standard revenge story told with hipster memes.

I don’t understand, really. I’ve tried throughout this piece to avoid being mean-spirited. Shirtless Bear Fighter was co-created by writers Jody Leheup and Sebastian Girner and the artist Nil Vendrell. It’s a very competently produced comic and that very competence works against it. Vendrell’s art takes the material more or less at face value. It reads like any mainstream comic produced in the last ten years, with thoroughly competent and agreeable art that fails to make any impact. The book just doesn’t seem to have much of a personality, which seems problematic. A book about a guy who punches bears should have some kind of personality, right?

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Two excerpts from Hillary Chute's new Why Comics? have been published. At LitHub, you can read from her chapter on Gary Panter, Matt Groening, and punk comics.

Panter, whose own self-published comics Groening had read and admired, wrote him a fan letter in 1978. (Leonard Koren, who published an avant-garde lifestyle magazine called Wet, first showed Panter Life in Hell.) Groening describes being actually “frightened” by Panter’s handwriting—today still known, which is to say admired, for its scratchiness and intensity—but he wrote back. The two met and became fast friends, plotting how to make art people would pay attention to. Groening recalls how they would “scrape coins out of the carpet of our crummy little apartments and split burgers and then scheme about how to invade pop culture.”

The Paris Review has a section from her book on the "rise of queer comics."

The history of gay comics, however, doesn’t start with Bechdel. It has roots that go back at least to the underground comix movement of the 1960s and ’70s—and even earlier, too, if one considers classic comic-strip characters like George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, one of the most celebrated characters in the history of comics. Krazy Kat (1913–1944) which debuted in William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal, featured a famous love triangle: The mouse, Ignatz, hates the cat, Krazy. Krazy, however, passionately loves Ignatz; even though the mouse throws bricks at Krazy’s head, they are received affectionately. Offissa Pupp, a dog, adores Krazy and hates Ignatz as a result. Krazy is androgynous, a “kat” with a fluid gender that seems to shift and is never actually meant to be conclusively verified (sometimes the narration refers to Krazy as a “he”; largely, however, Krazy has been interpreted as female, including by superfan E. E. cummings). In an exchange from a 1915 Krazy Kat daily strip, Krazy complains, “I don’t know if I should take a husband or a wife,” to which the indifferent Ignatz responds, “Take care,” and hurls a brick. That a syndicated strip published in a mainstream Hearst paper—Hearst adored the strip’s artistic merit and gave Herriman a lifetime contract—had such a conspicuously “genderqueer” star at its center indicates that queer comics, even if not hailed as such, have been lurking in plain sight for over a hundred years, at least. We might even consider queerness part of the DNA of comics.

—Interviews & Podcasts. The latest guest on Virtual Memories is Cullen Murphy, and the latest guest on Process Party is Jeffrey Brown.

Please Buy A Different Moisturizer

Today at The Journal, we've got two buckets of sauce for you. First, dip yourself into a pool an interview with cartoonist Tim Lane, who is out there holding the line for single issue comic books for more than just nostalgic reasons. The second bucket is to come!

That’s something I’m interested in at least stating an argument for: the resurrection of the traditional comic book. There’s such a rich and and colorful history of the traditional comic book and how it developed in America. I’m a strong proponent of it – both for philosophical reasons but also for very practical reasons. From what I can see, comics is in a place where graphic novels are what’s most popular. They’ve grown to become quite exquisite art books. The only complaint I have is that for people like me – I have a son and I have a wife and we have bills to pay – it’s very difficult to to be able to spend a couple hundred bucks to buy, let’s say, four graphic novels. It’s getting to the point where it’s so expensive to get your hands on the material. The great thing about comic books is that they are, and always have been, inexpensive and for the average person. It started with kids, you know, for a dime. I’d like to see that come back because it’d be nice if comics were more affordable, and I think the traditional comic book is one way to make that happen.

 

ELSEWHERE

News. Some of the bigger infrastructure news of late was announced last week--Meg Lemke has taken over as Graphic Novel Reviews Editor at Publishers Weekly, a role previously handled by Heidi MacDonald until Lion Forge's acquisition of The Beat. Lemke has a ton of experience, and it's a smart hire. 

I checked in with our very own Joe McCulloch on this link here, and he said that it's a "pleasant, general audience-oriented profile of Frederik L. Schodt, one of the key figures in the gradual introduction of manga to English-language readers. This is a guy who personally knew Osamu Tezuka, to give you an idea of how far back we’re going. Gently touched upon are the myriad issues implicit to the idea of ‘localization’ — still a piping hot topic if you have offended the wrong demon and therefore become party to video game discourse — but couched in an aging soul’s contemplation of time’s passage and stuff. I’d like to hear somebody ask him about translating Ghost in the Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface, which is barely in English *in English*, if you know what I mean."

Reviews & Sundry. Abraham Riesman's list at Vulture has a lot of the right books in the right places, but he's also the latest in a year long string of people who have filed to convince me to take a chance on Tom King, the emptiest suit in an overflowing closet. Who would have thought that 2017 was the year all the comics critics fell in love with the Deep State? They're gonna kill y'all first, ya dummies!

The YALSA Great Graphic Novels For Teens list is here, and the breadth of it is an excellent indication of which publishers want to make money selling books to libraries, and which ones think it's better to send their review copies exclusively to websites that no one capable of self-love will ever pay attention to.

 

Master Whiner Myself

We've got a double feature for you on TCJ this morning. First, Greg Hunter has released the latest episode of his Comic Book Decalogue podcast. This installment features Emil Ferris; the My Favorite Thing Is Monsters creator talks superheroes and dada, politics and accessibility, Will Eisner, Ted Leo, and more.

And then we have an excerpt from the latest work by Tim Lane, Happy Hour in America. Look for more about Lane tomorrow.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. The New York Times released a lot of comics content lately, including Garry Trudeau reviewing former Prince Valiant writer Cullen Murphy's memoir of cartooning in Connecticut.

As Cullen Murphy admits in his warm and graceful memoir, “Cartoon County,” comics creators have long been among the most dimly perceived of celebrities, and when they venture out into society, they are usually sized up as dentists or insurance adjusters long before the awful truth comes tumbling out.

Fortunately, this is not a significant problem, since the syndicated cartoonist is rarely spotted at large. The deadlines and hours are brutal, and too much involvement with the real world takes time away from the alternate universe the artist must ceaselessly oversee. Newspaper comics are regarded as a kind of public utility — a reliable, 365-days-a-year source of light entertainment. For those whose weekly transmissions keep the machine up and running, every Friday deadline can seem a freight train bearing down, threatening to overwhelm their creative capacity and self-confidence. A few careers have ended in drink, but more typically the rolling dread keeps cartoonists home and out of trouble. Only one of our number has ever been drummed out of the National Cartoonists Society for “conduct unbecoming a member.” (Don’t ask.)

Also, Manohla Dargis reviews two new books on comics, Hillary Chute's anticipated study Why Comics? and Reed Tucker's less-significant-looking Slugfest, a history of Marvel vs. DC.

Untethering her book from linear history frees Chute up, allowing her to leap from idea to idea, rather than simply from one period to another. She fills in the basics, introduces foundational artists and sketches in some of the medium’s industrial history, though largely as a departure point for her discussions of independent artists like Robert Crumb, a leading figure in underground comics, a.k.a. comix — the “x” indicates adult content. (Chute doesn’t go into the legal obscenity fights over comix in detail, which I mention only because in 1969, my father, then working in an East Village bookstore, was arrested for selling a Crumb comix. My dad went free; Crumb kept on outraging.)

Finally, Gilbert Hernandez reviews J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, in the form of a short comic.

On the less establishment side of the comics internet, here is a very thorough bibliography of "alternative" manga published in English.

I love underground manga but it’s too hard to find good suggestions and updated lists. And with “alternative manga” I mean those really different, obscure, weird, extreme and experimental japanese comics that only a few non-japanese people from all over the world will ever read and appreciate.

These are surreal avant-garde manga such as the ones published in alternative japanese magazines and anthologies like Garo, AX and COM. Even a few Gekiga artists could be still considered alternative today.

—Interviews. On Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed the aforementioned Cullen Murphy.

Murphy: ... So this is a conversation between Curt Swan, who drew the "Superman" comic, and Jerry Dumas, who with Mort Walker produced "Sam's Strip" and "Sam And Silo." And the conversation opens with with Jerry Dumas. They're at a diner. And Jerry says, why does Superman have a cape? And Curt says, I don't know, Jerry. Dumas goes on, why does Superman's cape swirl around him even when he's standing in an office? I really don't know, Jerry. When Superman undresses in a phone booth, how does he know his clothes will still be there when he gets back? I haven't the faintest idea, Jerry. Can Superman fly when he's wearing his business suit on the outside with the costume underneath? Pauline, could you put a little brandy in this coffee?

—R.I.P. William Gass

Sunny Murray.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytuBtlLZXvU

Kylie Minogue Fans Don’t

Today on the Journal we've got Dash Shaw (a pretty big deal) talking to Connor Willumsen (another pretty big deal) about Anti-Gone (which is as big a deal as it gets).

When you’re equating drugs with entertainment and movies, it made me think, “Is this comic entertainment?” Do you think that Anti-Gone is entertainment?

That’s a good question, because I spent a lot of time thinking about what that word means. I mean, it’s not entertainment to me.

It’s not entertaining to you?

No, but only because it’s hard for me to understand what it’s like to have the experience of reading the book properly. A lot of what it’s about is how your immediate relationship with art or entertainment changes your experience of it, like with a movie or book, or something like that. So, it’s hard for me, as someone who's had to scrutinize it so intensely, to get to a point where I’m recognizing it as entertainment. But I don't imagine anyone would bother to read through it unless it's amusing them. Really broadly, there isn't a lot of art I wouldn't call entertainment. Its depth really depends on your situation at the time.

ELSEWHERE

Leslie Stein delivered another comic to the New Yorker, and it's a really good one.

Interviews & Profiles. It's unusual to see Amazon employees in the wild doing interviews, but don't get super excited--this short primer on why reading comics on a phone broken up panel by panel is fun is pretty tame. Back when I was writing for comiXology, I did the Guided View editing process for a couple of issues of Zenescope pirate comics. It paid five dollars an hour.

Chuck Forsman is touring for his most recent Fantagraphics release, and he stopped by Comix Experience to talk with Brian Hibbs for the store's Graphic Novel Club. There's a whole bunch of these on Youtube, and some of them get pretty in depth.

At War with Time

Greg Hunter is here today to talk about Noel Freibert's Old Ground.

Noel Freibert’s Old Ground has a premise that puts it somewhere between a B-horror film and a Pixar release. Years of neglect have turned the Old Maple Grove cemetery into a home for a cast of odd characters: Otto, a frog; White Foot, a dog; and Silver Spoon and Cliffie, who converse from inside their graves while their bodies rot. The arrival of a wrecking crew threatens to disrupt the secret routines of the cemetery residents, and the residents’ response might alter the ratio of living to dead.

Old Ground sits closer to horror than to Toy Story, of course. Midway through the book, the wrecking crew’s boss smells a flower, then realizes it’s covered in worms. A couple pages later, skulls rise from roses in a scene that would suit a Mario Bava movie. But although Old Ground has its share of spooky genre beats, calling it a horror story isn’t exactly right either. It’s closer to a work of the eerie, in Mark Fisher’s understanding of the word. Readers find presences where they’d expect absences, along with questions about how much agency the things they’re seeing possess.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Paste magazine has posted their best comics of the year list, and it seems completely incoherent to me. I know a lot of people like to argue with these things, but I think a list like this is nearly useless unless it is the product of a single person's viewpoint.

—For example, the novelist Jeff VanderMeer is not entirely my cup of tea (I have yet to read Annihilation or its sequels, which may connect with me as his earlier work didn't), but he has a well-developed set of aesthetic principles, and so when he discusses his favorite books of the year, and he includes comics by Nicole Claveloux and Jesse Jacobs on the list, it means much more, about the books, about VanderMeer, and about the list as a whole.

—Dominic Umile writes very briefly about a new Seymour Chwast book on war.

Chwast remembers Iraq’s “55,000 civilians killed” toward the end of his book’s timeline, and among his concerns is exactly the kind of thinking that motivates the censorship of war photojournalism. An editor’s choice to kill a photographer’s dispatch before it goes to print, or the Pentagon’s unconstitutional policy against media coverage of coffins coming home—Chwast looks at the consequences of war, but also at the steps taken by people in power to absolve a military power of its sins, to sanitize the theater of war.

—The most recent guests on Process Party are Joe Sacco and Sophie Yanow.

Illustrations of Violence

Today at the Journal, we've got a review of Charles Forsman's I Am Not Okay With This by Tessa Strain

Forsman’s ability to maintain the immediacy of Syd’s point of view without completely surrendering to it results in a complex piece of work and one of the most honest depictions of the emotional telescoping effect of both depression and adolescence.

ELSEWHERE

News. The Slate Studio prize announced its judges and submission policies--it's one of the few comics prizes that comes with some money attached, and it consistently puts out a good shortlist.

Reviews & Sundry. Bill Gates--yes, that Bill Gates--wrote a review of The Best We Could Do, by Thi Bui. He also put the book on his top five of the year in an article he wrote for Linkedin. The most interesting part of that is the matter of fact way with which Gates treats his reading of a graphic novel--he got interested in learning more about the Vietnamese perspective of the Vietnam War due to the limitations he saw in his own understanding of that particular conflict, and sought out more books with a Vietnamese perspective. At no point in either review does he couch his selection of a graphic novel as being special, inherently interesting, or worthy of comment. He wants the stories--and comics are just another delivery device.

This gorgeous graphic novel is a deeply personal memoir that explores what it means to be a parent and a refugee. The author’s family fled Vietnam in 1978. After giving birth to her own child, she decides to learn more about her parents’ experiences growing up in a country torn apart by foreign occupiers.

Over at The AV Club, Caitlin Rosberg, Oliver Sava and Shea Hennum came up with their best of the year. I've tended to dismiss The AV Club's take on comics in the past, but it would be moving the goalposts to a pretty absurd degree not to acknowledge the changing nature of their coverage over the last few years, and the willingness Sava and company have taken to examine comics outside of what their comment section remains obsessed with. Their 2017 list is a cheatlist--there's nothing more despicable than people refusing to argue it out and come up with a begrudging consensus that pleases no one--but it's still got some solid, passionate choices.

NPR, on the other hand...well, look. There's some great titles on this one, but the whole enterprise is so horribly tasteful.

The video below discovered by Michel Fiffe is on an excellent issue of the JLI. The Comics Journal should have daily Fiffe content, if you ask me. I mean--i don't need you to ask me, because i'm in charge, but that's how that saying works.

 

Other Things

Today on the site, TCJ regular Tegan O'Neil returns after a long hiatus (not just from this site but from comics) with a new column, wondering why Saga of the Sub-Mariner broke the fast...

The series has been reprinted in a volume entitled Sub Mariner & The Original Human Torch, spat out by Marvel in 2014 as part of their commitment to republishing everything they have in the most haphazard and piecemeal way possible. Ask any retailer how good a job Marvel does keeping books like Born Again and The Dark Phoenix Saga in print: the answer, not very good at all! And yet Sub Mariner & The Original Human Torch, reprinting The Saga of the Sub-Mariner alongside its sequel, The Saga of the Original Human Torch, is a book that exists, a book that you too can purchase if you should be so lucky as to stumble upon it for sale at a used bookstore. That’s exactly what I did, having purchased the book for $7 in Santa Clarita, CA. The actual list price is $39.99; however, should you feel the need to read these books in their original form you will pay significantly less.

In June I boxed up every book I owned and deposited them all in a storage unit in Dixon, CA. It was time for a change, time to be a person who moved about the world freely – as opposed to the person I had been for the previous decade, that is, a person tied down to a large private library, a student and teacher and writer who needed to own so many books. Life without a library has been a significant and pleasant change. But I needed a few books to carry around with me, still certain as I was in my heart that a person without a bookshelf is a person without a home. So I stuffed a small longbox with books I had been waiting for a quiet evening to enjoy and drove off, leaving all my Carl Barks, Charles Schulz, and Jack Kirby but taking the Thomases’ retelling of Namor’s origin. Priorities.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Chris Mautner takes to the Smart Set to decide whether or not the latest incarnation of Mister Miracle really deserves all the hype.

The release of the first issue of DC’s Mister Miracle, a 12-issue limited series written by Tom King and illustrated by Mitch Gerads, was heralded with the sort of hosannas that are normally reserved for church. The A.V. Club called it “dazzling” and “emotionally wrenching.” Entertainment Weekly declared it “by far the best comic on stands right now.” io9 dubbed it “one of the best comics of the year” and, in another article, said there was “no better way to honor [Jack] Kirby’s contribution to the comics world.” And Comic Book Resources went as far to breathlessly declare that “King & Gerads Have Redefined Mister Miracle, and Possibly Comics.”

You see where I’m going with this, right?

—Interviews & Profiles. Hogan's Alley interviews Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden about How to Read Nancy.

Mark: I very much doubt that any honest 20th century newspaper cartoonist saw their work as “enduring art.” It certainly wasn’t intended as such, given the medium’s unambiguous 24-hour shelf life. (And for anybody who views anything as “enduring art,” I refer you to the beloved works of mid-century critical theorist/art crank Theodore L. Shaw, post-haste.)

While he may not have “intellectualized” Nancy (and I’m not sure we do that ourselves, exactly) in researching this book we came to learn that Ernie Bushmiller was highly self-conscious and downright strategic about how his work functioned and was read—down to a subliminal level. Conceptually, he wanted a strip that literally anybody on planet earth could read at a glance. “If a kid slips on a banana peel in Norway, he still falls down.” Visually, he wanted his strip read first on a crowded battlefield of competing funnies. “If I have to point an arrow to the gag, I’ll point an arrow to the gag…I want the stupidest guy in the world to get the gag.”

Henry Cherry talks to Gabe Soria about his new Murder Ballads book.

It came to me in Texas, a half-formed “What if?” My idea was to write a story inspired by Alan Lomax, the musicologist who first recorded Lead Belly, Son House, and Muddy Waters. The “What if?” was, “What if I grafted that onto a crime story, a noir tale?” That idea bugged me for years. I started writing a film script. I started writing notes: copious notes; notes, notes, notes. Over the years, I would open up the file on my computer and not look at it, like, “Nah, man.” It sat there and I didn’t really know what to do with it, and like 10 years after I first had the idea, I said, “Hey the ideal thing to do with this would be to have music with it.” That’s where Dan [Auerbach] came in. I texted him while I was walking down the street, “Hey, you know, I have this idea for this comic. Would you want to do a soundtrack for it if I ever got it off the ground?” And his one-word response to me was, “Duh.”

The latest guest on RiYL is Simon Hanselmann.

—Misc. For Print, Michael Dooley allows book designer John Lind to take readers through the process behind the new deluxe reissue of Frank Miller's Sin City.

The basic format is essentially the original artwork scanned at high resolution and reproduced in four-color at 1:1 size. This result is books that don’t fit on standard shelves but are amazing to behold. I’ve been a fan and collector of all the various “artist edition” books since editor Scott Dunbier pioneered the format at IDW with Dave Stevens’s The Rocketeer back in 2010. Scott really did a tremendous service to comics—and to the history of this art form in general—by championing this type of book. Since then, some really terrific projects have come out from a number of different publishers. And this format really needs to be experienced to appreciate the value of the work that goes into its assembly. Bob Chapman, in particular, is doing these incredible vellum inserts in some of his Graphitti Designs editions.It’s deceptively simple-looking, but getting vellum to work is an art in itself.

Plump With Desire

Today at The Comics Journal, we've got Matthias Wivel's latest column, Common Currency. This time around, he's taking a look at The Green Hand & Other Stories, a collection of Nicole Claveloux's comics published by New York Review Comics. 

For a few brief years, Claveloux also contributed short comics to the legendary magazine Métal Hurlant – several of which were also published in English in its counterpart Heavy Metal – as well as its offshoot Ah! Nana (1976–'78), which featured women creators exclusively. For the longer of these stories, she collaborated with the writer Edith Zha. The Green Hand collects most of this meager output between nifty hard covers, sensitively translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith and hand-lettered in imitation of the original by Dustin Harbin.

ELSEWHERE!

News. Over at Publishers Weekly, Heidi Macdonald, Calvin Reid and Kate Fitzsimons got together and recorded an episode about the hiring of CB Cebulski, where they open by referring to him as a beloved figure. After that I presume the episode continues. No promises though!

Reviews & Sundry. Dominic Umile grapples with the sexism of Spain Rodriguez for Hyperallergic in his review of Street Fighting Man. 

In Street Fighting Men’s Road Vultures comix, we don’t get the rape fantasies that populate Crumb’s work, for instance, but each female’s exaggerated anatomy is shoehorned into ill-fitting attire and wholly objectified. Big, bear-like men clad in dark black leather jackets brawl and pound beers in these strips, while women are relegated to peddling intercourse or handjobs. A passerby in porn comic “Vulturette” (Horny Biker Slut Comics, 1992) sleeps with a house full of bikers in succession when told it’s the gang initiation she covets (it isn’t), and a Kiss one-pager’s man punches a woman in the face when she interrupts him having sex with someone else. That Street Fighting Men’s jacket copy brands Rodriguez a “feminist” is befuddling — when, exactly, did the women’s liberation arguments espoused by counterculture newspapers grow stale for these “giants” of comix?

Publishers Weekly gave The Case of the Missing Men a starred review, and the CBC featured the book on the radio at the same time. Synergy!

Over at The AV Club, Oliver Sava takes a look at the beautiful and perfect Zegas

Comics are a two-dimensional medium, but within a page’s vertical and horizontal confines is a three-dimensional space that can be manipulated by visual storytellers. Not the depth within individual images, but the space surrounding the panels, which can have multiple planes depending on how those panels are arranged. Michel Fiffe is a cartoonist committed to exploring this aspect of the page, constantly finding innovative ways to depict visual information. The new Fantagraphics graphic novel, Zegas, collects comics originally self-published by Fiffe from 2009-2012, and these short stories about siblings Boston and Emily Zegas show Fiffe discovering new narrative possibilities telling grounded, character-driven stories with a boundary-pushing point of view.

I remember the time when Fiffe was making those Zegas comics, and I also remember how much bad advice he got from bad cartoonists at the time, just a never ending stream of unasked for horseshit from a choir of goons. He was never in danger of taking any of it, but it's still nice to sit here now, less than ten years later, and be able to see how right he was to do things exactly the way he did.

Over at The Guardian, there's a new best of list, built mostly for the kind of graphic novel reader who can only tolerate shopping at a traditional bookstore. It's not a bad list at all, but it is a relatively tame, tasteful one. Great to see the Guardian holding it down for Grandville though.

Binoculars

Cartoonist and comics educator Frank Santoro is back today with a column in which he reviews the new book by Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons and Tim Pilcher, How Comics Work.

Don't get me wrong, I love the work of Dave Gibbons, and hold it in the highest esteem. It's just that I wish the cover wasn't a giant Green Lantern advertisement and a pitch to the elusive market of young persons who know Green Lantern from some character on a popular TV show wearing a Green Lantern shirt. I know, I know, Gibbons did a definitive Green Lantern star turn. But the cover looks like a bad Gil Kane imitation and it has the poorest design in an otherwise flawlessly designed how to draw comics compendium. The cover is my biggest gripe with this book, so I thought I would get it out of the way first. I blame the publisher for that one slip, not Mr. Gibbons. Instead of being sold as a Dave Gibbons comic book artist masterclass, it is billed as "Green Lantern will show you how comics work with his magic ring."

I guess it could have been worse. While deciding on whether I should take my own photo of the book's cover or if I should find one on the internet, I came across the alternate cover below, which isn't much better. For a book that has pages and pages of "How To Make A Comic Book Cover" chapters, this isn't promising, is it? Why are "comics people" so often befuddled on how to make a good cover for the book trade? This is worse than that "so bad, it's good" Rich Buckler "Secrets of Drawing Comics" comic book from the '80s. How about just a classy photo of the distinguished auteur at his desk surrounded by his stuff? Why does it always have to be middle-of-the-road comics crap?

And RJ Casey is back, too, with a review of Richard Short's Klaus Magazine 3.

That’s not to say anything really happens in Klaus. One widowed bird attempts to woo the cat who devoured her husband. Another cat becomes an agent of chaos and knocks down all the structures the meticulous moles have built. Horses prance in distant fields and in a duck’s vivid fantasies. But most of all, these wistful beasts just sit around and pine away the day. They simply exist, showcasing one of Short’s greatest strengths: creating comics that are gentle without ever being cloying. Klaus can be like poetry in that way.

I’m not throwing around the term “poetry” like it’s often used in art comics lingo, as a stand-in for geometric squiggles on a page. Short is obviously concerning himself with line breaks and rhythm. The latter is aided by the layout. The majority of all Klaus comics are in a stacked four-panel grid with two strips to a page. Focusing on various themes and going back and forth between different characters in Short’s strong array, reading Klaus never feels like a chore like some strip collections. Short doesn’t produce these daily and you can tell. Situations never go stale and the punchline well is never wrung dry. Each strip feels like its very own distinct vignette.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Angoulême has released its slate of nominees for this year's festival prizes.

—Interviews & Profiles. Hillary Brown at Paste talks to Leslie Stein.

I think it’s a great skill to cultivate, being in the moment, looking at what’s around you, appreciating the tiny things that we often ignore. On the cover, there are three images of the main character… [in] one she is just looking at a bumblebee and how it flies around. It’s cheesy, but I derive great pleasure from these things, especially if other things in life aren’t going as we wished they would. The world is a scary place, but it can also be a beautiful place. Just put down your rectangle and go outside.

At the Atlantic, Corby Kummer talks to Vanity Fair editor Cullen Murphy (son and collaborator of Prince Valiant artist John Cullen Murphy) about his recent memoir, Cartoon County.

Kummer: You make the cartoonists of Fairfield County—Cartoon County—sound like an enclave, almost a cult.

Murphy: It definitely was not a cult; it was nothing like that. But there were lots and lots of cartoonists around. And my parents would entertain a lot, and they would go out a lot. And the people that they would entertain would largely be other cartoonists, and their spouses. It was very much a subculture that was aware of itself at the time. You know, there were probably a hundred people who were cartoonists that we knew one way or another in that group. And they were all essentially within 30 miles of each other. People like Mort Walker, who did Beetle Bailey, and Dik Browne, who did Hägar the Horrible, and Stan Drake, who did The Heart of Juliet Jones, and Jerry Dumas, who did Sam and Silo, and Tony DiPreta, who did Joe Palooka, and Ted Shearer, who did Quincy, and Crockett Johnson, who did Barnaby and also the children’s classic Harold and the Purple Crayon. Not to mention Chuck Saxon, the great New Yorker cartoonist.

At Strange Horizons, Gautam Bhatia talks cities and science fiction with the Indian cartoonist Krish Raghav.

I have lived my life entirely in giant megacities, and the old Moscow joke about the sixth ring road being the “end of civilization” cruelly applies to the ways my thinking has been influenced. In a way, I see cities as the only grounds for imagining futures, because they necessitate change and adjustment, and particularly in Asia, are populated by those seeking change or rupture from their upbringing.

Cities overwhelm and infiltrate the senses, and create imaginations where you hadn’t thought to look. In Tokyo, the names of the city’s subway lines can accurately describe the sound of a young underground band. A “Setagaya Line” band tends towards synth-pop and catchier hooks, while a “Chuo Line” band plays dark and heavy and loose.

—Reviews & Commentary. At the New York Times, Leopoldine Core reviews the new collection of Nicole Claveloux comics from NYRC.

Claveloux’s comics encapsulate the desire to change or reinvent oneself — but also to undermine society and the absurd sense of order it imposes. Her characters are often staring out a window or into the distance off the page, beaming out of the panels that contain them. Their facial features change dramatically from one drawing to the next but never disorientingly so — through Claveloux’s inconsistencies, each story is imbued with the fluidity of perception. It’s not like the fantasies of Disney, where the brand is always front and center. Claveloux takes pleasure in violating the familiar and many of these stories sneer at the stunted, insulting rituals of capitalism. With a wry sort of joy, Claveloux conveys the spectrum contained in polarities: real and unreal, male and female, animal and human, young and old.

For the same publication, Douglas Wolk reviews a slate of new comics and related books, including How to Read Nancy, Tillie Walden's Spinning, and Ulli Lust's Voices in the Dark.

A nearly-400-page graphic memoir by a 21-year-old seems like a dicey proposition — not least because most cartoonists take years or decades to develop their voice — but Tillie Walden’s SPINNING (First Second, paper, $17.99) is an engrossing, gorgeously quiet look back at the 12 years she devoted to figure and synchronized skating. It’s also her fourth book, remarkably. Walden touches on the physical control the sport requires and on the rivalries and camaraderie of young skaters, but she’s more concerned with evoking the feeling of being a skater: the chill of early-morning wake-ups (she recalls sleeping on top of her blankets so that she’d be cold already by the time she arrived at practice), the openness above the ice in an empty rink, the long stretches of waiting punctuated by brief flashes of performance.

Animation scholar Jerry Beck also has recently published a series of reviews of new comics and related books, including the same How to Read Nancy, as well as new Mickey Mouse and SpongeBob SquarePants collections.

Our David Gerstein ‘book of the month’ this time around is the eleventh volume of the Fantagraphics’ Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse comic strip library. Just when you thought that every last scrap of rare Gottfredson art and every last thing to be told about the man and his work is said – Gerstein and crew provide even more from an apparently bottomless well. This edition covers the strip during its deepest post-war suburban-set era, with an emphasis in story lines containing fantasy/sci-fi elements of the type in vogue during the early 1950s (1951-1953 to be exact).

Finally, Sam Ombiri writes about the inimitable Carlos Gonzalez's Test Tube.

This comic feels like it’s mutating me and my reality. I wasn’t aware that a comic can wrap around my brain. It did this by using very familiar images, with unfamiliar modes of presentation that somehow mysteriously register. Carlos is bringing to attention how unfamiliar these familiar drawings are. He’s somehow simultaneously doing so much and so little to convey what objects, characters, and settings are, yet it all somehow renders so clearly. Which I guess is cartooning, but there seems to something in this system Carlos has introduced. He’s really mastered manipulating our mind at the bare minimum, but with the effort in design turned up to the maximum, to indicate at every turn of the story that something’s afoot. It also could just be satisfying at an aesthetic level. On my end it’s great to look at, but it simultaneously conveys the nature of the story.

All Dead In Kyoto Village

Today at The Journal, we covered the biggest recent hire in comics--and no, it's not the guy who still hasn't learned how to use the buttons on his shirt. It's the story of Zainab Akhtar, the influential comics critic and Shortbox publisher, who has recently taken a role with Swedish comics publisher Peow.

Zainab, were you actively looking to take on some kind of editorial role outside of your work with Shortbox? 

Zainab Akhtar: No. But that was more from giving up on being approached by someone. I know what I can do and my abilities and limitations, but no-one has ever reached out to me to edit comics or for any kind of role within the making of comics side.

And you were looking for that kind of role.

Zainab Akhtar: I guess I had maybe harboured an idea that someone (within comics) would hire me to work as an editor. I don't want to say hoped, because that's too strong a word; i never really believed it would happen, when you look at the viable companies out there in terms of who'd be in a position to pay, and who would fit in terms the 'eye' I have, I don't think there's anybody with whom I match up, and I'm not very compromising. Working for Peow genuinely feels like one of those 'if you wait it will come' situations, though. Specifically in terms of fit. I feel we're all familiar with what we each to do, our tastes, and that we're on the same page as to what we we're trying to achieve.

ELSEWHERE

News. The Mary Sue collects the most recent developments in the ongoing oddness surrounding the cancellation of one of IDW's GI Joe related mini-series, which seems to have been the result of right-wing harassment campaign. It's not the easiest story to parse, in part because it involves IDW bizarrely responding via email to a fan with way more information and venom than is remotely necessary. 

The terribleness of the American healthcare system isn't news, but that's still where I'm choosing to spotlight this piece that recently appeared on Bleeding Cool, titled "When A Monthly Batman Artist Can't Afford Healthcare". It's a Facebook post by DC freelancer David Hahn that gets specific about the financial difficulties inherent in being a mid-tier artist at the Big Two.

I don’t write all this for sympathy or “woe is me.” I know that I am a white, male, American, and that affords me advantages, yes, so I’d like to curtail anyone pointing that out to me. I know there will always be someone, somewhere, worse off, no matter who you are. My point of all this is because I am realizing that I am the vanishing middle class. I never really thought much about what that meant until the past few years.

This Cebulski thing is a bottomless pit. Here's the part where they were able to find one good solider to come on board and defend the guy, which they accomplished by bringing up the awe-inspiring cultural sensitivity of another white guy who worked at Marvel. 

Reviews & Sundry. Being out of touch with which cartoons are actually worth watching also means you're screwed at figuring out which cartoon comic book spin-offs are worth reading, which is what makes reviews like this one of Over the Garden Wall, by Melissa Brinks, so worthwhile. Detailed, insightful and informative. 

Oops

It's a double dose of Mark Newgarden this week, as he returns with an interview with his longtime friend, Drew Friedman. Friedman has a new collection of caricatures out, Chosen People, and is doing a signing in Los Angeles this Friday.

I have absolutely no memory of having said that [I planned to become a producer] but I probably did over multiple beers and Chinese food in Chinatown. I suppose I envisioned myself as the next George Jessel or Max Bialystock? Back then we bounced a lot of interesting future plans back and forth. Didn’t we discuss starting an agency to book comedians for funerals?

I know there was a time before we met at SVA that I resisted becoming a cartoonist or illustrator, and considered a career in stand-up comedy. But like Pacino in The Godfather Part III, it was inevitable, I was sucked back in. I have no regrets about not entering show business. I was witness to what my dad went through over the years in Hollywood and although he’s had great success in his career, things could also get very demoralizing for him. But he had a knack for bouncing back which is what you need to survive, I don’t know if I could have.

I’m a contented misanthrope; I like the life of a solitary artist, emerging from my undisclosed underground bunker from time to time to promote a new book. And I’ve gotten enough of a show biz fix by having greats like Abe Vigoda, Joe Franklin, or Larry Storch on hand to help celebrate my latest releases.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Incoming Marvel editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski kicked off the most ridiculous first week on the job imaginable by confessing to Bleeding Cool that over a decade ago, while working as an associate editor at the company, he also sold comic scripts to the company under the false identity of Japanese mangaka "Akira Yoshida." (Cebulski is a white American who lived for a time in Japan.) Cebulski had developed a complicated backstory for Yoshida, and even once gave an interview in character to Comic Book Resources. The statement Cebulski gave to Bleeding Cool is, in the grand Marvel tradition, empty and upbeat.

I stopped writing under the pseudonym Akira Yoshida after about a year. It wasn’t transparent, but it taught me a lot about writing, communication and pressure. I was young and naïve and had a lot to learn back then. But this is all old news that has been dealt with, and now as Marvel’s new Editor-in-Chief, I’m turning a new page and am excited to start sharing all my Marvel experiences with up and coming talent around the globe.

The response online has been predictably and understandably harsh, and the story has migrated from fannish comics sites to mainstream media outlets such as Vulture, The Guardian, and The Hollywood Reporter (in a piece written by Graeme "Fanboy Rampage" McMillan, no less).

—Interviews & Profiles. Meg Lemke talks to Gene Luen Yang about diversity in books and his work as a reading ambassador.

So, I would never tell a writer that they cannot write outside of their experience. I almost think that it’s the defining job of a writer to be able to go outside of their own experience.

But I would say: don’t let that fear that you feel allow you to stop writing the story you want to write. You should let that fear drive you to do homework. You should let that fear drive you to humility. Approaching experiences that aren’t your own with a certain humility.

Alex Dueben spoke to GG:

I spend a lot of time laying in bed thinking about and playing out scenarios in my mind and then I go to my computer and start trying to put some of those scenes on the page. I work all digital now because it gives me much more flexibility to move stuff around. Like I mentioned above, the writing and drawing happens together and it’s just a process of redrawing things that don’t work. It’s not very efficient. Sometimes I’ll get to the middle of a story and have to throw everything out and start over again because I went down bad path. Again, it’s very intuitive – sort of an “I’ll recognize it when I see it” kind of approach.

And he spoke to Sophie Goldstein:

When I was at the Center for Cartoon Studies we had Paul Pope come as a visiting artist and one of the things he said really stuck with me—that he writes stories to give himself stuff that he wants to draw. Which may seem super-obvious, but that just blew my mind. I was like, I am never writing another script with a car again. [laughs] Which I haven’t actually stuck to, but I definitely think that fed into House of Women. I love science fiction, but I like drawing natural environments, not machines, and so House of Women takes place on a planet that’s essentially a jungle.

There were a lot of choices made in House of Women that were about giving me things that I wanted to draw.

The latest guest on Process Party is Sarah Glidden, and the most recent on Comics Alternative is Tim Lane.

A Poor Man’s Stone Temple Pilots

What we do in life echoes in eternity, so prepare for your eternity to echo with Matt Seneca's extensive review of Antoine Cossé's Showtime, which we excerpted here at The Journal just a few weeks ago. Here's the part of Matt's review where he distills a 176 page graphic novel into a bunch of seemingly contradictory influences in a way that makes those of us who are no longer jealous of him kiss our fingers like we just baked the perfect pizza pie.

Rather, it scans like a take on Yuichi Yokoyama's Travel reinterpreted through the hyperactive, goofball Continental sensibility of Olivier Schrauwen. Or maybe an issue of a Golden Age super-mystic comic like Dr. Fate crossed with the post-Tarantino sensibility of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. There's a lot going on here, in short, but through it all Cosse levitates comfortably above his influences and contemporaries to produce a work that feels like it could come only from him. 

Bonus points to those of you who understand his sports references without looking them up: i'm not a real man!

Elsewhere!

News. Kate Beaton's crowdfunding site for her sister's cancer treatment has hit its initial target and is now looking for further help with the intention of pursuing a cure in the United States. Kate has set up a Flickr page to better showcase the excellent and moving comics she's been putting together, collecting and pairing with family photos--I linked to this once, and am linking to it again. Moving, funny, peerless.

Interviews & Profiles. Jason Shiga stops by the Multiversity website to talk about Demon on the Comics Syllabus podcast. Shiga's a smart, funny creator and Demon is the second best graphic novel First Second has published (their best is Gus & His Gang)--this is a no brainer.

Reviews & Sundry. It's list season, so head on over to The Globe & Mail to check out Sean Roger's picks for best graphic novels of the year. For some dumb reason, Sean's editors label his picks as "Sean Roger's Favorite Comics" instead of just calling them the Best of the Year, which is the language they use for most of the other sections. 

Over at Kirkus, they've posted the one graphic novel list they will bother to come up with. In keeping with Kirkus tradition, it's the middle grade list, as the kids division of Kirkus is the only one aware that comics are still regularly published for human consumption.

At Sequential State, Alex Hoffman reckons with the difficulties inherent in publishing collections of long-running webcomics. While he uses a Star Wars example to make a point about comics--as close to a dealbreaker as it gets--that's just an editorial problem, sort of like the one he blames for a perceived rise of disappointing graphic novels.

Artists collecting their own work for Kickstarter may not have that kind of funding or institutional support, but it’s incumbent on any publisher printing these books to make these editorial decisions.  There are a lot of fine comics out there that could be good or great with an editor. And, let’s be frank. It’s clear that these are editorial considerations that are not happening, because M.F.K. vol. 1 exists as a book as it currently stands.

I went looking for reviews of the most recent issue of Savage Dragon, the long-running Image series that long ago became one of the oddest things Image publishes, after hearing from various retailers about the explicit depictions of sex that took place in the comic. Considering how far back that particular fetish of creator Erik Larsen goes, I didn't think that there would be much to it--but I suppose featuring enough sperm to fill an aquarium is worth some kind of prize. Most reviews seemed to take the story at face value, reckoning as much with the comic's XXX related content as with the weird meta-commentary within the story about its other narrative choice, which was the return of a character not seen since a Santa Claus related issue published back when the comic was in the double digits.

Generally speaking, I don't think you could really call the comic bad, but I do think you could dismiss it as such as an easy way to avoid the extraordinary weirdness of it--this being a comic where the creator decided to up the pornographic content as a test of his readers patience modeled on what he remembered Dave Sim having done in old issues of Cerberus, while defending himself in the letters page against Trump supporters furious with him for his depiction of their beloved President in previous issues, set during a story arc where the main character has been forced to move to Canada following the election, a Canada Larsen has decided will be depicted more realistically than the way he has spent the last couple of decades depicting Chicago. 

Oh, and the sex is, in part, motivated in part because the character finally got a vasectomy. There's a lot more information about said vasectomy, and the realistic implications, at the link above. Get your freak on, Larsen.

No Thought to Our Interests

Welcome back to the site. Today we've got a short excerpt from Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden's How to Read Nancy, the book my old co-editor Dan called the best book ever written on comics. I've read it now myself, and agree that it's at least the best book on comics I've personally read. As many of you probably already know, the book examines comics through the lens of one particular Ernie Bushmiller comic strip, broken down and analyzed from 44 different angles. There are also more than a dozen appendices in which they explore various contextual issues, and our excerpt today is Appendix 2, in which they focus primarily on the contingencies of publishing: paper stock, newspaper layouts, coloring, etc.

Compared to the images presented throughout this book, this version of the strip may look a little different. But it is essentially what most readers on August 8, 1959, saw when they scanned the comics page that morning. The drab, sour hue of cheap newsprint is a far cry from the crisp white paper that you hold in your hands. Made from coarse wood pulp (the entire log, bark and all, is utilized in its manufacture), newsprint absorbs printer’s ink like a thirsty sponge and the results stand in dramatic contrast to the printer’s ink that forms the letters of this sentence, which sits upon the surface of the slick coated stock so handsomely.

The strip above is neither quite black nor white (as the photostat camera saw Bushmiller’s Higgins ink lines on fresh three-ply Strathmore) but a combination of gray newsprint (soon cream, then yellow, now dun), imperfect ink coverage, and lurking phantom grays — the visual artifacts of the soaked-in mystery images on the reverse side of the thin newsprint sheet. Paper itself is evocative, and the varieties and grades used in the printing trade can affect the reader’s preconceptions, the reading itself, and the memory of that reading as well. Printed newsprint, in particular, carries a distinctive tactility and unique scent and, when especially well inked, may not completely dry for many years.

Typical mid-twentieth-century newspaper technology may have produced a daily record that was dependably legible, but never one that was particularly definitive when it came to reproducing photos of NASA space monkeys, ads for the brand-new Bic ballpoint pen — or comic strips. Nor was it ever expected to be. Yesterday’s newspaper has been synonymous with today’s toilet paper since the invention of the daily press. In comparison, twenty-first-century technology delivers imagery that is so pixel-accurate that it is not to be believed. So don’t believe it. In full disclosure, even the version of the strip presented in this book has been compromised. With the whereabouts of the original artwork for August 8, 1959’s Nancy currently unknown and no extant proof sheet available, we began our production work with the best available source material: a 1960 paperback reprint on a paper grade only slightly better than newsprint (see illustration above).

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. BuzzFeed has reported that five more women have come forward with accusations of misconduct by former DC editor Eddie Berganza.

The new accusations against Eddie Berganza, 53, follow a BuzzFeed News story that detailed how the company failed to discipline him, and even promoted him to executive editor, after a 2010 complaint to human resources. Berganza eventually was demoted in 2012 following allegations that he had forcibly kissed a woman at a comic convention that year. DC Comics, a subsidiary of Warner Bros., fired him on Nov. 13 after the BuzzFeed News story appeared.

But now five more women have told BuzzFeed News about their own experiences with Berganza. One says he forcibly kissed her, something he’d previously been accused of doing to a different woman in the 2010 complaint, and to the other one in 2012. Others now coming forward allege inappropriate touching, and one says Berganza told her she was "too pretty" to be interesting. If DC Comics had acted earlier to rein Berganza in, the women say, they might have been spared harassment and felt more comfortable pursuing careers at major comic publishers.

Nobuhiro Watsuki, best known for the Rurouni Kenshin manga series, was arrested by Tokyo police last week for possession of child pornography.

His charge is violation of the law against child prostitution and child pornography, and the police has sent the case to the public prosecutor's office.

According to the police investigation, Watsuki possessed several DVDs that included footage of naked girls in their early teens at his office in Tokyo in October. He has already admitted the charge and said, "I liked girls in the higher grades of elementary school to the second grade of junior high." During the investigation for another child pornography crime, the police learned that Watsuki purchased some DVDs of early teen girls. Then its youth guidance division searched his house and found about 100 child pornography DVDs.


—Interviews & Profiles.
Chris Hassan has interviewed the infamous former Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter about the current state of superhero comics.

Comics is completely unlike magazine publishing. It’s unlike book publishing. Comics have more in common with single malt scotch than they do with other kinds of publishing because it’s a relationship. It’s a relationship marketing business. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to see what happened to Spider-Man next month. I didn’t give a damn if the cover was foil-embossed–because it wasn’t. It’s all about them loving Spider-Man, the character of Spider-Man, wanting to know what’s going on with Spider-Man. If they miss an issue and they don’t care, you lost. So you have to understand, you’re building a relationship. Stan took it a step farther and created a relationship between the creators. Everyone felt Stan was their friend. Kids would send him childish confessions. “Am I a bad person because I did this or that.” When they’re involved, you win. When they’re not, I don’t care how many foil-embossed covers there are.

The latest guest on RiYL is Nicole Georges.

—Reviews & Commentary. For the Chicago Tribune, Michael Tisserand has reviewed Glenn Bray and Frank Young's book on Art Young, To Laugh That We May Not Weep.

Among the lesser-known outcomes of the trial of the eight suspects in Chicago’s Haymarket riots: How it helped launch one of our great cartoonists.

When the notorious trial got underway in June 1886, seated with the press was Art Young, then a 20-year-old illustrator originally from Orangeville, Ill. Young, assigned to cover the event for the Chicago Evening Mail, grabbed a chair at a table with other court reporters, near the defense attorneys. He sketched the proceedings and then hurried to the Evening Mail offices to engrave his lines onto chalk plates, which would be used for reproducing the images in the paper. His work received enough notice for him to move over to the Daily News. Then he landed a $50-per-week stint at the Chicago Tribune.

Young was enthusiastic about the move, later noting that the Tribune had installed an elevator and the Daily News had not. However, Young was soon dismissed by editor Robert Patterson. He never knew exactly why. “I have never asked an editor why he didn’t want my work; it would have been too much like asking a woman why she didn’t love me,” he later explained in his memoir.

Ray Davis writes about Eddie Campbell and The Lovely, Horrible Stuff.

The Lovely Horrible Stuff was published in 2012. Following on the full-color mysteries of The Fate of the Artist and the house-museum of Alec: The Years Have Pants, odd looking and oddly structured, marketed as a book "about money" but disconcertingly apolitical, it was, to reappropriate Jonathan Lethem's phrase, "very quietly received."

That doesn't mean it didn't land an impact here and there. It just meant landing in a soft place.

And now aw shit.

* * *

I have a similar soft spot for 1993's Graffiti Kitchen. After a decade of charming groove, Graffiti Kitchen was a "departure," as the critics say. The King Canute Crowd's scrappy Zip-a-Tone vanished along with grins, pratfalls, and pubbish inconsequence. Instead, Campbell scratched the page till it bled.

The departure was permanent. Starting with his next personal work, Campbell changed "Alec"'s genre, marital status, profession, homeland, and (before long) name. That new groove spooled over the next two decades and there at the end of the spool lies The Lovely Horrible Stuff.

There Is No Shortcut

Today at the Journal, we've got a look at Nobrow's latest volume of Geis, by Alexis Deacon. It'll be out in December--keep an eye out for an upcoming review. Like many of you, The Comics Journal will be taking Thursday and Friday off because we're still legally allowed to do so. On with the news!

ELSEWHERE

News. Sheila Barry, the publisher of Groundwood Books died of cancer last weekGroundwood is a Canadian publisher of exceptional children's books, as well as the award winning graphic novel work by Isabelle Arsenault--Jane, the Fox and Me is the one everybody knows (rightfully so, as it was selected as a New York Times Best Illustrated Book), but for my money, you can't do much better than Louis Undercover, a tremendous and affecting story about two young children grappling with their estranged father's alcoholism. I had the honor of sitting alongside Sheila on an ALA panel last year, and found her to be an inspiring advocate for graphic novels, illustration, and the artists who create them. Her passing is an irreplaceable loss.

Over at Hyperallergic, Jessica Campbell delivered a somewhat scattered (by design, I'd argue) comic about how she is responding to the daily revelations of sexual harassment and assault by men in power. It's a shotgun blast of emotion, but I'd bet that Campbell knows exactly what she is doing. 

We haven't talked about most of the Mark Millar related news that has been released over the last month, but I found the news that Kick-Ass--which is probably the most successful comic book published by Icon, the creator-owned Marvel Comics imprint that was expressly designed to keep big name writers from abandoning Marvel entirely--will now be published by the very publisher that Icon existed to keep them away from: Image Comics. Thankfully, Marvel has already figured out how to win back fans and creators: by imitating Marvel movies. 
Post-credit scenes, y'all!

Interviews & Profiles

This interview with Conor Stechschulte gets in deep, which is the best kind of interview. It was published in the lead up to his show in Italy, which is--well. Do you have a show in Italy? I don't!

I was wondering when someone was going to realize that the comics community didn't have their own version of Marie Forleo, those vaguely benevolent parasites who help maintain the power structure of teacher/student in the fallow years of a freelance lifestyle, apparently Jessica Abel was too, as she has taken on the role. Here's her take on how to fix your life, an interview done in part to promote a book of the same name.

If you clicked on the Mutha link above, hopefully you stayed there to catch up with this Gene Yang interview where he gets into his Reading Without Walls program. It's a worthy enterprise, and as Yang is someone who gets shit done, over and over again, it's always nice to get on board a success early.

Reviews & Sundry

The New York Times recommended eleven books this week, one of them the latest children's graphic novel by Argentinian super-star Liniers, another being the newest Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child. As the father of a small child and an avid fan of Reacher, I'm a fan of this list; as a fellow editor, I have no idea who else this list could possibly be for. Another list worth checking out is this NYPL one--there's a few graphic novels on there, but there should be more.

NPR on Body Music. I like to watch generalist publications grapple with books they clearly don't like, but want to find a way to praise nonetheless.

This isn't comics, but one of my favorite series on the internet is the ongoing "Movie Poster of the Week" column at Mubi. The latest installment takes a look at the way artists from around the world responded to Dreyer's classic Passion of Joan of Arc. It's such a simple, basic fascination--they had to interpret the movie or the idea of the movie, with an eye towards compelling an audience in their native lands to go see the movie. A problem, an art object and an audience--here's a list of the various solutions different artists came up with. Uniformity of design for ease of worldwide consumption is boring, stupid and yet may be unavoidable: but at least we can still look back and see individual vision in the recent past. 

Have a great holiday!

Color Wheel

Today on the site, Brian Nicholson reviews the latest from Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët, Satania.

The standard progression of horror stories, in which events become worse and worse, is often described as "a descent into hell." Such a descent is the literal plot of Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët's Satania. Kerascoët, a pseudonym for a married couple working collaboratively, have a style that betrays no surface ugliness, and so does not hint at the horror to come. They recently illustrated a children's book written by Malala. Their work is friendly and welcoming, bright with color. Through the lens they provide, it is easy enough to interpret what is happening as a fantasy narrative, a story of exploration, in which dangers might bring harm to peripheral characters, but will not make too caustic an impression upon the psyche of the reader.

Readers of Vehlmann and Kerascoët's previous collaboration Beautiful Darkness might be more prepared. There were a number of them; that book was a hit. Kerascoët's work is, as the book's title stated, beautiful. It functions typically, with cartooned characters moving inside of more realistic backgrounds. However, the linework on the figures remains lively, sketched out and improvisational, in a way found more often in the energy of storyboards than the labored-over end result most cartoonists working in an animation-derived style employ. The watercolors they employ then adds to the texture that defines the backgrounds' detail and keeps up with the spontaneity of the characters' acting. The cumulative effect grants a sense of depth to these worlds, and the darker aspects of Vehlmann's scripting do not subvert Kerascoët's skill set so much as excavate it. Beyond the foregrounded elements, another form of life is breathing, and there is a deeper meaning in play beyond the surface pleasures.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews. Gabriele di Fazio talks to Conor Stechschulte.

At the risk of over-explaining and squeezing out better and more interesting interpretations, I’d say that The Amateurs is an attempt to lampoon, ridicule and take apart (literally, haha) the idea of self-reliant, non-relational masculinity – the man who has all the answers. This is the character that Jim and Winston try to perform for the women in the book.

A huge influence on The Amateurs was the book Flesh of my Flesh by Kaja Silverman. She argues for replacing the Oedipus myth with the Orpheus myth with regards to gender – a story based on mortality rather than castration. She says our mortality allows us to relate to one another analogously, through our resemblances rather than metaphorically which always presumes a hierarchy. I was trying for a lot of these ideas and borrowed imagery from the Orpheus myth (i.e. the head washed up on the shore).

The most recent guest on RiYL is Trina Robbins.

—Reviews & Commentary. Ernie Bushmiller skeptic Thad Komorowski gives Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden's How to Read Nancy a positive review.

How to Read Nancy will inevitably be an important college text: its writing is engaging but never fannish, and breaks down the concepts of visual storytelling in a manner that will not turn off the average reader or student. I can easily see this becoming an alternative to Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics in many curriculums. That book has its virtues and will always be valuable, but I always thought it an awful idea for McCloud to do it as an actual comic book. Newgarden and Karasik lavishly illustrate the history and their thesis, and also understand that concepts need to be explained in words without distracting the reader with the authors’ own creative concept.

Caleb Orecchio revisits some of the coloring work Françoise Mouly did for Marvel in the '70s.

What a pleasant surprise to find her in the pages of some of my favorite, dumb back-issues. This is half the reason I love old newsprint comics, you never know what combination of creators you will find, and what the results will be. Françoise Mouly colors?! What a treat.

I like how she considered tone and value. Something that wasn’t necessarily regarded often within the machine of newsprint boy’s-adventure comics. I assume this was merely a “job” to her on a freelance basis; and the years that she worked being ’78 and ’79, I can’t help but muse that the capital for publishing RAW (first published in 1980) was acquired through Marvel paychecks. Though this may not (probably not) be strictly true, I emit an evil laugh when I consider this. Water into wine. Mwahahaha!

Finally, TCJ's own Joe McCulloch and Tucker Stone discuss CAB and comics with Tucker's four-year-old daughter.

The Fever of The Werewolf

It's time to welcome our newest columnist to the fold--Austin English is back, and with him is his column, 10 Cent Museum! Austin is a cartoonist living in New York, whose most recent book, Gulag Casual, was published in 2016 by 2d Cloud. He is currently at work on a follow up book, Meskin and Umezo, which will appear in 2019. He runs the publishing house Domino Books and has written for the Journal since 2001. His first column is on Feininger, the language of cartooning, and how being addicted to one language might just turn you into a singular, blinkered clown

ELSEWHERE

News. It was announced last week that CB Cebulski--a man who allegedly used social media to instruct wanna-be artists to bring Five Guys with them during NYCC portfolio submissions--would be taking over the role of Editor-in-Chief at Marvel Comics, following the mutual decision between Axel Alonso and Marvel that Axel should go somewhere else, forever. Cebulski's biggest legacy up to this point (besides calling himself a "foodie") is that he was one of the guys who figured out that, thanks to the spread of high speed internet, super-hero publishers could start hiring non-American artists at poverty level wages. (He was also had the wisdom to be alive and near the room where Brian K. Vaughan delivered Runaways, which was a comic you used to have to read, but will soon be able to watch on television, thank God.) Whether or not Cebulski's vast knowledge of places to order ramen noodles will help Marvel regain the luster it once had is a question no one has an answer to yet, but then again: who cares?

Reviews & Sundry. The Washington Post published Michael Cavna's list of the Best Graphic Novels of 2017He fell for Tom King's obvious attempt at virtue signaling, but Gabrielle Bell is on there too, so no big deal--we all have our blind spots. If I had to make one of these--wait, do I?--I'd probably include some of these books as well.

How many reviews of Henry King are there? Not enough for my taste. Comicsverse liked the book fine, rating it both with a 95% and the term "Morbid Fascination". I wonder what they would have said if the book got a 90%!

Flatiron

Today on the site, Frank Santoro returns with a new Riff Raff column, this time about his experience at the latest CAB festival.

I skipped the after party to go have dinner with my publisher, Serge Ewenczyk of Éditions çà et là. He came all the way from France to enjoy the show and to visit with his authors like me. We talked about the book I’m doing for him. And the show, of course. He said, “Everybody is doing Risograph now in the States. It all looks more or less the same to me.” I had to laugh. I could see his point. Lots of similar palettes and copycatting. I drove Serge to the subway and then I went on a walk with Aaron Cometbus through Prospect Park at midnight. Then finally back at my friends’ house where I was staying to have a celebratory drink and count the money I made that day at the show. Survey says: best CAB ever, saleswise.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The Paris Review has published the introduction Daniel Clowes wrote for the new edition of Nicole Claveloux's Green Hand.

I’ve been deeply in love with the work of Nicole Claveloux for close to forty years, which is strange because until the New York Review of Comics reissue of The Green Hand, I’d never actually read one of her stories. I don’t read French, but more to the point, it somehow seemed perilous to focus in any way on the text, as I feared it could only diminish the mysterious power of her images.

I first saw her name in Heavy Metal magazine when I was in high school and, soon after, through some miracle, managed to blunder across a French album of her work called La main verte. I remember standing in the mildewed chaos of Larry’s Comics in Chicago (RIP), transfixed by the beautiful, electrified colors—unlike any I’d seen before (or since). I took it home and obsessed over every panel, drawn into an intimate, immersive private dream world of deep and complicated emotions, an obsession that has only deepened over the years with the acquisition of further volumes of her work, thanks to French eBay and my NYRC editors.

—The well-regarded French television series Tac Au Tac is returning early next year.

Debuting in 1969, “Tac Au Tac” was a French series (with 12-14 minute episodes) hosted by series creator, Jean Frapat, in which comic artists would appear on TV to draw special challenges. Given a marker and a big pad of paper, they’d improvise often hilarious drawings either in cooperation with each other, or in an attempt to make the next person’s job harder.

If you’ve seen Mark Evanier’s “Quick Draw!” panel at San Diego Comic-Con, you’ll have the idea. It’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” for cartoonists. It’s not quite as rapid fire or fast-paced, but it flows well with a little tv editing.

The show lasted almost ten years, and resulted in some memorable episodes that belong in the annals of comics history. Imagine watching top artists of all time on your television as they draw things off the tops of their heads. It’s thrilling, especially considering that this was not a day and age when everyone had a video recorder in their pocket.

For Americans, a couple of episodes featured Neal Adams, Joe Kubert, and Moebius. Michael Kaluta and Bernie Wrightson did an episode. Steranko showed up for an episode filmed on a boat in New York City.

—Brian Nicholson writes about Shaky Kane and David Hine's Bulletproof Coffin.

The Bulletproof Coffin seems comfortable with being designated as trash, and is a pastiche of various comics, but they are all things that have historically been considered “good:” Its vision of superheroes is rooted in Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby, the approach to short stories with twists comes from EC horror comics, or 2000 AD, and the end result ends up feeling not far from early Vertigo stuff. All of these things had their own sense of humor about themselves, and all are out of fashion enough at this time for the new one-shot, 1000 Yard Stare, to come out and feel fresh and fun. There’s a sense of play, that still feels thought-through enough to be satisfying. It seems aware of all the gross aspects of the comics industry that inform the work in a way that makes it feel less gross than other works that are invested in a sort of performative naivete.

St. Augustine’s Shiny Wristwatch

Today at the Journal, we've got a fresh, meaty look at the latest work from Antoine Cossé, a cartoonist schooled in my favorite philosophy: make, make, make. While he's worked with a number of outlets, is preferred publisher is Breakdown Press--and the new book is called Showtime.

Elsewhere!

-News. A core part of Kate Beaton's endlessly appealing work has been the way in which she depicts her family members--it's a testimony to her skill as a cartoonist, yes, but also the grace with which she cares and listens to them. One of those family members--her sister Becky Beaton--has been struggling with cervical cancer since 2015. The family has asked for help online in managing the expenses they will incur in pursuing a cure within the United States.

Zanadu Comics will close this coming January. As someone who has directly experienced how incredibly dumb the commentary gets online around the closing of a comic book store, I'll keep it super simple: Zanadu was a wonderful store staffed by wonderful, intelligent, funny and hardworking people. I loved going there, and feel sorry that other people won't get to have that experience. 

-Interviews & Profiles. 

The Chicago Reader covered an online petition to get Eve Ewing--a poet and sociologist known on Twitter as Wikipedia Brown--hired by Marvel as the new writer for Invincible Iron Man, one of the many comics that Brian Michael Bendis was responsible for. The day after, a larger piece about Eve and the lack of black female comic book writers went up at Shondaland. While Eve's initial interest seemed to be driven mostly by her own amusement and how similarly she and the character style their haircut, the campaign seems to have taken off, especially over the last few days--which is also right around the time it was discovered by racist maniacs and horrified Marvel readers who might be taking themselves a bit too seriously. 

Another day, another Emil Ferris article--and this one is in American Libraries, a monthly magazine, which always makes it feel even more intense, because that's prime real estate. It only comes out once a month!

My first champion was a librarian at Gale Elementary School named Mrs. Eldridge. She started me competing in the Illinois History Day competitions, and I got to go down to Springfield. I joke about it, but it seemed that I would shake a governor’s hand, and he would be indicted two months later. It happened more than once.

Reviews & Sundry. I was delighted to discover that, not only is there a podcast completely dedicated to the best super-hero summer event comic of all time, but that said podcast already has 28 episodes online

You might think that Republicans and Democrats can't agree on anything, and if you were basing your opinion solely on social media, you'd be right. But in the real world, Democrats and Republicans all got together and universally agreed that all Federal websites should be mobile friendly. Imagine that!

 

Shutter Speed

Joe McCulloch is back again, with a review of Josh Simmons and Patrick Keck's unofficial Batman comic, Twilight of the Bat.

This is the second unauthorized Batman comic to be written by Josh Simmons, that unsparing specialist in physical, emotional and moral breakdown. The first one was a self-published minicomic printed in 2007 under the simple title of Batman and subsequently posted online; it depicted the caped crusader at his most ideologically severe, lecturing a disgusted Catwoman on how he's devised a magnificent means of permanently disfiguring criminals. Batman cannot ever kill, you see, so it's crucial that the superstitious and cowardly lot that is the criminal element be marked - to live forever with the shame of their transgressions, and to be shunned, then, by all the good people of society. On its own, this is not an original idea. Lee Falk's transitional superhero character and Batman predecessor the Phantom left the mark of a skull on the jaws of those villains he struck, while the yet-earlier pulp character the Spider stamped his brand upon the foes he felled, but Simmons' Batman is depicted with unusual intimacy: knees pressing against his chin as he curls up to dream of packed prisons and children getting blasted with fire-hoses, swooning ecstatically, high above a tottering riot of Gotham rooftops.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:


—Interviews & Profiles.
Chris Ware continues to promote his backbreaking new career retrospective, Monograph, which is more or less essential reading for his enthusiasts, and may be the only person alive to appear in the same week on both Charlie Rose and Inkstuds.

At Vulture, Abraham Riesman interviews Walking Dead co-creator Robert Kirkman about his new TV documentary series, Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics, focusing on the "really, really ugly history of the comic-book industry," specifically in regard to creators' rights. (Strangely, Tony Moore's name never comes up.)

Was it hard to get DC and Marvel to play ball, given that a lot of the episodes are pretty critical of them?
A little bit. DC seemed to cooperate a little more than Marvel did. We got access to [DC co-publisher] Jim Lee for the Image episode, which we’re very grateful for. They were very involved in the Milestone episode because they’re doing a Milestone relaunch. But, y’know, I think that a lot of the worst things that Marvel and DC have done in their history, hopefully, are behind them. I think that it’s different people at the helm at this point, and I think they recognize that. So, it wasn’t too terribly difficult. And it’s not like the people that work at DC don’t think that [Superman co-creators Jerry] Siegel and [Joe] Shuster were given the short end of the stick.

At Hyperallergic, Angelica Frey profiles the mysterious GG.

GG chose to publish pseudonymously, as she does not want her work and her art to be overshadowed by her personality or backstory. In fact, when she started seriously writing comics, she initially only wanted to publish online and anonymously. “I agree with Elena Ferrante, who’s stayed totally anonymous, that books don’t need their authors once they’re written — if the work has something to say, it will find the right people to hear and understand it without the author having to speak for it,” she elaborated to me. And indeed, despite GG’s austere and allegorical modes of storytelling, the theme of alienation in I’m Not Here resonates loud and clear.

And CBS Sunday Morning interviewed George Booth:


—Reviews & Commentary.
Simon Willis writes about a London exhibition of Tove Jansson for the NYRB.

The popularity of the Moomins spawned an empire of television shows, films, and theme parks, as well as all manner of merchandise from plastic toys to crockery.

But over time, Jansson came to feel exhausted by the Moomins and that their success had obscured her other ambitions as an artist. In 1978, she satirized her situation in a short story titled “The Cartoonist” about a man called Stein contracted to produce a daily strip, Blubby, which has generated a Moomin-like universe of commercial paraphernalia—“Blubby curtains, Blubby jelly, Blubby clocks and Blubby socks, Blubby shirts and Blubby shorts.” “Tell me something,” another cartoonist asks Stein. “Are you one of those people who are prevented from doing Great Art because they draw comic strips?” Stein denies it, but that was precisely Jansson’s fear.

At LARB, John W.W. Zeisser writes about Peter Bagge's Fire!!

Fire!! takes its name from the short-lived literary journal [Zora Neale] Hurston co-founded and edited with other Harlem Renaissance luminaries, including her roommate Richard Bruce Nugent, Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman, Countee Cullen, Gwendolyn Bennett, and several others.

Fire!!, which was meant as a shot across the bow of the respectable, middle-class black literary production favored by the likes of Alain Locke and W. E. B. Du Bois’s “talented tenth,” reflects Hurston’s idiosyncratic ideas and deep commitment to African-American cultural production. The journal set out to give voice to the “low” art of Harlem and address many of the taboo issues within the community, including homosexuality, interracial love, and racism. However, Hurston et al. only managed to produce one issue before their headquarters burned to the ground. As Bagge has Hurston say to Bruce Nugent upon hearing the news, “Pretty prophetic, huh?”

Yussef Cole uses the recent video game Cuphead to explore racialist caricature in early American animation and its echoes in contemporary art and culture.

After World War II, when the NAACP and other organizations ran campaigns criticizing explicitly racist caricatures in animation, the industry responded by simply ceasing to create black characters of any kind. In Christopher P. Lehman’s The Colored Cartoon he writes: “No theatrical cartoon studio created an alternative black image to the servile, crude, hyperactive clowns of the preceding half-century. The cartoon directors of the 1950s, many with animation careers dating back to the 1920s, had no experience in developing such a figure.” Studio MDHR, in interviews, is quick to point out that they avoided stereotypes in Cuphead; that they focused on “the technical, artistic merit, while leaving all the garbage behind.” The truth may be dirty, and often uncomfortable. But it’s preferable to offering up a bleached white past, while pretending nothing was lost in the process.

RIP Edward Herman.

Zero Percent Status Control

Today at The Comics Journal, Sloane Leong speaks with Zachary Braun, about his webcomics, science fiction and more! 

What draws you to science fiction? And what makes you so optimistic about humanity’s future and potential?

To tell you the truth, I'm not optimistic about humanity's future. But Solar System and its conclusion were conducted in spite of this, because it's our responsibility to look up, for as long as we populate this planet. Our main problem as a species is that "look up" means different things to different traditions.

Science fiction is the ultimate escape from this mess. Anything can be possible, even hope. Although, I can't help but wonder if we turn to fantasy to satisfy the impulse to do something, which then quenches that initiative. Too much escape, and nothing will happen in the real world. As a storyteller, my hat is off to those who did get their degrees—via an institution or the street—and are struggling to make a difference.

Elsewhere

-Reviews & Commentary. I have and (will always) bow to Kelly Kanayama's knowledge of The Punisher, but after reading her entertaining and perfect list of 7 Absurd Punisher Moments We Hope Make It Into The TV Series, I did wonder if maybe she has neglected to watch Ricochet, which is the true high water mark for using large books as body armor.

-News. This Montreal Gazette profile of Drawn & Quarterly's recent expansion in the retail market--they opened a children's bookstore--is meaty and full of insight into what it takes to be an indie in the Amazon era. If you've run into Peggy in the past year and talked to her for more than a few minutes, you already know how much of a positive impact the first D&Q store has had on their neighborhood. The retail passion is REAL. 

The latest development in the Eddie Berganza situation? They finally fired him.

"Warner Bros and DC Entertainment have terminated the employment of DC Comics Group Editor Eddie Berganza," the company said in a statement. "We are committed to eradicating harassment and ensuring that all employees, as well as our freelance community, are aware of our policies, are comfortable reporting any concerns and feel supported by our Company."

You can take your pick of news outlets for this story, I chose the Newsweek one because it was one of the few that acknowledged how long the Berganza stories have been around. It would be repugnant to twist this particular story into some kind of "look how far things have come" narrative...and yet, I can't help but be glad that, at the age of 53, Eddie Berganza is out of a job and will now have to attempt to find another one with this particular black mark against him. It's a cheap, petty thing to say. And yet this is a man who treated women cheaply, and dismissed their feelings, lives and careers as petty things, beneath his concern. It is unlikely he did anything abhorrent enough to be punished in a court of law. His friends have yet to abandon him, and most likely never will. So for today, for this week--I think it is fine to acknowledge the victory. It was too long in the making, and it isn't enough. But it is something.

Haunted World

Chris Mautner is here with a review of Ulli Lust's most recently translated book, Voices in the Dark.

Ulli Lust’s North American debut, Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, was a harrowing, heartbreaking and incredibly powerful work. Her 2013 graphic novel, Voices in the Dark, released recently in the U.S. by New York Review Comics, strives to be just as ambitious and emotionally wrenching. It unfortunately isn’t, but it's not for lack of trying, and it does prove that Lust is more than a flash-in-the-pan cartoonist.

An adaptation of a novel by German author Marcel Beyer, Voices in the Dark tells the story of two people during the second world war: Helga Goebbels, the eldest daughter of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, and Hermann Karnau, a fictional sound engineer who ends up working for the Nazis and finds himself in the Führerbunker, alongside Helga and her siblings, during the final days of the Third Reich.

One of the biggest problems with Voices lies in the character of Karnau. I have no problem with an unsympathetic or unlikeable protagonist, but Karnau is: a) clearly designed to be a surrogate for the reader; b) really boring.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The biggest news in comics began on Friday with the publication of a lengthy, well-reported BuzzFeed story detailing accusations of sexual harassment leveled against the longtime DC editor Eddie Berganza.

Among the women who reported Berganza to human resources, none still work for DC. None are even working at mainstream comics publishers anymore; they’ve largely put superheroes behind them.

“We all left, and he’s still there,” said Janelle Asselin, a former DC editor who spearheaded the multi-employee HR complaint against Berganza in 2010. “That, to me, tells me what DC Comics’ priority is.”

Berganza did not respond to requests for comment for this story. A representative for DC Comics said DC and WB were “committed” to a harassment-free workplace. Unlike cases in other industries, the people who spoke to BuzzFeed News did not know of settlements, payouts, or nondisclosure agreements with women who say Berganza harassed them. Instead, what has kept many of these stories confined to gossip, blogs, and occasional social media posts is the small size of the comics industry, and fear of being blacklisted by the biggest publishers in comics.

Later in the weekend, DC announced that Berganza had been suspended pending review:

DC Entertainment has immediately suspended Mr. Berganza and has removed him from performing his duties as Group Editor at DC Comics. There will be a prompt and yet careful review into next steps as it relates to the allegations against him, and the concerns our talent, employees and fans have shared. DC continues to be extremely committed to creating a safe and secure working environment for our employees and everyone involved in the creation of our comic books.

This is the most prominent story involving sexual misconduct in comics, but not the only one, as accusations have been made against at least two cartoonists involved in small-press comics. After we gain more information, we will report on those.

—Interviews. At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Nathan Goldman interviewed Eli Valley.


Speaking of that, you get a lot of shit from the Jewish right: Commentary’s John Podhoretz called you a kapo, meaning a Jew who cooperated with Nazis; The New York Times’s Bret Stephens called your work “grotesque” and “wretched.” How do you feel about those kinds of remarks?

I think they’re despicable, but they’re entitled to their views. “Grotesque” and “wretched” is fine, actually. “Kapo” is inexcusable — although I’ve been using it lately. However, I think when I’ve been using it, talking about people who are normalizing Nazism in the United Staes, it has much more relevance and accuracy than calling me a kapo for doing a comic that was a cry of anguish after a Palestinian boy was burnt alive. That’s literally why Podhoretz called me a kapo.

The most recent guest on RiYL is Anders Nilsen.

—Reviews & Commentary. Jason Shiga has written a guest post for the science fiction magazine Locus about the final volume of Demon.

Science fiction has always been my favorite genre, especially when the story takes the form of scientific discovery itself. There’s something incredibly satisfying about the classic scientific method of observing, imagining, testing and finally getting a clear answer from the universe about some fundamental way it’s structured. I feel the human mind has a science shaped keyhole in it and hearing a good story or joke or cleverly designed experiment all satisfy that same part of the brain. It could be Sherlock Holmes figuring out that what everyone else thought was a ghost was just a (spoiler for 100 year old story) dog covered in luminescent paint. In a way, I think all great fiction is science fiction of a sort.

Paul Gravett has assembled a panel of critics and writers from Brazil, Denmark (our own Matthias Wivel), Finland, New Zealand, Serbia, and Singapore to choose the best comics of 2016 from those countries.

Ytournel is the brightest and probably funniest newspaper cartoonist in Denmark. At their best, his strips break the old, long-established boundaries in terms of format, medium and — most importantly — humour, demonstrating that editorial cartooning can be different and creative, in spite of prescriptive tradition. And he is just plain funny, blending political with keenly observed, social satire. He has an eye for the absurdity and vanity in the banal details of diction and posture that other cartoonists either don’t notice or find too shallow to mine for commentary. This book collects his best work from more than a decade’s worth of work at the daily newspaper Politiken, including his brilliant 2013 comics inset on Søren Kierkegaard, written and drawn on the occasion of the world-famous Danish philosopher’s bicentenary. In it, he not only provides an ‘Existentialism for Beginners-type intro, but also comments hilariously on recent reception history and attendant controversy, and most poignantly situates Kierkegaard’s relevance to the average life of an average person wanting to be a football coach.

“They Kill Everything”

 Today at TCJ, we've got an excerpt from the upcoming Chuck Forsman release, I Am Not  Okay With This. Chuck is my brother from another mother, so you can view this as an abuse of power if you'd like, I am not in charge of your feelings. The new book is more teenage angst, and the first time Chuck did teenage angst, it got turned into a television series on Channel 4 with a soundtrack by the guy from Blur. Does it sound like i'm bragging about my friend Chuck? That's because I am. Because Chuck got a big time television show, and he got it by making a comic book in his house and selling it for a dollar a piece to people through the mail, as opposed to hanging around Meltdown in Los Angeles and chicken-hawking people with hooves for feet. If we don't brag about the times when good people find success, we're leaving the whole thing up to the assholes who are gonna run their mouths anyway. Congratulations, Chuck.

ELSEWHERE

Excerpts are all the rage, it seems--here's one from Julie Maroh over at Buzzfeed from her latest, Body Music. It took me a second, but then I got it. Okay, more than a second. You should time it for yourself!

If you wanted to read any of Lucas Siegel's articles for StarWars.com--why?--you can't, because they've all been removed from the site, and his bio page no longer exists. There's still been no public statement from any of the sites where Lucas used to work, despite the fact that all of the allegations of harassment made against him so far seem to have taken place during the time he was working directly for those companies. I asked Newsarama about the allegations earlier this week, and was told the following by the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at Purch, the company which currently owns Newsarama.

"We will not provide comment on the specifics of Lucas Siegel’s employment at Purch, or the specifics of employment for any other Purch employee, other than to verify that he was an employee from 2009 – 2014."

What's interesting about this story so far is that, while it does appear obvious that these companies let Lucas go in part due to the allegations of sexual harassment made against him, none of these companies appear to be willing to admit that's what they've done. Normally, a company would want to get out in front of a story like this, and make it clear that, when an employee violates their sexual harassment policy (thus putting said company in danger of a lawsuit by the victims of harassment), they look after their people. That isn't what's happening here. 

It's almost like these companies aren't worried that any of the websites that cover this particular subculture are going to take the time to write about this story in any substantive fashion.

ANYWAY

Here's a nice round up of what most struck the fancy of the Seattle Review of Books when they went by the most recent Short Run Festival

I'm at a show myself right now (AASL), and while I'm sorry to miss seeing my friends at CAB--I can't remember the last time I didn't attend that show, and i've exhibited the last five--it would be disingenuous to act as if i'm not enjoying myself. Attending library shows with comics, even in the most minor proximity, is one of the most tremendously psychologically and professionally rewarding things one can do, and shows driven by buying and selling just can't compete. These shows aren't without their challenges, the primary one being that a good bit of the success comics has found in libraries has been won by using them as the gateway drug that will hook reluctant readers on "real" books, i.e. prose--but even the fact that that mentality is being acknowledged as a challenge is a good sign, and the conversations surrounding such subjects is one full of curiosity. I wish more comics artists and publishers would attend these shows for the artform as a whole, but selfishly--it sure does make what I do so much easier when there's only a handful of us to visit.

Dollar Dollar Bill Y’All

Today on the site, Rob Kirby reviews the latest four minicomics from Kuš!, created by Evangelos Androutsopoulos, GG, Patrick Kyle, and Andrés Magán.

The Latvian comics publisher Kuš!, helmed by David Schilter and Sanita Muižniece, celebrated its tenth anniversary this year. From its inception, Kuš! has been dedicated to promoting art comics from international creators with subject matter ranging from light to dark, whimsical to inscrutable, and everything in between. I’ve thought of each new quartet of Kuš! minis as a sort of quasi-anthology and this latest batch genuinely coheres as such: while the comics within wildly vary both tonally and stylistically, all of them traffic in unreliable narration­ or highlight the subjective nature of reality. All four of these minis underscore what makes this publisher such a unique, exciting, and valuable branch of the indie comics scene.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:


—Interviews & Profiles.
Tom Spurgeon talked to the new co-curator of CAB, Matthew James-Wilson.

I've been reading comics for most of my whole life, so I think they've always been a big part of my art education. I think in comparison to a lot of other mediums, comics are really equalizing in that you don't need a lot of resources to make them, consume them, or share them, and there's a really low barrier of entry to become a part of the community around them. It's really important to me that art is available to people no matter what background or situation they're coming from to it, and comics fulfill that really well.

I also think, since there's so little money for the artists and publishers in the industry, there's a level of purity with people's intentions to make comics that's missing from a lot of other art forms. I don't think there are a lot of people who are in it for disingenuous reasons. With comics, if you didn't truly care about doing making them, you probably would have given up by now.

Entertainment Weekly talks to Mark Millar about his first comic book officially published by Netflix, and maybe puts that last quote from James-Wilson in a different light.

Millarworld was always, first and foremost, a comic book company, but since we sold to Netflix it’s obviously become something that crosses all media. If something was turned into a movie, that was a lovely novelty in the past, whereas now when I’m creating stories as a member of staff, I need to keep my eye on the whole picture. We’re thinking of these as movies and TV shows, and the ones we feel would be great for comics will also appear as comic books. I’ve been writing comics since I was 19, so this is amazing for me because it’s what I love doing. I want to do as many comics as I possibly can but keep it all at this kind of level. The Olivier Coipels and so on. It’s actually a pretty perfect arrangement.

The most recent guest on Virtual Memories is Martin Rowson, the most recent guest on Comics Alternative is Joseph Remnant, and I missed that a recent guest on Gilbert Gottfried's podcast was Drew Friedman.

—Misc. Time tries to figure out how much money you can make in comics.

[The letterer] is the person who uses a variety of fonts and sometimes even hand-drawn calligraphy to create everything in the word balloons and illustrating the sound effects. Typically this job runs between $10 and $25 per page, according to the FairPageRates survey. “I was lettering for a long time, that’s how I paid my bills,” Ed Brisson, writer for Iron Fist and an Old Man Logan, told New York Comic Con attendees last month.