Screen Time

Today on the site, Marc Sobel returns with a new installment of his Strip Mine column, in which he concludes his "Bijou Funnies" series.

Welcome back, fellow longbox junkies! In our last installment of the Strip Mine, I teased that I hadn’t gotten to “the good stuff” yet, so, without further ado, here’s the epic conclusion to “Bijou Funnies.” 

Marvel Fanfare #10 (August 1983)
By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the great George Pérez’s retirement due to health reasons. Here’s the announcement from Comic Shop News, which, since I am not much of a Twitterer, is where I first heard about it. 

It’s impossible to put into words how much enjoyment I’ve gotten out of Pérez’s work throughout my life. I’m not sure I love him enough to binge my way through 200+ issues of Teen Titans, but if I were building a Mount Rushmore of my favorite ‘80s and ‘90s superhero artists, he and John Byrne would be locks. Of course, Pérez was so prolific, there’s plenty of his stuff that I haven’t read, but the sweet spot for me is his ‘80s DC work. His Wonder Woman run remains the definitive version of that iconic character, and Crisis on Infinite Earths and The History of the DC Universe are both sumptuous visual feasts I revisit often.

Yesterday, we published Martyn Pedlar's review of Matt Lesniewski's The Freak.

There was an odd digression in a recent article about an artificial-intelligence algorithm generating images to stimulate the part of a monkey’s brain used to recognise faces. “Visual neurons, it seems, like exaggeration,” it read. “In previous studies, [the scientist’s] team showed that face-selective cells will respond more strongly to caricatures than to actual faces.”

Comics are brimming with caricatured faces, of course. Beady eyes, slits for mouths, upside-down 7s for noses. We have no problem responding to them as human, even though their proportions are often strained, distorted, or monstrous. What makes one of these faces ugly – Bernie Wrightson’s monster from Frankenstein, Frank Miller’s Marv from Sin City – and what’s just business-as-usual comic book exaggeration?

The hero of Matt Lesniewski’s graphic novel The Freak has an asymmetrical head: a wide chin, a pointed skull, a thin knot of hair on top. “To many,” the narration goes, “he’s the ugliest man to have walked the planet.” His story begins as he decides to travel to an unnamed city to see if he’ll be treated differently, but immediately he’s surrounded by a crowd, shrieking: “Oh my – that man is revolting!” and “His mere presence decreases the value of this great city” and “I can’t stand the sight of someone so disgusting!” He’s beaten almost to death and his shovel is stolen. It’s his only possession, used for his grave-digging, and he’s determined to get it back.

We also published an excerpt from Joakim Dresher's Motel Universe.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Stan Lee's ex-manager Keya Morgan has been charged with elder abuse.

[L.A. County District Attorney] Jackie Lacey’s crew has hit the Spider-Man and Avengers co-creator’s former business manager with elder abuse charges. Keya Morgan is facing one felony count of false imprisonment of an elder adult, three felony counts of theft, embezzlement, and forgery or fraud against an elder adult, along with an initial elder abuse misdemeanor count.

Morgan took control of Lee’s business affairs and personal life in February 2018 and allegedly isolated the Black Panther co-creator, who died on November 12 last year, from family and friends. Morgan also embezzled or misappropriated $5 million of assets, according to documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in 2018.

—The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Seth.

“There’s a quality of keeping art private that represents a sort of power. I wonder, if I was independently wealthy, would I keep all my artwork to myself and not release any of it.”

—William Nerrico writes about Gilbert Hernandez's Errata Stigmata.

In the page shown here, lifted from the original comic, Hernandez focuses (pardon the pun) on the connection between seeing and being: the ocular and the existential. In the last panel, the one I have dreams about, a dislocated, disembodied eye explodes with viscera across a mutantly giant television screen with Errata mutely witnessing.

I have gone on to to write numerous articles and soon, three books on Latinas/os and Visual Culture, and I think all of them come back to that panel — the young orphaned witness with her face, unseen, to the screen.

Tilt

Yesterday, we published Alec Berry's update on the ongoing Cody Pickrodt defamation case. A judge in the New York Supreme Court recently dismissed eight of the case's eleven defendants.

Almost sixty days after his review began, Judge Thomas Feinman of the New York State Supreme Court, Nassau County, chose to dismiss eight of the eleven defendants named in small-press publisher Cody Pickodt’s $2.5 million defamation lawsuit.

Laura Knetzger, Emma Louthan, Emi Gennis, Ben Passmore (cartoonists); Josh O’Neill (publisher); Rob Clough (critic); Jordan Shiveley and Tom Kaczynski/Uncivilized Books (publishers and cartoonists) are all, seemingly, free and clear.

Their lawyer, Aurore DeCarlo of C.A. Goldberg, said she doesn't know if Pickrodt, via his lawyer Joe Carbonaro of Carbonaro Law, will appeal the decision. She hasn’t received such notice. But she believes the statutes of limitations have passed for any additional civil lawsuits Pickrodt could file in states other than New York, and she knows for sure he cannot pursue new legal action there.

Carbonaro, in a brief statement offered to The Comics Journal, seemed to let the matter lie by providing some analysis of the judge’s decision. He then opted to look ahead, knowing three defendants still remain. They are Whit Taylor, Hazel Newlevant, and Morgan Pielli.

Daniel Elkin turned in a review of Julia Gfrörer's Vision.

In tight, thin lines that fill nine-panel grids, Julia Gfrörer’s comics explore the realms of horror and the erotic lives of women and finds, in the intersection of the two, a new sort of agency that borders on empowerment but is often subsumed in some darker truth -- that feminine sexuality and the procreative power of women are potent and raw forces that, having been confined and shamed by a male-dominated social order for so long, manifest as an assertory, supernatural agent of change.

Her latest 24 page, black and white mini-comic, Vision Part One, continues in this vein. Gfrörer pitches the plot as “a Victorian spinster escapes the demands of her invalid sister-in-law through a sexual relationship with a haunted mirror,” and by doing so firmly cements it in all of her themes: horror, the constraints inherent in the constructs imposed on womanhood, the desire to escape, and desire itself. The tension that Gfrörer creates by juxtaposing all of these ideas makes everything taut and tight, and her artwork only enhances this rigidity. At times, Gfrörer’s pages are overwhelming, images so dense with crosshatching that they become claustrophobic, seemingly straining to break out of the nine-panel grids in which she imprisons her work. Through these artistic choices, Gfrörer compels a reader to feel her storytelling as much as bear witness to it.

Today, Patrick Dunn talked to writer Vivek Shraya about her recent autobiographical comic, Death Threat.

Patrick Dunn: I want to start by asking you about these messages themselves. While awful in content, of course, they have this weirdly unique voice to them. What was it about them that made you want to turn them into a book?

Vivek Shraya: Well, as you’ve read and noted yourself, they’re not your typical kind of hate mail [laughs]. As a trans person, I get trolled on the internet like anyone else and I just mute that or block it. I don’t really engage. But there was something about the ways that these messages use cultural language, religious language, and familial language — like talking about my mom — that made them quite hard to ignore. I’m sort of forced to picture them in a way. Simultaneously, I’d been reading a lot of graphic novels, so when I pictured these letters, they were very illustrated and detailed. I think that it was the timing of the letters with reading graphic novels. I was like, “Oh, I think this is a comic book.”

What graphic novels were you reading at the time? What was on your mind?

I’m a huge Michael DeForge fan. It’s largely his work that I had been taking in. I think I had finished reading Sticks Angelica, but, before that I had read Big Kids, which I loved so much. He’s certainly a huge inspiration for me in terms of thinking about the world of graphic novels. To be honest, it’s not a world that I know particularly well or understood, even. You know, I come from a more literary background where there’s certain conventions that are ascribed to. Even as a pop musician, there are these limitations that you have to work with. But in graphic novels and comic books, especially the stuff that Michael’s doing, it seems like pure freedom in a lot of ways. So I think that’s what really excited me about the medium.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. This year's Doug Wright Awards were announced at TCAF last weekend. The winners include Hartley Lin, Ariane Dénommé, and Xiaoxiao Li.

—Reviews. Paul Morton reviewed Saul Steinberg's Labyrinth.

SAUL STEINBERG CALLED HIMSELF “a writer who draws.” Harold Rosenberg called him “a writer in pictures.” Critics compared him to Klee and Picasso, but reviews were just as likely to namedrop Joyce and Stendhal. He was friends with Nabokov as well as Saul Bellow, Primo Levi, William Gaddis, Donald Barthelme, John Hollander, Charles Simic, and Ian Frazier. Ulysses was his favorite novel. Nabokov’s essay on Gogol was his guidebook.

The tendency to think of Steinberg as a literary figure comes as much from his self-definition as it does from his identity as a New Yorker illustrator. His drawings would sometimes take up two-page spreads. Others would be wrapped by the text of a short story or a slice-of-life sketch. In this way they became another story to be read, one composed in an immigrant’s visual patois. (Steinberg grew up in Romania and studied in Italy before coming to the United States during World War II.) We read Steinberg’s wayward lines signifying nothing, his wispy depictions of Midwestern townscapes, his heavily inked Upper West Side partygoers. This approach raises questions. Is a Steinberg drawing a sentence in Lolita, a page in Ulysses, or one of Barthelme’s sit-down comic riffs? Are any of these images as thick and complete as a good paragraph? And if so, are we supposed to spend as much time studying every turn and every oddball gesture as we do rereading Lolita, intent on getting every joke in every word?

—Interviews. Martin Dupuis talks to designer Chip Kidd about Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns.

What’s your favorite page in TDKR and why?

Well, in the interest of full disclosure, I own the originals to pages 11 and 42 of Book 3–they are framed and on the wall of my apartment, and I look at them every day. And they are signed to me by Frank, so they have deep meaning for me.

Are there any details that stick out as interesting, or telling about Miller’s process in them when looking at the original art?

There are several things–first, the use of paste-up photostats. Especially on my page of issue #3. Dialogue that was added later– “That’s right, Joker,” “WASTE those bullets”, do not appear on the original, but the other dialogue does (‘Watch your language, son…”). The last two panels of that page are stats, as is some of the sound effects (BLAM!!), and who knows where the originals are, or why they changed, or from what.

Overload

Yesterday, we published the latest installment in Sloane Leong's series of interviews with her fellow residents at Angoulême's Maison des Auteurs. This week's subject is Pao-yen Ding.

I think that I admire different cartoonists every time, but I have always liked and influenced me. I think Umezu Kazuo, I like his anxiety and full of childlike plots, full of wrinkles. Strokes and naked bloody performances are my favorite elements, so the impact on my performance and content is great.

Why do you find that dreams are an important source of inspiration?

Although it is not always the case, sometimes people will do some impressive dreams. They can have feelings that they have never had in reality. For example, when I was a child, I was fascinated by UFO aliens. I always hope that I can witness the UFO in a day. And once it happened in a dream, I dreamed that I was experiencing an incredible UFO sight with the people around me. The huge aircraft and the dazzling light were in the sky for a long time. Of course, I don’t know that it is a dream now, and that I fully believe that the joy of the heart and the unbelievable atmosphere are not realized in reality. Of course, I will be disappointed when I wake up, but I will always remember that feeling. Since then, I have felt that dreams are incredible things. It seems that I can experience all kinds of feelings instead of reality, so I started to be interested in dreams. But in fact, boring dreams are still still the majority.

We also have Frank M. Young's review of Typex's comics biography of Andy Warhol.

Warhol focused on images that we tend to see through, due to their familiarity. There is no resonance to his early subjects. And that seems the point of Warhol’s work—his portraits broke away from representational complexity and reduced their subjects to silkscreened layers of casually applied color. At Warhol’s headquarters, appropriately named The Factory, his paintings were often the work of other people—supervised by the artist, but made with less input from him as the 1960s careened onward.

Typex tells Warhol’s story without hero worship or bias. Neither hagiography or warts-and-all expose, his Andy gets to the heart of the blank slate that Warhol appeared to be—an image he carefully cultivated, and one which baffled and/or annoyed his fellow artists. The artist/writer studied Warhol’s life and career from different viewpoints; the bibliography of works cited is long and varied. He joins events and figures in a satisfying way, and respects the reader’s intelligence. He seldom resorts to expositional dialogue—the bane of this type of book—and allows events to happen as part of the multilayered fabric of a high-profile social and artistic life.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Carolina Miranda interviews Jaime Hernandez.

What’s it like to check in with these characters every so often?
I have to admit that with Hopey changing so much, it was hard writing her into this new story. I didn’t really like her. I thought, I don’t like her as a person. I don’t like what she’s doing. I don’t like how her life turned out. She is one of those friends you’re disappointed in.

But I really like where Maggie goes. I like her because she screws up all the time. She wears her heart on her sleeve and I want you to know everything that she’s thinking. With Hopey, I don’t want you to know everything. There are certain characters, you don’t want to know what they’re thinking.

Amanda Hess profiles Lisa Hanawalt.

At 35, Hanawalt has created a whole universe of anthropomorphic characters with deeply human concerns and base animal instincts: alcoholic he-horses, anxious she-moose, dog-girls reeling from trauma and cat-women struggling to succeed in a cat-man’s world. Hanawalt began populating the universe through alternative comics, then in illustrated journalism for magazines like Lucky Peach, in three books she made for adults and one she illustrated for children, and as the production designer of “BoJack Horseman,” the oddly moving show about a washed-up and depressed sitcom star who is also a horse. Now, she has created her own animated series, “Tuca & Bertie,” which represents the summation of all of her weird, wild work.

Agueda Pacheco Flores talks to Simon Hanselmann.

How have people reacted [to your new exhibit]?

I overheard a few people, a couple of businessmen, [I was] sort of spying. He was like "Oh, I could never put this on my Instagram" and a lady he was with was like “Oh, I could. I love aliens."

There's no aliens in the show; there's a witch and and an owl, but I'll take that. That's at least a compliment.

How do you explain your art to those who regard comics as something for children?

I think they need to see the craft element in it. I don't think anyone can deny the craft in the comics. There's 170 pages on the wall that have all been meticulously hand-drawn and painted in an obsessive way. I spent 3,764 hours producing this work.

I had this [experience] trying to convey what it was when I did a [recent] tour. Some of them did find it a bit repulsive. It ties in to the opioid crisis, it ties into housing crisis, homeless crisis. It's just about how people live. I think they did gain some perspective on what it's like for people.

Laura Kenins talked to Emily Carroll.

What is When I Arrived at the Castle about?
On its surface, the book is about a would-be vampire hunter infiltrating the castle of a vampire, only to become lost and beguiled in her serpentine lair. What it’s really about is my own creative process and a rough period of burnout I was going through at the time the book was written. It was drawn intuitively, without knowing exactly what it was or where it was going, plot-wise. I drew each page of this book entirely on its own, without knowing what the next one would be.

Alex Dueben talks to 2dcloud's Maggie Umber.

For 8+ years we paid our artists on time, but the risks took their toll. Nearly every book – even a lot of the mini-comics – cost us as much as buying a car. We want to continue 2dcloud in order to get our debts to cartoonists, publishers and creditors paid up and we want to push altcomics further into realms that no one else is venturing into. That being said, if this Kickstarter fails, we will scale down to a completely different company. We’re in water too deep to continue without support from loving readers!

—News. Lion Forge and Oni Press announced a merger, followed by a round of layoffs.

The consolidated publishing effort will be run out of Portland, Ore., where Oni is based. James Lucas Jones, publisher of Oni, will be president and publisher of the new enterprise. The merger was negotiated by Edward Hamati, the president of Polarity, a media company [Lion Forge cofounder David] Steward founded last year to help develop Lion Forge characters outside comics.

Nora Krug won this year's Lynd Ward Prize.

The Evens Journalism Prize was given to Cartoon Movement, and Takoua Ben Mohamed won the Encouragement Prize.

It seems like only yesterday that we learned the Chicago Reader had hired a new slate of excellent cartoonists to create weekly strips. Now they're already cancelled.

—Reviews & Commentary. Ed Park reviews new books by Mira Jacob and Bill Griffith.

As a Pratt student in the early ’60s, Griffith caught a late-night revival of “Freaks,” and was immediately drawn to Schlitzie. Attempts to render this vision came to naught, but years later, embedded in San Francisco’s underground comic scene, Griffith was inspired to cast a pinhead as one point in a romance-story parody; in the last panel, he gave him the name “Zippy.” Zippy became the titular star of a weekly strip in 1976, which was picked up a decade later for daily syndication, allowing Griffith to showcase his hero’s hyperverbal, free-associative riffs seven glorious times a week. The collected works read like a looking-glass version of “Doonesbury,” the same cultural and political inputs producing something wildly random and addictively funny. (Peak Zippiness for me remains 1985’s mind-blowing “Are We Having Fun Yet?,” with cameos by everyone from Officer Big Mac to Leona Helmsley.)

Adam Gopnik reviews a new biography of Dr. Seuss.

Unlike most of the great children’s book authors and illustrators — Edward Lear, Beatrix Potter — Geisel was not in any way an obsessive or driven visionary, a prisoner of childhood locked in his own imagery or mythology. Instead, he worked (and could have easily stayed in) advertising, animation and political cartooning — to all of which he was, you soon get the sense, more naturally inclined than to what he called, cheerfully, “brat books.” (He never had children of his own, nor seems to have liked other people’s much. “I like children in the same way that I like people,” was his tactful but giveaway standard answer.) Geisel/Seuss, it turns out, made a shrewd though far from cynical decision to write to, though never down to, an audience of children at a moment when that audience was becoming a market — and though his own values and imagination shaped the books he made, his choice to make those kinds of books in the first place turns out in part to have been a response to the new market for them.

Scott Cederlund writes about the latest Jaime Hernandez collection.

After the emotional rollercoaster of The Love Bunglers (reviewed here back in 2014,) Is This How You See Me is a bit more classically Love & Rockets, centered on the core Maggie/Hopey relationship that has anchored so much of the emotional heart of Jaime Hernandez’s work. This love affair has been one of the great romances of comics that even their own marriages to others cannot fully put this relationship to rest. Looking at Hernandez’s last handful of books (including The Love Bunglers and The Miseducation of Hopey Glass), there was the feeling that these two moved beyond each other. The great loves of the 1980s just didn’t or couldn’t survive into the 2000s as they maybe finally grew up beyond the need of the other one.

—Misc. Ivan Brunetti is auctioning off several pieces of original art, including preparatory art for a pair of New Yorker covers, and much more.

I'm not sure this experiment of saving all the links to the last day really worked...

Hump of Dirt

Today on the site, frequent contributor Kim Jooha inaugurates a new column. She begins with a look at the material side of comics, explored through the works of three cartoonists: Warren Craghead, Alexis Beauclair, and Erin Curry.

Letters including punctuation marks and images are scattered across all over the page just like creatures and things are in [Craghead's] "Backyard". Words are drawn, rather than written. To apprehend "Backyard", you need to “comb” through the “web” of words and drawings on the newspaper sheet sized page. The act of reading is physically analogous to sifting through a back yard.

And this is where touch, the second most crucial sense in comics, comes in. At the gallery, we glance at the artwork on the wall in the distance. In contrast, we physically touch and hold the comic. We can examine it more closely, thoroughly, and longer in any way we want. We can “listen” carefully to what the artwork says in private.

Bluh

Today on the site, Annie Mok returns with an interview she conducted with Sophie Yanow, about changing art styles, the dangers of navel-gazing memoir, and her webcomic, The Contradictions.

The Contradictions is autobiographical fiction and some characters are amalgams. I showed the nearly final draft of the work to some of the folks who appear (fictionalized) in the story and listened to their feedback. I'm not going to pretend this was easy, I was pretty nervous – it's like showing them your soft underbelly. Some people had requests and others actually asked not to see it at all, they didn’t want to influence the work and said they would trust me. Ultimately I don’t give these people 100% veto power but I take what they have to say very seriously. I strongly believe that our stories belong to multiple people, and it’s also important to own my perspective. But there is power in being the one with the platform and over time my platform has gotten larger, and so I continue to evaluate what it means to be the person telling my version of something. I try to keep it grounded in what it meant or means to me.

As a little aside, I also feel like I should say – a lot of autobiographical work is accused of being “navel-gazey,” but I don’t think the genre is any more navel-gazey than fiction. As far as I can tell we’re all writing about ourselves on some level. There is bad work across genres and it can manifest as navel-gazey anywhere.

We're starting a new blog strategy this week, so we'll be saving most links till Friday, and writing more thorough blogs during the week when the news demands it or the mood strikes.

Meet You At The Tower

Today at The Comics Journal, we're pleased to welcome back the third installment of Sloane Leong's interview series. This week, she's speaking with Glynnis Fawkes (who you'll certainly remember from her recent Cartoonist Diary) about the metric ton of projects that Fawkes has in the pipeline.

Right now I’m working on illustrations for a film about Black Holes—I haven’t done anything quite like it before. While at the MDA [Maison de Auteurs] I worked a little bit on 3 different projects: Charlotte Brontë Before Jane Eyre, a graphic biography that will be out this fall; new comics for Persephone’s Garden, an autobiographical collection that will also be out in the fall; and a thumbnail draft for my next book, a middle grade adventure set in late Bronze Age Greece and Egypt. I probably spent the most time on this last project, because I knew I could concentrate for continuous hours at the MDA—which is not usually possible at home. I also wanted to let the influence of European comics carry me away-- and try to make a European book by writing it there—that it would have daring drawing, hi-jinx and humor. (I suppose this is possible also in America!) At the library I found books by Europeans that have not been translated and that are very inspiring.

Today's review is of The Ballad of Sang, a new Oni title. Martyn Pedler walks us through:

Here’s how to tell if The Ballard of Sang is for you: at one point, the protagonist plucks out someone’s eye and squishes it in front of its owner with a smirk and a "SQWAP". Sang’s a mute assassin, just a boy, and his sword’s dripping blood by page two.

Catnaps

Today on the site, Irene Velentzas returns with a report from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s "Botticelli: Heroines + Heroes exhibit, which juxtaposes Renaissance art with new related work by cartoonist Karl Stevens.

Although the "Botticelli: Heroines + Heroes" exhibition offers placards of Botticelli’s history and work for visitors to peruse and better understand the context of the artwork, it does not offer any literature regarding Stevens’ work, or how the juxtaposition of the two artists re-informs and reimagines Botticelli’s work through a contemporary lens. A short video of Stevens detailing his artistic process in creating the exhibition’s companion pieces offers patrons a small glimpse into the relationship between the two artists’ work. In it, Stevens explains:

The connection that I felt towards Botticelli is that we’re both storytellers, and that’s something that a lot of old masters were, particularly in the Renaissance. That’s something that has been consistent throughout Western Art for a long time. And cartooning is sort of the last bastion of that. It’s like what’s going on in drawing right now is happening in cartooning.

In fact, this connection between traditional Italian artistic practice and comics art is implied by the very word cartoon. As comics scholar Hillary Chute writes in Graphic Women, the "word cartoon comes from the Italian word cartone, which means cardboard, and denotes a drawing for a picture or design intended to be transferred, historically to tapestry or to frescoes. Yet, when the printing press developed, cartoon came to mean any sketch that could be mass-produced.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Baker & Taylor has announced it will be shutting down its retail wholesaling program, which could represent a major blow to independent bookstores (and comics retailers).

When word of a possible Ingram acquisition of the B&T retail arm first surfaced, booksellers and publishers both expressed concern about being dependent on only one national wholesaler. Early bookseller reaction is in line with the comments they made previously.

ABA CEO Oren Teicher said Wednesday was "not a good day, calling B&T's decision "bad news for booksellers." He credited the "competitive wholesale environment" for playing a key role in the resurgence of indie bookstores over the past several years. With B&T gone, Teciher said, ABA intends to work as closely as we can with other industry partners to ensure that indie bookstores can continue to access inventory in as cost-effective and rapid a manner as possible to allow member stores to continue to serve their customers."

There's more reporting and analysis here.

B&T and Follett called the decision to exit the wholesale retail business "not an easy one. The retail market has become an increasingly difficult market in which to operate. Operating costs have continued to rise which, compounded with customers' expectations for same or next-day delivery, has put strong pressure on the supply chain and operating profit. The leadership at Baker & Taylor and Follett studied options that might help our retail performance and ultimately determined that the best course for Baker & Taylor would be to devote our resources to our public library and publisher services businesses."

—Interviews & Profiles. Kadia Goba profiles George Booth.

Now in his fifth decade as a contributing cartoonist at The New Yorker magazine, Booth claims Crown Heights as his home. The artist moved in with his daughter, Sarah Booth, 50, five years ago after a two-week hospital stay. For George Booth, the neighborhood goes unmatched, even compared to the small Missouri town of 75 people, with a single wooden sidewalk and one general store, where he spent his childhood.

“Well, if it’s any help to you, I’ve fallen in love with Brooklyn,” he said. “Other places don’t function as a whole unit,” adding that “everyone in Brooklyn knows what to do with themselves.”

That includes him, as is evident in watching him spend time at a Crown Heights favorite pastime: the block party. On hands and knees, using only a piece of chalk and the city as his canvas, Booth introduces a new generation to his drawings of rabbits, dogs, and even “rabbit-dogs.”

Nancy Powell interviews Michael DeForge.

Nancy Powell: Where did the idea for Leaving Richard’s Valley come from?

Michael DeForge: I’d been wanting to write about a cult for a while, since I kept circling around some of those ideas but never got around to it. I’ve always been very interested in the cult leaders who aren’t scam artists or bad faith actors from the get-go — the ones who start out well-intentioned and then have things get away from them. I also knew I wanted to do something set in Toronto and write about my own changing relationship with the city.

Spanners

Today at the Comics Journal, we've got the first installment in H.W. Thurston's new column, A Classical Education. What does a new-to-comics reader have to say about the books that are sitting on the shelf marked canon? Time to find out. In the debut, she's taking a look at Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns:

The purpose of this series is to close-read works that are generally considered to be classics of the comics form and hopefully help illuminate just that: what makes them so good. I’ve chosen the works that I have because they made me go Aha! They made me get what comics could do, why I was bothering with the medium in the first place. Perhaps more importantly, they made me get what comics even were. I came away from The Dark Knight Returns thinking that it was wrong to call it “literary.” It was something else. Something essentially and unapologetically comic-like. “Comic-ary.” The way that it was fluent and artistic was inextricable from the fact that it was expressed via this popular, visual idiom.

Our review of the day comes to you from Austin Price, who is taking a deep dive into Tsutomu Nihei's Abara. It's not the first time that Don Delillo has been namechecked at TCJ, and it better not be the last! He's the closest thing to a mascot we've got.

Despite that relevance – or perhaps because of it – there remains a dearth of works interested in tapping that same vein; seventy years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thirty years after the Cold War, artists of all stripe still seem preoccupied with the dread and the spectacle of the nuclear sublime. Popular culture at home and abroad remains redolent with imagery meant to recall mushroom clouds and nuclear fire or of scrappy survivors scrounging through post-nuclear deserts so barren it suggests the atomic holocaust has scrubbed them clean. Even the rare creator who can lay claim to peculiar eschatological sensibilities – artists like Katsuhiro Otomo, videogame directors like Yoko Taro -- draw their water from the same irradiated well. No matter how particular the vision offered by these creators is, each seems inescapably fascinated by worlds in the late stages of systems that have grown overripe to bursting and so arrogantly bent on harnessing godlike powers for martial superiority that apocalyptic conflagration has become inevitable. But there remains hope for the world, even if it can come only after a great leveling; the comfort of the nuclear sublime is that it at least offers the chance for a renewal, a rechanneling of those same cataclysmic energies that leveled the old one.

Our pal Abhay Khosla caught the latest in Otomo--yup, you read that right--popping up via a blog called Halcyon Realms. Dig in now, who knows when it'll come out in English. (Seriously, who does know. Does Joe know? Do you?)

Over at The Criterion, I found out that Enki Bilal--the man who invented chessboxing--is going to be on the jury for the next Cannes Film Festival. That's not the only comics adjacent business either: they'll also be screening The White Snake Enchantress.

Over at Comicosity, E.A. Sofia has an article on what it was like to enter comics via G. Willow Wilson and Sana Amanat's Ms. Marvel. It's a smart piece because it goes beyond the traditional why-I-liked-this-thing and into what the thing exposed her to, good & bad, historical and contemporary. I've read quite a few pieces on Ms. Marvel over the years that comic has been in existence--it's received as much coverage as Grant Morrison's work used to, many of those being "my first comic book articles"--but I don't think i've seen one that so clearly distillates the crash course in the Marvel economic/aesthetic system that reading that book provided. (It's outside of the scope of what Sofia was writing about, but it did leave me wondering--has any new super-hero launch been as successful as Ms. Marvel in the last however many years?)

Almanac

Today on the site, Brian Nicholson returns with a review of Daria Tessler's Cult of the Ibis.

There are different kinds of silence. There is peaceful quiet and there’s eerie stillness, and while the former is conducive to reading, the latter could mean listening too intently for what might soon intrude to pay attention to what’s before one’s eyes. A comic generally gets called “silent” when reading it entails following images alone, without any dialogue or narration providing guideposts of written language. While there are extended passages of The Cult of the Ibis where the story is told purely visually, there’s enough words in it that anyone translating it into another language would still have their work cut out for them. I see a different silence in it. It’s a signifier, referring to the earliest years of cinema, similar to the films of Guy Maddin that approximate a fever dream of forgotten history more than they attempt recreation or adaptation.

The plot contains a mixture of genres at home in early film: After a bank robbery goes wrong, the getaway driver is in possession of the stolen loot. Other criminals want this money back. However, before considering this possibility, the getaway driver, interested in the occult, sends away for a build-your-own-homunculus kit, after seeing an ad in a magazine The Modern Alchemist Monthly. In silent or early sound films, both crime stories and occult skulduggery would be a a likely premise for a fable of moral reckoning, but that’s not what happens here. Daria Tessler understands that the reason movies were made about these subjects as soon as movies existed is because magic and bank robbery are cool and interesting to think about, and there is no better way to meditate on a concept than the time-consuming process of making narrative images about it.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The cartoonist Musa Kart has once again been unjustly imprisoned by the Turkish government.

Word came though of an imminent order for arrest and so Musa and his colleagues have elected to surrender at a time and place of their own choosing, a typically dignified gesture. Before entering Kandıra he said:

“I believe people will see the injustice that is being done here. Several brave reporters have recently summarized what’s happening in Turkey: people who punch the leader of a major political party are permitted to go free while those who draw cartoons or report the news are put in prison. We look forward to the day when journalists need not make proclamations such as these in front of prison gates.”

As Tucker alluded to yesterday, the nominees for the 2019 Eisner Awards have been announced. Weird year!

D.D. Degg at the Daily Cartoonist covers the recent controversy over a cartoon published in the New York Times International Edition that struck many as anti-Semitic, as well as links to various commentators. Followup here.

The Guardian has an article about how the recent success of superhero movies hasn't translated into success for comic-book stores.

Dozens of closures have been reported across the UK and US over the last few months – including, in January, the end of St Mark’s Comics, once one of New York’s most venerable institutions. (It even appeared in Sex and the City.) Last year, comics website Bleeding Cool documented how 50 comic shops had closed in the previous year, in both the US and UK. And since June 2018, at least 21 shops in the US and 11 in the UK – including shops in Nottingham, Ramsgate and Tooting – have closed, with others likely going unreported.

While superheroes have never had a higher profile, the gap between cinema and comics has never been wider. The days when you could pick the latest issue of Spider-Man or Batman from the newsagent’s shelves are long gone. Last week, comic writer Ron Marz tweeted that, during a presentation to a school class, one girl raised her hand and asked him where she could actually buy comics.

—Reviews & Commentary. Mohini Gupta writes about the challenges of translating Asterix into Hindi.

“The first and immediate constraint,” [Puneet] Gupta said, “was fitting the Hindi translation into each speech bubble, despite Hindi being syntactically different from French, and also because of the maatras on the top, bottom and the side (in French, the accents are only on the top and bottom). Before translating the nuances into Hindi, we had to go into the etymology of the words, the idioms, the phraseology of the region in which the Asterix and Obelix find themselves.”

“As we went along”, explained [Dipa] Chaudhuri, “it became clear that we were translating not only from French to Hindi, but depending on the provenance of the protagonist, we were translating from Latin, and on occasion, German too...Negotiating between different registers of each language to establish the social hierarchy that binds the characters, was part of the task at hand.”

—Crowdfunding. Paul Karasik has launched a Patreon.

Matthew Thurber is raising money to make a film.

—RIP. John Singleton

Work, Money & Miracles

Today at The Comics Journal, we're launching ourselves into the week with comics legend Mary Fleener, who recently released Billie The Bee--her first graphic novel--with Fantagraphics. She's talking with Alex Dueben about all things comics related.

I’m kind of a workaholic. I’m always doing something. If I don’t do something, I won’t do anything. [laughs] Because of comics I got into illustration – when there were lots of magazines and they were paying people. All the Weirdo people were getting work. Hustler was paying great money. My husband had gotten laid off from work during the 90s and that’s when I was doing a lot of illustration work. Hustler saved us and paid our bills. I’ve been involved in the fine art world, but right now I’m mad at the art world and I don’t care if I do anything in the art world ever again. Because that means I have to go to LA and I never want to go back to Los Angeles. I was born there and I hate it. It’s getting worse. You can’t even drive there anymore. For years I would show at galleries like La Luz de Jesus but all these places take fifty percent of your sales. That’s something I never liked either. And then you had to ship the art which always cost a lot of money. The frames ALWAYS get damaged. It’s a lot easier to work in ink on paper and send it through the internet.

I think I was juggling a little too much and that’s why a few years ago I decided to focus on doing a book. Because I really do like cartoonists. I like talking to them. They’re interesting. They have something to say. Artists are boring. [laughs] They are so boring. Cartoonists have camaraderie. I think because comics were always looked down upon and the underground people we were always outsiders so we would cling together. Cartoonists always bitch about each other, but basically, I think everybody’s rooting for each other a little bit. I hope so.

Today's review comes to us from Tegan O'Neil. She's taking a look at Little Girls, a graphic novel published by Image that they've been comparing to Sabrina and Optic Nerve. Gutsy. It's sort of like me comparing myself to Idris Elba and Snake Eyes. Aim for the fences!

The bits with the lions and hyenas are consistently better and more interesting than the sequences of the main characters interaction with themselves. Delaine seems to have a knack for wildlife, which is to be fair a difficult topic in the world of mainstream comics, where being able to draw a horse is second only to knowing how to draw a car on the list of “Optional Skills.” The book seems unsure at times whether it wants to be something more along the lines of an explicit coming-of-age story for the two young protagonists. There’s some of that, yes, but most of the book features the two Junior detectives chasing down answers regarding mysterious happenings, and then war between gangs of charismatic megafauna.

Over at (the Eisner-nominated!) Comicosity, Véronique Emma Huxbois is writing a piece directly aimed at my heart, as it focuses on Lone Wolf & Cub and its many children. There's all kinds of bold claims being made, only a few of which are backed up, I don't care: Lone Wolf! And Cub! 

Over at Book Riot, Jessica Plummer has a rundown of Power Girl's various costumes over the decades in which that character has existed. I had forgotten some of these, and like all important tragedies, we must never forget.

Smash Pages broke the unfortunate news that Ethan has just became the cooler of the two Van Scivers for the first time since there was more than one to pick from. Sometimes you just gotta say no, Noah!

Over at The MNT, Sara Century talks with Gilbert Hernandez, and he gets pretty specific about where things are going with his current run of L&R stories. 

Bleeding Cool caught up with the fact that the CIA was tabling at Washington DC's Awesome Con, and the Beat went even harder in the paint with it. As someone who has worked for a large, bureaucratic type company, this is the kind of occurrence that makes me wish we lived in a world where I had a giant expense account and my own personal Seymour Hersh to send after this story: I want to know everything. I want to know who came up with the idea at the CIA that Awesome Con was a place where they'd get some good candidates for employment, I want to know whether that person was high up in the chain of command and therefore no one could say "you're a fucking moron, no" or whether the person was low on the chain of command and is possessed with such a powerful charisma that faced zero conflict when pitching this to the people upstairs. And then when they got it approved--where did it go from there? How did they decide which stock photo they were going to use for the ad, and what the tweets were gonna read like? We've got a million oral histories of when Anne Hathaway got the call that she was gonna be Catwoman--why can't the comics community be graced with the staff and budget necessary to go after the CIA? Life is a miserable, unfair place.

So Tough

Today on the site, Rob Clough reviews Andy Warner and Sofie Louise Dam's This Land Is My Land.

Andy Warner excels at creating bite-sized pieces of unusual history, as seen in his first book, Brief Histories of Everyday Objects. Those observations weren't neutral, as he was careful to discuss the cultural and political ramifications of familiar objects. Much of his other work is more explicitly political in terms of reportage, but his books couch their political barbs in wit and whimsy. In his new book, This Land Is My Land, Warner teams with Danish artist Sofie Louise Dam to tell the stories of micronations, failed utopias, and other such communities throughout history. Simply relating these stories is important because it helps to establish a continuous legacy of resistance not just to the government, but to the entire cultural status quo.

Dam's art is stripped down and cartoony, and it relies a lot on color to tell each story vividly. I found myself wishing Warner had drawn the book himself because I thought his sharper, more naturalistic style would have been a better fit for a lot of the stories. Dam's art does the job and looks beautiful in a few spots, but some of the stories would have benefited from a denser line.

...

Besides his research skills, Warner's true talent is his ability to synthesize that information into engaging, small chunks. Most of the entries in the book are just four to six pages, yet Warner is able to convey what made each micronation and the people behind them unique and interesting.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Lynley Stace has a long post analyzing Olivia Jaimes's Nancy by way of Scott Dikkers' humor theory.

—Elena Goukassian at The Nation talks to Brian Fies about his Fire Story.

The sad thing about something like this is you can’t throw a rock without hitting someone with an interesting story. I very much wanted the expanded graphic novel of A Fire Story to be a work of journalism. I wanted to expand it beyond my little bubble of a story and talk about other people’s stories and about the context of geography and climate, socioeconomics. I was very much aware that my experience was a narrow window into this thing. It was bounded by where I lived, how much money I had, my family situation, so I really wanted to go out and find people living different lives. Like Dottie, who it turned out didn’t lose her home in the fire but was still—is still—in dire straits. She is an older woman without a lot of resources, who still doesn’t know how she’s going to get through the day. I talked to a lot of people to feel them out and decided on a few people to interview in depth, because I thought they captured the breadth of the story.

—Vice News profiles Eli Valley.

Clawing At The Eyes

Today at the Comics Journal, we've got a long one for you--and it's worth it. Next week sees the release of Clyde Fans, Seth's twenty-years-in-the-making graphic novel detailing the relationship between two brothers and the rise and fall of the the fan business they inherited. Initially serialized in issues of Palookaville, partially released in a hardcover 14 years ago, the upcoming release is nearly 500 pages long and contains everything one would associate with the idea of a "Seth comic"--methodical pacing, men in the throes, willing and otherwise, or ritual, the performance of ritual, heavy, monolithic line. Birds on signs, women with triangle hair, old habits, old hobbies. If I'm writing longer than is necessary to introduce a feature, it's only because these two--the book, and our interview--were both revelatory in a way I didn't anticipate. I've read everything Seth has made over the years, often immediately upon release, and I've read some great writing about the work--but I never found my way in. There was always a dour humor to his work that I didn't catch until later, when I was told how to find it, and I never felt as if I could catch the rhythm of his books in the way I felt taken along by his major contemporaries. Upon reading (and loving) the nerdcore jokemachine that is Wimbledon Green, I found myself often apologizing to him in my head, imagining that he'd be disappointed to know how to have a fan whose enthusiasm was reserved for crowdpleasers only. 

Reading Clyde Fans in conjunction with today's feature interview changed quite a bit of that. In this 30,000 word conversation with the cartoonist, which took place in the fall of 2018 between two longtime Seth scholars, Eric Hoffman & Dominick Grace, I found myself fascinated with his use of comics to unpack splinter factions of his own personality, surprised and excited to learn how much discovery is to be found in the way he creates a story, and inspired by his willingness to criticize and question the identity he's chosen to embrace over the decades that have formed his professional career. I wouldn't say that I feel like i'm owning a mistake--I always knew the guy was a talented artist--but it wasn't until now that I felt like that was something I felt and believed, which are two things a bit more valuable than mere knowledge.

(There's also a fair amount of gossip in this one, and I like those things quite a bit too.)

Quick

Today on the site, we have AJ McGuire's review of Graham Chaffee's To Have & To Hold.

In Graham Chaffee’s Big Wheels, published by Fantagraphics in 1993, the narrative is handed off from one character to another as they pass by each other or interact throughout a single day in the city. This is a timeless device in short fiction, films, and comics which allows the artist to focus on whatever catches their fancy and avoid that which doesn’t. In Chaffee’s To Have and To Hold, published by Fantagraphics in 2017, he returns to the same device, but uses it exactly once and employs it towards different ends. Rather than using it as a trick to avoid a cohesive full-length story, its in service to the themes and character arcs.

Plenty of fiction has multiple protagonists at different times throughout the narrative. But to abandon one and fully switch to a second is rare. Psycho, the 1960 proto-slasher blockbuster, did something like this with a major and unexpected switch from one protagonist to another. Robert Bloch, the author of the novel from which Hitchcock’s movie was adapted, used this trick often in his fiction. He would introduce a sympathetic character and then kill them off. Chaffee, though, does something different. He doesn’t kill off a sympathetic character but rather a character slowly over the course of the story is revealed to be less and less sympathetic at the same time as a second character is moving through an opposite character arc becoming more central to the story and the reader's sympathies. Similar to Psycho, the narrative can only fully switch to the new protagonist by the death of one at the hands of the other.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Fiona Smyth and Alootook Ipellie will be inducted into the Giants of the North Canadian Hall of Fame.

Fiona Smyth, an artist and teacher known for her groundbreaking comics tackling female sexuality, and Alootook Ipellie (1951–2007), a multi-faceted artist, writer, activist, and cartoonist recognized for his satirical comics about Inuit life in Canada, will be inducted next month into the Giants of the North Hall of Fame for Canadian cartoonists.

For more than three decades, Fiona Smyth’s work has straddled art, comics, and murals. Since her days as a student at the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University) in the mid-1980s, her comics have been marked by a bold and overt sexuality—rare for a female cartoonist at the time—that often, erroneously, saw her labeled an anti-feminist. Alongside her countless self-published zines, Smyth’s comics have appeared in Vice, Exclaim!, and her pioneering 1990s Vortex series, Nocturnal Emissions.

—Cleveland.com talks to John Backderf about his planned book about the Kent State shootings.

“I’ve boiled the story down to showing how it unfolded,” Derf said. “It’s a very personal account of this shocking event that still reverberates today. I think that’s when history is at its best, is when you boil it down to people.”

The book took three years of research by Derf, who pored over the archives at Kent State University and spoke to witnesses and victims of the shooting.

Not Sure

Today on the site, Joe McCulloch has our obituary for Kazuo Koike.

Kazuo Koike, the wildly prolific writer of Japanese commercial media, comics foremost among them, died of pneumonia on April 17, 2019. He was 82.

Born in Akita Prefecture on May 8, 1936 -- his true name was Seishu Tawaraya, though he may have been born under the given name Yuzuru -- Koike led an early life of disparate vocation. He studied law at Chuo University in Tokyo, but, like most students, did not pass Japan's formidable national bar examination. He studied writing with the novelist Kiichirō Yamate, but this brought him no success. Instead, he found work at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and took jobs in the leisure fields of golf and mahjong. It was not until his thirties, in 1968, that he arrived in comics via Saitō Production, the studio of popular gekiga artist Takao Saitō (b. 1936), who had broken away from the collective setup of the pioneering Gekiga Studio of the 1950s and built a house of mass production, an industrial sector of comics with room for a dedicated scriptwriter among the other work teams. Koike applied for the position, having caught word in a boys' comics magazine, and immediately became a unique figure in manga: a dedicated writer who did not come from any other literary field. Of historical note is his work on Saitō's Muyōnosuke, a period drama about a lone swordsman bounty hunter that brought Koike his first deep dip into comics jidaigeki, but western readers will best recognize Golgo 13, the still-running adventures of a sniper-for-hire, on which Koike served as founding scriptwriter with creator Saitō. The feature was devised for Big Comic, a new magazine aimed at teenagers and adult men; the character is introduced at the window of a hotel in Hamburg, bathed in neon, dispassionately smoking a cigarette while clad only in a pair of white briefs, a prostitute lolling in bed behind him. An era had begun.

Koike separated from Saitō Production in 1970, and strode promptly into renown. In a 2015 interview with the Criterion Collection, he would describe the Japanese comics scene at the time as a close-knit one where people knew each other; that was how he came to approach the artist Gōseki Kojima (1928-2000), a 41-year-old veteran of kamishibai, rental manga, and magazine serialization, to create a new period drama for the young male market. Lone Wolf and Cub -- in which Ogami Ittō, the shōgun's executioner, suffers the slaughter of his household and the ruin of his honor, and gives his child, Diagorō, the choice of the ball and the sword, and the child chooses the sword, and thus joins his father on the assassin's road -- was a grand success, running from 1970 to 1976, selling more than eight million copies in collected form in Japan, and launching a feature film series for which Koike wrote many of the screenplays; there were also two television series, and various sequels, parodies and homages. Portions of two of those Koike-scripted feature films would subsequently be edited together and dubbed into English, released to American theaters in 1980 as Shogun Assassin, a blood-drenched foundation for Koike's overseas fame, beloved by cult movie enthusiasts on VHS, though few at that time would recognize the writer's name.

Matt Seneca is here, too, with a review of Julian Glander's 3D Sweeties.

When I'm bored at work, which happens enough to have caused my return to writing comics criticism after years away from the field, one of my favorite things to do is pull up and peruse all my liked posts on Twitter or Instagram. It feels like this should be a foregone conclusion, and maybe it is, but I sure don't see it discussed very much: memes represent an evolution of the comics medium. The basic formula of making humor out of an incongruous juxtaposition of a visual statement with another element, be it visual or textual, is functionally identical to the soil of political and gag cartoons that the comics form sprouted from. This dude is a comic. So is this thing, and this. That one you just favorited probably is too!

I think a big part of what's driving the amount of discussion around Olivia Jaimes's rendition of Nancy is the way it uses the extreme short form and funny technology gags to spotlight just how strong the connective tissue between traditional comics and memes really is. It'd sure be nice to have a few more things like that one though! For a medium situated in such close proximity to what's arguably become the lingua franca of 21st century discourse (no shit!), the bulk of comics seems rather uninterested in exploring meme mechanics or considering ways to try and draft off the insane momentum of the new art form that's moved in next door.

Enter Julian Glander and 3D Sweeties! On the most formal level, Glander's book has no more in common with memes than anything else that comes out new on Wednesday: his pages are organized into gridded sequences of square boxes featuring pictures of characters doing and saying things. But the online-obsessed, non-sequitur, punchline-implying more than punchline-delivering things they do and say feel a lot more like the kind of igs your friends show you to break up a quiet moment at the bar than they do the funny papers, and the visual world they inhabit is more exotic still. Glander's digital drawings are both incredibly weird and incredibly beautiful, and they're definitely the best part of this book. 3D Sweeties' computerized characters wander far afield indeed from the human or even traditional anthropomorphism: a sentient cup ("Cuppy", duh) is the closest thing the book has to a star, and most of its best sequences follow the travails and shit-talk of shiny, slimy forms with blasé attitudes. More notable still are Glander's neon color schemes, which look drowned in Kool Aid and then dried out in a desert of Fun Dip (thinking about it, Kool Aid Man is probably the comics character most similar to this book's cast).

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Ailsa Chang at NPR talks to Darrin Bell.

CHANG: So what was it about the trial involving Trayvon Martin's death that inspired you to start doing editorial cartoons again?

BELL: Well, the trial of George Zimmerman pretty quickly turned into the trial of Trayvon Martin as far as I was concerned. It seemed like it was a criminal trial of the person who had been killed. And half the country basically decided that Trayvon Martin was responsible for his own death before the trial even started. And they didn't change their minds no matter what they saw. And around the same time, my wife and I found that we were pregnant with my first son. And it occurred to me that if he were to grow up and something like this were to happen to him, half the country would say he had it coming. And I wanted to protect him. The only way I knew how to do that was through cartoons. That's what I do.

The most recent guest on the RiYL podcast is Lauren R. Weinstein.

Lynda Barry and Matt Groening appeared together at Case Western Reserve University.

Barry and Groening met at Evergreen State College when Groening heard Barry had written to one of his favorite authors, Joseph Heller, and received a response. Barry wrote about how much she loved his novel “Catch-22” and asked him to marry her. Heller wrote back, “I’d like to marry you, but I don’t want to live in the dorms.”

... Groening also shared a question a college professor asked him: “You do what you do adequately well, is it worth doing?” Groening admitted he grapples with this question daily.

Lost Cities

Matthias Wivel is here with a new installment of his Common Currency column. This time, he focuses on the latest book by Posy Simmonds, Cassandra Darke.

Cassandra Darke, the titular protagonist of Posy Simmonds’ latest comic, is the cartoonist's most heroic figure so far, the book an assertive step in the direction of more proactive social engagement, more upbeat than previous efforts but with the same cynical undercurrent. As in her previous long-form comics—Gemma Bovery was based on Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Tamara Drewe on Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd—it wears its literary source material loosely if comfortably. Cassandra is a modern Scrooge, convinced of her own contentment in isolation, yet compelled beyond it.

Set in London, key points in the story appositely take place around Christmas of 2016 and 2017, between which Cassandra’s circumstances change considerably. She is the proverbial unlikely heroine: a portly 71-year-old art dealer running the business she co-founded with her ex-husband, who since married her stepsister and yet handed over the day-to-day to her due to the onset of Alzheimer’s. When we first meet her, she looks like the long-lost cousin of Grandma Giles, sheathed in a puffer coat and a low-set trapper hat. Roaming the holiday rush at Picadilly on a sugar high fueled by a box of macaroons from the Burlington Arcade, she is about to be outed as a fraud.

It turns out she has issued and sold unauthorized copies of a bronze sculpture by one of the artists she represents. According to her unreliable narration—Simmonds likes those—she did it to placate the market out of contempt for collectors who see only investment where she sees art. It seems clear, however, that the reason was mostly that she needed the cash in order to support her lavish lifestyle—her house in Brittany, her holidays in five-star hotels, her live-in housekeeper and her penchant for fine wine—in a field that for most smaller business owners are bringing diminishing returns these years, especially if they are unwilling to adapt.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Lone Wolf & Cub co-creator Kazuo Koike has died. We will have more coverage soon.

The pioneering comics scholar Donald Ault also passed away recently, which we also plan to cover more fully. In the meantime, the International Journal of Comic Art blog has republished a short memoir written by Ault.

In 1968 it was unthinkable to me that as a beginning literature professor, I could incorporate comic books -- especially Donald Duck comics which I had admired since I was a child -- into upper division and graduate courses at a major research institution. ... My mentors cautioned me against introducing the study of comic books into my professional profile for university teaching because, as Arthur Asa Berger has noted, popular culture studies were looked down upon at that time by "serious" scholars at research institutions. Drawing attention to my interest in Donald Duck, they said, would surely jeopardize my chances of getting (and keeping) a high-powered teaching job. Consequently, though I had been reading and collecting comics for over twenty years, my academic studies had sequestered me from comic "fandom" and the intellectual movements, especially in Europe, that had made great strides in legitimizing comics and raising their cultural profile through exhibitions such as those organized by Maurice Horn and others. I knew nothing of the various comics "clubs" formed at private universities including Harvard, and I was unaware that Terry Zwigoff (later the director of "Crumb" and "Ghost World") had already been teaching non-credit courses that focused on Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics at the University of Wisconsin in 1966-1967. At that time it would have been inconceivable to me to learn, as Wolfgang Fuchs has remarked, that Donald Duck comics were already one of the "darlings of [European] intellectuals." Even though I was just across the Bay from San Francisco State, I didn't know that Arthur Asa Berger was teaching courses in comic strips using diverse analytical tools such as semiotics. In 1968 I did not yet know Carl Barks's name, and I feared the anonymous author, who I was sure had both written and drawn his own stories, had died, or certainly retired, since the steady flow of his comic book work had suddenly stopped in mid-1967, replaced at first by reprints and later by pale imitations.

—History. For Hogan's Alley, Jean Kilbourne writes about the sexual harassment and manipulative behavior she encountered during her experiences with Al Capp.

Brilliant and talented, Capp also was a depraved predator. In February of 1968 he was asked to leave the University of Alabama (where he had been invited to give a lecture) after being accused of making “indecent advances” to four college students in the space of a few days.[1]

According to reporter Jack Anderson, Capp told a young woman who had delivered some materials to his hotel room that he was impressed with her and discussed the possibility of hiring her to help produce the "Capp on Campus" radio series, then in progress. He began making forceful advances toward her and exposing himself to her. I was struck by the following: “Although she was not injured, she was sufficiently upset by the experience to be admitted a few days later to the university infirmary where she remained under sedation for several days.”

—Reviews & Commentary. Maggie Umber writes about how her company 2dcloud has survived health concerns and financial difficulties and other obstacles.

Before I got sick in 2018, Raighne and I got divorced. I relocated with him to Chicago, we collaborated on my graphic novel 270° and launched a book collection on our revamped website. I did all the touring for 2dcloud while Raighne worked four jobs. However, there still wasn't enough money to pay artist royalties, printer and credit card debt. Every week people dropped out of our lives, cancelled book deals, contracts. Our company shrunk down from a team of people to us and our publicist Melissa.

Any sane person would have given up, but 2dcloud was our baby. Unfortunately, 2dcloud cost us our marriage and me my health but it also brought so many wonderful and weird books into the world. We didn't want to give up on our baby.

—Crowdfunding. Bill Mantlo's younger brother Michael has undergone severe financial hardship while caring for his disabled sibling, and has set up a GoFundMe to solicit help.

My big brother is, and has been, permanently disabled for the last 27 years, and I willingly accepted the responsibility of being appointed his caregiver all those years ago.

I have been attempting to bring my brother home from the nursing home he has been placed in for the last 10 years. It has been a difficult struggle, filled with numerous pitfalls and obstacles, but I gave my word to him that I would do everything in my power to make it happen so that he could live out the rest of his life with dignity, and peace. It has become painfully obvious to me in the last few months that the powers that be will not let that happen.

As You Will Be

Today at the Comics Journal, we're basking in ongoing Sloane Leong content: this Friday, she's talking with Antonio Hitos, another one of the artists-in-residence at Maison de Auteurs. Rules and Peanuts--there's nothing I don't love about both of those subjects.

In the past couple of years, especially in the field I’m in which is part of a more rigid tradition, the comics are just storyboards for movies or they’re just pitches for a tv show.

Yeah, that’s a shame. I mean, comics can also be cool just because the story is interesting or the drawings are fun or whatever, they can work that way just fine. But it would be so much better if, on top of that, they were also exploring the possibilities that are inherent to their own language.

Exactly, yeah. I totally agree. What are some challenges that come up when you work in such a…I don’t want to say strict—

It is strict.

Today's review comes to us from Keith Silva, and its on Ascender #1, the latest comic from content machine Jeff Lemire. It's a negative review of the comic and Lemire in general

Perhaps it’s too harsh to rest Ascender’s bankruptcy of ideas on only one of its storytellers when Lemire’s script shoulders as much (more?) of the burden. Lemire works his familiar familial theme into Ascender which his readers have come to expect and depend upon. Like legions of others, Lemire has made a prosperous living and professionally respectable career being a family guy. He’s never met a damaged ragamuffin or traumatized and (mostly) straight white male whom he hasn’t found a way to write into a family either by their own blood or manufacture. When not hammering home ‘the family,’ Lemire’s stories stick to the most popular literary themes: love, war, survival, coming-of-age, good vs. evil, etc. This isn’t to fault Lemire for writing stories that rely on popular literary themes, but to point out he’s more run-of-the-mill than exceptional. And yet he maintains steady employment, receives positive critical attention and is more prolific than many of his peers: there are a lot of middling comics on the shelves bearing the name Jeff Lemire.

Secret Projects

Cynthia Rose has returned to TCJ with a monster of an article (the good kind of monster), reporting on the Pulp Festival outside Paris, new books and exhibits by and about two major cartoonists—Posy Simmonds and Catherine Meurisse—as well as interviews with both cartoonists.

The Pulp Festival "forces comics out of their frames," in order to mix them up with all the other arts. As well as hosting guest stars and staging exhibitions, Pulp combines BD with music, dance, film and a range of offbeat happenings. But one of the best things about it is that it happens at La Ferme du Buisson.

Just beyond the edge of Paris, this is a former farm that dates from 1879. Developed by the Menier family of chocolate barons, it once fed hundreds of their workers and supplied the beetroot used in their chocolates. Now its one-time stables and dairies have become studios, theaters, cinemas and a médiathèque.

Ferme Director Vincent Eches conceived Pulp in 2013. This, its sixth edition, proved every bit as ingenious as bigger-name fêtes. One reason was its stars: the artists Posy Simmonds and Catherine Meurisse. Simmonds is the subject of a major retrospective, called "J'ai deux amours" ("I Have Two Loves") and Meurisse created a Festival installation, D'après nature ("From Nature"), based on her book Les Grandes Espaces ("The Wide Open Spaces"). Pulp also celebrated the French debut of Cassandra Darke – Posy Simmonds' first graphic novel in eleven years – and the monograph So British! The Art of Posy Simmonds by critic Paul Gravett.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—This year's Pulitzer winner for editorial cartooning was Darrin Bell.

Michael Cavna at the Washington Post profiled Bell.

Amy Lago, his longtime Post Writers Group editor, says she had been urging Bell to do editorial cartoons since she arrived at the syndicate in 2004. “There were two things that prompted him to finally accept: the death of Trayvon Martin and the birth of his son,” says Lago, who calls Bell “quite possibly the hardest-working cartoonist among my [many] acquaintances.”

(At one point, she notes, Bell was writing and drawing two daily comic strips, creating three editorial cartoons a week, successfully submitting New Yorker cartoons and working on a “secret” storyboard project.)

—Tillie Walden's On a Sunbeam won this year's LA Times Book Prize. That award has a good record.

—At PW, Deb Aoki writes about MariNaomi and her Cartoonists of Color and Queer Cartoonists databases.

Both sites provide a resource for comics creators, publishers, editors, librarians, academics, journalists and event managers; anyone looking to discover new creators. Largely created and funded by MariNaomi, both databases are free for artists to join and free for anyone to use. Cartoonists can submit their contact info to the database to be listed.

MariNaomi (who is half-Japanese) said that the need for the databases occurred to her after she noticed an article that spotlighted “20 female cartoonists who draw themselves naked.” Although delighted that the article focused on women making comics, MariNaomi was dismayed that the story included only white women cartoonists.

“I was sick and tired of feeling invisible; tired of not seeing diverse representation and of hearing that there weren’t diverse creators out there, which I suspected was bullshit” she said. “It inspired me to start telling stories about race, which was something that I had avoided since I was told that my story wasn’t universal enough a few years back.”

WRENSDAY

Today at the Comics Journal, we're sharing a 22 page look at Nobrow's Darwin: An Exceptional Voyage. I first heard about this book when one of the people (not a Nobrow employee) who worked adjacent to it condescended to me about how he'd already read it, and hadn't realized how good Nobrow was until he had read that specific book, and why hadn't I told him about the book before? (At the time of this conversation, I had not worked at Nobrow for 16 months and had never heard of the Darwin book.) As I was listening to him and nodding and wondering how soon I could leave the conversation and go anywhere else in the world, I realized that he must think that I care to be this nasty--he must think I want something, to talk like this? But I had just said "hi", you know, trying to buy time to surreptitiously look at his name tag. Never figured that one out. Comics is a weird business.

Today's review comes to us from Josh Kramer, and he's taking a look at Brian Fies A Fire Story, the extended hardcover edition of Brian losing his house in a 2017 California wildfire, which he had previously described in a webcomic.

On the first page, after Fies’ name, an asterisk leads to text at the bottom that reads, “but not to his usual standards.” This caveat makes the deft cartooning and vulnerable storytelling that follows all the more impressive. But it also begs the question, what would this be like if it were up to Fies’ standards? The full-length graphic novel version, also titled A Fire Story, came out this March from Abrams ComicsArts. And not only is the book inspired by the original webcomic, it is more or less a faithful recreation.

Over on Facebook, you can find an impressive collection of Alberto Breccia images. If you'd like to see them without Zuckerberg's involvement, there's two exhibitions--one in Argentina, one in France--that'll solve that problem for you. For more information 0n that, John Freeman has you covered.

Over on Tumblr, our very own Matt Seneca has launched a webcomic edition of his Infinite Prison--according to him, you've only got a couple of weeks to read it, so get cooking.

RIP, Kazuhiko "Monkey Punch" Katou. The manga creator most known for Lupin III reportedly passed away last week

Lumpen

Today on the site, TCJ stalwart Bob Levin takes a look at Andrew Whyte's recent book about Maxon Crumb, Art Out of Chaos.

Whyte comes across as someone who has seen enough art to be confident in his own judgments. He considers Maxon’s writings to be “complex” and “intriguing,” “alien” yet “erotic.” He finds his visuals “extraordinary,” “perceptive... and original,” “provocative and profound,” rich with “foreboding,” demonstrating “arrestive inventiveness” and mastery of “composition, detail and technique.” Most impressively to me – since it underscores my own shortcomings – is his ability to get beyond Maxon’s externals and, while avoiding none of them, relegate them to a place where they do not interfere with his gaze. He views Maxon’s deviations from the norm no differently than most of us would another’s choice of eyeglass frames.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Nominees for this year's Doug Wright Awards have been announced, and include Michael DeForge, Hartley Lin, John Martz, and Fiona Smyth.

Slate and CCS have announced the winners of their annual Cartoonist Studio Prize: Keiler Roberts for print, and Lauren R. Weinstein for online.

—Reviews & Commentary. For The New Yorker, Stephanie Burt reviews Tillie Walden's On a Sunbeam.

The big, densely plotted volume has all the virtues of “Spinning,” plus the scale, the sense of wonder, and the optimism intrinsic to what’s called space opera or science fantasy. (Think “Star Trek” and Starfleet Academy.) As with “Spinning,” it can be hard to equal in prose the comic’s inviting, spare line work, use of black-and-white, and expressive qualities. (Walden can make one pen stroke on one character’s face equal two pages of dialogue.) “On a Sunbeam” is at once a queer coming-of-age story, a story about how to salvage lost love and youth, and a multigenerational story about how to thrive in a society that does not understand who you are or what you can do. It is the kind of story that adults can and should give to queer teens, and to autistic teens, and to teens who care for space exploration, or civil engineering, or cross-cultural communication. It is also a story for adults who were once like those teens, and the kind of story (like the Aeneid, but happier) whose devotees might occasionally return to it, hoping for divine advice from a randomly chosen line, or panel, or page.

At The Nation, Jillian Steinhauer writes about Mark Dery's biography of Edward Gorey.

For 33 years, Edward Gorey rented an apartment in Manhattan. The author and artist hated New York City, but like so many others, he had moved there after college to embark on a career. The one-room apartment, at 36 East 38th Street, was Gorey’s refuge, his “cabinet of wonders, bohemian atelier, and Fortress of Solitude rolled into one,” as the cultural critic Mark Dery puts it in his new biography, Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey. The place was crammed with books, art, and miscellaneous objects that Gorey had collected, often memento mori. These included a real mummy’s head, which, by the time Gorey lost his lease in 1986, was sitting on a shelf in a closet, wrapped in brown paper. When he was away in Cape Cod, as the story goes, Gorey asked some friends to pack up his things for him, but they managed to miss the head. Instead, the super found it.

“I got a call from a detective at some precinct or other who said, ‘Mr. Gorey, we’ve discovered a head in your closet,’” the artist recalled in an interview. Gorey responded, “Oh, for God’s sake, can’t you tell a mummy’s head when you see one? It’s thousands of years old! Good grief! Did you think it took place over the weekend?”

Nicholas Theisen writes about the ethics of scanlations.

I’m back on my bullshit, because the whole discourse surrounding the “wrongness” of scanlation that I constantly see on social media, frankly, drives me bonkers, in part because people on “either side” of the issue never seem to be asking the useful questions or speaking from a shared set of facts. The anti-scanlation crowd is largely made up of people who either are professional translators or work in publishing, in other words those who directly benefit from the existing copyright regime. If I were being more fair, perhaps I would describe this group as those who have firsthand knowledge of the negative impact of scanlation in the manga distribution economy. On the other side we have the, if not pro-scanlation, then at least scanlation agnostic who speak almost solely from the perspective of readers and consumers in a market economy. In other words, the “two sides” are arguing from two completely different realities.

And I say manga distribution economy, because whether the two sides like it or not, the licit and “illicit” trades in translated Japanese comics are not wholly distinct entities. They are, in fact, inextricably linked to one another.

—Interviews. NPR interviews Cathy Guisewite.

—RIP. Gene Wolfe.

Cruel-sing

Today at the Comics Journal, we're starting off the week with the National Cartoonists Society--by speaking with Steve McGarry, the current president of the NCS Foundation, one of the key players in the recent attempts to rebrand the NCS to keep up with the next generation of creators.

You have a wide range of people at the festival – Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, Ed Brubaker and Joyce Farmer, Lewis Trondheim and Dan Clowes. A lot of people that most would not associate with the NCS.

We’re trying to show this is a broad church. I think the perception of the NCS is that it’s old white guys who make comic strips – and it’s not. Part of this outreach is to change that perception. Look at who we have as members. Look at whose art we’re celebrating. Look at the exhibitions. I did a history of soccer at the National Football Museum in the UK last year so it was easy for us to basically replicate that here, though it has more LA Galaxy and US soccer, but it’s basically the history of soccer. We’re celebrating 90 years of Popeye which is ubiquitous. We have a French exhibition where they re-imagine classic comics figures as females. That exhibition addresses the under-representation of women in comics. Look at our guest list. We’re trying to be as inclusive and broad as possible. To try and dispel some of these myths that have grown up around the NCS. There is a disconnect between the online comics community where there are cartoonists who rail against these old dinosaurs. I think all cartoonists – probably without exception – are comics fans. Anybody that does good work appeals across the spectrum. The medium might have changed but good work is still good work whether it’s done by a 95 year old or a 15 year old. One of the selfish aspects of this is to present the NCS and put a spotlight on it and what we’re doing and who we are. At the same time we’re entertaining the public.

Our review of the day is a delightful one, from Darryl Ayo--it seems to be his debut for us, if the system we use to track your name can be relied upon. That seems hard to fathom, but maybe it is. He's here with a look at Wasted Space #8, from Vault Comics.

So if you’re me and you’re reading this comic book which could not be more random if you tried—the eighth installment of a serial that you are unfamiliar with—and you’re hoping to just dive in feet first? It pretty much works. The two parallel storylines of this issue both deal with repercussions of events that occurred in previous issues. One guy had his arm ripped off and another guy is coping with having murdered his own father. I get the impression that, for the long-term fans of Wasted Space, this issue might be a let-down in terms of action. Both stories in issue 8 are just people talking about how sad they are. Nobody gets dismembered or murdered. 

Over at Atomic Junk Shop, Edo Bosnar does a rundown of 2005's attempt to update Archie comics. Back in 2005, that consisted of hiring 80's super-hero artists and adapting licensed YA novels form the 90's. Not sure why that genius plan failed to take off.

Over at Bleeding Cool, they've got a great rundown of Sean Murphy's recent complaint that people should stop complaining. Why is it that every time a real man tells it like it is (with no filter), the result is always whining about what other people are saying on social media? My check engine light has been given me a hard time ever since the catalytic converter was stolen, and I would love it if a real man would come along and help me figure out whether it's the oxygen sensors or not. But all the tough guys in comics seem to spend the majority of their time rewatching super-hero movies or complaining incessantly about what other people do on fucking twitter.

We May Already Be Too Late

Today on the site, Sloane Leong returns with the first in a series of features, in which she interviews her fellow residents at the Maison des Auteurs in Angoulême. First up is Rebecca Roher.

Sloane Leong: So the first thing I’m going to ask is what you’re working on, and what brought about the project.

Rebecca Roher: I’m working on a project called One Hundred Year-Old Wisdom, where I’m interviewing near-hundred-year-olds about their keys to long life, their histories, and how they live today. I’m making comics based on the interviews. It’s framed as if I am a news reporter for a fictional TV network. I really like the reporter voice, you know like, “Hello, I’m reporting live–”

[Chuckles] yeah.

I think it’s very humorous and a nice way to frame it and also, I was really inspired by the videos you see of reporters visiting old people on their hundredth birthday asking, “What’s your secret to long life?” and the hundred year-olds are like, “I eat oatmeal every day and stayed away from men.”

And Joe Decie wraps up his week with Day Five of his excellent Cartoonist's Diary.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The Arizona Republic checks in on Gahan Wilson.

Gahan Wilson has a way of looking at the world and he reflected it in his cartoons.

An elevator in a corporate building that eats people.

Two aliens viewing earth, predicting, "Another decade or so and it will be warm enough for us."

A doctor telling a skeleton patient, "We may already be too late, Mr. Parker."

His work was playfully sinister and clever. Each cartoon made a point. The horrors of war. The destruction of the planet. The indignity humans inflict on one another.

Gahan's cartoons appeared regularly in Playboy for 50 years and in Collier's, The New Yorker and National Lampoon.

At 89, Gahan is still drawing pictures, but he doesn't publish them anymore.

Vice has excerpts from Alex Jones's deposition in the Matt Furie/Pepe the Frog case.

Moments before the impassioned speech, Jones admitted that, at first, he didn’t understand the cartoon frog at all. “I get most memes,” Jones said. “But I just didn’t understand [Pepe the Frog.]” Much of the deposition consists of Jones alternating between saying that he doesn’t care much about Pepe and discussing the finer points of the frog, like noting that his forehead looks “like a butt.” At one point, Jones says that if he loses the case, it would be “like [being made to make] a payment to the Statue of Liberty or something when we’re talking about liberty.”

—Reviews & Commentary. At openDemocracy, Louie Dean Valencia-Garcia writes about the recent Twitter spat between Jim Carrey and Mussolini's granddaughter over one of Carrey's cartoons, and some of the political context.

Recently, the comedian posted a crude drawing of fascist leader Benito Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci ­– disfigured and hung upside down as they were in their deaths. Notoriously, Mussolini and Clara’s bodies were left virtually unrecognizable after an Italian mob got hold of the bodies after their executions. Carrey captioned the image: ‘If you’re wondering what fascism leads to, just ask Benito Mussolini and his mistress Claretta’. Carrey’s warning is two-fold: 1) fascists are on the losing side of history and 2) fascism’s end is particularly horrific.

—Interviews & Profiles. For no particular reason, I have never listened to a full episode of Studio 360, but the latest episode features Cathy Guisewite (as well as novelist Frederic Tuten, author of the comics-adjacent novel Tintin in the New World).

Longsharks

Today at the Comics Journal, it's time for Tegan O'Neil's latest installment of Ice Cream for Bedwetters. This time around, she's used Tom King & Gabriel Hernandez Walta's Vision series as inspiration to discuss the impact of 9/11, Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Hickman's Secret Wars, Stan Lee, the infamous Comics Journal canon issue and comics criticism. Buckle in.

It’s a terrible thing to be a critic out of a feeling of resentment or anger at the object of your critique. Especially when the feelings aren’t even inspired by the work itself but simply a negative reaction to the enthusiasm of someone else taking joy in comics. I hardly want to live down the reputation of critics as choleric firebrands who never leave the house and bathe less often than they should - but, I mean, yeah. 

It’s not all comics fault. They didn’t ask to be the most intense relationship of my life.

Today also sees the latest installment of Joe Decie's Cartoonist Diary. Today's installment is painful, honest and elegant. Thank you Joe.

Our review of the day comes from Leonard Pierce. Here's looking at Ghost Box, from John Pading and Shigeharu Kobayashi.

Ghost Box first saw the light of day last year with a successful Kickstarter, and it’s now making its way to direct sales via Frank Comics, the imprint run by its creators, artist John Pading and his co-writer Shigeharu Kobayashi. It’s a quasi-sequel to their 2012 book Princess Calabretta, with which it shares not only characters and DNA but a hyperactive mélange of pop culture influences. Pading’s art style is vivid and cartoony, and while it’s not the most accomplished, it’s very well suited to the material, which benefits from the kinetic, colorful nature of his work. The script, on the other hand, is rather a mess: ideas come and go, events explode and spill over with no real rhyme or reason, and most of the appeal of the narrative comes from the fact that it throws its story developments, such as they are, at you with such wildfire rapidity that you give in to its admittedly good-natured energy more or less out of exhaustion.

Over at Smash Pages, Alex Dueben can be found speaking with Finnish cartoonist J.P. Ahonen about his heavy metal family comedy, Belzebubs.

Over at Broken Frontier, Andy Oliver speaks to Anna Readman about her comics work. Oliver had previously referred to Anna as "the future of British comics". The art by Readman illustrating the interview makes a pretty effective case for Oliver's claims.

Anytime a new Brian DePalma movie appears on the horizon, I think of old Kim Thompson remarks about DePalma that I'd caught wind of, years after they'd been made, via comments made by other people. I wonder what his level of anticipation would have been for Domino, which was reportedly such a terrible experience that the film director has sworn off the country of Denmark. 

 

Not Secure

Joe Decie's week creating our Cartoonist's Diary continues, and is predictably drawing raves. Here's Day Three.

We also have an excerpt from Kat Verhoeven's Meat and Bone, soon to be released by Conundrum.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—At the Washington Post, Michael Cavna checks in on Olivia Jaimes and Nancy.

That creative energy has resulted in a 400 percent spike in “Nancy” traffic on GoComics.com compared with the year prior, says the syndicate. And sales have nearly doubled since Jaimes inherited the strip, with its client list nearing 140 newspapers.

That popularity is fueling other “Nancy” projects. Two books are due out in the fall, a board game is in the works, and the syndicate says it is finalizing a deal with a major streaming service for animated entertainment.

—Crime and music writer Michael Gonzales reflects on the childhood inspiration he drew from horror comics.

In truth, though I was young, I was already writing on the Olivetti typewriter I got for Christmas the year before and somehow convinced myself that writing scripts was next logical step. Nick Cuti was also the creative force behind the pamphlet sized instruction booklet The Comic Book Guide for the Artist-Writer-Letterer. Produced by Charlton Comics, the booklet broke down the format and mechanics of the work in a language that was straight forward. After reading the book a zillion times (it’s only 35-pages long, I wrote Cuti a letter at Warren gushing over his own writing and telling him that I too wanted to be a comic book scribe.

Two weeks later, I was surprised when he wrote back offering encouragement. “Even if you do want to become a comic book writer, you must read more than comics,” he advised. Although I was already a fan of the strange tales of Roald Dahl, the aesthetic I developed from the horror comics sent me straight into the frail arms of Franz Kafka and Edgar Allan Poe.

—I'm pretty sure that we have not previously mentioned the Ink Logging Tumblr set up by Zack Soto, which includes short reviews and writing on comics purchased by various cartoonists and writers, including such TCJ-affiliated critics as Chris Mautner and Joe McCulloch (aka Jog). But we should have.

—The Verge has an oral history of webcomics.

Ryan North, Dinosaur Comics: Top lists were kind of like traffic Ponzi schemes. You’d put a link on your comic that said: “Click here to vote for me,” sending people to their page. In exchange for clicks, you got to the top of their list. It felt very performative, so I stopped doing it.

The first comic I read was Achewood, which is probably the best webcomic ever. It didn’t have a links page, so I thought Achewood invented webcomics. Mine was the second webcomic on the internet.

I was in a college entrepreneurship class, and a month into a group project, our group hadn’t done anything, so I just decided to put comics online.

I cut little T. rex silhouettes out of construction paper and put them up around campus with the URL on them. I’m very tall, so I could jump and get them up where the janitorial staff couldn’t reach. When I heard people in the cafeteria talking about Dinosaur Comics, I thought I was being pranked. I guess the way I got early readers was… vandalism?

—Jon B. Cooke has started a new podcast, and his first guest is Robert Crumb, on to discuss Weirdo.

—French designer Jean-Philippe Bretin discusses his redesign of Yuichi Yokoyama's Outdoors.

To design a layout for Yuichi, whose work is already so full of bold vivacity, proved a challenge for Jean-Philippe. He researched previous cover designs for his other publications, including Kazunari Hattori’s cover for Room which focused on “simple and powerful typographic compositions”, drawing out the pictorial qualities of Kanji. He also studied Yuichi’s éditions Matière which uses skilfully coloured extracts from Yuichi’s illustrations over the past ten years.

Alternatively, Jean-Philippe utilises the “raw content” of the comic artist’s powerful visuals to inform his cover design. Experimenting with different design tones to play on the book’s materials, his final design consists of a book jacket that complimentarily sits against the jade green, typographic cover. “The cover of Outdoors plays with some recurring elements seen throughout other manga covers” says Jean-Philippe. While it features a shiny dust jacket and dense text, each element has in fact had, a shift in format.

—RIP Seymour Cassel.

The Next Life

Today at The Comics Journal, we're pleased to introduce--well, that's probably not the right word. Welcome? There we go. We're pleased to welcome Whitney Matheson aboard, with her first piece for TCJ. She's spoke with Box Brown about his new book Cannabis, his current work methods, and more. There was no discussion of footwear, or its financial value.

Cannabis doesn’t focus on pop culture like your previous books. Is this topic something you’ve been interested in for awhile?

Cannabis is more of a lifelong obsession. I was arrested for possession when I was 16. I didn’t see this as an opportunity at the time — it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me — but I got to go through the legal system, being handcuffed, that whole thing.

Wow. What year was that?

This was 1996. And what I found out in my research, actually, was that in 1996 the number of people arrested for cannabis doubled. In 1995 there were 200,00 people arrested for cannabis laws, and in 1996 there were 400,000. So I just got caught up in that. But going through probation and urine tests and seeing how people of color are treated differently from white kids in the middle-class suburbs … I got off probation on good behavior in four months. At the time, I was happy, but you know, in high school kids would get busted for underage drinking, and they didn’t get arrested. Their parents would get called, and that was it. I just saw that as a huge hypocrisy, and since then, it’s never been far from my gaze.

It's also Day Two for Joe Decie, bringing that Pay It Forward philosophy into action with his story of what happens when his life comes upon a non-Decie related sock.

Over at Sequart, Dr. David Sweeney goes long (this article is only the first part!) on super-hero costumes in the comics of Warren Ellis. The site also has published an extensive article by Matthew Kirshenblatt on Herbert Crowley--that's the kind of counterprogramming that we like to see.

Over at Broken Frontier, Andy Oliver spoke at length to Laurel Pettit, whose enthusiasm for the artform's potential is as tangible as her skill.

Our pal Dominic Umile takes a look at Qiana Whitted's recently released EC Comics: Race, Shock & Social Protest, as well as some of the legendary comics the book discusses.

Over at Women Write About Comics, Nola Pfau does an old school here's-the-stuff-I-bought round up following her trip to Emerald City Comic Con.

Over at Smash Pages, Alex Dueben can be found speaking with Diana Chu about her music and Dante focused issue of Ley Lines.

While the MoCCA Festival took place this weekend, the focus of the comics community was turned towards Craig Thompson. Sometime last week, Uncivilized Books released a mock-up design for a box set of Craig's still-to-be-released comic series, Ginseng Roots. The design, featured below, was immediately criticized for Orientalist content--a criticism that has circled Thompson's work for years, including in our 2011 roundtable on the book, and by The Hooded Utiliarian's Nadim Damluji, who challenged Thompson about this aspect of his work directly--and within hours, the design had been taken down by the publisher Tom Kaczynski (who is also currently writing a column for TCJ) who then issued a public apology.