Those Long Days

Well it was quite a weekend. I'm still swimming in it.

On the site today: Dave Sim's response to the publishing offers from Fantagraphics, one of which was made on this very site (scroll down for more). As you may know, Dave Sim and The Comics Journal have a long and contentious history. Here's an excerpt from today's piece:

Let’s assume we could “do a deal” and let’s assume further that we could have the deal done by this time next year. Even releasing one book a year — with the kind of contextualizing that you’re talking about — which would be extremely optimistic, I think… and I’d imagine with your long experience in publishing you would agree… at best we would be talking about a contract through to 2029. Given how quickly everything is changing in terms of technology and publishing — practically on a daily basis — that would be really foolish on my part.

SPX 2012 was easily the best in the festival's history, and one of the best comics events I've ever been to. Warren Bernard and co., along with a ton of able and cheerful volunteers achieved a great balance between commerce, art, scholarship and... carousing. And for me that means incredibly strong sales, interesting conversations and off-color stories about forgotten cartoonists and comic book store owners of the 1980s. I have no perspective on the actual books at the show because I was selling PictureBox books all weekend. I heard from both panelists and attendees that the programming was especially strong this year and it seemed like the layout of the show easy to navigate and low-stress. I also remain impressed with the partnership between SPX and the Library of Congress -- both the collecting aspect of it and the institution's willingness to host cartoonists in its stacks.

I'm sure there'll be plenty of other round-up posts in the coming days. For now, here are your Ignatz winners.

A Few Innocuously Drawn Charred Limbs

The megacorporate gods are displeased, and have silenced Tucker Stone's home internet capabilities once again, so unfortunately his "Comics of the Weak" column will not be appearing at its normal time. With any luck, Tucker will be able to get something in later today tonight, so stay tuned...

On the other hand, we have the final triumphant day of John Porcellino's five-day diary of his time in Gainesville, Florida, teaching a seminar at SAW. Thanks, John!


—The Hooded Utilitarian has republished some vintage Comics Journal invective in the form of Ng Suat Tong's infamous 2003 takedown, "EC Comics and the Chimera of Memory", as well as the critical back-and-forth between Ng and Blood & Thunder veteran R. Fiore that later ensued.

I think there's more to EC's admittedly uneven science fiction, crime, and horror comics than Ng does, and believe that the MAD and Kurtzman war material fully deserve their canonical status, but Ng's essay (especially when paired with its epistolary aftermath) is in its own way a weird kind of classic, vividly memorable nearly a decade later, and still capable of provoking fruitful argument. It's also wrongheaded and tendentious, which doesn't at all mean he doesn't land a few successful body blows on the indisputably flawed corpus behind the EC legend. But not only does he repeatedly ignore historical context and make several more-than-dubious assertions (such as his claim that Bernie Krigstein "had neither the desire nor capabilities to develop"), he also avoids almost all discussion of formal concerns, a pretty grievous flaw in this particular argument. I don't agree with everything in Fiore's response either, but I think he largely has Ng's number. The tell is Ng's clearly rattled response, full of bluster and unconvincing accusations (I'm sure an older, wiser Ng could do much better now) -- my favorite moment comes when he tries to downplay Fiore's point about the realism of Kurtzman's war comics by saying that the aftermath of a napalm attack in Frontline Combat is only shown by "no more than a few innocuously drawn charred limbs." Yeah, geez, charred limbs, big deal—what a cop out.

Ng doesn't mention it, but there's also an American soldier in that panel, standing over the carnage and exclaiming, "What a mess!" Which is more or less what I affectionately say now about this whole kerfuffle, which I would have happily published again today if it had been submitted (albeit with a bit of editorial back-and-forth first to fill in logical holes and sharpen the points); whatever merits there may be to particular arguments expressed here, it raises important questions worth tackling.

—SAW has announced their micro-grant winners.

—Joe Sacco is interviewed at the popular literary weblog, The Millions.

—Douglas Wolk reviews Gabrielle Bell's The Voyeurs for Print.

—Tom Spurgeon interviews SPX executive director Warren Bernard, who has perhaps the greatest comics collection I've ever seen -- and I've seen a lot of impressive comics collections.

—I don't think Spurgeon is wrong to be dismayed by the comments thread in the Sandra Fluke cartoon he discusses here, but I do think it's always a mistake to make any generalizations about the wider state of things or the effectiveness of arguments based only on the narrow, self-selecting band of humanity driven to fight it out in comments threads. But I make that same mistake all the time, so I sympathize.

The Onion has a story about a religious cartoon sure to please many.

—Nicholson Baker is a big Tintin fan.

—When Jack Kirby was 14, he wanted to draw cartoons for The New Yorker. Here's one of his rejected submissions.

—This review of the new Judge Dredd movie is only 35 words and one comics panel long, but it makes me feel like I've seen the film already. Though to be fair I felt like that before I read the review, too.

—In further not-exactly-comics news, they're making Fun Home into a musical.


Good morning. Today on the site we have R.C. Harvey's account of Chic Young and Blondie, the classic (and still-running) comic strip, which includes this choice bit:

Before Blondie debuted, it enjoyed a legendary promotional campaign that began (as Walker tells us) when newspaper editors around the country were sent an announcement of the engagement of Dagwood Bumstead to Blondie Boopadoop. This was followed by a letter from the Bumstead attorney, who alleged the engagement announcement was “a pure fabrication of fancy, if not a malicious attempt on the part of this Miss Blondie Boopadoop.” After which came a handwritten note from Blondie herself, protesting her innocence and saying she’d soon arrive to explain “in person.” She also said she was sending her luggage on ahead: “When you get it, hold it for me and don’t peek inside.”

A few days later, a cardboard suitcase was delivered to editors’ offices, with a note from Blondie, admonishing: “Don’t peek into it.” It being a blatant promotion, everyone peeked. The suitcase contained women’s clothing—for a paper doll. Next, as promised, Blondie herself arrived—a cut-out paper doll in her lingerie. With a note: “Here I am, just like I told you I’d be. Only, please, Mr. Editor, put some clothes on me quick. I sent them on ahead, you remember my pink bag. I’m so embarrassed! Blondie.”

And John Porcellino rolls on with Day 4 of his diary.

Elsewhere in the world it's video time:

Big congrats to artists and TCJ-contributors Dash Shaw and Frank Santoro on this gorgeous and moving music video or Sigur Ros.

And check out this new ongoing web series, featuring some serious Ron Rege visuals: We Can Do It!

Oh, it's the unlikely but heartwarming Dennis Fujitake week over at Michel Fiffe's place.

And lastly, remember the time Jim Starlin took acid and road an elevator? No? Luckily Sean Howe does.

The Build Up

Today is day three of the great John Porcellino's Cartoonist's Diary. This time, he goes looking for gators.

Also, Rob Clough reviews the first issue of an all-woman British anthology, The Strumpet.


—In the Gary Panter department, James Romberger conducts a really nice, sharp interview with him for Publishers Weekly, and Jason Sack has a much shorter, but also nice interview with him at Comics Bulletin. On top of all that, Matthias Wivel, once (and future?) European correspondent here at the Journal, and supreme ruler of the Metabunker, translates and republishes a 2005 review of Jimbo's Purgatory as the first an installment of his "Comics of the Decade."

—If you want to ask Dave Sim questions (and considering all the recent events surrounding him, who wouldn't?), don't forget to take the opportunity we presented to you a few weeks ago, and leave a question in the comments here.

—In very welcome news, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum has announced a new Dylan Williams Collection of small press and self-published comics.

—Top Shelf just launched their annual $3 sale. I don't generally like linking to those kinds of things, but there are so many potential good deals at that it seems a shame to let self-imposed, inconsistent principles get in the way.

—I missed this Alison Bechdel interview on getting old published at Jezebel last week. It doesn't look like the Bechdel interview onslaught that began this spring is slowing down much at all. So it's nice that she's such a good talker.

—The Rumpus interviews former Get Your War On cartoonist David Rees, one of the iconic webcartoonists.

—For Cul de Sac's fifth anniversary, Richard Thompson published a few early strips from before he figured things out.

—It's a fast-moving story, but apparently the sedition charges against Aseem Trivedi will be dropped. He is out on bail already.

—Nick Gazin talks to Johnny Ryan about his attempt to pitch an animated series with Dave Cooper.

—Robert Boyd reminds us all that Lynda Barry is currently selling original art real cheap on Etsy.

—This post on the New Yorker/Facebook "Nipplegate" incident is being linked to everywhere else on the internet, so I guess I should too. I'm doing it out of a sense of duty, not enthusiasm, though. (I do like Karen Sneider's cartoon.)

—Stephen Bissette teases some very interesting sounding Steve Ditko/Eric Stanton revelations in his review of the new Craig Yoe Ditko collection.

For Shame

It's Tuesday so your uncle Joe has some words for you. And John Porcellino rolls into Day 2 of his Diary.

Elsewhere in the world:

-TCJ-contributor Nicole Rudick on the artist Jess over at The Paris Review.

-The international cartoon news is the story of political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi in India.

-A comparison between two versions of The Little Engine That Could.

-Tim's old Comic Books Changed Their Lives is back, here, with this story about Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett.

-The great John Pham opened a show, with Rob Sato, at Giant Robot 2 in Los Angeles. Nicholas Gazin has the report.

-And finally, Renee French has started a weekly comic strip over at Study Group.


Oh Boy

Today's a doozy, starting with the great Joshua Glenn (forever beloved for the late, lamented Hermenaut) on the long-awaited arrival of Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo collection. Here's an excerpt:

The weekly strip first appeared in the L.A. Reader back in the liminal year 1983—the final year, that is to say, of the Seventies, which began in 1974. The postindustrial era had arrived, and Panter gave us a future scenario in which nothing is created except graffiti, and everyone is in search of spare parts: mechanical and bodily. Like the abandoned highways and buildings of Dal Tokyo, the strip’s four-panel format is a hollowed-out shell—to be repurposed, misused, and abused however the squatter-artist sees fit. Some weeks, Panter uses his four panels to tell a serialized, Flash Gordon-type adventure; other weeks, he spreads a single scene or image or explosion across the entire frame; and in recent years, the chaotic action of the strip has subverted the very idea of a linear, delimited format. There is a desultory plot to Dal Tokyo: one as meandering and bemused, and as liable to follow a minor character right out of the scene for a long spell, as a Richard Linklater movie. “I’ve just got way too many leads to follow up,” Panter has explained, “and I’m happily chasing them in all directions.”

We also have the debut of a new artist in our Cartoonist's Diary feature, the legendary John Porcellino! Day one chronicles a road trip from the top of Illinois to Gainesville, Florida. What would he be doing there?

And finally, as the more diligent Comics Journal readers already discovered this weekend, Frank Santoro published another installment of his "New Talent Showcase", this time reviewing comics by Derik Badman, Clara Bessijelle, and A. Degen.


—The most obvious big news this weekend was the announcement of this year's Harvey Award recipients. Kate Beaton and Daredevil cleaned up their respective categories. Congratulations to the winners.

—Ken Quattro has unearthed a lengthy 1953 conversation between Joe Kubert, William Gaines, and Al Feldstein regarding the creation of 3D comics.

—Least predictable development yet? Today marks the online debut of new installments of Wendy & Richard Pini's Elfquest, at one of the world's most popular sites, Boing Boing. (As mentioned before on this site, the entire print run of previous Elfquest comics is available for free.)

—Frank Young continues to do valuable work, digging up the rarest John Stanley comics in existence. This time, it's possibly his strangest, Linda Lark, Registered Nurse.

—Douglas Wolk discusses Judge Dredd with superhero academic Ben Saunders.

—Rob Clough previews seven publishers you might want to seek out at this year's SPX, which takes place this weekend in Bethesda. As previously noted, this year's panels and guest slate look pretty amazing.

You Needa

It's the end of the another week. We made it! Tucker Stone and co. want to sing you into the weekend.


Tucker and fellow TCJ galley workers Joe McCulloch, Matt Seneca and Chris Mautner talk about comics even MORE with their voices! I have yet to listen to this installment (I like to wait until I have a long car ride or need to pass the time while I'm trying to read comics) but apparently it covers my favorite mini comics in a while, End of the Fucking World. That's a fine comic. I like Forsman's lean and elegant style, and reading it in little chunks has been satisfying. It's not easy making the couple-on-the-run plot interesting, but Forsman omits a lot, which lets readers fill in the gaps and engage with the implied ambiguities. Annnyyyhooo...

Elsewhere, I have some Dapper Dan Super Movie news! This is a trailer for a Metal Hurlant series that never happened. I know one man in Brooklyn who shed a little tear when he saw this. And, yes! A Wonder Woman series. I want to be able to turn on my TV and only see superheroes. Then we will gradually turn this site into an episode recap orgy. Elsewhere in the mountaintops of entertainment, here are some "poorly translated" James Bond comics. Fine likeness, though.

Finally: I love Tomi Ungerer's work. What a genius. Here's a profile. This weekend he'll be in Toronto at Little Island Comics.


Need More

Today, Rob Clough reviews Dan Zettwoch's long-awaited Birdseye Bristoe (which we previewed back in May). Here's an excerpt:

It’s telling that Dan Zettwoch’s full-length solo debut, Birdseye Bristoe, is touted on the cover as “An Inventions and How-To Book.” He’s never been an artist whose stories are driven by narrative. Instead, he likes to show his audience schematics, maps, instruction sheets, and cut-away drawings that nonetheless reveal something about the people who are building them. What’s odd about this book is that there is a narrative, but it’s almost entirely buried in an avalanche of diagrams that doubles as a tour of the non-town in which the story is set. If a reader is careful, he is provided with every clue as to what is happening and why, but Zettwoch gives nothing away for free, so to speak. As a result, it took me a couple of reads to figure out what was going on, beyond a simple collection of the usual clever Zettwoch drawings.


—Tom Spurgeon alerted the internet yesterday to Dylan Williams's recently posted Comics Art interview with Fred Guardineer (which includes excerpts from Guardineer's diary comics). I am grateful not only for seeing this material again, but also for being reminded of that Williams tribute site in general, which I had somehow lost track of, but is packed with excellent stuff, and well worth exploring.

—A lawyer named Bob Kohn opposed to the proposed Apple/e-books anti-trust settlement has recently filed an amicus brief explaining why, and done so in the form of a five-page comic. You can read that brief, and Kohn's story, here. I'm not sure I buy Kohn's reasons for doing this in comics form. He says he was asked to boil down a twenty-five-page prose argument to five pages, and couldn't see a way to get enough information in to five pages, but comics form helped, because pictures "tell a thousand words." Of course, nearly every one of the pictures he actually used is just one person sitting next to another, talking, so I'm not sure what information was being added visually here. But considering that the New York Times and Bloomberg have already reported on this, passed along his argument, and made his story go semi-viral, Kohn may have a larger point on comics' effectiveness. I doubt as many people would have read a more conventional brief.

—Danny Best has exhumed John Byrne's infamous courtroom testimony in the late-'90s Marvel vs. Marv Wolfman suit over Blade.

Doctor’s Orders

Hi there, today on the site we welcome new contributor Kim O'Connor, who writes about Gabrielle Bell's new book, The Voyeurs:

In Bell’s hands, comics are poetry’s cool little cousin, all slippery meanings, feats of peculiar punctuation, and the unfortunate tendency to namedrop the likes of Bertolt Brecht. She avoids the threat of pretension that’s implicit in all of those things with well-timed flashes of humor and a vague distaste for anything she can’t do on the Internet.

Elsewhere online...

-It's a Chris Ware-palooza this weekend, and just the start of the season of Building Stories.

-Heidi MacDonald covers a long and appalling instance of trolling.

-Kevin Huizenga makes a few notes about an architecture comic.

-Seneca and Witzke continue to discuss the DC series Solo, this time covering Damion Scott's installment.

-Here's a very fine Michael Kaluta / Carson of Venus narrative from 1974.

-Finally, from 2010 one of the last substantive Ray Bradbury interviews.


Welcome Back

We hope our North American readers enjoyed Labor Day, and that those of you overseas didn't mind too much the day off from comics reportage and criticism. We're back with Joe McCulloch and his weekly column—this time shining a spotlight on the immortal (so I'm told) Jack T. Chick.

Elsewhere on the internet:

—As Heidi MacDonald caught, WNYC has been posting audio from the 1954 Senate hearings on comic books and their purported links to juvenile delinquency. It's in two parts.

—Continuations & Conclusions. The second part of the Brandon Graham interview Dan linked to last week is now up, as our parts two and three of John Porcellino's materials & process posts.

Journal columnist Jared Gardner has reviewed Joe Sacco's Journalism, and (via Tom Spurgeon) the secret origin of another Journal columnist, Charles Hatfield, was recently revealed by his brother Scott, in two blog posts.

—Matthias Wivel writes on recent David B.

The Guardian has the first review of Charles Burns's The Hive I've seen in the wild.

—Gabrielle Bell appeared on a comedy podcast.

—Andrew Rilstone overthinks Superman as only he can.

—The Sean Howe Marvel Tumblr is the gift that keeps on giving.

A Case of the Labor Daze

Tucker Stone is back from vacation, but has been having some problems getting his internet connection to work, so his column will be in a little later than usual this morning. [UPDATE: It's here.]

In the meantime, MariNaomi has the last day of her Cartoonist's Diary, continuing her tour of the Galapagos Islands. Thanks, MariNaomi!

And Rob Clough has some very strong praise for a new anthology, Trubble Club #5, going so far as to dub it "the Sistine Chapel of jam comics."


—The great John Porcellino takes to his blog to share his materials and process, with a promise of more to come.

—Kevin Melrose at Robot 6 caught Dave Gibbons talking smack about the widely reviled font Comics Sans. Gibbons gets a pass on this, since apparently the font was at least partially based on Gibbons's lettering work on Watchmen, but generally, making jokes about Comics Sans is like mocking ... how do I put this without getting into trouble? It's way too easy, and very unnecessary, let's just say that.

—The Westfield Comics Blog interviews Crockett Johnson biographer Philip Nel and former Journal news-gatherer Eric Reynolds about the upcoming reprints of Johnson's Barnaby strip.

—Vice magazine has a profile of Real Deal Comics.

—And our own columnist Ryan Holmberg unearths an unpublished review of Andrei Molotiu's Abstract Comics he originally wrote for Art in America.

Like, Sick Sick Sick?

On the site:

The very funny cartoonist Sam Henderson drops in with the news that Comics Aren't Just For Eyes Anymore.

The one common ground all cartoonists have is a self-deprecating narcissism. We all take turns talking each other off building ledges. At the same time there’s a desire to be seen and liked by everyone. That’s why I’ve decided the best venue for my own work is through performed readings, with my comics projected on slides. However, I don’t have the same charisma a stand-up comic would. I don’t aspire to be on Saturday Night Live or in movies. At 43, I feel I’m too old to be “paying my dues.” I’m nervous talking to people one-on-one, but I don’t have the same fear getting up and talking in front of an audience. I could even be naked if I had to. (I have no idea what circumstances would require that, though.)

And MariNaomi continues her travels in Day 4 of her diary.


-Here's a preview of the great Seymour Chwast's adaptation of The Odyssey.

-Some beautiful Alberto Breccia work here.

-A solid Brandon Graham interview in which he ruminates a bit.

-Our own Sean T. Collins wrote a comic about cocaine psychosis and David Bowie. Check it out.

-Drawn & Quarterly loves Anders Nilsen, who boldly submitted his high school art for examination.

-Finally, I'm incredibly excited about this new Ron Rege Jr. book, Cartoon Utopia. Ron is one of our very best cartoonists and it's been too long since we've had new material from him.



If there's one complaint we here at hear more than any other, it's what happened to Dapper Dan's Super-Movies reviews? The answer, of course, is that Dan had a kid, which means he didn't spend a whole lot of the summer in theaters. But never fear, because the great R. Fiore has you covered, and uses his new Funnybook Roulette to pin down The Dark Knight Rises:

In thinking over my dissatisfaction with this particular moviegoing experience I am of two minds. On the one hand the leaden seriousness these superhero movies (and this “franchise” in particular) coat themselves in detracts from their enjoyability. On the other hand I can’t say for sure that their makers’ belief that this factor is a key element in their success with people other than me is wrong. I feel my position is further eroded by the fact that they did get me into the theater. As I am one of those people who will go to some of the superhero movies but not all of them, a key demographic for the success of one of these movies, it is difficult for me to argue that the strategy didn’t “work.”

MariNaomi continues her week in residence here as our Cartoon Diarist. Today: Cat scratch fever!


—Our own Chris Mautner takes to the pixels of Robot 6 to list and describe his six favorite Cul de Sac characters. If you know Chris, you know he does this with anything (six favorite Portuguese cartoonists, six favorite commenters, six favorite clerks at Pathmark, etc.), but usually he keeps his findings to himself, so this public disclosure is a rare privilege for you and me.

—I don't believe we've previously mentioned the fact that our own Sean T. Collins has ventured into the world of genuinely viral internet stardom for his recent comic-strip collaboration with Andrew White, but you can see in the Huffington Post that it's true.

—Pappy, one of the best internet excavators of old comics around, brings out an old Spirit story skewering Al Capp, Chester Gould, and Harold Gray, and speculates a bit about the motivation for its creation.

—James Romberger reviews a new book about the under-appreciated Marie Severin.

—It looks like the A.V. Club is taking their patented TV-recapping strategy and applying it to comic-book series, starting with The Walking Dead. I am still processing this.

—Graeme McMillan ponders what it means that Image is looked on as a great place for up-and-coming cartoonists to make their name, and as a great place for cartoonists to publish their creater-owned series after having made it, and wonders why anyone is going to DC and Marvel for work at all. Obviously the situation is more complicated than that (and less -- one obvious factor not mentioned in his piece: money), which McMillan acknowledges, but I do think he may be pointing to a real upcoming problems for the Big Two. If the Direct Market falters, what will DC and Marvel be able to offer their creators that the other smaller publishers won't?

—Finally, there are only a few days left for Floating World to raise the necessary funds for their planned experimental arts and comics festival in Portland, The Projects. Yay, Kickstarter! (I'm the nice one.)

Youthful Pages

I this last week of summer it's probably best if you stay inside and read comic books. Joe McCulloch is here to help you do that. And MariNaomi continues our most far-flung TCJ Diary in Ecuador.

And I've decided that today is British links day. That's right, my paltry handful of links will all relate to the land of the Queen. So:

-Remember the time Modesty Blaise was almost drawn by Handsome Frank Hampson? Me neither! In fact I have two unread Modest Blaise books on my shelf. Is it a good strip? I may never know.

-Whoah, I think Warren Ellis knows what I'm talking about.

-It's a profile of fans of the other Frank of British comics: Bellamy. Complete with some very nice, typically photo-realistic visuals.

-I love this "Stuff From Under the Stairs" Tumblr. Great British zines and comics magazines. It's just the kind of stuff I like sifting through, offering a enough of a glimpse to feel substantial but random enough to feel manageable. Here's a nice Hunt Emerson cover.

-And more buried 1980s: Some very handsome Paul Grist work for "girl's comic".

And that concludes this event. I hope to return to the kingdom soon.

Little Boy

Dan Nadel weighs in on the Dave Mazzucchelli Daredevil: Born Again Artist's Edition. It is frustrating how many great-looking but incredibly expensive comics are coming out these days.

MariNaomi is the latest artist to sit in our Cartoonist's Diary chair, and begins her week with a flight to Ecuador.

Frank Santoro has David Hockney on the brain, and is willing to share his thoughts.


—This weekend marked one of those rare occasions when a news event briefly captures the attention of the entire world, as they remember one of the greatest spectacles the world has ever known. I am talking of course of Rob Liefeld's Twitter feed. (I was away from the internet all weekend myself, actually, but this seems to be the only thing people are talking about now that I've returned.)

—Sadder news came with the announcement on the Cerebus Kickstarter page that a fire has destroyed many of the negatives for Dave Sim's High Society, delaying the digital edition of that book. It's been bad news for Sim fans all around considering that last week saw the final issue of Glamourpuss.

You may remember me linking to the Dave Sim fanblog A Moment of Cerebus a while back, when they first launched a rolling question-a-day interview with Sim they are calling "HARDtalk". Now they are looking for more questions to ask Sim, and requested that I pass along their desire to TCJ readers. If you have questions you'd like to ask him, feel free to leave your questions in the comments. Details are here.

—Robert Crumb continues to give short-take impressions of various public figures. This time around, he discusses Woody Allen, Charles Burns ("I'm not crazy about his stories, but I really like the art."), Philip K. Dick, Ward Kimball ("Kimball came to see me because he liked my work, he liked what I was doing."), Lincoln, Darwin, Hergé ("I much prefer Barks"), and Chris Ware ("You know, you kind of need to get a magnifying lens to read some of it, but that's okay, it's worth it."), among others.

—Finally, I've really been digging Simon Hanselmann's Truth Zone comics.

No Xomics

Welcome back. Tucker Stone has granted himself a vacation, so you'll have to live without his sweet, sweet kisses for another week. Instead we bring an interview with Bianca Stone by Alex Dueben. Stone occupied a niche in the small but growing area of poetry comics, which she explains as:

Sequential art that uses poetry as the text. But there are so many variations. Some examples are very abstract, some more traditional and more obvious they comic strips/graphic novel, with text that is clearly poetry (sometimes well-known published poetry). I use that term because it fits the best with what I’m doing. An artist named Dave Morris has been doing them for a long time, and actually published a book “Poetry Comics.” I was excited to find that, but it’s a much different thing than I was doing. I like how everyone who does it is very different. I use the term Poetry Comics for a much broader sense. I’m very interested in pushing against the limits of what a comic can be. There are so many aspects of the comic book, and the comic strip, that offers itself so readily to poetry. Things like panels, gutters, lettering; the conscious choices made regarding empty space on the page vs. the text; timing, line breaks, condensed language, etc. There’s so much to play with.


-Bart Beaty talks about his new book, Art vs. Comics. I'm betting on art.

-An unpublished 1970 interview with the late Joe Kubert.

-TCJ Diary all-star Pascal Girard is teaching a course about comics.

-A New Yorker post in which we learn things about the sacred origins of New Yorker cartoons from deep within the New Yorker.

-More cartoon secrets! This time about John Stanley's comics within comics.

-I can't take it anymore, there are so many secrets: Rob Liefeld is revealing his hidden thoughts about DC Entertainment. More entertainment in these tweets than in those comics.

And the most horrible secret of all: The time Stan Lee got naked. Warning: This photo will fuck you up for life.


Talking ‘Bout

Today, Rob Clough's High-Low column returns in an installment about Stanford University's Graphic Novel Project. An excerpt:

The noticeable rise of comics as a viable field of instruction at art schools, as well as the rise of comics-only art schools, has been well-documented over the past decade. What has been less discussed is the pedagogy of comics at traditional four-year colleges, though there have been a few schools here and there who have made the study and/or creation of comics a priority. Ohio State's Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum has made the school a center of comics research. The University of Florida has held symposiums about comics for some time now. Duke's extensive collection is notable for its focus on zines and the small press as well as mainstream comics. The University of Cincinnati has Carol Tyler on their faculty in the fine arts department. However, I've yet to see any school with such a particular and exhaustive focus as Stanford, with its Graphic Novel Project.


—Department of Interviews with Guys Named Matt. Editor & Publisher talks to Life in Hell creator Matt Groening, The Beat talks to Boy's Club creator Matt Furie.

—Department of Manga-related Interviews. Anime News Network interviews both the man behind Pluto and Monster, Naoki Urasawa, and hentai pioneer (he's often called the creator of tentacle porn) Toshio Maeda.

—Department of Comics Academic Interviews. Comics Grid talks to former Comics Journal columnist Bart Beaty on the release of his new, much-anticipated book, Comics vs. Art. I haven't read it yet, but anticipate that this book is going to spark a fair amount of debate during the rest of 2012.

—Department of Your Regular Check-in with Alison Bechdel. The Burlington Free Press has you covered this time around. It's a good one, though.

—Department of Sorta Comics-Related. Frederik Pohl remembers his longtime friend Harry Harrison, and his own role in convincing Harrison to leave his art career behind for prose.

—Department of Barely Comics-Related At All. Am I the only one who didn't know that Whit Stillman started out as an agent for cartoonists? And why does that blow my mind so much? It seems exactly the kind of job one of his characters might have.

Choking Hazard

Today on the site:

RC Harvey profiles Richard Thompson in light of last week's news.

Like all cartoonists—and everyone who draws—Thompson is forever engaged, drawing by drawing, in a continual search for the perfect line. Says he: “The perfect line would be some combination of Ronald Searle and George Herriman. But then, that line would be so perfect, it wouldn’t be human.”

In the age of the emerging stick figure, it is refreshing—invigorating—to see actual drawing skill lauded so loudly. But Thompson’s talent doesn’t end with his drawing ability: his lines, interesting and sublime in their simplicity and complexity, merely visualize the world he has created in Cul de Sac, which Cavna describes as “a sly, whimsical skip through suburban life with Alice Otterloop, her friends Beni and Dill, elder brother Petey and her classmates at Blisshaven Academy preschool. It’s all about sidewalk discoveries, childhood invention, parents and other authority figures who are one step behind the children’s antics. At summoning our early years, Watterson says, ‘The strip depicts all kinds of moments than ring true.’”

-The Italian cartoonist and illustrator Sergio Toppi has died. He was renowned for his sense of design and his precise, electric line. Lambiek has the best English-language summary of his career.

-Here's news of a newly discovered run of Jack Kirby daily comic strips.

-A nice local story about cartoonists Joe Giella and Al Plastino.

-Really good shapes in these old Beetle Bailey strips.

-It's Ed Piskor on the Gweek podcast.


Loose Change

It's Tuesday, which means it's time for Joe McCulloch to guide you through the new releases at your local comic shop. It's the only weekly consumer guide worth reading even if you don't plan on buying any comics.


—Last Friday of course brought the heartbreaking announcement that Richard Thompson plans to shut down his much-loved comic strip Cul de Sac, due primarily to Parkinson's related medical issues. Michael Cavna at the Washington Post has whole story. Our own Craig Fischer has posted an appreciation of the strip and Thompson. Stacy Curtis, the artist who took over inking duties on the strip this spring, talks about his experience working with Thompson.

—As you probably remember, last week also brought news that long-running British comics weekly The Dandy will be shutting down its print operation. Charlie Brooker, not a fan, thinks the decision was long overdue. (His analysis of what's going to happen with the digital edition seems a bit unlikely to me.)

—I usually don't like to run too much coverage of movies based on comic books, but when one of the filmmakers is the actual original cartoonist, I'll make an exception. Marjane Satrapi talks to NPR about Chicken with Plums.

—At least two new Joe Kubert appreciations deserve your attention: Rick Veitch remembers working with Kubert on Sgt. Rock backups, and analysis from our own Matthias Wivel.

—Mike Lynch has posted a nice collection of Bill Mauldin photos.

Chasing Waterfalls

Here's what we have for you today: Ryan Holmberg has left Japan, but luckily Japan has not left him. Here is his latest column, written as he was leaving Tokyo -- a look at his favorite place in all of Manga Land: The Aomushi Showa Manga Library.

Housed in a former wood frame church, Aomushi is a spacious and atmospheric treasure house of manga from the postwar 1940s, 50s, and 60s. It is a pain to get to, but the returns for the manga lover – and even more for the researcher – far exceed all the museums combined. Mandarake might have more manga, but not as many gems, and besides you have to buy them to browse their insides. The museums might have fetish objects like Tezuka’s beret or Fujiko Fujio’s pipe, but since we are not talking about the Shroud of Turin, who really cares about relics. Only at Aomushi can you read old and rare manga freely (though not for free) and voluminously, since unlike at the Diet Library you can pull the books off the shelf yourself and unlike at the Naiki Library in Tokyo (a.k.a. Gendai Manga Toshokan) you do not have to pay for each and every book. And even more, you can take photographs (within limits), whereas everywhere else Xerox copying is not cheap and what you can copy is limited.

And Rob Clough reviews Joseph Lambert's Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller. This is a really remarkable book -- Lambert's cartooning actually takes you inside the sensory experiences in a concise and subtle way.

Elsewhere online:

-Tom Spurgeon has a pair of interviews with Richard Thompson: one from 2008 and one from 2010.

-Jeet Heer reviews Joe Sacco's Journalism.

-A look at Shirato Sampei.

-Here's a fine appreciation of Brandon Graham's Prophet comic book series.

-And a couple of posts about newspapers... one about the slow disintegration of The Village Voice and another about the purported very last handwritten paper.


Waddaya Know

It's Friday, which means it's Comics of the Weak day, which means that Tucker Stone is reviewing comics, Nate Bulmer is drawing one, and Abhay Khosla is reporting on the recent news involving them. In this case, that's mostly DC's unfortunate initial statement regarding the death of Joe Kubert.

We also have the fifth and final day of Noah Van Sciver's Cartoonist's Diary for you, in which our own Fearless Leader makes a cameo. Thanks for doing this, Noah!

Elsewhere, the comics internet (or at least that part of it I pay closest attention to) seems to be in a lull right now, the kind that if life was a bad movie, would make someone say that it seems "quiet, too quiet." Since life isn't a bad movie, the more sensible reaction should be that it's August. But there are a few things worth noting.

—Kevin Melrose at Robot 6 caught a recent report in Variety announcing that a federal judge can be expected to make a ruling on the Shuster/Superman rights case at any day now.

—Dept. of Notable Interviews.: Paul Gravett talks to Shaun Tan, Paste magazine talks to Jeff Smith, and Newsarama talks to Thomas Herpich.

—If you know Danish, Matthias Wivel has written notes on the early, controversial Tintin albums that I'm sure are worth reading (if only because the notes he writes in English are).

—And, as those of you who follow the world of Reg'lar Book reviewing know, there's been another of those perennially recurring "debates" going on about whether or not it reviewers are too nice, or too mean, and the general value or lack thereof of negative reviews. Dwight Garner's piece in the Times is the most recent entry in the back-and-forth, though this has been going on via Twitter, Facebook, and a thousand webzines and blog posts for a few weeks now. Anyway, I only bring it up so as to point out that the comics world may seem particularly tiny, insular, and thin-skinned about criticism, but really all kinds of people participating in and following all kinds of media like to complain about bad reviews -- at least when the reviews are targeting their own pet projects.

It’s a Riot

It's a busy day here at TCJ HQ. First up we have Sean T. Collins' interview with Uno Moralez, a Russian artist whose web presence has generated a tremendous amount of interest and admirers (myself among them). Here's a bit:

CollinsSince you’re drawing digitally and publishing primarily through the digital medium of the web, I find your work more frightening than I would if it were in print. It feels like the horrors you depict in your illustrations and comics are a part of the web itself — like they’ve infected the page on which they are hosted. Do you feel publishing on the web gives your work any advantages it would not have in print?

Moralez: It’s an interesting point of view. If you start to think, “What is the Internet?”, pretty horrible thoughts can get into your head. I see the Web as an electronic prosthesis which replaces the mental link between people on the planet. But the thought of the Internet having an autonomous mind warms my imagination.

Actually, I publish my work on the web because it looks like it was planned and created there—in its original form, in other words. Furthermore, it’s available for maximum number of people.

Those are just my thoughts. Maybe the Internet Mind will just laugh at me.

Also, Noah Van Sciver marches forward into Day 4 of his diary. And, as we attempt to polish off our SDCC videos, heeeeeere's Archie!

Elsewhere online:

Harry Harrison, longtime SF writer and editor, has passed away. He was known in comics circles for his EC work and his early partnership with Wally Wood. I've always loved his freewheeling 1972/3 interview with Bill Spicer, which covers much of his comics years. Here's an appreciation at i09, and Tom Spurgeon has a solid obituary.

Harry Harrison and Wally Wood, Vault of Horror #12, 1950

Also of interest is this lengthy and very personal essay on autobiographical comics at The Awl. I'm intrigued by Alison Bechdel being the central subject here (5 years ago that would not have been the case), and the recent University of Chicago gathering being such an important touchstone. I suspect that booth will loom large for some time, which is a good thing.

And finally, I've been hearing about versions of this TV show for years, so I'm glad to see it alive and (almost) happening. Ron Rege fans rejoice.



As you may have already noticed, yesterday we reposted Gary Groth's career-spanning interview with the late Joe Kubert, from a 1994 issue of this magazine. Here's an excerpt:

GROTH: Now, during the ’40s when you were doing this, I’m curious as to what the general attitude of all the artists was. I mean, the attitude today, even among artists who work on the same kinds of comic characters you worked on, is that they regard themselves as Artists, with a capital A. They have the sense that they are producing “art.” Now, did you have that sense, that you were involved in a burgeoning art form?

KUBERT: I never even thought about it. I know that I loved and enjoyed what I was doing. I got a thrill out of seeing a good piece of artwork. When I saw stuff that Lou Fine or Will Eisner did, it would raise the hair on the back of my neck. I kept saying to myself, “If these guys can do this kind of work, then maybe I’ll be able to be that good — or better.”

It never intimidated me — just the opposite. It gave me more incentive to go ahead and do my own stuff. But an art form, or a lower form of art? I never thought of that. I just loved to do it.

GROTH: You didn’t sit around and theorize about it.

No. And neither did the guys I knew.

GROTH: Was that a generally held —

I think that it was a generally held feeling. Where questions as to art quality came up was when someone gained an opportunity to make more bucks. When someone had the chance to go into advertising or illustration, he’d take it. Most didn’t do it because of the art. In fact, I think most would have stayed with comic books if they could make an equal amount of money.

GROTH: Because it was more enjoyable.

KUBERT: Right. Because comic books is rather singular in that it allows you to take chances. It allows you to make mistakes. In a 16-page story, all of it doesn’t have to be perfect. You can really go out on a limb and take chances. And, sometimes, those chances work great! And that makes you feel good. If it fails, fine. The majority of the effort does work OK. So it encourages you to take more chances and a lot of guys were able to do exceptionally good work in that way. Comic books also gives you a bigger canvas upon which to work. ’Cause when you’re doing syndication or advertising, there are six guys sitting on your back giving their suggestions. “Turn this a half an inch,” or, “Move this figure to the-left about three inches.” That’s what they’ re getting paid for and that’s what they’re gonna do. But there isn’t enough time for those small changes in comic books. So you had more freedom. To let your imagination run. I find that there is no other area in commercial art that allows you this kind of freedom. To design pages. To design complete books. To generate emotion into a story.

And you find out later that somebody read that story and actually felt the thing that you drew. When I first came into this business, I never dreamed that my work was read beyond the next block. I was doing it because I loved to do it. I really like to see the characters in my head appear in graphic and pictorial form. And when I learned that people around the world get the same effects, it was like having whipped cream put on top of the cake.

We've also begun to resume posting video from this year's San Diego Comic-Con, today featuring a panel called "Graphic Novels: The Bookstore Crowd", moderated by Tom Spurgeon and including participation from Kate Beaton, Alison Bechdel, Jason Shiga, Brecht Evens, Jennifer & Matthew Holm, and Nate Powell.

Also, Noah Van Sciver's week of Denver-style Cartoonist's Diaries continue.


—People continue to remember the late aforementioned Joe Kubert. Some worth reading if haven't already seen them include the New York Times obituary, longtime Vertigo editor Karen Berger's reminiscence, and further thoughts from Stephen Bissette, posted on the Schulz Library blog.

—James Romberger interviewed Gabrielle Bell for Publishers Weekly in anticipation of her new book.

—According to a report in The Guardian, the UK's oldest children's comic, The Dandy, may finally be shutting down after 75 years, due mostly to declining circulation.

—Ng Suat Tong and Robert Boyd, among others, discuss the original comics art market and museum acquisitions of same.

—And finally, in your scholarly link of the day, Janine Utell looks at the use of James Joyce in father-daughter graphic memoirs from Alison Bechdel and Mary Talbot.


Today on the site:

Joe McCulloch has his weekly words of wisdom;Noah Van Sciver joins us for Day 2 of his diary; and Sean T. Collins reviews Sophie Yanow's In Situ.


More on Joe Kubert today: Tom Spurgeon has a lengthy obituary and a still growing link round-up. And here's a great romance comic from 1949.

-The Ignatz Awards nominees were announced.

-Josh Simmons made a movie. It will scare you.

-I didn't know about this upcoming Kyle Baker/Image project. Via.

-And Paul Tumey has a typically excellent post up about Milt Gross.