Today on the site we have the great Patrick Rosenkranz with a profile of underground legend Spain Rodriguez. Patrick focuses mostly on Spain's Buffalo history, which not coincidentally is also the subject of the artist's brand-new book, Cruisin' with the Hound. Here's some flavor:
Fred Tooté also gets star treatment in Cruisin’ With the Hound. Spain, Tooté and their buddy Tex are like the Three Musketeers – fighting, philosophizing, cruising for babes, drinking in bars, scarfing Watt’s famous Bar-B-Q pork sandwiches, and driving up and down the avenues, looking for excitement. Fred is the craziest by far, driving like a maniac, climbing up the walls of buildings, espousing outlandish theories, and making a public display of himself whenever possible. Inhibitions are not part of his makeup. Once he got into booze and speed, it all went up a notch, recalls Spain. “Fred collected National Enquirer when it was real gory and he would go through these periodic things of finding Jesus. When he came down from the speed he’d have some kind of return to Jesus so he ripped up all his National Enquirers.”
We've got a couple of interesting features for you this morning. First off, an interview with Chris Roberson, the Vertigo writer who last week announced that ethical reasons had made it impossible for him to work for DC Comics any longer. An excerpt:
I’m not comfortable naming names, but [reaction from other creators] has been overwhelmingly supportive and positive. I have not yet had any communication with any creator publicly or privately who doesn’t agree with what I’ve said. [...] A culture has arisen which seems to devalue the role of the creator and prize the creation.
Also on the site, the great cartoonist Kim Deitch has reviewed Harvey Pekar's Cleveland, the first and perhaps the most interesting looking of the various posthumous Pekar projects.
There have been some sad developments recently, one being the death of the Spanish comics publisher Josep Maria Berenguer. Eric Reynolds remembers him here. We plan to bring you further coverage in the near future.
And Tony DeZuniga and S. Clay Wilson are currently facing serious health problems. Tom Spurgeon has the details here.
In less serious news, Farhad Manjoo, tech writer for Slate, and of the biggest trolls employed by that site (which is really saying something!) argued rather sketchily last week that political cartoonists should no longer be awarded a Pulitzer Prize, and that a new award for graphs and charts should be instituted. This year's winner, Matt Wuerker has replied to Manjoo in a blog post for the Columbia Journalism Review.
Mike Lynch has posted a bunch of interesting links lately, including news that the only member of the media Bob Dylan allowed to attend his recent show at Sao Paulo was cartoonist Rafael Grampá, and various Italian documentaries of great cartoonists found on YouTube, including Hugo Pratt, Guido Crepax, and Mordillo.
Finally, in the criticism department, Michel Fiffe has a post exploring various examples of what he calls "the super panel breakdown" (think the famous Gasoline Alley Sundays).
On the site today, Joe McCulloch tells us what's important in comics this very week.
And elsewhere on the internet:
Here's a blog drawn by cartoonist Greg Farrell detailing the stories of various employees of New York's massive bookstore, The Strand. This series of posts is based on an ongoing labor dispute between the unionized employees and management. I confess I knew very little about this under-publicized conflict, but these strips are a good place to start.
Sad news: Longtime comic book artist Tony DeZuniga is in critical condition in his native Philippines. His wife is asking for help from the comic book community.
Today on the site, Shaenon Garrity writes a tribute to the webcomic Sinfest:
And then there’s Tatsuya Ishida, who has, since January of 2000, been drawing his daily strip Sinfest without making a peep about it, patiently collecting readers and honing his craft. Save for a handful of hiatuses around 2006, the strip has updated seven days a week without fail for the past twelve years. Ishida seldom posts anything on the Internet other than Sinfest; he avoids online fora, grants few interviews, and limits his text communications to occasional, mostly tongue-in-cheek blog posts that stopped in 2007. Beyond his handful of other credits—he inked G.I. Joe and Godzilla comics in the 1990s—next to nothing is known about his non-Sinfest life. As he explained to Publishers Weekly in 2011, “less socializing means I can concentrate more on the strip.”
And Frank Santoro has another New Talent Showcase for you, this time on Mike Bertino, Gabrielle Gamboa, and Malachi Ward.
—Adding further grist to the mill, DC co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee made an appearance at the Los Angeles Festival of Books this weekend, where they discussed everything from Before Watchmen (DiDio: "It was picking up some real speed to the point that a couple folks actually stopped and came into my office and said ‘Hey is this real?’ [And I would respond] ‘I can’t really say but if it was would that be a problem?'") to the recently I-quit-no-you're-fired writer Chris Roberson (Lee: "You have to imagine from our perspective, for our own internal morale, what does it say for a company to hire somebody who’s that vocally against our principles and yet we’re still paying them.").
—"Comic supplements have ceased to be comic. They have become as vulgar in design as they are tawdry in color. There is no longer any semblance of art in them, and if there are any ideals they are low and descending lower." That's from 1908.
Today on the site, Tucker Stone makes good on the week, this time with extra back issue reviews, his usual guest news column from Abhay Khosla, and other delights. And Ryan Cecil Smith wraps up his stay with us as diarist.
-Comic book writer Chris Roberson announced that we would no longer work for DC because "I don’t agree with the way they treat other creators and their general business practices." I wonder if this is an isolated incident or if it'll be a trend. I'd love to think it would be a trend, and that more creators from within the DC-Marvel nexus would step up and say something about the way these companies are behaving. Who knows.
-And while I dither, Tom Spurgeon came up with the best response yet: Posting about Spain Rodriguez instead. His latest is a great one.
-Here's a three part industry wrap-up style interview with Mike Richardson, CEO of Dark Horse. There's some stuff in there about manga and Dark Horse's digital efforts.
-Over at D&Q, Tom Devlin previews Anna & Froga, a groovy looking French graphic album.
-And finally, the current New Yorker has a profile of Alison Bechdel (warning: pay wall). I was brought up short in the middle of it when the author, Judith Thurman, cited Hillary Chute citing Justin Green as the originator of "graphic narratives for adults". Thurman confuses some things and has some terminology problems, but I can't help but think that that citation is some kind of victory. That is, for years the hoary old Will Eisner creation myth has hung over sophisticated comics, so it's a relief to see someone else, particularly someone as deserving as the great Justin Green, given some credit. No one will ever agree on a "first", and such discussions are pointless anyway, but on an aesthetic and intellectual level Green's 1972 Binky Brown is vastly more important than Eisner to the development of autobiographical and literary fiction comics. Good for Chute, too, for getting so much play in the piece. Her conference, Comics: Philosophy and Practice, which has the single best guest list I've ever seen and is itself a statement about the medium (one I hope she or the participants will flesh out, as it's balanced toward literary fiction/non-fiction models), is happening in May.
Today on the site, Ryan Cecil Smith continues his Cartoonist's Diary of life in Japan.
And Sean T. Collins reviews the mini-comics (!) of Shia LaBeouf (whom he also interviewed for Rolling Stone). Here's an excerpt from his review:
Yes, the art’s rough. But it’s also effective, in both complementing his lacerating writing and conveying emotional weight. So even though it’s likely rough by necessity, the roughness of a study-hall satirist or a first-year CCS student, it’s the effectiveness that should be the lens through which the art’s viewed. And honestly I’m probably selling it short, to an extent. The magic-marker pink aura with which he surrounds the figures in his graphic novella Cyclical, about a Johnny Blaze-type motorcycle outlaw’s last ride, both belies the macho mock-Hemingway elegy of the narrative and imbues it with the sensual road-sign glow of the American West. It’s the equivalent of the opening-credit type treatment for Drive, and it’s sophisticated shit.
Off-site, there are several comics-related distractions from your existential dilemma.
The Los Angeles Review of Books, which really quickly established itself as one of the best sources for American cultural criticism around, has launched its new website. So far, this publication has featured the best comics coverage of any recent mainstream cultural publication I can remember, and is worth following for that reason alone. (They have good reviews of books without pictures, too.)
Boing Boing has a nice profile of Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson, and Heritage Auctions has announced a Cul de Sac-related charity auction for Parkinson's research this May.
Speaking of auctions, it's a sad commentary that the check with which DC Comics paid Siegel and Schuster $130 for Superman has recently sold to an online bidder for $160,000. (The original check had been fished out of the trash by a DC employee, whose heirs will be receiving the proceeds.)
The blogger David Brothers, who has been writing a lot about the ethics (or lack thereof) in corporate comics recently, has published a manifesto on why the recent Before Watchmen announcement and recent Marvel moves have led him to stop purchasing DC and Marvel comics (and movie tickets) altogether. I don't necessarily agree with each and every one of his arguments, but in the main I support him and find this very heartening. When Stephen Bissette called for a boycott of Jack Kirby-derived Marvel products last year, it was fairly common to hear people argue that boycotts don't work. But of course this kind of consumer awareness can be effective, especially when there are more ethical alternatives available. (As a non-comics-related example: There are a lot more cage-free eggs sold today than there were a decade ago, and that means many less chickens are being egregiously mistreated. That is a significant and good thing, even if the larger problems of factory farming remain.) It's one thing when places like the Comics Journal echo calls for this kind of protest (as a lot of commenters here stated at the time, most TCJ readers aren't Marvel zombies anyway), it's another when someone as steeped in mainstream comics as Brothers does it.
Bryan and Mary Talbot choose their ten favorite comic-book memoirs (Binky Brown is their unsurprising—and very deserving—number one, but there are a few less familiar titles there as well).
Slate writes about the politics of Archie. Does anyone actually read these comics any more, or are they merely printed as an endless supply of fodder for trend articles? I can't figure out the business model here...
Lots of people post scans of great old out-of-print comic stories online, but few provide as much context as Frank Young does whenever he posts a hard to find John Stanley story. Here's his latest, on a Woody Woodpecker tale.
There are two weeks left for Sparkplug's online publishing fundraiser. (I know I keep saying I don't want to post these Kickstarter-type things, but I guess I'm just going to try to be super-selective about it.)
Finally, the Hernandez brothers are interviewed at Meltdown:
Welcome back. Today on the site we bid a very fond farewell to Mike Dawson, who is hanging up his TCJ Talkie hat with this interview with Tim Kreider. Thank you, Mike! For a look back at the many great podcasts Mike has turned in, click here. Also today: Ryan Cecil Smith returns with the third day of his diary; and Prajna Desai on a fascinating-looking graphic biography of Indian reformer Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar entitled Bhimayana: Experiences of Untouchability. Here's a taste:
Beyond this graphic pedigree, the book is also unusually germane for being grounded in present-day journalism. Its two interlocking strands join Ambedkar’s biography with a string of thumbnails about present day caste prejudice, violently pervasive in villages, though all but invisible to most urban Indians. The barbed but seductive quality of this double narrative, the fact that yuppie ignorance is sometimes too easily mocked, makes it that much more impossible to resist second and third readings. This robust exposé about caste is not afraid to tell it like it is—that if you think caste is dead, think again.
Elsewhere online it's a slow links day. The big news is a decision against attorney Mark Toberoff in the ongoing litigation over the Superman case. The decision is here. The Beat has analysis here.
Ryan Cecil Smith's week of cartoon diaries continues—today he meets a friend of his girlfriend, and awkward conversation ensues.
And Joe "Jog" McCulloch has the Week in Comics. It looks like a big week, with new (and solid) late Pekar, a long-awaited return from R. Kikuo Johnson, and the final brick in the complete Krazy Kat, a genuinely amazing thing to exist, and almost a reason all by itself to to have irrational hope for humanity's future. (Does that seem like an overstatement? It obviously is. But read more Krazy Kat and get back to me.) Joe also writes a lot about Garth Ennis, about whose work I remain extremely skeptical.
Chris Mautner attempts to perpetrate a Jeet in this collection of notes on the beginning of a new complete reprint of a canonical strip, Walt Kelly's Pogo. Like him, I found this first volume to be a strange mix of the brilliant and the off-puttingly whimsical, but I enjoyed it more by the end than the beginning so I'm expecting to get more out of future volumes. In any case, read Mautner.
Eric Stephenson at Image continues to call out DC over their treatment of Alan Moore in the Before Watchmen issue. It is interesting that another publisher is being so aggressive about this, and also heartening in the sense that the more publishers publicly announce high standards, the more likely it is that the readership will hold them all to it. (David Brothers has been writing about Before Watchmen a lot, too.)
The Forbidden Planet blog links to a fascinating series of posts in which the British cartoonist Dan Haycock is working his way through the exercises in Ivan Brunetti's Cartooning: Philosophy & Practice.
And last but not least, Peter Huestis has posted scans of an entire book by legendary early cartoonist "TAD" Dorgan: Indoor Sports.
Early in the news conference, Mr. Crumb took the lead in questioning, turning to Fabrice Hergott, the museum’s director, to ask how the show came about: “Was there an argument? Was there resistance?”
“It was not so easy,” Mr. Hergott confessed. “The team of curators was not so sure that you were an artist for this museum, that you belonged to the classical world of art.”
Mr. Crumb did not seem distressed. After all, he admitted, he is not a museumgoer. “I went to the Louvre once,” he said. “I don’t really like museums. You get too close to the art, and the guard is going to yell at you.”
Finally, cartoonist and Kramers Ergot editor Sammy Harkham reports in from Sydney, Australia, where he found all of the comic books pictured below in a 50 cent bin at his favorite comic book store. Ah! Life!
Today Tucker Stone is back with another look at the best/worst/most otherwise notable genre comics of (his) reading week, and this time he wonders when superhero comics starting revolving so much around emotional breakdowns?
Off-site you can find:
—A double-dose of Eddie Campbell, both in an interview about his upcoming Lovely Horrible Stuff, and in Bob Heer's review of the recently released iPad app version of Campbell's Dapper John.
—A recently discovered 1963 audio interview of the then-88-years-old Jimmy Swinnerton!:
—Joe Sutliff Sanders wondering about the prevalence of lowbrow allusions in comic books.
—Tom Hart, the beloved Hutch Owen cartoonist and SAW co-founder, has revealed that he is the mystery man behind the recent Shit My New Yorker Cartoons Tumblr, and he explains his motivation here.
—Finally, the cartoonist Dustin Harbin has reposted the Doug Wright Awards comic diaries he did for this site last year, along with an enormously long manifesto about the changes he would like to make to the Eisner Awards. If you are the type who likes to argue about award nominating processes, this will provide a motherlode of things to agree and/or argue about.
Today on the site, Rob Clough weighs in on Tom Neely's self-published art-book/graphic-novel hybrid, The Wolf.
Today off the site, you can read the following:
—For the Financial Times, D'arcy Doran profiles Drawn & Quarterly, with an emphasis on the renaissance it's gone through over the last four years.
—Chris Arrant catches the very welcome news that industry mainstay Bud Plant is back in business. Readers under thirty or so will never understand what the Bud Plant catalog used to mean.
—Another day, another Dan Clowes interview. Luckily, they're almost always entertaining, even when they go over familiar ground. This time, Casey Burchby talks with Clowes about his new art book, his first museum exhibition, and current projects.
—Howard Chaykin gave a refreshingly blunt short interview to Comics Anonymous, saying things like the following: "Since [my '80s/'90s peak] I’ve done nothing that I’m ashamed of. I did plenty of work I’m ashamed of before that but nothing since. I did some shit stuff because I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. Inadequacy is often its own reward. I did the Star Wars comic in the '70s and if I’d have know It was going to be as big a hit I would have done a better job.”
—Today is interview day, I guess. Daniel Best has republished a super-entertaining 1975 talk with Jack Kirby. Sample quote: "World War II lent itself to good dramas. The whole thing could have been written by some hack out at Warner Brothers. It was a black and white issue with a villain who was so completely evil that it was just made to order. Anything you did in World War II was an act of nobility. If you hung Hitler or killed hundreds of Germans, you were on the side of the Angels. I once got a letter from a Nazi who told me to pick out any lamppost I wanted on Times Square because, when Hitler arrived, they'd hang me from it. It was typical of a genre of fans who have long since died out."
—The latest Alan Moore interview for British television that's been going around is now on YouTube.
One of the last true gag cartoonists standing, Magic Whistle's Sam Henderson, walks us through his process, which involves a lot more preparation and revisions than many might expect.
And Kent Worcester reviews a cultural history of British comics written by James Chapman. An excerpt:
The best-selling comics magazine Viz, launched in 1979 (and reaching sales of 1.2 million in the 1990s), is very much in the juvenile-yet-class-conscious tradition of The Beano, even if its scatological joke-telling goes way beyond anything that would be allowed in titles published by either D.C. Thomson or the Amalgamated Press, the “big two” oligarchs of British cartooning. The names of Viz’s most popular characters – Johnny Fartpants, Buster Gonad, Billy Bottom, and Sid the Sexist – probably convey better than anything else the magazine’s distinctive brand of humor. In discussing Viz’s meteoric rise, Chapman usefully quotes from George Orwell’s famous essay on seaside postcards: “it will not do to condemn them on the ground that they are vulgar and ugly. That is exactly what they are meant to be. Their whole meaning and virtue is in their unredeemed lowness, not only in the sense of obscenity, but lowness of outlook in every direction whatever.”
Over the barricades—
—Neal Kirby remembers growing up with Jack for the Los Angeles Times:
There were a lot of cigar-chomping characters in Marvel Comics and Dad was one of them — he and other writers and artists popped up in stories in a quirky trademark of the “House of Ideas,” as it was called in the 1960s. Personal parts of his life often crept into his work too. When recounting the creation of the Fantastic Four, for instance, he laughingly confessed that Sue Storm was named for my sister, Susan, and the “Storm” could be considered a bit of personality commentary. When he saw the expression on my face he appropriately apologized for the fact that he never got around to making Neal the name of the Human Torch, an Inhuman or even some low-ranking Skrull.
This is a good one. Don't miss it if you like Kirby.
—Charles Forsman has created a new website called Muster List, intended as a comprehensive directory for finding mini-comics and sending visitors to the best online sources for purchasing them. (via)
—Illogical Volume at the Mindless Ones takes a thorough look at the reprinting controversy du jour, the recoloring of Flex Mentallo.
—And finally, Daniel Clowes interviewed by Mark Frauenfelder at Meltdown (via everybody):
R.C. Harvey stops by this morning with one of his inimitable forays into comic-strip history. This time, he writes about Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy, and the semi-secret cult still surrounding it. An excerpt:
Bushmiller worked nights mostly. He began about two o’clock in the afternoon and sat at his drawing board into the wee hours and often into the morning of the next day. “I work on a schedule that produces six daily Nancy and Sluggo strips between Sunday and Tuesday evenings,” he wrote in a autobiographical article in Collier’s (September 18, 1948). “The Sunday page evolves after I’ve taken Wednesday and Thursday off. If this sounds confusing, then you have a fairly accurate picture of a newspaper cartoonist’s life. Unlike other strip cartoonists, I draw the last picture first and work back to toward the beginning, which is exactly the opposite of the way you read it (I hope). I know a guy who draws his cartoons upside down, so I don’t worry much about drawing backwards.”
In conjuring up jokes, Bushmiller came to rely to a great extent upon props, and in so doing, he gave the strip its unique flavor. Describing his method, Bushmiller said: “I jot down items such as toaster, leaky roof, folding chair, mail box, windy day—anything that comes to mind. Looking at the advertising in a magazine also helps, or a Sears Roebuck catalog. When I find an item that seems likely, I start to kick it around in my mind to see if I can work out a funny situation. Let’s say I see an ironing board. I start to think about what can be done with an ironing board, and I pretty soon get an idea.”
Joe McCulloch is around again, too, with his weekly look at the most interesting new comics in stores—plus an online bargain you might be interested to see.
Elsewhere, Journal contributor Nicole Rudick has a review of Kramers Ergot 8 at Hyperallergic.
Darwyn Cooke talked to Rolling Stone about his participation in Before Watchmen, which has predictably led to a lot of online derision. I do think it's kind of interesting that he shrugs off the immorality of working on this particular title by pointing to the larger ambiguous morality of working on non-creator-owned comic books in general. That's not the hill I'd choose to die on but he has a point. (Also, it's funny that he describes himself as being "dragged kicking and screaming" into the project, but then admits that some time after he first declined to participate, he called Dan DiDio up and and said he hoped there was still room for him to join in. A strange form of kicking and screaming, that.)
As you've probably read in one of the five hundred comic sites that have run with it so far, artist/conman Thomas Kinkade has passed away, and the animator Ralph Bakshi (who gave Kinkade his start) has released a statement about it. Here's a brief excerpt:
As far as the art world, the CRITICAL ones shrugging Tom off, as they sell a shark in oil, and polka dots in 12 -- count them, 12 -- galleries at once in one opening, and all the other mindless hype...
They miss the true brilliance that is Kinkade.
Kinkade painted the brilliant landscapes of the religious right, the Tea Party and all the other Rush Limbaughs in America. He's selling back what Americans want. This is the most homespun vision of the distorted right and nostalgia-looking Americans reaching for purity without knowing what it really is -- all through his landscapes.
IT'S BRILLIANT, and goes by every art critic and major museum in the world. I love it. And it's just that that [which] I made my movies about -- the blind, pretentious and ugly.
Heidi MacDonald called this a "touching tribute," which isn't exactly the phrase I'd use... I suppose it is a bit more nuanced than the take on Kinkade Bakshi gave to Vulture in 2008:
He's a good painter, and he did a spiel. He made all these deals. How he went out and did what he did is beyond my understanding now. He's very, very talented, and he’s very, very much of a hustler. Those two things are in conflict. Is he talented? Oh yeah. Will he paint anything to make money? Oh yeah. Does he have any sort of moralistic view? No. He doesn't care about anything. He's as cheesy as they come.
As longtime readers know, Frank Santoro's Riff Raff column has taken many forms over the last year (if you started following this site more recently, it's worth going back to the beginning), and now he continues its latest incarnation: the "New Talent Showcase". This week, he covers Noel Freibert, Zak Sally, and Olivier Schrauwen.
It is with red and brimming eyes that we must say goodbye to Dylan Horrocks today, who has turned in his fifth Cartoonist's Diary entry for us.
Tucker Stone seems a little out of sorts himself this morning, though for his own reasons (read: he spends too much time thinking about superhero comics). Experience his crackup in real time in the latest installment of Comics of the Weak.
And Matthew Thurber and Rebecca Bird team up to join our stable of reviewers, with a jointly written appraisal of Bill Griffith's mammoth retrospective, Lost and Found.
Elsewhere, new dad Dan Nadel has an article on David Shrigley for the Brooklyn Rail.
BK Munn entertainingly argues with the cover feature from the latest issue of Broken Pencil, which itself is an attempted take-down of "high-art" zines from the likes of people like Marc Bell and Amy Lockhart.
Finally, and not really comics, the online reaction (shock, outrage, supreme umbrage) to this fan- and critic-baiting New York Times interview with The Wire creator David Simon reminds me more than a little of whining and hurt feelings that appear whenever Alan Moore gives a cranky interview dismissing dumb comic books. I don't think I will ever understand why people take these kinds of comments from artists personally. Simon got up peoples' noses by saying that it is impossible to accurately judge a television show's success until the whole thing can be seen. This is true. Critics get mad because what are they supposed to do? Wait five years before reviewing a series? What they are supposed to do is not care what David Simon thinks about them. You aren't writing for the artists, you're writing for yourself and your readers. And that goes double if you aren't even a critic. The only reason to care if Alan Moore thinks you're too dumb to read his comic is if you have a sneaking suspicion he may be right. In which case, go hit the library or take a class or something. Jeez.
Today, we bring you the long-awaited return of Jeet Heer! (May it be a harbinger of things to come.) Yes, our Canadian friend is back with a thorough and revealing look at the newly re-published and expanded edition of the first volume of The Complete Crumb Comics. Here's an excerpt:
The Complete Crumb Comics Volume One: The Early Years of Bitter Struggle, a 1987 book now republished in an expanded edition, gathers together the earliest surviving examples of the great cartoonist’s juvenilia taking him from age 14 or 15 to 18 years old. The high school scribbler that we meet in these pages is a very callow Crumb indeed: Crumb before he had sex, Crumb before he dropped acid, Crumb before he was adopted as a hero of the counterculture, Crumb before he honed his satirical stance on modern life, Crumb before he became the most radical, polarizing and influential cartoonist of the late 20th century. Yet in the lanky and awkward body of the teenage Crumb we can see the outlines of the substantial artist he would become.
Dylan Horrocks, the man from New Zealand, is back again, too, of course, with another day of a week in his life. This time around, he struggles with writing a book review. I wish he would stay and keep doing these diaries forever.
Over the barricades, life is stirring. First, the Eisner award nominations were announced yesterday. You can see the list here. Based on a fairly casual appraisal, it seems to be a relatively solid list as these things go, aside from a few exceedingly odd titles and names conspicuous by their absence (cough cough Love and Rockets). In any case, congratulations to all the nominees.
Terry Gilliam gave an interview to Vulture about a new Monty Python app (or something) and spent a surprising amount of its time talking about comics, from his problems with England ("The first thing that bothered me was that the English didn’t have a tradition of comic books here.") to superhero movies ("Irony comes to play here: I’m stuck in England while Hollywood is doing what I wanted to do 30 years ago. [...] But they’re becoming repetitive for me. I’m getting bored with them, frankly. I just want to see something different. What I loved about comic books is that comic books were outsider art, and so they could say and do things that were much more punchy. But that’s not what Marvel is up to at the moment.") to Moebius ("Extraordinary stuff! Beautiful looking, funny, sharp, sci-fi on a level that you really want to work at."), among other things.
In McSweeney's, Robb Fritz has a long essay about the meaning of Snoopy. (via)
Journal columnists news update: Tucker Stone reviewed Derf's My Friend Dahmer for Comixology, and Frank Santoro is selling pages from Kramers Ergot 8.
Dylan Horrocks is here with day three of Cartoonist's Diary. Today, he teaches a class, and ponders how many cartoonists there are whose work he's never read.
And Sean T. Collins reviews the most recent Jaime Hernandez Love & Rockets digest, Esperanza. An excerpt:
The central storyline of Esperanza's first half isn’t Izzy’s downfall at all, but Maggie’s struggle to account for the discrepancy between the woman she is now — a responsible professional with professional responsibilities, who likes to stay out of trouble, who maybe wants more out of her best-friend-with-benefits Hopey than the friendship and the benefits, and who can’t tell if that relationship is the exception or the rule with regards to her sexuality — and the girl she was when she first came to define herself as a person — a carefree hellion whose folie à deux with Hopey was, as best she could tell, the center of everyone’s universe.
Outside our compound walls: I don't know how I missed this earlier, but Journal columnist Craig Fischer recently started a blog, Fischer on Comix, which seems to be both a repository for older work needing a home and a few new posts as well. His recent essay on Taniguchi is a highlight.
It's also been a while since we've linked to Journal columnist Rob Clough's personal site. If you like the comics he reviews here, you really should bookmark or subscribe to Clough, because he's one of the few reviewers out there really devoted to consistently covering these small-run, obscure, and usually deserving works. He's been in a posting frenzy over the last few weeks, so there's lots there to read if you haven't visited in a while.
Finally, David Brothers has the visual proof of Marvel's priorities in terms of creator credit.
Dylan Horrocks continues his week of Diaries for us. Today, he includes everything he drew during a single day, and dreams.
Joe McCulloch has the word on this week's comic books, plus a short look at David Hine and Shaky Kane.
And Rob Clough reviews the latest issue of the surprisingly under-discussed Mineshaft, still possibly the best-kept secret in comics.
Elsewhere, I'm a big fan of most everything Tom Spurgeon writes, but even if all he ever did was put together his signature, unending bullet-pointed convention reports, like the one he just made for the Emerald City Comicon, I'd be happy.
Finally, over at the Hooded Utilitarian, Ng Suat Tong is taking nominations for the best online comics criticism of the year so far, and also explains that last year's survey didn't happen mostly because of a lack of energy among the participants. (I was wondering what happened.) I served as a judge in Suat's survey for 2010, and although I wasn't completely enamored with all the winners, I found it to be an overall enjoyable experience. It makes sense to open nominations to everyone—if I recall correctly, that seemed to be the weakest link in the survey the year I participated: most of the judges' choices were obvious last-minute picks, often not-so-coincidentally published a few days before our nominations were due (and thus, easier to remember). Anyway, Suat runs a good survey, so if you enjoy this kind of thing, I recommend it.
Suat also offers a typically bleak (though not necessarily wrong) assessment of online comics criticism today, along with mostly kind words about this site. As Suat isn't one to mince words, the compliments are appreciated. He also worries that perhaps the online comics commentariat has grown too monolithic. I suppose he has a point. But six years ago, Dan, Frank, and I felt the same way, and started Comics Comics to do something about it. There's nothing stopping anyone else from doing the same thing now. It isn't exactly expensive to run a blog. And there are ten thousand people just waiting to link to or read something, anything intelligent about comics.
Our own Chris Mautner has a "Comics College" entry on Scott McCloud.
The graduating students at my alma mater (and Dan's, come to think of it) are underwhelmed to learn that a cartoonist has been chosen to be their commencement speaker. Normally, I'd consider that to be amusing news only to me and a very small group of others, but since Alan Gardner's writing about it, I guess the universe does revolve around me and my interests.
Per Mark Bode, thirty-five years after raising eyebrows with Wizards, a movie with a style and characters that seemed to closely ape Vaughn Bode's, Ralph Bakshi has called up and apologized.
Alan Moore's Neonomicon is the first graphic novel ever to be given a Bram Stoker Award. In his acceptance speech, he notes, rather interestingly for those who have read the book: "As is often the case when one’s work crosses personal boundaries, I spent a long time in fretful deliberation over Neonomicon and six months after finishing the work was still uncertain as to whether it was good or even publishable."
And finally, Andrei Molotiu takes (or follows) Jack Kirby to the art museum.
Hopefully, you've all gotten a chance to read Michael Dean's assessment of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art's accomplishments yesterday. Today, we have the promised supplementary feature: Dean's interview with Lawrence Klein, MoCCA's founder. Here's an excerpt:
DEAN: Do you ever feel frustrated with some decisions being made? Like, “Why is this thing being done that way?” or “Why didn’t they consult me about this?”
KLEIN: I don’t look at it like that, because I don’t want them consulting me! I don’t want to be bothered! [Laughs.] No, I want to give it a chance to grow and be what it is. Sure, there’s a time or two where I’ll say, “Huh, interesting decision. I’m not sure why they did it, but they must have felt that it was the right thing to do.” I haven’t seen anything outrageously crazy that would make me say, “I’ve got to step in and end this, or I’ve got to step in and take over.” But one of the things I tried to do with MoCCA was, in essence, to be a benevolent dictator. Listen to everybody and get everybody involved, but make the final decisions. To do what we did, at the time we did it, you needed focus. A strong focus. There were so many things that everybody wanted to do, but we couldn’t do everything. We wanted focus, and we wanted me to lead based on that focus. And that needed to happen.
And then, of course, we have the latest installment of Tucker Stone's Comics of the Weak column. Can you believe it was only three weeks ago he started doing this? I can. I'm still not used to getting up this early in the morning to edit.
Elsewhere, John Hilgart of 4CP fame has inaugurated a new column of his own over at HiLobrow, revealing the mysterious sources for his previous work.
Michael Dean has written an extensive article on the history and current state of New York's MoCCA. Here's a taste:
The MoCCA festival has flourished and a series of varied educational programs sponsored by the museum continues to thrive. As for the museum itself, well, at least it’s still here, and that’s more than some comic-art museums can say. It hasn’t gone virtual the way Kevin Eastman’s Words and Pictures Museum did in 1999. And it hasn’t been absorbed by a university like Mort Walker’s Museum of Cartoon Art, now a resident of the Ohio State campus. But if MoCCA is a success story, it’s also a story of compromises and struggle. It’s a story that may have much to tell about the place of comics in the East Coast art world. Because, for better or worse, MoCCA is the high-water mark for the level of respectability that comic art has been able to carve out for itself in its home town.
On Friday we'll have a separate interview with the museum's founder, Lawrence Klein. Also up today is Austin English's review of the comic book Raw Power.
It's a great day for podcast fans, with Mike Dawson talking to Craig Thompson for the latest episode of TCJ Talkies. When his Habibi was released last fall, Thompson seemed to appear on every podcast produced, even those devoted to things other than comics, like fishing and plumbing, and so we decided to hold off until a bit later and see if it wouldn't make for a slightly fresher interview. Now we find out if that strategy worked.
Also, continuing the sex-in-webcomics theme started by Shaenon Garrity earlier this week, Sean T. Collins contributes a review of the anonymously produced q v i e t.
Elsewhere, Mahendra Singh has started his series of posts on the work of Moebius with a very technique-heavy look at Airtight Garage, which he provocatively links to the Goldberg Variations.
Graeme McMillan doesn't like the term "artcomix." What he may not realize is that no one likes the term artcomix. And that's true whether it's spelled as one word or two, with an x or an s. But the alternatives (such as "alternative comics") are pretty bad, too. And a shorthand way of differentiating between stuff created by artists who are trying and those who are merely fulfilling a commercial formula is often very helpful, at least for those of us who regularly write about comics, so this dilemma isn't going away very soon.
The anonymous fellow or lady behind that New Yorker cartoon critique Tumbler from a couple weeks ago explains the philosophy behind the site more here and here.
Finally, I don't believe we've mentioned yet that Sparkplug Comic Books is holding a fundraiser to publish several new books. I know I just wrote last week that I tried not to link to these kinds of things, but this too seemed worth an exception.
On the site: Jog brings us the Week. I wish Jog did this for all my weekly intake: Food, entertainment, humans. Etc. And we're pleased to re-present Bob Levin's 2008 interview with S. Clay Wilson. A real TCJ highlight from the last handful of years. Also, Bob added the following note, which we should all pay attention to:
A few months after this interview took place, Wilson sustained disabling brain injuries requiring special care. Contributions maybe sent to Wilson’s Special Needs Trust, PO Box 14854, San Francisco, CA 94114.
[UPDATE FROM TIM: Here's a link to the online home of the trust.]
Hey, Kate Beaton has a great new comic up that is far into new territory.
Frank Young reports news about his David Lasky-drawn graphic novel that many of us will be excited about: "I just turned in the last color pages for our long-in-progress graphic novel Carter Family Comics: Don't Forget This Song!"
Shit My New Yorker Cartoons Says continues apace, with a read through of this week's issue.
-More of my deranged interest in E.R. Burroughs: A John Carter story maybe drawn by his son, John Coleman Burroughs.