Sputtering

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.

Robert Boyd reviews Kramers Ergot 8.

Robert Birnbaum has a great, lengthy, meaty interview with Ben Katchor up at the Morning News.

David Chelsea has posted a part two for his post on perspective and Ivan Brunetti from last week.

And the Wright Awards nominations have been announced.

It’s Happening

Today on the site:

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.

Elsewhere:

-Bart Beatty on the late comics-focused librarian and organizer Kristiina Kolehmainen.

-Paul Karasik has a report straight outta Dekalb, where his "Graphic Novel -Realism" exhibition is on display.

-There's a whole bundle of posts over at Blown Covers about the great Miguel Covarrubius, all drawn from The New Yorker archives.

-I always enjoy the work of J.H. Williams, and here he is breaking down his process for a Batwoman cover.

-Hey, Johnny Ryan has a new zine out. That can't be bad.

-And here's a preview of the forthcoming Dan Zettwoch book, Birdseye Bristoe. One can never have too much Zettwoch. I'm looking forward to this one.

Mo’ Art, Mo’ Problems

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.

Chris Stigliano reviews the new Nancy collection.

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.

This Glittery One is Done

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.]

Elsewhere:

Drawn & Quarterly's Tom Devlin, Pascal Girard, Matt Forsythe visited a school in Montreal and Tom wrote up a typically entertaining report.

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.

-Apparently before it was scuttled the Akira movie produced some decent looking storyboards.

-I've never seen this very nice Howard Chaykin story from the 1970s...

 

 

Early Rising

In his column yesterday, Frank Santoro reviewed a selection of new comics, both with staples and without, from Julie Delporte, Dane Martin, Jack Hayden, Aidan Koch, and Mardou.

Dan Nadel enthuses about the latest Wally Wood "Artist's Edition" from IDW:

It is easily one of the best books of comic art ever produced. It’s like the first Little Nemo book that Pete Maresca produced: An entirely new way to look at a comic art great; it’s also one of the finest books of drawings I’ve ever seen.

And Shaenon Garrity returns with another webcomics column, this time focusing in on the world of online smut:

We may be seeing a renaissance of high-end webcomic raunch, comparable to the era in print comics when titles like Omaha the Cat Dancer, ambitious indie comics that just happened to feature a lot of sex and nudity, were taken as seriously as Cerebus. (In retrospect, Omaha is starting to look like the better comic.) The new indie smut is witty, cheerfully explicit, gorgeously drawn, and takes advantage of the ever-widening audience on the Web.

In other news, Justin Green reports some sad news regarding underground legend S. Clay Wilson's health, and explains how interested parties can help.

[UPDATE: Here's a link to the online home of the S. Clay Wilson trust.]

In two new posts, the R. Crumb website has posted several more of the artist's short and sometimes surprising takes on various figures, ranging from George Herriman ("I admire Herriman’s stuff, but you know I’m not as crazy about him as some people. You know, that kind of funny, little esoteric thing he does in Krazy Kat, it doesn’t grab me that deeply.") and the Beatles ("Some of the last stuff they did, you know, it kind of gets dark, and that’s more interesting to me, the last stuff they did before they broke up.") to Jim Morrison ("He just seemed like a kind of puffy-looking, overweight guy who was burned-out from too many drugs. He just sat in the corner kind of mumbling.") and Garry Trudeau ("I could never read one of his strips to the end. Those sleepy-eyed characters, I just found the drawing style so annoying I couldn’t even read it.").

David Chelsea analyzes the use of perspective in Ivan Brunetti's recent New Yorker cover.

Gliberzarian

Today on the site we mark the one week anniversary of Tucker Stone's column. Tucker, your bonus is coming via carrier pigeon direct to your rooftop cage.

Elsewhere online we have all sorts of things. Here's James Romberger on Jaime Hernandez. And, why, here is a lengthy timeline of the Neil Gaiman-Todd McFarlane lawsuits. In other British news, here's a preview of artwork from a new Brendan McCarthy-drawn 2000 AD serial. I enjoyed this collection of fanzine work from the late writer Bill Dubay. Other enjoyments came by way of this brief article about an apparently baffling New Yorker cartoon and this Justin Green 2-pager. And finally, Tom Spurgeon has an obituary of comic strip artist Fran Matera.

Truth, Justice, and the Comic Book Way

Today we have a really substantial column from R.C. Harvey on Johnny Hart, B.C., and religion in the comic strips. Here's an excerpt:

Berke Breathed gave Hart’s slam a creditable value. “The good news about Hart’s Islam-is-poo strip,” Breathed said, “is that at least you know a real human has shown up for work with his strip. The paper is littered with cartoonists too—well, deceased—to actually participate in their own strip. It’s a pity because there’s a rather agitated bunch of very alive cartoonists that are waiting for their space to show us what a little passionate cartooning can be. The other side of the Affaire Hart is his disowning of his gag. This is the part where he insults his audience, which he might want to avoid. I’m all for bigotry in the public square [but] for people to respond accordingly, they need to own it. Either Johnny is fibbing or he needs to get back in touch with his inner Id. ..."

[...]

Every time B.C. was dropped by newspaper editors hesitant of offending one religion or another, the issue of freedom of expression was conjured up again. If Garry Trudeau is permitted to exercise his religion—“the secular religion of politics” as one wag put it—why can’t Hart do the same with his religion? By way of edging up to an answer, the Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten took some B.C. strips around for Trudeau to look at. Trudeau looked at them and laughed.

“Please tell me this is not controversial,” Trudeau said. “What’s the problem—that, God forbid, Hart still believes in God? These are good,” he continued. “What’s important is that he still honors his first obligation, which is to entertain. If he wants to stimulate people into thinking about the nature of faith, more power to him.” Agreeing with the wag quoted above, Trudeau concluded: “Hart is writing about his values as much as I am writing about mine.”

We also have Sean T. Collins reviewing Jillian Tamaki's webcomic, SuperMutant Magic Academy.

We rarely mention specific ongoing Kickstarters on this blog, at least for comic-book fundraising, mostly because once you've opened those doors, it's hard to establish a consistent and fair policy about who gets the nod and who doesn't. But I was sorely tempted to break my self-assigned rule when I heard about Ted May's upcoming Injury 4—luckily for my integrity, before I decided to post it, May made his goal, and now it's just happy publishing news. (Another interesting sounding project: Dylan Horrocks and Karl Stevens collaborating on The American Dream.)

Also worth a look: Dean Haspiel on coming to terms with his place in the comics industry, and ultimately being happier outside it; Robin McConnell's road trip to Portland with Brandon Graham, with cameos from such as Zack Soto, Mike Allred, and Craig Thompson; Gary Panter on painter Yayoi Kusama; and Matt Seneca writing about an early, expressive Chris Ware page.

Finally, it's always a good idea to take newspaper articles regarding science with enormous quantities of salt, but this New York Times article suggesting that the brain treats experiences read about in books in the same way as experiences actually lived couldn't help but make me wonder how that would shape a person with a really restricted literary diet: someone who reads nothing but superhero comics, say. (It probably helps that I'm re-reading Don Quixote right now.) People often express wonder about the propensity for superhero fans to ignore the ethics of supporting companies against creators' rights, based on the comic books' repeated references to responsibility and doing the right thing, but when you think about it, there's very little actual ethical content in most superhero comics: the good guys are the good guys and the bad guys are the bad guys, and very little short of the willingness to commit straight-up murder separates the two in terms of behavior. They both generally live outside the law and destroy a lot of public property, you know?

Rainy Day

Today on the site we have a special treat: An interview with Bill Griffith by Gary Panter; topics include: love, footwear, and scariness. Goodness ensues. If you stop and think about Griffith's influence on Panter's work, a bunch of things about the way the latter artist deals with dialogue and observation snap into place.

Elsewhere on the wild internet:

-Bryan Lee O'Malley has a thoughtful and empathetic post up in response to the perennial "how do I break into the biz" question. One interesting thing about for me is that how it's such a different narrative than that of cartoonists a generation older, i.e. the Web, manga, etc.

-Our own Frank Santoro is posting some very nice drawings of his home environment.

-You had me at "George Cruikshank had a nephew, Percy Cruikshank, son of Robert Cruikshank, who signed himself 'George Cruikshank Junior.'"

-Cartoonist and TCJ-contributor Jim Rugg has a nifty looking artshow opening in a week.

-I'm also an easy mark for all things Mort Walker. Here's a scan of an early profile of the cartoonist. Should you ever wonder what to get me for my birthday, always think "Mort".

-And finally, in the ongoing "How'd that Corto Maltese book get so fucked up?" saga, let me trace a few threads for you:

1) The fine people at Big Planet Comics explain, with visual aids, what they saw as wrong with the book as published by Rizzoli (and apparently in a few countries). I agree!

2) Then the designer of the book, Chris McDonnell, in a post that defended his own design and typography but not the actual book production, notes "I asked for the original format pages and better quality line art files but the files that we ultimately used were the only option for files provided by the licensor or the estate (I don’t know who) for this project." Well, that explains something. The files as-supplied weren't very good. Why? Well, Rizzoli released a statement :

Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea was originally printed in the Italian comics magazine Sgt. Kirk, in 1967, and later in the French magazine Pif gadget in the early 1970s. Hugo Pratt collected the strips, had them colored, and published them in an oversized volume in 1978. In 1985, the colors were revamped in collaboration with Patrizia Zanotti.  In 1994, Hugo Pratt reworked the size of the strip to three rows of panels per page.  This new, smaller, more manageable graphic novel format was done to appeal to new Corto fans in the Italian market.

Universe/Rizzoli took the changes that Pratt himself made in the 1994 edition and reprinted this reworked format. We made no changes to Hugo Pratt’s 1994 version.

There have been other English editions of Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea, but the Pratt estate wanted a fresh translation from Pratt’s original Italian text. Harvill Press published an edition of Ballad of the Salt Sea in the oversized format and in the original black and white. The translation for that edition was made from a French translation of the original Italian text. The NBM edition of Ballad of the Salt Sea also contained a translation twice removed from the original Italian.

We worked directly with Patrizia Zanotti and the Hugo Pratt estate on this project, they were fully involved, and we had their support and approval during every step of the process: from the much-improved direct translation from the original Italian; to using art that came from the Hugo Pratt estate via their European publisher; to reviewing multiple rounds of color proofs.

So what's the lesson here? Dunno. Estates don't always know best? Usually the original way something is drawn is best? Don't go to press with lo-res files even if someone says it's OK? The point is that it's a badly done book, which is a shame. Not much more to be done, as the estate clearly doesn't know or care about proper digital production. So, it is what it is, maaaan.

Now and Forever

Joe McCulloch really been on a roll lately, and continues it this morning with a column about Chantal Montellier, and the English-language translation of her adaptation of Kafka's The Trial. Her collaborator on the project was none other than David Zane Mairowitz, who many of you probably know previously wrote the text for Robert Crumb's Kafka book. So there's plenty of low-hanging fruit to work with, which Joe picks easily before moving to the higher branches where he likes to climb and forage. He also brings news of what comic books will be coming out this week.

Elsewhere on the interweb, Greg Hunter at Big Other reviews Kramers Ergot 8, and Richard Baez reviews Olivier Schrauwen's The Man Who Grew His Beard. (That second book is one of the titles that got away from us last year, assigned for a review that never got written -- that's the way it goes sometimes, but this is a great book so it's more regrettable than usual.)

Also, Mahendra Singh announces a series of posts on Moebius's pen technique that I really hope he produces, Alan Gardern notes a new way to read cartoons from the great B. Kliban, and an anonymous critic has started a Tumblr devoted to criticizing the cartoons in The New Yorker. I don't find all of his (her?) criticisms very convincing -- especially many of the suggestions about what would make the cartoons funnier -- but a lot of the insights are spot-on, and it's a brilliant idea for a site overall, one I'm surprised hasn't been done before. Unless it has. Send in the link(s) if so, please.

Country Fried

Today on the site we have a little round-up of recent books I've read. And Rob Clough reviews Kmart Shoes.

And elsewhere: Tom Spurgeon has a fine interview with cartoonist Ruben Bolling; Inkstuds goes on tour and reports back with pix. David Apatoff remembers illustrator-reporter Franklin McMahon; TCJ contributors Chris Mautner and Joe McCulloch list six English-language Moebius books to start with; Tom Conroy, avid commenter on Roger Brand, has a nice reminiscence of artist Doug Wildey; Matt Seneca interviews Michael DeForge about his latest comic.

Your old comic of the day: A good episode of Man 'O Metal by H.G. Peter. I featured this strip in Art in Time but I think I remain its only fan. H.G. Peter was great and (still) under-appreciated, perhaps because he was overshadowed by Wonder Woman, which he drew for nearly two decades.

Suicide is Painless

You've probably heard tell of how doctors in war zones typically resort to gallows humor, madcap pranks, and hand-built gin stills to cope with the squalor and waste they encounter each day in their jobs. Well, that goes double for those who live and work in today's comic shop, and Tucker Stone, the Trapper John of the Wednesday crowd, brings his column to the Journal to help our readers make the pain go away. And don't worry, detractors, if Tucker gets out of line, we'll replace him with a gentler B.J. Hunnicut type. (To answer the unspoken question: Fiore's Hawkeye, obviously. Major Burns I will leave to the readers' imaginations.)

I can't think of a M*A*S*H character to assign to Charles Hatfield, so I'll drop this painfully strained metaphor now, before things go too far. In any case, he has written a great and thorough review of the first two issues of Prophet, the new Brandon Graham/Simon Roy sf comic that's been getting so much acclaim lately.

Elsewhere, Ben Katchor has a new strip up at Metropolis Magazine. I don't like to link to webcomics too often (where would I stop?) but I'll make an exception in Katchor's case.

Garry Trudeau talks to Double X about the recent controversy revolving around Doonesbury's abortion-related strips.

The CBLDF has announced the withdrawal of all criminal charges against Ryan Matheson in the Canadian manga case that began in 2010.

Daniel Best brings an update on Brett Ewins's health and legal situation, and how any concerned may be able to help.

Tom Spurgeon wants nominations of people in the comics world who deserve more recognition.

And not-exactly-comics: Filmmaker Ralph Bakshi gets interviewed for the 35th anniversary of Wizards.

Bluzzard

On the site today:

Sean T. Collins interviews cartoonist Jonny Negron (conflict alert: I'm publishing his book in September), who says of the influence of manga on his work:

It wasn’t until I was a teenager that it became much more popular. Part of the fascination for me in seeing that stuff was that it was really not like anything I’d seen before, especially in comics. Everyone’s androgynous-looking, it’s a lot more sexual, there was nudity. Everything was more adult-like, even the kids’ stuff.

Elsewhere:

-Top o' the heap goes to Brian Chippendale who has posted a mammoth essay on Marvel, royalties, rights, and titles. He pretty much covers all the bases here.

-Former TCJ-editor Milo George on a fill-in issue of Daredevil.

-I've been seeing bits of this Kevin Nowlan Man-Thing graphic novel for a long time now and now it seems to have a publication date. Good news. Nowlan's a perpetually underrated cartoonist and his process-oriented blog is a treat.

-Brandon Graham draws a tribute to Moebius.

-Oh a post of Dan Adkins SF covers and illustrations. Very nice. Always liked his work with and without Wally Wood. It's a smoothly generic style.

-Pal Paul Karasik has an exhibition coming up called Graphic Novel Realism at The Northern Illinois Unversity Art Museum in DeKalb, IL.

-I just recently read the first two issues of The Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred. Here's writer David Hine on some musical influences.

It Lives

We've got two new posts on the site this morning: Katie Haegele interviewing illustrator/cartoonist Eliza Frye, and the latest episode of TCJ Talkies, in which Mike Dawson talks to Renée French about everything from changing community standards in the comics community to her pseudonymous second career in children's books.

Elsewhere on the internet, tributes to Moebius continue to appear. There's no way we will be able to link to all of them, but frequent Journal contributor Matthias Wivel has written a great one focusing in on the artist's late works. Charles Hatfield is also worth reading, I believe we forgot to link to Matt Seneca's reaction from the weekend.

Seneca has also just posted a short interview with the jaw-droppingly prolific Michael DeForge.

In the wake of John Carter box-office reports, Evan Dorkin turns his mind to comics, and wonders what the biggest money-losing bomb in this medium has been? Most of the speculation so far has revolved around series, but my guess is that it's more likely one of the books signed to big contracts in the brief recent period in which big publishers decided to make a big push into graphic novels.

Gary Panter have a talk to MOCAD last week, and video is now online.

Tom Spurgeon has a nice solid interview with IDW's Scott Dunbier about their seemingly quite successful Artist's Edition series, and their decision to reprint the Wally Wood volume.

And somehow on Monday I neglected to link to Sarah Glidden's translation of Lewis Trondheim proposal for changes to the Angoulême festival.

As always, it seems, the biggest story working the comics internet right now is a new interview with Alan Moore, this time conducted by Kurt Amacker for Seraphemera Books. It's a typically sprawling thing, most of which covers ground that will be very familiar to regular Moore interview-dissectors, though it's also probably the most comprehensive source for his thoughts on Watchmen and DC's interactions with him that has appeared in years. Robot 6, which is generally a quite good comic news blog that I would recommend to anyone interested in the more "mainstreamy" side of alternative comics, has an annoying habit of trolling its dimmer readers by pulling out the most pointed and insulting excerpts from Moore interviews. This time may be their trolliest post yet, and their commenters don't disappoint, if you're into savoring reading-comprehension problems. It looks to me like most of these commenters prove Moore's point quite well, and he's right that he's better off without them reading his work.

There are a few more interesting parts of the interview worth pulling out, though. Here he is on one of the key reasons he thinks Before Watchmen is a stupid idea:

You see, part of the problem with all this--and the reason why Watchmen was such an extraordinary book during its time--was that it was constructed upon literary lines. It had a beginning, it had a middle, and it had an end. It wasn't constructed as an endless soap opera that would run until everybody ran out of interest in it. It was deliberately meant to show what comics could do if you applied some of those quite ordinary literary values to them. Like I've said, this was the one book that elevated the comics medium, the comics industry, above the point where it had previously been languishing. And where, when I had entered the American industry in the early '80s, it was close to death. They were going down the tubes, and they desperately needed the shot in the arm that all of the hype surrounding Watchmen provided for them.

What the comics industry has effectively said is, "Yes, this was the only book that made us briefly special and that was because it wasn't like all the other books." It was something that stood on its own and it had the integrity of a literary work. What they've decided now is, "So, let's change it to a regular comic that can run indefinitely and have spin-offs." and "Let's make it as unexceptional as possible."

And here's part of his defense against the accusation that he has used many other artist' characters in his own books:

Other people's characters, right. Yeah, I've heard that. Now, what needs explaining is that you're talking about two or three different things, there. With The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, you're talking about a literary phenomenon that has nothing to do with comics. I can get to that in a moment. But, in terms of comics, when I entered the comics industry, I was given characters that the company owned, which were on their last legs--ones which were so lame that they were practically on the verge of cancellation.

Swamp Thing had been, I suppose, created by Len Wein (although in retrospect it really wasn't much more than a regurgitation of Hillman Comics' The Heap with a bit of Rod Serling purple prose wrapped around it). When I took over that character at Len Wein's suggestion, I did my best to make it an original character that didn't owe a huge debt to previously existing swamp monsters. And when I finished doing that book, yes, of course I understood that other people were going to take it over. That went for characters that I had created, like John Constantine. I understood that when I had finished with that character that it would just be absorbed into the general DC stockpile and I believe that I've expressed my admiration. I think that Brian Azzarello's editor had heard that I quite liked the job that he did with Richard Corben on Hellblazer and he phoned up asking me for a quote. I don't know if they ever used it, but I gave them a fulsome one.

This is because those were characters the company owned and I understood that. And I understood that whether I had created the characters like John Constantine, or whether I'd simply recreated them beyond all recognition like Swamp Thing, that these would just go into the general comic company's stockpiles. I've never objected to that. I mean, I don't think it is necessarily the fairest thing, but I've not objected to that.

And how he feels about creator's rights:

My position on all of this has hardened over the years. And, to say this is just what happens in comics--that this is just the tradition in comics--characters get passed from one creator to another and that's just how it is--why is it like that? And, where did these characters come from in the first place? Did they all spring from the brow of Zeus, fully-formed? Or, was there somebody who created them at some point? Was there a sort of Jerry Robinson or Bill Finger? Or, was there a Siegel and Schuster? Or a Martin Nodell or a Gardener Fox [sic] who got robbed? And then, of course the attitude--and I probably shared in this when I first started working for American comics--the attitude now is that it's just toys in the toy box, isn't it? You get to play with your favorite toys from the DC or Marvel toy box. Yeah, I don't want to do that anymore. Those toys were pried out of the fingers of dead men, and were pried from their families and their children. That's just wrong.

What a Crowd

On the site: It's Tuesday so that means you get a dose of schooling from Joe McCulloch. Chris Mautner reviews Tezuka's Princess Knight. And we also continue to update the tributes to Moebius post.

Elsewhere:

-There is a whole raft of Moebius links out there, but my favorite is this blog post of photos of the artist with other artists over the course of his career. A close second is this fine appreciation of his influence on popular culture over at Tor.com.

-Ivan Brunetti has a New Yorker cover on the stands and a few words about it, too.

-Proof Instagram is useful: A shot of Jaime Hernandez at work on a new Love and Rockets page.

-The strange story of someone selling a fake Ernie Bushmiller drawing. If I was going to fake an artist I'd stay away from someone as clean-lined and precise as Bushmiller.

An Era Ends

The legendary French cartoonist Jean "Moebius" Giraud passed away Saturday. Kim Thompson has written our obituary for him:

Like his namesake single-surfaced geometric figure, Giraud enjoyed two distinct careers that could be considered opposite sides of a coin, or a continuation of one another: As “Gir,” he co-created, illustrated, and eventually wrote the Western series Lt. Blueberry for over four decades, while as “Moebius,” he drew and often wrote some of the most revolutionary and dazzling science fiction comics ever created — as well as providing costume and set designs for such visually groundbreaking movies as Alien, TRON, and The Fifth Element.

Either career would have placed him at the forefront of his chosen trade; braided together into one astonishing life, the two made him indisputably one of the greatest cartoonists of the second half of the 20th century.

Thompson interviewed Giraud for this magazine in 1987, and over the weekend we reposted that talk. As Thompson wrote in the introduction, "It has become difficult, if not impossible, to understand the shattering impact [Moebius's best pieces] had as they appeared throughout the '70s. Like all revolutions, they need a context to be fully appreciated." The wide-ranging interview was designed to provide that context, and is still well worth reading for that purpose today.

We also have gathered a collection of tributes to the great artist from such figures as Mike Allred, Anders Nilsen, Zak Sally, and John Workman. We plan to keep adding remembrances to that post as more come in.

Of course, many tributes to Moebius have already appeared online, from creators like Neil Gaiman and Jason (Robot 6 gathers more industry reaction here), and from writers such as Tom Spurgeon, Paul Gravett, Heidi MacDonald, and Bryan Munn.

Rodrigo Baeza has posted scans of a late-1970s interview with Moebius, and the aforementioned Spurgeon has gathered a collection of videos featuring him. The Forbidden Planet blog links to an hour-long BBC documentary.

Much more has been written and will continue to be written honoring Moebius over the next few days and weeks—and decades.

Yesterday, we published a new column by Frank Santoro, featuring an interview with the cartoonist Zack Soto about his new webcomics venture, Study Group Comics.

And sadly, we must also report the untimely death of Don Markstein, Comics Revue editor and founder of the Toonopedia.

No, Just Asking

Today on the site:

Matt Seneca on the great Joost Swarte's Is That All There Is?.

Elsewhere:

That awesome all-nude John Carter of Mars comic is still going. Perfectly applicable to Tim's comment on Ken Parille's essay. Via. In other looking-at-nude-stuff news, here are pictures of the very first Sub-Mariner story, which is surprisingly lush and deliberate. Also, spend some time looking at this Tumblr and really get inside the mind of comics fan Tom Devlin.

In cartoonist news, Jim Woodring is in Alaska and he is drawing; and this Gabrielle Bell new book announcement is fun in and of itself.

 

Let’s Go

Ryan Holmberg continues his essential column on the history of alternative manga today with an introduction to the concept of batakusai (which means "butter-stinking," or in other words, overly Westernized) and its usage within the context of manga.

This term supposedly dates back to the Edo period, when visiting English and Portuguese traders were derided for their strong body odors thought to be caused by a fat and butter-rich diet. Most Japanese did not eat “four-legged creatures” until the latter nineteenth century, due to a combination of religious prohibitions and prejudices. Milk and milk-skin products had been consumed by royalty and aristocrats since the seventh century, but dairy was still regarded an oddity by Japanese in contact with foreigners during the Edo period. “Cheese” had been reported in Japanese markets by Jesuit missionaries as far back as the sixteenth century. But since there was no cheese in Japan at the time, they were probably misidentifying blocks of tofu.

A collection of early comics drawn by the late Ronald Searle during his time in a Japanese POW camp (see Warren Bernard's bio of Searle for more details) has just been discovered.

Here's a short article on Foo, the fanzine of Robert and Charles Crumb, once again coming to the conclusion that at least in their childhoods, Charles was the better artist. By the way, early Crumb fanatics may not have heard that the upcoming new edition of volume one of the Complete Crumb will include a newly discovered complete 1962 issue of Arcade. We'll have an expanded look at the new material on the site soon.

Bart Beaty wrote an interesting short take on the Katz/Maus controversy yesterday. For inexplicable reasons, this somehow spilled over into the comments section of this site, and Dan gave more of his views here. I haven't seen the Katz book myself (for those of you too lazy to click on the links above, it's a repurposed version of Maus, in which the contents of the book are apparently unchanged, except that the heads of all characters within it have been turned feline), but it sounds like I'd agree with both Beaty and Dan, contradictory as that might initially seem. I have no thoughts on the legality of the situation, not knowing a single thing about French or Belgian copyright law.

Robert Boyd remembers Dale Yarger, a former designer of The Comics Journal, among many other Fantagraphics projects.

Steven Brower discusses the covers of recent Jack Kirby books, and the trend of using artists other than Kirby for them. (Basically, he's against it.)

I Got A…

Today on the site we have: Steve Ringgenberg's obituary of Sheldon Moldoff; And Ken Parille, who swears he's not writing a superhero column, turned in a piece about superhero bodies and costumes. Ken is the co-editor of the forthcoming (and excellent, but more on that in another post) book The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist. That same book holds a very funny and insightful essay by Chris Ware, whose home is examined in photographs over at Trip City. Yesterday, in a link to Joe McCulloch's incredible post, Tom Spurgeon mentioned a possible shift in how comics history is being built these days. I think he's right. Part of the impetus for ye ol' Comics Comics six years ago was to reshape the way we thought about the cartooning lineage, and I think it's gone even further than we ever imagined. The surge in interest in things like Heavy Metal, and the corresponding HM-link comics being published now is a real generational shift. How it plays out is anyone's guess, but if I was still in the writing-books-about-comics-history biz I'd be looking over my shoulder. Speaking of which, here's Michel Fiffe on the mostly forgotten series Wasteland. For some "trad" comics history here's a mysterious Joe Simon publishing discovery.

And, hey, Kevin Huizenga finished a new book. This is good news.

Finally, since we all love videos, it's TCJ-fave Tom De Haven talking about comics in the curriculum.

http://vimeo.com/37927842

 

 

Emergency Room Pallor

An unplanned and prolonged visit to the ER on a neighbor's behalf (nothing serious) means that there's a pretty good chance I missed something this morning. So please forgive me that.

This morning, we are reposting the 1999 Comics Journal interview with the late Sheldon Moldoff (most well-known for his work on Batman) conducted by Steve Ringgenberg. Here's an excerpt:

No, I never had any story credit or anything on it. Everything is Bob Kane. And I say it would have been nice, if at some point, he would have said, "Shelly, I'm really famous now and it's time to say thanks to a couple of people." Jerry Robinson, other people, give us a word of thanks. It would have made him a bigger person. It wouldn't have hurt him any to say, "These people helped me."

Also, this morning, it looks like Joe McCulloch has finally gone insane, using his weekly guide to new comics to write a nearly book-length treatise on a 1980 issue of Métal Hurlant. It's a good kind of insane, though, featuring his thoughts on Pratt, Chaland, and Druillet, among others.

And Jesse Pearson reviews Kingdom Come, J.G. Ballard's final novel, just published for the first time in the United States.

Elsewhere, my confrère Dan Nadel finally broke down and started a Tumblr. If you like a good rant, ask Ray Sohn his thoughts on Tumblr some time.

As has been noted many places, a new small batch of Penguin Graphic Classics covers has been released. Mike Mignola's cover for Heart of Darkness is getting the most attention. It's a striking image, and Mignola is a master, but something about it sits wrong to me—it's too cartoonish an image of evil when compared to the horrors of the novella. It may work better in person, though. Ross MacDonald's cover for Robert Graves's Greek Myths (a truly great book) is amusing, but bugs me if only because it furthers the idiotic notion that superheroes are our modern mythology. I know, I know, it's a joke.

I'm not familiar with Hannah Eaton's work, but this preview/interview over at Forbidden Planet blog looks promising.

David Mazzucchelli Disavows Forthcoming Batman Reprint

I recently asked artist David Mazzucchelli about the forthcoming reprint of Batman: Year One, set for release March 14 from DC. David told me the following:

DC just sent me this book last week, and I really hope people don’t buy it. I didn’t even know they were making it, and I don’t understand why they thought it was necessary —  several years ago, DC asked me if I’d help put together a deluxe edition ofBatman: Year One, and Dale Crain and I worked for months to try to make a definitive version. Now whoever’s in charge has thrown all that work in the garbage. First, they redesigned the cover, and recolored my artwork — probably to look more like their little DVD that came out last year; second, they printed the book on shiny paper, which was never a part of the original design, all the way back to the first hardcover in 1988; third — and worst — they printed the color from corrupted, out-of-focus digital files, completely obscuring all of Richmond’s hand-painted work. Anybody who’s already paid for this should send it back to DC and demand a refund.

I asked if he'd contacted DC, and David explained that he "wrote letters and sent emails to the president, both publishers, and the editor in charge of special editions. No response." I asked about his forthcoming Artist's Edition of his Daredevil work, and he replied, "Scott Dunbier has been in touch with me from the beginning; I supplied all the scans of the artwork."

This seems like a ridiculous and avoidable mistake by DC since, indeed, they had a willing collaborator in David, but somehow it's not terribly surprising.

Maybe Ask First

Today on the site: Tom Spurgeon in conversation with Brian Ralph and C.F. at the 2011 Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. And Frank Santoro gives us a peek at his comic book haul.

In other news:

Comic book veteran and the last surviving artist to have been published in Action Comics #1, Sheldon Moldoff, has passed away. We'll have his TCJ interview and an obituary online later this week.

Tom Spurgeon (him again!) has a great interview with Charles Hatfield about his book Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby. TCJ is working on a roundtable discussion of Hatfield's excellent work.

And finally, a handful of mid-1980s video interviews with comic book artists have popped up on YouTube, courtesy of an organization called Big City D2D. Particularly noteworthy is the Marie Severin piece in which she talks about creating characters and is extremely funny, to boot.

Marie Severin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PG_L_TnvWU&feature=related

Howard Chaykin

Will Eisner

Gold.

The Politics of Inexperience

Say a fond farewell to Emily Flake, whose final diary entry is up today. Thanks, Emily.

And now to links, almost all of which turn out to revolve around political questions, coincidentally enough.

First, Brandon Graham gives good interview. In this one, he speaks (as a sometime comics porn creator himself) about what comic books get wrong about sex.

Speaking of what comic books get wrong about sex, Tom Spurgeon pulled out a recent Newsarama interview with Catwoman writer Judd Winick in which the former Real World star pulled a Nigel Tufnel and acted as if the reason people were up in arms about his run on the title is because it was too "sexy." Well, maybe he was acting—Tom expresses justifiable amazement at Winick's ability to remove the nuance of this discussion. Based solely upon the utter insipidity of all the Winick work I've read, I'd say it's an open question whether he's cynically and intentionally pretending not to understand the underlying issues, or that he's just actually not smart enough to get it. Of course, I guess it could be a combination of the two.

This is old (in internet time) but still relevant.

Matt Seneca has an essay on Crepax's Valentina, possibly his favorite comic of all time. (Incidentally, for at least the first hour of that Inkstuds roundtable I linked to the other day, the main subject Matt, Joe McCulloch, and Tucker Stone discuss is European erotic comics and the portrayal of rape therein. That kind of work is not my bag, but it's an interesting if uncomfortable talk nonetheless.)

James Romberger writes about the male perspective, too, in a roundup of brief reviews of comics by Alex Toth, Adrian Tomine, Joost Swarte, and Jim Steranko, among others. He also slams Chester Brown's Paying for It hard, ultimately finding the whole thing "fucking depressing." I don't dispute many of James's points, but Brown's book has only grown in my estimation over the past year— it truly supports multiple valid perspectives on what it's up to in a way that only the best art does. Try finding a non-risible interpretation of the Catwoman comic mentioned earlier.

And then of course there's the way comics portray race. The Forbidden Planet blog alerts us to an impassioned take on the recent Tintin in the Congo written by the novelist China Miéville, arguing on the side of Bienvenue Mbutu Mondondo instead of Hergé's publishers. It's worth reading, if for no other reason then that intelligent arguments from Mondondo's point of view have gotten precious little attention. (Incidentally, in the course of his essay, Miéville links to a lengthy series of blog posts denouncing Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's use of the "golliwog" character in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.)

And there's lots of video for you to watch on a lazy Friday afternoon:

Robert Crumb talking to Gary Groth in India (via)

Jules Feiffer (via)

And Jerry Moriarty's new YouTube channel (via)

Met-Hal UrLahnt

Today on the site: Emily Flake's Thursday involves whiskey and cigarettes, as any good Thursday should. And Rob Clough reviews African American Classics.

Elsewhere:

This may or may not be news: The 1987 documentary The Masters of Comic Book Art is now on YouTube in its entirety. I suggest skipping to the 20 minute mark to listen to Steve Ditko explain Mr. A. I forgot about this section, and I really enjoyed listening to his voice. Moebius is at the 38 minute mark. This is just a pretty fine glimpse at these artists in the flesh. It's also so very funny to think how different the canon was.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3ckwlLsW78&feature=player_embedded

-Hey, I missed this Best of 2011 international, multi-contributor list hosted by Paul Gravett.

-Oh look, it's Hal Foster Tarzan dailies.

-This is just.... wow. Passion. I wish I had it.

-And Eddie Campbell catches a couple of swipes. Good ones, too.

Stumble Year

Mike Dawson's got a new episode of TCJ Talkies up, this time interviewing the cartoonist Box Brown about starting up his own publishing venture, Retrofit.

And Emily Flake is in day three of her Cartoonist's Diary week. Now it's exercise time.

Three of our regular contributors—Joe McCulloch, Matt Seneca, and Tucker Stone—have appeared on the Inkstuds radio show to talk about comics for three hours. I haven't been able to listen to this yet, but with that lineup I'm sure it's fantastic.

Speaking of podcasts, I don't think we've mentioned yet that Comix Claptrap is back, and has a good interview with Tom Hart about starting up SAW in Gainesville.

Bill Kartalopoulos reviewed the latest Kramers Ergot anthology over at Print, and Brad Mackay reviewed Someday Funnies over at the Globe and Mail.

Fan blogger Colin Smith has an interesting post about reading Seth's It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken and realizing that at lot of the biases and prejudices he'd always attributed to Seth weren't actually in evidence.

Via Frank Santoro, here's Rob Liefeld.

Okay, I guess this is settled then. Things like that make me depressed about comics' position in the world. Then I remember that every other art form tends to get the same belittling treatment (Arthur beats Macbeth as our greatest literary king!), and the depression becomes more general.