The MRI of Love

Today, Kim Jooha returns with an article following up on her recent essay on what she calls the French Abstract Formalist comics movement, in which she focuses more closely on one of the associated artists, Sammy Stein.

Adieu is a zine made of sheets of wood. The cover shows a hand writing on a sheet of paper. There is a wooden shed. Inside, there is a sheet of paper with the word ‘adieu’ written on it, lying on a wooden table. Entering the basement cave through the wooden floor, we see a hand scratching the wall with a rock and the word ‘Adieu’ on the wall. Going down to another basement of the wooden structure, we see a hand with fire. In the end is the word ‘adieu,’ written on the wood, the zine itself.

We can read this as signifying the immortality of the material or nature (wood), contrasted to the mortality (‘adieu’ means goodbye) of the artifacts (the wooden structure). Humans keep producing the message again and again (‘adieu’ appears several times in different places). The cyclical nature of Adieu emphasizes this continuous struggle. The last page (the back cover) only shows the word ‘adieu,’ and it recalls the image of writing hands on the first page (the cover). Some of these messages persist, as we have the zine in our hands, in the same way that we appreciate and study the remains, ruins, and artifacts from the past in the museum. Stein’s oeuvre explores creating and studying art as constant human endeavor against the linear passage of time: the former for the present and the future, and the latter for the past.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Emily Lauer reports from the current Roz Chast exhibition.

The exhibit is designed to be fun. Rather than offering a comprehensive linear trajectory of Chast’s work to date, it is arranged by theme in one large room, subdivided, but offering multiple pathways through the material on display. Visitors are invited to wander, due not only to the arrangement of the material, but also because of the scarcity of wall text. What labels there are do not generally attempt to explain or guide, but rather simply offer titles, years, and materials. This is an exhibit designed to allow appreciation of Chast’s work, rather than an exhibit designed to teach visitors about Chast.

—BK Munn remembers Canadian cartoonist Murray Karn.

The 16-year old Karn parlayed this skill into a job with Cy Bell’s Bell Features comic book company in 1941, after answering a classified newspaper ad.

Bell Features was one of a small group of companies that sprang up to take advantage of the temporary ban on imports of “non-essential” goods from the U.S. during World War II as part of the War Exchange Conservation Act (WECA), and soon found themselves overwhelmed with the demand for homegrown versions of the superheroes and funny animals popular south of the border. Karn was assigned to illustrate the “Thunderfist” feature for Bell’s Active Comics title. The first issue of the comic debuted in February, 1942, and Karn would would draw twelve issues worth of the character’s stories for Active.

Created by writer E.T. Legault, Thunderfist was one of the first Canadian supermen to see print.

—RIP Andrei Bitov.

Somebody Has to Drink All This Blood

Today at The Comics Journal, we're looking back...at The Comics Journal? Hey, why not? It's still Stan Lee O'Clock right now, probably will be for a while longer. Back in 1995, the Journal reached out to a whole pack of talented folks--where else will you find a list that goes from Mary Fleener to Will Eisner?--about their take on Stan Lee. Whether it's a working relationship, a night out at dinner, or a stack of books, it's a really unique piece of work. Here, for example, is Spain Rodriguez.

His books were really a bell ringer, that comics were something to look at again. I never met the guy and I’ve seen him on TV a bunch of times, he seems like a big promoter of the stuff I like. Jack Kirby’s commentary in the interview with him that was in TCJ, one of the best things I ever read in the Journal, talking about how he walked into the room, and they were carrying out the furniture and Stan Lee was sitting on the chair crying, and he went over and comforted him and basically introduced his idea for the new line of comics. All those Marvel comics were the first bell that comics were coming back.

When the Comic Code came in, I just stopped reading comics; I didn’t even read the EC comics. The Comics Code was just such a humiliating cop-out, an injustice compared to William Gaines standing up before the Kefauver Committee. I like to think of myself in that tradition of comics, rather than the Goldwater tradition. Those Marvel comics, they seemed to have some kind of psychedelic subtext that’s kind of hard to pinpoint, but there was something about them. All the stuff that was going on around ’65 — everybody dropping acid — and reading those comics, they seemed to be giving us some kind of message and putting some kind of color into the world that wasn’t there before.

Today's review comes to us from Matt Seneca, and it's a big deal: Yuichi Yokoyama. Outdoors, an older Yokoyama title that's seeing rerelease via Breakdown Press, is here to take the stage. Here's Matt's opener:

If Yuichi Yokoyama isn't the best cartoonist currently working, he's on the list. I can't think of anyone else who combines such an iconic drawing style with such clarity of storytelling, or such ingenious use of the comics form with such forward-looking themes, or such an experimental edge with such bone-simple approachability. I see Yokoyama's influence everywhere in today's artsier comics, and I believe that in time he'll be seen as one of this period's leading practitioners of the form. Such being the case, any new offering of his work is a delight. Outdoors, newly translated for Breakdown Press by Ryan Holmberg, is a minor work, collating three shorter pieces made for the Japanese website Ecologue in 2009. But minor work from Yokoyama measures up favorably to the major work of most other names you can throw out there. Outdoors provides no shortage of mind-expanding pleasure while filling a gap in its creator's back catalog and allowing for a fuller understanding of his art's essential concerns. 

Stupidity Fuels My Work

Today on the site, Annie Mok interviews cartoonist Yumi Sakugawa, much of whose work deals with self-help, a genre that I've always been somewhat allergic to, but is obviously important to many people, and also one that seems to be growing rapidly within the comics medium.

I had a comic essay that I never finished that was supposed to go into the book [Fashion Forecasts] that explores my own intuitive process for choosing the right outfit. I see the daily choice of choosing your outfit as a mindful creative practice in honoring your own intuition and feelings and desires of that particular moment in time. I am looking for the right combination of colors, patterns, shapes, and textures intersecting with external factors (the weather, the season, the particular occasion the outfit is for, etc.) that creates a resonant "yes" in my heart--and sometimes it is a matter of the right lipstick shade or the right accessory that is the difference between a good outfit and a transcendent outfit. I don't necessarily always go out of my way to do this-- because I work from home, I oftentimes default to my daily uniform of tank top, loose pants, and a denim jacket--but some days and events or my own simple desire to put in the extra effort on a particular day call for calling in intuitive magic to summon the perfect outfit. It can be very personal and even spiritual-- to consciously choose the avatar you wish to present to the rest of the world. And because you begin to recognize the resonant "yes" in your heart when you wear the right outfit that gives you that feeling of wearing powerful energetic armor, then you begin to recognize that same resonant "yes" feeling in other aspects of your life--how you decorate your living space, how you create your artwork, who you spend time with you, how you spend your time, the experiences and activities and stories that really speak to your heart. And then all these little micro-moment decisions of resonance add up to you practicing powerful agency in how you wish to manifest your life, on your own terms, speaking to your own personal and sacred desires.

Tegan O'Neil is here with a review of another prominent genre of comics I'm usually allergic to, themed anthologies, this one Iron Circus's sci-fi collection, FTL, Y'ALL: Tales from the Age of the $200 Warp Drive.

One of the volume’s immediate pleasures is seeing how different artists respond to the visual challenge of designing the Enterprise on a Walking Dead budget. CB Webb literally has a kid climb into a clothes dryer and blast off, cramped accommodations to be sure but one that neatly illustrates the book’s premise. A refitted subway car with a glass biodome stuck to its ass (courtesy of Nathanial Wilson) is probably my favorite. If given the opportunity a lot of people in 2018 probably would take the certain shot of dying somewhere other than Earth, even jammed into a home appliance, to the certainty of living on a pretty shitty Earth (cf. the whole “It’s a weird time in the history of the republic” thing).

It’s that context that gives the best stories in FTL, Y’ALL their bite. These are about escape as much as exploration. The stories here aren’t set in any kind of shared universe, so some of the stories are set against grimmer backgrounds than others. Mulele Jarvis’ “Cabbage Island” is a good example: the woman who builds a tiny ship to Alpha Centauri is racing to stay one step ahead of both a fascist police state and ecological devastation. “Things could get better,” someone says, to which our heroine replies, “No, they won’t.”


Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. At the New Yorker, Joan Acocella writes about the work of Edward Gorey.

The book artist Edward Gorey, when asked about his tastes in literature, would sometimes mention his mixed feelings about Thomas Mann: “I dutifully read ‘The Magic Mountain’ and felt as if I had t.b. for a year afterward.” As for Henry James: “Those endless sentences. I always pick up Henry James and I think, Oooh! This is wonderful! And then I will hear a little sound. And it’s the plug being pulled. . . . And the whole thing is going down the drain like the bathwater.” Why? Because, Gorey said, James (like Mann) explained too much: “I’m beginning to feel that if you create something, you’re killing a lot of other things. And the way I write, since I do leave out most of the connections, and very little is pinned down, I feel that I am doing a minimum of damage to other possibilities that might arise in a reader’s mind.” He thought that he might have adopted this way of working from Chinese and Japanese art, to which he was devoted, and which are famous for acts of brevity. Many Gorey books are little more than thirty pages long: a series of illustrations, one per page, accompanied, at the lower margin or on the facing page, by maybe two or three lines of text, sometimes verse, sometimes prose.

At the New York Times, Ed Park reviews Jason Lutes's Berlin and Olivier Schrauwen's Parallel Lives.

The dirty secret about graphic novels is how fast they read; it’s rare for one to require more than a day or two to finish. (“I hated the lifetime of pain and struggle it took to create a thing that anyone could read in an hour,” sighs the cartoonist in Matthew Klam’s novel “Who Is Rich?”) Strange as it sounds, one of the virtues of “Berlin” is how it resists completion. It took me weeks to get through, at times backtracking in order to clarify who was who, always returning at last to a greater appreciation of Lutes’s vision and humanity. In the last pages, the book pitches suddenly, violently forward through time, as though to meet us — an ending so electrifying that I gasped.

Among many other authors invited by the Guardian, Chris Ware names his favorite books of the year, which includes Slum Wolf and two others:

In Slum Wolf (New York Review Comics), translator Ryan Holmberg, one of the world’s finest comics writers, smoothes out the folds and expertly sets the historical scene so that readers (and graphic novelists like me) find they still have a whole lot to learn.

The Paris Review excerpts a piece by Matt Madden on Edmond Baoudoin.

[Baoudoin] came to cartooning relatively late in life—his first album (as the French call their bound comic books) wasn’t published until he was forty years old, in the early eighties. From his earliest works, Baudoin focused on autobiography, making him one of the first French cartoonists to explore this genre, which has gone on to become one of the most prominent features of European literary comics. At the same time, his art—already confident, with an inky expressionist manner reminiscent of his contemporaries Jacques Tardi and José Antonio Muñoz—evolved quickly into a daringly loose, calligraphic brush style that has made him one of the most respected and recognizable cartoonists in Europe.

—Interviews & Profiles. Also at the New Yorker, Françoise Mouly and Genevieve Bormes talk to Ronald Wimberley about LAAB.

I’m interested in Cedric J. Robinson’s idea of “racial capitalism,” looking at oppression not necessarily just pertaining to skin color but also through economic exploitation and the different strata in our society. It made me think, what is race but a narrative? It’s a narrative that comes together in various ways from different places … particularly how it relates to skin color. I’m interested in it because of how I feel. I have a visceral reaction, particularly in this moment, to the stories and the aesthetics that are really shaking our democracy to its foundation. Look at Trump—he’s literally just an aesthetic. He connects to people’s ideas and stories of who they are, how they view their own stories. That’s what Walter Benjamin and Brecht were talking about. Trump offers them a complete distraction from the reality of their life.

On CBS News, Garry Trudeau is interviewed by his wife Jane Pauley.

The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Summer Pierre.

—Misc. In anticipation of a retrospective series of Mario Ruspoli's work at the Metrograph in New York, Le CiNéMa Club is hosting a short documentary Ruspoli made about the French cartoonist (and secret filmmaker) Chaval. It will only be online until Thursday, so watch it soon if you're interested in mid-century French cartooning or film.

The Cloven Field

Welcome to December, Comics Journal reader. We're starting things off with a new column about Old Stuff. It's Marc Sobel, and he's named it "The Strip Mine".

Bold Adventure was a short-lived anthology from Pacific Comics published in 1983. The issue’s main feature is “Time Force,” a nearly incomprehensible cosmic superhero story written by Bill DuBay with art by Rudy Nebres. It’s a Starlin-esque space opera[ii] about a mad god who tries to gain some power spheres to conquer the universe (where have I heard that before?). It’s a needlessly dense piece with the same stiff language that DuBay hacked out for years in Warren’s 1984/1994. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if this story was intended for 1994 since that series was cancelled after its 29th issue in February of ‘83.

Nebres’ art is solid, as always, but it makes a huge leap forward from the first to the second issue. His linework in #2 is much slicker and more polished. GCD lists him as the only artist on both chapters, but I suspect there was an uncredited inker on the first issue while Nebres inked himself in the second. Who knows?

But forget “Time Force.” The backup features are the real draw. In both issues there’s an outstanding tale called “The Weirdling” with art by Trevor Von Eeden and inked, on the second part only, by David Lloyd, an unlikely battery but one that works exceptionally well. This was around the time that Lloyd was working on V for Vendetta and his style is similar here, but it’s Von Eeden’s pencils that really make this story shine.  

Today's review comes to us from Sarah Horrocks, and it's of Paul John Milne's Grave Horticulture--a real neat meatsack of comics that seems designed to boil the skin off your bones.

Milne can handle the pace of this kind of storytelling because he has those old school character designer chops that allow you to shorthand visually who someone is, what they stand for, and what their abilities might be--a talent that has faded out of the superhero genre under the weight of the contemporary predilection for toiling with childhood fanfiction in the big corporate IP graveyards. Milne is an artist who can effortlessly land a fiery car engine on the neck of a musclebound maniac and you immediately understand what that’s all about. And unlike most writers today, he can give an origin story for a character in two pages or less.

Last week on Twitter, the cartoonist Evan Dorkin pulled back the curtain a bit on the state of his career, the lack of progress on his popular Beasts of Burden series, and his concerns about the future. As you'd expect from that kind of delivery, it's a tough read. Bleeding Cool rounded it up.

Comics are free and available. Over at Popula, Trevor Alixopulos is mistaken if he thinks we can all identify with him (the problem is the solution: clean the chair) while Siobhán Gallagher gets specific about physical therapy. Over at The Believer, they've got a three-fer up for you--one on making it through, one on baking, one on being pissed off.

The latest episode of The Organist features Seth, Chris Reynolds, Ed Park and more, all in service of a conversation about The New World, which saw re-issue earlier this year thanks to the New York Review Comics.

To Be Cont.

Today on the site, Alec Berry files an update on the ongoing Cody Pickrodt lawsuit, which now involves a counterclaim filed by Whit Taylor.

Cartoonist Whit Taylor, one of the 11 defendants named in a defamation lawsuit brought by small-press publisher Cody Pickrodt, has filed an answer and counterclaim, making an allegation in civil court that the plaintiff raped her in New York City in December 2013.

Her response, submitted on Nov. 5, 2018 in Nassau County, NY, arrived with answers from cartoonists Hazel Newlevant and Morgan Pielli, who each assert more than 30 affirmative defenses. Eight other defendants offered a motion for dismissal, which questioned the court’s jurisdiction due to their residencies in other states, their lack of business within New York and their having been in other states when the allegedly defamatory statements were made. However, this motion has been withdrawn.

Defense attorney Aurore DeCarlo of C.A. Goldberg, who represents all 11 defendants, submitted the stipulation to withdraw on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018 after Pickrodt’s attorney, Joe Carbonaro of Carbonaro Law, amended his client’s complaint to address the defense’s Nov. 5th filings. DeCarlo described the action as a formality. The motion to dismiss had addressed the contents of the original complaint. A new motion must now be filed to meet the amended version.

The deadline to file a new motion is Jan. 4, 2019, according to the stipulation.

We also have a review of the new Sunday Press collection of E.C. Segar's prep-Popeye Thimble Theatre strips, written by Frank Young.

Christmas came early with the welcome arrival of this new tome from Peter Maresca’s Sunday Press, an important and joyous addition to the comics canon. One of comics’ greatest storytellers, Elzie Crisler Segar created a thoroughly American icon with the addition of the Spooneristic, squinty Popeye the Sailor. Popeye’s 1929 entrance in the daily Thimble Theatre marked a literal sea change in a decade-old strip.

In its first tenyears, Segar’s strip focused on the risible relationship of Ham Gravy, his sweetie Olive Oyl, and her brother Castor. He mined sublime comedy from this trio, but Popeye gave the strip star quality. His quirky can-do mindset was manna for Depression-era America. When the Fleischer brothers’ animated studio began Popeye cartoons in 1933, the mumbly tar overtook Mickey Mouse as the nation’s top cartoon character.

Because most of these pre-Popeye strips haven’t been reprinted, only those with access to the chipping, crumbly original newspaper pages or the courage to squint at microfilm are familiar with much of this work. This 13” x 17” hardcover restores to public circulation an unsung epic of 20th-century cartooning. For two years, Segar took Castor Oyl (and, later, Ham Gravy) out West, in a rowdy, atmospheric narrative that, like its desert landscape, is full of peaks and valleys. Segar wasn’t alone in achieving these mega-stories. Rube Goldberg did a similarly long sequence in his contemporary Sunday strip Boob McNutt—another marathon episode that deserves reprinting.

This sequence marks Segar’s rise as a master fabulist. As Paul Tumey notes in his informative introduction (one of three top-flight pieces in this book), Segar entered comics as a lesser light, and had the good fortune to develop his populist art on the clock. From its inception in January 1925, six years after the daily strip’s debut, the Sunday Thimble Theatre was a down-to-earth, rough-edged physical comedy, shot through with its creator’s school-of-hard-knocks philosophy.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. Lion Forge, which has repeatedly made waves with prominent hires and deep pockets, is restructuring, and confirmed to Publishers Weekly that it has laid off twelve employees.

In an interview with PW in September, Lion Forge founder David Steward II said the house had about 60 employees and planned to publish about 130 titles this year.

In a prepared statement, the company said, “We are restructuring from the top down, and across departments to ensure that our organization’s size and structure remains in line with our sales, as well as providing support for future increase in title output."

Former New Yorker editor and founder of the Cartoon Bank Bob Mankoff has launched a similar new site, CartoonCollections.com. It is being billed as "a way to spotlight and monetize thousands of works published in the New Yorker, Esquire, National Lampoon, Playboy and Barrons."

Cartoon Collections will also curate from the half-million works from the library of the recently acquired CartoonStock.com.

Mankoff says he is drawing upon years of hard-won lessons to try to create a destination site as part of a larger licensing business.

“The market for cartoons is large but widespread and dispersed,” Mankoff tells The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “It needs a central place where anyone who needs one for any purpose can find what they need.

“Cartoon Collections will be that place,” he adds, “as it aggregates cartoons as Getty or Corbis aggregates photos.”

—Reviews & Commentary. Apollo Magazine has an appreciation of Charles Schulz's Peanuts, to coincide with a London exhibition of art inspired by it, which is also discussed.

In a Peanuts strip from March 1962, Charlie Brown and Linus discuss the nature of criticism. Linus was the strip’s intellectual: a gentle, fragile child, the stripes on whose T-shirt were almost as wispy as the hairs on his head, and whose security blanket D.W. Winnicott wanted to use as an example of the transitional object. The two boys are leaning on a wall, as they often do when waxing philosophical. ‘Of course I realize there will always be criticism,’ Linus concedes. Television in particular and even ‘higher arts’ such as theatre can come in for a rough press. ‘The most recent criticism is that there is too little action and far too much talking in the modern day comic strip. What do you think about this?’ ‘Ridiculous,’ replies Charlie Brown.

Mark Dery's biography of Edward Gorey continues to attract review attention, including new pieces at the New York Times and the New Republic.

One of the virtues of Dery’s book is its reminder that Gorey’s art was far more subtle, diverse, formally inventive, and just plain weird than his reputation for sinister whimsy suggests. In the 100-odd books that he published during his lifetime—books with three-word titles like The Fatal Lozenge, The Pious Infant, The Blue Aspic, The Disrespectful Summons—he experimented promiscuously with format. He crafted abecedaries (alphabet books), postcard sets, pop-up books, “slice books” (in which the reader can mix and match portions of an image to create new ones), and even a variant of the choose-your-own-adventure story (from 1987’s utterly confounding The Raging Tide: “Hooglyboo crammed Figbash inside a vase. If this strikes you as clever, turn to 11. If all this seems too terrible to contemplate, turn to 29.”)

—Interviews & Profiles. GoComics.com talks to Tom the Dancing Bug creator Ruben Bolling.

GoComics: When did you develop an interest in politics? When did you decide you wanted to be a political cartoonist?

I still haven’t decided to be a political cartoonist! Since the rise of Trump, I feel like I’ve been temporarily conscripted into service. Tom the Dancing Bug began as an apolitical comic strip, and I was fairly uninterested in politics when I started it. At some point, I realized that politics is another subject I can use to come up with my weekly idea — one more thing I can try to be funny about each week. As I introduced more and more politics in the strip, I got more attention, and I started to get more personally interested and invested. It’s reached a fever pitch right now, but I still hold out hope that someday soon the comic will start to reach a different equilibrium.

Surf’s Up Pal

Today at The Comics Journal, we're pleased to share Patrick Dunn's in depth conversation with Ellen Forney about Rock Steady, her self-help (non)graphic novel manual for those living with mental illness.

My personal stories and my personal point of view, that’s coming directly from me. But I did a ton of research that’s available to anyone, really. It’s just really dry. You’d have to do a lot of work. Like, who wants to read those studies? I was a psychology major, so I find it really fascinating, I love that kind of thing. But it’s not the kind of thing that’s going to appeal to the general public, or people who read for pleasure, or for that matter have a mood disorder and are in an emotionally stimulated state. It’s hard to focus when you’re manic, it’s hard to focus when you’re depressed, it’s hard to focus when you’re anxious.

One of the things that is a strength of comics is that words and pictures engage your brain in a different way – I would say maybe in a more thorough way. I’ve heard from people who were bipolar who said that Marbles – and Rock Steady, for that matter – is the first book that they’ve read cover to cover in years. And I think it’s because of the power of comics. It’s specifically a self-help manual for when you’re feeling emotionally rocked. You’re not in balance and you need to soothe yourself or figure out what to use. Then you can go to a comic, or go to a self-help manual that’s in words and pictures. You can understand the information better.

Our review of the day is from Tegan O'Neil, and it's all about Winsor McCay...after a fashion. Out of all the non-Garth Ennis comics released this year, there's no better example of Jeet Heer clickbait than this McCay, from Titan Comics.

Winsor McCay as he appears in Smolderen and Bramanti’s account appears almost to be sleepwalking through the narrative of his own life. The most consequential thing that McCay does is draw, after all, and that takes up most of his time (which, to be fair, it does for most cartoonists). But as with his real life, the slightly fictionalized McCay we meet here also meets the likes Houdini, William Randolph Hearst, and George Herriman. Honestly, the narrative through-line is a bit difficult to follow without already knowing the contours of McCay’s career, so if you don’t remember which years he worked for which tabloid you will probably need a refresher.

But that points back to the weaknesses of the present volume, which can probably best be summed up by referring back to the book’s significant ambitions. McCay wants very badly to be a worthy tribute to one of the great cartoonists, one of the very founders of the modern art form. However it is also built around a plotline where Winsor McCay learns how to harness his psychic powers and travel in and out of the fourth dimension, AKA the dimension of dreams. In order to solve a crime involving ghost anarchists. Whether or not you appreciate that kind of fantastic insertion will indicate whether or not you finish the book or throw it across the room in disgust, but it is pervasive.

Over at AV Club, the list season has begun--and the AV Club is one of the first out of the box, and they're going hard. There's some good write ups to be found here, friendo. 

Fire Drill

Today on the site, Alex Dueben interviews David Small about Home After Dark, his recent followup to the very popular Stitches.

It started with my friend Mike telling me stories about his youth. Mike is my same age, so we both experienced the culture and the styles of the 1950s, but from different parts of the country, he from then-rural Marin County, just north of San Francisco, and I from industrial Detroit. 

One morning, over coffee, Mike began reminiscing, in particular about one bucolic summer he spent with two buddies, all of them free of parental influence. They built a tree fort in the woods and, there, did guy things, smoking their first cigarettes, getting drunk, playing games in a junk-filled gully and hanging around the local soda joint watching the older teens, to see what lay in their future. To me all of this had a kind of legendary Huck Finn, quintessentially-masculine quality. I wanted to have been that kind of boy having those kinds of experiences, with that kind of freedom. So, I listened with a kind of hazy, inattentive envy until a little psychopath came into the story. At that point I sat up, paid closer attention, and taking notes. Because, I mean, who isn’t interested in psychopaths?

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Abraham Riesman interviews Nancy's "Olivia Jaimes."

About how long had you been putting comics online by the time you started doing “Nancy”?
I’ve been making comics in one form or another for so long. Ten years. Because, basically, as soon as I got on the internet, I just started putting things online. I mean, it might be like one thing a year. Not regularly, but for that long.

At what point in that ten years did it start to become an obsession where you started doing it pretty regularly?
I don’t know, maybe never. I mean, doing “Nancy” is the most regular I’ve ever been with comics.

That’s a big step up, if you’re all of a sudden doing a daily strip. How did you get from not doing “Nancy” to doing “Nancy”?
[Editor] Shena [Wolf] called me and was like, “Do you want to try out for ‘Nancy’?” And I was like, “Hahahaha, no way.” Not that I wouldn’t want it — it just seemed fake. And then I’m drawing the comics to submit for the test to be like, “Here’s a couple weeks.” And as I’m doing it, I’m like, “Hahahaha, no way, no way.” In a very Nancy move, it wasn’t like I was like, “No way they would pick me.” I was just like, “Obviously they would pick me, if they have any taste at all, because these jokes are so great.” But it didn’t really even feel real as I was signing the contract. I was like, “Hahaha, what a funny joke this is.” But, yeah, it worked out pretty good, and they’ve been really quite good in easing me into it, and giving me feedback, and having me go from not being a regular comic-maker to being “make one every day.”

The New York Times has an interview with Roz Chast, who has a new retrospective up in Manhattan.

The show includes some of the first cartoons you published, in a gay men’s magazine called Christopher Street, in 1977, right after you graduated from art school. How did you start publishing there?

When I got out of RISD [Rhode Island School of Design], I never thought I’d be able to make a living as a cartoonist. I didn’t really know where I would fit in: What I did wasn’t really underground, and it wasn’t really New Yorker-like either. I was living with my parents in Brooklyn, and I would take around a portfolio of illustrations. I got a bit of work, but I just thought, ‘God, I hate this.’ I didn’t want to be an illustrator. It’s going to sound so corny, but I was looking for some kind of sign. And then one day I found a copy of Christopher Street on the subway. I saw they used cartoons, so I called them up, and started selling them cartoons, for 10 bucks each.

The aforementioned Alex Dueben speaks to Ali Fitzgerald about her recent book, Drawn to Berlin.

A historical perspective is definitely necessary for understanding the complex political underpinnings of most countries, Germany included. For example, the rise of nativism in Germany is strongest in former G.D.R. areas, where the educational perspective on World War Two was not one of acknowledgement and atonement – students there were taught that the nazis were “other” while West German students used the word “we” when speaking about the atrocities of the Holocaust.

The fact of the matter is that Germany (and Berlin in particular) has always been a site of migration – and I use the journalism of Joseph Roth from the 1920’s to explore this in the book. A greater understanding of transience as cyclical allows us to have greater empathy for those fleeing war now.

The Jewish Ledger profiles Liana Finck.

Her latest book, Passing for Human, is more personal, a “graphic memoir” in which she focuses on the experiences of the women in her family. In the whimsical yet serious memoir, each woman is born with a shadow that guides her life. But as they age they eventually lose the shadow. The book, published in September, features a main character, Leola, who looks for her own shadow and the shadows of her female relatives.

“It’s half about me and half about my mom, and the thing we have in common is that we are women and we are artists, so that’s what it’s about,” she says.

The most recent guest on Inkstuds is Leif Goldberg, and the most recent guest on Comics Alternative is Liz Prince.

—RIP. The creator of SpongeBob SquarePants, Stephen Hillenburg, died this week at the age of 57.

Isle of the Cheetah

Today at The Comics Journal, we're taking a look at Nick Thorburn's Penguins, thanks to Nate Patrin. It's a doozy!

That might be part of why Penguins, the graphic novel debut by singer/musician Nick Thorburn (Islands; The Unicorns), initially seems to operate from a basis of familiar shorthand. During a brief phone conversation with Thorburn, I picked up on the notion that his artistic influences and technique share a common lexicon with the last few decades' worth of indie and alt comics. There's the usual suspects in Dan Clowes, Chris Ware, Joe Matt, and so forth, paralleling a teen-years interest in making DIY Xerox zines and following a childhood interest in the gag-driven simplicity of Archie comics. That's fairly unsurprising, given what emerges in Penguins -- a blend of juvenilia and melancholy that's grown into a default setting for a significant cohort that grew up in the same context.

To dig further down into what that common experience actually translates to on the page, then, takes more than just an interrogation of influences and comparisons. And if Penguins proves anything, it's that Thorburn has taken well to the narrative potential and visual simplicity of a mute, almost-faceless character going through physical mayhem in ways alternately (or concurrently) amusing and despairing. "I wanted to be as low-res as possible," Thorburn explained, "and have these characters that weren't quite human, weren't quite penguin, had no facial expressions, didn't speak… to me, having it be flattened like that made it all the more cruel." The old Mel Brooks line about the difference between tragedy ("when I cut my finger") and comedy ("when you fall into an open sewer and die") is blurred when the characters all look largely identical and it's unclear, save your own perspective and whatever mood strikes you at the moment, whether you're supposed to empathize with them or laugh at their misery.

Our review of the day comes from Ryan Carey, and it's of Becca Tobin's Understanding, which recently made its way into the world thanks to the Retrofit crew.

The relentless pursuit of diversion and distraction undertaken by Tobin’s protagonists can be an exhausting thing to witness, but it’s certainly never dull, narratively or visually : largely-borderless panels coalesce into intriguing page layouts that are never less than equal parts absolutely inventive yet intuitively easy to follow, while the characters themselves morph into unusual shapes and formations that are somehow consistently recognizable as being the same individuals that they were before. By and large they’re not doing anything you wouldn’t see in, say, your average Cathy strip, but Tobin (thankfully) disposes of that comic’s garden-variety neurosis and replaces it with explosions of vibrant color (okay, fair enough, except in the two-tone strips, but those are still quite effective in their own right) that reflect the deliberately, one could even argue aggressively, unconcerned outlook of the denizens of planet blob. Think of it, then, as Cathy with the consumerism dialed up to 11, then fed a couple hits of purple microdot.

Over at Popula, Lauren Weinstein's dropped her latest Normel Person. On Facebook, Mardou got into her home life.

Over at Talkhouse, Mudhoney's Mark Arm talks about the many side gigs he's taken on over the years, including a stint at Fantagraphics.

Over at Diamond, Craig Thompson's upcoming serialized comic series, Ginseng Roots, was discussed

Tummy Ache

Welcome back to the funny pages. This morning, R.C. Harvey returns with a look at the life and work of early comics master Art Young.

ABOUT THE SAME TIME as his marriage was dissolving, Young's political views were taking their final shape. In 1902, Young had returned to Wisconsin briefly to lend his pen to Robert La Follette's Progressive (Republican) campaign to be re-elected governor. But by 1905, Young had rejected the Republican politics of his heritage— including "all bourgeois institutions." And he had resolved never again to draw a cartoon whose ideas he didn't believe in.

Not all of Young’s cartoons were “political cartoons” in the current sense. He also drew cartoons that were simply humorous. And even his political cartoons were seldom of the modern sort, skewering politicians by name. Not at first. Instead, Young sent out barbed shafts aimed at general targets: bloated businessmen who ignored the plight of their workers. And it was for these that he declared his independence from any imposed point of view.

“I would no longer draw cartoons which illustrated somebody else’s will,” he wrote. “Henceforth it would be my own way of looking at things—right or wrong. I would figure things out for myself. If success came, well and good; but to win at the price of my freedom of thought—that kind of success was not for me. Though I perceived that much of life was compromise, in dealing with world affairs or with my own, I would have to sink or swim holding on to my own beliefs on questions of vital importance.”

In 1906, he graduated from Cooper Union where he had been taking courses in debate and public speaking. And in 1910, he realized that he belonged with the socialists "in their fight to destroy capitalism."

“Speakers for the Social Democratic party provided me with much food for thought,” Young wrote. “They attacked the whole capitalistic system, showed how its different units combined to exploit the producing masses to the nth degree, and how the press distorted or suppressed news to protect this system, of which it was a part.

“Listening to lectures on the class struggle (after I discovered that such a struggle had been going on for ages), I found that I had a great deal in common with the everyday workers. ... I was living in a world morally and spiritually diseased, and I was learning some of the reasons why.”

Matt Seneca is back, too, with a review of Shintaro Kago's Dementia 21.

For a mangaka whose work has just begun edging into official English translation, Shintaro Kago is in the rare and enviable position of needing little introduction. If you're reading about comics on the internet (you are), you've probably seen his art somewhere - that Flying Lotus album, old issues of Vice, random can't-unsee-it images on tumblr, or any one of numerous scanlations. It's actually somewhat surprising that Kago books haven't had a longtime presence in the comic stores of the West. I don't know that guro manga has a particularly large fandom here numbers wise, but it's certainly got a passionate one, and after Junji Ito and maybe Hideshi Hino, Kago is one of the idiom's biggest names. At its best (and especially when it's in color), his imagery transcends simple grossness for the truly uncanny, opening page- or screen-sized portals into a world that's impossible to get your head all the way around.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Gasoline Alley. This weekend saw the 100th anniversary of Gasoline Alley, which, at least in the original incarnation drawn and written by Frank King, is one of a small handful of works that could plausibly be held up as the greatest comic strip ever created. We've covered it many times in the Comics Journal, and today's a good day to look back at a few highlights, including R.C. Harvey's history of the strip's early years, a conversation with Jeet Heer about the recent Drawn & Quarterly reprint series, and Frank M. Young's review of a recent Sunday Press collection of Frank King work.

—News.
Abrams Books has cancelled a forthcoming book by Jack Gantos and Dave McKean called A Suicide Bomber Sits in the Library, after widespread criticism online.

The graphic novel, written by the Newbery medal-winning author Jack Gantos and illustrated by Sandman artist Dave McKean, follows a young, brown-skinned would-be terrorist. It was due to be released in May 2019.

“When a young boy enters a library wearing an explosive vest hidden underneath his lovely new red jacket, he has only one plan on his mind. But as he observes those around him becoming captivated by the books they are reading, the boy can’t help but question his reason for being there,” reads a description from its publisher, Abrams.

Comics publisher Zainab Akhtar described the comic on Twitter last week as dealing with “an illiterate brown Muslim boy who goes into a library with a suicide bomb only to start having second thoughts because people seem so into the world of books and if only he could read”.

“Because reading will help the ignorant brown Muslim boy question/renounce his beliefs, you see, in addition to being some vague kumbaya about how a specific interpretation of culture will save the barbarian,” she wrote.

—Interviews. On last week's episode of Behind the News, Doug Henwood interviewed Mark Dery about his new biography of Edward Gorey, Born to Be Posthumous. The most recent guest on the RiYL podcast is Tom Tomorrow.

—RIP. Nicolas Roeg

Bernardo Bertolucci

Ricky Jay

Grave Grove

Today at The Comics Journal, we've got our latest installment in Retail Therapy: and we're close to home on this one, with Larry Reid from the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery!

What do you wish more publishers knew about comics retail?

I don’t order through the customary “direct market” distribution channels.  I always thought that model was unsustainable – even when I worked as Marketing and Promotions Director for Fantagraphics in the early to mid-90s. There were about a half-dozen direct market distributors then; now there’s only one, so I suppose that assessment was correct. I have a great deal of respect for retailers that can work within that complex system. I’m reminded of the perils whenever I visit mainstream comics shops and find hundreds, if not thousands, of comic books in the discount bins.

In keeping with the theme, our review of the day is of Bastard, the latest book from the prolific Max de Radigues. J. Caleb Mozzocco has the score:

It’s an admirable level of restraint on the artist’s part, making literature out of what could so easily be a generic genre story, partially by choosing what to show and what not to, even if what doesn’t get shown also tends to be the stuff that would likely have been the most fun to draw.

Instead, we watch the pair live their lives on the road, surviving off fast food and diners, scamming the cops and authorities, fighting off rivals and accepting help only when desperate, sometimes from a friend who turns out to be an enemy, sometimes from a stranger who turns out to be a kindly ally. While it would be wrong to call this a coming of age story for Eugene, it does chronicle a sort of end of childhood, as the idyllic but tenuous life he shares with his mom starts to come to  a close, and a new chapter for them both begins.

Over at Vent Scene, they're digging into Josh Pettinger's Goiter and getting pretty aggro about auteur theory.

Over at Bleeding Cool, they've got the latest on another comics related lawsuit, which involves a bar that made a comic book about mixology, which is one of those words completely identified with an unlikeable subculture that, in a twist of fate that never fails to impress, is completely unaware of how unlikeable its members are and would be incredulous to discover that the world rolls its eyes every time they open their mouths to talk about bringing back mint juleps, or whatever.

Over at Comicosity, Mark Peters put together a Jack Kirby post about big drawings just because it made him feel better. I can totally rep for that.

The US holiday of eating and buying shit begins tomorrow: your Comics Journal returns on Monday!

Sea of Tapioca

Austin English is here with the latest installment of his column, in which he wrestles with the difficult-to-explain legacy of Stan Lee.

When Lee passed away last week, non-comics world friends reached out to me to express condolences. They knew I loved comics and that I'm interested in the history of the medium... Clearly, this was a loss, right? A melancholy day? When I responded by trying to explain what a strange and confounding figure Lee was, and that he didn't exactly create the characters the media was saying he did, I found myself at a loss to explain why. Lee wasn't standard, he didn't just take credit for something that he had nothing to do with, so it couldn't be explained in a black and white way. He did have a large role in what Marvel was (and is), much of it positive. Why was he not what he claimed to be? It wasn’t easy to summarize and it felt exhausting, even ridiculous, to try.

My genuine love for people like Kirby and Ditko made that confusion seem cruel, intentional, a lasting way to obscure the work of actual creativity in the collective consciousness—a comic-book-villain type of crime. To get at the subversion, one had to bring up the 'Marvel Method,' which no one with a passing interest in these things should be expected to understand (although journalists covering Lee's passing could certainly do a little research). The Method is an odd system to base a major media company on, and yet the strangeness of it, the counter-intuitiveness involved, served Lee well in regards to his legacy. I’m sure, at the outset, it was simply a way to produce comics faster and cheaper by letting the artists be cartoonists. But no one really understands what cartooning is, and so Lee becomes a figure in people’s minds, the idea of the absolute heights a comic book can contain. True embodiments of the forms potential, Wood or Everett, exist as cultural foot notes in comparison, as if André Derain is the first name and Matisse the second.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Françoise Mouly talks briefly to Roz Chast about her recent Thanksgiving cover for The New Yorker.

I grew up in an apartment in Brooklyn. My mental image bank is basically lamps, sofas, wallpaper, dishware, TVs and accessories, an infinite number of tchotchkes, books, household appliances. My nightmare is having to draw something like “the woods” from memory. Not enough tchotchkes.

At Civlized, Ben Hicks profiles the infamous Air Pirates.

...this certainly wasn’t the Mickey Mouse club. This was the 'Air Pirates'—the notorious group of underground cartoonists who took on one of the largest media corporations in history…and lost. Kind of.

It begins with a boy—Dan O’Neill, who, at 21, became one of the youngest syndicated cartoonists of all time with his strip "Odd Bodkins," which began its run in 1964. Over time, however, O’Neill’s sensibilities began to shift as he became more politically and socially involved in the emerging counterculture scene, leading to more pointed and subversive material in the strip. The audience, he told Civilized, loved it. The syndicate? Not so much. "There were three firings," he said. "By the last one I knew I was finished, so I thought I might as well try and get my copyright back."

He figured that if he engaged in copyright infringement, the syndicate would surrender the strip back to him out of fear of a lawsuit. So, he incorporated nearly 30 characters into the strip "before they brought the hammer down." It didn’t work. The paper let him go, but opted to retain the copyright anyway.

Mike Lynch points to a recent interview with Liza Donnelly:

—Misc. Lynch also found a speech by Signe Wilkinson.

And Ben Towle writes about the influence of Steve Ditko.

A large part of any artist’s legacy is their effect on the art and artists that follow them–their influence–and indeed the headline from that NY Times obituary refers to Ditko as the, “Influential Comic Book Artist.”

But here’s a curious thing: the word “influence” or “influential” appear five times in that article, but in every instance other than its use as a general accolade in the headline, they all refer to people who Ditko was influenced by–Ayn Rand, Mort Meskin–not anyone being influenced by Ditko.

Compare this, for example, to the NY Times obituary of Ditko’s contemporary, Jack Kirby, who died in 1994. In just the first few paragraphs there are specific mentions of things Kirby influenced–how superhero comics post-Kirby are different than superhero comics pre-Kirby. Indeed, Kirby’s aesthetic influence on superhero comics is as ubiquitous as it is self-evident. Grab any modern superhero comic off the rack at your local comics shop and you’re looking at something that’s been shaped by Kirby’s influence.

A casual flip through a few issues of a contemporary superhero comic, though, is unlikely to yield any sign of Ditko’s visual style. Why is this? I think, because despite the tremendous regard in which Ditko is held by most comics people (myself included) his stylistic influence–such as it is–falls outside the genre in which Ditko’s best-known work falls. If you want to see Steve Ditko’s stylistic influence on comics you need to look not at superhero comics, but at indie comics–specifically indie comics of the late 1990s.

Brand Force Trauma

Today at TCJ, it's time for the latest installment in Michel Fiffe's ongoing evaluation of his inspirations: The Fiffe Files. This month's chapter is on The Flash, as depicted by a motley crew led by Mike Baron and William Messner-Loebs. 

"Random weirdness" --! His Flash is definitely a weird read, but you gotta lock into it. You have to be open to unsentimental, almost disjointed storytelling. Baron packs the book with new concepts, but not in a flimsy way, like emptily sprinkling scenes with ideas to show how clever he can be. Baron actually tries to get in there and explore some of those ideas. Having Guice be the straight man who only draws what is required with no fluff, no fanfare, no oomph is a good balance.

Our review of the day comes via Jake Murel, and it's of Nora Krug's remarkable (and demanding) new book, Belonging. Is it a comic? A visual memoir? What does all that stuff mean, anyway? Jake's on it:

But her diverse assortment of visual material raises a question about Belonging’s connection to comics and the nature of comics writ large. In short, is Belonging a “comic?” The back cover—at least of my review copy—advertises the book as a “visual memoir,” a term I initially assumed to be a semantic device for distancing an essentially comic text from the supposed low-brow, commercial escapism often attributed to comics. But the more I read, the more I wondered whether this might be a valid distinction. Is Belonging distinct from comics, not because of its content, but its form? It utilizes few structural elements typically of comics, such as panels or word balloons. Krug includes several interstitial comic sequences throughout her book, but she tells the majority of her narrative through stylized, handwritten text accompanied by an array of images. Though every page contains some sort of image, nearly all of the pages are so text dense that the singular included image could be removed and not much would be lost in the reading experience. The images become little more than decorative illustrations, a feature that opposes what most cartoonists and comics scholars consider (good) comic art.

And that's not all--not by a long shoot. Dig in, because we've got a rock solid interview with Stan Lee, from 1968, which we originally published in Comics Journal #181. There's a whole lot of meat on this one, friend. Here's a taste.

WHITE: Well, you’re getting more competition all the time, of course. New companies keep coming into the superhero field all the time. There are the Tower people … and Harvey Comics … Those are the most flagrant imitators. How do you feel in general about the imitators?

LEE: I wish they would peddle their papers elsewhere. The flattery kick — we’ve gotten over that years ago. We realize that we are rather popular now. We appreciate it. But the thing that bothers me … corny as it may sound … We really are trying to make comics as good as comic can be made. We’re trying to elevate the medium. We’re trying to make them as respectable as possible. We … our goal is that someday an intelligent adult would not be embarrassed to walk down the street with a comic magazine. I don’t know whether we can ever bring this off, but it’s something to shoot for. At any rate, we try to do this. Now when other companies come out, and they try to make their books seem like our book as if they’re all in the same class, the same milieu … and yet the quality is inferior, the art is inferior, the writing is inferior, the plotting is inferior. I feel this does nothing but hurt us. The adults who don’t read comics, but who … whose youngsters try to convince them that comics are really pretty good. You know, who may read ours and like them, say “Why don’t you read one? They’re really good.” And the people who are uninitiated but who have heard about comic and might want to pick up one of those imitations, look at them and say, “Aw, I knew it That fellow who told me comics are good is really an idiot. They’re as bad as they ever were.” In this way, I think we can be hurt by imitators.

WHITE: The imitators make themselves look so much like your line that many readers may think they’ve gotten hold of a Marvel comic.

LEE: Exactly. Now … silly as this may sound, or hard to believe as it may sound, I wish our competitors did better books … If they put out books of comparable quality to ours. Now, I don’t like this to sound as if I’m an egomaniac, but I think you see what I mean. If … if I felt myself that the art and stories were as good as our books, I would be happier because I would feel that we’re all elevating the field … and we’re all going to benefit by it.

WHITE: It would put more pressure on you to get even better …

LEE: Right. But as it is, at this particular moment, I still think that we are doing the only somewhat significant work in this field. There’s the occasional exception.

That's a great fucking interview. Thanks, 1968 TCJ contributors!

Over at Women Write About Comics, Wendy Browne has the most detailed write-up on Library Journal's Virtual LibraryCon, which took place a few weeks ago. I also attended that event, and my main takeaway was that there's probably going to be a lot more of those types of online conventions to come--the structure and interface of the whole thing has a very clear appeal to a type of fan who is only becoming more and more common. 

Over at Popula, they continue to publish comics by a murderer's row of recognizable names, like Mimi Pond, Lauren Weinstein, Meghan Lands, Tom Hart & Trevor Alixopolus.

Over at the New York Daily News, they've got the latest update on the bribery trial involving an ex NYPD officer, who recently testified he got a gun permit for Ike Perlmutter in exchange for tickets to Marvel movie premieres. I love reading about this story and don't care how true it is or not: who doesn't want to read a screwed up news story about dumb nonsense that doesn't correlate to hyperclimate chaos or hardcore alt-right racism or anything other than some rich creep allegedly getting a gun permit he couldn't possibly need from some rando goon who isn't creative enough mentally to say "give me a lot of money" but instead says "I want to be the first in my circle of friends to see a Benedict Cumberbatch motion picture". There's so many awful, upsetting reasons people get in trouble and so many awful, upsetting people who get away with trouble: it's always a treat to see assholes being roasted in public for the dopey things that assholes do. 'Nuff said!

Ennui

Tegan O'Neil is here with an essay on Stan Lee, using his Thor comics as an entry point.

I picked up a volume of Tales of Asgard strips, from the original Lee & Kirby run recently. Those back-ups started about a year after Thor first debuted – if you’ve read the early run of Thor, it took a bit for the character to gel. He wasn’t unusual in the Marvel stable for that, and it’s certainly true that he gelled a lot faster than Ant-Man and the Hulk. The Asgard back-ups began with adaptations of the original Norse myths, which are pretty fucking metal even in Comics Code Approved form, and they’re interesting for being a rare example of Lee & Kirby collaborating on someone else’s story.

As you might expect Kirby takes to myth like a duck to water and much of the earliest episodes are spent giving him an opportunity to draw things like Ymir roaming the ancient frozen universe with only his cow buddy for milk and company (the cow isn’t named in the comics but her name is Auðumbla). That’s in the myths, and it’s in the Marvel universe, and Jack drew that primeval cow like a motherfucker. What Lee does is translate the stories into his invented Asgardian argot, the faux Shakespearian bombast that served as one of the character’s signatures until quite recently. One of the reasons that works for these characters in particular is that gods and goddesses by their very nature have outsized motivations and personalities. Adopting a bit of that old Shakespearian rag gives them a vocabulary to describe what are some very recognizable and familiar bits of human drama, such as: my dad doesn’t think I’m ever going to grow up and he doesn’t want to give me a chance, my brother’s an asshole, and I cannot turn around for five fucking minutes without having to worry about frost giants and me-damned Geirrodur the me-damned King of the Trolls.

Today is the grand finale of Marc Bell's Cartoonist's Diary. Thanks, Marc!

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Slate has another adapted excerpt from Mark Dery's new Edward Gorey biography.

Child abuse was Edward Gorey’s métier, in a manner of speaking. Gorey, who died in 2000 at 75, was the author and illustrator of a hundred or so little picture books whose pen-and-ink illustrations flawlessly counterfeit Victorian engravings and whose lugubriously amusing nonsense verse, equal parts Edward Lear and Samuel Beckett, spins black comedy from murder, mayhem, and existential malaise. Gorey’s books look at first glance like children’s books, or at least children’s books from the Victorian or Edwardian ages in which they’re often set, and his tongue-in-cheek takeoffs on children’s genres like the Puritan primer or the 19th-century morality tale make them sound like them, too. But as with Beckett’s absurdist tragicomedies, Gorey’s darkly droll tales touch—lightly—on weighty matters: the death of God, the meaning of life, and, always and everywhere, our impending mortality. Emblems of innocence and naïveté, children make perfect victims, as Gorey told the New Yorker. “It’s just so obvious,” he said. “They’re the easiest targets.”

No title epitomizes that point better than The Gashlycrumb Tinies, Gorey’s 1963 parody of abecedaria—ABC books—that uses the deaths of 26 mites as punchlines in life’s existential farce: “E is for Ernest who chocked on a peach/ F is for Fanny sucked dry by a leech … ” It’s Gorey’s best-known book, grist for hipster tattoos and for countless takeoffs, from Mad magazine’s recent “Ghastlygun Tinies,” a pitch-black commentary on school shootings, to a Game of Thrones spoof to the inevitable Harry Potter version (The Hogwarts Tinies) to a Game Over Tinies that casts video game characters like Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario Brothers in the roles of the doomed tots. A witheringly satirical version appeared during the 2016 presidential race, The Ghastlytrump Tinies, a nightmare vision of what would happen if Trump won the White House.

—And the latest guest on Inkstuds is Peter Bagge.

Marionettes

Today at The Comics Journal, we're pleased to share a new review from Matt Seneca. Last time, it was an elongated dip into Moebius--and now he's returned to these pages with a look at a different heavy hitter: Alberto Breccia!

Breccia's art just about demands cliche descriptors. It really is eye-popping. Constructed with dense gnarls of absolutely brutal, slashing brush marks, every panel manages to cohere into a piece of realistic cartooning in the Norman Rockwell mode, with faces, figures, and lighting that startle with their dead-eyed accuracy. Imagine the sober Alex Raymond of primetime Rip Kirby inked over by Bill Sienkiewicz at his most manic and you're close; but honestly, neither of those guys' best work speaks to pure drafting skills as finely honed as Breccia's. Again and again the panels' flair for expressionism carries them to the brink of what looks like chaos - ink and wite-out splatter across the pages, furiously scribbled (and gorgeously reproduced) brush marks envelop blank space with black, and texturing effects that Breccia employed toothbrushes and razorblades to achieve spackle across surfaces. Again and again that chaos reveals itself as tidily observed compositions of light and shade - a group of dry-brushed gouges resolves into a birch forest, an elaborately marked scribble into a wrought-iron sign and its shadow, obsessive masses of ink flecks into a herringbone pattern that recedes perfectly into the light source. 

We've also pulled another Stan Lee piece from the print archive--a brief recap of a panel appearance Temple University back in 1978 from Comics Journal #47.

Lee spoke with considerable candor on the subject of television shows based on Marvel characters. He opined that the Hulk series was more intelligently written than the Spider-Man series, but that the constant "message" every week might send the ratings into a nosedive. He felt that an occasional super-villain and fantastic situation would relieve the boredom of the stories told by TV writers.

And of course, today is Marc Bell's fourth installment of the Cartoonist Diary!

Over at Counterforce, Aug Stone interviewed Typex about his Andy Warhol graphic novel with SelfMadeHero.

Over at Time, Gord Hill was interviewed about the Antifa Comic Book.

Over at PopMatters, there's a review of Mickey Z's Space Academy 123.

Over at Chicago Reader, there's an all too brief excerpt from Anne Elizabeth Moore's interview with Julie Doucet surrounding the publication of Moore's Sweet Little Cunt, her in depth look at Doucet's comics work.

Remembering Stan Lee

Yesterday, this site's publisher Gary Groth wrote a quick note about Stan Lee.

Who —or what— was Stan Lee? Editor, hustler, hatchet man, corporate player, shill, writer, frustrated novelist, success, failure, catalyst, front man, self-parody, hack, exploiter, innovator. He was, probably, all of those things.

What he was, improbably enough, for at least one brief moment, and what he may have become if he had had the stomach for it, which he obviously didn’t, was a truth-teller.

Marc Bell is here with Day Three of his Cartoonist's Diary. Landlords and Halloween parties.

Finally, Annie Mok has a review of Kelsey Wroten's Crimes.

Crimes follows the creative and romantic exploits of Willa, a 30-year-old gay painter and barista, who has a crush on Bas, a 22-year-old poet who's dating Willa’s friend Simon. A meditation on grief, lust, point of view, and communication, the story begins with the death of someone close to Willa, with images of a coffin, and the internal monolog, “Putting people in boxes [...] and so begins my first year without you.” Confident brushwork, pacing, and writing marks this tale of loss and longing. The unruled borders underscore the sense of anxiety vibrating throughout the work.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Stan Lee. There has been an unsurprisingly and appropriately large outpouring of texts written in response to Lee's death, too many to include here. A few worth noting include Lee biographer Tom Spurgeon's initial thoughts, Jeet Heer's article at The New Republic, and Charles Hatfield's blog post.

Douglas Wolk collected some of Lee's cameos from Marvel comics, and Drew Friedman gathered the drawings of Lee he's made over the years.

—Etc. Vulture has the latest in a long line of articles about new Nancy cartoonist Olivia Jaimes.

Black Class

Today at The Comics Journal, we're sharing with you Michael Dean's obituary for Stan Lee, whose passing yesterday has already resulted in hundreds of articles by a multitude of publications worldwide. We will have more to come on the man, his work, and his legacy in the coming weeks.

It would be hard to overestimate Lee’s impact on the art, business and cultural image of comics. His noteworthy creative work emerged during a roughly 10-year period, but his comics career spanned more than 75 years — very nearly the life of the comics industry itself. During that time, atypical among comics creators, he had only one boss: Marvel (aka Timely and Atlas Comics). In the 1960s, Lee ignited and oversaw the greatest burst of creativity the superhero genre had seen since the invention of Superman. As Marvel’s editor-in-chief, he infused the line with a recognizable house style built upon the prolific Jack Kirby’s solidly dynamic art. As Marvel’s head writer, he created a world where super-heroic tropes stumbled ironically and engagingly among the petty details of everyday life. As Marvel’s spokesperson, he made readers feel they were part of an elite club and shepherded comics out of the kid-lit ghetto and onto college campuses.

But his willingness to toe the company line meant that his name and smiling face became corporate logos that were routinely stamped over the credits of other comics creators. Because his name became shorthand in the media for the multitude of creative efforts that had breathed life into the Marvel universe and because he allowed a “Stan Lee Presents” blurb to introduce even comics he had no involvement with, many in the fan community accused Lee of hogging the limelight and obscuring the work of Marvel artists.

We've also got Marc Bell's latest installment in his Cartoonist Diary! Airports: 'nuff said!

Our review of the day comes from Martin Brown, his first for the site. He's taking a look at Cranklet's Chronicle #1, a zine by Ellen Lindner focused on "true stories of women in baseball". 

Lindner and her mother are both Mets fans, and Mets fans occupy a very specific place within the baseball fandom hierarchy – one in which any hope for the team or joy for the players is consistently undermined by the current owners, the Wilpon family, who were famously swindled by Bernie Madoff for hundreds of millions of dollars and have seemingly been taking out their financial frustrations on the team in increasingly arbitrary and humiliating ways ever since. In an interview in the back of The Cranklet’s Chronicle’s first issue, Marisol Cruz (“a nice, normal person who likes the Yankees”) frames Mets fandom perfectly: Lindner asks Cruz what it would take for her to switch teams and root for the Mets. “There’s no chance,” Cruz responds, “I refuse to be sad.”

Night Deposits

Today on the site, Mark Newgarden returns with an interview with Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson, granddaughter and biographer of one of the most important and colorful early publishing figures in comics, Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson.

As Jim Steranko points out in his introduction, Wheeler-Nicholson’s heroic, larger-than-life background still left him singularly ill equipped to do battle with his business associates in the underbelly of the depression-era magazine business. How did Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz enter and exit the Major’s life — and what happened in between?

That question is worth at least two chapters in the biography! I’ve seen various scenarios posited about when Donenfeld and Liebowitz got into business with MWN, but I’m still not quite certain and I’ve been tracking every tiny clue of where they overlapped for almost twenty years. Most historians place it at the point where Donenfeld took over the printing of the magazines but I suspect it was earlier. The pulp publishing community in New York was not huge. People in the industry knew of one another and about one another. I think there are a number of factors that led to their connection. Just as today in New York City anyone who works in the business of construction knows they are going to be dealing with payoffs. It’s part of the cost. It seems from what we do know that a similar situation existed with distribution of magazines on newsstands. My guess is that MWN knew he would have to shell out cash payoffs as part of going into business.

We also present the Cartoonist's Diary of one of my favorite working artists, Marc Bell. He's currently in residency at the Struts gallery in New Brunswick, and as mentioned last week, is crowdfunding a new issue of Worn Tuff Elbow.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Alex Dueben interviews Jordan Crane.

It took many months to come up with the initial structure for the book. I didn’t set out to make it a children’s book, I wrote it as a comic trying to be as clear and simple as possible. For me that meant using pictures and very few words as a handrail to find your way through the pictures. I first made it as a little tiny 2×3 inch black and white mini comic, packaged along with a sewn patch that had the flag design on it. I gave that to friends and stapled it to telephone poles, just wanting to put it out into the world. The comic still didn’t quite feel right though. I had to rework the story a few times after that original version until I thought it expressed the idea in a very clean and pure way. Specifically, I wanted the story to not assume anything of the person reading it, for it to be a simple and truthful statement. When I finished that second version of the mini-comic, I sent one to Françoise Mouly.

—For The Baffler, Yohann Koshy writes about the republication of How to Read Donald Duck.

The Disney comics reportedly claimed over a million readers in a country of nearly ten million people. For the Chilean intellectual Ariel Dorfman and Belgian sociologist Armand Mattelart, such cultural hegemony needed to be countered. And so they wrote How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic. Its claim, delivered with rigor and irreverence, is that Mickey and Donald’s harmless fun is suffused with counter-revolutionary thought. Para Leer al Pato Donald was published in 1971 by Chile’s newly established state-run publisher Quimantú (“Sunshine of knowledge” in the language of the indigenous Mapuche people). It became a bestseller and was translated into over a dozen languages. John Berger called it a “handbook of decolonization.”

—James Sturm on the history of comics (via):

Quite a Doozy

Today at The Comics Journal, we're pleased to share an interview with...Warren Ellis? Well, why the hell not? Welcome our newest contributor--we've had a few this week so far!--John Maher, who is visiting from Publishers Weekly and had a chance to shoot the shit with Ellis during the window of time allotted for such shooting. They're supposed to just talk about something called Cemetery Beach, but it being Ellis, things got broader.

What do you think comics can do in today’s media-saturated climate that no other form can?

Comics, at their best, have purity of intent. There is no visual narrative form that has so few people between the creators and the audience. Depending on how you're publishing, there are few or no filters. In comics, for better or worse, what you get is what the creators intended to say to you. And you have to engage with the comics page, for it to work -- you can't just sit back and expect comics to just do it to you in the way that tv or film do.  

Our review of the day comes to us via Chris Mautner, and it's of one of the best comics you'll read this year: Lauren Weinstein's issue of Frontier

Oh, we’ve had comics about parenting before. Keiler Roberts certainly comes to mind, as does Lynn Johnston, Guy Delisle and let’s not forget Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott’s Baby Blues. But these comics tend to document the frustrations and foibles of parenting (albeit often from a humorous perspective). I can’t, however, recall any cartoonist that documented the process of becoming a mother with such love and warmth while avoiding any cheap sentimentalism.

For the first time in a very long time, i'll be missing Cartoon Arts Brooklyn, which is going down this weekend in Brooklyn at Pratt Institute. As per usual, the guest list is fierce--Olivier Schrauwen, Decadence, and Kutikuti would have been immediate stops for me, but generally speaking, it's a show worth hitting 'em all. Generally speaking, I prefer that things conclude immediately after I no longer have the ability to attend them or enjoy them, but for this year, I'll wish those of you heading over a good show. More info here.

Surgical Precision

Unexpected dental surgery means this blog is going to be a little no-frills.

First up, Kim Jooha is here with an expanded version of her essay exploring an artistic movement she calls French Abstract Formalist Comics.

In the mid-2010s, a group of young French artists began creating wordless comics with geometric and minimalist style and little or no narrative. What they show instead is more of a "process."

The emotionless and mechanical style and lack of narrative and words lead the reader to focus on the formal qualities and abstract concepts of comics, visual art, and printed media, such as space-time, movement, body, sign, texture, representation, transformation, repetition/variation, etc.

I call this new budding movement French Abstract Formalist Comics. They are “Abstract” Formalist comics not because they do not show representational images — they do, and this is a critical difference between them and Abstract Comics — but because they show abstract narrative and study abstract and formalist themes, concepts, and motives.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—The New Yorker excerpts an upcoming book from Olivier Schrauwen.

—Nicole Rudick writes about Julie Doucet for the New York Review of Books. (I lent Nicole a few books to help research this article, and stupidly only now realize that was kind of a self-defeating move for an editor to make. But reading the essay makes it all worth it, even if it was published somewhere else.)

Each issue of Dirty Plotte occupies that peculiar nexus of cringing and giggling. At the moment when a gag comic might end, Doucet pushes further, into uncomfortable territory. The step-by-step instructions in the four-panel “Do It Yourself: Laugh!” conclude not with a lively chuckle but with an unhinged, sputtering roar. But in calling out her fantasies and fears with words and pictures on the page, Doucet uses transgression to carve out a space of power and freedom. She revels in the joy of unfettered exploration, and her enthusiasm buoys otherwise dark subject matter. A trio of strips called “If I Was a Man” begins by conjuring aggressive male sexual behavior (when male Julie muses dumbly on “the great mysteries of nature” after ejaculating on his girlfriend, it’s hard not to read it as a pointed commentary on the outsize male fantasies present in so many comics). But the series ends with idiosyncratic fantasy: the “useful” penis that can store small items like pens and rolled-up magazines and the “romantic” penis that begets flowers.

—Alex Jones and Infowars now (very implausibly, imo) claim that the Pepe the Frog character they appropriated was not the one created by Matt Furie but an obscure Argentine cartoon character named Pepe the Toad that doesn't look very similar...

—The original art for Bernie Krigstein's classic "Master Race" is going up for auction next week.

Hold Them Close

Today at The Comics Journal, we've got the latest installment in our Retail Therapy column. This time around, we spoke with Menachem Luchins, the man behind Escape Pod Comics.

I think publishers know exactly what I want them to know- that a change is coming and the readership is shifting and growing in ways they can’t control or guess. That’s why the super-tights single issue markets is in so much trouble and desperate to sell as many books to their dwindling market as they can. DC seems, at least, to see the emerging market with their new Ink and Zoom Lines but considering how reactionary most of their moves have been for the last few decades we shall see how long it lasts. Quite frankly, single issues are the biggest detriment to people’s entrée into comics and these companies, from Marvel to Boundless, know it- they just don’t really know what to do about it.

Today's review is the first from our newest contributor, H.W. Thurston. Historically, the Best American Comics collections have been dismissed by critics as being collections intended more for the curious reader than for...well, "critics", who tend to have their own comics interests pretty well figured out to the point that the book doesn't serve as much more than a catalog of they already know they don't like sandwiched alphabetically between things they do, but have already bought. So this year, we brought on an arts critic new to (but interested in) comics to see if they, as members of the intended audience, might give us a different perspective. Mission accomplished.

There are two obvious bents in The Best American Comics 2018. First, towards the auto and semi-autobiographical (nearly half of the 33 comics fall into this category). Second, towards the non-narrative, or otherwise “art”-y and experimental. Those are perfectly fine genres, and there’s no reason that they couldn’t happen to comprise the plurality of the year’s best comics, but the fact that their exemplars were simultaneously overrepresented and underwhelming left me with the distinct feeling of bias.

Over at Women Write About Comics, they dropped in another one of their always-interesting group discussions, this one on a comic at The Nib that seemed to be attempting to be all of the things for all of the people all of the time, a balancing act that, even when accomplished, impresses absolutely no one.

Over at The Great God Pan Is Dead, Robert Boyd delivered a classic installment of bullet point reviews of major and minor label comics. Round ups done right: I'm always on board for that.

If you're just not feeling it today, throw this on: it was introduced to me by Uncivilized's Tom K, which is enough of a comics connection for me.

 

The Day Before the Hangover

Today on the site, we present the 33rd episode of Greg Hunter's excellent Comic Book Decalogue podcast. In this installment, Hannah Blumenreich (The Immortal Bro, Spidey-Zine) talks Mildred Louis, Stuart Immonen, Go For It, Nakamura!, and more.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. At Publishers Weekly, Meg Lemke talks to Rina Ayuyang.

I've always wanted to do a kind of cheesy homage to the Hollywood musical. It's challenging in a format that's not live-animated, because it requires movement. The looseness of the drawing helps. Musicals were a way for me to escape from reality as a kid—and from what's happening today, too, though I didn't want to bring in as much negative energy from current events to the book. But from my childhood, to dealing with depression, pregnancy, and motherhood, the theme of musicals linger organically [alongside] my personal experiences.

The Virtual Memories podcast talks to Mark Dery about his new Edward Gorey biography.

—Reviews & Commentary.
At the Smart Set, Chris Mautner reviews Julie Doucet's new complete Dirty Plotte.

Right from the get go Doucet made it clear she was taking no prisoners and offering no apologies. The title, she explains on the very first page of the very first issue, is a Quebecois slur for vagina (or a woman with loose morals). After a few examples of everyday usage, Doucet glares at us with a sultry look, drooling lips, and a razor blade necklace, saying, “You know, plotte is a very dirty word . . . ”

Other strips push boundaries even farther. One very early comic shows her performing a strip tease that ends with her ripping off her breasts and slicing up her midsection, as her dog and cat leap hungrily toward her entrails. Another has a stalker murdering a child and then letting his dog devour the body (“dog is truly man’s best friend”). In issue three, she takes a hatchet to a naked man, cuts his body with a razor blade, cuts off his penis, and then uses the bloody stump to write “fin” on the wall.

Robert Boyd reviews an assortment of recent comics, including works by the Coin-Op Studio, Pat Aulisio, Laura Lannes, and Baudoin.

New York Review Comics is the best publisher of comics in English today. Almost every comic they publish is a classic. No other publisher has a better batting average.

Piero is a comic by a great French cartoonist named Edmond Baudoin. Much of his work has been autobiographical, which is (in my humble opinion) the most interesting genre in comics. It took quite a long time for comics to embrace such personal stories. Although there were a few examples of autobiographical comics prior to the 1970s, as a movement it can be said to have begun with Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary by Justin Green in 1972. After this searing depiction of the artist's OCD, autobiographical comics became a deluge, and not just in the USA. Baudoin started producing his autobiographical comics in the early 1980s. His career has been highly unusual--he was born in 1942 and worked as an accountant until he was 33, when he quit to become an artist. This story is explained in this volume. Piero is the nickname of his brother Pierre, who like Edmond was a prolific childhood artist. Both brothers were gifted and loved to draw together, but their parents could only afford to send one of them to art school. The book is about how the two brothers shared an imaginative life.

Noah Van Sciver recommends a short selection of books at Shelf Awareness.

—Crowdfunding. The great and inimitable Marc Bell (Shrimpy and Paul) has launched a Kickstarter for a new issue of Worn Tuff Elbow.

In 2004 I published WORN TUFF ELBOW #1 with Fantagraphics and now, 14 years later, I have produced a follow-up, WORN TUFF ELBOW #2, to be published under my own imprint NO WORLD BOOKS! I love creating “floppies”, in other words, saddle-stitched or stapled periodical comic books. There is an informal quality to the process which I find interesting. It was great fun to put this comic together!

—Misc. If you are a U.S. citizen, then today is a day when you are allowed to vote for which people will run the government.

You Can’t Sit Here

Today at TCJ, it's Monday: the best day of the week. We're launching it with Dave Nuss, who sat down with Alex Deuben to talk about Revival House Press, the publisher responsible for one of the best comics of the last twenty years, (Men's Feelings #1,) about how he got started, what he's been doing, and where he's going next.

The perception I have after doing this for nearly a decade is that some form of immediate financial success generally requires a shift to the middle. It may mean publishing artists and work that appeals to a broader audience. Not to knock anyone doing this but it’s just not right for our press. I like challenging work that may not fit a conventional framework and that forces the audience to contend with it on a formal level. I think it’s one of the virtues of being a “micropress” publisher. You can publish on your own terms and at your own pace. I respect Austin English from that vantage point and what’s he done with Domino. He releases books when he’s able to do so, and of artists he specifically admires. Going back to the curatorial idea, I think publishing along these lines serves the purpose of bringing important or meaningful yet potentially overlooked artists to some degree of greater prominence. Another worthy example is the book Robyn Chapman released a few years ago, the Deep Girl collection. Those mini’s were so vital in the '90s and it was wonderful to see Ariel Bourdeaux’s name on the shelves again.

Today's review comes to us from Keith Silva, who took a look at It Will Be Hard--a cheekily titled interactive comic from Hien Pham.

Cartoonist and writer Hien Pham wants It Will Be Hard to be many things: a story about queerness, sex positivity, gray asexuality, polyamory, people of color, body image, love and relationships; it’s also a comic and an interactive choose-your-own-adventure, sort of; readers are also warned up front that the story contains a section of “explicit sexual content,” which, in the gameplay aspect of the story requires a reader’s consent or it can be skipped altogether.

Over at Diversions of the Groovy Kind, you'll find one of the best Mike Zeck covers of all time. (Bobo!)

Over at Bleeding Cool, you'll find the most complete round up of recent developments in the Mark Waid/Richard Meyer defamation case, most of which involve competing crowdfunding campaigns.

Finally, i'm writing this blog post from the airport after attending the wedding of two TCJ contributors--congratulations to Geoff & Tessa, who both made crazed wedding promises to return to us soon, promises I aim to hold them to.

The Opposite of a Close-Up

As something of a followup to the story this site published on Tuesday, we have an interview with Dead Reckoning publisher Gary Thompson. I have to say, the appeal of this kind of comic completely eludes me.

We also have day five of Summer Pierre's very well-received run creating our Cartoonist's Diary.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. The Paris Review excerpts Mark Dery's new biography of Edward Gorey.

On the evening of April 23, 1964, the New York City Ballet opened the doors to its new home, the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, with a gala performance of George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante and Stars and Stripes. It was, for all practical purposes, Edward Gorey’s new home, too, five months out of the year.

As in all the rituals that governed his life, Gorey was compulsive in his devotion to routine, arriving for eight o’clock performances at seven thirty, when the doors opened. Yet he sometimes spent long stretches in the lobby if he didn’t like one of the evening’s offerings. Gorey “had to be there on time, partly (he would say) because maybe they would change the order of the program, but I think it was just his compulsion—he had to be there,” says Peter Wolff, a ballet friend of Gorey’s who now sits on the board of the George Balanchine Foundation. “It was all part of his insane routine.”

Art in America writes about a new show featuring work by artist (and TCJ columnist) Austin English.

The fifteen single-page original panels of English’s wild comic book Tanti Affetti (2017) provided a marked stylistic contrast to [Sam] Spano’s work. Recalling the grotesque oil paintings of Claus Castenskiold, the series depicts a rag doll–like character’s hellish journey through a menacing urban realm that fractures apace with the figure’s own dissolution, page by page. English’s use of colored pencils is distinctly smudgy and grimy, while his attacks on perspective, sometimes aided by collaged insertions of additional material drawn by the artist, untether us from the picture plane. The aforementioned protagonist, whom I’ll refer to simply as the man, is first shown descending a staircase as various ghoulish figures look down from windows. The man, by way of a speech bubble emitted from his rictus, hints at the existential terror to come: looking forward to a day of half-heartedly negating myself.

—Interviews & Profiles. Nadja Sayej talks to Ralph Steadman.

“I prefer Nixon to Trump. I think anybody would because Nixon was at least a politician,” said Steadman. “A proper or improper one, doesn’t matter. Trump just isn’t, Trump is a lout. He’s a godawful disgrace to humanity, really.”

In his book, Between the Eyes, Steadman wrote about the need for optimism. “We live in a time when the world needs a powerful injection of hope and personal achievement,” he wrote. “Nothing cynical will serve our purpose now.”

Today, he feels the same way. “It has brought out the #MeToo generation, hasn’t it?” asks Steadman. “In general, people are more conscious of other people. It’s more of a world of universal acknowledgment. We’re actually there.”

—News. In an unfortunate but not shocking turn, the Chicago Sun-Times announced that it is greatly reducing the amount of space it devotes to daily comics.

Today marks some changes to the comics and classified pages of our Monday-through-Saturday print editions. Rather than three dedicated pages of comics, we’ll be publishing one comics page with the New York Times crossword and interspersing other comics and puzzles throughout the classifieds section. The Daily Bridge Club column will run on the weather page.

We earlier mentioned her nomination, and now Jillian Tamaki has won her second Governor General's Literary Award.

The Governor General's Literary Awards, one of Canada's oldest and most prestigious prizes, annually acknowledge seven English-language and seven French-language books across several categories. Each winner receives $25,000.

—RIP. Hardy Fox.

The Wrong Horse

Today at TCJ is a day that ends in "y", which means it's one of the days we like to spend talking about Junji Ito. This time around, the duty falls to Austin Price: he's into it.

The truth is that Ito's work scares us because we know they shouldn’t. We know there is nothing so laughable as people being mauled by fish with mechanical spider legs; the idea of people contorting themselves to fit into custom-made holes on a mountainside should deserves not much more than a giggle. And yet when we read his work we shiver. And yet we also know that these things we dismiss so easily in fiction would make mince of us in the real world. Humans are weak and vulnerable and at the whims of forces we delude ourselves into thinking we’ve mastered; millions have lost their lives to a bite from a plague-carrying fleas, to malaria-toting mosquitoes. I once had neighbors who were under such siege by a gang of rabid raccoons that they could not leave their house for days for fear of their very lives. Why then shouldn't a plague of mechanically enabled fish monsters cut us down like wheat at harvest season? Similarly, we commonly hear about formerly sane people who wake up one day so obsessed with the idea of cleanliness they'll scrub their own skin off or so paranoid they'll murder their neighbor for some imagined slight; is the idea of a woman so horrified by spirals that she rips off her fingerprints and gouges out her eardrums really so outlandish?

The fourth installment in Summer Pierre's Cartoonist Diary is here, and it's time to follow up on the DMV story she began on Monday. (We call that a "callback" in the biz.)

Today's review is of Jules Feiffer, whose Ghost Script graphic novel saw release by Liveright earlier this year. J. Caleb Mozzocco has that comics criticism you need, as well as a reminder that Feiffer turns 90 (!) in January.

Regardless, how remarkable is it that an artist who will turn 90 in just three months has released another 160-page graphic novel, the conclusion of a trilogy that ultimately followed a large cast of characters for several decades through what became an almost 500-page epic of film noir and crime fiction homage turned great American (graphic) novel?

Despite its place as book three in a series, it’s well worth noting that The Ghost Script reads like--and therefore can be read as-- a self-contained work. Important, defining moments in the lives of the characters that occurred in the previous books, Kill My Mother and 2016’s Cousin Joseph, are revealed here, either in dialogue or in flashback, with several pages from Cousin Joseph reused and repurposed as those flashbacks. The cast’s motivations are clearly delineated between the covers of this single volume. The plot, as elaborate as it is, begins and satisfyingly ends here, and some of the more important elements of the story as a literary work are specific to this book.

Over at Shelf Awareness, Noah Van Sciver gave his own spin on their "Reading With..." feature.

Over at Popula, Trevor Alixopolus is holding it down with a spicy werewolf comic for ya.

Over at Comicosity, the hardworking Chris Hernandez is back at it again with another Comix Latinx interview; this time, he's talking to Lester Ray.

Over at Your Chicken Enemy, John James Dudek dives into Patrick Kyle's Roaming Foliage, taking up the challenge from Kim Jooha in our recent interview. (Maybe? Go with it!)

I had intended to post the following video the day we ran our Jamal Igle interview (unlike me, Jamal is a Man of Steel haterbut Tim got to be the lucky guy at the helm yesterday. Here, then, is my favorite trailer for one of the top five super-hero movies ever made.