Show and Tell

Ken Parille is back with another entry of his Grid column today. Topic: Independent-era Steve Ditko. An excerpt:

We have yet to appreciate Ditko the philosopher, Ditko the comedian. Many readers lament the artist’s move away from the formulaic superhero story into the uncharted terrain of the philosophical comic. “Why couldn’t he do something more like, maybe, Spider-Man or Doctor Strange?” wonders the bemused fan when confronted with medium-reinventing works like 1969’s “The Avenging World” or 1975’s “Premise to Consequence.” Readers puzzled by Ditko’s independent work or frustrated with its Ayn Rand-based politics should take a hint from the spirit of these comics: read them with a black sense of humor.

Also, Matt Seneca reviews the first issue of Michel Fiffe's Zegas:

Main character Emily Zegas opens the book by telling us, “I realized the apocalypse wasn’t a romantic concept.” She makes a good point, but we’re forced to take it with the gargantuan grain of salt that the accompanying picture provides: hand-painted waves of ochre and magenta swirl majestically over a flooding cityscape, masses of tiny featureless human figures gesture skyward, and the heavens split with beams of brilliant rose-colored light. It’s about the most romantic rendering of the apocalypse imaginable, not to mention a bold declaration of visual purpose.

1. James Sturm writes for Slate about the process of trying to get cartoons (examples given) into The New Yorker.

2. Drew Friedman curates an online mini-gallery of Basil Wolverton and Wally Wood covers for Plop!

3. The Harvey Award winners were announced.

4. Dan filled in for me earlier this week, so I didn't have to comment on Grant Morrison's Rolling Stone interview. His comments on Chris Ware and the Comics Journal were baffling, though I feel like others have done a solid job making sense of them, mostly by squinting, switching around adjectives and proper nouns that aren't there, and being generous. But really, generosity is probably the way to go with a dumb phone interview like that, that shows some signs of heavy-handed and possibly meaning-altering editing anyway. Even if not, it was obviously tossed off.

Still and all, in light of the interview, Rodrigo Baeza dug up a pretty funny blurb from GM's past, and then goes on to rightly point out that Morrison's comments on the treatment of Siegel and Shuster, in his new book and in repeated interviews, are both more considered and more disturbing than anything in this particular sideshow.

5. Finally, John Porcellino draws a page of Kirby/Lee's Fantastic Four, and shares what he learned from doing so.

Better Days

Today on the site, a true meeting of the minds: Joe McCulloch interviews Alejandro Jodorowsky. Sample:

Yes I collaborate in the foundation of Metal Hurlant with my ideas and revolutionary texts like “The sexual life of Superman” where I was describing the Superman ejaculations so strong that the sperm going through the woman vagina, the whole body, the head and went away exploding the head and destroying a skyscraper.

Yep, you'll want to read that.

Elsewhere:

The great Dylan Williams, a comics stalwart for nearly two decades, and a real inspiration for all of us small publishers, could use some help to pay for his cancer treatment. I'm sure the attention is mortifying, but let it be said that Dylan and his company, Sparkplug, have quietly kept the DIY spirit alive. As a publisher you look for other publishers to, well, look up to. Dylan is one of those people. Dylan is also an incredible comics historian whose work on Mort Meskin, Alex Toth, Bill Blackbeard and others has been groundbreaking. So, go buy a ton of books from Sparkplug. They're affordable and they're damn good.

I can recommend the following:

The Heavy Hand by Chris Cilla: One of my absolute favorite graphic novels of the last few years. Fucking brilliant and damned brave. Essential to any comics library. Seriously.

Service Industry by T. Edward Bak: Formally inventive, funny, wrenching, personal comics.

Fleep by Jason Shiga. Just plain brilliant on every level. Shiga at his confounding best.

Windy Corner, edited by Austin English: Wonderful, heartfelt zine on comics.

Orchid by Huizenga, May, et al. One of my very favorite anthologies of all time.

It Lives by Ted May: It's Ted May. That means laughs and perfect cartooning.

Tales to Demolish by Eric Haven: Absurdist adventure comics lushly rendered.

Go. Buy. Good. Comics.

Cloud Cover

On the site today...

Your weekly comics from Jog, in which he deals with the issue of weight in comics. Or heavy comics. Something heavy!

And Rob Clough reviews Keith Knight's Too Small to Fail.

The big "elsewhere" news is Grant Morrison's unintentionally hilarious interview with Rolling Stone. Morrison, who really does believe the hype (in his book, Supergods, he plays himself as a brilliant hero of comics, always at the ready to tap into the zeitgeist) loves to make big statements, like this doozy about his favorite hobby horse, Alan Moore:

We know Alan Moore isn't a misogynist but fuck, he's obsessed with rape. I managed to do thirty years in comics without any rape!

This is right after [update for clarity/boneheadedness] on the heels of his defense, in Supergods, of the now infamous rape-scene-as-plot device in Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer, which he calls "Joycean," "heart stopping," and "orchestral". Seriously. I will admit, as Morrison totally predicted (tra la la, we're all pretty predictable), that I found Supergods mostly not so great. Not because I didn't understand what he was trying to do (superheroes as modern myth, how the genre can have personal meaning) -- I did. I even fully go in for the idea that there's great life in the genre and that fantastic work has been and will be made. And on some subjects Morrison is great. His explanations of what makes Jim Starlin, Don McGregor, and other writers of the 1970s great is smart and concise. And his description of Image Comics and its place in the larger culture is the best I've ever read. But too often it comes back to new age silliness (Captain Marvel as "alchemical" hero) and self-aggrandization (his relative fame, his oedipus complex with Moore) and then, finally, a long patch where he reels off his fave superhero movies (he was the only guy that liked Daredevil! Cool!). It is also is a book profoundly ignorant and dismissive of the actual circumstances under which his favorite toys were created, and the fates of the toymakers. That said, I think it's especially ironic that in the interview he randomly harps on Chris Ware and TCJ (of course he's right that we are smart asses) in economic/class terms. For someone so interested in class and vibes and making the world a better place, one might ask: Gee, Grant, what have you done to help out the economic situations of creators whose shoulders you stand on? Oh right. Nothing. [update: Not that this matters -- critiquing art by arguing that an artist should drop the thing you disapprove of and go do something you do approve of is inane. But Morrison brought it up, so why not go down his logic road?]. Here's the beauty:

I can appreciate someone like Chris Ware for his artistry, which I think is beautiful, but I think his attitude stinks, it just seems to be the attitude of somebody really privileged, and honestly, try living here, try living on an Indian reservation and shut up, and really seeing all that nihilistic stuff, it really makes me angry, it's unhelpful to all of us, and it's coming from people who have money and success to talk  like that and bring those aspects of the way we live in favor of all the  others, and it's indefensible.

So I never liked that stuff, I  always thought that I had a real Scottish working class thing against  the fact that these were done by privileged American college kids, and  they were telling me the world was flat. "You're telling me the world is  flat, pal?" And it's not helpful, it doesn't get us anywhere. OK, so it  is, then what? What are you going to do about it, college kid? My book wasn't academic. I can't take on those Comics Journal guys, they flattened me, as they did, it's just defensive, smartass kids.

My favorite thing about the above is that he assumes Ware (and I suppose Clowes, whose Death Ray, arguably the seminal superhero comic of the last decade, Morrison ignores in his history of superhero comics), Brown, et al are somehow rich college kids looking down at him and casting bad vibes his way. This coming from the guy who endorsed superhero rape in his superhero history. Bad vibes I guess are only ok if they involve Elongated Man? Grant, baby, it's not a class thing and it's not about nihilism. It's just a different, more complex worldview, that's all. Plus, his assessment of Ware's work simply shows he hasn't read it. Morrison is too smart to have read it and come away with that conclusion. And TCJ certainly hasn't flattened him. In fact, aside from a brief mention from Tim, Supergods hasn't been covered here yet. But we did cover, at length, and positively, The Invisibles. Alas.

Anyhow, that interview is just plain sad. Morrison's a creative guy who has written some excellent comics, but here and in Supergods he seems out of touch, casting about, and adrift in what he more or less admits is his most sustained creation: The character of "Grant Morrison" itself.

Dreamland

On the site today:

We bring you the latest installment of Richard Gehr's mindblowingly great series Know Your New Yorker Cartoonists. This time it's Richard going toe-to-toe with Lee Lorenz. Lorenz is a fascinating artist. Did you know that he was taught by Philip Guston? Me neither.

Philip Guston was one of my teachers at Pratt and became a very good friend. He was best man at my wedding. I’m a great admirer of his work, especially after he turned his back on what became “classical” abstract expressionism. He started doing what people would later call “cartoon figures,” not really cartoons. I had lunch with him one day when I was feeling down, because I hoped I would make some sort of career as a painter. He said, “Let me see what you’re doing.” Well, the cartoons I was doing were certainly not good or very interesting graphically. He told me, “You shouldn’t feel that way. This is a really vital and interesting art form. You should be pleased you can do this.” I thought he was pulling my leg, but he utilized a lot of cartoon clichés himself many years later. This was long before he had that epiphany and changed his whole approach to his art.

Frank is on the road and he's drinking beer and giving out hugs. He will break down your reserves; he will talk to you about comics. He is Frank, and I am glad. Related: Last night I dreamt that SPX had moved to London, and that upon my arrival to London (on a tour bus with CSN & Y and assorted members of Wilco -- Stephen Stills was talking to himself in my dream) I discovered Frank there with boxes, while Jim Rugg told me that Ben Jones had a table, too. Then I woke up, realized this post was overdue, and here I am. Phew.

And elsewhere:

A chain of comic book stores is closing. Tom Spurgeon has the report.

A match made in heaven: Drew Friedman on Plop!

This looks to be some sort of film about men wearing plastic laminates? I'm confused.

Don’t Give a Hang

Kim Deitch returns with the seventh part of his memoir-via-music, which continues telling the story of his time as a student at Pratt, and covers Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Jody Garland, and Eartha Kitt:

I’m lucky I got through the following twenty years with most of my whole hide. I am very humbly grateful to the man upstairs for that, too. I’ve always had the feeling that there was some kind of good angel watching over me. Take that any way you want. I’m just trying to tell the truth here as I see it. I don’t give a hang about trying to cut some sort of cool figure. I actively hate that kind of shit and there is altogether too much of it running around loose in this world. What I am trying to do is to do my best to pay off my unusually good luck by living a useful life. I may be some kind of a jerk (I guess it runs in the family), but I mean well.

And fan favorite Tucker Stone returns to the site with a review of Ryan Cecil Smith's bizarro sci-fi adventure comic, SF #1:

Smith first came to my attention due to familiarity--not with him, but with Kazuo Umezu, whose story “Blood Baptism” had served as inspiration for an exercise in adaptation that Smith has published in two parts so far. That series, “Two Eyes of the Beautiful”, remains one of the most unnerving pieces of fan-art I’ve read--beyond the plot, Smith’s panels in and of themselves read like adaptations of Umezu's tempo and pitch, copying the emotional noise that Umezu's work resonates with, all while ignoring the obvious temptation to directly clone his cartooning.

Elsewhere....

1. John Porcellino drew a tribute comic to the German publisher Reprodukt. If you ever get a chance to look at some of Reprodukt's books, I highly recommend it —they publish a lot of beautiful stuff.

2. The Ignatz Award nominees have been announced.

3. I don't think we've yet mentioned that the Staten Island branch of Jim Hanley's Universe suffered from pretty severe flooding earlier this week. Jim Hanley's is one of the best comic stores I've ever been to, and worth supporting if you are able to do so.

4. The Graphic Novel Reporter interviews Neil Egan, book designer for AbramsComics.

5. Matt Seneca is clearly wrong to call a particular movie trailer "comics", but it's the kind of "wrong" that hurts no one & helps many to clarify their thoughts. (Full disclosure: I've been similarly wrong myself.)

6. Dana Jennings (a former TCJ contributor!) writes at The New York Times about the latest wave of comics-related art books, and includes a mini-gallery of examples, comparing comics artists to their more highbrow brethren. Comparing Alex Toth to Matisse? Maybe, at least in that particular cover image. Jim Lee as "Dürer on steroids" is slightly tougher to swallow.

Lapping

Keeping it short today, for lack of time.

Tom De Haven rejoins us for an examination of the textual components of archival editions of old comics. I just made that sound incredibly boring, when in fact it's a great and valuable look at the different approaches to the medium's history. And really, you can't afford not to read anything Tom writes about comics. So there.

That's all I have, folks! Dig in.

Becalmed

Today on the site we bring you the most recent episode of TCJ Talkies, in which host Mike Dawson talks to Lisa Hanawalt about writing funny and drawing at parties.

Also, Rob Clough reviews I Will Bite You, a story collection from up-and-comer Joseph Lambert.

1. Retailer/blogger/TCAF organizer Chris Butcher asked comics creators what they would change about conventions (of the SPX, MoCCA, Stumptown variety) in order to make the artists more money, and got a ton of answers.

2. In the mid-1970s, U.S. copyright laws regarding music publishing were seriously revised, and now for the first time, musicians will legally be allowed to regain control of their songs 35 years after their initial appearance. The artists have to apply for the rights two years in advance, and people like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Loretta Lynn, and Tom Waits all filled out paperwork regarding music from 1978, per the New York Times. Apparently, the record labels apparently aren't going to give up the rights without a big legal battle, so this will probably play out for a while.

Anyway, interesting stuff to keep in mind when thinking about creator rights in comics. It also can't help but make me imagine a world in which pop music was an industry dominated by nothing but songs featuring characters from old Springsteen tunes. Too ridiculous to be believed, I guess.

3. Over at the Mindless Ones, the Doubtful Guest does a little agitation work. I personally find the whole "thrill-power" argument he uses a little doubtful to say the least (as if E.C. Segar alone doesn't prove that a solo artist can provide all the thrills a reader can handle), but your mileage may vary, and the important thing is that another member of a prominent online forum has joined the Marvel boycott.

4. Gary Panter wants to convert you to Peter Saul-ism.

5. I think the people over at the Fantagraphics office need to lay off the Welsh rarebit.

6. Darryl Ayo thinks out loud about representations of race in comics.

7. I haven't read the anthology under review by Craig Fischer, but I have seen the "Hipster Hitler" stuff before, and Fischer's right on.

2,000 Words of Amnesia

I found an old, small piece of myself last month that I didn’t even know I’d lost. And the tale of what I misplaced is a fable about mortality, the raw power of trauma, the whim of memory — and The Comics Journal.

This is what was unexpectedly returned to me: a 2,000-word article that I wrote more than 25 years ago for The Comics Journal that I can’t recall writing, that I never saw in print.

It wasn’t like the hundreds of articles I reported and typed in a frenzy when I started out as a punk reporter in rural New Hampshire. This was a magazine article written for a national publication (modest, yes) back when I considered every 250 or 500 words sold another brick in the potential cathedral of my career.

But there it sat — 2,000 words of prime amnesia.

The article lurks in The Comics Journal No. 94, printed on the cheap paper of its day that, in its dotage, carries the sweet reek of decaying pulp. My article was about Futuropolis, a Paris publisher then of vintage American comic strips like Segar’s "Thimble Theatre", Herriman’s "Krazy Kat" and Eisner’s "The Spirit".

And there it waits, on Page 56 of The Comics Journal No. 94. It bears my name, the words sound like me, but I don’t recognize it. And reading it makes me feel queasy, as if  I’ve stepped sideways and backwards into some Philip K. Dick mind-scape.

I retrieved this fugitive in a thoroughly modern manner. As I scanned the The Comics Journal web site recently I noticed the article index. I did remember an article on Will Eisner and the Angouleme, France, comics festival I wrote that appeared in The Comics Journal No. 89 — and I was thrilled to get the byline and the $35. I keyed in my name.

Up popped No. 89 … and the wholly uncanny No. 94. I clicked to Amazon right away, snagged a copy for three bucks — and that’s how the article ghosted into my possession. When I glanced at the cover (Moebius, Crepax, Kojima and more) then read the article, all it did was make my head hurt. It wasn’t until I saw the magazine’s date — October 1984 — that I finally understood.

1984, the year I turned 27, was a tough one. A manageable case of ulcerative colitis, diagnosed two years before, turned feral. I kept working — writing and editing — but in a colitis-induced fog.

When I think about 1984 I recall the betrayal of my immune system, of my body undone by pain and blood loss. Ultimately, in October, I ended up in the hospital — my lips blue, my ribs stark against skin as pale as skim milk. I spent six week in the hospital, got 27 pints of blood, and had my entire colon cut out. Then I convalesced at home for another three months.

What’s an article in the face of eternity … of mortality?

This is what I think happened. As sick as I was in early ’84 I soldiered on — a deadline is a deadline, after all — wrote my article, mailed it off and forgot about it as I worried about my health. Serious illness brings clarity, burns away the underbrush of your life.

I wasn’t fretting over my meager words and The Comics Journal. In October 1984 I grappled with the power of physical trauma and wrestled for my future. As for copies of No. 94, maybe The Comics Journal forgot to mail them to me, or they might’ve got dumped in the trash. But I never saw them, never got my memory — overwhelmed by sickness — jogged by their presence.

Then, as I recovered, I looked straight ahead. My wife and I were ready to start a family. I needed to write another draft of my first novel, there were articles to be written and edited — a career to chase once more.

I put 1984 behind me, save for the sharp memories from the country of near-death. And my 2,000 words about Futuropolis got abandoned, got stuck in that year. My memory — as traumatized as my body  — let that tiny part of me go, ceded a small death.

Staring at that Comics Journal article from 27 years ago now, I still feel wary, somehow unmoored in time. But, too, I realize, I’m looking at other unlikely survivors — article and magazine — from October 1984.

Rainy Days

Today on the site:

Writer Dana Jennings discovers a piece of himself in an old issue of The Comics Journal.

Up popped No. 89 … and the wholly uncanny No. 94. I clicked to Amazon right away, snagged a copy for three bucks — and that’s how the article ghosted into my possession. When I glanced at the cover (Moebius, Crepax, Kojima and more) then read the article, all it did was make my head hurt. It wasn’t until I saw the magazine’s date — October 1984 — that I finally understood.

Reliably, today our man Jog brings you the week in comics.

And, elsewhere around town, it's all about lawsuits and masked men:

The estate of Bob Montana is suing Steve Geppi for non-payment for a massive artwork sale. But the story gets weird from there. It's an intriguing one, with wider (though at this point, just rumored) implications for Geppi's Diamond.

And, as expected, the Kirby heirs are appealing the recent summary judgment against their claims.

Paul Tumey has a great Jack Cole Midnight story posted, with analysis.

Ten Thousand Doors For Men to Take Their Exit

Kim Thompson remembers Francisco Solano López:

Argentina’s Francisco Solano López was a titan of South American comics, on a level with the great Alberto Breccia, the temporary honorary Argentinean (during the 1950s) Hugo Pratt, and the hugely influential writer Hector Oesterheld (who collaborated with all three).

Frank Santoro's back in full storyteller mode, talking about his recent trip to New York to collaborate with Dash Shaw. (There's another bonus Michael DeForge cartoon, too.)

One night I, Dash, Dan Nadel, and David Mazzucchelli went out to dinner. Dan and Dash have been around David enough times that they don’t get starstruck – but I still do. It’s embarrassing only because I drink too much and start yelling and Dan has do that hand gesture thing where he is saying calm down when Mazzucchelli isn’t looking. Whatever. I was having fun.

John Hilgart of 4CP fame reviews Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta's Starstruck. Here's a brief excerpt:

Now raise your hand if you [...] imagined that Starstruck must be either a campy sci-fi gender parody or a didactic exploration of how things would be different if women were in charge of the galaxy. The fact that it is not remotely either of these things is one of writer Elaine Lee’s greatest accomplishments. She pulls off the coup, engineers the genre sex-change, without our even noticing. She realized that she didn’t need to do much more than change who got the close-up; instead of Luke Skywalker, it’s the pilot of the fighter off to his left, who actually turns out to be the important one. Lee’s characters have long been there in science fiction; she simply makes them the protagonists and extrapolates from there. Starstruck’s feminism is both as invisible and as pervasive as air, and therefore an accomplishment in its own right.

Most readers of The Comics Journal have probably already seen Tom Spurgeon's essay from this weekend, explaining that his recent hiatus was due to a life-threatening illness. It's a moving and candid reflection on mortality, family, and life in the comics industry. (And the Green Lantern movie!). If you haven't taken the opportunity to look at it yet, you should. A must-read of the week, month, year:

If I learned anything that first 48 hours awake, it was to focus on the next event: the next breath, the next five minutes, the next question written on the notepad, the next time someone might come into the room. To my surprise, after a life of avoidance I'm not that bad at taking things as they come. Although come to think of it, no one carves time like an unproductive writer.

In the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday, Robert Crumb wrote an open letter explaining the recent cancellation of his trip to Australia:

Sorry, folks. I do feel bad, as I hate letting people down. But I decided I'd rather bear the pain of letting people down than subjecting my long-suffering wife to a 10-day period of dread and anxiety for my well-being. She's been awfully nice to me since I told her I wasn't going! She baked a chocolate cake even!

I know, I know, it's galling to give the Sunday Telegraph sleazeballs the satisfaction. ''Ha ha, we scared him off.'' But they have already got what they wanted out of me anyway, which was to use me to make the City of Sydney look bad.

The worst part is the apparent irresponsibility of these cynical media hacks. What if I'd gone there, and what if some Mark Chapman-type person who'd read that article decided the world needed to be cleansed of scum like R. Crumb? (Mark Chapman shot John Lennon.) This possibility worried Aline deeply.

More on the decision here. And the Daily Telegraph (the tabloid that initiated the whole thing) responds here.

Finally, Eddie Campbell bought the recent Bill Mauldin collections, and writes about some observations that occurred to him while reading the cartoons in chronological order for the first time:

The first is that I am surprised to find that there is no break between the war cartoons and the post-war cartoons. They are continuous. The second is that in the middle of 1944 Mauldin appears to have decided to stretch the proportions of his figures from a normal height of seven or eight 'heads' to as many as ten heads (previously I presumed variations might be explained by pressing circumstances).

Spilling

Oh my heavens, it's Friday already. This week has zoomed by, and I'm not sure why. Some work has been done, and things accomplished. I've edited (that would be pushing it -- I've gently massaged) some excellent pieces to roll out in the next few weeks. But I ask you, gentle reader, is anyone still reading in August? Should we just hold onto the REALLY good stuff, like pot dealers witholding their personal stash? Or should we pack the bong for you? Concerned and vacation-oriented editors want to know!

In the meantime, speaking of the good stuff, Shaenon Garrity drops her latest column today, this one all about Girlamatic:

Girlamatic is also the friendliest webcomics site I’ve been a part of.  As one of the old-timers of webcartooning, I’ve done comics for nearly all the sites in the Modern Tales family (I didn’t have a comic on Adventure Strips, but then it turned into Graphic Smash, for which I wrote Smithson), and Girlamatic has the warmest community.

Plus, she snuck in a reference to Kenneth Smith. Shaenon! Busting some O.G. knowledge.

Elsewhere on the internet:

This is the most expensive comics anthology I've ever heard of. Even the numbers as presented make no sense, since a good accountant would wipe out the income and the shipping (after the comp copies) should be paid for by the customer. A little perspective: I could print 2 Kramers Ergots and 2 Odd Future books for this amount of dough and pay all the contributors a decent page rate. Put another way, I could publish 25 issues of Cold Heat and give Frank Santoro a pro page rate. Or another way, I could buy the rights to certain 1960s characters and employ half of Providence to draw them. But what the hell do I know. I should get out of publishing and editing and whatever other stupid shit I do and just do Kickstarter proposals for a living.

In other irritating news, the Atlantic published quite possibly the worst "Best of" list of all time, "10 Masterpieces of Graphic Nonfiction", leading off with the horrendous book that convinced me that Harvey Pekar was really hacking it out (and shit, why not?) before his untimely death, The Beats. Holy moly is that a bad list. And compiled by someone who is doing "Gogol for the Google era." Clever! I myself am working on Dostoyevsky for the coming Dark Age. Look for my analog Kickstarter campaign on a street corner near you.

In good news, Nicholas Gazin has posted his latest Comic Book Love-In, this time given over entirely to an interview with Monte Schulz, son of Charles... Come back to us, Nicholas!

And in good news you can close out the week with, SPX this year has one hell of a guest and programming slate. It'll be a really great weekend, even for grumpy ol' me.

Number Seven

A panel from Sturm & Baxter's "Response to Chapter Nine"
Today, Kim Deitch continues his memoir-via-music in part 6. If you aren't reading these because you think they're all just a bunch of old music talk, you're really missing out on an incredibly enjoyable (& repeatedly jaw-dropping) autobiography from not only one of the most significant cartoonists alive and working today, but also someone who led a rich life, which partly because of his family and partly because of his own career, intersected with all kinds of interesting people and events. For example, today's entry includes appearances by Jules Feiffer, Pete Seeger, children's television host Freddie the Fireman, Connie Converse, Handsome Harry (a Brazilian gigolo), and Bill Griffith, not to mention such topics as his parents' divorce, a trip to Prague, a mysterious suicide, the loss of Kim's virginity, and his entry into art school. So if you've already been reading along, the new installment is here, and you need no encouragement. Otherwise, go back to part one, and get caught up as quick as you can. You won't be sorry.

Also, Hayley Campbell reviews Jaques Tardi & Jean-Patrick Manchette's Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot. I'm really looking forward to this book.

Okay, and now some links for the day:

1. The cartoonist Seth declares his support for the boycott against Marvel, mentioning in passing his own fondness for some of the company's comics, his thoughts on the company's obligations, and his suggested plan of action for those who still need their fix of stories featuring characters created by Jack Kirby.

2. Eventually we will talk Kim Thompson into writing an ongoing dream journal for us, and it will be amazing.

3. One of my three favorite comics podcasts, the Comix Claptrap, is back with the first episode of its fourth season. This time, they interview Annie Koyama, one of the best and most fascinating publishers of new comics around. (The hosts also briefly disagree about whether or not Dan is "nice.")

4. Devlin & Burns & co. give a guided photo tour of their visit to Mimi Pond's home.

5. Stan Lee is pretty old now, so it's probably wrong to find amusement in the potential awfulness of something like this, but ... what can I say? A flawed and petty man is putting together this batch of links today.

6. Apple is apparently censoring certain underground comics for iPad and iPhone users.

7. Finally, Ben Towle has posted the still much-discussed comic-strip response to Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics that was created by James Sturm and Art Baxter and originally ran in issue 211 of The Comics Journal. Towle also got comments from Sturm and Baxter regarding the creation of the strip and their thoughts on it today. If you read only one of these links, this should be the one! (Also the Seth one. And the Kim Thompson one.)

More Action

Continuing our all-action, all-the-time policy, today we have Kristy Valenti's wide-ranging interview with the great Jim Rugg.

And elsewhere on the internet:

-James Romberger on Big Questions for Publishers Weekly.

-Cartoonist Becky Cloonan writes about the realities of freelance life.

-You need more links in your diet. Sean T. Collins has 'em!

-Illustration critic David Apatoff recommends the new 41 Illustrators and How They Work.

-Finally, once again, I'm glad Tucker Stone does it so we don't have to.

Ram On

Joe McCulloch offers his usual take on the week in comics, with a bonus mini-essay on Phoebe Gloeckner.

Rob Clough reviewed the latest Jason (& Fabien Vehlmann) book, Isle of 100,000 Graves. This is a really fun story, and personally, I liked it as much as any other Jason I've read.

Department of historical oddities: An Alan Moore/Fantagraphics comic book that never happened.

Jordan Crane's Last Lonely Saturday has been made into a short film.

Department of profiles of important figures:
Dave Moriarty of Rip Off Press in the Austin American-Statesman (via)

And Mickey Mouse maestro Floyd Gottfredson, in The Australian. (also via CR)

The second part of the Walt Disney essay by Jonathan Rosenbaum I linked to last week. In this section, he moves on to evaluating the films (as of the essay's publication in 1975).

Paul Gravett writes about war comics, British and Canadian.

Some of you may remember the Australian tabloid story linked to here last week, in which a controversy was manufactured regarding an upcoming visit by Robert Crumb. Because of that story, the cartoonist has cancelled his appearance. [UPDATE: Tom Spurgeon has additional information here. This is a Spurgeon-heavy post today! It is good to have him back.]

Luc Sante once wanted to be a cartoonist? Who knew?

The A.V. Club tours the house where Siegel and Shuster created Superman.

Christopher Allen reviews the new issue of the Comics Journal.

Twang

It's Monday here, and we begin the week lightly, even with a touch of mellow.

-Yesterday Frank's latest column, complete with bonus cartoon and boycott notice, hit the internet!

-Today R. Fiore brings us a typically brilliant and discursive review of Luc Besson's version of Jacques Tardi's The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec.

-And from the archives, Gary Groth's 1993 interview with Jim Woodring.

And now... a few links!

-Tom Spurgeon has an excellent interview with Brannon Costello, the editor of Howard Chaykin: Conversations. I also thoroughly enjoyed this book, and recommend it as a fascinating document not just of Chaykin's evolving ideas, but also of the comics "scene" itself, and the various levels within it. Chaykin's takes on the underground, Maus, and other topics show a man grappling with the fast-changing medium he loves. The book also gets into his return to comics in recent years, as well as his years in television. In all the hubbub around the canonical figures of comics, it's too easy to forget about the important, more pulp-oriented artists like Chaykin.

-Also, via Comics Reporter, a profile of Mr. Paul Karasik.

-The Beat asks who is selling off all the great Barks work on Heritage.

Ok, see you soon.

 

 

No Reason to Quit

Ah, how bittersweet: the final entry of Brian Ralph's week-long cartoon diary, in which he says goodbye to his friends at Comic-Con and returns triumphantly home. Also: photos. Read it and weep.

Also, yesterday we rolled out a major interview with Brandon Graham, creator of the cult favorites King City and Multiple Warheads (and former Cartoon Diarist himself), conducted by Ian Burns and covering a lot of territory, including but not limited to: childhood, manga, graffiti, porn, Meathaus, Vertigo, New York city bars, Tokyopop, and surviving cancer.

We also neglected to highlight Joe McCulloch's weekly column this Tuesday, and even if you've already been to your local comic shop this week, it's still worth checking out, including as it does his thoughts on Peyo's Smurfs and Captain America (the movie).

Of course, you may be planning to join the boycott of Kirby-derived Marvel product called for by Stephen Bissette, in which case McCulloch's review will let you know what you're missing. That boycott gained traction with several online comics reviewers and commentators this week, including Bryan Munn, Christopher Allen, Matthias Wivel, and Matt Seneca.

Douglas Wolk has just released a 99-cent "Kindle Single" about his experiences at this year's San Diego Comic-Con. I haven't read it yet, but it's undoubtedly worth a look.

I think the reviewer may be taking R. Crumb's self-deprecating comments a bit too much at face value, but there is a pretty funny review of the new Comics Journal at the SF Weekly.

Cartoon Brew has dug up an old video featuring Terry Gilliam, instructing viewers on his own idiosyncratic methods of animation.

I'm pretty sure neither Dan nor I ever posted a link to Rich Tommaso's autobio comic about moving to Seattle and working for Fantagraphics.

And the legal battle between Archie Comics and its co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit gained a new dimension this week, as Silberkleit has filed a motion to dismiss.

Finally, the Hooded Utilitarian has posted the results of its poll regarding the greatest international comics of all time. No real surprises in the top ten, other than the fairly high rankings of Calvin & Hobbes and Watchmen. It's a very North American (and very male) list, but that's no surprise either. In the larger 115 comics list, superhero and sci-fi adventure stories generally score higher than you might expect, and newspaper strips from before the time of the voters' births (aside from a few gimmes by people like Herriman and McCay) score very low. Some of the appended short essays are pretty good (others are pedestrian but not actively painful), and the comments thread under Watchmen is actually fairly nuanced and interesting, as these things go.

Keep Reading…

I've gone to live in the country. To "woodshed", as Frank might say. Well, it's just upstate New York through Labor Day, but still... life outdoors, free of cares... except for comics, of course. There's always comics.

So, today we have a ginormous interview with Brandon Graham, late of King City not to mention a TCJ Cartoonist's Diary alumnus.

And Brian Ralph's fourth installment of his journey into the heart of cardboard boxes.

And part five of Kim Deitch's ongoing memoir-through-music.

And elsewhere, in the mode of relaxation:

-I second Tom Spurgeon's recommendation of Bill Mauldin's Willie and Joe Back Home. I was amazed by how brutally frank the comics are, and how affecting. I actually prefer it to his WWII work -- it's even more impassioned, and the cartooning loosens enough to show off a really expressive, cutting line.

-The Mindscape of Alan Moore, a feature-length documentary on the writer, is now available for online viewing.

-Pappy's features stories by Lou Cameron, whose bulky, stilted style I've always enjoyed.

-Mickey Spillane wrote quite a few comic books before focusing only on prose. Here's Sergeant Spook, from 1942.

Show and Tell

Brian Ralph is back with another round of tips on how to survive at Comic-Con. I love this feature. (Speaking of Brian Ralph, did we forget to link to this recent Giant Robot interview with him?)

We also have video from another one of the SDCC panels this morning, the Andrew Farago-moderated "Art of the Graphic Novel", featuring Chester Brown, Seymour Chwast, Eric Drooker, Joyce Farmer, Joëlle Jones, Jason Shiga, and Craig Thompson.

And Mike Dawson's TCJ Talkies podcast returns, this time featuring guest Nick Abadzis, creator of LAIKA. (Speaking of Mike Dawson, his other podcast, Ink Panthers, just celebrated its 100th episode this week.)

An exhibition of work by Robert Crumb, a "self-confessed sex pervert" according to this newspaper report, is the cause of some controversy in Australia.

Spurgeon vs the Marvel zombies. I haven't read an old-fashioned comments battle like the one in this thread from a Robot 6 article on Stephen Bissette's recent boycott call in awhile. It's a funny thing — we've got a few dim bulbs commenting here time and again, but for the most part our site is relatively sedate. Especially since the early days, when Dan and I fielded many reader requests to get rid of comments altogether. Then I read one of these things and I kind of miss the spectacle of clashing dum-dums... I guess it's best just to observe from a short distance, like watching a nature video.

Ernest Priego has resurrected the transcript from a 2002 interview with Joe Sacco.

From the department of jokes too lazy even to call them easy: I prefer Lennon's earlier work.

Finally, not comics: Jonathan Rosenbaum has posted the first of two parts of an essay on Walt Disney, examining the ideological underpinnings of his films, and comparing him to Leni Riefenstahl.

Seeing the Light

Hi there,

Today we have Michael Dean's look at last week's Kirby ruling. It's the most incisive piece yet on the subject. A taste:

Clearly very conscious of recent editorials and letters in The New York Times expressing outrage at the way that Kirby had been shut out of the massive profits being reaped by Marvel/Disney, McMahon tried to distance herself from that controversy. At the outset of her ruling, she noted, “This case is not about whether Kirby (and other freelance artists who created culturally iconic comic book characters for Marvel and other publishers) were treated ‘fairly’ by companies that grew rich off the fruit of their labor. It is about whether Kirby’s work qualifies as work-for-hire … If it does, then Marvel owns the copyright in the Kirby works, whether that is ‘fair’ or not. If it does not, then the Kirby Heirs have a statutory right to take back those copyrights, no matter the impact on a recent corporate acquisition or on earnings from blockbuster movies made and yet to be made.”

After that, I urge you to read Tom Spurgeon's commentary (and the corresponding piece by Steve Bissette. I  strongly agree with both, particularly Tom's outrage and Steve's call for action.

Also on the site:

In sunnier news, Brian Ralph brings us his first full day on the con floor.

And finally, another in our continuing presentation of SDCC panels, the Page One panel moderated by Douglas Wolk.

The Adventure Continues

This is going to be a great week here at the Journal, so stay tuned.

First up, we have video from the recent San Diego Comic-Con panel featuring Mario, Gilbert, and Jaime Hernandez, and moderated by our own Kristy Valenti. Watch it!

Also, Brian Ralph has agreed to provide our latest Cartoonist's Diary, and begins relating his experiences at Comic-Con on the airplane.

Frank Santoro uses his recent experience working with Dash Shaw on an animation project to compare comics with film. (Speaking of which, Tom Spurgeon has unearthed the website for Frank's hitherto secret day job.)

Elsewhere:

Our own article on the recent Jack Kirby legal decision will be published soon. In the meantime, Steve Bissette is worth reading on the subject. He's calling for a boycott of Marvel.

One of the nice things about Tom Spurgeon's return from hiatus is knowing that Sundays are cartoonist-interview-reading time again. This week, he talked to Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai.

Jeet Heer has posted the preferred & corrected version of his recent essay on Captain America.

Matthias Wivel attended the Eisner show at MoCCA in New York, and has photos.

Not comics: Joe McCulloch and Tucker Stone discuss a book without pictures, David Foster Wallace's posthumous The Pale King. (I still haven't been able to bring myself to read that novel. It's felt too ghoulish. I will get over that, I'm sure, as it's no strongly held principle.) It is also apparently the fifth anniversary of Tucker's site.

Alex Pappademas's recent article in the New York Times Magazine bemoaning the corporatized nature of superhero stories, with their unimaginative rehashings, obligatory (and meaningless) winks to fans, and exploitation of the collector mentality, could have come straight from any comic-book blog of the last ten years. Except it's about superhero movies instead of superhero comics. And it's in the Times. Mo' money, mo' problems, as the redoubtable P. Diddy once so unconvincingly put it.

Speaking of cynical Hollywood cash grabs, Abhay Khosla takes great pleasure in the box office failure of Cowboys & Aliens, which property it is easy to forget began as a transparently movie-minded "comic book." Khosla is glad that the movie based on a real comic, The Smurfs, has come out on top. I'd be more inclined to share his happiness if I hadn't seen the trailer...

No Trial

Top new of the day: As you may know by now, the Kirby estate suffered quite a defeat yesterday, according to Deadline's Nikki Finke:

The federal judge not only granted the studio motions for summary judgment but also denied the Toberoff/Kirby's cross-motion for summary judgment. The ruling revolved around the fact that Kirby was a freelance writer and did work-for-hire and so didn't retain the copyright. "This is just the beginning," Toberoff just told me, noting that, after the Kirby Estate exercised their termination rights under the Copyright Act, Marvel (backed by Disney) was in the middle of settlement negotiations in December 2009 and sued the Kirbys on January 8, 2010 in NY to benefit from that state's more favorable work-for-hire case law.

Essentially, this means the judge decided the law was so clear that the case doesn't even need to go to trial.

The Beat has commentary from Jeff Trexler, the ruling itself, and Trexler has posted a number of links to depositions.

We'll have coverage on Monday from Michael Dean.

On the site today:

-Thanks to our Seattle ace Kristy Valenti, we begin a series of posts featuring videos of panels from this year's San Diego Comic-Con, starting with 50 Years of Fandom featuring

Bill Schelly, Dick and Pat Lupoff, Jean Bails, Maggie Thompson, Mark Evanier, Paul Levitz, Richard Kyle and Roy Thomas.

- Hayley Campbell reviews an Anders Nilsen mini-comic/object.

And elsewhere:

-Kim Thompson takes an incisive and witty leap into the gender/greatness-in-comics minefield.

-And from The Daily Cartoonist comes news that the Jay Stephens-drawn syndicated strip Oh Brother! is ending.

Turning the Lights On

R.C. Harvey outdoes himself with a new article about Archie, John Goldwater, and the end of the Comics Code:

It is serenely fitting that Archie should be the last publisher to leave the dismal Code room, turning on the light as it left. John Goldwater, one of the trio of founders of MLJ Comics out of which Archie emerged, was, as he himself claimed, “the prime founder” of the CMAA, which invented the Code and enforced it with the Comics Code Authority. Hence, this seems an appropriate moment to consider the dubious record of John Goldwater, the man who claimed to have invented Archie Andrews as well as the CMAA. About the latter there is less dispute than about the former. Let’s see whether his claims can withstand close scrutiny and the conflicting testimony of contradictory witnesses.

Elsewhere:

Maurice Sendak has a new book coming out in September (the first he's both drawn and written in 30 years), and talks with Dave Eggers about it in Vanity Fair.

Matt Seneca reads a tribute to the late Gene Colan in an issue of Daredevil, and is moved to recite a timeline of his professional life.

In a not unrelated story, Clifford Meth draws attention to a small fundraiser for comics creators via the Hero Initiative.

Nick Gazin at Vice interviews the mysterious Jonny Negron, everyone's favorite new porn cartoonist.

Alan Moore talks to Wired.

The Center for Cartoon Studies has been awarded a $255,000 grant, which it plans to use building the Inky Solomon Center, a "state-of-the-art industry center designed to help CCS alumni launch projects, incubate start-up companies and create jobs."

Kevin Czap looks at comic-book sound effects in the work of Jordan Crane, Brandon Graham, and various manga artists.

Finally, that Grant Morrison documentary from a while back is apparently available for free online viewing now.

Specials!

I'm just kidding, there's nothing special in here. Just some links and stuff.

On the site today:

Tucker Stone reviews Winterworld:

But lets be honest: coloring inside the lines of the post-apocalyptic genre isn’t a field anybody needs help finding average-to-great examples of; you could fake an epileptic seizure in a decently stocked Barnes & Noble and end up with a decent chunk of the stuff just by picking up whatever your flailing hands knocked to the floor.

And elsewhere:

Can I mention again how outrageous and sad it is that Bill Blackbeard didn't make it into the Hall of Fame? Thank you. Seriously. I know, I know, it's just an honorific, but... c'mon.

Thanks to Rob Stolzer, we have a little more information about Slim Jim cartoonist Raymond Crawford Ewer, whose spectacular work was featured in Art Out of Time. These postcards to a friend from the 20 year-old artist are pretty wonderful.

Young Sammy Harkham sent over this link to work by someone I'd never heard of, Tiger Tateishi. Exceptionally surreal manga and paintings.

I'm not sure how I missed this before: A link (NSFW) to the Wrightson-Bode porn classics from Swank magazine. I remember seeing this work in a Wrightson compilation when I was a kid and being deeply confused. The combination of those two art styles becomes this gnarly bubble thing... and I like it. Dig those colors, too. Minor but impressive porn comics itching for a reprint. Now there's a business idea for parent company: "Eros Classics", in which the highest standards are applied to archiving the horniest porn. Wally Wood's complete Gang Bang on sumptuous acid free heavyweight paper. That one's free, boss! A money-loser from me to you.

And finally, a round-up from Sean T. Collins on a quote he posted and its aftermath.

 

Let’s Go

Morning all. I'm back on the blog beat, and am raring to post links to various stories about comics across the internet.

First, on our site, Katie Haegele interviews Slow Wave cartoonist Jesse Reklaw.

Sean T. Collins reviews Mario and Gilbert Hernandez's sci-fi soap, Citizen Rex.

And Joe McCulloch previews This Week in Comics as only he can.

Elsewhere:

Our own Jeet Heer writes about the historical and ongoing political meanings of Captain America in the Globe and Mail. (Hey, where's Dapper Dan on this movie?)

A rare, short interview with Glamourpuss creator Dave Sim, who is now apparently peeved at Neil Gaiman for not being interested in reading Glamourpuss.

Supergods, Grant Morrison's very strange (at least in the parts that aren't just hastily joined-together filler) history of superhero comics, has come out. We will have more coverage of the book here at the site soon, but Paul Gravett has a take worth reading here. The best response I've read so far to one of the book's more troubling aspects comes from Abhay Khosla.

Rob Clough rounds up his thoughts on the recent Jacques Tardi reprints.

And should we keep linking to great Eddie Campbell blog posts, are all of you smart enough to be following him on your own by now?