Where Were You?

Morning! I guess the big thing in San Diego is over now. Tom Spurgeon has the best round-up of the news from the halls. As far as I can tell, the only interesting announcements made were about reprinting old comics: Zap, the EC line from our benefactors at FB and more Artist's Editions from IDW (Wally Wood, John Romita, Will Eisner). I love old comics, but... any new comics? Anyone? My favorite news out of San Diego: Spidey-villian Rhys Ifans was drunk and hating America at the movie panel. Y'know, having been to Comic-Con only twice, I have to say, getting drunk and hating America is a not unreasonable reaction. Luckily, upcoming Cartoonist Diary entrant Brian Ralph will be bringing us all the dirt from his magical weekend at Comic-Con.

Annnnyhhoooow, what's new on the site today? Let's see... A brand new Frank Santoro travel-brand column.

And, as promised herewith my comics-oriented Tokyo picture-fest! OMG! Spent a week in Tokyo the other week, which was awesomely hot. Anyone who knows me knows that my first stop in Tokyo must always be to pay homage to King Terry. My liege. We had a productive few hours, taped a good interview and discussed things. When I last saw him he was getting a haircut at his favorite barbershop, just up the street from his studio.  A barbershop, I might add, that he has colonized and decorated like a gangsta-rap loving visual virus. 

And then off to see Yoshikazu Ebisu, who was kind enough to make time just before his museum exhibition.

He was kind enough to bring along some original art to show. I remain shocked at how clean the art is. Ebisu's lines are sure and clean. Virtually no mistakes evident. Heta-uma, sure, but with a 19th century line.

Accompanying me was our own Ryan Holmberg, who lives in Tokyo right now. Ryan and I later went to see Kosei Ono, translator and manga gadfly since the 1960s. Kosei both wrote Incredible Hulk stories for manga and translated Maus. That's a career.

Ryan turned me on to my new favorite manga series:

Another day I went to see Keiichi Tanaami, Japanese psychedelic graphics master and, apparently, occasional experimental manga maker, as with this unsanctioned "Wonder Woman" strip rom 1969.  

And rounding out the trip was a four-day stint at the Tokyo Art Book Fair, where I got to spend some quality time with Yuichi Yokoyama. This is how Yokoyama likes to have his picture taken with fans. Yes, that shirt is one-of-a-kind. 

We did a live a conversation together, during which Yokoyama drew on sheets of paper. At the end he put the stack of some 60-70 drawings on the floor as a gift. Minor pandemonium ensued. 

And that pretty much sums up my trip! Thank you, Tokyo!

Made It

I have promised much, and delivered little. But I swear (sort of) that Monday will bring some good pix and fun facts on this here blog. In the meantime, here's the best I can do.

Today on the site: Rob Clough reviews the latest Harvey Pekar book.

And if you haven't already read Sean Rogers’ epic Walt Simonson interview, you should. On that note, IDW has just announced its next "Artist's Edition": Wally Wood. It'll present the best of Wood's EC stories at their original size, in full color. That's good news, and those originals are truly spectacular. Which reminds me, if you haven't already, head over to Heritage Auctions to get a gander at the stunning original art for one of my favorite Wood stories, the vicious, scathing and sad "My Word", published in 1975. And on my final IDW tip, I greatly enjoyed Howard Chaykin's review of Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth over at the Los Angeles Review of Books. Chaykin draws a solid parallel to Phil Spector in his review:

To convey the irony and contradiction of the place that Alex Toth commands in popular culture in general and comics in particular, we might step away from the Orson Welles-Citizen Kane metaphor, and go instead to Phil Spector and the three-minute miracles of early rock ‘n’ roll that are his artistic and creative legacy. No one — at least no one I know — would ever mistake the lyrics of Spector’s best known material for anything but teenaged pap and drivel, while his orchestration, presentation, and arrangement of this junky doggerel never fails to elevate it to the level of unequivocal genius. I still get a goose pimpling shudder of delight at the first notes of the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” and The Crystals’s “Da Doo Ron Ron,” and it’s that same reflexive joy I experience at the sight of Alex Toth’s execution of the primitive, barely pulpy scripts that make up so huge a percentage of the work every cartoonist is asked to delineate.

The whole piece is worth reading, in the ever-worthwhile interest of reading one cartoonist on another.

And finally, I'd be remiss not to mention this, the latest from Frank Miller, now complete with an animated trailer. Should be interesting.

Away from There

As Day 1 of Comic-Con passes (check your Twitter feeds for news, fans!) we celebrate here at TCJ with... comics.

-Jeffrey Trexler continues his work on the end of the comics code with his latest piece, which looks at recent rulings:

Just a few months after the Comics Code met its less than grisly fate, the U.S. Supreme Court cited the anti-comics crusade of the 1950s as an example of misguided censorship. The Court's citation of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in its decision to strike down a statute banning violent video games was a signal moment in the history of the organization and the wider comics community, as the country's highest legal authority acknowledged that the movement giving rise to the Comics Code was a historic mistake.

And elsewhere:

-Favorite thing I missed (and from which I stole the featured image): Craig Fischer on versions of Moebius' career at The Panelists. Great to read Craig poking at the mythology surrounding the man.

-Matt Seneca builds up a loooong piece on Geoff Johns and manages to throws in a Henry Darger comparison for good measure.

-And speaking of which, here's Eddie Campbell on the literalism prevalent in today's comics. It's so nice to see the man blogging again. Such a welcome presence.

22 Hours Later…

I'm back from Tokyo. It took 22 hours, but I'm back. I'll have photos, facts, and amusing anecdotes tomorrow. I will say this: It was hot. And I know from hot. It was like Arizona sun combined with swamp humidity. It was so not that I lost enough weight in one week to drop a belt size, despite nightly consumption of beer to kill the aforementioned heat. That's hot. Other than that, and no wi-fi reception on my laptop (mysterious, but true!) the trip was amazing. I met manga and design legends. I asked King Terry about his portrayal of testicles and I browbeat a 75-year-old man about precisely when in 1967 he designed a specific poster. Good times, my friends. Good times.

Anyhow, I understand there's some kind of comic book convention opening today! Must be a big deal or something.

In our little corner of the world we have:

-Mike Dawson interviewing Jason Lutes on Berlin and his career in general.

-A re-publication of Gary Groth's 1990 interview with Joe Simon, since there's a certain movie coming out... also look out for Simon's new autobiography, which contains my favorite appraisal by one cartoonist of another, ever. It's towards the end and about Bob Powell.

And that's all for now. Substantial posting to return and continue throughout the week!

C.R.E.A.M.

Sean Rogers, who conducted our recent interview with Chester Brown, has now sat down with the artist Walt Simonson for a wide ranging discussion covering everything from Manhunter to the new Thor Artist's Editions (not to mention his thoughts on his contemporaries, what it's like to work on movie tie-ins, and Michael Moorcock).

As you all know, Dan is traveling right now, which prevents him from blogging. Joe McCulloch is traveling, too, but it hasn't stopped him from bringing you the latest installment of This Week in Comics.

The biggest news in comics this week is probably Peter Laird's announcement that he plans to end the Xeric grant, ostensibly due to the ease in which new cartoonists can self-publish on the web, or using web-based fundraisers.

Nicole Rudick interviews Paul Hornschemeier for the Paris Review website.

Don McGregor is selling art to fund the payment of some necessary medical bills.

Michael Dooley interviews the historian and cartoonist Trina Robbins.

And this bodes well: the critic James Wolcott will be attending Comic-Con this year. Which is no surprise, really -- he's a comic-book reader from way back.

The Top of the Slide

We've got a real treat for you this morning, an advance preview of what looks like a strong contender to be the manga reprint of the year: Gajo Sakamoto's Tank Tankuro. Check it out.

Rob Clough reviews Gene Luen Yang and Thien Pham's Level Up.

And in his latest column, Frank Santoro wonders if the art of cartooning is going to go the way of jazz.

Finally, for those of you interested in continuing to debate Sean T. Collins's recent review: Black Eye editor Ryan Standfest and anthology contributors Jeet Heer and Onsmith appeared on the latest episode of Inkstuds to discuss the book, and black humor in general.

The Bottom of the Slide

Good morning. Today, Dan the great Paul Karasik reviews Joyce Farmer's Special Exits:

People in comics tend to become symbols.

In Joyce Farmer’s powerful Special Exits the people are more people-like than I have encountered in comics in a long time.

Being a comics snob, I entered the book kicking and screaming.

And Shaenon Garrity's column returns, this time covering the entire history of webcomics, from Dr. Fun to Kate Beaton:

Is this the future of webcomics: stick figures and screencaps that can fit to an iPhone? Maybe, but at the same time, good webcomics are better than ever. When I started drawing webcomics in 2000, my chicken-scratch drawings and barely-legible lettering represented some of the better effort in the field. I could never have imagined that work on the level of Danielle Corsetto’s raunchy lady strip Girls with Slingshots, Ursula Vernon’s fantasy graphic novel Digger, or Blaise Larmee’s haunting experimental comic 2001 would be representative of the medium.

Elsewhere:

The mysterious Pádraig Ó Méalóid turns in another of his seemingly endless series of interviews with Alan Moore, covering his upcoming League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book. Actually, it's basically nothing but promotion, but Moore is such a good talker you end up not minding.

Comics Journal fan favorite Nick Gazin wrote a column for Vice again. Bug him over there for a while, will you?

And the Guardian has a short but sweet profile of the great writer Flannery O'Connor, focusing on her little-known work as a cartoonist. (via)

Downhill Racer

Dan is lost in Japan without internet access, apparently, and can't contribute to the blog while he's there—or so he told me in an e-mail very late last night. Hey, wait a minute! That doesn't make sense. I think I'm getting played... Anyway, once more into the breach.

Ryan Holmberg does it again, turning in another essential entry in his "What Was Alternative Manga?" series. Everything you never knew you wanted to know about Japanese mid-century crime and pulp fiction—and their relation to manga.

Elsewhere:

Ken Quattro at the Comics Detective used a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain FBI material regarding their investigation of Lev Gleason, and his possible ties to the Communist party. And he lays it all out for us here. (Thanks, RB.)

Over at the Guardian, six big-name cartoonists—Peter Kuper, Bryan Talbot, Posy Simmonds, Ariel Schrag, Martin Rowson, and Lynda Barry—name and discuss their own personal favorite comics artists. Their comments are brief, but sometimes surprising. Rowson and Barry's commentary in particular might be considered fighting words in some households.

Rob Clough writes a ginormous survey covering the entire range of Swedish comics published by Top Shelf a few years ago.

Finally, Matt Seneca attempts his version of a Tucker Stone special, writing rapid-fire on the latest superhero shenanigans.

Is It Already Wednesday?

We're slowing things down a little for you this week, which is probably good considering the torrent of long articles we've been publishing lately. Also, a breather is probably necessary before the next flood.

This morning, Sean T. Collins reviews the first issue of Ryan Standfest's Black Eye. I'll agree that book is a little uneven, but I liked a lot more than it looks like Sean did. That may be at least partly due to a lingering soft spot I retain for this kind of self-published heart-on-its-sleeve anthology, in which the editors' excitement at getting their ideas into print is both palpable and inspiring. This is a dangerous weakness for a Comics Journal editor to have — I promise to rid myself of it asap.

It seems like a slow week elsewhere on the comics internet, too. Journal contributor Matthias Wivel has written a review of Chester Brown's Paying for It, if you aren't worn out on discussing that book by now. And Journal editorial coordinator Kristy Valenti concludes her series on Kate Beaton for comiXology. Otherwise, things seem eerily quiet right now.

Jet Lagging

Apologies, but it's 6 pm here in Tokyo, and I've just arrived. Now I must eat and sleep. So all you will get today is a promise of good pix on Thursday and the following notes on today's content:

-Sean Michael Robinson brings us an interview with the artist Mahendra Singh.

-And even if Jog (or Frank!) was in my position, they'd turn in a piece of writing. But they are better men than I. So here's is Jog's week in comics!

Later!

Wake Up, Wake Up

Hayley Campbell starts the week off with a review of David Hahn's All Nighter.

Even when Frank's taking it easy with his column, he manages to drop some knowledge about Gray Morrow and Carl Barks you couldn't get from anyone else.

Sean T. Collins returned with the second installment of his "Say Hello" column on Friday, this time featuring the popular illustrator and web cartoonist Emily Carroll.

And Rob Clough reviewed the latest anthology in the Sunday series, which grew out of its editors' time at the Center for Cartoon Studies.

Recent Journal interview subject Jim Woodring gives a young aspiring cartoonist some advice in a letter from 1993. (via)

So far, July has been a very good month for reading Gabrielle Bell's comics online. (She's going for one a day all month.)

Jeet Heer, take note: The Panelists dig up a fascinating quote from Walt Kelly regarding the use of racial caricature by cartoonists of his time.

Some people have trouble understanding the humor in New Yorker cartoons, others, well ... have you ever had trouble getting the jokes in Beetle Bailey? Mort Walker explains what's funny about selected strips in a series of videos.

The New York Times talks to Jules Feiffer and others regarding The Dancer Films, an adaptation of selected strips from Feiffer's long-running strip in the Voice. Will this movie break the Green Lantern box office curse, and make the world safe for comic book movies again?

And finally, one of the CEOs of Archie has made the news on the seedier side of the internet.

Finally, Drew Friedman art pirated by Chinese snake-oil peddlers! Would you buy a sex aide with this man's face on it?

TG, etc.

Well ok, it's Friday. So here we are

Kim Deitch weighs in with Part 4 of his memoir, this one focusing on rock 'n roll.

And elsewhere:

-Pal Mike Reddy is posting nifty daily drawings on Annals of Americus. The link will take you to the index -- click on each entry to read a short story based on one of Mike's humorous dystopian images.

-Eddie Campbell continues his explorations into definitions and Spanish comics.

-It's always good to see new work from Frank Young and David Lasky -- they've announced a new graphic novel called Oregon Trail: The Road of Destiny, coming out this Fall.

-And TCJ-contributor Matt Seneca has a fun link dump, including scans of a rare English-language interview with Liberatore.

July Continues

R. Fiore's Funnybook Roulette returns, with a classic-style roundup of reviews of recent-ish comics by Winshluss, Jean-Claude Carrierre, Pascal Girard, Jason Shiga, and Jeffrey Brown, among others. A sample:

No fair observer would deny that it takes more than one book to fully explore the absurdity of the Transformers concept.

We also bring you Katie Haegele's review of It Is Almost That, an anthology of text-driven artworks (& art-driven texts) created by female artists. It begins:

It Is Almost That is not an anthology of comics. In fact, most of the work in the collection has no narrative in any traditional sense. But the 26 works collected here all use words and visual art and combine them, in some way, to tell a story. As editor Lisa Pearson writes in her afterword, “…texts do not always appear on pristine white fields; images are not illustrative and language does not explain; stories do not unfold in predictable ways—and yet every page is meant to be read.”

Elsewhere:

Hairy Green Eyeball brings jpegs of Wally Wood parodies of comic strips from Mad.

Finally, Darryl Ayo voices a frequently heard complaint about the unsatisfactory nature of many comics when read as individual issues. It's difficult not to sympathize.

Two things come to mind in reaction to this. 1: DC recently (sort of) announced that they were going to start addressing the issue, by no longer padding out stories with filler to bring them up to collection-length. We'll see if that actually happens. Padding may be a hard habit to break.

And 2: In an interview conducted by Matt Zoller Seitz, David Simon (co-creator of The Wire and Treme) responds to similar complaints about the perceived unsatisfactoriness of Treme episodes, and how that show's writing staff writes with the eventual DVD set in mind, not weekly viewers:

The measure that I care about is not the episodic. I just don't care about evaluating these things by episodes. It's like I'm building a house, and you're telling me, "I really like the stairwell, but I don't like the balustrade." Well, great, thanks, y'know? What do you think of the house? When you get to the end [of a season], did it feel like she got where she was supposed to go, and that she really experienced these eight months as an ordinary human being would? That's the real challenge, because film is a shorthand for everything.

[...] I don't care about the thrills you get in every episode. I want it to be resonant at the end, in a cumulative way. Eric feels the same way. We feel we're writing a singular, elemental thing.

[...]

[We're] writing the show for people who have a complete season DVD set in front of them, or who are watching the show via HBO On Demand, or who can otherwise absorb it all as a piece, and watch [the episodes] all in a row.

That being said, every Treme episode I've seen contains an enormous amount of narrative detail in comparison to your average issue of Flashpoint, so keep in mind that by bringing these two together, I'm comparing apples to ham sandwiches.

Summer Heat

Today on the site:

Mike Dawson's TCJ Talkies with Bob Fingerman.

-Chris Mautner reviews Lucille.

And around the spinning internet globe:

-Hayley Campbell wrote in to note that the great London comic book store Gosh! is moving after 25 years in the same spot, and too a bigger location, to boot, which the store is celebrating with some killer sounding events.

-Cartoonist Tim Hensley is putting elderly videos and music on his Tumblr. This is a must.

-Evan Dorkin discusses the process of securing a film version of his and Jill Thompson's Beasts of Burden.

-I'm not sure what this is, but it seems intriguing.

Back to Work

We're salving our fireworks wounds and recovering from a very long day in traffic this morning, so time is tight, but we've got some new content for you, too.

Chris Randle interviews the illustrator and Skim artist, Jillian Tamaki.

Frank Santoro gets a bit more informal in his latest column on color.

Joe McCulloch delivers his always invaluable column on the week in new comics.

Elsewhere:

Chris Mautner's written another solid entry in his recurring Comics College feature, this time on the most essential cartoonist of them all, George Herriman. I endorse Mautner's recommendations on this one.

The New York Times came up with the bright idea of commissioning the famous activist and former sex worker Annie Sprinkles to review Paying for It. It's a fun, short read, but more interesting for sociological reasons than as a piece of criticism.

And finally, the nominations for this year's Harvey Awards have been announced.

The Longest Weekend

Okay, just like most of you, our pick-up trucks are all loaded with watermelon, Weber grills, and illegal fireworks, and we're ready to head out to parts unknown to celebrate the birth of a nation, but we've got a few more items for you to read first. Independence Day means that we won't be publishing on Monday, but that's good news really, because if you didn't notice, this week was really packed with great reading material. Use the extra day to catch up on whatever you missed. (And tune in to WKCR's annual all-day Armstrong festival for a soundtrack.)

This morning, our columnist R.C. Harvey offers a retort to the video re his Milton Caniff book that I posted a while back. Whatever controversy may still linger over its funniness or lack thereof, I can now feel confident that publicizing that video had at least one positive result. By the way, Dan wants to report that for the record, he has read the entire book: "It is very long, yet also very awesome."

Dan wrote the other piece we have for you today, a review of one of the most anticipated books of the year, Peter Maresca's latest oversize reprint anthology, Forgotten Fantasy: Sunday Comics 1900-1915. I can not wait to see this one.

On a sadder note, Thierry Martens, comics historian and former editor of Spirou, has passed away at the age of 69. Kim Thompson offers tribute.

Elsewhere:

The Asterix/brain injury controversy isn't going anywhere! Jeff Albertson goes into great detail on the subject over at the Comics Grid. Actually, he provides some valuable context, and a needed reminder that whenever the media hypes up a scientific or academic study, there's a very good chance there's some serious misrepresentation going on.

Apparently, the Favorites zine, edited by the great Craig Fischer, and intended to raise money for Parkinson's research on behalf of Team Cul De Sac, is now available for sale. Among its authors are several Journal favorites, including Rob Clough, Jeet Heer, Chris Mautner, Joe McCulloch, Frank Santoro, and Matthias Wivel.

And finally, Johanna Draper Carlson reports that Friends of Lulu is no more.

Thierry Martens, R.I.P.

Fellow cartoonist Tibet borrowed Thierry Martens's distinctive look (and physique) for the villain in this "Ric Hochet" adventure.

I just read that Thierry Martens has died, at far too early an age: 69.

Martens was the first comics professional who was nice to me. He was the editor-in-chief of Spirou magazine during the time when I was reading it, and more than once he replied to my long, rambling, fannishly opinionated letters to the editor with long, friendly letters of his own. (Which was more than Stan Lee ever did. Or Roy Thomas, even.) I'm pretty sure I still have them somewhere. Perhaps he was intrigued by the oddness of an American Spirou reader who wrote him in flawless French. Or maybe he realized he was dealing with a kindred spirit. Little did he know that 40 years later I'd be publishing some of "his" cartoonists, such as Tillieux and Macherot.

No one would claim that Martens's reign over Spirou (1968-1978) represented the magazine's true peak -- that distinction would belong to Yvan Delporte, who preceded him and oversaw Spirou's genuine Golden Age -- but as a teenager with a choice among Spirou and the other Franco-Belgian weeklies, Spirou is the one I stuck with... so that ought to count for something. I think that within the limitations of that decade, as Spirou's great first-generation cartoonists tuckered out or moved on, to be replaced by inevitably lesser later generations, and as the Asterix-driven Pilote magazine became the standard-bearer in the field, and as weekly comics magazines in general began their irrevocable spiral into irrelevancy, Martens did about as good a job as anyone could have. And he clearly cared, and worked his ass off. Those are not bad qualities to be remembered for, especially if you get to add in "nice guy."

Cementing his status as one of the good guys, Martens was also a tireless comics historian and archivist, and Spirou's frequent forays into classic reprints and cartoonist biographies (which certainly fueled my own early passion for such things) can all be directly credited to him.

Rest in peace, Monsieur Martens.

Carny

In our ongoing attempt to shut down your brains with the sheer force of our content, we bring you yet more STUFF.

*Kim Deitch checks in with Part 3 of his memoir, this time covering the advent of television, some of his favorite programs, and a bit about music. If you aren't reading this you are seriously missing out. Living legend, this guy.

*And Rob Clough delivers a thoughtful take on the work of Dave Kiersh.

On a personal note, kind readers, thanks to Tim (thanks meaning he once sold me the book for a buck) I have begun reading Michael Moorcock's Elric saga in the order Moorcock arranged the stories a decade ago. I'm into it, people. I feel I might be going in deep on this one. The quantity of ideas and images he's tossing out is pretty wonderful, as is the implicit meta-narrative of satire and the decline of the 20th century. I hit upon the stuff after years of reading it referenced by Moore, Simonson, etc. And it's been a total treat. Reading it after my recent Moebius jag is also satisfying, as Moebius has a similarly fevered psychedelic imagination rooted in late 1960s counterculture and straight-up pulps.

Also: A no-prize to anyone who can actually describe what's in (like "all drawings, no text" or "super long comic in French" or "a retelling of the Gospel of Mark") the Moebius books Jog mentioned on Tuesday. Help us try to understand!

And, as we say, "elsewhere":

-I am bummed that Tom Spurgeon is taking some time off from The Comics Reporter, but wish him a happy and relaxing time away from the world of the comics internet.

-Craig Fischer has an excellent piece up at The Panelists about his own shifting views of Gene Colan's artwork.

-For Frank: The story of one man's Trevor Von Eeden commission.

-And from pal Joshua Glenn comes this announcement:

HiLobrow is running a five-part series by Rob Steibel (who writes the Kirby Dynamics blog for the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center). The series takes a close look at the original artwork — and the margin notes by Kirby and Lee — from a single June 1967 Fantastic Four page. It's a lot of fun to read these panels over Rob's shoulder, and to compare them with the published panels. This exercise offers deep insights into the Kirby-Lee collaboration, and Rob is scrupulously fair to both parties.

The series thus far has been excellent. Go check it out.

Not That Far From Paradise

Today, we present our final preview for the upcoming issue 301 of The Comics Journal, a brief excerpt from Gary Groth's interview with Robert Crumb, mostly concerned with his Genesis.

We also have Sean Michael Robinson's review of Shigeru Mizuki's Onward to Our Noble Deaths. I really liked this book.

Elsewhere:

Jeet Heer reviews Ben Katchor's latest for the new Los Angeles Review of Books. Recommended all around.

In lieu of Dapper Dan's missing Green Lantern review, I point you towards another critique of the film written by our own Joe McCulloch—and, uh, he seems less than impressed!

Two creator podcast interviews possibly worth noting: one with the inimitable Eddie Cambpell, and the other with Grant Morrison. I haven't listened to either of these yet, but plan to do so over the holiday weekend. Campbell is on any thinking person's short list of great comics talkers, and would probably be fun to listen to even if interviewed about his thoughts on dog grooming. Grant Morrison, on the other hand, is not entirely my cup of Kool-Aid, but in this one, he's interviewed by the Mindless Ones, whose enthusiasm for the man and his work is dangerously contagious.

We don't comment too often on DC and Marvel scheduling mishaps in this space (mostly because 95% of the rest of the comics internet seems devoted to nothing else), but every once in a while one of them makes a mistake so funny it's impossible to look away. Chris Butcher explains.

Douglas Wolk has launched a new blog in which he promises to review every Judge Dredd book ever released. That's too much Dredd for me.

Missed it: On Sunday, The New York Times ran an editorial by Brent Staples supporting Jack Kirby in his family's ongoing copyright case with Marvel. Very little information in it will be new to readers of this site, but the fact that awareness of Kirby's contributions has finally spread as far as the Times is somewhat heartening.

Teen Me

I spent my weekend editing articles about Garfield, Gene Colan, and the Reuben Awards. That's right, I work for The Comics Journal. I'm in comics. Teen me would have been excited. Adult me whines.

You know who else is? R.C. Harvey. Today we bring you a lengthy profile by the Harv of Garf's owner, Jim Davis. Not something you see so often, and I'm pleased to have it.

We also have Jog reporting on this week's comic book store offerings, with a special focus on some recent and upcoming Moebius releases...

And the redoubtable Rob Clough brings in a review of a new book I also enjoyed, and which I hope gets a foothold in this crowded marketplace, The Next Day.

Elsewhere:

-Eddie Campbell writes on, and takes issue with parts of, the Spanish Wiki definition of the graphic novel.

-Tucker Stone reads a stack of comics so you don't have to! Well, I kinda want to read Green Arrow now, but I'll use my imagination.

-Dan Zettwoch can diagram anything, including how to grill a filet. He's the ideal artist-dinner guest: cooking, drawing, and inevitably, telling a very good joke.

-And finally, in random but kinda awesome news, Ione Skye has made a short film called David Goldberg, based on a slice of Dan Clowes' Ice Haven.

Whew

Okay, there's a lot to go through this morning.

First, you are no doubt aware of the sad news that the great comic book artist Gene Colan passed away last week. Yesterday, we posted a comprehensive obituary for Colan, written for the site by Tom Field, and covering all stages of his seven-decade career in comics:

Gene Colan never would be mistaken for anything less than what he was: One of comics’ unique stylists. He wielded his pencil like a brush to capture the toned subtleties of action, emotion and lighting. He brought a cinematographer’s vision to comics storytelling, and his stories were instantly recognized by fans, treasured by scholars and appreciated enviously by even his most accomplished peers.

We have also republished a 2001 interview with Colan, conducted by Larry Rodman. If you read nothing else on the site this week, those two articles are still well worth your attention.

In his column this weekend, Frank Santoro takes a break from his explorations of color to recap his recent involvement in the Pittsburgh Biennial.

New to the site this morning, ace interlocutor Nicole Rudick delivers one of the best interviews I have ever encountered with one of comics' most unique and essential creators, Jim Woodring.

When I was real little, I did drawings of the things I saw that scared me. I must have seen a mouse that got its head clawed off by a cat or something, because I had this recurring image of a headless animal, sometimes it was a big animal, like a bison. If I saw a bird or a bison I would imagine it with its head missing. Sometimes I would more than imagine it—I would see it and I would draw those things. I drew this little man made of electricity who was my persecutor. I would try to draw him in such a way that the drawing would have the intensity he had when I saw him. It was in his eyes. He had these blank eyes that scared me so much that I was almost sorry I when I captured them in a drawing. But then, at the same time, I was glad I did it, because it I felt like it showed that I was in control of the situation. I would just draw things that scared me. It upset my parents to no end. They really thought I was nuts, and it was the days before children were routinely sent off to psychologists or given drugs.. I’m sure if Ritalin and that stuff had been around, my folks would have gotten me on drugs as quickly as possible. Instead, they just despaired and withdrew from me.

Come to think of it, this is a must-read, too.

Finally, we have the second installment of Jeffrey Trexler's ongoing look at what happened to the Comics Code. Okay, it's all necessary material today. And we're just getting started, so set aside from reading time this week. You're going to need it.

Elsewhere on the internet:

The CBLDF has formed a coalition for the defense of an American comics reader facing criminal charges in Canada, because of various manga images found in the man's computer files. Chris Butcher has more.

Blake Bell and Bryan Munn have both posted nice tributes to the aforementioned Gene Colan. (Bell takes slight issue with Field's obituary, and it's worth reading him for an alternative view.)

Gary Panter salutes the Japanese poster artist Tadanori Yokoo on his seventy-fifth birthday.

The A.V. Club takes you inside Fantagraphics headquarters in Seattle.

And finally, our own sometime reviewer Chris Mautner selects six pop songs about comic-book characters.

Gene Colan 1926-2011

The great cartoonist Gene Colan passed away last night. To read his 2001 conversation with Larry Rodman from The Comics Journal #231, click here. We'll have a full obituary online over the weekend. Robert Boyd has written a smart appreciation.

 

Slowing Down

Do you feel the summer sun burning your neck? I do. It's burning my brain, too. That said, this is a quick one, folks, because... my lord, isn't there enough to read on this site already? C'mon!

Today we have A Dan Clowes Notebook by Mr. Jeet Heer:

From Lloyd Llewellyn to Mr. and Mrs. Ames, Clowes has often featured detectives in his stories, not to mention many amateur clue-hunters such as Clay Loudermilk  and David Boring. Another variation of this are the characters who are not quite detectives or clue-hunters but like to spy on other people: Random Walker, Violet, and Charles in Ice Haven are good examples.

And on the other end of the spectrum (well, sort of: A no-prize to the reader who can guess the link between Mike Allred and Dan Clowes without clicking through!) we have Nicholas Gazin on Mike Allred's latest effort.

Elsewhere in the universe, here's a nice profile of the great Canadian graphic artist Martin Vaughn-James.

And that's all. Go outside!

Beginnings & Endings

Good morning. First, Kim Deitch's amazing memoir-through-music continues today. If you skipped last week's because the name Dorsey scared you, you're missing out on something majorly entertaining, and enlightening. This time, he talks about his father (Gene Deitch), Alan Lomax, Jelly Roll Morton, and cowboy records.

My father’s interest in art had been long standing. He’d been a huge fan of Mickey Mouse growing up. By the time he was a teenager, he was putting out an amazing magazine called The Hollywood Star News. When I say amazing, I’m not kidding. It was produced on a hand cranked mimeograph machine. What’s that? Well, before photocopiers people could make cheap copies by typing onto wax sheets. Then you’d put the typed sheet onto a rotary mechanism filled with ink. Turn the barrel one revolution as you feed a piece of paper under it and you’d have a copy, in ink, of what was on the typed wax sheet. Keep turning as you feed more paper under the barrel and you’d get more copies. You could do at least quite a few hundred copies this way. You could also draw on the stencils and have crude illustrations, or not so crude in my father’s case. My old man, genius that he is, came up with a way to do four-color illustrations with good registration in The Hollywood Star News.

Elsewhere:

Eddie Campbell has republished an introductory essay he wrote about Batman and the Lew Sayre Schwartz on his blog, and added another afterthought here. (He of course wrote another tribute to Schwartz for this site earlier this week.)

Rob Clough has reposted his 2008 review of Bill Mauldin's Willie & Joe: The WWII Years. It's worth reading in conjunction with his recent piece on this site about that book's sequel.

Tom Spurgeon reports on Bud Plant's announced retirement. Above and beyond the many hours I am sure lots of readers of this site have spent browsing through his catalogs, Plant has had a major impact on the evolution of the comics business. Spurgeon talks about some of those reasons at his post. Also, I believe—and hope to be corrected if I am wrong—that by ordering large numbers of this magazine in its early days, Plant gave the Journal some important assistance when it was much needed.

I've been waiting for Charles Hatfield to weigh in on Chester Brown's Paying for It. And now he finally has. A must-read even if you've had your fill of prostitution talk.

Finally, occasional comics writer Paul Di Filippo has tracked down what he believes may be the very first review of a science fiction book in the New York Times, from 1943. It is fascinating for how closely the reviewer ties the genre to comic books (the best stories are "a good deal more than True Comics for adults", and the worst are "gibberish" which "may deserve a place in a volume like this as signs of an age that produced Superman").