Twittering Away the Day

Oh it's been busy here.

On the site today:

*Dustin Harbin's suddenly, semi-controversial reportage about the Doug Wright Awards returns with Day 4.

*More Canada! More! Jeet Heer's new column is online and it's about Paying for It. Deal with it! We're not giving up until we set a record for the most coverage on any web site about a comic book about prostitution. Stay with us, people!

In related news, cartoonist Sammy Harkham took some time away from the telephone to do some tweeting about Paying for It. Here's my favorite part, but really, there's so much more. Some people can tweet. I'm not one of them, but Sammy has found a higher calling here. A real kibbitzer, this guy.

In non-Canadian news, here are a couple of very interesting things:

-Here's a conversation about repro techniques in the new Buz Sawyer book between writer Joakim Gunnarsson and the book's editor, Rick Norwood. This is a good peek behind the curtain about how decisions are made in relation to the material available. (via JT)

-Over at Vice, Nicholas Gazin has posted another good column, including brief interviews with Peter Bagge and, uh, yours truly. And he's gone weekly. Beware!

-And finally, this is an incredibly well researched article (thanks, SH) about Orrin C. Evans, a writer and publisher who was responsible for the first African-American comic book, All-Negro Comics. Completely new, fresh territory mined here:

All Negro Comics # 1 is a good read. More thought went into the stories than I can briefly recap. Ace Harlem works as a detective story, the dialog is realistic and the incidentals of the story, the root doctor and the juke box playing ‘Open the Door Richard’ reflect the culture of the creators, as do Sugarfoot and Hep Chicks. Lion Man, a character surprisingly like Lee and Kirby’s Black Panther, is a well thought out concept, born with a secret laboratory and a pesky junior sidekick and ready for some good ol pulpy jungle action. The book reads and looks pretty much the same as a Fox, Iger or Chesler book of the same time period.

Go check it out.

Oh, and does anyone have a copy of this? Seriously. I didn't know existed until Sean Howe pointed it out.

Community-Building Exercise

Lining up for comic book reviews
These have been trying times. It is probably not too much to compare our recent internet problem's effect on readers as akin to that of the Great Depression on our ancestors. Reports continue to trickle in from loyal followers, anxious about the missing hours of TCJ.com. Some people—you may know them—are still unable to access their site from their computers, or at least are unable to do so while sitting at their work cubicles. For some, despair has begun to set in.

But like those Depression survivors, TCJ.com readers are showing a surprising, even inspiring resilience. At first, the messages we received were ones of dismay, even panic, but as time went on, something strange began to happen: across the globe, people who were joined together by nothing more than a shared interest in a minor art form began gathering into groups, sharing laptops and iPhones, and excitedly reading favorite stories from the site to each other. According to reports, TCJ.com reading parties have started sprouting up spontaneously in homes, bars, churches, and community centers across the country. Will "bowling alone" finally become a thing of the past? Who knows? But if you know someone unable to read TCJ.com on their own computer, why not invite them over to share in the fun?

Such as:

The third installment of Ryan Holmberg's epic and essential "What Was Alternative Manga?" column. Today's topic is Takao Saito and the "Gekiga Factory." There's nowhere else you can learn this stuff in English.

The hardest working man in comics reviewing, Rob Clough, talks about Melvin Monster: Volume 3.

And Dustin Harbin's latest diary comic!

Also, there is news on the print Comics Journal front, along with a big back-issue sale. Here's Mike Baehr with the word:

We are victims of our own success! Demand for The Comics Journal #301 is greater than we estimated and advance orders for the issue exceeded what we printed, so we have gone immediately back to press for a second printing. Since we couldn't fill all the orders from the first printing and didn't want to short any one segment of the market — comics stores, bookstores, subscribers — we decided to wait until we receive the second shipment before releasing the book, resulting in a 3-4 week delay, pushing the release to early July. It's been delayed so long already, what's another month? The lucky dozens who have managed to buy advance copies from us at MoCCA and TCAF will tell you, it's worth the wait!

This also gives you some extra time to get on board with a money-saving 3-issue subscription, which also gets you access to the online TCJ back-issue archives at TCJ.com!

And speaking of back issues, to help the wait for the new issue pass a little bit faster, save up to 50% off all TCJ back issues, Special Editions and Library editions through next Wednesday, May 25 2011!

Go here for more information.

Elsewhere on the internet, the aforementioned Rob Clough's efforts can not be contained within this site. He's got a slew of reviews up on his own blog, including takes on Joe Ollmann and Pascal Girard, Aaron Cockle, Colleen Frakes, Joe Daly, Steve Seck, and minicomics out of the Center for Cartoon Studies.

I forgot to link to this rather perverse Mother's Day webcomic written by Paul Slade, drawn by Hans Rickheit, and based upon one of the great David Attenborough's nature stories.

1-800-Mice cartoonist Matthew Thurber will want to know about this: apparently, you can now read the entirety of Elfquest for free online.

Via Tom Spurgeon comes links to two recent stories about the first manga books restricted under the new Japanese legal situation.

Via everyone, there's finally a trailer for the upcoming animated Tintin film. Attention Dapper Dan.

I really am going to stop posting TCAF reports, but I'll put in one more, just because Kevin Czap has written the one thing I've been missing this time around: an old-fashioned haul report.

Finally, the US government is now recognizing video games as a legitimate art form, allowing them to be eligible for NEA grants. I couldn't remember offhand, but maybe some of you readers can: has a cartoonist or graphic novel ever been awarded funding from the NEA?

And He Cooks, Too!

Well, Tim and I were heartened to know so many of you missed us for the 7 or 8 hours the site was down. We didn't know anyone was reading. Tim actually had me convinced that the current TCJ only appears on my screen in Brooklyn and one special, child-proof screen in New Jersey (not even in Tim's house, but just somewhere in New Jersey!). I suspected he was lying, so I feel vindicated now and maybe I'll tell my parents about this thing! They'll be so proud of my new life in comics.

Anyhow, insert your transition here, on the site today:

-Dustin Harbin: Day 2. I'm really glad to have Dustin's specific take on the Doug Wright Awards, and just glad to be working with him. The one time I went down to Heroes-Con in 2007 with Frank and Tim we really had a blast. Everyone did, including Brian Ralph, who may or may not have ever really recovered from it.

-Joe McCulloch heroically turns in yet another week in comics. The man is not human!

Oh, and what is that lead-in image, you might ask? Why it's a Neal Adams drawing from The Cartoonist's Cookbook, publishing in 1966. This tome, which has an intro from unsung early comics historian Stephen Becker, is pretty damn amazing, replete with, food memories and recipes by cartoonists famous and (now) obscure. Richard Gehr, of Know Your New Yorker Cartoonists fame, gave me a copy last night when we went to see Lee Lorenz play some damn fine jazz at Arthur's last night. Yes, this Lee Lorenz. Blows a mean coronet.

Here's Neal Adams, who talks lovingly about his wife cooking Chinese food.

And if this is not one of the best photos of a cartoonist, ever, then... well, then I guess I'm wrong.

Ladies and gents: Bill Holman!

The facing page has this priceless quote: "Holman says he never did an honest day's work until he sold 96,000 gag cartoons." And: "He has a reputation about money somewhat similar to Jack Benny's". Who's Jack Benny? Oh! Min! Plop!

And elsewhere online:

Tom Spurgeon has your answers regarding the out/sold out/out status of TCJ 301, not to mention our brief outage yesterday, complemented by a photo of me giving my "intense dude" stare. That's what I look like right now. OMG.

Comics Alliance has a preview and appreciation of Jacque Tardi's The Arctic Marauder.

Sean T. Collins looks into the comic/film synergy at Marvel Comics. Dapper Dan, meanwhile, is holding out hope for the Green Lantern movie.

The Eleventh Week

So that didn't work. Sorry about the disruption this morning. Apparently the e-mails sent out to remind us to renew our domain name were sent to the inactive address of a person who no longer works at Fantagraphics. It seems to be all fixed now, though, and shouldn't be a problem ever again. Though keep track of this date a year from now, and we'll see.

Okay, and we have two new prose columns up. First, R.C. Harvey is back with more thoughts about Bill Blackbeard.

[Bob] Beerbohm’s question hangs in the air: Why did no one know that Blackbeard had died? The man whose passion for collecting comic strips had launched hundreds of reprint projects slipped away without anyone knowing? “Why is that?”

And Frank Santoro posted his most recent Layout Workbook Sunday. This time, the topic was Asterios Polyp. (Have you been following along with this stuff? The sheer mass of evidence Frank has laid out so far is pretty impressive.)

Once I was teaching a class in my studio and I would randomly open Asterios Polyp to a spread and diagram it from the center out. The folks in the class practically fainted when they would see a random spread "line up" right in front of their eyes with a few twists of a compass. It's fun! Try it at home!

Austin English reviews a book likely to be one of the year's major releases, Lorenzo Mattotti's Stigmata.

Often, in a comic, if the reader is unsure of how to react to a particular character's physicality, it's due to the poverty of the cartooning (or the imaginative breadth of the story). But with Stigmata, the portrayal of the main character is so sophisticated that it defies us to size him up.

Finally, Dustin Harbin is our newest diarist. He went to TCAF, and drew a week's worth of cartoons about it. Entry one is up now.

Dustin isn't the only one filling out their convention reports a little late, and it's understandable if you're TCAF'd out by now. All the same, two recent posts on the show are still worth a look: Dylan Williams's (especially in light of the far less sanguine takehe offered after this year's MoCCA and Stumptown festivals), and Tom Devlin's, just because he may be the funniest tour guide in comics.

In Jeet Heer news, he reviewed Chester Brown's Paying for It in the Toronto Globe and Mail, and does so from a personal angle.

And now his daughter is getting into the comix tawk game.

Tom Hart, the best-liked man in comics, is holding a fundraiser for his Sequential Artists Workshop. Go here for more info.

Finally, Bhob Stewart has dug up a can't-miss oddity, with a back story involving Doug Moench, Robert Roger Ebert, and Vampirella.

Take a Trip to the Past

Welcome back. On the site today:

* A fond farewell to Joyce Farmer! Here's Day 5. Thanks, Joyce!

* Wrapping up our week of Chester Brown we have Scott Grammel's 1990 interview with the artist in its entirety! Compare and contrast! Let's look back for a second on our Chester-ness. We have: Sean Rogers' interview; R. Fiore's meditation; Naomi Fry's essay; and Ed Park's notes. Spend the weekend with 'em all!

Anyhow, by the time you read this I will have gone to the opening of Zap: Masters of Psychedelic Art, 1965-1974, curated by Gary Panter and Chris Byrne. Lucky for you went by the gallery on Wednesday to check in on it. Drawn from Glenn Bray's collection, the show is what you think it is: a few dozen excellent examples of work from the Zap artists from the comic book itself and contemporaneous collections. There are full stories by Robert Williams, Gilbert Shelton, and R. Crumb, and enormous pages by S. Clay Wilson, Rick Griffin and Spain (two panoramic scenes by Spain are particularly striking), as well as a wonderful page by Moscoso -- the first original of his from that period that I've ever seen. I gotta say, seeing a sequence of Williams pages in person made me remember what a phenomenal draftsman he is. The hot-rod honed precision rendering plus a phenomenal ability to work multiple figures on a single plane makes him look pretty damn great these days. Reproductions don't really do justice the sheen of his pen line. Plus, the guy worked only slightly larger than reproduction-size. Jeezuz. Anyhow, it's good to see these artifacts all gathered in one place. Some work better as "drawings" than others, but as a 360-degree view of that art, this is hard to beat. Plus, of course, I love that Panter, who has for the past few years been doing a sort of "my art history lineage" lecture, is curating this particular segment of his influence cloud. Seeing it through Gary's eyes deepens the choices and the work itself.

Sayeth Gary on his blog:

The accompanying cover of ZAP comix number one which appeared in microscopic form as an item in the Electric Last Minute, the fold-out poster calendar that came free in every issue of EYE magazine back in the late  sixties, blew my mind. It was familiar and foreign– backward-looking AND forward-looking. The tiny cover, pictured, reminded me of old Popeye comics or of the Nutt Brothers by Gene Ahearn, the last of the really old-timey looking comics in the newspaper. It was a year or so before I got my hands on a Zap, which by the way is a trademarked logo and the rights are shared by the aforementioned Zap group of artists, and I wasn’t disappointed. There was a high level of skill, experimentation and a rabid interest in pushing the limits of allowed content and social critique. Some of the artists I had seen before: Rick Griffin’s work had appeared in surf mags; I looked forward to Robert William’s complex and disturbing, hence exciting, ads for Ed Roth monster shirts in various hot rod mags; Wonder Wart Hog I had seen in hot rod cartoons magazines and in his own short lived magazine; plus, I had been magnetically drawn to the funny greeting card racks in drug stores by the commercial illustrations of Robert Crumb. Something amazing had happened! A bunch of edgy cartoonists that I was already watching had grown their hair out, formed an experimental drawing club, teamed up with more insane drawers and moved to San Francisco to be hippie cartoonists and poster artists. WOW! That premise was exciting enough, but when I finally got my hands on an issue of Zap I was ecstatically pleased to see that the drawing was of such a high, controlled, inventive, diverse order and that the disparate approaches, experiments and stylizations were somehow successfully fused into soupy collaborative drawings, just… well, it was a lot to consider.

Well anyhow, I'll post some pix from the opening and such next week, I suppose. Should be a hoot. The catalog, by the way, is a mammoth affair: 14" x 16", 48 pages, showcasing the artwork larger than it's ever been printed, I supposed. [PLUG ALERT!] In about a week PictureBox will be exclusively carrying the thing. It's a run of 1000, so you'll wanna get 'em while you can.

Now, onwards, to something else.

* Bleeding Cool gets a comment from Bill Sienkiewicz on a 2005 proposal for a Wonder Woman series he wanted to do with Frank Miller. As the world's only human who prefers DK2 to the original, I would have liked to see that series. That reminds me, does anyone out there know if  Sienkiewicz, who at one point shared a studio with Stan Drake, worked on the latter's Kelly Green series? Kelly Green! Overlooked graphic novel of '80s.

* Heidi MacDonald went to see Steranko, Simonson and Quesada talk and has a report.

* Oh man, that is one bad-ass cover on the upcoming Marti book.

* This is a great little mystery over at Stripper's Guide.

Have a great weekend.

 

TCAF, Schmeekaff

Chester Brown Week continues today with a review from Naomi Fry:

What does good sex consist of, exactly, for a straight man? I’ll admit, in the spirit of full disclosure, that this might not the most apt question to be puzzling out in my current state as a bloated, fatigued, 39-weeks-along pregnant woman, but let’s give it a try anyway...

And Joyce Farmer is back with another diary entry. In this one, she reflects back on an earlier portion of her life:

Thus began my radicalization. I was astounded that I had to prove to the state that I was suicidal, when all I wanted was an abortion, clean and safe.

Elsewhere:

Ed Champion interviews Daniel Clowes for his popular podcast series.

Forbidden Planet reports on the wrap party for Alan Moore's Dodgem Logic.

There are two recently published articles on race and superhero comics getting lots of attention on the internet this week. This one is better than the other.

The history of the "Bechdel" rule told through links.

Also, apparently one of Harvey Pekar's final projects may be having publication problems, though it is difficult for me to see what exactly is going on, if anything.

Finally, here's a couple of the better TCAF reports I've seen going around:

A nice one from Secret Acres. (And I agree with what they say—the new Koyama Press releases are impressive.)

And a two-parter from John Porcellino.

And Jeet Heer e-mailed me a few more photos from the convention:

Peter Birkemoe with National Post editor Mark Medley.
Brad Mackay and his sister-in-law Brenda at the Doug Wright Awards.
Chester Brown listens intently, as Dan sinks into reverie. (In the mirror, Tania Van Spyk and Pascal Girard.)
Chester Brown eats paper off-stage

Photo Bungling

Happy Wednesday. On the menu today:

* Ed Park joins us for our week of Chester Brown with the somewhat self-explanatory and can't be described anyway, Notes to a Note on the Notes of Chester Brown.

* Mike Dawson returns with his latest TCJ Talkie (yes, I named it that. Proudly!) with guest Josh Cotter.

* Joyce Farmer, Day 3.

* TCJ related: Apparently Randy Chang is the best boyfriend ever.

Meanwhile, elsewhere online we have:

* Jeet Heer's appreciation of the the Doug Wright Award-winning Spotting Deer.

* Daniel Best has put together a kind of "Don Heck In His Own Words" from various interviews, which are not sourced on the site itself -- hopefully he'll add some sources soon in the interest of giving credit where credit is due. In any case, it's a great read, as Heck, while somewhat of a hack (ok, more than somewhat) did have some bright spots and comes off as a smart and earnest guy. I especially like the grounded-ness of moments like this:

I used to like Iron Man in the beginning, because of the characterization I could get into. Like when I had Happy Hogan, and Pepper Potts. When I was doing Pepper, I was thinking of Schultzie, who was the secretary on the Bob Cummings Show.  In other words, she was the girl who never quite got the date with the boss; he's always watching all those good-looking girls. But they were characters, in a certain sense of the word. Happy Hogan was an ex-fighter. I think they were fun to do. They had personalities you couldn't miss. I did the first Iron Man story. They have it listed that Jack Kirby did the breakdowns, but that's not true. I did it all. They just didn't bother to call me up and find out when they wrote up the credits. It doesn't really matter. Jack Kirby created the costume, and he did the cover for the issue. In fact the second costume, the red and yellow one, was designed by Steve Ditko. I found it easier than drawing that bulky old thing.

* Tucker Stone digs into some recent comics and some shit-talking theory over at The Factual Opinion.

And now, kind people, my last bit about TCAF: Some blurry iPhone pix! Chris Ware actually explained to me that the new iPhone photo software is worse than the old, and so I'll hold onto that as I reveal my poor photography skills.

Tom Scioli had a table behind me -- he was drawing this awesome picture of Thor for a chunk of Saturday.

 

Chris Ware, Brad "Mr. Doug Wright Awards" Mckay, and David Collier (in full uniform)

 

Tom Spurgeon had to lean very far back to get ALL of Michael Deforge's awesome pompadour in the shot.

 

The gorgeous, Seth-designed Doug Wright trophies.

 

Ware, Seth, Chester Brown, John Porcellino and Adrian Tomine, just before our panel Friday night.

 

Oh no, Tom Devlin is shouting at me to stop! I'm done! I'm done!

RAOR!

Another big day at the Comics Journal East.

First, Chester Brown Week continues with a new column from the inimitable R. Fiore:

I like to imagine the Canadian Council for the Arts anticipating what that fine young fellow Chester Brown is going to follow Louis Riel with. Something about the Manitoba Schools Question, perhaps. Oh, it’s called Paying for It, eh? Well, that sounds more like the Klondike Gold Rush. Bit of a hackneyed subject, but the lad is bound to have found a novel approach . . .

Then Joyce Farmer continues her week of diary entries. Today's for the pen-and-ink enthusiasts, nothing but materials talk:

Crow quill pens are in a class by themselves, the nibs are round and the penholders are short and cut to accommodate the round nib. Anyone who masters crow quill is a genius and I give him or her my utter respect.

And of course, just like every other Tuesday, Joe "Jog" McCulloch brings you the week in new comics, with a little something extra for your reading pleasure:

I wasn’t planning on writing about my Free Comic Book Day experiences; frankly, I didn’t expect anything of note to happen.

Elsewhere:

Martin Wisse digs up an image of and information about an amazing-looking new comics museum in China.

I think Tom Spurgeon's rambling convention reports may be my favorite recurring feature at the Comics Reporter. He went to TCAF this weekend, so I'm in luck.

Matt Seneca writes about some of his favorite comics that also work as criticism. He uses a definition of criticism broad enough to include straight-up parodies, but that's okay with me—I try not to be a purist about such things. Anyway, he picks out a great, overlooked Spiegelman piece, and forgets all about Harvey Kurtzman, an oversight I hope will be corrected in a part two or three somewhere down the line.

Here's a super-short interview with Chris Ware from an apparently new Greek comics site. The intro's in Greek, but the discussion itself is in English. The part about superheroes and science fiction is interesting, in light of the amazing science fiction story he created for Acme Novelty Library 19.

Finally, Matthias Wivel's been blogging up a storm this week, republishing an Andreas Gregersen essay on Ice Haven and The Death Ray, as well as his own (relatively) negative take on Mister Wonderful, plus a brief appreciation of Dominique Goblet.

Paid in Full

Before I dive into TCAF and such: We are pleased to begin our week of coverage of Chester Brown's new book, Paying for It. Leading things off is an interview with Brown by Sean Rogers. Later in the week we'll post Scott Grammel's 1990 TCJ interview. Also on tap are pieces by R. Fiore, Naomi Fry, and Ed Park.

In non-Canadian TCJ news: Please welcome Joyce Farmer to the Cartoonist's Diary stage. And Frank Santoro's Layout Workbook part 9 went up yesterday. Frank's back-issue box was much missed this weekend.

Anyhoooo, I'm just back from TCAF, where, fittingly enough, the fest was gripped by Chester Brown mania. The lines for his signings (he stands and then signs on a cardboard box) were as long as I've ever seen for anyone. The festival was, as usual, quite a lot of fun -- well attended, brisk sales, and good vibes. Most of what I saw and did during TCAF was at night, as I was manning ye ol' PictureBox table both days. But from what I can gather, the buzzy books included DeForge's Lose #3, the Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse collection, Lucille by Ludovic Debeurme, and of course, Paying for It.

Upon landing on Friday I embarked on a high-powered TCJ meeting with Jeet Heer, during which we discussed such weighty topics as: the proper reproduction techniques for ben-day dots; "photo-realism" and the comic strip; and who's right and who's wrong. Many problems were solved. Then I moderated a conversation with Adrian Tomine, Seth, Chris Ware and Chester Brown. The room was packed and the artists were in great, chatty form. That night there were yet more high-powered TCJ tet-a-tets tête-à-têtes with Canadian correspondents like Sean Rogers and Chris Randle. I witnessed no dancing, per se, though Brecht Evans Evens as in attendance.

The Doug Wright Awards happened Saturday night. It was, as usual, an entertaining and enjoyable ceremony. Best book went to Bigfoot by Pascal Girard (best known, of course, as a TCJ diarist). Alex Fellows was given the Best Emerging Talent award for Spain and Morocco; and Michael DeForge is now a two-time DWA-winner, having received the Pigskin Peters Award (Given to non-traditional and avant-garde comics) for Spotting Dear, though surely his greatest honor will be as an upcoming TCJ diarist! The ceremony also included a witty, buoyant conversation between Seth and Reid Fleming cartoonist David Boswell, who was inducted into the Giants of the North Hall of Fame.

A few links for kicks:

-Your "1970s Marvel stars" beginnings and endings links:

*Dark Horse is canceling Jim Shooter's much lamented reboots of Magnus: Robot Fighter, Turok: Son Of Stone, Doctor Solar: Man Of The Atom. I hope this means it's finally time for C.F., Gary Panter, and Frank Santoro to have their shots.

* Jim Starlin wants to tell you about Breed III.

-And finally, I always have time for a Mort Meskin Vigilante episode.

Ryan Standfest: BLACK EYE Anthology Confiscated at Canadian Border

We just received the following e-mail from Ryan Standfest, editor/publisher of Rotland Press + Comic Works:

Mr. Tom Neely reported this morning that while traveling across the border to Canada to attend this year's TCAF, the five copies of the black humor comics anthology BLACK EYE that he was carrying with him to the festival were confiscated/seized by a customs agent on the grounds that the material in BLACK EYE was "obscene."

According to Neely:

"... They took 'em. I tried to get them to just ship them back to me at home, but they said they were required to send it to Ottawa for review... if they found the material to be 'obscene' they would take 'further action.' I asked what 'further action' meant and he said they would just destroy them. Or there is a chance they might ship them back to me.

"It was the page of Onsmith's gags that they first saw... I tried to tell them that it was 'parody' and 'humor' and the rest of the book had essays on the history of dark humor... the customs guy was really cool and understanding, but he said he just couldn't let them through. I just hope 'further action' doesn't involve being arrested the next time I try to cross the border."

More details to come as we learn them.

Popular Styles & Genres

Good morning, folks. A couple new things are up for you this morning.

Rob Clough reviews the second issue of Dunja Jankovic's Habitat.

Also, Mike Dawson's podcast, TCJ Talkies (did I already tell you that Dan came up with that name? I think I'm gonna be reminding you often), is now available on iTunes. You can find it here.

And because Dan decided to talk about Viking movies yesterday instead of providing links, I should announce that Shaenon Garrity turned in her inaugural webcomics column yesterday. Check it out.

Elsewhere on the internet:

The New Yorker's Richard Brody recently weighed in on a minor kefuffle in film-crit world (more here), and while I don't really have any interest in discussing the topic at hand, Brody did bring up something relevant to comics criticism:

At newspapers and magazines, as here at The New Yorker, classical-music critics and pop-music critics are usually different people. With movies, things are different: David Denby and Anthony Lane write about “The Dilemma,” “Source Code,” and “Toy Story 3”; about “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” and “Meek’s Cutoff”; and about the life work of Robert Bresson and Abbas Kiarostami. Though analogies between the arts are inexact, the boundaries between classical and pop cinema are as fluid as are the interests and curiosities of critics who do the cinema justice. D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Carl Theodor Dreyer, and Sergei Eisenstein are artistic peers, regardless of the differences in their cultural heritage and context, and one of the great discoveries made by critics—the young French writers at Cahiers du Cinéma in the nineteen-fifties, the inventors and advocates of the politique des auteurs (or “auteur theory”) who are now better known as the filmmakers of the French New Wave—is the recognition that some of cinema’s most popular latter-day artists, such as Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks, are not merely skillful showmen but classical artists, akin to the writers and painters of the grand tradition, despite working in popular styles and genres in the employ of a mass-media industry.

Comics, too (or at least modern comics), has something of the same "problem"—it began as (and remains?) a popular art form, and as a result of that, many of the most historically and aesthetically important comics are not sufficiently "serious" for more respectability-minded contemporary critics and artists. This is partly where the vitality—and for some, the embarrassment—of comics come from. It's an issue that permeates nearly everything written about the form, and won't be going away during our lifetimes. I have mixed feelings about how film critics have handled their version of the same issue, but it's worth keeping in mind.

Related?

No-Prize to the first reader who can guess why this story makes me sad.

Pete Hamill briefly discusses the comics in this pretty great interview about Osama bin Laden, 9/11, and his life in newspapers.

Nice Daniel Clowes interview at the Wall Street Journal.

The Chilean critic Ariel (How to Read Donald Duck) Dorfman offers his own somewhat idiosyncratic take on the idiotic-on-all-sides Superman-renounces-his-citizenship story. (Thanks, RB.)

Pretty astonishing figure for this Dark Knight Returns splash page at auction yesterday: $448 thousand! Is that the most money ever paid for original comic art?

Not comics: John Coltrane doodles.

And don't forget: depending on where you live, tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day.

Dapper Dan’s SuperMovies Column

First of all, I didn't invite Tim. Apparently I promised I would, but then got it in my head that he didn't want to go, and so I went to the press screening of Thor by myself. I wore 3-D glasses. I chewed gum. The popcorn line was too long, so there was no popcorn.

Thor! It was supposed to be good. It's not. It's not unwatchable like those two Fantastic Four movies, but it's pretty lame. Here's the deal (oh, right, SPOILER ALERT!): Thor is arrogant and is banished from Asgard to New Mexico, where he is rescued by Jane Foster and co. Natalie Portman plays Jane like a ditzy schoolgirl, but she doesn't have much to work with, so it's not her fault. She was good in Black Swan, though! Anyhow, Loki conspires to take over Asgard, blah blah blah, The Destroyer is sent to Earth to kill Thor, who recovers his hammer just in time to beat him, and then return to Asgard to beat Loki. S.H.I.E.L.D. is in the film, as is one Avenger, and there are allusions to Bruce Banner, and of course, Samuel L. Jackson makes an appearance. Oh, and there is tons of father/son/brother stuff that seems like an attempt at seriousness but rings hollow because we have nothing invested in the relationships. (Note to screenwriters: You have to set up the relationship with some backstory before ending it. Otherwise it's just a plot mechanism. Which is the point. Sorry I brought it up.) The end.

Phew. Now look, I have no attachment to these characters, though I certainly like Jack Kirby's Thor, and also Walt Simonson's, and the recent Matt Fraction issues were a hoot. It's not like I was looking for some perfect version of Thor and co., but an entertaining movie would be nice. It seems to me the best thing you can do with this stuff is make it grand and colorful and cosmic. Also, as a friend pointed out, Thor is kinda girly with his blond do and floppy garb. I mean, he's a hippy dude with a hammer. But here he's a muscle dude with no discernible charisma and not an ounce of femininity. One of the running jokes in the film (because, post-Iron Man, there have to be running jokes—which becomes a problem when no one in the movie has any comedic timing) is that Thor is soooooo hot.

So anyway, the biggest problem (aside from the above, which are big problems, but ones that can be solved with a toke or two if you were so inclined) is that the whole thing looks blah, and this cannot be solved with a toke. Or even a bong hit. Needless to say, no one took our Comics Comics Contest seriously. The colors are all dull bronzes, concrete grays, and muddy greens. The rainbow bridge has no rainbow, but rather seems more like a flickering data-stream from the Matrix. The Asgardian architecture, so nuttily psychedelic in the old comics, is here more like Frank Gehry on steroids. And the costumes are, as per usual with these things, trying to be "realistic." They're indistinguishable from Game of Thrones, which is indistinguishable from Lord of the Rings, etc. All this "realism" has worn thin. What happened to color? Also, dudes, the 3-D makes the movie look worse. Was it added later? Must've been. Because of all the dimensional layers the fight scenes are very difficult to understand, all the stuff on earth is hard to "read," and the tones are all darkened. Bad idea. Cameron had it right with the only-slightly-better-because-it-knew-it-was-silly Avatar: Bright fucking colors and wide shots! The only good thing to look at in Thor was Destroyer, and that's probably because it's pretty much exactly Jack Kirby's design, he's supposed to be metallic (so the gray is OK), and the scale (Destroyer = Biiiig) works.

And so, with nothing much to look at... well... there's not much left. Our protagonists are dull; our plot is rote. The only bright spot in the movie is Stellan Skarsgard as a scientist and mentor to Portman. My favorite movie with Skarsgard remains The Glass House, in which he plays an evil guy in an awesome glass house who adopts and then tries to kill Leelee Sobieski for her money. Skarsgard always looks like he's slightly drunk and about to hit on you, your girlfriend, and your cousin. And that totally works. It's entertaining. He's the same here: A scientist of no particular purpose, he just kinda looks on and smirks, dispenses advice, and seem immune to Thor's hotness. He's more focused on the waitress at the diner. Or he is in my mind.

Oh, Stan Lee makes an appearance, too. Jack Kirby, who co-created the comic book with Lee but really built the "property" and invented the look and mythology of the thing (that's pretty well established now) gets a "special thanks" at the very end of the credits (and I mean the very end), along with Simonson, and a few others. [UPDATE: Heidi points out the Lee, Kirby and Lieber get co-creator creds at the beginning of the credit roll -- I must've blinked] Nice! I wouldn't expect much more from Marvel, and won't sour this edition of the DDSMC by dwelling, but I will gently guide you again to this article by Michael Dean on Marvel's treatment of Kirby and this interview (parts 1 and 2) by Mark Hebert from 1969. Hey guys! Remember Jack Kirby! No use shouting. No one is listening.

Anyhow, assuming this edition of DDSMC won't get me banned from press screenings, I'll be with you all summer long from one Super Movie to the next. Maybe I'll invite Tim next time. Maybe.

The Visual-Verbal Blend

This morning at the Journal, Rob Clough reveals his top twenty-five minicomics of 2010 (and throws in a few broadsheets for good measure).

Hayley Campbell files a personal report from the international comics festival of Barcelona, featuring appearances from her father (Eddie Campbell) and Kurt Busiek. Apparently zombies are kind of big in Spain.

Tom De Haven reviews Joe Ollmann's Mid-Life ("attention ought now to be paid").

Lots of Chester Brown coverage out there (the Journal's will begin next week).

Brad Mackay wrote a thoughtful review of Paying For It at the Globe and Mail. (Don't miss the panel-by-panel visual examination of Brown's style.) Mackay adds a little more background here.

Our own Sean Rogers reviews the book over at The Walrus. Sometimes I think the best writers about comics are all Canadian.

It is interesting to me that Mackay (like many of the reviewers so far) draws a clear separation between the comics section of Brown's book and the commentary that follows it. ("I expect most people will judge this book on the comics, not the commentary, and these are some of the best comics of Brown’s career.") In my reading of the book, I wasn't able to separate the two so cleanly. I am not talking about the obvious political dimensions of the book (which advocates for decriminalizing prostitution, if you just logged on to the comics internet for the first time)—most adult readers are able to appreciate material morally alien to them to one degree or another. I just mean that the notes so inform the rest of the book (and the character of "Chester Brown," among others) that it seems to me a distortion of the book to divide the parts too cleanly.

Somewhat related: Ed Park contributes an excellent essay touching on Brown's frequent use of notes throughout his career, and particularly in Paying For It, for a new website called the Toronto Standard. If you are the type of reader who doesn't like to know how a book ends beforehand, you might want to bookmark it for now. But don't forget to come back later. This is one of the best things about the book I've seen so far.

Nick Gazin's latest comic-book review column for Vice is up, and includes short interviews with Gilbert Hernandez, Johhny Ryan, Michael DeForge, and Benjamin Marra. (The Gilbert H. interview is the longest and best.)

Easy Week

I'm gearing up for TCAF this weekend and have been tricked into moderating a panel Friday night with Chester Brown, Seth, Adrian Tomine and Chris Ware. All men who are smarter, more successful and more liked than I am. I'm sure they'll go easy on me, right guys? Uh, guys? I'm working through my fear. How? By working on TCJ, of course.

So! I should note that you have days, or perhaps only hours until the vaunted TCJ archive goes behind ye ol' pay wall. Right now we're up to issue 68. Might I suggest having a peek at issue 66? Some fine Scholz and Groth material in there.

On to some links:

Over at The Panelists there's a bit about young Hugh Hefner's early life as a wannabe cartoonist.

Here's a short but tantalizing article about the comics publisher Lev Gleason (Crime Does Not Pay, among others), written by his grandnephew, who is also working on a full length biography. (via PF) This connects back to earlier posts by Kent Worcester, and including some of this material, over here.

Harry Mendryk looks at Jack Kirby's comics about the mob. I love that Kirby's career is so vast that you can look at not only how he treats a given subject over a thirty-year span, but also track the changes in the medium itself as he does so. Fun.

I can't believe I missed this exhibition of Charles Schulz love letters. No excuse. Jeez.

Here's an interview with cartoonist and historian Brian Walker, someone you don't see interviewed that much, but has certainly lived the history.

The Third Month

Welcome back to the working week. Lots of new stuff for you this week and month. Thanks for reading us so far, and bearing with the occasional bump in the road. (Like the continuing comments wrinkles -- it will get fixed soon, we swear.) May should be the best month yet.

New on the site:

Sean Rogers writes about the great Kim Deitch, via the portfolio published by La Mano.

Frank Santoro turns in his latest Layout Workbook, this time focusing on the format of the late & lamented MOME.

And Kristian Williams returns to the site with a review of Mike Howlett's Weird World of Eerie Publications.

Elsewhere:

Drew Friedman talks about the book covers of his father—the brilliantly funny Bruce Jay Friedman. If you haven't read him before, you really need to.

Speaking of books, The Strand in New York City has invited various people to "curate" collections of recommended titles, including John Waters, Maira Kalman, and Art Spiegelman.

The infamous-in-some-quarters critic and former TCJ message board habitué Domingos Isabelhino compares Peanuts to Percy Crosby's Skippy.

Chris Mautner attempts to sum up Joe Sacco.

Only very tangentially comics: A typically oddball interview with Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Sorry for the bare-bones nature of today's blog post. A certain little girl would not stop crying if she wasn't being held, and this particular entry had to be written with one hand.

Strong Finish

Welcome to the weekend.

On the site today:

The first installment of Bart Beaty's monthly column, The Dr. Is In. Bart will be writing about academic publishing around comics -- he kicks it off with Hillary Chute's recent book.

And Sean Rogers weighs in with a review of Dan Clowes' Mr. Wonderful.

Your daily links...

This went around the Twitter-sphere yesterday afternoon -- it's pretty great. Cartoonists talking about the tools of their craft in a promotional video for TCAF.

I've never been to the FLUKE comics fest, but it sounds like it was fun, and I like spending time in the South, so...

John Adcock takes a look at Bill Blackbeard's non-fiction and pulp writing.

Michael Barrier has been posting some great old interviews on his site. Here's one with animator and funny animal cartoonist Lynn Karp.

J. Caleb Mozzocco looks at Matt Howarth's new book, The Downsized. Howarth is one of those cartoonists who remains pretty much unexamined, and he sure was prolific throughout the 1980s and early '90s.

I enjoy looking at the sporadically updated Frank Bellamy Checklist blog. Bellamy is a standard bearer for ye' ol' stiff upper lip British realist comic, which I have some weird weakness for looking at. Anyhow, this latest installment has some images that would not seem out of place on a 1970s Brian Eno record cover.

And finally, the old pro Murphy Anderson -- the cleanest surface around. Here's an oldie.

Dummy Text

Two new features for you this morning.

First, we have Matt Seneca's entertaining and searching interview with Shaky Kane and David Hine, regarding the collection of The Bulletproof Coffin that came out this week.

Second, we introduce an audio component to our multimedia empire: TCJ Talkies, a new biweekly podcast series hosted by Mike Dawson. (Dan came up with the name, I hasten to add.) The first episode's guest is world-class ranter Evan Dorkin.

And if you haven't checked in to our post gathering tributes to Bill Blackbeard in a while, it is probably worth looking at again. We have been adding new material all week, including writing from Gary Groth, Michael Tisserand, Peter Maresca, Trina Robbins, and updated thoughts from Jeet Heer.

Your Daily Links:

Kim Thompson has been working on a big upcoming collection of Joost Swarte material for Fantagraphics, and has two great posts on the translation issues involved.

Robot 6 found a striking early Charles Schulz strip going up for bid at Heritage Auctions, which features characters eerily similar to Charlie Brown and Snoopy. Peanuts before Peanuts.

There's a good short interview with Shaun Tan at literary website The Millions.

I can't remember why I saved this link to Tucker Stone's most recent roundup of superhero comics "reviews." Maybe just because we haven't linked to his blog before? Anyway, for those still caught up in the weekly capes grind (or who enjoy following it from a discreet distance), Tucker's stuff is a constant sharp reminder that doing so isn't much more worthwhile than just burning your money.

Bob Temuka compares the 3-D movie fad to the original graphic novel boom, and doesn't have very kind words about either.

Charles Kochman at Abrams (the Smithsonian collection's publisher) offers his own praise for Bill Blackbeard. (via)

Finally, I leave you with an old quote from Philip Roth making the internet rounds. I don't want to put my finger on exactly why, but it somehow seems appropriate:

"Had I been away twenty years on a desert island, perhaps the change in intelligent society that would have most astonished me upon my return is the animated talk about second-rate movies by first-rate people which has almost displaced discussion of any such length or intensity about a book, second-rate, first-rate or tenth-rate. Talking about movies in the relaxed, impressionistic way that movies invite being talked about is not only the unliterate man’s literary life, it's become the literary life of the literate as well."

Working it Out

Hello again. Here's the run down:

* Tom Spurgeon has a great round-up of thirteen tributes to Bill Blackbeard. I second his recommendation to race over to read Dylan Williams' fantastic post, which contains the longest interview with Blackbeard ever published.

* So Gary Panter (with Chris Byrne) has curated an exhibition on Zap opening on May 12 in NYC. I've seen the original pages selected: it's a killer show. Great generational combo.

* Kim Thompson takes us inside an adventure in translating. Also: Joost Swarte book back on schedule.

* Here's an incredibly enjoyable con report over at The Mindless Ones. Frank and Jog: Meet your British counterparts.

* Via Top Shelf, the much-talked-about French graphic novel by Ludovic Debeurme, Lucille, has a preview up at Pen American Center.

* At HiLobrow: A selected series of posts by Adam McGovern on various aspects of pop culture, including some comics of interest.

* A random note: I know this is conflict of interest and blah blah, but damn the new Hate Annual 9 is good. Bagge knows his characters so well, and he never goes for the easy gag. Just great suburban American comedy. Also, if I had some dough, I'd race over to Scott Eder's site and buy some originals by Bagge. There are some killer pages on there.

On the site today:

The second installment of Richard Gehr's Know Your New Yorker Cartoonists, featuring Gahan Wilson! Ol' man Gehr is on a roll with these, having just completed a great interview with Roz Chast. Stay tuned for his monthly dispatches.

And coming up tomorrow: Matt Seneca contributes a great interview with Shaky Kane and David Hine on the occasion of their newly released book, Bulletproof Coffin. It's fantastic to see Kane, in particular, getting some attention from the general comics universe. Just five years ago Frank Santoro was a lone voice in the wilderness talking about his work, and it was some effort to track him down for a Comics Comics cover feature. Always a deeply idiosyncratic artist, Kane seemed, well, maybe lost to history or something -- his work residing primarily in back issues of Deadline and a handful of small press British comics. Anyhow, sounds like we're going to get to see some more, so that's a good thing.

Taking Things for Granted

Okay, first, if you haven't yet made time to read the obituaries and tributes for Bill Blackbeard we published yesterday, written by R.C. Harvey, Jeet Heer, and others, you really should do so at your earliest convenience. It would be difficult to overstate how great a debt anyone interested enough in comics to be reading this site owes to Blackbeard. It is easy to take for granted the state of things as they are, and think that it's entirely natural for bookstore and library shelves to be groaning with beautiful archival reprints of classic comic strips, but if not for Blackbeard, it is very unlikely we would be living in such a world. It is both frightening and motivating to think about how much can come down to one dedicated person. (Two off-site tributes worth reading come from Dylan Williams and Tom Spurgeon.)

New to the Journal today are Dan's interview with Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell, regarding their upcoming Alex Toth book, Rob Clough's review of Noah Van Sciver's Blammo, and the latest column from Joe McCulloch, with the highlights of the week for newly published comics—and another in-depth look at late Steve Ditko.

Elsewhere, lots of links this morning:

Timothy Callahan has been reading old issues of the Journal and getting inspired. You can too.

Adrian Tomine is selling art to raise funds for Japanese disaster relief.

For those buried under a rock, new art from Bill Watterson has surfaced.

Ben Katchor brings us drawing-as-writing from both Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky! (In appreciation for these great finds, I ought to link to Katchor's recent interview with the A.V. Club.)

The film writer Richard Harland Smith interviews one of the great comics talkers, Drew Friedman.

James Romberger just posted an interview with Gene Colan. As you may know, Colan's health situation isn't very good right now. You can learn one way to help here.

The Point has published a nice, thoughtful review-essay based on Chris Ware's latest volume of Acme Novelty Library.

The popular literary weblog HTMLGIANT does the same for CF's City-Hunter.

Robert Boyd organized a show in Houston featuring the work of Jim Woodring and Marc Bell. He revisits it in words and video. Both artists (and JW's famous giant pen) make appearances.

I imagine this must be a very common experience, but having a kid recently, and being "forced" (she isn't that strong) to read the same books over and over again nightly, has given me immense new respect for the artistry of figures like Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak. Sendak was feeling ill when he granted a Philadelphia reporter a brief, bracing set of quotes.

The Collector

I'm very sad over the passing of Bill Blackbeard. My experiences with Bill Blackbeard are much the same as many other people's: I "met" him through his books, which provided the best exposure I had to comic strips. His emphasis on personal taste -- which he confirmed to me the one and only time I spoke with him -- as a guide for shaping foundational history was an inspiration as well. I mean, he emphasized the good stuff. I'm sure there was plenty I'd disagree with him on, but he would fight for difficult strips -- like The Bungle Family -- and also advocated for the sheer poetry of, say, Roy Crane. His tenacity and taste were formative for all of us. And, as Jeet convincingly argues, without Blackbeard comic strip history as we know it would more or less not exist. What Blackbeard did for the medium goes past anything I can really imagine: I think it is without question that by virtue of saving and then sharing its history, he was one on the most important men in the history of comics. Period.

R.C. Harvey has written an obituary, and Jeet Heer an appreciation. Let's honor Blackbeard's memory by continuing his good work.

--------

Just a handful of links for you today:

I really enjoyed this Douglas Wolk pieces on Howard Chaykin, which comes from a reading of the recently released (and highly recommended) book Howard Chaykin: Conversations. Chaykin is, in a lot of ways, the last of his kind -- an autodidact who will slog through a shitty script because he felt like drawing horses that month. Like his mentor Gil Kane, he produces excellent work in a shitty field. He also did create a couple of pretty great graphic novels, to boot. Really worth reading.

Tom Spurgeon has a typically excellent interview with Joe Daly over at The Comics Reporter. I'm a fan of Daly's Dungeon Quest series.

I completely relate to Dylan Williams' assessment of his recent convention experiences. Sigh.

And, randomly, from another conversation, Jay Babcock reminded me of this interview he conducted with Alejandro Jodorowsky that covers his comics work. Also, an excuse to link to this piece on his collaborations with Moebius on his aborted Dune film, and a blog with his 1960s psych comics.

Another Day, Another Deluge

Pascal Girard takes a somewhat melancholy taxi ride in his final diary entry this morning, and it is similarly bittersweet to bid him farewell. How did the week fly by so quickly?

Katie Haegele brings us a short profile of the young Swedish cartoonist Naomi Nowak.

The great Tom De Haven returns, with a review of Jerry Robinson's re-released history, The Comics.

And Jeet Heer makes the case for S. Clay Wilson as the central figure of underground comics in his latest column. (Incidentally, congratulations are in order to Jeet, to whom a daughter was born this week. He is actually the second Journal contributor to father a child since the site relaunched. Maybe there's something in the ink...)

A few quick orders of business: 1. Some readers reported having trouble with pre-orders of issue 301 on Amazon yesterday. We are aware of the problem, and looking into it. In the meantime, we apologize for the confusion. 2. Some of you may have noticed that the comments are a little wonky, with reader comments sometimes appearing over in the left "recent comments" sidebar on the front page, but not underneath the story in question—and vice versa. We are working on this one as well. Luckily, it doesn't seem to be happening all that frequently, but we still hope to have it fixed soon. Thanks for your patience.

Off-site:

I liked Joe Ollmann's Mid-Life better than he does (maybe it helps to read it? the art definitely isn't the main attraction), but Nick Gazin's latest review column for Vice is pretty good, and opens with a nice rant on the sad sack foundation of the funnybook business. I think the Chris Ware stuff here seems off, too, as I don't remember him ever idealizing himself—I may be forgetting something, but the only "Chris Ware" in his comics that I recall turns him into a lecherous, pretentious, and pony-tailed high school art teacher. Gazin's reviews will be too sloppy (& occasionally too fake-dumb) for some of you, but here are the things I like about them: 1. They are funny. 2. They are unpredictable. 3. They reflect a seeming fearlessness about who will be pissed off. 4. I strongly agree—and strongly disagree—with at least one thing in his reviews each time, and they're often points I haven't seen articulated by anyone before.

On the exact opposite side of the writing-about-comics spectrum, Neil Cohn has discovered comics-related lectures available at the Semiotics Institute Online that may be of interest to more academically oriented readers.

Friday Fun Time: If Joe McC's recent essay got you interested in watching Frank Miller's The Spirit (and I hope for your sake that it didn't, because that movie will drain you of all self-respect—no offense, Joe), then (via Sean Howe) the script Miller wrote for a never-completed film version of Elektra has turned up. It seems to be the antediluvian Miller, too.

The Boss is Back

That's right, muckraking tyro Gary Groth has turned in his first dispatch for the new TCJ, and it's a doozy -- a lengthy refutation of Jim Shooter's recent forays into autobiography. Note that the episode Gary is recounting here (i.e. Jack Kirby's treatment by Marvel) remains one of the most important moments in contemporary comic book history, one that again exposed the shameful history behind so many "beloved" properties, and the complicity of an industry that still needs them to keep afloat. Given the two movies coming out this summer, anyone interested in pop culture would be wise to check out the current piece. In the coming months we will also be posting an older TCJ interview with Kirby, as well as other coverage.

Anyhow, that said, onto the links:

* Joanna Draper Carlson has a few more thoughts on Tokyopop.

* This slipped by me: Matt Seneca writing about Chip Kidd and Art Spiegelman's Jack Cole book from 2001. I don't agree with all of Matt's conclusions (especially the bit about the best duos of the 2000s), but it's a thoughtful piece on an important and, at the time, controversial book. Now, I gotta say, their choice to reprint the comic book as "objects" looks prescient (and good) -- but at the time I remember much hand-wringing over the interventions performed and image types used. It remains a damn good book.

* Over on Hooded Utilitarian, our own Ryan Holmberg has commented on Ng Suat Tong's criticism of Tatsumi. Makes for interesting reading.

* HiLobrow is running a series of essays about... oh, I can't summarize it: "using Battlestar Galactica as a lens through which to view museums’ challenge to create and retain relevancy within a difficult economic climate." I'm enjoying this series, and since TCJ used to have a Star Trek column, and even covered Battlestar Galactica back in the day, it's all fair game. Plus! We comics types should have a more informed dialogue about museum culture. Oh look at me, I'm all preachy today. Ugh, shut up already, Nadel!

* Via Forbidden Planet: An audio interview with British comics greats Pat Mills (the writer responsible for some of the best and strangest SF comics) and Bryan Talbot.

Holy Gimoley!

We have a ton of new material for you today. We're gonna have to slow down soon, I think. Geez.

First up, a one-week-only preview of Shigeru Mizuku’s first book in English-language translation, his 1973 WWII classic, Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths. As Dan writes in his online intro, Mizuki is a "giant of manga," and this is reputed to be one of his greatest works. I haven't read the untranslated material, but this book is strong stuff, with a tone that veers between comic absurdity and violent anger at loss and stupidity. Read the excerpt here.

J. Caleb Mozzocco brings in his first contribution to the new Journal, a feature on Columbus, Ohio's just-about-to-premiere stage adaptation of Joshua Cotter's Skyscrapers of the Midwest.

The internet agrees: Pascal Girard is killing it with his Cartoonist's Diary entries this week. Today is day three, with plenty more MoCCA madness & cameo appearances.

On the review front, we have two new ones for you. First, our own editorial coordinator Kristy Valenti reviews the much-anticipated Lychee Light Club. Second, Sean T. Collins brings us his take on Gilbert Hernandez's Love from the Shadows. We hadn't planned on running two reviews of the book, but an accident of scheduling occurred: Sean actually turned in his review a few weeks before we published Tom De Haven's very different piece on the same subject. In any case, this is undoubtedly going to be the kind of book that provokes strong reactions among readers, and our error of planning turned out to be kind of fortuitous.

Finally, we're entering the eighties in the archives, with eleven new issues (52 through 62) up and ready to read. We're into prime-era Journal now, folks, days and days — if not weeks and months— of stellar reading material. If you've fallen behind, make some time to check these out before it's too late. Remember: once the team in Seattle puts the paywall in place, only subscribers will be able to access these issues.

In the meantime, we will try to identify some of the archival highlights for you in future posts, to point out some of the best material. For now, know that the Blood & Thunder columns are reliably entertaining, an that issue 53 has a rather famous interview with Harlan Ellison. Google it if you haven't heard.

Oh, and non-Journal-related (unless you count Dan's upcoming ramblings on dumb comic-book movies), Sean Howe unearthed an article about one film adaptation that was blessedly never released: Nancy: The Movie. A taste of what we narrowly missed: "But wait. Nancy won't be a kid. She'll be 35 and a record company executive - 'No. 2 at a record label,' said [producer Peter] Muller from his New York office. "'She'll have the same hair and polka dot dress, but she'll be intelligent, sensitive and driven. She realizes she can have it all.'"

Also, Kevin Czap reports on every comic shop in the Cleveland area. I wish someone would do this for all the major cities. It took me years of living in New York before I even heard of Roger's Time Machine. I could have wasted a lot more money if I'd known about it sooner.

Fans and Fanatics

Welcome to Tuesday. Or as I know it, the day after Passover, when I eat bread anyway.

On the site today: Pascal Girard's Cartoonist's Diary Day 2, this time starring Joe Ollman.

Now, onto the day's headlines...

This lengthy piece on The Atlantic about book publishing since 1984 does some great history and also entombs it.

Rosebud Archives is releasing a sequence of Percy Crosby's Skippy accompanied by an expose on Crosby's sad decline, which, at least in the press materials, is positioned as a mob/political takedown of a patriotic American. Should be interesting because of Crosby's notoriously right-wing politics and, more crucially, due to his overlooked, virtuosic talent.

Man of the moment George R.R. Martin on comic books. At the NY Times. Yes, I watched Game of Thrones on Sunday night because, well, I don't know why. I think I like Richard Corben's version more (sorry, Sean!).

Robert Boyd (an upcoming contributor to this site) is curating a two-person show in Houston featuring Marc Bell and Jim Woodring. It's a rather ingenious pairing -- two drawing and narrative based fantasists, both perfectionist draftsman driven to very different results.

Over on Facebook, Jay Lynch is posting some great artifacts, including this killer 1965 collaboration with Art Spiegelman.

And in truly odd comics news, did you know about this funky conflict with Dilbert's Scott Adams? Hard to ignore, given that he/it is a cultural phenomenon. Anyhow, Adams was caught posting on various forums posing as his own biggest fan, and he's since posted a response on his own web site. Check out the Gawker article first, follow the links to Adams' pretty funny postings, and then enjoy his angry response. Good times, entertainment lovers!