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Today at TCJ, Keith Silva is here to talk about a certain 80's mini-series from a couple of first-timers that may not be on your radar, but should be: Dakota North.

To say Dakota North was an outlier is a disservice to outliers. The moment Ms. North starts stylin’ is when the ground began to shift under comics—Dakota North #3 comes out the same month as Batman: The Dark Knight #4 and Watchmen #1. Now, it would be an act of hubris and hyperbole to say two neophyte creators like Thomases and Salmons (even with a wily vet like Hama at the helm) would come close to equaling the murder’s row of Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Lyn Varley, Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins. Proximity to greatness does not make something great, and Dakota North is not on par with the craft, canniness and inventiveness of those 80s masterpieces. And yet what Dakota North lacks in artistic pedigree it makes up for in chutzpah, idiosyncrasy and how it outdistances its peers in representation and female agency. So subtle is it in its subversion, representation and agency it almost passes as insignificant, almost. What Dakota North wanted was be seen as an equal in her world and the world writ large. She was a disruption of the status quo and way ahead of her time, perhaps even today.

Over at Women Write About Comics, Rosie Knight has a rundown of some of the titles Silver Sprocket has coming this summer

Over at Comicosity, there's an excellent interview with cartoonist Eliana Falcón, who talks about how she managed the demands of survival while cartooning over the last year in Puerto Rico and what impact that has had on her main project, Cosmic Fish.

I should never get started on the subject of advance info, but this time I can't resist: I should not have to rely on text messages from freelance contributors to find out that David Quinn, the once and future Faust king, will soon publish his first picture book. Get your shit together, Penguin Random House. No one in this melting nightmare of a country is more pumped about this book than this editor right here. As many, many men who fit my demographic particulars have said before and will say again until they bury us under the cemetery: don't you know who the fuck I am?

Over at The Believer, they're knee deep in victory laps over the recent website relaunch. Beyond the pages of comics content--from people like Ben Passmore, Leela Corman, Michael Kuppmerman, to say nothing of the bittersweet archive of what Alvin Buenaventura put together for the magazine over the years--the Believer's interview archive is a legitimate gold mine of cartoonists in conversation. Pick an over the top metaphor, they all are gonna work--there is a ton of great shit on that site.

 

Hot Town

Today on the site, we have a review of Super Late Bloomer, a new comics memoir by Julia Kaye.

The comics industry has seen a surge of trans-centric comics within the past few years, particularly works inspired by the real-world experiences of transgender individuals. Some examples include Dylan Edwards’ Transposes and German cartoonist Sarah Barczyk’s Nenn mich Kai. One of the more recent installments in this trend is Julia Kaye’s comic diary Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition, published by Andrews McMeel.

As readers of The Comics Journal may already know, Andrews McMeel is a standard publisher for bound collections of newspaper strips, such as Calvin and Hobbes, Doonesbury, and Non Sequitur. In this respect, Super Late Bloomer’s publication with Andrews McMeel speaks volumes. Kaye’s first and only book-length publication to date, it is a bound collection of select strips from her acclaimed web comic Up and Out. Though the web comic began as a run-of-the-mill gag strip, Up and Out transformed alongside Kaye herself into an autobiographical comic documenting her personal life as a transgender woman. Super Late Bloomer is a selection of these daily autobiographical strips covering less than one year that document Kaye’s first months of hormone transition. It operates as a comic diary of sorts, brimming with all the emotional poignancy and self-expression typical of any diary.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Robert Boyd reviews the excellent-looking new Tardi book, I, Rene Tardi, Prisoner of War in Stalag IIB.

Jacques Tardi encouraged his father, René Tardi, to write down his memories of being a POW in a Nazi prison camp during World War II in the early 80s. Some 30 years later, Jacques drew it as a two part graphic novel. I, Rene Tardi, Prisoner Of War In Stalag IIB part 1 has just been published in English.

Not surprisingly, given the ongoing excellence of Jacques Tardi, it's superb. Tardi draws it as a dialogue between himself and his father--drawing himself as a boy in shorts and his father as a young man. But aside from the narrative structure (a father telling his son about what happened to him during the war), it is drawn as a narrative of the war and the camp, Stalag IIB. So while René Tardi engages in a tank battle or starves in a barracks in Pomerania, Jacques, depicted as a boy, is always standing nearby, as if he were there. This surreal touch made me think of David B, a much younger cartoonist but one who has had a fairly profound effect on French Comics.

Charles Hatfield reviews a book that is must-reading for old-school TCJ readers, Sparring with Gil Kane.

Sparring with Gil Kane is a book of conversations, but its title suggests a contest or bout, as if intellectual disputation were a knuckle-bruising donnybrook or prizefight—or perhaps the equivalent of a few rounds among friendly but formidable partners. That sounds about right, because it seems that the late Gil Kane (1926-2000), a voluble critic of comics as well as a great comics artist, became a self-taught intellectual partly for competitive reasons, that is, to avoid being outfaced and humiliated by those he worked for. By his own admission, Kane’s early efforts at serious self-education were spurred by masculine oneupmanship. Sparring is the brainchild of Fantagraphics publisher and longtime Comics Journal editor Gary Groth, who seems to have shared in that sense of argument as competitive sport (oh the debates that Kane, Groth, and the late Burne Hogarth, another fierce and fluent conversationalist, must have had—theirs is a legendary circle of talk). Indeed Sparring comes across as a semi-autobiographical book for Groth, even though he was not involved in all of the conversations captured within it.

—Interviews & Profiles. At Hazlitt, Chris Randle talks to Sloane Leong.

It is funny that Prism Stalker started as a novel, because the story most reminds me of this species of psychosomatic ’70s science fiction—I was thinking of writers like Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler. Was that in the back of your mind?

Oh, totally. I think the most apparent inspiration is Sailor Moon, magical girls shouting out moves, and I wanted to take that and—not dissect it, but elaborate on it, instead of just being like “this is my water attack.” There’s one move, I think in the fifth issue that I just drew, it’s this frog alien and her move is forcing someone to experience what it’s like to give birth to hatchlings from their back [laughs]. That’s like her psychic move and it’s very traumatizing if you’re not a frog alien. I just try to take that idea of transmitting an experience and go really weird with it.

That made me think of—Dan O’Bannon, who wrote the screenplay for Alien and came up with the basic concept and everything, he had Crohn’s disease, and I think he understandably had a lot of frustration and trauma surrounding that. So he was like, my idea for this horror story is, what if men got impregnated?

Because that’s what it feels like, yeah. Body horror is a big thing for me. I have chronic [gastrointestinal] disease, so every time I eat I get nauseous and sick, it’s been happening since I was a tween. So I have this disgust and—not complete fear, but a dread-filled fascination with my body, because I’m not in control of it, and I’ve had cancer scares and stuff. Asthma. The body is so crazy, in how it can turn on itself. That’s a big inspiration for the entire world [of Prism Stalker].

The most recent guests on RiYL are Matt Groening and Michael Kupperman.

—Misc. Comics scholar and TCJ columnist R.C. Harvey is crowdfunding Hand Drawn Life, a documentary on the history of newspaper strips.

Unlike other works on this subject, Hand Drawn Life traces the history of the newspaper comic strip by detailing its effects on the readers and its impact on society. The film explores not just the timeline of their creation but the emotional connections these drawings have had, and are still having, on the reader.

These strips are arguably the first form of American pop culture. Unlike the books, sheet music and traveling side shows of the late 19th and early 20th century, newspaper comics were syndicated to papers across the country, thanks to William Randolph Hearst. This meant for the first time, people in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and elsewhere could read the same cartoon at the same time. These cartoons united the country in a common entertainment experience like never before. And they continue to connect readers to this day.

With interviews from 20 of the greatest names in the comic strip world, both creators and historians, the story unfolds without a narrator. The people that know best weave history and personal experience into a tale of modern American culture.

 

Don’t Believe The Gripe

Today we've got a special Friday surprise: Matt Seneca is here with a look at Barry Windsor Smith's Weapon X.

Maybe the biggest part of what makes superhero comics so unpalatable to the uninitiated (and vice versa) is how referential they are, how enamored every panel is not just with contributing to a larger construction, but with its consciousness of doing that. Part of this is simply good salesmanship, but I think it's more due to the fact that guys who make superhero comics really really love superhero comics. Like stoned stoners talking about getting stoned, they just can't resist bringing up that other time when, and the people who were there, and how much, and why. Reveling, stewing sweetly in their own juices. Weapon X feels very different. Here is a superhero comic that seems not just to dislike superhero comics but to truly hate them - coldly, furiously.

Today sees the fifth and final day of Ian Densford's Cartoonist Diary, which sees him exploring the natural world. Thanks for stopping by, Ian!

Over at The Smart Set, Chris Mautner takes explanation detail, getting into the meat of why Copra is a lot more than callback porn.

Fiffe is obsessed with depicting motion, breaking his battle sequences down so they seem like they’re moving in slow, “bullet time” or arranging them so everything appears to be frantically fast. He often distorts things to the point where the action breaks down to pure abstract shapes, only to reform once again into recognizable figures. His use of color is extraordinary.

Over at io9, Evan Narcisse spoke with Ann Nocenti at length and in detail about Seeds, her new comic with David Aja...and her work with John Romita Jr., which has become the Paul's Boutique of Daredevil runs.

Now, I think I bury it deeper. Back then, I always tried to show both sides. I never would say, “Here’s these eco-terrorists and they’re dumping oil to stop a corporation from dumping oil in a river.” I always tried to show both sides, and now I’m letting it seep in a really different kind of way. It’s all subtext. Like, there’s an animal rights angle coming up in the next issue [of The Seeds]. I did an animal rights story in Daredevil 30 years ago that was too heavy-handed, in my mind. I go back and read those comics and go like, “You know, you should have kicked some sand over those ideas, Annie.” Now I’m still trying to kick more sand over it, but they’re still things that obsess me.

Over at Your Chicken Enemy, you'll find Rob Clough reviewing Shit Is Real, Alisha Franz new book with Drawn & Quarterly.

Not only is the audience made privy to her every desire, Franz drowns the reader in layer upon layer of Selma's dream life. Fantasies, dreams, and hallucinations all blend together creating narrative callbacks that provide surprising levels of coherency and connectedness. All throughout the book, a sharp contrast is made between living the life of a primitive and living in the frequently alienating modern world. That distinction often becomes an absurd one and creates much of the book's outrageous humor. Being disconnected from the civilization of conspicuous consumption is not only a sign of weakness in Selma's imagination; it's a sign of being less than human.

If that isn't enough Chicken Enemy for you, the site's editor can be found over at Comics Bulletin, in a wide ranging and heartfelt conversation about why comics criticism is so important to him.

I initially started writing about small press comics around 2012 because I had discovered so many wonderful books, and I just wanted to talk about them with other people. To my dismay, I found myself having a hard time finding people with whom to have those conversations. So much around the genre is focused on superhero comics and very little bandwidth was given to these “shitty little stapled Xeroxed things” that were so intensely personal and heartfelt and beautiful. So I thought, maybe if I write about them, more people would read them, and then I could talk to people about them. I’m selfish like that.

 

 

The Best Revenge

Ian Densford is here with the fourth day of his Cartoonist's Diary.

And Rob Kirby has a review of Aron Nels Steinke's latest kids' comic, Mr. Wolf's Class.

em>Mr. Wolf’s Class, Aron Nels Steinke’s latest graphic novel for young readers, takes place on the first day of fourth grade, when everything is new and exciting and also nerve-wracking—for teachers and students alike. Steinke draws upon his experiences as an elementary educator, which lends authenticity to the story, and features delightfully anthropomorphized versions of himself (as a wolf, obviously) and the rest of the cast, adding an extra layer of cuteness and fun to the proceedings. Although the word “charming” will be (quite correctly) used to describe the book, its quiet championing of inclusivity and tolerance are seriously welcome in our current, scary political climate. It's a book that young children (and quite a number of adults) will find irresistible.

Steinke originally drew “Mr. Wolf” as an autobiographical webcomic for mature readers, presented in brief, generally one-page installments. In those strips, the antics of the kids were seen strictly through Mr. Wolf’s/Steinke's bemused, occasionally bewildered, but always appreciative eyes. The strip also explored the hard work and more-than-occasional angst involved in being responsible for teaching young children.

For Mr. Wolf's Class Steinke changes the focus, not only including but giving priority to the perspectives and experiences of the children.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. DC has canceled plans to publish a deluxe edition of the Binder/Beck Captain Marvel Monster Society of Evil comics. The publisher cited concerns over content, likely referring to racist caricatures in the comic.

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library shared details regarding its new Nicole Hollander collection.

[Hollander] is a Chicago native and one of our most important women cartoonists. Her long running strip Sylvia commented with acerbic wit on political, gender and social issues (plus what it is like to live with a cat) for over 30 years from the late 1970s until Hollander ‘retired’ Sylvia in 2012.

Nicole Hollander studied art at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and later at Boston University. For many years she ran a successful graphic design company in Chicago and it was as graphic design director for the feminist publication The Spokeswoman that she started to experiment with cartoons and the comic strip form.

—Interviews & Profiles. The New York Times talks to Jeff Smith about his recent transition to picture books.

It took me a while to get the hang of the difference between comics and picture books. I made a picture book a while ago called “Little Mouse Gets Ready,” about a mouse trying to get dressed, for Françoise Mouly, the publisher of Toon Books. The whole story appeared in my head like magic: being a kid and learning to dress, putting on the underwear, struggling with buttons and buttonholes, and the payoff at the end. It took less than two weeks to write, draw and ink that entire book. That’s never happened before and was actually pretty fun.

But “Smiley’s Dream Book” was harder. It was quite a few tries with my editors at Scholastic saying, “This is not a picture book, you just wrote a comic book.” The thing with a picture book is you don’t want to overload the pages with a lot of text. You want the idea to be very simple, but have a point. Finally, I got it. I will say that the kind of stories I wrote for the Bone characters when I was 9 are the kinds I’m doing now as picture books. And I still like to keep elements of comics in there, like they speak in word balloons.

The latest guest on Comics Alternative is Jules Feiffer.

—Commentary. The Independent marks the 80th anniversary of The Beano.

Bolstered by this multimedia success, The Beano’s last set of ABC figures recorded an almost 8 per cent rise; it now sells more than 37,500 copies a week, or 1.86 million copies a year. In a comic market which has dropped by approximately 10 per cent in the same period, these figures are somewhere in the region of miraculous, yet simple testimony to publishers DC Thomson’s knowledge of their market. “Online traffic has grown 900 per cent in the last year,” says Stirling. “Two million kids use the site, which is the number of kids who read the comic itself back in the 1950s.”

Such new technologies are a world away from what was available in 1938, when the Dundee-based newspaper and publishing company had already enjoyed much success with its line of adventure comics and two recent cartoon creations for the Sunday Post newspaper; the still-enduring Broons and Oor Wullie strips. Into this environment of near-guaranteed success, DC Thomson’s head of children’s publishing RD Low authorised a batch of new titles, including one which featured the adventurous ostrich Big Eggo on its cover.

—Misc. Comics critic and frequent TCJ contributor Rob Clough is asking for financial help.

 

Wednesday’s Satanic Children

Today at TCJ, we've got a big one--a new episode of Comic Decalogue. In this one, Greg Hunter talks with Lauren Weinstein. Don't delay!

After that, it's time to check in with Ian Densford for the third installment in his Cartoonist's Diary. Lots of death drawings: pretty frustrating business!

These past couple of weeks at TCJ have been pretty chaotic and overstuffed. If you haven't been able to hit the site every day, then congratulations on being super busy! While you're relaxing in the bath, pull up the latest TCJ email and drink in an update on all our most recent hot content!

 

 

Pitchfork

Today, Alex Dueben is here with an interview with the prominent Spanish cartoonist Rubén Pellejer, who is currently working on new Corto Maltese comics.

Tell me about Corto Maltese. What did Hugo Pratt’s comic mean to you?

There was a time when Pratt’s work was fundamental to my evolution as a cartoonist. He had qualities of many of the other American authors that I admired – Milton Caniff, Frank Robbins, Alex Toth, Noel Sickles, etc. – but he also had a simple style of line drawing that was visually very seductive.

Corto Maltese is a character complete with this same visual seduction but who also possesses great charisma. Pratt’s stories take you on a journey and make you feel like you’ve really lived the characters’ stories. That was a huge inspiration to me in my Dieter Lumpen stories.

How did you end up drawing the new series?

CONG SA is the company created by Pratt himself and his longtime colorist Patricia Zanotti. She was the one who contacted Juan Díaz Canales and asked him to write the script. Juan Díaz is a connoisseur of Pratt’s work, and he’s the one who recommended me as an artist to Patricia Zanotti. He told her about my character Dieter Lumpen, who was similar in ways to the character Corto Maltese. Juan Díaz called me up one day and offered me the job.

How do you approach drawing Corto Maltese?

In the beginning I used a very deliberate approach, by which I mean, “Which parts of Pratt’s character and drawing should I take into account, and which ones shouldn’t I?” I think that when it comes to working on the continuation of a series and not just a single book (where you can do an homage without any problem), you have to maintain some of Pratt’s elements and aspects of the character. That is essential. To do otherwise would be distancing oneself from the spirit of the work.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Françoise Mouly talks briefly to Tom Gauld.

Do you have key influences, in terms of your style?

One is the British illustrator William Heath Robinson. He’s particularly known in the U.K. for drawings of eccentric, overcomplicated machines: similar to Rube Goldberg’s contraptions but more beautifully drawn. He also drew brilliant cartoons that captured the absurdities of daily life with a lovely, clear line. I think he’d have drawn an amazing image of a crowded New York beach.

The most recent guest on Virtual Memories is David Lloyd.

—Commentary. Mike Peterson, who has begun writing his "Comic Strip of the Day" feature for The Daily Cartoonist, brings up an interesting but key point about the most recent Jeff Danziger controversy, in which the cartoonist apologized for his depiction of Sarah Huckabee Sanders: the cartoon never actually even ran.

—News. Anne Ishii has been named the new executive director of Philadelphia's Asian Arts Initiative.

 

Generational Electric

It's Monday at TCJ, and our friend and archaeologist Austin English returns for the latest installment of 10 Cent Museum. I think i'll let what he has put together speak for itself--it should be able to do that very well.

Today's review is from Aug Stone, who has returned to us with his take on Vera Brosgol's graphic novel for young readers, Be Prepared. Wait, did I say young readers? Because Aug is making the case that it's aimed at a wider audience than that!

It may be listed as being for Middle Grade and Young Teens, but Be Prepared will hit home with any adult who ever felt out of place growing up, which is to say, most of us. For Vera - as Brosgol explains in her Author’s Note, this is an autobiographical tale neatly fictionalized – that outsiderness stems from having moved to the United States from Russia at the age of five and not quite fitting in with all the other American kids.

And this week, we launch a new Cartoonist Diary with Ian Densford. Today, he introduces us to his love of Robert Stack, and all that love entails.

Barnes and Noble may have found itself a new crew of bosses, and they brought a pretty interesting record with them.

Rob Clough has a pretty illuminating blog post up on his experience as a former Eisner judge.

The New York Times put up an article covering the field of streaming services (and direct sales systems) that multiple comics publishers are experimenting with. The article also includes a frank discussion of the sales drops that have faced the comics business in the last year. 

 

Different Fish

It's been a big week at TCJ. Yesterday, Anders Nilsen contributed a graceful, moving, and intelligent piece about the process of helping to complete his friend Geneviève Castrée's final book.

Her lines are perfect, exquisite, and minute. She often worked at nearly the same size at which her work would be printed, which is to say: small. The level of detail is astounding. Her drawings are little wonders. The best artists are like great athletes in that they make what they do look easy. You watch Serena Williams play tennis or Luan Oliveira skate a ledge and it looks so fluid, it feels in your bones like, yes, of course, I could do that, too. And if you try, you find out that it’s a delusion, that it actually took ten thousand hours of practice. It took inhabiting a particular body and mind in a particular place and time in the world. It’s from tracing certain motions every day for years, weaving a path through and between the artists that inspired you as a kid and the colleagues who excite you as a working artist. That feeling of effortlessness is a smokescreen, and even, in a way, a raised middle finger, to the immense amount of time and luck that it takes to get that good. I felt this very keenly when, after Geneviève died of pancreatic cancer in 2016, I sat down to finish my friend’s last book myself. It looked easy. I could feel the movement in my bones. But actually getting it down on paper was far from simple.

Geneviève had been ill for about eighteen months when she died. I knew she was occupying herself with various small projects. She would tell people she wasn’t working, she said she didn’t want to answer the question. She’d say that she was focused on getting well. But every time I went to visit her at her home in Anacortes, Washington, there were little piles of drawings or embroideries on the table next to the couch, on which she spent her days. And it turned out that in the last several weeks that work became more focused. Two days before her death, she sent me a photo of an unfinished drawing for that book, with the accompanying text: “I don’t like to share things before they are finished, but here is what I am doing with my days (while not gasping for air).”

Tegan O'Neil is here with her latest column, this time about Steve Ditko's Shade the Changing Man.

Sanity is very much a binary choice in the original run of Shade the Changing Man. The story is almost Lovecraftian in terms of the attention paid to the sanity of its hero. The difference is, of course, that madness is inevitable in Lovecraft’s world – inevitable at least for any human who persists in seeking forbidden knowledge. Madness for Steve Ditko here appears to be a malady against which a superior specimen – aided by superior technology, in this instance – might somehow resist.

Why is this preoccupation with madness and sanity so important to this series? Shade is a paranoid book. Literally every member of the cast is suspicious of every other member of the cast, down to parents, children, and lovers. Everyone in the Meta – the rather faceless and indistinct alternate dimension that Shade calls home – is a cop of some kind, or a criminal, or a criminal masquerading as a cop. If you’re not actively working with the Metan government to stamp out crime then you are probably a criminal yourself, let’s just say.

The reader will search in vain for any sign on the part of the author that the obsessively carceral world of Meta is not in fact the oppressive dystopia it appears on first, second, and eighth blush. Every third word out of every character’s mouth is an accusation of treason – perhaps an exaggeration, but only just. The Metan Secret Service, of which Shade served as a member, doesn’t really appear to have a set remit other than the general homeland protection shtick. Business is paranoid hypernationalism without a specific focus besides its own perpetuation and business is very good.

Today also brings Austin Price's review of a new collection of Go Nagai's infamous semi-classic Devilman.

Nagai is after all the overgrown child best known for penning super-robot slugfests like Mazinger and impossibly horny magical girl series like Cutie Honey, a schlockmeister who mistakes wrathful rants about justice and peace delivered over tableaus of splatterhouse gore for the stuff of great insight and sexual comedy so crass it borders on the misogynistic for satire; it seemed telling to me that his most stalwart fans would defend what was dullest and ugliest in Crybaby as the product of Nagai’s genius alone.

What’s most striking upon actually reading the first half of the original Devilman (available in English for the first time in three decades after publisher Seven Seas fished it from the licensing hell Glenn Danzig’s vanity press Verotik's brutal mishandling once stranded it in; the second half will follow in October) is how wrong everyone – not just the fans, not just myself, but Yuasa and Okouchi, as well – got it.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The Jerusalem Post has fired its longtime cartoonist Ari Katz after he drew an Animal Farm-referencing cartoon of Netanyahu depicted as a pig.

The publication of the cartoon on Tuesday in the Jerusalem Report, a biweekly magazine published by the Jerusalem Post, was met with praise by some and anger by other social media users, with many objecting to his portrayal of the Likud politicians as pigs, which are perceived as among the most ritually impure animals in Judaism.

Following the uproar, the Jerusalem Post announced it would no longer work with Katz.

“Avi Katz is a cartoonist who worked as a freelancer at the Jerusalem Post and in accordance with editorial considerations, it was decided not to continue the relationship with him,” it said in a Hebrew-language statement.

—Reviews & Commentary. Comedy Central's Jim Jefferies Show recently broadcast a sequence interviewing and mocking a prolific anti-diversity-in-comics advocate (read: bigot). This set off a debate online between people who welcomed the critical attention as long-overdue and those who felt it only served to magnify the bigot's profile. It's a complicated, difficult-to-parse issue, especially in the wake of the 2016 election and the media's arguable complicity in it, and one that I am not at all confident I know how to answer correctly. I think many people may overrate the power of public mockery to marginalize hard-right politics. On the other hand, ignoring these figures is unlikely to make them go away. We have to figure this out.

Over at the New York Times Book Review, Hillary Chute reviews Ben Passmore.

The most prominent device of “Your Black Friend” is its conspicuous, insistent use of the intimate, accusatory “you” (“How you use him like an information desk for black people”; “When you forget yourself”). In this, as in many other aspects, it recalls Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen: An American Lyric,” which is also distinguished by its repeated “you” (as well as a focus on white friend failure, and the relationship between word and image). But Rankine’s “you” is largely an address to self while Passmore’s is an accusation that feels leveled at readers, pointing to their complicity. It is urgent and productively uncomfortable. “Your Black Friend” is not just a takedown: The narrator himself is vulnerable, as when he reveals that he feels personally mocked by his friend’s thoughtless “black” presentations, and that as a child he would suck his lips in to make them look thin like Leonardo DiCaprio’s.

—Misc. The Believer has posted its full archives online, including its very strong pre-2015 comics features, which were edited by Alvin Buenaventura.