This morning, we present R. C. Harvey's formal obituary of Bil Keane, the Family Circus creator who passed away last Tuesday. An excerpt:
Asked whether comics are “art,” Keane said: “The comic strip is a brilliant form of art developed in America and now imitated in every country. More people see and appreciate this art form daily than ever see the expensive paintings tucked away in museums. I’m proud to be exhibited regularly in over 1,500 newspapers, and to have my work hung on what I consider the world’s most prestigious art gallery: the refrigerator doors in homes across America.” But he’s never entirely serious for long: “Some cartoonists jot their ideas down on the back of an old envelope,” he once said. “Some talk into a tape recorder. I talk into the back of an old envelope.”
And Rob Clough reviewsMichael Kupperman's illustrated novel, Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010.
Elsewhere, people are continuing to react to "the Frank Miller incident." David Barnett at the Guardiangathers some of the responses and takes a look at the politics of Miller's comics. One reaction not included there comes from Neal Adams. It's unfocused but relatively sane. Finally, Jim Rugg and Frank Santoro have their own take:
I'm in LA again. This time for a schizophrenic week of first launching the Odd Future book, Golf Wang, and then opening the Destroy All Monsters exhibition, Return of the Repressed. The former is "just" a book, the latter a 150-piece show I've been working on with Mike Kelley for a while now. It's gonna be a busy week. The only comics I think I'll will be whatever Ben Jones has lying around his guest room, though DAM member Jim Shaw has made some fine ass comics in his time.
Anyhow, let's see... on the site today:
Joe McCulloch gives us a nice week in comics complete with a look at the Kirby strip in Someday Funnies.
Good morning, everyone. Today we are very proud to publish Zippy the Pinhead creator Bill Griffith's tribute to the late Bil Keane:
... I also remember Bil Keane’s talk to the assembled crowd. It was flavored by what his generation would call “pretty salty language.” For the creator of such a family-friendly strip, his comments were a surprise–and a pleasant one. I began to realize these “old-timers” were not at all like the characters in their G-rated comics; they were people like me. Well, sort of.
Also, Sean T. Collins turns in a review of Megan Kelso's re-released Queen of the Black Black.
Speaking of Keane, Jeet Heer passes along this short profile of the man from a 2006 issue of the Tucson Citizen, which is sad but well worth reading.
At Robot 6, Kevin Melrose highlights another heartbreaking story, an insurance magazine profile describing the late-life plight of longtime comic-book writer Bill Mantlo, now in a nursing home, and never really fully recovered from the hit-and-run that injured him two decades ago.
Kate Beaton was featured on a CTV news story last week. There's always something pleasantly surreal about seeing cartoonists on television.
A cartoon Miller posted on his site last year: "Krypto-Fascist"
And of course, the big comics-related news going around the internet this weekend was the reaction to Frank Miller's pathetic commentary on the Occupy Wall Street movement. (A choice bit of Miller's wordplay: "HAH! Some 'movement', except if the word 'bowel' is attached.") In one of those rare moments where I strongly disagree with him, Tom Spurgeon wrote a brief post calling the whole thing "deeply silly" and basically seeming to imply that Miller's words were better left undiscussed. (Though it's possible I'm misreading him, and Spurgeon just finds the whole situation distasteful, a position it's hard to argue against.) In any case, all of this sort of thing is fair game in my book. And while individual cases of embarrassing statements from major creators might disappoint me (not this time—while a lot of his early work still holds up well, I gave up on Miller years ago), overall, it's good to know more about where they're coming from. Kim Thompson wrote Spurgeon a letter taking strident issue with him about a different matter, Tom's characterization of Miller's politics. And if you haven't yet had your fill of the matter, the writer David Brin has used this occasion to publish a long explanation of everything he thinks is wrong (historically and politically) with Miller's 300.
It seems to me what PS represented something Eisner pursued throughout his career, the opportunity to create comics for an adult readership. Indeed, during most of its run it must have been nearly the only such opportunity in the comic book format outside of Little Annie Fanny, and as such is another tribute to Eisner’s savvy.
Today Ken Parille stops by with the latest installment of his column, this time gathering some thoughts inspired by the recent republication of Dan Clowes's The Death-Ray.
A brief excerpt:
This comic displays Steve Ditko’s crucial influence on the young Clowes, who was fascinated by Ditko-drawn and plotted Spider-Man issues. This influence has been at work throughout Clowes’s career, though often buried in his current ‘aesthetic unconscious’ in ways not always instantly recognizable. Both artists share an obsession with heroic and un-heroic action, frailty and ugliness, revenge and violence. According to Clowes, he has even turned into a Ditko character!: “Now I resemble The Vulture from the early Steve Ditko Spider-Man comics” (from Ghost World: Special Edition).
As you no doubt have heard, it was announced yesterday that Bil Keane, the Family Circus creator, passed away Tuesday at the age of 89. Here's the New York Times obituary. Lynda Barry posted a brief tribute to the cartoonist on her website—and had already been outspoken about her feelings for his work in interviews and comics during the last few years. Mike Lynch gathers Keane-related art from the National Cartoonists Society here. We plan to publish more on Keane in the near future.
Elsewhere, the 2011 top ten lists are starting to appear. Here's one at Amazon, and another at Publishers Weekly. Both of them seem to be doing their best to spread the love around and make sure as many publishers and genres as possible are represented, a goal that some would argue can conflict with listing the actual best books. But who goes to those places for recommendations anyway? I hope Martí's The Cabbie starts showing up on some of the lists that haven't appeared yet, but that might be asking for too much...
And plans are underway to turn Alison Bechdel's Fun Home into a stage musical. I really want to make a Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark joke, but some part of me would hate myself if I succumbed.
Finally, and this is only very tangentially related to comics, the novelist and occasional comic-book writer Jonathan Lethem has written a much-discussed critique of the New Yorker critic James Wood, arguing more or less that Wood is a poseur and a snob whose literary judgements can't be trusted when discussing any fiction that can't be placed within a narrow band of genre. In other words, and to put it extremely simply, Lethem thinks that one reason (and maybe the main reason) Wood doesn't like his books is because his characters read comic books and take them seriously. I haven't read Fortress of Solitude, and so can't speak to the particular subject of his essay, but based on the many other Wood reviews I have read, Lethem seems broadly correct in his analysis.
UPDATE: Oh, and I forgot this link! Robert Crumb talks to Vice about a rejected cover for The New Yorker, and his strained relationship with the magazine since.
Whoah, running late this morning so this'll be more or less a place holder. I'm cheating, I know. Sorry!
But! It's a good day at TCJ. We are debuting a new column by Charles Hatfield called KinderComics, all about comics for children. We're really happy to have Charles aboard and his ideas for upcoming topics are very exciting.
And the great Tom De Haven is back with a review of the first volume of the new Carl Barks Donald Duck reprint series.
Today we bring you the conclusion of Matthias Wivel's outstanding, confusion-clearing report on the crisis at L'Association. (Here's part one.) A few behind-the-web tech snags delayed us from posting this as early as we'd wanted, but I think you'll find that it's worth the wait.
Also, Joe McCulloch brings you his traditional weekly roundup of new comics, with a prefatory piece on religious propagandists Jack T. Chick and Fred Carter.