Today on the site we have an interview by our own Frank Santoro with cartoonist Jesse Moynihan, whose handsome new book, Forming, has just been released from Nobrow (via Adhouse here in the U.S.). Frank writes:
Jesse Moynihan is a force. Storyboard artist, writer, cartoonist, webcartoonist, blogger — he’s everywhere. Jesse will be at APE in San Francisco on October 1st and 2nd. Go say hi and buy something from him.
On the subject of APE, I'll be there this weekend with PictureBox and Matthew Thurber, who I'll be chatting with publicly Saturday at 1 pm. At 3 pm that same day (phew) I'll be moderating a discussion with Daniel Clowes and Adrian Tomine. And tonight the New York Art Book Fair opens. So you're in luck on both coasts.
And speaking of Clowes, here's a good interview with him on the occasion of the new edition of Death-Ray.
The Wall Street Journal has a nice story up about Toon Books and the great illustrator Hilary Knight.
Nick Gazin has a new column up over at Vice, with yet more about Monsieur Clowes.
Bhob Stewart has a good anecdote about working with inker Syd Shores on one of his last jobs, featuring the underrated Wally Wood-style artist Wayne Howard. A fine trifecta.
It's always a good moment when there's a new True Swamp comic strip.
Elsewhere, Rob Clough presents his thoughts on the latest issue of Love and Rockets.
And David Brothers and Graeme McMillan offer the first two substantial reviews of Frank Miller's Holy Terror I've yet seen. They're both tremendously negative takes, but probably because of the book's subject matter, they avoid the yuk-yukking of most Miller-bashing. I expect a lot more of this kind of thing.
Also, interesting that this and Habibi are coming out on the same week, and so close after the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. It's hard not to compare them as long-gestating responses to those events, even if they are only (in the case of Habibi) indirectly so.
Good morning, & welcome to another week of comics talk.
First, Ken Parille performs another comic-book dissection, and this time his laboratory frog is the spearhead of DC's bold new 52 initiative, Justice League #1. As Ken put it elsewhere: "Normally I write about comics I like and try to explain what's interesting about them. This time I take a different approach."
A big day on the site today, with enough reading material to carry you through the weekend and well into next week!
First we have Jesse Pearson's riveting (if I do say so myself) interview with Johnny Ryan, in which we learn more than I ever thought possible about the cartoonist. This is a must. Jesse begins:
There has never been an alternative comics artist who makes work that’s more divisive than Johnny Ryan’s. Shit, piss, farts, dicks, and pussies are his vanilla material. When he really gets rolling, he’ll deal in rape, murder, genocide, 9-11, AIDS, baby fucking, and the end of the world. The style of art in his humor comics—all cute and cartoonish—both undercuts and ramps up the disturbance factor. It’s dizzying.
And it gets even better from there.
And then we have Kim Deitch's eleventh installment of his memoir, in which he swerves into opera and gardening:
Our place had a nice bay window with plenty of sun, and for a period Sally had gotten into growing all kinds of different things. One day she took a shot at germinating some pot seeds from my current stash. I wasn’t relying on pot to draw all that much anymore, but I was still smoking the stuff. Well, that particular experiment was a roaring success and I soon took it over. It seemed to have awakened a latent farmer within me.
Well, friends, what more could you want? I will not direct you anywhere else -- I refuse -- because this should be enough! And it is!
1. After speculating about how Disney is going to respond to working with the anarchic and unprofessional employees of Marvel (i.e. "small talents with big egos"), Jim Shooter posts his contracts from Marvel in 2002 and DC in 2007. (via)
2. The much-missed Jeet Heer emerged briefly from the chaos of new fatherhood and several large projects to e-mail me a link to this appearance from another Journal fan favorite:
Heer also wrote this recent review of Michael Kupperman's new Mark Twain book.
3. Are old-fashioned maps (the kind with sea monsters and dragons) comics? Not really, but it may be hard for some to pinpoint exactly why when confronted with a few of the images in this short illustrated history of them.
4. Brian Chippendale takes on the New 52 at DC, reviewing the new Justice League and Animal Man titles, as well as various Marvel, independent, and manga titles.
5. Finally, there's something of a debate going on right now regarding the coherence (or lack of same) of the action scenes in recent blockbuster films. Jim Emerson started it off with this excellent video essay critiquing a chase sequence from The Dark Knight.
A.D. Jameson defends the scene here, claiming that Christopher Nolan and his collaborators are trying a new and visceral approach to cinematic action that doesn't rely on narrative coherence.
All of that is interesting but not obviously related to comics. Except that it reminded me of many of Frank Santoro's arguments over the years (here's one) regarding the disappearance of the "classical" (for lack of a better word) cartooning style that was notable for its clarity, and was once evident in the work of everyone from the masterful Milton Caniff to the perennial critical whipping boy Don Heck. Nowadays, American action comics are almost all just big explosions, pointless decapitations, and impossible-to-parse (or believe) battle royale splash pages. Drawn in "photo-realistic" style, of course, so as to denote seriousness (not unlike how Nolan is supposed to be presenting a new "realism" in superhero films).
I don't have a coherent theory as to why this is so, beyond a general coarsening of the culture. Or at least the culture of this particular kind of action story. The normal thumb-sucking answer is to blame it on video games, but you don't actually see the same incoherence in your typical Xbox boss fight, so I don't think that's it, unless video games have simply spurred filmmakers and cartoonists to desperation due to lost market share. Further investigation is required.
Hayley Campbell reads Nate Powell's Any Empire against an extraordinary backdrop and asks a few questions.
Jack Adler, the noted production man at DC Comics from 1946 to 1981, has passed away. Mark Evanier has a summary of Adler's career. Adler was responsible for the stunning look of DC covers in the 1960s, innovating in color and texture.
Jog's pal Peter Milligan is interviewed about his work for DC's 52, specifically Red Lanterns, and says:
I suppose one of the main aims of this book is to take what have hitherto been monomaniacal bad guys and turn some of them at least into something more rounded and more compelling.
Gotta start somewhere!
Over at the Forbidden Planet blog there's a report on an exhibition of work by Maurice Tillieux, whose Murder by High Tide is one my favorite books of this year, even though I'm still trying to figure out a way to write something intelligent about it. Click over for some juicy photos and good info.