BLOG

The Wrong Horse

Today at TCJ is a day that ends in "y", which means it's one of the days we like to spend talking about Junji Ito. This time around, the duty falls to Austin Price: he's into it.

The truth is that Ito's work scares us because we know they shouldn’t. We know there is nothing so laughable as people being mauled by fish with mechanical spider legs; the idea of people contorting themselves to fit into custom-made holes on a mountainside should deserves not much more than a giggle. And yet when we read his work we shiver. And yet we also know that these things we dismiss so easily in fiction would make mince of us in the real world. Humans are weak and vulnerable and at the whims of forces we delude ourselves into thinking we’ve mastered; millions have lost their lives to a bite from a plague-carrying fleas, to malaria-toting mosquitoes. I once had neighbors who were under such siege by a gang of rabid raccoons that they could not leave their house for days for fear of their very lives. Why then shouldn't a plague of mechanically enabled fish monsters cut us down like wheat at harvest season? Similarly, we commonly hear about formerly sane people who wake up one day so obsessed with the idea of cleanliness they'll scrub their own skin off or so paranoid they'll murder their neighbor for some imagined slight; is the idea of a woman so horrified by spirals that she rips off her fingerprints and gouges out her eardrums really so outlandish?

The fourth installment in Summer Pierre's Cartoonist Diary is here, and it's time to follow up on the DMV story she began on Monday. (We call that a "callback" in the biz.)

Today's review is of Jules Feiffer, whose Ghost Script graphic novel saw release by Liveright earlier this year. J. Caleb Mozzocco has that comics criticism you need, as well as a reminder that Feiffer turns 90 (!) in January.

Regardless, how remarkable is it that an artist who will turn 90 in just three months has released another 160-page graphic novel, the conclusion of a trilogy that ultimately followed a large cast of characters for several decades through what became an almost 500-page epic of film noir and crime fiction homage turned great American (graphic) novel?

Despite its place as book three in a series, it’s well worth noting that The Ghost Script reads like--and therefore can be read as-- a self-contained work. Important, defining moments in the lives of the characters that occurred in the previous books, Kill My Mother and 2016’s Cousin Joseph, are revealed here, either in dialogue or in flashback, with several pages from Cousin Joseph reused and repurposed as those flashbacks. The cast’s motivations are clearly delineated between the covers of this single volume. The plot, as elaborate as it is, begins and satisfyingly ends here, and some of the more important elements of the story as a literary work are specific to this book.

Over at Shelf Awareness, Noah Van Sciver gave his own spin on their "Reading With..." feature.

Over at Popula, Trevor Alixopolus is holding it down with a spicy werewolf comic for ya.

Over at Comicosity, the hardworking Chris Hernandez is back at it again with another Comix Latinx interview; this time, he's talking to Lester Ray.

Over at Your Chicken Enemy, John James Dudek dives into Patrick Kyle's Roaming Foliage, taking up the challenge from Kim Jooha in our recent interview. (Maybe? Go with it!)

I had intended to post the following video the day we ran our Jamal Igle interview (unlike me, Jamal is a Man of Steel haterbut Tim got to be the lucky guy at the helm yesterday. Here, then, is my favorite trailer for one of the top five super-hero movies ever made.

 

 

Strenuous and Prolonged Efforts

Another big day here on TCJ. First, Alex Dueben talks to artist Jamal Igle about rethinking his career, getting older, why historical sales numbers may be misleading, and getting into arguments on Twitter.


The last time we did a big interview was right before The Ray dropped, which was when you were coming off Supergirl. I feel like you had a great experience on those two projects, but you didn’t want to be an employee in the same way afterwards.

Yeah. That’s the thing, especially on something like Supergirl, if you’re on a book for a year or two, the only way is to become emotionally invested in its success. Sterling and I on Supergirl became very very very emotionally invested in her longevity as a character. I walked away from the book because Sterling decided he was going to leave and I decided I can’t stay because it won’t be the same for me. When I walked away I started working on The Ray and I had a lot of fun working on The Ray, but that was done with the express intent of going out with the bang. This is going to be my last DC project so let’s show people what I can actually do with the brakes off. We invested so much time and energy on Supergirl between having to deal with the internal politics and then the attention that we got, especially in the first six months, and how we were doing in sales, and how that created tension internally, and having to deal with crossovers, and waiting for other people to do their part, and trying to align all that. It’s a lot. You put that much energy into something and it becomes emotionally draining if you don’t see not just a financial but an emotional return on investment.

Your run really influenced the TV show in different ways. I know that you and Sterling Gates have been name checked, but do you guys get anything?

They just mention us. I don’t get jack. [laughs]

At the same time, that’s the nature of work for hire. I’ve been in this business for almost thirty years and I completely understand. It’s the thing that makes people working in the business working at a larger company very hesitant about creating new characters for whatever company that they’re working for. Knowing the history of this business and knowing how many incredibly talented people either got screwed or weren’t keen enough businessmen to fully take advantage of the opportunities that they had at the time, I don’t want to ultimately end up that way. Having a background in advertising and marketing and editorial and production and knowing the realities of what it’s like to work in a business environment, I know that what your managers consider to be in the best interests of the business itself has nothing to do with your longevity as a creator. When you’re a freelancer you are a business unto yourself. It’s not Marvel or DC’s job to promote you per se outside of whatever you’re doing for them. That is not the relationship that you have with them as a creator. Their only responsibility is to exploit whatever talent they can get out of you for as long as they can and when you’re no longer of use to them, I won’t say that you’re discarded because everybody has to make their own decisions on that. Some people do get discarded. Some people leave by their own volition. Some people get forced out. Some people are just giant assholes and get pushed out because nobody wanted to deal with them no matter how talented or connected they are. I’ve always kept that in mind over the years.

We also have Day Three of Summer Pierre's Cartoonist's Diary.

And in our only explicitly Halloween-ish content for the holiday, Matt Seneca reviews the latest book from Al Columbia.

The valley between art and audience that the comics medium traverses is far less uncanny than the one facing animation. Before the terrain was road-graded by computers at least, cartoons could carry an unnerving vibe, the forms and movements so vivid and lively but still so alien, herky-jerky or a touch too slow or both in varying degrees, possessed of a lunatic enthusiasm in their every step. The weirdest Depression-era cartoon shorts, like Grim Natwick and Fleischer Studios' "Bimbo's Initiation" (much beloved of Jim Woodring), seem animated less by human hands than some evil spirit; windows into fictional worlds that somehow live, subject to none of the rules and sanities that mercifully govern our own. 

Al Columbia has built a comics career in territory as close to this uncanny valley as pictures that don't move can get. A superb draftsman, Columbia can pull on the smooth white gloves of the Fleischer house style with ease. But where actual old cartoons only hint vaguely at their evil spirit's existence, Columbia's work gets down on the floorboards and slithers along in the wake of its bloody trail, marrying a legitimately iconic American idiom to content as ghoulish and ghastly as anything comics has ever played host to. His latest book, Amnesia: The Lost Films of Francis D. Longfellow Supplementary Newsletter no. 1, spotlights a cartoonist who has identified exactly what's most powerful about his own work building himself an elaborate metafictional theater to project it in. 

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Steve Kurutz at the New York Times writes about Mark Dery's new biography of Edward Gorey.

He spent seven years on the project, time he needed to wrap his head around “the panoramic sweep” of his subject’s mind.

For Mr. Dery, and for anyone else, plunging into Goreyland means becoming acquainted with Diaghilev’s “Ballets Russes,” with French silent films, the surrealist collage novels of Max Ernst, Victorian children’s literature, the ancient Japanese novel “The Tale of Genji” and so forth. It means looking through a pre-Stonewall lens, when many gay men and women led closeted lives and their sexuality didn’t necessarily figure in their expressed personal politics.

It means trying to solve the riddle of a man who was outwardly gregarious — “As beguiling a conversationalist as Oscar Wilde,” as Mr. Dery put it — and flamboyantly fashionable, walking the streets of New York in the 1960s and ’70s in floor-sweeping fur coats that caught the attention of the photographer Bill Cunningham, yet forever enigmatic.

Slate has published an excerpt by Jami Attenberg, in which she writes about her personal experiences with the work of Julie Doucet.

I remember when I first read this book in 1999, new to New York City myself, I wanted to slip into the pages with her and experience her life. It was not terribly different from my own. I was new in town with just a few friends; I was a struggling artist, a feminist, a substance abuser, a night owl, and completely mystified by male behavior. (I am still many of these things, if I am being honest here.) Her energy practically vibrated through the book. She took all those things that I was merely contending with and turned them into a piece of art. She cracked open my universe a little bit. Here was how to take control of your own narrative.

Reading it now, 19 years older and wiser, I want to reach into the pages and pull her toward me and tell her to chill out on the whippets and get an apartment in the East Village immediately—not that it was any safer there, but at least she’d have some friends. As much as anything else, the book feels like a historical document. Doucet talks about seeing Karen Black perform on the Lower East Side. She goes to art parties and hangs out with Art Spiegelman, Françoise Mouly, and Charles Burns. She sees New York City through fresh eyes, capturing every detail of this compelling moment in its history. There’s lots of letter writing in this book, not an email in sight. I used to send beautiful letters. Did you?

Anime scholar Susan J. Napier recommends and discusses five books to help readers understand manga and anime.

[In Japanamerica, Roland] Kelts talks about the late twentieth-, early twenty-first-century moment when Japan and America were influencing each other. He compares this influence loop to a Möbius strip where things come from Japan and then they come to America, and return to Japan. He uses the movie The Matrix as an example. It was inspired by the manga and anime series Ghost in the Shell, which the Wachowski sisters, the directors, acknowledge having seen.

Ghost in the Shell inspired major sequences in The Matrix, and The Matrix inspired many anime. So there’s this continuous loop of Japanese and American cultural influence. Roland explores the excitement about this cultural transmission, how we are in a time when we can go back and forth between and among cultures and get inspiration and even products and art from another culture.

—Interviews. The aforementioned Alex Dueben talks to Noah Van Sciver about his latest Fante Bukowski book.

I love the design of the whole series. This one in particular plays with the layout, has a fake author photo and bio. How much of that was you?

None of that was me. That was all Keeli McCarthy’s genius. She’s the designer at Fantagraphics that I work with. Basically I just finish the story and send them the files. She had this whole conceptual idea for the series. She said I’m going to goof on these generations of self-important male writers in the designs. The first book was a very small paperback like the early beatnik novels. The second book jumped ahead twenty years and looked like something from Black Sparrow Press. The third one jumps ahead another twenty years and playing off the nineties male writers, books like Infinite Jest and those. I think she did a really good job of that. A lot of people didn’t pick up on it, but I hope they will.

—Misc. Michael Dooley has put together a visual tribute to the various "Treehouse of Horror" issues of Simpsons comics over the years, which is a nice reminder that it's been way too long since I pulled out the issue edited by Sammy Harkham...

 

The Sidewinding

Today at The Comics Journal, we've got a packed day for you. First up, we've got Daniel Schindel's look at a couple of Dead Reckoning's launch titles to see what they have to say about this new comics publisher. Later this week, Daniel will return with an interview with the publisher.

Since Dead Reckoning is an offshoot of the Naval Institute Press, the publishing arm of the U.S. Naval Institute, one might peruse these graphic novels with a suspicious eye. What’s the angle? Where’s the propaganda? The USNI isn’t part of the government or military, but a good deal of its leadership consists of retired Navy or Marine members. War comics have experienced a boom in first-person accounts and journalistic ventures in recent years, but comics coming from an “official” source will for many conjure images memories of Superman hawking war bonds and Captain America punching Hitler. But both Trench Dogs and The ‘Stan are aware of and in conversation with this history. They aren’t dashed-off efforts, but involve talented artists not previously known for working in this genre. Dead Reckoning, then, is asserting their seriousness as a comics publisher.

Meanwhile, Summer Pierre's Cartoonist Diary continues, with today spotlighting the feelings that curse an exercise routine. Pro tip: make sure you're keeping up with Pierre's title design!

Today's review comes from Rich Barrett, and he's taking a look at nbm's recent translation of Annie Goetzinger's The Provocative ColletteLike the rest of us, he's curious to see more of the artist make its way to English.

With a background in costume design, Goetzinger always focused on complicated, beautiful women and in Colette she found an ideal subject, one who was both a fashion icon and an early prototype for modern feminism. We see her depicted in a variety of fashion-forward outfits that range from shoulder-baring ball gowns (racy for the bourgeoisie at the time) to demure school girl outfits to breast-baring stage costumes. Colette is responsible for creating some iconic looks including the “Claudine Collar” worn by the protagonist of her first novel and Goetzinger seemed to relish rendering every last swatch of fabric.

Over at Popula, there's new comics up from Meghan Lands and Beatrix Urkowitz, both of which are excellent.

The latest in the Cómix Latinx interview series is up at Comicosity, this time around, it's with Ale Juvera

Diversions of the Groovy Kind gears up for Halloween by digging up some a collection of some very specific advertisements.

Over at Your Chicken Enemy, Kim Jooha takes an insightful dip into Conor Stechschulte's Christmas In Prison. And I just correctly spelled Conor's last name from memory.

Over at Pop Matters, there's another review of Julie Doucet's Dirty Plotte to be found. You can never have enough Doucet, if you ask me.

New John Carpenter! 

 

Dream Baby Dream

A new week, and a new Cartoonist's Diary. This week sees the debut of Day One from Summer Pierre.

We also have Rob Clough's review of a biographical comic, Dominique Osuch and Sandrine Martin's Niki De Saint Phalle: The Garden Of Secrets.

Writing a biography in comics is tricky. How does one cram the essence of a life into under two hundred pages? Is it possible to get across just why a person is important? Furthermore, how is the task complicated with a separate writer and artist? In Niki De Saint Phalle: The Garden Of Secrets, writer Dominique Osuch and artist Sandrine Martin are able to avoid some, but not all, of the pitfalls of comics biography.

De Saint Phalle, born in 1930, was better known outside the US, despite her half-American heritage and the number of years she lived in the country. She most often simply went by Nike, a name she gave herself as a child as a kind of guardian spirit and playmate that watched over her. She was a multi-media genius and self-taught artist who worked with huge sculptures, performance art, film, and other media, and her works were frequently considered to be shocking and controversial at the time. She was an artist who boldly and directly addressed feminist issues. Her work was bright, colorful and direct. Of her many achievements, her greatest may have been The Tarot Garden in Italy, which features sculptures of varying sizes of all the Major Arcana. Niki made sure the structures and the garden itself were an integrated whole, which was a frequent theme of her work. She wanted her art to be open and available for all to see in public spaces, not stuck in a museum.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Massachusetts outlet Malden Wicked Local interviews Keith Knight.

I’ve been on panels with cartoonists who have to leave the country because their government was going after them for a cartoon they did. So, I’m fortunate that it’s not gotten to that point here yet. But the way things are going, it wouldn’t surprise me if it did.

[It’s a scary time] for everybody. I think not only not only for people who are direct victims of this, but also the indirect reality of people who never considered themselves to be racist or fascist, but are looking around and justifying what’s going on, and saying to themselves, “Oh, OK, maybe I am fine with this. Maybe I don’t want any of this taken away” -- even though none of it will be taken away!

But if you scare people enough, saying, “Oh, you know, this caravan of people are coming and they’re gonna take YOUR job.” It’s such silly bullsh--.

—Reviews & Commentary. The Paris Review excerpts Anne Elizabeth Moore's new monograph about Julie Doucet,

D&Q released Dirty Plotte #1 in January 1991, and it was one of the more enduring titles to come out of the black-and-white boom, a period of rampant experimentation in independently published comics, when no title seemed likely to fail and thus no risks were too big for publishers. Doucet won a Harvey Award for best new series, appeared in Diane Noomin’s Twisted Sisters anthology from Penguin, and was interviewed by The Comics Journal that same year. She moved to New York shortly thereafter, relocated within a year to Seattle, then to Berlin. Lève ta jambe, mon poisson est mort! (in English, “Lift your leg, my fish is dead!,” although the title remained untranslated for the English market) came out from D&Q in 1993, compiling work from the minicomics and elsewhere. A collection of dream and fantasy stories, My Most Secret Desire, came out in 1995, also from D&Q. Doucet returned to Montreal in 1998 to complete Dirty Plotte #12, which turned out to be the last in the pamphlet series. My New York Diary came out in 1999, The Madame Paul Affair the following year, and Long Time Relationship in 2001, all from D&Q. Dirty Plotte came in at ninety-six on The Comics Journal’s 1999 list of top comics of all time. This year, D&Q released a two-volume set of her work, The Complete Dirty Plotte, including several strips previously unpublished in English, selections from her diaries, both runs of Dirty Plotte, work that was published contemporaneously with the series but appeared in other venues, and the entirety of My New York Diary and The Madame Paul Affair.

—News. V.T. Hamlin's Alley Oop strip is being relaunched with writer Joey Alison Sanders and artist Jonathan Lemon.

Sayers said she hoped to add more humor to the strip, which has created by V.T. Hamlin and focused on Alley Oop and his life in the prehistoric kingdom of Moo since its debut in 1932. In 1939, it introduced Dr. Elbert Wonmug, a 20th-century scientist who sent the cave man on time-travel adventures. “I want to make it a little zanier and just have a little more fun and draw readers in,” Sayers said. The Sunday installments, she said, would likely not involve time travel. They will be a little more slice-of-life and coming-of-age-type stories, she remarked.

The strip is preserving its history, she noted. “It’s not that the stuff in the past doesn’t exist,” she said. “It is still the same characters, but circumstances have changed. I definitely don’t want to alienate the old readers, but I want to create a starting point for new readers.”

Workers at a Goodwill in New Jersey found a 1774 newspaper with the original "Unite or Die" snake cartoon from the U.S. Revolution. (History.com also wrote about the cartoon.)

“These were very important propaganda tools,” Snyder said of newspapers and pamphlets of the era. “The viciousness then in some was as much or more as it is today. . (But) the language was more powerful in putting down the other side.”

Snyder estimates the newspaper’s value at $6,000 to $16,000. Goodwill Industries hopes to sell it to help funds its educational and job-training services, according to Heather Randall, e-commerce manager of the regional operation in Bellmawr, New Jersey.

Writer Mark Waid has been sued by one of the main people associated with ComicsGate, and is raising legal funds.

 

Mommy Stole My Buzzsaw

Today at TCJ, we've got Austin Price on Nathan Gelgud's House in the Jungle. He did not care for it.

Yet to give it a pass would be worse, because endorsing Gelgud and his hypothetical future imitators’ experiments would be to sabotage the exact kind of oddities I’d sooner trumpet. While it is, yes, a welcome slice of strangeness that Gelgud trots out in A Home in the Jungle, it’s insubstantial. This is a book that announces its ambition on every page but musters none of the profundity or mystery it positions itself worthy of, a civics lesson on the importance of political engagement masquerading as a slice of Lynchian weirdness which yields only easy answers without ever honestly engaging the uneasy wondrous that frustrates explanation in favor of deeper pleasures.

Over at Popula, Trevor Alixopoulous deliver his take on disaster preppers, along with some autobiographical details for some spice. And you know what they say about he who controls the spice.

Over at PEN America, Whit Taylor's most recent editorial comics call was to Katie Fricas, and it was an excellent choice.

Over at Facebook, Charles Vess posted the endpapers art for his Spider-Man graphic novel from 1990. Pretty unreal.

 

Shoplifters of the World

Today on the site, Rob Clough returns to review the latest from John Kerschbaum, Pete & Pussy: Puppy Love.

The surface simplicity of John Kerschbaum's work has always belied the complexity of its underlying structure. To be sure, the humorist is first and foremost a gag man, dating back to his Xeric grant-winning series The Wiggly Reader back in the 1990s. His drawing style is pleasant and almost bland, as he rarely sells gags simply by drawing funny pictures. Instead, he prefers to lure readers in with this approachable style and spring bizarre, visceral, and sometimes horrifying gags on them. There are few cartoonists who integrate word and image in such a commanding fashion, as his gags depend on that fusion in order to succeed. He's not primarily a funny writer or funny craftsman (though he is both of those things); instead, he's a funny cartoonist.

His high level of craft is sometimes not immediately discernible. Working with a standard nine-panel grid, no single page or image really stands out on an initial flip-through. One can only see what he's doing upon immersing oneself in the rhythm of each page, because he will frequently set up a gag several pages in advance, while at the same time advancing a series of smaller jokes in the grid set-up. Take the beginning of Kerschbaum's new book, Petey & Pussy: Puppy Love, where the senile owner of Pussy the Cat and Bernie the Bird is at her computer. She's punching it and poking it in order to make it work and even talks into the mouse like it was a CB radio transmitter. At the same time, we hear someone screaming "La La La" and interspersing it with "Kill Me!" That buildup continues for a couple of more pages and reaches its end three pages later, as we first see Pussy, in his usual pose outside the mouse hole. Kerschbaum has created not only his own rhythm but his own reality as well, as the three main pets have human heads and speak English. None of this is ever addressed, nor is it necessary.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Interviews & Profiles. Paste has a discussion between cartoonists Mike Mignola and Geoff Darrow.

Mike Mignola: Do you remember the first time we met?

Geof Darrow: I do. I do. That was at San Diego Comic-Con when it was in that convention center that was near the Grand Hotel. And I remember vividly that you were working on, or you done, Cosmic Odyssey and I told you how much I liked it and you were like, Ah, well… [laughs] I wonder if you had any idea like, Who is this guy?

Mignola: I don’t think I did because I don’t think—it was before Hard Boiled, right? I don’t know that I had seen anything of yours before, and I don’t know if you were with Frank or who you were with, but I remember somebody pulled out, you pulled out, a page you were working on—which I don’t think was ever published? I don’t know if it was a page from Hard Boiled, all I remember is it seemed like it was a really complicated, amazing street scene and I always seem to remember that there was an alligator walking up the middle of the street. I might be completely wrong and maybe it was an actual page from Hard Boiled?

Darrow: No, no, that’s funny. The only thing I could think that could be was at the time, I was working on an insurance job, one of those things where they hire you to draw whatever you want. We’re going to pay X amount of dollars, it seems like a lot of money and you can just draw whatever you want. We’re going to hand this out to people to buy the insurance.

The science fiction website Strange Horizons interviews the novelist and comics writer Saladin Ahmed.

I like to write from the point of view of monsters. I’m a Muslim-Arab man, and I think a lot about demonization—who gets turned into monsters and who gets viewed as monsters. And one of the most compelling narratives to me in all of fiction is that of the misunderstood monster. I’m going all the way back to Shelley—actually did a lecture on Frankenstein earlier this year. It was cool to talk about Frankenstein because I’m really interested in the monster, and I think Marvel is a great place for that, right? You have this history of characters like The Thing, but also for me taking some of these characters who have been villains, traditionally, and asking questions. The supervillain is the monster of the superhero comic, right? And I’m asking why are they monsters, what made them monsters, who gets to classify them as monsters.

The latest guest of Virtual Memories is Eddie Campbell.

—Reviews & Commentary. Stuart Jefferies writes about a London exhibition of artworks inspired by Peanuts.

Peanuts became an obsession for [Mel] Brimfield at an early age. Her grandmother would cut strips from the newspaper for her to read. And so, when her school planned a musical called Good Ol’ Charlie Brown, she auditioned to play Lucy. “My mum made me a bonkers black wig, bless her,” she says. But why play the strip’s monstrous bully? “Because she had the best songs and the biggest role.”

Lucy has haunted Brimfield, who is based in London, ever since. “A few years ago, I was working in a hippy clinic where the people who came in – with real pain – were only offered shamanic soul retrieval from charlatans. There was something about how easy it was to set yourself up as a therapist that made me think of Lucy. And the more I thought about it, the more I realised the move to wellness and the licence to complete selfishness in our society is fed by people like Lucy. She only set up her booth because it was another way of exercising power. She’s a huckster.”

—Misc. The Paris Review (?) has a selection of original EC horror and science fiction comics art up on its site, in conjunction with a new show at the Society of Illustrators.

Looks like Jim Rugg and Ed Piskor are starting a new podcast:

 

Goat Night

Today at TCJ, our comics retail column Retail Therapy returns, this time with a visit to Philadelphia's Amagalm Comics & Coffeehouse.

What's changed the most for your business in the last five years?

Amalgam has had a really interesting start. Two weeks after opening our doors we went viral in the truest sense of the word. With that came a whirlwind of interviews, special appearances and speaking engagements for me. As a brand new business I felt it was important to get as much media attention as possible, so for the first 6 months or so of our existence much of my attention and energy went into promoting the business and building our brand. The biggest change thus far has been me taking step back from the promotional piece and really spending time with the store, my staff, and my customers.  

Today's review comes to you from Nathan Chazan, and this time around, he's taking a look at Junji Ito's Frankenstein, a recent hardcover release from Viz. He's into it.

Junji Ito’s Frankenstein is a comic chasing a feeling, a vibe, one great impression gleaned from Mary Shelley’s novel and essentially nothing else. When Ito is not chasing this feeling, the comic falls slack, stiffening into the straightforward retelling of a Classics Illustrated, where pages upon pages unfold of men and women in stodgy Victorian dress and upright posture, discussing plans for weddings that I couldn’t care less about. Maybe I have a short attention span, but it often seems that Ito does as well. These pages are light, literally so - daylight leaves little room for Ito’s oppressive hatching, and it leeches away the distinctive character of his art. Without that gloomy labor, Ito could be any mangaka, and this is just a comic book of Frankenstein. But not for long.

Back At The Bronze Age put together another one of their perfectly satisfying posts of comic book ephemera, this one focusing on floating heads. Look at all those ding dang floating heads!

Abhay Khosla put together a random look at some old Frank Teran covers of the Punisher and The Terminator, which is the Punisher's spirit animal. I'm good with that.

A comic I really enjoyed this year was Young Frances, and I'm just catching this interview with the creator now. Good stuff.

 

 

Circa-Viable

Today at The Comics Journal, we welcome back our world traveling Matt Seneca, who stopped by the country of France to see what's been going in the land of late period Moebius. The result is a insightful delight:

The computer is very much in evidence here, its voice autotuning its creator's imagery into a place as different from "classic Moebius" as it is inextricable. The most noticeable change can be seen in the colors. I think the sublime flatting combinations Moebius assembled in his prime are at least as big a contributing factor to his enduring popularity as his rendering style itself. Without them, he's a talented psychedelicist with technical chops and a Crumb influence. With them, he was something else, something bright and glowing you always sensed should exist but no one else was able to show you. (Should you require more proof of the contribution color made to Moebius's career highs, and possess a strong stomach, check out the absolutely hideous recolored version of The Incal that DC put out in the early 2000s.) Moebius's hand-coloring approach (often in concert with the work of assistants) was never too complicated: establishing a striking color as a ground, he would build up shape and depth with darker and lighter values of the same tone before marking out the essential information a picture contained with a strong contrasting hue, usually combined with areas of white or black. In a modification of this approach, he would form a ground with pastel tones before using a bold color for pop. 

And today's review comes to you from Tegan O'Neil, who took a chance on the most recent installment of Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips long running partnership, My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies. It didn't go super well.

I struggle with noir precisely because the moral tone is unwavering and inescapable: these are stories about people who make the wrong decisions, consistently, and then hurt others as a consequence of their wrong decisions. Crime stories implicate the system that directs people into the arms of the carceral state. It’s hard not to read a story like My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies and not be distracted by the ways in which the world has failed these people, or in which the world has failed by enabling them, in the case of the rich folks shipped off to rehab as opposed to prison.

Over at Women Write About Comics, there's a solid interview with Jocelyne Allen, a manga translator behind multiple titles that readers of this site will have come across.

Over at Dominic's house, you'll find an all-too-brief look at Summer Pierre's All The Sad Songs from Mr. Umile himself.

Over at Popula, you'll find their comics output increasing. I would recommend Lauren Weinstein's latest Normel Person, for a bunch of obvious reasons.

Over at Spiral Bound, you'll find their comics output at about the same. The new Gabrielle Bell comic "Manifestation" is exceptional.

It's time for your Trevor Von Eeden alert!

This is the most upsetting thing I can recall happening to a fictional comic book character when it was brought into another form of entertainment that I can recall in my lifetime. 

This put me in a better mood.