WOCHNER: If I shoot some names at you, maybe you can give me some profiles about what you remember of them. Bill Gaines...
DAVIS: Bill was always just a very generous person. He was a big guy. I think he's kind of shy, but he's his own man. He's full of a lot of love for people. He's just a very giving person, and he's a good businessman, and I respect him an awful lot. If it hadn't been for him, I probably wouldn't be where I am now. I might be somewhere else, of course, but I like where I am now and I owe it all to Bill. There's a certain chemistry we all had with the horror bit. He enjoyed the horror bit, he enjoys his humor, and he enjoys having a good time... and it's a family thing. I think that when people come in from the outside, be it a writer or an artist, it's pretty much a compliment because he's the one who says, "OK, bring him."
WOCHNER: Al Feldstein...
DAVIS: Al is the guy who gave me my first job and I think he's a very good editor. He makes sure that everything runs right, that deadlines are met, and he's put me on the carpet quite a few times for being late, and I've never had that from anyone else. I'll be late sometimes, but Al really used to chew me out, and I needed it. I think, also, he was a genuinely good man, but he was concerned about MAD and running everything right, and he did it that way, and expected in return that you do a good job and not lay back. Every time I'd bring something in, he'd say, "Well, you didn't knock yourself out on this," and I didn't — sometimes I would, and that would make me mad, but that's an editor, and that's his job.
In many respects, Ruins is a fictionalization and recapitulation of Peter Kuper's 2010 book Diario de Oaxaca, which was a highly elaborate sketchbook diary of his time living in Mexico around 2006. Oaxaca is well known as a tourist center that draws in a lot of ex-pats because of its unique charms and focus on the arts. Cartoonists like Steve Lafler and Carrie McNinch have also spent time living there. During Kuper's tenure, Oaxaca's annual teacher's strike for higher wages turned into a brutal military crackdown, and Kuper captured that with his drawings. He also became fascinated by the insect life he observed and was interested in capturing all aspects of living in the town without romanticizing them. Still, his love of Oaxaca despite (and mostly because of) its quirks was obvious when reading the book. Kuper is one of the founders of the politically charged anthology World War III Illustrated, and awareness of the social justice ramifications of what he saw came naturally to him. That said, it was surprising to see that both in his diary and in the fictionalized Ruins, he never examines his own role as an ex-pat and what effect he had had on Oaxaca, be it positive or negative.
Mr. Dillon was a legend among comic-book fans and considered a master of his craft by colleagues. Known for a deeply expressive, often humorous style that leapt off the page, he created characters that could communicate volumes with a single expression.
His “pages were as fluid as camerawork, as efficient and composed as theater,” the novelist and comic-book writer Warren Ellis, a fan of Mr. Dillon’s work, said in an interview. “Everything breathed.”
I don’t think I’ve seen many people talking about purposefully choosing certain coloring methods. How do you make that decision about what’s best for the project?
I think most sane people stick with one coloring method. I’m always wanting to experiment. But I just feel it out. I have a vibe in mind that I want to convey. Like my book Lovers in the Garden is set in ‘70s New York, and it’s kind of a novella, so I thought that would be a good project to try a combination of different types of markers and colored pencils. It has kind of a gritty vibe, and it’s shorter and the original pages are smaller, so I had the luxury of going all out on the hand coloring. If I want something to look slicker, I color it digitally. I’m still working it all out. I probably always will be.
Hergé liked to keep his scene’s space clear and consistent, modifying it slightly with “cut-ins” and “pans.” [Harry] Lucey, like other American comics artists, freely changes angle and even character arrangement to create variety and to point up dialogue. In one pair of panels, the change of angle is bold, slicing off half of Archie’s face to give greater emphasis to Betty’s angry arm-thrust and Ronnie’s reaction on the far right.
It keeps changing! I was going to do one certain ending, but then I wanted these two particular characters to stay together instead of breaking up and so I’m overhauling Volume 7 and scrapping all this stuff that I drew before. Because of all that, now the original ending I had doesn’t work anymore. Maybe eight or nine will be the last book? I thought I might periodically come back and do a short Wet Moon story here and there, that would be really fun. Just short little fun stories about whatever characters I felt like working on at that particular time. One thing I’ve been joking about for years is Wet Moon 2099. I could end the current series at Book 8 or 9 and come back a few years from now and do Wet Moon 2099. [laughs]
The joke goes that the difference between consumers in authoritarian states like China and those in the U.S. is that readers in America sometimes like to believe that they are getting impartial truth from the likes of The New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC, or The Guardian. The Chinese have no choice but to believe that it’s all excrement. But that's only because the Chinese government is so abysmal at this game. It took years for their state-owned conglomerates to figure out that they even needed to talk to the press, much less shape its message.
When Marvel-Disney contributes a free war comic to an American audience you can be sure that the propaganda is safe, conservative, and in line with the inclinations of the powers that be.
After all this study and analysis, Torishima had a very important revelation about manga itself, as he explains, “Once I’d read a lot of manga I came to realize that there are two main types, the first is easy to read and the other is hard to read. To explain, when it’s easy to read the pages just flow through your fingers. When it’s harder, you have to go back a few pages to check what was happening. As such, I discarded all the manga I thought that fell into the second, harder to read, category. This only left the easy to read manga and the best one was Ore wa Teppei by Tetsuya Chiba."
I started my career designing books for Milton Glaser’s studio. We did educational books for Barron’s. I had also done some newspaper advertising for the Columbia Record club. In the advertising and book publishing business, we always employed the latest technologies, whether it was photostat machines, typesetting machines, Pantone film, art projectors, Airbrush machines or computers.
Now I use the same technology that is standard in the world of commercial graphics. I use 3D, motion capture, desktop publishing, inkjet printing — and anything else that helps me do better work. Most entertainment is distributed electronically, whether via TV, web, or phone, so it just makes sense to create the work that is most compatible with the delivery system.
An excellent Vulture interview with Jonathan Lethem about his new novel includes some interesting exchanges on comics.
Since you're interested, Professor Lethem will now continue the lecture: I have a very strong belief that superhero movies have nothing to do with comic books. And that this is the case at a deep formal and structural level. What makes a page of a comic book a deep and mysterious artifact is the stillness and the blank space between the panels, the gutters as they’re called. Comics have an extremely baroque relationship to the idea of time, because a page is a series of static moments that have to be activated by the reader in the blank space between the panels. And it's really in the blank space, in those gutters, where the action is. That's where the mind is going.
I get in on Thursday night and head to the President’s Reception feeling very wallflowerish as I know literally no one except through Facebook and Instagram. First off I meet Tom Spurgeon (finally!), Jeff Bone and his lovely wife Vijaya, Caitlyn McGurk, and Robin the Inkstud. I nervously nurse my wine and then I am rescued by Sergio Aragonés, who sits next to me with a plate of meatballs and a beer. I’m a vegan but I don’t even care about the meatballs! It’s Sergio Aragonés and I proceed to fannishly monopolize him for the next hour. Sergio! I’ve loved his comics in Mad Magazine since I was eight years old.
I can rarely remember where I was when I discovered any of my favorite cartoonists. But Abner Dean is different. On a summer afternoon in Charlottesville, Virginia, I went to a used bookstore near the University and headed, as always, straight to the cartoon/humor section. An oversized book’s black hardcover spine sporting the title Abner Dean’s Naked People stuck out from a shelf filled with beat-up paperbacks and small hardcovers with torn dust jackets. (It’d be cheesy to say that the book was “calling” to me, though that’s how it felt, or at least how I remember it). Opening the volume, I was instantly amazed — and puzzled. The drawings employed an elegant style I’d seen in pre- and post-WWII American magazines, but everything appeared strangely skewed, with nude yet de-sexualized characters, washed-out black and gray dystopian settings, and cryptic captions. The work radiated a peculiar aura, blending funny and sad with smart, provocative, and (oddly) inspirational. I quickly paid the seven dollar price penciled inside, left the store, and read it on the walk home.
Walter Scott’s first book, Wendy (2014, Koyama Press), was an out-of-left-field surprise. Having never encountered the series before, I was delighted by Scott’s razor-sharp satire of the twenty-something art-hipster milieu, and the layers of truth and emotion that rise in bas-relief from the often absurd shenanigans of his artist heroine and her friends. For most of them, life consists of stumbling through a myriad of roommate-swaps, relationship drama, spur-of-the-moment hook-ups, grant-chasing, and professional jealousy, all interspersed with partying—lots of partying. “My life is a mess, like always,” Wendy says. The humor and poignancy of the story is that Wendy’s messes are generally self-inflicted.
Wendy’s Revenge expands upon the saga and heightens the absurdity of our heroine's adventures. As the book opens, Wendy moves briefly to Vancouver, where she takes part in a group show (this goes badly), goes to see a psychic, nabs a residency in Yokohama, and later travels to LA to attend a gallery opening and indulge in some stressful intrigue with some shady art people. Through it all, we are privy to her hopes, her dreams, and her ever-present anxieties. She truly suffers for her art, even if we don’t see her make any. Wendy spends so much of her time living The Artist’s Life that she doesn’t really have a lot of time to actually do art. At one point in the story, an acquaintance asks Wendy exactly what kind of art she creates. Wendy’s reply: “Uh—it's a secret.”
Some have worried that a core canon (Spiegelman, Ware, Bechdel, Satrapi, Gaiman, Crumb, Moore, Sacco) has emerged in comics studies prematurely — that too much of the early writing defining the field circles around a small number of writers and works and as a consequence, we are constraining our methodologies and theories to reflect that limited sample. Would you agree?
This is the subject of so much of what Benjamin Woo and I wrote about in our book The Greatest Comic Book of All Time!, and I absolutely do agree. In our first chapter we attempted to put some data behind what seems to be a pretty common understanding about comics studies: that it has been thoroughly concerned with a small handful of creators and works published over the past thirty years. In the book we surveyed the field of scholarly publishing on comics in order to demonstrate just how narrow the work being done can be. What we found is that comics studies is disproportionately concerned with a very small handful of creators and texts in comparison to cognate fields. So, yes, I absolutely agree with that.
—The Guardian talks to Dash Shaw about his new movie.
The whole film looks like your work. How much of it did you draw?
That’s a good question and it’s hard to answer. There are other people involved – Jane Samborski is the lead animator on it. For some sequences she’d pencil the figures and I would ink. For others, maybe it’s all my drawings but she’s compiled it into aftereffects. So it’s a lot of my drawings. I storyboarded the whole movie, and so there are kind of indications of how the whole thing would look. It was kind of a collage – replacing temporary elements with better elements and adding more elements. I can’t really give you a percentage.
Thanks to the stylistic consistency of Johnson’s clear line, Harold and his artwork all inhabit the same reality. Their shared aesthetic allows Johnson to convince us that, for example, oscillating between two and three dimensions is perfectly normal. Or, at least, this oscillation — which begins at the moment when Harold draws the path — convinces most people. It puzzled both of Johnson’s editors. Looking at Johnson’s dummy, his editor Ursula Nordstrom said, “I found myself asking such dumb questions — like where did he draw the moon and the path and the tree?” First among a list of “The parts I am not too sure of,” Harper reader Ann Powers also named “the pathway at the beginning (too strange?).” It may be strange, but when Harold is standing in an empty void, it also makes sense for him to draw a “long straight path.” It’s practical. It anchors him. It also creates the illusion of three dimensions in what has — up to this point — been a two-dimensional space. Unlike most pre-schoolers, Harold understands the vanishing point.
Today on the site, Kevin Huizenga interviews the inimitable Ben Katchor.
I’ve heard you are running a good comics department over there at Parsons. How is that going?
We teach comics and animation within the Illustration program at Parsons. A student can minor in Comics and Graphic Narrative. We have many people on our faculty who work with text and image: Matthew Thurber, Bob Sikoryak, Lauren Redniss, Nora Krug, Steven Guarnaccia, Mark Newgarden, Josh Bayer, Henrik Drescher, Lale Westvind, Neill Swaab, James Romberger and some interesting animators: Ted Wiggins, Ana Mouyis, Motomichi Nakamura, Gary Leib and others. We’d like students to think of themselves as artist/authors working on self-initiated projects.
Parsons is unionized, right?
Only the part-time faculty are unionized at Parsons (SEIU); the full-time faculty are considered part of the administration and are not unionized. The part-time faculty union contract forbids them from striking.
Michael Dooley: How did this exhibition originate?
Chogrin: Osamu Tezuka’s artwork is one of the biggest influences in my art style and work ethic. Any time I do an interview I always cite Tezuka. Tezuka was very prolific and kept working until his last breath. I think that says a lot about somebody, and it is amazing how much of a legacy he’s left behind. His art style has a very innocent aura, while his storylines are sometimes very grounded by the realities of life, which I think is a rare combination. He was never afraid to explore new themes and subject matters. Really a true artist that the world will talk about, analyze, and pay tribute to for centuries to come.
—For Thrillist, Sean T. Collins reveals the 33 books he thinks are the best graphic novels of all time. It's a strong, obviously personal list that will provoke plenty of argument, and doesn't lean on too many of the usual suspects. Phoebe Gloeckner makes the list twice.
A work of such profound empathy that it almost feels like a hole in the world, [Carol Swain's] Gast is a gentle yet ultimately unforgiving look at the ways in which the world can break down those who cannot quite bring themselves to fit in. It follows an 11-year-old girl named Helen on a trip to the Welsh countryside, during which she discovers she can talk with the wild and domesticated animals that populate its rolling landscape -- all of whom speak to her of the death of a "rare bird" who lived near by. This turns out to be a farmer named Emrys, whose gender dysphoria (he wore women's clothing and ostentatiously dyed his hair, but kept to himself out of fear of reprisal and continued to identify as male) and failing fortunes led him to suicide. Gast functions like a murder mystery with no real killer and no real victim; the investigation itself is the point, as Helen learns about this sad and secretly much-loved person's life, and about life and death themselves in the process. Swain’s soft charcoal artwork, the unusual and descriptive angles of her drawings, and her willingness to take things slowly make for an utterly unique reading experience.
When I first read WATCHMEN, I thought the most unrealistic thing was that Bob Dylan licensed one of his most iconic protest songs to a perfume company. But then, decades later, Dylan licensed that very song for a bank commercial. And then he appeared in a lingerie ad with another of his songs. And I think the song even appears in the movie which shares a name with the book.
I was not familiar with [Anna] Sailamaa prior to this, but something about the book compelled me to pick it up entirely on a whim. Perhaps the winding, sinister title lettering reminded me a bit of Julia Gfrörer -- you don't see very many comics reminiscent of hers -- though Sailamaa works in a much more removed, rather formalistic approach. The book is split into three parts ("Cleanliness", "The Wound", "The Clean-up"), each covering a portion of one day in the lives of young girls who live in a highly metaphorical group home environment, seemingly devoid of adult supervision. Text introductions to each section describe the characteristics of the house in great detail, both its physicality and the eternity of the space which it occupies - nothing truly changes in this place. Observational drawings of stones, water and plants accompany these preludes, as if from a science textbook, and Sailamaa maintains this aloof and observational stance as the sections play out. "Cleanliness" begins with the faces of every girl sleeping, in full splashes and four-panel grids. As they away the perspective shifts between extreme closeups of parts of their bodies, especially their hands, and side-profile images of their faces, to which most of the dialogue is attached.
—Interviews & Profiles. The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Liza Donnelly.
Even though I am facing nine charges under the Sedition Act, I am still not convicted since my case shall only start on the 22nd of November this year. This clearly shows gross abuse of power and blatant violation of human rights by these individuals.
The [ADL} announced on Friday an experiment to try and reform the image, working with its creator, Matt Furie, who will create “a series of positive Pepe memes and messages” to be promoted on social media with the hashtag #SavePepe.
The winner of this year's Emerging Artist award at CXC was Kevin Czap.
—Reviews & Commentary. John Adcock and Huib van Ostal disagree as to whether or not A.B. Frost is responsible for some illustrations.
I’m quite sure now that all of the illustrations on all eight pages are the work of one cartoonist, probably A.B. Frost. Co-editor Huib van Opstal disagrees and believes they are simply clumsy copies, “in no way are these pen and ink drawings ever made by A.B. Frost himself.”
Today on the site, Aug Stone interviews the Dutch comics legend Joost Swarte, who is launching his first magazine in 40 years at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
AUG STONE: Where did the idea for Scratches come from?
JOOST SWARTE: Well… (laughs) I must dig in my memories. I always have liked the idea of doing a magazine again. I started Modern Papier when I was 22. It was my first magazine, a small underground publication. We did a print run of about 1000-1500. Artist friends joined in, Peter Pontiac and people from the Dutch underground who were involved with the magazine Tante Leny Presenteert. And then in 1973 there was a publisher who wanted to reach a younger audience so I proposed to make Cocktail Comics, a magazine presenting the new generation of Dutch comics artists. It wasn’t too much of a commercial success although all the artists were paid a professional rate and that was already far better than with the smaller underground publications. And we had the same freedom as with the underground publications, so that was quite good. But then I got a lot of attention from friends and publishers to publish my work so I left the whole magazine idea aside. Until two years ago, when the new publishing house Scratch was founded in Amsterdam and they asked me to be an advisor.
At about the same time I heard of the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is the biggest in the world. The guests of honour at their 2016 Fair are the Low Countries, Holland and the Belgians, with whom we share our language. And I thought it’s a good idea to not only present the literature of our countries at the Book Fair but also the comics. So I started to talk with people from the literary funds in Holland and in Flanders. And they got interested and supported this idea. That was the start of the magazine. It’s intended to give an international podium to Dutch and Flemish comics artists. We’re doing it in English with the hope that they will also have future publishers abroad.
Meanwhile, elsewhere: —Interviews & Profiles. The NPR Illustration blog talks to Daniel Clowes.
LA: Your new book Patience deals with time travel as a way to fix your life. If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give 20 year old Daniel? Would you change anything?
DC: I thought about that a lot working on this book because this book really is about the dialogue between the older version of a person and the younger innocent naive version of that person. But I don’t know, I think things sort of fell into place in this miraculous way in my life, so I would hate to upset that. And anyway I would hate to say, “Don’t do that, that’s stupid!” because that might have been the fulcrum that everything hinged on that allowed me to be still drawing comics at 55 years old.
I just remember what an awful person I was, and everybody is, when they’re in their early twenties. They just don’t know how self focused they are. Maybe it’s just because I’m reflecting on how I was at that age, but I was so incredibly living in my own head, completely unaware of how much of an effect I have on other people. It was just all about my own tortured soul at that young age, and it’s hard to look back on your early work and not see that and think, “Oh come on man, get over that.”
Articles have been written about how it’s hard to tell whether the Kelly cartoons are a parody or not. “There are people who take it at face value, even though it’s in the Onion, which always surprises me,” Sutton told me. “On Facebook, someone posted a Kelly cartoon that was saying that vegetarians were the inhumane ones, because they were stabbing cattle farmers in the back,” he said. “People were just indignant about it.”
—Reviews & Commentary. For Time, Matt Furie writes about his attempt to reclaim Pepe.
I have a stack of Pepe fan art sent to me by school children. Moms write me to say how much their kid loves Pepe. Kids write me to ask how his name is pronounced (Peep? Pee-pee? Pep-pay?). As the copyright owner, I was licensing a bunch of things like indie video games, card games; making official clothes, a plush toy; and I was excited by my plans for the future. I was thinking, Memes rule!
Smith, like Jones, is a name so plentiful in English-speaking countries that it achieves virtual invisibility and thereby anonymity. And the only Al Smith who ever broke free of the amorphous mob of Smiths is the one that was a picturesque governor of New York: he attracted enough notice that he was able to run for President of the U.S. against Herbert Hoover in 1928 and lost because he was Catholic, voters of the day being provincial enough to believe that if a Catholic was in the White House, the Pope would be running the country.
Our Al Smith, the nearly unknown cartooning one, wasn’t even a Smith at first: he was born March 2, 1902 as Albert Schmidt in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Henry Schmidt and Josephine Dice. Eventually, he “Americanized” his name to Smith. We don’t know when he did this, but it was done by the time he was signing one of the most famous comic strips in the history of the medium, 52 years after he was born. He continued signing Mutt and Jeff for 27 more years before retiring. By then, Al Smith had been producing the same daily comic strip for almost 50 years, at the time, a world record.
Supplying autobiographical information for the membership “album” of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) in 1960, Smith wrote: “Born in Brooklyn, I became an orphan at age four. My boyhood was like an Horatio Alger story. Shoeshine boy after school, made 60 cents a week. Quit that to become butcherboy at $1 a week. Loved to draw and make people laugh. Could not afford lessons. Loved vaudeville. Might have tried acting career if I hadn’t married. … I was too young for the First World War and too old for the Second.”