Deteriorating Rapidly

Today on the site, Greg Hunter checks in with Gilbert Hernandez about his many recent and upcoming books.

You know, if there were other books like Blubber coming from other people, I’d probably just do a few issues and then back off. But since nobody’s going to go where I’m going there, I’ll keep doing it for a while.

I don’t know. I just know that I have to separate it, because it’s a different audience. There’s a large audience for comics, but I’ve discovered there’s just groups of people who like different things. They like their comics to be certain things. If I go too far in Love and Rockets with fantasy, or crazy violence-type stories, people will be asking, ‘When are you going to stop doing that? [I want] Palomar. When are you doing to do this?’ They always want me to do what I’m not doing.

But—that’s not entirely crazy. I can see where they’re coming from. ‘I read Palomar stories and felt really connected to the characters. This other stuff is something else.’ And since all those something-else’s are different aspects of my personality, I have to find different places for them. You’ll notice the sex in Garden of Flesh is different from the sex in Blubber, say. ... Yet it’s still sex, and most people see it as the same thing, but of course, it isn’t.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—Reviews & Commentary. Other than Brigid Alverson's always-excellent news roundups and infrequent features, Robot 6 hasn't really been Robot 6 for some time now, but it's still sad that it's now officially over entirely. Tom Spurgeon has a bit of commentary. The slow atrophy of the intelligent comics internet continues.

I have no idea what this means for comics in general. I would assume this is a choice by CBR's new owners to focus more on broader, more popular content to try and make the site maximally profitable.

Faith Erin Hicks writes about emotion and pacing in comics.

I consider [Naoki] Urasawa especially to be a master of emotion and pacing. When I first started reading his comics, it was like light struck my brain; finally I saw what I’d been trying to do for years right there on the comic page in front of me! I like the way he lays out his emotional scenes a lot. Here’s an example (read right to left):


Urasawa uses repeating panels and decompression to draw out the emotions of a scene. In this single page there isn’t a lot of movement. It’s literally just two characters staring at each other, but the tension rises going from panel 1 to panel five. Gesicht (the man)’s expression doesn’t change between panels two and five, but we literally feel his anger rising off-panel, concluding in the close up in panel 5.

—News. The Boston Globe writes about the Center for Cartoon Studies and its outreach to a local veterans hospital.

Cartoon students and faculty have been working with veterans to tell their stories — some harrowing, others heartwarming — in comic-book form.

The resulting comics are a far cry from the Archie and Superman comics an earlier generation of GIs kept under their cots. The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) has just released the first product of this unique collaboration: a 48-page comic book called “When I Returned,” a wide-ranging collection of tales adapted in illustrated form from the lives of New England veterans, from one World War II survivor’s experience in a German P.O.W. camp to a Vietnam veteran coping with post-traumatic stress disorder through his art.

—Interviews. Paul Gravett interviews the Dutch cartoonist and Bosch biographer Marcel Ruijters.

The information about [Bosch's] person is quite limited. Too much has been lost - if it had been recorded at all. As a result, a lot of nonsense has been written about Bosch, so it takes some time before you know how to weed out the bad books. And one has to learn a lot about the time in which he lived. For instance: yes, there are references to alchemy in his work, but the church was not against alchemy, so that rules out the popular misconception that he was some kind of heretic, which determines what kind of story you are going to write. On top of that, getting your historical facts straight is one thing, creating a meaningful story out of it, with believable characters, is something else!

Scoop talks to Columbia University's comics librarian, Karen Green.

So, yes, I was given the go and I began with award winners. I found lists of every Eisner, Harvey, and Ignatz award winning title, and I bought all of them and I had to decide how and what to buy, given that I only started with $4,000. I was nervous about justifying my purchases. I worried that any suspect title would bring the whole project crashing. After I bought all of those books, I started looking at what creators kept reappearing, and then I bought their entire corpus. I started reading blogs like The Beat and The Comics Reporter, and going to cons and festivals, and showing up at book launches, and going to publisher events. I was meeting everyone I could and asking them their advice. Most of them didn't have any experience with academic libraries, so I got a lot of public library advice, which was frustrating. But I kept building. Now, I started in the summer of 2005, and then in the spring semester of 2007, our Heyman Center for the Humanities hired Art Spiegelman to teach a comics course, and I was his librarian. I asked him for a list of the essential titles for an academic comics collection, and he sent me a few dozen. So I bought those, too.

—Misc. The New York Review of Books has posted a selection of Glen Baxter cartoons.

Here's a preview for the upcoming HBO documentary on last year's Charlie Hebdo attack.