Here They Are.

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The esteemed Richard Gehr takes a break from his Know Your New Yorker Cartoonist duties to turn a review of The Carter Family, Frank Young and David Lasky's eagerly awaited graphic biography.

Thoroughly researched enough to belie its “graphic novel” self-descriptor, The Carter Family is also an ill-fated love story set mostly in the southern United States during the years leading up to and following the Great Depression. Its subtitle – Don’t Forget This Song – bears witness to the rich, ever-changing river of folk culture in which its principals – not to mention its creators themselves – flourished.

Top of the internet today is TCJ's own Sean T. Collins' excellent Rolling Stone roundtable with Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez, Dan Clowes and Chris Ware. Sean really coaxed an excellent exchange out of this lot, including this:

There's been a revival among alternative-comics circles toward a new pantheon of sci-fi/fantasy stuff, like old Heavy Metal comics.

Ware: I was not aware of this.

Gilbert: I have to toot our horn again: They don't have any personality! You're not really talking about anything but escapism. That's fine, I'm all for escapism, but the reason we do alternative comics is because it's all totally from our personality.

Clowes: I have to say I have a recently rediscovered fondness for Heavy Metal. That was a big deal when it came out: "Wow, you can draw robots with tits!" It has a certain charm to it, especially the really weird, unpleasant stuff in it. All that Richard Corben stuff was so disturbing.

Gilbert: You can tell the difference between artists: Who's the madman, and who's the guy just doin' it? That's why guys like [Joe] Kubert and [John] Buscema and John Romita, who were really amazingly skilled artists, there's just nothing there other than they're just really skilled artists. Then you see Crumb, who was just a complete nut.

Clowes: Or [Jack] Kirby, who was the opposite.

Gilbert: Or [Steve] Ditko. They're crazy men. "Who let them do this?" [Laughter]

Ware: When you talk about a pantheon . . . When I went to art school and I went to the art history classes, we were taught this very specific progression of where art came from and where it supposedly was going. It was almost like these pills you had to swallow that had been established by art critics and art writers. One of the things that appealed to me most about comics was that you can pick the ones you like and build your own personal pantheon. I've never met these younger kids who are more interested in – I just said "younger kids." I can't believe that. [Laughter] Younger artists are interested in Heavy Metal – that's great. That's something else completely to start from.

Gilbert: That's what was missing from alternative comics after us: The art got less and less good.

Also chatting is Art Spiegelman in Germany.

Jim Rugg has an excellent report on his most recent zine, which is more like an elaborate comic book history project. Best seen to be believed. One of Jim's favorite comics, Real Deal, gets profiled over at the Stussy site -- artist Lawrence Hubbard collaborated with the brand.

And finally, apropos of our ongoing role of negotiations-host for Dave Sim and Fantagraphics, Bill Kartalopolous reminded me that he posted a great piece about Cerebus by Adam White on Indy Magazine back in 2004.