Normal Guy

Today, Ryan Holmberg is here with a new column on the complicated role of Nakashima Kiyoshi at the intersection of art and power in Japan's Nuclear culture. If you don't know who Nakashima is, read on!

The other day, for the first time in my life, I was personally offended by kawaii. I have found it silly, gross, frivolous, and stupid on many occasions, but never offensive.

“Wouldn’t you like to have this cute little puppy dog hanging in your house? It’s an image of the artist’s own puppy dog. Wouldn’t you love to share it with your family?” said the beseeching salesman to the old lady in the third floor gallery at Maruzen Bookstore in Nihonbashi.

I was heading back to the subway station after a coffee with a Los Angeles director about a documentary he is making about ninja and pop culture, when I chanced upon a sign outside Maruzen advertising Nakashima Kiyoshi’s print show. This is an artist that recently crossed my radar for reasons explained below, but in whose work I would otherwise not be interested in the least. I popped into the show hoping I might learn something about him, not expecting that that something would be that he’s a weasel.

And we also have the final day of Sara Lautman's week contributing our Cartoonist's Diary. Thanks, Sara!

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

The New Yorker posts an excerpt from Michael Maslin's new biography of Peter Arno.

In those earliest months, there were a number of happy accidents that pushed the magazine toward lasting acceptance by the readership [editor Harold] Ross sought to cultivate. One of them occurred the day, in the spring of 1926, when Philip Wylie spied some drawings of a pair of older women in Arno’s portfolio. Arno hadn’t intended to submit the drawings of the women—they were just sketches he’d been fooling around with. According to Wylie, Arno “rather self-consciously and reluctantly” brought the drawings out of his portfolio. Wylie passed the sketches to Ross, who initially found them “too rough,” but took them home and showed them to his wife, Jane Grant. She found them delightful. The sisters—christened Pansy Smiff and Mrs. Abagail Flusser, or the Whoops Sisters—were introduced in the pages of the magazine in April of 1926. They were not just sweet little old ladies—they were naughty, boisterous, grinning “wink wink, nudge nudge” sweet little old ladies; their language laced with double entendres. As often as not, the captions contained the word “Whoops!”

Al Jaffee explains the origin of the Mad fold-in:

—News. The Kenyan cartoonist Gado and the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar have been awarded the 2016 Cartooning for Peace Prize.

“Gado and Zunar remind us how fragile this liberty remains in Africa and in Asia as well as in other regions of the world. Through their commitment towards open and transparent societies, Gado and Zunar, who have received threats in their countries of origin and can no longer practice their profession, confront us with our responsibility to preserve freedom of expression and act in order to support the combat of those who cannot express themselves through their art”, declared [Kofi] Annan.

—Money. TCJ regular Rob Clough is faced with some extreme medical bills and looking for help.

Zainab Akhtar and Clark Burscough (Thought Bubble) have joined up to start ShortBox, a curated comics subscription service.

—Reviews & Commentary. Martin Dupuis writes about Frank Miller and Geof Darrow's ultraviolent crime/sf story, Hard Boiled.

It’s slapstick Looney Tunes violence gone ballistic (a man gets his arm ripped off and then stabbed WITH it). Almost to the point of being able to read it as a cyclical commentary of how comics had become plagued with gritty hyper violent stories after the influence of Miller’s late eighties work. It’s almost as if Miller and Darrow are addressing this by going all the way with it as a marker for and end point. You want to play this game, here is as far as it can get pushed in commercial comics – now move on and bring it somewhere new.