Today on the site, Annie Mok interviews cartoonist Yumi Sakugawa, much of whose work deals with self-help, a genre that I've always been somewhat allergic to, but is obviously important to many people, and also one that seems to be growing rapidly within the comics medium.
I had a comic essay that I never finished that was supposed to go into the book [Fashion Forecasts] that explores my own intuitive process for choosing the right outfit. I see the daily choice of choosing your outfit as a mindful creative practice in honoring your own intuition and feelings and desires of that particular moment in time. I am looking for the right combination of colors, patterns, shapes, and textures intersecting with external factors (the weather, the season, the particular occasion the outfit is for, etc.) that creates a resonant "yes" in my heart--and sometimes it is a matter of the right lipstick shade or the right accessory that is the difference between a good outfit and a transcendent outfit. I don't necessarily always go out of my way to do this-- because I work from home, I oftentimes default to my daily uniform of tank top, loose pants, and a denim jacket--but some days and events or my own simple desire to put in the extra effort on a particular day call for calling in intuitive magic to summon the perfect outfit. It can be very personal and even spiritual-- to consciously choose the avatar you wish to present to the rest of the world. And because you begin to recognize the resonant "yes" in your heart when you wear the right outfit that gives you that feeling of wearing powerful energetic armor, then you begin to recognize that same resonant "yes" feeling in other aspects of your life--how you decorate your living space, how you create your artwork, who you spend time with you, how you spend your time, the experiences and activities and stories that really speak to your heart. And then all these little micro-moment decisions of resonance add up to you practicing powerful agency in how you wish to manifest your life, on your own terms, speaking to your own personal and sacred desires.
Tegan O'Neil is here with a review of another prominent genre of comics I'm usually allergic to, themed anthologies, this one Iron Circus's sci-fi collection, FTL, Y'ALL: Tales from the Age of the $200 Warp Drive.
One of the volume’s immediate pleasures is seeing how different artists respond to the visual challenge of designing the Enterprise on a Walking Dead budget. CB Webb literally has a kid climb into a clothes dryer and blast off, cramped accommodations to be sure but one that neatly illustrates the book’s premise. A refitted subway car with a glass biodome stuck to its ass (courtesy of Nathanial Wilson) is probably my favorite. If given the opportunity a lot of people in 2018 probably would take the certain shot of dying somewhere other than Earth, even jammed into a home appliance, to the certainty of living on a pretty shitty Earth (cf. the whole “It’s a weird time in the history of the republic” thing).
It’s that context that gives the best stories in FTL, Y’ALL their bite. These are about escape as much as exploration. The stories here aren’t set in any kind of shared universe, so some of the stories are set against grimmer backgrounds than others. Mulele Jarvis’ “Cabbage Island” is a good example: the woman who builds a tiny ship to Alpha Centauri is racing to stay one step ahead of both a fascist police state and ecological devastation. “Things could get better,” someone says, to which our heroine replies, “No, they won’t.”
—Reviews & Commentary. At the New Yorker, Joan Acocella writes about the work of Edward Gorey.
The book artist Edward Gorey, when asked about his tastes in literature, would sometimes mention his mixed feelings about Thomas Mann: “I dutifully read ‘The Magic Mountain’ and felt as if I had t.b. for a year afterward.” As for Henry James: “Those endless sentences. I always pick up Henry James and I think, Oooh! This is wonderful! And then I will hear a little sound. And it’s the plug being pulled. . . . And the whole thing is going down the drain like the bathwater.” Why? Because, Gorey said, James (like Mann) explained too much: “I’m beginning to feel that if you create something, you’re killing a lot of other things. And the way I write, since I do leave out most of the connections, and very little is pinned down, I feel that I am doing a minimum of damage to other possibilities that might arise in a reader’s mind.” He thought that he might have adopted this way of working from Chinese and Japanese art, to which he was devoted, and which are famous for acts of brevity. Many Gorey books are little more than thirty pages long: a series of illustrations, one per page, accompanied, at the lower margin or on the facing page, by maybe two or three lines of text, sometimes verse, sometimes prose.
At the New York Times, Ed Park reviews Jason Lutes's Berlin and Olivier Schrauwen's Parallel Lives.
The dirty secret about graphic novels is how fast they read; it’s rare for one to require more than a day or two to finish. (“I hated the lifetime of pain and struggle it took to create a thing that anyone could read in an hour,” sighs the cartoonist in Matthew Klam’s novel “Who Is Rich?”) Strange as it sounds, one of the virtues of “Berlin” is how it resists completion. It took me weeks to get through, at times backtracking in order to clarify who was who, always returning at last to a greater appreciation of Lutes’s vision and humanity. In the last pages, the book pitches suddenly, violently forward through time, as though to meet us — an ending so electrifying that I gasped.
Among many other authors invited by the Guardian, Chris Ware names his favorite books of the year, which includes Slum Wolf and two others:
In Slum Wolf (New York Review Comics), translator Ryan Holmberg, one of the world’s finest comics writers, smoothes out the folds and expertly sets the historical scene so that readers (and graphic novelists like me) find they still have a whole lot to learn.
The Paris Review excerpts a piece by Matt Madden on Edmond Baoudoin.
[Baoudoin] came to cartooning relatively late in life—his first album (as the French call their bound comic books) wasn’t published until he was forty years old, in the early eighties. From his earliest works, Baudoin focused on autobiography, making him one of the first French cartoonists to explore this genre, which has gone on to become one of the most prominent features of European literary comics. At the same time, his art—already confident, with an inky expressionist manner reminiscent of his contemporaries Jacques Tardi and José Antonio Muñoz—evolved quickly into a daringly loose, calligraphic brush style that has made him one of the most respected and recognizable cartoonists in Europe.
—Interviews & Profiles. Also at the New Yorker, Françoise Mouly and Genevieve Bormes talk to Ronald Wimberley about LAAB.
I’m interested in Cedric J. Robinson’s idea of “racial capitalism,” looking at oppression not necessarily just pertaining to skin color but also through economic exploitation and the different strata in our society. It made me think, what is race but a narrative? It’s a narrative that comes together in various ways from different places … particularly how it relates to skin color. I’m interested in it because of how I feel. I have a visceral reaction, particularly in this moment, to the stories and the aesthetics that are really shaking our democracy to its foundation. Look at Trump—he’s literally just an aesthetic. He connects to people’s ideas and stories of who they are, how they view their own stories. That’s what Walter Benjamin and Brecht were talking about. Trump offers them a complete distraction from the reality of their life.
The most recent guest on the Virtual Memories podcast is Summer Pierre.
—Misc. In anticipation of a retrospective series of Mario Ruspoli's work at the Metrograph in New York, Le CiNéMa Club is hosting a short documentary Ruspoli made about the French cartoonist (and secret filmmaker) Chaval. It will only be online until Thursday, so watch it soon if you're interested in mid-century French cartooning or film.