The Blog at the End of the World

Hi everyone, it's a very busy week behind a scenes of TCJ - and you'll be seeing the results sooner rather than later. I won't keep you or me long; although, you should spare some time to read this post by Domino Books impresario Austin English. It's a tribute to the artist and publisher Dylan Williams, one of the crucial figures of late 20th/early 21st century small-press comics, who died 10 years ago last Saturday - there's a comic by Williams, an interview, and several historical and personal writings, all brought together.

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Today on the site, the artist Marc Tessier presents an obituary for Henriette Valium, a Montreal underground comics mainstay since the early 1980s, and a quintessential artist's artist. Marc has also generously allowed us to post some of his own photographs of Valium, as well as images from Valium's memorial last week; a moving tribute to a true original.

Later this week, we'll be welcoming back Michael O’Connell, who will have a piece on a topic close to my heart: the accumulation of tons of stuff that comes with being a comic book reader and general nerd, and the inevitable shedding of that stuff as one grows older and life circumstances change. Heavy stuff, but not as heavy as carrying all these books around.

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I didn't get to go to the Steve Ditko convention last Saturday, so I recorded a podcast on issues #59-75 (+ Annual 4) of ROM, the Marvel toy license book on which Ditko worked from 1984 to 1986. Owing to the license, these comics have never been reprinted, nor have their various Marvel mutant comic or Secret Wars II tie-in issues. P. Craig Russell worked on 6 of these 18 issues (he is often referred to as an 'inker' though the comics always credit Ditko and whomever as dual artists, presumably owing to the pencil layouts Ditko would contribute to these work-for-hire projects), and is often considered the star contributor, but I love this panel with Jackson Guice (from issue #61, colors by Petra Scotese), who puts a lot of emphasis on invading creatures and moments of disaster - there is a lot of doom in ROM. A lot of moral struggle, particularly later on as the titular Space Knight struggles with a younger generation of cyborg-like characters who abhor his moral code and desire only demonstrations of power. One does wonder if the writer, Bill Mantlo, introduced these familiar struggles specifically to tantalize Ditko; they are not out of line with his own auteur works and later essays, which were very concerned with the threat of anti-heroism.

Anyway, this is all a long way of saying that Helen Chazan is going to have a Ditko piece up this week, that will examine the deeper issues of *sniff* ideology.

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Ok, that's it. See you next week, unless the very fabric of reality collapses into disaster and we are all cast into limbo, or forced to get off the computer.