|Things to See: Drew Friedman's tribute to Crumb for Vanity Fair|
|Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Things to see, Robert Crumb, Drew Friedman||12 Apr 2011 8:17 PM|
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Archive >> April 2011
Our weekly strips from Kupperman & Weissman, plus links to other strips from around the web:
This month's issue of Booklist brings a starred review for 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago and additional favorable reviews of 5 more of our recent releases, excerpted below:
"Nearly every page brings a new compositional marvel, setting energetic, limber figures against stylized photographic backgrounds washed in sepia tones and Pirate-yellow highlights. The in-game sequences, though, are show-stoppers, taking advantage of dizzying perspective shifts to capture the fluid, whirling nature of the game as it moves in fits and starts through huge moments of pause into cracking shots of sizzling drama. It’s not a comprehensive biography by any means, nor does it try to be one. But for a book that matches the pure athleticism, unshakable compassion, and towering legacy of its subject, look no further." — Ian Chipman (Starred Review)
Popeye Vol. 5: "Wha's a Jeep?" by E.C. Segar: "The fifth oversize volume collecting Segar’s vintage 1930s newspaper strip sees two particularly notable events, the introduction of Popeye’s lovable pet from the fourth dimension, Eugene the Jeep, who can foretell the future — a talent that Olive Oyl and Wimpy predictably exploit at the racetrack — and the seafaring quest to find Popeye’s long-lost father, Poopdeck Pappy, who turns out to be even more irascible than his cantankerous son. The out-of-continuity Sunday pages are more humor-driven, allowing Segar’s most brilliant comic creation, the rotundly roguish J. Wellington Wimpy, to take the fore." – Gordon Flagg
Prince Valiant Vol. 3: 1941-1942 by Hal Foster: "This period, with its far-flung story lines and lavishly detailed artwork, is arguably the acme of Foster’s four decades chronicling the bold exploits of his medieval hero. While the oversize pages don’t approach the expanse of the bygone broadsheet newspapers that were Valiant’s original home, this is the best showcase Foster’s epic creation has had since its original appearance more than 70 years ago." — Gordon Flagg
Krazy & Ignatz 1919-1921: A Kind, Belevolent and Amiable Brick by George Herriman: "Although nearly a century has elapsed since these episodes first saw print, nothing that’s appeared on newspaper comics pages in the intervening years has approached their graphic and linguistic sophistication, let alone their brazenly idiosyncratic singularity. The bounty of Herriman’s fanciful masterwork is enhanced by a pair of informative supplemental essays and Chris Ware’s strikingly stark cover design." – Gordon Flagg
The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980 (Vol. 15) by Charles M. Schulz: "Although Schulz’s much-loved comic strip is considered timeless — the continued reprinting of decades- old episodes in today’s newspapers attests to its perennial appeal — it wasn’t immune to contemporary trends. In these episodes, Peppermint Patty advocates for women’s equity in sports and gets Bo Derek-inspired cornrows. In other anomalous sequences, Charlie Brown’s pals express uncharacteristic affection for him when he’s hospitalized, and Peppermint Patty falls in love with — of all people — Pig-Pen. But most of the strips here display the comfortable tropes, from Snoopy as a WWI flying ace to Linus awaiting the Great Pumpkin, that Peanuts fans grew to love during its five-decade run." – Gordon Flagg
R.I.P.: Best of 1985-2004 by Thomas Ott: "With Ott’s trademark scratchboard style affording the highest possible contrast, this is some of the most stunningly crafted work in comics today." – Ray Olson
This interview with the creator of Eye of the Majestic Creature was conducted (twice, due to a recording device mishap, and hence the references to "last time") by Fantagraphics' Ian Burns, and proofread and formatted by Janice Headley. Thanks to all! Leslie Stein appears with Peter Bagge at Desert Island in Brooklyn tonight (April 8, 2011) and at the MoCCA Festival this weekend. – Ed.
Leslie Stein hardly needs an introduction… because it’s late and I’m tired and I have to get up at 4am tomorrow. So, I’m going to make this short.
Stein’s work appeals to me because it contains pseudo-biography, anthropomorphic silliness and impeccable craftsmanship into one delightful package. Her work is traditional yet fresh, drawing from comic strip history’s rich library of gestures, expressions and fantastical characters while presenting innovative ideas in composition and texture.
I like it a lot.
Thank you. Good night.
IAN BURNS: You grew up in Evanston, Illinois. Could you describe the town and what it was like for you growing up there?
LESLIE STEIN: Evanston is a large suburb of Chicago. It’s a college town that Northwestern University is in. It’s a nice suburb. I lived on the southern side near Rogers Park so I was really close to the city, so as I grew older I could go into the city easily and explore and go to punk rock shows when I was a teenager. Stuff like that.
BURNS: Where did you go to high school?
STEIN: I went to Evanston Township High School. It’s the public school there.
BURNS: You did not enjoy high school very much.
STEIN: (Laughs) Right. I was an odd duck there. I was like a punk rocker and most of the other people who went to school there didn’t look that kindly upon that. So I didn’t have many friends, and I mostly made friends from other schools when I went to shows in the city. I couldn’t wait to get out of high school, so I actually took double classes my senior year and graduated early.
BURNS: So what year would that have been when you were kind of getting into the punk scene?
BURNS: So it would have been well on the wane of the big time punk scene, but you got in with a fairly big punk community?
STEIN: At the time all the kids went to the Fireside Bowl in Chicago. So I went there to shows every weekend. And yeah, it wasn’t as cool as it was, but it was what we had at the time.
BURNS: You were drawing at a fairly early age.
STEIN: I started when I was two. The story my mom likes to tell, that I came home from a pre-kindergarten kind of class, preschool, and I guess I got in the car and I told her, “Mommy, I’m an artist!” I guess someone at school must have told me I was an artist because of the way I was drawing so intently. So yeah I was really focused on drawing for my whole childhood.
BURNS: Were your parents encouraging?
STEIN: They were neither discouraging nor encouraging. They bought me art supplies and they let me draw, which is what most kids do, but I definitely wasn’t encouraged to pursue it seriously.
BURNS: As you grew up did you pursue any academic training in the arts?
STEIN: No, I attempted… I was so unhappy at my high school that I attempted to go to an arts high school, I applied. And I went through the whole process of applying for the school, and I got in. What they told me upon accepting me was that I couldn’t draw what they considered the cartoons I had shown them to get in. That was stuff I had to do on the side and I would have to do “real” art there. Because I thought my cartoons were real art, I didn’t understand what they were talking about, and I didn’t like being talked to like that ’cause I was already a little rebel. So I decided not to go to school there. I really blocked out most of high school. If I see people on the train from high school… they remember me and I have no idea who they are.
BURNS: Did you move to Brooklyn before you attended college?
STEIN: No, actually I went to school… I got accepted to the San Francisco Art Institute, and I went there for a year and a half; my major was interdisciplinary, so I figured I could get away with doing whatever I wanted to do. I took painting classes, drawing classes and print making classes, but what I ended up doing, I was just trying to draw comics, that’s what I wanted to do, because it was a conceptual art school, people really looked down upon that. I actually had someone in a critique ask me why I was even going to school there. (Burns laughs) So I transferred to the cartooning department at SVA as a sophomore, and that’s when I moved to Brooklyn.
BURNS: Ok. And that’s where you were the only girl in your department, correct?
STEIN: (Laughs) Right, right. Actually, when I first started as a sophomore there were two other women in the department and they both dropped out by the end of the year, so for the last two years I was the only woman in the department.
BURNS: You’ve got to tell the story about the Wolverine bust. I made a special note about that.
STEIN: (Laughs) So… (Laughter) I was thinking, I don’t know why I was thinking this, but I was thinking, “I’m gonna go and I’m going to find all these kindred spirits doing really really interesting comic work,” but it turned out that most of everyone in the department was drawing superhero comics. I don’t know why I didn’t assume that would be the case. So a lot of times I’d be sitting in class, and I’d be sitting behind a guy who I noticed would be drawing Wolverine over and over and over again. (Burns laughs) In different… He would draw him like a character study: From the side, claws out; from the front, claws in; from the side, claws out. Now, it wasn’t the same guy, but during one class, I actually was, I guess, forced to critique a bust of Wolverine.
BURNS: So he was a popular character at that school.
STEIN: (Laughs) Yeah, everyone liked Wolverine! I guess he’s probably one of the most popular superheroes, but yeah people REALLY loved drawing Wolverine. So yeah the bust was a full bust of Wolverine, and it was really quite impressive, it was a very nice piece of sculpture. It was, you know, him looking very muscular with his arms out to his sides and his claws out. But it was cut off right mid thigh, and the funniest thing about it was that he had the hugest package I’ve ever seen on a bust (Laughter), and the whole time, you know we’re trying to critique this, and I’m sitting there with my hands over my face just laughing so hard. And I think I actually raised my hand and said it was a beautiful piece of art.
If you're in the San Francisco area, you can attend the exhibit Land of Magic: Artists Explore Make Believe at the Bedford Gallery. The show spotlights thirteen artists capturing fantasy-scapes in a variety of media, from paintings (like Esther's, seen above) to photography and video. The show runs from April 10th to July 12th, and a reception will be held Thursday, April 14th from 6:00 - 8:00 pm.
And Valencia residents, you are also in luck! Esther is finishing up her first year at the California Institute of the Arts, and you can be among the first to see her latest work in her MFA-1 studio (room A202E) this Sunday, April 10th, from noon to 5:00 pm!
Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Former Haligonian and Coast contributor Ray Fenwick’s latest book [Mascots] extends the work that he began in this city: typography-heavy painting on found book covers. The books’ loose cloth weave is clearly visible through the paintings, and even though Fenwick’s lettering skills should be studied by scientists, there’s a refreshing sense of the typographer’s hand and thought. Using the traditional idea of mascots as symbolic figures, Fenwick’s collected creatures, characters, mantras and messages, some of which are connected through broken narratives, and others just appear like a slap to the head. Not for those with an aversion to weirdos or absurdity, Fenwick is hands-down one of the most clever contemporary artists and illustrators working in Canada." – Sue Carter Flinn, The Coast
• Review: "Kalesniko is a deft, widescreen storyteller... The final chapters [of Freeway] are paced like an action film, drawing Alex ever closer to his destination/destiny, and Kalesniko does skillfully edit his storytelling at a breathless clip. But the conclusion raises more questions than it answers..." – Brian Winkeler, Bookgasm
• Review: "There’s no doubt that Schulz lost his way in the 80s. But his strip was always about losing its way. As he grew doddering and inconsistent, he moved closer to the doddering inconsistency at the core of his art. The pleasures in this volume [The Complete Peanuts 1979-1980] are fewer, but, for fans at least, when they come they have a special bonk." – Noah Berlatsky, Splice Today
• Review: "Another hardboiled French thriller which violently riffs on the energy of New Wave cinema, Hitchcock and classic James Bond. ...[West Coast Blues] is a bit like The Bourne Identity, except on a lower budget and without anyone half as organised as the CIA involved. The captions are a bit wordy, as you’d expect with something adapted from a novel, but thankfully it’s in black and white — the constant spray of blood and bone fragments might be a bit off-putting otherwise." – Grant Buist, The Name of This Cartoon Is Brunswick
• Plug: The Huffington Post's Michael Glitz gives us a nice shout-out in his review of the Dennis the Menace tv-show DVD set: "Fans of the comic should definitely check out Hank Ketcham's collected works, lovingly presented by Fantagraphics. The jokes are just as familiar but his draftsmanship lifts it to high art."
• Profile: The Hartford Advocate's Christopher Arnott talks to Allan Greenier and Tom Hosier, creator of "The Purple Warp" minicomic included in Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s, saying of the book "Newave!, which has the same small size, but hundreds more pages than the miniature comics it celebrates, is a handy overview of this largely overlooked subgenre," and getting a frank account of the book's success from our own Eric Reynolds
At Examiner.com, Christian Lipski has a great writeup of the "Comics for Social Justice" panel at Wondercon last week which featured Shannon Wheeler (recent recipient of an Eisner nomination) and Steve Duin, creators of our forthcoming book Oil & Water, about the impact of the BP disaster on residents of the Gulf Coast.
(Photo: Deborah Curtis Lipski)
The list of nominees for the 2011 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards has just been announced and we are pleased to report that our artists and publications received 11 nominations in 7 categories for 9 titles:
It Was the War of the Trenches by Jacques Tardi:
• Best Reality-Based Work
Special Exits: A Graphic Memoir by Joyce Farmer:
• Best Reality-Based Work
You’ll Never Know Book 2: Collateral Damage by Carol Tyler:
• Best Reality-Based Work
• Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips
King of the Flies, Book One: Hallorave by Mezzo and Pirus:
• Best U.S. Edition of International Material
The Littlest Pirate King by David B. and Pierre Mac Orlan:
• Best U.S. Edition of International Material
A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio:
• Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia
Stephen DeStefano, Lucky in Love Book One: A Poor Man’s History:
• Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
• Best Comics-Related Book
As previously noted, Ernie Bushmiller and Jack Jackson have been inducted via judges' choice into the Eisner Hall of Fame. Winners will be announced at a ceremony on Friday, July 22, 2011 at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Browse and order all of our 2011 nominated titles here, and see here for links to past years' award honorees. Congratulations to all the nominees!
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