• Review: "Though he was one of the genre’s pioneers, Roy Crane’sCaptain Easy is arguably the most idiosyncratic of all the adventure strips. But it’s this blend of loud slapstick, young-boys-styled adventure and blatant sex appeal that make Captain Easy such a winning, fun strip to read." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "From any other culture this type of story would be crammed with angst and agony: gratuitously filled with cruel moments and shame-filled subtext, but Takako Shimura’s genteel and winningly underplayed first volume in this enchanting school saga [Wandering Son]... is resplendent with refined contentment, presenting the history in an open-minded spirit of childlike inquiry and accepting optimism that turns this book into a genuine feel-good experience." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
The Comic-Con programming schedule for Friday July 22 is up — it's a bit less hectic than Thursday, so this will be a good day to come spend some time browsing our booth (#1718)! (We will, of course, give a complete run-down along with our signing schedule and more info in the near future):
10:30-11:30 Comics Arts Conference Session #5: Critical Approaches to Comics: An Introduction to Theories and Methods—Matthew J. Smith and Randy Duncan (powerofcomics.com), co-editors of the forthcoming textbook Critical Approaches to Comics (Routledge 2011), moderate a panel of contributors including David A. Berona (Plymouth State University), Andrei Molotiu (Indiana University), Stanford Carpenter (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Jennifer K. Stuller (ink stainedamazon.com), Peter M. Coogan (Washington University), and Henry Jenkins (University of Southern California). They'll explain methodologies that can be used to analyze meanings in comics and comics culture, as well as engage in an interactive exchange with the audience members about how they can incorporate these approaches into their teaching of comics Room 26AB
11:30-1:00 Comics Arts Conference Session #6: Wordless Comics — Andrei Molotiu (Indiana University) makes the case that the sequential dynamics of abstract comics echo complex self-organizing systems such as occur in biological, mathematical, and sociological processes and that the same transmedia values underlie more traditional storytelling comics. Dietrich Grünewald (Universität Koblenz-Landau) examines the picture story principle and why it is not advisable to refer to what Rodolphe Töpffer called "literature in pictures" with a fixed general term. David A. Berona (Plymouth State University) investigates social, personal, and literary themes in contemporary woodcut novels. Room 26AB
12:00-1:00 CBLDF Master Session 3: Jaime Hernandez — No one can touch Jaime Hernandez's art as the gold standard for visual characterization in contemporary comics. Through a complex use of body language, facial acting, and the playful mix of exaggerated and realistic visuals, Hernandez's characters come to life in a way that is instantly recognizable and wholly unique. Witness his singular approach to visual storytelling at this CBLDF Master Session. The pieces created during this event will be available for bidding in Saturday's CBLDF Benefit Auction. Room 30CDE
1:00-2:00 Publishing Queer: Producing LGBT Comics and Graphic Novels— Queer-themed comics, once solely the domain of the gay press, are breaking into the mainstream. What are the challenges and rewards of producing this work and getting it in front of an audience hungry for the material? How can it be marketed and publicized, both to an LGBT readership and beyond? Should queer cartoonists self-publish or look to established publishers? Moderator Justin Hall (Glamazonia, Prism Comics Talent Chair) leads a spirited conversation with a diverse panel of publishing pros: Brian Andersen (self-publisher, So Super Duper), Charles "Zan" Christensen (publisher, Northwest Press), Jacquelene Cohen (publicist, Fantagraphics), Shannon O'Leary (comics editor and journalist), Bob Schreck (editor-in-chief, Legendary Pictures), and Tony Valenzuela (executive director, Lambda Literary Foundation). Room 9
1:00-2:30 The Golden Age of the Fanzine— Once upon a time...before the Internet and publishing on demand, a hearty group of comics lovers produced their own publications, called "fanzines," and comics fandom was born. Spinning off Comic-Con's 50th anniversary celebration of the birth of comics fandom, these pioneers of the fanzine will talk about those heady days and what it was like to publish their own zines. Panelists include Jean Bails (the widow of Dr. Jerry Bails, creator of Alter-Ego), Richard Kyle (Graphic Story World), Paul Levitz (The Comic Reader), Dick and Pat Lupoff (Xero), Roy Thomas (Alter Ego), Maggie Thompson (Comic Art), and some surprise fanzine publisher-type guests. Moderated by Bill Schelly, a fanzine editor himself and the guy who wrote the book on fandom (The Golden Age of Comic Fandom). For more on the Golden Age of Fanzines, check this year's Comic-Con Souvenir Book for a special feature! Room 24ABC
Not comics, but tangentially related:
10:30-11:30 Cartoon Network Comedy: Regular Show/The Problem Solverz and More!—Johnny Test! The Amazing World of Gumball! Adventure Time! Regular Show! MAD! The Problem Solverz! Cartoon Network is dominating Monday nights with the funniest night on television! Join creators and talent from Regular Show and The Problem Solverz as they talk about how these two comedy hits came to life, perform unique live readings, and show exclusive clips from upcoming episodes. The panel features Regular Show creator J. G. Quintel (Mordecai), Bill Salyers (Rigby), Sam Marin (Pops, Benson, Muscle Man), Janie Hadad (Margaret), and Mike Roth (creative director). The Problem Solverz talent includes acclaimed artist and show creator Ben Jones (Alfe and Roba) and Kyle Kaplan (Horace). Room 6A
This interview with Megan Kelsowas conducted via email by editorial intern Hans Anderson, and proofread by Kristy Valenti. Thanks to all! Megan Kelso appears at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery tomorrow (Saturday, July 9, 2011) for the opening of The Quiet Rrriot, an art exhibit featuring Kelso, Stella Marrs and Nikki McClure. – Ed.
Megan Kelso’s career spans the ’90s to the present. In that timespan she has grown into a highly adept artist and storyteller. Her Ignatz Award-winning Artichoke Tales tackles the themes of power, feminism and the relationships that define our daily lives. In the early 2000s, she also spent time in New York, publishing her serialized strip Watergate Sue in The New York Times Magazine.
Kelso’s latest release from Fantagraphics is a reprint of her Queen of the Black Black anthology, originally published in 1998. This book collects stories self-published from her zine Girlhero, which was written and drawn by Kelso between 1993 and 1998 in her hometown of Seattle. In this interview, which serves as a snapshot of early ’90s self-publishing, Kelso discusses her influences, her Xeric Award, and her development as a cartoonist. — Hans Anderson
HANS ANDERSON: When and where were you born?
MEGAN KELSO: 1968: Seattle, Wash.
ANDERSON: Where did you spend most of your early life?
KELSO: Seattle, Wash.
ANDERSON: Did you have any siblings?
KELSO: One sister: two-and-a-half years older than me.
ANDERSON: What did your parents do?
KELSO: My father was an urban planner, and my mother was a college registrar. Both are retired.
ANDERSON: Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is an anthology of short strips, self-published as the serial minicomic (zine?) Girlhero?
Girlhero #1 (July 1993)
KELSO: Yes, mostly. “Whistle and Queenie” was never in Girlhero. It was for an issue of Dark Horse Presents, and there are two stories that I did specifically for the book, “Queen of the Black Black” and “The Daddy Mask.”
ANDERSON: What years were you publishing Girlhero?
ANDERSON: How old were you when you started drawing these strips?
ANDERSON: How old were you when you stopped publishing Girlhero?
ANDERSON: Where did you go to school?
KELSO: I went to public school here in Seattle with a couple years of private school in the middle. I started college at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, but dropped out and finished my BA at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.
ANDERSON: In many ways, this book is a snapshot of youth culture, in Seattle and elsewhere, in the mid-1990s. What were you drawing your subject matter from?
KELSO: I went to college in Olympia, Wash., which at the time was exploding with bands, zines and really amazing, ambitious art projects: people started galleries; organized music festivals; film festivals; elaborate art installations. People just went out and started these things, not really knowing how, but figuring it out along the way. Because it was a college town, a lot of this work was informed by what we were all studying in college: feminist theory, labor politics, postmodern theory. I started my comic Girlhero because I wanted to be a part of this explosion going on around me. The stories in Queen of the Black Black were not literally autobiographical, but I definitely drew from my life, my work, sex and relationship experiences, my dreams and memories. I was learning to draw comics in these stories, so many of them were kind of like challenges I set for myself — can I learn to draw a convincing bicycle? Can I pull off setting a story in the past?
ANDERSON: The book Queen of the Black Black takes its title from a short story in the middle of the book about a depraved old artist disillusioning a young one. Why did you choose to take your title from this comic?
KELSO: Depraved?! That seems a little strong! I think of her more as old, tired and a bit bitter and cynical. I have always been interested in power relationships: between women, mothers and daughters, teachers and students, babysitters and babysat, employers and employees. I think I’m fascinated by this because, while between women, the classic male/female power dynamic has been eliminated, other more mysterious power dynamics are still at work and are harder to pin down. The title, “Queen of the Black Black,” is from a poem written by the sculptor, Louise Nevelson, who is, in part, the inspiration for the Queen character in that story.
ANDERSON: Who were your artistic influences before and during the creation of these strips?
KELSO: I did not grow up reading comics very much, and when I did (Peanuts, Archie), I didn’t give them much thought. So as a drawer and a beginning cartoonist, I was much more influenced by book illustrators: Maurice Sendak, Doctor Seuss, Beatrix Potter, Tove Jansson, Ludwig Bemelmans, Arnold Lobel, Garth Williams.
I think the work of Julie Doucet’s is what really made me want to try making comics. Once I moved back to Seattle and started meeting other cartoonists, I learned a lot from my peers: Jason Lutes, James Sturm, Ed Brubaker, Jon Lewis, Tom Hart, Jennifer Daydreamer, David Lasky. We actually had a comics working group for a while and shared work, did critiques and helped each other problem solve. Later, I met more cartoonists who[se] work influenced me a lot — Ron Regé and Brian Ralph, who I mentioned earlier. Also, Marc Bell and Lauren Weinstein’s work had a big impact on me.
• Review: "...[T]he fifth [Popeye] collection, "Wha's a Jeep?", is just as vital and zippy as any of [the] earlier books, particularly in the daily strips.... This is great stuff — as I've said before, Segar's Popeye is not just one of the great American comics, it's one of the great comedy/adventure works of all time, full of brawling, joking, inexhaustible life." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
• Review:The Comics Journal's R. Fiore on David B.'s The Littlest Pirate King, in its entirety: "Speaking of comics that would make good movies, if Henry Selick is looking for his next project, this is it, right here."
Comic-Con has announced their programming for Thursday July 21, the first full day of the convention, and here are the panels to circle in your program or plug into your smartphone app or scribble on the back of your hand (we will, of course, give a complete run-down along with our signing schedule and more info in the near future):
12:30-1:30 Spotlight on Bill Schelly— Comic-Con special guest Bill Schelly (The Golden Age of Comic Fandom, The DC Archives) is a leading fandom and comics historian. Moderator Gary Brown interviews Bill about his work, with special emphasis on his latest books The Art of Joe Kubert (debuting at Comic-Con 2011) and Founders of Comic Fandom, followed by a Q&A session. Room 8
1:00-2:00 CBLDF Master Session 2: Shannon Wheeler— From DIY zine making to the pages of the New Yorker and every flavor of independent press in between, Shannon Wheeler has distinguished himself for an ability to craft humor strips that are equal parts sardonic and existential. Take a close-up look at his approach to creating cartoons and gain insight into the nuts and bolts of making cartoons that connect with editors and readers at this CBLDF Master Session! The pieces created during this event will be available for bidding in Saturday's CBLDF Benefit Auction! Room 30CDE (Recommended by The Washington Post's Michael Cavna: "From zines to New Yorker magazine, Portland’s own has much knowledge to share with the aspiring.")
2:00-3:00 Love and Rockets —Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario Hernandez converse with Gary Groth about 30 years of creating their landmark comic book series, Love & Rockets. Since 1982, Love & Rockets has virtually defined alternative comics and culture, launching from the punk rock scene in Los Angeles and growing into one of the most mature bodies of work ever produced in the medium. Room 9 (Recommended by The Washington Post's Michael Cavna: "The Brothers Hernandez talk with Gary Groth about three glorious decades of L&R.")
2:30-3:30 Joyce Farmer: Special Exits, A Memoir — Can graphic work become serious literature through excellent artwork, writing ,and subject matter? Where does graphic work belong in bookstores and libraries? This Q&A with Comic-Con special guest Joyce Farmer examines her Eisner Award-nominated book Special Exits, A Memoir (Fantagraphics) in this spotlight panel. Room 4 (Recommended by The Washington Post's Michael Cavna: "Her Eisner-nominated Fantagraphics graphic-novel memoir is a must-read. Which makes Farmer a must-see.")
3:30-4:30 Spotlight on Frank Stack— Comic-Con special guest Frank Stack, pioneer of underground comix in the 1960s with such titles as New Adventures of Jesus, Feelgood Funnies, Amazons, and Dorman's Doggie, remains active as a fine artist and cartoonist. His Jesus stories were recently reprinted as The Second Coming by Fantagraphics. Frank will present a visual presentation and Q&A. Room 4
6:00-7:00 Comics for Social Justice: The Making of Oil and Water —Oil and Water is a book-length comic (Fantagraphics, Summer 2011) that is a partly fictionalized account of a 10-day trip that 22 Oregonians (activists, teachers, business owners, scientists, and artists) took last summer to "bear witness" to the BP oil spill on the Gulf Coast. Shannon Wheeler will briefly present the historic impact of comics on issues of contemporary social relevance and give a quick overview of why this project was conceived and what it hopes to accomplish. He'll then present his sketches from the Gulf Coast and show how he and collaborator Steve Duin transformed them into a compelling portrait of what hope and challenges remain along a ravaged coastline, one awash in both seafood and oil, that will be changed as irrevocably as those Oregonians that chose to bear witness to the tragedy. Q&A session to follow. Room 9
Whew! Get ready for a lot of running from room to room. Why, you'll barely have time to hit our booth and buy books!
"Cut from linoleum with oil-based ink applied to the ridges, the drawings are rudimentary but charming, a stripped down version of what Marjane Satrapi did in Persepolis. What's clear, though, is the perspective of the outsider, which O'Connor refined in her debut novel Wise Blood and stories such as 'A Good Man is Hard to Find.' ... Even though the cartoons are largely comic, and lack the richness of detail that a short story affords, it would be wrong to dismiss them as juvenilia…. The darkness she would make her own is already showing its teeth…. The cartoons, then, remain a glimpse of what might have been. And for fans, this is that all-too-rare commodity: a 'new' Flannery O'Connor book to slip on the shelf besides the scant few books she left us with."
"O’Connor’s funny drawings are distinguished both by the author’s morbid sense of humor and surprisingly sharp and memorable visual sense. Nearly a half-century after her death, O’Connor continues to surprise."
For those who couldn't make it to Jim Woodring's slideshow talk about his new graphic novel Congress of the Animals at Elliott Bay Book Company last week, here's video of the whole presentation, shot by our own Ian Burns and hosted by our good pal Gavin Lees. (Pardon the brief commercial message.) Gavin provides some thoughtful comments on the talk over at his Graphic Eye blog. The insight Jim provides into his work is fascinating, there are some previously-unseen preparatory sketches included in the slideshow, and Jim left us all wanting more by strictly limiting his talk to 40 minutes (timed by his lovely wife Mary). Believe me, it's 40 minutes very well spent, so get comfy.
For those wondering whether there would be a follow-up to our well-received 2010 anthology Newave! The Underground Mini-Comix of the 1980s, good news! Editor Michael Dowers is now seeking submissions for two more volumes with a wider chronological reach. Here's the announcement, as posted at the mini-comics community site Poopsheet Foundation:
This series will cover mini comics from the dawn of time (early 70's) to the present. Since Newave has already been covered, the main focus will be on the 1990's to the present although earlier minis will be covered too. The books will be the same size (only more like 700 pages each) but will only reproduce mini comics that are 5 1/2 X 4 1/4 or smaller just like the Newave book. The two volumes are to be simply titled "Treasury of Mini Comics" Volumes one & two.
I am looking for contributors. I am looking for the best of the best. Any creator can send me their mini comics, disks, or photocopies to be considered for publication for this project. Or email me and send low-res jpegs to:
Please send titles to: Michael Dowers, 361 E. Birnie Slough Rd., Cathlamet, WA 98612.
If they want their material returned it is important to enclose return postage. Any mini comics that are kept will be placed in the Fantagraphics collection after the books are published. Also anybody sending actual mini comics will receive comics in trade from Brownfield press.
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