|Weathercraft exhibit preview|
|Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Jim Woodring, art shows||16 Jun 2010 9:34 AM|
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Archive >> June 2010
MB: In the new issue of Thrizzle, apart from the move to full color, there also seem to be fewer short strips and gags and more multi-page stories — what led to this? Is this indicative of an evolutionary shift in the comic?
MK: Well, yes — the comic has to keep evolving to keep going. For this issue I had been developing these three story ideas for a while, and it just worked out that way. There will still be lots of shorter bits coming, but many of them will be under one conceptual umbrella or another.
MB: You count some pretty high-profile comedy writer/performers among your fans (Conan O'Brien, Robert Smigel and Peter Serafinowicz among them)... apart from the fact that they know funny when they see it, how did your work come to their attention?
MK: Someone showed it to them, or they noticed it somehow, and they though it was funny. And when someone you think is funny thinks your work is funny, that's about the best feeling in the world. Really kept me going when there were no other tangible rewards.
MB: You've also had comedians doing voices at your readings, as with your presentation at MoCCA this year, which was a big hit — do you see more potential for cross-pollination of comics and live comedy?
MK: Yes. I very much want to expand on this actually. I feel that I'm working at the intersection of where art and comedy meet, and I'd like to expand that intersection. Too many artists are scared of being funny, at least without a veneer of preciousness...
MB: Who are some of your favorite people working in comedy?
MK: Besides Conan, Peter and Robert? If I were to single out one person working right now — and I will — it's the English comedian Stewart Lee. He's currently doing a TV series called Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle in the UK. Oh, and the Channel 101/Acceptable TV people — they're doing truly great work.
MB: Can you reveal anything about the new television project you're developing?
MK: Not quite yet. One word: horror.
MB: My spine is tingling already! Any word from the Conan camp now that he's been scooped up by TBS? It sure would be great to see some Kuppermanic material on his new show.
MK: No, and "from your lips to God's ears."
MB: Amen. You've fully embraced Twitter as a joke outlet/workshop — have you made any specific or surprising discoveries from it that have found their way into your comics work?
MK: Definitely. I do trot concepts out there I'm thinking of using — Twitter is a very immediate way of testing an idea's conceptual catchiness.
MB: Having seen your originals on display at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, your artwork looks very labor-intensive. Can you talk a bit about your process?
MK: It's very labor-intensive when I actually do the whole page the old-fashioned way — but I do that less often these days. Not that I don't enjoy it — I do — but Time is the most valuable commodity right now, and I really haven't got enough. So I do use the computer quite a bit, any shortcut I can think of. But the most serious time is devoted to thinking and planning, working out the concepts.
MB: Tell our readers a little bit about the vintage men's-magazine scans you occasionally post on your blog and Twitter feed.
MK: Those are from an eccentric man's collection that I acquired from a now-defunct used magazine store on 40th street. He'd been buying men's magazines for decades, and then taking them apart and putting them back together in his own order, with cover defacements to finish them off. They've been a huge source of inspiration over the years — a surreal avalanche of period weirdness — and since I put some pages online a publishing company has come forward to do a book, which should be out in the next year.
MB: What attracts you to that type of material, and to that vintage aesthetic in general?
MK: Because art and design in those days was sharp and provocative — for people. Now it's sleek and boring — for designers.
MB: What are some of your other sources of inspiration that might not be apparent in your work?
MK: I read a lot of genre fiction — thrillers and the like. Lately John Sandford — he can really write!
MB: Was there a concept or persona behind the "P. Revess" pseudonym you used to use?
MK: I liked the ambiguity of it, also "Revess" suggests "Reve," the French for "dream."
MB: You did some 3D comics for Nickelodeon magazine — could an all- or even partly-3D issue of Thrizzle ever be in the cards? Please?
MK: I'd love to. BUT someone has to format the 3D, and then you have to include the glasses… You guys give me the word, I'll start working on it now. I love seeing my drawings move in the third dimension!
MB: I'll see what I can do about that! We'll call up Ray Zone. And finally: Any other projects in the works we should know about?
MK: I've been doing a lot of illustration: new writing from A.G. Pasquella and Jack Pendarvis, who you probably remember from their brilliant subtitling of the Turkish Jeffersons on the first Wholphin DVD; an LP compilation from Fayettenam Records; and a book by Kristin Schaal and Rich Blomquist, The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex.
Hokey smokes, hope you've been saving your nickels because we've got 5, count 'em 5, brand new books slated to hit comic shops this week! Read on for more info and to see what the other new-comics-day bloggers are saying [now edited to add Tom Spurgeon].
232-page monochrome 6.75" x 8.25" hardcover • $22.99
"I absolutely loved this Megan Kelso graphic novel — a kind of anthropological/fictional-historical fantasy/love story thing involving a fractured culture of people with artichoke leaves for hair — and I'm not afraid to say so." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"Getting back to much-awaited new projects, here’s Megan Kelso’s 232-page intergenerational fantasy, excerpted/anticipated here and there, depicting struggle and serenity among the fleshily vulnerable artichoke folk. ...Kelso’s visual style remains appealing as ever." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Megan Kelso (The Squirrel Mother) returns with her most ambitious work to date..." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"Fantagraphics reminds us that they’re more than just awesome, Matt Thorn-curated manga with Megan Kelso’s Artichoke Tales. ... This is Kelso’s first long-form effort, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with that length of narrative." – David Welsh, The Manga Curmudgeon
"I'm still digesting this, the oddest book I've read all year." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird
104-page black & white 6.5" x 9" hardcover • $19.99
"Tony Millionaire’s sequel to his excellent 2006 Billy Hazelnuts, a gorgeous evocation of sprawling, daydreamy adventure strip narratives pairing gritty-but-whimsical hardcases with not-too-sweet innocents. Here we find grumpy homunculus Billy adjusting poorly to helping out with animals on the farm, only to set off on a mission to reunite a baby owl with its mother. It looks really funny and beautiful." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Maakies cartoonist Tony Millionaire's 'all-ages' sequel to Billy Hazelnuts, and by 'all-ages' he apparently means that it's the kind of grotesque slapstick farce that could potentially entertain small children while creeping the living heck out of their parents..." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"What's MY PICK OF THE WEEK? The Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird hardcover by the one and only Tony Millionaire. ... In the Billy Hazelnuts all-ages series, Millionaire spins the yarn of Billy, a garbage-homunculus, and the family who loves him. In this installment, the bizarre Billy must return a baby owl to the woods. Rampant weirdness ensues." – Cyriaque Lamar, io9
"Prolific Maakies cartoonist and Sock Monkey creator Tony Millionaire’s long-awaited second Billy Hazelnuts graphic novel finally arrives." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"The release of a new Tony Millionaire stand-alone book is an overall world good." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
The Book of Mr. Natural (Hardcover Ed.)
128-page black & white 8.25" x 10.75" hardcover • $19.99
"Finally(!), here’s a new 128-page hardcover edition of Fantagraphics’ 1995 compilation of assorted Robert Crumb shorts starring the famous lil’ bearded guy." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Fantagraphics is having a pretty damn huge week (and there’s a couple more swell-looking books below)." [Yep!] – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"This is one of the better Christmas-gift books Fantagraphics ever made... A kind of Crumb-primer, or Crumb for people who might want to get at him from a more standard comics stories standpoint." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
240-page black & white/duotone 7" x 10.25" softcover • $22.99
"...includes the best of comics creator, character and all-around renaissance woman Dame Darcy’s first decade of Meat Cake comics..." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"No, stay in your chair, this close-to-last-of-the-classic-one-artist-anthology-comic-books isn’t going bookshelf for good – it’s an expanded 240-page softcover reissue of Fantagraphics’ 2003 (200-page) hardcover collection of the best of Dame Darcy’s comical fictions and stitched-up Victoriana, with guest writer Alan Moore popping in for a later story..." – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"This collection of Dame Darcy's twisted fairy tale saga was out-of-print and gets a much deserved resurrection, replete with her collaboration with Alan Moore." – Cyriaque Lamar, io9
"Dame Darcy is the canary in the cage as alt-comics makes its way through the catacombs of modern comics publishing. As long as she has a publishing presence, something must going at least semi-okay." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
240-page two-color 8" x 10" hardcover • $22.99
"I read it a few weeks ago, and it’s easily one of the best comics works I’ve experienced so far this year. It’s an extremely ambitious story set in a fantasy world that explores the various ways in which war and fear can tear people apart while knitting communities together. It’s occasionally touching, occasionally scary, always thrilling and remarkably complex. I hope to review it in this space sometime soon, but I’d like to give it another read or two before I attempt doing so. In the mean time, allow me to at least wholeheartedly recommend it." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama
"...Percy Gloom was perfectly dedicated to its metaphors of human caution as aggravated by society and religion. This new 240-page work promises a similarly-conceived world, this time as built by an amnesiac war veteran forever alert to obscure but surely dire threats. Surely!" – Joe McCulloch, Comics Comics
"Russ Manning Award winner Cathy Malkasian's new graphic novel is a sprawling, splendidly grotesque-looking fable about the kinds of lies that preserve patriarchy and perpetuate war, set in and around a city called Blessedbowl whose inhabitants believe that they're afloat on a sea of fire and at war with evil forces from outside, neither of which are true. It's worth a look for sure." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance
"I'm looking forward to this one because a) I know absolutely nothing about it, and b) I went into the cartoonist's previous book Percy Gloom with every expectation I'd hate it until my legs fell off from the acidic bile collected in them from my hating of it, but ended up super-charmed by like page eight." – Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Reporter
Still not convinced? Check out our previews and excerpts for each book at their respective links above and judge for yourself. As always, we recommend confirming availability with your local shop before toddling on down.
Better-Late-Than-Never Dept: I finally got a chance to upload my photos from Michael Kupperman's appearance at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery back on May 8 for his art exhibit opening and launch of Tales Designed to Thrizzle #6. Browse the whole photo set, including shots of every piece of art, on our Flickr page, or if you like slideshows, there's one embedded below. And stay tuned tomorrow for our exclusive "Diaflogue" interview with Kupperman!
Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "This all-ages-friendly tale opens with a comical but sincere note of existential angst, but Billy ultimately discovers his orientation in the world through his relationships with others. ... The tale itself frequently veers toward the lunatic, but if it skirts the surreal it does so precisely by taking the kinds of unfettered narrative turns that characterize the best children's literature. And like those books, Millionaire's [Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird] creates a safe space for exploration that remains grounded throughout in a humane sensibility that quietly makes itself known by showing, not telling." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "...[Temperance is a] twisted allegory... Relying heavily on pencil shadings to establish mood, Malkasian's restraint of line results in vividly drawn but still complex characters: homely Minerva is both desperate and resourceful, Pa appears both menacing and pitiful, and addled Lester retains his fundamental courage." – Publishers Weekly
• Profile: "It’s easy to toss around the word 'genius,' especially when it comes to comics. We all have our favorites and we all like to think ours are the great ones. But one look at Roy Crane's work and anyone can see that he definitely was worthy of the 'genius' tag." – Tom Mason, Comix 411
• Profile: "Among the many innovative cartoonists published by the Seattle-based Fantagraphics Books, Michael Kupperman is surely one of the most original. ... In 2005, Kupperman hit his stride with the comic book series Tales Designed to Thrizzle, of which No. 6 has just appeared, to the delight of Robert Smigel and other fans." – Benjamin Ivry, Forward
Meanwhile, Deitch family fans on the other coast won't be left in the lurch — on Monday June 28 at 6:30 PM in New York City the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art presents a Master Class in Comic Art and Storytelling with Kim Deitch, who "will impart some key secrets. Secrets easily mastered that transformed him from being lazy, hedonistic and unfocused into a more positive, goal oriented human being. He will also show you a certain attitude about the idea of making art; how an artistic life can be more than a way to make a living; that it can also be a way to make a genuinely valid contribution to the world we live in." Man that sounds great! More info & registration links here.
Los Angelinos and animation aficionados rejoice, as Cinefamily presents a tribute to the great Gene Deitch on Tuesday July 6, 2010 at 8 PM, hosted by Jerry Beck and featuring a rare U.S. appearance (he lives in Prague don't you know) by Gene himself! They'll be screening shorts from throughout Gene's career, including the Oscar-winner Munro, with a Q&A afterward. More info & tickets here.
Periodic clips & strips - click for improved/additional viewing at the sources:
• Speaking of Post-Its, here's 10 amazing ones from Eleanor Davis
• "White Cats of the Red Sea," an illustration by Marco Corona
• Girl in Fish Net Stockings by Mark Kalesniko
• It ain't a cartoon but I'd be a fool not to link to this short prose story by Gary Panter
Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "...[The Search for Smilin' Ed is] a massive comedic epic of demonic possession and ventriloquism — it’s an explosion of the kind of thing Deitch does best. ... I defy anyone to read this and keep pace with Deitch’s ideas — somewhere between hippie psychedelics and virtual reality futurism is where Deitch’s brain lies. His wacky cartoon art style reveals a complex universe that meditates on the nature of reality itself, and your personal place within it as filtered through the isolated impressions of your own brain." – John Seven, Reverse Direction
• Review: "Malkasian’s tale is like something out of a fairy tale Book of Revelations, with a strangely similar vibe to the final season of Lost. ... With Temperance, Malkasian has heightened the depth of her ideas and demanded more from her audience. It’s a religious parable, to be sure, but it doesn’t stop right there, instead going into the territory of the motivations of belief, including the roles of fear, wrongdoing and falsehoods." – John Seven, Reverse Direction
• Plug: "[Johnny] Ryan in Prison Pit proves to be a master of precise composition and pacing. Though there's nothing redeeming about any of the characters in Ryan's hellish world, I still want to follow them for the artist's drawing virtuosity. There isn't a misplaced line, or a poorly chosen composition in this book, and it leads to a visually compelling, well-paced piece of work." – Charles Brownstein, in an interview with The Comics Reporter
• Interview: At his blog Hardboiled Wonderland, author Jedidiah Ayres talks to Tim Lane about Abandoned Cars, about which Ayres says "A collection of graphic short stories linked by theme and style that modulate between a sharp, gritty focus and dream-sense stream of consciousness, it reads like the book Jack Kerouac may have written with oh, say Donald Ray Pollock, populated by characters outrageous and familiar, out of their minds and so far down to earth that they're actually beneath it. And that's not saying anything about the visuals. Tim's gorgeous illustrations are why I bought the damn thing. That he could write worth a crap was gravy. His style is batter-dipped Americana with a generous dose of film-noir aesthetics and if I knew anything about graphic artists, I'd blow your mind with some mash-up comparison, (please insert your own dream team here and then assume that he tops it)." A bit from Tim: "I'm also very interested in creating a hint of pre-comics code comic illustration style in my work — especially the crime/horror comics of the late 40's and early 50's — because, beyond the fact that I love that stuff, I think it represents something ideological that is still pertinent today and resonates with my own attitude toward life."
• Interview: Chris Reilly of TCJ.com's Guttergeek has a Q&A with Michael Kupperman. Reilly says "Kupperman weeds out all the NARCs at the party — meaning that if his work does not make you laugh, go back to Omega House and spank some pledges, you joyless freak. Seriously, this man is one of the all-time great comic book satirists (in that he’s so funny that he may be satirizing comedy). ... Through his lens the most mundane thing become seriously funny." Kupperman says "Why should you read Tales Designed to Thrizzle? To experience the liberating power of laughter. Of course, if you don’t find it funny then there’s really no reason to read it. If you have no sense of humor, stay away."
David Sandlin is subject of a major art show titled "Sleep O'History" at Bongout Gallerie in Berlin right now. It opened a couple of weeks ago and continues through July 10, 2010. Via Parsons Illustration via The Beat.
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