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Archive >> March 2011

Things to See: Robert Goodin covers Prison Pit
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Things to seeRobert GoodinJohnny Ryan 29 Mar 2011 2:14 PM

Prison Pit (Johnny Ryan) - Robert Goodin

Robert Goodin does Johnny Ryan 's Prison Pit at Covered. Duuuuuuuude.

Editors Notes: Kim Thompson on Approximate Continuum Comics
Written by Kim Thompson | Filed under Lewis TrondheimKim ThompsonEditors Notes 29 Mar 2011 9:32 AM

Approximate Continuum Comics - Lewis Trondheim

[In this installment of our series of Editors Notes, Kim Thompson interviews himself (in a format he's dubbed "AutoChat") about Approximate Continuum Comics by Lewis Trondheim, now available to pre-order from us and coming soon to a comics shop near you. – Ed.]

Now this is the material that was serialized in The Nimrod, right?

Yes and no. The Nimrod #1, 6, and 7 featured the first three installments (out of six). So if you have all the Nimrods, sorry, you'll be buying half of it all over again. But the translation's been reworked and it's been re-lettered from scratch.

Why re-letter? I thought whoever did the comics did a really nice job.

I agree, but Jeremy Eaton's no longer interested in lettering, which means that the second half would've looked different from the first half. Also, in the intervening years, someone created a fantastic Trondheim font. And re-lettering allowed me to tighten up my translation. Turns out I've gotten better in the intervening years, I look at the Nimrod version and go "I can do better than that."

Approximate Continuum Comics by Lewis Trondheim - detail

Is that the Trondheim font you used for his MOME story? That is a good font.

It's such a good font that the Eisner Awards jury nominated that story for "Best Lettering," which amused me.

Call me old school but I feel translations should be hand-lettered.

The problem is, if you hand letter translations you lose the infinite-tweaking capability that font lettering gives you. I tweak my translations endlessly, and if I were to do that with a hand-letterer every book would cost us ten thousand dollars to letter. And of course font lettering is far, far cheaper even setting aside my own undisciplined idiosyncracies. But I also think we've tipped over to the point where in many cases the font lettering actually looks better than the hand lettering, partly because it's in the artist's hand, partly because even the best letterer tends to tense up when trying to copy-fit, particularly when lettering those artists who in the original did their lettering and then drew the balloons around them to fit, like Trondheim and Tardi. The hand-lettered chapters of "It Was the War of the Trenches" in Raw and Drawn and Quarterly were done about as well as you could imagine, and I miss the irregularities of hand lettering that font lettering eliminates, but ultimately I think our font-lettered version is better.

One exception: Céline Merrien, who letters our Mahler translations for MOME and will letter our next Mahler project (not announced yet, you heard it here first), can do utterly flawless impressions of pretty much anybody and make it work so it looks like the original. But she's superhuman (and not cheap). If it wasn't for the flexibility/cheapness issues above, I'd hire her to re-letter every foreign book we do... I mean, except for the ones that were font-lettered to begin with, like King of the Flies and the Mattotti stuff.

Approximate Continuum Comics by Lewis Trondheim - detail

So, getting away from the lettering nerd-talk, this is all autobiographical comics from the 1990s, right?

Right. Although as Lewis explains in his endnotes, it almost happened by accident. He was writing and drawing a comic in the U.S. "pamphlet" format which was intended to be a combination of fiction and little autobio vignettes, and the latter completely took over. The vogue for autobio comics didn't hit France nearly as hard as it hit the U.S., but Lewis is one of the few who really got into it — and still is, in his "Little Nothings" series. (Others would be Jean-Christophe Menu, Fabrice Néaud, and Guy Delisle.) What's funny is that Lewis is in person quite shy, but utterly willing to expose himself in his comics. He writes with extreme candor about his shyness!

Approximate Continuum Comics by Lewis Trondheim - detail

Any juicy gossip about other cartoonists?

No. Several other cartoonists figure prominently, particularly his studio mates at the time (Émile Bravo, Charles Berbérian), and his L'Association compadres (David B., Jean-Christophe Menu, Killoffer), but no real dirt - unless it comes as a surprise to you that Menu is quite the lush! Mostly just mildly embarrassing anecdotes about things like Émile Bravo's annoying humming habits, and Lewis (who hits himself 100 times harder than he hits anyone else) lets the cartoonists set the record straight in a "Rebuttals" section at the end. Oh, there's a wordless cameo by Moebius, too, watching Lewis nearly throwing up.

Approximate Continuum Comics by Lewis Trondheim - page

Why did you stop publishing Trondheim? Fantagraphics was out front with both The Nimrod and the McConey books, then you just quit.

Because both series tanked! American readers rejected the European album format of McConey, and The Nimrod was caught in the death spiral of alternative comic books. Tom Spurgeon wrote a very nice little essay a few weeks ago about how if a great book like The Nimrod couldn't work that signaled the doom of the "pamphlet" form. On the other hand we'd kind of run out of Trondheim material that worked in that format, all we had left was to run more chapters of Approximate and that sort of seemed to be cheating; I'd started to resent the use of the pamphlets as just being double-dipping pre-graphic-novel content providers, and I'm sort of pleased two thirds of the Nimrod material did not fit that definition. (It does also mean that Trondheim fans who missed the now sold out issues are shit out of luck.)

Anyway, NBM and First Second have been doing a pretty stellar job of cranking out Trondheim stuff. NBM has been putting out three Trondheim books a year for a while, and when you consider their Dungeon books collect two of the French editions, the amount of Trondheim albums available in the U.S. has got to be pushing 40. Which is only about a third of his output, but still.

That said, I would like to get back into the Trondheim business and actually plan to start putting out two of Lewis's books a year.

Which material?

That would be telling. It would make sense to put out La Mouche as a "pendant" to Approximate Continuum, of course. But wait and see. No matter what, I think he can still write and draw them faster than Terry Nantier and I combined can translate them.

Approximate Continuum Comics by Lewis Trondheim - detail

Is Approximate Continuum some of your favorite Trondheim work?

Yes. Why else would I pick that since he's got a zillion other books to choose from? Check.

Because you already had it half translated, it was easier doing a new one from scratch, and you're lazy. Check.

Good point. But back then I picked it because it was some of my favorite Trondheim work too. Checkmate.

Well played, sir! And you're right, it is a great comic.

One of his best, I think.

Gary Groth talks Barks Library in the Carl Barks Fan Club Newsletter
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Gary GrothDisneyComing AttractionsCarl Barks 29 Mar 2011 8:32 AM

Carl Barks Fan Club Newsletter issue 45 with Gary Groth

Gary Groth gives the scoop on our publishing history and our plans for the forthcoming Carl Barks Library series in the new issue of the Carl Barks Fan Club Newsletter. It's available as a free download from The Good Artist (direct download link: 1.9MB PDF), and you can request a complimentary printed copy from the Carl Barks Fan Club.

Approximate Continuum Comics by Lewis Trondheim - Previews, Pre-Order
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under videopreviewsnew releasesLewis Trondheim 29 Mar 2011 7:28 AM

Approximate Continuum Comics - Lewis Trondheim

Approximate Continuum Comics
by Lewis Trondheim

160-page black & white 6.75" x 10.25" softcover • $18.99
ISBN: 978-1-60699-410-8

Ships in: May 2011 (subject to change) — Pre-Order Now

One of the very first autobiographical graphic novels to come from France, Lewis Trondheim’s Approximate Continuum Comics set the standard for the honest, often hilarious chronicling of a cartoonist’s life. Trondheim’s typically graceful, confident cartooning shows him wrestling with his own demons (sometimes, in dream sequences, literally) and an often malevolent world, while trying to maintain his rising career as one of Europe’s most beloved cartoonists.

Approximate Continuum finally brings American readers the first portion of the “Trondheim autobio trilogy” that also comprises the Eisner-nominated “At Loose Ends” meditation serialized in Mome and the “Little Nothings” series of short slice-of-life stories.

This volume contains the first three chapters serialized in The Nimrod comic book (praised as "A rewarding, pleasurable and entertaining read from a fine talent... well worth the cover price" by The Comics Reporter), the last three (never-before-translated) chapters, and a hilarious “rebuttal” section in which Trondheim’s family and cartoonist friends (including Epileptic creator David B. and Trondheim’s mom) dispute (or ruefully agree with) Trondheim’s depictions.

Download an EXCLUSIVE 14-page PDF excerpt (903 KB).

Video & Photo Slideshow Preview (view in new window):



Dash Shaw's Unclothed Man comes to McSweeney's Wholphin DVD
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under McSweeneysDash Shawanimation 28 Mar 2011 11:20 PM

Wholphin no. 13

Excellent and welcome news: On his The Ruined Cast blog Dash Shaw announces: "The 13th volume of Wholphin, the McSweeney’s quarterly DVD anthology, will have my 2009 IFC series The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D. on it." That's artwork from the animated series in the lower quadrant on the cover there; of course, much more artwork from the series, as well as a bunch of Dash's short stories, can be found in our companion book of the same name, and the series is still available to watch at IFC.com.

Things to See: Kupperman jams with Joe Matt, Kent Osborne
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Things to seeMichael Kupperman 28 Mar 2011 5:44 PM

Michael Kupperman, Joe Matt, Kent Osborne jam comic

Michael Kupperman tweeted this blurry shot of a sketchbook strip he did with Joe Matt and Kent Osborne.

UPDATED: Now with less blurriness:

Michael Kupperman, Joe Matt, Kent Osborne jam comic

Things to See: 3/28/11 Roundup
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tom KaczynskiThings to seeT Edward BakSteven WeissmanSergio PonchioneRichard SalaRenee FrenchMark KalesnikoMarco CoronaLaura ParkJohnny RyanJohn HankiewiczJim FloraJasonFrank SantoroDash ShawAndrice ArpAnders Nilsen 28 Mar 2011 5:27 PM

Werewolves of Montpellier outtake - Jason

An outtake from Werewolves of Montpellier, plus other illustrations and strips and more film reviews at Jason's Cats Without Dogs blog

My Father's Brain - Richard Sala

• From Richard Sala, a classic strip (part 1, part 2) and a vintage illustration

Drawing at Earwax w/Julia - Laura Park

• When Laura Park met Julia Wertz and drew some comics with her: portrait, part 1, part 2; also, a new sketch & new prints by Laura

Anders Nilsen

Sketches for book cover illustrations by Anders Nilsen

Trubble Club - Tedward Bak

One of our favorite Portlanders makes a guest appearance (of sorts) in the latest batch of Trubble Club strips (contributed to by some of our favorite Chicagoans)

The Oregonian

Johnny Ryan posted this on Flickr last week with no explanation — presumably a poster for a screening somewhere?

And more Things to See from the past week:

Steven Weissman's latest "I, Anonymous" spot and some re-kajiggered Post-Its on his Chewing Gum in Church blog

A new print by John Hankiewicz

Andrice Arp posts a preview of her story in the new Pood and a bunch of stuffed stuff

Artwork and sketches from Frank Santoro

Recent sketches by Marco Corona

• Vintage Jim Flora artwork and illustrations at the Jim Flora blog

• Sketches by Mark Kalesniko for his new graphic novel Freeway at his blog

Comic pages from Noah Van Sciver

Drawings & sketches by Renee French

• "The Strangest Story You Ever Heard in Your Life" continues at Splog!, the Sergio Ponchione Lost Objects Gallery blog

• Daily storyboards & concept drawings from Dash Shaw at The Ruined Cast blog

• More new sketches by Tom Kaczynski at his Transatlantis blog (and news that some of his concert sketches are on exhibit)

Daily OCD: 3/28/11
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under reviewsPrince ValiantPopeyeMark KalesnikoLorenzo MattottiJoe DalyJacques TardiHans RickheitHal FosterFrank SantoroEdward GoreyEC SegarDebbie DrechslerDaily OCDAlexander Theroux 28 Mar 2011 4:08 PM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

Freeway

Review: "...Freeway is often stunning. Kalesniko spent 10 years on the book, and the time and care is evident in the structural complexity. [...] One of the unique properties of comics — utilized well by artists like Chris Ware and Richard McGuire — is the ability to connect disparate pieces of information using the page like a chart. Kalesniko doesn’t draw any arrows or experiment with layouts, but he does convey the impression of a man dealing with his daily frustrations by letting every sight, sound, and sensation send him on a trip through his own head. And in Freeway, Alex Kalienka’s head is as vivid as the book’s depiction of key Los Angeles landmarks. Kalesniko renders both the exterior and interior spaces with a mix of loving care and impassioned disgust." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club

Review: "This mesmeric saga [Freeway] is deliciously multi-layered: blending compelling narrative with tantalising tidbits and secret snippets from the golden age of animation with rosy reveries of the meta-fictional post-war LA and the sheer tension of a paranoid thriller. Kalesniko opens Alex mind and soul to us but there’s no easy ride. Like Christopher Nolan’s Memento, there’s a brilliant tale here but you’re expected to pay attention and work for it. Illustrated with stunning virtuosity in captivating black line, Alex’s frustration, anger, despair, reminiscences and imaginings from idle ponderings to over-the-top near hallucinations are chillingly captured and shared in this wonderful book..." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!

Plug: "Freeway by Mark Kalesniko (published by @fantagraphics) is one of the best graphic novels I've read this year." – Ted Adams (founder/CEO, IDW Publishing)

Plug: Grovel previews Freeway: "This 400-page epic looks set to be a stunning piece of work, as Kalesniko squeezes a lifetime of events into the mental wanderings of a single car journey."

Dungeon Quest, Books 1 + 2

Review: "Dungeon Quest is unlike anything I have ever seen in the comic world. The closest comparison is some old comic strips in Dungeon Magazine from the mid-eighties but Dungeon Quest takes the level of insanity in those strips and adds +100 in delirium bonuses. If you know a manic dice roller, go out and purchase them both editions without thought. They will love you forever. [...] The story sounds a little like Bilbo Baggins' quest, right? Well, take Bilbo and drag him through a funhouse filled with drag queens and stand-up comedians from the eighties and you might end up with Dungeon Quest. The filth that spews from this book will make you blanch and make you laugh your lungs up." – Martin John, The Outhouse

The Arctic Marauder

Review: "In short, The Arctic Marauder is pure fun, silly and dark camp. It’s a beautiful book, with an appealing cover and a sturdy hardcover binding. Tardi’s narrative voice keeps the proceedings puckishly light and pleasant, while the plot itself explores oceanic depths and throws out characters rife with madness and egocentrism. There aren’t many books quite like it; comics readers are better off for having Tardi available here in the States." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama

Review: "The fun of getting caught up in a story that’s convoluted for its own sake, or the dazzle of pictures that preen the skill and effort that went into crafting them — they’re the hallmarks of a book that one reads to relax. Books that require an effort are ultimately more satisfying, but the smaller satisfactions are occasionally what one needs. The Arctic Marauder is fun, and it was nice to sit down with it after a long day." – Robert Stanley Martin, Pol Culture

Stigmata [Pre-Order - with Special Offer]

Review: "Screenwriter and novelist Claudio Piersanti's dark tale of a man driven to the depths of despair is beautifully captured in Mattotti's astonishing art [in Stigmata]. No artist is better suited to capturing all the intense violence, anger and despair this character suffers through." – John Anderson, The Beguiling blog

Daddy's Girl

Review: "Daddy's Girl is a comic book with a difference. Debbie Drechser uses mostly black and white illustrations to openly deal with the dark subject of abuse. [...] This is simply put, a masterpiece. The deeply disturbing subject matter of sexual abuse is brought to life with a startling brutality. It's impossible not to be impacted by the experiences within the pages. [...] It's a memorable, moving, bold, and — at times — emotionally challenging read that definitely rates a 5/5 from me." – Charlene Martel, The Literary Word

The Strange Case of Edward Gorey [Expanded Hardcover Edition]

Review: "Because Theroux knew Gorey personally — and remains a fervent fan — The Strange Case [of Edward Gorey] jumps from memories of the man to a more generalized biography, in between astute analyses of what makes Gorey books like The Hapless Child and The Gashlycrumb Tinies so haunting. The Strange Case isn’t organized like a conventional bio or critique; it’s more rambling and personal, working carefully past the psychic blockades of a man who once explained away the darkness of his work with the non-committal comment, 'I don’t know any children.'" – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club

Prince Valiant Vol. 3: 1941-1942

Review: "Rendered in an incomprehensibly lovely panorama of glowing art Prince Valiant is a non-stop rollercoaster of stirring action, exotic adventure and grand romance; blending realistic fantasy with sardonic wit and broad humour with unbelievably dark violence... Beautiful, captivating and utterly awe-inspiring the strip is a World Classic of storytelling and something no fan can afford to miss." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!

Popeye Vol. 5:

Review: "These superb oversized... hardback collections are the ideal way of discovering or rediscovering Segar’s magical tales. [...] There is more than one Popeye. If your first thought on hearing the name is an unintelligible, indomitable white-clad sailor always fighting a great big beardy-bloke and mainlining tinned spinach, that’s okay: the animated features have a brilliance and energy of their own... But they are really only the tip of an incredible iceberg of satire, slapstick, virtue, vice and mind-boggling adventure… [D]on’t you think it’s about time you sampled the original and very best?" – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!

Ectopiary - Hans Rickheit

Interview: At Newsarama, Zack Smith talks to Hans Rickheit about Ectopiary ("one of those webcomics that has everyone talking"), future plans and coelocanths: "The story divides into three parts which do not resemble each other. I wanted to draw an exotic science fiction, although the first hundred pages will contain very little in that vein. These stories aren't written; they simply occur to me. I prefer it that way. Good science fiction writers write about strange and inexplicable things. My job is make the strange things they write about."

TCJ.com

Craft: At The Comics Journal, more on proportion in comics layout in theory and practice from Frank Santoro, who likes purple

Photos: Robert Crumb at Society of Illustrators exhibit opening
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Robert CrumbeventsDrew Friedman 28 Mar 2011 1:31 PM

Robert Crumb at Society of Illustrators NYC

Robert Crumb at Society of Illustrators NYC

Robert Crumb at Society of Illustrators NYC

Here are some great photos of Robert Crumb at the opening of R. Crumb: Lines Drawn On Paper at the Society of Illustrators in NYC last Friday (March 25). The top two are by Rob Sussman; the bottom one, with Bob in a saucy pose with SOI director Anelle Miller, is by Jordin Isip; all were provided by Drew Friedman (thanks Drew!).

UPDATE: More great pics by Edel Rodriguez here!

Things to See: Peter Bagge covers Reason
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Things to seePeter Bagge 28 Mar 2011 12:53 PM

Reason Magazine cover - Peter Bagge

The Beat shares Peter Bagge's cover art for the new issue of Reason magazine.


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