|Today's extremely abstruse pop-culture joke|
|Written by Kim Thompson | Filed under Anders Nilsen||19 Oct 2011 2:58 PM|
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In one of the stories in Joost Swarte's upcoming Is That All There Is?, translated from the Dutch, a character speaks entirely in rebuses. Accordingly, Joost had to create an entirely new set of drawings for the English-language rebus, which I basically came up with and he tweaked. The whale is Joost's idea, and while the rebus purist in me objects a little to replacing that many letters, it's such an adorable whale I can't really squawk. Can you decode it?
Book goes to the printer next week! With Complete Pogo Volume 1 now in print and the Swarte book at the printer, many are the doubters who are having to eat their words even as I type this.
[In this installment of our series of Editors Notes, Kim Thompson interviews himself (in a format he's dubbed "AutoChat") about The Cabbie Vol. 1 by Martí, now available to order from us and at a comics shop near you. – Ed.]
Okay, then... so, a couple of weeks after an ultraviolent crime thriller by a French cartoonist (Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot), you're releasing an ultraviolent crime thriller by a Spanish cartoonist. Is this a trend?
More like a coincidence. Of all the foreign books we're releasing this year, they're really the only two who fall into this category. The next few things I'm working on are about as far away from that as you can imagine. (Although Jason and Joost Swarte do have a violent crime story or two in each of their anthologies, actually. Hmm.)
The Cabbie has been released in the States before...
Yes, we're treading well-trod ground here, I have to admit. Catalan Communications released their edition of The Cabbie back in 1987, after RAW had run a couple of Martí stories if I recall correctly...
Did RAW publish every significant 1980s Euro-cartoonist? Between Mattotti, Martí, Swarte, and Tardi, it seems like all of Fantagraphics' 2010 releases are consisting of RAW's sloppy seconds.
It certainly seemed that way (and thank you for that lovely image), although we've also been doing 1990s L'Association-type books and classic 1960s Belgian books. But Spiegelman and Mouly, let's face it, they just had insanely good taste; in fact, there are still more European cartoonists they published in RAW we're planning on getting around to.
Why did you see the need to reprint Martí's work specifically?
First of all, I love it. And the Catalan Cabbie has been out of print for a good number of years. And for obvious reasons it seemed like a European project that would be pretty accessible to American audiences (I'm still skittish about going too "European" on these, to be honest). And let's face it, in terms of translation, lettering, and production the Catalan version wasn't up to today's standards. Moreover, Catalan published only the first volume; there's a whole second volume that has never been published in English, which we're going to release in 2012.
Is that the stuff that ran in that Ignatz title?
No, the Calvario Hills "Cabbie" story was the first chapter of a projected third Cabbie volume which unfortunately, in part due to the failure of the Ignatz line, Martí has set aside.
Is the cover on your edition new? That painterly style is something we haven't seen much from Martí before.
There's a couple of old El Vibora covers along those lines, as I recall (that's where it was first serialized). But the vast majority of his covers have been line drawings, yes. My understanding is that it was some sort of private commission for which Martí kept a scan or a transparency, just in case, as all smart cartoonists do. And when I mentioned that I wasn't really wild about any of the covers that had been used for the Spanish editions (they're great drawings, they just didn't seem to work well for our purposes), he pulled it out of his files. So far as I know it hasn't been published before. Most Martí fans I know were a bit taken aback by it just because it's so outside of his normal range, they're used to those evil, black Chester Gould brush strokes and giant slabs of black — in fact, I was a little startled at first myself, but it's really grown on me. Martí has promised that he'll do a new cover for the second volume in the same style, which is fantastic.
There is a bit of that going around. Ted Benoît is another Hergé-derived cartoonist, Conrad (of Les Innomables fame) did a number of albums in a style cribbed from Lucky Luke's Morris, and my old friend Freddy Milton rocked a Carl Barks style for years and years. Yves Chaland. And don't forget Dinosaur Bop...
Oh my God, was that that insane Jack Kirby-ish prehistoric thing...?
Yeah... Jean-Marie Arnon. We really should collect that someday. But yes, Europeans have a pretty relaxed attitude about picking up and repurposing a classic style for their own uses. There are cases in the U.S., of course, like the Air Pirates (particularly Bobby London's exemplary faux Herriman, which has served him well). But Martí and Swarte are particularly interesting because their work really is both a subversion of and a commentary on the original — as Spiegelman himself points out in the introduction to our book, of course.
The Cabbie is far more violent than Dick Tracy...
Actually, not that much. You must not have looked at vintage Dick Tracy recently. When I was leafing through IDW's (excellent, highly recommended, buy one today — hello, editor Dean Mullaney) Tracy reprints looking for Gould panels to run in the intro, I was shocked by just how grisly and twisted the original Gould Dick Tracy was: bullets ripping through bodies, pools of blood, people burned alive — the infamous flagpole impalement of the Brow was actually pretty much the norm, not some excessive outlier. Martí does take it a step or two further, but only a step or two (and he does add in the sex). Nor am I sure that any scene in The Cabbie is worse than the Tracy sequence I stumbled across where the villain slowly strangles a dog to death over an entire week. I'm not kidding!
As Spiegelman points out, Martí's attitude toward his hero is also ambiguous...
Yes. Gould's hero's were 100% good and brave and moral, and Martí simultaneously mocks and empathizes with his hero. He's a bit of law-and-order fascist and kind of a dunce... but he has a good heart. And everyone else in the book is much, much worse!
You didn't translate The Cabbie.
No. As we've ramped up our translations I've found that I can't do all of them, being only human and all, so I've been building up a group of translators, including Helge Dascher, who does King of the Flies, and our former intern Jenna Allen. I found Katie LaBarbera more or less by chance: She's Kevin Huizenga's wife, and... in fact, I'll let her tell the story:
I was interested in getting into translating, and was asking Kim for some advice. I certainly didn't think he'd give me a shot at a whole book! Even as I was working on the first chapter to get a feel for it, I looked at it as a practice exercise. But Kim's been great throughout the entire process. One thing I really like about working with him is that you always get a little something extra, a bit of movie trivia, a quote, or his own made-up back story for the characters!
I definitely struggled with how close I should stay to the original without having it sound stilted and weird. Kim's advice early on to just put it away for a while and then look at it with a fresh pair of eyes was really helpful. For the first draft I didn't even realize that I had to pay attention to how much text would fit in the word balloons.
Actually, I don't worry overly much about that myself, I always figure we'll fix it in the editing. Generally English is a more succinct language than any European language so you don't get into trouble very often — and if we did, you can always discreetly Photoshop yourself a bigger balloon with that newfangled digital technology.
But Katie was terrific, and some of the original Spanish wasn't easy...
Yes, I had trouble with some of the slang, but St. Louis cartoonist Max Vento was good enough to help me out with a few nasty phrases (one or two that made me blush!). It was a bit easier once I caught on to Martí's sense of humor and got immersed in the story. And luckily my life experiences, so similar to those of the Cabbie's, really helped me to get into his mindset. It's an amazing book, and the cartooning is great - I especially like the Cabbie's mom, with the gaping, black holes for eyes.
It was a fun working experience. You know, if I had my druthers, all my translating jobs would be collaborations, or at least strong translator-editor combos. (I'm having a great time working with Diana Schutz on a Manara project for Dark Horse; she's so razor sharp, and I hope I'm half as good when I wear my editor hat working with any of "my" translators.)
I thought it was interesting that you changed all the names to Anglo-Saxon ones.
That was a debate I had with myself, and with Katie. Martí's names were all deliberately generic Spanish names like "Pérez," and I realized that the Cabbie's universe isn't specifically Spain per se, it's really one of these "global" environments that isn't particularly beholden to any one culture...
Like King of the Flies.
Exactly. So keeping everyone Spanish was in its own way more distracting than just picking similarly bland, generic English names. There are books where you want to keep the taste of the original language/country — on that Manara project I purposely kept all the "Signoras" and such to anchor it more firmly in Italy (I do that with Adèle Blanc-Sec, too, she's always "Mademoiselle") — a bit like the translations of Scandinavian crime fiction, which keep things like "Frøken" ("Miss") for local flavor - but The Cabbie seemed international - and in fact somewhat American if anything.
You seem to be building up quite an extensive staff for these things.
Yeah. In addition to my translator du jour, I have our computer wiz Paul Baresh, who created all the non-dialogue re-lettering (signs and sound effects) based on Martí's own original lettering (the dialogue lettering we did with a Martí font left over from Calvario Hills); two interns who keyed in the dialogue and captions; Gavin Lees, my go-to guy for calligraphy on things like hand-written letters and notes (another former intern, incidentally); Jim Blanchard, who did that awesome license-plate logo; and of course our designer Alexa (also an ex-intern), who did some sweet work on the title page, intro, and back cover. What can I say, it takes a village to put together one of these furrin Fantagraphics comics. One mostly populated by interns and ex-interns.
What's the next translation, then?
Jason's Athos in America I'm wrapping up next week, then the Joost Swarte book, and then I'll be hopping back and forth between our Nicolas Mahler and Guy Peellaert books for a bit. And as always, the next Tardi looms. No rest for the fatigué.
Three more great Linda Medley pages from the never-published "Galactic Girl Guides" series have gone up for sale on eBay. Page five is a lovely title page, and page six is action-packed, but every one of them is a thing of beauty. Click through each image to go straight to the auction.
For some reason, the Eisner Awards are being held on a cruise ship, and I'm in charge of announcing all the winners, wandering from room to room with a microphone, being broadcast to the entire ship. Many of the winners are written down in languages I can't pronounce (including a particularly long title in Greek) and I try to make light of my mangling of the titles; appreciative roars of laughter from the audience indicate that I'm pulling it off and I think to myself, "I'm doing okay, I guess Jackie Estrada will have me back next year again to do this."
Then I'm in the Washington D.C. Capitol building. The legislative session has apparently ended, and a half-dozen senators rush down to the floor, where someone has set up card tables with comic books and little cardboard hand-written name plates, like at the last tiny local comic book convention you attended. Apparently the senators are selling mini-comics, although it's unclear whether this is some sort of fund-raising thing, or whether the senators wrote and drew them themselves. (Also, for some reason I get the idea they're all Democrats.) Curious, I walk up to the closest senator, who happens to be the actor Peter Boyle. (It has slipped my mind that he died about five years ago.) His comic is flipped open to a page of a huge erect penis, which I recognize as having been drawn by Gilbert Hernandez in full-tilt Birdland mode. I think to myself, "I never thought I'd see the day when they were selling pornographic comics on the Senate floor," an insight I wish to share with Tom Spurgeon, who is sitting at his own little table a few yards away. I move toward him, but before I can engage him in conversation, my dog barking in the basement wakes me up.
[For Kim's three previous comics-oriented dreams and more, see our newly-created "Adventures in Slumberland" Flog category. – Ed.]
I am pleased to announce that we have amended our territorial contract with the respective licensors and are now able to sell all of our Jacques Tardi books throughout the world, including in the United Kingdom. Mail order, distribution through wholesalers and retailers, etc.
And in the "my life is better than yours" gloating category, I believe I am the only person in the world who has read both Jason's next book (Athos in America, going to the printer in a week or two) and Tardi's next book (the new Manchette adaptation Ô Dingos! Ô Châteaux!, which we are planning to release in 2013) — both of which are just as unfathomably awesome as you might expect. Bonus: The ruthless killer (who dispatches an unfortunate victim with a sawblade through the heart in the first page of the book, as seen below) is named Thompson!
Our new David B. book The Armed Garden just dropped, but did you know that this is actually the second major English-language David B. book to be released in the past couple of months? A UK publisher called Metromedia / SelfmadeHero released its edition of Par les Chemins Noirs (collecting both volumes to date of the French edition) to the British market earlier this summer. Samples here. This book has not yet been released stateside, but we're told that will happen sometime soon. Impatient David B. fans can buy a copy on Amazon U.K., where it will run you about thirty bucks including shipping to the U.S., which isn't bad for 120 pages of large-size full-color (colored by Jason colorist Hubert, incidentally) David B. art. (There are also a few copies available from sellers on US Amazon.) It's the most "European" of David's books in format, style, and subject matter, and his first adult full-color book to be released in English.
Metromedia also published Patrick McEown's remarkable Hairshirt and is scheduled to release a more affordable and available (than the various odd US editions) complete Incal by Moebius/Jodorowsky later in the fall, so these are guys to watch. Hopefully their books will get some US distribution soon.
Somewhat belatedly, a portfolio of candid photographs by roving
The Starstruck spin-off series Galactic Girl Guides is one of the most legendary of the "lost" comics orphaned by the collapse of Tundra/Kitchen Sink in the 1990s. When the plug was pulled, artist Linda (Castle Waiting) Medley was about halfway through the projected four-issue series, written by Starstruck co-creator Elaine Lee.
There are few cartoonists who could go toe-to-toe with Starstruck artist and co-creator Michael Kaluta for sheer illustrative gorgeousness and maintain the exquisite graphic quality of that world, but as the pages below show, Medley was one of them.
Why are we showing you these (aside from the fact that they're pretty)? Well, because after over a decade of having them sit on her shelves, Linda has decided to let them go.
In the wake of IDW's successful reprinting of the original Starstruck series, Lee and Kaluta are adamant that GGG will one day be completed and published, and Medley has kept reproduction-quality scans of these pages for when that happens. But in the meantime... Any page of original art is by definition unique, but there are almost invariably thousands, or tens of thousands (or hundreds, or in the case of syndicated strips, tens of millions), of reproductions out in the world. In the case of these pages, however, lucky buyers will have the ONE AND ONLY copy — at least until that GGG edition happens.
Each image clicks directly through to eBay. Bidding has started. May the best Starstruck fan or Medley fan, or just fan of great-looking comics pages, win!
We are in the final stages of assembling this mammoth collection of Bill Griffith's non-syndicated-Zippy work (i.e. from undergrounds and alternative comics), and we cannot for the life of us figure out where the story "Toadette Dignity" might have appeared (see above for the first of two pages). Bill finished it in 1975 with the intent of publishing it in Arcade but it did not in fact appear in Arcade. Bill is sure it got published somewhere eventually but has no idea where that might be.
First person to correctly identify where it was published gets a copy of Lost and Found when it is released, signed by Griffy!
Are we having sourcing yet?
Email us your answer; be sure to put "Attn: Jason Miles - Bill Griffith Source" in the subject line.
UPDATE: We have an answer and a winner! The story appeared in Apple Pie #5. Thanks everyone for your quick responses!