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Category >> Cathy Malkasian

Daily OCD: 9/8/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under reviewsPortable GrindhousePaul HornschemeierMoto HagiomangaJacques BoyreauDaily OCDCathy Malkasian 8 Sep 2010 5:21 PM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

A Drunken  Dream and Other Stories [Pre-Order]

Review: "Literally, I could not put down this book once I hit the second half. Every story is fantastic, because it takes these interesting genre detours and makes them seem just as more true than you could possibly imagine. ...I think sometimes people overlook the sheer potential that human conflict can give. Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream, if nothing else, is a reminder of that, giving a plethora of all-too-human situations under the occasional sci-fi or fantasy trope. If you're looking for a densely-written change of pace that gives great insight into the career of a fantastic artist, you owe it to yourself to give this a look." – David Pepose, Newsarama

All and Sundry: Uncollected Work 2004-2009 [with FREE Signed Bookplate]

Review: "All and Sundry is a very traditional sort of random-stuff-from-my-file-drawers collection, subtitled "Uncollected Work 2004-2009": the first half is "Drawings and Stories"... Most of these pieces were designed to stand as separate artistic works, and they're all pretty successful. (There are some mostly-text pieces here as well, all published originally in Mome, which are of respectable-literary-quarterly style and quality...) [...] And then the second half of the book is "Sketches and Notes"... These pages are less finished, obviously, and would be of greatest interest to other cartoonists... [I]f you are [a Paul Hornschemeier fan], you'll find a lot to be excited about here." – Andrew Wheeler, The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Temperance

Interview: John Hogan of Graphic Novel Reporter talks to Cathy Malkasian about her graphic novel Temperance: "Moderation has been taking a beating in our culture for a while now. If you measure things by our shock-soaked media environment, then the whole world is wallowing in nuttiness and hysteria. Moderation has been reduced to a quaint ideal, but it’s really the engine in the back room, running everything."

Portable Grindhouse: The Lost Art of the VHS Box

Interview: At Examiner.com, Marvin Miranda posts a months-spanning email conversation with Jacques Boyreau about Portable Grindhouse and the joys of VHS: "There's this chicken/egg first and very fascinating question about 'what we are' based on whether as career voyeurs our first exposure was to [analog] or digital, and what it means to switch from one texture consumption to the other.... I don't know how else to really put it except that it is important to be vigilantly beware of digital. It is a closed, sealed signal whereas the burning grain of projected film and its bastard buddy analog video, are open signals."

Daily OCD: 8/16/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under The Comics JournalRIP MDreviewsPopeyeMegan KelsoJohnny RyanJasonJacques TardiGilbert HernandezEros ComixEC SegarDaily OCDCathy Malkasian 16 Aug 2010 5:30 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

Temperance

Review: "From the start, Cathy Malkasian's turbulent fantasy Temperance reels you in... It is not hard to spot allegories in this to today’s war on terror, and to the Cold War, in Temperance‘s portrait of siege mentality and the exaggeration of external threats. ... No Shrek or Toy Story, Temperance confounds fairy-tale expectations with a disturbing, resonant parable about propaganda, memories and other lies." – Paul Gravett, The Times Literary Supplement

Almost Silent

Review: "First of all, I have to say how much I enjoy the format.  Fantagraphics has done a fine job with this book, with a striking cover, sturdy spine, and essentially giving me everything I want in my comic books in terms of collected treatment. ... Jason’s simple, elegant artwork... allows any reader to dive right in. ... He’s a master of pacing out a gag, and he appreciates the fun of genre entertainment while still acknowledging the absurdity of it all. If I had to sum up Jason’s comics in one word, that word would be silly. They’re funny, and absurd, tinged with sadness and loneliness, outrageously goofy, slapstick, human and just plain pretty to look at. But mostly, they’re delightfully, delightfully silly. It’s a treat to enjoy a comic like Almost Silent." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama

Prison Pit: Book 2  [Pre-Order]

Review: "Prison Pit is fucking awesome and you really need to read it. It’s a kids book, in the sense that it very likely was something Johnny Ryan created when he was 12 years old, assuming the man was sniffing a lot of glue and simultaneously watching Cannibal Holocaust and WWF wrestling as a pre-teen. ... Grade: A" – Chad Derdowski, Mania

Review: "Prison Pit 2 is mental, obscene, and grotesque... But the book is also pretty astonishing and at least several parts awesome... I'm dazzled by the bloody chutzpah and dirty bravado of Ryan's fight comic, the sheer devotion he shows to violence for violence's sake, thoroughly removed from any hollow 'redeeming values' or 'character development.' ...[T]o anyone wondering if Prison Pit 2 really delivers all the weird, filthy violence it promises, the answer is a resounding yes." – Jason Michelitch, Comics Alliance

Artichoke Tales [Pre-Order]

Review: "I read Megan Kelso's Artichoke Tales almost in a single sitting, which is probably a good way to do it. ... This book deals with some standard themes — strong women and intellectual, impractical men, the impulse that leads to war, technology vs. rural simplicity — but none is treated in a standard way. Kelso definitely has a point of view, but she doesn't insult the reader's intelligence, and there's plenty of nuance; she's telling a story, not making a point. Also, it's beautiful just to look at." – Bridgid Alverson, Robot 6

Review: "Honestly, I’m still not sure how I ultimately feel about Artichoke Tales. I was put off by the book’s downbeat, resigned demeanor, yet at the same time impressed by Kelso’s ability to handle such a multi-layered story so effectively. Perhaps my feelings toward the book can be best summed up by the same word that one would use to describe both the political and personal relationships found in the book, and the real-life relationships she no doubt hoped to evoke: complicated." – Chris Mautner, The Comics Journal

Interview: Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to Megan Kelso about Artichoke Tales: "The artichoke people started as a casual doodle. I think I was riffing on The Jolly Green Giant's sidekick, Sprout. So I just started drawing these people whenever I was on the telephone, or just playing around in my sketchbook. The more I drew them, the more ideas I had about their world, and I just slowly started to build a story about them. This was the first time since starting to make comics, that I generated a story from a drawing rather than from an idea, or from something I'd written. It was excitng to me because it seemed more like 'pure comics' to me, coming from a drawing."

Birdland (Expanded Edition)

Review: "Birdland is a rare venture into the world of folly and fetish by award winning Gilbert Hernandez. ... [L]ocate a copy of Birdland yourself and enjoy and marvel at the bewildering release of limbs, torsos and groins in a madcap sexual adventure. The term 'graphic novel' will never mean the same again!" – partikal7

RIP, M.D. [Pre-Order]

Plug: "Rip M.D. is a creepy, fun-filled all-ages adventure saga... [Mitch] Schauer told ICv2 that the inspiration for Rip M.D. was all those horror and monster movies he saw as a child — movies that made him care more about the fate of the colorful monsters and fiends than the B movies' human characters who always seemed to triumph in the end. Rip M.D. is the logical emotional outgrowth of those accumulated cinematic disappointments, the story of a boy who is able to help the horror and monster movie characters that he loves the most." – ICv2

Plug: Richard Bruton spotlights The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec Vol. 1 by Jacques Tardi at The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log (although we should note that the release date is actually in October)

The Troublemakers [with FREE Signed Bookplate]

Analysis: At Techland, Douglas Wolk looks at The Troublemakers by Gilbert Hernandez as an example of the successful use of a "widescreen" panel layout: "Aside from its title page, the entire thing is laid out as four identically shaped wide horizontal panels on each page, and the movie-screen shape is formally appropriate — the book is supposedly a kind of comics translation of a (nonexistent) B-movie. The Troublemakers is brutally effective as cartooning, though: Hernandez has designed it so that something's happening horizontally in almost every panel, and there's usually a different kind of motion from each panel to the next."

The Comics Journal #71

Analysis: Love & Maggie continue their series of detailed, annotated rundowns of their Top 10 Issues of The Comics Journal with the first part of their examination of issue #71

Popeye Vol. 1:

Commentary: The Hooded Utilitarian's critical roundtable on Popeye continues with Andrew Farago's look at the character's various multimedia incarnations

Daily OCD: 8/13/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under reviewsRand HolmesPatrick RosenkranzMoto HagiomangaJoyce FarmerDrew WeingDaily OCDCathy Malkasian 13 Aug 2010 4:48 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective [Pre-Order]

Review: "...[Rand Holmes] could tell a story, and he hit his stride with lengthy action-comedy epics like 'Wings Over Tijuana' and 'Hitler’s Cocaine,' which explored the shadier sides of drug culture in a style that veered from the shockingly real to the morbidly slapstick. Imagine a Jack Davis MAD magazine piece with heavier overtones; that was Holmes at his best, and that best is well-represented in The Artist Himself. [Grade] B+" – The A.V. Club

Set to Sea

Review: "Drew Weing’s breezy, lyrical graphic novel Set to Sea... tells a simple story about art and experience, delivered in one-step-follows-another fashion. Weing’s cartoony figures and detailed backgrounds — rendered with precise cross-hatching — suit his one-picture-per-page format well, making Set to Sea look like an animated film slowed down to a slideshow. ...Weing’s beautiful art and masterful pacing are so pleasurable that Set to Sea stands up to multiple reads. It’s a catchy little tune that sounds better with each spin. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club

A Drunken  Dream and Other Stories [Pre-Order]

Review: "Fantagraphics has taken care to showcase Hagio’s work in as beautiful a package as possible. ... For the right reader, adult or teen, man or woman, these stories [in A Drunken Dream and Other Stories] can be windows into a world where finally they can see themselves, both their strengths and their flaws. That’s a powerful thing for a book to be able to do and it takes a masterful craftsman like Hagio to be able to do it." – Snow Wildsmith, Graphic Novel Reporter

Temperance

Review: "Temperance is a story of awakening and transformation — physical, emotional, and spiritual. A profoundly empathetic reflection upon the systemic societal problems of culturally ingrained violence and brainwashing, Temperance is profound, meaningful, and deserves to be read and reread at length." – Midwest Book Review/ComicList

Special Exits [October 2010]

Plug: "The excellent graphic novel Special Exits is soon coming out from Fantagraphics. It is a labor of love of more than 10 years by the American comic artist extraordinaire Joyce Farmer. ... Of course another reason I am excited about the publication of Special Exits is because I’ve seen it grow and take shape throughout those years as Joyce Farmer has honored me with her friendship. Some of my students at the Ornerakis Cartoon School would also remember her as she was gracious enough to present her work to them. I am really looking forward to have the book in my hand and re-read it again and again as I think it is one of the best graphic novels ever created!" – Elias Tabakeas, Kailoipalogion

Daily OCD: 8/12/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under The Comics JournalreviewsPrince ValiantPopeyeKim DeitchJordan CraneJoe DalyHal FosterEC SegarDrew WeingDaily OCDCathy Malkasian 12 Aug 2010 4:01 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

Dungeon Quest, Book 1  [Pre-Order]

Review: "...I had more fun reading this book than just about any other comic I’ve read so far this year. ... There’s a sort of Hergé-like mechanical perfection to his artwork; not only is it super-clean and super-crisp, but the panel-to-panel consistency is so strong that his characters sometimes don’t look drawn so much as stamped out by some sort of automatic drawing machine. ... Steve and Millennium Boy are funny — sometimes on purpose, sometimes not — and it’s a pleasure to walk around with them. ... I haven’t played an RPG since I was a teenager, but I think I’d play a Dungeon Quest one in a heartbeat." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama

Temperance

Review: "This amazing, sweeping epic... spans decades of time and hundreds of miles of geography, and it deals with no less than war, fear, religion, trust, memory, violence and the mysterious, barely understood ways in which these broad, vague emotions are used to form communities and society, and/or how they can tear them apart. ... I can’t recommend Temperance highly enough. It’s a book that everyone should read, and then reread." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama

Set to Sea

Review: "If the message and method of delivery seem simple, the artwork is anything but. In that regard, Set to Sea is the comics equivalent of good poetry. It’s not what’s being said so much as how beautifully Weing’s saying it." – J. Caleb Mozzocco, Las Vegas Weekly

The Search for Smilin' Ed!

Review: "Combining the utterly irresistible power of nostalgia and insatiable curiosity with science-fiction, conspiracy theory, urban history, fact and legend, show-biz razzmatazz, supernatural horror, Film Noir and a highly developed sense of the meta-real, [in The Search for Smilin' Ed] Deitch once more weaves an irresistible spell that charms, thrills and disturbs whilst his meticulous drawing holds the reader in a deceptively fluffy, yet inescapable grip." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This! (via Bill Kartalopoulos)

Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938

Review: "Widely acknowledged as the greatest adventure strip ever created, Prince Valiant is also arguably the best comic strip in that medium’s history. However, reprint collections have failed to truly capture the beauty and consummate artistry of Hal Foster’s creation…until now, that is. ...[T]his new Fantagraphics edition goes beyond simply correcting the shortcomings of past reprints — in truth, it is more of a revelation than a mere restoration. ... Ultimately, Prince Valiant is much more than a series of fantastic adventures in some legendary era; rather, it is a depiction of the making of a fully rounded and realized human being. ... Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant is a story to be read and cherished — today, tomorrow, always." – ForeWord Reviews

Jordan Crane

Plug: The New Yorker's Sally Law talks to Jordan Crane about his webcomics concern What Things Do

The Comics Journal #59

Analysis: Love & Maggie return to their detailed, annotated rundown of the second chronological issue on their list of the Top 10 Issues of The Comics Journal, #59

Popeye Vol. 1: "I Yam What I Yam"

Commentary: Vom Marlowe is the latest to weigh in in The Hooded Utilitarian's critical roundtable on Popeye 

Daily OCD: 8/3/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under reviewsMoto HagiomangaKevin HuizengaJohnny RyanDaily OCDCathy MalkasianBasil Wolverton 3 Aug 2010 4:14 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

A Drunken  Dream and Other Stories [Pre-Order]

Review: "Unlike current shojo manga, Hagio's sentiment is more restrained, recounting a calmer account of destructive sibling rivalry, a quieter portrayal of a romance destined for failure, a subtle unraveling of a young woman in mourning. Her craftsmanship reflects wisdom and exercises the creative strength necessary to unravel and tie together the range of narrative threads that make up the tragedies and slow recoveries of life. ... A Drunken Dream collects stories by Hagio from her beginning, middle, and current career. The consistency of her work is evidence of why she's finally being translated into English and why that was long overdue." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Temperance

Review: "Three years after her award-winning debut graphic novel, Percy Gloom, Cathy Malkasian delivers her stunning followup, Temperance. This solidly grounded parable — rich with contemporary resonance for Fortress America — artfully and modestly flaunts all the same whimsicality, brutality, quiet heroics, worldbuilding, melancholy, weirdness and surrealism of its earlier cousin, but with ratios altered. ... If this book does not show up on all the comics awards ballots in 2011, the injustices perpetrated by [the book's character] Pa will pale by comparison." – Paul Di Filippo, The Barnes & Noble Review

Ganges #3

Review: "Huizenga’s command over his tools as an artist, the integration of his love of depicting wide-open spaces, and his general restraint in delivering prescriptive messages is what sets him apart as an artist. He’s not afraid to go into exacting detail on some technical point regarding time or consciousness, but it’s always done in the voice of an affable, self-effacing and highly unreliable guide who’s really trying to figure it all out himself. His work feels highly autobiographical in the sense that the artist has always been a thinker, and Ganges reveals the depths of his inquiries, while still remaining playful on the page and appealing to the eye. When the series is eventually collected, it may well be Huizenga’s masterwork to date." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal

Prison  Pit: Book 1 [with FREE Signed Bookplate]

Review: "Sometimes a comic book comes along and kicks your dick in. This is that comic. Writer/artist Johnny Ryan is my kind of freak. The raunchy and over the top violen-terrific action and splatter-tastic gore that take place in Prison Pit must be seen to be believed. ... Fans of MTV’s old Liquid Television series and Adult Swim’s Super Jail should definitely put Prison Pit on their must have list." – Mark L. Miller, Ain't It Cool News

Powerhouse Pepper

Review: "Fantagraphics’ volume of 11 of Basil Wolverton’s Powerhouse Pepper stories (along with 4 starring other characters) works as a great companion to their new Culture Corner volume, despite having come out in 1994. Where Culture Corner showed Wolverton’s skill at doing brief half-page joke strips, Powerhouse Pepper shows how his style worked with longer, 10-page stories — and oddly enough, the difference isn’t as great as you might expect." – Kittysneezes

Daily OCD: 7/29/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Walt KellyrockRobert GoodinMoto HagioMegan KelsoJon AdamsDaily OCDCharles M SchulzCCICathy MalkasianAlexander Theroux 29 Jul 2010 4:42 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

Temperance

Tunes: At Largehearted Boy, Cathy Malkasian provides a musical playlist for her new graphic novel Temperance

Origin Stories - Robert Goodin

Interview: Snap Judgment's Stephanie Foo talks to Mome contributors Jon Adams & Robert Goodin, among others, about their superhero juvenilia in a slideshow with audio

Charles M. Schulz letter to Walt Kelly

History: At Comics Comics, Tim Hodler posts a 1954 letter from Charles M. Schulz to Walt Kelly provided by Jeet Heer

Artichoke Tales [Pre-Order]

Plug: Eat, Sleep & Read! spotlights Artichoke Tales by Megan Kelso

Comic-Con International logo

Comic-Con: For MTV IGGY, Deb Aoki covers Moto Hagio's appearance at Comic-Con: "Besides signing copies of her new book and sketching for fans, Hagio also talked about her work at two panels, charming the crowd with her wit and honesty."

Reviewer: For the Wall Street Journal, Alexander Theroux reviews Gary Shteyngart's new novel Super Sad True Love Story

Daily OCD: 7/2/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Vaughn BodeRobert CrumbreviewsMomeMegan KelsoMark BodeDaily OCDCathy Malkasian 2 Jul 2010 2:54 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

Artichoke Tales [Pre-Order]

Review: "Kelso’s work radiates a warmth, poetry, sympathy, and simultaneously earthy and otherworldly essence that few comics creators have brought to the table with such quiet confidence and grace. The closest comic in recent memory to match Artichoke Tales, both in breadth and depth, is Jeff Smith’s Bone. [Grade] A" – The A.V. Club

The Book of Mr.  Natural [Hardcover Ed.]

Review: "...Fantagraphics’ hardcover edition of The Book of Mr. Natural feels like the perfect introduction to R. Crumb’s most enduring creation—and to the sexual peccadilloes that occasionally get both character and creator in hot water. ... It’s fascinating stuff, and should be mandatory reading for anyone who squirmed through Terry Zwigoff’s excellent Crumb documentary—or for anyone looking to get their danders up at Crumb’s allegedly misogynistic tendencies. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club

Mome Vol. 18 - Spring 2010

Review: "[Editor Eric] Reynolds has done an amazing job of balancing serials with a variety of single-page strips and one-shots. Expanding Mome to include translations from international cartooning stars, short works from established cartoonists and left-field contributions from illustrators not known in the comics world have kept things interesting on an issue-to-issue basis. The eccentricity of Reynolds’ taste as an editor has been another major factor in preventing Mome from getting into a rut. ...[T]his issue of Mome is a fine overall read, and the first half is especially spectacular." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal

Percy Gloom [with FREE Signed Bookplate]

Review: "Percy Gloom is a moving, engaging, enlightening book. It’s exactly the sort of comic readers should be demanding – thoughtful and intelligent, a beautifully drawn narrative that unfolds its layers over the course of multiple readings. Cathy Malkasian’s produced two winning graphic novels, and she’s clearly a talent that deserves a far wider readership." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama

The Lizard of Oz

Profile: For The New York Times, Reyhan Harmanci reports on how Mark Bodé is carrying on his late father Vaughn's legacy: "Vaughn Bodé created a world in his comics that Mark has fleshed out, making oil and spray paint paintings from his father’s cartoon panels and unfinished sketches. The younger Mr. Bodé perfected his father’s signature pieces: the ever-slouching Cheech Wizard, the science-fiction-inflected planet full of lizards, the cartoonishly lewd 'Bodé broads.' As Mark Bodé, 47, who is based in Daly City said, 'I am mortal and he is immortal, and the two of us work well together.'"

Daily OCD: 6/23/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under videoTony MillionaireRobert CrumbPirus and MezzoMoto HagioMegan KelsomangaDaily OCDCathy Malkasian 23 Jun 2010 3:23 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

King of the Flies Vol. 1: Hallorave

Review: "The graphic novel King of the Flies: Hallorave... gives us a glimpse of internal mayhem inside a controlled environment, executed with elegance and a touch of mystery. ... King of the Flies has been compared to the work of Charles Burns for its graceful depiction of adolescent suburban horror. This is a weird tale that’s easy to get drawn into..." – Irina Ivanova, The Indypendent

The Book of Mr.  Natural [Hardcover Ed.]

Plugs: At Largehearted Boy, Atomic Books owner Benn Ray lists his picks of the week, including Artichoke Tales by Megan Kelso ("Beautiful, expansive, lyrical") and The Book of Mr. Natural by Robert Crumb ("Did reading R. Crumb’s Book of Genesis leave you now craving more? The Book of Mr. Natural is your natural (heh-heh) next step").

Temperance

Plugs: The Gosh! Comics Blog spotlights Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird ("Tony Millionaire’s special brand of Odd abounds in a second instalment of the Billy Hazelnuts saga") and Temperance by Cathy Malkasian ("this sounds like a hefty, rewarding read").

Plugs: Douglas Wolk includes a goodly number of Fantagraphics releases on his Summer Comics Preview list at TIME / Techland.

Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird

Interview: At TCJ.com's Guttergeek, Chris Reilly says "Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird is a tie for best graphic novel of the year with Jim Woodring’s Weathercraft" and proceeds to talk to Tony Millionaire: "Sometimes the story will present opportunities I hadn’t thought of (the personality of the cat for instance), and I’ll go with it if it feels right. Then I jam it all into an ending and hope it doesn’t all end up in a big pile of shit. I’m often nervous that I’m writing a crappy book. I’ve done it before and you can’t tell till it’s done and it is disappointing. So far I’m very happy with the Billy Hazelnuts books, but I’ll have to give the Crazy Bird one more read before I’m convinced of its greatness."

Interview: Masters of Manga talks to Moto Hagio about the Year 24 Group (via ¡Journalista!)

Diaflogue: Cathy Malkasian exclusive Q&A
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Robert GoodinDiaflogueCathy Malkasian 17 Jun 2010 7:29 AM

Temperance by Cathy Malkasian

We're very pleased to present this interview with Cathy Malkasian conducted by contributing Mome cartoonist Robert Goodin. We typically have Fantagraphics staff members conduct these "Diaflogue" interviews, but when assigning an interviewer to talk to Cathy, I couldn't think of anyone better than Rob, who has known Cathy for years and published her first minicomics under his Robot Publishing banner. I was thrilled when Rob and Cathy agreed to have this conversation.

Robert Goodin: I think you had a bit of an unusual path to comics.  Why don't you tell us about your background like education and your main profession. 

Cathy Malkasian: The wonder of mixing words with pictures started in kindergarten. We were given the task of doing little booklets depicting some event in our lives. We drew the pictures and the teacher or our parents would take our dictation for the story, writing words where there was room. The combination of words and pictures, bound in a stable form, really excited me. I can only describe this feeling as joy.   

Decades later, when I started doing comics, that same joy came back, remarkably unpolluted! 

My interests were so varied growing up, but they always centered around the study of character.  I could have learned any subject well if there were compelling characters involved.

The school system back then was geared toward verbal and pattern-based/logical/verbal thinkers. Kinesthetic and character-based thinkers had to make our own way. I wish that higher math had been taught with characters, since it is so much about relationships and solving for unknowns. These can all be translated into character gestalts, involving emotion and even comedy in a way that makes abstract ideas stick.

I processed and translated experience in terms of character, either taking on the qualities of other people, or assigning characters to abstract ideas or words, such as the days of the week. Character created relevance. 

So whether I was studying acting or music history, opera or eventually working in animation, I was always interested in characters and how they interacted and thought. Directing and storyboarding for animation was a very exciting experience, because never before had I the opportunity to see characters I'd drawn come alive in other people's hands! It was fantastic! A great way to connect with great artists. But the strictures of children's TV writing kept the stories from getting deeper, so comics seemed like the next logical step. Comics allowed for that gestalt experience, getting characters and their context to represent philosophical, ethical and emotional states.

from  Pater Contrarious - Cathy Malkasian

RG: You've certainly got some abstract ideas attached to character in Temperance. There is a good balance between characters representing ideas, but also being real people (at least with Minerva and Lester, less so with Pa and Peggy). How did these characters come together in your mind? Did you begin the book with large ideas that you wanted to wrestle with or did you start with characters that these ideas glommed onto? 

CM: I started with the idea of war and how it may be the larger expression of our struggle with entropy. Let's face it: nobody is a fan of decay!! Who wants to slide into chaos and emerge transformed? Even though that's the way of things it's too scary to contemplate! We all want to take our minds off this stuff, but it's there in the background. So we have to deal with it consciously or unconsciously. This story is all about entropy and synthesis; the two sides of change, the dual nature of everything. Of these two constants, entropy (and its psychological counterpart oblivion) gets most of our attention, paradoxically because we don't like facing it head-on. Look at our culture now: we hate decay as much we glorify it. Our pervasive way of dealing with it, of beating it to the punch, is violence. We glorify violence because it is entropy under the illusion of our control. 

I looked at violence as our sped-up version of entropy, our way of fooling ourselves into overcoming nature. If we can just destroy things, we will somehow live, conquering nature. If we can harness what nature does, we won't have to succumb to it. Tearing things down, blowing them up, gives us the temporary illusion that we stand over and apart from the forces that shape us. War is the most absurd expression of this illusion.  

So I wondered: how would I personify not just this force of entropy, but our deeply uneasy feelings about it? How would this force look to us on an emotional and ethical level? We often judge our own decay as cruel and unrelenting. It seems like a form of self-hatred. So I had to make the Pa character not just driven at every moment to do his destructive work, but to hate himself and everything around him. His "job" as this force is to keep going until even he is destroyed. But of course that's impossible, and he knows it, so he's in torment all the time. He can't enjoy the game he's a part of. Still, with his all histrionics he seems impressive and all-powerful.

On the flip side, everything that seems gentle, receptive and creative is still seen as weak in our mass culture. While we judge entropy harshly we often ignore synthesis/creation. This force, which Peggy represents, is very subtle much of the time. Peggy is in the background, in everything. Her influence is practically invisible so it's easy to forget her. She goes about her business more slowly. To personify her would involve a sense of knowing, kindness, compassion and, of course, love. Sadly these qualities still get punished in our popular culture. So Peggy must work "underground," just as the sustaining core of any culture must plan for rebuilding even while the fires rage above.

from Temperance - Cathy Malkasian

RG: Yeah, I’m picking up what you are laying down. Why is it that destroyers always trump creators? I guess it’s just much easier to destroy something than to create. I always think about how a given population only needs a small percentage of their number bent on destruction to make the society absolute hell. How many terrorists does it take, or corrupt government officials, or faulty oil rigs? It can seem like a lost cause. Your book ends on a note of hope. Are you completely full of shit? 

CM: Destroyers are generally more seductive than creators because bonding via primitive instincts is easy, immediate and addictive. Destruction generally requires less skill and time than creation (even a three-year-old can start a forest fire), so any spectator can say "Hey, I can do that!” Creators, on the other hand, are methodical and patient, representing the more executive functions in the brain. They can seem more intimidating, since they don’t have that immediate bond with our simple instincts. Can you think of many people in our popular culture who are admired for their patience and persistence? False, fast power is always more impressive to more people, especially people who haven’t developed their skills at patience and methodical thinking, or who live primarily in their instinct-based emotions.

Another reason the destructive minority grabs influence is that we are transfixed by our own awe at destruction, at seeing natural forces hijacked in the form of grand spectacle. I have a hunch that our fascination with destruction is an outgrowth of our neurological need for contrasts and patterns. We need to find patterns and disrupt them, to keep our brains awake. And we are fascinated at our own fascination, too. Humans can't seem to get enough of ourselves…

Big disturbances, for good or for ill, really wake us up, sending ripples through the wider cultural mind.

The end of the book is a tableau of a cycle coming around again. Whether or not it’s hopeful is up to the reader! 

RG: Since we are on the topic of patience and creating, I wanted to talk to you about comic making. You’ve been making your living in animation and have been drawing storyboards for many years. While there are some skills that translate well into comics, comics still have aspects that do not have any overlap (like designing a page to work as a whole, placing blacks and whites, and a nice, finished drawing). Did you find it difficult to make that transition? Was there anyone you looked at when (or if) you felt a little shaky? 

CM: I’m really driven by story and character, and this applies to both media. It’s a pretty intuitive process, waiting to “see” the next scene or panel once I am emotionally involved. As far as page design goes, a lot of my visual instincts come from doing paintings. I don’t paint often, but when I do it’s a quite a challenging exercise of balancing all those things you mentioned. More than producing a nice finished drawing, I want to get into the scene. Once the scene feels “real” the drawing is finished. It’s great looking at other people’s work, and their influence sinks in, but I don’t usually analyze it. Getting too analytical takes all the fun away! 

RG: I know what you mean. There is also the phrase, “Paralysis by analysis” that can creep in too. At some point you have to trust your instincts. However, you appear to be blessed in that good artistic decisions seem to come naturally to you, where I need years of studying and practice to put things together. 

CM: Well, what may appear to you as good instincts is really the end product of hitting a lot of intellectual and creative brick walls. I always do a mountain of preparation then get frustrated and give up, at least until my brain airs out. At that point all you can do is let go and trust that all the research and notes and sketches will sort themselves out. So however you slice it, we're both putting in years of study and practice. And, by the way, your work just gets more and more stunning. 

Little Miss Mess - Cathy  Malkasian

RG: Now that you have two graphic novels out in 3 years, what’s next? Are you going to do another big book or do you want to try something shorter? Do you have any interest in reprinting some of your short stories?

CM: I am so ready to do a comedy now! And shorter books, too! It'd be good to see what Percy Gloom is up to — he'd be a great little guy to work with again. I also have this novella I wrote that needs some spot drawings and paintings, so that'll be fun, too.  There's a mini-comic I did a while back called "Little Miss Mess" about a couple of incognito space aliens.  I really like the main characters and wouldn't mind continuing their adventures.  So ideas are rolling around in the old noggin. I just need to find out which one is shouting the loudest.





Daily OCD: 6/16/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under reviewsMegan KelsoKrazy KatKim DeitchKevin HuizengaJoe DalyGeorge HerrimanErnie BushmillerDrew WeingDaily OCDCathy MalkasianCatalog No 439 16 Jun 2010 5:40 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

The Search for  Smilin' Ed! [Pre-Order]

Review: "So Fantagraphics recently released The Search for Smilin' Ed, which was serialized a while back but also contains a brand-new story as well. ...Deitch really puts a lot on the page. And, for the most part, it's pretty fascinating. But I was struck by something in the book, and I must ask: Is this comic racist? ... Deitch has a grand time twisting the way reality presents itself, bringing together his entire career in cartooning so that it all exists in the same odd universe. Deitch's intricate artwork completes this surreal adventure — it's an astonishing piece of detailed work, with monsters lurking in panels and scenes shown from different viewpoints to add interesting nuances. Deitch mixes his own, 'real' world skillfully with Waldo's imaginative one into a haunting phantasmagoria, with strange creatures flitting through our consciousness and then disappearing. It's a very wild comic that asks the reader to enter this topsy-turvy world and accept what's going on. For the most part, we do." – Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources

Artichoke Tales [Pre-Order]

Review: "Kelso's... thin lines, empty figures, expressive curves and powerful shading are a delight to look at... I also think that the scope of the story has a lot of appeal, and the persistent theme of every character finding themselves incapable of staying anywhere near their closest family is probably a relatable one to many. ... Artichoke Tales is at its finest when it delivers the banality of life from the pretense of grandeur..." – Jason Michelitch, Comics Alliance

Set to Sea [Pre-Order]

Review: "At its core, [Set to Sea] is imbued with appropriately romantic notions of what living one’s life truly means. ... Weing is something of a classicist in his artistic approach, from the E.C. Segar influence he clearly wears on his anchored sleeve to his garish use of hatching—but the style suits the subject matter quite well. Much care has clearly gone into every page. And the result is a satisfying, if brief read." – Brian Heater, The Daily Cross Hatch

Dungeon Quest, Book 1  [Pre-Order]

Review: "Joe Daly’s Dungeon Quest is at once the most self-aware and metatextual of the recent spate of fantasy-inspired alt-comics, as well as the one most devoted to the sheer fun of exploring a space and dealing with its inhabitants. ... Above all else, Daly is funny, and never pursues cheap laughs. His line mixes clear-line simplicity with occasional psychedelic weirdness; bending the borders of reality is a trademark of his narratives. When Daly lays down a genre story over this template, the resulting stories are enjoyable on several levels." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal

The Kat Who  Walked in Beauty [2nd Printing]

Review: "Read 2 pages a day [of The Kat Who Walked in Beauty], every so often, for 6+ months to get through this. I was very inspired by it...the world of it, the forms. The world has changed a lot since Mr. Herriman drew these strips. Some real groaners in here, but some good jokes too." – Kevin Huizenga, Husband vs. Wife

Temperance

Interview: Newsarama's Michael C. Lorah talks to Cathy Malkasian about her new graphic novel Temperance: "What I wanted to touch upon was our current state of engaging in distant wars and how these have altered the lives of returning soldiers and their loved ones. This and the increasing taste for violence in our cultural palette. Do these currents rise together? Is the latter a reaction to the former? I still don’t know, but I have a feeling we’re seriously rearranging the role of violence in our collective mind."

Catalog No. 439: Burlesque  Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes

Interview: Fangoria's Nick Masercola talks to Charles Schneider, fraternal consultant for our forthcoming book Catalog No. 439 - Burlesque Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes: "The DeMoulin Bros. catalog is an incredible distillation of the best and craziest pranks and stunts, created in a beautifully crafted style for grown-ups!"

Nancy - Ernie Bushmiller

Analysis: Jeet Heer at Comics Comics on Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy; Kevin Huizenga responds on his New Construction blog