The most-current Online Commentaries & Diversions:
•Interview:MTV Geek questions Noah Van Sciver about his new graphic novel, The Hypo, and why he chose to focus on the man before the president. ". . . it’s important to see who [Lincoln] became, or I should say how he became is more spectacular when you think about who he was, and where he came from, because I don’t even know if that’s possible anymore, to come from nothing and then become a president, you know?"
•Review: Drew on ComicAttack.net reviews kid-friendly The Adventures of Venus by Gilbert Hernandez. "It’s not quite Betty and Veronica, but it’s not quite Calvin and Hobbes; it’s that special place in between that catches that transition from childhood into adolescence, which doesn’t get captured on the comic book page much, and is a rare treat that Hernandez delivers here to such perfection."
•Interview (audio):ABC News Radio's Sherry Preston interviews Daniel Clowes (at the 30 minute mark) as his work is on display at the Oakland Museum of California. "I was more interested in kinda funny comics and comics about real life situations. And I thought it made no sense that there weren't comics about every subject you can imagine." You'll love the following story.
•Commentary: TURN IT OUT in clothes inspired by Daniel Clowes' Ghost World and America's two favorite juveniles on Trent.
•Plug:Follow the White Rabbit eloquently mentions Jacques Tardi's New York Mon Amour. A rough translation might say, "Altogether, a perfect Edition for the lovers of this French author that already amazed us at 'The cry of the people,' 'The war of trenches' or 'The extraordinary adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec'."
•Commentary: Chris Mautner of Robot 6 gives a nice mention to Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed to Thrizzle #8. "A pretty solid issue overall, the best and funniest part being the opening segment, a parody of coloring books, this time involving trains that … well, it’s not fit for polite conversation, really."
•Review: Greg Burgas of Comic Book Resources breaks down one beautiful page by Archie Goodwin and Alex Toth from Blazing Combat. "This story shows off [Toth's] strengths very nicely, because it’s one of the bleaker stories in the volume (none of them are happy; I mean “bleak” in that the landscape is stripped of vegetation and is dotted with destroyed building, giving this story its post-Apocalyptic tenor) and Toth does very well with that."
•Plug:The Daily Beast features an excerpt from Joe Sacco and Chris Hedges' new book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt. In this article, they "detail the effects of coal mining in West Virginia, a state destroyed by mountaintop removal."
•Interview: Peering from under a swell hat, Noah Brand from The Good Men Project interviews TCJ contributer and cartoonist Tim Kreider on the art of writing. "Cartooning also seems to allow me to express a much sillier, stupider, more puerile part of my personality than writing. I get all stiff and serious and writerly when I sit down to write prose."
Not a ton going on this week... I s'pose we're all either recovering from CAKE, or gearing up for... SAN DIEGO! (More details about that coming soon.)
Monday, June 18th
• New York City, NY: Tim Kreider will be doing a signing at the Half King Restuarant & Bar at 7:00 PM! (more info)
Friday, June 22nd
• St Louis, MO: Kevin Huizenga will be doing a signing at Star Clipper, along with Dan Zettwoch, at 7:00 PM! (more info)
Saturday, June 23rd
• Brighton, UK: There's gonna be a midsummer midnight 35mm-print screening of the Daniel Clowes movie Ghost World at the Duke Of York's Cinema. They'll have a Ghost World-themed bar, zine stalls, and a raffle! Plus, the screening will be preceeded by live music from Sacred Paws and The Choo-Choo Trains! What? No Blueshammer? (more info)
• Review: At Boing Boing, as part of their "Mind Blowing Movies" series of guest posts, Amy Crehore examines the Ghost World film: "I knew it was going to be good, but I had no idea that the movie Ghost World (2001) would bathe me in such an uncanny sense of deja vu from start to finish. The characters are so real and familiar that they could have been based on my friends and me."
• Commentary:Ashok Karra has a short but thought-provoking analysis of elements of the Ghost World graphic novel: "A ghost world could be three things. Two of them are types of haunting: either by the past (nostalgia for childhood) or the present (the glow of the television). The third possibility is that you pass through as a ghost."
• Plug: At Flavorwire, Emily Temple includes Ghost World on the list of "30 Books Everyone Should Read Before Turning 30," saying "Clowes writes some of the most essentially realistic teenagers we’ve ever come across, which is important when you are (or have ever been) a realistic teenager yourself."
• Plug/Preview: At The Beat, Jessica Lee posts a 5-page sneak peek of New York Mon Amour by Jacques Tardi et al., saying "This newest Tardi release... is slated for a July release, just in time for Independence Day, where we can all revel in the patriotic depictions of New York that Tardi has provided — oh wait. True to his new realism style, 'Manhattan' retains the same kind of gritty aesthetic as his illustrations of WWI trench warfare as well as Parisian life."
• Review: "The 11 horror stories in [The Furry Trap] showcase Simmons’s possession of a dark and capable imagination, one that has discomfort down to an exact science.... Simmons is at his best in stories like 'Mutant' and 'Demonwood,' where rash decisions and chance encounters lead to nightmarish consequences ... Simmons’s brand of deep unease permeates all of [these stories], even in the opening story, 'In a Land of Magic,' which features a scene of sexual and physical violence that could lead to sleepless nights. The book is also filled with illustrations and short comics that just add to the pile of evidence that Simmons has a wide-ranging talent, with an artistic sense that brings to life his most ghoulish creations. These stories are, hopefully, harbingers of even stronger and more sinister work in the future..." – Publishers Weekly
• Review: "The action [in God and Science] ebbs and flows, but the story remains engaging and exciting. I had to read it all in one afternoon because I just couldn't put it down. I was enjoying it too much to stop reading.... [There]'s another great thing about this comic — there's some subtle philosophical questions nudged in that the characters (and reader) have to answer themselves.... I can't recommend this title enough. I can easily say that I want more Ti-Girls, or at least comic characters like them." – Sheena McNeil, Sequential Tart
• Review: "Prince Valiant Vol. 5 — As the war years draw to a close, the strip finds Valiant settling down — at least a little bit — by finally winning his true heart’s love, Aleta. There’s still enough brigands and evildoers to keep Val busy, but a lot of Vol. 5 is spent with the couple developing their relationship, and Harold Foster deepening and developing Aleta’s character in the process. ...[I]t remains a thrilling, boisterous work." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Dungeon Quest Book Three — Joe Daly’s faithful D&D fantasy by way of Harold and Kumar proceeds apace, with lots of bloody skirmishes with fierce animals and fiercer bandits and an abundance of jokes about penises, pot, hand-jobs and the like.... His incredibly detailed forest backgrounds are really quite exquisite, and the full panel sequences of his band of adventurers simply trekking along a forest path or walking through a stream were my favorite parts of the book." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Commentary: It's been interesting seeing the evolution of the "hey, they should bring Love and Rockets to the screen" article in the age of the serialized cable drama. Arthur Smith at The Paley Center for Media is the latest to add his voice to the chorus
• Plug: "Got this beautiful Popeye compilation book (Fantagraphics) a couple of days ago. Haven't had a chance to even crack it open, but my son is now running around going 'Arf, arf.' It's a hit." – Ruben Bolling
• Tribute: At The New York Times, Tim Kreider remembers the great Ray Bradbury: "Prescience is not the measure of a science-fiction author’s success — we don’t value the work of H. G. Wells because he foresaw the atomic bomb or Arthur C. Clarke for inventing the communications satellite — but it is worth pausing, on the occasion of Ray Bradbury’s death, to notice how uncannily accurate was his vision of the numb, cruel future we now inhabit."
• Review: "Josh Simmons' book The Furry Trap is truly disturbing in its depravity. Makes Ultra Gash Inferno look cute. An inspiring & exhilarating read! How many comics can you honestly say made you sick or upset when you read them? Furry Trap made me question the First Amendment at times." – Sammy Harkham
• Review: "By this point, the reader will know if [Dungeon Quest] is their cup of tea; anyone who enjoys alt-comics takes on fantasy and/or stoner humor will find this a sheer delight. I'd say the sheer level of craftsmanship and the way Daly shifts storytelling modes so quickly would at least interest other readers, especially those who enjoy deadpan absurdism, since that's the core of Daly's sense of humor. For the continuing fan of this series, Daly continues to raise the stakes in each volume and adds richness and depth for those who are looking for more detail. Above all else, he does for the reader what he does with his party: he keeps things moving even when his characters are navel-gazing." – Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "...Moto Hagio has more on her agenda than simply trotting out tired 'girly' storylines. Her protagonists struggle with loss, rejection, and insecurity in a manner sure to strike readers as honest and familiar, never reductive or patronizing.... The stories collected here [in A Drunken Dream] span 31 years of Hagio’s career and, while the later stories do seem a bit looser and more confident, the earlier stories certainly don’t suffer by comparison." – Andrew Fuerste-Henry, No Flying No Tights
• Review: "Boasting [Fantagraphics'] usual high-production values and showcasing the genesis of the indie comics icon, [Usagi Yojimbo, Book 1:] The Ronin is a meticulously curated artifact of comics history.... The book is worth buying for the art alone. Sharply reproduced on gratifyingly durable stock, the quality of the lines leap out from the page even in these early stories." – Abhimanyu Das, Slant Magazine
• Profile: At Comic Book Resources, Shaun Manning talks to Nicolas Mahler about his superhero spoof Angelman: "Mahler said he does not have an in-depth knowledge of the major events and storylines [in superhero comics] of recent years, but said he is still familiar with the culture. 'I think my point of view is very '80s, that is when I stopped reading them,' he said. 'After that, I only have very superficial information. I know more about the fanboys, actually. I enjoy the scene around superheroes more than the stories themselves. I like it when people take this very seriously, and can debate endlessly about little faults in a superhero's universe."'
• Interview: Following an introduction in his native Greek, Comicdom's Tomas Papadimitropoulos posts his untranslated (i.e. English) Q&A with Hans Rickheit: "I am compelled to draw these comics.... These stories follow a certain pattern of logic that makes sense to me. I don’t have the vocabulary to explain how it works, that is why I draw them as comic strips."
• Interview:The A.V. Club's Keith Phipps has a great Q&A with Daniel Clowes: "I can look at my early work and see what a pained struggle it was to draw what I was drawing. I was trying so hard to get this specific look that was in my head, and always falling short. I could see the frustration in the lines, and I remember my hand being tensed and redrawing things a thousand times until I finally inked it, and just having this general tense anxiety about every drawing. I think that comes through in the artwork, and gives it this certain kind of manic energy, this kind of repressed energy, so you feel like it’s sort of bursting at the seams or something."
• Interview (Audio):Daniel Clowes sits down for a chat on Bay Area NPR station KQED's Forum with host Michael Krasny
• Video: Via Meltdown Comics and Boing Boing, a charming short film by Rocío Mesa about a couple of dedicated Daniel Clowes fans
• Plug: "...[W]e recommend checking out Love and Rockets Library: The Complete Vol. 1 from Fantagraphics, which collects every issue of the landmark alt-comic series between 1982 and 1996. In Love and Rockets, Gilbert and his brother Jaime Hernandez wrote stories ranging from satire to political intrigue, and introduced such noteworthy characters as Luba, the temperamental, full-figured mayor of a Central American village, and Maggie Chascarrillo, a punk rock-loving Mexican girl who becomes a solar mechanic. ...[T]here's no better time to become a Los Bros Hernandez zombie than right now." – Phil Guie, Critical Mob
Someone buy THIS for me? There was a time that we had this painting in the Fanta offices for awhile, during production of the first GHOST WORLD hardcover edition in 1996 or 1997. It's much larger in person than it was ever reproduced. I loved it so much I made a full-size color xerox of it that I still have. I'll just have to get that framed, I guess. *sigh*
• Commentary: "The completion of Fantagraphics's Krazy [Kat] Sunday series also means, quite possibly, the end of Krazy Kriticism — a brand of writing that, as far as I can tell, only the Kat engenders. Critic Gilbert Seldes first articulated its credo in the 1924 article 'The Krazy Kat That Walks by Himself.' After comparing Herriman to Dickens, Cervantes, and Charlie Chaplin, Seldes threw up his hands: 'It isn't possible to retell these pictures; but that is the only way, until they are collected and published, that I can give the impression of Herriman's gentle irony, of his understanding of tragedy, of the sancta simplicitas, the innocent loveliness in the heart of a creature more like Pan than any other creation of our time.' Thus did the gates open to a flood of ecstatic, mimetic writing in which every critical impulse was mercilessly drowned in gushing praise and fervent prayers to put the comics between covers." – Sarah Boxer, Los Angeles Review of Books
• Commentary: At Print magazine, Steven Brower looks at different ways comics publishers restore and present vintage comics material, including his own compilation of Mort Meskin comics, Out of the Shadows: "For the Mort Meskin collection, we hoped that a contemporary audience would rediscover him; Fantagraphic’s fresh, newly minted approach goes a long way toward achieving that."
• Review: "I mean this in the nicest possible way but self-confessed obscurist Hans Rickheit is clearly not all there in the head. ...[Folly: The Consequences of Indiscretion] is a collection of shorts from over the years, frequently featuring the same characters, in particular identical twins Cochlea & Eustachia, who inevitably get themselves into all sorts of unpleasant bother. Definitely the type of read to make you wary of opening doors when you’re not entirely sure what’s on the other side, as Hans frequently surprises his characters, and us readers, by taking you somewhere you’d never expect, nor probably want to go to." – Jonathan Rigby, Page 45
• Review: "‘Plunder Island’ is the fourth of six oversized volumes collecting all of E.C. Segar’s Popeye-era Thimble Theatre strips.... The Segar book is every bit as good as the three volumes that preceded it – brilliant cartooning and laugh-out-loud funny gags. The only difference this time around is that the Sunday strips fill the first half of the book and the dailies fill the second half (it’s usually the other way around) but otherwise it’s business as usual. I don’t have a single bad thing to say about Segar’s Popeye, and the whole book was thoroughly enjoyable..." – Rob Wells, Comics – On The Ration
• Profile: Andrew Dansby of the Houston Chronicle profiles Daniel Clowes: "Clowes describes an eerie but common sight in his studio. Since eyes are the last thing he draws when he's working, the room is full of characters without them. 'I've had other cartoonists come over, and they've told me it's pretty creepy to see all these faces with no eyes staring back,' he says. 'But that's where I can get the last 10 percent of the emotion on the page. If I get it just right, you can subtly influence any expression through the eyes more than any other feature. They're where the character comes to life.'"
Starting to catch up on Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "The frighteningly hilarious world of Rickheit’s graphic novel is a deranged cabinet of curiosities, full of biomechanical tanks, writhing organic matter, amorphous monsters birthing adorable kittens, men and women in animal masks, and countless tubes, gas masks, sex toys, and pseudo-Victorian apocalyptic landscapes. It would all be too oppressive if Rickheit’s sense of humor weren’t so addictive.... This juxtaposition of dry humor undercuts the richly drawn horror of Folly, simultaneously adding to its strangeness and making it bearable for a casual read... The result is a narrative mosaic that pairs sumptuous, horrific imagery against a strange but lighthearted sense of humor." – Publishers Weekly
• Review:Walter Wehus looks at Kolor Klimax; key quote as translated by Kolor Klimax editor Matthias Wivel: "the common aspect is quality"
• Review: "While exploring this collection, I found myself enjoying the various challenges it presented. It did dare me to eschew my 'western' values of linear, results oriented thinking and simply give way to my intuitive understanding of the art before me. I can’t honestly say I 'get' every comic contained withing this anthology [Abstract Comics]... nor can I truly say I learned something about the medium that I didn’t already know. But to see comics stripped of their representational elements does amplify certain things that are so unique about the medium and probably reveals its potential even more fully. These are comics to be experienced." – Jason Newcomb, StashMyComics
• Preview:The Beat's Jessica Lee presents a 6-page preview of Nicolas Mahler's Angelman, saying "If you’ve noticed yourself to be a comic enthusiast who has become more and more disillusioned with the corporate transformation of super-hero comics, Angelman could well be the fresh breath of illustrated air you’ve been yearning for. What could easily be one of the most comedic releases thus far this year, Fantagraphics is releasing (in hardcover no less!) a new graphic commentary of the often-times outrageous and unbelievable trends in the comic industry."
• Profile:The Wall Street Journal's Ralph Gardner Jr. on the work and career of Drew Friedman: "Mr. Friedman's genius is that, on some level, his work is never utterly absent affection, or his subjects black and white, even when they're literally drawn in black and white. It might be a stretch to say that the artist captures their underlying humanity. What he does provide is a picture window onto their troubled psyches so that they and their moral afflictions, whatever they are, must be taken seriously."
• Interview: I don't think we've previously linked to Ted Widmer's career-spanning interview with Robert Crumb from the Summer 2010 issue of The Paris Review: "I was so eccentric when I was seventeen, eighteen, I used to walk around town wearing an Abe Lincoln frock coat and a stovepipe hat that I’d found in some junk store, defying people to ridicule me or think me eccentric. I was a teenage social outcast. At the time it made me feel very depressed, and rejected by girls. Later I realized I was actually quite lucky because it freed me. I was free to develop and explore on my own all these byways of the culture that, if you’re accepted, you just don’t do. I was free to explore the things that interested me."
• Interview (Audio): The Daniel Clowes victory lap continues with an appearance Monday on NPR's Morning Edition: "Clowes never aimed to be the kind of artist museums collect. But now, the walls of the Oakland Museum of California are covered with his drawings. It's 'quite embarrassing,' he laughs. After a stint as an art student at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute in the 1970s, Clowes tried unsuccessfully to get work as an illustrator. Sitting around drawing comics on his own, he decided to send a strip to underground publisher Fantagraphics. He was expecting rejection. Instead, 'they called me up and offered me a monthly comic book, and I felt like I hadn't earned anything,' he says. 'You know, it's like all of a sudden, you're being made president after you've been like, you know, on the city council in Cleveland.'" KQED also posts a couple of outtakes from the interview
• Interview: At The Comics Journal, Nicole Rudick talks with Diane Noomin about her new collection of DiDi Glitz stories, Glitz-2-Go: "In 1974, I did a full-fledged DiDi story for Wimmen’s Comix. It was four pages and was called “She Chose Crime”, and when I was putting this book together I realized that DiDi came out almost fully developed. She hasn’t changed, she hasn’t grown or anything like that. If I look at that first story, the drawing has changed and I’d like to think that certain things have gotten better, but in that story, DiDi’s persona is it. I don’t think I’d realized that."
• Review: "Record collecting was an engagement with mystery. [Pat] Thomas understands this and his book, Listen, Whitey, which documents the pieces -- both lauded and obscure -- of the recording element within the Black Power movement of the 1960s and ‘70s.... These small discs were part of the overall effort that allowed African Americans to get real information about the Black Power Movement, to let them know they weren't alone, to show them ways to be involved, to stoke ideas and energy, and to provide catharsis. Thomas mines this territory to construct a richly illustrated history of a time when revolution was damn hard, and it left reminders that it once existed." – John Seven, North Adams Transcript
• Scene: Culture blogger Philip Utley of Kellygreen reviews the Daniel Clowes retrospective exhibit — "There’s a quiet, clever intelligence to his work. He can also be harsh and sexually frank. Which, of course, totally offends me. So, when a show of his work came to the newly renovated Oakland Museum of California, I pulled out my dildo and jumped in the car." — with a bunch of close-up photos of the artwork
• List: For The Guardian, comics creators Bryan & Mary Talbot select their top 10 graphic memoirs, with Joe Sacco's Palestine at #4: "Sacco was trained as a journalist and singlehandedly created the genre of reportage in graphic novel form. Immersing himself in a situation, his in-depth reports use the medium of comics to its full potential. Like his Safe Area Gorazde or recent Footnotes in Gaza, Palestine follows his experiences as he investigates events and interviews residents, explaining the history, politics and dynamics of the place as he goes along. The palpable sense of place and the feeling that we're in the presence of the people who relate their experiences to him (and therefore to us) is a testament to his storytelling skills, his work being far more intimate than that of a filmed documentary. Sacco is a master of this medium."
• Feature: "Compiling the book was a learning experience for Thomas... 'They (the Panthers) switched from a gun-toting paramilitary organization to a more community-based entity offering free food, clothing, and medical care,' he says. And, perhaps, this may be Listen, Whitey!’s biggest strength — and greatest contribution — to future discourse about this topic that has been so distorted and misrepresented in its presentation to the consciousness of mainstream America. Maybe now, 40 years after the histrionics and exaggeration, enough time has passed so the emergence of Black consciousness can be scrutinized with a measure of clarity." – Gregg Reese, Our Weekly
• Interview: At The Atlantic, Steven Heller has a Q&A with Daniel Clowes: "I was trying to get work as an illustrator in the '80s, but no art directors actually ever called, which is what led me to throw up my hands in despair and slink back to comics. Originally, I was hoping to find a writer to collaborate with, since I was much more interested in the drawing part of the equation, but that didn't work out. And so I began writing my own stories."