Though the official gallery opening for one of the funniest cartoonists of the last 40 years is on the 30th of August, you wont want to miss the evening reception with M.K. Brown herself, as she gives guided tours through her own exhibition at San Francisco's Cartoon Art Museum. This once in a lifetime reception runs from 4-6 pm, and is completely FREE and open to the public.
Brown's cartooning style combines oddball surrealism, with everyday frustrations and obervances to give her audiences a full body laughing experience; relevant to all generations and moments in time. She's a one-of-a-kind cartoonist, and this exhibit and retrospective is the perfect way to take it all in. Of course if you can't make it to San Fran, do yourself a favor and pick up the first comprehensive look at her career, collected inM.K. Brown Stranger than Life: Cartoons and Comics 1970-2013.
The exhibit runs from August 30, 2014 - February 15, 2015
A massively overdue collection of Online Commentaries and Diversions, now on a weekly (or so) basis:
Review: the Absolute on The Amateurs by Conor Stechschulte. "Where The Amateursand Stechschulte truly shine are the moments of calm reflection that heighten the tension between episodes of violence and dismemberment. The butchers continually discuss their predicament, shifting between sorrow, fear, rage, and exhaustion." – Marie Anellothe Absolute
Review: Comics Worth Reading recommends An Age of License by Lucy Knisley. "Like the best travelogues, An Age of License shows you what it would be like to visit a place while reminding you that you can never have the same experience. If you liked her last book, Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, you should definitely check this out — there are some food mentions you’ll appreciate, but where Relish focused on past events, An Age of License gives more insight into the person Lucy Knisley is now." – Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
Review: The Irish Times discusses how The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez exemplifies the strengths of the graphic novel format. "As ever with Hernandez, it’s funny, complex, unsettling and beautifully drawn. It’s also a reminder that a graphic novel can do things that a novel told in straightforward prose simply can’t." – Anna Carey, The Irish Times
"That's the fascinating paradox of John Severin's war comics, and of Kurtzman's war comics in general. A story like "Night Patrol!" may have all the details of the soldier's uniforms correct, portray their formations precisely and even be photo-referenced from the landscape of the region in which these men hike. But what really stands out here (maybe my favorite piece in the book due to its noir feel) is the sense that the men are trapped by their surroundings and their job, oppressed by the desolate landscape, unfeeling sky and cold rain that conspire to make their lives miserable." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
Review: The Comics Alternative examines the political and historical contexts of Wallace Wood's Cannon. "For anyone familiar with spy fiction, the stories serialized in this collection are fairly standard, often serving as political mirrors that reflect the disillusionment felt by soldiers and veterans exiting the Vietnam War. In the course of the book, Cannon fights South American insurgents (led by Hitler in disguise, of course), domestic terrorists, right-wing militias, emasculated conmen, and neo-Nazis (but not the ones led by Hitler in disguise)." – Kenneth Kimbrough, The Comics Alternative
Check out this amazing video on S. Clay Wilson, with highlights from the upcoming Pirates in the Heartland: The Mythology of S. Clay Wilson Vol. 1:
Review: Comics Bulletin on Mickey Mouse Outwits the Phantom Blot by Floyd Gottfredson. "This is a gorgeous, surprising, wonderful package of stories full of thrills, surprises and a heady level of quality cartooning. The twists and turns that the masterful Floyd Gottfredson delivers are wonders to behold. If you think that Mickey is just a boring corporate icon, you need to read his battles with the Phantom Blot." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
Review: Comics Bulletin on M.K. Brown's collected works in Stranger than Life. "Brown is one of those rare cartoonists who's been able to follow her own muse for most of her career, and while some of the material presented in this book has the sort of off-center approach that many of the bestNew Yorker cartoonists take (as in the excerpts above), other pieces are more freeform, more of what seems like a reflection of Brown's unique inner life; all bulbous people drifting through life, doing faintly ridiculous things for pretty much no good reason." – Jason Sacks, Comics Bulletin
Review:Comics Alliance looks at Inio Asano's Nijigahara Holograph and it's legacy of violence. "Nijigahara Holograph manages to do many things very well. It's a sprawling story that never loses its focus on characters. It's symbolically laden without being heavy handed...It carries a palpable dread that will haunt you well after you put it down." – Kevin Church, Comics Alliance
Review: HTML Giant on Cosplayers by Dash Shaw. "This comic looks to both examine and excise our notions of otaku, nerds, geeks, and the like. Cosplayers will strike a chord with anyone who turns to reading as an escape, be they lit-nerd, comic geek, messageboard troll, or a little mixture of all of the above." – HTML Giant
The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco has featured artwork by many of our caroonists from Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez to a future M.K. Brown show. Currently on exhibit is Pretty In Ink: The Trina Robbins Collection from now until August 24th, 2014 (postcard pictured above). We pulled Andrew Farago, curator at CAM, aside for a few quick questions about the process of getting a show ready.
What do you look for when choosing works from a singular artist/cartoonist? Is it a plan to arrange them visually by era or area (like if they did paintings, cel animation, comics)?
"It depends" is my basic answer for that. If it's a career retrospective, I'll find out if the artist has kept most of her originals or if they've been scattered amongst friends and collectors. Sometimes we'll be focusing on a book that's been recently published, sometimes we'll have our own exhibition catalog in the works. Sometimes I work with a co-curator who's tracked down most of an artist's major works. The fewer sources I'll need to tap into to produce a well-rounded exhibition, the more likely I am to pursue it.
Although that's really more of a technical answer. Before I get into any of that, I make sure that we're focusing on a talented artist whose work will make for a compelling exhibition. I show favoritism to established artists with a substantial body of work, and always prefer to work with the artists directly whenever that's possible. It's incredible getting to collaborate with people likeStan Sakai, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, M.K. Brown, Steve Purcell, Eric Drooker, Nina Paley, Jeff Smith, and Dan Piraro, just off the top of my head, when putting together giant solo exhibitions.
Getting art ready for the Pretty in Ink show
Describe the basic layout of the gallery (or if you have a blueprint bird's-eye view of it) and do you aim to have people travel through the show the same way every time? (forgive me, I haven't been before so this question may seem odd)
This particular gallery has two entrances. Visitors will usually enter from the back-right corner entrance, and from there, they'll either wander up to the actual start of the exhibition at the opposite corner of the room, or they'll just start walking through and might end up viewing that particular room a time-and-a-half when passing through. With an exhibition like M.K.'s, which will be more focused on single-panel cartoons than multi-page stories, that won't be an issue for visitors.
Have you ever had an incident where you hung a show and then had to replace/take down art before it opened/while it was open?
Sure. I changed over our Sandman exhibition three times due to late arrivals. The original art for the second issue of Overture wasn't available to us until late March, and I swapped out an entire room to put up the first two issues. Artists and collectors have sometimes sold pieces while they've been on display, to buyers who don't want to wait until the exhibition wraps up before getting their artwork (although that's pretty rare). I don't generally like to change things once a show's up, since that's fairly labor intensive and I don't usually build time for re-hanging into my schedule.
Art matted and framed, ready for a wall
Is work for sale if the creator wishes it to be?
Generally not. We're a museum, so we don't sell art off the walls, but sometimes an artist or collector will ask us to include a note with contact information letting people know that the art's available for purchase through their websites.
How long have you worked at CAM?
I started as a volunteer in the summer of 2000, got hired on as Gallery Manager in the fall of 2001, and eased into the Curator job in 2005. I've worked on a little bit of everything over the years.
Photo by Lani Schreibstein
Are you donation-based? How can people help? Thanks!
There are plenty of ways to support the Cartoon Art Museum. Signing up for an annual membership, making a one-time cash donation (and asking your workplace to match it), donating original artwork, shopping at our bookstore, visiting the Museum, buying books or artwork from us at conventions...Here's a good place to start: http://cartoonart.org/join-support/
Sidenote: the CAM booth at San Diego is a GREAT place to pick up a $10 sketch to support the museum, they feature all sorts of fun cartoonists like Raina Telgemeier, Jeffrey Brown and Sina Grace. Last year, I sketched next to Gene Yang and Zack Giallongo and someone wanted us all to draw Morrissey. What a blast!
Thanks again to Andrew Farago for answering a few questions and carefully, lovingly putting work up on the walls with his crew. If you want to see Pretty In Ink yourself general admission is $8 while students & seniors are $6. Children 6-12 are $4 while WOO-HOO! Members & Children under 6 stroll in through the door for free. Check out Trina Robbin's book Pretty in Ink: North American Women Cartoonists 1896-2013 today.
"Brown's cartoons were a mainstay of National Lampoon during its salad days of the 1970s... Remarkably, this is the first comprehensive collection of her distinctively daffy work. Although the visual and conceptual non sequiturs of her singlepanel cartoons are clever and diverting, it's her comic strips where Brown's unique brilliance really shines...Brown's drawings, with their bulbous figures and ornate rendering, are every bit as unmistakable and memorable as her humor." –Gordon Flagg
Starred Review: "Anger, hopelessness, and betrayal run rampant-echoed by the eerie, ominous clouds of butterflies swarming the town-and fuel heartless violence. Though there are many moving pieces, the fluid time line; tight, stark, and realistic artwork; and clues carefully revealed through deliberately worded dialogue and purposeful character design work in perfect harmony to prevent ambiguity or confusion. Critically acclaimed Asano deftly twists this disturbingly compelling story, managing to shock the reader at every turn. Its intricacies are even more rewarding on the second read." –Eva Volin
248-page black & white/color 8.5" x 11" softcover • $35.00 ISBN: 978-1-60699-708-6
"Brown has a natural feel for the kind of raised-consciousness-twist gags on which so much of the best panel cartooning depends after 1960, but she also has a unique sense of color and pacing and very sweet outlook on what people value and why that makes her longer narratives a joy." -Tom Spurgeon, Comics Reporter
200-page full-color 7.75" x 10" hardcover • $29.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-732-1
"...a testament to our culture's appetite for kitschy, kitschy love. The only surprise is that, somehow, these comics don't feel passé...Sexual attraction, like other forms of danger, is doled out in carefully measured portions. And that's really the secret behind romance comics' continuing retro appeal. Like their very first readers, we crave a paradox: Passion united with control." -Etelka Lehoczky, NPR
M.K. Brown is one of the funniest cartoonists of the last four decades — or ever, take your pick — and her body of work has long been savored by aficionados but never comprehensively collected — until now. Stranger Than Life is the first retrospective of Brown's cartoons and comics from their original appearances in the National Lampoon, Mother Jones, The New Yorker, Playboy, and other magazines and underground comics.
M.K. Brown's comics stories satirize suburban anxiety and post-modern ennui by the sheer force of her gentle but piquant, off-kilter observations, along with her slightly pixilated but winsome characters, all of which are perfectly captured in her restless pen line and delicate jewel-tone watercolors.
In these pages: Read instructions for the use of glue, making a pair of pants, home auto repair, coping with chainsaw massacres, and jackknifing your big rig. "Another True-Life Pretty Face in the Field of Medicine" introduces Virginia Spears Ngodátu, who (with a bit of a name change) would go on to star in "Dr. Janice N!Godatu," Brown's series of animated shorts that appeared on The Tracy Ullman Show alongside the first incarnation of The Simpsons. Plus, enjoy aliens, old people, pilgrims, mermen, monitor lizards, tiny floating muggers and other weirdos in Brown's side-splitting single-panel gag strips.
"M.K. Brown turns the orderly world we think we all live in upside-down, shakes up our perceptions of normality — then hands everything back to us profoundly altered in some way only our subconscious mind truly understands." – Bill Griffith, from his introduction
"What you are holding is a work of a rare talent. M.K. Brown is the Irene Dunne (do Google) of the print world. Hard core fans can, at last, rejoice; first time readers will witness true comic enchantment. So come along children, let us follow and see where this divine woman takes us this time." – Brian McConnachie
"M.K. Brown is a uniquely innovative artist. Her work is on a level that no other cartoonist even remotely approaches." – Sam Gross
248-page black & white/color 8.5" x 11" softcover • $35.00 ISBN: 978-1-60699-708-6
Ships in: February/March 2014 (subject to change) — Pre-Order Now
Women: what do they want? They might want to float into the sky while hosting a brunch party. They might want a couple of handsome cops to come over and get rid of a snake problem. They might seek a doctor's treatment for "wise-ass disease" or fantasize about revenge and forgiveness at the dentist's office. They might want to sing the White Girl Blues and dance the White Girl Twist.
And what about men? Mr. Science just wants to carry out his pointless experiments. "Earl D. Porker, Social Worker" converses with household items and forgets the cat food. One fellow's head is a basket of laundry.
One of the funniest cartoonists of the last four decades, M.K. Brown has accumulated a body of work long savored by aficionados but never comprehensively collected — until now. Stranger Than Life is the first retrospective collection of Brown's cartoons and comic strips from the National Lampoon from 1972-1981, as well as such other magazines as Mother Jones, The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, and Playboy; and her comics from underground publications like Arcade, Wimmin's Comics, Young Lust, and Twisted Sisters.
In these pages: Read instructions for the use of glue, making a pair of pants, home auto repair, coping with chainsaw massacres, and jackknifing your big rig. Travel the globe to witness the giant bananas of Maui, strange sightings in Guatemala, camel races, and a "Saga of the Frozen North." Learn about love 'round the world, among eccentric suburbanites, and in a "Condensed Gothic" romance. Meet Virginia Spears Ngodátu, who (with a bit of a name change) would go on to star in "Dr. Janice N!Godatu," Brown's series of animated shorts that appeared on The Tracy Ullman Show alongside the first incarnation of The Simpsons. Aliens, old people, pilgrims, mermen, monitor lizards, tiny floating muggers and other weirdos feature in Brown's side-splitting single-panel gag strips.
Brown's cartoons combine a penchant for the absurd with the gimlet observational eye of Roz Chast. Brown satirizes suburban anxiety and ennui by turning it upside-down and sideways, and her slightly grotesque yet lovable characters are perfectly captured in her restless pen line and delicate jewel-tone watercolors.
Love and laundry, Mars and mothers, the mundane and the absurd — they all come together in this hefty collection of M.K. Brown's work spanning more than four decades, Stranger Than Life: Cartoons and Comics 1970-2013. These comic strips and gag cartoons originally appeared in the National Lampoon, The New Yorker, Playboy, The Atlantic, Arcade, Twisted Sisters, and a plethora of other magazines and underground comics, and most have never before been collected! If you've seen some of this material before, you know it's genius; if you haven't, and you're a fan of Lisa Hanawalt, Roz Chast, Michael Kupperman, Glen Baxter, Bill Griffith, early Lynda Barry, and the like, you'll soon have a new favorite discovery! We got our advance copies (obviously) and the book is due on shelves in about 8 weeks, give or take — see a 27-page excerpt and pre-order your copy right here.
Those quirky comics from the heyday of the National Lampoon. Those brilliantly skewed New Yorker and Playboy cartoons. Those hilarious strips in underground mags like Wimmin's Comix and Arcade. The animated shorts that weren't The Simpsons on The Tracey Ullman Show. Perhaps you've encountered the work of M.K. Brown somewhere (lucky you) or perhaps you've never seen it before. Either way, you're in for a treat, as we've gathered these obscure gems into the first ever retrospective volume of her hilarious work, Stranger Than Life: Cartoons and Comics 1970-2013, due out in February. It's what we do!
Get a taste of Brown's brilliance with our downloadable excerpt, featuring Billie Jean King, countertops, pants, aliens, upholstery, snakes, glue, monitor lizards, and some introductory words from Brown herself.