Just beginning to catch up on Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Profile: With his big new art book out and his museum retrospective on the way, Daniel Clowes gets the New York Times profile treatment from Carol Kino: "Mr. Clowes can create a striking face with a few deftly placed lines or brush strokes, often seizing on some specific characteristic that summons up an indelible personality. Think of Enid Coleslaw, the snarky teenage anti-heroine of Ghost World, and her big, black nerdy-hip glasses; they cover most of her face, but they can’t conceal the tiny shifts in expression that loudly telegraph her mood."
• List:Daniel Clowes may be headed for a museum retrospective, but he is neither dead nor retired — but that doesn't stop Flavorwire's Elona Jones from naming 10 candidates to carry the torch of "his storytelling skills, interest in surrealism, and eye for biting observations," including Jason, who "receives international acclaim for his brilliant storytelling."
• Review: "The John Benson-edited anthology The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s MAD-Inspired Satirical Comics assembles largely forgotten work by the likes of Jack Davis, Will Elder, Ross Andru, and Jack Kirby, parodying everything from Mickey Spillane novels to Rex Morgan, M.D. Some of these pieces can stand up to the best of Mad (or at least match the magazine’s average), but even the stories that are clunky and unfunny are fascinating for the way they rip off Mad shamelessly, including all the asides and mini-gags that Will Elder once labeled Mad’s 'chicken fat.' It’s a testament to how quickly the innovative and subversive can become mainstream." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Next to Pogo, the newspaper comics collection that fans have been most anticipating would be Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy, which over the past few decades has garnered a reputation as the purest distillation of the gag cartoon, a triumph of minimalism... Nancy Is Happy: Dailies 1943-1945 joins Bushmiller’s magnum opus in full swing ... Bushmiller’s genius [was] to make everything in his strip so basic that anyone, anywhere, at any time, could get the joke." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review (Video): Video blogger Robert Crayola looks at Nancy Is Happy: "If you like comics or comic strips especially and you haven't read Nancy or if you have and you just want more, I think you'll enjoy this.... Hopefully we can get many more volumes of this. I hope you support it. It's a great book."
• Review: "One of the signature achievements of ’80s alt-comics, Drew and Josh Alan Freidman’s Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead Is Purely Coincidental: An Anthology of Comic Art, 1979-1985 is now back in print in a spiffy new edition that doesn’t really add anything to the original, but is still a necessary addition to any library that doesn’t already have a copy.... Drew Friedman’s stipple-heavy photo-realism and his brother Josh’s gleefully cruel humor combine to craft an alternate history of American entertainment that’s preposterous and yet feels true. Even now, decades after other cartoonists and comedians have tapped this well, the Friedmans’ pioneering work in the field of 'brattily dicking around with icons' remains unparalleled." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Review: "Folly... serve[s] as a good introduction to Rickheit’s beautifully ugly visions, of a world where cute girls and humanoid stuffed animals commit atrocities against oozing flesh. With a drawing style that resembles Jason Lutes and Charles Burns, and a storytelling style similar to Jim Woodring and Al Columbia, Rickheit excels in making nightmares lucid. Some characters recur from story to story in Folly, but really this book is just page after page of beautiful images juxtaposed with wounds and excreta. The single-mindedness of Rickheit’s approach — and the level of detail he applies to it — is impressively horrifying." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
• Kyoto, Japan: The exhibit Three Sides Chicago: Squares, Squirrels & Dots, featuring Archer Prewitt, alongside Sam Prekop and Eric Claridge, will be opening at the Trancepop Gallery. All three artists will make an appearance at the opening reception. (more info)
• Columbus, OH: Join Paul Hornschemeier at the Columbus Museum of Art as he speaks with Jared Gardner, a professor of English and Film Studies at Ohio State University. In conjunction with his talk, the museum will display a selection of Hornschemeier’s scripts, storyboards, and sketches highlighting his creative process. (more info)
• Tokyo, Japan: Three Sides Chicago: Squares, Squirrels & Dots spotlights the work of Archer Prewitt, alongside Sam Prekop and Eric Claridge, and they'll make an appearance at the Shibuya Parco B1F LIBRO on this final day of the exhibit. (more info)
While researching this book project in Oakland, Thomas discovered rare recordings of speeches, interviews, and music by noted activists Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Elaine Brown, and others that form the framework of this definitive retrospective. Listen, Whitey! chronicles the forgotten history of Motown Records' Black Power subsidiary label, Black Forum, which released politically charged albums by Stokely Carmichael, Langston Hughes, Bill Cosby, and Ossie Davis, among others. Obscure records produced by African-American sociopolitical organizations of the period are examined, along with the Isley Brothers, Nina Simone, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Watts Prophets, Roland Kirk, Horace Silver, Angela Davis, H. Rap Brown, Stanley Crouch, and many more.
Thomas will give a slide and music presentation, and then sign copies of Listen, Whitey! and the companion CD of the same title from Seattle-based Light in the Attic Records. The album features rare tracks from African-American activists like Dick Gregory, Eldridge Cleaver, and the Last Poets, with protest music by Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Gil Scott-Heron, Roy Harper, and more.
Listen, Whitey! features nearly 200 pages of text accompanied by over 250 large sized, full-color reproductions of album covers and 45 rpm singles -- most of which readers will have never seen before. The book creates a cultural context for the iconic images and the accompanying album.
Wednesday, April 4, 7pm Book Soup 8818 Sunset Blvd. W. HOLLYWOOD, CA 90069 310.659.3110
Thursday, April 5, 7-8PM AMOEBA Records 6400 Sunset Blvd. LOS ANGELES, CA 90028 323.245.6400
I have to confess... at first, I confused Norman Lear with this guy. I was like, "They gave him a Center? Well, I guess Mr. Roper was a nuanced characterization of a Santa Monica landlord..." Oops. At least they're both veterans of late 70's sitcoms, right?!
The event starts at Noon, and hey, lunch will be served! The talk takes place in the Geoffrey Cowan Forum (Annenberg Room 207) at the Norman Lear Center [ Ronald Tutor Campus Center, USC Annenberg School for Communication, 3607 Trousdale Pkwy, Los Angeles ]. This event is co-sponsored by the Lear Center's Popular Music Project.
• Review:Pitchfork gives the Listen, Whitey!companion album an 8.0, with Stephen M. Deusner writing "Perhaps the most powerful aspect of Listen, Whitey! The Sound of Black Power 1967-1974 -- the album and the book, both representing many years' research by historian Pat Thomas -- is how they portray a music in flux: Artists such as the Watts Prophets, the Original Last Poets, Shahid Quintet, and Marlena Shaw were only just realizing the potential for cross-genre synthesis and for radical political statement through music.... Thomas is interested in depicting Black Power music at street level rather than playlisting the most popular songs of the era. ...[B]y focusing on the range of music inspired by this movement, Listen, Whitey! allows so much of the confusion, outrage, anger, emotion, humor, and even optimism of this music to resonate anew."
• Review: "I had always meant to read Love and Rockets, but it might be possible that I've given myself a gift by waiting until I'm at this point in my life. My reading now, in my 40s might be more nuanced, and less surface than having read them 20 years ago. I'm going to recommend the series. There is an element of sexuality, but not sexism. And there's an element of Bohemianism as well. However, I guess Love and Rockets is like a complicated wine: what you taste at first isn't the taste that lingers as you look a little closer." – Catherine Schaff-Stump, Writer Tamago
• Interview:AlterNet's Emily Wilson talks to Pat Thomas about writing Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975: "I was trying to write a book that was pro-Panthers, but not with an agenda as to what I wanted to say other than to sort of humanize these people. To me they were more than just statues frozen in time; they were people I was hanging out with in current day. I just wanted to capture their humanity in some way. Militancy or their strident side was just one part of it. I wanted to focus on how their legacy crossed paths with pop culture. You know, I talk about this wacky 'Partridge Family' episode where they meet the Black Panthers. It’s not a dogmatic book.... It’s meant to be, for lack of a better word, fun."
• Interview: On the Penny Ante Editions blog author James Tracy also talks with Pat Thomas: "I don’t know if it’s a danger [when white people take an interest in Black culture], unless it’s KKK member or some twisted 'White Power' kook… otherwise, there will always be a reason (good or bad or misguided) for Whites to explore Black culture. Frankly, America needs to have more dialogue between races, embracing their differences as well as what they have in common. I didn’t try to pretend to be Black - and that was something that Elaine Brown liked about me. I didn’t put on a 'mask' and start to talk Black or pull that kind of shit."
• Analysis: In the new entry in The Hooded Ultilitarian's critical roundtable on Jaime Hernandez, Noah Berlatsky examines nostalgia in the Locas stories, especially "Browntown" and "The Love Bunglers," from his trademark contrarian standpoint
• Review (Video): On G4's Fresh Ink Online video podcast, host Blair Butler and guest Sam Humphries look at Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte; at the 7:50 mark Humphries makes it his #2 pick of the week, saying "I've literally been waiting for this book for 20 years... so my hopes were pretty high and this book does not disappoint at all.... You gotta pick up this book."
• Review: "While [Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975] looks like a typical coffee table book, this book does not have the coffee table lightness when it comes to content. It is dense.... The imagery in this book is fantastic with a ton of photos of old album jackets, flyers and magazine advertisements and of course the record itself. I admit, I want to blow up a lot of the posters and frame them. You will too.... You should buy this book. Fantagraphics outdid themselves this time." – David Baker, 410 Media
• Review: "Undead pirates roam the seas. They want to die and find eternal peace. But when that doesn’t work, they pray for a living creature to torment. They find a baby boy amidst the wreckage of a ship and decide to raise him until he’s ten. Then they plan to kill him so they can have a cabin-boy.... David B.’s Epileptic made me a fan of his work. But the cover [of The Littlest Pirate King], featuring ghastly pirates behind a little boy, would have caught my attention anyway.... It’s a kid’s book with an edge." – Gene Ambaum, The Unshelved Book Club
• Review: "Originally published in 1974, ...[The Arctic Marauder] finds social criticism wrapped up in sarcastic satire, but outfitted in some great designs of Victorian science.... Tardi’s story is one thing, but his beautiful renderings give it a depth that brings it far beyond satire. The attention given to the Victoriana -- in technology, fashion and graphic layout -- functions as a love letter to that bygone world, which keeps the book from ever seeming cartoonish, and that [is] its major strength." – John Seven, North Adams Transcript
• Tunes:Michael Kupperman is among the cartoonists who put together a playlist of music that inspires their process for Huffington Post columnist Dave Scheidt — a taste: "'Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep,' Middle of the Road: This is just the oddest song. It's upbeat, and bubblegum, and catchy, and sad, and kind of incomprehensible. It was written by a French composer and recorded by a Scottish group, and was one of the highest-selling singles worldwide of all time." (That song's popular with funny cartoonists: Peter Bagge's band Can You Imagine? covers it)
• Plug: "Listen, Whitey!is the largest collection of Black Power recordings, and the only book of its kind. Even if you’re not that much into social history or political music, the rock and soul rabble rousing and poetic preachers and extrapolative urban players here are exciting to listen to, and the artwork accompanying it in both the CD booklet and the full book is extraordinary." – The KEXP Blog
• Review: "Besides a particularly gleeful dark humour, this collection of short stories by Norweigan artist Jason [Athos in America] is tied together by a certain obsession with Hollywood genres: science-fiction and crime are the main targets, and Jason infuses them with both a slightly tweaked pathos and a taste for melancholy macabre. His drawing style is sparse and uncluttered, but that works something like keeping an even tone during a dry remark: his punchlines and gut-punches are that much sharper for having played it cool. All of these stories have an underlying sadness — something that seems to stem from the bleak futility of all our existence — but the best has to be 'Tom Waits on the Moon,' four seemingly unconnected vignettes that ruminate on various relationship troubles before tying up in [a] surprising and funny end. That’s not to discount any of these, though: this is just fantastic stuff for sad bastards and the people who love them." – David Berry, National Post
• Review: "I’m going to go out on a limb and assume anyone reading a review of comics is aware enough of Walt Kelly’s landmark Pogo series that they don’t need much in the way of description, but suffice to say that any strip artist worth their salt has taken serious cues from Kelly’s rich dialogue, playful illustration and at-times fierce politics. This first edition, which features for the first time full-colour Sunday strips, definitely leans towards the sweeter side, but there’s simply no denying Kelly’s mastery: he evokes full characters with nothing but a few choice words, and the sprightliness of his visual style is all fun here, laying the groundwork for what would become profoundly subversive later. The included essays, as is usually the case for Fantagraphics reissues, absolutely nail the context and import of the strip, too. I just don’t think you can say you love comics and not have this around." – David Berry, National Post
• Review: "[Action! Mystery! Thrills! Comic Book Covers of the Golden Age] is a fucking mind blower for me since it's just full-size reproductions of cover art of the most important comic book issues you never saw, printed on glossy paper with information about what makes them so special on the back.... The brain of the casual art looker or person who thinks comics are a genre and not a medium will look at this stuff and try to make it ironic or perverse. To appreciate the work in this book you have to turn off those parts of your cynicism and open whatever part of yourself receives beauty. America's golden-age comic books are some of the greatest art our country has produced." – Nick Gazin, VICE