"They were all there, the pimps, the fags, the whores, the curious, the alcoholic, the weird of the late '50s... blues lovers, Canadian bikers, thrill seekers, junkies, insomniacs, hepcats..." So begins "Down at the Kitty Kat," one of the 20-plus never-before-collected memoirs and yarns by Spain, one of the original gang of Zap Comix provocateurs. Although he's best known for his two-fisted tales of the chopper-riding Trashman, Spain's blunt graphic style and uncompromising gift for caricature, rendered in eye-punishing slabs of black and white, work equally well for more subtle fare -- such as these memoirs of his misspent youth.
For $17.99, you can read this newly-inducted Eisner Hall of Fame cartoonists' work on life, hogs, and the fifties on your world of tomorrow devices.
"Rodriguez was a kind of incorrigible rebellious type. . . when abstract expressionism with its two-dimensionality principle was dogma—he was into three-dimensionality, in spades—and his blue-collar employment in Buffalo area manufactories, where the curriculum was the much more interesting subject to him of simmering socioeconomic class warfare." -Jack Foran, ArtVoice
"Spain Rodriguez is one of the legends of the original underground comics wave, and he tells his own origin story in Cruisin’ with the Hound: The Life and Times of Fred Tooté, a collection of short stories about coming of age in Buffalo in the ’50s and ’60s. ...Cruisin’ with the Hound... gives a real flavor both of Rodriguez’s work — which was so different in its point of view than the other underground comics of the late ’60s and early ’70s — and from whence it came." – Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
The most intricate house sigil of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:The LA Times enjoys their reading of7 Miles a Secondby David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. "Part of the power of Wojnarowicz’s work is that he dealt with such concepts accessibly; he didn’t have time to waste. It was the source of his restless imagination, his willingness to experiment with unexpected forms," writes David L. Ulin.
• Plug:NY1 (New York 1) and Don Kois talk about 7 Miles a SecondDavid Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook. "…this graphic novel is an amazing document of the gaudy, dangerous world of clients and johns and artists and thugs downtown in the 1980s."
• Interview: Nick Hanover of Comics Bulletin interviews Tom Kaczynski on Beta Testing the Apocalypse. Kacyznski writes, "All these stories started to feel like they were linked and eventually things like the noise stories and the themes of sound started to kind of inject themselves into the rest of the material…I'm interested in utopias, and utopian societies. And a lot of what Communism is is essentially an attempted utopia that failed. "
• Review:Art Rocker and Wee Claire look at Delphine by Richard Sala. "Delphine is arguably Richard Sala's darkest tale to date and a brilliant gateway for those new to his whimsical storytelling style…There are comparisons to Snow White dotted throughout the story but Sala's indie-goth execution tinged with a 70s horror atmosphere make for a much more interesting tale."
• Review:The Toronto Star reads and reviews our books like Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré. "Carré’s work, fittingly titled Heads or Tails, probes choice, ambivalence and fate; in her stories, there’s a flip side to everything, rendered in full and brilliant colour,"says Laura Kane.
• Review: Noah Bertlatsky on the Hooded Utilitarian looks at the art of Lilli Carré comics from Heads or Tails through the gendered lens of Bart Beaty. "If art is both hyperbolic masculine swagger and small-scale feminized detail, though, for Carré the form that mediates between the two is something that looks a lot like comics."
• Interview (partial): Dan Nadel of The Comics Journal posts part of the interview of Jacqes Tardi by Kim Thompson from TCJ 302.
• Plug: "It's astonishing to me that The Comics Journal will have outlasted Wizard, Hero Illustrated and CBG, but I'm happy for that fact," says former TCJ editor, Tom Spurgeon. TCJ 302 was co-edited by Kristy Valenti and Mike Dean.
• Review:Mort Meskin gets the full hello-how-are-ya when his collections are reviewed, edited by Steven Brower. "Out of the Shadows was such an enjoyable find that when it ended we were hungry for more of Meskin’s work." So Scoop turns to From Shadow to Light, "Meskin is so skilled in portraying body language that he doesn’t need a face to tell us know exactly what someone is thinking…a thorough and very detailed look at a man’s life, his family and the work he valued."
• Plug:Kotaku and Evan Narcisse get teary-eyed over Peanuts Every Sunday by Charles M. Schulz. "The daily black-and-white comics were great but the full-color Sunday strips gave Schulz a big, beautiful canvas to let his expert pacing and amazing linework breathe in a rainbow of color…it's really the entire mix of characters …and their mix of adult prickliness and childlike naiveté that made Charles Schulz's iconic comics strips so timeless."
• Interview:MTV Geek interviews Charles Forsman about The End of the Fucking Worldand life. Forsman answersEddie Wright's question, "I do love sparse cartooning. Like Schulz which I think comes through in mine a bit. I've heard people descibe this stuff as "Peanuts" all grown-up and violent."
• Review:Nerds of a Feather look at Ed Piskor's Hip Hop Family Tree, to be printed later this year. Philippe Duhart gives it a rare 10 out of 10, "…those familiar with the genre can attest, it's difficult to separate the music from other elements of the "culture" -- b-boying, graffiti, lingo, style. Piskor demonstrates an affectionate respect for the interrelations between these phenomenon, telling a story of a culture, rather than a musical genre."
• Review: Anime News Network reviews and givest The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio an 'A-'. Rebecca Silverman writes, "The Heart of Thomas may be the grandmother of the boys' love genre, but it would be shortsighted to simply classify it as such…Heartfelt and dreamlike, it is a window into the lives of those affected by the sudden death of one of their own."
• Review:The Toronto Star reads and reviews our books like The Cartoon Utopia by Ron Regé, Jr. The Cartoon Utopia "is visionary, but also unmistakably influenced by ’70s psychedelia… the thrilling, one-of-a-kind art will stretch your imagination and, at the very least, make you believe in the power of comics to explore the impossible," writes Laura Kane.
• Review:The Toronto Star reads and reviews our books like Came the Dawn by Wallace Wood and Corpse on the Imjin! by Harvey Kurtzman. Laura Kane writes, "In dark shadows, bold lines and intense close-ups, [Wallace Wood] perfectly illustrates the stories — which ran the gamut from B-horror to confronting social issues such as racism, anti-Semitism and sexism." As for Corpse on the Imjin!, "In these violent, blood-spattered pages, [Kurtzman] lays bare the devastation of war."
• Review/Commentary: Eddie Campbell on The Comics Journal compares and contrasts recent reviews of the EC Comics being reprinted at Fantagraphics and how critics struggle and feel the need to analyze comics at literature. Distilling the article to a mere quote is abhorrent so we tried but please read it. "If comics are any kind of art at all, it’s the art of ordinary people. With regard to Kurtzman’s war comics, don’t forget that the artists on those books were nearer to the real thing than you and I will ever be."
• Review: Elliot Bay Books reviews No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall. Dave Wheeler writes, "Impossible to be even close to a complete collection of the genre, No Straight Lines instead seeks to trace the parallel trajectories toward visibility for both comics and LGBTQ identities…these are the stories of real people, or they are people transfigured by folklore."
• Plug: Greg Akers of the Memphis Flyer enjoyed reading Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 by Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez. "Jaime breaks me every time. The conclusion to "The Love Bunglers" is an all-time great. Tears in my eyes, destroyed emotionally."
• Plug: Joost Swarte sings the blues at Angouleme, thanks to Paul Karasik.
• Review:SequArt looks at Black Hole by Charles Burns. Faith Brody Patane point out "…it’s a story that’s meant to be devoured with intent to possibly make you have freaky nightmares. Black Hole is one of those stories that lingers long after you read it…This group of teens is far from Riverdale and far more desperate."
The comics world lost a great cartoonist this month as Spain Rodriguez drove his wild hog one last time. As an influential members of underground comics, his reach was large. The New York Times wrote an excellent obituary on Spain and Bruce Weber profiled him as "part of a wave of artists — including R. Crumb, S. Clay Wilson and Bill Griffith, who created the character Zippy the Pinhead — who established the irreverent, profane, highly sexed, antiwar, anti-capitalist spirit of underground comics (often, in this context, spelled comix)." Below is a sketch Spain made for Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds.
From the Latino Comics Expo, Ricardo Padilla remembers some of his favorite moments. "We were touched by his generous spirit, his kindness, and his willingness to support and encourage artists and their dreams. He even agreed to be part of our Art Show, LA RAZA COMICA, which premiered at the Cartoon Art Museum after our Expo. . . I will always treasure these memories of Spain Rodriguez and will never forget the encouragement and support he lent to the Latino Comics Expo. He was a True Revolutionary and and an honorable man. My fondest memory is of him in the Museum's 'green room' after his panel discussion, smiling with his wife and daughter. . . savoring one of my mom's 'chile verde' burritos. . ."
Stephen R. Bissette and Skip Williamson taught me everything I needed to know about the history of underground comics including Zap comics and Spain Rodriguez, from there I went on to read his collected comics, thanks to Last Gasp and Fantagraphics. While not everyone was able to meet this amazing creator, we can remember him through friends' stories of Spain and the stories he created. Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter made a thorough list of all the links, stories and pictures of Spain in his collective memory.
For the curious, a retrospective of Spain's career has been hanging at the Burchfield Penney Center in Buffalo, NY since September and will be up through January 20th. Jack Foran of ArtVoice recently visited the exhibit and had this to say, "Rodriguez was a kind of incorrigible rebellious type. . . when abstract expressionism with its two-dimensionality principle was dogma—he was into three-dimensionality, in spades—and his blue-collar employment in Buffalo area manufactories, where the curriculum was the much more interesting subject to him of simmering socioeconomic class warfare." His art will live on.
(The first photo is a panel from Cruisin' with the Hound by Spain released earlier this year while the last on is page six from Hard-Ass Friday Nite).
• Review:Dal Tokyo by Gary Panter is listed in The Times of UK as one of the essential books for Chris Ware. Ware says "Gary Panter is the William Blake of comics; a true poet who sees and feels what the rest of us can't, and he's done more to expand the power of drawing in the medium thatn probably anyone else alive." Original article here.
• Interview: Cartoonist and creator of Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth Chris Ware is interviewed by Phawker by Rita Book.
• Commentary: ArtVoice visits the Spain Rodriguez retrospective at the Burchfield Penney Center in Buffalo, NY. Jack Foran says,"Rodriguez was a kind of incorrigible rebellious type. . . when abstract expressionism with its two-dimensionality principle was dogma—he was into three-dimensionality, in spades—and his blue-collar employment in Buffalo area manufactories, where the curriculum was the much more interesting subject to him of simmering socioeconomic class warfare."
• Review: Rob Clough of High-Low reposted his Seqart post on Megan Kelso and The Squirrel Mother. Cough states, "What makes Kelso one of my favorite artists is her total devotion to the medium and a constant desire to improve. . . Kelso's art is all about the narrative. Every word and every line advances the story; there are no extraneous pyrotechnics. Indeed, Kelso's line is more elegant than spectacular."
• Review:Publishers Weekly enjoys Love and Rockets New Stories #5. "In the 30 years they’ve been writing and drawing Love and Rockets, Los Bros Hernandez have created wonderfully complex story lines and characters. . . This web of superior magical-realistic storytelling involves readers in the perplexed yearnings of a huge cast of unforgettable characters unaware of their own capacity for general self-delusion and occasional self-discovery."
• Commentary: Hannah Means-Shannon contines her SPX coverage with more on the Bros on The Beat. On the "Life After Alternative Comics" panel, Jaime Hernandez and Daniel Clowes spoke about the past and present of their comics-making environment. "Dan Clowes addressed the 'wasteland' of comics in the early 1980’s and the origin of his LLOYD LLEWELLYN series and the strange, often intriguing piles of fan mail he received from readers and prison inmates."
• Interview: Also on Phawker is an interview of Charles Burns, creator of Black Hole. He weaves stories by "paying close attention to the way my brain functions. I sit and write every day and it amazes me how often I repeat myself – come up with the same “brilliant” solution to a plot thread only to discover notes from years earlier where I’ve already clearly laid out the same ideas."
• Toronto, ON: It's your last chance to see Gabriella Giandelli: A Toronto Retrospective at the Italian Cultural Institute! This retrospective exhibition features over 80 original drawings from this prolific Italian illustrator and graphic novelist, including work from the celebrated series Interiorae. I'll be writing more about it on the FLOG later this week! (more info)
• Manzanita, OR:Steve Duin and Shannon Wheeler will be the special guests at the Manzanita Writers’ Series to discuss what happened after the Deepwater Horizon spill with a reading and discussion of the acclaimed graphic novel, Oil & Water! (more info)
Buffalo, NY pays tribute to their proud native son Manuel “Spain” Rodriguez with Spain: Rock, Roll, Rumbles, Rebels, & Revolution, an in-depth career retrospective opening Friday, September 14th.
The exhibition will be hosted by the Burchfield Penney Art Center, and will include both original drawings and reproductions representing all stages of Spain’s comix career (East Village Other, Zodiac Mindwarp, Zap Comix, Subvert, Anarchy, Weirdo, Zero Zero, Blab, American Splendor, et al.), including prints from his poster designs for the San Francisco Mime Troupe (1974–2011), with particular emphasis on his mature work of recent years in which he explores both his personal history of growing up in Buffalo in the 1950s and early ‘60s.
The Burchfield Penney Art Center is located at 1300 Elmwood Avenue, in the heart of Buffalo's Museum District. This exhibit will run through Sunday, January 20th, 2013.
The up-to-the-minute Online Commentaries & Diversion:
•Plug: Our newest Jacques Tardi release, New York Mon Amour is out and available at your favorite comic shops. One of our such shop, Forbidden Planet, is very excited to have it in stock. Joe says, "I’m so glad the Fanta crew has been making these titles available again to English language readers."
•Interview:WMFU host of Too Much Information, Benjamin Walker, questions Michael Kupperman about comics as a serious form of literature at his MIT Center for Civic Media conference talk. Kupperman: "You see high points. You have to build to that humor. Sometimes there's just enough for three panels—I like to keep it short, keep the audience wanting more. It's kind of—there can be a central idea I need to do it."
•Review: On The Comics Journal, Jeet Heer takes a close look at Spain Rodriguez's newest collection of stories. In Heer's words, Cruisin' with the Hound: The Life and Times of Fred Toote "is a splendid book, a startling view of a plebeian world that tends to be submerged by the North American tendency to pretend that class doesn’t exist. The book is also evidence of the strength of the autobiographical comics tradition, which has room not just for minute introspection but also for stories of lively brutality."
•Review:Comics Worth Reading sits down with the latest issue (#16) of Linda Medley's Castle Waiting series. Johanna Draper Carlson glowingly states, "it’s [Medley's] character work, the small bits of perfectly realized dialogue, that make this series so rewarding."
• Awards: Congratulations to the great Joost Swarte, awarded the 2012 Marten Toonder Prize and its concomitant fat cash prize by the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture, as reported by Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter
• Review (Audio):Inkstuds host Robin McConnell is joined by Paul Gravett, Joe McCulloch and Tom Spurgeon for a roundtable discussion of Cruisin' with the Hound by Spain Rodriguez and other books
• Review: "Here are the early ejaculations from the primordial form of what was to become one of the great American writers. Here is Flannery O'Connor as she is formulating her unique vision of America and all that it entails.... What value does Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons have inherently? I think the answer to that question is entirely subjective. ...I personally wish to thank Fantagraphics for going out on a limb and publishing this book, if for no other reason than to put Flannery O'Connor back into the pop culture discussion for however briefly it may be." – Daniel Elkin, Comics Bulletin
• Review: "Anyone can be grotesque and horrifying. To truly get under the skin of the audience is an ability not many have. Someone who does is Thomas Ott, and he uses his ability to the highest effect in Cinema Panopticum. ...[I]f you are looking for an unsettling horror story rendered beautifully by an expert craftsman there is no doubt this should be in your collection." – Taylor Pithers, The Weekly Crisis
• Interview (Audio): Spend 3 minutes with Michael Kupperman as Tom Gambino of Pronto Comics talks to Michael from the floor of last April's MoCCA Fest on the ProntoCast podcast
• Film Studies: At Boing Boing, Jim Woodring writes about the 1931 Fleischer Bros. short that expanded his young mind: "I might have come to grips with the overwhelming mystery of life in a rational, organic manner if it weren't for a cartoon I saw on my family's old black and white TV in the mid '50s when I was three or four years old. This cartoon rang a bell so loud that I can still feel its reverberations.... Whatever [the creators'] motivation and intent, 'Bimbo's Initiation' became my prime symbolic interpreter, the foundation of my life's path and endlessly exploding bomb at the core of my creative output."