The infamous Strand Bookstore in New York City is known for its "18 miles of books," and on Friday, April 8th, they're devoting at least one of those miles to Strandicon, a celebration of comics!
The Strand will be hosting an afternoon of special appearances (including a 6:00 pm appearance by Dash Shaw), and the evening concludes with a celebration of The Comics Journal, featuring a panel with editors Tim Hodler and Dan Nadel, along with founding editor Gary Groth and longtime cartoonist and TCJ interviewee Kim Deitch.
So, if you live in New York, or if you'll be town for MoCCA, join us at 7:00 pm for what's sure to be a spirited discussion! (Strandicon will take place in the Comics & Graphic Novels Department of the Strand, on the Second Floor at 828 Broadway / 12th Street.)
On his Cozy Lummox blog, award-winning designer Eric Skillman discusses his process for putting together the new issue of The Comics Journal: "I was pretty excited when Jacob Covey emailed me to ask if I might be interested in re-designing the venerable Comics Journal for its upcoming relaunch as an annual (rather than monthly) publication. Then I found out it was going to be 600-something pages. But by that point it was too late to say no! (I'm kidding... mostly.)" It's a fascinating behind-the-scenes peek!
• Review: "The main thing I kept thinking about while reading Wandering Son— beyond the continuous undercurrent of general squee — is how things that seem insignificant to one person can be secretly, intensely significant to someone else. [...] The story is subtle, simple, poignant, and innocent. The tone is matched by Shimura’s uncluttered artwork, which features big panels, little screentone, and extremely minimal backgrounds." – Michelle Smith, Soliloquy in Blue
• Interview:The A.V. Club Denver talks to "arguably Denver’s premier underground comic artist" Noah Van Sciver: "People e-mail me to ask if they can send me a comic. They’re sending me these hand-stapled comics and asking me what I think. It’s great. If you’re not going to be paid a lot, you might as well meet like-minded people and start a gang." (Via Robot 6)
• Profile: "Olivier Schrauwen is not the first Belgian cartoonist that I would have pegged for success in the United States, but I'm certainly not going to complain about the opportunities that he is receiving. Since the publication of his book My Boy in English translation, he has published short pieces in Mome and elsewhere, generating a solid buzz for his idiosyncratic take on human disconnectedness. His new book, L'Homme qui se laissait pousser la barbe (Actes Sud/L'An 02) collects a number of short works that have been anthologized around the world, and was nominated for a prize at this year's Angouleme Festival. It will be published later this year in English as The Man Who Grew His Beard by Fantagraphics. [...] L'Homme is a collection of seven short pieces that can be read very quickly or studied for days." – Bart Beaty, The Comics Reporter
• Profile:iFanboy's Chris Arrant profiles Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery as part of their "Publishers Who Have Their Own Comic Book Stores" feature: "Opening in late 2006, this Seattle store acts as defacto gift shop and gallery extension of the long-time publisher's comics line. The store boasts a complete repository of everything Fantagraphics has in print — as well as a number of rarities you wouldn't find most anywhere else."
• Review: "Does this make Special Exits seem like a downer? Good. It is a downer. It's also funny and touching, and gratifyingly cleareyed about the messy emotions involved in caring for aging parents. [...] It's no spoiler to reveal that Special Exits doesn't have a happy ending. After all, no one gets a happy ending. But thanks to the hard work and loving care of Laura — and some heaven-sent hospice workers — her parents die more gracefully than many. And thanks to the thoughtful writing and art of Joyce Farmer, their lives and deaths will be a comfort to readers beginning to consider the end of their parents' lives — or their own." – Dan Kois, The Washington Post
Gary Groth provided this description of the issue:
"This was our special sex & violence issue, published at the height of a minor but persistent media brouhaha over the sexual and violence quotient in 'grown-up' comics from Marvel and DC. DC had implemented a ratings system — or announced it — and a number of creators — Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Howard Chaykin — were up in arms over it. This was a remarkably solid issue analyzing the question from every which way. I approached Jim Woodring for a cover and he did a doozy, encapsulating the theme in a single image. It would've been the issue's art director who literally pasted it all up, using wax and photostats and typesetting-on-film. Those were the days."
• Review: "Though the episodic flow and gung-ho patriotism of the strips are simplistic in both content and conception, the depth they lack is greatly made up for by the vast, epic compositions that contain Crane’s spring-coiled bigfoot cartooning, the explosive you-are-there immediacy of his dogfights and shootouts, and the sensuous intensity of form and shape he brings to gorgeous women and vehicles of war alike. [...] Crane worked in broad strokes, which is what made him a great cartoonist; but in Buz Sawyer he also sometimes discovers quieter places, ones truly worthy of the sumptuousness with which he imbued every panel." – Matt Seneca, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Kalesniko is a major talent, and this book, which depicts a day stuck in traffic on a California freeway, presents considerable space for reflection, gossip, roman a clef and more. [...] Though the text of the story is rich and interesting, Kalesniko's art is amazing; manga-esque yet thoroughly Western, and richly expressive and subtle. Freeway will inevitably place high on many critic's year's-best lists." – Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Review: "Political commentary often has a short shelf life, but Kreider's collection of cartoons and essays [Twilight of the Assholes] remains potent and pungent, despite its primary focus on the excesses and detritus of the Bush administration. There are no claims of fairness, balance, sensitivity or subtlety here. Kreider's sharp pen skewers holier-than-thou hypocrites, patently phony pious proselytizers, opportunists and idiots of all stripes — gleefully and without fear." – Richard Pachter, The Miami Herald
• Review: "With the core cast established, Segar takes more liberties with the formulas established in earlier books... and Segar continues to find new ways to play his cast off one another. How do Olive and Wimpy react when Eugene predicts Popeye will lose a prize fight for the first time ever? How does Popeye react to being a leader of men? It’s all here, all adventure and all hilarity. Fantagraphics, as you’ll know if you’ve been reading the series to date, continues to provide a gorgeous package – a towering book... with a striking die-cut cover. [...] Popeye Vol. 5: 'Wha’s a Jeep?' stands out as another winning classic comic strip collection, a reminder how great the medium has been and how dynamic it can still be." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "The value in this volume [Unexplored Worlds: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 2] is not in the stories themselves... but in tracking how Ditko’s art develops. Amid the stock characters of hapless dullards, five o’clock shadow Everymen and saturnine businessmen and the typical rocketships and ray guns of the day, Ditko gains confidence and consistency in his depictions, and an ability to pack more information into fewer images and to guide the reader’s eye across the page for maximum impact. His ability to convey otherworldly horrors flowers as well..." – Christopher Allen, Trouble with Comics
• Review: "...[W]hy is Sergio Ponchione not regarded as one of the top artists in the field today?! [Grotesque #4] is absolutely gorgeous. Lush, bizarre, and moving. The type of comics art which you dwell on a single panel for minutes at a time. The amount of detail and skill in each drawing is astounding. The tones and colors along with the expressive line and brush work create a mood of deep inspection." – P.D. Houston, Renderwrx Productions
• Interview:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks to new TCJ.com honchos Dan Nadel & Tim Hodler about taking the reins of The Comics Journal's online presence: "The initial goal was and remains the creation of a genuine on-line comics magazine (as opposed to blog, or series of blogs), with all of the long-form essays, interviews, reviews, and visual features that come with it. In other words, yes, we're attempting a counter-intuitive web site strategy, in the hopes that quality content will draw people in. We're interested in making a magazine that has a place in the larger visual culture, and can be a go-to source for people seeking insightful writing about comics."
• Commentary:Robot 6's Sean T. Collins, on the new TCJ.com: "Since I’m writing for the thing, I may not be in the best position to comment about it, but quite aside from my own minor role in the proceedings, the move is a welcome and long-overdue one. [...] Handing the Journal‘s website to an experienced print/web editorial team with a clear vision of comics and how to talk about them, one that moreover has been on the leading edge of comics criticism for some years now, is a major step in the right direction."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater concludes his conversation with Stan Sakai: "I own the characters, so I can do basically whatever I want with him, as far as the story goes. Most of it is adventure, I’ve done romances, I’ve done mysteries — I even did Space Usagi, where he goes through outer space. I can pretty much do anything I want with him, so I never get bored. I’m having fun with Usagi, even after so many years."
• Interview:The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks to Renee French: "I've been fishing around. I don't know if it's my age or what, but I'm confused. I have a bunch of obsessions that keep coming back. If I just kind of do something else, like these one-off drawings that I've been doing lately, it's not satisfying. I actually need to feel a little on-edge and crazy, I think."
• Interview:Seattlest's Hanna Brooks Olsen chatted with our own Larry Reid at Emerald City ComiCon yesterday and got "some pretty spectacular insight on what's going on" with us
• Feature:The Seattle Times' Janet I. Tu does her due diligence in her profile of Emerald City ComiCon and asks the president of Seattle's largest comics publisher about the event: "'It's mind-bending how big it is now and how influential,' said Gary Groth, who works at Seattle-based Fantagraphics Books, a graphic-novel and comic-book publisher, and edits the print edition of The Comics Journal, a magazine of news and criticism on comics and cartooning. Groth attributes the growth of such conventions to comics becoming a more integral part of pop culture. 'Or perhaps pop culture has become more comic-book-ized,' he said. 'You see it with comic-book movies or TV shows like Heroes. What used to be seen as essentially kids' entertainment has become grown-up entertainment.'"
• Commentary:Robot 6's Sean T. Collins comments on Alex Dueben's interview with Carol Tyler for that blog's parent site Comic Book Resources: "Having been sucked in by war fever myself several years ago, I find myself more and more moved by accounts of how even the most well-intentioned conflicts make a rubble of countless human lives, both the ones taken and the ones scarred, physically, economically, or emotionally. ...[Tyler is] doing vitally important work."
The Comics Journal is proud to announce the relaunch of TCJ.com with new editorial oversight. Redesigned, reorganized, with an incredible lineup of new contributors — it's pretty amazing. Read a welcome message from new editors Dan Nadel and Tim Hodler (formerly of Comics Comics) here; our press release is here. There's a lot to see already.
Wanna see a whole bunch of vintage spot illos scanned from old issues of The Comics Journal and Amazing Heroes by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (above) and other artists (Mitch O'Connell, Kevin Nowlan, Bruce Timm) before they were stars? Ed Piskor has you covered at his Wizzywig Comics blog.
• Plug: "The Comics Journal: long known as a magazine where you can look at never before released sketches from R. Crumb next to essays about Wonder Woman’s bondage past next to in-depth interviews with superhero comics auteurs next to oral histories of underground dudes you didn’t even know you were interested in until you read about their entire lives. We could go on that tangent forever, but instead we’ll just direct you here to pre-order." – Sam Hockley-Smith, The Fader
• Plug: "In Mezzo and Pirus’ King of the Flies, characters who die in the first volume... come back to watch over the still-living – lovers, friends, mothers. Mezzo and Pirus’ undead are able to travel to Mars in the blink of an eye, and then back to the David Lynchian small-town that is the story’s main setting. Liberated from physical constraints, they are frustrated, morose, angry, holding onto grudges. ...Mezzo and Prius... have created a darkly erotic and blackly humoured book that, days after finishing, I’m still thinking about." – Shawn Conner, Guttersnipe
• Plug:Los Angeles magazine features Freeway by Mark Kalesniko in their latest roundup of books of local interest
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater continues his conversation with Stan Sakai: "Originally, I had wanted to do a series inspired by the life of a 17th century samurai named Miyamoto Musashi, but — he’s regarded as one of the great swordsmen in Japanese history, but one day I just drew a rabbit and Musashi became a rabbit. Instead of Miyamoto Musashi, my charcter was Miyamoto Usagi — 'usagi' means 'rabbit' in Japanese. The 'Miyamoto' part I kept as an homage to the original Musahi, but everything else is pretty much original."
• Profile:Variety recently talked to Dash Shaw about his artwork in the feature film Rabbit Hole — here's a scan, uploaded by Dash
It is true: after much foofaraw and mishegas, The Comics Journal #301 went to the printer last week and is due to be available in May. (You may have come across an earlier version of the cover here on our website, but here for the first time is the final version.)
The Journal is reborn. In these 600+ pages: R. Crumb interview & critical roundtable on Genesis; Joe Sacco interview; Jim Woodring, Tim Hensley & Stephen Dixon sketchbooks; Jaffee & Kupperman in conversation; Gerald McBoing Boing; much more.
This volume is guest designed by internationally respected Criterion art director Eric Skillman.
See here for more information on the issue and stay tuned for updates and previews.
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