Steven Weissman is taking the week off, but we have Mark Kalesniko's Veterans Day comic (more about which here) to take up the slack, our weekly Kupperman, and links to other strips from around the web:
• Review: "This collection of stories [The Man Who Grew His Beard] is a wonderful example of how an animator’s eye, artist’s hand, and storyteller’s vision can combine in a series of stylistic experiments that harken to a previous age of comics, but speak to the contemporary world we live in.... What’s impressive is the ease with which Schrauwen moves among various styles, affording him an extraordinarily wide range of visual tools... Sometimes looking like a throwback to vintage comics and sometimes like a clever homage to the Kama Sutra, this collection is, at all times, the work of a master storyteller." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
• Review: At Robot 6, Graeme McMillan compares and contrasts Kevin Huizenga's Ganges with the work of Eddie Campbell, concluding "Ganges #4 isn’t a quick read, and it isn’t necessarily an easy read. But it’s a great one, and it’s something that everyone should be picking up and reading. It’ll keep you awake at nights." McMillan also discusses Ganges #4 with co-host Jeff Lester on the new episode of the Wait, What? podcast
• Interview: At Publishers Weekly, James Romberger (who also happens to be a contributor to Mome) talks with Gary Groth about our series of Carl Barks collections and all things Barks: "Barks’ comics somehow flourished within the strictures he was given. His imagination allowed him to either use or ignore those boundaries to his advantage, just as, in a more interior way, [Charles] Schulz’s imagination allowed him so much play within the strictures he chose. Barks’ work could be absurdist, satirical, or farcical within an adventure setting, a travelogue, a domestic comedy while maintaining those small, innate human values that reposed within his characters."
• Profile: At Publishers Weekly, Steve Bunche, who says "Fantagraphics has done readers a great favor by releasing the first full collection of Nuts, the hilarious cult strip by famed Playboy and National Lampoon cartoonist Gahan Wilson," chats with Wilson about the strip: "...[P]eople seal off as they become adults and are no longer open to understanding. It's really sad to see happening. They get to take in less and less of what's around them and become more isolated. I mean, you go to your high school reunion and see the once-alive faces of the people you grew up with and you say, 'My god! What happened to Bob and Susan!' and whomever and it's just incredibly sad. Neil Gaiman's phrase, 'being surrounded by mad giants,' pretty succinctly sums it all up."
• Plug: "A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about the comic strip Pogo. I lamented the lack of current Pogo anthologies — the old ones are practically rare books, and priced to match. Well, dog my cats, now comes a brand-new book, a compilation of the entire first year of strips, daily and Sunday, from Fantagraphics Books. Pogo: Through the Wild Blue Wonder by Walt Kelly may not be available in bookstores yet, but your friendly neighborhood bookseller would be happy to order it for you. It's a hefty volume, and will leave even the most dyspeptic Pogo fan wide-eyed with wonder and gratitude." – Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle
• Plug: Last night when John Hodgman was in town on his current book tour we presented him with a copy of Tony Millionaire's 500 Portraits, in which a drawing of him appears and about which he subsequently had this to say in part: "This makes me astonished and happy and embarrassed, for Tony Millionaire is one of our true genii. And too, look, right there on the same page is my old friend John Sellers! And Borges! And you were there, too, Cthulhu! I don’t know how those other guys crashed our party, though. In any case, you should go out and get this book. It’s absolutely beautiful, painstaking, and weird, inside and out, just like I imagine Tony is himself: the ORIGINAL deranged millionaire."
• Commentary: At Comic Book Resources, Laura Sneddon, who is documenting her experiences in the postgraduate Comic Studies program at the University of Dundee in Scotland, looks at Joe Sacco's Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde as the course turns its focus to "Documentary Comics"
A group of us are waiting to be served in a restaurant. The waiter arrives, and the person facing me evidently ordered paper-wrapped baked owl. (What he gets looks like a little owl mummy.) I puzzle over why this seems somehow wrong and disturbing even as the diner peels off the first bit of the wrapping, releasing a gust of cooked-bird steam and exposing a naked, baked owl wing. It actually looks pretty tasty.
The diner sitting next to me is Françoise Mouly, which, although tenuous at best, is enough of a connection for me to consider this a comics-related dream and include here. As I wake up I wonder if the French term for this delicacy might be something like hibou en croûte, but that's more like a meat baked in a pastry shell, like beef wellington.
In case you're wondering, a few minutes' googling here and now reveals to me that the correct term would have been hibou en papillote (but there is, mercifully, no such dish).
So, a year or two ago, Tony Millionaire tells us, "I've have over 500 portraits of people on my computer. Let's make a book!" We say, "Sure!" (Because this is what you do when Tony Millionaire says, "Let's Make a Book!")
We schedule the book for the end of 2011, and this spring we start to have a conversation about it between myself, Tony and Jacob Covey (designer and co-editor). Tony sends us about 500 files that he's pulled from his hard drive. Jacob and I start going through them. We soon discover that this book is going to be more of a challenge than we initially expected. For one thing, about 100 of the files were duplicates, so we really only had about 400 portraits, and "400 Portraits" didn't have nearly the ring to it as a title.
Furthermore, almost none of the files include the name of the person depicted. Most were clearly named by Tony at the end of a long night, after a six or 12-pack, a job well done and the name no longer relevant to him. So we have files with names like "ghosthippy.tif," "evil.tif," "actscoolfucksinterns.tif," "prettyboy.tif," "crazybaldasshole.tif," "meathead.tif," as well as more than a few that appeared to be named by his forehead as he passed out: "dhfuhkjDZKh.tif," "cmnxz≈mz vas.tif," etc.
Tony has neither the time nor inclination to try and identify the names. He suggests making the book a giant puzzle for readers. Jacob and I resist. Jacob and I encourage Tony to flesh out the book with some essays about drawing, his process, etc. Tony resists. Stalemate!
Eventually, I enlist an army of interns to help me identify the portraits and after a few weeks of highly scientific research and renaming the files so Jacob can work with them easily, and after Tony digs up another 100 portraits (actually well over 100 -- by the time it was all said and done we actually had to cut a few dozen images to keep it to 500) and also sits down and writes a series of brilliant essays for the book just to shut Jacob and I up, we were on our way. (Seriously, Tony's "85%" theory about humankind is worth the price of admission alone.)
After a few weeks of nightly back-and-forths between the three of us, which mostly consisted of random insults and vulgarities mixed with parenting advice from Uncle Tony and lots of talk about our daughters (all three of us have daughters -- no sons -- and all of them appear in the book in one form or another; Jacob's wife even gave birth to his second daughter, Maren, during production!), we had a book.
I couldn't be happier with the result. Tony emailed us after he got his advance copy last week and said, "This is the best book ever made." I agree.