CartoonistM.K. Brown is making a special appearance this Saturday, April 4th at the Fairfax Library. From 2-4pm, enjoy the opening reception and book signing while soaking in Brown's original artwork on display. The show of original comics, gag panels and more will remain up from the 1st to the 29th of April. A percentage of the sale of her collection, Stranger than Life, will benefit Friends of the Fairfax Library. Here's a few of my favorites from the book:
This one is part of a longer comic:
So come get a copy of Stranger than Life and check out a book or two from your local library!
Fairfax Library 2097 Sir Francis Drake Blvd Fairfax, CA 94930
The award-winning and timeless collection of Love and Rockets stories gathered into the gorgeous book, Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez, was published more than a decade ago. But controversy at a high school library in New Mexico has given new life into the continuing dicussion, and sometimes battle, that surrounds comics when they attempt to break new ground and tackle themes which require context and analysis.
As Jen Vaughn pointed out in our original posting of the challenged book, one mother of a 14-year-old who had checked out the offending text from Rio Rancho High School library, took to the local TV station, KOAT, to report that she had found pages upon pages of "child pornography pictures and child abuse pictures". She demanded that there be an investigation to find out how the book was allowed into the library in the first place.
Since KOAT's initial "reporting" of the book's content, several outstanding organizations have come to its defense. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a First Amendment protection group, has teamed up with the Kids' Right to Read Project, and sent a letter to the Superintendent of Rio Rancho calling on the school to uphold it's own preported standards of procedure when it comes to a book's challenge. Additionally, the letter points out the obvious merits that the book carries within its pages, which have been lauded by numerous publications like The Times of London and Publisher's Weekly over the years for Hernandez's elastic realism approach to familial drama that immediately invokes comparison to writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Today, Greg Matiasevich at Multiversity posted an interview with Fantagraphics' Associate Publisher, Eric Reynolds, and CBLDF Executive Director, Charles Brownstein to get their reactions to Palomar being pulled from the shelves as it awaits a formal review from the school. When asked about why the removal of such a book is important, Reynolds replies:
"I don’t much care whether Palomar is in one particular library or not, but I do care about one rogue parent bypassing appropriate channels to remove it, instead escalating via a media that was all too enthusiastic in egregiously mischaracterizing the content of the work, fueling community outrage with flat-out falsehoods. It’s unproductive for everyone involved."
As Matiasevich points out, products based on comic books dominates our entertainment culture in the form of movies and TV shows, but too often the art form that these products were built off of is easily called out by those with little understanding of the medium itself, and shamefully erased from the hands of potential readers through public defamation. Brownstein and the CBLDF continue to take up these battles because "comics have a legitimate place in contemporary libraries and schools, but are more vulnerable to attack that other kinds of books because images are easier to take out of context and because there is still a diminishing, but lingering stigma that the medium is of low value."
Numerous titles have proven that assumption wrong over the years, but it's important to remember no one deserves to have stories or art taken from their hands due to the opinion of one person. Palomar is awaiting its fate at the Rio Rancho High School library, and the CBLDF will be standing by to update on their final decision.
BANG-ZOOM! KA-BLOW! "Comics aren't for kids anymore!" is a phrase hundreds upon thousands of comic fans, cartoonists, scholars and publishers are tired of hearing. Yet at the local high school in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, one family was left devastated when one teen checked out Gilbert Hernandez's seminal work, PALOMAR, "thinking it was a manga." Thanks to local news team at KOAT 7 in Albuquerque, NM, you can see just how many bookmarks the mom carefully made in the book, cataloguing the disturbing images and the investigation that is now under way. Because the images are so "disturbing" and "graphic" they could not show you any images, even the 9,209,384 inoffensive panels in the book. So here they are (based on on my memory and some casual flipping through the book): Instructions on staying clean
Actual love between a couple looking forward to their child:
A young girl, for once, taking pride in the fact her body is changing (and not because some guy said something nasty to her):
The HORROR! To be fair, there are some nude nudes in here of people in coitus that shouldn't necessarily be available in a K-12 library (which it wasn't) but the stories Gilbert Hernandez weaves are epic, layered, multi-generational, complicated---just like real life!
This really all raises the question: why go to the local news first? To create a hysteria around ONE book (see: Chicago, Persepolis) despite the hundreds of other books with devastating, often based-on-the-truth subject matter? If anything, the mom is teaching her kiddo some poor conflict resolution skills - don't attempt to resolve one-to-one, go immediately to the media! If Rio Rancho had a truly supportive community wouldn't the teen and mom go to the library and asked to have the book reassessed for the collection? Instead they are wasting time and money on an event that will end up cutting funding to local school libraries, which have already seen decreases in funding back to 2004 including when computers labs began moving to integrated classroom use (according to this 2004 Standards for New Mexico Libraries report, created by the New Mexico Task Force for Student Libraries). What will kids possibly do if they can't read books and comics at a higher reading-level than their grade? Turn to the internet in search of something worse? Nah, not these days.
Caveat: I am not a parent, just a former library technician at a comic book library.
An Evening with the Hernandez Brothers Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Grand Opening Festival of Cartoon Art
Sat, Nov 16, 2013 7:30 PM Mershon Auditorium
A lot of fun stuff is going down during the weekend of Nov 14th - 17th for the Grand Festival of Cartoon Art, librarian and engagement coordinator Caitlin McGurk gave me the skinny. Join the great folks at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum for a freewheeling conversation between alternative comics legends Gilbert andJaime Hernandezas they discuss their groundbreaking series Love & Rockets and their ongoing stories about Latino and Latina life, love, and punk rock on both sides of the border. The event is part of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Distinguished Lecture Series and the keynote event for the 2013 Grand Opening Festival of Cartoon Art. Moderated by Frederick Luis Aldama, Ohio State Arts & Humanities Distinguished Professor of English.
As a recent thank you to Publisher Kim Thompson and editor Kristy Valenti (and more) for moving offices, I hatched up a scheme to paint the library door in our basement. If you haven't visited the Fantagraphics office recently, the lovely 70s shag carpet was ripped up awhile ago leaving the basement aesthetics a bit similar to that of a cattle kill floor. NO LONGER!
Inspired by Guy Peellaert's smashingly neon art in Jodelle, Office Manager Steph Rivers and I pulled out the carbon paper to adapt the drawing to our door. Also called graphite paper and available at art or architecture stores, it is an invaluable tool for mural making or large scale painting projects.
And then we let the Vitamin-C-infused paint hit the door. Now our library door matches the library door in Jodelle! Steph on the left as I sneakily took a photo.
The finished product may have worked too well. Now everyone at the office wants a new door. Maybe a Graham Chaffee one or Johnny Ryan....
Now time to paint all the book spines to match the ones in this library. Mwuhahahaha!
The strongest umbrella in the wind of Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Paul Constant of The Stranger looks at The Last Vispo: Visual Poetry 1998-2008, edited by Nico Vassilakis and Crag Hill. "As an art book, it demands hours of investigation. . . For those linguistic pioneers looking to find the future of fiction, this could be one of the most informative poetry anthologies to be published in the new millennium."
• Review:NPR's My Guilty Pleasure looks at the Jacques Tardi graphics novels of Adèle Blanc-Sec who is "young writer with the brains of Sherlock Holmes, the body of Angelina Jolie and the stoic fortitude of the Marlboro Man." Rosecrans Baldwin states, "The books are part adventure comic, part hardboiled fiction. They're terrific whodunits that conjure up all the precise atmospheric detail of, say, a Georges Simenon novel, but with twice the plot."
• Review:Blacklung by Chris Wright gets reviewed on Nerds of a Feather. Philippe Duhart says, "Wright’s genius is further evident in his ability to use these aberrant cartoonish characterizations to convey human emotion, particularly terror. Wright’s portrayal of violence is stark and chilling – despite or perhaps because of his singular style. . . Black Lung worked on all counts. Plus, pirates."
• Review (video):Kapow Comics down in Australia reviews Chris Wright's Blacklung. Al states "this is a complicated book with musings on philosophy, literature, mortality and especially, religion has a big focus." Sonya says, "Every single character changes in this story, their journey changes them . . . [Blacklung] prayed on my mind. It lingers with you."
• Review: Glen David Gold looks at Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons edited by Kelly Gerald in the LA Review of Books. In an attempt to see how the bread is made, Gold, "Cartooning was O'Connor's first artistic passion. . . . An article in the local paper and a pile of rejection slips from The New Yorker indicate how serious she was. . . not an early blush of Flannery the fiction writer at work. But I'd still recommend it to the curious. Come at it without expecting same genius, but look at it because it's an extreme close up of biography."
• Review:Publishers Weekly looks at Jack Jackson's Los Tejanos and Lost Causes. "Comics’ current vogue for nonfiction was pioneered in these two works from the late underground comix founding father Jackson, who died in 2006. Jackson brought an R. Crumb–style crosshatching and love of facial grotesquery to these two densely researched historical graphic novels."
• Plug:Publishers Weekly and Ada Price show a sneak peak of The Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio. Enjoy 14 pages of pure genius but don't forget to read each one right to left! We're talking manga here.
• Review: Rob Clough of The Comics Journal enjoys The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver."he’s made a fairly significant leap as both a draftsman and a storyteller in a relatively short period of time . . . Van Sciver’s greatest achievement in this book is his storytelling restraint. He lets his cross-hatching gets across the grime . . He wants to show the reader a different side of the Lincoln we grew up reading about in the history books, but also wants the reader to connect this younger man to the future president."
• Review:Fantasy Literature takes a peek at Castle Waiting Vol. 1 by Linda Medley and Ruth Arnell is in love. "the charming ink illustrations have a piquant charming quality that match the story wonderfully. . . Linda Medley has written a gentle feminist fairy tale comic book that truly deserves to have a wider audience."
• Review: Sonia Harris of Comics Book Resources reads Black Hole by Charles Burns all in one sitting, one evening. "Reading Black Hole all at once in a nice, tidy bundle, it is impossible to experience what Black Hole was for all those years while it was slowly seeping out, issue by issue. . . it is visceral poetry, a true expression of the medium with imagery and words working together to create the most intimate impact. Black Hole is beautiful and terrible, it is a treasure."
Save the visit to the Library of Congress, which will come up later, these are THE pictures and thoughts on Small Press Expo 2012. We honestly were so busy that there was little time to make the rounds to other aisles and buy books or snag pics of our friends at this family reunion of a show. So please accept my apology for no SWEEPING landscapes of the table set-up as it was busy, busy, busy. SPX'sExecutive Director, Warren Bernard, ran a good show and David Michael Thomas could not have been better with convention previews and making sure we were comfortable throughout.
The Washington alt-weekly newspaper or insert covered the special guests of the con including the Hernandez brothers. Love and Rockets tattoos are the ink du jour as you can see along with Jughead hats and SUPER short skirts (even though we all know leggings that look like wormholes or intestinal tracts are really in this year). Drawing by Thomas Pitilli.
The signing at Politics and Prose in D.C. kicked off the 30th Anniversary Northeast Tour. With trusty escorts like Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds, PR Director Jacq Cohen and myself, what could go wrong? First things first though, toothpicks to make sure teeth are clean.
The first book of the weekend AND the first copy of The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver went to Leon Avelino, publisher at Secret Acres.
Long lines formed for the Hernandez Brothers both days and were chock full of other exhibitors and cartoonists like First Second's George O'Connor.
Fans got books signed, bought drawings and got their SPX convention badges signed.
That night at the Ignatz awards, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez cleaned up. While humbly accepting their Herriman bricks, they thanked Daniel Clowes & Art Spiegelman for NOT having new stories this year. The Brothers won Outstanding Series for Love and Rockets while Jaime won Outstanding Artist and Outstanding Story for "Return for Me"of Love and Rockets: New Stories #4.
Author Phillip Nel sold his Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss biography to whet everyone's appetite for the Barnaby book. Rich Tommaso sold his The Cavalier Mr. Thompson, a Fantagraphics-distributed book about a 1920s hotel in Texas.
Fans and friends got their signatures and tiny drawings by Tommaso.
Cartoonist TJ Kirsch shows off his Daniel Clowes drawing in Twentieth-Century Eightball.
Despite his dour face, Daniel Clowes genuinely liked Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo while Charles Burns looks on.
John Porcellino (of Spit and a Half, King Cat and Drawn and Quarterly) soaked in the cross hatching glory of Van Sciver's The Hypo. Maybe he was enjoying it too much.
As always, my partner-in-crime Jacq Cohen and I accidentally dressed to match some of our favorite classic books, me with Nancy and Jacq with Peanuts.
Jacq and I ran off after the convention to eat some delicious food with our good friends. Clockwise from the bottom left: Gilbert Hernandez, me, Jaime Hernandez, Tom Neely of Sparkplug, Joseph Remnant of ZAP/Top Shelf, Noah Van Sciver and John Porcellino. Delicious!
And finally, a picture from 2010's MoCCA Fest where I'm handing Jaime minis as a fan. Now we get to argue about baseball uniforms and proper sock height while working the Fantagraphics table. Thank you everyone for coming to the Fantagraphics table to buy our books, talk to our artists and spread more of the convention cheer. See you next year!
Photos by Jacq Cohen and me. Attitude by Fantagraphics.
Thanks to our special SPX friend Warren Bernard for sending photos of some of our book titles given to the Enoch Pratt Library of Baltimore, MD. Above, CEO of the library, Dr. Carla Hayden, holds 21: Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago and a staff favorite. The total gift was "$5000 of books, 240 books, 40 titles, part of the SPX Graphic Novel Gift Program" targeted and dispersed to public and academic library systems in the DC area. Each book will have a beautiful bookplate as seen on the SPX site. Below the library staff oogles the books including Maggie the Mechanic by Jaime Hernandez. Check out the shelves at Enoch Pratt Library for some of your favorite Fantagraphics reads.
Recently Fantagraphics stopped by Ohio State University's Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum in Columbus. This structural testament to housing and preserving original cartoon strips makes it a one-of-a-kind-place. Curator Jenny Robb said hello but my after-hours and behind the scene tour guide was librarian Caitlin McGurk!
Students of OSU and traveling scholars (like me!) can request to see original art and read books in the main reference room. The room itself is lined with popular comics reference material, less Marvel's Anatomy and more History of Chinese Comics that was written by a scholar rather than a draw-er.
Caitlin pulled everything I asked for from the collection and more! Fantagraphics utilizes the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library when creating our classic reprint lines. They even have an amazingly sophisticated camera for large scans---we're talking longer and wider than a human.
The stacks were automated, slowly sliding over on tracks after a crank is turned AND button pressed. To avoid trouble, the stacks are lined on the bottom with emergency-stop bars. It's pretty damn cool. The Library houses the larges manga collection in the United States, possibly the world.
The flat files have dim lighting, plastic sleeves around the strips and dust covers to fit over the artwork to prevent sliding or damage. GLOVES are a must.
Prince Valiant by Hal Foster lay inside one of the drawers, well many strips lay in there just begging to be looked at.
Dan DeCarlo's Betty & Veronica cover was not only environmentally topical but sassy like most of his artwork.
Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy. People seem to love her or hate her but Ernie Bushmiller's mathematically complex and erudite leading lady is a joy to see. Caitlin pulled one of the wackiest strips she could find for me dating back to November 16th, 1947.
How many can YOU blow?
Last but not least, was an original Nell Brinkley in a gold frame. Having won over the hearts of many a Gibson girl Brinkley's sparkling ladies went from pining lovers to adventurous maidens.
The collection also boasted some amazing newspaper inserts called The Book of Magic, originally printed with broadsheet newspaper The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Book of Magic was full of comics, stories and ads geared towards children.
A big, warm hug to Caitlin McGurk for the after hours tour and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum for existing! You should make a stop there on your next visit to Ohio or on a road trip. Look out because in 2013 they are moving to a primo new building complete with comics festivities!
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