Kane was as good a talker as he was a draughtsman, infinitely curious about the comics form and just as critical of the industry itself, and would seize any opportunity to engage with other artists about the subjects he was most passionate about. Included in this collection are interviews conducted by Kane with a wide array of cartoonists: newspaper strip artists Hal Foster (Prince Valiant), Walt Kelly (Pogo), and Noel Sickles (Scorchy Smith); fellow comics creators Harvey Kurtzman, Bill Everett, Denny O’Neil, Howard Chaykin, and Walt Simonson; underground cartoonists Robert Crumb and Jack Jackson; and the literary critic Donald Phelps.
These conversations range from the collegial to the contentious. On full display is Kane’s critical acuity, trademark wit, vast knowledge of popular culture, and a civilized eagerness to engage in opinions contrary to his own. His objective was to gain insight into the medium and the artists who worked within it. Sparring with Gil Kane is practically a Master Class on the comics form.
“Sparring vividly documents an emergent school of criticism founded on a passion for comics—one in which Gil Kane, as gadfly, aesthetician, conversationalist, moderator, and living fund of memory, played an indispensable role. Sparring with Kane is really a matter of learning from him, and this is an essential addition to any library of comics criticism.” — Extra Inks