I had a great time at OCX last weekend. I'm too caught up in catching up to write any kind of report, except to say that the convention is tiny and splendidly run, Norwegians are all wonderful people, the weather was exactly like Seattle except the days were longer (the shots outside Jason's gallery opening were at something like nine o'clock at night as I recall) and any cartoonist who gets invited by OCX, go, just go!
All photos by Lynn Emmert except as noted.
Jason had a small art show opening during the convention, featuring priceless original art elegantly hung from a clothesline, a little selection of cool new paintings (zombies, Hitler, the usual) on corrugated cardboard featuring several of his characters, and Jason animations.
Outside the Jason opening. From left to right, Steffen Kverneland, the back of Dash Shaw's head, me, unknown, Lars Fiske, Jason. Fiske and Kverneland are the co-creators of the great graphic novel/biography Olaf G., about which you will be hearing much more soon.
Reverse angle: From left to right, the back of Jason's head, Fiske, Kverneland, Shaw, me. I don't know why the store sign in the background apparently says "Bugger." Which is almost as funny as the sign my wife and I saw on a Danish ferry once, since "Have a Good Trip" in Danish is "God Fart."
The banner-festooned entrance to the library, the upper floor of which is entirely taken up by the comics library,"Serieteket." Picturesque Scandinavian blonde woman on bicycle in foreground. (They're just everywhere.)
Me being interviewed on stage by journalist Erle Sřrheim. [Photo provided by OCX]
The Drinky Crow bar is open for business. Patrons include Dash Shaw and Dave Cooper to the left; the bartender was from Oregon, oddly enough.
Close-up of the counter, advertising "Beer -- wine -- sodas."
Tony Millionaire, me, and a couple of Finns, one bearing a Drinky Crow tote bag with the Scandinavian equivalent of DOOK DOOK DOOK.
Now the joint is hopping! I can't identify most of these people but the tall dude in the group on the left is dashing No Lo Comprendo Press publisher Espen Holtestaul (publisher of Olaf G., Daniel Clowes, Persepolis, and the Norwegian edition of Jimmy Corrigan, which deservedly won the "best Norwegian edition of a foreign comic" Sproing award the following day), and you can see Lars Fiske next to him.
Yes, let's visit that library! Kverneland and the blurry back of my head.
The "Serieteket" library. Please, lock me in here and throw away the key. [Photo provided by OCX]
Look at all those comics! And hey, there's our own MOME! "Gorilla" is the name of an anthology, by the way, not a thematic grouping (which if so would have had a lot of 1960s DC comics).
Dash Shaw art display at the convention, studied closely by female fans -- perhaps lured by the amazing glam photo of Dash that led off his introduction to convention-goers earlier that day, much to Dash's consternation.
The convention tent. It was lovely until the cold snap hit late in the afternoon. Eventually they had to bring the guy at the door a shawl and mittens. [Photo provided by OCX]
Actually, this picture is in perfect focus: It's Tony who's blurry.
The Fantagraphics panels: Dash Shaw, Dave Cooper, Dave Cooper's dad me, Jason, and Tony Millionaire. We all love Oslo and hope to come back soon!
Curious about that first pair, I dug around a little online, and came across these beauts, and some more information. Apparently, back in the 1970's, Clemente lent his name to this brand of Super Pro sneakers, sold exclusively in his homeland of Puerto Rico! I propose supplemental material on these shoes in a future Special Edition of 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente.
And I saved the best (in my girly-opinion) for last with these exquisite shoes, inspired by E.C. Segar's Popeye fashionista Olive Oyl. I sure wanna kidnap these handcrafted beauties by Israeli shoe designer Kobi Levi, but oops, looks like they're one-of-a-kind. Kobi, I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a pair of these today?
[ Props to Devlin Thompson and Cartoon Brew for the scoop! ]
Sibyl-Anne and her fiancé Boomer live in blissful peace in the French countryside until the evil rat Ratticus, evicted from his previous residence, sets his eye on the quiet acre that the couple share with their friends (a porcupine, a crow, and a rabbit).
After a hilariously unsuccessful attempt to infiltrate the quiet little community in drag (which leaves a member of the cast smitten, Some Like It Hot-style), the devious Ratticus engineers the takeover of a neighboring rat colony and builds it into an army that sweeps Sibyl-Anne and her friends off their homestead and onto an island. Battles by land, by sea, and even by air ensue, until finally the wicked are defeated and peace is restored. Macherot’s charming mouse’s-eye views of bucolic idyll and his fast-paced, witty storytelling turn this book into something like a Pixar version of The Wind in the Willows.
Part of Fantagraphics’ program of bringing American readers the best of post-Tintin Franco-Belgian all-ages comics, Macherot’s “Sibylline” series (as it is called in French) is widely regarded as one of the great classics of the field, and is slated for re-release in French in 2011 as part of a “Complete Sibylline” project. This is the very first instance of Macherot’s work being translated into English.
This second of four volumes reprints in full color the rare Captain Easy Sunday pages from the 1930s. Roy Crane’s Soldier of Fortune, Captain Easy, fights for gold in the frozen north, is mistaken for a bandit, protects a formula for artificial diamonds, is stranded on a desert island, visits the tiny Balkan country of Kleptomania, and faces a firing squad. Captain Easy hobnobs with millionaires and bums and beautiful girls (of course), and winds up in the middle of a full scale war. In short, it’s another rousing series of adventure and humor encapsulating the gallantry, derring-do, and rough-and-tumble innocence of a bygone era and a bygone genre, written and drawn with panache, and practically painted in a vibrant spectrum of colors that you have to see to believe.
Special features of this volume include a foreword by series editor Rick Norwood, an illustrated introduction by fellow cartoonist and Crane aficionado Paul Pope, an essay by the late Bill Blackbeard, and a gallery of rare Captain Easy comic book covers.
Long before the first superhero, Roy Crane’s courageous, indomitable, and cliff-ganging rough guy served as the template for characters that later defined comic books, and set the aesthetic standards for the newspaper strip. Crane’s mastery is why Peanuts creator Charles Schulz said of him (circa 1989): "A treasure. There is still no one around who draws any better."
[In this installment of our series of Editors Notes, Kim Thompson interviews himself (in a format he's dubbed "AutoChat"), with a special contribution by the book's translator, Jenna Allen, aboutGil Jordan, Private Detective: Murder by High Tide by M. Tillieux, now available to pre-order from us and coming soon to a comics shop near you. Thanks to Janice Headley for assistance with images in this post. – Ed.]
Tell me about Gil Jordan.
He and I were born at the same time. Literally. The week I was born, the first issue of Spirou magazine to run Gil Jourdan was the issue on the stands. I only realized this after decades of being a huge fan of the strip, I should add.
In terms of the history of the strip, I would refer readers back to my quick history of 1940s-1960s Franco-Belgian comics magazines. Remember how I referred to Spirou as the Marvel and Tintin as the DC? Well, for most of his formative years and a bit beyond (1947-1955), Tillieux basically worked for one of the Charltons of the day, an outfit called Héroïc-Albums, where he cranked out a detective series called Félix.
Why was he stuck there? Was his work bad?
For whatever reason he'd originally failed to sell to Spirou, his first choice, and had to fall back on Héroïc-Albums. I guess it's a judgment call as to whether Spirou was right in rejecting his work back in the '40s, but he quickly developed and certainly midway through his run on Félix he certainly would have been good enough to move to one of the majors.
Why didn't he?
From what I understand he remained ticked off at Spirou's rejection and stuck with Héroïc-Albums and Félix far beyond what was necessary. He may also have been concerned about losing his ongoing characters (which were owned by Héroïc-Albums), a Gordian knot he eventually sliced in two by making his new Spirou characters very slightly re-designed and re-named carbon copies of his Félix characters. (He was the Howard Chaykin of his day.) This was a decision that would later be very helpful because when he had some health problems and wasn't able to draw for a while, he was able to take old Félix stories and have helpers draw in the Jordan characters and re-letter them, and call it good. (He also recycled some of the Félix stories into his writing assignments for other characters, but let's not get bogged down.)
Wandering Son creator Shimura Takako has just begun a new series titled Awajima Hyakkei (One Hundred Views of Awajima), serialized at the web manga site Pocopoco. I can't read it but it sure looks pretty! Wandering Son translator and editor of our manga line Matt Thorn introduces the series and provides some context and outspoken commentary that you won't want to miss on his blog.
Don’t miss Jim Woodring signing his latest work of genius, Congress of the Animals, at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery this Saturday from 1:00 to 3:00 PM. Jim’s appearance is part of the lively Georgetown Carnival festivities featuring attractions that will appeal to all: circus entertainers, sideshows, aerial acts, carnival games, confections, music, alluring art, power tool races, and more! The Georgetown Carnival promises free fun for everyone from noon to 8:00 PM, rain or shine. So plan to arrive early and stay late. For details see www.georgetowncarnival.com.
You’ll want to see Larry, Bella and Stacey defend their title at Hazardfactory’s annual Power Tool Races. Last time out they terrified the crowd with the “Georgetown Chainsaw Massacre.” This year it’s “Monstrosity” — a Hate inspired Black & Decker “Dragster” model belt sander. (I swear that’s the factory brand.) A wicked quick, bad ass machine.
• Review: "Gilbert Hernandez is one of the great craftsmen of modern comics... Hernandez’s new Fritz book, Love from the Shadows, is as bracing as a slug of bottom-shelf rotgut.... Hernandez artfully approximates the broad, thrilling badness of late-night movies and their inept special effects, and uses it as an excuse to show off some of his gifts: spacious compositions built around texture as well as forms, pauses heavy with foreboding, a sense of body language and facial expressions so acute that we can recognize both the story’s characters and the 'actors' playing those characters." – Douglas Wolk, The New York Times Sunday Book Review
• Review: At CBR's Comics Should Be Good, Sonia Harris looks at Gilbert Hernandez's trilogy (so far) of "Fritz Films" graphic novels: "Filled with the longing of unfulfilled desire and lost innocence, these stories are the kind of schlock film that is accidentally life-alteringly great and I suspect Hernandez might have missed his calling as a screenwriter in the early ’60′s… That’s the thing, this kind of movie doesn’t really happen any more which is why Hernandez’ use of the comic book medium to tell Fritz’ movie roles is particularly delightful."
• Review: "In her debut release, Leslie Stein proves that comic strips are so much more than those old Cathy cartoons you'd read around the kitchen table on Sunday mornings. Instead, this semi-autobiographical tale,Eye of the Majestic Creature, follows protagonist Larrybear on a trippy journey throughout Chicago, San Francisco, and NYC in hopes of figuring out her life.... Drawn in a totally out-there Surrealist style, this quick page-turner is proof that while you might be too old for Garfield and Friends, there are cartoons you can still relate to...and love." – Liza Darwin, Nylon
• Review: "...Eye of the Majestic Creature... blend[s] autobiographical self-discovery, surreal free-association, philosophical ruminations, nostalgic reminiscences and devastatingly dry wit to describe life filtered through a seductive meta-fictional interior landscape. This lady laconically tans under vastly different suns and the results are enchanting and entrancing." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "There’s precious little around for kids and especially girl readers in American funnybooks... so this intriguing and wildly imaginative series [Yeah!] which seamlessly combined fantasy, science fiction, fashion, pop and school cultures in a wild blend of frantic fun and thoroughly deserves another chance to shine." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Commentary: The anecdote and photo of a little girl and Yeah! that lead off Sonia Harris's latest "Committed" column for Comic Book Resources' Comics Should Be Good are beyond adorable
• Review: "Alex’s days are punctuated by alcoholic constipation, artist’s block, trashing his flat and avoiding childhood friends and his favourite teacher from high school, now a raving dipsomaniac surrounded by cats. He is also tormented by a rather good expressionist painting he apparently produced during a bender, and impure thoughts about his Asian neighbour and a beautiful former classmate... In short, a very good but not at all cheerful study of the consequences of achieving your ambitions when you’re a self-loathing dog-headed cartoonist." – Grant Buist, The Name of this Cartoon Is Brunswick
• Interview (Audio):Inkstuds host Robin McConnell and his cohort Colin Upton talk with fellow British Columbian Mark Kalesniko about his new graphic novel Freeway
• Commentary: Our own Eric Reynolds has become ESPN.com's go-to expert on baseball cartooning — the article also discusses Jack Davis's work for Topps
Oh my gosh! The hot new face on the webcomics scene: the great Arnold Roth, who has a new blog where he's posting new gag cartoons three times a week! It's called Humblug! That is indescribably great! (Hat tip: Tom Spurgeon, who got it from Mike Lynch.)
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