|Video: Kim Deitch talks Smilin' Ed|
|Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under video, Kim Deitch||15 Jul 2010 10:36 AM|
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Category >> Kim Deitch
In the spirit of the upcoming holiday we're celebrating independence and freedom of speech by taking at least 20% OFF almost every book and comic in our Underground Comix category, including books by Vaughn Bodé, R. Crumb, Kim Deitch, Victor Moscoso, Spain Rodriguez, Frank Stack, Robert Williams and more! The sale is over at the end of the day on Friday, July 9, so don't delay!
Fantagraphics Books and New York's The Strand Bookstore are proud to present an evening with acclaimed graphic novelists Kim Deitch and Megan Kelso on June 24, talking about and signing their new graphic novels THE SEARCH FOR SMILIN' ED (by Deitch) and ARTICHOKE TALES (by Kelso).
Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "So Fantagraphics recently released The Search for Smilin' Ed, which was serialized a while back but also contains a brand-new story as well. ...Deitch really puts a lot on the page. And, for the most part, it's pretty fascinating. But I was struck by something in the book, and I must ask: Is this comic racist? ... Deitch has a grand time twisting the way reality presents itself, bringing together his entire career in cartooning so that it all exists in the same odd universe. Deitch's intricate artwork completes this surreal adventure — it's an astonishing piece of detailed work, with monsters lurking in panels and scenes shown from different viewpoints to add interesting nuances. Deitch mixes his own, 'real' world skillfully with Waldo's imaginative one into a haunting phantasmagoria, with strange creatures flitting through our consciousness and then disappearing. It's a very wild comic that asks the reader to enter this topsy-turvy world and accept what's going on. For the most part, we do." – Greg Burgas, Comic Book Resources
• Review: "Kelso's... thin lines, empty figures, expressive curves and powerful shading are a delight to look at... I also think that the scope of the story has a lot of appeal, and the persistent theme of every character finding themselves incapable of staying anywhere near their closest family is probably a relatable one to many. ... Artichoke Tales is at its finest when it delivers the banality of life from the pretense of grandeur..." – Jason Michelitch, Comics Alliance
• Review: "At its core, [Set to Sea] is imbued with appropriately romantic notions of what living one’s life truly means. ... Weing is something of a classicist in his artistic approach, from the E.C. Segar influence he clearly wears on his anchored sleeve to his garish use of hatching—but the style suits the subject matter quite well. Much care has clearly gone into every page. And the result is a satisfying, if brief read." – Brian Heater, The Daily Cross Hatch
• Review: "Joe Daly’s Dungeon Quest is at once the most self-aware and metatextual of the recent spate of fantasy-inspired alt-comics, as well as the one most devoted to the sheer fun of exploring a space and dealing with its inhabitants. ... Above all else, Daly is funny, and never pursues cheap laughs. His line mixes clear-line simplicity with occasional psychedelic weirdness; bending the borders of reality is a trademark of his narratives. When Daly lays down a genre story over this template, the resulting stories are enjoyable on several levels." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Read 2 pages a day [of The Kat Who Walked in Beauty], every so often, for 6+ months to get through this. I was very inspired by it...the world of it, the forms. The world has changed a lot since Mr. Herriman drew these strips. Some real groaners in here, but some good jokes too." – Kevin Huizenga, Husband vs. Wife
• Interview: Newsarama's Michael C. Lorah talks to Cathy Malkasian about her new graphic novel Temperance: "What I wanted to touch upon was our current state of engaging in distant wars and how these have altered the lives of returning soldiers and their loved ones. This and the increasing taste for violence in our cultural palette. Do these currents rise together? Is the latter a reaction to the former? I still don’t know, but I have a feeling we’re seriously rearranging the role of violence in our collective mind."
• Interview: Fangoria's Nick Masercola talks to Charles Schneider, fraternal consultant for our forthcoming book Catalog No. 439 - Burlesque Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes: "The DeMoulin Bros. catalog is an incredible distillation of the best and craziest pranks and stunts, created in a beautifully crafted style for grown-ups!"
Meanwhile, Deitch family fans on the other coast won't be left in the lurch — on Monday June 28 at 6:30 PM in New York City the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art presents a Master Class in Comic Art and Storytelling with Kim Deitch, who "will impart some key secrets. Secrets easily mastered that transformed him from being lazy, hedonistic and unfocused into a more positive, goal oriented human being. He will also show you a certain attitude about the idea of making art; how an artistic life can be more than a way to make a living; that it can also be a way to make a genuinely valid contribution to the world we live in." Man that sounds great! More info & registration links here.
Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "...[The Search for Smilin' Ed is] a massive comedic epic of demonic possession and ventriloquism — it’s an explosion of the kind of thing Deitch does best. ... I defy anyone to read this and keep pace with Deitch’s ideas — somewhere between hippie psychedelics and virtual reality futurism is where Deitch’s brain lies. His wacky cartoon art style reveals a complex universe that meditates on the nature of reality itself, and your personal place within it as filtered through the isolated impressions of your own brain." – John Seven, Reverse Direction
• Review: "Malkasian’s tale is like something out of a fairy tale Book of Revelations, with a strangely similar vibe to the final season of Lost. ... With Temperance, Malkasian has heightened the depth of her ideas and demanded more from her audience. It’s a religious parable, to be sure, but it doesn’t stop right there, instead going into the territory of the motivations of belief, including the roles of fear, wrongdoing and falsehoods." – John Seven, Reverse Direction
• Plug: "[Johnny] Ryan in Prison Pit proves to be a master of precise composition and pacing. Though there's nothing redeeming about any of the characters in Ryan's hellish world, I still want to follow them for the artist's drawing virtuosity. There isn't a misplaced line, or a poorly chosen composition in this book, and it leads to a visually compelling, well-paced piece of work." – Charles Brownstein, in an interview with The Comics Reporter
• Interview: At his blog Hardboiled Wonderland, author Jedidiah Ayres talks to Tim Lane about Abandoned Cars, about which Ayres says "A collection of graphic short stories linked by theme and style that modulate between a sharp, gritty focus and dream-sense stream of consciousness, it reads like the book Jack Kerouac may have written with oh, say Donald Ray Pollock, populated by characters outrageous and familiar, out of their minds and so far down to earth that they're actually beneath it. And that's not saying anything about the visuals. Tim's gorgeous illustrations are why I bought the damn thing. That he could write worth a crap was gravy. His style is batter-dipped Americana with a generous dose of film-noir aesthetics and if I knew anything about graphic artists, I'd blow your mind with some mash-up comparison, (please insert your own dream team here and then assume that he tops it)." A bit from Tim: "I'm also very interested in creating a hint of pre-comics code comic illustration style in my work — especially the crime/horror comics of the late 40's and early 50's — because, beyond the fact that I love that stuff, I think it represents something ideological that is still pertinent today and resonates with my own attitude toward life."
• Interview: Chris Reilly of TCJ.com's Guttergeek has a Q&A with Michael Kupperman. Reilly says "Kupperman weeds out all the NARCs at the party — meaning that if his work does not make you laugh, go back to Omega House and spank some pledges, you joyless freak. Seriously, this man is one of the all-time great comic book satirists (in that he’s so funny that he may be satirizing comedy). ... Through his lens the most mundane thing become seriously funny." Kupperman says "Why should you read Tales Designed to Thrizzle? To experience the liberating power of laughter. Of course, if you don’t find it funny then there’s really no reason to read it. If you have no sense of humor, stay away."
Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List: "A new, superb Frank book called Weathercraft came out a few weeks ago, but I treasured Frank as a periodical, and I'd love to sit down with a few hundred issues of it when I'm an old man. ... I think it's healthy for adolescent boys to have access to well-written, well-drawn comics about war, as long as the comics in question [like Blazing Combat] constantly pound home the message that war is futile, stupid and contemptible." – Douglas Wolk, "Ten Comics That Should Run Forever," TIME/Techland
• Review: "If you are in search for fresh ideas or even tried and true ideas presented in a fresh light, this is the book you've been yearning for. Werewolves of Montpellier is one of those true indie gems that make me glad I took a chance reading something outside of the mainstream. ... Werewolves of Montpellier is by far my favorite Indie Book of the Year so far. ... If you're a fan of the Coen Brothers or David Lynch, it's a safe bet that any work by Jason is going to be right up your alley. ...[I]n Werewolves of Montpellier, Jason takes his style of irreverence and perfects it. I guarantee if you take a chance with this book you will not forget it and seek out more Jason. It's one of those stories that sits with you long after page last comes to pass. Hilarious, profound, fun, and meaningful. Werewolves of Montpellier is filled with indie goodness." – Mark L. Miller, Ain't It Cool News
• Review: "Eisner Award winner Kim Deitch has been weaving a complex universe of ghosts, aliens, demons, puppets, spiritual leaders, and complicated animal characters for over 40 years, and in the tradition of Vonnegut, Deitch occasionally places himself in the middle of his own madness. If that sounds a bit meta, that’s only the barest tip of the squirmy, lascivious iceberg that Deitch has planned for you [in The Search for Smilin' Ed]. ... The lines between fiction and fact are so effectively blurred and made bizarre that I still retain a bit of paranoia and doubt about the veracity of any evidence that Smilin’ Ed was ever on TV... The images are so dense that it’s amazing they retain the clarity that they do, but it’s an amazing and unexpected study in the principles of positive and negative space." – Collin David, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "By being both foreboding and accessible, menacing and friendly — and doing so without suffering from sort of comic book schizophrenia, Hensley manages to create something rather unique and deeply rewarding in Wally Gropius. This is a comic that rewards multiple readings and contemplation. It's also one of the best — and funniest — books of the year." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "Speaking of strange, what an oddly delightful little book [Dungeon Quest Book 1] is, a mash-up of Dungeons & Dragons-type adventuring and stoner attitude... To some degree, this book is a distant cousin to Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit. The main difference being that Daly is more concerned with pot jokes than gore. Both though, are part of this seemingly new try to find ways to give the familiar fantasy genre a clever twist. And both are concerned with exploring different ways to portray action and violence in comics. ... Based on the strengths of this introductory volume... I'm willing to go where the adventure leads to." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
Online Commentary & Diversions:
• List: Library Journal's Martha Cornog names You'll Never Know, Book 1: A Good and Decent Man by C. Tyler as one of "12 Graphic Novels for Father's Day": "A newly single parent trying to understand her middle-aged self, Carol Tyler sets out to find the real human being and the real soldier behind her World War II veteran dad's familiar and taciturn persona. Her colorful, historically detailed art re-creates the wartime period expressively, and this first in a trilogy inspires curiosity and empathy for those who serve but don't talk about it much. Everything is connected, and the past is never just the past."
• Review: "Jack Cole... was undeniably a master of his craft, with deft, lovely lines and a witty sensibility. This new book, Classic Pin-Up Art of Jack Cole, from Fantagraphics focuses mostly on the titillating and gracefully naughty one-panel comics done for the Humorama publishing concern. ... This is the best sort of cheesecake. The historical text piece puts these works and the career of Mr. Cole into context, and creates a fascinating, entertaining, and timeless volume. ...I'm betting you'll read it again and again. Author rating: 9/10" – Jeremy Nisen, Under the Radar
• Review: "Jack Cole is known for creating Plastic Man, the superhero whose limbs can stretch. But the artist also drew cartoons capable of making readers’ other parts stretch, and the proof is in the prurient pudding of Classic Pin-Up Art of Jack Cole, newly available in paperback from Fantagraphics Books. The 100 pages’ worth of cartoons of comely, curvy cuties come culled from low-rent men’s digest magazines of the 1940s and 1950s — now-forgotten rags with happy-go-lucky names like Romp, Joker and Laugh Riot. But Cole’s contributions are visually indelible." – Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "With Woodring’s skill, I never found myself confused [by Weathercraft], at least, more than you’re supposed to be. I’ve never read a statement by Woodring saying this, but I always got the impression he wanted you to work for the meaning behind his stories. Even if it’s not the case, I highly enjoy the process. In one graphic novel, I got what I think may have been a love story, a treatise on spiritual enlightenment and sometimes just a whole lot of fun." – Joe Keatinge, Neon Monster
• Analysis: "[Weathercraft], which centres on the evolutionary and spiritual journey of Manhog, is breathtakingly original, and looking at it just brings home to me how timid many of us in this business are. ... These works, Weathercraft and Rupert [the Bear], should be poles apart, and yet they have much in common; both are brilliant ideas, both are brilliantly drawn, both 'exist' in fully imagined worlds, worlds familiar enough to be like the world we know, but different enough from the world we know for magic to happen. It may be a fanciful notion on my part, but I can see much more craft in these two magical comic creations than chaotic meanderings, and I'm relieved." – Rod McKie
• Review: "And as with other works like Shadowland and Boulevard of Broken Dreams, it’s nearly impossible not to be sucked in [by The Search for Smilin' Ed], as Deitch digs deeper and deeper into his own seedy universe. It’s also impossible not to pull the old volumes off the shelf for another exploratory re-read. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to discover even more sprawling themes amongst the seemingly dissonant puzzle pieces, the pursuit of which will be a downright blast." – Brian Heater, The Daily Cross Hatch
Catching up with Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Over the last few decades, Jim Woodring has been drawing a series of wordless, blissfully cruel slapstick fables, set in a world of grotesque entities and psychedelic minarets: half unshakable nightmare, half Weathercraft... flows so smoothly and delightfully from each image to the next that it’s easy to ignore that it has its own idea of sense, which may not jibe with anybody else’s." – Douglas Wolk, The New York Timescartoon filtered through the Bhagavad Gita.
• Review: "For those who find the work involving enough, Weathercraft will resonate with them on some emotional level — there's moments that unnerve, moments that touch — and while it is an immersive experience, the comic, especially in its hardcover form, operates most like a testimony of events. It's a comic, through and through, but it hews closer to a religious tome than it does a Love & Rockets installment." – Tucker Stone, comiXology
• Review: "It’s better to experience Woodring’s work than to try and understand it. Weathercraft focuses on Frank’s frequent nemesis Manhog — a representative of humanity at its morally weakest — as he goes through multiple stages of degradation on his way to almost achieving a higher consciousness. The humanoid mongrel Frank hangs around the edges of the story with his loyal pets, but Weathercraft is mainly about how Manhog — and by extension the reader — sees how sick, freaky, and beautiful the world can be… [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Megan Kelso is best known for elegant, small-scale comics... with a historical or memoiristic bent. So it’s surprising and wonderful that Artichoke Tales, her first novel-length work, is the sort of world-building fantasy story that comes with a family tree and a map on its endpapers. ... Kelso’s ligne claire artwork is consistently sweet and airy, depicting blobby, dot-eyed characters whose body language says as much as their words. The approach provides a likable surface for a story with much darker and stickier depths, about a land whose cultural heritage is rotting away in the aftermath of a civil war." – Douglas Wolk, The New York Times
• Review: "South African comic book writer/artist Joe Daly’s Dungeon Quest: Book One takes a hilariously askew look at the madness of fantasy quest games. ...[R]eaders with a high tolerance for absurdity and a healthy sense of humor about the subject matter will probably love what's on offer here." – Matt Staggs, Suvudu
• Review: "Watching [Wally] and his equally gangly, geometric cohorts stretch and sprint and smash their way across Hensley's brighly colored backgrounds and block-lettered sound effects is like reading your favorite poem — or even... Wally Gropius itself — as translated into a language with a totally different alphabet. ... And wonder of wonders, the book finds its own way to be really funny amid all these highfalutin hijinks..." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "[Wally Gropius] has quickly become one of my favorite graphic novels. ... The comic is too odd to be described as 'commentary.' It seems far more synthetic than parodic: it blends recognizable influences into something truly new... The plot of Wally Gropius has been described as surreal or random, but it’s coherent and far more complex than I first thought... The book is an encyclopedia of cartoony facial expressions and bodily gestures, and should be studied at the CCS as such. WG radiates a real sense of joy, of 'cartooning unfettered.' ... Hensley is one of the best, and most idiosyncratic, writers of text in comics." – Ken Parille, Blog Flume
• Review: "[Daniel] Clowes isn’t as zany as he used to be, so there’s a void to be filled here, and Wally Gropius does that ably: The hardcover collects Hensley’s Gropius stories from the anthology series Mome (with a little extra material thrown in), and his immaculate, vaguely ’50s style owes as much to Mort Walker, Archie Comics, and other vintage teen-humor strips as it does to Clowes. ... [Grade] B" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "...Captain Easy follows a mysterious agent-for-hire as he travels exotic lands, battling bad guys. ...Crane’s art is stunning, combining simple cartoony figures with richly detailed backgrounds in clever, colorful layouts. It isn’t even necessary to read the dialogue or captions to follow the action; just scan Crane’s dynamic lines, which make every panel look like a unique work of pop art… [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "I was pretty excited when I found out that Fantagraphics was publishing an anthology of The Best American Comics Criticism. ... Editor Ben Schwartz did a great job selecting pieces that comprise a vibrant narrative of the industry. From graphic novels with literary aspirations to comics about capes, the breadth of content in here is really fantastic. ... But of all the essays in the book, only one is written by a woman. That’s a big let down." – Erin Polgreen, Attackerman
• Plug: "Drew Friedman is the master American caricaturist of our time. Not only are his portraits of the famous so realistic, they induce double takes, but he also captures truths about personality and draws out (pun intended) the funny in everyone." – Michael Simmons, LA Weekly
• Interview: Comics Comics' Nicole Rudick sat Al Columbia down for his most candid and revealing interview ever: "So, yeah, I can still draw Pim and Francie. They’re a lot of fun to draw. Almost too much fun. You start to get intoxicated working on them. It’s like, 'This is too much fun. This shouldn’t be allowed. This shouldn’t be legal.' I always put it aside because it just gets me too . . . they’re very intense and fun and maybe fun upsets me."
• Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater concludes his conversation with Gene Deitch: "I hate the term '2D.' That’s bullshit. They put us in that category. They say they’re making 3D. They’re not 3D. What Pixar does is not 3D because it’s shaded. The screen is flat. It’s a flat picture. It’s just an illusion."
• Profile: Taylor Dungjen of University of Cincinnati student newspaper The News Record profiles U of C faculty member C. Tyler: "You might say Tyler is a proud American. You might even call her a patriot. She says she is a liberal hippie chick who supports American troops."
This interview was conducted via telephone and transcribed by Comics Journal editorial intern Ian Burns and proofread by TCJ's Kristy Valenti and myself. Thanks to all! –Ed.
IAN BURNS: One of the new features [in The Search for Smilin’ Ed] is this huge fold-out here, and I was wondering, now that there’s over one hundred characters in your own personal universe, does having it that large affect how you create new stories at all?
KIM DEITCH: Well, it certainly gives me a lot of advantage in terms of I’ve got all these characters and I can use them in stories, but I’ll tell you, bein’ a character of mine isn’t all that great [Burns laughs]. If I haven’t got a good idea for ‘em, forget about it. A character’s only as good as he is contributing to the storyline that I want to tell. The only one that’s really lasted all this time is Waldo, and even him I’ll lay him off for years at a time if I don’t feel I’ve got a good story.
That’s why I think those stories are pretty good is because I never tried to force one. I never got up in the morning and go [adopts southern drawl]: “Hmm, I’m gonna make me a Waldo story!” [Burns laughs]. I don’t do that: to me, the play’s the thing, and it’s got to be a good yarn.
DEITCH: God knows that’s a gimmick that’s gotten plenty of mileage.
I will say this: in “The Sunshine Girl,” the long story in Deitch's Pictorama, that character Eleanor — I got to like her so much that I’d say the story I’m working on now was suggested by the fact that by the time I was nearing the end of that story, I got to like that character so much I hated to give her up. But ironically, now that I’m doing the story she doesn’t really have that much to do with it [Burns laughs]. At the beginning, discovering this manuscript, and then there’s an epilogue at the end and this woman occasionally mentions her by name as she’s describing something she did, so....Well, you just have to see where things go, you know? I had it in my mind that I’d like to do another story with her and maybe I will but, oddly, I didn’t really do that at all. I just used it as a jumping-off point for another story with a new character.
BURNS: Great. Back on the fold-out: Did you go through any in-depth laying-out process for all these characters, or...?
DEITCH: When I submitted the idea to Kim that we do The Search for Smilin’ Ed, the reason I did it is I figured this one I’m working on now is going to take me so long, I’d like to have something come out in the meantime, so people don’t forget about me. But, he said, “OK, I think this will make a good book, but you know what, I’d like to have an article in there talking about ‘The Kim Deitch Universe.’”
Now, I didn’t make that term up. But you know the Marvel Universe: it just means the interconnectedness of all my characters. And when he said that, I immediately, feeling cocky [Burns laughs], said: “Well, hell, if you guys are going to have an article about The Kim Deitch Universe, the least I can do is draw it!” [Burns laughs.]
Having said this, then I’m going, “Oh my God what have I said? How the hell am I gonna draw that?” [Laughter.] But, in a way that worked out, because I even spun off my own uncertainty: I was proud of the thing I worked up, it’s almost like a story but it isn’t a story. It leads you into it. Along the way I got the high concept: “let’s have it all happening inside my head.”
BURNS: Right, that’s what I was just going to say: it’s all centered around that image.
DEITCH: Yeah, and once that happened, then I really started catching fire. I did several elaborate sketches of it, and it wasn’t exactly pure fun, but it was happening. I knew I was onto something good and it came out pretty good, I think. It was hell: I had two computers cave in under me because that was a huge file. I had to get Paul Baresh to cut it in half. If you look at the Universe ones that they printed separately, you look really careful in the middle you can see where there’s a slight differentiation, ‘cause we were doing it in two hunks. Pretty much the biggest file I ever worked on. “Sex, Drugs, and Rock ’n’ roll” for Kramers [Ergot]; those were bigger, but they didn’t give me the trouble that this one did. “Kim Deitch Universe” was really blood, sweat and tears. But not the concept, so much, once I got going on that.
But the real bitch was colorin’ it, which usually is sort of fun for me. But I never had such a big busy thing. Like I said, first I started on my wife’s computer and it crashed, and then I went over to the other computer...it was giving me all kinds of trouble till I cut it in half.
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The Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale St., Seattle WA 98108. Tel: 206-658-0110.