Archive for September, 2009

Verbeek’s Japanese Roots


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

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Readers of Art Out of Time will remember the pages devoted to the eery art of Gustave Verbeek, an early 20th century master of imaginative freakiness. Now more of Verbeek’s work is available in a beautiful new book from Sunday Press Books: The Upside-Down World of Gustave Verbeek: Comics and Art 1900-1915, which has just hit bookstores this week. As with all the other books from Sunday Press, this volume is lovingly designed, with long moldering art restored nearly to their pristine perfection. Hitherto, very little was known about Verbeek so editor Peter Maresca has done amazing work in digging up his paintings and illustrations, which immeasurably deepen our understanding of the context from which he emerged. Along with Chris Ware and Seth, Maresca has raised the bar for reprinting classic comics.

In an essay I wrote that is part of the book, I argue that Verbeek’s work owes much to its Japanese roots. Here is an excerpt:

Verbeek’s life and art emerged from a unique historical moment. In 1854, Commodore Matthew Perry forced the isolationist Tokugawa shogunate to open up Japan to the West, thereby initiating a new era of international relations and also, unexpectedly, creating the groundwork for an artistic revolution. For the next century, Japan fired up the imagination of countless artists, influencing everything from Vincent van Gogh’s shimmering color to Frank Lloyd Wright’s airy sense of space.

Japan runs like a thread through Verbeek’s life. Born only slightly more than a dozen years after Perry’s famous exercise in gunboat diplomacy and belonging to the European nationality (the Dutch) that had the richest history of interacting with the Japanese, Verbeek was in a perfect position to absorb his native land’s artistic heritage. He first studied art in Tokyo. As poet Hildegarde Hawthorne (granddaughter of the famous novelist) noted in 1916, Verbeek’s “inerrant capacity for leaving out the inessential owes something to his Japanese masters.”

For those who think the connection between Western comics and Japan started with manga, The Upside-Down World of Gustave Verbeek will be an eye-opener.

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Kwik Lisnin


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

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Appreciating Frank’s point

The indefatigable Sean Collins has posted the audio for two panels from SPX that may be of interest to Comics Comics readers: the “New Action” panel featuring our own Frank Santoro (as well as Benjamin Marra, Kazimir Strzepek, and Shawn Cheng), and the criticism panel, which includes CC contributors Joe “Jog” McCulloch and Bill Kartalopolous, as well as about a million more worthy names than I feel like typing out.

[UPDATE: STC has posted a transcription of the “New Action” panel here.]

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Comics Enriched Their Lives! #14


Sunday, September 27, 2009

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“We decided that the light should be emotional rather than realistic,” says [Alain] Resnais, citing a source of inspiration in one of his beloved comic-strip illustrators, Terry and the Pirates creator Milton Caniff. “At a time when comic strips were very disparaged as an art form, I was very happy to learn that Orson Welles and Milton Caniff had a correspondence in which they said that each was influenced by the other. And Orson Welles was not an imbecile!”

Village Voice, Sept. 22, 2009

An easy one, but a good ground rule double all the same.


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Illustraton History part 1


Thursday, September 24, 2009

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I want to call attention to a couple recent essays by Norman Hathaway that I think are “must-reads” for illustration buffs.

First is an article, with images and video, about Doug Johnson, the Canadian illustrator, long based in NYC, who became famous in the 1970s for his exquisitely psychedelic and painterly airbrush technique. Includes are his covers for Judas Priest, Ike and Tina Turner, and a lot more.

And second is a fond remembrance of the great illustrator Peter Lloyd, who passed away last month. Lloyd is best known to comics fans as one of the designers of the film Tron, but he was a stellar image maker.

I’ve been fascinated with the coverage of Bernie Fuchs’ death, if only because it give him some much needed recognition while making room for the idea that he was ultimately eclipsed by the late 1960s and Push Pin. Together with the passing of Lloyd and Heinz Edelmann this summer I think there’s a lot to be said about different eras and styles of illustration. Each man represented the peak of a certain era and style, defining the look and feel of distinct segments of visual culture for a bunch of years. But more on that in a future post.

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PictureBox at SPX


Monday, September 21, 2009

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Well, while PB is waiting to be bought by Disney and/or be given the rights to half of Mole Man we will be exhibiting this weekend, September 26-27, at SPX. Booth D9-11.

We will have our full range of titles and Frank Santoro and Matthew Thurber will be in attendance. Besides our newest books, including Santoro’s Cold Heat 7/8, Thurber’s 1-800 MICE 3, Mat Brinkman’s Multiforce and Gary Panter’s Pee Dog 2, we will have a stack of the phenomenal new Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror (now on sale in our shop!), featuring stories by Ben Jones, Jon Vermilyea, Thurber, Kevin Huizenga and many others. We will also have a selection of new mini-comics, zines, and the legendary comic book series Real Deal.

And, bonus: There will be a Treehouse of Horror signing with various artists on Sunday, 9/25, from noon to 1 pm.

SPX is always a fun time. Come out and see us.

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Congratulations to Tim and Lauren


Monday, September 21, 2009

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I’m pleased as can be that our own Tim Hodler and Lauren Weinstein are now the proud parents of Ramona Salley Hodler, a healthy baby girl! Ramona arrives with superb comics pedigree and is our newest, most promising blogger. Welcome to the team Ramona! Love to Ma and Pa.

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Rio de Janeiro Book Fair


Sunday, September 20, 2009

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I’m going to make this quick and comics-related. Everyone at the fair, Companhia, and the US Consulate was nice and treated me much better than I deserve to be treated. I can’t figure out a good USA reference for this book fair. It’s sort of like the San Diego Comic-Con, only all books and “normal” people (lots of families.) It took place in three large boxes. This first photo of the exterior looks like a Tom K panel:

The standard comic size in Brazil is smaller and a slightly different ratio.

Andre told me you can chart the Brazilian economy of the 80s and 90s by looking at the cover price fluctuations of Akira, since it was being serialized through that time.
Andre’s father edits this magazine, Piaui , and in the latest issue they ran an excerpt of Crumb’s Genesis. The magazine is huge (about 11 by 14 inches) and on great paper and the excerpt looks totally amazing in it. I’m psyched for that book.

I was on a panel with the twins Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba where I was asked how to increase literacy among Brazilian youth.

Later that day the fair threw a party and I was told it was taking place in a park so I just wore a t-shirt. It turned out it was in a mansion in a park. Snoop Dogg filmed this music video (3:53) there. I told a prose novelist I was feeling underdressed and he said: “Don’t worry. You’re a graphic novelist. It works.” Ha! True story.

Okay, here are some more scans of things I acquired. This first artist, Lourenco Mutarelli, I hung out with a little bit. He does great sketchbooks filled with gorgeous, raunchy drawings. I hope that those are eventually published or put online or become available somehow.

These are random other things:

I went to Rafael Grampa’s studio in an ex-beauty salon in Sao Paulo but I don’t have any good photos of it. Rafael’s working on a series that Dark Horse is publishing in 2010 titled Furry Water and I flipped through some originals and it’s crazy. His personality can be felt in his drawings. They’re aggressive, funny and full of life. Dude can draw.

Now Comics Comics may return to more thoughtful posting.