Archive for November, 2009

The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival


Monday, November 30, 2009

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PictureBox & Desert Island Present:

The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival

Saturday December 5th 2009: 11 AM – 7 PM
Our Lady of Consolation Church
184 Metropolitan Ave.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Free admission

Download the festival program here for a map and schedule.

UPDATE 12/1/09: I’m pleased to announce that Mat Brinkman will be at the PictureBox booth signing books on Saturday.

The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival consists of 3 components in 3 nearby locations in Williamsburg, Brooklyn:

-Over 50 exhibitors selling their zines, comics, books, prints and posters in a bustling market-style environment at Our Lady of Consolation Church, 184 Metropolitan Ave.
Panel discussions and lectures by prominent artists, as well as an exhibition of vintage comic book artwork at Secret Project Robot, 128 River St.
An evening of musical performances at DBA, 49 S. 2nd St.

In the cozy basement of Our Lady of Consolation Church (184 Metropolitan), exhibitors will display and sell their unique wares. Exhibitors include leading graphic book publisher Drawn & Quarterly of Montreal; famed French screenprint publisher Le Dernier Cri; artist’s book publisher Nieves of Zurich, Switzerland; Italian art book publisher Corraini; master printer David Sandlin; and tons of individual artists and publishers from Brooklyn.

Featured guests include the renowned artists Gabrielle Bell, R. O. Blechman, Pakito Bolino, Charles Burns, Anya Davidson, Kim Deitch, C.F., Carlos Gonzales, Ben Katchor, Michael Kupperman, Mark Newgarden, Gary Panter, Ron Rege Jr., Peter Saul, Dash Shaw, R. Sikoryak, Jillian Tamaki, Adrian Tomine, and Lauren Weinstein, among others.

184 Metropolitan Ave.

1:00: Jillian Tamaki, Michael Kupperman, Lauren Weinstein
2:00: Matthew Thurber, Ron Rege, Jr., C.F.
3:00: Kim Deitch, R.O. Blechman, Dash Shaw
4:00: Ben Katchor and Gary Panter
5:00: Mark Newgarden, David Sandlin, Lisa Hanawalt
6:00: Gabrielle Bell & R. Sikoryak

The commerce portion of the Festival is partnered with an active panel and lecture program nearby at Secret Project Robot, 5 minutes down the street at 128 River St. This mini symposium will run from 1 to 6 pm and is being overseen by noted comics critic Bill Kartalopolous.

Secret Project Robot
128 River St. and Metropolitan

Two generations of painters, Gary Panter and Peter Saul, will discuss their shared history, image-making, narrative, and the joys and dilemmas of making difficult work. Moderated by Dan Nadel.

Comics and animation operate very differently, yet retain deep historical and stylistic connections. R. O. Blechman, Kim Deitch, and Dash Shaw will discuss the relationship between the two forms with moderator Bill Kartalopoulos.

Ben Katchor has chronicled the pleasures of urban decay and other metropolitan phenomena in comics including Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer and The Jew of New York. Katchor will read performatively from his comics and discuss his work in this rare spotlight presentation.

Do comics need a third dimension? Lisa Hanawalt, Mark Newgarden, Ron Regé, Jr.,
and David Sandlin will consider the tension between comics’ illusionistic worlds and their status as images on a picture plane. Moderated by Bill Kartalopoulos.

In a one-of-a-kind comics drawing session, Frank Santoro will present Gabrielle Bell and R. Sikoryak with a rough page layout based on his principles of composition and design. These two artists will translate Santoro’s layout into two unique pages of comics, live, before your very eyes.

Also: An exhibition of 1950s original comic book art curated by Dan Nadel

Death by Audio
49 S. 2nd Street

Finally, at the end of the day visitors can troop over to Death by Audio at 49 S. 2nd Street, for an evening of musical performances by cartoonists, organized by Paper Route, and including performances by Kites, Ambergris, Sam Gas Can, Boogie Boarder, Nick Gazin, Graffiti Monsters, Dubbknowdubb.

The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival

Exhibitors and Artists:
Our Lady of Consolation Church
184 Metropolitan Ave.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
11 AM – 7 PM

Panel Discussions, Lectures & Art Exhibition:
Secret Project Robot
128 River @ corner of Metropolitan Ave.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
1 PM – 6 PM

Musical Performances:
Death by Audio
49 S. 2nd St Between Kent & Wythe
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
9 PM onward

NOTE: See PictureBox site for our own info: new Gary Panter Jimbo mini and other goodies.

See you there!
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Monday, November 30, 2009

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Hergé fans may be interested to know that the latest issue of Bookforum includes a review I wrote of Pierre Assouline’s recently translated biography of the artist.

You can read it here.

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the punk connection


Saturday, November 28, 2009

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Just a quick post about the new issue of Cometbus. The awesome cover by Nate Powell alone is worth the price of admission. But there’s other “comics gold” in this issue too. It’s the story of how Will Eisner and Harvey Kurtzman came to teach at SVA.

Everyone knows about Punk magazine, right? No? Well, check this out and click around and then come back. Basically, this magazine recorded the early days of punk at CBGB’s. One of the magazine’s founders, John Holmstrom, went to the School of Visual Arts in 1972 before he helped start Punk magazine.

In the new Cometbus, there’s an interview with Holmstrom. And he tells the most fascinating story which I had never heard before. Apparently, Holmstrom wanted to take a cartooning class but SVA didn’t offer any. So he and some other angry students went to the president of the school and complained. The president told them to put a list together of the cartoonists they’d want to teach at SVA. So they put together a dream list which had Eisner and Kurtzman at the top. And the administration hired them!

Think about that. It’s like the secret history of punk rock (and of SVA itself). Holmstrom then wound up working for Kurtzman as his assistant. This relationship honed Holmstrom’s skills and determination to make a magazine that reflected his world. And that world just happened to be one of the most fertile and influential music scenes ever. Talk about passing the baton to the younger generation. Sheesh.

There’s more to the story, but the editor of Cometbus will kill me for spoiling it. So, just go pick the issue up and read it for yourself. Over and out.

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A Crumb Cameo


Friday, November 27, 2009

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Comic fans who pick up E.L. Doctorow’s new novel Homer & Langley will be interested in a character named Connor who is described by the sight-impaired narrator Homer Collyer in these terms:

Connor, or Con, was monosyllabic and from what I could infer a cadaverous figure with a long neck and thick eyeglasses. He wore no shirt but a denim jacket open over his hairless torso. He spent his time drawing comic strips in which men’s feet and women’s breast and behinds were greatly exaggerated. Langley told me the strips were quite good in their appalling way. A touch surreal, he said. They seemed to celebrate life as a lascivious dream.

Con is clearly a stand in for Robert Crumb. There are thematic reasons for this Crumb cameo. Doctorow’s novel is much concerned with the psychopathology of collecting and the generation of trash by mass culture, both long time Crumb concerns (as in his great Weirdo story on “Trash”). It makes perfect sense that a cartoonist like Crumb, with his fascination for the grungy past, would fall into the orbit of the Collyer Brothers, those arch-gleaners of the ephemeral.

A whole essay could be written on Doctorow’s engagement with comics. As editor of The Dial Press, he shepherded into print Jules Feiffer’s The Great Comic-Book Heroes (and indeed the title and original idea for the book came from Doctorow). Doctorow’s 1985 novel World’s Fair has some interesting evocations of the comic strips of the 1930s like Flash Gordon. And more deeply and perhaps more importantly, the staccato rhythm of Doctorow’s fiction, notably Ragtime, where everything is action and surface and color and noise, owes something to snappiness of early 20th-century comic strips.

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Shoujo Gateway Book: X-Day


Thursday, November 26, 2009

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Whenever someone asks me a good shoujo book to start with, I always recommend X-Day by Setona Mizushiro. Here’s why:

1. The layouts are relatively comprehensible/normal for people new to the shoujo collage-y reading. It’s always clear where you’re supposed to read next. It’s always clear where you are in a scene; but it doesn’t sacrifice any of the enjoyable, airy reading of most shojo comics. Everything flows horizontally—across the pages like a scroll—as opposed to the top to bottom, top to bottom feeling of most comics. This is how a lot of shoujo are, but if you’re new to it and start reading Clamp’s X/1999 it looks pretty fucking confusing. “What’s going on? Why are there birds flying around indoors? Ha ha.” X-Day is clearer. X-Day also doesn’t have all of the flower pattern stuff that seems to turn people off. Personally, I like all the “flower patterns = love” stuff; it’s high school; it’s pop. Blankets is secretly a shoujo comic, I’m just not sure it knows it. If you aren’t into melodrama and “flower patterns = love,” you probably aren’t going to want to read most shoujo anyway. Your loss.

2. It’s short. It can be intimidating if you want to start reading shoujo and it’s a twenty-volume, thousands-of-pages investment; even when it takes ten minutes to read a volume and public libraries are ridiculously well-stocked in shoujo (kids read them; libraries want kids to read.) Anyway, X-Day is only two volumes long. It’s a low-level commitment. Both volumes are probably sitting in a “five-dollar box” at the comic shop.

3. It’s good. Rika, a senior former track star, stumbles upon an online chat room where she meets two other students and a teacher who are all frustrated with the school and their lives. Rika’s ex-boyfriend is now dating her best friend. An injury made it so she can’t play track anymore. They all plot to blow the school up—that’s the titular “X-day.” I think it’s an accurate depiction of high school life. All of the characters are plagued by feelings of isolation: “I’m smiling and … acting like everything is normal.” None of the characters understand why the other characters would also feel the way they feel about the school. Conversations move quickly for a page and a half and then a moment is frozen and broken down. After talking to her ex-boyfriend, the panels are divided into quiet moments where Rika just lowers her head. Rika walks down the school hallways in large panels, repeating, “it doesn’t matter… it doesn’t matter.” After one character says, “At least I … like you,” it’s repeated over and over. It’s all an internal landscape. “What kind of girl … am I?” It can be intensely moving or a laugh riot depending on what you bring to the book. Either way, it’s entertaining. Give it a chance.

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Seth Versus Editors


Monday, November 23, 2009

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Just to continue this flurry of posts on Canadians, I thought I’d put up this quote from the cartoonist Seth that I found interesting. He’s responding to Dave Sim’s question about critiquing other people’s work. It made me think of a couple of previous posts about editors we did a while back.

The quote is from Following Cerebus #5.

Seth: [...] I prefer the idea of an artist struggling to learn on his own and figure it out on his own, rather than, you know, being part of a gang that’s supplementing each other’s work with critique. I guess that’s just because my inclination is, I’m attracted to the image of the artist working alone and producing this complete work. For example, I don’t know how anyone can stand to work with an editor. I don’t really know how fiction writers have become used to that idea. I can understand working with a proofreader: that makes sense to me. But even working as a prose writer, if there was someone changing around all the sentences in an article I had written and as a result of that it turned out to be a better-written article, I’d have to conclude at the end that I wasn’t much of a writer.

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The Seth Non-Canadians Don’t See


Sunday, November 22, 2009

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As everyone who follows his work knows, Seth is a proud Canadian. A major visual theme of his work is the landscape, both natural and man-made, of Southern Ontario; on a more literary level he’s clearly been shaped by such Canadian writers as Alice Munro and Margaret Laurence (anyone interested in investigating Seth’s frequent narrative device of having an old person look back on life should read Laurence’s The Stone Angel); his cartoons are heavily sprinkled with Canadian icons (Mounties, igloos, hockey players); he’s been at the forefront of the current effort to recuperate Canada’s comics heritage, designing and co-editing a beautiful book devoted to Doug Wright, co-founding the Doug Wright Awards, and speaking often and eloquently about such forgotten cartooning Canucks as Jimmy Frise and Peter Whally.

Seth’s commitment to Canada also extends to the publishers he works with. Drawn and Quarterly is a Montreal firm, although of course one with an international reach. What non-Canadian readers might not know, however, is that Seth is also closely involved with several other Canadian imprints and magazines, often in his capacity as a book designer but sometimes as a writer. This work is often done for quite small presses, such as the Porcupine’s Quill and Biblioasis (in my opinion two of the best publishers not just in Canada but in the world).

Since Seth has fans all over the world, I thought it might be a useful service to call attention to some of the work he’s done that non-Canadians wouldn’t necessarily know about. If you care at all about Seth’s work, all these items are worth tracking down. Even when working with small specialty presses, he lavishes on each task the same care and attention that he gives to projects for The New Yorker and Penguin Books.

1. For the journal The Devil’s Artisan issue #60 (devoted to “the printing arts”), Seth wrote at length about the artist and book designer Thoreau MacDonald (the essay was earlier delivered as a speech at the Art Gallery of Ontario). This is very much of interest for anyone who wants background on the strip Seth did for Kramers Ergot 7.

2. For the latest issue of Canadian Notes and Queries (#77) Seth writes at length about Doug Wright in an essay taken from the speech he delivered at the first Doug Wright Awards ceremony. This essay is essential reading, I think, for anyone who wants to fully appreciate the new Doug Wright book; and also for anyone who wants to get a grounding in Canada’s particular comics tradition, one that has its own distinct history.

3. For Biblioasis, Seth designed and illustrated a beautiful novelty book called The Idler’s Glossary (written by the intellectual jack-of-all-trades Joshua Glenn and introduced by the philosopher Mark Kingwell). The book is a defence of laziness and slackery in all its forms, a topic dear to Seth’s reverie-loving heart. The drawings are done in the mode of the mid-20th century joke-books that Seth loves so much, the sub-New Yorker style of broad big-nosed stereotypes.

4. Also for Biblioasis, Seth has illustrated a new book by poet Zach Wells: Track and Trace. I haven’t seen this book yet but I’ll pick it up later this week at the book launch.

5. Finally, for Anansi Seth put together an absolutely nifty little book: Derek McCormack’s Christmas Days, witty reflections on the holiday garlanded with many pages of cheerful, uproarious cartooning.