Archive for September, 2010

Rand Holmes, the Man


Friday, September 24, 2010

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I’ve been lately stuck on writing briefly about books, which strikes me as a peculiar kind of rut — reviews are ubiquitous online, so why do it here? Well, much of my interest in comics lies in accounting for and understanding the history of comics, and so making sense of the overwhelming diversity of subject matter and approaches in all of these books rolling out month after month. Lately I’m most intrigued by books that either (a) explore a hitherto distant figure like Mort Meskin or (b) present a compellingly fresh (for comics anyway) approach to the history of the medium, which brings me to Holmes (more on Meskin soon).

Patrick Rosenkranz’s The Artist Himself: A Rand Holmes Retrospective is a companion of sorts to his previous book on Greg Irons and of course his Rebel Visions: The Underground Comix Revolution 1963-1975. What makes The Artist Himself unique is in the title itself — Rosenkranz has constructed a sprawling portrait of Rand Holmes as a man in conflict with the “the artist himself” — a man trying to carve out a way to live that allowed for art (never an easy feat) and an art that somehow made sense in his life. (more…)

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Wolk’s READING COMICS Revisited: Part Two


Thursday, September 23, 2010

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Douglas Wolk disguised as Scott McCloud

Since Jeet has requested it, here is a reprint of my review of Douglas Wolk’s Reading Comics. This essay was originally published in the third print issue of Comics Comics, from June 2007. Following Jeet’s example, after the review, I have added a few brief notes.

For Nerds’ Eyes Only

Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean
Douglas Wolk
Da Capo Press, $22.95

Even now, with comic books and “graphic novels” finally cracking through the art/literary establishment glass ceiling, you can count the number of intelligent, knowledgeable American comics critics who actually know how to write on two hands (maybe add a foot in there, too, if you’re feeling generous). In any fair version of that list, Douglas Wolk would certainly be one of the fingers or toes. Unlike a lot of writers about comics, Wolk is a professional, meaning he gets paid to write, and he writes about comics because he wants to, not because it’s all he knows; he’s not just an entitled fan who feels the need to tell you the long, sorry, and interminable story of how sad he is that he doesn’t like reading Sandman as much as he did when he was thirteen years old. (more…)

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Wolk’s Reading Comics Revisited


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

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Wolk's Reading Comics

A few of my older reviews for various newspapers are no longer easily available. So to give them a somewhat more permanent home, I’m going to be posting them here, sometimes with a few words of after-thoughts.

Below is my review of Douglas Wolk’s Reading Comics, from the Globe and Mail, July 21, 2007. After the review, I have a post-script written now.


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Comics Enriched Their Lives! #17


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

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I’ve started to wonder whether what I read as a child wasn’t more important. […] And then there was Pif le chien, a comic book published by Editions Vaillant and sponsored by the Communist Party. I realize now when I reread it that there was a Communist bent to many of Pif’s adventures. For example, a prehistoric man would bring down the local sorcerer in single combat and explain to the tribe that they didn’t need a sorcerer and that there was no need to fear thunder. The series was very innovative and of exceptional quality.

—French novelist Michel Houellebecq, interviewed in The Paris Review No. 194

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THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (9/22/10 – The Horror, the Smurfs)


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

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For your pleasure, we now present the off-panel first-appearance-by-implication of beloved DC character Grant Morrison. Created by Don McGregor & Gene Colan in 1984, Morrison is notable for having never directly interfered in the action of his originating series, Nathaniel Dusk: Private Investigator, an out-of-continuity detective series (of added historical interest for being among the first division-of-labor comics series colored directly from an artist’s pencils). Morrison’s hands-off presence as a comics player was subsequently and radically reversed as chief among many DC character revisions proffered by the 1988 Animal Man series, in which “the Writer” Grant Morrison displays direct and seemingly unlimited control over storyline action, doubtlessly in support of the evolutionary theme present in the series at large, to say nothing of later related comics works.

While ostensibly killed by writer John Ostrander in a subsequent issue of Suicide Squad, Morrison has nonetheless endured as a pliable (if elusively identifiable) presence in DC or DC-owned comics, ranging from Planetary to Seven Soldiers. He shares a name with author and music video personality Grant Morrison, although it is unknown if McGregor and/or Colan were aware of this other Morrison — potentially through contacts established or submission present in the immediate wake of British writer Alan Moore’s arrival on the North American comics scene in the early ’80s — at the time of his creation.

This has been your Extremely Reliable Comics History for 9/21. Pricing information on upcoming releases follows:


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Sunday, September 19, 2010

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Hey there, True Believers! Welcome to Comics Comics Sunday edition. I need one more week to pull together a coherent continuation of my romance comics posts, so here’s some gossip from last week’s SPX. Well, not gossip, but some “thoughts” about the show one week later. I was going to skip posting a report cuz Dan’s pics and Tom’s pics basically tell the story. But I figured traditions exist for reasons, and it’s a tradition to do the SPX round-up. So here goes.

Really missed BC – Brian Chippendale – this year. An advance copy of If ‘n Oof was waiting for us at the hotel convention. It’s completely insane. Eight hundred pages of hammers dropping on my head. Brian just ripped it. Art comics – hardcore art comics – are alive and well. I think BC is gonna stun everyone with this new one. He was supposed to come down for the show but since the main shipment of books is still a couple weeks away it didn’t really make much sense to ask BC to come down and show off that one copy. Actually, that would have been fun to watch. (more…)


Karl Wirsum Talks!


Friday, September 17, 2010

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Alert: Cross posting here, but I can’t resist: Here’s Karl Wirsum talking with me (stress-relieving margherita margarita in hand) about his current show, which I co-curated.

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