Archive for November, 2010

THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (12/2/10 – Thursday’s releases, today!)


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

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I thought of this when I heard Irvin Kershner had died, which goes to show you the psychological damage a lifetime of comic book reading can do. Kershner, of course, inevitably prompts some funnybook consideration; as director of The Empire Strikes Back, he picks up the considerable baggage of the asserted comics influence on Star Wars, while his direction of Robocop 2 — the first R-rated movie I ever saw in R-rated form — implicates more contemporary notions of translating a cartoonist’s style (i.e. errant screenwriter Frank Miller’s) to a big-money action movie.

Then again, these days the most direct Kershner/comics connection is in fact specifically wedded to psychological damage, in that he served as director for the notorious 1955 horror comic books episode of the television program Confidential Report, currently on a dvd included with the Abrams ComicArts release of The Horror! The Horror!: Comic Books the Government Didn’t Want You to Read! While mostly comprised of awkward interview footage of, say, children recounting various horror comic plots or a reformed cartoonist indicating where touch-up artists made the breasts on his romance comic heroine larger, the meat of the program is surely its energetically cut (and rather patently staged) footage of kids romping out to the woods to take in some fine graphic literature, after which they engage in the unsubtly sexualized (if okay-for-’50s-television) assault of a hapless local boy.

It’s weirdly harrowing stuff — flaunting its journalistic license to loll in content abjectly harsher than usual for its era and style — boasting a centerpiece of delirious kitsch wherein narrator/creative force Paul Coates, like a proud graphic novelist perched at the podium of his spotlight panel at a art comics convention, recites the narrative captions of a jokey, she’ll-rip-yer-heart-out horror poem one-pager with all the cold gravity of Signal 30, after which one of the featured boys rises immediately to his feet and begins driving a pocket knife over and over into a nearby tree. I read comics that make me feel like that too.


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A Fan’s Notes


Saturday, November 27, 2010

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Hello and welcome to CC weekend edition. I’m your host – Frankie The Wop. In an effort to understand what it takes to achieve Tom Spurgeon level of comics bloggerdom – I have moved to New Mexico. Spurge is at 6200 feet above sea level and I think that it’s the air up here that makes looking out beyond the frontier of comics possible. Wait, what? I dunno what the fuck I’m talking about. I’m high as shit and it ain’t from the altitude. The holiday season has begun. I got nuthin’ this week. (more…)

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Tisserand Talks Sterrett and Herriman


Friday, November 26, 2010

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Michael Tisserand, who is working on a biography of George Herriman, grew up in Alexandria, Minnesota. As it happens, Alexandra is also where, many decades before Tisserand arrived on the scene, Cliff Sterrett grew up. Michael was recently back home for the holidays and during his trip he was interviewed for a local radio station about his Herriman research and also about the upcoming Polly and Her Pals, which should be out shortly from IDW. You can listen to the interview here. To hear Michael talk, you have to fast forward till the 32nd minute or so of the hour long show (unless you wanted to hear about the local theater’s production of “Little Women”).

Michael mentioned to me that he wasn’t expecting to answer the questions about comic strip history that got thrown at him, so he go a few things wrong because he was caught off guard (i.e., he forgot the fact the color supplements preceeded the black and white strips). So I hope none of the nerds on this blog get too pedantic with him. But the conversation is really rich in Alexandria lore relating to Sterrett and there are good tidbits about Herriman as well. I wrote the introduction to the new Polly book and I wish I had had some of these bits of texture when I was writing my introduction (I’ll put them in the next Sterrett book). So I encourage comics history buffs to listen. As a bonus, the whole interview is conducted in a lilt and lingo strongly  reminiscent of the movie Fargo (set, of course, in a neighboring state).  Interestingly as Michael notes this is the same neck of the woods that gave us not only Sterrett but also Frank King and Charles Schulz. So give it a listen.

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Giving Thanks for Denys Wortman


Friday, November 26, 2010

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Happy Turkey time. Here are some hobo drawings, just to keep it real! Just kidding. Well, not sort of. Anyhow! I have already professed my love for James Sturm and Brandon Elston’s new book, Denys Wortman’s New York. It’s maybe my favorite book of the season. So I asked James if he’d be willing to share some drawings that didn’t make it in the book and he sent these 10 killers along with this missive:

“I love these hobo drawings. Wortman has an obvious affection for them. It’s easy to imagine Wortman, like most cartoonists, as a homebody, and to tramp around vicariously through his characters must have felt liberating. Mopey Dick and the Duke were at the height of their popularity, not surprisingly, during the great depression. The hobos were based on Wortman himself (the Duke) and an old sea captain, William Morris Barnes (Mopey). Hilda Wortman met Barnes in NYC in the mid-twenties and was fascinated by the old captain’s stories—so much so that she recorded his history that was published in 1929, “When Ships Were Ships and Not Tin Pots.”

Barnes was also a painter, creating canvasses of ships at sea which he would sell to the Wortmans. According to Wortman VIII, after a sale Barnes would disappear for weeks on end and go on a bender. When he ran dray he made and sold another painting. Wortman VIII still has a few hanging in his home. Below is a drawing of Barnes by Milt Gross himself.

Some of these drawings show off Wortman’s great feel for organic forms. He did rural as well as he did urban. In addition to the NYC work, He also did a lot drawings of New England, the country side, and documented trips to Europe and Central America. Most of these have yet to be scanned.”

So, dig in and enjoy on this lazy Friday. Then click over to the NY Times to read more about Wortman or just dive into the official site. My thanks to James for sending these along.

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Tezuka’s Secrets of Creation


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

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Helen McCarthy’s book The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga (Abrams) comes packaged with the NHK TV documentary Secrets of Creation shot in 1985, four years before Tezuka’s death. It’s one of the best cartoonist documentaries I’ve ever seen. (more…)

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Used Book Stores as Precursors to Comic Book Stores


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

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Sam Osherow at Jaffe's

A while back there was a discussion on the Comics Journal message board about the “first” comic book store. Two things need to be said about this conversation:

1) There’s some great research into the history of comic book stores and the direct market being done by Bob Beerbohm, so we should look forward to his findings.

2) The search for firstness seems simpleminded to me, whether it’s the first comics, the first comic strip or the first comic book. The fact is cultural institutions and forms don’t just emerge full-blown but always evolve out of earlier institutions and forms. So the first of anything can be disputed.

3) The comic book store had many precursors, including the used book store and the head shop. We need to study the history of these institutions to figure out where the comic book store came from.

In issue 57 (2000) of Canadian Notes and Queries (my favorite literary magazine), Don McLeod has a great article about Jaffe’s Book and Music Exchange in Calgary. That’s where Don used to buy old comic books. He would go on to become a distinguished expert on Canadian book history, as well as an editor and writer. With Don’s permission, I’ve scanned his article, which is well worth reading for those interested in the pre-history of comic book stores.

Don McLeod's article page 1

Don McLeod article page 2

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A Week in the Life


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

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Pondering the deep meaning in Brightest Day?

All week, over at the Paris Review site, Dan will be sharing a diary of his recent cultural diet. You can find the first installment here. It’s heavy on music bios this time around, and considering last week’s events, there will be lots of C.F. and Chippendale talk to come in future posts, I’m sure. I think it’s fair to assume Dan will forget to mention all of the crappy disposable comics he may have read…

Actually, so far, he’s been admirably forthcoming about all of the bad television he watches—often, it seems as if the participants in these things are suspiciously likely to have picked that particular week to “re-read” Proust. If you know what I mean.

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