Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Cub reporter Frank Santoro here with your Comics Comics 2010 Angouleme report. Okay, not really. I posted a diary of sorts about the festival over on my Cold Heat blog. It would have looked like a FlickrFaceSpace page if I’d have posted it here. It’s just lots of pictures. Thanks.
Labels: Angoulême, Dash Shaw, Frank Santoro, Kaz Strzepek, Peter Kuper
by T. Hodler
Monday, February 8, 2010
Get our your Sharpies and your calendars and prepare yourselves to draw circles. Because February 15th has just been officially declared National Comics Comics Day!
You will see what that means very soon. In the meantime, it is not too early to be excited.
Labels: Comics Comics, holidays
by Dash Shaw
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I apologize for the bullet/tweet-like nature of this post. It’s the only way I could get myself to write it. Frank will do a better Angoulême post later.
I was at Angoulême last year, but this was my first trip to the comics museum there. It had an exhibition of older comic originals with newer cartoonists covering the older page, plus the permanent exhibit: a timeline with a bunch of originals and books in glass cases and occasional videos. The original for this page of Johnny Craig’s “Split Personality” was especially moving. That second panel! Wobbly inky lips and cross-hatching! It’s like a pulpy Persona still.
Of course I loved seeing the Ware originals. They had a red pencil Quimby the Mouse page in the permanent collection. Ware’s exhibit at the Whitney Biennial was a life-changing experience for me. The under drawing, measuring… It’s shocking how raw the drawing is. His drawings look so clean when they’re shrunk and colored in print. In the originals they look so labored over, sometimes even crude. You can see the struggle, his thinking on the page. The Quimby original at Angoulême was such an object; the cut zipatone, the scale, the juxtaposition between the interior panels and the more illustrative background landscape. It was engaging by itself, beyond just being preparatory work for a print book.
The Cornelius Red Colored Elegy book is gorgeous. It has red spot color. All of the Cornelius books are unified—they’re clearly a line with a consistent sensibility across books—but you get the personality of the individual artist on the covers. It’s artist first, publisher second. Hayashi told me that they’ve recently released his short animations on DVD in Japan. You’d have to order them from amazon.co.jp and have a region-free dvd player to play them. He was sweet and humored my dumb questions. At festivals like this you find yourself jet-lagged in a taxi with Jose Munoz and you’re thinking, “Holy shit, what do I ask Jose Munoz? What do I ask Jose Munoz?!” and you end up just bugging him about random things. Try to milk those ten minutes for as much as you can.
The Manga Building had a One Piece exhibit, complete with cosplayers and prop sand dunes and palm trees. It was shoulder-to-shoulder packed. The whole thing had a fun energy. One Piece originals look exactly like what you’d think they would look like.
As you’ve probably heard, “dedications” (signings) are important in France, but Ruppert and Mulot have raised the bar. Ruppert did a drawing of me on the first page of the book, then turned to the last page and pulled out a pre-made stencil that marked different points. After placing dots on the last page using the stencil, he used a stamp to make a small frame at the center square dots. Then he pulled out an X-Acto knife and cut out the center of the frame and the outside areas. He glued the center of the frame to the inside back cover and then cut out the original drawing on the first page. He placed the first page portrait inside what he cut out, flipped it around and put the cut-out together, to hand me a small portrait in a paper standing frame as his “dedication.” Damn. In the States you get a drawing of the main character’s head with a word balloon saying, “Hi (your name here.)”
While I’ve acquired a lot of pulpy 60s and 70s Franco-Belgian comics, I know very little about them. 90% have cool covers and then you open it to see Caniff hackwork. But there’s some gold in that other 10%. I got some good Luc Orients last year, but the best thing I found at this Angoulême was this Michel Vaillant BD and some kind of Little Nemo homage book.
I wanted to get this Lucie Durbriano book last year and I didn’t. It annoyed me for a whole year until I went back and got it.
This woman in Germany, Ulli Lust, did a really dense, long comic about two girls on a road trip, drawn in pencil with a green spot color. It came out in German recently. Wish I could read it.
Labels: Angoulême, bande dessinée, Chris Ware, Ruppert et Mulot, Seiichi Hayashi
by T. Hodler
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
“The real question is this: Are comic books good or are they not good? Now it all depends on what you want. If you want to raise a generation that is half storm-troopers and half cannon-fodder, with a dash of illiteracy, then comic books are good. In fact, they are perfect.”
Via Bill Kartalopolous, an audio file of a pretty terrific old episode of The Author Meets the Critics, featuring a debate with the infamous Dr. Frederic Wertham.
UPDATE: Oh, and gee, I should mention that this is a different episode than the one Tom Spurgeon highlighted the other day, which also featured Wertham, along with Al Capp.
Because of my dereliction of duty, let me point you to an article I only recently discovered was available online, Robert Warshow’s famous essay on Wertham and EC, in which he references the Capp/Wertham episode in question.
Labels: Al Capp, audio, EC, Fredric Wertham, Robert Warshow, Tom Spurgeon
by Dan Nadel
Monday, February 1, 2010
Special CC correspondent Mark Newgarden reports in about his recently unveiled mural at Bill’s Bar and Burger in NYC:
This little mural was part of a four person installation at Bill’s curated by David Scher, painter, drawer, sketchbook wizard and sometime restaurant designer.
David, Dawn Clements, Katie Merz and I were asked to punch in at 2:30 am for two consecutive nights this past Dec. The big idea was total improvisation; BYOB (bring your own brushes). We had no solid idea what we would be doing, which wall we would be working on – or even what color paints would be on hand. No sketches, no plans, no forethought. Just caffeine, adrenaline and a ticking clock. This is pretty much 180 degrees from the way I usually approach things. What the hell.
Nobody from the restaurant seemed to be expecting muralists. The walls weren’t primed. There was some vague rumor that we would be painting on the ceiling. I walked behind the bar looking for a screw driver and was chastised to stay away from the liquor. David’s filmmaker friend showed up with some of the world’s brightest lights and most expensive video equipment. There was no coffee.
Dawn annexed the stamped metal wall in the back, Katie took the big landscape format to its left, David grabbed a corridor near the men’s room and I got an 8 x 8 foot square right next to the kitchen door. Everybody went to work. And everybody was good.
Go there and see.
I basically approached my space like a big telephone doodle pad. The carnivore theme was pure wish fulfillment; I’ve been off red meat for a while and was now decorating its shrine. We drew & painted til dawn, came back the next night and did it all over again. There was a smiling hostess and brewed coffee for part two, but titanium white was in precious supply. The back door flew open and shut all morning long as food deliveries and freezing snow blew in. We expired around 9 am.
David went back a third night for mop-up and sent me an email the next day: “Yours is the big hit, the staff loves it. One of the cooks was explaining it to me. I can’t do justice to his poetic exposition, but it was something like this: “The Americans are attacking the hamburger like Pearl Harbor.” I’ll buy that.
BILL’S BAR & BURGER
2 Ninth Avenue @ 13th Street
New York, NY 10014-1204
–Mark Newgarden, February 1, 2010
Labels: hamburgers, Mark Newgarden
by Jeet Heer
Friday, January 29, 2010
A while back on Blog Flume, Ken Parille wrote an interesting post deploying Ivan Brunetti’s idea that one of the “common pitfall” of cartooning is the making of “unintentional connections” between images in different panels. (Brunetti made that statement in his great little book Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice).
In post and the comments section, the question was raised as to how to decide whether an connection is unintentional or not. Most good cartoonists care about not just what’s inside a panel but how panels relate to each other, not to mention the composition of the whole page.
Here is an example that illustrates the problem: two panels from Billy DeBeck’s Barney Google Sunday page of November 15, 1925. The left facing bull in the first panel does make a connection to the image of the same bull facing right in the second panel: instead of one bull in two panels we seem to be looking at one weird, two-headed monster. More subtly, the sweep of the horizon line in the two panels seems continuous. Was DeBeck aware of what he was doing? Does intentionality even matter, or should we just treasure the overall effect?
Labels: Billy DeBeck, Ivan Brunetti, Ken Parille
by Dan Nadel
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Go give him a squeeze for us!
Labels: Jon Vermilyea
by Jeet Heer
Monday, January 25, 2010
Review of Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons (Fantagraphics Books)
Gahan Wilson was born dead but he quickly got better. That sounds like the morbid joke, exactly the sort of queasy punchline that graces many a Wilson cartoon, but it happens to be completely factual: when Wilson entered our world in 1930 the doctor pronounced the baby a still birth, but after being soaked in ice-water the infant proved to be loudly and healthily alive. What better beginning could there be for a cartoonist who would do hundreds of comics about vampires, zombies, flesh-eating plants and many other monsters who carry death within themselves?
Both his parents had artistic aspirations but settled for a more conventional existence: Miriam Wilson as a housewife, her husband Allen as a steel-industry executive. Perhaps due to their thwarted artistic career, augmented by the stress of being a young couple during the Great Depression, both parents were also alcoholics. As Gary Groth notes in a shrewd essay near the end of this exemplary republishing of Wilson’s Playboy cartoons, the lumpy people that populate Gahan’s cartoons, with their ghastly half-melting faces, could easily be a child’s view of sodden, Depression-haunted adults.
As a cartoonist, Gahan Wilson had two fathers: Charles Addams and James Thurber. Wilson’s use of gothic motifs as comedy obviously owes much to Addams (Hugh Hefner admits that he hired Wilson to be Playboy’s Addams). But the lumpiness of Wilson’s characters, the heavy gravitational pull that seems to drag their bodies and faces earthward, is the patrimony of Thurber.
Someday somebody will have to write a history of gothic humour, the re-purposing of ghouls and monsters for laughs. Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is clearly an ancestor but the genre seems to have taken off in the early 20th century, with Addams as the premier example but with many other examples ranging from Abbott and Costello to John Stanley.
Generationally, Wilson belong to a small cohort of cartoonists that includes Jules Feiffer (born 1929), Edward Sorel (1929), and R.O. Blechman (1930). All these men were metropolitan cartoonists, at home in the cosmopolitan and worldly pages of the Shawn’s New Yorker and Hefner’s Playboy. As such they were the heirs to the first generation of New Yorker cartoonists, but their work had a critical edge that the more mainstream New Yorker crowd lacked. Politically, these four cartoonists managed the difficult task of remaining radicals in the most conservative era in modern American history, the 1950s. While they lacked the iconoclastic urge and plebeian griminess of the subsequent underground generation, their work reflected the “Silent Generations” disgruntlement at existing norms.
There has been a renewed interest in “black humour” in comics (thanks I would guess to Ivan Brunetti’s superb work in the genre), as witness the current show in Detroit. Feiffer and Wilson didn’t practise “black humor” but rather its immediate ancestor, “sick humor.” To put it another way, sick humor is the middle generation in the family tree that runs from Addams to Wilson to Brunetti.
One of the many nice features of the new Fantagraphics book is that it is chronological and dated, so we can see Wilson responding to the changing social and political landscapes. It’s very evident in this book that the year 1968, when Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were killed and Nixon took the White House, hit Wilson very hard. The cartoons for the next few years are much grimmer than before, with the formerly gleeful ghastliness now transformed into genuine dread. One 1969 cartoon shows a gun-and-knife totting madman, his eyes bugged-out with joy as he surveys a post-apocalyptic landscape where everyone else has been killed, issuing a victory cry: “I think I won!”
As a physical object Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons cannot be praised highly enough. Designer Jacob Covey pulled out all stops: three handsome hard-cover volumes, complete with a die cut cover in the form of a bottle of poison, printed on plush Playboy paper, all encased in a slipcase embossed on one side with a plexiglass window on the other side that allows you peek into the front cover (an appropriately macabre photo of the cartoonist pressing his fact against a glass). All of this supplemented by smart introductory material by Hefner and Neil Gaiman, a substantial essay by Gary Groth, who also conducts a long interview with Wilson, topped off by a topical index.
At this point, some readers might ask whether Wilson deserves this royal treatment. Normally this sort of over-the-top lavishness is reserved only for an Everest-level master. I myself initially had doubts, since I wasn’t too familiar with Wilson’s work and gag cartooning in not a genre I’m naturally inclined to love. Yet looking at Wilson’s work at length, eating it up with my eyes, I came to love his work. He is, in fact, a master. He clearly belongs to the rank of Feiffer, Blechman and Sorel, not only in terms of chronology but also in his stature as an artist.
The new books also made me reconsider Hugh Hefner, a figure that I have mixed feelings about. Perhaps ungenerously, I’ve been inclined to think of Heffner as the man who ruined Harvey Kurtzman’s life and career. It’s hard to forgive the middlebrow doltishness of the decision to make our greatest cartoonist spend decades working on Little Annie Fanny. But there was another side to Hefner. Free of snobbery, he knew that there were many great artists working for publications that were widely considered to be trashy, whether it was comic books (Jack Cole and Harvey Kurtzman), or pulp magazines (Theodore Sturgeon and Gahan Wilson) or third rung gag magazines (many of the cartoonists who were recruited for Playboy). These were artists and writers of real talent who were despised by the official culture of the 1950s. Hefner gave them a handsome venue for their work and paid them well. As in the realm of sex, he wanted to show that pleasures that were considered dirty and bad were actually good clean fun, and should be enjoyed as such. Hefner was as much revolutionary in the field of popular culture as he was in his more famous sex advocacy. Whatever one might want to say about the Kurtzman-Hefner relationship, the Playboy publisher deserves our eternal thanks for nurturing Wilson’s poisoned plants, giving them a hothouse where they could flourish for five decades.
Wilson’s long term marriage to Playboy might seem odd (Gary Groth for one has questions about it). After all, isn’t Playboy all about sex while Wilson’s work is all about death? A more synoptic view would be that sex and death are two sides of the same coin: that the reality of death makes life’s pleasures, chief among them sex, all the more important. Or to put it another way, for all their morbidity and ghoulishness, Wilson’s cartoons affirm the value of cherishing life. As inhuman as his characters often are, Wilson is a deeply humane cartoonist.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Two girls on a beach were talking. One was volubly admiring a broad-shouldered, handsome man. “Don’t be so impressed,” said the other. “My husband has a two-car garage but just keeps a bicycle in it.”
Swiped from Bachelor’s Joke Book, written by Leo Guild and drawn by Carl Rose, 1953. Found in Dan Nadel’s garbage outside Picturebox offices, 2008.