Archive for July, 2010

To Be (or Not to Be) Continued


Thursday, July 22, 2010

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Well, one of my initial impetuses for the way [Wilson] was told was that I was reading the collected Peanuts editions […] And to read them in sequence, it felt like a new way to tell a story, in a way. I mean, that wasn’t Charles Schulz’s goal was for you to read them all at once, that you’re supposed to read them every day. But to read them in sequence, it really felt like it was replicating the way that you remember the passage of time in memory. It – you know, you remember just these sort of high moments, emotional highs and lows or certain resonating moments of a given year.

—Dan Clowes, interviewed for NPR’s Talk of the Nation

I wonder if Clowes is right that Charles Schulz did not intend for his strips to be read all at once. When Schulz first began Peanuts, of course, the idea that the entire strip would eventually be collected in its entirety would have been beyond imagining, but at a certain point in his career, it must have become obvious that the vast bulk of his strips would, in fact, be collected into books. That must have influenced the way he created them on some level, right? Even if he was primarily concerned with the strips as standalone, daily reads (and he presumably was), it could not have escaped his notice that they would eventually be read together, and that after their initial publication, that would be more or less the only way they would be read. One of my co-bloggers (or our readers) might know more definitively what Schulz thought of all this, if he ever said anything about it publicly. (more…)

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B.N. Duncan as Letter Hack


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

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B.N. Duncan

There are many reasons to regret the death of B.N. Duncan, who passed away last year. Among other losses, we’ll no longer see his letters, which used to adorn many alternative comic books, notably Weirdo, Hate, and Eightball. Duncan was a passionate, involved reader and his letters were quirky and personal, to an extent that made them almost painful to read. In Eightball #21, Daniel Clowes devoted the entire letters column to Duncan, described as the issue’s “featured correspondent.”

The letters in that issue dealt with the David Boring storyline, then being serialized in Eightball. “I hate that mother of David Boring!” Dunan wrote. “I myself had a castrating, slimy, hypocritical dictator-mother who was always against me.” Who responds to comics with this level of naked emotion anymore? Perhaps Duncan shared too much of himself, gave us too much information (as the saying goes) but still his letters reminded us how personal our response to art can be. The internet has supposedly unleashed a torrent of personal voices but too many of them seem to be poseurs of one sort or another, people who adopt a stance because it makes them look cool. Voices like Duncan, so honest as to be embarrassing, are all too rare.

Time moves on. B.N. Duncan is dead and the pamphlet-form alternative comic book also seems to be on the way out.  There is no point in lingering too much on the past since new voices and new comics are all around us.  Still, I’d like to take a measure, briefly and inadequately, of how special Duncan was.

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A Tour of George Herriman’s New Orleans


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

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Michael Tisserand is writing the type of book I’ve long dreamed of reading: a full-fledged, deeply researched biography of George Herriman, based on many hours spent in the archives and a thorough search for every factual nugget that can be found about the creator of Krazy Kat. Now, thanks to the New Orleans Times-Picayne, we can get a glimpse of what Michael has in store for us and also see the few remaining buildings in survive in Herriman’s city from the time of his childhood that he would be able to recognize today. If you click here, you’ll find a three minute video where Michael gives a tour of George Herriman’s New Orleans.

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Reminder: Know Prize Deadline Wednesday Night


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

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Here’s your official reminder about the first ever Comics Comics “Know Prize”, with a harsh deadline of Wednesday, July 21, 11:59 pm PST!

We ask you, the Comics Comics readership, to re-color this picture (above) from the Thor movie. Just click on the image for a larger version. Put your Photoshop skills to the test!

Here again are the rules:

-All submissions are due by Wednesday, July 21 at 11:59 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.

-72 dpi RGB jpegs only.

-Email to: knowprize (at) comicscomicsmag (dot) com, subject line: Know Prize; please include your full name and mailing address.

-Selection process will be based on strictly frivolous opinions.

-The winners receive: Vast exposure on this, the internet, AND a Thor comic book of variable quality mailed directly to you by Frank Santoro.

-On Friday morning, July 23, the day of our sure-fire Eisner Award win, we will post the top 10 submissions.

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Every Now and Then


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

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Every now and then I feel compelled to make sure you, the CC faithful, are aware of what’s going on over at PictureBox. This is one of those times. You want fusion? Criticism? Porn? We have it all.

Dig this, and don’t go crying to Santoro if you miss it all:

Comics by Carlos Zefiro, a mid-century Brazilian cartoonist who makes Raymond Pettibon look like a wussy.

-Deeply underground material from the 1970s, like Book of Dreams by John Thompson (signed with drawings!) and Inner City Romance by Guy Colwell.

-Evidence of a burgeoning obsession with Italian comics maestro Magnus, in the form of a jaw dropping retrospective book and a very cool edition of Necron.

Graphic novels from the golden 80s.

-And of course, a gorgeous silkscreen and flocked print by Sir Tim Hensley and a new Jimmy Corrigan story by Chris Ware.

It’s like our very own Comic-Con! But less crowded and more fun. Don’t forget our comic strip, True Chubbo, multiple blogs, and the enchanting “Daily Yokoyama”.

Now back to your regularly scheduled reading.

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THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (7/21/10 – Britain & Sweden: War of the Invading Forces)


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

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Following up on last week, above we see artist Richard Corben working from a story by the late Harvey Pekar, as presented in 2006’s issue #2 of the first Vertigo iteration of American Splendor; a second series followed in 2008. Collectively, those eight issues were the last of Pekar’s work to see print in the comic book format — although they followed a prominent bookshelf-ready Vertigo release in 2005’s The Quitter, drawn by Dean Haspiel — and often had the feel of a valedictory effort, with a occasional propensity for teaming Pekar with hopefully simpatico ‘name’ artists, like Gilbert Hernandez or Darwyn Cooke.

Corben illustrates a five-page Halloween story which, in true Pekar fashion, ambles into a small domestic drama about searching for a lost pair of glasses the day after a party. The effect of this subject matter on the art is interesting; stripped of any overt supernatural or fantastical image potential, extra attention is drawn to how Corben’s stylized figures hang weightily in space, initially standing in claustrophobic rooms draped with midnight holiday shadows (see left), but then moving outdoors with Pekar’s narrative into white-heavy space, cold and aloof (perfect for hiding misplaced items) and quietly threatening, like sharp leaves and twigs surrounding grumpy vulture Harvey above, externalizing his eternal anxiety ($150!!) as nature itself threatening him with yet another poke. That’s just how Harvey’s world could seem in these comics, mundane to some but likewise potentially transformative for collaborators, in that we might suddenly see nothing but ably wrinkled humans scanning their model-like world, a vulture by a tree, wondering what to do, or maybe pondering which created which, man or world? Writer or artist?

Other artists, and worlds, of course, might resist. Witness Eddie Campbell, as crucial a practitioner of autobiographical comics as Pekar, but full of fancy and romance and fiction, sharply apart from the self-consciously unadorned vignettes and monologues and encounters of the comic book American Splendor. Above you’ll see the bottom half of the second and final page of a Pekar/Campbell collaboration, from the same issue as the Corben story. Harvey has bought some pierogies at the store, and become engaged in a chat with a bagger on trombonist Jiggs Whigham, whose father was a policeman. Our Man reminisces about the old Famous Funnies series Juke Box Comics, in which real popular musicians would get into adventures. Suddenly, the final ‘panel’ is protruding downward from the talking heads above, and Benny Goodman is racing around Pekar’s narrative in a wordless escapade, anticipating the (literally) extra-narrative, occasionally extra-mortal antics of Campbell’s 2008 The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard with Dan Best.

But make no mistake – this might look like crime fighting, but it’s as much a jailbreak. From Harvey Pekar.

Additional splendor of every construction and connotation follows:

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Bodyworld review


Monday, July 19, 2010

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Our own Dash Shaw continues to pile up the good notices. Bodyworld was reviewed over at The Grey Lady, by Mr. Douglas Wolk. Check it out, True Believers, check it out…

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New Comics riff


Saturday, July 17, 2010

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Comics shop reverie. Ah, the new store. Up in the clouds. Heaven. Copacetic rules the roost in Pittsburgh. Best feeling shop in town. I guarantee it! I work Sundays folks, come on down! Take a seat in the easy chair and read the funnies. Have a coffee.

This was a big week for a fanboy/wanna-be-critic like myself. Can you say “paradigm shift?”

Let’s count ’em off: Bulletproof Coffin #2, Orc Stain #4, King City #7 (I know, that came out weeks ago but I missed it and had to re-order it), The Man with the Getaway Face preview, and the new Matt Kindt graphic novel, Revolver. What was I saying about the Direct Market being dead? Sorry, I was high. This has been a great summer already for my new drug: Fusion comics. My term for what Charles Brownstein calls “Boys Comics.” And the Direct Market is delivering my fix, so who’s complaining?

Leading off, The Bulletproof Coffin #2 By David Hine and Shaky Kane. This is my dream comic. I’m in love. This comic is my girlfriend. At this point I wouldn’t care if she fucked my best friend. This comic can do me no wrong. For me, it’s a perfect mashup of styles that POPS with bright colors and dripping blood. The whole book looks really sharp, I think, and the story’s clever unfolding owes a lot to its design. There’s another comic-within-a-comic interplay (Shield of Justice cover to your left) that twists up the story and makes it all swing. If you couldn’t find issue one, I’d say you could still jump on board with #2 and not miss the train. There’s a great synopsis on the inside front cover that made me laugh. Reads like a comic book, like serial entertainment. And for me, really, it’s just the joy reading a Shaky Kane comic. Talk about Fusion – Shaky’s able to somehow subtly, easily shift styles that it really creates a jarring, discordant note in the story. (more…)

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Forever. And Then More.


Friday, July 16, 2010

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For most of Jacques Tardi’s newly translated book, It Was the War of the Trenches, I was stuck thinking “it is what it is,” while moving from one deadly stack of horizontal panels to another. It’s a book that pounds on those stacks with such blunt force – such unbelievable seriousness – that all you can really do is recognize that Tardi knows that, yes, it was what it was. That war – it was horror.

While matter-of-fact about the regularity and objectivity of the gore, Tardi does not fetishize the “common.”  He never goes in for the dramatic “gravitas” of my paragraph above: It’s a simple fact for him, but one shot through with a million stories of young men stumbling into death. We hardly learn what is being fought for, or who is even fighting, as It Was the War of the Trenches is comprised of a series of short stories, each focusing on relatively microscopic and isolated events in time during World War I. The soldiers are French and German, mostly, though it hardly matters. Replacing the usual macro-war narrative is the fight and the death. Tardi quite literally inflicts tunnel vision here: every panel is composed as though we’re moving right into it with blinders on – a face in profile framing a view, sad-eyed soldiers staring out from the page, an explosion demolishing the foreground. It’s a deceptive style as well, since the panels at first appear static – too resolutely composed – but then details emerge (a torn trouser and raised foot signaling the demise of Pierre on page 96, for example) to humanize the conflict and wipe away the filter between you and it. (more…)


deet deet deet


Thursday, July 15, 2010

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A new low for Comics Comics? Here’s a quick, egocentric look at the rest of the recent comics blogosphere webonet.

beep boop beep

The most important comics internet writing of the week can be found here, of course.

dreep dop dope

A few weeks back, the great Brynocki C posted his latest must-read epic, which included the following bit I wanted to republish just for Frank:

Didja hear? Artists can’t write unbiased criticism. They only see their subjects through the filter of self interest as a creator. As opposed to critics. Real critics. Real critics are as pure as new snow, with eyes of a child yet minds learned like the eldest philosopher. They castrate their creativity to write from the place of total mental stillness. Able to see through all walls of personal agenda. They use their pen of young lamb to judge what’s best not for themselves, but for all humanity. Such is the powerful power, the terrible responsibility of the true critic.

Co-sign (cosine?) that. Get it yet, Frank?

Coincidentally, by the time I read BC’s post, I had already bought and read (and decidedly did not enjoy) two of the comics under review, in the most recent of many misguided attempts to acquaint myself with the larger superhero comics world since we started Comics Comics. Every once in a while, I get the idea that it’s important to “know what I am talking about.” But that’s all over now. Honestly, I almost never write about Brian Michael Bendis or Blackest Night anyway, so I think it is safe to finally let that ambition slide. It’s healthier to rely on back issues or Bully when I need a fix of four-color fisticuffs.

bloop blop blap

Which leads me to another recent post on superhero comics, written by everyone’s favorite new internet hyperbolizer, Matt Seneca, who seems to have genuinely taken the intellectualizing-about-capes beat to new heights in a very short time. He believes in treating “the entire mainstream like a quarter bin.” This philosophy has much to recommend it, except for a not entirely inconsequential math problem: four dollars can get you sixteen comics from a real quarter bin, but only pays for one copy of Neal Adams’ Batman: Odyssey.

brope bop bleem

No comment.

bop a dop a doo

No comment either on Ng Suat Tong’s mostly negative take on Crumb’s Genesis, though it is the first solid online pan of the book I’ve read, and though he takes issue with things Dan, Jeet, and I have written. I’m sure all three of us would differ with some of his interpretations to varying degrees, but I am just grateful that he seems to have actually read the book in question, and didn’t manufacture our views wholesale, something you can’t always count on from certain quarters of the internet. I disagree with the ever thoughtful (if occasionally somewhat humorless) Ng on many, many things, but his essays and posts are always worth taking seriously. That comment thread is so forbiddingly unreadable, though, that it more or less banishes any thought (for me, at least) of attempting to continue the argument.

breep bap bop

Speaking of threads, could this be the most hilarious comment ever written? (Oh, to be a fly on the wall when it is read to Ken Smith over the telephone!) Of course, to really find it funny, you have to have wasted an awful lot of your life reading various blinkered self-proclaimed pundits going on and on about unimportant things in incredibly pedantic detail. … Then again, if you’ve made it to the end of this post, you’ve probably done just that.

deep depp doop

Did I miss anything? Is there any good writing about comics on the internet, or is the situation as dire as it sometimes seems?

yop yop yop

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled “comic book” coverage. Stay tuned as Dan and Frank argue over who should play Jarvis in the Avengers movie! (My money’s on Richard Jenkins.)

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