Posts Tagged ‘anthologies’

Supermen! Revisited


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

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Jack Coles' The Claw

When I first read Greg Sadowski’s Supermen!: The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941, I was a bit disappointed. My preference is for anthologies that have a strong editorial vision like Art Out of Time or The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics. Supermen! seemed like it was governed less by an editorial imperative than a chronological one. Some of the comics in the book are very strong (especially the stories by Jack Cole, Fletcher Hanks, and Basil Wolverton) but many of them also seemed primitive in a bad way (crude, simple-minded) rather than a good way (Hanks’ vitalism).


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Right Thing The Wrong Way Pt. 2


Friday, October 1, 2010

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Herewith the second part of our excerpt from the Highwater oral history. Bostonians, Go check out the show, opening tonight. We pick up with a discussion of the Highwater look and feel.

Highwater Style

Kurt Wolfgang: I felt like things were going kind of a different way, and Tom was really doing them right, not as a businessman, but as far as a publisher and as far as his idea of what a publisher’s job is, which I agree with about 99.999 percent. He put it in really basic terms to me a few years ago [at the Highwater reunion] in Scituate. And I didn’t agree with that statement when he first said it because it seemed too simplistic. He said, “A publisher’s job is to discover and expose and nurture talent.” To me, looking from a capitalist point of view, well, gee, then no one’s going to publish R. Crumb. But he said, “No, someone will always publish those guys. They’re not the good publishers.” To really find things and nurture things, I think Tom’s publishing philosophy probably had less to do with the actual books come out than with making things happen that make those books possible.

I think when a lot of people look at Highwater they think of crazy design and textured paper and rounded corners. That’s all they look at. These are people who probably wouldn’t like that kind of comics anyway. So when you throw all that stuff on I think that they think you’re trying to deceive them. But I think with Tom the beauty of it all has nothing to do with the design of those books, as I said it’s part of a whole, as amazing as it is. The things that him and Jordan did and bounced off each other. I think with those two together, I think that you’re really talking about Highwater. Jordan, at least from a design perspective, is a really big part of that. Him and Tom were bitchy old ladies and trying to prove each other wrong at all times. And wonderful things come out of that. (more…)

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Right Thing The Wrong Way Pt. 1


Monday, September 27, 2010

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Greg Cook and TD Sidell were kind enough to offer us some excerpts from their catalog for “Right Thing The Wrong Way: The Story of Highwater Books“, opening October 1st at Fourth Wall Project in Boston. Greg did a great job on the oral history. So here’s one excerpt and there’ll be another on Friday. We pick up in 1997, as Highwater dude Tom Devlin published his first full book…

Coober Skeber 2: Marvel Benefit Issue debuts at San Diego Comic-Con in July 1997.

Tom Devlin: After I did that first anthology, and it was really kind of aggravating, and hard. But like anything, the sense of accomplishment once it was done was great. The harder something is, when you actually complete it and look at it and see that it worked out somewhat, there’s a bit of a rush. So I started to try to come up with what I’d do next.

I very specifically remember that I had three ideas. I remember talking to Ron and he said, “You should do superheroes.” Because my ideas were to do a children’s activity book and each cartoonist would do a page. It would be a puzzle page or a maze or all the typical stuff that would be in children’s activity books. The other one, actually the one that I kind of really wanted to do, was do an oversized Sunday newspaper and everybody would do sort of a classic strip or something they really liked in their style. Everybody would do a cover version. I remember partially the reason I picked that is that Ron was a really big Popeye fan and so I wanted Ron to do Popeye. I was a really big Pogo fan, so I was going to draw a version of Pogo. Then everybody else would just have to do whatever. And then the other one was superheroes.

I had done a bunch of signings at The Million Year Picnic. And it was a bunch of alternative people, like Tom Hart, Jason Lutes, Seth I think had been there by then. Just everybody you think of who’s still around who was doing alternative comics. There were like 15 people involved in five or six signings. We would just hang out and we’d always end up talking about superheroes. That was something I thought was funny and irritating. All these people who are trying to do something new still have these deep roots in superheroes. I wanted to do the superhero book to sort of be the end of that. Okay, you’ll all do your superheroes and that will be the end. Of course, it didn’t work out that way. (more…)

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SPX ’97 comic


Sunday, September 26, 2010

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SPX 1997 cover

Well, well, well, looky what I found in the quarter bin at the secret comics warehouse in western Pennsylvania. This is the first ever SPX anthology from 1997. Remember when they did these for each SPX from ’97 to, what, 2005? I remember when this book was being organized. I was living in San Francisco at the time. Out there we had APE, which had just started up a couple years earlier (still going as a Comic-Con event). Is the cover of this SPX comic making fun of APE? I thought that back then. I also remember that I wanted to go to SPX but it was too far – and being in the comic seemed weird if I wasn’t going to go. That was the year, 1997, when I really felt like SPX was taking off. It was exciting back then to think of like minded folks in comics getting together outside of San Diego and outside of longbox conventions. Boy, times have changed. I still get excited by small press fests, but now there’s one every month somewhere it seems, right? (more…)

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THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (8/25/10 – Not on the list, but if you see A Drunken Dream, vintage girls’ manga, flip through that.)


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

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It is my distinct pleasure to mention that the above image hails from the millennial L’Association anthology Comix 2000, a copy of which I recently found sitting in the Adult section of a comics store I’d visited only two times prior. It was buried in porn. Always check the Adult section – there might be more than just Love and Rockets back issues!

Comix 2000, of course, is one of the mighty monuments and grand follies of ‘alternative’ comics in the last decade: 2000 pages of original work, accounting for 324 contributors from 29 nations, restricted from the use of dialogue or narrative text and honed in on the theme of “the 20th century.” Despite this — and yes, I know it was actually published toward the end of 1999 — I consider it to be the beginning of the ’00s in comics, that mad chaos epoch of diverse ambition, multiplied formats, and saturating foreign insight. It’s a huge, stolid hardcover brick of a comic, a solid red jacket design covering gossamer-thin pages, like a reference tome. Indeed, it was meant as a summing up – a book anyone, anywhere could theoretically open up and understand, and thereby grasp the mess of what happened in the world.

The trick is, you might need to just open it up somewhere and start reading, because going from front to back strikes me as attempting to read the encyclopedia as a novel. If we apply the traditional criterion of an anthology’s worth — superior contributions arranged to form a revelatory whole by way of keenly focused editorial vision — Comix 2000 registers as a baffling fog of tonal incoherence. I have no idea how an editorial vision is even supposed to stay focused over 2000 pages of contributions from people speaking over a dozen languages, even under the best of circumstances — although the book’s introduction, repeated in 10 languages, that ‘alternative’ visual styles blend and travel far more efficiently than the provincial populism of the Franco-Belgian tradition, commercial manga or superhero art, suggesting at least a purposeful cultivation of ‘individualism’ as a prevailing motif — and coordinator J.C. Menu ultimately opts to simply arrange the artists in alphabetical order. The stated theme, broad so as to become vaporous, moreover guarantees that everyone will do basically whatever the hell they feel like anyway. What’s your 20th century?

But god, the proportions! An alphabetical, non-comprehensive reference of contrasting perspectives on enormity! It had to be this big, true believers! And further – doesn’t it simulate what we’ve done for ten years now, comics qua comics? Ten years of growth? Of categorization, of manipulation? Framing? Considering the past, the Golden Age of Reprints? Downloads? The whole fucking internet? The availability of works, of works-on-works, of criticism? Navigation of a seemingly exploded terrain, sick with looping, lurching, overlapping perspectives? New freedoms? Could you even imagine a Comix 2000 in 1997, even leafing through your NON #1, you lucky kid, your Collection Ciboulette? Because if it hadn’t existed by now, it’d just be logic to suggest it. Or something like it – 2010 pages just sounds weird. Wasn’t that a Jamie Delano series?

Right now, I’m busy exploring suggested routes; as Bart Beaty remarked in Unpopular Culture, it’s “a book manuscript not so much to be read as to be toured.” I’ve just finished reading Sammy Harkham’s chat with project coordinator J.C. Menu from The Comics Journal #300, and I’ve gone and read all the selections named in there. Prior to that I picked out all of the manga artists, forming a mini-anthology in my head – the picture above was drawn by Muddy Wehalla (also spelled Wehara), a Garo contributor most prominently seen in English via the 1996 anthology Comics Underground Japan, which featured a two-part, all double-splash saga of salarymen in combat with monsters, bisected by odd, probably pun-laden gag strip breakdowns. His is as direct as contributions get, a hugely visceral saga of adorable babies crawling through seething nests of snapping, writhing serpents, one of them finally shrugging off his tears and learning to walk, only to happen upon precarious cliffs knotted with really BIG snakes.

Is… is it all an allegory for Japan emergence into the global community from the womb of isolationism? Is the fat baby eating snakes the shade of militarism? To be continued…?! It’s gonna take forever to see part two. Way longer than in MOME. By then, I might even be finished with the damned thing! Unless I’m somehow distracted: (more…)

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