by Jeet Heer
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
As Jog mentioned last week, the Inkstuds book is now in stores. Jog avoided saying too much about it for conflict of interest reasons, and I have even more conflicts than he does. I wrote the introduction to the book, which also includes the transcript on an interview with me, Dan, and Tom Spurgeon.
But Comics Comics has a long and noble tradition of **ahem**Dan Nadel**ahem** shameless self-promotion, so I’ll say a few words. It’s a very handsome book, amply illustrated with examples of the cartoonists work. And to his credit Robin McConnnell has interviewed many cartoonists who have rarely if ever been questioned about their work (notably the great Ted Stearn). Finally and unexpectedly, the interviews read very well in print. Even though I’ve listened to many of the interviews before, I’ve found that when I read them I pick up on nuances that I missed as a listener. So if you’re interested in contemporary comics, I’d suggest picking up the book.
Here’s an excerpt from my intro:
Among the many comics interviewers, the best were Verne Greene, John Benson, Arn Saba, Gary Groth, and Todd Hignite. In the early 1960s, Greene, who then drew the strip Bringing Up Father, hosted a radio program on WRVR in New York City where he chatted with peers like Chester Gould and Roy Crane, getting them to share in the secrets of their craft. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Benson conducted path-breaking interviews with comic book artists such as Bernie Krigstein and Gil Kane, where they spoke honestly about the commercial limits of the form and their artistic ambitions. In the 1970s, Arn Saba, then a young cartoonist with an enviable gig at CBC radio, interviewed such venerable comic strip masters as Hal Foster, Floyd Gottfriedson, and Milton Caniff, catching them in the twilight of their career…..
I’ll add a regret that I didn’t talk about Tom Spurgeon as one of the great interviewers, since he’s done some really deft quizing of both mainstream comics artists, and a wide range of contemporary art cartoonists and also writers about comics. I know from my own experience, that Tom is a really acute reader whose questions are like x-rays in the way the lay bare the insides of a book.