Posts Tagged ‘Kim Deitch’

Pay Attention: A New Feature


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Friday, December 24, 2010


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The Search for Smilin Ed! by Kim Deitch, a book worthy of attention

As Evan Dorkin and others have mentioned, we’ve had a flood of good (and sometimes jaw-droppingly great) books that haven’t received anywhere near the recognition that they deserve. In response to this sad situation, I’m going to start a feature called PAY ATTENTION, devoted to recent, new and forthcoming books that deserve to be singled out.

The question of why books get ignored is worth puzzling out. Some personal reflections might be in order: when I worked on the first Walt and Skeezix book, I wasn’t sure how it would be received and was pleasantly shocked at the number of reviews it got, often in very prominent places (Playboy, the Washington Post, the New York Times, etc.) It wasn’t just the number of reviews and their high-visibility that was gratifying. A surprisingly large number of the reviews were very thoughtful and responsive to King’s work.

So why did the first Walt and Skeezix do so well in the public notice sweepstakes? A lion’s share of the credit has to go to the fact that Peggy Burns has claims to be the most talented publicist in comics. Chris Ware’s eye-popping design on the book played no small part in making it a volume that couldn’t be ignored, as did the stellar production work of the D&Q staff. But part of the story is also one of timing. We were early in the reprints game. The complete Peanuts series and the Krazy & Ignatz series had already started, which gave a context for people to understand the book. But there wasn’t a lot of other competition around. Frank King had the novelty factor going for him since no one had seen those daily strips in decades.

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The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival


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Monday, November 30, 2009


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[PAID ADVERTISEMENT]


PictureBox & Desert Island Present:

The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival

Saturday December 5th 2009: 11 AM – 7 PM
Our Lady of Consolation Church
184 Metropolitan Ave.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Free admission

Download the festival program here for a map and schedule.

UPDATE 12/1/09: I’m pleased to announce that Mat Brinkman will be at the PictureBox booth signing books on Saturday.

The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival consists of 3 components in 3 nearby locations in Williamsburg, Brooklyn:

-Over 50 exhibitors selling their zines, comics, books, prints and posters in a bustling market-style environment at Our Lady of Consolation Church, 184 Metropolitan Ave.
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Panel discussions and lectures by prominent artists, as well as an exhibition of vintage comic book artwork at Secret Project Robot, 128 River St.
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An evening of musical performances at DBA, 49 S. 2nd St.

In the cozy basement of Our Lady of Consolation Church (184 Metropolitan), exhibitors will display and sell their unique wares. Exhibitors include leading graphic book publisher Drawn & Quarterly of Montreal; famed French screenprint publisher Le Dernier Cri; artist’s book publisher Nieves of Zurich, Switzerland; Italian art book publisher Corraini; master printer David Sandlin; and tons of individual artists and publishers from Brooklyn.

Featured guests include the renowned artists Gabrielle Bell, R. O. Blechman, Pakito Bolino, Charles Burns, Anya Davidson, Kim Deitch, C.F., Carlos Gonzales, Ben Katchor, Michael Kupperman, Mark Newgarden, Gary Panter, Ron Rege Jr., Peter Saul, Dash Shaw, R. Sikoryak, Jillian Tamaki, Adrian Tomine, and Lauren Weinstein, among others.

FESTIVAL GUEST SIGNINGS
184 Metropolitan Ave.

1:00: Jillian Tamaki, Michael Kupperman, Lauren Weinstein
2:00: Matthew Thurber, Ron Rege, Jr., C.F.
3:00: Kim Deitch, R.O. Blechman, Dash Shaw
4:00: Ben Katchor and Gary Panter
5:00: Mark Newgarden, David Sandlin, Lisa Hanawalt
6:00: Gabrielle Bell & R. Sikoryak

The commerce portion of the Festival is partnered with an active panel and lecture program nearby at Secret Project Robot, 5 minutes down the street at 128 River St. This mini symposium will run from 1 to 6 pm and is being overseen by noted comics critic Bill Kartalopolous.

PROGRAMMING SCHEDULE:
Secret Project Robot
128 River St. and Metropolitan

1:00 GARY PANTER & PETER SAUL
Two generations of painters, Gary Panter and Peter Saul, will discuss their shared history, image-making, narrative, and the joys and dilemmas of making difficult work. Moderated by Dan Nadel.

2:00 PANELS AND FRAMES: COMICS AND ANIMATION
Comics and animation operate very differently, yet retain deep historical and stylistic connections. R. O. Blechman, Kim Deitch, and Dash Shaw will discuss the relationship between the two forms with moderator Bill Kartalopoulos.

3:00 BEN KATCHOR
Ben Katchor has chronicled the pleasures of urban decay and other metropolitan phenomena in comics including Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer and The Jew of New York. Katchor will read performatively from his comics and discuss his work in this rare spotlight presentation.

4:00 FLATLANDS: COMICS ON THE PICTURE PLANE
Do comics need a third dimension? Lisa Hanawalt, Mark Newgarden, Ron Regé, Jr.,
and David Sandlin will consider the tension between comics’ illusionistic worlds and their status as images on a picture plane. Moderated by Bill Kartalopoulos.

5:00 LIVE COMICS DRAWING
In a one-of-a-kind comics drawing session, Frank Santoro will present Gabrielle Bell and R. Sikoryak with a rough page layout based on his principles of composition and design. These two artists will translate Santoro’s layout into two unique pages of comics, live, before your very eyes.

Also: An exhibition of 1950s original comic book art curated by Dan Nadel

PERFORMANCES
Death by Audio
49 S. 2nd Street

Finally, at the end of the day visitors can troop over to Death by Audio at 49 S. 2nd Street, for an evening of musical performances by cartoonists, organized by Paper Route, and including performances by Kites, Ambergris, Sam Gas Can, Boogie Boarder, Nick Gazin, Graffiti Monsters, Dubbknowdubb.

The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival

Exhibitors and Artists:
Our Lady of Consolation Church
184 Metropolitan Ave.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
11 AM – 7 PM

Panel Discussions, Lectures & Art Exhibition:
Secret Project Robot
128 River @ corner of Metropolitan Ave.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
1 PM – 6 PM

Musical Performances:
Death by Audio
49 S. 2nd St Between Kent & Wythe
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
9 PM onward

NOTE: See PictureBox site for our own info: new Gary Panter Jimbo mini and other goodies.

See you there!
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What the Comics Journal Does Right


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Sunday, November 1, 2009


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The Comics Journal, as I noted in an earlier posting, needs to re-invent itself to make it relevant for the new era we’re in, a period where there is a much greater public interest in comics combined with a much more fragmented discourse about comics (found mostly these days the internet). It looks like the editors of the Journal were thinking along the same lines as I was, because they’ve decided to radically change the magazine by upgrading its web-presence while transforming the Journal itself into a twice-yearly upscale publication.

These are promising changes, although much will depend on the execution. I think one way to guide the magazine forward is to look at what it does right. Here is a list of highlights from the most recent incarnation of the magazine (the more compact, literary magazine format they started with issue #288 in February of 2008).

The Deitch family issue (292) was the stand-out interview. By conducting separate interviews with Gene Deitch and his three sons, Gary Groth created almost a new genre: a family saga in the form of oral history. With each Deitch offering conflicting accounts of their family life, we got a rounded image of their careers, one that read like a novel. This was one of the best issues ever. There have been other strong interviews (like the ones with Trevor Von Eeden, S. Clay Wilson, and Jason) but the Deitch interviews stood out for telling a cohesive story.

As for the critical essays, I think the Journal was strongest when its stalwart critics wrote long think pieces. Gary Groth’s novella-length, keen-eyed piece about the relationship between Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman was superb as both portraiture and analysis. It gave a much livelier sense of what Thompson was like than the recent documentary Gonzo, or any of the other films about the notorious journalist.

Although many found it too long, I though the symposium on the Michaelis’ Schulz biography was important and necessary (full disclosure: I participated in the symposium). There were serious problems with that much-praised book, and it was good to get Monte Schulz’s objection to it in print for the record, so that future students of Peanuts won’t treat Michaelis as gospel.

Other strong pieces of writing were R. Fiore on Hajdu’s The Ten Cent Plague and Tim Kreider on Bill Mauldin. In general, Donald Phelps is the magazine’s most genial and idiosyncratic voice, although he often writes about things other than comics. I know many people have a hard time with Phelps’ rambling, quirky, allusive prose but his essays always give me a new way to look at art, something few critics can achieve. I have to confess though that I’ve never developed a taste for another dense Journal stylist, Ken Smith.

The strength of the magazine is in presenting essays that have a depth of analysis that can’t be found elsewhere. Most writing on comics tends to suffer from a shortness of breath: small reviews and bite-size blog postings. The Journal, at its best, doesn’t settle for such small snacks but offers a full-course meal.

Among its reviewers the Journal has a contingent of solid, trust-worthy writers: Kent Worcester, Rich Kreiner, Shaenon Garrity, and Kristian Williams, but they tend to get drowned out by crankier and less-informed critics, writers who mistake abrasiveness for insight. The magazine’s review section does seem too diffuse and scattershot. I’m never quite sure why some books get reviewed and others don’t. There’s a lot of good critics on the web now – Rob Clough comes to mind right way. The most promising prospect for the next incarnation of the Journal is to recruit these writers (I know Clough has already signed on).

Visually as well, the magazine has improved greatly in recent years. But if it comes out less frequently, there is more room for growth and experiment. Fantagraphics has a great design team which consistently puts together wonderful looking books. A Comics Journal that looks more like a book would be really exciting.

In terms of the print magazine, my strong sense is that the Comics Journal has always been strongest when Gary Groth has been most involved with it: his interviews with cartoonists have always set the gold standard in terms of being informed by the deepest research and asking the most searching questions. I’m thinking here of the classic and memorable conversations Groth has had with Chaykin, Crumb, Gil Kane, Jules Feiffer and many other creators. Now Groth is of course a very busy many with many broths to attend to, so the amount of time he gives to the Journal has wavered. But with two issues a year to put out, he should be able to reshape the magazine into something more closely resembling his own sensibility.

The Journal has often been accused of being just a mouthpiece for Groth’s opinions. To my mind, it’s regrettable that the Journal hasn’t often enough been Grothian enough.

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Comics Comics 3 Now Available as a Free Download!


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Tuesday, January 13, 2009


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Yes, that’s right, you can now download our third issue for free over on the right sidebar. (And the print version of it is currently available on sale for over half off at the PictureBox site.)

If you forgot, this is the issue that includes:

*Sammy Harkham‘s interview with Guy Davis (and their collaboration on the cover)

*The legendary Kim Deitch explaining the Meaning of Life

*Dan picking bones with the Masters of American Comics show

*David Heatley and Lauren R. Weinstein in conversation (they also collaborated on a brand-new oversize drawing)

*The long-awaited (by me) conclusion to my article on Steve Gerber

*The beloved Joe McCulloch on Mutt and Jeff

*An illustrated list from Renée French

*An amazing back cover by Marc Bell

*Plus about a million other things. At the time, Tom Spurgeon called it our best issue. All your friends have been reading this over and over again for more than a year! Don’t miss out!

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Kramers Tour Diary 2 Electric Bugaloo


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Wednesday, December 24, 2008


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NEW YORK REPORT

Thurber and I drove up together from Pittsburgh. The rest of the gang was in a big van that Kevin drove like a maniac. After the stop at the diner, we drove along route 22 thru Pennsylvania and up to Altoona. Got on I-80, which winds through the Appalachians, really pretty deep focus views with snows, and drove and drove. I remember we stopped at some super small town’s sprawling grocery store, and the lot of us wandered the store looking for something or other. But that was it. No exciting road adventures. Just a jaunt to the big city.

Matthew is a great conversationalist. Good with word play. We talked a lot about wanting to do more zines. Something public that one could print cheaply, small editions of 300 or so. Selling them on a website. Collecting the good stuff later in a cheap trade or giving it away online. Who knows? Who cares! Just make work. Back to basics. Both of us had pamphlet comic books go the way of the dodo. We were brainstorming. Thurber driving. Dunkin Donuts in Stroudsburg.

I had soup with some friends on 2nd ave and the went over to Matthew’s place to crash. He and Kevin were looking through old sketchbooks and drinking beer. Kevin’s got these amazing lists and diagrams of what he’s planning for some sequences. Ideas for comic book titles, random thoughts or observations, notes to self. The usual sketchbook stuff but sharply focused and clear. A distinct voice speaking. All beautifully, economically drawn or written.

Matthew showed us some new 1-800-MICE pages. I wish I could make such remarkably funny drawings as Thurber. The characters are so real to me like Jim Woodring’s characters are real, how they inhabit a space all their own. But beyond that, Thurber’s making these slapstick Dada talkies that just cut like a Buñuel movie. They’re great scenes strung together, great comics.

Then it was Saturday morning, bright December sun and light dusting of snow. Cats on fire escapes. Brooklyn. Thurber and I got up early and headed into Manhattan. He went to work. I went to see missed friends. Kevin said something about finding a diner or somewhere to draw. The signing was at four or five. We all barely had time eat before it was time to meet the throngs of Kramers fans out there.

I wish. I guess New York is always kind of a pie in the face. Meaning I can’t help but get my hopes up for any opening or signing or whatever I have here. I always hope all my friends will come, I hope there will be new people excited about the same things I’m excited about. Y’know, ahem, the heart of Saturday night. In New York. But in New York, there are a thousand things going on the same night. You’re lucky if you can get most of your friends from different worlds in the same room.

Desert Island in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is an awesome book store. They have a couch and a cool old portable record player. Gabe Fowler, the owner is always flippin’ a fat platter. Oh, and they sell comics, and these new things called “graphic novels”, and lots other cool stuff. When I got there at 5:30 the signing had already been going on for an hour. There were so many of us it was like some ’70s jam rock band with twelve members playing a small party. I remember standing there watching Adrian Tomine, Kim Deitch, Ben Katchor, Sammy Harkham, and Matthew Thurber all “signing” at once, drawing on the limited-edition prints that come with the book (if you buy it from Buenaventura or through certain stores). It was a little overwhelming to say the least. Or intimidating. One or the other. Or both.

I mean, I’ve met Ben Katchor a few times. But, um, it’s Ben Katchor. I always think, “What do I say? What do I say?” Talk about Nabokov? The soup place on Second Avenue?

So, the store got 25 copies of the books and they were all pre-sold. In theory Sammy was to bring more along, but Buenaventura was selling through their advance shipment so fast they could barely keep up, it was nuts. Most customers, according to Gabe, wanted the book signed by all the artists but they had to come to the signing and do it themselves; the staff (Gabe, Keri and Lindsay) weren’t going to pass around 25 giant books to get signed. It was tough enough getting all the prints signed. It was a good idea but what ended up happening is that only a few of the pre-order customers came in to get their book signed. And they, Gabe said, came in early, picked up their book before all the signers were around, and asked when their signed print would be ready. Since the signers weren’t all there yet and all the prints weren’t doodled on, the pre-order customers hung around for a bit then split, content to pick up their print later.

So, we, the signers all just jammed on the prints, not on the books. And, well, it was kind of weird. Fun, but weird. More like a craft party than an opening or a signing where there is a direct connection between reader and maker. I think people there to meet the makers were a little shy to interrupt someone like Kim Deitch when he’s drawing. I’d been to other signings at Desert Island and they were really happening, really loose. But this night was just kind of low key and stoic.

The traffic jam of cartoonists (John Pham, James McShane, Ron Rege, Adrian Tomine, Ben Katchor, Jonathan Bennett, Kim Deitch, Gabrielle Bell, David Heatley, Matthew Thurber, Jesse McManus, Sammy Harkham, Kevin Huizenga, and myself), no one having their book “personalized”, AND the fact that there were no books to be bought by someone walking in off the street made the whole thing kind of odd. Fun, but odd.

Don’t get me wrong, people were laughing and carrying on, and y’know, it’s cool to sit next to Kevin Huizenga and watch Yakov smile ear to ear while having all his Huizenga comic books signed. It’s cool to rap with Gabrielle Bell and talk to Randy Chang, but I see them all the time. In New York at least. It felt more like a small party for all the New York alt-comix people, which is awesome, but I secretly hoped that it would be packed with “new” comics fans eager to check out this amazing book they’d read about somewheres. I’m beginning to think that this “new” audience for comics and graphic novels that is often trumpeted by the mainstream press doesn’t actually exist or at least doesn’t come to events like this. It’s always the same people. Great people, but still the same people. It’s fun but that sheer excitement on the faces of fans in Pittsburgh was absent on the New York stop.

Oh, and my showdown with David Heatley was pretty anti-climatic. I saw him come in say hello to Adrian Tomine and then check out the store copy of the book over near where I was standing. We shook hands, said hello. That was it.

Mark Newgarden, Dan Nadel, Dash Shaw, my friend Reid Paley, and I went and had a drink afterwards, totally unawares that there was a party for the event that we were missing. Luckily, Sammy called looking for us and soon we found it. Down by the elevated tracks of the J train, Bill K. and Austin English and a bunch of other folks have this unbelievably swell loft apartment. One of those dream New York apartments that has enough room to fit 50 people comfortably. The atmosphere I was hoping for at the signing was in full effect. It was loose and more like the other events at Desert Island.

I stood around and talked, got a little drunk, I can’t really remember. It was fun seeing the non-locals mixing with the locals outside events like signings or festivals. Fun watching Sammy and Dan argue. Fun to realize that the people assembled are some of the few artists, writers, makers of things, promoters of things that I really care about. One of those times when I stumble home without cursing the world.

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Two Links and an Announcement


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Tuesday, October 21, 2008


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Here’s two kinda old links that I never got around to putting up here, but I thought I’d do it now, before I forget:

1. A pretty amazing reflection on Charles Crumb by Spurious.

2. Richard O’Connor on animating with Kim Deitch.

And here’s the announcement: Cage Match 3 is about to begin! Probably tomorrow morning (or Thursday at the latest). Topic: David Heatley‘s My Brain is Hanging Upside Down. Dan’s probably sitting this one out, so your participation will be appreciated. Stay tuned.

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Toot Toot!


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Thursday, August 7, 2008


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Here’s yet another event (Tim & Frank, can I go home yet?) for you to fathom. Come join us tomorrow. This should actually be awesome.

Join us for a book release party and panel discussion featuring:

KIM DEITCH
BILL GRIFFITH
GEOFFREY HAYES
and moderator
DAN NADEL

Listing information:

WHAT: Book Release Party for WHERE DEMENTED WENTED: THE ART AND COMICS OF RORY HAYES, with panel discussion and Q&A
WHO: Dan Nadel, Kim Deitch, Bill Griffith & Geoffrey Hayes
WHERE: DESERT ISLAND • 540 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, NY • 718.388.5087 • desertislandbrooklyn.com
WHEN: Friday, August 8, 7PM (discussion begins at 8PM)

FREE ADMISSION
An exclusive, limited-edition Hayes silkscreen will be available for this event.

The controversial cartoonist Rory Hayes was a self-taught dynamo of the underground comics revolution. Attracting equal parts derision and praise (the latter from the likes of R. Crumb and Bill Griffith), Hayes emerged as comics’ great primitive, drawing horror comics in a genuinely horrifying and hallucinatory manner (some have called him the Fletcher Hanks of the underground). He has influenced a generation of cartoonists, from RAW to Fort Thunder and back again.

On Friday, Aug. 8, on what would have been Hayes’ 59th birthday (Hayes died of a drug overdose in 1983), Desert Island and Fantagraphics Books will celebrate the life and art of Rory Hayes with a special evening celebrating the release of WHERE DEMENTED WENTED, the first-ever collection of Hayes’ legendary comics and art. Editor Dan Nadel (Gary Panter, The Wilco Book) will moderate a discussion of Hayes’ work with three men who knew and worked with Hayes: Kim Deitch (creator of Waldo the Cat), Bill Griffith (creator of Zippy the Pinhead), and Geoffrey Hayes (brother of Rory and author of the recent Benny and Penny from Toon Books).

WHERE DEMENTED WENTED: THE ART AND COMIX OF RORY HAYES is the first retrospective of Hayes’ career ever published, and features the best of his underground comics output alongside paintings, covers, and artifacts rarely seen by human eyes — as well as astounding, previously unprinted comics from his teenage years and movie posters for his numerous homemade films. The Art and Comix of Rory Hayes also serves as a biography and critique with a memoir of growing up with Rory by his brother, the illustrator Geoffrey Hayes, and a career-spanning essay by Edward Pouncey (a.k.a. Savage Pencil). Also included is a rare interview with Hayes himself.

“Rory Hayes was the real thing; a genuine ‘outsider’ artist. His work retains its raw, primitive power to this day, teetering precariously between chaos and control, madness and oddly endearing teddy bears.” – Bill Griffith

“A great American primitive.” – R. Crumb

WHERE DEMENTED WENTED:
THE ART AND COMICS OF RORY HAYES

Edited by Dan Nadel and Glenn Bray
Essays by Geoffrey Hayes and Edwin Pouncey
$22.99 Paperback Original
144 pages, black-and-white (with 48 pp. in color), 8” x 10”
ISBN 978-1-56097-923-4

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