Posts Tagged ‘Carnival of souls’
* Clive Barker revealed that he worked as a hustler through the publication of Weaveworld in 1987, in a Facebook conversation with the artist Dave McKean. By that point he’d published all six Books of Blood, The Damnation Game, and The Hellbound Heart. Barker is one of my very few heroes, a man who seems to have lived his life and pursued his art the way these things are meant to be done; I’m sad that he clearly remains so saddened by this secret part of his life.
* Julia Gfrörer is publishing a book version of her comic Black Is the Color through Fantagraphics and she posted a hugely impressive comic called “World Within the World” that feels like getting slapped in the face repeatedly.
* Somehow I’d managed not to read “Cody,” a story Michael DeForge serialized on one of his websites last autumn — it’s now all on one continuously scrolling page so there’s no excuse anymore. Turns out it’s a weird, funny, really precise and thoughtful exploration of subcultures and the sacrifices we make of parts of ourselves that are surplus to our chosen identities.
* Also, I somehow whiffed on the announcement that Koyama Press is putting out Michael DeForge’s collected short stories in a volume called Very Casual. It’s a very good time period for that kind of thing, with killer collections from Josh Simmons, Gabrielle Bell, Hans Rickheit, and Sammy Harkham coming out last year as well.
* Zak Smith devises a table of 100 random Tolkien/Jackson elements for your RPG needs. Listing these elements in this way does a few things. First, it’s funny. Second, its list-format-derived fantasy-potpourri feeling gives lie to the notion that Tolkien had a hemmed-in, orderly imagination that made its impact primarily through “realistic” worldbuilding. Third, it gives some shine to Jackson as an interpreter and remixer of Tolkien’s foundational work. Fourth, it demonstrates that both artists have a facility for conjuring very specific and unique emotional or tonal images arising from setting and/or character (eg. “a depressed warrior princess,” “magnificent fireworks”), to go with the genre-related images of creatures and plot points and so on (eg. “enormous, intelligent birds of prey,” “a horde of climbing goblins.”)
* Speaking of the Mignolaverse, BPRD cowriters Mignola and Arcudi are doing an armored-supersoldier WWII period piece called Sledgehammer 44 with artist Jason Latour. I hadn’t even heard this was in the works.
* And a less rare but still always welcome Moralez-assembled image/gif gallery!
* My collaborator Matt Rota’s art is getting to that “was this made by human hands?” point. Those pink fleshtones!
* Had to happen eventually: Jonny Negron and cocaine.
* Had to happen eventually: Jonny Negron and animated gifs.
* Had to happen eventually: Jonny Negron and full-color comics. Negron is inevitable.
* I can’t say enough good things about the elliptical fantasy one-pagers my collaborator William Cardini has been putting up lately. What an innovative marriage of format, genre, pacing, and effect.
* This is some immaculate cartooning by Gabrielle Bell. There’s an intensity here I’ve never seen from her before, and her off-kilter way of spotting blacks is really cohering into a statement.
* You’d be hard pressed to find better value for your illustration-enjoying dollar than a “Here’s all the stuff I drew in 2012” post by Hellen Jo.
* Tom Neely started a tumblr for his porn drawings. They’re gorrrrgeous. (They get much dirtier than the ones below.)
* Robin McConnell interviews Noel Freibert for Inkstuds. His work keeps getting better and white-hotter.
* Was Kylie Minogue the first person to make music that “sounded like Kylie,” or is there some antecedent of which I’m unaware? (Via Jamieson Cox.)
* I got a great deal out of BuzzFeed’s rundown of 16 great musical happenings from the past month — fine writing about fine music in a variety of styles. One of those things is “Full of Fire,” the 9-plus-minute new single by the Knife, which is relentlessly intense yet never ever aggravating. How they can keep you in that edge-of-panic listening state for that long across repeated listens is beyond me, but I’m glad they’re doing it. I’m glad they’ve constructed this aggressive industrial edifice at the heart of critical attention.
* Before I saw this video for “Heidi’s Head” by Kleenex I’m not sure I’d ever really internalized the way in which punk and post-punk were threatening to the existing rock paradigm, perhaps because I always loved them all equally. But man oh man is this ever the sound of a bunch of young people telling the dinosaurs “We don’t need you.” (Thanks, Douglas Wolk.)
* On the dinosaur side of the equation, I’ve been enjoying Steven Hyden’s “Winners’ History of Rock and Roll” series on enormously successful critic-proof rock bands. The link takes you to the opening installment, on Led Zeppelin, the second-greatest band of all time, isolating the Jimmy Page-concocted “sound” of how the band recorded itself as the key to its lasting success, which seems dead-on to me. He also tackles Kiss and Bon Jovi, the worst and second-worst bands of all time, and Aerosmith, who were very good through Pump and then stopped being good.
* Hey look it’s pictures of Kate Moss and Foxy Brown and Kate Winslet and Michelle Dockery Beyoncé and Beyoncé again and Beyoncé again and Dave Gahan and Rainer Andreeson, for your looking at pictures of attractive people needs.
* Drawings of criminal conduct are not criminal conduct. No one should go to prison for having drawings.
* “we are all responsible for the dialogue we foster, the culture we create, the criticism we enable; a few more hits aren’t worth it”—Tom Spurgeon. I’d forgotten about this quote of Tom’s before browsing some old tweets just now, but I was thinking of something very similar after the long-awaited new album by My Bloody Valentine was suddenly released this Saturday — I found myself preemptively dreading the smartest seen-it-all, above-it-all guy in the room quips I suspected I was bound to see about it online. I’m trying to adopt what my Catholic school teachers used to call “an attitude of gratitude.” With something like MBV and their landmark record Loveless, which is so special and singular, it comes down to acknowledging it as such, and not spraying a bunch of diarrhea into the discourse surrounding a beautiful unique thing or the people that made it. The same thing could probably be said about Beyoncé, a monumental talent who seems to draw out the worst and most dismissive parts of some people. I’ve had a tough run for a while now, and the art that moves me is important to me, and I’m trying to conduct myself in a way that respects that, and surround myself with other people who do the same.
* Tom Spurgeon’s complete holiday interview series is up at the Comics Reporter. Go ye and click; so far I’ve really enjoyed the interviews with writer Mark Waid, cartoonists Dean Haspiel, Derf Backderf, Sammy Harkham, and Tom Kaczynski, and critics J. Caleb Mozzocco and Rob Clough.
* You should absolutely read “Sticky-Icky-Icky,” a stoner-sex-slice-of-life comic by Box Brown. I said “whoa” when I saw this page in particular.
* Ooh, it’s a master list of the tumblrs for all the members of Closed Caption Comics who have tumblrs. Thanks, Ryan Cecil Smith!
* Always glad to see smut from Julia Gfrörer.
* This painting by Charles-Frédéric Soehnée is a nightmare. (Via Monster Brains.)
* Just for fun, Dresden Kodak creator is doing a whole series of drawings and sketches and posts on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. Many of them are idiosyncratic and beautiful.
* The addendum at the end hurts a bit because Coates in scold mode is the worst Coates, but otherwise this is a nice scales-from-the-eyes piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates about Kendrick Lamar’s excellent album Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.
* Here are all of Chris “Shallow Rewards” Ott’s posts on the Cure from his stint on the themed music blog One Week, One Band last year. If you want to read a good writer write a whole lot about a good band he happens to love, then this is
* John Brennan belongs in prison, not running the CIA. If you did half the shit this guy says it’s okay for the government to do, you bet your ass you’d be in prison.
* Very sad news: Wilko Johnson, guitarist for Dr. Feelgood and Ser Ilyn Payne on Game of Thrones, is dying of pancreatic cancer. Man that guy played with style.
* Scientists have filmed a live giant squid in its natural habitat. I can die now.
Carnival of souls: Gossip Girl, Edie Fake, Fluxblog 2012, Chris Ware on Newtown, Shallow Rewards on shoegaze, moreJanuary 4, 2013
* Gossip Girl aired its series finale a few weeks ago. I watched every episode of that show and spent much of that time delighted in smiling-while-shaking-my-head-and-muttering-“you-magnificent-bastards” fashion. My friends Ben Morse and Kiel Phegley have reviewed the finale and the entire series in a two-part conversation that’s my favorite writing about Gossip Girl I’ve ever read. Here’s part one and here’s part two. The final two episodes of the show included two major events I’m still trying to wrap my head around; they both leave a bad taste in my mouth, but as Kiel and Ben convincingly argue, a Gossip Girl climax that didn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth wouldn’t be Gossip Girl.
* Edie Fake has come out of nowhere with a series of gouache and ballpoint-pen pictures of buildings called Memory Palaces that are among those rare works of art that make me go “Wow, I had no idea you could do that.” If you took the castles at the end of a Super Mario Bros. level and imagined that culture evolved forward a thousand years, you’d get something like this. It also puts me in mind of the old NES game Milon’s Secret Castle, or at least my hazy memories of same. Finding out where the buildings are from only makes it more remarkable. I sit and stare at this art like an apeman at the monolith. Never saw it coming.
* Still the best: Matthew Perpetua has released the Fluxblog 2012 Survey Mix, a TEN-disc overview of the year’s best music. It’s an overwhelming number of songs in a dizzying variety of genres and styles, but Matthew puts each disc together with thought and care and attention to flow, so you should feel free to DL ’em all but listen to them one at a time. Find one with a few songs you dig or are intrigued by and let the rest come at you.
* My wife is a teacher and we are parents, and Chris Ware is the greatest cartoonist, so virtually every aspect of Ware’s New Yorker cover and essay about Newtown resonated with me deeply. This passage in particular evokes the way all of my personal and political anger and dread runs together lately:
In the course of the next few days, I was privy to the exchanges among my wife and her colleagues about Newtown, culminating in flabbergasted e-mails and Facebookings following the farcical N.R.A. press conference. Memes abounded, like, “First they call us union thugs and now they want to arm us?!” and self-mocking jokes about their own forgetfulness: “Do you really want to trust people like us with guns?” (Teachers are notoriously overworked and so occasionally forget their two pounds’ worth of keys in one classroom or another.) What astonished me most was that the gun lobby seemed to imply that it was somehow partly the unarmed teachers’ fault that the Newtown shooting occurred at all. Well, why not? Isn’t everything lately always somehow the teachers’ fault?
Meanwhile, our government revved its engines to Evel-Knievel itself over the fiscal cliff, civilization’s rock face having partly crumbled away because a clot of representatives seem to feel that government shouldn’t be funded at all. Over the holiday break, news arrived that thirty-seven Philadelphia public schools were closing because of budgetary cuts, and meanwhile the whole idea of public education continues to be cored out nationwide by taxpayer-funded private “charter” schools in a sleight of hand that I still can’t believe is legal. (Meanwhile, my union-thug wife is too busy grading papers and planning lessons to be able to get properly mad about it all.)
* A pair of standouts from Tom Spurgeon’s Holiday Interview series: Tom Kaczynski on his surprisingly ambitious micropublishing outfit Uncivilized Books and Dean Haspiel with a startlingly frank and harsh assessment of his own career.
* The Comics Journal has self-selected its best posts of 2012. Something for everybody.
* Forgot to link to this before, but wow: The MoCCA Festival, now under the new management of the Society of Illustrators, has announced a new steering committee for its 2013 show: Anelle Miller, Kate Feirtag, and Katie Blocher from the Society, as well as Leon Avelino (Secret Acres), Charles Brownstein (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund), Karen Green (Columbia University), William Hatzichristos (CollectorZoo), Paul Levitz (Writer/ Educator), Barry Matthews (Secret Acres), and Tucker Stone (Bergen Street Comics). That’s an institution that’s getting serious about a small-press show that suffered from years of malign neglect — as ably detailed by Barry and Leon, who are now helping to guide it. Also I’m sure Tucker Stone and Paul Levitz will have a lot to talk about.
* Please go read First Year Healthy by Michael DeForge, now available in its entirety on one continuously scrolling page. Subtly effective horror with an extravagantly inventive sense of design. This is one of the best things he’s ever done.
* In contrast with the previous few links, all of which involve artists breaking their own mold in some way, this jaw-dropping Julia Gfrörer piece is more a matter of her becoming the most Julia Gfrörer she can be. I said “Jesus, Julia” out loud when I opened it.
* Always good to see new Uno Moralez work, no matter how small.
* Gorgeous cover by Zach Hazard Vaupen. Makes me wish he’d work in color more often.
* Dave Kiersh continues to post his old minicomics, which are ungainly and funny and pervy and immature and romantic and which put it all out there.
* Finally, congratulations and come back soon to Chris Ott, who says he’s wrapped up the initial run of his Shallow Rewards music-criticism video essays with (oh boy oh boy oh boy) the first two installments of a promised shit-ton of videos about shoegaze.
* It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Tom Spurgeon has begun his annual series of lengthy holiday interviews with comics luminaries, with Alison Bechdel kicking things off. I’ll probably get less enjoyment out of these this year than previously because I just haven’t read as many comics this year as I used to do, but I’m telling you, curling up with my in-laws’ dogs and sinking into the couch with the Comics Reporter Holiday Interview series on my laptop is one of life’s great pleasures.
* Liv Siddall’s essay on Chris Ware and Tavi Gevinson’s interview with Ware himself, both for Rookie, are both very good, but more importantly they both come with the most life-affirming comments sections you’ve ever seen on anything involving comics. Just a slew of kids saying “Wow, this sounds great, I’ve gotta check it out, thanks.” Gevinson uses her power to rep hard for the High Alt comics makers, and she does it well, and I’m glad.
* You can look at this lengthy post by Grant Morrison on the history of his feud with Alan Moore and think “good for him, sticking up for himself” or “yikes for him, living in this headspace.” A bad thing to do would be to troll the detractors or supporters of the writer of your choice with it — even at their crankiest and crank-iest, these guys have earned better than that.
* Big comics interviews I’m saving for later: Tim Hodler talks to Tom Kaczynski, Alex Dueben talks to Charles Burns, Tim Hodler and Dan Nadel and Frank Santoro talk to Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez.
* Speaking of Frank the Tank, he’s an Eisner judge this year, so I think it’s safe to say the days of Jaime shutouts are over.
* Christopher Tolkien’s disgust for Lord of the Rings licensed products, including the movies, is a depressing fact of life for those of us who’ve enjoyed both his father’s life work (which also became his own) and the work derived from it.
* The television critic Alan Sepinwall recently self-published a book called The Revolution Was Televised, outlining the New Golden Age of TV Drama with a chapter apiece on twelve landmark shows: Oz, The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Wire, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 24, Battlestar Galactica, Lost, The Shield, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Friday Night Lights. I’ve been reading Sepinwall on and off for years and years now — he more or less invented weekly reviewing and he’s a central figure in the TV-critic back-and-forth I follow on twitter and in the field’s seemingly countless podcasts and such — so there’s something of a local-boy-makes-good element to the book getting a rave review from Michiko Kakutani in the New York Times before she put it on her top 10 list for the year. Anyway, here Sepinwall talks about the books to one of my favorite TV critics, Willa Paskin.
* Lots and lots of people wrote lots and lots of words attacking or defending Homeland season two, but my podcasting pal Stefan Sasse bucked the trend and took some shots at Homeland season one instead.
* I quite liked Jessica Hopper’s interview with Grimes, who made one of the year’s best records and who emerges here as a forcefully thoughtful presence.
* The oral history trend has clearly reached its baroque period, where instead of culture-defining/altering movements or mega-masterpieces, they’re now about the “Blackwater” episode of Game of Thrones or Interpol’s first album. That’s a wonderful use of the form if you ask me.
* How embarrassing was Richard Cohen’s column decrying the physical fitness of Daniel Craig’s James Bond as some sort of affront to the masculinity of book-readin’ types like Richard Cohen? I’ve had a coworker walk in on me while I was using the restroom in the altogether and I still found this thing more mortifying.
* If you were wondering when the next time Michael DeForge would level up was gonna be, you’ve got your answer: “First Year Healthy.”
* Jonny Negron has — ha, like I even need to say anything at this point. Like I don’t put Jonny Negron art in every linkblogging post I do. It occurs to me that what Jonny does is invest “cool” imagery with the sense of mysterious and sinister don’t-try-this-at-home-kids intimidation it held for me as a kid. As alluring as these people are I’d be afraid to walk into a room where they were hanging out. For what it’s worth I think his last couple months of work are much more strongly erotic than anything he’s done in a while, but that could just be me. And look at the skintone on this one! LOOK AT IT
* Big new Gilbert Hernandez books coming in the new year: Julio’s Day! Marble Season! A now-completed collection of work he serialized during Love & Rockets‘ second volume and a pseudoautobiography, these could send him in the direction of critical and audience reappraisal that the outré sex and violence of his recent comics have denied him.
* I’m super-excited to purchase Magical Neon Sexuality by Kevin Fanning, though I’m waiting until I’m flush with Christmas cash. Fanning is the genius, the literal genius, behind The Cold Inclusive, which is sort of like magic realism only it’s sex with celebrities instead of angel wings and shit and which is one of my favorite things I ever saw on the Internet. I gather this book is in that vein. I realized today that Fanning’s stories are a big unconscious influence on me in that Drake comic I did with Andrew White and two or three other things I’m working on now.
* Kevin Mutch has begun serializing a slightly recolored version of his Xeric-winning graphic novel Fantastic Life online. I liked that book a lot — it’s kind of like a lo-fi X’d Out.
* Eleanor Davis made a comic about her friends skinning a fox and it’s brutal and beautiful. Go through the last month or so of her blog, because Davis is on fire right now the way, say, Gabrielle Bell was two summers ago.
* Sally Madden’s book about working at Philadelphia’s gross, awesome medical-oddity showcase the Mutter Museum, Gray Is Not a Color, has maybe the best cover of the year. Herb Alpert’s throne of skulls grows taller by the day, I’m told.
* New Cindy & Biscuit by my man Dan White! Some publisher with a solid and adventurous kids’ comics program should snap this up, for real.
* This comic by Benjamin’s fellow Collective Stench member Tom Toye seems to vibrate off the page.
* If you didn’t like the liberties Peter Jackson took with The Hobbit, then man oh man are you going to have complaints about Josh Simmons’s commissioned portrait of the Witch-King of the Nazgul.
* Guy Davis fanart for Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit? Sure, I’ll eat it.
* Zak Smith asks and answers the question: “Why is this picture so good?” (It’s by Adrian Smith.)
* Uno Moralez’s first image/gif gallery in a long time is also the scariest one in a much longer time.
* I don’t know of any rationale for keeping a nonviolent offender who’s not a risk to himself or others in literally torturous solitary confinement like the Obama administration did to the Army’s Wikileaks whistleblower Pfc. Bradley Manning, I just don’t. Who does?
* This Glenn Greenwald piece on the horror of Newtown as reflected in the drone and bombing deaths of Pakistani and Yemeni children at American hands (or Palestinians at Israeli hands, and let me warn you the photo that leads that link is enormously upsetting) is literally the most important thing to think about in the world right now. It is so vital for us to see that all lives are of equal value, and to understand that the mass death of children caused by the American military/intelligence apparatus abroad is just as devastating and horrifying to their loved ones, and to the conscience of the universe, as the mass death of children caused by maniacs here at home. Once you make this connection you can never unmake it, which is why it’s so important to make it. This has in one way or another been the topic of almost everything I’ve written this year. It’s never far from my mind, ever.
* Fittingly finally, David Chase explains the end of The Sopranos. None of the above?
* The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival was this past Saturday. I missed it because I was busy throwing a surprise 60th birthday party for my mom, which went great, thanks, but it’s still a bummer to miss the best comics show I’ve ever been to. Tom Spurgeon liked the show a lot; Robert Boyd did not. To this outside observer it appears the show has reached the “victim of its own success” tipping point, where those not favorably predisposed to attending or exhibiting may be turned off by increased overcrowding, venue issues and suchlike inherent to the show picking up steam from year to year that veterans and enthusiasts are more able to gloss over or ignore. But since the acknowledged strength of the show is its organization, in terms of presenting a thoughtful and rewarding selection of exhibitors, panels, satellite events, and special guests in order to entice attendees and make them feel glad they came, I’d imagine the organizers will be able to use that same intelligence to fix logistical problems. This isn’t something that could have been said for, say, the MoCCA Festival when it reached its own tipping point a few years back, since in retrospect that show did as well as it did because it was the first (and only) of its kind in the area. (For what it’s worth, they handled growth really well by expanding to two days and multiple floors in the original venue, the Puck Building, then really poorly by moving it to the Amory and not preparing at all for change. Obviously exhibitor relations left a lot to be desired as well.) Anyway, for an idea of what I missed, here’s what Leah Wishnia bought there. (Man, is that ever a BCGF haul photo!)
* WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS? My friend Rob Bricken, bless his heart, is leaving Topless Robot, the caustic nerd-news site he created and edited since its inception, for a gig at io9. I got a lot of enjoyment out of what Rob did there over the years. In true Topless Robot fashion, Rob signed off by posting lists of his eight favorite listicles, five least and five most horrifying fan-fiction posts, and five favorite things about the site overall. I was always very very happy with the few things I wrote for TR, particularly the music posts.
* Eventually my current headlong retreat inside myself only to find I can barely stomach anything in there either will come to an end and I’ll read all the comics I have lying around. At that point I will then read the following reviews: Chris Mautner on Ron Régé Jr.’s The Cartoon Utopia and Theo Ellsworth’s The Understanding Monster. Katie Haegele on The Cartoon Utopia. Grace Krilanovich on Charles Burns’s The Hive. Marc Sobel interviewed Ellsworth, too.
* “Operation Vaporizer” by Jordan Speer is one of the best webcomics I’ve read all year, and I’ve read plenty.
* I’m always glad to see a new Conor Stechschulte comic — his Water Phase debuted at BCGF. No one textures pages like he does.
* Goodness, Space Face Books is a promising new publisher. I mean, it’s all but made good on its promise already. Forsman, DeForge, Hanselmann right out of the gate.
* When evaluating the recent work of Jonny Negron, please do not overlook the cementing of his signature style — meaning, literally, the style of his signature.
* Yuko Shumizu’s drawing of Shirley Manson from Garbage pretty accurately captures the appeal of Shirley Manson from Garbage.
* Carrie Battan’s article on the creation of indie-flavored pop music by Solange Knowles, Sky Ferreira, Charli XCX and others is a fascinating look at how some fairly tasty sausage gets made.
* Jessie Ware’s album Devotion has quickly become one of my favorites of the year. I’ll never not be a huge mark for sophisticated late-’90s dinner-party music, and this is that at both its most sonically refined and most emotionally raw. And my my my my my this video.
* Finally, it occurred to me I never linked to Meghan “Moneyworth” Garvey’s astonishing hip-hop Illuminati illustrations when she and I got in touch a few months ago. She’s great; they’re great.
* It’s wonderful that we’ve had going on two solid weeks of non-stop Chris Ware Building Stories talk on the comics internet, though it’s also sad that I haven’t participated in any of it because I haven’t had the time to read the book yet. (I know, I know, be the change you want to see in the comics internet, but it’s a lot easier in terms of time, energy, and attention to blow through a few chapters of an inconsequential Secret Avengers arc and suchlike in dribs and drabs over the course of a couple weeks than to sit down and work your way through a 14-chapter box set by your absolute favorite cartoonist.) Stuff I’ll certainly be checking in on once I’ve done my due diligence: The Comics Journal’s massive series of Building Stories essays; Joe McCulloch’s suggested reading order for the “book”‘s 14 individual volumes; Joe McCulloch, Chris Mautner, Tucker Stone, and Matt Seneca’s podcast about the book; and Douglas Wolk’s review for The New York Times.
* A judge just handed the family of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster a major defeat in their battle to reclaim the character’s copyrights from DC Comics and Warner Bros. It’s an ugly situation where a 1992 agreement made in large part for Shuster’s sister to receive an annual pension which in today’s dollars amounts to less than an assistant editor makes in exchange for her claims to a billion-dollar character that gave birth to an entire genre of fiction is now being used against her. Read the link above for the best explanation of what happened, then read Tom Spurgeon for impassioned analysis. As Tom always points out, DC/WB’s treatment of the Superman creators and their heirs is a choice, one they make anew every day, and one they could reverse whenever they wanted to. Individual people have decided they don’t want to.
* Ben Katchor’s satires of late capitalist society for Metropolis are merciless. Fun fact: He’s got a collection of these strips called Hand-Drying in America and Other Stories coming out in February 2013! That’s gonna be a beast.
* The AV Club talks to Los Bros Hernandez at length. I love hearing them talk about how they spurred one another to improve in the early Love and Rockets issues.
* Matt Fraction looks back on his fine tenure on Invincible Iron Man, which is just about to wrap up. That’s one of the best superhero runs of the past half-decade.
* I came up with the topic for Tom Spurgeon’s latest Five for Friday reader-participation feature: Name five female comics-makers and their best male characters.
* Mostly music critic Brandon Soderberg interviews the great horror comics creator Josh Simmons. No one goes as far out as he does.
* Mostly music critic Tom Ewing reviews Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, the other big recent comics-related book release I haven’t read yet.
* Haw, Benjamin Marra made a trashy funny-animal comic called Ripper & Friends! This oughta be a hoot.
* One of the best things about Matthew Perpetua’s BuzzFeed Music is that you get a lot more Matthew Perpetua music writing. Here he is on two wonderful albums of recent vintage, Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! and Bat for Lashes’ The Haunted Man. These both make for excellent late-October listens, if you’re interested in that sort of thing, though I’m more in an emotional place for the former, which features a 20-minute instrumental metal epic named after a Bosnian Serb war criminal, than the latter, the key lyrics of which include “Thank God I’m alive” and “Where you see a wall, I see a door.”
* Also on BuzzFeed Music: Jayson Greene’s harrowing essay about being ceaselessly bullied. As a newish parent this shit really gets to me now, more even than as a former bullying victim. I get to toss my daughter into this maw? Fucking terrific.
* Katherine St. Asaph digs deep into the rise and apparent fall of “Call Me Maybe” singer Carly Rae Jepsen, whose album Kiss is Kylie/Robyn-level delightful but not selling.
* I’m with Noz on the quasi-parody rap critic Big Ghostfase. The schtick is overwritten, more than a little condescending, and ultimately unrewarding.
* The best horror writing you’ll find this Halloween month comes from Matt Maxwell’s bite-sized posts on George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which are all illustrated by absolutely gorgeous screenshots. Here’s one of them.
* Someone played The Shining from front to back and back to front simultaneously and claims the overlaps are meaningful. They’re meaningful only by coincidence, but they’re beautiful coincidences.
* Plenty of good writing on last weekend’s terrific Homeland episode out there, if you’re in the market for it: Willa Paskin, Alyssa Rosenberg, Matt Zoller Seitz (he and I are really in sync on this season), Alyssa Rosenberg again.
* Vulture’s Gwynne Watkins profiles Elio García and Linda Antonsson from Westeros.org. Those two mean the world to me and I just love this profile.
* Mark Bowden writes very well about how the military-intelligence apparatus tracks down and kills enemies of the state — this was true in his absurdly engrossing Killing Pablo, about the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar, and it’s true in this lengthy Vanity Fair excerpt/adaptation of his new book about the death of Osama Bin Laden. That said, if you believe the bubbemeise offered up here that Barack Obama wanted to capture Bin Laden and try him in court, but the Navy SEALs called an audible on the ground, established a “shoot all adult males on sight” protocol all on their own, and plugged a wounded and unarmed Bin Laden in the head where lay despite the entire national security team’s express wishes to the contrary, I’ve got a fucking bridge to sell you.
* The justification of America’s drone-strike policy offered by TIME columnist Joe Klein as discussed in this Glenn Greenwald post is so soul-deadeningly horrifying, so sick even by the degraded standards of America’s normal discourse on this issue, that I thought it bore special mention.
KLEIN: “I completely disagree with you… . It has been remarkably successful” —
SCARBOROUGH: “at killing people” —
KLEIN: “At decimating bad people, taking out a lot of bad people – and saving Americans lives as well, because our troops don’t have to do this … You don’t need pilots any more because you do it with a joystick in California.”
SCARBOROUGH: “This is offensive to me, though. Because you do it with a joystick in California – and it seems so antiseptic – it seems so clean – and yet you have 4-year-old girls being blown to bits because we have a policy that now says: “you know what? Instead of trying to go in and take the risk and get the terrorists out of hiding in a Karachi suburb, we’re just going to blow up everyone around them. This is what bothers me… . We don’t detain people any more: we kill them, and we kill everyone around them… . I hate to sound like a Code Pink guy here. I’m telling you this quote ‘collateral damage’ – it seems so clean with a joystick from California – this is going to cause the US problems in the future.”
KLEIN: “If it is misused, and there is a really major possibility of abuse if you have the wrong people running the government. But: the bottom line in the end is – whose 4-year-old get killed? What we’re doing is limiting the possibility that 4-year-olds here will get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror.”
Tribalism at its most repellent; a willful rejection of empathy for other human beings, even children, with cruelty so casual it’s astonishing to behold.
* Klein should be quite excited to learn of the Obama Administration’s “disposition matrix,” a codification and systematization of pervasive surveillance and extrajudicial killing, conducted in secret and intended to become a permanent fixture of the executive branch. The object of power is power. Won’t it be fun to vote for these people anyway, because this election is like choosing between cancer and a less aggressive form of cancer?
* In happier news, I still like Beyoncé.
* One’s temptation to crumple the entire comics internet up and throw it in the garbage decreases considerably when everyone starts writing about Chris Ware. The Comics Journal is doing a whole series on Ware’s astounding new collection Building Stories; highlights so far include Joe McCulloch’s thoughts and Chris Mautner’s interview with Ware.
* Mike Mignola, John Arcudi et al’s excellent B.P.R.D., long an ongoing series in all but name, will make it official beginning with “issue #100.”
* Ware was one of the human highlights of the recent iteration of SPX, and unsurprisingly Tom Spurgeon has the best con report. One thing that happened there that had never happened to me before was that total strangers came up to me to compliment me on this blog four or five times, which was wonderful and uplifting, so thank you, strangers.
* If you’re looking for comics to try you could do a lot worse than to use Jessica Abel & Matt Madden’s list of Notable Comics from Best American Comics 2012 as your guide.
* Or you could read all of the Kevin Huizenga comics that have been posted online.
* Michael DeForge’s “Leather Space Man” is as good at depicting the weird un-logic of urban legends and pop-culture mysteries like “Paul is dead” or “Andrew W.K. is an impostor” as Kevin Huizenga’s Ganges #2 was at depicting the weird un-logic of Mario-style video games. Meanwhile “Manananggal” is as strong a horror/SF thing as he’s ever done and “Splitsville” is the same for the sex-comic category and Ant Comic remains the best webcomic going. It’s a shame he abandoned Open Country, that awesome minicomic series about astral-projection art, though. Michael, don’t abandon/destroy your comics anymore. They’re good!
* Josh Simmons made a minicomic called Flayed Corpse for Chuck Forsman’s Oily Comics line that I’d like to read, and he also drew this tribute to Hans Rickheit’s Cochlea & Eustacea and this one-panel gag comic.
* Wow, look at this comic “Sparring” that my collaborator Isaac Moylan made.
* Ben Max F. Urkowitz made a very nice comic here — a little Tim Hensley, a little Gilbert Hernandez, a little pre-Maus Art Spiegelman even. Click to read the whole thing.
* Go buy a whole bunch of troubling, compulsively drawn comics by Heather Benjamin, who’s really got everyone else in comics beat in terms of interview attire and candidness.
* Once you’ve learned the grim true story behind the making of The Birds, this gif, which I’ve thought for years and years now is Hitchcock’s single most revealing-of-self moment, takes on an even more troubling new meaning.
* I once wrote an oral history of Marvel Comics with a 13,000-word first draft for Maxim, yet I’m still absolutely enthralled and regularly enlightened by the clips I’ve read from writer Sean Howe’s forthcoming book Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. Here’s a bit on the ’90s boom and Image defection, and here’s a justifiably internet-famous bit on the freewheeling, acid-dropping ’70s.
* In her Bloggingheads.tv show “Critic Proof,” Alyssa Rosenberg, who is one of my favorite TV critics, talks to Willa Paskin and Todd VanDerWerff, who are two of my favorite TV critics. Paskin is just a mercilessly efficient and effective critic, man, jeez.
* I’m looking forward to listening to four excellent comics talkers, Tucker Stone, Matt Seneca, Joe McCulloch, and Chris Mautner, talk about Love and Rockets at length in their podcast.
* Vanessa Pelz-Sharpe is probably the best sex writer I’ve ever read. Her advice in that post makes for excellent sex scenes in addition to excellent sex IRL, too.
* Please read this marvelous, harrowing true story about the coolest kids in the author’s hometown. Blood Sugar Sex Majik is a hell of a drug. (Via Molly Lambert.)
* Ta-Nehisi Coates presents an escaped slave’s furious response to an infuriating letter from his ex-master’s wife demanding he pay for the horse he rode off on. Incandescent writing.
* Coates is actually responsible for some of the best political writing I’ve read in ages himself: “Fear of a Black President”, his magisterially angry essay on the reaction to the Obama presidency that dare not speak its name.
* Conor Friedersdorf on the debilitating psychological effects of living life in constant terror of American drone attacks. Think about this every day, please.
* I don’t really know Zak Smith beyond liking his writing on gaming, art, and fiction and exchanging the occasional tweet or comment, and I don’t know his girlfriend Mandy Morbid at all, so I felt weird trying to talk to either of them about the issues raised in this post directly, so instead I’ll tell you to read Zak’s profoundly moving and blunt post on Mandy’s chronic, intensifying illnesses and living with death as a presence in your life and leave it at that.
* A very happy belated birthday to Jack Kirby, the King of Comics and one of the greatest artists, of any kind, of the 20th century. That link takes you to this year’s Kirby tribute gallery by Tom Spurgeon, an annual comics-internet highlight.
* Finally, I like Beyoncé.
* The 2012 Ignatz Award nominees have been announced. Insofar as Jaime Hernandez’s work in Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 is recognized adequately, or even at all, this cements the Ignatz as the United States’ best comics awards slate. Psyched to see SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki get a nod, too.
* Major comics creators’-rights lawsuit news: Tony Moore is seeking co-authorship of The Walking Dead in federal court, referring to his former collaborator Robert Kirkman as “a proud liar and fraudster who freely admits that he has no qualms about misrepresenting material facts in order to consummate business transactions”; and the federal judge providing over the Shuster/DC Superman lawsuit has canceled a coming hearing in order to proceed directly to ruling on the case without first hearing oral arguments.
* Portland-area residents in particular may wish to contribute to the Kickstarter for The Projects, a new model for a comic con based around actually making and displaying work at the show rather than just selling it.
* Obviously I’ve been waist deep in Breaking Bad for weeks now; the better pieces I’ve seen on it include Alyssa Rosenberg’s review of this past week’s episode and essay on the issue of Skyler White, emotional abuse, and culpability, and Maureen Ryan’s hour-long podcast interview with Vince Gilligan, who as always seems like just about the nicest, most unassuming, most candid a showrunner can get.
* This news has been out and about for a while in various forms, but it’s official: Secret Acres will be debuting The Understanding Monster Book One by Theo Ellsworth at this year’s must-attend SPX.
* But did we know that Aidan Koch’s The Blonde Woman would be collected and released in September 2012, or is that new news?
* Alright, a new Cindy & Biscuit strip by my collaborator Dan White!
* One of my favorite music writers on one of my favorite bands: Tom Ewing reviews the Roxy Music Complete Studio Recordings box set. I think it’s just about dead on in every particular: the choice to emphasize and celebrate Ferry right up front, holding up Avalon as at least the equal of even the best of the first five records, rightly locating Manifesto and especially Flesh + Blood as first drafts for the subsequent masterpiece, and especially calling attention to the tracks where the full band “reach full steam.” Seriously, Roxy could really tear the shit out of a song when that was what they were going for — for pure power, on tracks like “Editions of You” or “Mother of Pearl” or “Out of the Blue” or the almighty “Virginia Plain” they could go toe to toe with just about anyone.
* Sheesh — this Mark Richardson piece on being terrified out of his wits as a kid by The Elephant Man proves, if there was any doubt, that Mark Richardson is really good at writing about David Lynch. He should seriously consider going full monomania about it.
* Zach Baron’s Grantland piece on Matt Damon’s Bourne trilogy and its Jeremy Renner-starring follow-up The Bourne Legacy is thoroughly fine; this passage is particularly fine.
In The Bourne Identity, director Doug Liman drew on his dad’s experience prosecuting Oliver North in the wake of Iran-Contra to make a film, only one year after 9/11, that is still one of the best and most thoughtful visions of Americans abroad in this century — Damon’s Bourne was a man in a foreign country with a gun in his hand and no idea how it got there. The Robert Ludlum source novels, Gilroy once said, “were about running to airports.” But Liman, with Gilroy’s help, made a movie about lost identity: an action film in which killing is the symptom of the problem, rather than the solution to it.
It’s also worth noting his take on Renner’s performances in Dahmer, The Hurt Locker, and The Avengers, even if you disagree with it. (For what it’s worth, my review of the Matt Damon Bourne movies and the Daniel Craig Bond movies is one of my favorite bits of film writing I ever did.)
* Tom Spurgeon had a big 50th birthday blowout for Stan Lee & Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man the other day; highlights include Spurgeon’s 16-point meditation on Amazing Spider-Man #1-150 and Kiel Phegley on Spider-Man’s cultural ubiquity.
* Captain America by Rick Remender, John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson, and Dean White: a character I like written by a writer I like, pencilled by a penciller I like, inked by an inker I like, and colored by a colorist I like, but man is the plot a departure from the Ed Brubaker material that made the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby character work as well as, if not better than, he’s ever worked before.
* Kali Ciesemier’s take on Josie Packard for the Damn Fine Coffee Twin Peaks zine is reliably beautiful.
* Why not take a look at a Ross Campbell drawing of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fighting some Mousers?
* Lingerie Witches: some dumb fun smut from Simon Hanselmann.
* I’m glad the video for A$AP Rocky’s “Purple Kisses” came out on the same day I put up that picture of Jonny Negron’s new book.
* Finally, we’ve gotten some terrific Destructor fanart from Aviv Iscovitz and Jordan Shiveley. We’re always up for more.
Carnival of souls: The greatest comics photo of all time, Pope Hats, Tippi Hedren, Best American Comics, underground comics in 2012, David Lynch, Wreckhall Abbey, moreAugust 8, 2012
* Behold: the greatest photo in the history of comics. Top row, from left: Gary Panter, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Phoebe Gloeckner, Ivan Brunetti, Seth, Danniel Clowes, Alison Bechdel, Gary Lieb, Justin Green, Chris Ware, Robert Crumb, Ben Katchor. Bottom row, from left: Joe Sacco, Françoise Mouly, Art Spiegelman, Hillary Chute, Lynda Barry, Carol Tyler, Charles Burns. Photographer: Jason Smith.
* Pope Hats #3 by Ethan Rilly, coming soon from AdHouse! That book will burn up the alt-comics festival circuit this fall, that’s for sure. The first two were lovely, and good reads.
* I’m not sure why this hasn’t been a bigger deal — I was pretty sure this was one of Hollywood’s great mysteries for decades now — but Tippi Hedren says Alfred Hitchcock tried to blackmail her into sex and smothered her career when she refused him
* Matt Madden, Jessica Able, and Françoise Mouly have released the table of contents for this year’s Best American Comics. Some strong work in there, including excerpts Joyce Farmer’s Special Exits, Anders Nilsen’s Big Questions, Sammy Harkham’s Crickets, and Jaime Hernandez’s “The Love Bunglers.” That last inclusion gives me another opportunity for an smh moment regarding the lack of major comics awards consideration given that work, a failure of judgment that borders on scandal. Oh well, looking forward to the Ignatz sweep.
* Here’s a short but impressive list of like-minded alt/art/underground comics anthologies currently operating, as recommended by Leah Wishnia, editor of the likeminded Happiness Comix effort. One thing that the contretemps over Dan Nadel’s anti-SP7 editorial brought to light for me is — well, it’s actually two things. The first is that the community of (mostly) young cartoonists making resolutely uncommercial comments is growing much faster than I can keep up with. To be honest I’d long flattered myself with the idea that I was keeping nearly all this stuff on my radar, but there’s so much I’m missing, so much I don’t even know I’m missing. I doubt that as a critic I’m on their radar, either, although who knows. The second thing spins out of that last sentence: I don’t think any critics are working this beat with any regularity. Maybe Rob Clough, since he reviews everything? Maybe someone I don’t know I’m missing either? But as best I can tell, aside from certain breakout talents I don’t think this cohort has critical champions or interlocutors. Which could explain some of the anger directed at Dan when he said he had no idea what “underground comics” means in 2012, ’cause these folks do, I’d guess. Anyway, I think that if a generation of cartoonists comes of age without criticism, that will have an effect on both cartooning and criticism.
* “Where You Are King” is an impressively icky comic by Ian Sundahl for Study Group. The lettering is tremendous.
* Domitille Collardey’s new webcomic Wreckhall Abbey is indeed very new, but it’s the kind of comic that makes you nod your head and go “yep, there it is” — the moment a cartoonist finds the project her interests and talents were tailor-made to create. It appears to be a boarding-school strip in the vein of Jillian Tamaki’s excellent Supermutant Magic Academy; I think the internet’s plenty big enough for both. The layout seems super-considered and labor-intensive, too. Well done.
* I liked this Mark Richardson piece on associating the work of David Lynch with his own real-life brushes with fear and violence. This is an underdiscussed characteristic of Lynch’s work, his ability to accurately convey the sensation of proximity to violence that renders you powerless, and the terror of that. It’s usually overlooked in favor of the stuff to which the adjective Lynchian is more often applied — narrative ruptures, surreal horror, little people doing weird things and so on — but it’s absolutely a core element of his work, and one I’ve seen enough people bring up when discussing trauma from their own lives to know I’m not alone in detecting. You’d be hard pressed to find a better depiction of the impact of losing a classmate than the pilot episode of Twin Peaks, for example, or a better depiction of the psychic toll of sexual violence than Fire Walk with Me. Lynch’s “supervillain” characters, for lack of a better term, get the attention, but they really exist so that we can personalize the trauma in a way large and frightening enough to be commensurate with the size and impact of that trauma.
* Oh look, it’s Jessica Paré/Megan Draper from Mad Men singing “Just Like Honey” and “Sometimes Always” with the Jesus and Mary Chain, because I’m now Franklin Richards and can bend reality to my will, apparently.
What do you think of this, ’90s high-school drama-club goth Christina Hendricks?
* Drop what you’re doing and download Matthew Perpetua’s 8-disc Fluxblog 2008 Survey Mix. Ooftah, the first half of disc 2.
* Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit is now a trilogy. Whoever tells me this and expects me to complain, he understands nothing about Sean, nothing.
* The Secret Acres hivemind weighs on in the Comics Journal/Kickstarter/SP7 fight in high Secret Acres thinkpost style, while Dan Nadel clarifies a couple of his points from the middle of what’s either the best-timed or worst-timed internet hiatus in comics history.
* Another day, another enormously dispiriting interview with Grant Morrison about (among other things) the legal issues surrounding Superman and Watchmen. This one sees Morrison go full Barkley, saying “I’m not a role model” while not-so-subtly mocking Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons for the shitty contract they signed in “hey, I got mine” fashion, in addition to positioning his own refusal to stick up for Siegel & Shuster in any way besides celebrating their artistic accomplishments as a noble refusal to treat them like victims. Yeah, it’s a bummer alright, especially coming from a guy who argues that superheroes are contemporary mankind’s greatest and most inspiring artistic exemplars. Given that his goal is for all that to rub off on the culture to which he exposes them, it’s weird that he finds it so baffling his readers would expect some of that to have rubbed off on him as well.
* A pair of fine reviews of very important collections are up at The Comics Journal: Nicole Rudick on Gloriana by Kevin Huizenga and Brandon Soderberg on The Furry Trap by Josh Simmons. “The Sunset” in the former and “Cockbone” in the latter would make a list of my top favorite short comics of all time; “The Sunset” would top it in fact.
* I’m kind of the opposite of Tom Spurgeon here: I knew Fantagraphics would be collecting the Ignatz series New Tales of Old Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez, but apparently I never said so on this blog, if my search function is to be believed.
* I’ve really been enjoying Dorothy Berry’s posts on Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy for Comics Workbook, like this one about how rare Nancy is as a fictional female child who is neither a tomboy nor a girly-girl. My daughter is young enough to still be in that limbo state where she dresses more or less like a girl because we buy girl’s clothes for her but her behavior is essentially genderless, and I can tell you that in flipping through the Nancy Is Happy collection, I see a lot of that kid in her.
* The Mindless Ones’ Bobsy gives the business to Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, a comic I did not like at all.
* Gabrielle Bell has wrapped up her July Diary series for the year. If it wasn’t quite the revelation that last year’s effort was, it still contained a freaking zombie comic, and a two-panel autobiography that just slays me.
* The Burning Brothel, a Raymond Pettibon tumblr, is a delightful resource for an increasingly influential-on-comics artist.
* Well, Arsene Schrauwen #1 by Olivier Schrauwen sure looks good.
* I think every artist should be required by law to do a series of Batman character portraits, and I will be introducing this legislation as the Bill Finger Bill. Jordan Crane caught Michael DeForge’s stab at it, which I’d never seen before and which is awesome. Who’s the smiley guy next to the Joker, though?
* I always enjoy it when Frank Santoro works a little blue.
* Jordan Crane’s been posting processy glimpses of an upcoming contribution to the next issue of the Fort Thunder-centric Monster anthology (! did we know this was on the way?) to his tumblr, and I know this’ll come as a huge surprise but it looks gorgeous.
* Jeez, C.F. makes a lot of comics.
* Real Life Horror: This is what policework in America looks like now.
I see no evidence that “rich people are very, very afraid” — at least not by their actions. And that, to me, is the problem. That fear — a lot more of it — is necessary. Their ability to rope themselves off from the society they are degrading, combined with the para-militarization of domestic police forces (aggressively displayed in response to the Occupy movement and related protests), and the rapidly increasing domestic powers of surveillance and detention (designed to intimidate the citizenry and thus deter and guard against mass protests), have convinced them, I think, that they need not fear any protest movements or social unrest, that America can and will become more and more of a police state to suppress it. An elite class that is free to operate without limits — whether limits imposed by the rule of law or fear of the responses from those harmed by their behavior — is an elite class that will plunder, degrade, and cheat at will, and act endlessly to fortify its own power.
*Attention A Song of Ice and Fire fans who’ve read all five books: This EXTREMELY SPOILERY George R.R. Martin interview is unusually informative on various obscure but fervently debated plot points.
* I am allergic to watching anything Olympics, but I understand the opening ceremony, directed by Danny Boyle and music-directed by Underworld, was quite something — basically a tribute to socialized health care, rock and roll, and children’s literature. Most of the people I know from the U.K. feel about the place the way I feel about the U.S., but those people should take comfort in knowing that it’s unimaginable, unimaginable for America to conceive of itself in terms that humanistic. Anyway the soundtrack, Isles of Wonder, is out, and though most of the big famous songs I understand were in the production don’t show up here, there’s still a whole lot of terrific Underworld music, so I’m happy.
Carnival of souls: Fluxb10g, Comic-Con wrap-up, Grant Morrison leaves superheroes, House of Style, moreJuly 24, 2012
* Double congratulations to Matthew Perpetua, my favorite music critic, for his new gig as music editor at Buzzfeed and for his wonderfully well done Fluxblog anniversary show last night. I had a marvelous time, photo evidence of which is available below. Click here to download a playlist consisting of all the songs that Matthew and the guests (Emily Gould, Heather, D’Angelo, Mark Richardson, Amy Rose Spiegel, me, Amanda Petrusich, Dick Valentine, and Rob Sheffield) talked about; mine was “Leaving Hope” by Nine Inch Nails.
* Please read my friend Tom Spurgeon’s extraordinary essay about nearly dying, then losing over 200 pounds. Please read my friend Bill Magee’s extraordinary essay about getting mugged for the fourth time, then remaining a kind person. I hate that they both went through what they went through, but look what they did with it. Also, Tom will be serializing a book-length version of his epochal “Comics Made Me Fat” essay on his website, which is wonderful news if you like personal writing from the best comics critic alive.
* Grant Morrison says that he’s down to his final four superhero comics projects before leaving the genre for the foreseeable future: Action Comics, which he’ll stay on through issue #16; Batman Incorporated, which he’ll wrap up with issue #12; Multiversity, the forthcoming eight-issue miniseries; and an unknown Wonder Woman project. In this interview with my pal Kiel Phegley (part one of three) he also talks about Happy!, his four-issue miniseries with Darick Robertson at Image, and about Image Comics’ position in the industry as a sort of standard-bearer for a certain kind of creator-owned comic.
* Related: DC is postponing the release of Batman Incorporated #3 due to violent imagery it feels would resonate inappropriately with the Aurora shootings.
* Back to Tom Spurgeon: His San Diego Comic-Con reporting was second to none, especially but by no means exclusively in terms of covering the actual comics portion of the con in addition to the Comic-Con Experience. Here’s his final overview; here’s his roundup of the big news. It does a body good to hear that the crowd popped for Los Bros Hernandez, giants among men that they are.
* Digital Tales Designed to Thrizzle by Michael Kupperman! Great choice for their digital-comics launch by Fantagraphics — that books is very accessible to altcomedy audiences.
* I’m really going to miss Jessica Campbell, the newly departed PR honcho for Drawn and Quarterly. Easy to work with and easy to talk to at cons. But based on her exit interview with Tom Spurgeon it sounds like she’s got good plans, so it’s hard to begrudge her from escaping comics’ gravitational well. Also, her farewell San Diego photo parade is one of the best I’ve seen; here’s her pic of Spurge emceeing the Two Minutes Hate portion of the Eisner Awards program.
* Frank Santoro presents Comics Workbook, a new group blog featuring Frank, L. Nichols, Brandon Soderberg, Mickey Zacchilli, Chuck Forsman, Andrew White, Sophie Yanow and various other notables. An early highlight: this post by Dorothy Berry about connecting with Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy as a twentysomething the same way she connected with Enid Coleslaw from Daniel Clowes’s Ghost World in her teens:
The emotional transition from relating to the detailed inner life of Enid to the monochromatic punnery of Nancy is analogous to the transition from listening to an entire Bright Eyes album to just needing to hear the Beach Boys sing “Sometimes I feel very sad.”
* This week in astonishing Michael DeForge Ant Comic pages I’ve decided are homages to specific works I enjoy even though they probably aren’t: that grid fight from Hard Boiled by Frank Miller and Geof Darrow? Related: Lose #4 in September!
* Oh look, it’s the cover for Renee French’s Bjornstrand.
* And here’s the cover for its fellow PictureBox limited-release artcomic, Frank Santoro’s Pompeii. There’s something almost D’Aulaires about it.
* Eleanor Davis’s comics have been bracingly bleak lately. Hell, they’ve been lately, which is exciting right there.
* Have I mentioned that Gabrielle Bell is doing her July Diary again?
* Have I mentioned that Strangeways: The Thirsty by Matt Maxwell, Gervasio, and Jok is very pretty?
* Whoa, Simon Hanselmann’s working really blue in this Megg and Mogg strip. Blue enough to make me say “whoa.” Less so in this one. Much less so in this one. They are all so lushly colored. Where’d this guy come from?
* Kali Ciesemier’s illustration for an article about the increasing “sexiness” of women athletes’ uniforms is itself increasingly sexy. Unpack that, why don’t you.
* Jonny Negron, Jonny Negron, Jonny Negron. I often don’t even comment on Jonny’s stuff, I just post it and let it speak for itself, but I feel like his color work is radically underappreciated, including by me. Look at that green water.
* Speaking of water, Julia Gfrörer’s new Black Is the Color cover is the most solid-looking thing she’s ever drawn.
* I feel deeply, personally vindicated that Dan Bejar from Destroyer shares my love for Avalon by Roxy Music.
* Despite the usual undercooked lyrics, this Kreayshawn video is endearing and fascinating for three main reasons: 1) the sound of the song is like “What if we took one of those obnoxious sing-songy Avril Lavigne/Ashlee Simpson brat-pop songs we used to do and gave it to someone who was actually gleefully obnoxious?”; 2) Holy cow, she’s lovely; 3) I suspect the vividly colored, ersatz 3D visuals, in which typically inanimate elements are animated, were designed to simulate Ambien hallucinations.
* Three cheers for the Darkness’s new album cover. Very glad they/he are getting it going again; their second album is hugely underrated as songwriting — it starts super strong. Oh yeah, that link has the studio version of them covering “Street Spirit” by Radiohead.
* Oh look, it’s page after page after page of videos, photos, and miniature essays about Cindy Crawford-era MTV House of Style. It’s not even nostalgia, it’s as close as we’ll get to physically rupturing the timestream and encountering the vividly remembered past. Cindy Forever.
* Here’s a link to all of my #losbros30 posts in honor of Love and Rockets‘ 30th Anniversary. I had a lot of fun with these, and I think I got at elements of the series I hadn’t suitably tackled in the past; I could probably do a full month’s worth of them.
* Related: Chris Mautner on six of his favorite moments from Love and Rockets. I’m a huge fan of those first four. The demon dog is a real sleeper, and the Ofelia sequence…that’s a towering achievement, that one.
* Actual Love and Rockets news: Love and Rockets: New Stories is the inaugural title in Fantagraphics’ digital distribution deal with monopoly digital comics whatchamacallit comiXology. I had a conversation with a friend over lunch about how much he wanted digital Love and Rockets literally hours before this announcement was made, and I don’t guess he’s at all alone.
* That announcement was made by Tom Spurgeon, who just kept breaking major alternative comics publishing news left and right all show long. He rounded things out with a pair of PictureBox projects: So Long, Silver Screen by Blutch, the acclaimed and influential French cartoonist’s North American debut, designed by David Mazzucchelli; and The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame, the first English-language collection by Japanese gay bondage erotica cartoonist Gengoroh Tagame (whom you may remember as one of my co-contributors in Thickness #3; you definitely remember him if you’ve read the book), created with the help of an array of big names — designed by Tagame megafan Chip Kidd, produced and translated by Anne Ishii, with an introduction by Edmund White. For a publisher who wasn’t even at San Diego, PictureBox sure dominated the news.
* Be sure not to miss Spurge’s Friday, Saturday, and Sunday floor reports, too. He paints an interesting if unfinished picture of how the need to secure your trip to Comic-Con months in advance may have done away with a kind of attendee-customer who’s bigger on generalized enthusiasm for the art form and cash to spend on it than she is on the kind of specific fannish zeal of which the show is now the exclusive province.
* All of these people were better at comics than Jaime Hernandez last year, apparently. Seriously though, congratulations to my friend Tom for his well-deserved Eisner Award win, and to comics as a whole for voting hugely important archivist, editor, and historian Bill Blackbeard into the Hall of Fame.
* Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s The Walking Dead #100 is the bestselling comic in seventeen years, apparently. By that one means that it’s the best-initially-ordered-by-retailers comic in seventeen years. Caveats galore for interpreting this as a victory for original work owned by its creators — there was a massive variant-cover gimmick, there’s the TV bump, Kirkman’s facing a lawsuit from the book’s original artist Tony Moore, Kirkman now runs a work-for-hire shop of his own, etc etc — but it’s not not a victory for such things, I don’t think. It’s certainly a victory for Kim Thompson’s “More Crap Is What We Need” theory, and I’m not saying that pejoratively.
* Peter Jackson is making it sound like he may make a third film out of the Hobbit-adjacent material from the Lord of the Rings appendices, with which he already fleshed The Hobbit out from one movie to two. I totally understand and enjoy the initial doubling of the project, since it’s mostly just going to show us the stuff that one of the main characters of the story, Gandalf, is off doing when he’s not with the other main characters. But to come up with a whole third film independent of The Hobbit proper’s narrative framework…I don’t know, at that point you’re writing fanfic, basically, even if it’s fanfic based on canonical sources.
* In other news…
* I missed this for some reason, and shame on me: The End of the Fucking World cartoonist Chuck Forsman has launched a subscription service for his Oily Comics imprint, whereby a $30 or $50 subscription will get you either three or six months’ work of minicomics from a lineup including Forsman, Melissa Mendes, Max De Radigués, Jessica Campbell, Dane E. Martin, Andy Burkholder, Aaron Cockle, and probably more by the sound of it — on the order of a comic or more per week. That’s a terrific deal if you really like these artists and can take a flyer on sight-unseen minis. Forsman talks a bit about the initial line-up over at The Comics Journal — it’s cool to see Drawn and Quarterly PR stalwart Jessica Campbell releasing comics of her own, for example, and Andy Burkholder is a real talent.
* Wow, this is the platonic ideal of a cover for Ron Régé Jr.’s The Cartoon Utopia from Fantagraphics.
* An extra-long, extra-NSFW Uno Moralez image/gif gallery. This is a very good one.
* Here’s a tight, thoughtful piece by the Comics Grid’s Jonathan Evans on how translation is depicted in Guy Delisle’s travelogue Shenzhen.
* Today in and around the San Diego Comic-Con International:
* Your absolute A-#1 top story of the day, the show, the year: It’s a picture of George R.R. Martin and Los Bros Hernandez. Their beards are full of MAGIC. I love these wonderful men. (Via Fantagraphics, who clearly took this picture just for me.)
* Tom Spurgeon breaks two major announcements from Drawn and Quarterly: They’ll be publishing Art Spiegelman’s latest odds’n’sods collection Co-Mix, and collecting Michael DeForge’s webcomic Ant Comic as Ant Colony. Spiegelman is justifiably legendary and insight into his process is always welcome; DeForge is the best cartoonist of his generation and Ant Comic is one of the two or three best things he’s ever done.
* Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III are doing a prequel to Gaiman’s beloved series The Sandman for DC/Vertigo. I’m reporting this as news rather than as “hey I’m looking forward to this” since Sandman’s not really my thing. It’s newsworthy for a couple of reasons, I think: 1) This is going to be an absolutely colossal bestseller, I’m guessing the bestselling comic in a decade or more; 2) I’m surprised Gaiman’s doing it in light of the Before Watchmen situation, since he’s been an outspoken creators’ rights advocate for years and has (I think) a relationship with Alan Moore. That makes him returning to the company in such a big way seem much more like a tacit endorsement than does the work of most DC employees and freelancers who aren’t directly involved in the project, I think (myself included).
* Tom Spurgeon’s daily floor reports are thus far as thorough on a day-to-day basis as many are for the entire show, a mix of anecdote, opinion, temperature-of-the-room stuff, and actual news and reporting. Here’s Preview Night; here’s Thursday. Of greatest interest to me: Josh Cotter isn’t doing comics for now; Douglas Wolk isn’t writing for ComicsAlliance for now; Gary Groth liked Joe Lambert’s excellent Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller.
* Derf Backderf’s My Friend Dahmer is headed for the big screen. Still haven’t read it. Shameful.
* Frank Santoro has a limited edition book on the way from PictureBox called Pompeii, a “straightforward comic book narrative, chornicling the lfie of two artists in the doomed city.” I like the sound of that.
* I defy you to find a more loathsome way to talk about making comic books or any kind of art whatsoever. This one’s a news story as well, in that Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson has been so outspoken in his criticism of Before Watchmen while his new partner J. Michael Straczynski has been so outspoken in his defense of it.
* Finally, meet your new Game of Thrones castmembers, including Diana Rigg, aka Emma Peel, aka costar of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. III: Century #3: 2009, as the Queen of Thorns.
* In other news…
* Jeeeeeeez, look at Chris Ware’s Building Stories. That’s no moon. That’s a space station.
* Dave Kiersh’s new book After School Special is out and available through Giant Robot! I’ll say it until everyone listens: Read Dave K. If we could get his work into the hands of the millenials there’s no telling what might happen.
* Theo Ellsworth is debuting his new book The Understanding Monster Book One at SPX. Also, it wasn’t until I saw this poster he designed for the show that I realized what a power-packed lineup that show has this year: Ware, Clowes, Mouly, Jaime, Beto, Tomine. And something new from me and a special collaborator, maybe?
* There’s something quietly unnerving about the way Breaking Bad actor-director Bryan Cranston refers to “Walt” and “Bryan” as separate entities in his excellent, insightful two-part interview with Alan Sepinwall. I say that not to diss him as some third-person phony but as a testament to the power of Walt. Of particular note in the interview are the sections where Cranston describes moments where his conception of the character and showrunner Vince Gilligan’s diverged, and what he’d learn from them.
* The A.V. Club’s Noel Murray gets a great interview out of Kevin Huizenga, perhaps the prickliest interview subject in altcomix. I’ll never not get a charge out of it when Huizenga describes his comic “The Sunset,” for my money the best short comic of all time, in precisely the terms I’d use to describe it myself.
* I haven’t been following Fantastic Life cartoonist Kevin Mutch’s webcomic Moon Prince except to admire it visually from time to time, but that’s because I suck at following webcomics, not because it doesn’t look crazy and beautiful, because it does:
* Beautiful work by Jordan Crane. His finished pages are so uncannily devoid of human error that it’s unusually interesting to see the artifacts of their construction. Michael DeForge and Ryan Sands should try to get a contribution out of him for the Thickness collection, by the way.
* At last: Jonny Negron turns his attention to MILFs.
* It’s been a while since I linked to Monster Brains, and this sensuously sinister gallery of Carlos Schwabe art seemed like as good an excuse as any. Look at the eyes.
* I’m happy to use the occasion of Phil Jimenez’s birthday as an excuse to post this spread from Infinite Crisis again. One of my favorite pieces of superhero-comic art by anyone ever.
* Tom Spurgeon hadn’t even arrived in San Diego yet before he started rolling out killer coverage of the comics side of Comic-Con:
** Here’s his list of five stories to watch at the show this year. If it really is more of a festival now, the CCI organization should go full Angouleme and allow a guest of honor to create a special programming slate. Kick the selection of the guest of honor to a vote by the previous year’s Eisner Award winners or something.
** Here’s the first in a series of posts on comics to buy at Comic-Con. I can get behind two of the three.
** Tom also lined up a couple of announcements. First, AdHouse is releasing an extremely limited edition collection of Jim Rugg’s painstaking notebook drawings called Notebook, available now. Rugg describes the project as “vacillat[ing] between celebration and satire,” which if you recall is the same sweet spot that made his and Brian Maruca’s Afrodisiac such a success.
** Second, PictureBox is releasing an extremely limited edition book by Renee French called Bjornstrand, available at SPX in September. Like the Rugg project, it’s limited to 300 copies.
* Drawn and Quarterly previews the new Brecht Evens graphic novel they’re unveiling at San Diego, The Making Of. Would you believe it looks pretty?
* Graeme McMillan on the 30th Anniversary of Love and Rockets. For what it’s worth, Beto’s recent work is far less frivolous and indulgent than Graeme believes. It’s actually nothing less than an ongoing interrogation of, even condemnation of, his fetishes. It’s as strong an exploration of the consequences of child sexual abuse as comics has ever produced this side of Debbie Dreschler, too. Not an easy read, to be sure, but also not a stupid read.
* In other news…
* Tucker Stone runs down some of the year’s most anticipated remaining releases for Flavorpill, including works by Chris Ware, Hope Larson, Jacques Tardi, Johnny Ryan, David Lasky, Noah Van Sciver, and Los Bros Hernandez. Always a pleasure to read Tucker’s dead-on, succinct summaries of the appeal of folks like these.
* LOL, James Robinson is off that not-appealing-to-people-who-like-He-Man He-Man comic after one issue, replaced by DC’s designated dogsbody Keith Giffen.
* MoCCA intends to relocate its museum, which seems like the kind of thing they might have included in their announcement that they were closing the old one.
* Hooray, new Cindy and Biscuit from Dan White!
* I enjoyed Steven Hyden’s piece on Nine Inch Nails’ masterpiece The Fragile for the Onion AV Club. Music writing about work I really, really, really, really love, even when we’re basically on the same wavelength, almost always contains one or two ideas that make me want to turn a cereal bowl upside down and smash it to pieces with the fleshy underside of my fist—this is why I’ve read a grand total of, I think, half an entry on that Bowie Songs blog—and there’s no album that means more to me than The Fragile, I don’t think, so I expected to be driven nuts, but no. I’ll take “alt rock’s Raging Bull,” sure.
* The San Diego Comic-Con International starts tomorrow evening, but for all intents and purposes it’s already underway, if by “all” you mean “PR.”
* The main announcement to break through the fog for me so far is that Fantagraphics will be debuting not only Love and Rockets: New Stories #5, which I think it’s safe to say is eagerly anticipated following last year’s installment, but also a new line of L&R t-shirts OMGGGGGGGGG!!!! There’s no more t-shirt-ready artist in all of comics than Jaime, and Gilbert’s no slouch either. UPDATE: THEY’RE ONLY AVAILABLE AT THE CON, BOOOOOO TO THAT, BOOO BOO BOOOOOOOO, SERIOUSLY FUCK THAT
* If you didn’t read Tom Spurgeon’s essay about the 30th anniversary of Love and Rockets, Los Bros Hernandez, and the San Diego Comic-Con, you really should. Aside from making a terrific capsule-format case for the greatness of all three cartooning Hernandez brothers and their series as a whole, Tom reminds us that Comic-Con is what we make of it, and that a better way to keep the Comic in Comic-Con than joking about movie studio people is to find and engage with the comics portions of it. A milestone anniversary of one of the greatest comics of all time is a pretty easy way to do that.
* The death of a Twilight fan struck by a car outside the convention center is an awful way to start the show. (Via Jill Pantozzi.)
* In other news…
* The Mindless Ones wrap up their commentary on the latest League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Adam’s right that something about the Harry Potter battle felt inconsequential, but I ultimately decided that was the point.
* MoCCA’s physical museum closed abruptly. They charged an awful lot of money for table space and admission at their festivals and it’s a shame to see it wasn’t spent in such a way as to prevent this.
* David Bordwell provides an overview of the latest edition of his and Kristin Thompson’s Film Art, which doubles as an essay on filmmaking as a series of choices. Killer new cover for the book, too. No pun intended.
* Hey, wanna see a 3-D Craig Thompson/Theo Ellsworth jam comic?
* I LOLd for this installment of Puke Force by Brian Chippendale.
* Matt Furie does Simon Hanselmann’s Megg & Mogg. From the upcoming guest-star-studded “acid episode”!
* We’ve all been there, Scott Pilgrim. (Via Kiel Phegley.)
* Chris Ware is an articulate and empathetic interview subject, even a moving one as the end of this interview makes very clear, but he is also just a machine for churning out hilariously embarrassed reactions to his own work. I wish I had the cock-of-the-walk attitude of all the people I’ve seen making fun of Ware for his genuine self-effacement. Must be nice to breeze through life like that! (Via Drawn and Quarterly.)
Carnival of souls: The Last Xeric winners announced, Marchman vs. Watchmen 2, Fluxblog 2007, new CF/O’Malley/Bell, moreJuly 5, 2012
* The winners of the final round of Xeric Grants for comics self-publishers have been announced. Aidan Koch is the only name I recognize; given how many known quantities applied in use-it-or-lose-it fashion, that’s quite a compliment to all the other winners. While the Xeric Foundation is correct when they assert that cartoonists have far more options for self publishing now than they did when the Xeric was conceived, from crowdfunding to publishing direct to the web, the Xeric was much more than a means to an end — it provided opportunities for cartoonists who lack the fanbase or the social-networking aptitude to make crowdfunding viable, and it was as much an honorific as a practical grant. I wish they hadn’t stopped it, and I’m glad to see Tom Hart and Leela Corman’s SAW school pick up the tradition, albeit with far fewer zeros on the checks, with their new SAW micro-grant initiative.
* I’m enjoying the emergence of Tim Marchman as the guy who smacks around comics’ unethical practices for mainstream media publications. Today he holds the feet of Len Wein and DC to the fire over Before Watchmen for the Daily Beast. Wein is an interesting test case for this sort of thing, of all people doing Before Watchmen. He edited the original and thus could reasonably be expected to have a keener sense of the integrity of the thing, which I assume is why Marchman chose to interview him about scabbing for the prequel. And he himself has been screwed way harder in a similar fashion than anyone else involved, never seeing a multimedia dime for his hand in co-creating Wolverine, though that could cut both ways in a situation like this. Finally, his house burned down in the last few years, bringing to the fore the economic issues that might entice someone to take on a project like this, which has been hinted at but infrequently discussed. Marchman doesn’t bring up any of that, unfortunately, but other than that it’s a barnburner of a piece, especially in terms of addressing and outright mocking the ethical justifications offered for the treatment of Alan Moore. (It certainly beats this much-linked A.O. Scott/Manohla Dargis thing on superhero movies for the Times, which passes off rhetorical packing peanuts like “Every age has the superhero it wants, needs or deserves” as insight, though I do agree with the broad thrust of their argument against the genre.)
* Matthew Perpetua’s mighty Fluxblog has just released its 2007 survey mix, the latest in his series of sprawling eight-disc best-of compilations for each year of Fluxblog’s decade of existence. This one is a real doozy.
* AdHouse is shutting down its distribution wing, noting that many of the boutique- and self-publishers AdDistro handled are more widely available now than they used to be. Good on Chris Pitzer for doing yeoman’s work on this.
* Marvel is relaunching many of its series with reshuffled creative teams this autumn in an initiative called Marvel NOW! As a reader, I see this primarily through the lens of having a beginning, middle, and end to long, high-quality runs on various books I’ve enjoyed over the past few years, which I’m looking forward to.
* PictureBox announces delays to CF’s Powr Mastrs 4 and Brian Chippendales (still ongoing-as-a-webcomic) Puke Force, but a reveals a new CF book, Warm Genetics House, to make up for it. I’ll take it!
* This CAKE recap makes it official: Closed Caption Comics is running neck and neck with Secret Acres for “best con reports.” As a bonus, this includes Noel Freibert’s review of Thickness #3, the first and afaik only such review to date. I’m grateful that in reviewing my contribution with William Cardini, Noel didn’t seek payback for the “cat in the microwave” incident. See, Noel — I told you there was a nicer way to explore splattery textures!
* My pal TJ Dietsch interviews Brandon Graham about Prophet, his marvelously modular sci-fi adventure series for Rob Liefeld’s Extreme line. Prophet is an object lesson in making individual installments count, and in the value of thinking biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig in SFF yet never getting lost in the caverns of your own ideas.
* Chris Butcher on the problems with professional publishers using Kickstarter to fund the books they publish. It always seemed to me that publishers take your book, print it, distribute it, and market it, on their own dime. That’s what a publisher is. Chris’s point is basically “Well, that’s what a publisher was.” He’s not outraged, he’s simply pointing out that this is changing — has changed — and wondering how to proceed.
* Today in the “saving it for when I’ve read the books” column: Tom Spurgeon on the Joe Sacco collection Journalism and Tucker Stone on Carl Barks’s Disney ducks comics. The last panel he uses to illustrate the post should be issued to superhero artists with their 1099s.
* Speaking of which: Tom Spurgeon on Jaime Hernandez’s superhero slobberknocker, God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls. No greater pleasure in writing-about-comics than reading my favorite critic write about his favorite cartoonist.
* The Mindless Ones annotate/critique Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. III: Century #3: 2009: Part one, part two, part three tk. Some pretty robust debate in these.
* One last “good critics on good comics” entry: Chris Mautner guides you through the work of Jacques Tardi, who probably goes hand in hand with Jason as the European cartoonist who’s most benefited from Fantagraphics’ thoughtful, consistent approach to collecting his work.
* Gabrielle Bell is doing another round of July Diary daily comics! This one’s my favorite so far. So subtly funny.
* I was so convinced that this remarkable installment of Ant Comic by Michael DeForge was an homage to the third Where’s Waldo? book with all the battles in it, but I asked and it’s not. It’s still remarkable, however.
* Jonny Negron does a dream comic. Sure, I’ll eat it.
* This pinup of Megg from Simon Hanselmann’s webcomics by Marc J. Palm represents the shortest amount of time between “discovering a webcomic” and “discovering sessy fanart for that webcomic” I’ve ever experienced. Hooray!
* Happy Fourth of July from Jillian Tamaki and Frances! (And a not-so-happy one from SuperMutant Magic Academy guest artist Frank Stockton. My god.)
* One of the nice things about the Internet is I can operate a dedicated site where posting pictures of Kristen Stewart in shorts and a Led Zeppelin t-shirt is part of the remit.
Carnival of souls: Bordwell on Sarris vs. Kael, Spurgeon & Brubaker, Simon Hanselmann, The Master, Jobriath, Jack Kirby, moreJune 26, 2012
* According to Midtown Comics, new comics from Joe Sacco, Alan Moore, Carl Barks, Kevin Huizenga, David B., Gilbert Hernandez, and Josh Simmons come out tomorrow. And for fans of more traditional genre serials, there’s also new Grant Morrison/Chris Burnham, Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips, Mike Mignola/Cameron Stewart, and Brandon Graham. That’s a fantastic new comics day right there.
* American film critic and auteur-theory pioneer/popularizer Andrew Sarris died last week, as you no doubt heard. It’s tough to think of another critic who had as much of an impact on popular understanding of their chosen field of coverage. Run, don’t walk, to David Bordwell’s lengthy and thoughtful post comparing Sarris to his arch-rival Pauline Kael. On the more personal end of things, I enjoyed Roy Edroso’s tribute.
* Tom Spurgeon interviews Ed Brubaker. This is one of the best superhero-creator interviews I’ve read in a very, very long time, both in terms of breaking news — Brubaker is leaving Captain America after nearly eight years writing it, during which time it was never less than a great time and frequently just great — and opinion — Spurge and Brubaker directly address creators’-rights flashpoints like Jack Kirby and Before Watchmen. Good on Tom for asking those questions, but better on Brubaker for answering them — you’d better believe that’s why they don’t get asked more often; there’s often just no point.
I haven’t even looked at these comics since the day I bought my last of them, and if you had asked me at the time I would have thought I’d have read them a half-dozen additional times by now. A lot of comics are like that, instant friends of the dormitory hallway variety and then suddenly you’re both decades older and you haven’t spoken in years and years.
* George R.R. Martin updates us on various projects, including three that pertain to A Song of Ice and Fire.
* I’ve seen way too many people talk about Geoff Johns inserting a He-Man character he made up when he was eight years old into a He-Man comic he’s writing today like that’s a bad thing. Ahem.
* Submitted for your approval: Freak Scene, a new-underground art show opening at L.A.’s Synchronicity Space on July 6th featuring Benjamin Marra, Tom Neely, Johnny Ryan, Zach Hazard Vaupen, Jim Rugg, Bald Eagles, and many other leading lights of nasty alternative comics.
* Yeesh, this comic by Eleanor Davis is a doozy.
* I’d never seen Simon Hanselmann’s Megg and Mogg before, but my goodness. The character designs and humor are, heh, a bit indebted to Ben Jones, but the linework (that hair!) and sumptuous, understated coloring are things unto themselves. Terrific large-scale presentation on Hanselmann’s tumblr, too. (Via Frank Santoro.)
* Kate Beaton’s chops are ridiculous, which when coupled with the rigorous idiosyncracy of her sense of humor — her sense of where jokes are to be found — is what helps elevate her above her now-legion imitators.
* I’m sure I say this nearly every week, but this is my favorite sexy Jonny Negron drawing in a long time.
* You’d think it’d be tough for Sam Humphries and Pete Toms’s new comic for Study Group, “Virginia,” to live up to the promise of this cover image, but they pull it off. It’s worth noting that Humphries is doing this at the same time he’s self-publishing more traditionally “indy” comics and doing work for hire for Marvel. It’s gratifying to see someone who could choose to do something else still do bonafide alternative comics.
* Why was I not told about Rose O’Neill’s kewpie comics before?
* If you’ve got a hundred bones you can buy yourself a first printing of Kramers Ergot 4, the most important art comic of the ’00s. (Via Frank Santoro.)
* Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, which is to L. Ron Hubbard what Velvet Goldmine is to David Bowie, has thus far had two of the most compellingly off trailers since, well, Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood. I continue to maintain that if Anderson ever makes an outright horror movie he’ll have a bead on scariest of all time. Based on these trailers, it’s getting tough to think of a better current director/composer pair than Anderson and Jonny Greenwood, too.
* The young Patti Smith was many things, and one of them was “extremely attractive,” which I find interesting both for obvious reasons and because that doesn’t seem to be part of her rock-star legend at all.
* It has probably been thirteen years since I last heard the phrase “boot and rally.”
* I wrote about one of my favorite funk songs/guitar solos, “Very Yes” by Bootsy’s Rubber Band (featuring, obviously, Bootsy Collins and his brother Catfish) for Cool Practice.
* People drawing an equivalence between DC’s use of Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen characters in Before Watchmen and Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill’s pastiche of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter characters in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen would have a point if and only if Moore released this issue as “BEFORE HARRY POTTER,” starring all the actual Harry Potter characters rather than parody versions of them, using the Harry Potter trade dress, through Harry Potter’s publisher, exploiting a loophole in a contract he arranged with Rowling, over Rowling’s explicit and unequivocal objections, following a two-decade string of mistreatment and broken promises.
* I had no idea that Matt Groening was still doing Life in Hell. That should have been a bigger deal, right? Anyway, that link takes you to Tom Spurgeon talking about the strip upon the announcement that it’s ending.
* Also, Tom Spurgeon reviews Ed the Happy Clown by Chester Brown. The more I see that cover, the funnier and better it gets.
* And in his continuing series on ’80s serialized comics, Spurge reviews Frank Miller’s Daredevil (starring the Stan Lee/Bill Everett creation) and Frank Miller & Bill Sienkiewicz’s Elektra: Assassin. The Elektra piece in particular is a bracing bit of what-could-have-been on everything from politics to Marvel Comics’ collected editions program.
* Hey look, it’s my Thickness editors, born-again-hard Michael DeForge and wide-eyed ingenue Ryan Sands, at CAKE this past weekend. (Via CBR.) Related: an excellent photo parade from the Happiness crew, and one of Secret Acres’ trademark comprehensive/catty con reports.
* My friend Jason Dean, who designed thishyere blog, has started a webcomic based on his many years in retail. Should be a pip.
* Speaking of Mad Men, Matt Zoller Seitz, Deborah Lipp, and Kevin B. Lee of Press Play put together a fantastic, revealing, comprehensive video essay on death imagery in the fifth season. I guarantee you there’s stuff in there you missed.
* And I’m extraordinarily late to the party once again, but Molly Lambert’s Mad Men recaps for Grantland are spectacular, getting better as they go. You could skip the first couple if you wanted, probably, as they really are pretty much just recaps, but there’s something to be said for going through all of them and reaching that point where you’re like “whoa, where did this come from.”
* A new Uno Moralez comic! My five favorite words in the English language?
* I know nothing about the comics of Frederik Peeters but that’s one hell of a cover.
* The artist Frazer Irving has been doing one-hour warm-up sketches in the morning before working on comics projects. I’ve posted three of them below. This is what a one-hour warm-up sketch looks like for Frazer Irving.
* Jeepers creepers, the forthcoming collection of Pippi Longstocking comics by Astrid Lindgren and Ingrid Vang Nyman from Drawn and Quarterly looks beautiful and silly.
* The new Study Group webcomic Haunter by Sam Alden is quite something — alt-fantasy that looks like Brecht Evens colored it.
* Ha! The new book from Closed Caption Comics’ Conor Stechschulte, Lurking Nocturners, appears comprised in part of just the adjectives from H.P. Lovecraft stories.
* Real Life Horror: This short memoir essay by former American interrogator Eric Fair about living with the knowledge that he’s tortured people is…you know, it’s one of the most upsetting things I’ve ever read. Probably one of the most important, things, too.
* I can’t bear to leave you like that. Here are pictures of David Bowie and Beyoncé looking extremely attractive.
* A few Mad Men links to get you started today. Spoilers at the links but not in my linkings.
* I am far too late to the Mad Men Unbuttoned party — marvelous “footnotes” on era signifiers and other details from the show by Natasha Vargas-Cooper. This post in particular is worth, well, 2,000 words.
* On the other hand, I never miss a Mindless Ones Mad Men post, like this one on last week’s ep.
* Moving on, good news: Chuck Forsman heads to Fantagraphics for The End of the Fucking World and Celebrated Summer.
* Writing for The Comics Journal, Frank Santoro delivers this extraordinary characterization of his current (and ongoing) efforts to sell books from his comic collection:
Selling wacky back issues that no one else has is an art. This is what I am always working on. Sitting in a room drawing by my lonesome has destroyed my last few relationships and doesn’t pay nearly as good as hustling comics does. This is more fun. Assembling and disseminating these old comic back out into the comics reading world in an effort to sway opinion about these old forgotten things is my art these days.
My rehabilitation of these comics is no different than Dan [Nadel] doing same with Art Out of Time. We are building on years and years of work by other superfans, other scholars – and then packaging the books for a new audience. Except, unlike Dan, I like to champion the lowest of the low. The black and white explosion of the mid to late 80s is supposed to be the absolute worst moment in comics history. To most, this work is dead. But to me, it’s alive. Solid gold. Top of the charts.
So many unpackable ideas about creation versus curation versus editing here I hardly know where to begin!
* Speaking of Spurge, here’s another review of My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf for me to file away for after I’ve read the book.
* As an aside, all of your Hurt Locker/Avengers Jeremy Renner fans should seek out his turn as the title character in the film Dahmer. Don’t let the “scary” DVD box art fool you — it’s a thoughtful, harrowing, profoundly sad drama that covers, in part, the same time period Derf covers in his graphic novel, and Renner is fabulous in it.
* And another review of Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother? to file away for after I’ve read that book, this one by Chris Mautner.
* Speaking of filing away for later, Topless Robot’s Rob Bricken does one of his trademark FAQs for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, about which I have heard virtually nothing good since it debuted this past weekend.
* Which made it kind of a funny time for Paramount to announce that it was going back for seven weeks of reshoots on its adaptation of Max Brooks’s fine mockumentary “oral history” of a zombie plague, World War Z, with new material written by Lindelof, who co-wrote Prometheus. He has to be a step up from previous screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski, though.
* I have a low threshold for “let’s make fun of a bunch of obviously-going-to-be-bad superhero comics” pieces, but J. Caleb Mozzocco’s piece on the latest New 52 titles from DC was just right.
* On his own blog, Mozzocco dredges up a book I’d forgotten I loved as a kid: America’s Very Own Monsters, on various cryptozoological/fortean creatures from the good ol’ U.S.A., written by Daniel Cohen and illustrated with beautiful hatching by Tom Huffman.
* Feast your nervous system on Lane Milburn’s Mors Ultima Ratio.
* The latest Vice strip from Johnny Ryan is my favorite thing of his in some time.
* Ditto the latest Metropolis strip from Ben Katchor. That final row of panels is murder.
* Ditto the latest Forming by Jesse Moynihan.
* Jeepers fucking creepers, look at these Walrus covers/posters by Kate Beaton, look at them
* The cover for Aidan Koch’s Q from Floating World manages to be both lovely and intimidating.
* In putting these two images next to one another, the latest image/gif gallery by Uno Moralez makes him my all-time hero.
* Matt Maxwell on ’80s action lighting in Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop. Nothing will ever make it okay for Ray Wise to play anyone working in any kind of law-enforcement capacity.
* Did I not know They’re going to make two movies out of Stephen King’s It, or did I know and forget? You tell me.
* I’ve enjoyed Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Hero, the Disney XD cartoon based on the Marvel comic property of the same name as created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, since it debuted a year ago — it did more to sell me on the hodgepodge nature of the team and its grab-bag of villains than any other incarnation of the team, and I found the animation nice and fluid for a tv action cartoon, and the voice acting really terrific from top to bottom. The show also posited the team as an antidote to government-run black-ops shit rather than an embodiment of it — Tony Stark and Hank Pym founded the team in defiance of Nick Fury, not on his orders — which I think is a much healthier message to send to little kids, if you’re going to be exposing them to narratives of redemptive violence at all. Well, turns out the show’s been canceled in favor of a more directly movie-friendly version. That’s too bad.
* The co-creator of the DC/WB superhero Static Shock died young, penniless, and just shy of homeless. This isn’t some shmoe who got ripped off during the Roosevelt administration when the industry was more or less run by gangsters — this is a guy whose stuff was on the racks during the Image boom. Tells you a lot about comics. Tells you a lot about America.
* Nitsuh Abebe on Hot 97 vs. Nicki Minaj over “real hip-hop”; the last graf is where it’s at. That said, I think there’s an important distinction made between people attacking Nicki’s non-guest-verse work for being “not real hip-hop” (no one older than 14 should give a fuck) and those attacking it because much of it isn’t as good as her straightforward MCing is. People wanting another Ol’ Dirty Bastard/early Busta Rhymes lyrical lunatic more than they want another Katy Perry/late Britney Spears chart mercenary seems like a valid set of preferences to me, even though I like “Super Bass” a lot and enjoy “Starships” more than than most of the soundalike pop-house on the radio right now.
* In much happier Clive Barker news, Morgan Creek, the studio that holds the rights to a blu-ray release of Nightbreed, has given the greenlight to fundraising efforts for “The Cabal Cut” of the film, a two-hour forty-five-minute version in line with Barker’s original intentions.
* Finally, dig it: The great Shawn Cheng comes from nowhere with Destructor fanart. Where does he get those wonderful pelts?
* It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Time for Tom Spurgeon’s comically massive guide to the San Diego Comic Con, fully revised and updated this year and as wise and funny and practical as ever. It is literally the next best thing to being there, and every time I read it, I miss the show more. If you want a taste of what it’s like without going, spend your lunch hour with this sucker.
* Matthew Perpetua has unleased another monstrous eight-disc survey mix, this one featuring the best songs of 2006. It’s funny: I don’t disagree with him that 2006 was a weak year overall, but I look at this mix and it’s jam after jam. But I think I started regularly reading Matthew’s Fluxblog site in 2006 because I liked the songs he was writing about, so I suppose it’s not surprising that I’m 100% behind the majority of his selections here.
* Tom Spurgeon also interviews Study Group/Press Gang cartoonist and impresario Zack Soto, who’s at the center of a lot of interesting things going on in alternative comics making and publishing right now.
* By all means enjoy Marc Spitz’s oral history of The Wire for Maxim. The revelation of this little bit of actor business by Jamie Hector, the actor who played the evil-eyed druglord Marlo Stansfield, was dynamite:
You know, I never looked in the mirror, never worked on that stare. I’d look through the other person, like they just don’t exist.
* Okay, so apparently there’s some kind of anthology called CAKE BOOK 2012 edited by Andy Burkholder (related to CAKE the con? I don’t know) and featuring, and I quote:
Jason T Miles
Zach Hazard Vaupen
* Julia Gfrörer’s Black Is the Color (of course it is) is now playing on the Study Group webcomics portal.
* Isaac Molyan revisits one of our old collaborations, “I Remember When the Monsters Started Coming for the Cars.”
* Drawn & Quarterly will be publishing a Lisa Hanawalt collection. Great news for all involved, including the readers.
* Tom Ewing on the silence of Star Wars. I know exactly what he’s talking about, and it’s the sort of thing one misses when watching contemporary blockbusters.
* Not that I expected any less, but I sure am glad to see the Mindless Ones avoid the new “Wolverine wouldn’t do that!” school of Mad Men criticism in their review of last week’s pivotal episode “The Other Woman.”
* Speaking of, Gwynne Watkins’s Mad Men interview series for GQ has made for marvelous reading. Big surprise: the actors tend to be very smart interpreters of the show. Particularly recommended but ONLY IF YOU’RE ALL CAUGHT UP: Jared Harris and Christina Hendricks.
* Real Life Horror: What kind of person voluntarily sits in on Obam’s Kill List meetings? Like, where are you in your life where you think to yourself “These are calls I’m comfortable making”?
* Finally, news you can use: Emma Watson will be performing in full Rocky Horror lingerie regalia in her next movie.
How do we feel about this, ’90s high-school drama-club goth Christina Hendricks? “Well, at first I was like…”
“But then I was like…”