Posts Tagged ‘real life’

Before they bring the curtain down

Monday, December 16th, 2013

I’ve started a tumblr called Badge where I’ll be aggregating incidents of police brutality/overkill/overreach in America without comment.


Relocation

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

All my Vorpalizer posts about comics and genre art are now housed at http://seantcomics.tumblr.com and http://seantculture.tumblr.com . Thanks.


Three deaths

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Kim Thompson was one of the very best people in the history of comics, in every way that “one of the very best people” could be meant. He would be a hall-of-fame editor if all he ever did was get Jacques Tardi and Jason across to North American audiences, and of course he did so much more than that. As the co-publisher of Fantagraphics he was 50% of the greatest comics publisher of all time; without him I would not be doing what I do for a living, in a very real way. His editorial eye, his multilingual translation capabilities, even his jocularly merciless presence in comment-thread debates are irreplaceable. I will miss him, and my heart goes out to those lucky enough to know him better than I did.

Michael Hastings was a fearless reporter who actually damaged the war machine, the highest calling of humanity. I didn’t know him but know and work with many people who did, and to hear them talk about how kind and inspiring he was on a person-to-person basis, quite aside from the importance of his work, has just given me chills. I hope those who knew him and loved him can draw some comfort from the incontrovertibly powerful and positive impact he had on people and the world.

James Gandolfini gave the greatest TV performance of all time on the greatest TV show of all time. He was an absolute marvel of an actor; I can’t think of another performance that influences me on a day to day basis years after watching it like his does. I can hear him say the words “Agent Harris!” like he just said them in my ear; I imagine him reacting to the world to this day, like sharing his enthusiasm for “Game a’ Trones” or something similarly inconsequential, since as an actor he knew that’s where the consequential stuff would emerge. He created a human, and launched a new golden age, and again, I would not be doing what I do but for his work.

Each of these people is an enormously practical loss. Each of them did things that now simply won’t get done. A huge blow to all of us.


In the Hills, the Cities

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Only a few yards away the surviving city of Popolac was recovering from its first convulsions. It stared, with a thousand eyes, at the ruins of its ritual enemy, now spread in a tangle of rope and bodies over the impacted ground, shattered forever. Popolac staggered back from the sight, its vast legs flattening the forest that bounded the stamping-ground, its arms flailing the air. But it kept its balance, even as a common insanity, woken by the horror at its feet, surged through its sinews and curdled its brain. The order went out: the body thrashed and twisted and turned from the grisly carpet of Podujevo, and fled into the hills.

As it headed into oblivion, its towering form passed between the car and the sun, throwing its cold shadow over the bloody road. Mick saw nothing through his tears, and Judd, his eyes narrowed against the sight he feared seeing around the next bend, only dimly registered that something had blotted the light for a minute. A cloud, perhaps. A flock of birds.

Had he looked up at that moment, just stolen a glance out towards the north-east, he would have seen Popolac’s head, the vast, swarming head of a maddened city, disappearing below his line of vision, as it marched into the hills. He would have known that this territory was beyond his comprehension; and that there was no healing to be done in this corner of Hell. But he didn’t see the city, and he and Mick’s last turning-point had passed. From now on, like Popolac and its dead twin, they were lost to sanity, and to all hope of life.

—words: Clive Barker / art: Stephen Fabian


MLK/Inauguration

Monday, January 21st, 2013

‎”As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”

Martin Luther King Jr., April 4, 1967

Before we start using video games and movies as facile scapegoats for America’s murderous gun culture — despite the fact that the entire developed world plays those games and watches those movies too and doesn’t have anywhere near the problem with gun violence we do — we should remember that all of us, every day from the time we’re young children, are led by example by our own government.


Carnival of souls: “The Winds of Winter,” Box Brown, giant squid, more

Monday, January 14th, 2013

* 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!

* Wow, the colors on this cover for Lisa Hanawalt’s forthcoming book from Drawn & Quarterly.

* Always glad to see smut from Julia Gfrörer.

* Very very Barkerian work from Mr. Freibert.

* 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 just like heaven . (Just note that in this case, when you’re clicking the arrows to navigate the pages, “older” actually means “newer,” since it’s arranged chronologically but tumblr gets confused by this.)

* Great piece on Downton Abbey and Lady Edith by Alyssa Rosenberg.

* 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.

* Truth, justice, and the American way.

* 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.

* New The Winds of Winter sample chapter from George R.R. Martin!


Carnival of souls: Gossip Girl, Edie Fake, Fluxblog 2012, Chris Ware on Newtown, Shallow Rewards on shoegaze, more

Friday, January 4th, 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.

* Spurge also put together a list of 50 good things that happened in comics in 2012. That’s a usefully ameliorative list.

* 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.

* Mr. Freibert’s hot streak continues. It’s seriously like he’s a new artist.


* 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.

* Chris Mautner talks to Frank genius Jim Woodring about his super-fun sketchbook Problematic.

* 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.

SHALLOW REWARDS // 24 SHOEGAZE (PART ONE) from Shallow Rewards on Vimeo.

SHALLOW REWARDS // 25 SHOEGAZE (PART TWO) from Shallow Rewards on Vimeo.


Nineteen Ninety-Eight

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012


Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012


For the record

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

If you haven’t already, please go do what I plan to do in a few minutes and vote against Mitt Romney and Republicanism by voting for Democrats and Barack Obama. Thanks.


Worth a thousand words

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Sean and Helena

This about sums it up.


The Carnival of Souls Rides Again

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

* 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.

* Andy Serkis (Gollum, King Kong, Ian Dury) is directing an adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. That’s exciting.

* 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.

* My blogfather Bill Sherman reviews Courtney Taylor-Taylor and Jim Rugg’s odd Kraftwerk/Gang of Four/Bowie in Berlin/Baader-Meinhof Gang comic One Model Nation.

* Haw, Benjamin Marra made a trashy funny-animal comic called Ripper & Friends! This oughta be a hoot.

* Simon Hanselmann’s Truth Zone is to comics today what Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-head was to music in the ’90s: a parody of criticism that ended up being among the best actual criticism around.

* Mr. Freibert has leveled up.


* Effortlessly sexy teenage dreams from Jillian Tamaki’s Supermutant Magic Academy.

* This is my favorite Jonny Negron piece of the last little while.

* An Uno Moralez work in progress.

* Let’s find out what’s going on with Charles Forsman’s Oily Comics line.

* This 14-page downloadable pdf comic by Olivier Schrauwen is beautiful.

* 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.

* Kimberly Kane talks to Zak Smith and Mandy Morbid about art, sex, porn, polyamory, chronic illness, death, and true love for Vice. Provocative and moving.

* 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.

* Finally, here’s someone playing “Cherub Rock” by Smashing Pumpkins on the piano and giving me chills and making me giggle with delight.


Comics Time: RL Book 1 by Tom Hart

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

“[C]omics as a medium could ideally be the most visually honest and consciousness-plumbing medium out there, even more than film.”—Chris Ware

My wife’s friend Jackie

My friend Mannie


The Carnival of Souls Returns

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

* 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.

* I’m digging Mr. Freibert’s new style.

* 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!

* Jonny Negron draws David Lynch and a woman in the woods. Those colors!

* Jeez, Simon Hanselmann.

* 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.

* Uno Moralez gif/image gallery gloriousness.

* 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.

* LISTEN TO CARLY RAE JEPSEN

* 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.


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, more

Wednesday, August 8th, 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.

* Related: Tom Spurgeon on the value of Nadel ripping the band-aid off these issues.

* “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.

* Chris Mautner’s Comics College routine tackles the all-time-great Phoebe Gloeckner.

* My friend and collaborator Matt Rota has some gorgeous work in McSweeney’s #41.

* I don’t know much about the Spanish-language comics anthology Argh!, but I know it has Mike Diana in it and that this Jorge Parras cover is very striking. (Via Tom Spurgeon.)

* Real Life Horror: They bomb funerals and it’s an outrage, we bomb funerals and it’s crickets chirping.

* 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?


Carnival of souls: Fluxblog 2008, Gabrielle Bell, Eleanor Davis, Grant Morrison, The Hobbit, more

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

* 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.

* Semi-related: Ghost Rider creator Gary Friedrich is appealing the appallingly punitive decision against him in his copyright fight with Marvel.

* 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.

* Dan Clowes is going to make a show called The Landlord for HBO with the directors of that nightmarish-looking Ruby Spears thing.

* 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.

* Eleanor Davis is laying it on the line in her comics and sketches these days. Don’t miss it.

* 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?

* Jonny Negron.

* I always enjoy it when Frank Santoro works a little blue.

* Nice little comic by Mr. Freibert.

* 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.


* Go buy comics from Andy “q v i e t” Burkholder’s Bigcartel store. Guy’s talented. (Via Michael DeForge.)

* Jeez, C.F. makes a lot of comics.

* Real Life Horror: This is what policework in America looks like now.

* Glenn Greenwald, inspired by Chris Hayes’s book Twilight of the Elites:

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.


Talking about The Dark Knight Rises on television

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Here I am on CBS New York’s local news channel WLNY’s morning show Live from the Couch, talking about The Dark Knight Rises with Cinema Blend’s Katey Rich and hosts Carolina Bermudez and John Elliott last Friday. It was a tough morning, so I’m grateful to the hosts for their thoughtful, sensitive, and nonsensationalistic questions, and to both them and Katey, an old hand at this, for putting me at ease. Hope you dig it.