Archive for ‘Comics History’

Friday Odds and Ends

Haha, look who I’m tied with. Also being on this more personal list made me smile.

Been looking for an excuse to link to Cameron Stewart’s beautifully rendered Sin Titulo. This news seems reason enough.

Finally, in keeping with last week’s post (and Google+ mini-meme) on art we did when we were 15 years-old, here’s an interview with talented cartoonist and entrepreneur, 14 year-old Emma Capps. The girl’s reading Asterios Polyp, People. This next generation will be something to see.

Steve on Jack

My old pal, Steve Bissette lays down the law after the recent Kirby heirs court decision.

I’m too busy with my GN to look deeply into the specifics of this case, but I did offer a brief general comment on Google+.

Jack and Roz Kirby are buried just a few miles from here. Maybe I’ll swing by this week to pay my respects.

Like so many of his generation, “the King” deserved better than he got.

Gene Colan 1926-2011

Clifford Meth shares the details.

Gene Colan was one of my favorite artists in my early teen years, when I was first discovering comics.

The first full run of a comic book series that I read was Daredevil (lent to me by Kurt Busiek in middle school), including many issues drawn by Gene.

The first drawing I made of an established comic book character may well have been based on images he created for that series.

Gene Colan’s work was unique, personal, and always a joy to look at. May he rest in peace.

Friday Odds and Ends

Here’s a really lovely 3-pager by David Lasky from yesterday’s Bloomsday commemorations.

Also lovely: these people sketches by Lucy Knisley. Can you draw that well? Me neither.

The Interwubs are all abuzz this week with Colleen Coover’s super-adorable and very funny Lana Lang comic. (Oh if only the monthlies were like this…)

Finally, the legendary Eddie Campbell has sent along a link to another fine article tracing comics early origins, so check it out.

[first few links via Spurge, I think]

Have a great weekend!

Rebels of the Pacific Northwest

Something about this three-part interview with Vancouver cartoonist Colin Upton made me very happy.

It’s encouraging to see a mini-comics rebel from my small press excursion days holding forth on a dozen topics and looking relatively healthy after recent bouts with diabetes and other challenges.

Upton’s interview reminded me of another recent YouTube find; a video interview with minicomics legend Steve Willis from Washington State. Both videos communicate an air of stubborn resistance to anything slick or mass-produced which makes me smile.

As I’ve mentioned here before, one of the things I loved about the small press scene of the ’80s and early ’90s was the freedom it gave cartoonists to pursue their own path regardless what the marketplace might have wanted from them.

A version of that freedom migrated to the Web, but even a technophile like me knows it’s not the same, and can still enjoy listening to a cartoonist explain his craft with a pencil in hand, sitting at a slanted table, surrounded by books, and hearing the sound of a northwest rain falling outside his window.

Old Man Gaiman

Neil in Ojai with Sky and Winter a few years ago

Our old—and I do mean OLD—friend Neil turns 50 years old today and the family and I are here in New Orleans to join in a little celebration tonight.

Some say that Mr. G isn’t like us mere mortals. That he doesn’t age the way we do. That he is impervious to the ravages of time and will wander the Earth millennia after the memories of all humankind have passed forever from this plane.

Well… maybe…

But don’t believe everything you hear.

Happy 50th, Kurt Busiek!

The Syracuse years! Circa 1980. (Photo by ?)

Ha! Beat him to it by three months. (Wait, is that a good thing?)

As most of you know, Kurt, in addition to be being a great friend since before the time of Moses, is also the kid who insisted I try reading just a few of his comic books in 8th grade, thus changing the course of my life forever.

He’s also one of the smartest and best writers in comics, and has been giving me good advice for 27 years.

Many happy returns of the day!

You old geezer.

I Remember this Comic!

When I was reviewing small press and mini-comics in the late ’80s, I was excited by what I saw as the closest thing (pre-Internet) to absolute freedom in comics.

By going completely outside any traditional markets, and often sold only through the mail and at local cons, these photocopied comics could go in any direction their artists wanted them to, not just what the market would allow.

None of the artists expected to get rich, but we readers knew that whatever showed up in our mailbox was going to be exactly what the artist really wanted to it to be.

Some artists stuck with light gag comics. Some produced one or two minis and vanished. Some went on to mainstream(?) success like Chester Brown. Some like Matt Feazell, John Porcellino, and Steve Willis became mini-comics legends and inspired others to make their own homemade comics.

And then there was Armageddonquest by Ronald Russell Roach.

Warren Ellis said it best:

ARMAGEDDONQUEST squirms and thrashes in a crawlspace it dug out with its bare talons, partway between the early graphic novel and classic “outsider” art. It’s the comics version of the demon-haunted work of the young Daniel Johnston, raw, passionate, demented, electric.

I really enjoyed Ron Roach’s crazy, wonderful comic when it came out, but I never expected to see it again. 900 pages is a massive hurdle for something as idiosyncratic as this. But then along came Kickstarter.

I was delighted to be the first donor. This is a worthwhile project. Please consider joining in the effort.

I Didn’t Even Know this Guy Existed

Over at Jordan Crane’s What Things Do, they’ve been running a ton of old art by Abner Dean, a mid-20th Century illustrator. (I’m assuming it’s in the public domain or they have permission, it’s clearly not in print anymore).

Pretty crazy stuff, but definitely worth a look—and worth a buy if you can find a used copy of the original.

Here’s the big page. Long load times and probably NSFW, but a real mindbender.

It reminded me of William Steig’s brilliant About People. Also recommended and similarly obscure now, despite its author’s popular kids’ books.

Great imaginations get forgotten far too often.

Anyone know of other largely forgotten artists whose works you loved?

The House that Patience Built

Back home from Comic-Con!

It felt like a very forward-looking Con to me, despite all the worries about impending doom in various markets.

Both Sky and Winter were among the thousand or so led by Edgar Wright out of Hall H on Thursday to see one of the first public screenings of you-know-what. Have yet to meet anyone who didn’t love it.

The four panels I was on went off without a hitch. After the fourth on Saturday, I talked for a long time to two teams of iPad comics creators about the challenges of that new platform, and was reminded of how young the mobile space still is.

Speaking of young, Ivy and I got to meet Juni Kibuishi for the first time (above—and yes, Ivy’s hair is purple again!). I watched his eyes watching everything and was reminded how unpredictable each generation of creative minds can be.

Raina Telgemeier’s terrific all-ages Smile sold out at the show. We talked at the First Second dinner about the dozen other subjects that deserved the comics treatment and what a difference Raina’s personal touch and wise storytelling choices made.

Of the hundred thousand plus who descended on San Diego last week, maybe a few hundred were aspiring young artists or writers making the journey for the first time.

It’s easy for a dedicated young artist to believe that if their work is good enough, it’ll rise and rise until they’re the ones at the Hall H microphones (or at least Ballroom 20) and it’s their characters being painted on the side of the Bayfront Hilton.

It’s also easy, after a few years of frustration, for even the best young cartoonists to believe that the system is rigged, and no matter how hard they work, there’ll be enormous obstacles put in their way that have nothing to do with the quality of their stories and art.

Both are true, of course. Good work will rise to its level AND the system is rigged. Which is why, if you want to find a common denominator among the success stories at San Diego, it’s patience.

For example, bookstore buyers don’t always understand Telgemeier’s Smile. The children’s comics market in bookstores is still immature and the obstacles for new authors are numerous and frustrating. But as soon as kids actually got their hands on the book (often through book fairs), it became a big hit. The book itself made all the difference.

One of the iPad hopefuls I talked to was Robert Berry whose Ulysses adaptation was originally rejected by Apple for nudity. It’s a smart, well-designed work that was nearly killed in the cradle, but its future actually looks pretty bright now that Apple was embarrassed into reversing their decision. Joyce’s legacy may deserve part credit for the reversal, but the quality of the work will carry it from here on.

And Scott Pilgrim for YEARS couldn’t get shelved in one of the biggest book chains in America. The “system” was truly rigged against it. Yet here we are.

Will Eisner insisted again and again that CONTENT would always drive the industry and the art form. No matter what happened at the retail, publishing, or distribution levels; it was what happened on the page and in the panels that would make all the difference.

I believe it more every year.