My by this point extremely irregular column on European comics at The Comics Journal is making a bit of a departure today, presenting a critical assessment of the very Canadian and thus non-European master cartoonist Chester Brown’s new book of Biblical exegesis Mary Wept over the Feet of Jesus. In some ways an addendum to his last, fascinating and conflicted confessional, Paying for It, in some an extension of his nineties Gospel adaptations, and in others his to date perhaps deepest descent into hermetic eccentricity, it is worth a read.
I actually think that Brown is one of the single cartoonists about whom I’ve written the most. A lot of it is accessible right here at this site.
“I heard something recently by Richard Feynman, and he said that understanding the way the universe works is like extrapolating a huge checkers game from a regular game of checkers. Checkers is an easy game to play, but if the board were huge and you had many, many checkers, it wouldn’t be easy to play anymore. While you can understand the universe somewhat while examining a small component, when it’s right in front of you, when you think about the extent of it and how it all works together, it completely escapes you. Trying to think about the moral universe, the political universe, the nature of consciousness, the question of what consciousness is—all that stuff is easy to do if you create a small system that’s got tight borders and contains a limited sphere of action. That’s what the Unifactor is for me—a little thought laboratory, with just a few characters in it and a limited number of forces, and those forces have a limited range. Even though they all correspond to things that I see existing in the real world, they’ve been reduced to a size that allows me to play with them and think about them and mix them up and see how they react with each other.”
– Jim Woodring
The picks of the week from around the web.
Recovering from the long weekend, I have a quick bunch of comics links. Some of them are old news, but so good that I still want to call attention to them:
Jim Woodring interview by Nicole Rudick at The Comics Journal. One of the greatest interviews in comics, Woodring delivers one of his most thoughtful and inspiring interviews so far. A must-read.
Grant Morrison interview at Mindless Ones. Another of the great interviews in comics delivers meatier-than-usual talk here. Check it out.
Comicalités. New online journal for comics scholarship Not all that much there yet, but it’s interesting material. Bookmarkable!
Ng Suat Tong on Chester Brown’s Gospel adaptations. This is an archival item, but still worth noting in case you missed it. Brown is the hottest name in comics right now, and this is an in-depth examination of one of his great, unfinished projects.
Merwyn Peake at 100. Michael Moorcock leads a handful of writers in a thoughtful look back.
This interview with Chester Brown, who is currently garnering much attention for his extraordinary new book Paying for It, was conducted at the 2004 MoCCA Arts Fest in a small storage room where they kept the boxed-up Harvey Awards, a couple of hours before the ceremony was to start. Brown had recently released the collected edition of Louis Riel, which naturally became the main subject of our conversation.
As should be evident from my 2005 review, I consider this a remarkable book in a remarkable oeuvre. I never thought the interview rendered Brown nor the book justice, consisting mostly of dead ends and leads left unpursued, but I still think the artist makes a number of interesting points and observations and foregrounds the motivations that led him to write Paying for It. I am in any case grateful that Mr. Brown took the time.
The interview was published at Rackham in 2004. This is its first publication in English. I hope you enjoy it, despite its shortcomings. Continue reading ‘On the Real — An Interview with Chester Brown’
This is part of a Metabunker series celebrating a great decade in comics with Rackham by reprinting select reviews of the decades’ best comics from the Rackham archive, along with a number of new pieces.
There is an extraordinary moment near the beginning of Chester Brown’s historical reconstruction, Louis Riel: the newly, ad hoc-elected eponymous popular leader sends his troops into the nearby-situated Fort Garry to secure the provisions and weapons stored there, before they fall into the hands of their pro-Canadian adversaries. A scout is sent ahead and finds the fort deserted, after which he signals his brethren to advance through the open gate. Continue reading ‘Comics of the Decade: Chester Brown’s Louis Riel’
Jon Gorga and Palle Schmidt dipping underground at Bergen Street
So, still reeling a bit from the move and all the new stuff that’s happening elsewhere, but I did get the time to drop in for the MoCCA Arts Festival
at the Armory last Saturday.
I particularly enjoyed it as an opportunity immediately to get acquainted with the New York comics scene and meet in person a number of people whose work I’ve been appreciating, and some of whom I’ve been corresponding with, over the last half decade or more. Continue reading ‘In the Mix (MoCCA 2011)’
The picks of the week from around the web.
A bunch of quick comics links this week.
Tom Spurgeon on Chester Brown’s Paying for It. D&Q only brought 25 copies of Brown’s long-awaited new book to MoCCA, so it was sold out before I arrived, but I got a chance to leaf through. Looks amazing. And it has occasioned a thorough, intelligent critical review from Spurgeon, which makes one wish that he would do it more often.
Tim Kreider on the state of editorial cartooning. Good, heartfelt essay by a fine essayist.
Matt Seneca on color harmonies in comics. That guy’s on fire, man. I’m not sure this quite works, but whoa.
Anders Nilsen interviewed. Fine interview with one of comics best and brightest!
“Seed Toss, Kick it Over.” New DIY book from the Warren Craghead. Need I say more?
Kubrick! Another excellent critic and essayist, Chris Lanier, has penned this piece on Jack Kirby’s weird adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey. And in other Kubrick content, I dug this look at some of his 1950s reportage photographs from Chicago.
Jeet Heer on racism in comics. These pieces offer plenty to think about and interesting information on such classic cartoonists as Harold Gray and Frank King.
Photo by Stanley Kubrick.