Tag Archive for 'The Comics Journal'

Dominique Goblet at The Comics Journal


My latest column at The Comics Journal is an extensive examination of Belgian artist and comics maker Dominique Goblet’s work over the last ten years and how she has made collaboration an essential part of her practice. Here’s an excerpt from the lead-in:

…Dominique Goblet is intensely concerned with life as lived by others, and life as a communal experience. She is among the most empathetic of artists working in the comics form, with each project pushing further the boundaries of interpersonal hermeneutics. Goblet is of the generation that emerged in the ’90s and helped consolidate ‘the graphic novel’ and ‘art comics’ in broader cultural terms—the first, arguably, to unabashedly self-identify as artists.

It is probably unsurprising, therefore, that she made autobiography—the genre that centered that movement—her proving ground. But she differs from most of her peers in that she has consistently looked beyond herself, in the process redefining for reality-based comics the way of working that has determined so much of the historical evolution of comics: collaboration.

Posy Simmonds at The Comics Journal


For my latest column at The Comics Journal, I take a closer look at Posy Simmonds’ latest comic, Cassandra Darke, which is a slow-burn masterpiece in paraphrase of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and in the process I have some more general thoughts on her art. Here’s an excerpt:

It is in this characterization of privileged life unsettled that Simmonds—ever concerned with the complexities of social relations and middle-class anxiety—delivers her starkest indictment to date of contemporary society. Mind you, with her trademark British understatement which ensures that satire never subverts story. Her masterful use of crayon and wash technique brings to life a posh London under snow, with its darkened windows, gated garden squares and gleaming lobbies. Her work was an exquisite, unostentatious a sense of place which rivals that of Jacques Tardi. And when Cassandra finally decides to take action and ventures into the ‘far east’ of London, Simmonds evokes a boarded-up high street—perhaps in Dagenham—of pound shops, off licenses and pawnbrokers in a short burst of dense panels, while contrapuntally noting in the voiceover “in spite of its decay, [it] has Christmas lights and bursts of laughter coming from pub doors.” In the space of a few pages she has skipped sideways from A Christmas Carol to A Tale of Two Cities.

Read the whole thing here, and stop by Cynthia Rose’s in-depth reportage from the Pulp festival, which took place a few weeks ago just outside Paris and featured Simmonds, as well as Catherine Meurisse.

Pisket at The Comics Journal


After more than a year, I’m finally back on the virtual pages of The Comics Journal with a new instalment of my column Common Currency, on European comics. This time, I’ve taken the opportunity of the recent awards handed out at the Angoulême Festival to review Danish cartoonist Halfdan Pisket’s astonishing account of hi father, James’ life in the Dansker-Trilogy, the third volume of which was just given the Prix de la Série in Angoulême, as far as I know the first time a Scandinavian comic has been awarded in the major categories (do correct me if I’m wrong).

But that’s less relevant — what’s important is that this is a distinct and compelling work of memoir, empathy and history, told in comics form. I absolutely encourage you to seek it out if you read Danish or French, and if not then pester your favourite comics publisher to put it out in a language you can read. Check out my column here.

The Green Hand at The Comics Journal


So, I already have another Common Currency column up at The Comics Journal. I know, crazy right? Anyway, it’s basically a standard review of French artist and writer Nicole Claveloux’ The Green Hand, just now reissued in a handsome English-language edition by New York Review Comics. I make the case that especially the tile story is a largely forgotten masterpiece, representing a road not really taken in the form until perhaps recently. In part because comics have been so bad at accomodating woman creators, again until recently. Things are changing. Go, read.

Common Currency – The Return!


Finally, after I don’t even want to think about how long, I’m back at The Comics Journal with an installment of my column on European Comics. While I’ve been writing other things there, I have been neglecting that particular commitment. And no, my last one didn’t really count, as it was about the very non-European Chester Brown.

So, click over to read my piece on how the newfound freedom occasioned by the international New Wave of comics in the nineties and early naughts is causing some confusion among even very talented cartoonists today, resulting in a lot of spectacular-looking, ambitious-seeming comics that don’t amount to all that much. Includes reviews of work by Olivier Josso Hamel, Yannis la Macchia and Antoine Marchalot. Go go go!

Above: from Yannis la Macchia’s Des batisseurs.

Kirby at 100


Today, Jack Kirby, one of the great artists of the twentieth century and a visionary of the comics form, would have turned 100. For those unfamiliar with this extraordinary person and artist, or merely wanting to brush up, here’s a good primer and here is the touching and informative reminiscence by Kirby’s friend and erstwhile employee Mark Evanier, and here are a couple of really good pieces on his work reposted today by two great comics critics, Ken Parille and Andrei Molotiu.

I myself will be contributing a piece to the rolling celebration taking place all week at Danish comics site Nummer9, masterminded by my friend and occasional collaborator Henry Sørensen, whose feature-length 2009 essay on Kirby leads a variety of homages and critical takes. He posted the first part of it today, soon to be followed by the second, as well as the first of a series of tributes by Danish cartoonists. Meanwhile, Danish afficionados Morten Søndergård and Kim Schou have posted a two-hour podcast on Kirby. All of this, regrettably is only available in Danish, but if you do read the language stay tuned for more, including an article by yours truly which will feature the image above (from New Gods #5, 1971) and will subsequently be posted somewhere (probably here) in English, I hope.

Oh, there have of course also been a few posts on Kirby on this site. Among them are my thoughts on Kirby’s extraordinary transitional work on the Challengers of the Unknown in the late 1950s, my take on his last Fantastic Four story with Stan Lee, and my review of Evanier’s 2008 monograph, which has just been re-released to mark the centenary. Also, there is the provocative 2007 article by aforementioned Søndergård on his possible involvement not just in the creation of Spider-Man, but the execution of some of the first comics pages featuring the character. I don’t really believe it, but it is worth your attention, as is the debate it sparked, which features Evanier (again!) as well as Blake Bell, expert Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko, and others.

UPDATE: here’s my essay in Danish at Nummer9 and in English at The Comics Journal.

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Hype: New Reviews

Krazy Kat Sunday page 6 October, 1940


Over at The Comics Journal I’ve just had my rather long, unfocused… er, discursive review of Michael Tisserand’s major new biography Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White published. Herriman’s Krazy Kat is widely, and for pretty good reasons, regarded as one of the greatest comics of all time, and really should also be considered on of the great, distinct works of art of the twentieth century, in my opinion. I have some thoughts about the strip, as well as assorted other comics embedded in the review. Anyway, check it out.

Oh, and in the latest issue of The Burlington Magazine you can read my review of Claudia Bertling Biaggini’s book on Sebastiano del Piombo, Felix Pictor.

Pushwagner at The Comics Journal


What more appropriate comic could I have been writing about on the day of that bogus, horrifying presidential auguration? That’s right, the Norwegian artist Pushwagner’s Dystopian 1970s masterwork Soft City, now out in a handsome American edition from the New York Review. Go, read, at The Comics Journal.

Mary Wept at the Comics Journal


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.

The Week


The week in review

Another week, another several terrorist attacks. Today’s in Lahore was even worse than the one in Brussels a few days ago. They may be low tech and claim fewer dead than other forms of violence, but I don’t know how these actions won’t change our societies quite radically, and mostly for the worse. Here in London we’re increasingly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Yet, some of Palmyra still stands.

Happy Easter.

  • Stations of the Cross, London. At the National Gallery we participated in this psychogeographical art project with Jacopo Bassano’s Way to Calvary representing the seventh station. I found it a rich and rewarding experience not in small part because it encouraged one to explore various forgotten or at least dimly remembered parts of London. Very Iain Sinclair/Alan Moore, in some ways. Clearly, Apollo Magazine agreed.
  • Comics! Jen Lee had a great stint in The Comics Journal‘s diary section. Beautiful. Oh, and the same source delivered a fine interview with growing Wunderkind Michael Deforge. And Nummer9 presented some very promising webcomics work from the current students at the graphic storytelling programme at the Viborg Animation Workshop.
  • New hip hop! Aesop Rock is dope over Pusha-T’s “Untouchable”. Slime Season 3! Bob Rauschenberg.
  • Phife Dawg RIP. A great, underrated MC, part of one of hip hop’s seminal groups, left us this past week. Here’s a great oral history of the creation of A Tribe Called Quest’s second (and in my view narrowly best) album, The Low End Theory. And here’s the long-disbanded group’s last performance, on Jimmy Fallon, with The Roots, last autumn.
  • Image: Getty Research Institute.

    Drawn and Quarterly 25 Years!

    Front cover image and design by Tom Gauld


    Over at The Comics Journal I’ve just published a review of seminal comics publisher Drawn and Quarterly’s massive 25th-anniversary book, which is actually more of a short essay on the significance and particular qualities of the publisher. Go read it here.

    Hype: The Rotland Inquiry


    Ryan Standfest, publisher at the small-press (dark) humor operation Rotland Press, recently put out the first issue of the Rotland Inquiry, which focuses on Charlie Hebdo, the Paris murders and their aftermath. Standfest has assembled an impressive range of cartoonists, critics and historians who present a variety of viewpoints and thoughts and images on the subject.

    The roll call sounds: Stéphane Blanquet, Hugleikur Dagsson, D.B. Dowd, Mort Gerberg, Jeet Heer, Danny Hellman, David Hughes, Paul Krassner, Mark McKinney, Tony Millionaire, Leigh Phillips, Martin Rowson, Johnny Sampson, Mahendra Singh, Art Spiegelman, and um, me. I’m in there with an edited and slightly updated version of one of the pieces I wrote for The Comics Journal back in January.

    I’m proud to be in the publication and encourage you to seek it out. It’s well worth it, whatever you think of my contribution.

    More on the publication and Rotland Press from contributor D. B. Dowd here and here.

    Angoulême 2015 at the Comics Journal


    As mentioned a few weeks back, I was once again covering the Angoulême comics festival for The Comics Journal this year. It as a strange, beautiful and slightly oppressive experience being there, three weeks after the Paris killings. This dominates my reports, I’m afraid, but tune in also for views on artists as diverse as Bill Watterson, Alex Barbier, and Taniguchi Jiro, and for thoughts on French comics right now, the state of the Angoulême festival, and the award winners. Onsite reportage parts one and two plus the usual more in-depth aftermath analysis.

    Charlie Hebdo and Paris: Post-Mortem


    It’s been up for a few days now, but I just wanted to note that part two of my examination of Charlie Hebdo and the significance of the murders in Paris is online at The Comics Journal. Part one is here.

    Charlie Hebdo at The Comics Journal


    I recently published a review of the latest, 7 million print run-issue of Charlie Hebdo over at The Comics Journal. I have a second article, which delves further into the contentious and complicated issues surrounding the massacre, the cartoons and journalism of the magazine, and a bit of everything else, so stay tuned.