Tag Archive for 'The Comics Journal'

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.

    Institution and Individual – French Satire at the Comics Journal


    A new instalment on my lamentably irregular column on European comics, “Common Currency” is up over at The Comics Journal. It examines the winners in the two major categories at this year’s Angoulême festival — Abel Lanzac and Christophe Blain’s Quai d’Orsay vol. 2 and the work of Grand Prix awardee Willem, exemplified in his latest book Degeulasse. It is an attempt to tease out some of the tendencies in French satire, from the proudly idealistic to the coarsely individualistic. Go, read.

    Remembering Kim Thompson

    Photo taken by the author at SPX in 2004


    I was incredibly saddened to learn of Fantagraphis co-publisher Kim Thompson’s death last week. At age 56 it is early to go and my deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues. He shall be sorely missed, not the least within the field of comics where he made his mark.

    Although I’ve written a proper obituary in Danish over at Nummer9, so much has been written about him online in English over the weekend that I won’t bore you with a translated version and instead merely refer you to the obituary up at the website of the magazine he helped shape, The Comics Journal, as well as to Tom Spurgeon’s helpful collection of links and selected works. Here are a few short personal reminiscences instead:

    I didn’t know Kim well, but met him three or four times over the last ten to twelve years. I guess our common Danish heritage had some say, if nothing else in the projects we ended up collaborating on. In any case, it was a joy to hear him speak the language in his melodious, nineteen-fifties accent, preserved since his childhood as if in amber. Anyway, we collaborated on a few bits and pieces. He accepted (and even translated!) my first interview — with David B. — for The Comics Journal #275 back in 2005 and two years ago he accepted for publication at Fantagraphics the Nordic anthology I was editing, Kolor Klimax.

    The book was financed by the Finnish Comics Society, but Kim’s swift acceptance of the project was a deciding factor in its success. I of course sent him samples of the content in advance, but he clearly trusted that I would put together a book that met his standards and not only took it on, but didn’t interfere with its production. The descriptions I’m now reading all over about his hands-off editorial style therefore ring true. It seems to me that his quality control lay in the initial selection of projects to take on — something he was clearly skilled at — after which he let people do their own thing, getting involved only in the copy editing, for which he had a unfailing eye. One thing he reminded me of with Kolor Klimax was the difference between English and continental European separation of numbers: the former employs full stops whereas the latter uses commas. Confusing the two is a common error with Nordic people otherwise proficient in English, he wrote to me.

    We discussed a number of other projects, including ones on two of his favorite artists: Storm P. and Franquin. Whether these will ever see the light of day is now doubtful, of course. I would assume better chances for the former, however. Franquin, as Kim would often point out, simply does not seem to click with American readers, much to his bafflement. As things happened, our last ‘collaboration’, was on the Tardi feature in the latest Comics Journal (#302), for which I was given space to write about the masterwork 120 Rue de la Gare as a kind of coda to his career-spanning, revelatory and very human interview with Tardi. It was an honor, just as it has been a honor to know, however superficially, this kind, intelligent and hard-working man whose spark was a vital one in comics.

    Dongery at The Comics Journal


    Today at The Comics Journal the latest installment of my column on European comics, “Common Currency”, features the Norwegian cartoonists’ collective Dongery, specifically the monumental compilation of a decade and a half’s worth of fanzines, published last year. Hop on over there for a primer on some of the freshest stuff in comics right now.

    Common Currency launches!


    Today sees the publication of the inaugural article in my regular column on European comics for The Comics Journal, entitled Common Currency. It focuses on Fabrice Neaud’s recent turn toward genre comics, with the series Nu-Men, after two decades of uncompromising autobiography had brought him to an impasse. Go check it out here.

    1nce Again: Angoulême

    Signing in the L'Association stand, open again this year!


    I spent last weekend at Angoulême and as usual I covered the festival for The Comics Journal. Here are my post for Friday and Saturday, dealing with the two astonishing shows (co-)curated by festival president Art Spiegelman, and here are my thoughts on the festival as a whole.

    I travelled to Angoulême with representatives of the Danish comics site Nummer9 as well as the Danish Comics Council. We all took photos, and a selection of them are online in the Metabunker photo archive.

    Speaking of archives, here are links to the full Rackham/Metabunker/Comics Journal coverage, carried out by Thomas Thorhauge and myself since 2001.