Archive for June, 2009

Drawn when I was 15

Bigger version here. Mostly I was just copying Dave Cockrum’s style.

This was done for a role-playing game Kurt Busiek and I were working on in middle school.

Kurt and I played D&D, read comic books, and quoted Monty Python routines a lot. We were involved in comics fandom partially as a way to hone our skills for our eventual careers in comics. Mostly, of course, we were in it for the ladies.

Writing with Pictures

One of the comics I picked up in Barcelona last month was Arrugas by Paco Roca, a story about an old man’s encounter with Alzheimer’s Disease. I don’t read Spanish, but visually “reading” it panel to panel at the airport still provided a coherent and sometimes moving experience. Here’s a scan of some early pages to give you a sense of the storytelling. Looking forward to seeing an English edition, it’s clearly a good book.

When I worked at DC Comics in the production department in 1982 (my first job out of college), I spent many lunch hours flipping through the huge collection of untranslated manga at the nearby Kinokuniya, Manhattan’s largest Japanese bookstore. I admired how many could be understood on the strength of their visual storytelling alone. It was refreshing to experience that again.

I met or was introduced to the work of a number of talented artists in Barcelona (many through Astiberri) including Alberto Vazquez, Fermin Solis, David Rubin, Felix Diaz and Tony Sandoval. Most haunting, though, might have been the album I found by French artist Ivan Brun called No Comment, a silent, funny and extremely dark look at modern society.

Writing with pictures (or screaming with pictures, in Brun’s case) in the language of comics.

One-Bit Universe

Marjane Satrapi would like you to sign a petition (thanks to Mark Siegel for the link).

Yesterday, some cartoonists I know expressed sadness over Michael Jackson, which I understand. Personally, I thought it was a sad ending to a sad ending. But others were baffled by how anyone could sympathize with anyone accused (and presumed guilty) of such horrible things.

Fortunately Adobe just released a new Photoshop filter for just such occasions (screenshot above). I like to work in grayscale and RGB myself, but some out there might find it useful.

[Hypocrisy disclaimer: Anyone wanting to knock me off of my high horse can just point out my own rant about Fredric Wertham on that audio interview the other day. Guess we all do it from time to time.]

An iTunes for Comics?

We’ll see. But points to the venture already for choosing Phonogram for their cool-looking screenshot.

At the very least, Longbox CEO Rantz Hoseley is a smart guy. This will be one to watch.

(Link via Heidi)

And Now, A Moment of Prudery

Thanks to Dirk, I have seen that two-page spread, and I have to say I’m with the Spivock family 100% on this one. Sex is a legitimate topic in all media, including explicit depictions, but putting vodka in mayonnaise jars is just not fair to consumers.

Yeah, That’s About Right

Patrick Farley makes it visible.

Karasik and Giotto and Comics

Paul Karasik offers his take on Giotto’s 600 year-old strip-style storytelling on display at the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua.

Is it “comics”?

I like to use the word at times like this because I think it encourages us to find patterns throughout art history that can inform new work today, but there are plenty of people who insist on other criteria like mechanical reproduction or direct cultural links, so take my use of the word with a grain of salt.

The definitions debate came up in the Inkstuds interviews I linked to on Saturday. Check out my own discussion with Robin from 20:15 to 23:16 for one of the most candid responses I’ve given yet on the subject.

Inkstuds Triangulates Comics

Robin McConnell has posted an unusual episode of Inkstuds featuring Tom Spurgeon, Eddie Campbell, Jeet Heer, Matt Madden, and me, bringing our differing perspectives to various aspects of comics as an art form — all drawn from separate interviews. You can find the composite interviews here and my own conversation with Robin here. Some sound problems, especially on mine, but interesting points from all involved.


Congratulations to Jason Little who recently finished his online serialization of the latest Bee story “Motel Art Improvement Service.” It’s available from Jason’s comics page, a treasure trove of inventive wonders.

Reading the story over again, I was reminded of what a unique, uncategorizable gem Bee is. It’s cute, sexy (NSFW in fact), brainy, slapsticky, and subtle, all at once. Definitely worth sitting down with to read the whole thing.

Winter, Neil, and the Postcard Avalanche

I took the pictures, but Ivy has all the details.

Thank you to all who responded to Neil‘s Twitter shout-out for postcards to help Winter’s class win their competition!

Winter was very touched, excited and grateful to all of the writers from around the globe. It would take her all summer vacation to respond personally to each, so we’re going to have to opt for the less personal forum of the Web to convey her thoughts, but know that she enjoyed each one. Thank you from the whole class and the whole family.