Archive for November, 2010

That Old East Wind

Dash Shaw has a fascinating take on the new Tezuka book from Abrams and the DVD it contains. His thoughts on “the God of Manga’s” superhuman work-ethic are sobering. (I’m looking forward to getting the book myself, but it’s the Christmas/Chanukah season, so I’m not allowed to buy it just in case).

Coincidentally, over at HU, Stephanie Folse is re-reading the original Elfquest series, reminding me of a time in the early ’80s when the Tezuka fan club among working American comics professionals numbered in the single digits—and most definitely included both Wendy Pini and myself.

Tezuka was, for many years, my favorite cartoonist. I had a bookcase filled with untranslated Tezuka that I studied like the Torah for hours on end. Sometimes I’d close my eyes, reach for a random volume, flip to a random page, and open my eyes again to find a beautiful, inventive, and unique page waiting for me.

Tezuka famously drew well over a hundred thousand pages of comics over the course of forty years. I mentioned this in a little tribute to Tezuka in Zot! in the mid-’80s. Later, one of my readers visited Japan and showed the God of Manga my little comic. His only message back to me was to emphasize “quality over quantity.”

Watching younger cartoonists discover Tezuka for the first time over the last couple of decades has been quietly satisfying. In some ways, I feel like Shaw’s generation of innovators is ready to consider the whole man in a way mine was rarely ready or willing to.

What did I Miss?

Some random notes from the last nine days.

Got an email from Ryan Estrada this morning announcing his latest insanity, the One Month Animated Feature. Actually sounds like a fun project. I wish him luck. Also sleep, when it’s done.

Really enjoyed the first volume of X’ed Out, the new Charles Burns series. Eager to read more.

Okay, the end of Walking Dead Episode 3… How many saw that coming halfway through #2? Show of hands. (Failed surprises aside, I’m really enjoying that series).

Via Ivy (who got it from Stephen Fry), we’ve all been enjoying the Hell out of this video.

After largely missing them in New Orleans due to explodey-chest syndrome, I had the pleasure of seeing Neil and Amanda at a great engagement party at agent-extraordinaire Jon Levin’s house Saturday. Lots of new and old friends there, but I have to make special mention of Stephin Merritt, who I’d never met before but is one of my favorite songwriters. We’d just watched Pieces of April two nights before (a Thanksgiving tradition in our home) which has songs by Merritt in it, so he was on our mind already.

Speaking of music: Two recent buys I can’t get enough of are “If You Return” by Maximum Balloon (with vocals by Little Dragon) and the criminally-catching “L.O.V.” by Fitz and the Tantrums.

Back to the drawing board!

Taking a Break…

Since the kids are getting Thanksgiving week off, and I have a lot of catching up to do after my recent health issues (see below), I’ve decided to take a week off from blogging.

Be back at the keyboard on Monday, November 29.

STANFORD: Thursday Night!

If my body doesn’t have any other booby traps in store, I’ll be lecturing at Stanford University this Thursday at 6pm.

Spread the word and I’ll see you there.

Redirecting Warm Wishes…

I’m back home from the hospital and New Orleans (see last two posts). I’ll be updating a bit erratically while I make up for lost time, but know that as long as I keep on the meds and take care of that stubborn kidney stone after this week’s Stanford lecture, I should be fine.

I was kinda proud that my “celiac artery dissection” was consistently described as “rare” and “unusual.” I wouldn’t want to get knocked flat by some mainstream, run-of-the-mill disorder you could pick up at a three-for-one sale at WalMart.

Meanwhile, please redirect all warm wishes to Randall Monroe who’s struggling with a more serious condition in his family this month. Randall’s wit, intellect, and imagination have been a great treasure for all his readers, and I know we all wish him and his loved ones better days ahead.

…and More Sick Days

@ivyratafia has the details on Twitter:

Dr. Dan (who’s been much help) says: @scottmccloud has a celiac artery dissection. The treatment is BP reduction. He’s going to be OK.

Unfortunately, I also have limited Web access. Hope to be blogging again Monday.

Basically, I was at Neil’s 50th birthday party here in New Orleans for about 5 minutes.

New Orleans looks very hospital-like this time.

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.

The REAL Future of Comics

New York based Raina Telgemeier recently blogged some adorable photos of school and library visits she did here in California on behalf of the terrific “dental drama” Smile. I defy anyone to read the post and not smile just as widely as Raina and her growing family of young readers.

Reading it drove home for me again (see previous post) what an enormous opportunity every cartoonist has to translate their own experiences and interests into comics and find or even create new readers, based on the subject of that work.

One reader emailed me from a Therapy Center simply because she’d heard there was a comic explaining Crohn’s Disease (there is; it was a 24-hour comic by Tom Humberstone who suffers from the condition). Crohn’s disease affects between 400,000 and 600,000 people in North America alone (thanks, Wikipedia). Why the Hell WASN’T there a comic about Crohn’s disease until now??

Whole markets can be created out of thin air when the right subject strikes. Gan Golan (one of my 2003 seminar students at MIT) made a name for himself collaborating on the political parody Good Night Bush in ’08. Now he’s now teamed up with several other great talents to create Unemployed Man and he’s had no trouble getting coverage on CNN and a zillion other press outlets—not because of some surge in interest in the comics artform—but because Gan and co-creator Erich Origen have zeroed in on a topic with a potential target audience in the millions.

The beauty of this kind of outreach is that it only adds to the base of comics readers, and rarely do these efforts cannibalize each other. Barry Deutsch’s fantastic orthodox Jewish adventure Hereville isn’t competing for readers with the Bertrand Russell stories in Logicomix, or with XKCD, or with Persepolis. Each one is its own little community of readers, some of whom may have never read a comic before, but ALL of whom are now one comic deeper into this medium we’d all like to see grow.

Are you a cartoonist?

Are you passonate about something? Anything?

Are there others that share your passion?

Do those “others” number in the thousands?

Tens of thousands?


The Scattered Evidence of Emily Carroll

In the last few days, I received an email from Tim Kinnaird and several tweets alerting me to a haunting new online comic called His Face All Red.

See if you can carve out a few minutes without distractions to read it. You’ll be glad you did.

The artist, Emily Carroll, is a new name to me, but she’s obviously been at this for a while and her storytelling has the confidence of a veteran. I’ll be eager to see what she does next, but looking for evidence of what she’s done in the past has proved frustrating.

Notice how I didn’t add a link to her name in the above paragraph? That’s because I wasn’t sure which link to pick. She has a Livejournal. She has a Twitter handle. She has a Blogspot account. She even has her own domain, but if you go to the main page it’s just a “Coming Soon” page.

And none of them give the reader more than random, scattered evidence of who she is and what to expect from her in the future.

Carroll is the real thing. She deserves a more consolidated online presence.

She deserves some noise.

Sick Days…

Lost Tuesday to a hospital visit (kidney stone).

I’ll be fine, but it’s an ongoing thing and I’d like to make up the lost time, so I’ll be giving the blog a rest until Monday in order to get back to the drawing board as much as possible.

Still voted though! Ivy raced over and got me from the hospital to the polls here in So. Cal with only four minutes to spare. I love my wife.

See you Monday!