Sally here to finish the week with the focus on Flo Steinberg, and Lynda Barry – plus other news and comics by fabulous women!
Flo Steinberg, longtime secretary of Marvel’s Stan Lee, and underground comics publisher extraordinaire, died last week. Any number of obituaries and tributes have shown up since then, but I especially enjoyed the memories of Michael J. Vassallo, who was a friend as well as a fan of Flo’s. He wrote about her life and work and their friendship on his blog Timely-Atlas-Comics – read all about her HERE (via The Comics Reporter).
Flo’s escapades at Marvel are well known – her work ethic, her enjoyment of the form, and her support and interest in the creators inspired devotion and respect from everyone she met. When she left Marvel in 1968 she dove into the world of underground comics, and produced one of the very first independent comics EVER – Big Apple Comix (1975).
The one-shot featured work by Wally Wood, Neil Adams, Al Williamson, Denny O’Neil, Archie Goodwin, Ralph Reese, Marie Severin, Paul Kirchner, Stu Schwartzberg, Alan Weiss, Herb Trimpe, Mike Ploog and Larry Hama. Linda Fite contributed a strip and helped with the production, alongside John Verpoorten and Michele Brand. Flo was the editor. She printed 20,000 copies (some stories say) and Warren Publishing helped her store and distribute it. The comic helped build the wave of direct market publications which led to the thriving alternative and underground comics scene of the 80’s.
As one of the stewards of the comics community and a bridge between the mainstream and underground worlds, “Fabulous” Flo earned her status as a “legend” and is certainly an inspiration to those of us who feel compelled to till the earth and look to the tending of this scene. I hope she continues to turn that beautiful smile on us from wherever she is now – and keep us on target as well!
If you were to only read comics by Lynda Barry, and no one else, for a year, you would learn just as much about living – with yourself and with others, and in this weird world – and about the craft of making comics, as you would by reading widely and deeply all across the medium.
I revisited One! Hundred! Demons! (2002) recently and it was like being picked up by a tornado full of bright objects, spun round roughly, and spat back out a few blocks away from where I’d started, dizzy and bruised, but laughing. Lynda’s ability to delve into her own memories of childhood, to summon the demons and put them in their place, is frightening and beautiful. Lyda reminds one that childhood is a wild place, and how you felt then is not so different from how you feel now – and that’s okay.
I appreciate that Lynda stuck to some formal restraints in the making of this comic – all square panels, arranged in a row of 4 across a spread – which makes for a comforting beat as you move through the somewhat tumultuous story. The black line (made with a brush) and the colors are very satisfying. Her figures are somewhat grotesque at times – even the “pretty” ones – but they are wonderfully alive and vivid. This is great cartooning, in the proper sense of the word, not just lovely illustrations in sequence with word balloons.
Groundbreaking at it’s time of publication, and still just as good. Get a copy of One! Hundred! Demons! HERE.
Lynda is one of my greatest inspirations as a master cartoonist and a woman. Her teaching and lecturing has impacted numerous creatives and non-creatives alike – as this New York Times Magazine article from 2011 proclaimed, “Cartoonist Lynda Barry Will Make You Believe in Yourself“.
For another dose of passion and drive, check out this Ink Talk about how “the answer is in the picture“:
Lynda Barry lives and teaches in Wisconsin. She created a comic strip that was nationally syndicated for 2-decades (Ernie Pook’s Comeek), and has created numerous graphic novels, prose novels, plays, and how-to books. She was recently given the National Cartooning Society’s Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award, and is in the Will Eisner Hall of Fame.
She doesn’t mess around, and she doesn’t keep quiet – Lynda is a force of nature and we are lucky as cartoonists to count her among us.
The Rest of the Party
- Women Write About Comics has a nice overview of some recent acquisitions to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum – a wonderful new collection of original art by female cartoonists of the 80’s and 90’s. Read and see pictures HERE.
- Philippe Leblanc reviews a number of Shee Phon‘s comics over on The Comics Beat – check out his take on her “progressive and personal” work HERE.
- Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristin Radtke has been getting mixed reviews – over on The Comics Journal Greg Hunter is pretty clear about not liking it – and I find myself thankful that some people are still willing to talk about what makes certain comics poor works of art and storytelling.
- Check out the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum’s Digital Exhibit of work by Edwina Dumm!
- Zainab Akhtar is going for Critical Chips 2 – check out the Kickstarter HERE.
- Brigid Alverson writes about Svetlana Chmakova‘s career over on Publishers Weekly.
- Sarah Glidden has an on-the-spot autobio comic posted HERE.
- The celebration of Annie Koyama and Koyama Press’s 10th anniversary continues! Read about it over on Nekkei Voice.
Suzy and Cecil – 8-4-17 – by Gabriella Tito
Joanie and Jordie – 8-4-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio