12/08/2017

Sally here with comics by Nicole Claveloux, thoughts from Jackie Kirby, and lists from Abraham Riesman, among other things!

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Tis the season for “Best of” lists, with every news source you can think of publishing their 10 favorite “whatevers”. I’ve already seen a dozen “best of comics” lists, but I’m just linking to Abraham Riesman’s over on Vulture, since his list is 6 out of 10 female creators, and the rest are comics I also really liked.

Riesman’s got writeups on Eleanor Davis‘s You & a Bike & a Road, Sophia Foster-Dimino’s Sex Fantasy, Jillian Tamaki’s Boundless, Thi Bui‘s The Best We Could Do, Poppies of Iraq by Brigitte Findakly (co-written and illustrated by her husband, Lewis Trondheim), and of course Emil Ferris’s My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. Connor Willumsen’s Anti-Gone and Gary Panter’s Songy of Paradise are also on the list, plus a few others. Look no further for your holiday gift-giving list, and if you haven’t already, add these comics to your own TBR lists ASAP.

Check out the full list HERE.

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I am eager to get my hands on Nicole Claveloux‘s The Green Hand and Other Stories, which came out in English from New York Review Comics recently. Matthias Wivel reviews it over on The Comics Journal, making me only more excited to see it myself. Nicole Claveloux made comics for about a decade in France in the 70’s/80’s, but as her work went largely unnoticed she turned to other forms of artistic expression.

For a few brief years, Claveloux…contributed short comics to the legendary magazine Métal Hurlant – several of which were published in English in its counterpart Heavy Metal – as well as its offshoot Ah! Nana (1976–’78), which featured women creators exclusively. For the longer of these stories, she collaborated with the writer Edith Zha. The Green Hand collects most of this meager output between nifty hard covers, sensitively translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith and hand-lettered in imitation of the original by Dustin Harbin. It will hopefully be followed by a new edition of their feature-length comics album Morte-saison (1979).

The title story, signed Claveloux and Zha, is the main draw here. Published in five installments in Métal Hurlant in 1977, and in Heavy Metal the following year, it is a technicolor dreamscape drawn from life clocking in at just over forty pages. An almost elegiac portrait of the unbearableness of being. There is no great crisis detailed in its vivid narrative of attempted escape from things as they are, just crushing inevitability as the couple at its center finally submerge themselves in an inky ocean under a neon sunset.

Read the rest of the review HERE. Also, you can check out the comic strip she drew – “Grabote, which ran in the popular children’s magazine Okapi between 1973–’82″ – in French HERE. Here’s a page from it:

I plan to see if I can track down some issues of Ah! Nana, which the Women in Comics Wiki describes:

“Ah! Nana was a French comics magazine published from October 1976 to September 1978, running nine issues. It was published by Humanoïdes Associés, best known as the publishers of Métal Hurlant, or Heavy Metal. It was the first French publication featuring work almost entirely by women (though it occasionally featured male contributors) at a time when comics were still almost exclusively male environments. It included work by such French cartoonists as Chantal Montellier, Florence Cestac, and Nicole Claveloux, as well as Americans such as Trina Robbins. It sold 15,000 copies on a print run of 30,000, before the ban on sales to minors proved fatal, due to its frequent taboo and controversial material.

Read more about the magazine HERE and HERE, in an article on Comics Forum.

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On of the strips from Ernie Pook’s Comeek (1979-2003) by Lynda Barry

I was totally blown away by the article Jackie Kirby wrote for Comics Workbook earlier this week, which dug into the work of Lyn Hejinian as a way to talk about open comics. At one point she breaks down two panels from the comic by Lynda Barry pictured above, just as she had broken down the opening sentences of a short story, showing how each creator opened up their text/image to achieve a multitude of meanings. She goes on to say:

Barry’s formal style requires a more simplistic, linear execution, but even in two relatively unassuming panels, we see the process of anticipation and retrospection used in a variety of ways. It is also worth noting that because I am equating the prosodic sentence with the comic panel, a degree of slippage occurs. Each of the panels above includes multiple sentences, and were I to parse them one by one it would reveal even more subtle layers of activity within the text. Most notably, though, in dissecting these panels, the notion of juxtaposition becomes increasingly complex, and the reader is required to do much more work in producing meaning from juxtaposed images and words (e.g. identifying Freddie and Marlys, locating them at a kitchen table together). Spatial placement and juxtaposition are among the most essential elements of comic making. Fortunately for my purpose, they are also critical to Hejinian’s theories of openness.

Read the whole article HERE.

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Cookie Crumbs

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The Winter Semester of thee Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers starts January 18th 2018! 8 weeks – 500 bux – coaching for as long as you need. The course is hard, but Frank will push your comics making practice to a new level, getting you to think about timing and color in new ways. Makes a great holiday gift for yourself – or for a loved one who is interested in comics. Apply by midnight (EST) on Dec. 25th and get $100 off the course price.

Full details and how to apply can be found HERE!

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Suzy and Cecil – 12-8-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 12-8-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

12/01/2017

Sally here with comics by November Garcia, Lina Ghaibeh, Emil Friis Ernst, and much more!

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Emil Friis Ernst spent last autumn here in Pittsburgh with us at the Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency and abroad on his own in the city. He was on loan from The Animation Workshop in Denmark, and he got to spend nearly 3 months making comics and exploring our strange American culture. He recently published the comic he made during that time – Disconnectorwhich you can view in full on his website,  HERE. The comic is about a lonely inventor and his robot (drawn and painted on this lovely grey paper that I remember well from when Emil was here!) Take some time to check it out, as well as some of his other comics which you can also find on his website.

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Ryan C. reviews November Garcia‘s Malarkey, the series of auto-bio comics made by this terrific Filipino cartoonist, over on Four Color Apocalypse. I’m with Ryan when he says that November is bound to break through in the near future, and having met her in person at SPX this year I couldn’t be more delighted to have this talented and funny comics maker in the scene. About Malarkey, Ryan writes:

Simply put, Garcia’s varied-length strips are every bit as familiar to somebody who “speaks comics” fluently as they are to someone who’s “comics illiterate.” Her figure drawing is efficient, practical, and betrays more than a hint of warmth and, dare I say it, innocence, while her stories tend to revolve around daily-life complexities that, in the hands of a less-attuned artist, would be depicted in a matter ten times more grim : neuroses (insecurity being first and foremost on the list), family dysfunction, doomed relationships, and alcoholism. There’s no way this stuff should be fun, but in Malarkey, God help me, it is.

Read the rest of the review HERE and get copies of issues 1 and 2 over at Spit and a Half Distro.

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Lina Ghaibeh shares a comic about growing up in Syria during the Assad regime on The Nib, titled An Education in Fear. Read the whole thing HERE.

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Also, also

  • There’s a new comic by Glynnis Fawkes up on Mutha Magazine titled Can You Play Nowsee it HERE.
  • Hilary Brown interviews Leslie Stein and talks about her new book Present and what it means to her to live in the present – HERE.
  • Sarah Glidden is the guest on Episode 59 of Process Party – they talk travel, journalism, and how cartooning fits into both. Check it out.
  • On The Comics Beat Alex Lu interviews Alisa Kwitney about the female friendships at the heart of her series Mystic U (from DC Comics). Read the interview HERE.
  • Sophie Goldstein talks to Alex Dueben of Smash Pages about House of Women and more – HERE.
  • RiLY features Nicole Georges – and her dog – on Episode 243 – listen HERE.

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The Winter Semester of thee Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers starts January 18th 2018! 8 weeks – 500 bux – coaching for as long as you need. The course is hard, but Frank will push your comics making practice to a new level, getting you to think about timing and color in new ways. Makes a great holiday gift for yourself – or for a loved one who is interested in comics. Apply by midnight (EST) on Dec. 25th and get $100 off the course price.

Full details and how to apply can be found HERE!

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Suzy and Cecil – 12-1-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 12-1-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

11/30/2017

Sam Ombiri on Carlos Gonzalez’s Test Tube, Meg Lemke and Gene Luen Yang in conversation, and a bit more diversity in comics news.

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Sam Ombiri here: I have been reading Test Tube by Carlos Gonzalez, and this comic feels like it’s mutating me and my reality. I wasn’t aware that a comic can wrap around my brain. It did this by using very familiar images, with unfamiliar modes of presentation that somehow mysteriously register. Carlos is bringing to attention how unfamiliar these familiar drawings are. He’s somehow simultaneously doing so much and so little to convey what objects, characters, and settings are, yet it all somehow renders so clearly. Which I guess is cartooning, but there seems to something in this system Carlos has introduced. He’s really mastered manipulating our mind at the bare minimum, but with the effort in design turned up to the maximum, to indicate at every turn of the story that something’s afoot. It also could just be satisfying at an aesthetic level. On my end it’s great to look at, but it simultaneously conveys the nature of the story.

From what I’ve seen, it seems when Carlos is making comics he’s not always fully aware of where the story’s going to go. Of course there’s always an element of improvisation with most every art form. Whether it’s at the beginning or later down the road in the whole process, there’s always an element of improvisation. For Carlos it seems to be late in the whole process. Where it’s too late to make changes as a result of committing to a certain feeling. He seems to sacrifice control in order to stay true to the feeling he set out to express. For some makers this can cheapen their work, but it’s not the case for Carlos. I think it’s how welcoming and sensitive he is to surprises – these surprises that come along the way, that I’m guessing he ran with because of his commitment to satisfy that longing for a complete story. That’s what I get personally as a reader. It’s not just the way the story plays out – the jokes have this immediate, intuitive, and spontaneous punchiness to them that isn’t in anyway contrived.

After wandering back and forth, back and forth through these characters lives, the story all leads to an event, unexpectedly. The way Carlos introduces us to all these elements that will eventually take shape is brilliant – he starts with when the event has already taken place, and then the one character whom we are familiar with is recounting. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be shocked, after seeing all the strange things that had happened to the characters before what happened towards the end. By the time I got towards the end of the book, I was convinced there wasn’t anything stranger that could happen.

I was wrong.

I had to know that something had to be building up. I did, but I didn’t expect it to be a smallish incident. Towards the end of the book the characters don’t feel like pawns in a big sci-fi epic as they did at the beginning. I imagined the book going that direction, that it’s in this claustrophobic, personal macro state, and it’ll expand and expand. However, the story to my surprise and to my delight stayed in the same scale, no matter what was going on. So even this scientist’s big experiment felt like a homemade experiment. “Low key” is the word for the event towards the end of the story, that’ll supposedly continue in our world. I was thinking about the ending to Videodrome – of course if you watch that movie in Pittsburgh, that movie’s going to have an even stranger effect on you. Basically Carlos made it seem like this character is somewhere out there, and she’s gotta do this thing to survive emotionally, so I sympathize with her, even though she’s going doom us all. Maybe I ought to be more optimistic about this higher form she’s going to turn us all into.

Read this book if you can, you’ll be glad you did. There’s also a really cool intro by Noel Freibert at the beginning that’ll make you even more confused about this book than you thought you could be. Noel told me he included some stuff from knowing Carlos into the intro, so it might function more to introduce the reader to Carlos more than the book itself, which made it make more sense. – Sam Ombiri

Get a copy of Test Tube by Carlos Gonzalas HERE.

For another review of this comic, read Anya Davidson’s thoughts on The Comics JournalHERE.

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Sally here – Mege Lemke interviews Gene Luen Yang, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, over on Mutha Magazine. They talk about his project Reading Without Walls, and it’s mission to get kids and parents “exploring books about characters who look or live differently than you, topics you haven’t discovered, or formats that you haven’t tried.

They talk about how to get reluctant readers to read, how kids are now usually allowed to read comics in school, and the big issue of diversity in comics/publishing as a whole.

MUTHA: What’s your take on this: As I’m sure you’re aware, there’s a real focus in young adult publishing community right now on responding to the criticism from the Own Voices Movement, essentially the idea that there needs to be more space for people of color and people of different sexualities to write their own stories. Resulting in pushback against, say, white writers writing as another character of color, but also characters of color writing other characters of color. This has caused writers to become cautious about writing across cultures.

GENE LUEN YANG: Here’s how I approach it. In my own writing life and in my work teaching writing, I believe that writing is an act of bravery.  You have to get over so much fear just to put your story on the page. Facing that blank page is terrifying. When I sit down to write, I’ll want to do anything else. I’ll want to go wash dishes, I’ll want to go reorganize my label collection, anything, right? I am very reluctant, especially when I think about my students, of introducing more fear in their heads.

So, I would never tell a writer that they cannot write outside of their experience.  I almost think that it’s the defining job of a writer to be able to go outside of their own experience.

But I would say: don’t let that fear that you feel allow you to stop writing the story you want to write. You should let that fear drive you to do homework. You should let that fear drive you to humility. Approaching experiences that aren’t your own with a certain humility.

Including people who are insiders into your support group, either as editors or as beta readers. There is a greater responsibility.

However, you’ll see like 80 percent of the stories told about minority demographics are told by outsiders. That is a problem. That is a problem.

Yang goes on to say that ultimately it is on the publishers, the gatekeepers, to make sure they are publishing work by POC creators and not just asking their “stable” of white writers to toss some diversity into their work.

Plenty of other interesting notes in the interview – read it HERE.

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Speaking of a white writer tossing some diversity into their work, The Comics Reporter has a breakdown of the recent shocker from Marvel’s new Editor-in-Chief, CB Cebulski – he once wrote comics under the pseudonym Akira Yoshida, and had a whole secret identity for this person. Understandable uproar has ensued. Tom Spurgeon writes:

Comics culture is not just a roll-your-eyes cattle prod these days, it’s as under fire as any individual publishing move. Rightfully so: comics culture dictates a lot in terms of how our industries operate. This latest looks like a series of actions possible only in the context of a broken professional culture. This is not just the case of a freelancer adopting a pseudonym to get more work. This was someone giving themselves work that could have gone to someone else, and creating a context for that work more attractive than the work would be by itself. By assuming a Japanese identity and writing stories soaked in orientalist stereotypes, Cebulski and Marvel slipped any blame that might be theirs for the content of such work, and avoided criticism for the general breakdown of creators being hired by the company. 

Read the rest of the story HERE.

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Joanie and Jordie – 11-30-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

 

11/24/2017

Sally here with work by Jessica Campbell, Jessica Abel and Meg Lemke, Sophie Goldstein, and more!

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Hillary Brown talks House of Women with Sophie Goldstein on Paste Magazine. About the comic itself Hillary writes:

Alternately spiky and luscious, it draws you in by receding. She writes with economy, but the resulting story isn’t irritatingly arty or hard to follow; it’s not drawn by a comics artist only for other comics artists who speak the lingo and can read the subtext. It’s no surprise, in fact, that Margaret Atwood (restless, relentless experimenter, unafraid to leap into any genre that grabs her interest, including comics) is an inspiration for this female-centered and complexly feminist story of colonization and controlled social dynamics.

Goldstein provides no easy answers—the book is thematically driven rather than focused on plot first and foremost—but she knows how to be just difficult enough.

Read the interview HERE.

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Jessica Campbell has a comic about The Bad Behavior of Men in Comics up on Hyperallergic – it’ll probably make you squirm or steam, depending, because she brings up all kinds of things that no one likes to talk about. Read it HERE.

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Meg Lemke interviews Jessica Abel about her new book Growing Gills over on Mutha Magazine. Jessica has spent her life making comics, working in arts education, and developing theories about maintaining creative focus – something that I’d say the majority of us struggle with. This book came out of a series of online courses she taught and a working group she managed – where instead of dealing with issues like “how can I tell better stories?”, for example, the overwhelming chorus from her students and peers was “how can I deal with my paralyzing anxiety and procrastination?!”

In Growing Gills Jessica offers some working theories she’s developed (although she struggles with the same issues in her own life on a regular basis.) In the interview Jessica and Meg talk about organization, self-forgiveness, and process over progress.

MUTHA: You talk in the book also about process over project outcomes, can you unpack that more?

JESSICA ABEL: What’s destructive is when people want to make art, but don’t want to sell art. AND at the same time they feel they can’t be artists if they aren’t attempting to be professionals. “If I’m not showing in a gallery, am I really an artist? If I don’t have a mainstream publisher, am I a writer?”

Yes, you are.

It may be that the business side is not what you’re interested in; it requires sacrifice of your creative time to do the work required to be a “pro.” People miss that the selling part is a separate project. If they can recognize and commit to selling as a separate project, great. If you constantly find yourself saying “I don’t want to do the things needed to sell my work,” then maybe you need to rethink the underlying model. Maybe the creative work on its own is what you need to feed your psyche. Make room in your life for your work without worrying about making it pay for itself. Maybe it’s enough to share it with your family, friends, or put it up for free on Medium. Don’t confuse the creative work with your childhood dreams of fame.

This speaks to me right now, as a good reminder that making comics and making money can’t always be the same thing, and if I’m sacrificing making good comics in favor of making money, then I need to reevaluate.

The book is long and full of good stuff, but if you don’t have time to squeeze reading it into your already busy life, at least read this interview, which unpacks a lot.

Check out Growing Gills HERE.

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Thanksgiving Leftovers (always better the next day!)

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Suzy and Cecil – 11-24-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 11-24-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

11/23/2017

Sally here with Egyptian comics, cartoonists on immigration, and a Happy Thanksgiving.

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Part of Pour Femme by Mai Koraiem

The Atlantic has a great article about Egypt’s cartoonists – sort of a scene report of the Cairo Comix Festival, which took place in September, and an on-the-ground report of the comics scene as a whole in Egypt, where telling the truth is difficult and increasingly dangerous.

Despite a small readership—or perhaps thanks in part to their relative invisibility—comics in Egypt are blossoming in the shadows. “There is no distribution in Egypt. There are no graphic novel publishers. There is no real way to make a living publishing comics here,” says Sara El Masry, co-owner of an organization called MAZG that runs cartooning workshops throughout the country. But as other means of expression have been shut down, the cartoonist festival has grown, according to its organizer. With few eyes on them, these graphic storytellers are depicting the truth as they see it.

The article profiles a number of comics makers from the country, including Mai Koraiem whose work is pictured above.

Other cartoonists at the festival approached their subjects with bare fists, particularly when it comes to gender politics in Egypt. In Traveler’s Diary, Mai Koraiem uses a rough, expressive inkwash technique to detail the history of women’s rights in Egypt and the Middle East. Through a journalistic narrative, Koraiem tells the story of the ascendance of a violent misogynist culture, and the unraveling of liberal feminist values she argues first found purchase in Cairo in the 1960s. In a small ongoing thread at the bottom of the page, Koraiem links the personal and political by including a comic strip narrating her own experiences with street harassment and sexual assault.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

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Columbus Alive features the new exhibit at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, which looks back at how the topic of immigration has been covered by cartoonists over the last 150 years.

The resulting exhibit, “Looking Backward, Looking Forward: U.S. Immigration in Cartoons and Comics,” reveals that while the particulars of immigration may not have remained constant, the push-and-pull of public opinion as reflected in comics — and shaped by cartoonists — is something that hasn’t changed as the United States has considered the philosophical, political and practical implications of immigration.

“There is a very rich history of cartoonists commenting on what’s going on in the world in terms of immigration to the United States, reflecting what people are thinking and saying, but also, we think, impacting how people are thinking about it,” Curator and Assistant Professor Jenny Robb said. “So we wanted to take a look back at the past 150 years and see how cartoonists dealt with it in their work. And not just editorial cartoonists, but in comic strips and comic books and, more recently, graphic novels.”

The image above is the exhibition’s featured comic.

Robb and Gardner chose Joseph Keppler’s 1893 artwork “Looking Backward” as the exhibition’s featured image because of its timeless message, Robb said. The cartoon depicts “people who have immigrant pasts and have benefited from the opportunities in the U.S. in 1893, [and who] are now trying to stop new immigrants from coming over, forgetting their own past,” Robb said. “You could run that today; it would just be a different group of people.”

Read the whole article HERE. The exhibit is up through April 15th 2018.

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On The Nib Rawand Issa details why Being Illegal is Unbearable – for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

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Nils Balls for The Northside Chronicle

Here in the USA we are celebrating Thanksgiving today – an often controversial holiday, as many cartoonists take note of.

Lauren Weinstein‘s weekly Normal Person for Village Voice details the types of politically tense turkeys that grace many tables – HERE.

Lauren’s also got a Thanksgiving comic in Seattle’s The Stranger:

Here’s Roz Chast for The New Yorker of course:

 

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Suzy and Cecil – 11-23-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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11/17/2017

Sally here with Jillian Fleck’s Lake Jehovah, comics from Glynnis Fawkes, Gabrielle Bell, and Leslie Stein, plus the latest word from Kelly Sue DeConnick – and plenty more!

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I had a chance to read Jillian Fleck‘s first book – Lake Jehovah – yesterday, while hanging out at Copacetic Comics. I’ve been a fan of her work for awhile, keeping up with her web comic Bad Thoughtz, and other comics as they appeared on Tumblr.

Jillian began Lake Jehovah back in 2012, as a series of scenes, focusing on the visual elements that she was interested in drawing. When I opened the book what jumped out at me immediately was her use – most often – of the nine panel grid, which is a visual element that I am particularly drawn to. She is a student of the Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers, so it’s not surprising that she would channel her story through a grid. The second thing that struck me was that this was a story that could only be told through the medium of comics.

It seem like a lot of comics may just as well be novels. The images and panels are incidental – they accompany the text as a happy bonus, but take them away and the words would still tell the story. With Lake Jehovah, Jillian has composed a comic where the images and panels tell the story, and words are used as a final detail that ties the rest together – but only where necessary. There are many pages where emotions and mental states are portrayed through image, color, and the careful yet playful use and breakdown of the grid. The way that Jillian uses the comics medium to describe mental anguish and illness is quite brilliant.

Lake Jehovah is a good example too of how a comic is an active relationship between the maker and the reader. There is a lot to figure out here, but between the images and panel structure Jillian leaves a trail of breadcrumbs. It’s a strange, post-post-post-apocalyptic world that we’ve stumbled into, but it’s not always clear what disasters are real and which ones take place in the mind of Jay, the genderqueer, thoroughly depressed main protagonist. There are demons in the woods and a bottomless lake that speaks, a fiancee who flees, a friend who wishes he was a spirit fox, and an actual wolf. It’s almost a funny comic, when it’s not horribly serious. And then there’s the whole poetry riff.

It’s apparent that Jillian has spent a lot of time thinking about the mechanics of comics, and she is startlingly capable of using the form to explore heavy ideas. The drawing is relatively lively, with some of her influences coming through but not distracting from the tale. The bright color palette is an effective/unsettling juxtaposition against the backdrop of a cold, dark, Northern Canadian setting.

Check this one out for sure (available from Conundrum Press if it’s not in your local shop), and you can also see Jillian’s most recent comic – Push Thru, made for the Comics Workbook Composition Competition 2017, HERE.

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There’s an excellent interview with Kelly Sue DeConnick in the fall issue of the Matador Review. She is the badass creator/writer behind Bitch Planet, and Pretty Deadly, among numerous other works. She’s been consistently outspoken, especially in the last few years, about better female representation in the comics industry, and the interview dives right into that:

Q: You’ve stated that, as a female creator pushing for female representation in comics, you’re willing to make people uncomfortable so that your daughter doesn’t have to. What can other artists do to make the world better for later generations?

KSD: My intention is to make work that expresses some kind of truth. I do so in the hopes that the work will connect me to myself, and to my humanity, my community, and have the same effect on the consumer. But sometimes, finding truths or speaking truths means making yourself and other people uncomfortable. No one likes to be uncomfortable, but I think it’s gotten easier for me with practice.

Everybody wants to be liked. Of course we want to be liked. I’m not aiming to be on anybody’s shitlist—but I’m willing to go there. A lot of people will thank you for it later.

There’s a difference between art and entertainment. If we hope to continue experiencing growth, we have to let ourselves stretch and get out of the familiar places. We must try to understand how our truths are different from other people’s truths—especially as a woman. On some level, our culture still wants women to be seen and not heard. When you’re not quiet, it makes people uncomfortable. They may not be able to articulate it directly, but they sort of wish you would just be quiet, decorative, agreeable—just smile. I think our culture tends to treat women as not fully human. That’s tragic. It limits human beings as a whole.

Read the rest of the interview HERE.

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Glynnis Fawks – from Reading Response

Keep an eye on the Daily Shouts feature on The New Yorker – there have been lots of familiar names popping up there recently – just this week Glynnis Fawkes, Liana Finck, and Vanessa Davis have all had comics or illustrations featured. Above is work by Glynnis – see the rest of that comic HERE.

Gabrielle Bell – Adventures in Geriatric Dogsitting

 

Earlier this month Gabrielle Bell had a comic on Daily Shout – see it HERE – along with Miss Lasko-Gross, and Hallie Bateman (a new-to-me cartoonist – check out The United States Post (Apocalyptic) Office).

Kudos to Emma Allen, The New Yorker‘s new cartoon editor, who stepped into the shoes of the iconic Robert Mankoff in May of this year – or rather, she brought her own shoes and is walking around in them quite well so far! I should note that she’s been the editor of Daily Shouts for three years, and only added being the cartoon editor to her already full plate. Here’s an article from The New York Times from earlier this year about Emma and her vision for comics in The New Yorker moving forward.

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John Seven reviews Leslie Stein‘s new comic Present over on The Comics Beat.

Stein’s narratives are short and qualify as slices of life, though they could just as easily qualify as single thoughts brought to conclusion. They cover small incidents like feeling guilty about not going home for Christmas, or trips to the museum to get away from her own art, or just an encounter with a particularly profound fortune cookie that ties everything together for her.

Stein is mostly a lone figure in her comics, which isn’t to say that other people don’t appear, but is to say that they come from the point of view of her, as a stylized figure, navigating the world. Other people might be next to Stein, but they never interfere with her or crowd her out. She is our the reader’s avatar, after all. And yet that doesn’t mean that she hogs the narrative. Not true at all. Stein listens, so we listen. But Stein helps us tie it all together, and in doing so, sometimes she comes off as alone in a crowded comic book.

Read the whole review HERE.

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On the Grape Vine

  • Hyperallergic has a review of GG‘s I’m Not Here (Koyama Press, 2017) – check it out.
  • Nerds of Prey talks to Paloma Hernando and Sunmi, of Dandelion Wine Collective, about publishing marginalized voices and their new anthology project – read about it HERE.
  • The New York Review of Books has a writeup on the Tove Jansson show that is hanging in the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, through Jan. 28th 2018 – HERE.
  • American Libraries interviews Emil Ferrisshe talks monsters and memories.
  • Jessica Plummer lists numerous cases of harassment in comics, over on BookRiot (in response to the recent story about veteran DC editor Eddie Berganza and his history of sexual harassment…)
  • Eve Ewing MIGHT get asked to pick up writing Marvel’s Invincible Iron Man where Brian Michael Bendis left it off (as he switches over to DC, in a shocker/shakeup move!) – full (theoretical) story HERE.

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Suzy and Cecil – 11-17-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 11-17-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

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11/16/2017

Sam Ombiri on Anders Nilsen’s Tongues – plus news from Ronald Wimberly, and Ramón Esono Ebalé.

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Sam Ombiri here: Anders Nilsen’s most recent book – Tongues – was fantastic. (For a quick overview read Bill Boichel’s description HERE.)

I hesitate to refer to it as a “culmination”. It feels like Anders is coming back to the same ideas, but approaching them as different person – and on a more significant level than “Oh, he just moved from one moment to another moment with only subtle, undetectable change occurring.” The change is very visible. I also hesitate to call Tongues a “culmination” because it might portray the work that he did leading up to Tongues as inferior, or as something that’s less worth reading, which isn’t true. While Tongues doesn’t feel like different subject matter, there’s nothing wrong with that and it isn’t a rare occurrence in comics. In fact it’s more exciting to read as a result of the book having that nature.

Now, despite my reservations for referring to the book as a “culmination”, I will refer to it as such (and again, it’s not at the disservice of the work that came before it, far from it.) The same things are approached in new ways. I have a strong belief that this stems from Anders being a different person now, and supposedly wanting to deal with different things. This may be an obvious thing for me to state, but it feels especially present, and all the more important to emphasize. While it’s exciting to see how the book is a culmination, it wouldn’t do it any good if the content lacked among many other things the sincerity, or rather the genuine way he portrays this sincere spirit that readers have come to expect from Anders. Thankfully it isn’t lacking.

The methods he used to convey his story were really exciting to watch unfold. Because he has released all kinds of work in the past, we have a good vision of his mode of working. So even when he’s doing a less raw work – though it feels more perfectly rendered – it isn’t bothersome or boring. I can imagine a reader being enthralled and possibly having as much enthusiasm as I am having, or even more. I can tell just from the way to book is made to seem like a really foreign and unfamiliar object (French-flapped, and over-sized). That’s not to say that the content is unfamiliar – it’s in a way all too familiar – but when see the cover, the back cover, when you open up the book, it conveys a sense of fluidity, of formlessness. (Like the same substance CF sometimes draws, or what you see in Jesse Moynihan’s Forming, that strange goop conveying what seems to be pure formlessness attempting to form.)

In Tongues when Prometheus is recounting a dream or memory that he had, Anders took that formlessness and used that formless goop, and neatly collaged previous practices as well as new ones, to describe the cryptic, or rather the ambiguity, of what our consciousness, for lack of a better descriptor, was like, as we were forming into human beings. In this way he marvelously uses what we perceived as what happened, and what may have been Prometheus’ dream or memory.

It’s experimental and yet more structured than his previous works that have been experimental. Again, it’s a culmination of both, and the purpose of this isn’t forthright. I can’t discern Ander’s intentions for it, but that’s what I got out of it.

I’ll sometimes unreasonably and randomly just get upset that comics need to have so many panels and when you flip pages you first have to read all these panels, and it’s the form of the panels that I’m engaging with first – why can’t it be one whole thing I’m looking at? It’s even like that for something like If n OOf, by Brian Chippendale – I get frustrated that I’ll have to register two separate images to get the story. Obviously I get over it and just get back to reading and enjoying the comics.

Comics don’t always give the most immediate answers, and what’s impressive with Anders – and this may come out of his practice as a painter – is how he made the comic give an immediate answer. He did this without forfeiting all the benefits that come with the structure of comics. He made the panels comment on the story in every necessary way. It’s not just the section with Prometheus that has fantastic panels that convey moments impressively and are really pleasing to look at. I mean I think that random frustration I get with comics sometimes is for my part, very goofy, and completely unreasonable. It’s nonetheless impressive, and exciting to me how Anders scratched that itch. Though not just at the level of someone who isn’t interested with engaging with comics. As reader of comics I got a huge thrill out of reading that sequence and continue to.

There was also a moment in Hercules where the character from Dogs and Water (I think it’s the same character/personification) says about the road he’s on, “It has to go somewhere, someone must’ve built it for something.” It takes me to the same heights that Yokoyama can reach, though with Anders what he’s conveying is more sentimental and humanistic, and it makes the work better for it. Though they are going in different directions, they’re going about the same height, at least in this department of representing the human spirit of inquiry. – Sam Ombiri

Read more about Tongues from Anders Nilsen himself HERE.

Get a copy of the comic HERE.

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Sally here – Ronald Wimberly is launching a new project. It’s called LAAB Magazine, and it will be “An annual newspaper-format review full of comics, criticism, interviews, artwork, and writing on identity and popular culture,” among other things, including a “rogue publication from an alternate Afrofuturist dimension where Black Panthers run the New York Times.

I remember Ron sitting in the kitchen at the Rowhouse in February of this year, talking with Frank about some of the concerns he plans to address right away in this first issue:

LAAB #0: DARK MATTER will concern itself with mythological blackness, and black bodies in science fiction.

Ron has recruited a cadre of bold thinkers, writers, artists, musicians, and genre-defiers to mine this rich territory. LAAB is their long-overdue soapbox, their stage, their megaphone, their clubhouse, and their launching pad – all in a mass-produced, widely accessible newspaper format that everyone can enjoy.

Ron, along with Beehive Books, has put together an outrageous campaign which is generating a lot of buzz. Check out the Kickstarter HERE.

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Ramón Esono Ebalé, a West African cartoonist, won the Courage in Editorial Cartooning honor recently – his wife accepted the award in Washington D. C. on his behalf, as he is currently imprisoned in Equatorial Guinea. According to the Washington Post:

Ebalé was arrested Sept. 16 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. According to a Change.org petition seeking his release, the cartoonist was interrogated about “Obi’s Nightmare,” his graphic novel that satirizes the government of Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Equatorial Guinea’s president and Africa’s longest-ruling leader.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Going by his middle name, Esono, he started using comics to criticize the dictatorship in his homeland in the early 2000s. He went into exile in Paraguay in 2011.

In 2014, Ramón Esono Ebalé published a graphic novel, “La Pesadilla de Obi,” or “Obi’s Nightmare.” The premise of “Obi’s Nightmare” began with a question: What would be the worst possible fate to befall Equatorial Guinea’s leader, Teodoro Obiang? Moore Gerety says the answer was obvious.

“It imagines Teodoro Obiang the president waking up one morning and discovering that he is just another lowly resident … living in a shack that leaks without any running water with an angry wife who sends him out to sort of face the indignities of the market. He goes on this sort of awful day-long adventure where he ends up in jail and goes through all of these terrible things that a normal citizen might have to go through in the course of daily life there.”

You can read more about him and his work, and the circumstances of his arrest and imprisonment HERE at PRI.

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Suzy and Cecil – 11-16-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Caleb Orecchio – 11-16-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

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11/10/2017

Sally here with Cricket magazine, work by Madeleine Witt and Audra Stang, your CAB reminder, and tons more comics and news!

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Trina Schart Hyman

There is an article about the “secret history of Cricket magazine” on Electric Literature. Written by A. J. O’Connell, it details the creation and life of the beloved children’s magazine, with insights from founder Marianne Carus, quotes from long time art director Trina Schart Hyman (my FAVORITE illustrator as a child), and lots of love from authors and illustrators who read the magazine when they were kids.

I myself found Cricket in my local library and enjoyed every new issue I read – and was lucky in that the library had an archive of many of the old issues. It was the very best sort of magazine, full of stories and glorious illustrations by the greatest working creators of the time – and it never really felt like it was “for kids” – which was Marianne Carus’ goal, after all. She felt like kids could handle stories that were darker, that might make you cry, just as well as funny, lighthearted stuff. Like many others, I was inspired by Cricket to make my own “magazine” and published some of the stories I wrote along with illustrations for my family.

Read all about Cricket HERE.

Trina Schart Hyman was a Caldecott Medal winner for her work on St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges, and earned a couple of Caldecott Honors as well. I adored her fairy tale illustrations and wrote her a long letter when I was 11 or 12 (and received a lovely response and an autographed book in return). I think I didn’t know that she was the art editor for Cricket magazine until later – I just knew that her illustrations showed up in the magazine frequently. I also didn’t really understand that the SAME Trina Schart Hyman drew the Cricket and Ladybug comic in the magazine.

The first Cricket and Ladybug cartoon, by Trina Schart Hyman and John Grandits (courtesy of John Grandits)

Each issue had a four-panel strip, and additionally the characters Cricket, Old Cricket, Ladybug, and Sluggo would scamper and scurry throughout the magazine, popping up to comment on the stories or merely harass each other for a moment.

“[Trina] just had such a wonderful way of drawing them,” said Leonard. “They served as explanation of difficult words so if there was a vocabulary word that might stop a kid reader the crickets would explain what that word meant. They also had their own little life in the four-block cartoon.”

They were great, and a big part of what made the magazine beloved to me and so many others.

Again, read all about it HERE!

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Madeleine Witt – 1 of 30

 

Madeleine Witt has been making a comic a day this month. She and a number of others I know are doing the “30 Days of Comics” challenge that was begun by Derik Badman in 2009 or 2011 (depending on how you count it). Madeleine’s take on the challenge offers a good insight into why things like this can be good for creators:

I’ll be drawing 1 comic a day for the month of November. I admire & bless all those who draw a comic a day EVERY day, but especially for people who can be paralyzed by internal expectation (me) / aren’t sure of their voices (also me, particularly circa 2014), Novembers have been a fruitful time to experiment and grow. If you’re a young cartoonist or an old cartoonist or a not-yet-cartoonist looking to explore an artistic practice, I think November is a very good time to pick some constraints and try doing 1 thing a day for a little while.

Big general caveat: This sort of thing is not healthy for everyone—you know yourself & your needs and please don’t do this if it isn’t be healthy for you! Everyone please care for yourselves! Thank you! Goodbye!

I like that Madeleine has expanded the context of the challenge beyond just “draw a comic everyday” to include formal restraints. She suggests picking colors, medium, panel setup, or subject matter and then sticking to those choices for the whole month. From my own experience over the past year of drawing a Suzy & Cecil comic every other day, I can vouch for the freedom and creative rush that (perhaps surprisingly) comes from forced structure, discipline, and regularity.

I like the work that Madeleine has been making – you can see all of it HERE. The hashtag #30dayscomics will lead you to more work, both on Instagram and Twitter, and you can follow the 30 Days of Comics Tumblr to keep up with many of this year’s participants.

Audra Stang

Audra Stang is another cartoonist who is releasing her latest comic in this fashion (hot on the heels of the comic she made during the month of October – not necessarily for “Inktober”…!) Her comics all exist within the world and lengthy timeline of “Star Valley”, and this current story catches up with her character Owen (who appeared in last month’s Little Minnow, as a significantly younger version of himself – read that story HERE) and the irrepressible Adelaide, last seen, briefly, a year ago in Secret Knowledge and in April 2008 (in April 2016). Read the new story so far HERE.

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Katie Ball a.k.a. Katbus has a new endeavor – My Lucky Sticker Book is a monthly newsletter that showcases sticker artists from around the world. You can check out issue #4 – Halloween edition! – HERE, and subscribe to the newsletter HERE.

Katie is putting together an extra large issue for release in late November, and has sent out the message that if YOU include sticker-making in your bag of tricks, and would like some hype leading into the holiday season, let her know! She will finish compiling her list around the 25th, so send her your website and details about your stickers if you want to be listed. Write to Katie at katie.brawl@gmail.com

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Katie Fricas has a “cartoon scrapbook” detailing the first year of Trump’s presidency on The Guardianread the whole thing HERE.

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artwork by Killer Acid, courtesy Comic Arts Brooklyn

If you’re in NYC go check out Comic Arts Brooklyn tomorrow. Here’s a write-up on the new location of the show – via Hyperallergic.

Comics Workbook will be there, and I will be too with a few copies of Suzy & Cecil. See you Saturday!

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Post Script

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Suzy and Cecil – 11-10-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 11-10-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

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Cozytown – 11-10-2017 – by Juan Fernandez

 

11/03/2017

Sally here with Mickey Z in FORGE.; political cartoonists in Africa, the UK, and the US; a reminder to watch She Draws Comics – and more!

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Mickey Z in FORGE. Issue 17: Risk

The new issue of FORGE. is out, and it is quite amazing – it is huge, for starters. More artists, more cities, more pages than ever before. Matthew James-Wilson, who single-handedly makes the magazine, recently quit a full-time job at VICE, so the theme of Issue 17 – Risk – seemed especially apt for him. He seems to have gone off the deep end with this issue – but in a good way! Here’s a brief idea of what it includes:

Issue 17: Risk includes submissions by Sarah Mason, Leesh Adamerovich, Corrinne James, Jessica Pettway, Brian Ejar, Louise Reimer, Alexa Viscius, Will Dereume, Graham Lister, Ross Jackson, Chris Nordahl, Sophia Schultz, Melisa Cola, Sander Ettema, Alexander Laird, and Disa Wallander. This issue also includes interviews with cartoonist, Mickey Zacchilli, Dustin Payseur of Beach Fossils, photographer, Laurence Philomene, show promoter and booker, Yiwei Meng, and Rene Contreras of Viva! Presents. Issue 17 features comics by Patrick Kyle, Becca Tobin, and Patrick Edell in its OP-ED section. Lastly, Issue 17 also includes the FORGE. Summer Review, documenting several concerts and events that took place in New York, Los Angeles, and Providence during Summer 2017.

You can read the whole thing online HERE.

Among the things I’m excited about with this issue is the TWENTY PAGE LONG interview with Mickey Z (one spread shown above, complete with an appearance by Bread). I just read it at high speed (there are lots of pictures!) and will have to go back to actually digest it, but I must say that Mickey Z proves to be a constant source of inspiration to me. She’s like a complete package of creative forces, doing a lot of different things at once – but only the things that make her happy and hold her interest. Comics, printing, jujitsu, massage therapy, video games – whatever she wants to do. In this interview she mentions that she’s actually “anti-productivity” at the moment, which I find compelling. You’ll have to explore her reasoning.

There’s a bunch of other good stuff in this issue, so take some time with it – and kudos to Matthew James-Wilson for getting it out there!

(Be sure to check out Mickey Z’s current comics project – Space Academy – available to read online HERE.)

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Abraham Riesman released his list on Vulture of the 8 Best Comics to Read (and One Comics Movie to Watch) in November. On the list is Leslie Stein‘s new comic PresentJulie Maroh‘s Body Music (which I wasn’t aware of, oops!) and the new version of Runaways, written by beloved YA novelist Rainbow Rowell. Abraham also reports that Netflix has added the 2014 film She Makes Comics this month, so schedule a movie night and invite your friends over to listen to some of comics’ female heavyweights talk about the industry and their place in it.

Check out the list and it’s other offerings HERE.

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I was perusing a list from 2016 of Africa’s top 10 cartoonists and came across the names of Doaa Eladl (Egypt’s most famous female cartoonist), Siham Zebiri (an Algerian cartoonist), and Nadia Khiari (Tunisian creator of the character Willis). All 3 women are political cartoonists, and as such they often face difficulties in their countries that are only exacerbated by their sex. However they all continue to work, draw, and speak out about topics that are important to them, from female genital mutilation (Doaa Eladl), to immigration (Siham Zebiri), to male guardianship (Nadia Khiari). Here is a sampling of work by each of these radical women:

Saudi women driving by Doaa Eladl

Immigration to Europe by Siham Zebiri

A Willis from Tunis strip by Nadia Khiari

I have been repeatedly reminded recently that political cartooning is an ancient art form, and remains an important (and somewhat terrifying) space for artistic expression. I listened to Signe Wilkinson (the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist) speak at CXC in September, and she talked about “the trenches” in a way that gave me goosebumps. For herself and other political/editorial cartoonists, reality includes the possibility of bombed offices, arrest and lengthy imprisonment, and a regular, brutal dose of spite, malice, and outrage. You have to be pretty tough to deal with that, and pretty resilient, to find the power within to turn that harsh edge, somewhat, so that you can engage with people on a humorous level.

I really admire and respect Signe, and Ann Telnaes, (who spoke about her similar work and experiences at CXC last year), and of course the African female cartoonists I’ve mentioned here, who are wielding their pencils and brushes in defense and celebration of themselves and the things they love.

Here’s a recent comic by Signe Wilkinson – check out more of her work on GoComics.

Signe Wilkinson – Oct. 20th 2017

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Martha Richler

In related news, the BBC recently published an article by Becky Morton about the “boys club” of political cartooning in the UK. Not surprisingly, there are only 6 full-time editorial cartoonists employed by national newspapers in the UK, and none of them are women. Becky Morton details why, and digs up a wealth of female cartoonists who have resorted (willingly or grudgingly) to publishing their comics online or outside of national media. Read the article HERE.

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Not Last and Not Least

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Suzy and Cecil – 11-3-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 11-3-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

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Cozytown- 11-3-2017 – by Juan Fernandez

11/02/2017

Sally here with comics by Ben Passmore, Whit Taylor, Robb Armstrong, Stephen Bentley, Morrie Turner, and many more!

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JumpStart – Robb Armstrong, Oct. 30th 2017

The African American Literature Book Club (AALBC) has a page on their site devoted to nationally syndicated cartoonists of African decent. They list 12 cartoonists who have/had strips in newspapers or available via online syndicates, and include bios and information about each of them. I’m not sure when the page was last updated (some of the info listed under “Where to Submit Your Portfolio” is a bit outdated) but it’s a good reference nonetheless. Check out the list HERE.

Above is a strip by Robb Armstrong, who started drawing JumpStart in the late 80’s. You can catch the strip daily on GoComics – HERE.

Herb and Jamaal – Stephen Bentley, Oct. 30th 2017

Here’s a recent strip by Stephen BentleyHerb and Jamaal also appears daily on GoComics – read it HERE. Bentley made comics while he was in the Navy, then worked in advertising for a long time before starting to draw Herb and Jamaal in 1998.

The AALBC list also includes Barbara Brandon, creator of Where I’m Coming From, and daughter of Brumsic Brandon Jr. I wrote about Barbara a few weeks ago, and about her father and his Luther strip before that.

Brumsic Brandon Jr. isn’t mentioned on the AALBC list, but Morrie Turner is. He created the first syndicated comic strip that featured integrated characters – Wee Pals. It wasn’t particularly well received when it came out in 1965, running in only one paper – but after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. the strip rose in readership and found its way into over 100 papers. (Brumsic Brandon Jr.’s Luther also rode that wave, coming out in 1968.)

It was Charles Schulz, a friend and mentor of Morrie Turner’s, who encouraged him to draw a strip with integrated characters, after Turner pointed out the lack of one in the papers of the day. Schulz shared his contacts from the world of syndication, and the strip eventually took off. You can read more about Turner, and his barrier-breaking comics, in this New York Times tribute.

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Whit Taylor has a comic on The New YorkerThings That Should Come With Trail Periods – one such thing is shown above. There are many more things HERE.

 

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More on the Comics Web

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Suzy and Cecil – 11-2-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 11-2-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

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Cozytown – 11-2-2017 – by Juan Fernandez [1][2]