03/30/2017

Sam Ombiri reviews Dash Shaw’s “Cosplayers”, and Sally brings updates from Darryl Ayo, Ron Wimberly, Chris Kindred, and more!

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Sam Ombiri here: I’m going to talk about Cosplayers by Dash Shaw (Fantagraphics, 2016). First of all the art in this comic is, of course, fantastic. I am not sure if that is really a given. Sometimes it feels like the reason I may like Dash’s work is that I am excited, and with that excitement comes a sort of willful blindness. When that blindness is taken away, there is work that holds up and work that does not. This is one of the cases where it does hold up.

Dash has denied having a consistent style, and by lacking it claims that he has maybe shot himself in the foot. That has alienated, supposedly – from his vantage point – his audience. I wonder about this, because when I hear fans talk about Dash’s work, his stylistic inconsistency seems to be the main appeal of his work.

I myself rather feel that he has a very consistent style. I am not sure when he started being really excited about David Mazzucchelli’s idea of drawing an ambiguous dumb line, a line which does not tell the audience what to think of a character. Maybe it was around the time of New School (Fantagraphics, 2013), but ever since then – and maybe this is just me as the reader projecting this idea into the book – it all feels very much in the same vein. With whatever experimentation Dash does, he latches onto certain successes of his previous experimentation. (I know, crazy right? Who’s heard of such a thing?)

Dash said:

The quality of the drawing is based on how close – how tight – the opinion and what it is can be, just fused together so…basically the better the drawing is the more connected it is, and what I think the dumbline did is say ‘Fuck all that, I’m just gonna tell you what it is and you can fucking think for yourself about it. And it had this evenness that- I’m gonna draw this apple, the same way I draw Catwoman and I’m gonna draw Catwoman the same way I draw the guy in the desert. And it had a strange, almost…moral ambiguity. Like, I’ll draw Catwoman, but I don’t know how sexy she is, you know, I’ll give it to you.’ ” – from a 2013 lecture at California College of the Arts

This brings a whole new dimension of reality to the work. Normally artists have to satisfy a certain trope that they do not want to interact with – but they have to, in order to get a contrived point across. Like “These are nerds – but wait a minute…these aren’t your average nerds!” With Cosplayers it goes beyond the dumb line – the dialogue is very, very real. Part of Dash’s goal was that he thought it would be cool if Cosplayers were in a comic book shop, and then it was next to, maybe, Superman, and someone would see a comic that is all about them. Maybe as a result of the dumb line it doesn’t entirely feel that way.

I’m really glad that he didn’t draw it in the typical anime trend though – instead it references aspects of anime manga in a subtle manner, like in the way the panels are laid out at times. When anime is referenced, it’s with sincerity – not from Dash per say, but from the characters themselves. Even the manga scholar (who got really frustratingly melodramatic.) There was a part where he was saying, “Be merciful lord of manga please…” That really bummed me out in the worst way, because it felt like Dash wanted me to laugh at the manga scholar. For some reason it felt even worse than anything that came before this that conveyed his misery, including him eating from the trash. Actually, it’s really cool the way he’s looking at the sky, pleading to Tezuka – it feels like “the god of wasted youth” from Sam Alden’s Patron Saint will show up.

Instead, we got Professor Panther from BodyWorld, which puts such a big perspective on the manga scholar’s hilarious misery. – Sam Ombiri

Get a copy of Dash Shaw’s Cosplayers HERE.

3-30-2017 – by Sam Ombiri

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025: plant – Darryl Ayo

Sally here: Back in February Darryl Ayo was holding out hope for the flowers of spring, and they are finally here! At least in Pittsburgh…(sorry, my dear parents in Maine, who are expecting another foot of snow this weekend…) Darryl writes:

Welcome back to the Valley of the River of Unforgiven Sin where your host and protagonist Angela is undertaking a sacred ritual called “planting a bulb” ~Ayo

Check out more of his comics HERE.

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Ignorant Bliss, a podcast produced by Julian Lytle, has shared Episode 57 which includes the entire “Black History in it’s Own Words” panel featuring Ronald Wimberly, Chris Visions, Chris Kindred, and Shannon Wright which took place at Fantom Comics in Washington DC on February 15th 2017. Listen to it HERE.

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Meg Lemke featured an excerpt from Ronald Wimberly‘s Black History in it’s Own Words on Illustrated PEN recently.

Ronald Wimberly created these bold, illustrated quotes of historical black figures—activists, artists, musicians, writers—and launched them as a book collection in February, Black History Month. It is now March, Women’s History Month, and so we feature Wimberly’s illustrations of four inspiring women from the series; because, as the artist put it, “women’s history is black history too.” “

Check it out HERE.

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Chris Kindred

Chris Kindred and Bryan Washington’s A Brief History of Driving While Black is up on Buzzfeed – HERE.

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Check out the Santoro School Handbook for Making Better Comics! This 16 page handbook is a quick guide to the tenets of our school. A smash hit on the Comics Workbook tumblr. Printed offset on cardstock by the professionals at The Prolific Group, Winnipeg, Canada. This is not some cheap color xerox or risograph. Looks great, feels great, and even smells great. Get yours today!

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Dungeon Lollers – 3-30-2017 – by Tyler Landry

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Blinkers – 3-30-2017 – by Jack Brougham

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Suzy and Cecil – 3-30-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 3-30-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

03/27/2017

Beginning the week with Ryan Sands and Frank Santoro talking risograph printing, new work from Ron Rege Jr. and Brian Chippendale, thoughts on creating comic strips from Ben Katchor, and more.

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Left: Assembling Wacky Wacko Magazine #1 (2015) and Right: the press release follow-up letters for Dream Tube, printed on leftover wedding invite card stock (2016)

The Risograph Workbook series on The Comics Journal continues with Ryan Sands, publisher at Youth in Decline, sharing his riso story.

People ask me about risograph a lot, and I get hesitant to characterize it as a look or aesthetic unto itself. The machine is just a means to production, and how artists mess with it and use it is a reflection of their priorities and style – Mickey uses the riso to maintain spontaneity and a handmade griminess to the comics, while someone like John Pham applies his printmaking emphasis and precision to create these really sharp and dense books full of color and gradients. Then there are folks like Ryan Cecil Smith, and Colour Code Printing‘s Jesjit Gill, who want to push the color blending and technique as far as possible, recreating (and sometimes surpassing) the sharpness of CMYK offset printing. A risograph machine is just tool that allows creators & publishers to speed up & expand on an existing approach.” – Ryan Sands

Read the rest of the conversation between Ryan and Frank Santoro HERE.

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On The Comics Beat Phillipe Leblanc reviews Frank Santoro’s Escape To The Unfinished #2 (Breakdown Press, 2015).

The key to understanding Frank Santoro’s work in Escape to the Unfinished #2 lies in the feelings memories evoke. A river running under a multi-span bridge, a silhouette standing at the end of a hiking trail in the woods, an industrial building surrounded by overgrown vegetation. All of these anchored by the recurring image of a woman. She’s on the cover of the book, and throughout multiple panels in the comic, always looking directly at the reader. The whole comic is framed on fragments of memories. It’s mostly silent, with a single exchange between two characters in the whole comic. … By simply presenting scenery and tying it to the memory of a loved one, Santoro manages to create feelings of sorrow and heartache.

Read the whole review HERE.

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What Parsifal Saw is the latest comic from Ron Regé Jr. (Fantagraphics, 2017). It collects Regé’s work since The Cartoon Utopia (which was just released in a new softcover edition.) Bill Boichel writes about What Parsifal Saw:

The two key pieces here are “Cosmogenesis,” illustrating the “secret doctrine” of Madame Helena Blavatsky, the key figure in the history of Theosophy (which had a significant influence on the first generation of modernist artists, notably Piet Mondrian and Wassily Kandinsky), and  “Diana,” Regé’s unique spin on W*nder W*man…Ron Regé, Jr. has been striving conscientiously to forge a visual language to channel spiritual forces through comics, continuously evolving his approach, and in the process creating a singular and highly rewarding body of work.

Get a copy of the book HERE.

Selection from Cosmogenesis, 2014

In January Ron Rege Jr. spoke to The Creators Project on VICE about his work, and explained how he uses the simplicity of drawing to explore and impart hidden, sacred knowledge. The Cartoon Utopia (originally published in 2012) documents a large part of that journey, and What Parsifal Saw continues it.

“In a spiritual sense, my ideas always seem to focus on some sort of attempt to explain the unexplainable,” Regé says. “I’ve always been trying to look through the mirror, so to speak. Experiences like deja-vu, lucid dreaming, and a sense of reincarnation are things I’ve always felt in my heart. I’ve never been able to really understand how or why we live in these cultures and societies that are so disconnected from the earth and our true selves. I’ve never sensed that things like rules or money are anything other than made-up illusions. I’m always looking for that eternal DMT moment in the back of my dreams where I came from. These things shaped my life and my work, and I seem to always be becoming more aware of what it all is.”

Read the rest of the feature on VICE‘s The Creators Project. Get a copy of The Cartoon Utopia HERE.

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I enjoyed this short documentary from 2000 about Ben Katchor and his comic strip Julius Knipl, Real-Estate Photographer. Katchor guides the viewer through a grey landscape of jumbled skyscrapers and lonely warehouses, commenting on the funny names of stores and the pleasant nostalgia of functioning ruins. His love for walking the city inspired him to make a cartoon character who did the same thing, and week after week he found something to put in his strip that came directly from standing on the street himself.

You see the city in terms of your bodies ability to move around it. Every inch of pavement is a whole world of activity. When they remake a sidewalk you really feel like something has been ripped up, some artifact, some record of all the people who have passed over it.

Calling himself a “middle-man in the memory business“, and comic strips a “low-level commodity“, Katchor still recognizes that everything has a story if you know how to look for it, and with a shrug and a smile, says “Once in awhile in a strip you’ll see this crack in the facade of everything – of the commercial world. There’s some great dramatic moment of revelation.

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As the comics award season begins, Michael Cavna, of “Comic Riffs” on The Washington Post, offers his list of comics that ought to win an “Oscar”. He fears worthy comics such as Rolling Blackouts by Sarah Glidden (above), Patience by Dan Clowes, and Mooncop by Tom Gould may be overlooked – plus 7 others – so as you make convention and award ceremony rounds this year, perhaps you will be inspired to put your vote in for some of his picks – the rest are HERE.

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The paintings above recently moved from Brian Chippendale’s studio to Safe Gallery in Brooklyn, NY, where they join an instillation by Greek artist Ioanna Pantazopoulou. The gallery writes about Brian’s show:

Brian Chippendale’s airy new paintings unveil a secret inner world assembled from raw drawing, scrawled notes, and compulsive doodles. By shedding the density of his past work, Chippendale trades out his heavily-populated collages for visually lighter canvases. The artist’s characteristic rainbow-hued palette remains at play as he edits out the layered space with white to carve out a new arena for expression. In some moments Chippendale actually makes punctured shapes through his surfaces as an alternate layer of mark-making. The laminated surfaces serve as the backbone of the paintings while bursts of marks hover in space. The drippy color-drenched squiggles, sprayed like fragments of graffiti, serve as futuristic hieroglyphics with buoyant and vibrant results.

More about the show HERE. More work by Brian Chippendale can be seen HERE.

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Get a limited edition 4-color silk screen printed version of the 2017 PIX poster (above) made by Carol Tyler in honor of Jay Lynch.

The 11″ x 17″ print featured a 4 color silk screened image of Jay’s most famous characters, Nard n’ Pat as drawn by cartoonist Carol Tyler in a limited edition of 50, signed by Carol Tyler. Proceeds from the sale of this fine art print will benefit the National Cartoonists Society Foundation, which provides financial assistance to cartoonists and their families in times of hardship.

Pre-order one HERE.

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Blinkers – 3-27-2017 – by Jack Brougham

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Suzy and Cecil – 3-27-2017 – by Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 3-27-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

03/24/2017

We finish the week with Mary Fleener, Isabel Bas Amat, Gloria Rivera, Miranda Harmon, and more!

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Mary Fleener for Mineshaft #34

I just had a chance to check out Mineshaft #34 (Fall 2016) at Copacetic Comics and happened across Mary Fleener‘s piece for the zine (above). Only hours later I discovered that Women Write About Comics had posted an interview with Mary Fleener, which digs into what she’s currently working on, her recent experience with comics about local politics, and her long relationship with the medium. She is part of a relatively small group of female cartoonists who have been working steadily since the 70’s, and I am pleased to see that she is still totally invested in the community and is still making serious work – perhaps the best work of her life (keep an eye out for her new book Billie the Bee, a project she considers to be the hardest thing she’s ever done.)

Mary Fleener’s advice to an aspiring comics maker:

Read a lot of books, look at a lot of art, and go to a lot of museums. I compare a lot of things to learning how to play a musical instrument. It’s almost like a Law of Nature. If you practice, you will get better. If you draw a lot, you will get better. Some people take longer, and some can do it right away, but if you do not practice you’ll get nowhere. Another thing, if you have a burning desire to try something, then you MUST. If you do not, you will always wonder what you missed out on. Envy is another thing that can either give you the drive to try harder or it can eat you up inside. If someone gets an award, congratulate them, don’t be bitter. One more thing: always say “Please” and “Thank you”.

Read the rest of the interview HERE.

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Isabel Bas Amat’s comic series Ana-Emilia and Her Family from TBO No. 504

Thanks to the wonders of Google Translate I’ve been doing my best to learn about Isabel Bas Amat (b. 1931), a cartoonist from Barcelona, Spain, who was one of only three women to draw comics for the long-running comics magazine TBO (1917-1983). She began making work for the magazine in 1967, and her strip Ana-Emilia and Her Family (above) became popular. She was completely self taught and had very little communication with other cartoonists, so all of her work was based on the comics that she had grown up reading. She drew from an early age, and first sent her comics to a local magazine when she was 15. She had the satisfaction of seeing her work published, and was able to carry on making comics and doing illustration work. Her comic for TBO, a magazine she always hoped to be published in, featured a character that was based on the daughter of the publisher, Albert Viña. Like her character Ana-Emilia, Isabel was a climber and swimmer and tabletop tennis player – but comics were her first love.

There is an interview with Isabel Bas Amat on Tebeosfera – with the aid of Google Translate you can learn more about this rad cartoonist and see more of her strips and comics – HERE.

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A spread from Gloria Rivera’s White Hot – made for the Comics Workbook Composition Competition 2014

Gloria Rivera is in Pittsburgh this week for a Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency. She is an alum of the Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers and is a member of the CW Roller Derby League so we know that she isn’t afraid of working hard. Now she is making the most of a week dedicated entirely to drawing and research – or “sparing in the dojo” as we call it around CW. We’ll hear more about her adventures next week – meanwhile follow the Rowhouse Residency Instagram account – @rowhouseresidency – and if you’re interested in joining us in Pittsburgh yourself, email santoroschool@gmail.com for more info!

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Miranda Harmon was thinking about the X-Men recently (above). See the rest of her musings HERE.

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Fish Fry Friday

  • M. S. Harkness is a cartoonists from Minneapolis, Minnesota who is headed to Pittsburgh this summer for a Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency – come hell or high water! Donate to her travel expenses if you can – this gal will probably crawl here if she has to, but it would be nice if she could at least take the train – check out her Generosity campaign HERE – and send M.S. Harkness to Pittsburgh!
  • The PEN America feature Illustrated PEN has an excerpt from Thi Bui’s new book, The Best We Could DoHERE.
  • Pinup Girl Clothing has released a line of Los Hernandez Brothers clothes, which uses fabric with designs pulled from their large body of work. Cartoonist Sarah Dyer (who is best known for the 90’s Action Girl anthology) is the Art Director for the line, so anyone ELSE who thinks this is a marvelous fashion development can join me in thanking Sarah for it! More about the line HERE on The Comics Beat – and you can order the clothing HERE.
  • Sophie Goldstein treated herself to a Patreon for her birthday – support her HERE.
  • Women Write About Comics reviews Peter Bagge’s new book Fire!!: The Zora Neale Hurston Story.

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Blinkers – 3-24-2017 – by Jack Brougham

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Suzy and Cecil – 3-24-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 3-24-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

03/23/2017

Sam Ombiri on the art you consume vs. the art you make – and Sally with news updates from Ronald Wimberly, Tee Franklin, America Chavez, Zora Neale Hurston, Richie Pope, and Rick Mays.

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Sam Ombiri here: I like this idea that the work one is interacting with is different from the work that is being made. I remember first hearing of this from Markus Popp/Oval talking about how he mostly listens to death metal for this somewhat vague reason. Maybe it’s just my memory being foggy. Then the next time I heard it was from Frank Santoro specifying that what he was interested in making wasn’t necessarily what he read. Then I heard it from CF expressed in a nearly similar manner – I can’t remember whether he was talking about his music or his comics, so I’ll just make the assumption that he was talking about his comics as well as music.

Another time I heard this idea was when Brian Chippendale, who kind of hilariously said that if someone were to give him a comic that was done snake style, he would be frustrated and confused and say something like “Why don’t you just make the panels go in order!? Just why?

I heard Sammy Harkham say something like the media you consume can be really important to the work you’re making. Anya Davidson cited some work that I can’t remember and said it gave her a huge boost of confidence and the ability to resume in the place she was in.

CF once or twice expressed his complete distaste for forcing work to head a certain direction, or a specific route. He likened it to trying to be such a good host you end up being a bad host. I think that might go along with his comment of making what he’s interested in making. I think I heard him once say that when he draws he aims for his experiments to end in failure. I heard Dash Shaw say something similar – that he’s more into making immature works that constantly, clumsily reinvent themselves, and often fail.

I feel what Sammy said expresses the effect media has. I once heard him say that he thinks when someone sees violence on the screen it affects them. This seemed like more than the obvious statement. It was like as much as people felt the violence on screen affected them, supposedly Sammy felt the effect was bigger than they imagined. (As a side-note Jesse Moynihan wrote this super cool thing on violence, though it’s going a different place than what I think Sammy might have been saying.) Sammy also talks about how sadness is a better experience when it’s not blatant tears being shown, but rather something that feels like it is following the character, regardless of expression. – Sam Ombiri

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A panel from Ronald Wimberly’s Prince of Cats

Sally here: There is a fantastic interview on The Comics Reporter with Ronald Wimberly – originally conducted as part of Tom Spurgeon’s annual Holiday Interview series, but posted just recently. Having met Ron myself last month, and having spoken to him casually about his comics making (and the state of the world, etc.) I find myself nodding along to Tom’s opening statements about Ron:

Ronald Wimberly is an artist and comics-maker with as high a ceiling as they come. His prodigious skill set as displayed on the page is matched by a formidable ability to explain, dissect and present to others his strategies and reasons-why when making art. Just his influences, what Wimberly is looking at and processing at any single time, could fuel a week of lectures. I greatly enjoy looking at his comics pages, and knowing the amount of effort channeled into them is a thrill.

The interview mostly digs into Prince of Cats, which Image Comics re-released last fall in a new format. The book is an intriguing riff on Romeo & Juliet, and so Ron and Tom talk Shakespeare, tragedy, acting, and Tybalt, who is the focus of the story.

SPURGEON: You end with Tybalt… that’s a brutal ending if you end with Tybalt. Romeo and Juliet can be interpreted as rich kids falling prey to what’s soaked into the bones of Verona. It just happens that these two kids… and suddenly now it’s news. The earlier deaths are just as tragic as one where we see the romance. It’s a fatalistic idea; it’s even reinforced by the meta in that we are super-sure Tybalt dies in any incarnation of this story. It’s grim. [laughter] It’s a serious way of looking at that world. The basic course of the narrative is reinforced. But man.

WIMBERLY: If someone feels sad about Tybalt, I think that’s good, because he didn’t get that opportunity originally. He was a plot point. [laughs]

If anything, maybe I can contribute to one of the intents of the original. Depending how it’s performed or staged it can have that element. But usually not. In the prologues, it’s set out. It says the same thing. It tells you what’s going to happen. For this beef of the ages to rest, there has to have been a sacrifice. What my point is that the sacrifice continues to happen, and the beef doesn’t stop. I’m sure in the case of Romeo and Juliet, those two houses… a generation passes… we all know Italy is a bunch of warring — it’s still a bunch of warring states! [laughter] Right? At the end of the day, it’s senseless. But the life that’s led isn’t necessarily senseless. The light on it can be humane. It can add value to it. That’s the difference between an existentialist and a nihilist right? In showing it, looking at it, living it, there’s some value to it.

Read the rest of the interview HERE.

Get a copy of Prince of Cats from Copacetic Comics – HERE.

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Artwork from Bingo Love

From writer Tee Franklin, who created #BlackComicsMonth in 2015, comes the project Bingo Love – “the black queer love story that the world needs”. From an article about the comic on The Huffington Post:

“It’s rare in the comic industry to have two black women leads, especially written by a disabled, queer black woman,” she said. “Now to have these protagonists queer and older? This will never happen in the comics industry unless someone does it on their own.”

Tee Franklin is therefor doing it on her own – with the help of a creative team that consists of artist Jenn St-Onge, colorist Joy San, letterer Cardinal Rae, and editor Erica Schultz, and a Kickstarter that has already raised $25, 998. She hopes to put the comic out later this year. Check out the Bingo Love Kickstarter HERE. Read more about the comic an Tee Franklin HERE.

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The Guardian writes about America Chavez – AKA unmasked avenger Miss America – for their ‘the month in comics” feature.

Marvel has finally realized her potential as a standalone hero: this month’s America #1 launches Chavez as the headliner of her own ongoing comic series. Taking time out from team-ups, she has enrolled at Sotomayor University, an advanced campus that includes a Department of Radical Women & Intergalactic Indigenous Peoples and a Fifth Element-obsessed sorority called the Leelumultipass Phi Theta Betas. Before long, she is teleporting through time and space to ace a tricky homework paper, in the process offering a fairly definitive position on the morality of punching Nazis.

The article writer Graeme Virtue credits all this “exuberance” to the “atypical” creative team behind the comic: artist Joe Quinones (of Marvel’s Howard the Duck) and making her comics debut, writer Gabby Rivera – “the young, queer Latina author of YA novel Juliet Takes a Breath“.

“I’ve always dreamt up wild, powerful and carefree superheroes that look like me and my family,” Rivera recently told the Washington Post: “Thick, brown, goofy, beautiful.”

Read more about the comic HERE.

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A page from Fire!!: The Zora Neale Hurston Story by Peter Bagge

Hillary Brown of Paste Magazine interviews Peter Bagge about his new book Fire!!: The Zora Neale Hurston Story. The comic (which was colored by Bagge’s wife, Joanne) is his second biography of a “cranky” woman. (Previously he told the story of Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood).

Paste: How does it feel to make a shift toward biographic nonfiction at this point in your career? You’re a veteran cartoonist and you’ve suddenly produced two books of relatively scholarly biographical nonfiction in a row.

Peter Bagge: I’ve grown tired of both writing and reading fiction, for one thing. It’s a common old-age affliction! I have less patience reading made-up stuff these days. Reality is far more fascinating. And I’ve been writing nonfiction (including biographical) comics for the past 20 years or so. They’ve just taken a more ambitious turn lately.

Read the rest of the interview HERE.

HERE is a review of the book on the Toronto Star.

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Richie Pope just announced that he has a new comic in the upcoming anthology Shortbox #4. It’s called Super Itis and he describes it like this on Instagram:

A tired construction worker gets stuck in a dream made entirely of the soul food he ate for lunch.

Pre-order Shortbox #4 HERE – ships in May.

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Original artwork by Rick Mays

Frank Santoro is auctioning artwork by his childhood friend and mentor, comics artist Rick Mays. These are original comics pages from projects like Spider-Man Ultimate Vol. 3 #2, and Spidey Loves MJ #13 – all proceeds will go to Mr. Mays. Check out the auction HERE.

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Blinkers – 3-23-2017 – by Jack Brougham

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Suzy and Cecil – 3-23-2017 – by  Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 3-23-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

03/20/2017

Sally here to bid farewell to Bernie Wrightson, cheer on Al Jaffee, and watch Patrick Kyle reinvent web comics (again!) – no lazy cartoonists to be seen here. May the rest of us scramble to keep up! 

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Patrick Kyle cracked the code for Instagram comics last week. As the platform has developed, cartoonists have constantly experimented with what will work on Instagram, collectively settling on the 4 panel square as the ideal form and sparking something of a revival for 4 panel gag strip comics. When Instagram added a gallery view to the app, it only took Patrick Kyle a few days to figure out that you could finally make longer comics in one post using the gallery view. He then made a GREAT comic which is ideal for this platform – he maintained the 4 panel gag so the gallery view becomes the “page turn”, if you will, and the size, colors, and level of detail in the comic are perfect. See it on Instagram HERE.

I look forward to seeing more cartoonists catch on to this! The evolution continues.

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One of Bernie Wrightson’s illustrations which accompany an edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein 

Bernie Wrightson passed away this weekend. He is a beloved comics artist, best known for creating the character Swamp Thing for DC Comics with writer Len Wein, as well as Destiny, which Neil Gaiman later wrote into The Sandman series. The 50 pen illustrations he made for an edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein were a 7-year labor of love. He considered them to be among his most personal work, and they are widely viewed as one of the greatest achievements by any artist in the comics industry. Rest in peace Bernie – fans around the world will be curling up with their copies of Swamp Thing in the next few days and missing your spirit.

Read a message from Bernie’s widow, Liz Wrightson, HERE.

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The shortlist for the 5th annual Cartoonist Studio Prize has been announced. The prize is given by the Slate Book Review and the Center for Cartoon Studies. The two categories are best print and web comics and the winner receives $1,000. There are some great comics represented here – read more about the prize and check out the shortlist HERE. Last year’s winners were Carol Tyler for Soldier’s Heart: The Campaign to Understand My WWII Veteran Father and Boulet for I Want to Believe.

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The Comics Alliance digs into Michael DeForge‘s new book, Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero (get a copy from Copacetic Comics HERE). In this black and white and PINK comic strip-turned-graphic novel, “DeForge has created an entire working ecosystem that gets teased out, explored, and mined for comic potential…

By the end of the book, everyone has changed, some quite drastically, others only slightly. No one has changed less between the first and final strips than Sticks Angelica herself, however, and her change is simply superficial: She gets a new hairstyle. The celebrity, the hero might be at the center of everything, but in DeForge’s comic, as in real life, the real story is what happens to everyone else.

Read the rest of the review HERE.

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Al Jaffee holds the Guinness World Record for the “longest-running cartoonist of all time.” Now 96 years old, he has drawn every single Fold-In featured in Mad magazine – that’s 52 years of Fold-Ins.

Whatever your last experience with Mad, you probably did the Fold-In on the back cover. Nobody reads a Mad without starting with the Fold-In. For the uninitiated—and if you’ve never heard of the Fold-In, your childhood must have been very bleak—it’s essentially a sight gag. It starts with a drawing and a question; something like, “Who conducted the most exhaustive Washington probe recently?” But then you fold the page together and a different image appears, along with a punch line that defies your expectations, something like “the president’s doctors.” ” – Vanity Fair

Eric Spitznagel of Vanity Fair sat down with Al Jaffee to discover how he has kept going all these years, and what he’s learned about the process.

After 73 years of doing this, have you successfully proved the moral unreliability of adults?

Well, I don’t think I’ve proved anything. I’m not an educator or a preacher. I think the important thing, in my line of work anyway, is that you’re helping the reader to think for himself.

How so?

It’s not just about getting a chuckle from them. When you expose hypocrisy or nonsense or plain ol’ stupidity, you want to do it in a way that makes the reader connect the dots. Don’t tell the joke, just hint at the joke. If you over-explain it, it’s no good.

Read the rest of the interview HERE.

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Mars Bars

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Bring new energy to your comics game, see panels and color in a new way, discover the music in the structure of comics – check out thee Santoro School Handbook – 16 pages of comics-making gold!

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Blinkers – 3-20-2017 – by Jack Brougham

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Suzy and Cecil – 3-20-2017 – by  Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 3-20-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

03/17/2017

Sally Ingraham here to finish your week with Alison Bechdel, Iona Fox, Sally Cantrino, the Women In Comics Collective, and more!

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Keep an eye out for new Dykes To Watch Out For strips from Alison Bechdel! After drawing them continually from 1983 to 2008, she now makes new ones when inspiration strikes – which it did this week, along with the “Ides of Trump” campaign. See the rest of the strip above at Seven DaysHERE.

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The Women in Comics Collective has a show up at the Grace Gallery in Namm Hall at the New York City College of Technology in Downtown Brooklyn from March 16th – April 20th. The show was curated by Sara Woolley and includes artwork by these rad ladies (@etc. are all Instagram handles, FYI – look them up!):

Laura Alvarez @bigeyesworld, Lara Antal @sowhatpress, Selina Briggs @thejellyempire, Marguerite Dabaie @mdabaie, Micheline Hess @gamera2000, Janet Lee @dapper_janet, Alice Meichi Li @alicemeichi, Ellen Lindner @ellenlinda, Alitha Martinez @ariotstorm, Paige Pumphrey @paigey_pumphrey, Regine Sawyer @rslockettdown (panel discussion moderator & exhibitor) and Dr. Shamika Mitchell @blackbootie (panel discussion moderator)

Via Ellen Linder – from the show, her painting of the cover of Black Feather Falls, and work by Lara Antal and Marguarite Dabaie

The Women in Comics Collective “(WinC for short- Pronounced Wink), is an Artistic and Informative Initiative that began in May of 2012. It serves to educate communities about the role and merit of Women working in the Comic Book/Multimedia industries as well as highlight the importance of Literacy through Comic Books.” They do a lot of outreach through panels and workshops, and a traveling art exhibition. Learn more about them HERE.

Check out the Women in Comics Con on March 25th at The Bronx Library Center – more details HERE and Facebook event details HERE.

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Adam Griffiths interviewed Sally Cantrino for his latest Zine Tree. They talk about how music plays a roll in Sally’s storytelling.

I pretty much always build a playlist or end up with one specific song/album attached in my head to whatever comic I’m working on, The starting point for a lot of my comics is “I was listening to a song and it reminded me of/made me feel like…” and building from there.

For Mysteries in particular I wanted to express the intense emotional experiences and catharsis I’ve had involving music, especially at live shows – feeling completely in a moment to the point where time and space don’t matter, where you’re just overwhelmed with love and joy or sorrow or whatever emotion is being evoked in the song, or with dancing or moshing or keeping your head above the crowd, sharing that experience with your closest friend or total strangers. Or how songs or albums get associated with specific experiences and places and times in your life, that big swell of emotion and longing that you feel.

Read the rest of the interview HERE!

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Mickey Z – Space Academy 123 #2

The A.V. Club released a list of 10 Female Cartoonists You Need To KnowComposed by Zainab Akhtar (of Comics and Cola) it recognizes the work of folks like Mickey Z – whose Instagram comic Space Academy 123 (above) is currently my favorite thing online – and Vanesa R. Del Rey, Laura Park, and Aphton Corbin among others. Zainab’s comments on why such lists are still needed ring 100% true.

On the one hand, it’s absolutely strange to continue to have “women in X field” features when women make up more than half the world’s population, and sure, it’d be nice to be beyond the engagement of these reductive stances. On the other hand, we’re not even close to parity, and lists like this can be very effective in quickly introducing work that’s overlooked. So, yes, these are all female artists, but these are all excellent artists, full stop. Here’s a selection of artists who you may not be as familiar with, but who are producing interesting and brilliant work—work that is resonating within the medium and with audiences. And that’s what we aim to recognize and celebrate.

Check out the whole list HERE.

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Page 1 of The Most Important Love of Every Woman Should be Herself by Guadalupe and Iona Fox

The Vermont Folk Life Center has shared their project The Most Costly Journey (in Spanish, El viaje más caro). It is “an ethnographic cartooning project that employs collaborative storytelling as a tool to mitigate loneliness, isolation, and despair among Latin American migrant farm workers on Vermont dairy farms.” Learn more about it HERE. Among the 8 contributing cartoonists are Tillie Walden, and Iona Fox (whose story is pictured above).

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P. S.

  • Paste Magazine interviews Liz Prince and Amanda Kirk about their comic Coady and the Creepies – the latest “girl-band” romp, coming out from Boom! Studios – more HERE.
  • Katie Skelly on Eleanor DavisLibby’s Dadfor The Comics Journal.

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The Spring Semester of the Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers is upon us – rolling start date – just apply!

The course is 8 weeks long – 500 bux – payment plans are available.

More details can be found HERE – or email santoroschoolATgmail.

Not ready to commit to an 8 week course but still want to put some thought towards making comics or leveling up your skill set? Check out thee Santoro School Handbook – 16 pages of comics-making gold!

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Blinkers – 3-17-2017 – by Jack Brougham

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Suzy and Cecil – 3-17-2017 – by  Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 3-17-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

03/16/2017

Sally here with comics and news from Kyle Baker, Aphton Corbin, Shannon Wright, Keith Knight, Sam Ombiri, and more!

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Shannon Wright has a new comic about Bessie Coleman, made for KAZOO Magazine – the first part is above and you can see the rest HERE!

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I dashed headlong through Kyle Baker‘s I Die At Midnight (2000) the other day when it turned up in the library at the Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency. One of Baker’s favorite short stories, it was the 2nd comic he made that used 3D graphics and his 1st comic that was drawn entirely on the computer. Perusing it 17 years after the comic was first published, I am astounded by how good it looks. Even though the technology has improved since then, most comics I’ve seen recently that employ digital artwork don’t look this good. What Baker was doing in 2000 with these “new” tools and tricks still looks fresh, and there’s an inventiveness and joy here that hasn’t faded or grown dated. It’s crazy to think that this was his starting point for digital artwork and he only got better from here – gasoline on a flame type stuff. This comic, and his work that followed, doesn’t look like it was “built” in Photoshop – there is a naturalness to it which comes from Baker’s outrageous drawing chops, expressive characterizations, and eye for color. The story in I Die At Midnight also happens to be a wildly entertaining piece of chaos – as Baker describes it:

The Good News is Muriel has decided to take Larry back. The Bad News is Larry’s just swallowed a bottle of pills and he can’t tell her about it, or she’ll leave him again. With a stomachful of poison, Larry must race across Manhattan to meet up with the only person who can save his life and keep his secret. But first he’s got to get through a crowd of millions in Times Square – and Muriel’s Murderous Ex-Boyfriend.

64 pages of non-stop action, with sequences that somehow combine 3 plotlines at once (employing a blur/fade technique that really puts digital art to WORK), this comic is worth tracking down if you’ve never read it and reading again if you have. You can get a copy from Kyle Baker himself HERE.

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I came across this comic made by Aphton Corbin recently – she is a storyboard artist at Pixar but has also been publishing a comic about her life and experiences as a black female on her tumblr. The start of the most recent episode is above, but there are plenty more HERE. Check them out!

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Faith Ringgold (American, b. 1930). For the Women’s House, 1971.

Coming to the Brooklyn Museum this spring is the exhibition We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85 (APRIL 21–SEPTEMBER 17, 2017).

Focusing on the work of black women artists, We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85 examines the political, social, cultural, and aesthetic priorities of women of color during the emergence of second-wave feminism. It is the first exhibition to highlight the voices and experiences of women of color—distinct from the primarily white, middle-class mainstream feminist movement—in order to reorient conversations around race, feminism, political action, art production, and art history in this significant historical period.

Not comics, but definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area! More details HERE.

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The latest strip from Keith Knight.

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Sam Ombiri – 3-16-2017

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The Spring Semester of the Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers has begun! There is a rolling start date for this semester of the course and we are continuing to take applications. Just apply!

The course is 8 weeks long – 500 bux – payment plans are available.

More details can be found HERE – or email santoroschoolATgmail.

Recent comics by course grads November Garcia and Drew Lerman can be seen HERE and HERE.

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Blinkers – 3-16-2017 – by Jack Brougham

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Suzy and Cecil – 3-16-2017 – by  Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 3-16-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

03/13/2017

Grab your cup of coffee and dig into a new week with us – we have news and comics from Berliac, Sophie Yanow, Jim Rugg, Jaime Hernandez, and more.

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The Winter 2017 semester of the Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers drew to a close a few weeks ago, and now several of the students have completed their course comics and graduated.

November Garcia‘s Cycle can be seen in full HERE – and Drew Lerman‘s Boucher’s House is HERE. The course is hard, but those students who stick with it and create a 16 page, full color comic, usually have the sense that they’ve just finished a hero’s journey. Congratulations to these and every other student who has made it through the woods, over the mountain, down the river – but there is no sunset for you to ride off into just yet – simply more fantastic comics to make!

(To apply to the Spring 2017 semester of the course visit this page.)

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Berliac‘s new book SADBØI is available now in Norway, and he shared a translation of a review on his site recently – the review appeared in the publication Morgenbladet.

Berliac’s embrace of Gekiga aesthetics falls under what the Americans define – and often condemn – as cultural appropriation, ie a consumerist approach to aesthetics and forms of expression with roots in (minority) cultures which one is not a part of. And in his book SADBØI, this transposition of a traditional Japanese form of expression into a European context plays a central role. … The story of how the protagonist rejects the roles Norwegian society offers to people like him, fits into the artistic tradition in which Art functions as a magical realm where society’s rules and regulations can be redefined. SADBØI is a compressed sociological essay based on Jean-Paul Sartre’s treatise about social outcasts in his tribute to the writer Jean Genet, “Saint Genet” (1952). By disguising these ideas about social integration in a visual language that is based on what may be perceived as an illegitimate use of culturally determined forms of expression, Berliac creates a dynamic that makes the book something far more than just a pastiche.” – Aksel Kielland

Read the rest HERE. Berliac is an Argentinean cartoonist who now lives in Berlin. We don’t have specific dates for when SADBØI will appear in the States – but it will hopefully be soon.

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R.J. Casey interviewed Sophie Yanow for The Comics Journal last week – they talk about her initial focus on autobio comics and her more recent interest in comics journalism, which has kept her extremely busy over the past year or so.

What are people’s reactions when you tell interview subjects or sources that you will be drawing them for your journalism comics? Do you tell them?

I do tell them. Usually I just say something like, “I draw portraits along with quotes” because it’s the quickest way to get an understanding across. Most people who object are more concerned with having a picture taken as reference than the actual drawing.

Your autobio work can get fairly abstract or minimal in terms of line work, but your comics for The Guardian and The Nib are much more representational. Is that a conscious shift in style?

Sometimes in my journal comics I want to keep things abstract enough that folks won’t be able to identify who the “characters” are, since I’m not always drawing those comics with explicit consent. They are more like a diary. When I’m doing journalism, I either have consent or the legal right to talk about someone doing something in public. The goal is totally different. I don’t make the autobio comics to inform the public about issues.

Read the rest HERE.

Check out Sophie Yanow’s new book What Is A Glacier?, available to pre-order from Retrofit Comics, HERE.

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Image Comics has a Spotlight on Jim Rugg and his Street Angel comics, in anticipation of their release in April of Street Angel: After School Kung Fu Special.

IC: STREET ANGEL is remarkable for a number of reasons, with its utter lack of irony and great sense of design being high on the list. STREET ANGEL plays fantastic ideas straight—why was this the right tone for a story that could’ve easily been an ironic riff on pop culture?

RUGG: I don’t want to make something that’s “so bad it’s good” or a “guilty pleasure.” I enjoy a lot of “trash” culture like wrestling, exploitation movies, and old comic books. And I don’t apologize for it.  Street Angel is a kid with problems. It’s important to me that readers identify with her character. Struggling to fit in or to overcome your situation is universal. I like the juxtaposition of different tones. With STREET ANGEL, there’s a lot of room to bring in different genres and to combine the fantastic with the mundane. Expanding her world by focusing on some of the smaller details of her friendships, alliances, and enemies is something I want to share with readers. To that end, STREET ANGEL is the readers’ guide into this fantastic world.  Irony would create a distance between readers and Jesse. I want to create a closeness. I want the reader to cheer for Jesse. She may not be the smartest, cleanest, or friendliest kid, but her heart’s in the right place.

Read the rest HERE. I am definitely looking forward to more Street Angel – look for this in shops around 4/26!

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Panel Patters relives Jaime Hernandez’s The Death of Speedy 30 years later:

So much has happened in Maggie’s life since the death of Speedy. She found Hopey again but their love has become something different, maybe purer but not as bright or burning. Ray has been in and out of her life and had so much change because of Maggie, and not always for the better. Maggie and Ray’s love for each other is just as pure as Maggie and Hopey’s but has a whole different essence to it. Ultimately, Speedy was a moment in Maggie’s life but it’s shaped the character that she’s become over the past 30 years. From mechanic to punk to apartment manager and back to mechanic, the great thing about Jaime Hernandez’s portion of Love and Rockets is that we’ve gotten to see these women and men grow up, make mistakes and learn lessons (some of them the right ones and many of them the wrong ones.) And we, the readers, get to how these moments like the death of Speed alter the trajectory of these characters lives.” – Scott Cederlund

Read the rest HERE.

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Quilt Scraps

  • In a complex article on The Comics Beat which analyzes the BookScan sales analysis of the graphic novels and comics market for 2016…it becomes clear that comics aimed for a younger audience are doing best (18 out of 20 top sellers are for younger readers) and that Raina Telgemeier is making comic sales history. (“Altogether, Raina’s eight books sell a staggering 1.3 million copies for $14.4 million dollars in sales. To put that in context, that means that nearly 5% of all dollars generated by all graphic novels listed (all 21k of them!) are coming from the pen of one woman: Raina Telgemeier.Read the whole report HERE.
  • Jacob Khepler writes for The Outline when he’s not working on Mother’s News – last week he gave the world a heads up about planning for the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein, coming March 11th 2018! Read more HERE.
  • Jeff Lemire talks to Paste Magazine about his comic Royal City – the first issue debuted from Image Comics last week – more HERE.
  • Phillipe Leblanc interviewed Maggie Umber for The Comics Beat – they talked about her new book Sound of Snow Falling which follows a pair of great horned owls throughout a winter in the forest – HERE.
  • The Comics Alliance rounds up a gallery of the “weirdest Silver Age flash panels“.

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The Spring Semester of the Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers has begun! There is a rolling start date for this semester of the course and we are continuing to take applications. Just apply!

The course is 8 weeks long – 500 bux – payment plans are available.

More details can be found HERE – or email santoroschoolATgmail.

Check out a comic by Winter 2017 course grad November Garcia HERE.

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Blinkers – 3-13-2017 – by Jack Brougham

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Suzy and Cecil – 3-13-2017 – by  Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 3-13-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

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Cozytown – 3-13-2017 – by Juan Fernandez

03/10/2017

Sally here with comics by Leslie Stein, Tyler Cohen, Anna Krzton, Posy Simmonds, and Martha Thomases, plus other interesting news and events to wrap up your week!

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I read Gemma Bovery this week, the comic Posy Simmonds based on Madam Bovery which originally ran as a weekly strip in The Guardian (concluding in 1999, leaving it’s readers inconsolable, apparently.) Simmonds’ way of combining text with comics is quite marvelous, and astonishingly well done. As a reviewer wrote back in 2000:

Simmonds has, in this sense, two kinds of blank paper staring at her every morning, and she should be honoured for filling them so perfectly, with such a combination of daring and what looks like effortlessness.” – Nicholas Lezard for The Guardian

The book is wildly entertaining, with wonderful pacing and characterizations – which comes from both Posy’s drawing chops and her storytelling. Read the rest of Nicholas Lezard’s excellent review HERE. I highly recommend this and Posy Simmonds’ other graphic novel, Tamara Drewe (which was also serialized in The Guardian.)

I went down a Posy Simmonds rabbit hole after finished Gemma Bovery, and resurfaced with this terrific piece of research and writing about the strip that started it all for her – The Silent Three – which was published weekly in The Guardian from 1977-87.

The strip was collected but the collections haven’t been reprinted, despite Posy’s continuing popularity (both her graphic novels were turned into very well received films). It’s nice then that on the blog Sunday Comics Debt there are scans of a dozen of Posy’s strips, and the writer’s thoughts on the development and content of the work. Good stuff – check it out HERE. His only real complaint is that at times the strips are SO British they can be mysterious to an American reader!

Here’s a recent interview with Posy Simmonds, now in her 70’s and not slowing down a bit – she was a judge at this year’s Angoulême festival, and is currently working on a new book. Here also is a peak into some of her sketchbooks. And there ends THAT rabbit hole for the moment!

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I’ve also been reading Dakota North Investigations this week. It was a short series from 1986 written by Martha Thomases and drawn by Tony Salmons. I’ve gotten a kick out of it – I always enjoy a smart, badass investigator who has rad style, and Martha Thomases script is pretty engaging. She mentions the series much later in her regular column on ComicMix:

Over the years, Dakota North has appeared in a few other comics, most recently in Daredevil. These takes are interesting, but they are not my story. No one has ever really understood what I was trying to do with the character. They see her as another tough broad action figure, and that’s a part of her. I modeled her physically on a friend of mine, who had the height and the hair and the beauty to capture the attention of those in any room she entered. But Dakota’s also a woman trying to win her father’s approval while she pushes him away, that tug-of-war adult children have with their parents.

Although 20 years passed between her script for Dakota North and the next time Martha wrote for comics, she kept busy with other writing and research. She still writes regularly about comics for ComicMix, and will go so far as to say “Everything I need to know, I learned from superhero comics.

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Just Indie Comics shares three short comics by Polish cartoonist Anna Krztoń.

These three stories depict only some of the many nuances of her cartooning, starting with the realism we find both in Constant Sorrow and Early Mornings, similar for mood and topic to First Weeks, a self-published mini-comic I briefly reviewed in this Misunderstanding Comics episode (only in Italian, sorry). Room of My Own is instead a different work, less narrative and more impressionistic, an example of a dreamy mood, abstract and naive, that is an essential feature of Krztoń’s comics.” – Gabriele Di Fazio

Check out the comics HERE.

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Leslie Stein returns to VICE with 1994 – wherein she “falls in and out of love with Green Day, and goes to a barbershop quartet convention.” The first part is above, the rest is HERE.

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Tyler Cohen‘s comic Evident Truths is on MUTHA Magazine – it was originally published as part of PEN Illustrated’s State of Emergency feature: #ArtistsResist. Read the whole thing HERE.

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High Tide Line

  • Check out this cool event on Monday if you’re anywhere near The Strand Bookstore in NYC – I’m Drawn This Way: Cartoonists on Cartooningdetails HERE. It’s the launch of Pénélope Bagieu’s new book, and a discussion with panelists Natalie Andrewson, Katie Skelly, Julia Gfrörer, and Whit Taylor, moderated by Meg Lemke of the Brooklyn Book Festival, PEN America, and MUTHA Magazine.
  • The Comics Journal just published an interview with Sophie Yanow, who is a very busy lady these days – maintaining her status as one of the best non-fiction comics makers while also teaching and doing translation work – more HERE.
  • Disa Wallander has a comics shop, full of her Sparkle zines and plenty of sarcasm – HERE.
  • The Chicago Reader has a nice feature about Trina Robbins and her past and future work – read it HERE. She says the East Village Other strip Gentle’s Tripout created by “Panzika” was her inspiration for making her own comics – after she made the startling discovery that this favorite strip was actually drawn by a woman (underground cartoonist Nancy Burton)!
  • Since we’re on the topic now, here’s an interview from last year with Nancy Burton on The Comics Journal.
  • Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers alum Mary Shyne has a comic on The NibTrumpian Timekeeping. “ISIS, weirdly, has not been defeated yet.
  • Rob Clough wrote about Cathy Johnson‘s Gorgeous recently – review HERE.

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Jenn Lisa, Gabriella Tito, and Juan Fernandez enjoying an evening at the Rowhouse

We are diving into a busy 2nd year of the Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency. Gabriella Tito is here this week, already our 4th resident of 2017, and we are starting a wait list for the summer months. It’s amazing and exciting to have these aspiring and professional cartoonists alike come to work on comics in Pittsburgh, plugging into our vibrant local scene, and infusing it with fresh energy.

Interested in joining us for a week or more? Email santoroschool@gmail.com to learn how to apply. There are still openings in April and May, with that wait list available for the summer months. After a break for show season we will be picking up scheduling once again in late October. 500 bux for a week and a life-changing experience.

Read some of our Residency Reports HERE. Email santoroschool@gmail.com for more info.

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Blinkers – 3-10-2017 – by Jack Brougham

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Suzy and Cecil – 3-10-2017 – by  Sally Ingraham

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Joanie and Jordie – 3-10-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

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Cozytown – 3-10-2017 – by Juan Fernandez

03/09/2017

Thursday comics news! Sam Ombiri on Yokoyama and Lane Graff, plus the latest from Ben Passmore and Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse.

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Sam Ombiri here: I was reading Yokoyama recently – I remember first seeing his comics aaaand there was an attraction that’s a tad unutterable. Many others seem to have nailed down what it is – I myself can’t specify. It’s kind of like how sometimes Yokoyama’s explanation of his work is simple. Like, for example, he draws someone paying a clerk at a kiosk because it’s just beautiful. I think that’s what his explanation was for this one sequence he did. Now I wonder if his idea, or attempt, at “drawing as if a bird is watching” applies to this? Well, he might’ve not been talking about the work I’m talking about when speaking of this idea of drawing a bird’s objective view. He’s perceiving the beauty which is apart from the drawing I’ve seen, and still see in memory, or at least feel like I’ve seen – a different version of this, literally speaking.

There’s also another meaning to me of this phrase; a different version of something I’ve seen. This version is perceived maybe as a scent that comes with nostalgia, or like when you dream and then think you’ve seen something before, even though you haven’t necessarily seen it before. You end up asking yourself for days where you saw this thing, and you continue to do that – for maybe weeks, maybe months – and then one day you admit that it was in the dream and never existed, hesitantly.

This is maybe not a good comparison – but a thing I like a lot about FLCL is the ambiance, and the very familiar mundane evening – or opening up a can to drink from…it’s very familiar, and it’s like this mecha anime I perceived in my mind watching at one time, when in fact I never did. Like when this one character in World Map Room – I think his name is EXPRESS – pulls out a laser gun to show a blast he previously shot.

Lane Graff’s Heart of Gold

I talked about this with Lane Graff – about how his work has this quality or properties that I’ve read before. I don’t mean that it’s cliche – or maybe it’s a cliche that’s not tired. It’s a very welcomed cliche. Or “cliche” is maybe the wrong word. It’s a similar in the sense that it’s a cliche of a thing I think I experienced, but didn’t. If I was better at writing I could straighten all these thoughts out! It’s the way the cutesy misadventures in Lane’s work, and the sudden horror, all feels “right” and distinctly familiar from a specific place. I’m mostly bringing Lane up because I tried to explain this to him, and without much success, haha. I’m not saying the works mentioned are similar – it’s just a quality that they posses, that I’ve sensed, that I can’t properly render. – Sam Ombiri

3-9-2017 – Sam Ombiri

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New Orleans-based cartoonist Ben Passmore spoke to Newsarama about his comic Your Black Friend (which AdHouse Books will be distributing starting in May 2017). The mini-comic (originally published by Silver Sprocket last September) is a “necessary contribution to the dialogue around race in the United States…an open letter from your black friend to you about race, racism, friendship and alienation.” Ben talks about the origin of the comic, the effect it has had on others and himself in recent months, and current/future projects.

Passmore: …if my survival is on the line it’s not really a conversation. In my own life, I only really talk about “race issues” with friends, I’m not invested in coming to an understanding with anyone that isn’t already invested in my well-being. I have to prioritize myself and I’m not trying to teach anyone anything. Comics are a nice way to communicate without some of the tensions that make discussing race annoying.

Nrama: Has doing this comic as a means to communicate this without teaching someone changed how you view comic books? Has the process of doing it affected what you think about for future works?

Passmore: Before Your Black Friend I think I tried my own comics as an exercise for my own brain and I didn’t really think about how other people were going to receive them. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from individuals and the comics industry, which is tight, but the thing I’ve enjoyed the most is how the book has engaged other black cartoonists. I feel like there’s a burgeoning radical black comics milieu, which is right on time given the political environment.  Now that I feel like I’m part of a national conversation I’m more excited to write with other people in mind. It’s been nice doing pieces for The Nib because I get to do stories along that continuum of black struggle.

Read the rest HERE.

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Wendy Browne of Women Write About Comics sat down with Ariell Johnson, who found herself in the spotlight last year when she became “the first black woman to open and manage a comic shop on the East Coast. In an industry that too often has pushed back against diversity, Philadelphia’s Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, Inc. has made diversity the foundation that it is built on.

After a whirlwind first year, Ariell Johnson isn’t slowing down – she sees 2017 as a time to really get herself and the shop organized, after reaching more milestones in her first bout than she could have ever imagined. Having established a reputation as a community space and a safe haven that celebrates geek culture (where you can also enjoy a good cup of coffee) Ariell knows her focus for the present has to be simply maintaining and finding balance.

Anyone who has been involved in operating a small business can relate – and we’re all cheering her on. Read more about the shop HERE and send Ariell some good luck vibes!

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Check out the Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency! Now in our 2nd year, the 2017 schedule is already filling up. Aspiring and professional cartoonists alike are coming to work on comics in Pittsburgh, plugging into the vibrant local scene, infusing it with fresh energy, and taking their comics making skills to a new level.

Interested in joining us for a week or more? Email santoroschool@gmail.com to learn how to apply. There are still openings in April and May, with a wait list available for the summer months. After a break for show season we will be picking up scheduling once again in late October. 500 bux for a week and a life-changing experience.

Read some of our Residency Reports HERE. Email santoroschool@gmail.com for more info.

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Blinkers – 3-9-2017 – by Jack Brougham

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Suzy and Cecil – 3-9-2017 – by  Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 3-9-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

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Cozytown – 3-9-2017 – by Juan Fernandez